Show: ALL IN with CHRIS HAYES Date: June 6, 2018 Guest: Bob Bauer, Clint Watts, Adrienne Elrod, Michelle Goldberg
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: Thanks for being with us. "ALL IN" with Chris Hayes starts right now.
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CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: Tonight on ALL IN.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: People are really impressed with the job that`s being done at the EPA. Thank you very much, Scott.
HAYES: The President defends Scott Pruitt as his ethics scandal explodes.
TRUMP: We are going to drain the swamp.
HAYES: Tonight, resignations, recriminations and an EPA administrator who isn`t denying potentially breaking the law.
SCOTT PRUITT, ADMINISTRATOR, ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY: My wife is an entrepreneur herself. I love -- she loves, we love, Chick-Fil-A.
HAYES: Then --
MICHAEL AVENATTI, LAWYER OF STORMY DANIELS: These text messages are very, very disturbing.
HAYES: The new Stormy Daniels lawsuit alleging her first lawyer was a puppet for Donald Trump.
TRUMP: No puppet. No puppet.
HAYES: Plus, is the President`s latest grand of the clemency more practice for obstruction in plain sight.
TRUMP: I don`t want to talk about pardons for Michael Flynn yet. We`ll see what happens.
HAYES: And about last night, the historic wave of women candidates fueling the backlash to Trump.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Tonight we made history.
HAYES: When ALL IN starts right now.
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HAYES: Good evening from New York I`m Chris Hayes. The Environmental Protection Agency appears to be imploding tonight under the astoundingly corrupt leadership of Scott Pruitt. Pruitt is now facing a truly remarkable 15 ongoing federal investigations and the Government Accountability Office has already found he broke the law by installing a $43,000 phone booth in his office which for the record is one of his relatively minor transgressions. Today, Pruitt seemed to admit to an entirely different potential crime that he ordered a top EPO -- EPA aide to contact the CEO of Chick-Fil-A about a franchise for Pruitt`s wife, a move that could leave Pruitt open to prosecution for trying to exploit the power of his office to benefit his finite -- family financially. Here`s what Pruitt said when he was asked about the allegation today.
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PRUITT: Yes, I think with great change comes you know, I think opposition. I mean, there`s significant changes happening across not only the EPA but across this administration. It`s needed. And look my wife is as an entrepreneur herself. I love, she loves, we love we -- Chick-Fil-A is a franchise of faith and it`s one of the best in the country. And so that`s something we were very excited about. So -- and we need more of them in Tulsa, we need more of them across the country. So anyway, it`s an exciting time.
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HAYES: Sure is. I love, she loves, we love, look it`s a godly chicken sandwich. It`s an exciting time. The aide who Pruitt asked to get the franchise for his wife Sydney Hupp left the EPA last year. And today her sister Millan Hupp followed suit. A top EPA official telling the Atlantic that Hupp was "tired of being thrown under the bus by Pruitt. " And the EPA did not initially seem to take her departure very well. When the Atlantic`s Elaina Plott who broke the story and joins me shortly, contacted EPA Spokesperson Jahan Wilcox, he declined comment on Hupp`s resignation and then added: "you have a great day you`re a piece of trash." That`s nice it`s a person that works for us, all of us, citizens. And Pruitt had a close relationship with Hupp.
She served as gatekeeper and e-mails revealed that Pruitt inappropriately tasked her with performing all sorts of personal tasks even though she was drawing government salary including booking personal flights, finding him housing and most hilariously and bizarrely and sort of weirdly trying to purchase a used mattress from a Trump Hotel. That today prompted Greenpeace to deliver what they claimed was an actually used Trump Hotel mattress who would really want to check to Pruitt`s EPA office. Of course, it`s long been clear that shame does not really work on Scott Pruitt. Lord knows we`ve tried here on this program or on his boss the President of the United States. Despite Pruitt`s cartoonishly long list of transgressions which include a sweetheart deal on a condo from a lobbyist who had business before his agency and excessive spending on security and first-class travel, President drained the swamp today explicitly lauded his EPA Chief for a job well done.
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TRUMP: Administrator Scott Pruitt, thank you, Scott, very much. EPA is doing really, really well. And you know, somebody has to say that about you a little bit. You know that, Scott. People are really impressed with the job that`s being done at the EPA. Thank you very much, Scott.
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HAYES: Now Hupp was not today`s only EPA resignation, also reportedly jumping ship was another close Pruitt aide Senior Counsel Sarah Greenwalt. Both Hupp and Greenwalt came from -- with Pruitt from Oklahoma where he had been Attorney General. Earlier this year we learned that Pruitt had sought to use an obscure provision in an effort to circumvent the White House and give both of those individuals massive raises.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you`re committed to the Trump agenda, why did you go around the President in the White House to give pay raises to two staffers --
PRUITT: I did not. My staff did and I found out about that yesterday and I changed it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Should someone be fired for that.
PRUITT: That it should not have done. And --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So who did it?
PRUITT: There will be some accountability about it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A career person or a political person?
PRUITT: I`ll have to -- I don`t know.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You don`t know? You`re the head of the agency, you don`t know who did this?
PRUITT: I found out about this yesterday and I corrected the action.
HAYES: OK, important to note that subsequent e-mails that have come out make it pretty clear that he was lying there. But it`s also important to realize that it`s not longtime EPA staffers who may not agree with Pruitt politically who were fleeing the agency. With today`s resignations, at least four political appointees, people hired by President Trump have left in the past three months. And earlier this year, former EPA Deputy Chief of Staff Kevin Chmielewski who served on the Trump campaign, all right, he`s a Trump dude and he even appeared on stage with Trump turned whistleblower on Pruitt because he was so astounded by his behavior going before Congress to detail wasteful spending and unethical behavior by his former boss. Joining me now to break down the inclusion of the EPA to the top reporters on the beat, New York Times Investigative Reporter Eric Lipton and Atlantic Staff Writer Elaina Plott who have both been doing great reporting. Elaina, let me start with you. What happened in this phone call in which you were told that you were garbage?
ELAINA PLOTT, STAFF WRITER, THE ATLANTIC: Well, as one does when you`re a reporter, you get a tip, you confirm it, and then you call spokesperson asking for comment. And instead of getting a comment, I was told I was a piece of trash. And so there you have it. I know I haven`t been doing this very long but I have to believe that relations between the press corps and flax throughout an administration haven`t always been this acrimonious.
HAYES: You were just calling to confirm this set of facts, right? I just want to be clear here. Like it was --
HAYES: You heard that someone resigned. You called to say did this person resigned and you were told that you`re a piece of trash.
HAYES: All right, Eric, what is going on over there?
ERIC LIPTON, INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER, NEW YORK TIMES: It`s just been a series of embarrassing slip-ups by Scott Pruitt. It`s been -- I mean, in the last five days we`ve done five different stories. You know, it turns out the lobbyist was lobbying that rented the condo to him even more than we thought. There`s a coal executive who gave him tickets and seats that you had to make a million dollar donation to get access to. You know, the bed -- the effort to get to use bed, the now -- and now the resignation of his people and the Chick-Fil-A, I mean that that`s five days` worth of stories. I mean, it`s just you know, no wonder the press office there feels under siege. But we aren`t making these stories up. We`re just reporting them. And there is -- there has been a bit of a tension between the reporters and the press shop but you know we`re just trying to do our jobs. We -- I`d actually rather be writing about environmental policy but Pruitt keeps us focused on his management.
HAYES: Well, Elaina, let me ask you this. I mean, there`s a sense in which all -- we keep having more and more stories and I`m going to just read a partial list here. And Eric mentioned some. There`s a sweetheart condo deal from lobbyists, $3 million dollars spent on a massive security detail, that`s entirely unprecedented, use a security detail for personal trips, first-class travel on the public dime, circumventing the White House to give those huge raises to aides which were by the way tens of thousands of dollars a year. There`s the Chick-Fil-A franchise request, making aide who`s drawing government salary do personal tasks, the $42,000 soundproof office phone booth, the $1,500 set of twelve fountain pens which is sort of what kind of like a boutique kind of B-side scandal, $5,700 biometric locks on office doors, using flashing lights in motorcade, the lobbyist in a trip to Morocco seats at a college basketball game for its whole obvious. Here`s my question to you. Is this penetrating in the EPA or are they all just like, nothing`s going to happen to him.
PLOTT: Well, I think what EPA aides have learned that they can do quite well and the same goes for Administrator Pruitt, the cover-up is almost always worse than the crime in these cases. I broke the story about the two raises given to both Sarah Greenwalt and Millan Hupp, and what congressional investigators ended up asking about was not the raises themselves but whether Pruitt had lied about it. So I think as you actually noted, a lot of these are kind of B-side scandals things that impact administrations had they happened. I have to wonder if the administrator or secretary in whatever department would have just apologized and we would have forgotten about it the next day.
HAYES: Is there a significance of the two individuals that came with him from Oklahoma that were clearly close to him and that received these salary increases of the two individuals, Eric, that resigned or quit today.
LIPTON: Yes, I`m hearing directly from some of his closest people that he brought with him from Oklahoma that there`s a lot of disappointment and a feeling that they have been -- their own careers or partially been sacrificed as a result of their commitment to him and that they have been hurt by their working with him and there`s a lot of disappointment among the top political people not only among the career people that have worked you know, for decades to try to you know, defend the quality and environment in the United States but even as political people which is the most surprising part of it.
HAYES: Elaina, you want to say something?
PLOTT: Absolutely. And I think what we have to understand too is with Sarah and Millan gone, that circle of aides that Eric is referencing, those closest to him is shrinking you know, smaller and smaller by the day so you have to wonder either what the news of stories comes out in the next few days or at what point Pruitt just decides I don`t have anyone to lean on anymore other than the President which at this point honestly, Chris, maybe be enough.
HAYES: Well, that`s the way it looks, Eric. I mean, the President going out of his way to praise Pruitt today and were members of -- Republican members of Congress sort of making noises a little bit about getting frustrated with this but nothing major enough to threaten the guys` job as far as I can.
LIPTON: You know, my colleague Lisa Friedman was on the Hill today trying to buttonhole senators. She spoke with approximately ten of them and I was actually surprised that the Republicans continued to -- for the most part be reserved in criticism. There were a few that were quite critical but they were not surprising who they were. So I mean, really the only person that matters here is President Trump and so far at least he continues to have the President`s support. But he`s -- it`s always obviously very unpredictable as to where these things are going to play out with the President. None of us really know what`s going to happen.
HAYES: All right, Eric Lipton and Elaina Plott, thanks for both your great reporting and for making some time tonight.
PLOTT: Thank you, Chris.
HAYES: For more on the legal issues Pruitt is now facing, I`m joined by a pair of former Federal Prosecutors MSNBC Legal Analyst Paul Butler who worked in the Department of Justice`s Public Integrity Section and former Deputy Assistant Attorney General Harry Litman. Paul let me start with you. It is not unprecedented for the Department of Justice or the FBI to investigate a cabinet member for official acts. Mike Espy was investigated and ultimately prosecuted under Clinton. However, these days it`s very hard to make public corruption cases. What do you assess of the facts that we`ve gotten here?
PAUL BUTLER, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST: You know, I`m usually talking about the Russian investigation which is about whether there was this grand scheme of the President and his men to conspire to steal the election. In my experience as a Public Corruption Prosecutor, this petty little stuff that Pruitt is involved in, that`s far more common. Usually, the thing is how low the price is. Yo, hook me up with some mattress. Yo, can you bless my wife with some business? That`s how it usually works.
HAYES: I would say to someone as a former reporter in Chicago which is where I came up as a reporter, I mean, this is like classic Chicago alderman stuff. You know, like maybe we could hook up you know, my wife the (INAUDIBLE) is like. That`s common stuff out there in the world of public corruption.
BUTLER: And to your point, that`s why the Supreme Court has made it more difficult to bring criminal charges in these cases. They say that the kind of you scratch my back I scratch yours, there`s a thin line between that as just regular politics and criminality.
HAYES: You also -- they also set the standard we have to get something abroad. And Harry, just the Chick-Fil-A franchise thing I want to focus on for a moment. I mean, am I crazy that it`s just wildly inappropriate, wildly inappropriate to send -- to have the official government employee scheduler send a message to the CEO of Chick-Fil-A about an exciting business opportunity in which you then pitch a franchise for your wife when you were a cabinet secretary.
HARRY LITMAN, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY AND DEPUTY ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL: And don`t you just love his response by the way. Sure we love Chick-Fil-A. We need more of that in this country. It`s all about the change of the Trump Administration.
HAYES: Not just in this country, back in Oklahoma --
LITMAN: There`s no doubt that it`s wildly inappropriate and everything you`ve mentioned. He`s got you know an ethics -- an avalanche of ethics problems. As Paul is suggesting, you know, does it cross over in criminality, we`re really looking at the McDonnell case which was kind of similar. You may remember Governor McDonnell there was under financial pressure brought by his wife to kind of generate business opportunities. What he`s going to have there been straight out you give me or my wife a Chick-Fil-A franchise and I`ll do something for you.
HAYES: Some regulatory --
LITMAN: We would have crossed the line. But one, they didn`t go forward with the franchise and two it`s not clear if he did anything. So the whole thing is tawdry and comic and tragic not clearly criminal.
HAYES: Although I will say this also, impeachment is -- impeachment is a remedy in the Constitution for Congress to check officials including cabinet secretaries. There was a the Department of Defense at the Pentagon (INAUDIBLE) Grant was impeached. I mean, that is a remedy that is in the toolkit.
BUTLER: Absolutely. In high crimes, and misdemeanors is the standard so where I think there is exposure is one with this sweetheart deal where he`s getting amazing rate on our D.C. apartment $50 a night from someone who does business, a lobbyist with the EPA, someone who represents oil and gas companies. And in this realm of it`s always the cover-up so these two aides of him -- of his, they got these big raises, the White House didn`t approve them. What Pruitt says is that he knew they were getting the raises but he didn`t know that they were circumventing the regulations. He told that to Congress. If that`s a lie, then that`s a federal crime.
LITMAN: It did happen with Grant as you say, I think that might be the only time for a Treasury Secretary. I can`t see there being the stomach for going forward with actual impeachment. There that -- at most there`d be pressed -- extraordinary pressure on Trump to let him go if he continues at this kind of comic pace.
BUTLER: Well, that`s 1,500 -- 1,500 federal employees a year suspended for conduct that`s way less egregious --
HAYES: Is that true?
HAYES: For ethics -- for ethics reason.
BUTLER: Yes, but again, people are in big trouble for that. So this is also about whether the President`s men are above the law.
HAYES: That`s part of the thing, Harry. I mean, anyone who`s working, who have been around the federal government, they take ethical compliance very seriously. Like the way that you interact with vendors, the way the contract offices work in the bowels of the civil service of DOD when they have these big contracts. Like everyone takes this seriously. They take the public trust seriously, they take it seriously. You don`t call up the CEO of Chick-Fil-A to say can my wife have a franchise like that is right. As someone who worked at DOJ, tell me I`m not crazy here that this is aberrant behavior.
LITMAN: You`re not crazy here, Chris. This is aberrant behavior and especially the new political cadre comes into town and they are extraordinarily solicitous of what the career folks will say about these things. Every little issue will be run by them whereas clearly Pruitt and his crowd came you know, got to the EPA and it was like well, you know what can we get here? How about some you know good 24/7 security and first- class, a completely opposite and yes aberrant point of view and an avalanche of ethics problems. No doubt, no doubt.
BUTLER: But it used to mean something to work for the United States of America. I think it still does for most employees but you know, what we`re seeing here is an erosion of standards, big standards like the rule of law and then little standards like hook me up with the mattress.
LITMAN: And medium standards like enforce the environmental laws.
HAYES: Yes, that`s the key --
LITMAN: That`s a part of it too, the substantive agenda of basically undoing the EPA.
HAYES: Let me make one more point on this which is a great point. There`s a substantive issue here which is what he`s doing on the regulatory front which is both inoculating him from criticism of fellow Republicans and the conservative movement would largely stand behind him. But also the fact he goes in this $130,000 trip to Morocco with this sort of like weird conservative donor shepherding him through on behalf of like a natural gas exporter who`s linked to the company that`s linked to the lobbyist that`s renting him the condo. There are real tangible, substantive results here too. Paul Butler and Harry Litman, thanks for being with me.
LITMAN: Thank you, Chris.
HAYES: Up next the new lawsuit from Stormy Daniels alleging her first lawyer was secretly working as a member of Donald Trump`s fixer team. The remarkable new text messages between Michael Cohen and Stormy`s original lawyer in two minutes.
HAYES: In a brand new lawsuit today, Stormy Daniels is suing her former lawyer Keith Davidson alleging he was a puppet for Donald Trump. Daniels claims that Davidson breached his fiduciary duty to her as the client and that Trump`s personal lawyer Michael Cohen aided and abetted that breach. The lawsuit features exhibit a full of potentially damning text messages between Cohen and Davidson. So On January 17th of this year, the very day that In Touch Weekly published its 2011 interview with Daniels about her affair with Trump, Michael Cohen appears to have texted Davison "I have her tentatively scheduled for Hannity tonight. Call me after your trial. Davidson replies, she cannot, don`t today. She is flying to LA tomorrow. I`m trying to get her to commit for tomorrow." The lawsuit alleges Cohen wanted Stormy Daniels to go on Hannity to falsely deny her affair with Trump and it alleges that Trump would have known.
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AVENATTI: And if anybody believes that Michael Cohen is putting or attempting to put my client on Sean Hannity without the President`s knowledge, I have a bridge or perhaps other things to sell them.
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HAYES: The lawsuit claims that Trump is one of the wise men that Cohen refers to when later the same day Cohen issues a new directive. Listen to this. He texts Davidson, Keith the wise men all believe the story is dying -- that turned out not to be true -- and don`t think it`s smart for her to do any interviews. Let her do her thing but no interviews at all with anyone. Davidson replies, 100 percent. Cohen responds, thanks, pal. In a statement, a Davidson spokesman calls the lawsuit outrageously frivolous. We should note that another one of Davidson`s former clients, former Playboy Playmate Karen McDougal who also alleged an affair with Trump is also suing Davidson on roughly the same grounds. To help make sense of it all let`s bring an MSNBC Legal Analyst Mimi Rocah, former Federal Prosecutor. What do you think of the complaint that was filed today by Avenatti?
MIMI ROCAH, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST: Well, looking at it from a prosecutor -- former prosecutors point of view, I actually think it`s most interesting the text messages and what they tell us about the money that was paid to Stormy Daniels. If you remember back when we first learned about that payment, everyone was debating we talked for -- a lot about whether that was an in-kind contribution, was it a payment to influence the election? These texts are pretty much-smoking gun evidence that those -- that was an in-kind contribution because the defense was going to be no, no, this was just to keep the story so you know Trump`s wife wouldn`t hear about it. We want the embarrassing --
HAYES: Right. Nothing to do with the election in a few weeks.
ROCAH: Exactly. But you don`t pay someone to go on Fox News and deny it if all you`re doing, all you care about is keeping it from Melania. You do that if you want it to get out into the public and into the story and into the you know, election debate discussion.
HAYES: Although that would be -- this would be after -- I mean that that specific thing was after the -- after the actual campaign, after the election happened. You`re saying is a very broad sense that if you`re saying like you want to keep someone off Fox News, this is like a story in the ether that`s fundamentally about the President as apolitical figure.
ROCAH: Right. It just shows that the purpose of the payment was not just personal, right? That was the John Edwards defense. This shows this is really about keeping the story out of the public or denying the story in public. So I think it`s good intent evidence in that regard.
HAYES: There`s also -- I mean, I am just curious about Davidson. I mean, it`s really weird. Here`s this guy who shows up on the other side of Michael Cohen in three different cases in which women are alleging affairs, three different NDA`s. He`s already being sued by another person who alleges an affair with the President and in all cases, it seems like Davidson and Cohen find each other. Like is that an anomalous or strange thing to happen?
ROCAH: Yes, and I`ve said this before on your show. Prosecutors don`t believe in coincidences. This is way too coincidental to be a coincidence. You know it certainly seems and Avenatti is smart. He`s filing this lawsuit to try to get you know, more information but these texts look like Davidson was double-dealing basically. Like he was not representing the interests of his client, like he was -- the discussions he was with Colin over text were behind her back and she didn`t know about them. She didn`t know. Right then you know, done.
HAYES: That`s the thing I kept thinking. Like if my hired lawyer represent me and my lawyer is talking with the opposing counsel, right, and fundamentally the person on the other side of deal and scheming about whether I want it go on the show or not and not telling me that they`re having those deliberations, like that is obviously a violation of your duty, right?
ROCAH: Absolutely. His duty is -- I mean it doesn`t mean he can never talk to the other lawyer.
HAYES: Of course, of course. Right.
ROCAH: And that`s what I`ve already seen some statements from Davidson`s lawyers saying, well, you know, they just had a really civil relationship Cohen and Davidson. But this clearly goes beyond that. It`s them plotting, planning, agreeing to get her to do something. Now, if she was fully on board with all that and fully in the know, first you know, that would be a different story but it doesn`t seem like it from those text and that`s certainly not what they`re alleging.
HAYES: Well, particularly the wise men text was, feels a lot like an order. It sound -- that sounds like I checked with the boss and the boss says no so you tell your -- tell her not to do it.
ROCAH: Right. And look, Avenatti alleges in the -- in his complaint that you know, one of the wise men is Trump. Many might argue with whether he actually is a wise man but you know, he`s going to have to prove that but it certainly seems like again a logical inference that they`re not going to get her to go on national television to talk about this without Trump knowing about it. So it also goes to that issue. Did Trump know, you know, about Cohen and his dealings with Daniels because he`s denied doing it for a long time.
HAYES: One last little element here is that right after Davidson agrees that Stormy Daniels (INAUDIBLE) the interviews, Cohen decides to underline the point. He says just no interviews or statements unless through you. Keith Davidson got it. Another -- it another thing that sounds like a command. Mimi Rocah, thank you very much. Coming up, will Present Trump uses pardon power to derail Robert Mueller`s investigation? What to make of the reporting the president is preparing pardons for thirty people next.
HAYES: The President has apparently discovered the one truly absolute power granted to him under the Constitution and he appears to be preparing to wield it as part of an emerging strategy to thwart Special Counsel Robert Mueller`s investigation. Today, the President commuted the sentence of Alice Marie Johnson, a 63-year-old woman convicted of a first-time nonviolent drug offense two decades ago. It`s fantastic news for Johnson and her family and for Kim Kardashian who personally lobbied the President for Johnson`s release. Good job Kim Kardashian. The move stands in contrast to Trump administration`s draconian policies for other drug offenders whom the President has suggested should get the death penalty.
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TRUMP: If you shoot one person they give you life, they give you the death penalty. These people can kill 2,000, 3,000 people and nothing happens to them. And we need strength with respect to the pushers and to the drug dealers.
Some countries have a very, very tough penalty, the ultimate penalty, and, by the way, they have much less of a drug problem than we do.
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HAYES: The president`s acts of clemency and pardons thus far appear to fall into two broad categories, celebrity causes, like Alice Marie Johnson, advocated by Kim Kardashian, and boxer Jack Johnson, whose case was brought to the president`s attention by Sylvester Stallone; and right wing causes, like activist Dinesh D`Souza who was pardoned last week, and former sheriff Joe Arpaio.
The White House keeps hinting more pardons are on the way. According to one report today, the administration has already prepared the paperwork for at least 30 people. It does not seem to be a coincidence that the president is exercising this power just as his legal team in the Mueller probe is claiming he has unlimited constitutional authority over federal criminal prosecutions and investigations.
In a memo to Mueller that leaked to The New York Times last weekend, the president`s attorneys argue he cannot obstruct justice, because he could, if he wished, terminate the inquiry or even exercise his power to pardon if he so desired. The president then tweeting I have the absolute right to pardon myself.
Today, in interviews during a trip to Israel, Rudy Giuliani reasserted the president`s authority to pardon himself. And though he denied the president`s plans to use that authority, Giuliani, what sure sounds -- made what sure sounds like a threat to the special counsel.
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RUDY GIULIANI, FORMER MAYOR OF NEW YORK CITY: Does he have the power? Yes. Is he going to do it? No. He`s not going to do it.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you think he would do?
GIULIANI: No. He doesn`t need to. He`s innocent.
I think in Mueller`s case, it`s more he`s not taking control of these people that work for him. He`s got to have the discipline to put a stop to it or we`re going to have to do everything we can, including some things that I don`t think we`d want to talk about right now, to try to appeal to have it stopped.
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HAYES: For more on the Mueller probe and the president`s pardon power, I`m joined by MSNBC contributor Clint Watts, former FBI special agent agent, author of the new book "Messing With the Enemy: Surviving in a Social Media World of Hackers, Terrorists, Russians, and Fake News," and Bob Bauer, former White House counsel to President Barack Obama, professor at the NYU school of law.
And as a former White House counsel, I know that those pardon decisions came through that office after it went to the pardon attorney.
What do you assess is going on with the president`s pardons right now?
BOB BAUER, FORMER WHITE HOUSE COUNSEL: Well, you touched on part of it. I mean he`s ruled that this is an area that he believes, by the way mistakenly, he has absolute discretion to act as he wishes. That`s what he thinks.
And now there be other things going on, sending messages to people caught up in the Russia investigation that he`s a pardon happy president and he can make them happy. But there`s also the possibility that he`s just having a good old time, because this is something that he can do and his lawyers have told him he`s unrestricted in doing it.
I want to emphasize again, he`s mistaken.
HAYES: Why is he mistaken?
BAUER: There is absolutely no support for his position that it is clear, absolutely clear and everybody agrees that he can self-pardon, for example. Moreover, there`s no support for the position and I`ll cite one of his counselors, if you will, not one of his lawyers for this proposition, there`s no support for the position that he can pardon anybody without legal consequences, even Alan Dershowitz who as you know while not his personal lawyer, has taken positions sympathetic to the president`s legal position, has acknowledged, for example, that you can`t pardon in return for a bribe. So there are limits clearly.
The question is what are those limits? The president doesn`t seem to think there are any limits and he`s gravely mistake.
HAYES: That`s a really interesting point.
What do you think of this pardon happiness from the president, Clint?
CLINT WATTS, FORMER FBI SPECIAL AGENT: I think it serves two purposes. The first one is he`s sending an indirect message to everybody involved with the Mueller investigation that, hey, if something goes wrong and you work for me, maybe, maybe there`s a pardon out there for you. And so I think the real question as Americans we should ask is not whether the president will pardon himself, but what will congress, what will the judicial branch, what will Americans do if the president pardons every single person that is indicted and convicted as part of the Mueller probe.
I think the second part of it is really what we call, in the book I call it clickbait populism, which is the president likes to reward celebrities and social media stars that curry his favor. And so what we`re seeing here, literally, is duplicity in his own government. He`s try to be hard through his Justice Department. Attorney General Sessions has gone around and really advocated for enforcement and pushing on drug crimes, pushing on gun crimes. And at the same point, you`re seeing clemency granted.
Now this sort of clemency we saw today, the Obama administration did this routinely. They were the ones that really tried to advocate decriminalization. And so what we`ve set up is a monarchy based on retweets, likes and shares when policy should really be established and should really be pushed through the policy process.
I would love to see decriminalization, but I don`t think the best way to do it is on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.
HAYES: Well, there`s an interesting question here because a lot of people -- I thought to myself, including me like why did Barack Obama not pardon this woman? Why did you guys not pardon more people?
BAUER: Well, let me be clear, there was a process in the White House under President Obama. These matters were first reviewed by professionals in the Department of Justice and carefully reviewed again in the White House when those recommendations were received. The issue here isn`t quantity of pardons. There`s no metric by which we judge a president`s successful exercise of the pardon power. That`s not like the number of home runs you have toward the Triple Crown, it`s a question of the quality, thoughtfulness and appropriate exercise of the pardon power.
This has to do not just with presidential power, but the appropriate exercise of president power, restraint in the exercise of presidential power.
And I will mention President Trump`s position is one that, though he doesn`t seem to believe it, is really running very much up against some fundamental intuitions that people have about his authority. And I note it was not a sunny day for him up on Capitol Hill where Paul Ryan, among others, said the president in fact he doesn`t think has the power to pardon himself.
Chuck Grassley, the senator who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee, has said the same thing. Of course they both are repeating what Trey Gowdy said.
There is within the culture I think real resistance to this sort of claim.
HAYES: Yeah, it gets to something, Sheldon Whitehouse said, which I`ll summarize on this show I think this week, where he said he thinks these very broad claims being made by the president and his legal team are out of weakness as opposed to strength. I wonder what you think, Clint.
WATTS: Yeah, it`s definitely a position of weakness. And what the president is trying to do is muddy the waters about what is right and wrong, but also win in the public so that you don`t have to really win in the courts. He`s trying to win the public`s perception of what the investigation is and what its results are by essentially tarnishing it throughout the entire process.
And the longer he delays this entire process, the longer he evades actually sitting down for an interview, the more time he has to go after the sources, the witnesses, you know, the claims that are being made there, and go individually to each one and try and create a conspiracy.
So, I think it`s a public management strategy. I don`t think it`s a good legal strategy. But it might work in the sense that he has won a lot of support to his favor by going to the public, by speaking to the public and mostly through his social media feeds.
HAYES: At least support amongst the people that support him, which remains a sort of unshakeable, but small numerically, at least, in percentage terms of the country.
Clint Watts and Bob Bauer, thanks for joining me.
Ahead, the historic number of women seeking election after a cleaning up in primary after primary. Following the wave into the midterms coming up.
Plus, a history lesson from the president in tonight`s Thing One, Thing Two starts next.
HAYES: Thing One tonight, I think it`s fair to say that Donald Trump isn`t exactly a great scholar of U.S. history, but lucky for him, he`s been on an 18-month field trip to Washington, D.C. and he is learning so much.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Frederick Douglass is an example of somebody who`s done an amazing job that is being recognized more and more I notice.
Did you ever hear of Andrew Jackson of Tennessee?
Andrew Jackson who, they say, was the most like my campaign, because his was a vicious campaign.
I mean, had Andrew Jackson been a little bit later, you wouldn`t have had the civil war. People don`t ask that question. Why was there the civil war? Why could that not have been worked out?
People don`t realize, you know, if you go back to the civil war, it was the Republicans that did the thing. Lincoln was a Republican.
Most people don`t even know he was a Republican, right? Does anyone know? A lot of people don`t know that.
History and culture so important.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Yes, history and culture so important, especially when you have to apply it to your current job. Trump history in action is Thing Two in 60 seconds.
HAYES: Donald Trump is no great history buff, but he`s making history every single day, like with our new terrible relationship with our neighbors to the north, Canada, for instance. According to the CBC, President Trump recently had a testy phone call with the prime minister, Justin Trudeau, about tariffs and fairness. Trudeau reportedly asked Trump how it was that tariffs would be imposed on Canada on national security grounds to which Trump reportedly responded didn`t you guys burn down the White House.
Oh, great point, Canada did burn down the White House that one time wait back -- no, no, no, they didn`t actually. British troops burned down the White House. It was during the war of 1812 awhile ago, and Canadian units did fight in some battles for the British rulers, they were still a British colony back then, but the consensus among historians is that it was the British army, led by a British army major general, who attacked Washington in the summer of 1814 and set the home of the president to torch.
It`s pretty much in all the books.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Well, you know, I love to read. Actually, I`m looking at a book. I`m reading a book. I`m trying to get started. Every time I do about half a page, I get a phone call that there`s some emergency this or that.
I love to read. I don`t get to read very much, because I`m working very hard on lots of different things.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: A major victory in court tonight for people fighting against this is administration`s inhumane policy of ripping children from their families at the border. A federal judge is allowing the ACLU`s lawsuit against the Trump administration over this practice to continue.
Finding that, quote, "at a minimum, the facts alleged are sufficient to show the government conduct at issue shocks the conscience and violates plaintiff`s constitutional right to family integrity."
The case is over family separation, the Trump administration`s policy of taking undocumented immigrant children, in some cases, as young as 1-year- old from their parents at the border. Families can go days, weeks, sometimes months with little or no contact.
Yesterday, a UN human rights spokesperson said the United States should immediately stop separating families, saying, quote, "there is nothing normal about detaining children." And she`s right, it`s a horrific practice. It is dehumanizing to the men and women and the children trying to make better lives for their families, and it degrades us as a nation to treat people like this.
I urge you to learn more about this important issue, which we`ve been covering the last two weeks. It`s the subject of our latest podcast "Why is This Happening?" where I speak with Lee Gelernt. He is one the chief ACLU attorneys on that case that just got that decision tonight. And we talk how it is we got here.
HAYES: The U.S. House editor for the Cook Political Report tweeted some striking numbers today. He wrote, so far in 2018 Dem primaries with at least one woman, one man and no incumbent on the ballot, women have won the most votes 59 out of 84 times, or 70 percent.
Meanwhile, so far in 2018 GOP primaries with at least one woman, one man and no incumbent on the ballot, women have won the most votes 8 out of 21 times, or 38 percent.
That is just a small snapshot of how Democratic primary voters are choosing women. Last night, for example, two women won Democratic House primaries in Iowa and will now challenge potentially vulnerable Republicans this fall. In New Mexico, Deb Holland got one step closer to becoming the first ever female Native American congresswoman, and a Missouri Democrat Lauren Arthur won a special election for a state senate seat by nearly 20 points flipping the 42nd state legislative seat for Democrats since Trump`s inauguration.
Here to help me understand what`s fueling these primary victories, Michelle Goldberg, op-ed columnist from The New York Times, and Adrienne Elrod, a former spokesperson for the Clinton campaign.
Before we get to -- So there are two parts of this. There is the -- like the kind of activist core to find these campaigns and then the candidates. So, I want to start with the activist core, the people knocking on doors, signing up for volunteer shifts. You have been reporting on them. And it is...
MICHELLE GOLDBERG, THE NEW YORK TIMES: It`s such an interesting phenomenon, and I think relatively undercovered compared to the Tea Party, because it`s big and it`s happening everywhere. It`s happening far from the coasts where you have these middle aged women who were maybe, you know, politically aware before they voted, maybe they voted in most primaries, didn`t necessarily know what congressional district they lived in, and who were so horrified and scared and traumatized and humiliated by the victory of Donald Trump that they became political obsessives.
You know, I met these women in Arizona who all of the sudden can tell me like extremely precise precinct demographic data, you know, for kind of every precinct in the congressional district. And so -- and they`re just everywhere. And they are so determined to change politics in this country.
HAYES: There has also been this rush of women running for office. And we`re seeing a real preference among Democratic primary voters for women candidates.
ADRIENNE ELROD, FORMER SPOKESPERSON, CLINTON CAMPAIGN: We are. And I think you just highlighted some of the women who were very successful on Tuesday night who were challenging male incumbent -- I mean, I`m sorry, male candidates, and who prevailed.
I actually have a very good friend who ran in West Virginia Two, won her primary. She was outraised by her male opponent, but she beat him 3-1.
Women are fired up. They are angry. They are supporting other women because nay know, number one, women are going to get the job done, right, on both sides of the aisle. Number two, they are angry at the Trump administration`s assault on women, from everything from trying to defund Planned Parenthood to, you know, everything under the umbrella. There is always a consistent assault on women when it comes to Donald Trump. And they`re angry.
And I think we`re going to see a huge, huge repercussion, and it`s going to be a very good thing for women in the midterms.
GOLDBERG: Well, I`ll just say -- and it`s not just that women I think are voting for women, it`s that a lot of these candidates are extraordinary, right?
GOLDBERG: There are all of these first-time candidates.
GOLDBERG: People with really intriguing life stories, really interesting life experiences.
HAYES: Veterans, teachers.
GOLDBERG: Right. And I feel like the one through line is that they are people who kind of have a lot of competence, right? People who have sort of had to -- who have worked in institutions and respect how they work and maybe also particularly in the case of teachers, have networks in their community.
GOLDBERG: That have not maybe traditionally been political networks, but can easily be mobilized for that purpose. But you have all of these kind of really extraordinary people who are new to the political system, but who are really eminently qualified to be representatives, who, you know, who are now on the ballot...
HAYES: Flooding the system.
GOLDBERG: Right, who are flooding the system. I mean, in to some cases to a fault, right. I mean, the one scary thing that we happily averted was in California where we almost got locked out because there were too many Democratic candidates.
HAYES: So many candidates.
ELROD: And this is, by the way, why recruitment is so important, right, that you are recruiting women who are running in the districts who fit the profile of their districts. You`re seeing teachers. You`re seeing nurses. You`re seeing so many women who are running who are actually activist citizens and have real jobs in their communities.
Let me say, it`s also one more reason why parties have to -- if a party functions as essentially an incumbent protection machine...
HAYES: ...it will mean men stay in power longer, because there is a gender imbalance who the incumbents are, right. So, part of what`s -- I mean, in that statistic we gave, the statistic with no incumbent on the ballot.
ELROD: Right, open seats.
HAYES: Right, of course. When there are incumbents on the ballot, it favors incumbents, and that of course favors men.
There is also, to me, this Ron Brownstein piece tweet is fascinating to me. This is where voters are at and we`re seeing this gender division between the two parties. Trump approval in the latest Gallop average was 48 percent among men and only 36 percent among women. In the Quinnipiac poll, Rs are plus two on the House generic among men and -17 among women.
The number of candidates polls point to larger role in usual for gender in `18.
GOLDBERBG: You know, and I find this even with -- you know, even with progressives, right, you know, men who -- they hate Trump, they abhor everything that they`re doing, but the women I know, they just find it intolerable, right? It`s like this poison gas in the air that kind of this putrid that mars every single moment.
And I used to think maybe I was kind of unique. I`m like a particularly political person. I live on the coast. But I meet women all over the country. They cannot stand what is happening.
HAYES: I thought about that. I thought about your reporting on this and some of Rebecca Traister`s reporting on this and the great political scientist and historian (inaudible) at Harvard who wrote this really interesting piece in Democracy with the co-author about this. There is this piece in Buzzfeed about how Donald Trump`s sort of superpower is just exhausting people.
HAYES: And one of the things I think you`re seeing is that those sort of grassroots level women are the kind of response to that. They`re the nuclear reactor that keeps going.
ELROD: No, they are. And that is one of the issues that I think that we as not only just as women, but we as society and we as a voting electorate have to be careful about, because he does have a tendency, and we saw it during the 2016 election, we`re still seeing it now, he has a tendency to create so much chaos and discord and disarray that it`s hard to really figure out where you want to keep your focus.
GOLDBERG: But the thing that keeps these women going is that they`re forming these new communities, right. So, I`ve talked to these women. They have whole new sets of friends. They have completely transformed social lives. And so they`re not just kind of atomized people angrily looking at their computer, these are now new social worlds, and that keeps people going.
HAYES: And we`ve also seen that that is -- that`s the building block, particularly when you are talking about state races, right, state rep races. That`s the building block for what is essentially a base.
ELROD: That so important. Emerge America is one of the organizations that has been doing incredible work for years on the ground in state and local races recruiting women. They`re seeing more funding, more women who want to run for office than they`ve ever seen now. So we`re starting to see a lot of these organizations that have been focusing on this at the grassroots level really be buoyed and lifted up.
HAYES: Michelle Goldberg and Adrienne Elrod, thank you for both being here. That is All In for this evening. The Rachel Maddow Show starts right now. Good evening, Rachel.
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