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Trump calls for Russia to be reinstated in G7. TRANSCRIPT: 06/08/2018. All In with Chris Hayes

Guests: Frank Figliuzzi, Nick Bagley, Maya Wiley, Julia Fernandes, Ken Vogel, Harry Sandick, Chris Murphy, Evelyn Farkas, Karen Kornbluh

Show: ALL IN with CHRIS HAYES Date: June 8, 2018 Guest: Frank Figliuzzi, Nick Bagley, Maya Wiley, Julia Fernandes, Ken Vogel, Harry Sandick, Chris Murphy, Evelyn Farkas, Karen Kornbluh



DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Why are we having a meeting without Russia being in the meeting?

HAYES: The President stumps for the Kremlin.

TRUMP: Russia should be in this meeting.

HAYES: As the man who ran his campaign is indicted for conspiring with a suspected Russian agent.

PAUL MANAFORT, FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN MANAGER: But that`s what he said -- that it`s what I said.

HAYES: Tonight what we know about the new charges from the Special Counsel.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Would you pardon Paul Manafort?

HAYES: And Senator Chris Murphy on the President`s attack on western alliances. Plus, how Trump world is using the arrest of a Senate Intel staffer to undermine Robert Mueller.

TRUMP: It happened last night. It could be a terrific thing.

HAYES: And how the latest Trump sneak attack on ObamaCare doubles as a brazen attack on the rule of law.

TRUMP: ObamaCare is finished. It`s dead.

HAYES: When ALL IN starts right now.


HAYES: Good evening from New York, I`m Chris Hayes. The President today gave Russian President Vladimir Putin a major return on his investment in the 2016 election calling for Russia to be reinstated in the group of leading industrialized nations currently known as the G7.


TRUMP: Whether you like it or not and it may not be politically correct but we have a world to run and in the G7 which used to be the G8 they threw Russia out. They should let Russia come back in because we should have Russia at the negotiating table.


HAYES: Russia was expelled from the group in 2014 after invading Ukraine and annexing Crimea in violation of international law. And since then, Russia, of course, has been waging an information war against Europe in the U.S. which included its unprecedented attack on the 2016 election. We know the President was the beneficiary of attack, what we don`t know is whether he made any kind of explicit quid pro quo deal with Russia in exchange for their help. But if he did conspire with Russia in 2016, those comments today pushing Russian interests on the world stage are the exact kind of policy reversal that one imagines Putin has long dreamed of. Whether or not they had a formal arrangement, The President is effectively colluding in plain sight with the foreign government that helped elect him. Kind of like that time he asked Russia to hack his political opponent.


TRUMP: Russia if you`re listening, I hope you`re able to find the 30,000 e-mails that are missing. I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press.


HAYES: While the President is colluding with Russia out in the open, his former campaign chairman according to Robert Mueller has been colluding in secret with a suspected Russian agent. Today, a special counsel surprising everyone filing a third superseding indictment against Paul Manafort adding new charges for allegedly conspiring with an associate tied to Russian intelligence to obstruct justice in the Mueller probe. That associate Russian citizen Konstantin Kilimnik has also indicted today, now the 20th person to be charged by the Special Counsel. In a court filing earlier this week, Mueller alleged that Manafort and Kilimnik had tried to tamper with witnesses and had attempt to cover-up of their work for a pro-Russian party in Ukraine.

And while that work goes back years as early as 2006, the attendant cover- up continued right through to this past April according to Mueller. Manafort who was now under house arrest could end up spending the rest of the summer in jail before going on trial. But Kilimnik has disappeared from Ukraine according to the New York Times fleeing where else but to Russia. For more on the significance of these new charges by the Special Counsel, I`m joined by former Federal Prosecutor Harry Sandick and Ken Vogel, Political Reporter for The New York Times. And Ken, you`ve reported about Kilimnik and Manafort for a while, describe the two men`s relationship for us.

KEN VOGEL, POLITICAL REPORTER, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Well, Konstantin Kilimnik who goes by KK or Kostya Costilla with friends started with Manafort back in 2005. He was recruited from the International Republican Institute Moscow office where he was had been fired actually depending on who you listen to because of suspected ties to Russian intelligence even back then.

But when he started with Manafort, he actually started as a translator and gradually worked his way up becoming integral to Manafort`s Kiev operation and actually playing a huge role in implementing this lobbying plan on behalf of Viktor Yanukovych was Manfort`s client, the pro-Russian president -- strongman President of Ukraine, KK was very much involved in this effort that Manafort helped fund and implement to essentially buff the reputation of Viktor Yanukovych on the world stage at a time when he was under mounting criticism from the U.S. and from our allies for both his pivot towards Russia, his corruption, and his prosecution of his former rival Yulia Tymoshenko. KK, was pivotal in executing that strategy.

HAYES: This is the first time that we have an indictment by Mueller of a Russian associate of an American associate of the Trump campaign, right? So the closest it seems to me as we come to the two parts touching.

HARRY SANDICK, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Yes that`s right. And I think it is -- I think it`s significant in part because of that. People are going to wonder why is somebody like this a close business partner of someone who President Trump would pick to run his campaign and to the extent that people are looking for you know, collusion to use the buzzword, not a legal term. This looks like collusion although it is collusion after the election in 2018. But here we have someone who`s now in Russia who probably isn`t going to come anytime soon to face these charges having conspired with Donald Trump`s campaign manager.

HAYES: You know, Ken, it`s remarkable tome to consider that given the legal peril Paul Manafort is facing, he`s currently wearing not one but two ankle braces facing charges in two different federal districts staring at the possibility of dying in jail, that he is according to the what`s alleged in the indictment in the complaint document running around attempting to suborn perjury and cover-up and collaborating with a possible Russian intelligence agent.

VOGEL: Yes, my sources tell me that Manafort`s close allies have been trying to convince him to stop doing this because this is not the first time that prosecutors have called him out for working with Konstantin Kilimnik since his indictment. In fact, they monitored some communications between Manafort and Kilimnik to try to place an op-ed under a Ukrainian politicians name in the Kiev post an English-language newspaper in Ukraine essentially trying to spin Manafort`s work on behalf of Yanukovych as somehow pro-European or pro-Western as opposed to the way it`s commonly perceived as pro-Russian.

And they called him out, Special Counsel did on that and said hey, this is a violation of the judge`s order that you not try to try this case in the press. So after that which occurred last year, there were people around Manafort who`s saying hey, knock it off. You don`t want to be working with KK anymore. He`s already on the radar. He`s long been on the radar of U.S. intelligence and here you are giving the Special Counsel ammunition for his case against you. Obviously, Manafort ignored that advice.

HAYES: Have you ever had -- as a prosecutor, you ever had a situation where you have a person out on supervised release engaging in this kind of activity?

SANDICK: Absolutely it does happen. It seems crazy. It may be crazy.

HAYES: Because you got to imagine, right? If you`re him, you got to imagine like they`re listening -- they`re monitoring me, they`re surveilling me obviously. I`m not going to get away with it.

SANDICK: And you know, the stakes are very high. They tell you at the moment when you`re being released, a judge or someone in the clerk`s office looks you in the eye and says if you commit another crime while you`re on release, your bail is subject to revocation, you`ll wind up in custody. So you know that this is a terrible idea and yet I`ve seen it happen. I can think of one case where someone -- it wasn`t quite as famous of case as this one but he was arrested driving 180 miles an hour on the Henry Hudson`s near the George Washington Bridge. He went right into jail. You`re not allowed to do this and it`s surprising and people are telling him to stop. One of them is probably his lawyer.

HAYES: Well, let me ask you this. There`s two ways to view -- there`s two things Mueller has done right? They`ve filed this complaint that he`s going around trying to suborn perjury and on the superseding indictment. There`s two ways to interpret that. One is they`re sort of ratcheting up the pressure. The other is they`re exasperated and at wit`s end with this guy who won`t stop breaking the laws and provides release. Like, which do you think it is?

SANDICK: I think it`s both actually. I mean, I think they clearly want him in and this now is being done on the same day that Manafort has to file his papers in opposition to the bail application request that`s due tonight. There`ll be a hearing next Friday and the indictments already in place. So if you thought the government wasn`t taking this seriously, they are. But I do think the lead story is that they need to convict him in order to cooperate and he`s clearly not interested in doing it now. They signed up his son-in-law, they signed up his business partner and it`s not -- it`s not working. So they need to convict him.

HAYES: So he`s not going to -- it seems clear he`s not going to operate. What about KK who has very interesting circumstances fled from Ukraine to Russia and there`s an allegation that essentially the Ukrainians let him go as a kind of tacit quid pro quo because they were trying to land an arms deal with the U.S. government.

VOGEL: Yes, that`s right. I mean the Ukrainian government was really in the crosshairs of the Trump Administration partly because a Manafort. Manafort was telling Trump even during the campaign before he was sort of forced off in August of 2016, hey the Ukrainians are out to get you and they`re using me and his effort to drum up this case against me to come after you. So when Trump was first elected there was some thought that there would be some bad blood between the Ukrainian government and the Trump administration and this effort to essentially call off the dogs to end investigations in Ukraine.

Paul Manafort was seen as sort of an olive branch by the Ukrainian government and as part of that Konstantin Kilimnik was essentially released or told that he could go his own way and of course he went right back to Moscow where he lives with his family in a house out not far from one of the key airports there in Moscow. And my sources tell me he is so unworried I guess is one way to look at it by these charges. He doesn`t have a lawyer who he`s working with right now.

HAYES: Yes. I don`t think he`s gotten himself an American court anytime soon. Ken Vogel and Harry Sandick, thanks for joining me.

SANDICK: Thank you.

HAYES: While the President`s Campaign Chairman was indicted today for conspiring with suspected Russian agent, The President himself was pleading Russia`s case to the international community. He`s attending a G7 summit in Canada, meeting with some of America`s closest allies who are already furious with the President over tariffs and other big disputes. And before leaving, he added fuel of fire by calling for Russia be welcome back to the summit.


TRUMP: Russia should be in this meeting. Why are we having a meeting without Russia being in the meeting? And I would recommend and that`s up to them, but Russia should be in the meeting. It should be a part of it. You know, whether you like it or not and it may not be politically correct, but we have a world to run and in the G7 which used to be the G8, they through Russia out. They should let Russia come back in because we should have Russia at the negotiating table.


HAYES: And joining me now, Senator Chris Murphy is a Democrat from Connecticut and a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Letting Russia back into the what would be G8, you think that`s a good idea?

SEN. CHRIS MURPHY (D), CONNECTICUT: Well, this is a pretty high ROI for Russian interference in the 2016 American election. They are getting a big return on their investment in that they have done absolutely nothing to deserve to come back into the G8 in particular. They have not moved one inch inside Ukraine. They got kicked out because the G7 thought it was probably a pretty important principle to tell countries inside our club that you can`t invade other countries. And that having been unchanged, they don`t deserve to be back inside but they paid a lot of money to try to get President Trump into office and they`re getting a return on their investment today.

HAYES: What do you -- what do you think - I mean what is your mental model or theory of that kind of thing? Like do you think this is just quid pro quo right in front of everybody`s eyes?

MURPHY: You know, who knows. I guess we`re all going to wait to see what`s in the Mueller report and we`ll have a better idea of it at that point. Listen, he`s gone both ways on Russia. There are things that he has done that has been incredibly soft. There`s a couple moments where you thought that he might be getting his act together in particular when he decided to transfer some weapons to the Ukrainians. But by and large, Russia has gotten everything they wanted.

And of course what they want in addition to being back inside these clubs is for the U.S.-European club to break up. And so, you know, this is a particularly great 24 hours for Russia because not only is Trump saying that we should just ignore what they`re doing in Ukraine and let them back in but also this division between the United States and Europe that continues to grow bigger and bigger. You know, that essentially predicts that our set of sanctions against Russia aren`t going to be able to hold together either and that`s good news for the Kremlin too.

HAYES: What is your -- what is your assessment about where things are with respect to the other G7 countries right now as we enter this summit?

MURPHY: What so is interesting is I was talking to our European allies and traveling through Europe in 2017, you know they were freaking out. You know, their partner was literally walking away from the table. They didn`t know how to deal with him. 2018 is different. Our European partners are just moving on. They`re deciding to make different plans. For instance, they`ve set up a defense initiative inside Europe where they`re going to start doing planning and procurement outside of NATO because they`re just not confident that Trump is going to stay inside NATO.

And similarly, Macron made it very clear that if the United States doesn`t want to be in, they`ll just make it the G6. They`ll start making economic plans and long-term strategic plans without us and so that`s what I think`s happening inside Europe today is that they are just making decisions to do things without the United States. That`s bad for our economy, that`s bad for our national security, that`s great for countries like Russia.

HAYES: Do you think this is temporary? I mean, the big question to me is, is this a temper tantrum or even if you give them the benefit of the doubt a sort of clever negotiating tactic you know, he`s going to blow things up and then they`ll come to some tariff agreement on dairy with Canada and pose for a smiling photo-op. Like what`s your sense of how real the rift is?

MURPHY: No, I think it`s -- I think it`s real and for the duration of the Trump administration, it`s permanent.

HAYES: Really?

MURPHY: Yes, you know, I think -- that`s why I spoke to what the Europeans are actually doing. So the Europeans are not just launching tweets, they are actually setting up new entities that are designed to go around the United States. They are doing trade deals with other countries besides the United States to hedge their bets. So they are betting that this disruption will last the entirety of the Trump administration. And I think they`re probably making a smart bet.

HAYES: What`s the tip -- to someone that says well fine, let him do it, I mean I think it`s sometimes hard to -- when we talk about sort of the post- world War two order and all these international institutions, the U.S. being at the center of it, yadda, yadda, yadda, it could all feel kind of airy, and abstract and remote. I mean, what do you say to someone who says hey let them do whatever they want. You know, he`s standing up tough for us or even if they think the President is acting poorly like what`s it matter either way?

MURPHY: Well, I mean let`s think about that in two ways. First, let`s think about it vis-a-vis Russia. So as our unified resistance to Russia`s invasion of Ukraine starts to atrophy and that`s what`s happening right now, it will be really hard to keep the sanctions together if we are at war with each other like this. Then that`s a message to all sorts of other autocrats and would-be autocrats that they can start to erase borders without any consequence.

Second, let`s think about the real threats to the United States and that continues to be a terrorist threat that frankly is not likely to come straight from Syria, it`s likely to come through Europe. And so our counterterrorism operation and our communication with European countries is probably the most set of -- the most important set of relationships to actually get good information to keep us safe. And so as European law enforcement agencies are taking readouts from their governments that the United States just isn`t interested in cooperating any longer, that actually makes us less safe in terms of that threat. So there are real practical consequences for the world and for us as this relationship starts to fall apart at the seams.

HAYES: All right, Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut, thanks for making some time.

MURPHY: Thanks, Chris.

HAYES: Next, the President walks to the G7 summit feuding with allies and stumping for the Kremlin. We`ll talk about what happened in Quebec and what happens next in two minutes.


HAYES: Just hours after delivering his appeal to reinstate Russia as a member of the G7, President Trump arrived at the meeting of world leaders in Quebec bringing with him the notion that America`s closest friends have become a nuisance. Publicly feuding with America`s allies all week, the President complained Prime Minister Trudeau`s being so indignant. A telegraph reported that Trump has reportedly grown tired with British Prime Minister Theresa May`s schoolmistress tone. But despite how much Trump seems to relish confrontation, he`s not long for the summit. The President will leave Quebec tomorrow morning well before scheduled Sessions on climate change.

The fact that may not bother French President Emmanuel Macron who tweeted yesterday, the American President may not mind being isolated but neither do we mind signing a six-country agreement if need be. For more on why the President is sticking up for Russia and feuding with America`s allies, joining me now Evelyn Farkas who oversaw Russia as a former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense and Karen Karen Kornbluh former Ambassador the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development in the Obama Administration. Karen, let me start with you. Two ways of viewing this and I asked Senator Murphy this like you know one of those kind of temper tantrums or negotiating tactics or we are seeing something that is a genuine structural shift and rift and a tectonic shift in American alliances which is it?

KAREN KORNBLUH, FORMER AMBASSADOR, ORGANIZATION FOR ECONOMIC COOPERATION AND DEVELOPMENT: I think it`s the latter. And I disagree with the Senator a little bit because I`m not sure that the Europeans can go it alone without us. I think Macron is bluffing a little bit. The U.S. is really the leader of this club. We built this club and it`s really an own-goal that we`re sitting here blowing it up. And I think it takes a lot of nurturing to keep these together.

The President seems to have this idea that we`re supposed to make money on all of these big clubs, the NATO, the G7. That`s like thinking that you`re going to make money on your Fire Department. We`re the biggest house in the neighborhood, we have an interest in a strong fire department. If somebody else`s house catches on fire, it`s bad for property values for everybody but it`s especially bad for us. And I think we`re making everybody question the fire department, not a good idea.

HAYES: That`s a good metaphor actually. I prefer for these kinds of strategic alliances because I think they could be hard to communicate the value of them. Can I ask you a sort of silly and maybe human trivial question, Evelyn, which is how much does all the trash talking and all the acting out matter? Like do -- I wonder how much like fits of pique personal relationships being insulted play in these kinds of settings.

EVELYN FARKAS, FORMER DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: I think it probably depends on the foreign leader in question. You know, some of them have thicker skin than others. I actually find that the Democratic leaders are more able to shrug off the criticism than the autocrat so I`m not that worried about any of our allies feeling personally offended. But I do worry about alliances and you know I like Karen`s metaphor. I was thinking on my run today about the FDIC. You know, we have guarantees for Americans if they put their money in the bank that there`s -- if there`s a run on the bank or some kind of collapse that they can get their money back up to $250,000.

That`s the FDIC. Alliances are like that. You know, there`s sort of a guarantee that we make to other countries and they give to us that if you know, if it goes to hell in a handbasket if you will, you know if we go to war, that we`ll come to one another`s assistance. And these are our allies. And so I think it`s really worrying that the President is throwing a lot of -- he`s throwing to question the trust that they should have in the United States. So it`s not a personal thing but it`s a country to country and a you know, organization to organization issue.

HAYES: Does the -- Karen, the situation in Canada seems particularly bizarre to me. I mean, I can`t -- no, seriously, has there ever been -- the U.S.-Canadian relations seem very poor at the moment and we`re contemplating slash possibly entering into an actual trade war with our biggest trading partner which doesn`t seem like a great move.

KORNBLUH: No, and you know, there`s the economic anxiety in the country and there are things that we could do to respond to that. We could get you know, Canada to relax some of their protections on their dairy. We could get Japan to consume more, Germany to consume more. We could do things at home to help struggling families. But instead we`re blowing up the trading system which we`ve built so hard, we`ve worked so hard to build and protect.

You know, after the financial crisis, we put in place a process to monitor all the countries to make sure that nobody was cheating and putting in place protectionist measures. Now, Merkel offered to do something like that up in Canada with the G7. Let`s negotiate, let`s work on this so we don`t all resort to tit-for-tat and Trump blew it out of the water and said absolutely not. So we`re you know, we`re entering into the tit-for-tat that works against our own countries. We are the ones who benefit the most from all this. It`s really sad.

HAYES: Evelyn, there`s something sort of ironic too about -- I mean, America really did built the sort of post-World War II system, all these international institutions and the you know, the critique of it has been abroad and I think domestically particularly from a left perspective that it`s essentially a kind of imperial project that benefits the U.S. at the expense of others. And there`s something sort of ironic about watching the president who sits at the center of this massive vortex of power complaining that the US is the one getting a raw deal on this entire system that`s been built to project American influence the world over.

FARKAS: I mean, Chris, it`s like so many things this President says, it`s (INAUDIBLE) it`s upside down. I mean yes we created this system because we were coming out of you know -- well part of the part of the system has to do with economic depression. You know, World War II got us out of the depression. Also we came out of World War II. And so we wanted to prevent both of those things from happening again.

We set up a structure that would provide certain guarantees built on trust you know, again that word -- that word trust is really important and our President doesn`t understand that that`s what gives the United States strength. And these are all voluntary things. I mean, countries actually fight to get into U.S. you know, lead clubs like NATO, you know, like I mean, you name it. But basically the problem is now that we are almost attacking our own children and the Europeans are trying to defend them because they`ve benefitted from the system as well.

That you know, Iran is the other context with the Iran deal, the Europeans, they seem to have caved because they sent a letter this week asking for an exemption, you know, asking for exemptions from U.S. secondary sanctions so they`re kind of admitting I guess that the U.S. is going to get its way on the Iran deal. They don`t seem to be fighting but I wonder whether in the aftermath of this meeting they might take a harder line against us also.

HAYES: That`ll be interesting. Evelyn Farkas and Karen Kornbluh, thank you very much.

FARKAS: Thank you.

HAYES: After the break, the FBI seized a reporter`s contacts as part of the leak investigation and what may be part of a strategy to stop Robert Mueller. That`s story next.


HAYES: In the first indictment since the Trump administration announced a renewed effort against anyone who leaks classified information, a longtime Senate staffer appeared in court today but not crucially, and this is important, for leaking classified information.

James A. Wolff, the former director of security for the Senate intelligence committee, was charged instead with three counts of making false statements to the FBI about his contacts with various reporters, a highly notable aspect of this FBI investigation.

Prosecutors also secretly seized years worth of a New York Times reporter`s phone and email records. Reporter says the FBI only told her of the seizure after the fact in February.

To help make sense of this and other collateral investigations from the Justice Department, let`s bring in Frank Figluzi, a former assistant director for counter intelligence at the FBI, who is a NBC News national security contributor.

Frank, people that work in the media like myself, reporters, hate this kind of thing. They find it an offense to the first amendment. There are DOJ guidelines around when you go after reporters. What do you think about it?

FRANK FIGLIUZZI, NBC NATIONAL SECURITY CONTRIBUTOR: So, there`s a couple of noteworthy things here, Chris. I used to head up the counterintelligence division at the bureau and leak investigations of this nature were assigned to my division, but here`s some distinctions that I see already in this case. First, the focus was always on the leaker -- and look, catching leakers, leakers who leak classified information, that`s bad. Our nation`s security needs to remain intact. So we would go aggressively at that, but the distinction is that there was tremendous respect for freedom of the press and for the media and for the journalist involved.

And so there are policies in place at the bureau and the Department of Justice so that when you`re seeking records, phone records, email, electronic communications of a reporter it requires such a high level of authority and review to include by the way, the attorney general himself when you`re seeking those records on a reporter that it`s often not even done out of respect for journalism and because the case can be worked through parallel construction.

You can get the phone records of the alleged leaker. You can see the reporter contacting various times and you don`t need to infringe on the rights of the reporter.

We`re not seeing that here, Chris. We`re seeing a different twist here. And I think now we`ve got a line in the sand being drawn by this Justice Department and this White House that they`re going aggressively at journalists.

HAYES: I want to be clear here on two things. One is that there is some precedent here. The Obama administration did do surreptitious collection of reporters in the case of Cheryl Atkinson (ph), I think, and James Rosen at Fox News, particularly on leak investigations. I think there were four instances. James Risen (ph), as well, in which they did. Although, the methodology here seems even more aggressive than what had been established by the Obama administration.

But secondly, here`s my question for you. When I take a step back and I look at this, and you think about the IG report coming out about Comey`s behavior, it seems to me there`s a pivot of Trump and his allies to recognize they can`t get rid of Mueller and they can`t get rid of the investigations surrounding the investigators -- leak investigations, IG reports, investigations of the investigators, to produce an effect in which everyone is being investigated and people are leaking and people are getting indicted to try to muddy the waters, is that a fear of yours?

FIGLIUZZI: I think the fear that I have you, if any, is that we see an abuse of the process. So what I`m concerned in looking at this case is that the White House may have been literally directing the Department of Justice as to how to handle this case. And how to handle it contravening their own policies, perhaps.

So typically in this case as we know the facts, the attorney general before this one would not -- and several of the predecessors -- would not have signed off on this. They simply wouldn`t. Look what they charged the leaker with. They didn`t charge the leaker with leaking classified, they charged him with false statement to the FBI about his relationship and his contacts with the reporter.

So, that tells me they don`t want to go there. They don`t want the scrutiny on this one. They don`t have enough and they`re charging him simply with lying.

HAYES: That is a great -- I mean, it`s a great point because the president today when he comes out there and he says, here is the president talking about it this morning. Take a listen.


TRUMP: It`s very interesting that they caught a leaker and a very important -- it`s a very important leaker. So it`s very interesting. I`m getting information on it now, happened last night. It could be a terrific thing. I know -- I believe strongly in freedom of the press. I`m a big, big believer in freedom of the press, but I`m also a believer in classified information, has to remain classified and that includes Comey and his band of thieves who leaked classified information all over the place.


HAYES: Two things there. As you said, they suveiled this guy, and they couldn`t get him leaking classified information. Do you think if they found that, they would have charged him with that?

FIGLIUZZI: I think they would have. They could come in with a superseding indictment here. But, you know, remember Comey explaining that when he was in the Oval Office, Trump said that he would like to see some reporters taken out and they needed to do that. That`s what`s being done.

And let`s not forgetting what this guy may have leaked. It`s alleged he was talking to a reporter about the Carter Page investigation and wiretap, that`s what`s got Trump wound up. And that`s what`s got them targeting this particular leaker.

HAYES: Not only that, the piece at issue, if I`m not mistaken, is a piece in which Page himself on the record confirmed the basic details of it. So, you`ve got that aspect of it, too.

Frank Figliuzzi, thanks so much for your time.

FIGLIUZZI: Still to come, the Trump administration`s latest brazen attack on the rule of law by way of their latest attempt to the destroy the Affordable Care Act. Why legal experts are raising the alarm ahead.

And the quest to get Scott Pruitt some lotion is tonight`s Thing One, Thing Two next.


HAYES: Thing One tonight, Scott Pruitt is still employed. The EPA administrator with a thing for moisturizer and used mattresses has survived another day, but some of his weirder scandals are taking on a life of their own. Yesterday we told but the lotion. The Washington Post reporting that Pruitt directed agents of his security detail to drive him to multiple locations in search of a particular lotion on offer at Ritz-Carlton hotels. That must be special lotion.

Lucky for Scott Pruitt, someone who heard about his struggle showed up with a big bottle of the stuff at the Faith and Freedom Conference where he was speaking today. But of course she was thrown out because obviously that was not Ritz-Carlton lotion. Why is it so hard to get some Ritz-Carlton lotion around here?

And also, free speech, I guess?


SCOTT PRUITT, EPA ADMINISTRATOR: It`s interesting about this type of discussion is here we are talking about free speech, religious liberty, and folks won`t let you engage in it at times.


HAYES: Well, I mean, she`s the one who got dragged out of the room, Scott, you`re still at the microphone. That`s what you get for trying to bring a guy some lotion I guess, the wrong kind apparently.

Actually, she wasn`t the only one trolling Pruitt. There was lotion on the floor of the House today, too. That`s Thing Two in 60 seconds.


HAYES: Scott Pruitt is setting records for far and away the most ethical violations and corruption scandals of the entire Trump swamp.

Finally today, the president gave Pruitt something less than a full defense.


TRUMP: Scott Pruitt is doing a great job within the walls of the EPA. I mean, we`re setting records. Outside he`s being attacked very viciously by the press, and I`m not saying that he`s blameless, but we`ll see what happens.


HAYES: We`ll see what happens.

That`s usually the last thing you hear before Trump gives you a nickname.

It probably doesn`t help mattress lotion Scott that Democrats in congress are now using props on the floor of the House. Congressman Ruben Gallego and Ted Lieu were highlighting Pruitt`s ever growing list of scandals, including, of course, lotiongate and signing a letter, along with four other House Democrats, formally requesting the DOJ investigate the EPA administrator for potential criminal conduct.

So, yeah, while the used mattress and the fancy lotion -- have we mentioned that -- and $1,500 pens and the Chick-fil-a scandals may all be a little weird, some of them are a little bit, possibly illegal and Scott Pruitt`s not exactly denying it.


PRUITT: Look, my wife is an entrepreneur herself. I love, she loves, we love, Chick-fil-a as a franchise of faith and it`s one of the best in the country. And so that`s something we`re very excited about.


HAYES: With the Trump administration tearing immigrant children away from their parents daily, we still don`t know how many families have been ripped apart. The numbers we do have, though, are startling. The Intercept telling nearly 1,400 children so far that we know of from October to about mid-April, plus two weeks in May. Now that doesn`t include stretches of several weeks when this new policy has been put into effect, meaning the true figure could be much higher.

In fact, the Trump administration has been so aggressive, they`ve now caused another crisis: they`re running out of beds. And so now they`re sending hundreds of immigrants to federal prisons thousands of miles away to wait for their hearings, including apparently parents who have had their children ripped away.

Some mothers have reportedly been taken to federal prison in Washington state where both the governor and the attorney general are now demanding to know when those immigrants can see their children again. Taking children from their parents as U.S. policy is cruel and inhumane. And apparently even Donald Trump even thinks so, because he consistently refuses to acknowledge that it`s his policy.


TRUMP: I don`t like the children being separated from the parents. I don`t like it. I hate it. But that`s a Democrat bill that we`re enforcing. We can change it in one day. All they have to do is come and see us.


HAYES: That`s a lie, it`s an absolute lie, of course. It`s a lie the president has repeatedly told.

What do you even mean it`s a Democrat bill, you control all the branches of government.

But here`s the thing, he`s in luck, because today Senator Dianne Feinstein, Democrat of California, dropped a new piece of legislation. The Keep Families Together Act, designed to do exactly that, keep families together and halt this abominable practice. So Donald Trump and Republicans can solve this in one day, pass this bill, sign it into law and stop this barbaric practice that has become a national shame.


HAYES: Something happened late yesterday afternoon that almost never happens. In an obscure court filing, three career Justice Department lawyers, people whose job it is to defend the government`s position in litigation, withdrew their names from a government brief.

The move set off a massive freakout on legal Twitter, which, yes, is a thing. "Guys, I have a very bad feeling about this," tweeted law professor Nick Bagley who first spotted what was going on. And that bad feeling was quickly borne out. Minutes later in a truly shocking move the Department of Justice, whose job, to be clear, is to defend the nation`s laws in court decided instead to attack them, siding with a group of Republican states who are suing the government to completely abolish the Obamacare legislation, to overturn it. Specifically the DOJ said it will no longer defend the requirement that people have health insurance or, or provisions that guarantee access to health insurance regardless of any pre-existing medical conditions.

Joining me now to help explain just how big a deal this is, the guy who first flagged what was happening, University of Michigan law school professor Nick Bagley. Also with me Julie Fernandes, the Open Society Foundation who was deputy assistant attorney general at the DOJ civil rights division; and Maya Wily of The New School, a former assistant U.S. attorney in New York.

So Nick, let me start with you. You noticed them pulling their names off the briefs, and then the brief from the government later, and you had this whole tweet storm about how crazy it is that they`re taking this position. Why? Why is it such a big deal?

NICK BAGLEY, UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN: It`s really hard to overstate how unusual this really is. The Justice Department, one of its most important jobs, is defending acts of congress. And there`s a long-standing durable bipartisan commitment to defending any and all laws so long as a non- frivolous argument can be made in their defense.

And there were lots of arguments that the Trump administration could have made to brush back this really very silly lawsuit that`s attempting to undermine the Affordable Care Act yet again, but instead of making those arguments the Trump administration decided to throw the statute under the bus.

HAYES: Julie, you`re nodding your head. The argument I`ve heard from conservatives who are defending this, they said look, the Defense of Marriage Act, very famously the Department of Justice refused to defend it. You`re shaking your head already.

JULIE FERNANDES, OPEN SOCIETY FOUNDATION: Well, because it`s such a different situation, Chris, as you know. In the DOMA case, there was a constitutional question where the country was moving in a direction that was inconsistent with the statute. There was a huge constitutional values question that was being presented here. Here, and Nick just said the catch phrase, the department has a duty to defend non -- Duty to defend as long as there`s a non-frivolous argument.

Here, the arguments are thin. Their duty is clear to enforce the law, defend the law. DOMA was a very different type of case.

HAYES: You know, Maya, it strikes me that while -- one of the things that`s been happening is there`s all this focus of tension between Rosenstein and the White House and him pressuring Jeff Sessions, and you`ve got Sessions over at DOJ. But Sessions is really going to work on that DOJ even if he has so far maintained the integrity of the Mueller investigation as far as he can.

MAYA WILEY, THE NEW SCHOOL: Jeff Sessions is on the home team.

HAYES: Right, that`s right.

WILEY: And the home team is really about a policy position, which is a policy disagreement with the Affordable Care Act.

HAYES: Right. We don`t like this.

WILEY: We don`t like it.

And actually, both what Nick and Julie are saying that is so important is what we are supposed to be protected from as a people by the Department of Justice is because there`s a change in administration simply making a policy decision not to defend the laws of the United States. You`re not supposed to do that.

HAYES: Right. You`re destroying the basic idea of like continuity.

WILEY: And remember, this is a -- congress tried, depending on how you count, 50 to 70 times to dismantle the Affordable Care Act and has succeeded in some small measures, but generally failed to undermine the entire statute. And now we have with very thin legal arguments a policy fight by the nation`s lawyer in chief rather than protecting our laws he`s attacking us on policy grounds.

HAYES: And Nick, it also was the manner they did it in that I found really fascinating. Like, you know, even if you take DOMA as the closest analog, there was a big public debate about it. There was congressional notice. They defended it in the lower courts, and then they stopped after the appellete level. you were just noticing this happening like this didn`t -- it almost seemed like they tried to sneak this past everyone, Nick.

BAGLEY: This came out of nowhere.

You know, the three line attorneys that withdrew their names from this case, they`re civil servants. These are people who have served across administrations. They have defended programs they disagree with. They`ve made arguments they personally disagree with. But it just goes to show how outlandish this argument truly is. And the aggressiveness with which the Trump administration is pressing it.

I think there`s a temptation on the -- from the critics and the people who invoke DOMA to normalize this, to say that this is something we`ve seen before, but that`s just not the case. This is new. It is different.

HAYES: Go ahead, Julia.

FERNANDES: The other point I`d like to make here is this is part of a pattern. So this is not a one-off by the Trump administration or by the Sessions Justice Department, the most egregious example of this I think is the Joe Arpaio pardon, right? So, the Trump folks see themselves as above the law and not sort of confined by law, precedent, or the way sort of the Justice Department is supposed to operate.

Let`s remember that Joe Arpaio was the sheriff of Maricopa County. He was held in contempt of court by a judge because he refused to comply with an order that was to stop intentionally discriminating, and so Trump pardoned him for contempt.

HAYES: right.

FERNANDES: Right. It`s like --

HAYES: And he violated a court order for a judge in a case that was brought by the federal government, right, the Department of Justice against him for violating civil rights. He criminally violated a contempt of court, and the president pardons him.

FERNANDES: Exactly. Pardons him. So what does that mean that the president`s view is of the rule of law, of the role of the Justice Department? I mean, the Texas ID is another example where they were arguing the Justice Department for years was arguing and winning on a set of facts about again intentional discrimination in Texas. It`s sort of what -- and then the Justice Department reverses position as if they found the facts no longer were the facts.

It`s what Maya was saying. This is policy disguised as law. This is I get to do what I want because I`ve got the power. That`s what this is.

WILEY: Absolutely. It`s also bad policy. I mean, one of the reasons congress has not been able to completely dismantle the Affordable Care Act is because it`s popular and actually has support. It`s popular, because people need to see a doctor when they`re sick and they couldn`t get all of their own party to agree, because of their concerns about low-income people being charged pre-existing conditions either losing their health care or being charged more money because they`re sick.

HAYES: And Nick, that`s the policy implication here, is the government of the United States is now on the record saying the court should gut the entirety of pre- existing conditions protections and insurance market reforms that constitute some of the most popular parts of the Affordable Care Act. And today a bunch of insurers were freaking out a bit.

BAGLEY: Yeah, absolutely. Of course they are. This is their business model, to sell insurance to people who are paying into the kitty that we all contribute to in order to cover our health insurance. There are about 130 million people in this country who have pre-existing conditions. And if they don`t get insurance through their jobs, and they don`t get insurance through Medicare or Medicaid, if the Affordable Care Act goes away, they`re going to be out of luck. This is a very high-stakes debate.

HAYES: Let me follow up on that, Nick, just quickly. Is this -- I mean, I remember when there was a statutory interpretation question around the subsidies and saying this is crazy and then it got up to the Supreme Court. Like, is this going to go anywhere?

BAGLEY: You know, i would have said yesterday no way, and I would still say I think it`s extremely unlikely. But we`ve seen arguments move from off the wall to on the wall.

WILEY: That`s right.

BAGLEY: I think this is so crazy that it`s unlikely to move to on the wall, but I will say that the Trump administration is doing everything it can to dismantle the Affordable Care Act with hammer and tongs.

HAYES: All right, Nick Bagley, Julie Fernandes, and Maya Wiley, that was great. Thank you very much and have a great weekend, all of you.

All right, that is ALL IN for this evening. THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW starts right now. Good evening, Rachel.


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