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This is the President. TRANSCRIPT: 7/4/2018, All In with Chris Hayes.

This is the President. TRANSCRIPT: 7/4/2018, All In with Chris Hayes.

Show: ALL IN with CHRIS HAYES Date: July 4, 2018 Guest: Maxine Waters, Eric Lipton, Elaina Plott

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: That's HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us. Oh, and happy Fourth of July. "ALL IN" with Chris Hayes starts right now.

CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: Good evening from New York and happy Fourth of July. I'm Chris Hayes and it is a very special Independence Day episode of all in because we thought what better way to celebrate the Fourth of July than with some fireworks. Tonight we present some of our more explosive interviews from the year thus far from the fiery, always fiery Steve Schmidt to our favorite Richard Painter moment ever and some Scott Pruitt bombshells along the way but who better to start us off than the gas to brings the fireworks nearly every time she comes to ALL IN. Our first segment tonight aired back in March just after the President of the United States publicly insulted her intelligence. This is our segment with the gentlelady from California one Maxine Waters.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We have to defeat Nancy Pelosi and Maxine Waters, a very low I.Q. individual. You ever see her? You ever seen - have you ever seen her? We will impeach him! We will impeach the president. But he hasn't done anything wrong. It doesn't matter. We will impeach him. She is a low I.Q. individual. You can't help it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAYES: HAYES: Joining me now is Congresswoman Maxine Waters, Democrat from California. Congresswoman, the President has said this twice about you in the past week. I wanted to give you an opportunity to respond.

REP. MAXINE WATERS (D), CALIFORNIA: Well, you know, there is no response. Everybody knows who this bully is. This President has attacked more women, more individuals, name-calling, I mean, look at this. Not only has he talked about Senator Warren, called her Pocahontas, he called Hillary crooked. He's calling me low I.Q. He called Rubio little. I mean, this is what we expect of him. I just wonder what took him so long. And so since we know who he is, and the fact that he is, you know, calling people names constantly, and talking about the media in the way that he does and calling people SOBs, et cetera, et cetera, I'm not surprised at all.

All I know is this. If he thinks he can stop me from talking about impeach 45, he's got another thought coming. I am not intimidated by him. I'm going keep saying that we need to impeach him and I am so depending on our Special Counsel, Robert Mueller, to connect the dots so that he can prove the collusion. And of course, we've seen obstruction of justice just playing out before our very eyes. So this is a dishonorable human being. He is a con man. He came to this job as a con man. I really call him you know, Don the con man. And so, that's who he is, that's what we expect and I'm not surprised at all.

HAYES: It's interesting to listen to your reaction to this because it almost sounds like you and other folks who work in Washington don't even - it doesn't even land anymore when he does this kind of thing because it has become so wrote. Is that a fair characterization?

WATERS: That's absolutely fair. We expect to wake up every morning to him calling somebody else another name or telling another lie. He has no credibility. And so, no we're not surprised about him, you know, calling names and talking about my I.Q. He might say or do anything. It's expected.

HAYES: You just mentioned Robert Mueller. I know that you believe that there probably was collusion. There were crimes committed. That's a contention you've made. You think obstruction has played out before our eyes. Today the House Republicans on the Intelligence Committee announced very abruptly without consulting Democrats, they're wrapping up their investigation. It's done and it's over, and they found no collusion. Do you take that at face value?

WATERS: Well, first of all, they had no real investigation. And who would believe Nunes was working in a credible way to find out what took place? As a matter of fact, he was simply a messenger boy for the President, running up in the middle of the night, trying to prove that Obama, for example, had wiretapped the President. And so they can conclude whatever they want to. They weren't doing anything to begin with. It was not a credible investigation and so we're not paying any attention to that at all.

HAYES: The President's former right-hand man and senior adviser Steve Bannon went to France. He's been touring around Europe and he gave an address to the Front National, the National Front Party there that is a very hard right anti-immigrant some say proto-fascist party. And he said this to that group and I wanted to get your reaction. I thought it was an interesting thing. This is what he said to them. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STEVE BANNON, FORMER CHIEF STRATEGIST, WHITE HOUSE: Let them call you racist. Let them call you xenophobes. Let them call you nativists. Wear it as a badge of honor because every day we get stronger and they get weaker.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAYES: Wear the term racist as a badge of honor. What do you think of that?

WATERS: Well, you know, he has always said that. When he was at Breitbart, he said look, if race is an issue, we win every time. He's made it known that he wants race to be the issue. He wants us constantly talking about how racist they are and constantly he's organizing people, saying that, you know, we're accusing them unfairly, et cetera. We're playing the race card. This is his game, and this is what he does and we have to stay on some of these issues and stop following some of this stuff that he is doing and that the president is doing. They like diverting us and diverting the attention from the real issue. I'm sitting here as the Ranking Member of the Financial Services Committee, trying to hold on to the reforms that we have made with Dodd-Frank.

That Consumer Financial Protection Bureau that Mr. Mulvaney is now over there trying to dismantle since Mr. Cordray is gone is extremely important. We're working on issues trying to deal with the big banks and to implement the Dodd-Frank reforms that we have been involved in, to make sure that we never have another crisis like we've had where the big banks basically took advantage of so many of our citizens with these exotic loans and with these loans that resetting in a short period of time. We had foreclosures all over this country that we had to learn how to do modifications for and keep people in their homes. We need to be talking about these issues. We need to be talking about the sanctions and why there is no implementation of the sanctions? Why it is that Tillerson had $120 million. Didn't spend a dime of it to find out about what had happened with hacking into our DNC? Why it is Mnuchin who is the Treasury Secretary supposed to help implement the sanctions is excusing himself and talking about oh, that's something the State Department was supposed to do.

This President in my estimation has a deal with Putin where he agreed to lift the sanctions, where he agreed that there would be no more sanctions in exchange for that. I think, I believe no matter what anybody else says, that that is what was worked out between the two of them, that Putin helped him because President in the way that he has done all of the trolling and all of that that he has done. And so I'm not surprised about anything that he does. And it's time to talk about the issues. He can call me all the names that he want. It doesn't make any difference. I want to tell you, he is exactly who we know him to be. He is Don the con man. That's who he is. He is a con artist.

HAYES: Congresswoman Maxine Waters, thank you for making the time.

WATERS: Thank you.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HAYES: This past May we witnessed one of the ghastliest contrasts of 2018 when the Trump administration held an opulent celebration in Jerusalem to celebrate the president's decision to move the U.S. Embassy there while just 40 miles away Israeli shields -- soldiers shot and killed dozens of protesting Palestinians. Trump's decision reverse decades of American foreign policy designed to maintain the fragile prospects for Middle East peace. That night we were joined by MSNBC Contributor and now former Republican Strategist Steve Schmidt who did not hold back.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

STEVE SCHMIDT, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Everything we will see Donald Trump do from now until the midterms to try to stave off a disastrous midterm election defeat is try to intensify support in his base through policies of incitement. And so when we saw the two theocratic nutjob preachers at the crossroads of civilization and religion be able to antagonize Judaism, Catholicism, Islam, and Mormonism, all in the same day because of their previous bigoted pronouncements, their extreme ideology, this is not about making the Middle East more secure, it's not about making the United States more secure, it's not about making sure that we don't have yet another generation of American kids dying in Middle Eastern wars, it's all about Donald Trump being able to score a point, ephemeral though it may be in the news cycle, and to position himself for the midterm elections. It's clear as day that he has no sense of history. He's completely ignorant of the religions in the region. Do you think that he could tell you the origins of the Sunni-Shia schism? I suspect not. He knows nothing about anything. He's bumbling around and he destabilized with his rash move the Middle East. And as I said, when he announced the move to the embassy, I said there will be blood on his hands not because he pulled the trigger, but because he destabilized the region with not having any clue about what he was doing and that goes for Jared Kushner as well.

HAYES: I want to just -- you mentioned Robert Jeffress, who was one of the pastors who gave an invocation today. This is what Mitt Romney had to say about him. Robert Jeffress says you can't be saved by being a Jew and Mormonism is heresy from the pit of hell. He said the same about Islam. Such a religious bigot, should not be giving the prayer that opens the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem. John Hagee also giving an invocations today. So you think this really is entirely domestic political management of the Trump base?

SCHMIDT: Of course it is. It is -- it is an appalling disgrace that these two were allowed to open in prayer under the flag of the United States, an official U.S. government event given their mountains of bigotry, their anti-Catholicism, anti-Judaism, anti-Islam, anti-Mormonism. We don't talk about these people are enough so let's do it for a moment. Jerry Falwell, Franklin Graham, Mike Huckabee, all of them, they dress up as man of God, but they are not. They are in business and they are in politics. And the type of politics that they advocate is an extreme and theocratically tinged politics. You see that they thirst for the nectar of political power, the gospel is secondary. When you look at their ex-vocations of Donald Trump from all sorts of behavior that they previously condemned, it's for expedient partisan political purposes. One of the things that is certainly true about this movement, wherever you look around the world and you see the fusion of the state with religion, whether it is Putin and the Orthodox Church, complicit in his power or other places around the world, the ideology advanced and represented by Hagee at all always veers towards the autocratic. It's always less free. It's always dominated by an extreme animus towards gays. There are people who would much rather tell you how to live and what birth control that you're allowed to take, for example, if you're a young woman that would ever dare to say what is so obviously true about conduct by this President that is so obviously wrong. These are the modern-day Pharisees in the temple. They are hypocrites. And one of the blessings of Roy Moore's candidacy is we know who they are, and no one in this country ever has to pretend again when they hold up a cloak and say you're attacking my religion to do anything but laugh out loud. Their politicians and extreme ones at that.

HAYES: All right, Steve Schmidt, thank you so much for coming out tonight. I appreciate it.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HAYES: Much more ahead including a tour through some of the countless scandals of the swampiest creature in Washington D.C. Scott Pruitt, that's next

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HAYES: Welcome back to our special ALL IN Fourth of July Fireworks show as we turn now to the bombshells -- get it -- of Scott Pruitt Trump's administrator of the EPA who is still employed despite being involved in so many scandals it's hard to keep track of them all.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

HAYES: EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt has spent more than 58,000 taxpayer dollars on non-commercial flights. Pruitt also gave himself, and listen to this, an 18 person 24/7 security detail at a cost of more than $830,000 in just three months. Pruitt used public money to have his office swept for hidden listening devices and bought sophisticated biometric locks for additional security. And the EPA spent nearly $25,000 to build a soundproof communications booth for Pruitt's office. Pruitt has been routinely flying first-class such as a $1,600 first-class seat to fly all the way from Washington D.C. to New York and the round-trip flight to Italy that cost at least $7,000 in the stupendously opulent business class cabin on Emirates Airline. Last summer more than -- I almost can't believe this is true but it is -- more than $120,000 in public money was spent for Pruitt to take one single trip to Italy. Scott Pruitt took abroad from the wife of the top energy lobbyist who gave Pruitt a sweetheart deal on a condo. Pruitt's security detail broke down the door of the condo when those who believed Pruitt was unconscious and need to be rescued. He's reportedly discovered waking up from a nap. Scott Pruitt lied to Congress about using private e-mail -- have I ever heard of that before -- using private e-mail to talk to Big Oil as Oklahoma Attorney General. In another corner of the Pruitt scandal universe is the news that Pruitt bypassed the White House to give big raises to two of his favorite aides. You'll remember Scott Pruitt got in hot water over a $50 a night apartment he rented from a lobbyist in D.C. who had business before the EPA. And now we know he once bought a house with a lobbyist. There's another FOIA request and there's twelve silver fountain pens and personalized journals that came in at the cost of the low, low price of $1,560 for the 12 fountain pens spending $1,500 for a dozen pens is one thing but can you go lower? How about oh I don't know, getting a government employee to try to buy you a used mattress from Donald Trump? Scott Pruitt enlisted an EPA aide to help his wife find a job with Chick-Fil-A. 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 some special lotion.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HAYES: In the wake of one of those scandals I spoke last month to two of the top reporters on the Scott Pruitt beat, Eric Lipton of the New York Times and Elaina Plott of the Atlantic. it was Elaina Plott you might recall who while in the course of doing her job was called a piece of trash by the EPA spokesman.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

HAYES: 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 --

PLOTT: Right.

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.

PLOTT: Exactly.

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. 1 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 tell.

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.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HAYES: Coming up, the interview that helps kick off the month of public outrage that finally forced Trump to back down. That's next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HAYES: On a Friday going into a Memorial Day weekend, reports were beginning to surface that the Trump Administration was separating migrant children from their parents after they cross the southern border. I've talked to two people working on the front lines of the issue providing legal representation to detain immigrants, the ACLU's Lee Gelernt and Laura St. John of the Florence Project. What they told me has blown off into perhaps the biggest self-made crisis of this presidency. More than 2,000 kinds, some of them babies, just a few months old, taken away from their families by the U.S. government with no media plan to reunite them. That interview went viral over the long holiday weekend and we followed up every single night since then.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

HAYES: This country is now systematically taking children from their parents at the border thanks to new directives issued by the Trump Administration. Immigrants arriving at the border often seeking asylum so not trying to sneak in, they're there to tell Border Patrol that are there are having their children ripped away from them. Immigrants and civil rights groups are saying they have never seen anything like this. Kids as young as nine-years-old or seven-years-old, cases of children as young as 18 months, OK, ripped out of the arms of their mother and putting those children into government-run shelters for a very specific reason, to punish the immigrants, to serve as what White House Chief of Staff John Kelly called "a tough deterrent" in an NPR interview this month. And when confronted with the idea that separating families and mothers from children is cruel, he added, "the children will be taken care of, put into foster care or whatever." That's a verbatim quote, or whatever.

And if Kelly's words "or whatever" about the fate of an 18-month-old don't exactly fill you with confidence that the federal government has the wherewithal the capacity or the intention to take care of these children, their track record makes it clear that your doubts are warranted. Because last month a New York Times reported that HHS lost track of nearly 1,500 migrant children placed with sponsors of more than 7,000 unaccompanied minors, those are minors who come without parents who cross the border. That's 1,500 children lost by the government. Here to help me understand what this administration is doing to these children and their families, Lee Gelernt the Deputy Director for the National Immigrant Rights Project of ACLU who was recently in El Paso and Laura St. John, a Legal Director at the Florence Project, a non-profit in Arizona who provides free legal services to people in immigration custody.

Let me start with you, Laura. I just want to start on a sort of factual basis, which is the government is doing something they haven't been doing before, which is to separate children from parents, right.

LAURA ST. JOHN, LEGAL DIRECTOR, THE FLORENCE PROJECT: That's correct, Chris. I mean, what's happening right now is really unprecedented. What we've seen here in Arizona is actually since January over 200 cases of parents being separated from their children and some of these children are extremely young as you mentioned. We've actually seen children who are two years old regularly.

And just last week we saw a 53-week old infant in court without a parent.

HAYES: I don't -- I'm sorry, I'm having a really hard time thinking about this. So a 53-week old infant comes with presumably his or her mother and they're apprehended by Customs and Border Patrol and then they're processed in some way and at some point, someone from the government in a uniform comes and physically takes a 53-week old baby away from the mother?

ST. JOHN: That's correct. Yes. What happens oftentimes at the border is that the parents are separated and taken into separate custody and the children are brought into the custody of the Office of Refugee Resettlement and brought into shelters that are run by the government.

HAYES: There are shelters and then who -- like it's hard to run a child care system. Like who's watching the 53-week old infant?

ST. JOHN: So again it's the Office of Refugee Resettlement is tasked with housing children who are unaccompanied minors. And in the past, that's always referred to children who cross the border sort of on their own and wasn't really involving young children like what we're seeing now.

HAYES: I see.

ST. JOHN: But what we're seeing now is that because the government is separating the children from the parents, the government is actually you know, rendering these children as unaccompanied minors and making them unaccompanied and bringing them into these shelters.

HAYES: So you've -- OK, so that makes them -- now I understand. So you've got a situation where there are unaccompanied minors across the border by themselves. There are --

HAYE: And they tend to be 14, 15 like it.

LEE GELERNT, THE DEPUTY DIRECTOR, THE NATIONAL IMMIGRANT RIGHTS PROJECT: You know, and that's unfortunate that they're here by themselves and they need somewhere to go. That's one situation but why create that situation. That's what's happening now.

HAYES: So we are -- OK, so -- but I just want to be clear. We didn't do that before. The policy used to be you show up with an 18-month-old in your arms, you're not going to be given -- you're not going to be told hey you can come to the U.S. you will be processed with that child.

GELERNT: This is unprecedented. This is the worst thing I've seen in 25 plus years of doing the civil rights work. I mean, I am talking to these mothers and they're describing their kids screaming mommy, mommy, don't let them take me away. Five years old, six years old and they're just being ripped away.

HAYES: Did they see them?

GELERNT: I really -- they don't see them. They get to speak to them once in a while. But of course, if you're talking about an 18-month old, two years old, they can't even speak on the phone.

I really feel like these policy debates are becoming so abstract. If the policymakers could sit in those ICE offices down there at the border for a day and watch these little kids begging not to be taken away, they're already traumatized from having to flee their countries and then they're taken away.

The medical evidence is overwhelming that we may be doing permanent trauma to these kids. And yet the government is trying every way they can to try and justify it.

And let me make two points about the statements that the Secretary has been putting out, Secretary Nielsen. She's saying you don't want your child taken away, go to a port of entry and present yourself and say you want asylum. People who were presenting themselves including the Congolese mom who's the leaf minorities presented themselves at a border still had their child taken away.

HAYES: I want to talk about that story for a second. A woman fleeing the Congo, she comes the United States, not sneaking in. She's showing up at a port of entry to say I am here seeking asylum in America, the beacon of liberty with my child. I throw myself on your mercy and the US government does what?

GELERNT: They put her in a makeshift hotel with the daughter for four days and then they say to them we want the daughter to come in another room for a second. The daughter goes in the other room, the mother then hears the child screaming please, please don't take me away from my mommy.

The mother wasn't told for four days where the child was going. She went to Chicago, the mothers in San Diego. Chicago was might as well be the moon for us someone from a little village in the Congo, gets to speak to the daughter once every few weeks for a few minutes. When we file the lawsuit, then the government says, well, by the time she made it to the Congo, she no longer had her papers. Well, of course not. And they said maybe she wasn't really the mother. The judge says, well why don't you do a DNA test? They do the DNA test which takes two seconds...

HAYES: And of course, she's the mother.

GELERNT: She's the mother.

HAYES: I want to read -- I want to read to you, Laura, from one of the declarations from a Honduran mother named Miriam who is separated from an 18-month-old son, just about that at that moment that happens. The immigration officers made me walk out my son to a government vehicle and place my son in a car seat in the vehicle. My son was crying as I put him in the seat. I did not even have a chance to try to comfort my son because the officer slammed the door shut as soon as he was in the seat. I was crying too. I cry even now when I think about that moment when the border officer took my son away. Is that -- is that a common -- is that happening a lot?

ST. JOHN: You know, I think what our clients report in terms of the devastation that they feel having been separated from their children, I hear stories of that nature pretty regularly unfortunately, and the type of devastation that we're talking about, you know, what Lee mentioned we're a family -- separated mother doesn't know where her child is for four days, that's entirely common right now in this administration, is that children and parents who are separated sometimes don't have any way to communicate with each other for days, for weeks, I've seen months where a parent had no idea where their child was after the U.S. Government took the child away.

HAYES: You're suing?

GELERNT: We are.

HAYES: Can they do this?

GELERNT: We don't believe they can. We are waiting for the decision. We think it will come any day. We are hoping the judge says this can't happen any longer. And I want to make one other point. Even the women who and fathers across the border, they're being prosecuted, we don't think asylum seekers should be prosecuted, but we've said to the government when we said in court is you want to prosecute them for this misdemeanor and they get a few days in jail, they take the kid away for those few days, give the child back after. We have a client the named plaintiff in our case, one of the named plaintiffs, he did time serve for a few days for the prosecution. It's been seven months, they haven't returned her child.

HAYES: Where's the kid?

GELERNT: He's in a facility in Chicago and they told her...

HAYES: In Chicago?

GELERNT: And she is in Texas and they told her your son is in Chicago and she said to us, I don't know whether Chicago is a man, a place, a facility, that's all they said to her. Your son is in Chicago.

HAYES: You're -- what is a lawsuit contend about why they do not have the power to do this? I mean it's morally odious, it's obviously despicable.

I'm sorry, I'm editorializing. Why is it not permissible?

GELERNT: So we say the due process clause prevents a family from being separated, parent and child, unless there's a compelling reason. What that's traditionally meant is the parent is a danger to the child.

Of course, you separate if the parent is beating the child or neglectful or are unfit but you don't just separate for no reason. And we -- and so now the government won't in court admit that they're doing it to punish and deter even though that's what they were saying publicly. So they're trying to come up with these...

HAYES: Really, they're not being clear about that?

GELERNT: Nope. And so they're coming up these retroactive justifications like...

HAYES: Oh, so they're saying they're doing it for a reason not as a blanket policy to stop people from coming?

GELERNT: When the judge pressed and said well what's the reason, they said, well, maybe it's not really the parent, and the judge said well, what about DNA? And you know it just went like that one after another. They are not -- they are saying...

HAYES: They won't admit what the policy is?

GELERNT: They won't admit the rationale for the policy. But when you go through their rationales and none of them makes sense, it's clear why they're doing it. They're doing it to deter asylum seekers.

HAYES: And just to be clear, Laura, like, I just want to be clear on this because I know that there's a lot of things about the way that immigration policy works in this country that have been broken and terrible for a long time. And sometimes people find them in the Trump Administration. It turns out that there's been stuff like this happening for a long time. But this is not that, right? I mean you've been doing this work. This is new.

ST. JOHN: Yes, absolutely. Again, this is -- this is unprecedented. The number of people that we are seeing being separated is like nothing I've seen, and I've been here for nearly a decade in Arizona doing immigration work.

HAYES: Does it take a toll on the -- I keep thinking about having that job of taking a screaming child away, does it take a toll on the people who are doing this?

ST. JOHN: You know, I can't speak for anybody who works for Border Patrol, but I will say that I think what is happening is absolutely inhumane. I think you mentioned that a lot of things about immigration law are complicated and can get -- and can be confusing and I would say this is not that situation.

You know, taking parents and children and separating them for no good reason, there is no reason to do that. There -- it's just unjustifiable frankly and inhumane.

HAYES: If you're watching this and you feel like it is unjustifiable and inhumane, I would really urge you to contact people that represent you in the United States government to tell them that you feel that way.

Lee Gelernt and Laura St. John, thank you both.

ST. JOHN: Thank you.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HAYES: We are back with the All In Fourth of July fireworks show. And if you were going to mix up the elements for a truly explosive breaking news story, a president, an affair, an ex-rated movie star, that should get you TNT.

When The Wall Street Journal first reported that Donald Trump's long-time personal fixer had paid an adult film actress named Stormy Daniels $130,000 to keep quiet about her alleged affair with the president.

We spoke with Richard Painter, the chief White House ethics lawyer under George W. Bush, now a Senate candidate in Minnesota. His response was memorable.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

HAYES: To the extent that you don't care about the president being unfaithful to his wife, what ethical issue is there here from your perspective?

RICHARD PAINTER, BLOOMBERG: Well, the whole thing is disgusting. But we have had disgusting past week to ten days. We have a president who refers to the countries where Americans of African descent come from as s-holes, and now we have this, using hundreds of thousands of dollars to buy off silence from some porn star that he's having some kinky sex with.

And now he's going to fly down to Mar-a-Lago, get $100,000 a head on some fund-raiser and guess who's going to pay for him to fly down there on Air Force One: the taxpayers. I mean, that's the big picture here.

He probably does not have legal liability with respect to this payment. The prosecution theory in the Jon Edwards case I think was a very weak one.

HAYES: Yep.

PAINTER: We had a lot of right wingers spending money to try to nail Clinton on his sexual affairs, and nobody called those campaign contributions to Republicans. I don't think that theory works very well.

If he engaged in money laundering or anything like that, he could get in trouble. I don't think he made the mistakes that Dennis Hastert made when he was trying to buy silence of people he had actually sexually abused as children.

But the main point here is Donald Trump uses these LLCs and all these shell entities, and he has hundreds of them, for all sorts of purposes. And paying off porn stars who he's had affairs with is only one of his purposes. He may get money from the Russians.

I mean, Robert Mueller needs to get to the bottom of what's going on with the finances. And every time Robert Mueller goes there, Trump gets upset, which means there's something there.

We have known that Donald Trump has had these LLCs, many of them. We have known that for months. And that Mr. Cohen set up a lot of them, some of his other lawyers set up other ones. Robert Mueller needs to look at every single one of them. Robert Mueller is not going to make the mistake that Ken Starr did at getting all worked up about the sex.

Yes, we know we have a pervert in the White House, but he is going to focus. Robert Mueller is going to focus on the money and money that comes from foreign nationals and from other sources. If there is money laundering, that will be prosecuted. That's Robert Mueller's job, not focusing on the sex.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HAYES: Coming up, when White House Chief of Staff John Kelly blatantly lied about a Florida congresswoman, Fredericka Wilson offered a fiery response right here on All In. Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HAYES: When John Kelly was hired as White House chief of staff, he was touted as the adult in the room. The person who was going to restrain the president's ugliest impulses. There were reasons to be skeptical if you had heard him talk about, for instance, immigrants as the secretary of Homeland Security. But it was not until Kelly's confrontation with a Democratic congresswoman from Florida that it became crystal clear just how much he shares in common with the president he serves.

It all began last after four U.S. soldiers were killed during an operation in the west African nation of Niger. And one of those was Army Sergeant Ladavid Johnson, a family friend of the Florida congresswoman Fredericka Wilson. And Wilson was there with Ladavid Johnson's widow when a phone call came from the president of the United States.

According to the congresswoman that call did not go well. In fact, she told reporters the president was, quote, insensitive to the soldier's widow, telling her that her husband knew what he sign up for, but when it happens it hurts anyway.

In response, the White House went beyond simply denying Congresswoman Wilson's account, they sent Chief of Staff John Kelly to the White House podium where he delivered a full-on character assassination.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN KELLY, WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: On October -- April, rather -- of 2015, I was still on active duty, and I went to the dedication of the new FBI field office in Miami. It was dedicated to two men who were killed in a firefight. There were family members there. Some of the children that were there were only 3 or 4 years old when their dads were killed. And the congresswoman stood up, and in the long tradition of empty barrels making the most noise, stood up there, in all of that, and talked about how she was instrumental in getting the funding for that building.

We were stunned, stunned that she had done it, even for someone that is that empty a barrel, we were stunned.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAYES: That story was a lie. And we know it was a lie because there was a video of the event Kelly was lying which we played in full here on All In.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. FREDERICKA WILSON, (D) FLORIDA: Will all men and women and first responders who work in law enforcement stand up, stand up now, so that we can applaud you and what you do. Stand up. We are proud of you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAYES: But even after being exposed as a liar, John Kelly, the adult in the room, insisted he had done nothing wrong.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you feel like you have something to apologize?

KELLY: Do I?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: yeah.

KELLY: Oh, no. No. Never. I will apologize if I need to, but for something like this, absolutely not. I stand by my comments.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAYES: There was no surprise when John Kelly's credibility came into question again a few month later when it was revealed that Rob Porter, the White House staff secretary who handled every classified document across the president's desk had been accused of domestic abuse by two ex-wives and that senior White House officials knew all about it. Kelly told reporters that he fired Porter as soon as he learned the allegation were credible.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Can you clarify to us exactly -- there's been a lot of reporting about the timeline and when you found out about things. Can you just clarify that?

KELLY: Tuesday night.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You found out Tuesday night?

KELLY: That the accusations were true. 40 minutes later he was gone.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAYES: That was another lie. On the Tuesday night in question, Kelly had defended Porter in a public statement, calling him, quote, a man of true integrity, honor, a friend, a confidante and a trusted professional. The following day, the White House was stil lstanding by Porter, even after images emerged of his ex-wife with a black eye, which she said she got when he punched her in the face.

That night we thought we would get a little perspective from someone with first hand experience of Kelly's dishonesty, Congresswoman Fredericka Wilson. And her response did not disappoint.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

WILSON: That's classic Kelly. He lied on me and now he's lying everyday on the news. And the sad part about it, this is a four star general, retired, who, I suppose, was an honorable man, and he wakes up every morning watching TV as he loses each one of those stars, each one, he has lost for lying.

And he has gotten himself into a situation where the entire body of people surrounding him are willing to lie for the president of the United States. This is crazy. Why would he put his wonderful career on the line for Donald Trump who will throw anyone under the bus, and is just biding his time before he throws him under the bus. It's awful. It's awful.

HAYES: Do you think that he can continue to do his job, Mr. Kelly, given what you just said?

WILSON; He's going to get beat up everyday. People are not going to forget that he tried to take up for or defend a wife-beater, someone who didn't have a security clearance to work in the White House. And I believe the president knew, too. I believe they all knew months ago that this gentleman beat up his wife, two of them.

And it's my understanding that a girlfriend came forward. I don't think people will forget that and just move on. They're going to continue to speak about it, because that's wrong, and it's painful, and he has not even expressed one ounce of sympathy to those poor victims who had the courage to come forward and tell of their experiences.

And when you have a security clearance, the FBI questions you and they know, and they say this gentleman didn't have his security clearance. So, why is he still there? Why are they protecting him? Because they don't respect women.

HAYES: Congresswoman Fredericka Wilson, thank you for your time tonight. I really appreciate it.

WILSON: Thank you.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HAYES: We will be right back to wrap up our All In Fourth of July fireworks show. Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HAYES: I've begun a new project this year that I'm really excited about, my new podcast Why is This Happening? which has new episodes every Tuesday featuring in-depth conversations with some of the most interesting people I know. You can download it anywhere you get your podcasts, and do not forget to subscribe.

Thank you for joining us on this special Fourth of July edition of All In. The Rachel Maddow Show starts right now.

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END

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