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White House Counsel McGahn cooperating with Mueller. TRANSCRIPT: 8/20/2018, All In w Chris Hayes.

Guests: Harry Litman, Cheri Jacobus, Andrea Bernstein, Elie Honig, Ian Bassin, Dave Wasserman, Clint Watts, Natasha Bertrand, Harry Sandick

Show: ALL IN with CHRIS HAYES Date: August 20, 2018 Guest: Harry Litman, Cheri Jacobus, Andrea Bernstein, Elie Honig, Ian Bassin, Dave Wasserman, Clint Watts, Natasha Bertrand, Harry Sandick


CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC ANCHOR (voice-over): Tonight on ALL IN.

RUDY GIULIANI, DONALD TRUMP`S ATTORNEY: We have a good sense obviously of what Mr. McGahn testified. I can figure it out.

HAYES: The President is worried he`s got a rat in the White House.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you intend to communicate with the special counsel, Mr. McGahn?

HAYES: Tonight the White House council`s testimony to the Mueller probe and the furious reaction from Donald Trump. Then --


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- the President`s former fixer Michael Cohen, facing potential criminal charges on bank fraud.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He`ll lie like crazy, because he`s lied all his life.

HAYES: The Manafort jury back to deliberating three days after this.

TRUMP: I think it`s very sad what they`ve done to Paul Manafort. Thank you very much.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When ALL IN starts right now.


CHRIS HAYES, ALL IN HOST: Good evening from New York, I`m Chris Hayes.

The President appears to be terrified that he has a "rat" in his midst, inside the White House.

That I should be clear, that`s his word, a rat. It`s not the kind of language that we`re used to hearing from the president of the United States who is, of course, entrusted by our constitution when ensuring the nation`s laws are faithfully executed and who`s responsible for appointing our most senior law enforcement officers. You`d expect to hear that word in a very different context.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Your uncle was a rat. Sit down, sit down.

Your uncle was a rat and now he`s in the witness protection program.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That`s my father`s brother you`re talking about.


HAYES: Now, the President is assuring the country not that he has obeyed and upheld the law but that he does not hire snitches. Tweeting, "The failing New York Times wrote a fake piece today implying that because White House counsel Don McGahn was giving hours of testimony to the special counsel, he must be a John Dean type rat. But I allowed him and all others to testify. I didn`t have to, I have nothing to hide."

The President referring to Nixon White House Counsel John Dean of course who was credited with blowing a whistle on Nixon law breaking and ultimately leading to his undoing. And that`s how the President responded to the New York Times blockbuster report this weekend that the current White House counsel, Don McGahn, has been cooperating with Robert Mueller`s investigation for months, participating in at least three voluntary interviews over a remarkable 30 hours.

It`s a jaw dropping news, a huge development in the probe, examining whether the President, himself, obstructed justice or might have done other things that exceeded his powers. McGahn would seem to be an unlikely rat as the President put it. A long time happy warrior for GOP, appointed to Federal Election Commission by George W. Bush, he`s also driving Trump`s successful efforts to fill the courts with conservative judges.

That includes of course Supreme Court Nominee Brett Kavanaugh who McGahn escorted to meeting on Capitol Hill today, though, reporters were interested in a different topic.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why did you take so long to the special counsel, Mr. McGahn?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Were you afraid the President would betray you?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you regret that decision?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Will you continue to comply?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Have you briefed the White House on everything you told the special counsel?


HAYES: Now, McGahn has been involved in most of the key events under investigation in Mueller`s obstruction probe, at least as far as we know, including Michael Flynn`s early ouster from the White House, the President`s campaign and to get Jeff Sessions to unrecuse himself the firing of James Comey.

It was McGahn you`ll recall according to The Times at least who threatened to quit last year when the PRESIDENT tried to have Mueller fired. In fact, ordered him to do so. The Times reports that in his interview as McGahn laid out how the President try to ensure control of the investigation. But then he cautioned to investigators he never saw the President go beyond his legal authorities.

It`s not clear whether any members in the President`s legal team past or present has a real grasp of just what McGahn told Mueller`s team.


GIULIANI: We have a good sense, obviously, of what Mr. McGahn testified too. I can figure it out from --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How do say that good sense? Have you debriefed him?

GIULIANI: No, no. But Mr. Dowd has a good sense of it. He talked to them at the time.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So you don`t know what Mr. McGahn -- you don`t know 100 percent of what he testified to, to Mr. Mueller?

GIULIANI: I think that through John Dowd, we have a pretty good sense of it. And John Dowd yesterday said, I`ll use his words rather than mine that McGahn was a strong witness for the President. So, I don`t need to know much more about that.


HAYES: OK. Well, this all seems like it`s cleared up. And while the President agonizes over the possibility of what he called a rat inside the White House, although he said he wasn`t one. His former employee Michael Cohen is reportedly about to face charges for over $20 million in bank fraud. Cohen`s attorney says he`s been in touch with none other than, you guessed it, John Dean himself about how to flip on the President.

Meanwhile as the jury deliberates over the fate of his campaign chairman Paul Manafort, and they`re still deliberating, they ended deliberations today. The President has publicly defended Manafort and attacked the prosecution, which certainly looks a lot like an attempt to tape the jury pool.

Now, get these, the President`s threatening to go even further, telling Reuters, he has chosen not to be involved in the Mueller probe, but is totally allowed to be if he wanted to. I`ve decided to stay out, now I don`t have to stay out as you know. I can go in and I can do whatever. I could run it if I want.

For more on Don McGahn`s cooperation special council, the president`s response. I`m joined by Ian Bassin, he`s a former Associate White House Counsel under President Obama and Executive Director of Protect Democracy now and MSNBC Contributor, Carol Leonnig. She`s a poll surprise running reporter for the Washington Post.

And Carol, I want to start with you. You have some news about Don McGahn or what he has been saying to Robert Mueller. What have you learned?

CAROL LEONNIG, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: So, I`m going to be a little contrary in here, Chris, and say that I see where the President is coming from when he says this is a bit old news. My colleague, Bob Costa, and I wrote in November when Don McGahn went before Bob Mueller`s interview team and sat down with investigators for two days straight. So people have known for a long time that Don McGahn was cooperating with the investigation, and that everyone who was in the White House was encouraged to voluntarily be engaged in these interviews.

Now, what we do know -- knew now is that after the weekend stories, by The Times, Don McGahn`s attorney has alerted and assured Trump`s own legal team that Don McGahn provided no information that was incriminating to the President, did not incriminate him. In fact, Don McGahn`s lawyer was trying to put tear mind to ease about this issue and sent them some information saying my guy does not incriminate your guy.

Now, of course, the one caution there is Don McGahn doesn`t know everything, doesn`t know all the evidence that Mueller has gathered. So it`s hard to know whether or not you`ve provided information that pieced together in a mosaic could ultimately be damaging to the President. But I`ll stress, in McGahn`s words he never saw the President commit a crime, engage in criminal wrong doing and he didn`t assert that to Robert Mueller.

HAYES: Right. I mean, we should note here there`s -- that this is all through a little bit of hall of mirrors, right, because we`re not in the room with any of these people. We`re certainly not inside the President`s mind and we don`t actually know the facts of the matter, which continues to be the fundamental case.

We do not know what happened during the campaign and what might have happened as a result of that. That remains a big mystery.

The big question I have is, what do you -- you worked in the White House counsel`s office, like what do you make of the last 48 hours in this story?

IAN BASSIN, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF PROTECT DEMOCRACY: Well, one things that`s really challenging when you are a lawyer in the White House wherein the Justice Department for that matter, you essentially are trying to serve two clients at every given moment, right? You`re serving the office of the presidency and you are serving the American public. And you`ve got to balance those two interests.

Now, under most presidents, it`s not that hard to do it because most presidents also occupied the office to serve the interest of the public. What`s got to be incredibly challenging for people like Don McGahn and White House lawyers is, they`re dealing with the President who serves neither necessarily the public or the office of the presidency. He`s trying to serve the interests of Donald J. Trump personally and it seems to be expecting his staff to do that as well.

And what I make of the McGahn sort of interviews is that, McGahn is realizing the last time a President demanded his staff served him personally was Richard Nixon. And of course Richard Nixon`s White House counsel John Dean served four months in prison. And so McGahn is now trying to figure out what is the course for me that avoids potentially that results. And I think a lot of White House staff have got to be thinking about that as well.

HAYES: Carol, am I right to read the sort of reporting on this and recrimination from it. It seems like someone`s trying to lay some blame on Dowd and Cobb. Like it seems that part of the -- part of what I`m getting here in the subtext and between the lines is like, look, boss, or I don`t know who`s saying it, these other guys screwed you when they told you to cooperate, and if it ends up being unfavorable to you, like they`re the ones to blame?

LEONNIG: I like the way you`re thinking, Chris, because there is a -- there`s definitely a subtext here. It`s not exactly that, though. I this think the subtext is there`s been a battle that`s been going on since the spring of 2017 about what was the right legal strategy --

BASSIN: Right.

LEONNIG: -- for the President. Right? And so Ty Cobb, who came in a little bit after Dowd, Dowd actually recommended him. The two of them agreed on something and that was at the start, let`s get this thing rolling. Let`s not fight with grand jury appearances and testimony for staffers. Let`s get all the documents released. Let`s sends them all on over to Mueller and let him sort through this.

And there were two reasons they did that. One was, they believe very strongly in a 1990 case of ruling that which a Clinton era case, which basically said you can`t force the President to sit down for an interview, if you have all the information you need from other sources. Voilla --


LEONNIG: -- all the staffers, all those records.

Well, now it`s looking pretty smart to have done what they did in the sense that, Trump doesn`t want to sit down or at least Trump`s lawyers at this moment don`t really want him to sit down for an interview, are petrified that he`ll perjure himself by mistake or intentionally. So the strategy now which was really heavily criticized has this one nice wrinkle to it, this one nice layer.

Now, that doesn`t change the fact that Don McGahn hated this strategy from day one. And he thought it was dangerous for exactly the reason that Ian has pointed out, this rule has two special duties.

BASSIN: Right.

LEONNIG: You`re representing the Office of the President and you`re representing the President. And if you`re sitting in all these private meetings and some investigator gets to quiz you about everything the President said to you, that`s, you know, potentially explosive. He didn`t want that to happen.

HAYES: Quickly, let me ask you this, Ian. The word rat, I mean, it really is striking to hear the President of the United States use the word rat that also referred to John Dean, who has seen as the kind of true teller whistleblower of Watergate.

BASSIN: Well, and think about the dispiriting effect it has on prosecutors throughout the country, who are desperately trying to enforce the laws to protect all of us as American citizens from people who are doing harm, who are looking to get witnesses to work with them to prevent people from literally being murdered. And here`s the President basically backing up the arguments of mob bosses trying to get people out to testify.

Here`s why I think the President is going out with the all out sort of attacking --


BASSIN: -- you know, not just Don McGahn potentially John Dean, John Brennan. He`s weak and he`s nervous because he has thought from the beginning that everybody around him was there to protect him. Remember, he wanted loyalty from James Comey. He couldn`t believe that Jeff Sessions would recuse himself --

HAYES: Right.

BASSIN: -- for defending him. Now he`s realizing that everyone`s not there to defend him and he`s lashing out to try to prevent that one person can bring him down which is this generation`s John Dean.

HAYES: Ian Bassin and Carol Leonnig both thank you.

For more on Don McGahn`s rule in the White House and what he may have told Mueller`s team. I`m joined by Republican Strategist Cheri Jacobus and former U.S. Attorney, Harry Litman.

Cheri, let me start with you. You know McGahn. You moved in Republican political circles for very long time where he has been a fixture. What do you make of that?

CHERI JACOBUS, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, actually I don`t know him. My personal contact with him or my lawyers was when he was trying to get media assignment, NDA, to shut me up and silence me about a Super PAC that they are covering up that they had. I remember going back during the primary.

But look, I think that he`s between a rock and a hard place. He wants to come off like the good guy. He probably did incriminate the President maybe without even knowing that he did so. He has, you know, he`s been with Trump, he was the counsel for the campaign.

So it`s not just White House chief counsel. He goes way, way back, Chris. So he knows everything from the beginning. So he could be sitting there 30 hours of conversations with Mueller and his team. Well, they`re trying to collect some raw data. And that`s what the FBI does.

They collect raw data in these questions, so he could be providing information that could, in fact, incriminate Trump but McGahn might not even know it. Look, he`s a good lawyer. But he`s not, you know, he`s not a genius and he`s not a wizard. So in three hours I find it hard. It`s not a realistic expectation?

HAYES: Right.

JACOBUS: -- you can sit there for 30 hours and give a lot of raw data. And at some point he`s going to be giving them something that they need either for this case or for something else, because again he goes way back in the campaign where they were very, very sloppy as you know. Nobody thought they would win the primary let alone the general reaction. So they didn`t care. And that`s what he has valued.

Harry, my amateur read is like 30 hours sounds like a lot. What do you make of that?

HARRY LITMAN, FOMER US ATTORNEY: Thirty hours is a lot. And he would have focused on the facts. Remember, McGahn says, calls Trump King Kong, because of his volcanic outbursts.

McGahn is the guy who Trump says, go to Sessions, and tell him to recuse before he knows. McGahn is the guy who argues against the Comey firing. And I just don`t see how they can blithely say he couldn`t have given him anything. It`s not just the point, the good point that Carol makes that they don`t know what Mueller already knows. But the whole core point of evidence that remains here for Mueller is Trump`s state of mind. And he showed --

HAYES: Right.

LITMAN: And McGahn is shoulder to shoulder with Trump daily. He sees him screaming. He sees these tirades. He sees him talk about Comey, he sees him talk about Session. It really seems impossible to me that the info he provide, just the factual info and he would have just given the fact --

HAYES: Right.

LITMAN: -- wouldn`t -- couldn`t be illuminating and trying to contrast the case of what was in Trump`s mind when he did these key personnel actions.

HAYES: Cheri, you know, McGahn strikes me as someone who occupy an interesting sort of intersection of Venn diagram. He is a kind of movement GOP lawyer. I mean he`s close to McConnell. He was at the FEC. He is a W. Bush appointee. He`s part of the movement. He`s squirreling Brett Kavanaugh around as they prepare for those hearings, Kavanaugh also kind of a movement conservative lawyer before he sent to Judiciary.

But he`s in the Trump orbit. And he strikes me as a kind of -- he`s represented a much broader set of people who are sort of squeezed between those two things.

JACOBUS: Well, I don`t know if they can be squeezed between those two things anymore. We have early on. I guess what you`re talking about are establishment Republicans, so many came on board late.

You know, they wanted to keep their lobbying gigs. They wanted to keep things as they were going so they pretended that Trump was just like any other Republican president. McGahn was in there early. Now, his uncle also had been -- had worked for Trump at some point with regard to the casino.

So there was some family connection there in Trump world beyond just McGahn being a generic Republican establishment movement guy. So, you know, he maybe has a foot in both camps. So I think he might be trying to have it both ways right now.

HAYES: Right.

JACOBUS: That`s how he strikes me. But early on, Chris, I think he knew that he better, you know, make a phone call to Mueller real quickly and get on the good, get on the right side of this. But again, he`s still trying to have it both ways, and that`s what I find fascinated to go see him straddle the two worlds.

HAYES: Harry, let me ask you this. There is this line in the New York Times that McGahn and his lawyer who started to grow suspicious, because they`re being encouraged to cooperate. And so, they thought that maybe they were going to be -- that McGahn was going to be set up as a fall guy and that was part of what prompted him to agree to so much of the interviews. What do you think of that?

LITMAN: First, just think about that in the context of the question you just asked me. If he`s thinking he is going to be made the fall guy, he must think there`s some possible criminal activity that has occurred that he needs to give his version of.

So, again, it`s hard to say that it would have been completely exculpatory. But then, you know, second, just this whole kind of dance between representing the Office of the President and Donald J. Trump.

By the way, I think this representation by the President that he just let him go forward is wrong. He probably wouldn`t have had a choice under either executive privilege or attorney/client privilege. But I think the basic point, you know, he has been in Washington. He has seen history, right.

I`m not going to be the rat. Remember John Dean`s statement when he told the press, you know, if they`re fitting me for this outfit. They`ve got the wrong guy. McGahn who unlike some of these other people has a future, has a standing in town, will go to lunches and be in future federalist society meetings, has done the heroic work with the Supreme Court. He doesn`t want to go down with the ship.

HAYES: Cheri?

JACOBUS: Yes. Ultimately, they ask themselves is any guy worth going to prison for? McGahn is saying though, Trump isn`t worth it.

HAYES: Cheri Jacobus and Harry Litman, great to have both of you.

LITMAN: Thanks.

JACOBUS: Thank you.

HAYES: Coming up, the President`s former fixer Michael Cohen could face charges as early as next week for over $20 million in bank and tax fraud. That story in two minutes.


HAYES: Michael Cohen`s lawyer says he has been talking with Richard Nixon`s former White House counsel that would be John Dean, who, of course, helped bring down Nixon`s presidency. Cohen`s lawyer Lanny Davis telling Politico, "I reached out to my old friend John Dean because of what he went through with Watergate and I saw some parallels to what Michael Cohen is experiencing."

And what Michael Cohen is experiencing right now, according to the New York Times, is the threat of bank and fraud charges, federal prosecutors reportedly weighing whether to file criminal charges by the end of this month.

To talk more about this, I am joined by the Elly Honig. He`s a former Federal Prosecutor in the Southern District here New York, US Attorney`s Office investigating Cohen, and Andrea Bernstein, co-host of the podcast Trump, Inc.

Let`s start with Cohen, right? So Cohen gets raided. And there`s all this like discussion about what is he being raided for? So then The Times has a story saying, it is possible bank fraud and it has to do possibly with a taxi medallion business?

ANDREA BERNSTEIN, HOST, TRUMP INC.: So this is something Michael Cohen has been doing for quite some time because in New York, these taxi medallions at least pre-Uber were very valuable, gave you the right to pick up fares in New York City that could be worth more than a million dollars. Michael Cohen held a lot of them.

HAYES: Right. It kind of like an asset that you could kind of like pool and hoard, and then you make money off of them?

BERNSTEIN: Right, exactly. Just like real estate.

HAYES: Right, yes.

BERNSTEIN: So something that you could trade and borrow money off of. And that`s what he was doing. And his former partner, so his two former partners have both been convicted. One of them very recently in New York, Gene Freidman, who was known as the taxi king for allegedly or actually not allegedly.

Now he know, evading taxes, sending $60 million offshore, and as a part of a plea deal that he made, he agreed to cooperate potentially against Michael Cohen. So there`s the whole Gene Freidman source of information and these million documents that they seized, which they said from the get- go. These are about Michael Cohen`s business that we`re interested in.

In fact, the special master on Friday finished her review. And she found some 7,000 out of more than a million documents privilege. But that is an awful lot of documents the Southern District still has to sift through and use in a case potentially against Michael Cohen.

HAYES: And we should be clear here that in terms of the referral of Southern District, in fact, they`re the ones pursuing this. It doesn`t -- nothing can we do with taxi medallion, has anything to do with the Russians or Donald Trump in appear.

ELIE HONIG, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: No, but it`s a great example, Chris, of how you build the case and how you can flip one guy against into the next guy, into the next guy. You know, we`ve done in mob cases that I used to do.

You never know, you know, you pull on that thread, and you never know what could unravel. And you could start with a relatively obscure taxicab lawyer like Gene Freidman, and then roll it into Michael Cohen.

HAYES: I mean just think for a second, think for a second, about just like the social network if you were to map it. Like you start with the taxi king of New York, who the taxi medallion business as you noted it`s a legitimate business. But it tends to attract a fair amount of shadiness. I think it`s fair to say. And your checker moves to the president of the United States, is what we`re looking at, is what you`re saying.

BERNSTEIN: And I think that is a sort of Michael Cohen`s story, the two checker moves from the short of shady offices in Queens and Brooklyn, the outer Boroughs where he was dealing with people who were losing their licenses or being indicted, to being with the president of the United States.

I think it`s worth keeping in mind like with Paul Manafort, that he was allegedly committing some of these crimes while he was working for Donald Trump. And I think that`s what makes him so interesting, because he was one of his most intimate advisers. He was setting up deals all over the former Soviet Union. That`s what he is doing.

So he is not some sort of random person. He is somebody was right in there in the Trump organization, while he may have been doing things. We haven`t heard yet, whether the Southern District is going to charge him.

HAYES: Yes. So, we should say, of course, that Cohen said to be crystal clear, my wife, my daughter, my son, in this country have my first loyalty, that`s him sort of setting the signal that, you know, he`s not going to take the bullet for the president of United States, metaphorically speaking.

What do you think about the timeline as floated in The Times article which is possibly before Labor Day?

HONIG: Yes. So this is a moment of truth for Michael Cohen. He has got to get serious and quick. There`s two possible scenarios to play. One, he`s already in the process of cooperating. There`s some evidence for that. You know, his lawyer went from being out there very publically to all of a sudden very silent.

HAYES: I noted that as well.

HONIG: Right. And if I was the prosecutor in the case, and Lanny Davis came in, I would say knock it off right now, silence. And we`ve had silence since, and there`s all the other indicators that you said, the loyalty. There`s every, you know, all of those indicators he could be cooperating. If he`s not cooperating, what today`s story tells him is you need to get real and quick.

HAYES: Right, because you may just get charged.

HONIG: Yes. And if you hope you had a skating through this just a witness, forget it.

HAYES: Yes. It`s America, presumption of innocence. But a million documents given the business record of the people he has left in his wake. I would be a little stressed out if I were him.

Elie Honig and Andrea Bernstein, thanks for joining us.

BERNSTEIN: Thank you.

HAYES: Coming up, President Trump pitching himself as the law and order president while telling the world he thinks his former campaign chair is getting a raw deal on 18 criminal charges. That`s next.



TRUMP: We must maintain law and order at the highest level or we will cease to have a country. I am the law and order candidate.


HAYES: DONALD TRUMP, of course, loves to assert he stands for law and order. He was at it again today delivering a speech to celebrate federal immigration officials and making this astonishing claim.


TRUMP: We have a little opposition called the Democrats. I guess they just don`t mind crime. I think we`re going to have much more of a red wave than you`re going to see as a phony blue wave. Blue wave means crime. It means open borders. Not good.


HAYES: So that`s a message, blue wave means crime. Trump means law and order. It`s a curious argument from the man who just yesterday was sounding much more like a mob boss, calling John Dean a rat because he cooperated with law enforcement in the investigation with Richard Nixon, and with a jury actively delivering the fate of Paul Manafort, who is accused of serious crimes.

Trump on Friday used the bully pulpit of the presidency to suggest his former campaign chair should be set free regardless of the evidence.


TRUMP: I think the whole manafort trial is very sad when you look at what`s going on there. I think it`s a sad day for our country. He worked for me for a very short period of time. But you know what, he happens to be a very good person and I think it`s very sad what they`ve done to Paul Manafort.


HAYES: Joining me now to break down Trump`s worldview, former FBI special agent and MSNBC national security analyst Clint Watts, Atlantic staff writer and MSNBC contributor Natasha Bertrand, and former federal prosecutor Harry Sandick.

Clint, let me just start with you. I mean, in the span of two days you got a president saying to the jury basically, which is not sequestered, you should probably lay off my campaign manager who is a good guy. You`ve got him calling John Dean a rat, like I don`t know people that refer to people as -- I honestly have not heard the term not used as like part of a schtick, like unironically calling soming a rat. And then you`ve got him turning around me like I`m a law and order president. What do people like yourself think of that who worked in the FBI for your career.

CLINT WATTS, FORMER FBI SPECIAL AGENT: So, he`s into certain laws and certain orders, but not all of them. I mean, public corruption, white collar, those sorts of things are not where he tends to focus. And it`s --

HAYES: But a misdemeanor entry into the country, we take your child away.

WATTS: And a blue wave by the way, someone might want to tell the president blue wave is alos synonymous with loads of cops showing up at your door is another euphemism for blue wave. He apparently has not heard that one. Maybe he`ll see it at some point or somebody on his team.

But I think the point is that in terms of law and order, he has bragged about deregulation. He has taken thing away. He`s enforced selectively certain things that he likes. He makes assertion about crime. Crime has been going down dramatically for the past two decades, especially anything involving physical crime, homicides, things like that. So, there is no real proof to that pudding.

What he also does, and he tends to do, is he tries to buddy himself up to military and law enforcement, especially at the lower ranks or local level. This is very classic of other schemes where you see people trying to actually skirt the law.

HAYES: Right.

WATTS: So, I think when we watch this, it`s interesting to watch, you will always discredit people at the federal level that he`s actually in charge of, but then he preys on people at the local level, which I find kind of odd. If he`s in charge of the FBI, he`s in charge of the Department of Justice, then he can fix it. He is the president.

HAYES: Well, and also, he is the person who is charged with faithfully executing the laws. And today he tells Reuters I`ve stayed away from Mueller. Again, it sounds so mobster. I`ve stayed away with Mueller. I`ve stayed away from him. But I can go in there if I want to. I could run it if I wanted to.

Like, can he? Is that true?

HARRY SANDICK, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: It`s not true in the sense that constitutional norms that have governed our country for hundreds of years would say, no. Now, if he does it, who can stop him? The answer is congress can stop him, that we have a mechanism for impeachment.

HAYES: Or possibly the courts.

SANDICK: Possibly the courts, depending on how he does it. And in the future after he leaves office a president can be prosecuted if he commits a crime like obstruction of justice, That`s why Nixon needed the parddon from Ford many years ago.

But it`s a total subversion of the system to say that the person is supposed to execute the laws faithfully can undercut them for the benefit of his friends, and it`s totally inconsistent with the notion on law and order, unless, as you said and as you pointed out in the Times a few months ago, unless law and order means you protect your friends and go after people who are different from you.

HAYES: Natasha, as someone who follows all of these different threads very closely, like there`s a lot that`s happened in the last 48 hours between the initial Time`s story about McGahn, the fallout from the McGahn story, the piece about Cohen, like it does feel things continue to squeeze and squeeze and squeeze, but I`m curious what you make of it.

NATASHA BERTRAND, THE ATLANTIC: Definitely. It feels like we are reaching a breaking point. All of these threads are starting to unravel. Some of them are starting to actually come back together, like the Manafort trial is on the verge essentially of completing, if the jury actually gets back with a verdict this week. You have Michael Cohen now who reports say that prosecutors are finalizing charges against him. And of course, you have the president weighing whether or not he`s going to sit down with the special counsel.

So we`re at a precipice right now in the Mueller investigation, and it`s kind of the void into which the president has kind of been launching his tweets, right. I mean, it just seems like he`s getting more and more anxious about how this thing is going to play out.

And of course, if the Mueller -- if the Manafort trial ends in a conviction, that is going to give Mueller a lot of momentum. Of course, Manafort still has to stand trial in D.C., but Mueller has already said he has over three times as much evidence in that trial as he did for this one.

So this one was not necessarily a slam dunk case just because the jury has been deliberating on it for longer than some people expected them to. Then the one in D.C. may well be.

And of course the Michael Cohen charges are something that the president has always been more worried about than anything else in this entire investigation, because Michael Cohen was his long-time fixer and knows virtually everything about Trump and the Trump empire.

So this is definitely something that we`re seeing -- it`s reaching a critical mass. And I think that the president is now panicking and making these kind of ridiculous arguments on Twitter.

HAYES: There is also his lawyer`s representation. I want to play this clip, which has become sort of instantly iconic and famous. Rudy Guiliani does epistomology 101. Take a listen.


RUDY GIULIANI, ATTORNEY FOR DONALD TRUMP: When you tell me that, you know, he should testify because he`s going to tell the truth and he shouldn`t worry, well that`s so silly because it`s somebody`s version of the truth, not the truth. He didn`t have a conversation --

CHUCK TODD, HOST, MEET THE PRESS: Truth is truth. I don`t mean to go --

GIULIANI: No, it isn`t truth. Truth isn`t truth.


HAYES: Truth isn`t truth.

Here`s my theory about Rudy Guiliani, he`s not making arguments. He`s not trying to persuade someone. What is he doing? What is Rudy Giuliani doing?

SANDICK: I think he`s trying to rally the base and trying rally the 40 or 45 percent of the people who are in the president`s corner. This can`t be meant to be aimed at a prosecutor or a law enforce. It`s nonsensic in that sense.

So you go out with these Orwellian lines, tomorrow he will say war is peace and ignorance is truth and other Orwellian lines, but it can`t persuade anyone other than people who are already in the president`s corner and to just make them angry about the investigation.

WATTS: The other part is the perjury trap. They are loving this line now the perjury trap. Perjury traps only exist if you don`t tell the truth or you change your story. And, oh by the way, it`s not he said, he said. It`s he said, the president versus they said. He`s going to be the last one that shows up in terms of an interview, if he ever shows up.

HAYES: Quickly, Natasha, he`s not going to testify, right?

BERTRAND: He`s being advised not to. But of course he really wants to. He said that he wants to sit down and clear his name. And of course politically, people will have definitely questions what he has to hide if he does not sit down with special counsel, so that`s a peril he will have to be wary of.

HAYES: Clint Watts, Natasha Bertrand, and Harry Sandick, thanks for being with me.

Ahead, Democrats are in a pretty good position to win back the House, all things considered. But what about the senate?

Plus, tonight`s Thing One, Thing Two starts next.


HAYES: Thing One tonight, as we`ve discussed here, Donald Trump never misses an opportunity to parade around law enforcement officers in order to boost his image as we were just discussing, a law and order president.

And almost without fail, these events have led to epic moments of awkwardness, like the time he stumbled and the teleprompter at the State of the Union and just gave a guy a few name right there in front of the nation.


TRUMP: Here tonight is one leader in the effort to defend our country, Homeland Security investigation special agency Celestino Martinez. He goes by DJ and CJ. He said call me either one. So we`ll call you CJ.


HAYES: I wonder if that poor guy still has to pretend he goes by DJ and CJ. Anyway, you thought that was cringe worthy, a moment from today`s salute to the heroes of ICE is Thing Two in 60 seconds.


HAYES: Donald Trump held an event at the White House today called a salute to the heroes of ICE and CPB. ICE, as you know, stands for Immigration and Customs Enforcement, CBP refers to U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

Now, CBC stands for, well, we`re not sure -- the Congressional Black Caucus?


TRUMP: We`re here today to salute the incredibly brave patriots who keep America safe, the heroes of IC and CBC.

Let me extends my gratitude to every law enforcement professional representing ICE and CBC.

ICE and CBC.



CBC officers.

The officers and agents of ICE and CBC.

A true and loyal friends of ICE and CBC.


HAYES: So, during the event, Trump highlighted an individual CBC, I`m sorry, I mean, CBP agent named Adrian Anzaldua.


TRUMP: Adrian, come here, I want to ask you a question. So, how did you - - come here, you`re not nervous, right? Speaks perfect English. Come here, I want to ask you about that.


HAYES: Yes, Adrian Anzal Dua, an American border patrol agent, speaks perfect English.

For some reason that was noteworthy to Donald Trump. Agent Anzaldua took it if stride as one must do when one comes in contact with our president, ask CJ/DJ. Smile and pretend that what the man just said wasn`t totally weird or offensive at all.


TRUMP: Celestino Martinez, he goes by DJ and CJ. He said call me either one, so we`ll call you CJ.



HAYES: As the president was celebrating ICE today, the government has 565 immigrant children still separated from their families. And the government says the parents of 154 children have waived their right to get their kids back, literally signed a form that said they chose not to be reunited with their children.

Why would anyone sign a form like that? Well, many of those parents say they were coerced or misled. Our own Jacob Soboroff went the find one father who has signed the form. And here`s what happened.


JACOB SOBOROFF, MSNBC: Where are we going? Where are we headed right now?

LINDSAY TOCZYLOWSKI, IMMIGRANT DEFENDERS LAW CENTER: To see one of our clients. He`s a dad who is separated from his son.

SOBOROFF: Lindsay Toczylowski is the executive director of the Immigrant Defenders Law Center. Today, most of her time is spent representing separated families. And it turns out many of them ended up in the Los Angeles area. Some parents still behind bars.

TOCZYLOWSKI: We are going to the Ottowanto (ph) detention facility which is about 90 miles outside of L.A. We have attorneys up here almost every day of the week.

SOBOROFF: Lindsay and other lawyers head out here on a regular basis to push back on the government`s contention that parents of 154 kids didn`t want to be reunited and intentionally signed documents giving up that right.

You are representing 10 people in this facility alone who are fathers that were separated from their kids and signed papers that basically said I don`t want to be reunited with my kid?


SOBOROFF: So this guy his name is what (inaudible).


SOBOROFF: So, (inaudible), did he want to give up his right to be unified with his son?

TOCZYLOWSKI: Absolutely not. He actually refers to this -- him signing this document that he didn`t understand as a sin.


TOCZYLOWSKI: Yes, because he didn`t know what he was signing. And he`s only now that he is working with attorneys understands the repercussions of what he signed.

And people will sign because it`s an officer in a uniform you know telling them that they should sign this.

SOBOROFF: So, this is Adalanto (ph).

TOCZYLOWSKI: This is Adalanto (ph). This is a detention facility.

SOBOROFF: That`s your colleague over there, Alfonso.

TOCZYLOWSKI: Yes, that`s Alfonso.

SOBOROFF: What`s up? I`m Jacob. Nice to meet you. How are you?

So even though (inaudible), who I`m hopefully going to meet signed something that says I am affirmatively, knowingly and voluntarily requesting to return to my country of citizenship without my minor children who I understand will remain in the United States to pursue available claims of relief, they basically say I didn`t know what that meant.

ALFONSO MALDONADO, IMMIGRANT ATTORNE: Yeah. And they said they`ve been like intimidate into signing this, that they are going to be deported regardless and it is up to them to decide whether they want their child deported with them or if they want their child released to some family member here.

SOBOROFF: And so they said those are your only options.

MALDONADO: Those only options.

SOBOROFF: And are those their only options?


SOBOROFF: I`m going to try to go in and meet (inaudible) who signed this form and gave up his right to be reunified with his son, but I don`t even know if ICE is going to let me talk to him.

We headed in the and after three hours inside, we came back out.

I didn`t get to meet with (inaudible) even though ICE knew I was coming for days. But Lindsay and Alfonso did.

What happened? What happened inside?

MALDONADO: We talked a little about his son.

SOBOROFF: Did you guys talk about the form and that he felt like signed the form in error?


SOBOROFF: He knew that I was here and he would have been cool to talk to me?

TOCZYLOWSKI: Not just cool to talk to you, but he really wanted to. He wants people to know the story of what happened to him and his son.

SOBOROFF: And did you say he wrote a note?


SOBOROFF: And can you read to it me?


"They are deporting me without me even knowing. I feel like the government here is treating me really bad. I feel ignored and I feel like I`m going crazy.

I am in an inhumane situation. This does not have a name. I fear they will deport me." And it is signed by him.

SOBOROFF: And it says his name.



HAYES: As a reminder, a federal judge gave the administration until July 26 reunite all those families more than three weeks ago. And of course all this is happening against the backdrop of the mid-term election, which are now only 78 days away. That`s coming up next.


HAYES: With only 78 days until the mid-term elections, Democrats have, according to most analysts, a pretty good shot at retaking the House. The Senate is another matter entirely. And as Dave Wasserman, the U.S. editor for the nonpartisan Cook Political Report tweeted today, quote, "if every state/district`s result in November were an 8 percent uniform swing in the Democrats` favor from the 2016 presidential result, Democrats would simultaneously gain 44 house seats, almost twice the plus 23 they need, but lose four Senate seats.

Dave Wasserman joins me now to walk us through that math.

It is a really, really striking way of looking at the difference between these two Houses in terms of the races this fall.


The Senate is going to be decided by red rural states where Democrats are on defense, and the House is going to be decided by swing suburban states where Republicans are on defense.

And, yeah, it is possible that one party could control both after this November, but thanks to this geographical divergence, there`s a really wide window of opportunity for a split decision where Democrats win control of the House while falling short in the Senate.

HAYES: Yeah, and what`s crazy is that no one is even -- I mean, of all the forecasts I`ve looked at, I`ve never really encountered a person who thinks when you take in aggregate total the national vote, that Republicans are get more votes either in the Senate or the House, than Democrats. Like no one thinks that.

The question is whether the structural impediments they face will thwart any attempts to get a majority in either house.

WASSERMAN: Yeah, the geographical bias of congress has never been this tilted against Democrats. We went back actually 80 years worth of data and realized that the median House and Senate seats are 5 points more pro-Trump than the nation as a whole for very different reasons.

Obviously, in the Senate, you place a premium on small states where Trump did better on average. In the House, Republicans have an advantage not only thanks to the fact that Democrats love to live in cities, and so they`re clustered there, but also thanks to gerrymandering in 2011 after the last census.

So we think Democrats probably need to win 7 percent to 8 percent more votes than Republicans just to break even in the House.

The good news for Democrats is that they`re polling 7 to 8 percent ahead of Republicans, but this is a penalty for them over the long term.

HAYES: You had this remarkable -- so when you think about the Senate, right, you have Heitkamp who is up. You have Manchin -- Heitkamp in North Dakota, Manchin in West Virginia, Joe Donnelley in Indiana, Claire McCaskill in Missouri, those are all Democrats running for re-election in red states that Trump carried.

You had this amazing point about the math of the Senate right now, which is that a long-term problem for Democrats, a majority of the Senate now represents 18 percent of the country`s population which is pretty wild.


And actually 60 percent of the Senate represents 24 percent of the population. And you have to wonder what this means over the long term, because keep in mind the fact that the Senate is even close owes to Democrats having 11 red state seats, and 10 of those seats are up for grabs this November.

Now, it is possible thanks to those candidates` skill and some luck that has benefited them over the years, that they could hang on. but that dam ever breaks, if this class of Senate seats ever goes Republican, then Democrats could get locked out of power in the Senate and the Senate could basically answering to a group of voters that is much more rural, whiter and more pro-Trump than the nation as a whole.

HAYES: It`s a really important point, right. So, what we`re seeing is sorting happening through all different levels of American politics -- less ticket splitting.

Right now, there`s still -- that sorting hasn`t sort of reached its aptheosis in the Senate where you`ve got a lot of Democrats whoa re winning statewide in these states that are very red, they`re very conservative, they`re very pro-Trump. And your point is that structurally if that sort of goes away, you end up with this perfect sorting where you can just have a kind of locked in majority in the Senate of some of the most sparsely populated, whitest most pro-Trump states.

WASSERMAN: That`s correct.

And how would Democrats respond? Well, you know, they badly need to expand their appeal if they want to be relevant, to continue to be relevant in the Senate.

But look, over the long term, if Republicans have this structural advantage, you wonder how urban and coastal states will react. Will they be patient?

HAYES: Yeah. There was a long period of time, of course, in which the solid south exerted a kind of geographical veto on much of the country`s politics, which brought some very severe and significant problems in the long run throughout the country.

Dave Wasserman, thanks for joining me.

WASSERMAN: Thanks so much, Chris.

HAYES: That is ALL IN for this evening.



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