Show: ALL IN with CHRIS HAYES Date: August 22, 2018 Guest: Lanny Davis, Chris Murphy, Jess McIntosh, Maxine Waters, Charlie Pierce, Nick Confessore
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: Soldiers who died in most cases out of regional loyalty but also the courage of those young people, the 21st century who have proven themselves so ready to lead their people forward. That`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us. "ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now.
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CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: Tonight on ALL IN.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: They weren`t taken out of campaign finance. That`s a big thing. That`s a much bigger thing. Did they come out of the campaign? They didn`t come out of the campaign. They came from me.
HAYES: The President is caught in a lie that impacts his presidency, his family, and his business.
SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Just because Michael Cohen has made a deal, it doesn`t mean anything with the regards to the President.
HAYES: The desperate defense from the White House as Trump`s former fixer gets subpoenaed again. Mr. Trump has a significant number of people, I`d like to keep myself in that little circle of extremely loyal people.
HAYES: Tonight, I`ll ask Michael Cohen`s lawyer what else he`s got.
LANNY DAVIS, LAWYER OF MICHAEL COHEN: There is no dispute that Donald Trump committed a crime.
HAYES: Plus, what does Congress do with the potentially compromised President.
SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL (D), CONNECTICUT: We should be pushing to postpone the Kavanaugh hearing.
HAYES: And the other Trump world indictment.
TRUMP: And Duncan thank you very much right from the beginning. Duncan.
HAYES: Congressman Duncan Hunter charged with misusing campaign funds.
It`s happening with Trump and it`s happening with me and we`re going to fight through it and win.
HAYES: When ALL IN starts right now.
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HAYES: Good evening from New York, I`m Chris Hayes. For the first time in his presidency, Donald Trump has gotten caught, not his associate or his aide or some guy he wants to business with, it`s the President himself that now has been implicated in a criminal conspiracy to help him win the presidency, a conspiracy that doesn`t even have to do with Russia. And now the President`s private business empire, his Family Foundation are in the legal crosshairs and we have no idea what`s yet to come or how far it will go.
Appearing in federal court yesterday to plead guilty to eight felony counts, Michael Cohen stated under oath on penalty of perjury that he broke campaign finance law in 2016 right before the election to cover up information that would hurt his candidate and that cone did it in coordination with and crucially at the direction of the candidate himself. He directed Cohen to commit a federal crime and that candidate identified in court documents as Individual One is now, of course, the President of the United States.
And crucially it is not just Michael cones word against his. In court yesterday prosecutors described all the evidence they have to support Cohen sworn statement, records seized in the raids on Cohen`s properties including hard copy documents, electronic devices, and audio recordings made by Cohen, text messages, messages sent over encrypted applications, phone records and e-mails, records produced via subpoena from the parent company of the National Enquirer referred to as Corporation One and testimony from witnesses including those involved in the illegal payoffs who communicated with Michael Cohen.
Tonight, there`s reasonably that Cohen`s guilty plea may just be the beginning. The President`s campaign was implicated in court filings yesterday as was his own private business, the Trump Organization which was used to reimburse Cohen for the two payments to women alleging affairs of the President. Executives of the company were involved and named or at least mentioned not by name in the indictment as well. And now Cohen has been subpoenaed by state investigators in New York as part of their probe into the Trump Foundation which the President`s oldest children Don Jr., Ivanka, and Eric have all helped run. According to one of Cohen`s lawyers Lanny Davis, his client is now willing to spill a whole lot more.
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DAVIS: Mr. Cohen has knowledge on certain subjects that should be of interest to the special counsel and is more than happy to tell the special counsel all that he knows not just about the obvious possibility of a conspiracy to collude and corrupt the American democracy system in the 2016 election which the Trump Tower meeting was all about but also knowledge about the computer crime of hacking and whether or not Mr. Trump knew ahead of time.
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HAYES: Lanny Davis will be joining me in just a moment so stick around. Faced for the first time with corroboration the President`s involvement a federal crime his defenders have only managed to point out that Russia was not involved and the President has not been charged. Meanwhile, the President himself despite having been caught is still lying about his role in the hush money payments. Despite Cohen`s sworn statement yesterday, despite the audio tape we all heard, the President and Cohen planning the Karen McDougal payment, the president now says he didn`t know about the hush money until after the fact. He also misrepresents campaign finance law.
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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did you know about the payments.
TRUMP: Later on, I knew, later on. But you have to understand, Nancy, what he did -- and they weren`t taken out of campaign finance that`s a big thing, that`s a much bigger thing. Did they come out of the campaign? They didn`t come out of the campaign. They came from me and I tweeted about it. You know, I put -- I don`t know if you know but I tweeted about the payments.
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HAYES: And Michael Cohen`s lawyer Lanny Davis joins me now. Mr. Davis, it`s good to have you.
DAVIS: Thank you.
HAYES: Let me let me start with this. I have watched in research for our interview tonight. I`ve watched a bunch of interviews you`ve done. You`ve done quite a few over the last few days and I can`t quite figure out what it is you are doing right now. What is the goal of your appearances on television to talk about what your client may or may not know and how he may or may not be useful to Mueller.
DAVIS: Well, he`s had a very traumatic experience and what he had to do to own up and take responsibility respecting the prosecution process and pleading guilty strikes me. My business is to act as a lawyer and to help in reputation repair and in assistance to tell a story and I`m trying to do that with Mr. Cohen as my client.
HAYES: That that`s actually useful, reputation repair and assistance, but I guess the sort of legal question here is you know, Michael Flynn pleaded guilty and cooperated and we never heard about it sort of on the outside. It just -- is strange to me that our conversations already happening with Robert Mueller, has Michael Cohen already talked to Mueller`s investigators?
DAVIS: So I can`t answer that question. I have to, unfortunately -- there are several key questions that I`m not able to answer, Chris. But I can say that his commitment is to tell everything he knows and tell the truth. He felt on July 2nd when this began that he wanted to hit the reset button on for his life for telling the truth and especially expressing his concerns about Donald Trump as president. And so he is committed to telling the truth whether it`s the Special Counsel Mr. Mueller owning up to his responsibilities as difficult as that was to the Southern District prosecutors and as you noted in your opening report he has accepted the fact that he was responsible, pled guilty, he`s going to go to and be incarcerated.
HAYES: You think he`s going to do jail time?
DAVIS: Yes. I believe that is the case. There`s no understanding to the contrary.
HAYES: When he says -- he says he`s doing this for his family, what does that mean or is his family at all exposed legally?
DAVIS: Well, they`re suffering personally. Two children about dad, wonderful wife looking at husband and father going to prison. They`re also suffering deeply from economic adversity and absent resources. They`re living in a hotel only because there was a flood in their apartment from the apartment above --
HAYES: Sorry, but I just want to zoom in on the question. Just specifically, are there people in the family who face legal exposure?
DAVIS: No, I don`t believe so. I`m sorry, I misunderstood your question that the economic distress is very severe.
HAYES: Does Michael Cohen he furnished the videotape. That video -- the audio tape which has proved to be sort of an important piece of evidence to everyone just in the public record about the president discussing the payment of Karen McDougal. Does he have in his possession other pieces of evidence whether they be documents or recordings that would implicate the President in criminal activity?
DAVIS: So I don`t know the answer to that question. Even if I did, I couldn`t tell you as the investigation continues, both Mr. Mueller`s, as well as the Southern District prosecutors, continue to examine the facts now we have the Attorney General in New York so there is an awkwardness to my doing. As you said, all of these television shows that there`s so much that I can`t respond to but I kind of focused on him personally.
HAYES: Well, let me -- let me ask you a final question -- I`ll ask you a final question about Michael Cohen`s reputation which you said you`re -- you know, trying to defend. Yesterday in federal court he pleaded guilty to a federal crime that involved an extremely significant act in furthering the election of Donald Trump by committing felonies that helps to get Donald Trump elected. Do you understand why people do not view him as some kind of object of sympathy or you know, heroism that because what he did was extremely damaging to -- in the views of millions of Americans.
DAVIS: I not only understand that`s the challenge of what I do as a profession. People don`t come to me and say have great news for you. They come to me with troubles and I try to start with the basics of taking responsibility explaining the reasons why mistakes were made, the serious ones in the case of Mr. Cohen, and then try to set things right. The most important thing I`ve tried to do starting on July 2nd with the George Stephanopoulos interview is for Mr. Cohen to tell the United States people that he wants to tell the truth about Mr. Trump.
HAYES: All right, Lanny Davis thank you for your time.
DAVIS: Thank you, Chris.
HAYES: To help understand the President`s legal jeopardy and what may come next I`m joined by former Watergate prosecutors Jill Wine-Banks and Nick Akerman, both MSNBC Legal Analysts. What is the legal ramifications 24 hours later having been able to sort of process what was in that information? There are a lot of loose threads in there it strikes me.
NICK AKERMAN, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST: There`s a lot. I mean, we don`t know what Michael Cohen knows. We don`t know what the nature of his cooperation agreement is with Mueller, with the Southern District. We -- I can`t believe that he would have pled guilty to exposure of almost six years in prison without having some notion that he`s got information that would be helpful to the Mueller investigation. It`s inconceivable to me that that would not have been discussed beforehand.
HAYES: Also Jill, I mean what`s striking to me is that the Trump Org shows up in here. The Trump Org shows as something that is channeling money. There is a seeming implication that the U.S. Attorney`s Office has access to the Trump Org internal accounting records, executives are named in there. What`s the significance to that?
JILL WINE-BANKS, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST: Well, the significance of that, of course, is that the corporation could also be found liable for tax violations. For example, if they did reduced their payable taxes by claiming that the legal fees paid to Michael Cohen which were phony legal fees, they were actually hush money, if they deducted that, that`s a violation of the tax code. But I think you hit on the main question that I have about this whole thing which is if he really wants to cooperate, why is he doing it through the public? Why didn`t Lanny Davis call up the Mueller office and say hi we`d like to come in and make a proffer. That`s the normal way you would do it.
When John Dean was cooperating, he called and said I want to come in and make a proffer. He talked to us, he told us what he had to say and that`s when he started cooperating with us.
HAYES: Yes, that`s so --
BANKS: So it doesn`t make sense.
HAYES: Yes, the timing is weird. The idea that like he just had to come to Jesus moment just doesn`t stand for a second.
AKERMAN: No, I mean, he -- look --
HAYES: He`s forced in there for some reason.
AKERMAN: Yes, he was forced in because they were coming up with major bank fraud charges, some of which you saw in the information yesterday. He`s -- he was facing huge amounts of prison time just like Paul Manafort and his only real escape valve here is to cooperate. Now, why they`re doing this in the public sphere is totally beyond me.
HAYES: Let`s talk about the -- two things here. One is the President today, Jill, in the little snippet of that interview appeared to confess to precisely the crime that Michael Cohen said he committed. He basically said yes, we paid it, I paid it. And the whole point here is that by not doing it through the campaign they avoided reporting requirements which of course, is the cover-up which also stretches back to exactly the kind of thing Nixon was doing.
BANKS: Exactly. I mean, the comparisons to Watergate are not just obstruction of justice but it is this payment and cover-up. I mean we`ve been saying obstruction, obstruction, but it`s time to use the other word that was used during our trial which is cover-up. This is a big cover-up and they did it specifically to influence the campaign and the election outcome. That`s far worse than anything that happened in Watergate. They actually are deliberately trying even if you can`t prove that they worked with the Russian government which seems to me that there`s plenty of evidence of that too but just on this alone they were deliberately trying to conceal information that would influence the election and help him win election.
AKERMAN: And that`s Jill`s absolutely on the spot there because you have to look at what happened in the context of everything else that was going on in the campaign at the time, there was the Access Hollywood tape. There were all these women coming out of the woodwork that were accusing Trump. Trump was calling them liars. You had lots of controversy just before the Comey tape came out. So all of this happened in that context and it wasn`t only when he was running for office but after he was elected they`re still going through this, they`re phoning up document.
HAYES: While he`s a sitting President. He is -- he is -- they`re reimbursing him on monthly basis while he`s the President of the United States.
AKERMAN: Right. He`s using phony documents, phony invoices, I mean, the kind of stuff, this is something that`s right out of an organized-crime book. This looks more like a Mafia family than it does the President of the United States and the first family.
HAYES: Not only that, Jill -- yes, go ahead.
AKERMAN: I just want to say it`s -- I just can`t understand how Congress can let this happen and do nothing. And for any Congressman to say it`s up to the legal system, it is up to the legal system but it is also up to Congress. This is clearly impeachable offenses. This is a president who is out of control who is conducting himself in a way that is hurting America dramatically and something has to be done about it. We can`t let it just keep going.
HAYES: Well, you will note they have a very neat two-step they do which they says the President can`t be indicted and then when they`re confronted they say well there`s no charges against the President and then just bounce back and forth between those two. Jill Wine-Banks and Nick Akerman, great to have you both. Still ahead, how will Congress proceed with legitimacy and the President now in question. I`ll talk to Senator Chris Murphy about that and what it means for the President`s Supreme Court pick. Senator Murphy joins me live in two minutes.
HAYES: Now the President`s longtime attorney and one of his closest associates admitted in federal court that Donald Trump directed him to commit a felony in order to help him win an election. He very, very narrowly won. Congress is left the question what to do with that information. Republicans have the power to open an investigation of course into Trump`s alleged involvement and breaking campaign finance law but there`s no indication they will do that. Democrats the other hand want to use his opportunity to delay a confirmation process of Trumps Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.
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BLUMENTHAL: Unquestionably being in my mind the Kavanaugh hearing should be postponed.
HIRONO: I will be canceling my appointment with judge Kavanaugh because I choose not to extend a courtesy to this president who is an unindicted co- conspirator.
SEN. CORY BOOKER (D), NEW JERSEY: We should not be right now confirming any Supreme Court Justice.
SCHUMER: The Senate Judiciary Committee should immediately pause the consideration of the Kavanaugh nomination.
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HAYES: Joining me now Senator Chris Murphy, Democrat from Connecticut. Do you agree with your colleagues there?
SEN. CHRIS MURPHY (D), CONNECTICUT: I do agree but of course, I would argue that there are lots of reasons that we should be pressing the pause button. We have not been given all of the documents that we need in order to evaluate Kavanaugh`s candidacy and there seems to be a reason why Republicans are holding back some of the most important documents from his time in the White House. But clearly, there are some really big questions that need to be answered. At the very least we need Kavanaugh to be open with us about what he thinks about the ability of a president to be indicted and whether he believes that presidents have to answer subpoenas.
The most likely question that is going to come to the Supreme Court in the midst of a constitutional crisis would be over an argument as to whether Donald Trump needs to testify before Mueller. Obviously, after yesterday`s revelations, it`s increasingly unlikely that Trump`s lawyers want him to get into a position where he could perjure himself given the fact that he seems to do it on a regular basis in front of the American people. That question of whether a president has to testify seems to be one that Kavanaugh has to answer and I would hope Republicans and Democrats would agree he has to answer that question affirmatively before he gets confirmed.
HAYES: There`s a broader question here to me which is just about the sort of how you take the facts that we`re learning and the questions, the third profound questions about the President`s legitimacy to be quite frank and deal with being a member of the Senate. But at what -- is there a fact pattern at which everything should stop?
MURPHY: Yes, so I think that`s a really important question, Chris, one that I`m grappling with in real time because you know, it is somewhat of an arbitrary distinction to say that the Supreme Court hearing process should stop but the president continues to be able to go on appointing other judges, running the Armed Forces, making all sorts of decisions regarding the U.S. legal system. You know, ultimately the founding fathers gave Congress a power that is the power of impeachment if they believe that an executive has gotten to the point where you can no longer function.
And so I guess I do worry about Congress deciding that the President has lost legitimacy absent an impeachment conversation. And so -- and so I -- you know, listen we will get a report from Mueller, and when we do we`ll have that conversation. But before that, I think it`s a difficult thing to decide.
HAYES: Let me just ask you this. There are people who say, and I think they have a decent argument, that what was alleged what was sworn to in a federal court yesterday and seems to be endorsed by the U.S. Attorney`s Office Southern District is itself an impeachable offense, the president directing his underling to commit a federal crime in furtherance of covering up something so that he can be elected. Are they right?
MURPHY: Well, I think it`s important for us to have in front of us the evidence that leads the prosecutor to that decision right? Now, we have Cohen`s testimony but we also may have other evidence whether it be documents or audio tapes to that effect as well. And so, I think the reason why some of us are you know, punting on this question a little bit today is because well, we take the indictment at face value. We also think that we need all of the evidence before us.
HAYES: You`re also punting on it because you`re worried about the politics. I mean, isn`t that the subtext here?
MURPHY: Well, I think there`s a good reason for why we have wanted Mueller to provide us with a report because when you consider something as serious as impeachment, you want to have all of the facts in front of you. Republicans are wrong to say that just because this didn`t indict him on the Russia question it`s not serious but I do think that it`s important for us to have all of the facts in front of us.
And I think Mueller frankly, Chris, has to think at this point about giving us some preliminary findings. I mean, there`s nothing that stops Mueller from saying here`s what I know right now and I`m going to continue to work on other things and then we can assess that preliminary report.
HAYES: You know, that`s -- I haven`t heard anyone call for that but from a transparency standpoint, I`m a journalist like that -- with all of us operating with some big thing in a black box that we can`t see just seems almost maddening at this point because there`s a subset of facts that are extremely important to know what happened one way or the other.
MURPHY: Right. And listen, we -- there`s clear -- there`s nothing in the in the statute underlying Mueller`s work that requires him to wait until the finality of his process to give us some information. And I think what happened yesterday probably compels him to show some cards, not all but to show some cards to the extent that there you know, is going to be a conversation about what the proper redress is before Congress. And I think that that need will increase because as we were talking about it`s going to be I think really hard for Congress to decide what functions of the executive are legitimate going forward and what are illegitimate.
HAYES: The President tweeted this morning about Paul Manafort, has some extremely kind words, feel very badly for Paul Manafort and his wonderful family. Justice took a 12-year-old tax case among other things, applied tremendous pressure on him and unlike Michael Cohen, he refused to break, makeup stories in order to get a deal, such respect for a brave. Many people interpreted that as dangling a pardon. What signals have to be sent from your colleagues on Congress to the president that a pardon for Manafort is a red line?
MURPHY: So -- and I think Republicans need to say to Trump is effectively what they said on the Mueller investigation. Republicans gave some pretty clear signals to Trump about six months ago that the red line was the firing of Mueller and I think that`s in part why Mueller`s investigation still precedes. They`ve got to say the same thing about a pardon to Manafort. And of course, I think that tweet makes it very clear to everyone what the reason for that pardon would be Manafort`s success in refusing to cooperate. He effectively admitted in that tweet why we would -- he would pardon him. So I haven`t heard that definitively from Republicans today and I think what we know is that unless Republicans draw that line, then you know, Trump is going to take advantage of it.
HAYES: All right, Senator Chris Murphy, thanks for making some time tonight.
MURPHY: Thanks. We now know of two apparent criminal conspiracies, two, that both works to get Donald Trump elected. The uncharted territory the nation is in next.
HAYES: There was a lot that happened yesterday but journalist Garrett Graff ended up succinctly with one tweet. "To state it simply at least two separate criminal conspiracies helped elect Donald from president in 2016, one executed by the Russian government and another by Trump`s personal lawyer." The Russian government engaged in extensive criminal sabotage including hacking the DNC, distributing stolen e-mails, and running a covert social media campaign, at least according Mueller`s prosecutors to help Trump get elected.
And Michael Cohen says he was directed by Donald Trump to illegally cover up damaging information in order to help get Trump elected. With his long perspective I`m joined by MSNBC contributor Nick Confessore, an Investigative and Political Reporter for the New York Times, Esquire Writer at Large Charlie Pierce who today compared what just happened to Watergate and the Saturday Night Massacre, and Jess McIntosh the Executive Editor Shareblue, a former Senior Advisor at Hillary Clinton`s 2016 presidential campaign. And I want to start with you because of that Jess.
JESS MCINTOSH, EXECUTIVE EDITOR, SHAREBLUE: OK.
HAYES: Well, it was 77,000 votes across three states.
MCINTOSH: It was.
HAYES: We learned yesterday in federal court that there was a criminal conspiracy to cover up damaging information. And I just wanted the timing here. The Wall Street Journal ran this story that as the Access Hollywood tape surfaced, Michael Cohen changed his tune on paying Stormy Daniels, meaning the release of that made it more urgent that those stories not come out.
What do you think about that?
MCINTOSH: I think that Donald Trump`s presidency is illegitimate. I think it`s...
HAYES: What does that mean, though?
MCINTOSH: It means that if you break U.S. law to get the White House you are not a legitimate president.
HAYES: What does that word mean? Like, you heard Chris Murphy just now -- I just want to push on this. Chris Murphy just said I am uncomfortable about using the word illegitimate absent the constitutional mechanism we have to deal with that, which is impeachment.
MCINTOSH: Right, I am using it rhetorically. I`m using the way that Americans use that word. I know that the founders didn`t put anything in place where what happens if a criminal manages to steal the White House, but that is what we are dealing with right now, that is the reality of the situation.
So, I think it is it is upon all of the Democrats who are currently in office to make a lot of noise. I think it is upon Americans to make a lot of noise. I`m not sure what we need to do right now, but it involves being in the streets and it involves being very, very loud. There is no way that somebody who broke laws to become a -- to get the White House should be giving us lifetime appointed Supreme Court justices, especially if we know that he is trying to appoint one who believes that a president cannot be investigated or indicted and will probably have to rule on that.
HAYES: Very soon.
Charlie, you compared this to Watergate. And there`s a lot of similarities, a lot of differences. One I keep thinking of is, you know, Nixon trounced McGovern by such a margin, that he didn`t run the thought experiment saying, well, if they didn`t break in to the, you know, the Watergate Hotel McGovern would have won, but it is hard not to run that thought experiment in this case.
CHARLIE PIERCE, VANITY FAIR: No, you are absolutely right. And Iwant to point out, and I think Jeffrey Toobin was the first to point this out. I don`t know in what venue he did, but what Michael Cohen did in court yesterday, which is basically to incriminate the president, none of the Watergate guys did that. Even John Dean didn`t do that in front of the Senate. He didn`t accuse the president of a crime, he laid out the fact and let you draw your own conclusions.
But Michael Cohen went under oath yesterday and accused the president of the United States of violating the law. And that to me is a step up from Watergate.
HAYES: You are a campaign finance expert and have reported on it a while, and an argument you have seen floated and emerge is like, ah, everybody is breaking campaign finance law here and there. You get some fines. Like, does that scan to you?
NICHOLAS CONFESSORE, NEW YORK TIMES: No. No one does this. This is super rare. Look, there are lots of paper violations of campaign finance laws, they are civil. It is like speeding. They are often accidental. People give too much money by accident, because they send in three checks instead of two, and they are corrected. You refund the money. You may pay a fine. You`ll file correct paperwork.
We have a totally different thing here, knowful and willful violation of campaign finance law. That`s a felony. You can go to jail for that. And that`s what...
HAYES: And people do. I mean, that does happen.
CONFESSORE: It doesn`t get prosecuted as often as you would think, but it does get prosecuted, and it is illegal. And when they find evidence that someone said let`s out to hide this money so nobody knows and we won`t put it in our campaign disclosure reports, that is against the law and it is criminal.
MCINTOSH: And he wasn`t hiding money so nobody would know, it was hiding a scandal so nobody would know. The money was being hidden, but what really was being hidden was the multiple mistresses.
HAYES: And there`s a relationship between these two, becuase if you did it through proper campaign finance procedures and reported it, then it would be reported. So not like an accident, like, oh, by the way, we just decided to do it this way. That was the whole point.
MCINTOSH: And then speaking of coming at it from the Hillary Clinton campaign perspective, that day, that the Access Hollywood tape dropped...
HAYES: October 7...
MCINTOSH: Which we did not realize at that was the day that Michael Cohen decided the Stormy Daniels payments, we did know that that was the day that WikiLeaks started releasing John Podesta`s emails.
So, both criminal conspiracies that were in the works to elect Donald Trump saw what happened with the Access Hollywood tape, saw that that was definitely going to take him down, Republicans were fleeing, and they both went to work to stop it.
CONFESSORE: By the way, if they had simply padded these payments into the legal payments out to Jones Day (ph), Don McGahn`s law firm and had Don McGahn`s law firm pay it, no one would have none, and no laws would have been broken. So, in additoin to being illegal, it is so bone-headed.
PIERCE: Yeah. There are a couple of things if you take a step back that is going on here. One of them is that without our completely ben jaxed (ph) campaign finance system, thank you Anthony Kennedy, you wouldn`t have this lagoon of money sloshing around, and I mean, everything that happened yesterday, including the utterly amazing Duncan Hunter indictment, where, you know, he`s going to go to federal prison because he spent $57.98 on a pair of golf shorts, all of that has to do with a rotten to the core campaign finance system.
And the other thing is, and Chris, you may have mentioned this on Twitter, we do a -- and I say this in the context of the national prison strike today, we do a rotten job in this country prosecuting white collar crime. And we`ve done a terrible job prosecuting white collar crime for a lot of years.
HAYES: Yes there, is a national prisoner strike happening right now in America, which is the most incarcerated nation in the world that puts millions of people behind bars day in and day out for all kinds of offenses. And one of the things that`s most striking the -- Manafort and Cohen were doing this kind of stuff for years.
MCINTOSH: Well, the way that white supremacy works, especially when it gets into the government, is that it starts by saying who laws are applicable to, that is one of the ways that it works. You set a law, but only certain people have to follow it and we can punish those people if they don`t, whereas when white men, especially rich white men don`t follow that law, really nothing happens.
I know I`ve seen you make this point on Twitter that right now we are seeing a president who has broken the law. We are his inner circle who has broken the law, and they are taking babies away from parents who have committed misdemeanors by crossing the border without documentation. We are talking about felons in the president`s circle.
HAYES: Well, so my question to you is, how many -- as someone who covers the world of sort of the donor class and sort of the hangers on around them, it`s like I can`t help but wonder how many unprosecuted Paul Manaforts and Michael Cohens are there. Like, are they a distinct kind or are they part of a larger cohort that gets away with it, because they are not close to the president of the United States?
CONFESSORE: My suspicion is this kind of money laundering and shell moving, and campaign finance violation and violation of foreign lobbying is ubiquitous. Now, I can`t prove that. My sense from reporting on it...
HAYES: And you`ve reported on a lot, I have to say.
CONFESSORE: And from my understanding how ubiquitous the basic mechanisms of how these two men laundered money and cheated on their taxes, those mechanisms are everywhere, and they`re used ubiquitously, and not always for criminal purposes, but all rich paeople use them, which makes me wonder.
HAYES: Charlie, one thing that has been really striking to me, and it embodied in the president`s tweet today about the -- he didn`t break is how much the language of mob movies and cop dramas are now basically just the language of this president and his inner circle -- flip, you know, he didn`t break, rat, all of that stuff. It is remarkable.
PIERCE: Well, I mean, it is the argot of people -- you know, people in New York suffer from a very bad case of John Gotti envy. And at the very least, they want to talk -- they want to talk like these guys.
You have got Rudy Giuliani out there behaving like one of the crazy defense attorneys from Law and Order. You know, they all -- this -- I mean, these are people who have pretty much defined their -- or at least the president -- has defined his persona by the character he plays on television. And now he`s borrowing dialogue from cheap mob movies.
I keep waiting for Rudy Giuliani to come on somebody`s show and drop a dead fish on the desk.
HAYES: Nick Confessore, Charlie Pierce, and Jess McIntosh, thank you all.
Still ahead, Congresswoman Maxine Waters on the president`s collection of criminals surrounding him and indictments to the first two members of congress to endorse the president.
Plus, speaking of endorsing, no one does it better than the president. That is tonight`s Thing One, Thing Two next.
HAYES: Thing One tonight, Donald Trump`s rally in West Virginia last night was a bit muted for obvious reasons, but he did find one thing to get excited about.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: In my record, look, I don`t want to brag about it, but man, do I have a good record of endorsements. You know, all my life I`ve heard endorsements don`t mean anything. They said if you get an endorsement from Ronald Reagan -- we like Ronald Reagan -- it was a wonderful thing to have, but it didn`t move the needle. It was nice to have, but it didn`t mean anything. These endorsement -- and I am not saying it from my standpoint, they are going 20, 30, 40, 50 points. It`s crazy. And then you watch the news. Will this endorsement mean anything? It is going to mean a lot.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: It`s true. Donald Trump is really good at endorsements. Just ask this guy.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FOSTER FRIESS, CONSERVATIVE BUSINESSMAN: I`m conservative businessman, Foster Friess. Wyoming has smiled on me and my family. Now I am running for governor to make sure Wyoming stays the land of dreams for the next generation. I know what it takes to foster prosperity without raising taxes. It`s my first name.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Wait taxes are his first name? Oh, no, Foster, right.
So, how did Foster fair with Trump`s complete and total endorsement? IT`s Thing Two in 60 seconds.
HAYES: If you don`t remember who Foster Friess is, well this is who he is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FRIESS: This contraception thing, my gosh it`s such inexpensive. You know, back in my days, they used Bayer aspirin for contraception. The gals put it between their knees and it wasn`t that costly.
ANDREA MITCHELL, NBC NEWS: Excuse me, I am trying to catch my breath from that, Mr. Friess, frankly.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: That guy, billionaire Republican donor and man you shouldn`t go to for medical advice, Foster Friess, decided to run for governor of Wyoming this year. And Donald Trump, who we know has a good record on these things, swooped in on primary day to deliver his complete and total endorsement.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: These endorsement -- and I`m not saying it from my standpoint -- they are going 20, 30, 40, 50 points. 50 points. It`s crazy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: So last night was the big election. Did Foster Friess win by 20 points, 30 points, 50?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Billionaire Foster Freiss falls short in his bid for Wyoming governor overnight. The Trump-backed Republican donor beaten by State Treasurer Mark Gordon in the GOP primary.
TRUMP: Look, I don`t want to brag about it, but man, do I have a good record of endorsement.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: So there was a pretty huge story that kind of got buried yesterday, because yesterday was one of the craziest days of one of the craziest presidencies of all of our lives. And it involves a second member of congress to endorse Donald Trump for president, that would be Congressman Duncan Hunter, Republican of California.
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TRUMP: And Duncan, thank you very much, right from the beginning. Duncan. You better vote for these guys forever. We are never letting them go.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Duncan Hunter was there from the beginning, in fact the only member of congress who endorsed Trump before Hunter was New York Republican Chris Collins who was arrested two weeks ago by the FBI for alleged insider trading.
And now Duncan Hunter is once again following in Chris Collins footsteps. Hunter and his wife were indicted yesterday on dozens of federal criminal charges, a 47 page indictment accusing them of pilfering more than a quarter million dollars in campaign funds and trying to cover it up by filing false records with the FEC.
Quoting, "the Hunters used campaign funds for ski trips, hotel stays, and European vacations," according to the indictment. They golfed. They bought makeup. They paid for airline tickets for friends and relatives and invested in tequila shots and gourmet steaks.
The indictment says the Hunters overdrew their bank account more than a thousand times?
And some details are just bananas. Quote, when Duncan Hunter told Margaret Hunter he was planning to buy my Hawaii shorts, but had run out of money, she counseled him to buy the shorts at a golf pro shop so that they could falsely describe the purchase later as some golf balls for the wounded warriors.
Hunter responded to the charges with a page out of the Trump playbook, calling his prosecution to, quote, witch hunt led by a corrupt Justice Department.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. DUNCAN HUNTER, (R) CALIFORNIA: This is the new Department of Justice. This is the Democrats` arm of law enforcement. That`s what happened right now. It happening with Trump it`s happening with me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Fact check, Jeff Sessions does run the Justice Department.
Coming up, I`ll ask another member of California`s congressional delegation, Congresswoman Maxine Waters, about the corruption of the Trump presidency and the Democrats` strategy to take back the house in November. That`s next.scovered
HAYES: Donald Trump has decided that a good strategy to help Republicans keep control of congress is to focus on my next guest, Congresswoman Maxine Waters. Trump has repeatedly called Waters the leader of the Democratic Party. He was at it again last night in West Virginia, and last week on her 80th birthday, he even sarcastically tweeted happy birthday to the leader the Democrat Party, Maxine Waters.
It`s Democratic Party.
Maxine Waters is not the leader of the Democratic Party, but she has been one of the fiercest critics of the president from the beginning, and she is joining me once again tonight. Congresswoman Maxine Waters, Democrat of California. Welcome back to the show.
REP. MAXINE WATERS, (D) CALIFORNIA: Thank you.
HAYES: You have been, I would say, out front and outspoken about your belief that the president is worthy of impeachment, is a criminal, has surrounded himself with criminals. So, I wonder how your thinking after what happened yesterday.
WATERS: Well, I`m thinking that this is just the tip of the iceberg, that, yes, Manafort was convicted on eight counts and Cohen came in and pleaded guilty to eight counts. And I have felt this, I`ve basically taken a look at this whole crowd, these allies of the president, their relationship to Putin, their relationship to the Kremlin and to oligarchs and how they handled themselves and information that I think will come out about money laundering through the Cyprus bank with Manafort.
So, I expect this. I expect it to unfold. And I think it will keep unfolding. And we will find that there`s more criminality among this group. There will be more convictions, and, yes, the president is involved.
HAYES: I want to ask you a political question. There`s a certain line of thinking that says that people don`t care about the Mueller probe. They don`t care about the Russia stuff or even Manafort and stuff. And I thought this was interesting, two polls from Fox today that Mueller`s approval rating is now quite good, 59 percent approve and 37 percent disapprove.
And the congressional ballot gap is 49 percent to 38 percent. Do you think Democrats should talk about these issues on the campaign trail in the mid-terms?
WATERS: Well, I`ve always felt that we could walk and chew gum at the same time. I know some of the Democrats are saying, please don`t mention the word impeachment. Don`t worry about the investigation. Let Mueller take care of that. We have got to talk about our issues. We can do both.
We can talk about healthcare. We can talk about Obamacare. We can talk about Medicaid and Medicare. We can talk about the infrastructure and how it needs to be built up. We can talk about all of these things at the same time. We can`t turn a blind eye to this president who is destroying this country.
This president, the leader of this country, comes to us with a reputation. This is a man who comes with a reputation of not paying his contractors, cheating subcontractors with a fake university, where he cheated students who thought they were going to learn how to become developers. This is a man who has come with the kind of reputation, racism, of coding applications for apartments that -- so they would not have to rent them to African-Americans and people of color. This is a man who has demonstrated, in more than several ways, who he is.
He is a flawed character. And I think for us to sit blindly by and pretend that we don`t have to deal with it, somebody else is going to sit it in our laps, really does not speak to what we`re thinking about our responsibility in the congress of the United States of America.
And so I think we can do both. And that`s what I`ve been doing.
HAYES: There are two members of congress, Republicans who have been indicted now, Chris Collins and Duncan Hunter, both early supporters of the president. Obviously the president has people around him who have been indicted or pleaded. As Democrats take a message about corruption to voters in the mid-terms, I want to ask about Robert Menendez, a sitting senator from New Jersey. He was essentially unanimously backed by the Democratic Party. He had a hung jury in federal trial that revolved around corruption charges that he basically traded influence to a donor. Was it a mistake for Democrats to anonymously back Robert Menendez given the kind of -- what you`re seeing develop and the message on corruption that`s developing?
WATERS: Well, let me just say this, both on the Democratic side and the Republican side, these are individuals who have decided to take certain actions that are criminal. And so I don`t say that Trump was somehow, you know, in collusion with Hunter, I say that he was in collusion with Putin. I say that he was in collusion with the Kremlin and with the oligarches.
And so these individual problems that pop up on either side of the aisle are basically that, individuals who decided to make bad decisions about how they handle themselves.
And in the case of Menendez, he was exonerated.
HAYES: Well, he wasn`t exonerated, it was a mistrial.
WATERS: Mistrial, all right.
HAYES: OK. Congresswoman Maxine Waters, many thanks for your time tonight. I appreciate it.
WATERS: Oh, well, you`re certainly welcome. Thank you.
HAYES: Don`t forget our podcast there`s a great new episode about Trump, corruption and why it`s uniquely poisonous threat to the country. Why is This Happening? with Zephyr Teachout. She traces corruption back to the founding of the country. She`s also running for attorney general of New York. Check it out on Apple Podcast or wherever you get your podcasts. Tell us what you think with tweeting the hashtag #withpod.
That`s ALL IN for this evening. "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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