Show: ALL IN with CHRIS HAYES Date: August 24, 2018 Guest: Barbara Boxer, Amy Klobuchar, David Jolly
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: His relinquished leadership and management of the Trump Organization to his sons Don and Eric and a longtime Trump executive Allen Weisselberg.
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: Immunity for Allen Weisselberg, the man Trump put in charge of his business along with his son.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Don, Eric, and Allen are committed to ensuring that the activities of the Trump Organization are beyond reproach.
HAYES: The man who allegedly helped Cohen with his hush money payoff.
MICHAEL COHEN, FORMER LAWYER OF DONALD TRUMP: I`ve spoken to Allen Weisselberg about how to set the whole thing up with the funding.
HATES: The man who has been Trump`s money man for decades.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: My chief financial officer Allen Weisselberg. Where do you see Allen?
HAYES: Tonight, why this immunity deal could be the biggest catch yet.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. President, what does Weisselberg know?
HAYES: Then, just how many different investigations are looking at the President? Plus, everything else that`s been happening while the presidency is in crisis.
TRUMP: We`re canceling Obama`s illegal anti-call destroying regulations.
HAYES: When ALL IN starts right now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Good evening from New York, I`m Chris Hayes. The President of the United States began this week with a two-day tweet storm attacking Robert Mueller and anyone even seemingly tangentially connected with the Russia investigation. But as the weekends, it`s Trump and seemingly anyone tangentially connected to him find themselves in deep trouble and. The thing of it is Mueller may be the least of their worries.
Trump`s campaign chairman has been convicted of multiple felonies just a few days ago, it seems like a while. His longtime personal lawyer pleaded guilty to felonies and directly implicated the President and federal crimes. His friend at the National Enquirer has an immunity deal and somewhere the contents of that safe full of Trump dirt loom over the President.
And now today, his entire business empire the very thing that defines Donald J Trump appears to be caught in the crosshairs of multiple investigations. The President has been railing against so-called rats, his word, who cooperate with law enforcement and today we found out that one of the highest-ranking executives of the Trump Organization has been doing exactly that.
NBC News confirming a report by the Wall Street Journal that CFO Allen Wiesenberger, the most senior exec not named Trump was granted immunity in the investigation of Michael Cohen. According to the Washington Post, he testified before a grand jury in Manhattan last month. A source tells NBC News at Wiesenberger is the individual referred to in the Cohen charging documents as Executive One who according to the prosecutors orchestrated the reimbursement to Cohen for his hush money payments to Stormy Daniels under false pretenses.
This is from those documents "Executive One forwarded the invoice to another executive of the company Executive Two the same day by e-mail and it was approved. Executive One forwarded that e-mail to another employee at the company stating please pay from the trust post to legal expenses. Put retainer for the months of January and February 2017 in the description."
According to prosecutors, there was no retainer agreement with Cohen and the invoice was not connected to any legal services he performed. Weisselberg was also mentioned by a name on that secret audio tape of Cohen and the President planning the hush money payment to Karen McDougal.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
COHEN: I need to open up a company for the transfer of all of that info regarding our friend David you know, so that I couldn`t do that right away. I`ve actually come up --
TRUMP: Give it to me.
COHEN: And I just spoken to Allen Wiesenberger how to set the whole thing up with funding --
TRUMP: So, what do we got to pay for this?
COHEN: -- yes. And it`s all the stuff.
TRUMP: Yes, I was thinking about that.
COHEN: All the stuff because you know, you`ll never know where that company, you`ll never know what he`s --
TRUMP: Maybe he gets hit by a truck.
COHEN: Correct. So, I`m all over that.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
HAYES: Our friend David believed to be David Pecker, publisher of The National Enquirer has also received an immunity deal. Of course, now that Wiesenberger has immunity, federal prosecutors can`t take any legal action against him for his role in the hush money payments. The New York Times reports that local prosecutors are now looking into it. The Manhattan District Attorney weighing a criminal probe into how the Trump Organization paid Cohen back.
It`s not clear whether Wiesenberger deal ended with Cohen`s guilty plea this week or whether crucially that investigation is ongoing and Weisselberg is still cooperating. We just do not know. But prosecutors wanted a window into the Trump Organization, they could not pick a better witness. Before the president took over it was Wiesenberger along with Trump`s sons who was put in charge.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He has relinquished leadership and management of the Trump Organization to his sons Don and Eric and a longtime Trump Executive Allen Wiesenberger. Together Don Eric and Allen will have the authority to manage the Trump Organization and will make decisions for the duration of the presidency.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Weisselberg has worked for the Trump Organization since the 1970s starting as an accountant to the President`s father. he`s also the treasurer of the Trump Foundation which is itself under investigation and he still handles the family`s personal finances. Weisselberg even made a cameo on The Apprentice.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Replacing George this week is my chief financial officer Allen Weisselberg. And you think George is tough, wait until you see Allen.
ALLEN WEISSELBERG, CHIEF FINANCIAL OFFICER, TRUMP ORG: Well, I think APEX had a very good plan. They would diversify not just in location but also in services and plus the diversification a young net profit of $307.41.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: $307. For more than this perilous new phase and the legal jeopardy facing the President I`m joined by former Acting U.S. Solicitor General Neal Katyal, Author of a new op-ed in The New York Times the -- This Conspiracy Theory should worry Trump. Neal, let`s start with that op-ed. You outline why it is you think the legal developments this week in the case before the Southern District are so perilous for the President. Why are they?
NEAL KATYAL, FORMER ACTING U.S. SOLICITOR GENERAL: Yes, this is really, really serious. I mean, if this were against any other individual in this country who wasn`t the President of the United States they would be indicted at this point. And so you know, Trump claims had to get out of jail free card because he claims he`s a sitting president and you know we can talk about that later. But these are incredibly serious allegation. It`s what Michael Cohen said on Tuesday as you were saying in the setup, Chris, was that the President was directly implicated in these payments. And it`s one thing you know, campaign finance violations you know, there was any number of ways that trying to understand them, but I think here the allegation is very different and that`s what the New York Times op-ed is about.
The allegation here is that Trump actually conspired. He induced someone else at least one other person, Cohen, and maybe more with Weisselberg and others to engage in this kind of cover-up scheme over campaign finance violations. And it`d be one thing if this happened at any time in our history but it happened just a couple of weeks before an election. This information was kept from voters. These are very, very serious things.
HAYES: I want to talk about something you just mentioned about indictment. There`s been a big debate about this. The White House has done a very interesting -- I think clever thing where they say the President can`t be indicted pursuant to an OLC judgment by the Department of Justice and then when you ask them questions about Michael Cohen, it says well, the President isn`t facing any charges. But of course, the first implies the latter what do you think about the status of that conventional wisdom and legal policy of the Department Justice about the President being subject to indictment.
KATYAL: Well, I don`t think the President`s lawyers even believe what they`re saying because they keep saying he`s not going to testify because he`s afraid of a perjury trap. Now, the only way you can have a perjury trap it seems to me is if you can be indicted for perjury. And if they think a sitting president can`t be indicted, then it`s a little tough.
HAYES: That`s interesting.
KATYAL: So look, there`s a really interesting legal debate that constitutional scholars you know, have -- you know, wrestled about. Can you indict and try a sitting president while he`s president. But I think you know, their -- the difficulty that the Trump folks have with that is twofold. Number one, there was a Clinton vs. Jones decision in 1997 which effectively said no one is above the law including the President. Now that was in the civil context but the language is pretty powerful.
And number two, even those Justice Department opinions talk about the actual bringing someone to trial, they don`t talk about indicted someone. And here, there`s a you know, already a very, very strong case that the President should be subject to an indictment as indeed Chris if you and I were subject to these allegations you know, that Michael Cohen said I think we`d be looking at an indictment in pronto.
HAYES: Yes, if we were -- if you or I were -- I mean, just to stress that. If you were, I were Individual One or Individual One were anyone other than the President, it`s -- you`re saying it`s clear there`s sufficient evidence to charge that person with a federal crime.
KATYAL: Yes, I mean, you have already the sworn statement by Michael Cohen. Presumably, the prosecutors themselves have verified that and so yes I think that there is enough already and it would be -- of course, these are incredibly serious charges. It`s two weeks before an election this information is covered up. You know, the campaign finance disclosure rules are written for exactly this reason so that the American public knows who they`re voting for and where their money is coming from.
And that`s why you know, I think you hear the President this week talking so much about how you know rats and you know flipping is bad and all these things. He`s got to be you know really, really scared at this point because frankly, you know everyone he`s worked with appears to be a witness to some federal crime or other that he committed.
HAYES: As someone who has spent much of your career as a lawyer in government. around government arguing before the Supreme Court, in the Justice Department, where are we at the end of this week? I mean, have you seen something like this before? Is this entirely uncharted water or is it not?
KATYAL: I mean, it`s a despicable terrible place we`re in. I mean, I`ve seen video reels of Nixon in 1974 and frankly that`s the closest. But I can tell you, you know, having served twice at the Justice Department and having a lot of friends who were there and friends who are leaving because they can`t stomach it this is unprecedented. This is a President who you know, he started out setting like sounding like a white supremacist in 2017 and he`s evolved really to sound like a two-bit criminal or devolved.
I mean, you know the language that you`re hearing about rats and flipping and praising former falcon -- convicted felons like Paul Manafort, this is not becoming of the President of the United States who after all in Article 2 of our Constitution takes an oath to faithfully execute the laws of the United States and that is the opposite of what`s going on here.
I mean, just to take flipping you know, if the President`s views were accepted, the idea that flipping should be made illegal and that`s what our prosecutors do every day, day in and day out, we`d have thousands of criminals on the streets if our Justice Department listen to what this president is saying. And you know there is something deeply corrosive and deeply off about Donald J Trump.
HAYES: Neal Katyal, thank you for making some time tonight.
KATYAL: Thank you.
HAYES: For more on what prosecutors may be getting out of Allen Weisselberg`s immunity deal I`m joined by MSNBC Legal Analyst Paul Butler a former Federal Prosecutor with Justice Department`s Public Corruption Unit and MSNBC Legal Analyst Daniel Goldman former federal prosecutor in the same U.S. Attorney`s Office that prosecuted Michael Cohen. OK, let me start with you because you were in SDNY. What is SDNY doing? I cannot piece it together. What do they doing?
DANIEL GOLDMAN, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST: I`m not entirely clear, to be honest and I have been trying to channel my inner SDNY this week and figure this out. I do think that the immunity compulsion orders -- and I think it`s very important to differentiate between that and cooperation. It sounds like from the reporting that Weisselberg and pecker were compelled to testify by the prosecutors giving them immunity. That is very different than what we would ordinarily call cooperating or being voluntarily a cooperating witness.
HAYES: Difference being that if you are called in and testify you say I`m not going to say a word, I`m going to plead the Fifth. If the prosecutors then say no, we grant you immunity for anything you say then you got to talk.
GOLDMAN: You have to talk under penalty of perjury and it`s your legal duty to do so but it is -- you could be dragged in there kicking and screaming and you will say whatever you need to say in order not to lie.
HAYES: OK, so that`s a crucial distinction. Granted immunity as a sort of compelled manner versus affirmatively cooperating.
GOLDMAN: Right. What is interesting about this -- and so I what I was getting at is I think most likely that Weisselberg probably doesn`t have the same criminal culpability that Cohen and perhaps the President do in connection to the campaign finance fraud, and Pecker has this whole press exception dicey area that the prosecutors may just want to avoid so to the extent that he was more involved in this they may just say we`ll give you immunity because there are legal issues there.
So that`s as it relates to them. As it relates to Michael Cohen, it`s a real quandary. I think it`s really one of two things. One is the election is coming up in November. There`s an unwritten moratorium that everybody has talked about that Rudy Giuliani thinks, means that the investigation has to end but it really just means you cannot make any overt investigative moves in the sixty days or so.
And it may just be that they wanted to charge Michael Cohen with the crimes that they had him on and that everybody knew about before it got too late. And then you start to bring him in and cooperate him. Or it may just be that there`s nowhere for him to go with the SDNY in terms of cooperation and so what he`s sort of the top of the rung right now other than the President in connection to this crime.
PAUL BUTLER, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST: Although, again Alan Weisselberg has been Donald Trump`s money man for decades and now he is forced to sit with federal prosecutors and answer everything they want to know for as long as they want to question him. Can we just ponder that for a moment? Can you imagine? Now there is a question about what the endgame is.
Robert Mueller is probably going to write a report that will go to Congress regarding impeachment. The Southern District is bound by DOJ guidelines so no matter what they find about Trump`s criminality, they can`t charge him with a crime.
HAYES: So that`s the question right? So this question -- this is Joyce Vance who was a U.S. Attorney down in Alabama. We have on the show. She says you don`t give Trump Org CFO Weisselberg and David Pecker immunity just to prosecute Michael Cohen. This is a big question. Like why do they get immunity to prosecute Cohen? The other question is who is Executive Two? I mean, right now we know everyone basically who`s floating around this world on the tape is Cohen talking to the President, I`m going to roll in Weisselberg, Pecker is our friend -- Pecker. There`s an executive - in there, we don`t know who that person is. And if I were that person, I`d be a little worried.
GOLDMAN: We don`t know who that is and I would caution a little bit on the view that Weisselberg was being asked every question under the Sun about Trump Organization going back 10 years and I think that`s the critical difference between this immunity compulsion order which is generally specific to a line of questioning or some criminal activity and cooperation where Weisselberg would give up everything that he knows. Executive Two to me seems to be a lesser player than Weisselberg in this whole thing so it`s unclear to me that there`s that much more to get out of Executive Two.
But to Joyce`s point, you know, I think we`re a little bit in the dark and it is -- it is confounding to all of us who look at this that they would just go ahead with a straight plea deal and not even meet as far as we know with Michael Cohen. There has to be a reason and I just can`t figure it out.
BUTLER: They got him. He`s a convicted felon eight times over now, so these are pure prosecution`s you start with the bottom and go up. But if you`re starting with the CEO now within Trump Organization, the only way up is Donald Trump possibly Don Junior, Ivanka or Jared Kushner.
HAYES: You know, there was this moment in the charging information I thought was really interesting which is that one of the orders is to pay the money from the trust, right? They say pay the money from the trust. Allen Weisselberg, Trump Jr. signed a new certification of trustee on February 10th stating they can distribute funds from the trust holding President Trump`s business assets for his maintenance of support. You saw that big in the press conference of the stacks of paper. Four days later Trump Org Executive e-mails order to pay Cohen from the trust. We don`t know those are the same trust but it sure does look like the President while the sitting president is using his trust to make this hush money payment.
GOLDMAN: Which is fine. He`s allowed to use the money. I mean, I should say it`s fine for him to use the money.
HAYES: From a legal sense but it also shows there`s no wall there.
GOLDMAN: Well, I don`t know. I mean, if it`s a blind trust he`s allowed to get money out of it., It`s not necessarily allowed to know what the assets are invested in or that`s where the conflict of interest comes in. But the point I think that you`re really getting at is that the President is directing this reimbursement and by the way, while he`s president but also to gross up the money so you increase it so that you`re taking out the taxes that Cowen plays. I mean, this is all very criminal enterprise type of behavior that people do.
BUTLER: And criminal enterprise sounds (INAUDIBLE) but also all put himself up to state charges and the significance there is if he`s prosecuted by the state, Cohen is, then he can`t be pardoned by Trump. Again, I don`t think at the end of the day they were real concerned about Cohen. I think that they`re especially concerned about the President of the United States.
GOLDMAN: The real interesting thing here to me is maybe just Cohen doesn`t have that much to give the SDNY and everything Lanny Davis is talking about relates to Mueller`s organization -- investigation. If Mueller truly and there is some reporting in The Washington Post at least this week that Mueller is not -- potentially not interested in speaking with Cohen, if that`s the case I cannot fathom the amount of evidence that Robert Mueller has on Russia collusion.
HAYES: Great point. Paul -- that is a great point. Paul Butler and Daniel Goldman, thank you both. Now, still, ahead the President`s legal troubles extend well beyond just the Mueller probe. We`ll go over the multiple ongoing investigations, can be hard to keep track of them into the president and his associates after this two-minute break.
HAYES: OK. So how many different entities or offices are currently investigating the President United States or his associates or businesses? Trying to tally it up, here`s what we came up with. Until very recently, we were all focused on the office of the Special Counsel Robert Mueller and the investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election. That`s already led to indictments or plea deals involving Michael Flynn, Paul Manafort, Rick Gates, George Papadopoulos, a dozen Russian intelligence officers, more than dozen Russian nationals and three Russian companies.
Along the way, Mueller also referred the matter of Michael Cohen to the Southern District of New York since Cohen`s crimes didn`t appear to come under the umbrella of Mueller`s Russia investigation. But just look what that now has led to. Not only that Michael Cohen pleading guilty to eight felony counts but to a criminal investigation which may implicate both the Trump Organization and certain unnamed executives who aided in the illegal hush-money scheme. That also led to a grant of immunity the National Enquirer publisher David Pecker and two Trump Org CFO Alan Weisselberg.
Meanwhile, the state of New York started its own line of inquiry they filed a civil suit against Trump Foundation as well as referring its findings to both the IRS and the FPC which may or may not act on that information. And now we know that the Manhattan D.A. is also eyeing the Trump Organization. All this raises the question how likely is it that one or more of these lines of criminal civil investigation will lead back to the man at the top Donald Trump.
To help assess this vast landscape of potential legal liability let`s bring an Attorney Lisa Green and Attorney Elie Mystal, Executive Editor of the legal blog Above the Law. A lot proliferated it seems to me over the course a week particularly when you pair two things. The subpoena that came from Michael Cohen the day after he pleaded from the state and the article the New York Times saying Cy Vance, the Manhattan D.A. is eyeing charges.
ELIE MYSTAL, EXECUTIVE EDITOR, ABOVE THE LAW: Yes, this is the week where the Marine Corps bands stopped playing Hail To The Chief and started playing Rains of Castamere, OK. The daggers are out now and it`s coming all around him. The legal exposure for Donald Trump is great. One of the things about having so many irons in the fire is that one of them is almost at this point down to pay off. In that report that you just said, you didn`t mention Michael Avenatti who`s still out here running for president and trying to get his own civil suit.
HAYES: Right. You got that right.
MYSTAL: So there`s there all these -- you know, Barbara Underwood also, the New York A.G. is contemplating criminal charges in addition to the civil charges. So the exposure for here for Donald Trump is as great as has been for anybody in the history of his office.
LISA GREEN, ATTORNEY: Or maybe lawyers clients ever, right? But here`s -- OK, so to start to narrow it down, let`s look at taxes because we`ve all really wanted to look at President Trump`s taxes since the time ran for office. If his office, if Allen Weisselberg who by the way can you not picture them with a green eyeshade and an adding machine like a pencil like this old-fashioned way of doing business every check is cleared by the President, let`s say they miss allocated, the hush money payment as a payment to a lawyer which you get to deduct from your taxes because it makes paying for lawyers easier.
HAYES: And that`s -- in the information that`s what prosecutors assert, he`s wrongly charged.
GREEN: Guess what, potential tax fraud. How do you prove tax fraud? Tax returns help. So there`s a lot of cascading legal problems but that seems to be to believe one that isn`t related to Russia and is fairly easily carried forward by state authorities or federal authorities.
MYSTAL: And not only does it seems that Trump`s exposure is what Trump should be most worried about right now, it`s his children right? Like that`s who all of this -- all of this is leading up to, if you look at all the people who`ve got immunity, I didn`t see Don Jr., I didn`t see Eric`s name, I didn`t see Jared`s name, all of this is coming out as children. On Barack Obama after Sandy Hook said that having children is like walking around with your, heart having your heart walk around unprotected.
Now, I don`t know if Donald Trump has the parental instincts of like a mammal. I`m not sure if he`s there, but if he is, that`s where they`re going to squeeze next. That`s where all of this is coming from. That`s what -- you don`t need Weisselberg to get Cohen, you need Y so work to get Executive Two which may or may not be Donald Trump Jr. right? That`s what you mean, and that`s where they`re going to squeeze next.
GREEN: Can I just add that in addition to the people who may be squeezed, there are the potential volunteers. Here`s what I mean. Loyalty is probably something you earn one to one. Disloyalty I think is contagious. And if other people in the Trump orbit, I`m speculating, are watching what`s happening and maybe get reacquainted with their sense of a conscience, this week after what they saw, who`s to stop them from volunteering information we don`t know?
HAYES: You know, part of what`s strange about this is much harder, and I think about all these different investigations all looking at this stuff now is that the kind of implicit assumption by everyone including the President of the United States when he talks about people flipping is that of course there are chargeable crime that exists in the record of the president and his organization. I don`t even think that`s really a thing that anyone too strenuously attempts to dispute whether it be Rudy Giuliani or the President`s defenders on Trump T.V., the assumption is just do they find them and do they have the kind of political wherewithal to go after them.
MYSTAL: And this is where I think Professor Alan Dershowitz, one of my former professors. I try not to be mean to him on television but like this is where he`s out to lunch all right, because Dershowitz is one of these guys who has taken intent, who is taken criminal intent completely out of this situation. Yes, campaign finances laws are complicated. Yes, people often violate them accidentally. Yes, tax laws are complicated. Yes, people and violate them sometimes accidentally. If Trump meant to do it, if Trump did this on purpose to influence an election that is criminal intent, that is part of the question here.
HAYES: And listen to that tape and those aren`t people bumbling their way backwards into not filing forms. These are people engaged in a sophisticated scheme to cover something up using a variety of channels of money intentionally with the attempt to deceive.
GREEN: Familiar territory. And you know I`ve mocked on this error the essential consultings agreement -- consultant agreement that just looked so amateurs, but what`s clear from that audiotape is familiar territory for the President, for Michael Cohen. Perhaps we don`t know Allen Weisselberg`s level of knowledge and an unnamed executive.
HAYES: Well, that`s also part of it. They have this issue in the front of them which I think to most people would seem like a novel, right? This is like someone has come forward alleging that you had an extramarital affair and is going to blow the whistle on that you know, perhaps in a public fashion in a you know, in a -- in a tabloid and you need to figure out a way to pay money. It`s dealt with in a way that feels fairly rote. I mean, that`s part of what`s interesting like the routine to do it where you gross it up, you throw in the bonus, and make it a retainer, you do it monthly, you do it through the org, all that stuff seems like they --
GREEN: Because this isn`t their first rodeo. As you were saying earlier right, the most interesting person to me here is David Pecker. David Pecker has that Trump vaults, there`s something -- it`s like you were saying, it`s not Geraldo, there is something in the vault that we want to find out.
HAYES: Lisa Green and Emily Mystal, yes, I think that`s -- I mean, I think that`s a confession. Thank you. Coming up, do the White House tank a bipartisan bill to protect elections. That story is next.
HAYES: Until very recently the Secure Election Act seemed like a sure thing, a bipartisan bill with the sole purpose of protecting our voting systems from interference. Republican Roy Blunt who was the chairman of the powerful Senate Rules Committee, was set to mark up the bill on Wednesday, with the expectation of a full Senate vote in October. That markup never happened. No explanation was given as to why, until yesterday when Yahoo! News reported the bill had, quote, "been held up in the Senate at the behest of the White House, which opposed the proposed legislation."
The White House then told Yahoo! News that while the administration, quote, "appreciates congress`s interest in election security, the Department of Homeland Security has all the statutory authority it needs to assist state and local officials to improve the security of existing election infrastructure."
Lead Democrat on the bill, Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, joins me tonight. What happened here?
SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR, (D) MINNESOTA: It was a shocker, Chris, because the bill was going so well. Senator Lankford and I introduced the bill, and he`s still devoted to getting it done. As you know, he`s a conservative Republican from Oklahoma, and Senator Blunt in good faith set the hearing.
So what we heard was there was objections from Republican leadership in the Senate and then some Republican secretaries of state.
I talked today with the head of the Secretary of State Association, the Vermont secretary of state who`s a Democrat, and he wants to work to get this done.
We also of course had the White House making calls. I heard this personally. From some senators. And then I think the statement pretty much backs it up. Not only did they say the part you that read, but they also said "we cannot support legislation with inappropriate mandates or that makes -- moves power or funding from the states to Washington for the planning and operations of elections."
So Chris, what the bill does is it just creates incentives by saying you`re not going to get federal money for your election equipment unless you go to backup paper ballots, and nine states only have partial paper ballots, five, including New Jersey, don`t have them at all. And that is why a lot of us bipartisan felt that we should have that requirement in place if they wanted to get the federal money as well as require audits so we can check up on all of this later.
We are under attack by a foreign government, and we have to respond.
HAYES: So two things that are strange here. One is the White House will oppose legislation all the time. I mean, that`s a thing that happens. It happens under Democratic control, Republican control, but there`s a weird kind of shadiness here. The White House could have just issued a statement where they said we don`t like this bill, or they could have been public about it, but instead Blunt just kills it out of nowhere and then finally when asked about it they release a statement. Was that weird to you?
KLOBUCHAR: It was, although I will tell you, even the night before Roy Blunt called me and he`s trying to get this thing put together, we`re going to continue to work on this.
I felt like there may have been influences with the Federalist Society, you name it. I have no idea. But it felt like they were pushing back because of some attempt to put best practices into law so we can -- at least if we`re going to help the states since Maine and North Dakota and Arkansas cannot protect themselves from a Vladimir Putin cyberattack, then we put some best practices into law.
I still think we have a chance to move forward. I wish they`d been more forthright and certainly done it early on, because Lankford and I have had this out there for a year with Senator Kamala Harris and Senator Graham, Senator Burr and Warner support the bill. This is a major effort.
And so we just have to get this done with 74 days before the election.
HAYES: So, here`s the thing, this is the kind of legislating that I think there was more common as sort of an older model of how congress works, which I think has changed in lots of ways. And the White House comes in and they basically nuke it.
But you know, you`re a co-equal branch of government. Roy Blunt doesn`t take orders from the White House. Roy Blunt is a United States senator and he`s a powerful member of the Senate. You guys could just pass the thing, I mean, if you like it.
KLOBUCHAR: Let me get to the problem here. We had the votes, that`s true, with Senator Blunt`s support, but we didn`t have the Republican support we needed on the committee, not to pass it but to then pass it on the floor.
And we needed Senator McConnell to bring it up on the floor. So now we`re going back, negotiating again. Practically, we want to get this done more than score a political point.
HAYES: All right, speaking of sort of bipartisan legislating, I want to ask you a question about someone you`re close to, John McCain, the senator from Arizona, of course, whose family announced today that he will be refusing any subsequent medical treatment for his cancer and thanking all the people that have cared for him. And I`m just wondering as someone who`s worked with him, who considers him a friend, your thoughts about Senator McCain today.
KLOBUCHAR: Well, this was heartbreaking today. And my husband and I went to visit John and Cindy a little over a month ago. And I`m telling you, he still had his humor, this irascible spirit. And he is someone that so many times has showed this incredible independence. And for me, he is a mentor. He went with me and took me on a trip to Asia where it was all filled with men in every room and he would always say when they would turn to Lindsey, he would say Senator Klobuchar is the ranking Democrat on this trip. She will go next.
And he is someone that has done that for so many members of the senate, so our heart goes out to them right now. And this is a terrible, terrible disease as Cindy mentioned to me when we communicated in the past week. And we`re just hoping against hope that something changes. But right now it seems like a very difficult situation.
HAYES: You just said something that Chris Murphy said earlier today, and it`s something I think I didn`t quite have as clear a picture on is his role in mentoring members of the U.S. Senate when they get to the Senate, whether they be Republican or Democrat.
KLOBUCHAR: Exactly. And he was willing to go on bills with me and has been willing like that Honest Ads Act about taking on the social media companies.
And he`s done that so many times, where, you know, for some of us on the Democratic side sure, he takes positions we don`t agree with, but many times mentoring is introducing people to things, taking them around the world so they understand, including conservative Republicans. How wemust work with the rest of the world, being strong on immigration reform, being out there taking on the mean-spirited rhetoric of the Trump administration. He has been a true leader for this country.
HAYES Senator Amy Klobuchar, thank you very much for making time tonight.
KLOBUCHAR: Well, thank you.
HAYES: Still ahead, while the president`s legal troubles mount, Republicans are still full steam ahead on their agenda. What they`ve been up to. All the guilty verdicts and the immunity deals dominate the news coming up.
Plus tonight`s Thing One, Thing Two next.
HAYES: Thing One tonight, there`s been a lot of reporting this week about what the U.S. attorney must have on Michael Cohen that made him suddenly decide to plead guilty, but it seems there may have been another factor in Cohen`s decision, protecting his wife, who was also implicated reportedly in potential criminal activity based on evidence that included bank records, tax filings, and loan applications as the couple filed their taxes jointly.
Now, we are not saying that Michael Cohen is some kind of heroic figure here, but compared to Duncan Hunter, he sure looks like spouse of the year.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. DUNCAN HUNTER, (R) CALIFORNIA: She handled my finances throughout my entire military career, and that continued on when I got into congress. Whatever she did on -- that`ll be looked at, too, I`m sure. But I didn`t do it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Damn, dude. That`s Thing Two in 60 seconds.
HAYES: When Duncan Hunter showed up in federal court yesterday, greeted by protesters chanting "lock him up," you may have noticed he was accompanied only by his lawyers and not his wife, who is indicted along with him for misuse of campaign funds. But Margaret Hunter arrived separately, with her own lawyers. And then inside the courtroom, the Hunters reportedly didn`t even look at each other.
Now, there are some clues in the actual indictment about what could be going on there. In June 2011, Congressman Hunter allegedly stayed at a Capitol Hill hotel named, I kid you not, the Liaison, with an individual described as someone who had a, quote, "personal relationship with Hunter."
In March of 2016, Hunter allegedly again stayed at the Liaison, this time with a person described in the indictment as his wife`s close friend.
So that would be the context to keep in mind as you watch Duncan Hunter go on national TV yesterday and completely throw his wife under the bus.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HUNTER: When I went to Iraq in 2003 the first time, I gave her power of attorney and she handled my finances throughout my entire military career. And that continued on when I go tinto congress, because I`m gone five days a week, I`m home for two. And she was also the campaign manager. So whatever she did, that`ll be looked at too I`m sure. But I didn`t do it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: There has been a string of explosive headlines this week about the president`s legal troubles, but those troubles haven`t altered one very important reality: Donald Trump, his cabinet, and Republicans` congress are still very much running the country and they are still very much using their power.
On Tuesday, as the president was touting, quote, "clean beautiful West Virginia coal" we learned his administration`s move to weaken pollution restrictions on coal-burning power plants that could also lead to as many as 1,400 premature deaths annually by 2030, that is according to Trump`s own EPA analysis -- 1,400 deaths every year.
Just yesterday we found out that Betsy Devos, the secretary of education, is considering using federal education grants meant to help the poorest students in order to put guns in schools.
And then there`s the courts. Senate Republicans are moving full speed ahead to try to confirm Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, even though the president who nominated him is now implicated in his former lawyer`s illegal schemes, and Trump and Mitch McConnell continue to pack the lower courts with hardcore conservatives, having already broken a record for getting appeals court judges confirmed already.
This is just a small sampling of what`s going on under Trump and the GOP congress. And at least in the short term, there is nothing that Robert Mueller or anyone else is going to do to stop that. The only real binding constraint on much of that power is what happens in November. Are there enough voters to show up to give us a congress that will put checks on a president and a Republican Party that currently refuse to police themselves?
Now, if you happen to be one of those Americans, the majority according to polls, that want change soon, it`s a good thing to remember. It is not Robert Mueller you should look to, it`s the midterms.
HAYES: We finally have an official winner in the last special election of the 2018 cycle. Republican Troy Balderson was today named the winner in Ohio`s special House election with a margin of victory of less than a point. Now, it`s technically a win for Republicans, but not much of one. This is a district Trump carriedby 12 percentage points, which is the GOP had to spend $5 million to narrowly hang on to, and it will be contested once again in a few months in November.
Joining me now for more on the midterm landscape with 74 days until the election, former Republican Congressman David Jolly of Florida, also with me former Democratic Senator Barbara Boxer of California, host of fight back with Barbara Boxer.
David, let me start with you. Two interesting things that are happening in the way this midterm is shaping up. So one is if you look at folks who want -- are you more likely to back a candidate who promises to provide a check on Trump? 48 percent say they`re more likely, 23 percent less likely. You also see this there the asymmetry of intensity of feeling about the president.
At the same time when it comes to talking about impeachment, Democrats never want to say the word, and Republicans are talking about it all the time. What do you make of that?
DAVID JOLLY, FORMER REPUBLICAN CONGRESSMAN OF FLORIDA: Yeah, so, a couple things. This might be a rare election where we see voter intensity diverge a little bit from turnout, but in terms of focusing on corruption, which we have heard Democrats say they`re going to do instead of impeachment, look, that obviously is an easier sell, because everybody is against corruption, but the moment you start to talk about impeachment you have to justify it.
I`m actually a Republican who thinks Democrats should talk about impeachment. We have a president who just this week we know has either lied to or admitted to participating in behavior that a federal judge said was a crime to which Michael Cohen copped to and federal prosecutors have suggested is a crime and the president of the United States said yes I participated in that.
I understand the looking at November suggesting that we need to focus on corruption if you`re a Democrat, but the reality is it`s also time for either party, and I know Republicans won`t do it, and I`m disappointed in them, but I would hope that Democrats would at least begin to approach the conversation of impeachment.
HAYES: Senator, this is exactly the issue that David said. I mean, the Republican Party will not do any of this. We`ve just seen it. They`re not going to. And it really does come down sort of existentially in terms of how the constitution of the government works, whether any of the chambers change the party in power.
BARBARA BOXER, FORMER DEMOCRATIC SENATOR OF CALIFORNIA: That`s right. But I do think that the Democrats are wise not to run on impeachment, because I ran so many times, four times for the United States Senate, five times for the House, twice for local government, and what you have is the kind of two factors, you have to background which is what`s happening in the nation. And we know what that is. We`ve got a president acting like a mob boss, you know, praising people who will not talk to investigators and calling people rats who are telling the truth. That`s in the background, everybody knowings about it.
But all politics is local. That`s what I learned that from Tip O`Neill all those years ago. For example, we have about eight to 10 seats that we could flip in California. Some of them are on the coast. And the issue is shall we do offshore oil drilling, or shall we protect the coast? There are farmers who are concerned about tarrifs.
So, yes, all of this is in the background. And I think candidates have to address it. We`re waiting for a report from Mueller. And we have no control about when that will happen.
So I would stick to Tip O`Neill`s advice. I truly would.
JOLLY: But, if I may -- listen, and I respect the senator greatly, but I`m a Republican today who can`t believe my own party and I am looking for somebody to believe in. And the reality is if you`re not willing to talk about that impeachment should be on the table, right? The fact that the Democratic Party is suggesting that the president has now become so compromised that the Senate should not entertain his nomination of Kavanaugh, how do we stop short of suggesting that he`s so compromised that we can`t have a broader conversation about impeachment?
And I understand the electoral convenience of trying to get through next 75 days. I get it. Both parties do that. You have to win in November, but at some point, listen, the Republican Party sold their soul at the altar of convenience. And what I`m seeing right now and the Democrats being unwilling to talk about impeachment is almost the same thing. Why aren`t you willing to talk about it?
BOXER: No. Oh, no. Oh, no, no, no, no. Dave, no.
What we`re saying is we`re going to have a report from Mueller. We don`t even know how many counts will be in that report, how he is going to define high crimes and misdemeanors. We`re not hesitant to go out and say Donald Trump has to have a check and balance, he`s a rogue president, he acts like a mobster, he is enriching himself.
JOLLY: So talk about impeachment. I`m a Republican willing to say impeachment. Why won`t a Democrat say impeachment?
BOXER: I`ve said the word impeachment, but we know that will come when we get a report.
In the meantime, they`re not putting back the parents and the children. And they`re separated. Our farmers can`t sell their products. So, I think we should talk about it all. But I don`t think we should just forget about so wrong we should forget about the fact that everyone in these districts we`re trying to flip, we want to win these districts.
JOLLY: But senator, that`s a deflection from the real issue of impeachment.
I mean, I get it. I agree with you on policy, yes, he separated families and he shouldn`t have, and we should condemn him for it. But the Democrats can also talk about that and impeachment at the same time.
HAYES: Let me interject just one thing so people know there are still over 500 children in ICE custody that have not been reunited, just so people know the latest numbers pursuant -- let me ask you this question, senator, which is...
BOXER: And how about our farmers who are going broke? They`re crying everyday.
So Dave should go out and talk about impeachment and I`m for it, but we`re trying to win back the House. It`s serious.
HAYES: Quick question to you, because I think David made an interesting point. The argument of all House -- all senate members of the Senate Judiciary Democrats have said they are not going to -- they don`t want to move forward Kavanaugh. What do you think about that argument as we head towards those hearings.
BOXER: What do I think?
BOXER: I think that they should absolutely not move forward on Kavanaugh. And if I were there I would pull out every trick in the book. I would spend all my night on the Senate floor. I would stand on my feet until I couldn`t stand on my feet anymore.
This Kavanaugh -- first of all, he`s a Federalist Society. He`s going to destroy a woman`s right to choose. And he thinks that the president has ultimate power, and he has a conflict of interest because the president may well come before him in a lawsuit.
HAYES: David Jolly and Barbara Boxer, that was enlightening actually in a lot of different ways. I think it`s interesting, conservatives are running around saying Democrats are obsessed with impeachment, we have the inverse argument just here on our air. Thank you both.
One last thing, if you haven`t caught up on our podcast Why is This Happening, this weekend would be a great time because we talk all about money and corruption from the Trump administration back to the founding of the country. Zephyr Teachout holds court in this episode. You should check it out. Find it anywhere you get your podcast. Let us know what you think with the hashtag #withpod.
That is ALL IN for this evening. "THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW" starts right now with Ali Velshi in for Rachel.
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