Show: ALL IN with CHRIS HAYES Date: August 27, 2018 Guest: Adam Schiff, Michelle Goldberg, Barbara Res
STEVE KORNACKI, NBC NEWS NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENTThank you for being with us. "ALL IN" with Chris Hayes starts right now.
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CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: Tonight on ALL IN.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President, any thoughts on John McCain?
HAYES: The White House boughs to public pressure re-lowering its flag for John McCain.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President, any thoughts for John McCain, sir?
HAYES: Tonight, the party of Trump and the death of Senator John McCain. Plus, Congressman Adam Schiff on the secret list of Trump scandals Republicans refused to investigate. Then --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did you know about the payments?
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Later on, I knew.
HAYES: The President`s state dinner for evangelicals in the wake of his Stormy Daniels admission. And the art of the speakerphone.
TRUMP: The President is on the phone. Enrique.
HAYES: When ALL IN starts right now.
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HAYES: Good evening from New York, I`m Chris Hayes. Today the White House reaction to the passing of one of America`s truly towering political figures Senator John McCain descended into outright farce as a president who had repeatedly mocked and diminished McCain during his life was initially unable to offer up a single kind word even in death.
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TRUMP: Thank you very much, everybody. Thank you.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President, do you have any thoughts on John McCain? Do you have any thoughts at all about John McCain? Do you believe John McCain was a hero?
TRUMP: Thank you.
TRUMP: Thank you very much.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: That was the strange scene in the Oval Office this afternoon on the heels of the revelation this weekend the Trump had nixed issuing a statement that praised the heroism and life of McCain opting instead for a brief tweet that offered sympathy for McCain`s family but conspicuously did not say anything about McCain himself. After John McCain passed away on Saturday, the White House did lower its flag to half-staff but by this morning after less than 48 hours the White House flag was back up despite precedent the flag remain at half-staff until an honorees burial.
It appeared to be a deliberate decision. The White House flag was raised back to full staff even as the flags remained lowered at the Washington Monument which you can see in the background of the White House just a mile or so away. All of this prompted a massive outpouring of criticism including for veterans groups. And so late this afternoon the White House lowered its flag again back to half-staff and Trump issued a proclamation hailing McCain that seemed to come through gritted teeth.
And despite previously opining that McCain is not a war hero because he got captured, Trump also managed to speak Senator John McCain`s name out loud in public and briefly compliment him during an event late this evening.
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TRUMP: Also our hearts and prayers are going to the family of Senator John McCain. There be a lot of activity over the next number of days and we very much appreciate everything that Senator McCain has done for our country.
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HAYES: Trump today also named the officials who will represent his administration to McCain`s funeral since McCain declared shortly before he passed away that Trump was not welcome to attend the funeral. The previous two Presidents Barack Obama and George W Bush will both be offering eulogies. Now the animosity between the celebrated GOP Senator and the relentlessly graceless president has made things awkward for Republican Senators as they took to the floor today to honor their former colleague they were addressing a GOP electorate that is now almost entirely faithful to a man McCain seemed to despise.
Look at the polls. Trump`s approval rating among Republicans now stands at 88 percent. Late last year NBC polling put McCain`s approval rating among those same voters at just 35 percent. It`s not really a contest. That means elected Republicans are effectively bound to Trump whether they like it or not. Today The Wall Street Journal reported that Trump`s former campaign manager Paul Manafort, remember him, sought a deal for his second trial after being convicted in his first trial last week although before jury deliberations actually deliver that conviction but talks broke down.
If Trump`s current legal issues bring him down, he could take down much of the GOP with him. And they aren`t the only existential threat. Axios reported today Republicans have been get this, secretly circulating a spreadsheet that meticulously previews the investigations Democrats will likely launch if they, in fact, take control of the house and there are a lot of them.
Republicans identified 18 different possible areas investigation from Trump`s dealings with Russia to the Stormy Daniels payoff to the firing of James Comey new election security. With me now one of the Democrats who would be at the helm of many of those investigations Congressman Adam Schiff of California, top Democrat in the House Intelligence Committee. I want to ask you about that list but first wanted to see if you had anything to say today about a Senator John McCain.
REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA), HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: Well, you know, those of us that had a chance to get to know him and I traveled with him a number of times just had the greatest admiration for him, his bravery, his plain-spoken manner, his sense of humor, the respect that he had for and was shown to him by leaders all around the world. He really is irreplaceable and this is a terrible time to lose him.
The country really needs people to put country over party particularly in the GOP where they have effectively acted as a rubber stamp for this president and John was no rubber stamp. He was tenacious in defending the interests of the country even when they conflicted with his own party. So he will be greatly missed and there`s really no one else like him.
HAYES: You just talked about the rubber stamp nature of the current Republican majority and that brings us to this memo they are circulating which is you could just be a memo from Democrats or it could be a memo that the reporter wrote about oh here are some things that probably should be investigated. This is not like crazy out there red meat stuff. Things like the tax returns, emoluments violations for which there`s several federal suits dealings with Russia, the Stormy Daniels payment which of course was lied about and since been confirmed, James Comey firings, Steve Mnuchin`s business dealings, the cabinet secretary travel expenses. What do you think of those list?
SCHIFF: Well, you know I think that there are great many candidates to be on that list that probably aren`t even on the list. You know, I`ll give you one that I find particularly troubling where reports a couple months ago that the president was meeting privately with the Postmaster General to try to browbeat her into raising postal rates on Amazon to punish Jeff Bezos in the Washington Post. We see a president using the instruments of power to attack the Free Press and the First Amendment.
And so there`s any number of issues many of which are not on that list which have gone completely without oversight. Why did the President reverse course on this Chinese telecom ZTE, was it because of reports that China was going to invest $500 million in a Trump-branded property? Is U.S. policy basically for sale in Indonesia or in the Middle East or through a Jared Kushner? There are great many serious allegations of impropriety.
And Chris, all you need to know about the current GOP Congress`s unwillingness complete abdication of any oversight responsibilities you can tell from a single statistic and that is the chairman of the Government Oversight and Reform Committee Trey Gowdy who brought us the endless Benghazi investigations has an issued a single subpoena during the Trump Administration to investigate any allegations of incompetence or corruption within the Trump Administration. They have just been utterly unwilling to do their jobs.
HAYES: He really hasn`t issued one not one?
SCHIFF: Not one that I`m aware of, no. It`s really quite breathtaking but it is a sign and we certainly see it on the -- on the Intelligence Committee where the only subpoenas they seemed intent on issuing were to investigate the investigators. When people like Steve Bannon came in, yes, finally he got a subpoena but when he still refused to answer questions, they said well OK, we`re not prepared to take it further. We really honestly don`t want to know the answers and that unfortunately set the tone for their oversight responsibilities.
HAYES: And one of the things that was investigated briefly was of course, the President and the attacks by Russia during the election, a committee on which you`re the ranking member. Roger Stone was on the individuals I believe who came before you in that investigation. And you know this area of fact better than most having been had access to classified material and also to some of the interviews that happened there so I wanted to get your reaction to a bizarre statement by Roger Stone today posted the internet out of nowhere in which he attempts to kind of get out ahead of what he says an impending story and deny it. Take a listen.
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ROGER STONE, FORMER CAMPAIGN ADVISER, TRUMP CAMPAIGN: This is Roger Stone. Somebody has been pushing a fake news story first with the New York Times then the Washington Post and now with Ronan Farrow of The New Yorker. Someone is saying that they overheard a conversation in which I told Donald Trump in October of 2016 what exactly would be in the WikiLeaks disclosures and when they would be disclosed. This is categorically false.
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SCHIFF: Well, first of all, I wouldn`t believe what Roger Stone has to say any further than I could throw him. There any number of statements he made under oath to our committee which have been put into question by other things that have been reported since. Their if you look carefully at what he had to say, he is denying that he told the President exactly what would be in the WikiLeaks disclosures and it would be just like Roger Stone to say well I didn`t say that I didn`t tell them what would be in it I just said that I didn`t tell them exactly what would be in it.
So you simply can`t believe anything Roger Stone has to say at least from my experience. He`s one of the people that I think ought to be brought back for further questioning before our committee. In light of statements, for example, I think he and others have acknowledged that they were approached by someone with a Slavic background offering information that would be useful to the campaign. So these are things that I think need further investigation certainly but I don`t know what else to make of this rather bizarre video.
HAYES: Well, that -- you join a lot of people in that -- in that ultimate determination. Congressman Adam Schiff, thanks your time tonight.
SCHIFF: Thanks, Chris.
HAYES: For more on how Republicans are handling McCain`s passing and Trump`s attitude, what happens if the House flips I`m joined by Michelle Goldberg Columnist at the New York Times and MSNBC Contributor Betsy Woodruff, Politics Reporter at The Daily Beast. Let me start with you, Michelle. You have a column coming out today about precisely this, about the subject of the spreadsheet when and if impunity ends.
MICHELLE GOLDBERG, COLUMNIST, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Right. And not even really the spreadsheet but just because the spreadsheet was compiled by just looking at different requests for documents or interviews that Democrats had made and Republicans had ignored so they have this kind of guide, oh, this is what they want to know about. But Democrats you know, there`s too many things to do them all, so Democrats have their own priorities for kind of what they`re going to do and I think you`re going to see investigations basically every single different committee and subcommittee looking at sort of what in its wheelhouse and investigate and subpoena.
You know, we have this kind of bitter saying throughout this whole nightmare last 19 nineteen months where everybody says like ha, ha, ha, nothing matters. And the reason that nothing matters is that you know we find out that say Trump`s personal attorney goes to court and says Trump instructed him to commit two felonies to cover up his affairs and advance the election and it`s like 48 eight hours later everybody seems to have forgotten about it is not because Trump is some like Teflon person with particularly strong support among the American people but because they have one-party rule and they refuse to play any role of accountability.
And that is the thing that the American voters have the potential to bring to an end in November right? Adam Schiff could restart the Russia investigation. Elijah Cummings at Oversight will have subpoena power. You know, Maxine Waters will be the head of the Committee on Financial Regulation. You`re just -- you know, the House Ways and Means Committee will be able to obtain Trump`s tax returns under an old 1924 law that people don`t use. So there`s going to be -- it`s going to be a completely different environment in terms of the ability to hold them accountable for all these outrages.
HAYES: And it seems to me, Betsy, that this document indicates -- I mean, partly this is a fundraising motivate the donor class document which is like look what`s going to happen it`ll be an apocalypse. But it also just evinces to me that Republicans know exactly what they`re doing now and what is coming if they don`t hold on to the House.
BETSY WOODRUFF, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: That`s right. And for months people in Paul Ryan`s inner circle have been operating under the assumption that they`re going to lose the House in November. There just hasn`t been any publicly available pulling evidence indicating that Republicans had a particularly good shot of hanging onto it. And while trying to read the tea leaves of early polls can sometimes be foolish, that`s what Republicans have to work with as they`re looking ahead to November. And that`s why we`re seeing so much pessimism emanating from the Republican Party leadership.
One thing that`s really important about this memo is that it sends a signal, especially to young up-and-coming Trump friendly Republican political operatives and wonks. If you`re a Republican and you`re thinking about taking the job in the White House, you probably want to wait until after November --
HAYES: That`s interesting.
WOODRUFF: -- because going through these investigations can be incredibly costly from a legal perspective. Just paying an attorney or a team of attorneys to help you prepare for one two or three-hour testimony before Congressional Committee can cost tens of thousands of dollars because Washington attorneys are really expensive. And while many people in the Trump Administration are extraordinarily wealthy, many of them aren`t.
If you`re in your mid-20s and you`re looking at your second or a third job and you have to face the prospect that you may have to testify before the committee chaired by Elijah Cummings or Maxine Waters and it could out you $20,000 to $40,000 that`s going to make you think twice about potentially taking a position on the White House.
HAYES: You know, today was also another just sort of a reminder of just how much they are just tethered to this man. I mean this is the person who their voters like. And as you watch this preposterous up and down with the flag insanity where the President`s incapable of just doing the most sort of basic you know, graceful gestures, You`ve got wonder like what goes through their head on a day like today.
GOLDBERG: I mean, I`ve been wondering that for the last 19 months and I feel like you know, I`ve kind of read studies of parliamentarians and (INAUDIBLE) friends to try to understand what makes you sell out your principles on such an industrial scale. And you know, someday I would love to see like a forensic profile of this sort of cowardice because it`s really -- I mean both they`re not even getting that much out of it and it is so incredibly degrading.
HAYES: And then you see someone like Johnny Isakson today Senator Isakson of Georgia, Betsy, who sort of seemed to relish taking an opportunity to say what I think a lot of the people feel but they never do because it was kind of a safe space to do it. Take a listen what he had to say.
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SEN. JOHNNY ISAKSON (R), GEORGIA: Anybody who in any way tirades the reputation of John McCain deserves a whipping because most of the ones who would do the wrong thing about John McCain didn`t have the guts to do the right thing what was their turn. We need to remember that.
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HAYES: It seems pretty clear what he`s -- who he`s talking about.
WOODRUFF: Not a lot of subtlety in that particular comment. It seems like a very clear allusion to the fact that Trump invoked so-called bone spurs when he was trying to not have to be roped into fighting in the Vietnam War. Of course, McCain went on to fight in Vietnam and become a prisoner of war as we`re all aware. McCain has so many -- is so beloved by his Senate colleagues on both sides of the aisle, not just as Senate colleagues but also staffers on both sides of the aisle. He was really a lion of the Senate.
Even if you talked to people who had you know, deep philosophical grave differences with many of the policy positions that McCain took, as a human being he just generated so much affection. People just really liked and respected the guy both in the Senate and around the world. So Johnny Isakson is very much speaking for Capitol Hill almost as a whole when he makes these comments about going after people who would try to damage the reputation of McCain after he`d passed away. He`s not a lonely voice there. Of course, his unique voice and sort of putting it in those particular terms but he`s -- I`m confident he got zero pushback in the chamber for putting it so bluntly.
HAYES: Although they`ll all be back on you know, in a week voting to -- for everything the President wants more or less. Michelle Goldberg and Betsy Woodruff, thank you both for being with me.
GOLDBERG: Thank you.
HAYES: After the break, the Mueller investigation has reached Trump Org. The news that has a President so wound up. White House officials reportedly thought about staging the intervention. That story in two minutes.
HAYES: So as of last week, we now know that the Trump Organization is part of the Mueller investigation thanks to last week`s bombshell plea agreement from Trump attorney Michael Cohen and news of an immunity deal for Allen Weisselberg the company`s chief financial officer. We don`t know where the investigation is headed, at least the one in the Southern District of New York but we do know that longtime Trump confidante and former campaign adviser Roger Stone who we just mentioned has a Legal Defense Fund and that he predicts another member of Trump world could soon be indicted.
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STONE: I predicted yesterday based on excellent sourcing that the Special Counsel is going to charge Donald Trump Jr. with lying to the FBI.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Donald Trump Jr., you just mentioned him, is he going to be -- is Mueller going after him next? You said they`re going to try and get him for a lying to the FBI.
STONE: I think so. And notice they`re not going after him for the underlying crime because there is no crime. He`s done nothing wrong.
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HAYES: Take that with a grain of salt it is Roger Stone after all. Now, Gabe Sherman at Vanity Fair is reporting that White House officials are so worried about the latest presidential unraveling although frankly, we`ve been hearing that for months, that they quote talked about inviting Rudy Giuliani and a group of New York -- Trump`s New York real estate friends including Tom Barrack, Richard LeFrak, and Howard Lorber to the White House to stage an "intervention" last week. The President (INAUDIBLE) reporters refused to take the meeting.
With me now is someone who worked for Donald Trump for the better part of two decades, Barbara Res. She`s a former head of construction at Trump Tower right here in New York. Great to see you.
BARBARA RES, FORMER HEAD OF CONSTRUCTION, TRUMP TOWER: Nice to see you.
HAYES: Let`s start with Alan Weisselberg because he`s someone that I think people probably didn`t have much of a sense of before last week and it was reported he was granted immunity. How central is he to the organization.
RES: You know, he probably is more central than I initially thought because when I worked with him he was really the guy who paid the bills, collect the rents, and every invoices that kind of thing. But he`s been with Trump so long and Trump so values family and he`s part of the family that I think he probably moved into a position of more authority and maybe a little bit more information and influence. But I don`t think that he is in the inner circle and he certainly wasn`t when I was there.
HAYES: That`s interesting. The family dynamic -- I mean, you see Roger Stone sort of darkly warning that Don Junior is on the hook and there`s no reason to think that he knows anything that we don`t know publicly. But one of the issues it seems to me is the President because he`s so mix his family in business has now put his family in a position where they`re exposed.
RES: I think he has put them in a position where they`re exposed and I think that they are not -- their culpable tool. I mean, they played the role that they were assigned very well and I do think that they`re in position where they`re possibly exposed. I don`t know if Stone is right. There nothing wrong with them but I do think that lying went on about the meeting about from who say about, when it happen, about why it happened.
HAYES: You -- and you said before that you just don`t think it`s plausible that given the way that Donald Trump operates and given the relationship you have with the son and others that`s something like that meeting would happen without him being given a heads up.
RES: Absolutely not. Nothing important happened without Trump knowing about it. Even thinks it weren`t so important he wanted to know about.
HAYES: He was kind of a micromanager.
RES: He was a bit of a -- yes it`s funny because when you needed him, he wasn`t around a lot of times but you know, if it was $5,000 for a subcontractor, he wants to know why and all, that kind of thing.
HAYES: that`s very interesting. Do you think that there`s -- how do you think the organization is functioning now with you know, the fact that the sons are running it and he is putatively not touching it at all -- I guess do you buy that that`s the case?
RES: Well, I don`t really think that the sons are running it to say. I think it`s kind of an -- it`s really not an organization, it`s not a company of any kind. It`s just all bunch of groups put together and names associated with it.
HAYES: It`s not like a huge complex like business with a ton of employees, right?
RES: No, it`s not. And it doesn`t have you know, like an organization chart. We used to say there would be an organizational chart that would be Donald on the top and everybody else.
RES: Because that`s basically the way it was run. But as far as them running the organization is concerned, I think it probably pretty much runs itself in terms of day-to-day operations and that kind of thing and as far as major questions, major answers, major problems, I can`t imagine that Trump is not --
HAYES: That it`s not still going down.
HAYES: There`s two schools of thought about the President, one is that he is incapable self-restraint, impetuous, has no self-discipline. The other is that he`s cannier than he looks, that he -- that he can stop himself when he needs to, that he kind of knows what he`s doing. And that has been a crucial debate in question as we watch him sort of escalate his attacks on Mueller which is this -- is this sort of fits of pique where is he doing this strategically. What do you think of someone who worked with him for years?
RES: I think he is now scrambling.
HAYES: You do.
HAYES: You don`t think this is some chess, this is some strategic escalation.
RES: I mean, I`ve seen Donald be a little strategic but he does tend to fly off or that.
HAYES: He does.
HAYES: And he gets very upset and angry and sort of calls and yells at people.
RES: Yes, absolutely. It turns (INAUDIBLE). It`s very, very rough scene.
HAYES: So when you read these reports about him you know, spending all weekend like Gabe Sherman reported calling people up and yelling at them, that scans to you is the Donald Trump that you know.
RES: Absolutely, yes. Yes, definitely.
HAYES: Do you think there`s been a decline in his ability though to sort of listen to advice and sort of tack as needed over time?
RES: Well, over the time that I knew him that I noticed that dramatically in the three years that I was gone from him is that I you know, I did Trump Tower and then I came back to do other projects, it was a different person totally. When I was there he listened to you, listen to me, he listens to the contractors, he listened to some of his people, the architects, I mean it was -- it was a struggle. It was a struggle. But after that, I noticed he was surrounding himself with sycophants and he was being told how great he is and he was liking that and I observed that over time it was so much. Now I think it`s ridiculous.
I don`t think anyone can control him. And I think they tried to control him with Cohen and initially, it was a little-laid back but then he couldn`t. He had to do it. He had to do it.
HAYES: That`s really interesting. Barbara Res, thanks for making some time. I appreciate it.
RES: It`s a pleasure.
HAYES: Just ahead, one week after President admits his personally -- he personally provided the hush money payment for Stormy Daniels, the adult film actress alleging they had an affair, one week after that Donald Trump is hosting a White House dinner with his evangelical supporters. That story next.
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TRUMP: America is a nation of believers and tonight we`re joined by faith leaders from across the country who believe in the dignity of life, the glory of God, and the power of prayer. Everybody agree with that?
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HAYES: At this hour the President is inside the White House hosting a number of prominent evangelical Christians for an event that David Brody of the Christian Broadcasting Network said was like a state dinner for evangelical leaders. It`s unclear when the event was scheduled, what is clear is that this dinner gives the president an opportunity to cozy up to a portion of his base that is most loyal particularly at a time of scandal like the extraordinary fact that two of the President`s closest associates were convicted in federal court less than a week ago of multiple felonies or that the President himself last week somewhat casually one must say, was finally forced to admit his involvement in the hush money payment to an adult actress.
But that`s done nothing to shatter the conviction of evangelical Christians who seem incredibly clear-eyed about the pact they`ve made with the President.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I would say the thing that would cause me to change would be for example if he suddenly became pro-choice, if he started to say well, you know what, we`ve had enough conservative justices at the federal courts and on the Supreme Court, we need somebody more moderate. Those things I think would cause evangelicals to turn away. I don`t see either one of those things happening.
Look, he`s very smart. He knows he`s got to have his evangelical base behind him. And I think he`s going to continue to support those policies that put him into office.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: To talk more about the relationship between the president and evangelical Christians. I`m joined by Amy Sullivan who`s reported on this for years, host of "Impolite Company," a weekly podcast on politics and religion.
I thought that Jeffers clip, Amy, is so striking because it is so clear- eyed and so honest about what exactly the nature of this political pact is.
AMY SULLIVAN, IMPOLITE COMPANY: Exactly. Yeah, they`re very open about the fact that this is transactional. This is not about personal moral character, which may cause some whiplash for those of us who remember 1998 and the things that all of these same evangelical leaders were saying when Bill Clinton and his involvement with Monica Lewinsky was all over the news. Then we heard a lot about how important it was to have moral leadership and how we couldn`t as a country stand for having a president who had anything less than the most sterling moral character.
But this is another time and this is another political party that evangelicals are working with.
HAYES: Do you think people are -- I think when you`re forced to make arguments you end up believing them often. And so I wonder the interior spiritual life, like are people aware they`re being transactional and hypocritical, or have people sort of reasoned themselves into a place where they have some sense that, no, actually he`s morally elevated or a spiritually enlightened individual?
SULLIVAN: Well, you know, it`s kind of both/and for a lot of folks. There is some really interesting theological gymnastics that`s been going on in terms of what people have been able to talk themselves into. You hear a lot about people saying, well, if you look through the bible there are many instances of god using somebody of less than sterling moral character for his own purposes.
And so they`re very open about saying look, Donald Trump is not somebody I would expect to sit next to me in the pew at church, but he`s going to put people on the court, Justice Jeffress says he`s going to do what we want in terms a pro life agenda and so we`re happy with him.
And then there are other folks who reportedly, I`ve heard this, do believe that they are going to be the ones to lead Donald Trump to christ and that by being close to him they`re going to be able to kind of land this white whale.
HAYES: We don`t have time to put it up but one of the most amazing spiritual exchanges between David Brody, who I noted later, and Donald Trump on his golf course when he asked him what he thinks of god and Trump goes into a long revery about how it`s great he owns the golf course without a mortgage.
And I guess the sort of question to me is from a policy perspective like is it really the course -- Jason Zangerly (ph) who has a great piece in The New York Times magazine just is about -- it`s just the sheer efficacy and sort of ambition and ruthlessness with which McConnell and Don McGahn and Trump are putting judges on the federal judiciary that represent the sort of evangelical agenda and the right wing of the party.
Is that really the key thing?
SULLIVAN: Well, look, you`ve got a lot of folks in kind of what we broadly they`ve as the religious right who are thrilled about what Trump is doing with the courts and yet who are not willing to do something like go to this dinner right now at the White House and stand and kind of be willing to be used for political purposes.
The folks who are there tonight, these are the folks who weren`t really in the in crowd during, say, George W. Bush`s presidency.
SULLIVAN: Because those guys, they kind of learned their lesson. They didn`t want to be used for political purposes. And that`s what they took out of Bush`s administration and their experience with him.
But these are the guys who are willing to make an idol of political proximity.
HAYES: That`s really interesting.
Amy Sullivan, thanks for joining us. I appreciate it.
SULLIVAN: Thanks for having me.
HAYES: Coming up, Donald Trump`s attempt to make a major announcement is derailed by advanced speakerphone technology. That`s tonight`s Thing One, Thing Two, starting next.
HAYES: Thing One tonight, it was over a year -- three years ago, July 2015, at the Family Leadership Summit in Iowa when then candidate Donald Trump was asked by the moderator about his claim that John McCain was a dummy. Trump not only defended his position, he went after McCain for being captured during the Vietnam War.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: He`s not a war hero.
UNIDENTIFIE DMALE: He`s a war hero.
TRUMP: He`s a war hero...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Five-and-a-half years...
TRUMP: He`s a war hero because he was captured. I like people that weren`t captured, OK? I hate to tell you. He`s a war hero because he was captured, OK?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: I`m sure you`ve seen that clip before. Maybe you gaffed along with the audience, but don`t think that was some one-time thing. Donald Trump has been slamming John McCain this way for decades.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The way Trump looks at it, he`s at least better than everyone else in the race, beginning with John McCain.
TRUMP: I mean, he was captured.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He flew combat missions with distinction.
TRUMP: does being captured make you a hero? I don`t know. I`m not sure.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
Now, today as most of Washington was paying their respects and watching the flags go up and down, in the White House Trump appeared to really want to change the subject badly. So he called everyone into the Oval Office for a huge announcement of a brand new trade deal with Mexico.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: And I believe the president is on the phone. Enrique?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Trump v. speakerphone is Thing Two, in 60 seconds.
HAYES: In what seemed at least a pretty blatant attempt to change the subject away from John McCain today, President Trump tried to rush out an announcement of a proposed trade deal with Mexico, and if it weren`t for that confounded speakerphone he might have succeeded.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I believe the president is on the phone. Enrique? You can hook him up? You tell me when.
How are you? It`s a big thing. A lot of people waiting.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Introducing President Pena Nieto.
TRUMP: Hello? Do you want to put that on this phone, please? Hello? Be helpful.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And President Trump.
TRUMP: Thank you.
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HAYES: Today, Senator John McCain`s desk on the senate floor was draped in black and topped with a vase of white roses. As his colleagues gathered to reflect on his career and legacy. And one of his fellow senators, Senator Tammy Duckworth of Illinois, joins me now.
Senator, you`re -- tell me a little about your relationship, your feeling about John McCain. Obviously, you shared a bond in that you were both veterans, you had both been through quite an experience in your respective service.
SEN. TAMMY DUCKWORTH, (D) ILLINOIS: Well, he was always one of my personal heroes, serving in the military. How could he not be for anyone who`s worn the uniform of this country? And as his colleague here as a fellow senator it was quite breathtaking for me. And I was able to sponsor some legislation with him.
So for me to go from seeing a hero and to one who I got to work with even just in the last few months of his life before he took ill was personally very, very important to me.
HAYES: It was a strange scene today in Washington. It doesn`t seem like the most important thing on this occasion, but it does seem worth asking what you made of the weirdness with the flag up and down and the president`s statement and all of that in the midst of this.
DUCKWORTH: Well, you know, in a time when folks try to divide us, we need to ignore all that and focus on the legacy of John McCain and all the things that he did for this country. I think that`s what he would want us to do. And if you look at his statement that he wrote before his passing, you`ll see that he was really emphasizing wanting us to come back together as a nation to put America first. He certainly always put this country first before everything else. And I think that`s what we should focus on and just ignore everything else.
Everything else is just noise at this point. We should come together as a nation to celebrate this man, his legacy and his service to this nation.
HAYES: You know, one of the things he did that I think has not gotten as much attention as maybe it deserves is the work he did with John Kerry in 1994 around normalizing relations with Vietnam in which he obviously had a very specific and kind of unrivaled moral authority to basically say it is OK to normalize relations, to go to Vietnam and say we are going to be at peace with this country, this regime that imprisoned me. And I wonder your reflection on that because he`s thought of as a hawk, and he was. And he was the advocate of a lot of U.S. military intervention, but he did use his unique voice in that specific way with respect to Vietnam.
DUCKWORTH: Well, I think that is reflective of the greatness that was John McCain. He did that.
I still bear a grudge against the guy who shot me down. Whoever that was that fired the RPG against me -- you know, I don`t that if you put me in the same room with him I would have a civil discussion with the guy. And here`s John McCain after five years as a POW where he was tortured daily to be able to sit down and normalize relations with Vietnam just shows how great a man he was and how much he truly placed this nation before any of his own personal interests.
And I certainly think that the normalization with Vietnam was good for this country and for our economy and was the right thing to do.
HAYES: You know, he obviously was a very prominent supporter of the war in Iraq, that was the war in which you were shot down by an RPG. And at the end of his life he said this, and I`d like to get your reaction to what he said. "The principal reason for invading Iraq, that Saddam had WMD, was wrong. The war with you its cost in lives and treasure and security can`t be judged as anything other than a mistake, a very serious one, and I have to accept my share of the blame for it."
DUCKWORTH: Well, I agree with him. I agree with him. I have always said that the war was wrong. I was opposed to it from the very beginning. I still served. I was proud of my service. And I would continue to serve today if the military would want a legless helicopter pilot.
But let me tell you, I think it says something about John McCain that he understood and was willing to admit that when a mistake has been made and to learn from those mistakes and to not do them again and not make those same mistakes in the future.
Which is why he has also spoken out about the need for a new authorization for use of military force when it comes to Afghanistan, when it comes to Iraq, to setting up those parameters for how we deploy our troops into harm`s way today.
HAYES: Senator Tammy Duckworth, thank you so much for making some time today.
DUCKWORTH: Thank you.
HAYES: Arizona Senator John McCain was a towering figure in American politics. Throughout his decades long career, people of all political persuasions have found themselves at one point or another either cheering on John McCain for his righteousness and bravery or being infuriated by his obstinance and wrong headedness.
He leaves behind an extremely complicated and enduring legacy, a man who has been on both the right and wrong sides of some of America`s most important questions.
Joining me now, Charlie Pierce, writer at-large for Esquire magazine who wrote this weekend about his enduring admiration for John McCain, despite his flaws; and Josh Barro, MSNBC contributor and senior editor at Business Insider who has a piece was out today about the sincerity and the popularity of the senator from Arizona.
Josh, I thought it was an interesting piece to talk about whether Americans still care about the intentions of a politician.
JOSH BARRO, BUSINESS INSIDER: Right, because I think part of what people liked about John McCain, why he was always more popular than his policy agenda was that a broad sense that basically John McCain was acting out of principle and he was being sincere, and if he was wrong, he came at that honestly.
And I think you`ve seen in our politics in the Trump era, a real critique of meaning well form both the right and from the left. I think from the left what you hear is, well, people like John McCain, they use this positive public image, to pursue an agenda that is against your interests. The wrap on McCain for a number of years had been that he was basically a standard issue Republican politician on a wide variety of issues that was somewhat complicated by his extremely consequential vote to save Obamacare, which had really, really large policy implications.
And then from the right, I think part of what has animated Trumpism has been basically this idea that these well meaning politicians with big global ideas -- and McCain some genuinely big global ideas about spreading democracy, he was relatively a supporter of immigration in the Republican Party in part because of the good that immigration to the U.S. does for people around the world, basically saying that`s people giving away your stuff, and what you need is someone greedy like Donald Trump who will not be nice like John McCain.
And so I think partly, people have soured on the idea of an earnest politician like John McCain. And not always for crazy reasons, especially -- the stuff on the left, I think, you know, John McCain made some really big mistakes thinking he meant well, you know, supporting the Iraq war, that got a lot of people killed.
HAYES: Charlie, you had occasion to cover him over a long period of his career. What are your thoughts?
CHARLIE PIERCE, ESQUIRE: Yeah. The very first profile I wrote for Esquire back in 1999 was with John McCain. It was marked by the fact that I was with him in Arizona at 6:00 in the morning Pacific Time the day the Lewinsky scandal broke.
The the first time I had ever laid eyes on him, we were in his car, we were driving around going to events. It was my just hang-around time for the story, and he looked over at me -- he hadn`t known me for 15 minutes -- and he looked at me and said, what do you think I should say about this?
And, you know, first of all, what I am a supposed to say to senior United States senator about whether or not the president has been doing the hired help? The second thing I thought was now -- the second thing I thought was, now I understand why he gets the press he does. He`s already involved me in this.
And as somebody who appreciates good political moves the same way I appreciate the good baseline drive, I thought that was -- I was very impressed by that.
HAYES: He had, I think people on Capitol Hill, staffers, fellow members of the United States Senate and politics and reporters all, felt like a connection to him because he was very good at pulling those folks into, particularly the press who he sort of lovingly teased and spent a lot of time with and cared a lot about.
BARRO: Yeah, and I think the other thing is he really was a gut politician driven by ideas about honor and I think partly that is why he had this image as the maverick, because sometimes that would lead him to policy positions that were surprising, that were driven by a life event. You know, he got caught up in a relatively minor way in the King 5 scandal very early in his political career in Washington. That was sort of a formative experience that led him to be one of the people behind the campaign finance reform push.
He ended up opposing the Bush tax cuts. Maybe that`s because he was irritated that he had lost the 2000 presidential primaries to George Bush. But it was clear that he was sort of sitting there and just sort of at a high level trying to decide, you know, does this feel right or wrong. And sometimes that was frustrating, because covering him on economic policy was often clear that he did not have deep thoughts.
HAYES: He even said so much at one point. I remember back in 2008, he had some quote about like I`m not that really into domestic policy. It was like a sort of throway line.
You know, the thing that he was very focused on international policy -- and Charlie, I would love to get your thoughts on this. You know, this, to me, is -- has me thinking in a broader sense about this country`s failure in many ways to reckon with the disaster that was Iraq.
John McCain, of course, not single-handedly responsible for that, but he was a very vocal advocate of it. And it just seems to me that hundreds of thousands of people died in that war, many of them innocent civilians, and children, and noncombatants. And the country I don`t think quite has come to terms with what we really did there and what that meant.
PIERCE: Well, I think one of the reasons we haven`t completely reckoned with Iraq is we haven`t reckoned with Vietnam yet.
HAYES: Right. It`s a good point.
PIERCE: ...with what we did there. We are still killing people in Vietnam with defoliants and unexploded ordnance and so forth. And I`ll tell another story about my hang-around time with him. This was back in Washington. An aide came in and they were just chatting, I forget about what. And she mentioned that one of her kids had gotten in trouble at his school.
And he said, you know what you do? Tell him to say this, I am a black air pirate who has committing crimes against a peace loving people at my school. That has always worked for me in the past.
And I mean, I seriously laughed at that. But a while later, it was my wife who pointed this out, there`s a lot of dark rueful thought in that answer. And I think one of the things about him that made him appealing is that he sort of lived in this constant state of atonement for sins examined and unexamined. And I could never quite get my finger on it.
But there was a lot of apologizing in the act of being John McCain.
HAYES: It is really well said. And part of that, the sort of -- was the Palin decision and the way in which -- you know, that famous clip in the rally, he sort of gave rise to Trumpism before it was called Trumpism.
BARRO: Yeah, and I think that`s sort of a classic McCain mistake, right. It was an impulsive decision. I was discussing this with (inaudible) from the New York Times this week that, you know, if you look at Sarah Palin`s tenure as governor of Alaska in 2007, 2008, it is not as obvious at the time that she was going to turn into what she did, but on the other hand like there was not a lot of data and you shouldn`t have taken risk, because maybe she was going to turn out like she did. But it was the kind of gut thing that John McCain did.
HAYES: Charlie Pierce and Josh Barro, thank you both.
That is All In for this evening. The Rachel Maddow Show starts right now. Good evening, Rachel.
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