Show: ALL IN with CHRIS HAYES Date: August 28, 2018 Guest: Tom Perez, Elliot Williams, Jonathan O`Connell, Anand Giridharadas, Anne Weissmann
STEVE KORNACKI, NBC NEWS NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: What if anything Mueller will end up reporting back, we don`t know how to publicly process it. But for now, the public at least seems more willing to hear him out than they ever did with Ken Starr. That is HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us. "ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now.
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CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: Tonight on ALL IN.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Hello Florida!
HAYES: Primary night in America.
TRUMP: Do the people in this room like Sheriff Joe?
HAYES: Tonight why the President is now warning supporters of violence if Republicans lose the midterms and the latest on all the big races in Arizona and Florida. Then, Paul Manafort`s new requests as trial number two ramps up.
PAUL MANAFORT, FORMER CHAIRMAN, TRUMP CAMPAIGN: That`s obviously our position is.
HAYES: Plus, a new entry on the list of Trump scandals Republicans refused to investigate.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Was anyone else at the White House involved with briefing you?
HAYES: And a grim update on the devastation in Puerto Rico.
TRUMP: What is your death count as of this moment, 17?
HAYES: When ALL IN starts right now.
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HAYES: Good evening from New York, I`m Chris Hayes. Polls have just closed in Florida and are just hours from closing in Arizona in crucial primaries that could be key in the run-up to the midterm elections and will help shape the Democratic response to the party of Trump. All of this as we get word tonight the President is trying to scare his supporters to the polls warning them behind closed doors in the White House of violence from Democrats if Republicans lose in the midterms.
In Florida, a state which is still very much a microcosm of political forces nationwide, primary elections for the wide open gubernatorial race pit the Trump endorsed candidate Congressman Ron DeSantis against the establishment Republican candidate, the state`s Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam.
On the Democratic side, the lone female candidate Gwen Graham is considered the favorite though it`s a wide-open field and as the party hopes to win the governorship in November for the first time in more than two decades. With Republican Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen retiring, a primary today could determine whether Democrats win her seat in their bid to retake the House.
In Arizona, candidates vying for the Trump vote are even more conspicuous along the death of Senator John McCain as they seek to replace the other Arizona Senator Jeff Flake who`s retiring and has been a vocal though toothless Trump critic. In the GOP primary, Joe Arpaio, of course, the Trump pardoned former sheriff is not the favorite but largely because he has been splitting the hardline Trumpers vote with Kelly Ward. And that makes Congresswoman Marthy -- Martha McSally the front-runner.
On the Democratic side, Congresswoman Kyrsten Sinema is expected to become the Democratic nominee for that Senate seat which looks to be hotly contested. Now, the president who`s been campaigning on behalf of Republican candidates across country appeared to well, raise the stakes I guess you could say. Last night at a closed-door White House meeting with evangelicals according to recorded excerpts reviewed by NBC News, he told them "your one election away from losing everything you`ve got."
Trump added that if the GOP loses "they will overturn everything we`ve done. They`ll do it quickly and violently, violently, there violence. When you look at Antifa and look at some of these groups these are violent people." It`s the President`s message to his supporters. NBC News Political Reporter the Ali Vitali joins us from Orlando Florida, headquarters of Donald Trump`s choice to be the next governor of Florida Ron DeSantis who NBC News now projects is, in fact, the winner in that primary. Ali, the polls are now closed. What`s the reaction in that room?
ALI VITALI, NBC NEWS POLITICAL REPORTER: Well, just a few moments ago, as the race was being called, you`ve got Fox News up here on the screens and folks around here we`re not shouting for DeSantis. There was a Trump chant going on here and that of course kind of speaks to the way that this race has been ran and won on the part of the DeSantis. Really he was lagging in the polls before Trump came in with that tweet and then subsequent rally here in Tampa. And a lot of the folks that I talked to at that rally then said I trust whoever Trump tells me to vote for. Many of them saying that he hasn`t gotten it wrong yet so they want to keep going and that -- if they didn`t already like DeSantis, they were on board for him now.
And clearly, that`s what`s borne out in the polls here tonight. Trump has had a pretty good track record in terms of getting Republicans over the finish line in primaries. What happens in the general with a Trump endorsement and these Trump endorsed candidates sort of remains to be seen but tonight in Florida for Ron DeSantis another point in Trump`s column of endorsing the person who eventually goes on to win the primary. And so that is, of course, a notch win in his column here tonight. DeSantis has yet to take the stage but folks here are definitely filling in behind me getting ready to see him as he accepts the victory here in Florida tonight.
HAYES: DeSantis probably I would say more than almost any other candidate tied himself to Trump. He cut that ad that was both sort of tongue-in- cheek and also in the view of many excruciatingly humiliating in which he basically mocked and he sort of showed slices of his life in which all he was doing was thinking about Trump and talking about Trump and reading a Trump book to his kids and the President likes that kind of thing came down to Florida. It looks like that pact between the two of them was successful at least in the primaries tonight.
VITALI: Absolutely. I think that`s true. And I think it`s really interesting as you watch Ron DeSantis one source here kind of described it to me as someone came in with air support and the other came in with ground troops. That is, of course, referencing Adam Putnam the State Agriculture Commissioner here who did run a very strong ground game but of course, Ron DeSantis, Fox News darling kind of played it up on the airwaves and of course, brought in Trump for that extra support which may have paid off tonight.
HAYES: All right, Ali Vitali, thank you for that down in Florida. Joining us from the headquarters from Republican Senate Candidate Kelly Ward in Scottsdale, Arizona NBC News Capitol Hill Correspondent Kasie Hunt. Kasie, the polls have had the more sort of establishment candidate the one that is the favorite I think of Republican Senate leadership like Mitch McConnell, Martha McSally ahead of Kelly Ward and Joe Arpaio. Any reason to think that could change?
KASIE HUNT, NBC NEWS CAPITOL HILL CORRESPONDENT: Chris, the only reason would be that we have seen so many unpredictable twists and turns in our politics in recent years that you know one wants to make sure that we don`t you know say in advance what we expect.
HUNT: But I do think the -- all the indications and trends are moving in Martha McSally`s direction. There were definitely some nerves in Washington there for a while. There was reporting that Mitch McConnell and others had tried to urge President Trump to put his finger on the scale for Martha McSalley in this race because as you referenced in the intro, this has really been all about who is the closest to President Trump. These candidates had sort of been falling all over themselves to show their ties to the President.
So that said though it`s in the last kind of couple of weeks, they have started to feel a little bit better about where McSally stands. So to answer your overall question, it would be an extraordinary shock if she didn`t. I would say and it would throw this entire race into turmoil. It`s already going to be a close race even if McSally wins. But if Arpaio were to win, there`s definitely a feeling that that would throw the general election to the Democrats.
HAYES: We should note here, in this case, you`ve got sort of one kind of one candidate sort of favor to the establishment, two challengers more associated with Trumpism. That that was sort of the opposite in Alabama right, where you have the one established -- you have the sort of two different kind of establishment characters in Roy Moore so the math here works in McSally`s favor. But to give a sense of just how intensely extreme the fidelity to Donald Trump has been in the primary, I want to play the little clip -- the interview you had with Joe Arpaio today about the passing of John McCain. Take a listen.
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HUNT: Do you think John McCain was a patriot?
JOE ARPAIO, FORMER SHERIFF, MARICOPA COUNTY: Yes.
HUNT: A hero?
ARPAIO: That`s hard for me to answer.
ARPAIO: Why, because I never had a hero in my life until several months ago I woke up and after 75 years I found my hero. You know who that person is, Donald Trump.
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HAYES: Sort of says it all, Kasie.
HUNT: In many ways, it speaks for itself, Chris, yes. And obviously, Joe Arpaio is somebody who -- I mean I suppose if the President had pardon me for a crime, you would -- you would be -- you would be happy with said President but Arpaio obviously has -- you would -- you know Arpaio has a very difficult legacy with immigration here in the state and is somebody who has been extraordinarily divisive here in Arizona and become a national figure, a divisive figure. And he was with President Trump from the beginning and in our interview he underscored that repeatedly.
Kelly Ward has tried to show. If you walk into Kelly Ward`s office there`s a giant cardboard cutout of Donald Trump with a Kelly Ward sticker on his lapel. She in the bottom of her press releases notes that you know, back in 2017 the President once tweeted at her praising her so that sort of tells you kind of what they`re pushing for. But at the end of the day, the fact that the President has stayed out, has not said you know vote Kelly Ward or vote Joe Arpaio is a victory and a sigh of relief at least for Washington Republican.
HAYES: Interesting. Yes, I could hear all the stress behind the scenes in your recitation of this -- of this race. Kasie Hunt, thank you very much.
HUNT: Thanks, Chris.
HAYES: For more on just what we`re expecting to see tonight and when, let`s bring in MSNBC National Political Correspondent Steve Kornacki at the big board. Big picture Steve, what are we looking at?
KORNACKI: Chris, things just got really interesting in Florida in this Democratic gubernatorial primary. We said coming into Gwen Graham was the favorite. She led in all the polls, frankly. Second place had been Phil Levine, the former Mayor of Miami Beach. But the story at this hour is Andrew Gillum the mayor of Tallahassee. He is over performing expectations. That is safe to say he is very much in this thing.
Let me take through exactly what we`re seeing right now, what is keying that for Gillum, a couple of places right now. Number one, take a look at Duval County, Jacksonville, there`s a hot congressional race there, very high turnout. Gillum absolutely running up the score there over Gwen Graham. He`s getting a big margin out of there. We got some vote, we got a little more than a third coming in Orange County, Orlando area Gillum leading there. Look at this down here in Miami-Dade, look at Gilliam. Again, if Philip Levine from this area --
HAYES: That`s his own turf.
KORNACKI: Gillum right there, the lead, we just got moments ago, the reason he`s got so close just moments ago the early vote in Broward County came in Levine leading but look Graham right behind him whose name do you not see here Gwen Graham, she is getting her clock cleaned in the early voting here in Broward. Take a look down here in Miami-Dade. Again, ton of votes. She`s running far, far behind so if you`ve got Graham holding on to that lead statewide, you`ve got a lot of votes still to come out of Broward County. You`ve got a lot still to come out of Orlando. If she is -- if she`s running this far behind, there is still room. If you look at the statewide number they`re a 12,000 vote difference.
Now, what Graham does have going for when you look at this we said this the central time zone in Florida, the Panhandle in Congress, she represented this part of the state. She`s probably going to do pretty well up here, not as many voters as necessarily you have down here. So again, the story right now Gillum, I think had been running in third place in a lot of these polls here. He is very close in this race right now and he is very much alive when it comes to potentially winning this Democratic nomination.
HAYES: Steve, one follow up here you know, Gillum, I had sort of been following the race a bit. Gillum sort of running from the left, I think it`s fair to say in this race. He was kind of the favorite candidate. I think he was endorsed by Bernie Sanders of the -- he sort of ran from the left explicitly and I think there was some thinking because particularly female candidates women have done so well in primaries and that primary vote the Democratic side has been so overwhelmingly female at the polls that Graham was in a pretty good position. But it looks like the momentum that folks were talking about with Gillum in the final days, whatever the outro outcome was real.
KORNACKI: Yes, you know, what`s the old cliche about Florida too is you know, this one state it`s really a bunch of different states all pulled into one so there might be a bunch of different stories that are playing out here. I mentioned like Duval County, Jacksonville, there`s a hotly contested Democratic congressional primary there. Democratic incumbent being challenged by the former mayor of Jacksonville.
I think that might add juice turnout right there. And again Gillum running up the score might be looking at very high African-American turnout, very high African-American support for him some of the places we`re seeing on the map right here might have to do with as you say a surge of sort of that Bernie Sanders style leftism, liberalism. That might be behind this as well. Graham might be benefiting in other parts of the state from that desire. Democratic voters have had to elevate women. But yes, I mean, look at if you would set coming into this that after 8:00, it`s going to be 32-31 statewide. That would be a big surprise to people.
HAYES: All right, Steve Kornacki, we`re going to keep our eyes on that. We will keep you posted and have you back. For more on the high stakes in tonight`s primary election for the Democratic strategy going for and I`m joined by Chairman of the National Democratic National Committee Tom Perez. You know, there`s two schools of thought, Tom. One is you want to clear the field for your preferred candidate. It`s better to not have them waste money on a contentious primary. We`ve seen the Republicans do that effectively with say Rick Scott down in down in Florida and the other theory is that the energy and activism that you get from contested primaries is good for the eventual nominee. What`s your side in that?
TOM PEREZ, CHAIRMAN, DNC: I think about Virginia when I listen to your question that there was a spirited primary last year in Virginia between Tom Perriello and Ralph Northam, two really good Democrats who debated the issues. They stayed on the high ground. It was spirited, record turnout in the primary, win that Ralph Northam is back. When Tom didn`t make it, he immediately endorsed Ralph and where they were often running and we had great results in Virginia. We have no wrong door in Florida in that gubernatorial race. A really deep field, I am certain that whoever does not win is going to support whoever does win and the momentum that has occurred there I think is going to be remarkable because healthcare is on the ballot down there in a big way.
HAYES: What is your -- what is the number -- what do you look for on a night like tonight? I mean, the DNC is facially neutral in these contests so you`re not supposed to where you don`t have favorites. So what are the numbers you look at when you`re looking at a night like tonight from your position? What do you -- what are the signals you want to see?
PEREZ: Enthusiasm. And enthusiasm is reflected in turnout. And you look at so many of these primaries that you`ve been covering, Chris, over the course of many Tuesdays. In Pennsylvania for instance, there was remarkable turnout relative to four years earlier. You know, in Idaho they ran out of ballots in the Democratic primary. So many examples of turnout manifested throughout and we see that today both in Florida and in Arizona.
I`ve spent a lot of time in Arizona because I was the guy who sued Joe Arpaio. And so you know, 60 percent of the vote in the general election in November in Arizona is going to come out of Maricopa County. So three and five voters are there and Joe Arpaio has awakened Latino voters out in Arizona. And what happened in Puerto Rico and the absolutely horrendous response from the Trump Administration and the haplessness of Rick Scott on the response to the algae crisis in Florida is not only going to give I think a big edge to Democrats but these are real issues that are affecting people`s lives.
HAYES: I want to ask you since I have you here. There`s a big news coming out of the DNC sort of two positions. One is super-delegates, the controversial feature of Democratic nominating contests. These were folks that were sort of party elders, elected officials, who got a vote in the first ballot. They`ve been taken off the first ballot which means all the delegates from the first ballot will be apportioned through the primaries and caucuses and super-delegates won`t get a vote in that they will if no one gets clears in the first ballot. Why did you do it?
PEREZ: It`s all about growing the party. It`s all about rebuilding trust and it`s all about winning elections and that`s why we did it. I look at some of the megatrends out there, Chris, and we -- I think had to take action. When Barack Obama got elected President back in 2008, the most common millennial voters was a registered Democrat. Now, by almost 10 percent, the most common millennial voter is a registered independent. You know, super-delegates have never decided who won the nomination and the Democratic Party we`ve had it since 1984. But super-delegates have affected in the minds of so many their sense of whether the process was fair because if you haven`t even had a primary yet in Iowa and in a couple weeks before the first votes are cast, you have one candidate who has 300, 400 delegates, you start to ask the question, wait how did that happen, nobody`s voted yet?
And so what I`m all about is making sure and what we`re all about at the DNC and these reforms passed overwhelmingly is making sure that the process is fair to everyone. We`re going to probably have double-digit candidates and --
HAYES: You would have triple digit candidates, Tom.
PEREZ: Well, well only if you get in. But you know, all but one are going to -- are not going to make it to the mountaintop. And so I think it`s critically important that everybody regardless of who you supported feels that your candidate got a fair shake and the process it was fair. And when we do that we grow the party, we increase confidence and trust in the party, and everybody wins. And what was heartening to me about what happened last week is not only did we do this reforms but we did some dramatic reforms in the primary process and the caucus process. There`s going to be more primaries in 2020 than in 2016 as a result of what we`re doing and the states that retain caucuses they`re going to be much more inclusive.
HAYES: We`re going to be there for everyone. Tom Perez, thank you very much.
PEREZ: My pleasure.
HAYES: Breaking news tonight, the President is still thinking of firing Attorney General Jeff Sessions bring up the idea again just this month. The Washington Post Reporter who broke that story joins me in two minutes.
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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Will you fire him? Will you fire Sessions?
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, I`ll tell you what. As I`ve said, I wanted to stay uninvolved but when everybody sees what`s going on in the Justice Department, he was for justice now with quotes, it`s a very, very sad day. Jeff Sessions recused himself which he shouldn`t have done or he should have told me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: A reporting tonight from the Washington Post about the ever showering relationship between the president in his attorney general. The paper reporting that President Trump was privately has privately revived the idea of firing Jeff Sessions this month adding "his attorneys concluded that they have persuaded him for now not to make such a move while the special counsel investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential campaign is ongoing. Here with you now is one of the Washington Post reporters who broke that piece, MSNBC Contributor Carol Leonnig. Carol, what`s the context for the president bringing this up again?
CAROL LEONNIG, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Well, the President has been fuming now we understand since August first. You may remember a pretty interesting tweet he tweet scolded at his attorney general the head of his Justice Department that he should shut down the rigged witch hunt right away, in other words the Mueller probe. And now we learned that he conferred with his attorneys saying he planned to and threatened to fire Jeff Sessions this month more than once and they have counseled him that that would be a terrible idea and believe that he has agreed with them.
However, what we`re hearing on the Hill is that a lot of members of the Senate, Republicans in the Senate who had kind of been the wall against this kind of move, this kind of ouster by the President, that wall is crumbling. They are starting to prepare for what they believe is the ultimate eventualities which is that the President is going to boot his attorney general.
HAYES: Yes, it sounds like you`ve got lots of quotes in that article from interesting folks, lots of quotes from Senators saying he`s going to do what he`s going to do and not sounding like they`re going to -- they`re going to sort of ride herd on this. But you also got Rudy Giuliani on the record telling you we think we got him convinced not to do this.
LEONNIG: Well, really said a slight differentiation that I would differentiate slightly. He basically said, look, we`ve come to an agreement that this is not going to happen until the investigation is concluded. He doesn`t want to go into the details of his conversation with the President which I respect and understand.
LEONNIG: However, it`s clear and it`s unprecedented that the President still wants to fire his Attorney General while he`s under investigation for possibly trying to thwart the probe and now this is a move that could be viewed as well as another step, another leg of the stool of obstruction.
HAYES: All right, Carol Leonnig as always, great reporting. Thank you for joining me.
LEONNIG: Thank you, Chris.
HAYES: All right, I want to bring in MSNBC Legal Analyst and former Federal Prosecutor Mimi Rocah and former Deputy Assistant Attorney General for Legislative Affairs Elliot Williams who was in the "Justice Department." Why -- here`s my first question. When Carol says he consulted his attorneys, she does not mean Don McGahn the White House Counsel who is the counsel to the President in his official capacity. He means his personal criminal attorneys Rudy Giuliani and Jay Sekulow. That`s a little odd isn`t it?
MIMI ROCAH, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST: It`s a very good point. I mean, this is about White House business that the --
HAYES: There was at stake.
ROCAH: Right. He should be talking to the White House Counsel about it. I mean, what`s interesting is this is so circular I think because you know, the reason that Trump now says he needs to fire Sessions and that some of the Republicans who previously would have opposed that are now crumbling is because their relationship is so bad. But why is it so bad it`s so bad becauseTrump has made it bad. So the question is since you want to fire Sessions because he wants a new Attorney General to come in who then won`t be recused who can take over the Mueller probe or is it you know, really because he you know, thinks that he`s not doing a good job, no. Right? So he`s --
ROCAH: Yes, it`s the first one, sorry. But he`s created this pretext by making it so bad that now he can say well, my relationship is really bad Adam so I need to fire him which is what Lindsey Graham is saying now.
HAYES: This is -- this is Lindsey Graham this morning, Elliot. I want to get response as Lindsey who is -- Senator Graham who`s friends with Jeff Sessions, a supporter of him basically said it would be a disastrous idea if the president got rid of Jeff Sessions. Now, this is him this morning. Take a listen.
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SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: We need an attorney general that can work with the President, that can lead the Department of Justice, this relationship is beyond repair I think.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But Senator Graham, I mean the only beef the President seems to have against him is that he`s not going to get rid of the investigation into President Trump.
GRAHAM: Let me finish the second part. It`s much deeper than that.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What else? What are we missing?
GRAHAM: Well, we won`t say on this show but it`s a -- it`s a pretty deep breach.
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HAYES: Well, what`s that about?
ELLIOT WILLIAMS, FORMER DEPUTY ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL FOR LEGISLATIVE AFFAIRS: With friends like these, you know. It`s really unfortunate that so many of the Senate Republicans are now turning their backs to Jeff Sessions after months and months of this relentless criticism from the President the United States, when in reality what Jeff Sessions did was simply violate President Trump`s loyalty. The President continuously places loyalty over you know adherence to the law, adherence to the rule of law and nearly recusing himself from an investigation which frankly any responsible member of the bar would have done. It seems to be what got Jeff Sessions in big trouble.
And it`s unfortunate that a former close colleague on the Senate Judiciary like Senator Graham who was worked with Senator Sessions for something for the greater part of a decade would be so quick to throw him under the bus here.
HAYES: Well, and also, I mean, I think people haven`t quite reckoned with how crazy things get if Sessions goes because the pathways go in a bunch of different directions. It could be a perfectly consensus caretaker person put in that position that is uncontroversial or it could be someone who very clearly is being put in with the job of shutting down the investigation, Mimi.
ROCAH: Right, exactly. And that`s where this whole you know, this could be a sort of leg of obstruction comes in, that he wants to put someone in who`s going to be you know, in his words loyal but they`re not supposed to be loyal to him as the person back to your first point. They`re supposed to be loyal to the laws and you know the Department of Justice not in quotes and if they stop the investigation that`s obviously not doing that. So -- and I think he`s already floated some names of people that you know would probably be people who would not you know, let the investigation go on.
HAYES: Having work to justice and I`m always fascinated about what the line attorneys and the civil servants in that -- in that entity are thinking every day as they watch all this unfold, Elliot, what would be the reaction I think if -- do you think in that building if the president were to get rid of Sessions replacing with someone who is very clear explicitly tasked with shutting down Mueller?
WILLIAMS: So as I said, part of what this whole thing stems from is this recusal decision which was the exercise of sound legal judgment. And I think that what that does is makes attorneys who are doing their jobs in trying to exercise legal judgment feel that the President now is coming after them. It`s like an indictment of them of sorts for doing their jobs because at the end of the day, yes, Jeff Session is a political appointee but he`s being criticized not for stepping beyond the bounds of -- You know, you can disagree with the politics in it and certainly I -- he would raise policy disagreements with Jeff Sessions but if the question is the exercise of his duties as an attorney, I think that necessarily calls into question what the President thinks or believes about the men and women, the 113,000 or 118,000 men and women at the Justice Department.
HAYES: All right, Mimi Rocah and Elliot Williams, thank you both. Next the long list of Trump scandals unfolding in plain sight including the horrifically disastrous response to the hurricane that ravaged Porto Rico which we now know left nearly 3,000 Americans dead.
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TRUMP: And what is your -- what is your death count as of this moment, 17?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: 16 certified.
TRUMP: 16 people certified. 16 people versus in the thousands. You can be very proud of all of your people. All of our people working together. 16 versus literally thousands of people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Remember that list we told you about last night, the one being circulated by Republicans,previewing investigations Democrats could launch if they take over the house. It`s a very long list, which was no doubt intended to strike fear into the heart of Republicans. But which actually just reads as a list of things that absolutely should be investigated.
It features broad categories like family separation policy and come to think of it, at this very moment, more than a month after a federal judge`s deadline, over 500 children remain separated from their families.
What is going to happen to them? We genuinely don`t know. And that seems worthy of looking into.
Another item on that list, hurricane response in Puerto Rico. Up until this month, the official death count as a result of Hurricane Maria was 64 people, but according to a new study out today, commissioned by the Puerto Rican government, almost 3,000 people died in the five months after Maria hit.
The wildly understated death toll by this administration has not been the subject of any major sustained congressional investigation, and that also seems worthy of a little looking into.
And now tonight, we have another scandal Republicans may want to add to the list. It has to do with the President of the United States directly intervening with the development of the FBI building, which happens to sit across the streetfrom the Trump International Hotel in D.C.
Joining me now to explain this, Jonathan O`Connell, reporter at The Washington Post, who has been covering Donald Trump`s interest, one might even say obsession, with the FBI building for years, has a new piece out this week on the subject, and Ann Weismann, Chief FOIA Council for the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington is here.
All right, Jonathan, my basic understanding here is the FBI had a big redevelopment plan ready to go. They were going to move the headquarters out somewhere. The kibosh was put on it, and the question is, did the president do it? Right?
JONATHAN O`CONNELL, THE WASHINGTON POST: I think that`s a big part of it, Chris, yeah. For ten years, the FBI and the General Services Administration have been working on a plan to build a secure campus for the FBI in the Washington suburbs, a place where you could not drive a car bomb or commit some other horrible act on the FBI, where they are downtown. And there`s sort of been a real u-turn recently under the Trump administration.
Part of that, I think, is the FBI deciding that maybe they want to remain downtown, and part of it is the president taking a personal interest in this project, in this contract, which is obviously unusual and as you pointed out, there`s an added layer of tension and the stakes are a little bit higher because the president`s hotel is just down the street from this parcel here.
HAYES: If i`m not mistaken, Ann, he met with the head of the GSA on this very question.
ANNE WEISMANN,CHEIF FOIA COUNCIL: Yes.
HAYES: Is that normal?
WEISMANN: I don`t think so, no. In fact, the president met on two separate occasions with the head of the GSA, and earlier than that, the head of the GSA had a meeting with White House Chief of Staff John Kelly.
And one of the meetings that the GSA had had took place just weeks before the FBI announced that it was going to rebuild back on the original FBI headquarters site.
So the IG report really provides mounting evidence of -- that the president has potentially improperly interfered in the decision, a decision that will affect his bottom line. Because if, in fact -- if the FBI had been allowed to relocate to another location, it`s likely that in its place, where the FBI now stands, there would be a commercial building that would compete directly with the president`s hotel, just down the street.
HAYES: Oh, I see. So the theory of the interference here, and Jonathan, this is something you reported on for a while, Trump has been interested, himself, before -- even before the hotel, Jonathan, Trump back in 2013, that he and Ivanka were considering acquiring the FBI headquarters. This is a piece of commercial development property he himself has wanted to develop.
O`CONNELL: Yep. At the time, President Trump or then Mr. Trump had just won the contract to build his hotel across the street, and that is also at the GSA. He was riding high, feeling great about his work there and had talked about, you know, maybe I will build -- bid on the FBI headquarters across the way.
I mean, part of the over -- the other problem here, obviously, is that the head of the GSA is effectively the president`s landlord at the same time she isthe president`s own appointee. So she -- her agency oversees the president`s lease. He still benefits from financially right now, in the old post office building, which is his hotel, while she is overseeing projects like the FBI.
HAYES: Anne, am I -- that seems like such an obvious conflict on its face.
WEISMASS: Well, that`s exactly right. And if the president were any other federal employee, he would be conflicted out from even participating in discussions about where to site the FBI building, because he would have a direct predictable financial interest in the outcome of that decision. But as we know, and as we`ve seen evidence of again and again, the president is not subject to the same conflict of interest laws.
HAYES: And finally, the head of the GSA, a woman named Emily Murphy, was asked multiple times, was the president driving this, did he intervene, and she basically answered in a way that wasn`t quite a lie, but led one to believe that the president had not.
O`CONNELL: Right, and that instance has been magnified in this report, but there are multiple instances where officials from the GSA and FBI have declined to say in front of Congress what the White House`s involvement in the decision have been and what the president`s involvement in the decision has been.
Which I`m not even really clear the reason behind the dodging of those questions, because if the president wants to take a specific involvement in one real estate project, maybe it`s just his prerogative. But if there`s something larger there that they`re covering up, I think that`s the reason that investigators are taking a peek at this.
HAYES: I think you put your finger on it. It`s the sort of deception and dissembling around the president`s role to me that is the thing that seems the strangest about this, as far as the facts that we know.
Jonathan O`Connell and Ann Weismann, thank you for joining me.
Ahead, the latest results on this election night. The one and only Kornacki returns with more results with what could be a suprise in Florida.
Plus, the president`s continued commitment to the American Flag is tonight`s Thing One, Thing Two, next.
HAYES: Thing One tonight, Donald Trump is no student of history or of anything else, really, but you`d think the President of the United States would have the details of the American flag pretty much committed to memory. 50 stars, 13 stripes. I mean, he`s surrounded by them all the time. Every day in the office, there`s one there, right behind his desk. On the road, he likes big, giant ones behind him at rallies. He`s even been known to cuddle with them, from time to time. Ah, adorable.
He certainly spends a lot of time worrying whether NFL players respect said flag. And he wears one on his lapel every single day, for goodness sake.
So knowing all of that, why, oh, why, are we looking at a photo of the President of the United States coloring in a picture of the American flag like this? That`s thing two in 60 seconds.
HAYES: Everybody here in America knows what the American flag looks like and can probably draw the thing from memory. We here at All In know 8-year- olds who can pretty much nail it. So how on earth do you explain this?
This is a real photo, a real one, tweeted out by the Secretary of Health and Human Services, showing Donald Trump coloring with children at a hospital in Ohio and if you look closely, it sure appears the president has colored in his flag with a blue stripe.
Another image of the moment was flooding around the internet purporting to show further proof, Trump holding the actual blue marker.
Now, speculation ran rampant. Could this possibly be real? Was it photo shopped? Could Trump have been trying to draw the Russian flag. Snopes.com even got on the case and ruled the picture unproven. But we did some snopeing of our own.
On the White House YouTube page, let`s go to the tape.
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HAYES: Well, would you look at that? The president is holding a marker, but it`s brown. For the brown stripe on the American flag, of course? It`s right below the blue one. Mystery solved! This is our new flag now, America.
We`re still looking, but if anyone has evidence of Trump`s finished drawing, please, do tweet it to us.
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HAYES: It`s election night. There are two states holding critical primaries for the Senate and the House.
For the latest results in Florida and what we can expect in Arizona, I`m joined once more at the big board by Steve Kornacki, national political correspondent for NBC News and MSNBC. And we`ve got an upset in the making.
KORNACKI: Yeah, Chris. I mean, look, officially you see it on the screen there, too close to call, but I think it`s fair to say, Gillum here on the cusp of what would be a momentous upset. You can see in our statewide count in Florida, we have Andrew Gillum now leading by about 13,000 votes over Gwen Graham.
Now, the reason in our count he`s just taken the lead now, it`s moved over 10,000, has everything to do with this county right here, Broward County, big Broward County, slow Broward County, very slow reporting. You can see about 40 percent in.
But, look, two things happening here. Number one, Gillum is winning it. This is a vote-rich county and he`s winning it, but the other thing. Look at this, at this, Gwen Graham, he is beating her by more than 2-1.
So what we`ve seen here in the last few minutes, we`ve gotten a lot of the vote from Broward. That has put Gillum ahead 13,000 statewide.
This was the single biggest source of outstanding vote in the state of Florida that`s left right now. So Gillum, you can see -- we go back to that statewide total. You can extrapolate it: up 13,000, right now. A lot of Broward to come in.
Show you quickly, the other places where we still have some vote left, a little bit in Miami-Dade. You see still a lot of votes there, so 14 percent still, a chance here for Gillum again. Graham running way back there. Gillum could pad that statewide lead a little bit there, some in Palm Beach County. Graham doing better there, but it`s not like she`s leading by a large margin. She`s not going ot net much in the way of votes there in terms of a margin over Gillum.
We`ve got a little bit around Tampa here, Hillsborough, but again, look at this, Gillum more than holding his own there.
And then the other big thing left -- I have to say, big, it`s a lot of small counties in the panhandle. The surprise here, this was supposed to be where Graham ran up the score. You can see this dark shade of blue. You`re seeing a lot of the counties that Gillum right now is actually winning or leading in, that was supposed to pad whatever margin that Gwen Graham had when it came down to it.
So frankly, a look at the math right here -- too close to call -- but if you`re Gillum, you`re smiling.
HAYES: All right. Steve Kornacki, it`s a really considering turn in that race. Gillum, a fascinating candidate.
And that`s going to set up a real -- one of the sort of marquee races in the fall, gubernatorial. You have got Gillum-DeSantis, if that happens, if in fact Gillum wins this. That is going to be a really fascinating race to watch.
Coming up, from North Korea to trade wars and beyond, why President Trump`s attempts to solve the crisis he helped create is nothing new.
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TRUMP: Our farmers are going to be so happy. You know, my farmers, the farmers have stuck with me. I said we were going to do this. And Mexico`s promised to immediately start purchasing as much farm product as they can. They`re going to work on that very hard.
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HAYES: Is that true? Really, really unclear. I would take it with an enormous grain of salt. The president yesterday, while announcing an agreement to replace NAFTA with a bilateral deal with Mexico tentatively, talked about how farmers are going to thrilled with what he`s doing.
Now, again, who knows if that is going to happen, what kind of affect the policy will have on farmers, but if it has any kind of effect at all, it will only be reversing the damage that the president himself created, which is kind of a singlular phenomenon of the age, one bigger than the president.
In a time of record inequality, the very affluent and rich are presenting themselves routinely as fixers for a world they are largely responsible for tearing apart.
In an essay adapted from his book "Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World," Anand Giridharadas writes, quote, at first you think rich people making a difference, so generous, until you consider America might not be in the fix it`s in had we not fallen for the kind of change these winners have been selling, fake change. President Trump is what we get when we trust the rich to fix what they are complicit in breaking.
And with me now, Anand Giridharadas, author of the new book "Winner Take All." It`s good to have you here.
ANAND GIRIDHARADAS, AUTHOR: Thank you for having me.
HAYES: So the basic sort of thesis here is about the fact that we have a world that is broken in many ways, a country that is broken in many ways, and the people holding themselves out as the problem solvers are in fact complicit in the breaking.
GIRIDHARADAS: The Trump presidency didn`t begin with the Trump presidency, didn`t begin in January 2017. And I think one of the things that`s actually painful for many people to think about, on various sides of the American experience, is that a lot of us unwittingly lay track for someone like Donald Trump to be where he is.
And what hen I talk about in "Winners Take All" is the idea that many of the people who have done well in an era in which millions and millions of Americans have not done well, arguably a majority of Americans have barely benefited from the astonishing progress in the world in the last 40 years. And Americans who have actually done very well from this period, who have profiteered from globalization and tech and the internet and everything else that`s happened, those American have not just reaped the benefits of a set of natural occurrences, they have engineered America to work in a way that is not good for most people and good for them.
They have set health care policy, education policy. They`ve figured out zoning and housing policy, every kind of policy in ways that predictably, reliably, foreseeably will make life hard for most people and great for them.
And then, sensing the brokenness, sensing the anger, because when you look at the news it`s clear that a lot of people are angry in this country -- and by the way a lot of people who voted for Bernie Sanders were angry on the left. There`s a lot of anger, and there`s a lot a sense on both sides of the aisle that this country is rigged. And these winners turn around and say we alone can fix it. We alone can fix it.
Mark Zuckerberg is going to fix all the schools. He is going to take on homelessness, too. He`s also going to get rid of the diseases.
Elon Musk, he will do space, right.
And the finance guys, they`ll do the Robin Hood thing and they`ll just fix New York. They`ll make New York...
HAYES: It`s funny you say Zuckerberg, because the place where -- and you write about this in the book, but one of the focuses of the book is tech and Silicon Valley. And tech is the place -- you see this most intensely, right, the sort of combination of kind of like earnest wellmeaning rhetoric with just like ruthless accrual of power. And then when the Frankenstein monster is up walking around then being like, OK, we`ll figure it out. We`ll take care of it. Trust us.
GIRIDHARADAS: I describe the guys in Silicon Valley as rebel kings. You know sometimes you see in war torn countries, you see like a rebel leader in a pickup truck and then they win the war and then that leader is in the palace.
And I always say, if they`re still wearing the rebel, the beret, you`re in trouble.
HAYES: Right. It`s great.
GIRIDHARADAS: And these Silicon Valley guys started as renegades. They started 40 years ago hacking, tinkering in basements. There is a truth in that. They never lost the self-image. And when they have since became the locomotives of human innovation. They own the platforms...
HAYES: The most powerful people in the world.
GIRIDHARADAS: ...discourse, buying, selling. I mean, think about the Rockefellers and Carnegies. I mean, I don`t mean to minimize it, but oil and steel and I mean, these people own the portals to all of our minds simultaneously in the world. And they have clung to this image of being rebels on the outside in a pick-up truck just fighting against the man. And it has caused them to abdicate responsibility for the society that they increasingly govern privately.
HAYES: It is fascinating book, and partly because I think it sort of implicates so much of where we are in this particular moment.
You and I are going to talk about it my podcast Why is This Happening. I`m excited to do that tomorrow. Anand Giridharadas who is great writer, author of "Winners Take All." Thanks for making some time.
GIRIDHARADAS: thank you.
HAYES: That is ALL IN this evening. "THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW" starts right now. Good evening, Rachel.
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