Show: ALL IN with CHRIS HAYES Date: September 4, 2018 Guest: Kamala Harris, Neal Katyal, Cory Booker, David Ignatius, Elizabeth Holtzman, Michelle Goldberg, Nick Confessore
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: That`s HARDBALL for now, thanks for being with us. "ALL IN" with Chris Hayes starts right now.
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CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: Tonight on ALL IN. DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I`m talking to Bob Woodward, he said that he told you about speaking to me but you never told me.
HAYES: BOB Woodward`s bombshell.
TRUMP: Right, well I assume that means it`s going to be a negative book.
HAYES: Democrat stage a rebellion?
SEN. CORY BOOKER (D), NEW JERSEY: What is the rush? What are we trying to hide?
HAYES: Tonight, Senators Cory Booker and Kamala Harris on their resistance to Donald Trump`s pick for the Supreme Court.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We cannot possibly move forward Mr. Chairman with this hearing --
SEN. CHUCK GRASSLEY (R-IA), CHAIRMAN, SENATE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: I extend --
HAYES: Then, the Woodward book.
TRUMP: It sounds like this is going to be a bad one.
HAYES: A warning from the president`s lawyer about an interview with Robert Mueller.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Don`t testify, it`s either that or an orange jumpsuit.
HAYES: As his cabinet removes papers from the President`s desk to preserve national security. And two months from Election Day the best evidence yet that Democrats could return to power.
TRUMP: I hope there`s a red wave.
HAYES: When ALL IN starts right now.
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HAYES: Good evening from New York I`m Chris Hayes. Tonight, exactly two months from what could be the most consequential midterm elections in at least a generation, as campaign season kicks into high gear and the Senate begins hearings for the judge who may be the deciding vote on the Supreme Court, things look increasingly precarious for the President who nominated him and the Republic he represents. According to a new book by Pulitzer Prize-Winning Journalist Bob Woodward, the President continues to grow more fearful and more unhinged as Special Counsel Robert Mueller closes in.
The Washington Post which obtained an early copy reports the President`s own advisors regard him as basically a malevolent, willfully, ignorant fool according to Woodward, senior aides resorting to hiding documents and ignoring outright presidential orders to protect natural security. According to the Post account of Woodward`s book, the President`s former attorney in the Mueller probe John Dowd viewed his own client as a compulsive liar who escalated his own legal jeopardy warning Trump don`t testify it`s either that or an orange jumpsuit. Dowd eventually resigned.
The book comes two weeks to the day since the President`s former employee and personal lawyer longtime confidant and fixer Michael Cohn testified under oath in a federal courthouse that the President personally directed him to break the law in an effort to win the White House. Meanwhile, the president remains under investigation for obstruction of justice and for having potentially participated in another criminal conspiracy to help his campaign. That one carried out by Russia with possible aid from Americans.
And on the same day that Cowen pleaded guilty to eight felony counts, a jury convicted the president`s campaign chairman Paul Manafort on eight counts of tax and bank fraud. He faces a second trial set to start later this month. That makes five for the President`s close associates and campaign aides now convicted or admitted felons and it does not include his two earliest congressional endorsers. Republicans Chris Collins and Duncan Hunter both indicted on federal charges.
Just this past weekend, the President berating his Attorney General for daring to prosecute his political allies exposing his own contempt for the rule of law. "Too long-running Obama era investigations of two very popular Republican congressmen were brought to a well-publicized charge just ahead of the midterms by the Jeff Sessions Justice Department. Two easy wins now in doubt because there`s not enough time. Good job Jeff.
For the record, Collins alleged crimes occurred while Trump was in -- was President. In fact, he allegedly committed them at the White House. It was against that, that backdrop, that is the context in which the President`s nominee for a lifetime appointment the Supreme Court came before the Senate today for his first day of confirmation hearings. Among the many high stakes issues that Brett Kavanaugh would likely decide where he confirmed is of course the President`s own legal fate which looks more and more likely to come before that High Court.
Kavanaugh has expressed some very expansive views of executive authority. He`s already shown he`s willing to compromise himself for this President.
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BRETT KAVANAUGH, NOMINEE, SUPREME COURT JUSTICE: No president has ever consulted more widely or talked with more people for more backgrounds, to seek input about a Supreme Court nomination.
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HAYES: That is how Kavanaugh first introduced himself to the nation with what is an obvious lie. Just before the holiday weekend, the White House announced it would bar Senators from viewing 100,000 pages of records from Kavanaugh`s work in the George W. Bush White House citing executive privilege. And then last night hours before the hearing was set to begin, Republican lawyers screening those records released another 42,000 pages for Senators to review.
The day began with demonstrations on Capitol Hill and protesters disrupting the proceedings. More than 60 of them arrested. And when the hearing finally started Democrats in the Senate Judiciary Committee staged a revolt.
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GRASSLEY: I welcome everyone to this confirmation hearing on the nomination of Mr. Brett Kavanaugh.
SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D), CALIFORNIA: Mr. Chairman -- Mr. Chairman, I`d like to be recognized to ask a question before we proceed. The committee received just last night less than 15 hours ago 42,000 pages of documents that we have not had an opportunity to review or read.
SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL (D), CONNECTICUT: We have been denied real access to the documents we need to advise --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Chairman, regular orders is called for.
BLUMENTHAL: -- which turns this hearing into a charade and a mockery of our norms.
GRASSLEY: Well --
BLUMENTHAL: And Mr. Chairman, I therefore move to adjourn this hearing.
BOOKER: It should be transparent. This committee, sir, is a violation of even the values I`ve heard he talked about time and time again, the ideals that we should have. What is the rush? What are we trying to hide by not having the documents out front?
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HAYES: I`m joined now at one of the Senators who led that revolt in the Kavanaugh hearing today, Democratic Senator Kamala Harris of California. Senator, why did the Chair -- I was a little confused about what happened there. But the chair was gaveling for order. He could have just taken a party-line vote and won the vote, right?
HARRIS: Well, he should have taken a vote and the vote should have been on the motion that both Senator Blumenthal and I made. One was to suspend the hearing or at the very least postpone the hearing until we had all of the documents that we need to have to be able to fully vet this nominee and to also share that information with the American public so they know what they`re giving in there next member of the United States Supreme Court if he were confirmed.
HAYES: You know, there was a kind of unifying theme among Republicans on the committee today that Democrats and activists and the protestors in the chamber are all getting sort of worked up excessively. I want to play you what one of your colleagues Ben Sasse said when he referred to the hysteria that he`s seeing in the critics. Take a listen.
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SEN. BEN SASSE (R), NEBRASKA: People are going to pretend that Americans have no historical memory and supposedly there haven`t been screaming protesters saying women are going to die at every hearing for decades. So the fact that the hysteria has nothing to do with you means that we should ask what`s the hysteria coming from. The hysteria around Supreme Court confirmation hearings is coming from the fact that we have a fundamental misunderstanding of the role of the Supreme Court in American life now.
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HAYES: You think people are beings hysterical Senator?
HARRIS: Well, we`ve got a couple of issues, Chris, with that. One, I think it`s a mistake to refer to women who are using their voice to protest a flawed process to refer to them as hysterical. There`s a whole line of discussion and writings on how the word hysteria has been used to talk about women who own their power so putting that piece aside, I`ll say that this was a hearing that we held today where we were given 15 hours to review 42,000 pages of documents. It`s a hearing where there are 100,000 pages of documents that no other President has done this but this President has applied executive privilege to deny us the ability to have access to those documents.
And this is a nominee who has a long history of being a political operative, a long history of working for various conservative Republican administrations to frankly do a lot of dirty work that has been politically motivated. This committee has a right to fully vet this nominee. The American public has a right to know who he is and there is so much on the line and so much at stake. So to suggest that people who understand the seriousness of this and are protesting the lack of transparency the lack of due process to suggest that they`re hysterical is really to try and I can`t throw out a red hair deal with the real issue which is that this is a hearing that is severely flawed and it should be postponed until we can vet who this nominee really is.
HAYES: You just said something I said unprecedented, no president has done this. I -- people I think can sometimes get lost in the back-and-forth over documents. What here is most troubling to you or what`s unprecedented?
HARRIS: Well, what`s unprecedented is that we are -- there are -- the whole trove of documents that applied to this nominee`s professional life that we have no access to and we`ve been denied access. This is unprecedented. Elena Kagan for example, she worked for an administration and the documents that were associated with her work in that administration were given to the committee so that they could fully vet who she was. Executive privilege was not applied to the documents that were associated with her work with that White House. But that`s not the case here. This is unprecedented.
HAYES: There is a sense I think of folks and you can hear it in sort of Republicans saying today look, we won the election, you lost, we get to do whatever we want to do. What`s your response to that?
HARRIS: Barack Obama won the election and he nominated Merrick Garland and they obstructed the ability of that elected President to nominate and have a meaningful hearing on his nominee to the United States Supreme Court. So it lacks merit that allegation. It is actually -- it`s an empty point at least as applied to the Republicans who were presented with a nominee by a President of the United States and that nominee was Merrick Garland and they wouldn`t even give him an in an interview and one-on-one meetings, much less a hearing.
HAYES: Senator Kamala Harris who was there at the committee today, you will be seeing her all week, it`s great to have you. Thank you very much your time tonight.
HARRIS: Thanks, Chris. Take care.
HAYES: For more on what happened in that hearing today in the high stakes of Kavanaugh`s confirmation I`m joined by Neal Katyal all who`s a former Acting U.S. Solicitor General. I want to talk first briefly about processing the substance. But on the paper saying I started this personally thinking well they`re just trying to rush. There`s a lot of papers who`s in the White House a long time, there`s a huge record, they want to get this done so they`re shortcutting the process. But at every step it seems to me they`ve acted in ways that suggest they`re hiding something. Am I being paranoid?
NEAL KATYAL, FORMER ACTING U.S. SOLICITOR GENERAL: You`re not being paranoid. I mean, you started the show by saying that the election in November is the most consequential election in a generation but this is the most consequential seat and nomination hearing to the Supreme Court in our lifetime by a hundredfold. It`s more important than what happens in November. This is the swing seat and here the administration are doing something unprecedented.
They are hiding all of these documents. And look, it would be one thing if this were some other administration but it`s the Trump administration which is under criminal suspicion. Any number of ways the President`s personal lawyer fingering Donald Trump in a criminal conspiracy and so on and now they`re hiding these documents. The whole thing stinks. And if you will - - you know, if you went back and looked at what happened with Justice Kagan, I had a first bird`s-eye view into that. I was her deputy when she was nominated and I looked at that process about the document production.
No executive privilege ever done ever started or anything like that. Here he had a 100,000 pages that are being withheld, 42,000 pages that were dumped on the committee last night. That is not American, that is not a transparent process.
HAYES: And you`ve got two moments in the decision process when they scale things back. So first Chuck Grassley actually confers with his associates and asks for fewer documents, right?
HAYES: Which itself is kind of weird. Like first he was going to go bigger. He talks to some other people who convinced him like ratchet back how many documents.
KATYAL: Right. Now, that I couldn`t understand. Maybe you know, we have to go into a conspiracy threat --
KATYAL: But look, this is -- I mean Judge Kavanaugh who`s a lovely man has I think the most to lose by this. These documents are eventually going to come out under the Presidential Records Act. It be as real shame if there`s some bad stuff and then that comes out after he`s seated. That`s bad for him, it`s bad for the Supreme Court.
HAYES: Well, is it? He`s got a lifetime appointment.
KATYAL: Well, but you know, I will say, you know, the Supreme Court is above politics in so many different ways. You know --
HAYES: Do you still think that watching this? You know, I`ve had the privilege of arguing 37 cases there and I really do think that that`s the way the court has functioned largely by and whole in our democracy. I do think that things like this are really worrisome. And when you couple that with like the tweets this weekend, the President really corrupting our Justice Department and saying things like you know, Republicans shouldn`t be indicted. If he can do that to the Justice Department, what`s to stop them from doing that to the Supreme Court?
HAYES: But that`s -- you know that`s the thing about these fights that I always find so maddening, right? So there`s got to be somewhere between on one level this completely cynical will to power view which is the view of Donald Trump, right? Which is that the law is a fiction used to exercise power. That`s how he views it very clearly. He can`t even make coherent sense of the laws and independent thing and this idea --
KATYAL: Well, there`s a coherent sense which as long as it favors him --
HAYES: That`s right. Yes, that`s true. Coherent in that. And then on the other side, this idea of like well, the Supreme Court is above politics which is a sentence that just I find harder to make sense of in the era we live in.
KATYAL: Well, you know, I do think it`s hard but I don`t think we should give up on it. I mean, that is what the American experiment is built on. That`s gave us Brown versus Board of Education which gave us marriage equality it gave us so many different things. And for -- you know for us to give up on that and just say it`s all politics, I can`t think of something more destructive and Trump has destroyed a lot, but if he destroys your faith in that, Chris, I`m really, really --
HAYES: Well, I`m not the issue, right? The issue is that people are going to vote on this nomination. I guess the question for them is like what is what should they be considering as someone who`s been such a close observer of the court for so long.
KATYAL: Well, I think the first thing is how can they really go through a vote with all these documents being hidden? Grass -- Senators Grassley and Cornyn themselves in 2010 said don`t allow a hearing for Justice Kagan until we have all the documents. That was the standard then, it should be the standard right now. And maybe the documents don`t have anything, we do -- you know, this whole conspiracy thing is nothing but let`s wait and find out and then let`s have a debate, a fair debate about the -- about Judge Kavanaugh and whether he should be confirmed.
HAYES: All right, Neal Katyal, it`s great to have you here.
KATYAL: Thank you.
HAYES: I`m joined now by another Democratic Senator who objected to the Kavanaugh hearing today, Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey. Senator, Kavanaugh who`s reprising a line from John Roberts about balls and strikes. The job is an umpire. I don`t know any politics, I just call them as I see them. What do you think of that argument particularly now that we`ve seen John Roberts make that argument and actually rule on the court?
BOOKER: You know, there`s a clear pattern of the decisions in which he`s been that conservative majority, a 5-4 majority constantly and consistently ruling against the interests of workers` rights, against the interests of employees, against large corporations, working against women`s rights, curtailing voting rights. You see the pattern of who they`re serving in that five to four majority and it`s not balls and strikes. They`re not ending up on both sides often. It`s a court that is tipping and this nomination we have right now will change the dynamics of the court in a way that we haven`t seen in generations and frankly begin to roll back many of the gains that we made during the civil rights movement so worker`s rights movements, the women`s rights movement and more.
HAYES: People are watching this on both sides, right? Both support and an oppose Kavanaugh are having their mind made up and I think they`re wondering about what is the end game strategy here. I mean, it seems two things. One is a commitment by Dem -- no Democrats to vote for them giving the Republicans to vote and then persuading two Republican Senators. Is that how you understand it?
BOOKER: Well, ultimately you need to move exactly that. You have to hold the Democrats move some of the Republicans over. But I remind people over and over again, this is just like the same setup we had when we were facing down the barrel of the destruction of the Affordable Care Act going back to the days where people at the pre consisting condition can be denied health and coverage or that the number one reason for personal bankruptcies were that you couldn`t afford your medical bills and yet it was the efforts not just in the Senate and the House but really the outrage of the American people not right or left but just Americans who saw this as an issue of right or wrong.
And so we all have to consider what`s at stake here and I think that that`s often not being seen as clearly. We have enough of a pattern of his decisions about a woman`s right to choose his decisions about worker`s rights is the decisions about corporate consolidation or what corporations can do to employees or to our environment, enough of a pattern to know that the stakes are not just as high as they were with losing health care or losing access to health care but they`re actually higher when you consider all the other issues.
And so what my hope is maybe perhaps we can see this being an ignition point especially as we the Democrats try to draw a lot of these truths out from the candidate that we can get more people motivated and activated to let their voices be heard and let a lot of the moderate conservative Republicans begin to understand that they are effectively voting to overturn Roe or at least severely constrained women`s access to abortion rights and a number of other issues.
HAYES: You know, there`s polling out today from ABC Washington Post on the support for his confirmation which is really surprisingly low. It`s a bit split 39-38 percent, lowest number since Harriet Miers and Robert Bork, of course, both of whom -- one of whom was voted down, one of whom was withdrawn. There`s a final question here about his role in overseeing some case that may go to the Supreme Court regarding the President in the criminal investigation. Are you curious about Kavanaugh`s views of executive power because he has suggested they are even more expansive perhaps than any other member of the court currently sitting?
BOOKER: Yes, I`m not just curious, I`m sort of alarmed by what he has already said about this kind of supremacy of our president. We don`t have a king, we have a president, and he seems to suggest in his past statements and the past writings that a president is above the law and above the checks and balances that were built in by our Constitution. And remember, this one -- this Judge Kavanaugh was not on the original federal society list. He was added later. Surprise-surprise he was added after the Mueller investigation had already begun.
And remember, he then -- Trump picked him for the list and picked him off of the list, the only person that had such an expansionist view of presidential powers and potential presidential immunities. This is outrageous and it`s something that we should all be talking about that the president`s not above the law and he should not be allowed to pick his lawyer -- pick his judge.
HAYES: Is there anyway -- I mean, we`ve watched this now happen -- what happened with Roberts it very much happened with Gorsuch where the nominee comes in and just says I`m not going to tell you anything about my views because it might come before the court. You`re already -- you`re already grimacing at that but--
BOOKER: You know, it`s very difficult for him to say that when he`s already opined especially before right-wing or very conservative organizations about all his thoughts on this. He gave numerous, numerous speeches in front of the federal society trying out to get on their list before the president and opined about many, many different things. We at least have those.
Now there`s a lot of documents that he was right in the center as issues on torture, on privacy were being debated in the White House. It`d be nice to see and have access to the fullness of his record. Remember, we`re doing a job interview for somebody and can only see ten percent of their resume. But besides that fact, we -- this is a guy that has already opined and felt comfortable enough even as a judge to talk about his views. It would be -- it would be me incredibly insulting if he suddenly clammed up which again I don`t -- that doesn`t say he`s not going to try that strategy tomorrow.
HAYES: All right, we will see. Senator Cory Booker, stay tuned. Thank you very much.
BOOKER: Thank you.
HAYES: Next, an explosive new book about the Trump White House based on hundreds or hours of interviews depicts an administration in full nervous breakdown. Coming up, the shocking excerpts from the new Woodward book, plus a recording of a phone call of President Trump trying to confront Woodward but getting caught in a lie. That story in two minutes.
HAYES: Even in a Presidency that seems to shock in a weekly, sometimes daily, sometimes hourly basis, Bob Woodward`s new book on the Trump administration is like nothing we`ve ever heard. Oh, actually it`s like everything we`ve ever heard except worse and scarier. In excerpts obtained by The Washington Post "Woodward describes an administrative coup d`etat and a nervous breakdown of the entire executive branch with senior aides conspiring to pluck official papers from the President`s desk so he couldn`t see or sign them.
In one instance, Trump`s then Chief Economic Adviser Gary Cohn was so concerned about a draft letter to withdraw from NAFTA he took matters into his own hands saying "I can stop this, I`ll just take the paper off his desk." And Gary Cohn wasn`t the only one stepping in to stop Trump from his own impulses. According to the Washington Post account of the book, the president wanted to assassinate Syrian President Bashar al-Assad after a chemical attack on civilians. The President saying "let`s effing kill him, let`s go in, let`s kill the effing lot of them." Defense Secretary Jim Mattis reportedly trumps he would get on it but once off the phone told a senior aide "we`re not going to do any of that, we`re going to be much more measured."
And after a meeting in which Mattis reportedly explained to Trump the importance of the U.S. military presence on the Korean Peninsula, for early detection of a possible North Korean military launch, Woodward writes, Mattis was particularly exasperated and alarmed telling close associates the president acted like and had the understanding of a fifth or sixth grader. Defense Secretary Mattis has denied saying any such thing. White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement "this book is nothing more than fabricated stories many by former disgruntled employees told to make the President look bad.
There`s much more in the book we`ll get to, but first here`s an extraordinary part of an 11 minute phone conversation at the author Bob Woodward actually had with the President last month after the manuscript was finished.
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TRUMP: Hello Bob!
BOB WOODWARD, INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALIST: President Trump, how are you?
TRUMP: How are you? How are you doing, OK?
WOODWARD: Real well.
WOODWARD: I`m turning on my tape recorder with your permission.
TRUMP: That`s OK. That`s OK. I don`t mind.
WOODWARD: I`m sorry we missed the opportunity to talk for the book.
TRUMP: Well, I just spoke with Kellyanne and she asked me if I -- if I got a call, I never got a call. I never got a message. Who did you -- who did you ask about speaking to me?
WOODWARD: Well, about six people. You know, they --
TRUMP: No, they don`t tell me.
WOODWARD: Senator -- I talked to Kellyanne about it two and a half a months ago. She came for lunch.
TRUMP: Well, it`s too bad. Of course, you and I had a conversation you know, a couple of years ago and so that I think I got you there a little bit. And we had a conversation many years ago if you remember in Trump Tower. That has to be 20 years ago and you were thinking about doing a book about me then which is interesting. Who knew it would have been on this subject right?
TRUMP: That was not in the cards at that time.
WOODWARD: That`s right. Well, I`m sorry --
TRUMP: And I still remember that.
WOODWARD: I spent a lot of time on this, talked to lots of people and as you know, when they`re leaving, we`re at the pivot point in history.
WOODWARD: And I would have liked to have done that and I maximized my effort but somehow it didn`t get to you or --
TRUMP: It`s really too bad because nobody told me about it and I would have loved to have spoken to you. You know, I`m very open to you. I think you`ve always been fair. But we`ll see what happens. But all I can say is the country is doing very well.
WOODWARD: You know, it`s the tough look that the world and your administration and you.
TRUMP: Right. Well, I assume that means it`s going to be a negative book but you know, I`m some -- I`m sort of 50 percent used to that. That`s all right. Some are good and some of that sounds like it`s a little bit bad one.
WOODWARD: It`s a chance missed and I don`t know how things work over there in terms getting to you.
TRUMP: Very well. Well, if you would call Madeline in my office, did you speak to Madeline? No I didn`t but --
TRUMP: Madeline is the key. She is the secret because she`s the person.
WOODWARD: Well, I talked to Raj, I talked Kellyanne --
TRUMP: Well, a lot of them afraid to come and talk or you know, they are busy -- I`m busy, but I don`t mind talking to you. I would have spoken --
WOODWARD: Senator Graham said he has talked to you about talking to me. Now, is that not true?
TRUMP: Senator Graham actually mentioned it quickly on one meeting and you know, that is true. Well, that is true. That is true. Well, that -- no, that is true. Mention it quickly not like you know -- and I would certainly have thought that maybe you were to call the office but that`s OK, I`ll speak to Kellyanne. I am a little surprised that she wouldn`t have told me. In fact, she just walked in. I`m talking to Bob Woodward, he said that he told you about speaking to me but you never told me. Why didn`t you tell me? I would have been very happy to speak to him?
All right, so what are you going to do?
WOODWARD: Well --
TRUMP: So I have another bad book coming out with you.
Well, other than Lindsay who did quickly mentioned it, nobody mentioned it.
WOODWARD: Well, you say Kellyanne is there. Ask her.
TRUMP: Well, let me ask you. Why don`t you speak to Kellyanne and ask her. She never told me about it.
KELLYANNE CONWAY, ADVISER TO DONALD TRUMP: Hi, Bob, how are you? Hi!
WOODWARD: Hi! Remember two and a half months ago you came over and I laid out I wanted to talk to the President and you said you would get back to me.
CONWAY: I do and I put in the request but you know, it was rejected. I can only take it so far. Yes, so I did. I presented it to the people here who make those decisions but anyway, I`ll give you back to the President and I`m glad -- I`m glad to hear that you tried three, seven, or eight different people.
CONWAY: That`s good. You should tell them all the names. Thank you.
TRUMP: But you never called to me. It would have been nice probably if you called to me at my office. I mean, I have a secretary. I have two, three secretaries. If you would have called directly, a lot of people are afraid to Raj -- I hardly have -- you know, I don`t speak to Raj.
WOODWARD: Kellyanne is --
TRUMP: I do, I do and Kellyanne went to somebody but you didn`t come to me and she should have come to me. She does have access to me.
WOODWARD: Well, does she have access to you?
TRUMP: She does have access to me, absolutely. She has direct access but she didn`t come to me. And you know what, that`s OK. I`ll just end up with another bad book. What can I tell you?
WOODWARD: You need to know maximum effort.
TRUMP: All right, it`s too bad.
WOODWARD: Yes, sir.
TRUMP: I`m just hearing about it and I heard I did hear from Lindsey but I`m just hearing about it so we`re going to have a very inaccurate book and that`s too bad. But I don`t blame you entirely.
WOODWARD: No, it`s going to be accurate, I promise.
TRUMP: All right, OK. Well, accurate is that nobody`s ever done a better job than I`m doing as president, that I can tell you. So that`s -- and that`s the way a lot of people feel that know what`s going on.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
HAYES: When we come back, much more from Bob Woodward`s new book including the story behind Trump`s then-lawyer John Dowd reportedly telling the President last spring "don`t testify. It`s either that or an orange jumpsuit."
HAYES: In his new book about the Trump presidency, Bob Woodward recounts an astonishing anecdote about the president and the Mueller probe. Back in January, the president`s lawyer at the time, John Dowd, was trying to convince the president not to testify to the special counsel.
To illustrate his point, Dowd set up a practice session. According to The Washington Post and selected for excerpts of the book, Dowd peppered Trump with questions about the Russia investigation, provoking stumbles, contradictions, and lies until the president eventually lost his cool.
This thing is a goddamn hoax, Trump erupted at the start of a 30 minute rant that finished with him saying I don`t really want to testify.
Two months later, still trying to convince Trump not to testify, Dowd said to him, quote, don`t testify it`s either that or an orange jumpsuit.
Let`s bring in former Democratic Elizabeth Holtzman, who served on the Judiciary Commitee during Watergate, author of "The Case for Impeaching Trump;" and Washington Post columnist David Ignatius. And David, I am going to start with you.
You know, we have had a few tell-all books about the Trump administration - - the Wolfe Book, the Omarosa book, and this book. And they all tell basically the same story it`s just that Woodward has by far the most credibility of those three, and it is basically even worse than you thought sort of theme here.
DAVID IGNATIUS, WASHINGTON POST: From what I have read, and we are only now dealing with the excerpts, a meticulous book. I have worked with Bob Woodward for almost 35 years, and I don`t know a reporter like him. Listening to that taped exchanged between him and Donald Trump just is so revealing. Bob is so careful, so precise, so pointed -- you know, did you talk to Lindsey Graham? Didn`t Lindsey Graham -- he catches Trump, even in that little tape recording in a lie. It is extraordinary.
HAYES: You know, that -- I just want to say, that tape recording itself is a microcosm of the Mueller problem. Because there`s two impulses there, one is he thinks he can like schmooze Bob Woodward out of his book or something, so he calls him. And two he is lying on the phone getting called over and over again. You think about the person who appears in that conversation appearing -- talking to Mueller.
ELIZABETH HOLTZMAN, FORMER DEMOCRATIC CONGRESSMAN: Well, let me say just I have known Bob Woodward since Watergate when we I was on the House Judiciary Committee and were going impeachment proceedings. And he is a very, very careful reporter. He is very thorough. He is meticulous. And that`s one of the reasons he writes these very finely received books, because who talk to him trust him to convey the truth about their conversations.
What does it say about Mueller and him? The president is not going to go and testify before Mueller, but it does raise serious questions about his integrity, and his ability to tell the truth and his willingness to tell the truth.
HAYES: David, the folks that are around Trump obviously have a kind of incentive to portray themselves as protecting the country from him. Stipulating that, what comes through in the excerpts is that they all bare contempt for the guy. They think poorly of him. This is the court of John Kelly -- John Kelly, he is an idiot, it`s pointless to try to convince him of anything. He`s gone off the rails. We`re in crazy town. I don`t even know why any of us are here. This is the worst job I`ve ever had.
I should note that Kelly issued a statement denying that he ever called the president an idiot, which the president retweeted.
IGNATIUS: The book, as you said earlier, really colors in in fine detail the portrait we have been assembling all of these months. I think Bob was wise in titling this book "Fear," and he`s quoting something that Donald Trump said to my colleague Bob Costa that the essence of power is fear. And you see in all these people who work around him their fear of the president, their fear of his judgment, their fear of offending him, of catching him in the wrong moment.
There`s a marvelous little quote of trivia that Reince Priebus who refers to the president`s bedroom where he does his tweeting as the devil`s workshop. I thought that was superb.
And I think all of these people around the president, there is some truth to the idea that they are trying to protect the country. I think that`s certainly true of Secretary Mattis, that`s probably true of John Kelly. But they`re dealing with somebody who they know better than any of us is somebody unpredictable, irrational, frightening.
HAYES: Here is a little more context on the Dowd part of this, right, so you have got advisers who are trying to sort of advise him on the country and restrain him in certain ways, again according to this. And then you`ve got a lawyer who is trying to navigate this very perilous terrain.
This is Dowd explaing to Mueller and Quarles, who is also on Mueller`s team, why he was trying to keep the president from testifying. "I`m not going to sit there and let him look like an idiot and you publish that transcript because everything leaks in Washington. The guys oversees are going to say, I told you he was an idiot. I told you he was a goddamn dumbbell. What are we dealing with this idiot for?"
So, it`s not just the legal problem, they`re worried about what the president sounds like in an interview with Bob Mueller.
HOLTZMAN: Of course. And this is nothing new. I mean, listen to the president. Anybody can tell that he`s not really very smart, and not very knowledgeable. But the real issue here is what is Mueller going to do about getting the information from the president that he needs? Is he going to subpeona the president? And will the president, now that we know all this background, come before him? Are we going to then have to go to the supreme court?
HAYES: David, as one of the journalists who got the ball rolling on this entire thing with your reporting on what Michael Flynn`s conversation with Sergey Kislyak, there`s something really interestingly ominous to me about the statement, "it`s that or an orange jumpsuit" from John Dowd. That does not sound like someone talking -- a lawyer talking to a client who he thinks is innocent.
IGNATIUS: No. And it`s just striking that right after that kind of mock testimony Dowd ended up leaving as the president`s counsel. You know, again, you have this sense of the president surrounded by people who know how dangerous he can be.
Again, another extraordinary anecdote is when Secretary Mattis is talking to the president about something we`re doing in Korea and the president says why are we doing that? Why are we spending money on that? And Mattis, according to Bob Woodward says we`re doing it to prevent World War III, sir.
And you can see -- that`s a conversation I can easily -- I can hear Mattis` voice saying it.
HAYES: All right, Elizabeth Holtzman and David Ignatius, thank you both.
Still to come, 63 days to the mid-terms and new polling show the Republican Party could be in its worst position since president Trump`s election. More on that ahead.
Plus, have you ever been just so mad you decide to light your stuff on fire? That`s tonight`s Thing One, Thing Two next.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) HAYES: Thing One tonight, in the age of Trump, we have seen the rise of a new conservative phenomenon of wrecking your own stuff to, quote, own the libs. It`s a silly little refrain that basically means I`ll show you, liberals.
Sometimes, it is a little thing like cancelling your Netflix account, because the company signed a deal with the Obamas. "Bye bye, I`m a Hulu gal now."
But that is nothing compared to the owners of Yeti coolers who were so upset when it was reported the company cut ties with the NRA, they did this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: #yeti, #nra #AR15.
There goes that Yeti.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: There goes that Yeti.
Last year we saw conservatives destroying their own K-Cup machines, and it was because Keurig had stopped advertising on the Sean Hannity Show.
Today, they`re all over the internet setting fires to their Nikes. What is it this time, you ask? Well, perhaps it`s got something to do with this guy becoming the new face of the company. That`s Thing Two in 60 seconds.
HAYES: Over the holiday weekend, Nike announced that quarterback Colin Kaepernick will be the face of the 30th anniversary of its Just Do It ad campaign. Kaepernick shared the ad on Twitter, which is a black and white closeup of his face with the slogan "believe in something even if it means sacrificing everything.
The backlash was almost immediate, #boycottnike was trending on Twitter and images of people burning their shoes, which gross, or cutting the famed Nike swoosh off their socks went viral.
Of course, this is because Kaepernick sparked nationwide debate for kneeling during the National Anthem to protest police violence and racial injustice. And ever since, he has been unable to get a spot on an NFL team for some reason. He`s faced death threats and has repeatedly been attacked by the president who just today in the interivew with Daily Called called the Nike ad, quote, a terrible message.
That terrible message again, believe in something even if it means sacrificing everything.
HAYES: A slew of new polls coming out over the last few days show that Republicans are probably in the worst position politically they have been since the president was elected.
President Trump`s approval rating has been remarkably stable really, in the low to mid 40s, bouncing around. The latest Washingotn Post/ABC poll published today shows a marked drop down to just 38 percent among registered voters.
As we mentioned earlier, the president`s Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh is highly unpopular, surprisingly so, receiving the lowest support for his confirmation since Robert Bork 30 years ago according to a CNN poll.
Meanwhile, the generic ballot is looking increasingly brutal for the GOP. Two new polls showing Democrats with a 14 and 11-point advantage respectively. For context, that generic ballot was at 7.9 points before the Democratic sweep in the 2006 mid-terms. We also have new data on two of the most high profile races coming up in November, battle in Florida for governor between Republican Ron DeSantis, and rising Democratic star Andrew Gillum, and California`s 50th district, home of indicted GOP congressman Duncan Hunter who was back in federal court today.
Those numbers, which are interesting, right after this break.ovember
HAYES: Two of the most watched races this cycle are neck and neck, according to new polling. In Florida, Andrew Gillum and Ron DeSantis are within the margin of error in the race for governor. And in California, it is all tied up in the normally bright red 50th district between political newcomer Amar Campa-Najjar and incumbent Duncan Hunter who, you`ll probably remember, was indicted, along with his wife last month on charges they used campaign funds to pay for personal expenses like an airline ticket for their pet rabbit, among other things.
Joining me now to talk more about how things are looking with 63 days until November 6 are Michelle Goldberg, New York Times columnist, and Nick Confessore, reporter for the The New York Times and an MSNBC political analyst.
So two things, one is first Gillum/DeSantis poll is fascinating to me. Because there`s this question, right, about like electability and primaries and the guy was third. He wasn`t even second in any polls in the primary, now he`s neck in neck. It says something to me about people maybe not knowing what electability looks like and actually having primaries.
MICHELLE GOLDBERG, NEW YORK TIMES: Right. I met Andrew Gillum last year and asked him this very question, right. On the one hand, your platform looks great. You`re such an exciting candidate. But there are all these people saying all these reasons that we should...
HAYES: Yeah, and it`s Florida...
GOLDBERG: ...safer. And I think he made the really good case, which is that in the last four elections in Florida, people made that calculation. They went the white centrist kind of safe choice and it turned out not to be safe, because they lost every single time. And you can say that in a lot of these southern states.
So, yseah, it is not necessarily a risk to do something new when what you`re doing has been failing again and again and again.
HAYES: Right. It`s a good point, they`ve lost four gubernatorial races in a row and there`s lots of places across -- you know, this is true in Georgia as well, it`s been true in Texas where it`s like, it is not like there is a Democratic recipe that has really been working, like you might as well just vote for who you like.
GOLDBERG: You might as well vote for who you like.
HAYES: Exactly, vote for who you like and see if they can win.
NICK CONFESSORE, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Well, look, half the Democratic consultant class came of age in the Clinton era, where...
HAYES: And it shows.
CONFESSORE: Where essential to Democratic success was the ability to allay and tamp down the concerns of white voters. What we`re seeing now I think is partly the full flowering of the voting strength and energy of black and brown voters and women all around the country. It`s not everywhere. There are definitely places where the primary winner was a centrist Democrat. But I think we`re seeing that around the country.
HAYES: Well, to me, there`s also the internals in this tell you everything. You know, it`s basically like -- it`s like 95/5 Republicans for DeSantis, 95/5 Democrats for Gillum, and then Gillum winning independents by 10 points. And to me it`s like the state of the country is each side is incredibly mobilized. They know how they feel about this president and independents don`t like the president. And that`s the basic math. And that`s what everyone is running on.
GOLDBERG: Right. And I think one mistake that people often make with regard to independents is to see them as centrists. They`re often either very partisan or else have like a strange quirky mix of views that doesn`t -- but it`s not that they are kind of, Michael Bloomberg voters.
HAYES: Right. Totally, yes.
This also -- I thought the first poll in the, well, not the first poll but it`s the second poll in that 50th district. I mean, the president tweeting this weekend, which by the way, like the tweet itself, there is a universe in which that itself inaugurates impeachment hearings, like it is so -- it is such an assault of the basic conditions of the rule of law: telling your attorney general you should have prosecuted my political enemies.
But that being 46-46 has to have people in the Republican Party worried.
CONFESSORE: Well, it is an internal poll, which is important to stress.
But the fact that he is even that close in a place that went 15 points for Trump is important. And I think you`re right to your earlier point, right, that the whole sense that independents are conservative or liberal -- I think what we`re seeing here is Trump is still playing to like a narrow slice of people. And in that tweet, he reminded a different slice of people that these two guys who endorsed him...
HAYES: It`s also true, like the last thing you want if you`re actually Duncan Hunter probably.
CONFESSORE: If your goal is to mobilize core Trump supporters who believe in the rigged system and the deep state, great. But if your average voter is like, huh, yeah, you know those guys hey were indicted is actually great for the Democrat.
HAYES: There`s also to me, you know watching the committee hearing today, it`s just -- the sort of -- these visuals for about what these two political coalitions are, really, like you look at the judiciary committee, ist is all men, it`s -- with the exception of Ted Cruz, all white men, and the Democrats is, you know, diverse. There`s an immigrant in Mazie Hirono, there are several African-Americans, there are four or five women.
GOLDBERG: And Ben Sasse lecturing us on hysteria for being upset about the fact that there are about two -- that they`re on the verge of repealing Roe versus Wade and making abortion illegal in a lot of this country.
HAYES: Do you think that the hearings will catalyzing -- further catalyzing.
GOLDBERG: The only reason it is hard to say is because I can`t imagine how people could be more catalyzed.
HAYES: Yeah, I mean, they already are. They`re already at a 11.
GOLDBERG: Yeah, the people who care about this, yeah. There`s kind of nothing else they can do. But is it going to make them angier, is it just kind of one more example of how contemptuous these people are of the people who stand to lose their rights under this administration? Absolutely.
CONFESSORE: I`m kind of cynical about these hearings, Michelle. I think that the Supreme Court nominees, in particular, there`s almost nothing surprising about the hearings or the statements or the outcomes. They are as thoroughly scripted as any event in American politics.
The only thing that is different to me I think is the question of whether people on the left can be motivated to treat Supreme Court vacancies in the same way they are treated on the right. The passion has not quite been there over the years. We`ll see if that changes.
HAYES: I think it has been there, boiling, simmering and now boiling recently.
Michelle Goldberg and Nick Confessore, thank you both.
Just a reminder, Tuesday is new podcast today. We have a new episode of why is this happening on every Tuesday.
Today`s episode features Shireen Al-Adeimi, who gives a very clarifying walk through the war in Yemen and what we are doing to support the worst humanitarian crisis in the world. You can download it anywhere you get your podcasts.
That`s ALL IN for this evening. "THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW" starts right now. Good evening, Rachel.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END
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