Show: ALL IN with CHRIS HAYES Date: September 24, 2018 Guest: Alexis Goldstein, Richard Blumenthal, Elizabeth Holtzman, Jennifer Rubin, Leah Wright Rigeur, Adam Schiff, Neal Katyal
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: Tonight on ALL IN.
AMERICAN CROWD: We believe women. We believe women.
HAYES: Protesters fill the capital as Kavanaugh campaigns on Trump T.V.
BRETT KAVANAUGH, NOMINEE, SUPREME COURT JUSTICE: The truth is I`ve never sexually assaulted anyone in high school or otherwise.
HAYES: Tonight, why neither side is backing down in the Supreme Court fight and what we`re learning about new allegations against Brett Kavanaugh. Then Rod Rosenstein`s White House fire drill.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I have a meeting with Rod Rosenstein on Thursday when I get back from all of these meetings.
HAYES: New questions about why the man overseeing the Mueller probe was summoned to the White House today as lawmakers in both parties raised alarms.
REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D), CALIFORNIA: This looks to me like a slow-moving Saturday night massacre.
HAYES: When ALL IN starts right now.
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HAYES: Good evening from New York I`m Chris Hayes. Tonight in the wake of a second on-the-record accusation of sexual misconduct against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, the White House and the Republican Party have embarked on a coordinated counter-offensive to save Kavanaugh`s nomination. They`ve done it by casting the alleged victims as part of a smear campaign orchestrated by the left.
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KELLYANNE CONWAY, ADVISOR TO PRESIDENT TRUMP: This is starting to feel like a vast left-wing conspiracy.
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), SENATE MAJORITY LEADERS: This shameful, shameful smear campaign has hit a new low.
SEN. ORRIN HATCH (R), UTAH: Well, it`s amazing to me that these allegations come out of nowhere at the last minute and that they weren`t brought up earlier in the -- in this process and it`s not untypical for our friends on the other side to pull that kind of crap.
TRUMP: People have come out of the woodwork from 36 years ago and 30 years ago and never mentioned it. All of a sudden it happened. In my opinion, it`s totally political. It is totally political.
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HAYES: In a letter this morning, Kavanaugh complained of character assassination and wrote these are smears pure and simple. And just a short time ago, he appeared alongside his wife for a sympathetic interview on Trump T.V. in which he proclaimed the accusations false and said that he is "not going anywhere.
KAVANAUGH: The truth is I`ve never sexually assaulted anyone in high school or otherwise. I`m not questioning and have not questioned that perhaps Dr. Ford at some point in her life was sexually assaulted by someone in some place but what I know is I`ve never sexually assaulted anyone. I want a fair process where I could to defend my integrity and I know I`m telling the truth. I know my lifelong record and I`m not going to let false accusations drive me out of this process. I have faith in God and I have faith in the fairness of the American people. America is about fairness and hearing from both sides and I didn`t do this or anything resembling this. This are -- this is wrong.
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HAYES: Kavanaugh`s first accuser Christine Blasey Ford says that a drunken Kavanagh assaulted her during a party in high school with another man present. And yesterday after a protracted negotiation, she agreed to appear before the Senate Judiciary Committee this Thursday to tell her story. That hearing has been announced and noticed. Last night in The New Yorker, a second accuser Deborah Ramirez alleged sexual misconduct by Kavanaugh when he was in college saying Kavanaugh had exposed himself at a drunken dormitory party and caused her to touch his genitals without her consent.
Now, to be clear, this new allegation reported in the New Yorker is embedded in a more complicated story and there are conflicting recollections about what exactly happened. But Ramirez felt confident enough to come forward prompting Senator Dianne Feinstein, the top Democrat on the Judiciary Committee to call for the cancellation of Thursday`s hearing and an FBI investigation into both allegations. The President has steadfastly refused to order such an investigation and top Republicans say they will get Kavanaugh confirmed no matter what.
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MCCONNELL: In the very near future, Judge Kavanaugh will be on the United States Supreme Court. So my friends keep the faith. Don`t get rattled by all of this. we`re going to plow right through it.
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HAYES: We are going to plow right through it says Mitch McConnell. Today, hundreds of black-clad protestors including students from Yale Law School, Kavanaugh`s Alma Mater went to the Capitol building and the Supreme Court to protest Kavanaugh`s nomination and tell their stories of survival.
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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I never told a soul for ten years and even then it was only my mom. Please don`t put someone like my abuser on the Supreme Court. It`s not worth the risk. Women deserve better.
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HAYES: Joining me now, Alexis Goldstein, an Alumna of Holton Arms School which is the same school attended by Christine Blasey Ford. Alexis helped organize a letter in support of Dr. Ford. Also with me MSNBC Contributor Barbara McQuade, former U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan. Alexis, I`ll start with you. Your reaction to Kavanaugh`s interview and the sort of hardening line from the White House in the GOP in light of the letter that you have signed and organized.
ALEXIS GOLDSTEIN, ALUMNA, HOLTON ARMS SCHOOL: Well, the Holton Arms community really wanted to stand with Dr. Blasey Ford. This is a story that resonated with our community. As we say in the letter we believe Dr. Blasey Ford and we have called for a thorough and independent FBI investigation. And I think what America is about to see is the strength and power of America`s women and America`s survivors because this story is one that I am hearing everywhere.
I heard -- you know, the Holton Arms Community was galvanized by this. They want to show up in support of Dr. Blasey Ford. We are in awe of her courageousness and strength. This was signed by over 1,100 alumni. That is a huge chunk of our community because this is a school that`s very small, about 80-100 women are in every single class. And so I think you know, what we`ve seen so far is disappointing. The lack of an FBI investigation is disappointing. But you know, I think the Holton Arms community who signed this letter are here to say do not mess with Dr. Blasey Ford and do not mess with survivors because this is not 1991 and this isn`t even 2016 and America has the back of survivors.
HAYES: Barbara, there`s been two lines I think Republicans have been attempting to sort of navigate. One is they clearly don`t want to come off as being dismissive of Dr. Blasey Ford`s allegations. But I think the second allegation has kind of emboldened them to basically say look, this is ridiculous, this is all crazy, and we`re going to -- we`re going to go ahead anyway. This is what Senator Lindsey Graham had to say. I`d like to get your reaction. Take a listen.
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SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), NORTH CAROLINA: What am I supposed to do, go ahead and ruin this guy`s life based on an accusation? I don`t know when it happened. I don`t know where it happened and everybody named in regard to being there said it didn`t happen. I`m just being honest. Unless there`s something more, no I`m not going to ruin Judge Kavanaugh`s life over this.
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HAYES: What do you think of that?
BARBARA MCQUADE, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Yes, it`s so interesting that the focus is about ruining Judge Kavanaugh`s life. I think something else in much greater is at stake and that is the legitimacy of the Supreme Court. Our courts are all about process and so to ignore process in this case and plow through in the words of Mitch McConnell just to get him on the court really ignores it. And I think if judge Kavanaugh does end up on the Supreme Court, he will forever have a cloud over him and the court will ever have -- forever have a cloud over it.
It`s a lifetime appointment. There is no reason not to slow down. Take a couple of days to have the FBI investigate both of these allegations. Provide that information to the Senate Judiciary Committee. And then have a hearing so that they can ask informed questions of both Dr. Blasey Ford, perhaps Miss Ramirez, and then also Judge Kavanaugh and then the Senate Judiciary Committee can make a decision and it`s all transparent for the American people to see.
When they go to this rush to judgment and focus on ruin in his life, I think it does diminish the complaints of people like the women who are writing these letters and all of the women of America when they see how these things are treated including the basketball team that Judge Kavanaugh coaches.
HAYES: I want to say that that line by Lindsey Graham, he said everyone names that it didn`t happen which is not accurate. There`s a third person who`s named Mark Judge who says he doesn`t recall anything like that happen which is an important distinction. Alexis, this sort of milieu that is described by Dr. Blasey Ford and has now been the subject of intense interest nationally obviously because of the nature the allegation, Judge Kavanaugh spoke about that and spoke about drinking. I wanted to get your reaction to his denial of the sort of description of the sort of activities they were up to. Take a listen.
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KAVANAUGH: And yes, there were parties and the drinking age was eighteen, and yes the seniors were legal and had been there, and yes people might have had too many beers on occasion and people generally in high school, I think all of us have probably done things we look back on in high school and would grab or cringe a bit but that`s not what we`re talking about.
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HAYES: What do you make of that?
GOLDSTEIN: I mean, excessive drinking happens everywhere. I think you know, everyone does different things but that`s not what at issue here. And I think a lot of people are talking about this as if it`s a court case and the smearing of this man and ruining his life. You know, no one is entitled to a seat on the United States Supreme Court. This is a job application. And if everyone wants to get to the truth of this matter then an FBI investigation is the next logical step. And that`s something that Dr. Blasey Ford has always called for. You know, if Kavanaugh says all I have is some underage drinking and you know that happens everywhere, then he should have nothing to fear from an FBI investigation.
Dr. Blasey Ford has come forward at incredible personal costs to herself. I`ve seen it reported that she`s had to move out of her home, that she`s received death threats. Deborah Ramirez has come forward at great personal cost to herself as well. I should note that there`s a 1,200 Yale women who have signed a letter in support of Debra Ramirez as well. There`s no reason not to have an FBI investigation at this point. And if Kavanaugh was saying this was just about some cringe-worthy underage drinking then I don`t see why anyone including him should have any problem with a fair and thorough independent investigation.
HAYES: All right, Alexis Goldstein and Barbara McQuade, thank you both. For more on the Senate battle over this nomination, I`m joined by Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut who was a member of the Judiciary Committee. Senator, can you give us some details if you have been filled in about what is taking shape for this Thursday?
SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL (D), CONNECTICUT: What`s taking shape for this Thursday is two witnesses, Judge Kavanaugh, and Dr. Christine Blasey Ford probably in reverse order. She`ll go first and then he`ll follow, but that has not been finally determined. And what we are pushing to do is have that FBI investigation before there`s any hearing because otherwise, this hearing is going to be more of a show in a sham than a real effort to elicit the facts and evidence.
And what we`re seeing is really a demeaning and degrading of these courageous survivors, sexual assault survivors who come forward at great cost to themselves and they are asking for an FBI investigation. The administration, the White House, Judge Kavanaugh simply are blocking it and that is reprehensible against these very credible allegations.
HAYES: Do you have a response to Orrin Hatch who is your colleague on that committee who says this is the kind of thing that our Democrat friends have done in the past, that this is all essentially a kind of conspiracy, a trap created by some set of political interests to spring upon Brett Kavanaugh and the Republican Party?
BLUMENTHAL: How demeaning to these brave sexual assault survivors to portray them as puppets essentially under the thumb of some Democratic cabal. They`ve come forward at great personal, physical risk, not to mention the emotional trauma that they have to relive and the cost is not only to them as individuals, it`s to the entire survivor community. And so, I would just say to my Republican friends, really this hollow hypocrisy about acting respectfully towards survivors really has to be for real. They have to understand what is at stake for them and really authorize an FBI investigation so we can see all of the facts in real time before we undertake these hearings.
HAYES: Two questions about the hearing. The first is there have been reports Republicans were looking into hiring a lawyer, a woman who would do the questioning out of fear I think of some of the political optics of the 11 men of the Republicans in the judiciary committee question Dr. Ford. It appears they have done that. Do you have confirmation that the questioning is going to be done by a third party lawyer?
BLUMENTHAL: That`s the direction that they`re moving to have a third party lawyer do their question for them. My view is we have a constitutional responsibility as senators to do our own questioning. And for them to resort to this extraordinary delegation in effect ceding their responsibility I think shows something about how hollow their claim of wanting to get to the truth is.
The question is what is the White House hiding? Why are they concealing it? What are they afraid the American people are going to see? And why this rush to judgment setting arbitrary deadlines when there is no time pressure. We`re dealing with the highest court in the land, a lifetime appointment that will affect real people`s lives in real time for decades to come.
HAYES: Final question. Mark Judge, and my understanding is there was a push from both Dr. Blasey Ford and Democrat from the committee for him to be testifying under oath as well. He`s given a letter to the committee saying he doesn`t recall anything like what is described. Do you expect him to be there or is that just not going to happen at this point?
BLUMENTHAL: That`s a really key question, Chris. We`ve been pushing for Mark Judge to be a witness because he was in the room when Christine Blasey Ford according to her allegations, and I believe her, was molested by Judge Kavanaugh, then Brett Kavanaugh, a 17 year old person. And we`ve been pushing as well for other witnesses who can offer facts and evidence as well as documents.
The more evidence and facts, the more likely it is we will uncover the truth. And for a survivor who has taken a polygraph, who has named witnesses, who has therapist notes from six years ago, well before Brett Kavanaugh was even contemplated for the United States Supreme Court, this kind of evidence really has to be considered in another hearing along with testimony from Deborah Ramirez. These women survivors, courageous survivors coming forward should be heard.
HAYES: All right, Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut and the Judiciary Committee, thank you for making time this evening.
BLUMENTHAL: Thank you.
HAYES: Coming up, we`ll break down what we know about Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein`s trip to the White House today and did the president mark the calendar for the beginning of a constitutional crisis. The fate of Rosenstein and the Mueller investigation next.
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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We continue our breaking news coverage. The news in Washington, the showdown between Rod Rosenstein and President Trump. Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein at the White House this hour with Pete Williams reporting that Rosenstein was summoned this morning but has no intention of resigning. That if they want to get rid of him, they`re going to have to fire him.
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HAYES: So there was a bit of a constitutional fire drill in Washington this morning, you might have noticed amid reports that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein was called to the White House either expecting to be fired or preparing to resign depending on who you ask. That was after the New York Times reported last week that Rosenstein last year suggested secretly recording the president and discussed attempting to remove him from office under the 25th amendment.
Rosenstein denied The Times reporting. It turned out the Rosenstein was actually at the White House for a previously scheduled meeting, and when he left he was still the Deputy Attorney General, still in charge of overseeing Robert Mueller`s investigation, but that status quo may not last long because Rosenstein is now scheduled to meet with the president on Thursday when the president returns from the U.N. General Assembly in New York.
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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you going to fire Rod Rosenstein?
TRUMP: I have a meeting with Rod Rosenstein on Thursday when I get back from all of these meetings. And we`ll be meeting at the White House and we`ll be determining what`s going on. We want to have transparency, we want to have openness, and I look forward to meeting with Rod at that time.
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HAYES: To help make sense of all these developments, I`m joined now by NBC News Justice Correspondent Pete Williams. All right, Pete, you`ve been reporting on this all day. It`s been a very confusing situation. What as best as you can tell happen today?
PETE WILLIAMS, NBC NEWS JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, you`re calling it a fire drill. There certainly was smoke at one point today. Here`s the best way we understand it. The story comes out in the New York Times Friday. Rosenstein has some conversations with White House officials who say you`ve got to put a stronger denial out than the weak statement that you`ve made. Rosenstein does so. He says the story is absolutely inaccurate, absolutely false. But then Rosenstein starts thinking over the weekend according to people that are close to him thinking you know, who leaked this story, why would they say these things about me, maybe I`ve become a distraction, maybe I`m not as effective as I was, maybe I should just step down. And he starts having these conversations with some officials at the White House.
By Monday morning, as he goes to work in that picture we`ve shown of him leaving his house, we`re told, he had no intention of resigning. And then we had the first report, I think it was from Axios that he was on his way to the White House to resign. That was what they were saying at the White House. They were saying, well, he`s coming here. Yes, he`s going to have this previously scheduled principals meeting filling in for the Attorney General who was traveling today, but he was going to have a separate meeting with John Kelly before that and perhaps Don McGahn the White House Council and certainly White House officials thought he was coming there to resign.
The Justice Department people were telling us no, he`s not going to resign. If they want him out, they`re going to have to fire him. So that was the narrative that we heard mid-morning, and then it became clear that there was a third option here which was neither of those two things were going to happen, that he was going to leave with his sword intact and he was going to go back to the Justice Department still being deputy. And then you had this extraordinary picture of the White House Chief of Staff John Kelly that man blue suit that you can`t quite see through the leaves walking out with him sort of Downton Abbey style saying thanks for visiting the White House and shaking hands with him to clearly to be seen to send a message that all was still right and everything was still -- everyone was still in their places.
So we have to wait until Thursday. Of course, a couple of other things to note, you have Sean Hannity to whom the president listens closely saying don`t fire anybody. The possibility that this meeting is going to be on Thursday, the day Brett Kavanaugh we think is going to be testifying about these sexual harassment allegations and they have the midterm elections coming. So it doesn`t seem likely that the president would fire Rod Rosenstein on Thursday but then, of course, he didn`t seem very likely either.
HAYES: Pete Williams, thank you for making some sense of that. I guess we`ll get more clarity on Thursday altogether about what actually happens. Thanks a lot.
WILLIAMS: You bet.
HAYES: For the huge political-legal and constitutional ramifications, let me bring in MSNBC Legal Analyst Nick Akerman, former Watergate prosecutor and former Congresswoman Elizabeth Holtzman, a Member of the House Judiciary Committee when they voted to impeach Richard Nixon, Author of the Case for Impeaching Trump. OK, I want to read something from the New York Times. So there`s two stories here and I don`t know which is accurate.
You heard people even say this idea that he`s not going to resign if they want to get rid of them they`ll have to fire him. That`s what some people have been reporting. And then this New York Times just now Rosenstein about his trip to the White House, he grew emotional the White House, reiterated he wants to resign, and he`s concern Trump will attack him if they don`t have an amicable split. One reason he wants to quit, he doesn`t want to testify on the Hill about the allegations. What do you guys make him back and forth about this?
NICK AKERMAN, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST: I don`t think this makes any sense. This is just -- this is Donald Trump`s reality show world. That`s what he`s doing. This all started out when the Republicans, that group, that little cabal on the Hill tried to get him to release all of the documents on the Russian investigation and take the classification often. Somebody somehow talked him out of it. And then as a backup, what they did to try and again put the screws to the Russian investigation put out this story which on its face is ridiculous.
There`s no way Rod Rosenstein is going to talk about using the 25th Amendment on Donald Trump. It doesn`t even apply. I mean --
HAYES: I mean, let me just say it. I don`t know if this story is true or not. I mean, I really don`t. I mean, I trust the reporters are reporting and although the there is lots of back-and-forth about the nature of it at the joking nature and who said what. Let me just say that.
AKERMAN: But again, for the 25th Amendment, you`ve got to get the Vice President, half the cabinet to vote. You got to go to the speaker, the president pro tem. Then, if the president says hey, I`m OK. I can serve. Then it has to go back yet again and two-thirds of each House has to then vote him out of office. That`s not going to happen. Nobody realistically -- certainly Rod Rosenstein is never going to believe that.
ELIZABETH HOLTZMAN, FORMER CONGRESSWOMAN, NEW YORK: Yes, I agree. I mean it`s not plausible that he talked about the 25th Amendment with some lower level Justice Department people and the FBI. First of all, Rosenstein himself has no legal standing under the 25th Amendment. It`s not -- he`s not a cabinet member. Only cabinet members get to vote on the 25th Amendment so why would he be talking about it. And was regard to wearing a wire, if you wear a wire you`re a witness. Deputy Attorney General is going to make himself a witness, I don`t think so. So neither one of these stories really is very plausible.
On the other hand, they`ve been people who`ve had -- who`ve had that long nights out to get Rod Rosenstein for a long time as part of an effort to shut down the Mueller investigation. That`s something that the President wants to see happen. That`s something that a lot of Republicans particularly very right-wing Republicans want. But the American people want Mueller to continue to do his job in a professional way. And that`s really where the crunch is here.
HAYES: So I want to -- I want to read this from John Brennan today who was formerly at the CIA and working at the Obama White House. Any attempt by the White House to subvert or manipulate law enforcement should be resisted. Rather than resigning, officials should stand their ground and wait to be fired. Resisting abuse of presidential authority is not a policy difference, it`s about adhering to the rule law. What do you having lived through Watergate, that advice which is don`t resign whatever you do?
AKERMAN: I think that`s absolutely 100% correct that they have to stand their ground. Everybody that`s in there is a career person. They`ve all had experience in the Department of Justice, and I think that all of them are going to stand the ground. I don`t see anybody in there that`s going to knuckle on and want to suddenly be the person who basically obstructed justice by killing the Russian investigation.
HOLTZMAN: Just think about who`s reputation in Watergate withstood was a test of time? Elliot Richardson who said no to President Nixon, he was the Attorney General -- I`m not firing Cox. The Deputy Attorney General Bill Ruckelshaus, he said I`m not firing Cox. And Robert Bork who fired Cox, he wanted to be on the Supreme Court and he didn`t make it because he did in the end, in my opinion, a cowardly thing. You`ve got to stand up. If you want to any kind of measure of respect in history, you`ve got to stand up and do the right thing here.
AKERMAN: Although I`ll give you another take on Robert Bork, and I was told this by Bill Ruckelshaus --
HAYES: Right. That they -- that he had basically told him to say yes and to do it in turn -- in the interest of sort of preserving continuity.
AKERMAN: Right. And interest in not having some hack come over from the White House and take over the department.
HAYES: Right. Which actually brings us back to the modern day, right, which is this question of I guess to you guys like how constitutionally crucial is Rosenstein here? Like how much if in fact, we find out Thursday he`s leaving his job under either situation, either he resigns or he aspired and again I don`t really know what make sense of the conflicting reports, what does that mean?
AKERMAN: I -- it`s not positive by any means. On the other hand, I think that Department of Justice has enough institutional integrity that there are going to be the people that are standing their ground. The Mueller investigation has gained so much momentum that there are so many successes in little less than a year and a half that it`s hard to believe that anybody is going to want to be part of any situation that would bring down that investigation.
HOLTZMAN: Well, I wish I could be as optimistic as you. We have a president who wants to shut it down and I don`t know whether people and everybody is going to be willing to stand up against that and their ways. The person who will now take over, assuming this is not a new Deputy Attorney General, can throw a monkey wrench into this investigation in many ways because he`s going to have to approve various kinds of techniques, tactics maybe even indictments. Mueller was sharing a lot of information with Rosenstein basically to show that he was cooperating. He wasn`t a rogue prosecutor.
This person may say oh you want to bring this indictment, maybe you need more evidence. Maybe you need more this or I`m not going to approve that. And we won`t really see that. That`s the problem here.
HAYES: All right, Nick Akerman and Elizabeth Holtzman, thank you both. Still to come, the top Democrat in the House Intelligence Committee is tonight warning of a slow-motion Saturday massacre. Congressman Adam Schiff joins me right here next. Don`t go anywhere.
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JAY SEKULOW, TRUMP ATTORNEY: If, in fact, Rod Rosenstein does end up resigning today because of his statements that he`s made, I think it clearly becomes necessary and appropriate for whoever the person that`s put in charge of the -- this, in other words, whoever becomes the deputy attorney general, acting, which may be the solicitor general, Noel Francisco, or whoever is actually handling this special counsel inquiry, in light of all of this, I think it`s really important that there be a step back taken here and a review and basically a time-out on this inquiry.
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HAYES: The president`s own lawyer, Jay Sekulow, on his radio show giving away the game today on what they hope would be the outcome if, in fact, deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein loses his job. As Sekulow puts it, a time-out on the Mueller investigation.
For reaction to those comments and to Rosenstein`s uncertain fate I`m joined by Congressman Adam Schiff of California, ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee.
Let me start with that, the president`s own lawyer on his radio show saying a time-out, a step back. What does that mean? What is your reaction to it?
REP. ADAM SCHIFF, (D) CALIFORNIA: Well, this is certainly the Trump lawyers giving away exactly what this is all about. They want to get rid of Rod Rosenstein. They want to make a halt to the Mueller investigation. They call it a pause, but they want to see the Mueller investigation go completely away.
And they think the opportunity of getting rid of Rod Rosenstein, putting someone else in his place, the president`s own personal version of Roy Cohn who will do his bidding is exactly what they are after. And I think under no circumstances should Rod Rosenstein play into those aspirations by resigning. If the president is going to obstruct justice, he needs to own it, and more than that, congress needs to step up and take up legislation to protect him now and not wait until there is a catastrophe.
HAYES: Are you -- do you remain confident in Rosenstein`s integrity, competence, independence and ability right now?
SCHIFF: Look, I haven`t always agreed with Rod Rosenstein and for months I have urged both he and the Justice Department to stop providing materials to congress in a pending investigation that we have no business reviewing, and that they are merely going to provide to the Trump legal defense team from his allies in congress.
I haven`t always agreed with the judgments he`s made about this, but I do believe he has the best interest of justice at heart, that he is protecting the Mueller investigation to the best of his ability, and that is exactly what he should be doing.
And I can understand the pressure that he`s under and wanting to -- if he is to leave the Justice Department -- not go out in the middle of a spat with the president. But the higher obligation here is to the constitution and the interest of justice, and that means that you do not resign. If the president is going to order you to do something unethical, you refuse, and you allow yourself to be fired, but you don`t create a vacancy under the Vacancies Act that will allow the president to circumvent the rule of law by putting a crony in that position.
HAYES: So, it`s a crucial distinction to you whether he resigns or is fired in terms of how he were to depart if he in fact is going to be taken out of his job?
SCHIFF: It`s crucial in two respects. It`s crucial in that if he resigns, as opposed to being fired, then the president gets to replace him on an interim basis with somebody who will simply do his bidding. But it is also important in the case that Bob Mueller may be putting together on the issue of obstruction of justice. In that case, the firing of James Comey is exhibit a, and the firing of Rod Rosenstein would be exhibit b. If he resigned, that makes it more murky as to whether this constitutes a further act of obstruction.
HAYES: What`s your worst fear about what happens if Rosenstein were to go?
SCHIFF: My worst fear is that the president puts someone in that position that will essentially tell Mueller to stop the investigation, that will tell Mueller with respect to anything further that they might do, that you will not look at this, you will not look at that. Those conversations would all be private.
One of the things that Bob Mueller, I believe, needs to do, to do a thorough investigation to determine whether the Russians were laundering money through the Trump organization, whether that is the leverage the Russians may have over the president of the United States.
Well, Rod Rosenstein makes that decision now. If he is replaced, someone else would make that decision.
HAYES: Do you have -- sorry, let me just stop you there -- do you have reason to believe that`s the case the Russians were laundering money through the Trump organization as the leverage?
SCHIFF: Well, there are many serious allegations about this and we can see in statements that the president`s own sons have made at a time when they were buying properties like golf courses with cash and they were asked where are you getting all this money? And one of the sons said we`re getting it from Russia. We get all the money with we need from Russia. We don`t basically need to deal with American bank And at any other time one of the other sons said, we get a disproportionate share of our assets from Russia. And then you see that there is certainly evidence of the purchase of properties by Russia, the flipping of those properties.
Of course, the most egregious example is that residence in Florida that was purchased by Trump for something in the neighborhood of 40 million and sold a few years later in a declining market for about double that price.
SCHIFF: Purchased by a Russian oligarch.
HAYES: So what do you expect -- how are you preparing yourself for the sort of Thursday meeting between Rod Rosenstein and the president?
SCHIFF: Right now we need to be sounding the alarm and we need to be calling out the Republican members of congress who have been all too timid and at times complicit with the president`s attacks on the rule of law. The speaker and the senate leader cannot plausibly claim any more, if they ever could, that the prospect of interfering with the special counsel is theoretical.
SCHIFF: It`s real. And they can`t stop -- they can`t continue to hide. They need to do their jobs. We should take up legislation if they`re serious about protecting the rule of law and the integrity of this investigation that protects Bob Mueller.
HAYES: All right. Congressman Adam Schiff, thank you.
SCHIFF: Thank you, Chris.
HAYES: Still ahead, what happens to the Mueller investigation if Rod Rosenstein is no longer the deputy attorney general.
Plus, why Republicans are staking everything on Brett Kavanagh.
HAYES: We know now President Donald Trump and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein are meeting on Thursday. It is possible Rosenstein could resign then or he could be fired. When or if either possibility happens, though, the big question will be what happens next. And the answer to that is complicated.
Here to help me understand the complexity is Neal Katyal, former acting solicitor general under President Obama.
All right, Neal, it is complicated. What happens if Rosenstein is either fired or resigns?
NEAL KATYAL, FORMER SOLICITOR GENERAL: Well, a lot of bad things can happen. I think Rosenstein is the acting attorney general is basically the most important person in the world when it comes to the Mueller investigation. The special counsel regulations, which I had the privilege of drafting in 1999, put Rosenstein in the driver`s seat supervising all aspects of the prosecution from who to indict, who to even subpoena, all sorts of decisions are made ultimately by Rosenstein.
So if Rosenstein goes, then you know you could be replacing him with someone who is the president`s lackey and the president is fond of doing that in all sorts of other areas, which is one reason he has been so critical of Rosenstein.
And when we wrote the regulations in 1999, we understood presidents were going to do bad things at various times. We thought about Nixon who was kind of an amateur level wrongdoer. But, you know, Trump has taken this pro. He`s gone pro on this. And, you know, that`s the real concern, that you can have someone come in as acting attorney general and really stymie or even try and end the Mueller investigation.
HAYES: And the reason they`re considered actual attorney general for the purposes of this is the actual Attorney General Jeff Sessions is recused from the inquiry so they would be functioning in their stead, right?
HAYES: So here`s my question. My understanding now is that if he`s fired, then it just goes to the next person in the Department of Justice line of succession, which is Noel Francisco, who has your old job as solicitor general. Is that right?
KATYAL: That`s correct. And Noel he is a very, very bright lawyer. He`s an appellate lawyer, like Ken Starr. He`s not a prosecutor. And I think it`s fair to say he`s been a particularly partisan solicitor general, I think, overruling past solicitors general in the office more than I think all of his predecessors combined who are alive. So, it is a pretty worrisome thing.
HAYES: Right, so -- and here`s an op-ed from him in October 5, 2016 just a month before the election where he says the FBI has treated Clinton with kid gloves, writing that in The Wall Street Journal opinion page. Investigators went after Governor Bob McDonald with every tool they had. The double standard is obvious. To give you a little taste of his perspective.
KATYAL: Right. And as I was going to say, Rosenstein did the right thing by nominating Mueller for this position, which is, you know, Mueller was a Republican, well, well respected by both sides of the aisle, you know, FBI director by Republican president and the like.
You know -- I mean, Noel Francisco who is a great, bright lawyer isn`t really -- doesn`t come from that pedigree.
HAYES: Now, that`s if he`s fired, right? So, my understanding is if the president -- the president says you`re fired, what controls then is the Department of Justice line of succession. And, in absent of someone newly confirmed to the post. However, if Rosenstein resigns, the president, under the Vacancy Reform Act, can put in anyone who has already considered by the Senate into Rosenstein`s job. Is that right
KATYAL: Well, there is a whole, big debate about that, about a double acting prohibition, and so on. You know, but -- whenever there is a debate, the Trump administration just decides to short circuits it and just do essentially the wrong thing, so you know, I`m not optimistic about what would happen in that scenario.
But, look, I think the most important thing Rod Rosenstein has protected the Mueller investigation, let it go forth, and you`ve seen plea after plea, indictment after indictment, the president`s national security adviser pleading guilty to felonies and all sorts of things. None of that would have happened were it not for Rod Rosenstein.
HAYES: All right, Neal Katyal, thank you for joining me.
KATYAL: Thank you.
HAYES: Ahead, there are many conservative justices Republicans could back as a Supreme Court nominee. So why, then, are they fighting so hard for this one? More on that coming up.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) HAYES: This coming Saturday, join me and some familiar faces from MSNBC as we host our live coverage of the Global Citizen Festival with performances by Janet Jackson, The Weekend, Sean Mendez, Cardi B, Janelle Monae and John Legend. The mammoth event in New York Central Park begins 3:00 p.m. eastern here on MSNBC. You do not want to miss it.
Just ahead, since President Trump has a whole pre-approved list of conservative judges he could nominate to the Supreme Court, why are Republicans holding on so tightly to Brett Kavanagh? That`s next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: There`s a chance that this could be one of the single most unfair, unjust things to happen to a candidate for anything, but I am with Judge Kavanaugh, and I look forward to a vote, and for people to come out of the woodwork from 36 years ago and 30 years ago and never mention it, all of a sudden it happens. In my opinion, it`s totally political, and it`s totally political.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Republicans are moving ahead with what appears to be a coordinated, all-out campaign to save Brett Kavanaugh`s Supreme Court nomination. The question is why?
Kavanaugh could well turn out to be an excellent supreme court judge for republicans justice, but then again so could a slew of other judges that were hand-picked for Trump who would just as easily reshape the Supreme Court for years to come, judges who, as far as we know, have not been accused of sexual assault.
To talk about what is more going on here, I`m joined by the Leah Wright Rigeur, assistant professor of public policy at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, and Jennifer Rubin, a columnist for The Washington Post.
There is a lot of people you can make a call to the pen and start them warming up right now -- Amy Coney Barrett, who is very conservative, was just confirmed last year. She is a woman, so the optics of it would be quite different and would probably be more right wing than Brett Kavanaugh. So what is this about?
JENNIFER RUBIN, THE WASHINGTON POST: I think there is a practical reason and there`s an a ideological reason. The practical reason is they`re afraid that they won`t have time to get someone through if they lose the senate. And that`s perhaps realistic. The other is they love to fight when they can create an enemy, and now the enemy is the left wing conspiracy, now the enemy is you and m, now the enemy is these dastardly women. And so that`s what they think their base likes. That`s what they serve up. And just the fight then, they think will help them survive the midterms. I think that`s wrong, but that`s what they`re banking on.
HAYES: You know, what do you think of that, Leah?
LEAH WRIGHT RIGEUR, HAVARD UNIVERSITY: I do agree. First of all, we`re talking about a group of people who really still don`t understand sexual harassment, rape culture, who ideologically just don`t see this in the same way that they see -- you know, their partisan opponent, and so even the accusers, the accusers in this case.
But then the other side -- and I do agree with Jennifer on this, is that they think that this is a good tactic for revving up the base, for giving the base something, but then also they`re thinking about we have to give our base a conservative court. We promised them a conservative court. We promised them a win. And if we back down now, then we look weak.
RIGEUR: Then we look like we`ve given something up. And so they`re pushing this ahead, because they`re saying, you know, we`re damned if we do. We`re damned if we`re not. And this is what we think our base wants.
HAYES: I should also be clear here, that I personally think -- I think motivated reasoning is powerful. It`s powerful on all of us, myself included. And I think that a lot them have convinced themselves it`s not true. I mean, a lot of them genuinely think it`s not -- that the accusations are not true, that it`s really being run by some dodgy Soros- backed conspiracy web.
But I also think there is an important principle here that Republicans are now standing for, to their view. This is what Steve King said, Iowa congressman who finds himself in a surprisingly close race. "Is there a man in this room that wouldn`t be subjected to such an allegation, a false allegation? How can you disprove something like that?" Which means if that`s the new standard, no man will ever qualify for the Supreme Court again. and I think there is a standing up for essentially men`s ability not to be pulled down by #metoo has now become a kind of ideological drive for certain parts of the Republican Party.
RUBIN: The Republicans have discovered gender profiling, apparently. This is what has them up in arms. The solution would be, of course, to nominate just women, but this is absurd. There are many men, including Neil Gorsuch, including John Roberts, including Sam Alito, who have all passed muster.
HAYES: Of course it`s just a year ago, let`s remember.
RUBIN; There is not a woman hiding under every rock. And for them to make this claim is again perpetuating this notion that there is hysterical false bearing witnesses all over the place out the get them. And that`s just insulting to these women. It`s not true. But it does sort of promote the view that you should hire and promote a lot of women. And there are a lot of women running this time.
HAYES: Leah, this is something that Fox Reporter Chad Pergrom (ph), who is very plugged in, said what I thought was interesting about the state of play here. Kavanaugh nomination is in trouble, he says. That`s why McConnell made blistering speech today. Baseball teams mail it in once they are out of the pennant race, McConnell trying to get GOP peers to run out every ground ball, to extend the metaphor, an effort to salvage nomination, Kavanaugh lacks the votes right now.
What do you think of that?
RIGEUR: Yeah, so I do think the Kavanaugh nomination is in trouble, even if it goes through, even if they force this through. What you`ve done is taint him for the rest of his career, even if he is successful. And you`ve tainted the Supreme Court.
We already know that the Supreme Court has been in trouble, has been an institution that Americans are questioning, are troubled with. But this, this circus around it, you know, it recalls moments like Clarence Thomas and Anita Hill. It recalls kind of the circus of other political moments that have really torn down institutions, and also recalls the circus of Donald Trump and his election and all of the things that came along with that.
So, you know, you are in trouble, and I think that Republicans right now are thinking, yes, we`re in trouble. We have to push this through. We have to think about our base. But they`re not necessarily thinking about the big picture of what this means, especially in the midterms, especially for motivating Democrats to turn out. The message that they`re sending to women of all partisan affiliations about what it means to be a woman and what it means to be a man in the Republican Party.
HAYES: Yeah, I should not that there is the possibility of catastrophic success in the short-term, which is if they win that there`s a mid-term backlash.
RUBIN: Correct. I would say on the Supreme Court, the difference between Clarence Thomas and this case was the FBI investigated last time, so it ended. They had closure. Here, there`s been no FBI investigation, and presumably there could be people who would come forward after he`s confirmed. And then we`re into a circus.
HAYES: All right, to unite all of today`s news themes, here`s a picture from 1996, I believe, that shows Ken Starr`s team. And in it, you will see Brett Kavanaugh there standing up there, and down in the lower right hand corner why Rod Rosenstein is there. Just -- we`re all just reliving the Ken Starr team in perpetuity.
Leah Wright Rigeur and Jennifer Rubin, thanks for joining us.
That is 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