Show: ALL IN with CHRIS HAYES Date: October 3, 2018 Guest: Ted Lieu, Lisa Green, Val Demings, David Jolly, Desmond Meade, John Legend, Neil Volz
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: And I`m sure she can still hear the laughter. And 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: Upstairs, downstairs, where was -- I don`t know but I had one beer, that`s the only thing I remember.
HAYES: The White House defends the indefensible as a Senate braces for the FBI`s findings.
SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, PRESS SECRETARY, WHITE HOUSE: The president was stating the facts.
HAYES: Tonight, will the president`s attack on Dr. Ford costs him Kavanaugh votes?
SEN. SUSAN COLLINS (R), MAINE: President`s comments were just plain wrong.
SEN. LISA MURKOWSKI (R), ALASKA: I don`t approve of the comments from last night. I thought that they were wrong and extraordinarily unfortunate.
HAYES: Then, the Trump world pushback on the Trump families "outright fraud reported by the New York Times. And 34 days from Election Day, my interview with John Legend on his push to get out the vote and more.
JOHN LEGEND, SINGER: When I see the President mocking sexual assault survivors, I get upset.
HAYES: When ALL IN from Florida starts right now.
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HAYES: Good evening from Orlando, I`m Chris Hayes and we are now 34 days in the midterm election. We`ve come here to Florida which has some of the most closely watched competitive races in the country and where the right to vote is literally on the ballot this fall for more than a million and a half people. My interview with John Legend about that issue and more coming up, but first, the New York Times has just moments ago printed a letter tonight urging the Senate not to confirm Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. It is signed by more than 650 American law school professors and counting.
The letter cites Kavanaugh`s lack of judicial temperament as disqualifying "we have differing views about the other qualifications of Judge Kavanaugh but we are united as professors of law and scholars of judicial institutions in believing that he did not display the impartiality and judicial temperament requisite to sit on the highest court of our land. This as Donald Trump`s allies spent the day trying to explain away the president`s shameful and vile attack I`m Dr. Christine Blasey Ford last night with more lies.
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SANDERS: The President was stating the facts. He was stating facts. That seemed to me that he was stating facts.
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: Everything he said was factual.
KELLYANNE CONWAY, COUNSELOR TO THE PRESIDENT: She`s been treated like a Faberge egg by all of us beginning with me and the president. He`s pointing out factual inconsistencies.
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HAYES: That in point of fact is not true. Those are lies. Here`s part of what the President said in mocking the testimony of a woman who says she survives sexual assault.
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TRUMP: How many years ago was it? I don`t know. I don`t know. I don`t know. Upstairs, downstairs, where was -- I don`t know. But I had one beer. That`s the only thing I remember.
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HAYES: And Dr. Ford said the year 1982, she was 15, she said the attack was upstairs, not downstairs. She was very clear about that. She remembered more than drinking one beer for one. She remembers her alleged attacker.
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SEN. DICK DURBIN (D), ILLINOIS: Dr. Ford, with what degree of certainty do you believe Brett Kavanaugh assaulted you?
CHRISTINE BLASEY FORD, ACCUSER OF BRETT KAVANAUGH: 100 percent.
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HAYES: A polling out today finds that a lot of people believe Dr. Ford. 45 percent says she is telling the truth, 33 percent believed Judge Kavanaugh who of course staunchly denies the allegation and support for elevating Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court is now underwater with just 33 percent saying he should be put on the court and 41 percent saying he should not be. Republicans are rushing to a vote anyway.
Mitch McConnell insisting on a vote on Kavanaugh this week even amid signs at Senate Republicans and the White House are turning the current FBI investigation into whitewash. NBC reporting that more than 40 people with potential information have not been contacted by the FBI and it`s unlikely agents will be allowed to interview many if any additional witnesses before the probe wraps up.
Joining me now Congressman Ted Lieu of California, Member the House Judiciary Committee which of course has oversight of the federal courts. Let me start with this letter which is really a remarkable document. 650 law professors, these are fairly high status individuals, these are folks with different ideologies basically just zeroing in on how Judge Kavanaugh performed on Thursday, the level of sort of partisan vitriol and the incompatibility of that with serving on the highest court of the land. What do you think about that?
REP. TED LIEU (D), CALIFORNIA: I thank you, Chris, for your question. That is a remarkable letter and there`s no way Brett Kavanaugh should be confirmed. His performance under oath in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee was disqualifying. Not only was he very partisan, he perjured himself. So for example when asked about the question of what Devil`s Triangle meant, it`s a sexual term. He said as a drinking game, that`s one lie. Then he had to make up that it was three glasses in a triangle, that`s the second lie. Then when pressed, he said you play it like quarters. So he made one extended lie under oath in front of the American people. No Supreme Court justice should ever have done that.
HAYES: You know, perjury obviously is a fairly high legal bar. It`s hard to prosecute for obvious reasons but it seems fairly clear that he was at the very least and most charitably misleading and omitting things.
LIEU: He was, but he was also doing it specifically on terms that related to sex, in terms of related to inebriation. And he`s being accused of drunken sexual assault so he was lying for a specific reasons which was to protect himself. And if there`s one job in the United States we don`t want someone to mislead or lie or evade on the facts, that would be a justice on the Supreme Court.
HAYES: There are -- there`s lots of back and forth about this FBI background check process obviously for nominees that the function of the Senate and its advise and consent role in the Constitution. But from your perch in the House, what do you think based on what you`ve heard about how this process is playing out?
LIEU: I`m a former Prosecutor, I can tell you that any background of law enforcement investigation has one central principle which is you follow the evidence where it takes you. That means you would interviewed relevant witnesses, look at relevant documents, and look at relevant material evidence. You would not put artificial limits on it. And the only reason the White House would do that is because they`re afraid of what the FBI would uncover that`s completely unacceptable and I hope Senator Flake who ordered this investigation sees it for the whitewash that it currently is.
HAYES: All right, Congressman Ted Lieu, thanks for making some time tonight.
LIEU: Thank you, Chris.
HAYES: I`m joined now by MSNBC Legal Analyst Daniel Goldman, a former Federal Prosecutor and Attorney Lisa Green. It looks damn like the FBI report is going to be filed at some point tonight starting tomorrow very, very tightly held. Senators will be able to read it in person, one copy of the report or briefed by staffers. Given the timeframe and the reporting about who and who has not been spoken to including Dr. Ford and Judge Kavanaugh, what do you think about this report?
DANIEL GOLDMAN, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST: I think it`s a total sham, Chris, and I think it`s a shame because the way that -- and I will say this as well. I am certain that the FBI agents who are conducting this investigation are leaving. This is not the way that the FBI does it. They are being hamstrung by the White House who is speaking out of both sides of its mouth, on the one hand, saying that they`ll have full access to whatever they want, they defer to the FBI, while on the other hand, what we`re learning from NBC`s on reporting as well as others is that they are not allowed to speak to critical witnesses.
It`s not just Dr. Ford and Kavanaugh although those are two obviously central witnesses. Dr. Ford has mostly said everything she seems to know although there`s a lot that I would want to follow up with her about. But we saw Judge Kavanaugh evade, be combative, he didn`t answer any of the senators` questions from the Democratic side and the Republicans didn`t really ask him any questions. There are lots of questions to ask him. But in addition to that you have to -- as Congressman Lieu says, you have to follow the witnesses.
What we`re going to hear tomorrow is that there`s no corroboration. But what is happening here is that the FBI is not being permitted to pursue corroboration or not corroboration because of course, this could all come out that there is no corroboration and Judge Kavanaugh looks much better for that.
HAYES: Lisa, there`s reaction today to the President`s mocking of Dr. Ford last night and it cleave in some different ways. One thing that seems clear is that Republicans seem more comfortable with going after Dr. Ford or either sort of directly or implicitly or going after credibility. But the three key votes Collins, Murkowski, and Flake seemed to be made uneasy by it. Take a listen to what they had to say.
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COLLINS: President`s comments were just plain wrong.
MURKOWSKI: I don`t approve of the comments from last night. I thought that they were wrong and extraordinarily unfortunate.
SEN. JEFF FLAKE (R), ARIZONA: There`s no time or placed for such things like that.
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HAYES: It`s dangerous waters I think for them, Lisa.
LISA GREEN, ATTORNEY: You know, the president`s comments were despicable but to refocus our attention on the nominee, I want to quote Justice Benjamin Cardozo who said membership in the bar is a privilege burdened by conditions. And chief among those conditions, Chris, is a devotion to the truth which is why what Dan saying about the investigation is so disheartening.
It`s why hundreds of law professors, professors from my alma mater, professors from Judge Kavanaugh`s alma mater Yale Law School are banning together solely on the issue of temperament which is deeply connected to the issue of honesty. Which is why an FBI investigation that doesn`t delve into the truth of what Judge Kavanaugh was saying with regard to the attack that Dr. Blasey Ford alleges is an incomplete investigation and that`s just very sad.
HAYES: You know, that that letter is interesting, Dan, because I`ve been speaking over the last day or two with a variety of people sort of embedded in the federal judiciary whether these are people who have clerked for federal judges or current members of the -- of the courts who moved through that world or have been in that world. And there`s a real sense that what happened on Thursday crossed some real lines not just the invasiveness but that opening statement. And I think about you know, if you were trying a case in front of a judge who you had just seen give that kind of performance or an appellate you know argument, it`s got to be in the back of everyone`s mind after they saw that whether this is genuinely someone capable of impartiality.
GOLDMAN: I think the impartiality is really the key here. He demonstrated an anger and a vitriol that was unbecoming. But you know, I`ve been in front of judges who yell at me all the time. It`s not that unusual. But what really is striking is sort of the incredibly partisan nature. He seemed like he like he was the 12th Republican member of the Senate Judiciary Committee when he was there. And it was a little -- you didn`t know what was coming or going. He was arguing his case. He was arguing and fighting with the Democratic senators. You know, obviously the reference to the Clintons and some left-wing conspiracy that`s been funded.
It almost seemed like he was back in his day 20 years ago working for Ken Starr trying to impeach the Clintons, not someone who was up for the Supreme Court.
HAYES: And they`re -- Lisa, there is no small irony in someone who got their start working for Ken Starr now having his truthfulness under oath being scrutinized and his defender saying well come on what do you want the guy to do.
GREEN: I mean, is it too much to ask as another famous law professor Jeff Stone argued for a moderate judge. I mean, we`re looking at the last branch of the three-branch system where many of us who are lawyers, who care about the system we`re counting on judges to behave themselves with impartiality and the events of this week really put a serious dent in our optimism.
HAYES: All right, Dan Goldman and Lisa Green, thank you both for your time tonight. For more on the political implications of this epic battle, I`m joined by Congresswoman Val Demings Democrat of Florida whose district includes parts of Orlando including this bar Hooch on Wall Street Plaza we were sitting in right now and former Republican Congressman David Jolly. It`s great to have you both here.
REP. VAL DEMINGS (D), FLORIDA: Good to be here.
DAVID JOLLY (R), FORMER CONGRESSMAN: Good to be with you, Chris. So there was sort of the interesting -- there`s been some interesting polling coming out about this. Obviously, let me just say that the first order questions the most important you know, whether he was truthful, whether the allegations are true of what happens. But there -- this happens in a political context obviously, in the midterms. And there are some polling from NPR suggesting amid Kavanaugh confirmation battle, the Democrat enthusiasm edge had evaporated. This had sort of activated more marginal Republicans in this fight. I`m curious if that`s something you`ve seen anecdotally.
JOLLY: Anecdotally, yes. And Chris, I`ve been on the West Coast, the East Coast, and the Northeast in the last five days and Republican intensity is up. You are seeing them dig in their heels and I think the White House team has seen that. That`s why you`ve seen Sarah Sanders rhetoric change, Kellyanne`s rhetoric change, and frankly the President`s as well. This has now become the hill that they want to die on. I think it`s the wrong hill for them to die on.
But to the earlier point as well it is bigger now than the issues of sexual misconduct and drinking. What has happened is that time has led on his questions about his fitness. And that is an area where Republicans are going to get into a very dangerous place because even with the Gorsuch nomination and all the controversy around Merrick Garland, his fitness was never in question.
JOLLY: Kavanaugh is somebody whose fitness is now a question.
HAYES: What do you think about how this sort of resonates among different constituents?
DEMINGS: You know, I think certainly that you have seen the excitement if you will, from the Republicans increase and the rhetoric change as well. But for Democrats, we have to stay focused. We still have the edge, the advantage right now. We have to just stay laser focus. But this is about fitness and Judge Kavanaugh has applied for a job. This is not a privilege to sit on the United States Supreme Court, it is a job.
As a police chief, I had the honor of hiring a lot of men and women to serve in that very important position. Imagine if I had a candidate who danced with the truth or danced around the truth was deceptive or someone who had multiple allegations of sexual assault against him, why on earth right would you give the job to that person. Surely we can do better than that.
HAYES: Or someone that yelled at you. I mean, that`s the other thing, right? I mean, like some of it just came in there said you know, how dare you.
DEMINGS: Yes, I mean, I have invested -- I`ve been an investigator. I`ve been an investigative sergeant. If you looked at his "interview" because that`s really what he was going through Thursday and the people who had the power to confirm him or at least recommend him for confirmation or not, he was belligerent, he was angry, we`ve already talked about how partisan he was, and this statement bothers me more than anything, what goes -- what comes around yeah goes around. What does that mean coming out of the mouth of someone who wants to sit on the Supreme Court?
HAYES: I`m glad you said that. He said he was -- he was quoting the Bible and said you sow the wind, you would reap the whirlwind --
DEMINGS: That`s right.
HAYES: Which basically seemed a little bit like an open threat, like --
JOLLY: Yes, sure. I also have to add though, Chris, this is such a perfect reflection and such a sad reflection of the state of the Republican Party under Donald Trump. And what I mean by that is for several weeks, I`ve been suggesting, nobody has listened but Kavanaugh should withdraw.
JOLLY: That the safest route for Republicans is to find an equally conservative justice. And Mike Lee from the United States Senate, one of the other nominees that have been vet d remove this conversation about alleged sexual assault from the Republican narrative. Instead, Trump`s Republican Party chooses to double down on it, to attacked a victim in the middle of the #MeToo Movement, the Republican Party is attacking that very woman.
HAYES: And that moment last night, it was -- it was dark and it was unsettling to this president, but the worst part was the crowd, the relish with which. As they saw what he was doing, they got more and more into it, the laughter, the uproarious laughter as Dr. Ford said about her alleged assault, the indelible in the hippocampus is the uproarious laughter.
I want you to stay with us here in Orlando. We have much more to come including John Legend who is here ahead of the midterms getting involved in one of the most hopeful stories of the entire election anywhere in the country. The effort to restore the right to vote for more than one million Florida residents. Don`t miss it.
Plus, the White House so far unable to dispute any details than the New York Times blockbuster report on what they say was outright fraud and the Trump family. That story right after this.
HAYES: The White House is trying to dismiss that blockbuster New York Times report suggesting that President Trump "participated in dubious tax schemes during the 1990s including instances of outright fraud floating the paper. NBC News has not been able to independently verify The Times reporting and a lawyer for the president said in a statement "there was no fraud or tax evasion by anyone. White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders today was unable when pressed repeatedly to point to a single lone factual error in the report.
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SANDERS: It`s a totally false attack based on an old recycled news story. I`m not going to sit and go through every single line of a very boring 14,000-word story.
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HAYES: Still with me Congress Val Demings and former Congressman David Jolly. It was interesting to me today that there was -- there were no factual rebuttals to anything in that report.
DEMINGS: Well, how could they? You know when the story came out today, the amazing part is that no one was really surprised. Even those who support the president, those who do not support the president, no one was really surprised because that`s who he is. He is a con man who has conned his way into the most powerful position in the world.
HAYES: And yet it`s still the case that the paper and record puts in the front page, a 14,000-word investigative pieces says the president committed outright fraud. He and his family over a course of decades and people are kind of like, ah, figured.
JOLLY: Fraud is the important word and it was done with deliberation, right? There`s a saying I`m going to pay every dollar I have to in taxes but not $1.00 more. That is not this story. This is a story about an outright screwing scheme to defraud the federal government.
HAYES: And you saw tax lawyers today making that point, right?
JOLLY: Of course.
HAYES: They`re saying like, if you think everyone does this, this is a sort of --
JOLLY: But some of it was in The Times, it`s fully legal --
JOLLY: It`s just a tax strategy, and some is outright fraud. But here`s the interesting thing, Chris. The Republican Party is going to love this. The Republican base is going to love this because this is exactly who Donald Trump is. He`s the guy that knows how to beat the system. And the same system that has pushed down these people that he speaks through, this populist message, they feel that the government, big government coming for them, Donald Trump just beat them at their own game.
HAYES: Well, and it also to me speaks this very sort of profound way in which the president marshals law and order or even thinks about the law. I mean, you`re a former police chief here in Orlando. I mean, if you`re the president, every chance he gets the FBI`s corrupt. Rob Porter got a raw deal accused of domestic violence, what happened to innocent until proven guilty of due process and then you know, lock him up, throw away the key if it`s anyone who sort of outside his peer.
DEMINGS: Destroying the institutions. I mean, that has really been his game from the very beginning. If you destroy any faith in the Department of Justice, our judiciary, the media, institutions that the American people have depended on, then the only news that they get is from you. And so here we go again with his outright fraud in his own taxes. You know, I remember when I heard him say that his father gave him a small loan of a million dollars.
HAYES: It`s a direct quote.
DEMINGS: I wish I could get a small loan of a million dollars but we know that it was close to $413 million which he pretty much squander.
DEMINGS: It`s just amazing but that`s what we have though.
HAYES: But there`s a question now, a functional question which is what`s in the president`s tax returns. It`s not that that would -- you would see everything but -- and members of Congress can get that.
JOLLY: They can. That`s right.
HAYES: I mean, the majority could.
JOLLY: Listen, oversight is nothing more than a political tool the Republican majority right now. They have no interest in the truth. The person who has the tax returns is Bob Mueller. And if there`s something in there, we`re going to hear from Bob Mueller. And the American people, they get to send a message in about 35 days on November 6th the number one issue on this ballot is Donald Trump. Don`t believe anything else. It is whether or not you believe Donald Trump has put the nation on the right path or the wrong.
DEMINGS: And David, you`re absolutely right. I mean, right now the majority has no interest in getting the returns but if Democrats take back --
HAYES: That seems like a day one --
HAYES: Do you think very quickly, is that -- is that true here even in Florida in these big statewide races Governor and Senate that Donald Trump still looms over both those races?
JOLLY: Oh yes. Ideology is second. Donald Trump the only issue. And the president knowledge in the last week this is his race, this is a vote about him.
HAYES: Even in the gubernatorial race you think with Gillum and DeSantis?
DEMINGS: DeSantis has tied himself to Donald Trump-like --
HAYES: Almost (INAUDIBLE)
DEMINGS: That`s right. He is still a big matter, a big factor in this race.
HAYES: All right. Congresswoman Val Demings and David Jolly, it`s great for you to --
JOLLY: Good to be with you, Chris.
DEMINGS: Thank you.
JOLLY: Good to have you in Florida.
HAYES: Do not go anywhere. When we come back, my interview with John Legend about his effort to help restore the right to vote to over one million Florida residents. It`s an amazing story, it`s coming up next. Stick around.
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JOHN LEGEND, SINGER: My organization is called Free America, because we`re not free yet. We have a lot of work to do. We`re paying attention, and we`re voting. Are we voting, everybody?
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HAYES: Singer/songwriter John Legend has emerged as one of the most politically engaged artists of the Trump era, traveling the country to help candidates and to fight for voters` rights. I had a chance to sit down with John earlier to ask him about his activism, his news consumption habits, and his relationship with longtime friend Kanye West since Kanye came out as a big Trump supporter.
HAYES: Where did you get your politics?
LEGEND: I get it -- I started out as a kid home schooled early years. And we would go to the library. And when I decided I wanted to read about something it was usually about, like, Martin Luther King or another civil rights hero like Harriet Tubman. And I was always inspired by people who fought for justice, particularly African-Americans who came up in slavery or in Jim Crow and decided to fight for justice and equality. So, I was always inspired by that when I was a kid.
And when I was 15, I wrote an essay for a black history essay competition, sponsored by McDonald`s of all places. And they said how are you going to make black history? And I literally said I`m going to become a famous singer and I`m going to use my career and my influence as a musician to fight for justice and equality and the betterment of my community. And so I`ve literally been living that since then.
HAYES: So, you`ve been thinking about how are you as an entertainer, public person, a person with a certain amount of social capital, like marshaling that towards these kind of political justice ends from teenage years?
LEGEND: From teenage years. I`m really into politics. I watch you guys all the time.
HAYES: Are you a news junkie.
LEGEND: I am a news junkie. I read all the big articles that come out. I watch you guys. And I pay attention. I pay attention to what`s happening. And I`m intrigued by it. And I have opinions about it. And I can`t shut up. It would be better for me financially if I would shut up more, but I just feel like I can`t shut up about it.
HAYES: Do you get that? People being like chill with the politics?
LEGEND: Well, I`m sure there are people that won`t buy my record or go to my concert because they don`t like what I say politically. But there are also probably some people that like me more, or they like me more because I`m honest and authentic about these things, so it`s probably a net loss, but it`s worth it for me.
HAYES: Can we talk about Kanye? Is that cool?
LEGEND: Yeah, we can.
HAYES: I mean, it`s just -- it is interesting because I think it was interesting to watch your relationship with him -- you know, you`ve known him since 2001 I think you guys hooked up.
LEGEND: Yeah, we met in the spring of 2001.
HAYES: And it`s always a sort of -- I found it a very relatable little intimate moment, because America is such a divided place and here you`re watching two people that are...
LEGEND: You`re seeing it play out on the big screen.
HAYES: Two people is that are very dear to each other kind of working that out.
HAYES: How do you feel about reconciling that? Because I think a lot of people in the world right now in the country, like they`re dealing with their high school classmates, their cousins, their aunts, their friends on Facebook in this time when people feel so upset and angry about who this president is and what he`s doing and finding a way to have conversations with those folks is difficult.
LEGEND: Well, I think part of the way in, I think, is talking about issues that are personal to you, that you care about. And so a lot of times, I think, when you talk with family members, maybe it`s health care is important to you. And talk about what you agree on when it comes to those issues.
And the interesting thing about the polling on a lot of these issues is most people are for universal health care. Most people are for more gun restrictions. Most people are for a lot of ideas that people consider progressive, but are actually pretty mainstream ideas when you kind of divorce them from the partisan politics.
But once you imbue the par...
HAYES: But once you put the MAGA hat on...
LEGEND: Once you put it on it`s like you`re on this team and I`m on that team. And it`s hard to have a conversation once you`re on separate teams like that. But if you start talking about issues and issues of justice and fairness and equality and really just human issues I feel like that`s where you can have a conversation.
HAYES: Have you -- are you and Kanye cool?
LEGEND: We`re cool. I never -- the crazy thing about it is Kanye never talked about politics with me, ever. And I think people thought he was more political than he ever was.
LEGEND: Because of what he said about George Bush during Katrina and a few of his songs. But he`s just not really that much of a political thinker in general, one way or the other. We never had conversations about it. And so when I`m around him, like I can easily not talk about politics with him because I never did talk about politics with him.
HAYES: Right. You`ve been real focused on criminal justice reform particularly.
HAYES: And really in the weeds of it. I mean, there`s a really interesting initiative in Louisiana, which is one of two states in the nation that you don`t need a unanimous verdict.
HAYES: To convict. That`s something you`re working on?
HAYES: And then there`s amendment four, we`re going to talk about here in Florida. That does seem a place you both have firsthand experience of how mass incarceration affects people and also a place where it does seem to me like the needle is moving in the right direction.
LEGEND: Yeah, I believe this particular issue in Florida with the amendment four is one of those issues that I was talking about before, just appeal to someone`s fundamental sense of fairness and humanity. And it`s really a bipartisan issue and it`s polling in a bipartisan way.
LEGEND: All kinds of people around the state agree that folks shouldn`t be punished forever for a crime they commit. Most people commit their crimes in the early 20s, late teens and after that most people don`t commit crimes, period. And then most felons, in this state, 75 percent of them never even did prison time.
So whatever they did wasn`t even severe enough for the state even in an overinflated criminal justice system where we imprison too many people, 75 percent of felons in Florida didn`t even go to prison. So we didn`t even think it was that serious to begin with, and now you`re going to punish them the rest of their lives and say they can`t vote for the rest of their lives?
And so I think this is polling so well because it appeals to people`s fundamental sense of fairness. This is not fair that people are being punished for the rest of their lives for something they did when they were young, and something they`ve already paid whatever debt society has deemed they should pay. They paid it. And we shouldn`t continue to exclude them from society.
They should be able to work. They should be able to have housing. They should be able to vote. They should be part of the community. Because when you exclude them from the community that`s when they go back and commit more crimes.
HAYES: Yeah. You seem like your outlook -- I mean, it`s a time in the country where people feel like they`re -- a lot of people feel like it`s very dark times. You hear a lot about like just how raw and we`re watching the Kavanaugh hearings and all of the sort of sexual trauma that people are dealing with, assaults. You strike me as someone with a very kind of optimistic in your outlook about things.
LEGEND: I am. I think I`m naturally optimistic. So my kind of disposition is to be optimistic.
HAYES: Because I talk to people that are news junkies all the time as you can imagine, right. And people are just like wound up like that.
LEGEND: Well, I get upset by the things I read. I get upset when I see the president mocking sexual assault survivors. I get upset when I see some of the things happening in this country. But my optimistic side takes over when I come to Florida and I see that even 60 percent of Republicans are for this amendment four, when I see that a lot of change is happening on the state and local level that`s being driven in a really bipartisan way.
When you kind of separate national politics from these issues a lot of times people agree a lot more than we think we do. And I see a lot of opportunity for change in these areas even though I`m, you know, often frustrated by what`s happening nationally.
HAYES: Coming up, more from John Legend as well as two of the local organizers that are fighting for their own right to vote right after this.
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TRYMAIN LEE, MSNBC: 10 percent of the population of Florida has had their right to vote taken away. That`s 1.7 million people who cannot vote because they have a felony conviction.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know, statistically, one out of every four black males is going to be incarcerated. And, you know, poverty and where you live at have a lot to do with it. In this neighborhood alone it`s probably one out of every three people going to end up in jail.
LEE: What would it mean for you to get your rights back, to be able to vote?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It would mean the world, that I can actually do something about it by punching in the ballot, you know?
UNIDENTIFEID FEMALE: Do you know amendment four is to restore voting rights to individuals, it`s time to let my people vote.
This is a bipartisan issue. It is not black. It`s not white. It`s not Republican. It`s not Democrat. It is a basic American value. Our basic right as guaranteed by the constitution as a citizen of the United States.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: That`s our reporter Trymaine Lee who is covering the amendment four issue right here in Florida. You can watch that full report this weekend on AM Joy right here on MSNBC.
In 34 days, millions of Floridians could regain their right to vote. Amendment four, which is on the ballot, would automatically restore voting rights to felons with the exception of murderers and sex offenders who have completed their sentences.
Now, it needs 60 percent of the vote to pass. Felons haven`t been able to vote in Florida for 150 years, ever since the aftermath of the Civil War when black people were granted the right to vote and white Floridians responded by adopting a constitution in 1868 that disenfranchised anyone with a felony conviction and added to the felony roster a variety of crimes they believed African-Americans were likelier to be convicted of.
Earlier today, I sat down with John Legend and two Florida residents who cannot vote in November and are urging their fellow Floridians to go to the polls and restore their voting rights.
HAYES: All right, so we`re here with John Legend, Neil Volz and Desmond Meade, who are organizers of the amendment four campaign.
I thought maybe, Desmond, if you could tell us a little bit about who you came to this issue.
DESMOND MEADE, AMDENDMENT FOUR ORGANIZAER: Well, first of all, thank you for having me, Chris.
Back in 2005 I found myself standing in front of the railroad tracks waiting on a train to come so I can jump in front of it. I was homeless. I was addicted to drugs, recently released from prison And I didn`t see any light at the end of the tunnel. I was ready to end my life.
But the train didn`t come that day, thank god. And I crossed those tracks and checked myself into drug treatment. And after completing drug treatment, I moved into a homeless shelter. And while there I decided to go back to school. And I did extremely well and eventually I was accepted into law school. In May of 2014, I graduated with a law degree.
However, in spite of overcoming all of those obstacles, you know, I still can`t even practice law in Florida, because my rights have not been restored. And then even in the last election cycle, my wife when she ran for office I couldn`t vote for her.
HAYES: You can`t practice law, you can`t vote despite all of the changes that you`ve made to your life?
MEADE: That`s right, that`s right, and that`s because Florida is one of those three or four states that permanently disenfranchises its citizens, and you know, as a result, you know, we have people in Puerto Rico, prisoners in Puerto Rico, voting but I can`t vote here. people all over this country in states like Texas and South Carolina and Georgia that are able to vote, but because I live in Florida, you know, I`m told I could an never have my voice heard.
HAYES: It`s basically permanent, right? I mean, and it`s the biggest chunk of people, it`s 1.5 million, 1.6 million people, right? How about you Neil? How`d you get involved in this?
NEIL VOLZ, FLORIDA AMENDMENT FOUR ORGANIZER: Well, 12 years ago I got a felony conviction and I got it the old-fashioned way, I earned it. I made some stupid decisions. I crossed some lines I shouldn`t have crossed. And I was selfish and arrogant at the time.
HAYES: And this is in Washington, part of sort of a corruption/lobbying prosecution?
VOLZ: That`s right, I was involved in politics for over a decade.
HAYES: Republican staffer.
VOLZ: Republican staffer. Chief of staff. And it blew up my life, man, it changed my life a whole lot. I suddenly became radioactive and moved to Florida and searching for something new. Bit by bit I started to see what Desmond saw, you know, which is I started to put my life together, got very involved in helping people with opioid addictions, and working at my church, and ultimately I became the chairman of our local homeless coalition, while we`re spending millions of taxpayer dollars and making decisions that help people in my community. And you begin to think to yourself, like, well, if I can do that, if I can pay taxes and I can make these kind of decisions, why is there a lid on my ability to fully participate in the community?
And so we ended up meeting together, and, you know, we`ve been working ever since.
MEADE: The rest is history.
LEGEND: I love it.
HAYES: And you were making a point before about that argument, right, which is if someone`s paid their debt to society, right -- I mean, these are people that in this case people that have -- they`re not in prison currently, right. They`ve finished their sentence, they`ve finished probation. Like if you go to someone and you say why shouldn`t that person vote, it`s hard to come up with an answer?
LEGEND: Yeah, it`s hard to argue against them voting. And like I said before, 75 percent of the felons in Florida didn`t even do something serious enough to get prison time.
LEGEND: So, if there`s 75 percent of them we deemed not even prison worthy for that, surely we can`t punish them for the rest of their lives and say they can`t vote.
HAYES: You guys have put together a really interesting coalition. This is polling at 75/25, which blows my mind right now. Tell me about the coalitional politics in terms of where you guys are coming from has been like?
MEADE: So, I love it. I love it. And I think part of the reason is that, listen, we are an organic, grassroots effort that is comprised of people from all walks of life.
HAYES: This didn`t come down from somewhere else. You made this.
MEADE: No, this came right -- you`re looking at it.
HAYES: You guys went out and got the signatures.
MEADE: Listen, we went out, total grassroots, no money, strictly volunteer from Pensacola to Key West, running across people like Neil, myself, from all spectrums. And they came together. And I think that`s the beauty of it. You know, sometimes when we -- even when we look at the aftermath of hurricanes, what we see are people coming together, no one is caring how the other person voted in the last election, no one is caring about the color of their skin, they`re seeing another human being in need. And that is what has really held this campaign together, that`s been at the very beginning that we are organizing along the lines of humanity.
And that allows us to transcend partisan politics. It allows us to transcend the racial divide. It allows us to be a shining example of what good can be in this country when people come together.
HAYES: There`s a certain rhetoric about crime, tough on crime, right. And you see people talk about it, even today, right, people running ads right now -- these are crooks, these are bad people, what -- did your mind change? Did you have a sort of world view shift when you actually went through being convicted?
VOLZ: Well, you know what going through the process that I went through did teach me a whole lot. And I think that that`s one of the things that we see is that every once in a while you find somebody who has a reaction to what we`re doing. But we have found is we`ve got this 20 minutes and a cup of coffee rule. Like, if I can get 20 minutes and a cup of coffee with somebody, you can get them to support amendment four, because it`s common sense stuff.
It actually helps create safer communities. It helps families get together. It helps create job growth in the state.
And so yeah I do think there was a piece of it that I did learn. But you know, we`re learning constantly, hopefully all of us are. So my experience with the criminal justice system definitely had a role in me understanding that when you allow somebody to reintegrate into the community you`re actually lowering crime and lowering reoffense rates.
HAYES: You know, what`s interesting to me about this law is that it`s a perfect example of -- you know, the origins of it are in race explicitly. It`s a Jim Crow law. It`s meant to disenfranchise African-Americans, but it`s a great example on how laws designed to do that also have widespread, destructive effects.
MEADE: Like I`ve always said it`s like a cancer, or a tumor. If you ignore it long enough, it`s going to spread to other parts of the body. And that`s what it`s done here. In Florida, only a third of people who are impacted look like me. Overwhelming majority, guess what, Chris, they look more like you, right. People who can`t vote, people who have served their time, they`ve paid their debt.
At the end of the day, there`s two principles, I think, that we hold on to with vigor. Number one is, when the debt is paid, it`s paid.
HAYES: It`s paid.
MEADE: And then number two is, that basic concept of forgiveness that`s inside of each and every one of us, because I haven`t found anyone yet who have raised their hand and say I don`t ever want to be forgiven for anything that I have ever done ever, you know.
And so those two things right there have allowed organizations like the Christian Coalition, and even some of the Koch Industry partners to...
HAYES: Get on board.
MEADE: Cross this line and get on board, because it is the right thing to do.
LEGEND: And I think part of the issue with folks returning from prison and people who have committed crimes before, we have to realize, they`re not those people over there. They`re not some separate species from us. These are family members.
I have family members that have committed crimes. I have family members that have gone through the criminal justice system. Everybody here does. And so these are family members. When they come out of the system, we want them to be able to work. We want them to be able to take care of their family. We want them to be able to participate in society so they don`t go back to crime. And one of the ways they participate is by voting.
And so let`s bring our family back together. Let`s have everybody be part of the community and let`s let them have their voice heard in the democracy.
HAYES: You guys are not going to be able to vote on election day by definition. What are you going to be doing on election day?
MEADE: Listen, let me tell you, we have an amazing grassroots effort that not only has gotten us to this point, but is going to get us across the finish line. And that`s one of the reasons that Mr. Legend is even here, because we`re encouraging people that even though they can`t vote, they have at least ten family members or friends, loved ones, who can go and vote on their behalf.
And so we have bring 10 to win, you know, and for our allies bring four for four.
HAYES: So folks that are part of your movement that are themselves disenfranchised, who do have felony records, for them to go out and work as organizers...
MEADE: Four million people, they can bring family members to the polls to vote on behalf of them, vote on the lines of love. That`s what this campaign is about right, not fear, but love, not exclusion, but inclusion. And so we`re going to have people from all walks of life, whether they`re conservative, whether they`re independent, whether they`re Democrat, whether they`re white, black, young, old, that`s going to be bringing people to the polls to vote on their behalf.
VOLZ: And I think there`s a certain harmony to that, because that`s where it started. At the heart beat of this movement are people who are returning citizens, people who working through the criminal justice system and dealing with the system that doesn`t work, and it`s their family and their friends that are the ones that went out and collected petitions, their family and friends that have been the clarion call in their neighborhoods and their churches and their communities.
And so for me, I mean, my wife and I are going to go. She`s going to vote and I`m going to cajole and scream and yell and anybody and everyone, I`m making cookies for the whole neighborhood if they come out and vote.
HAYES: I`ve got to say, I think what you guys are doing down here is one of the most important political stories in the country, honestly. I mean, and not for a bunch of reasons, but also because how it came about. I mean, this was just -- this was actual -- the rawest kind of citizen mobilization, so it`s really, really great for you guys to take some time. Thank you very much. I appreciate it.
MEADE: We appreciate being on the show with you.
HAYES: We are still live here in the battleground state of Florida with just over a month until the midterms. I`m going to talk to some of the voters with me tonight and find out what`s on their mind right after this.
HAYES: All right, we are back here in Orlando, Florida, just 34 days before these midterms. We`re here in Hooch bar, where I will probably be partaking after this is done.
I want to talk to some folks here. Your name is George, right?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, Chris. HAYES: George, how zoomed in are you on this election these midterms?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Pretty zoomed in. I would say I have got three daughters, two who are in college, and can vote now and they`re very interested in what they`re going to do for education as far as the candidates, health care, and just the general tone and tenor of our politics nowadays.
HAYES: How much are you -- you`ve got two very, very tightly contested statewide races, obvoiusly governor and senate. I wonder how much like the national political atmosphere is playing on over that and how much sort of local Florida issues...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So, we see that. But there`s a lot that`s going on. The red tide and the algae is huge. Health care is huge. Education is huge. So, those are the things that we`re looking for those candidates to really talk about.
HAYES: Yeah, thanks a lot.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
HAYES: Where are you in terms of that, what he just said -- the red tide it seems like it`s been a really big issue down here...
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, of course.
HAYES: And something that`s not a national issue, but very much matters to Floridians.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It is so specific to Florida. It is a really big deal. We need people in office that are going to help protect our environment for the future.
HAYES: You guys, the red tide, big issue?
HAYES: And what do you think about this gubernatorial race? A lot of people watching outside Florida have it as this kind of like proxy battle between these two visions of American politics in this moment?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I mean, that`s cool, but personally I`ve been in Florida my whole life and this is the first time I`ve ever been super thrilled to cast a vote.
HAYES: For Andrew Gillum, you mean.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Of course. And I`m 29 years old. I have crippling student loan debt. I live with bi-polar. I`m a woman. There are a lot of reasons that I need to be at the polls this November. And I am really excited to be part of this moment.
HAYES: Awesome. And Jay Wright?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, you got it.
HAYES: Real quickly, how invested on you scale of 1 to 10? How much are you paying attention?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: 11-and-a-half. It`s -- this is the point now that we`re going to determine exactly how many people are paying attention to what happened in 2016, and the lack of participation and staying home, getting out now is going to be super important, especially since we can shift the Senate. We only need a couple of seats -- two seats.
HAYES: Two seats, yeah, for Democrats.
All right, thank you all.
That does it for All In this evening. Here from Orlando, the Rachel Maddow Show starts right now.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END