Show: ALL IN with CHRIS HAYES Date: October 18, 2018 Guest: Ammar Campa-Najjar, Sabrina Siddiqui, Gregg Sargent, Jeh Johnson, Dana Shell Smith, Evelyn Farkas
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: That`s basic stuff. This is HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us. "ALL IN" with Chris Hayes starts right now.
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CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: Tonight on ALL IN.
NEWT GINGRICH, FORMER SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES: This election is life and death struggle with a left-wing movement which wants to radicalize America.
HAYES: 19 days until Election Day.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: They`ve become radicalized.
HAYES: Republicans follow their leader.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A markup in a jar is working to infiltrate Congress.
HAYES: Tonight, the widespread campaigns of fear and hatred in the first national election of the Trump era.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Left-wing mob created riot in the streets.
HAYES: As the Trump Administration considers restarting its family separation policy.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So you want to go back to that?
TRUMP: Well, we`re looking at a lot of things.
HAYES: Plus, what we know about the two secret hearings in the Mueller Investigation. And why this photo that the Trump Administration didn`t want you to see is a corruption smoking gun.
TRUMP: Trust me I`m like a smart person.
HAYES: When ALL IN starts right now.
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HAYES: Good evening from New York, I`m Chris Hayes. We are now just 19 days from the first national election since Donald Trump became president and Republicans gave unified control the federal government. And you might imagine that they would be campaigning on their accomplishments. Nearly two years they`ve had power but they are not. They are not primarily running on their unpopular tax cut for the rich or their efforts to gut ObamaCare. No, no, no. Instead, they are running on this.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Prima donna athletes protesting our anthem, left-wing mobs paid to riot in the streets. Billionaire George Soros bankrolls the resistance and (INAUDIBLE).
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HAYES: And (INAUDIBLE). Republicans are desperately trying to hang on to power by stoking fear and resentment within the Republican base. Florida Republican Congressman Matt Gaetz today tweeted out the video he claimed without any basis showed women and children in Honduras being given money to and I quote him here, join the caravan and storm the U.S. border at election time. Soros?
The President then shared the same video writing can you believe this and what Democrats are allowing to be done to our country? Of course to be clear there is no evidence the Democrats or George Soros have anything to do with that video which for one thing appears to being filmed in Guatemala not Honduras. And on Twitter, a Guatemalan journalist said the money was being handed out by local merchants who`d taken up a collection for the migrants not agents of George Soros the Democratic Party.
But people like Matt Gaetz and Donald Trump don`t much care about evidence or context or the truth here. What they care about is riling up their base which is why they are now spotlighting a caravan of migrants fleeing violence and desperately seeking a better life in the U.S.
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TRUMP: The Democrats will vote for the military. They don`t like the military. They don`t like law enforcement. They don`t like borders. We see what`s happening with the border where people are coming up in caravans and we have to stop them.
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HAYES: Appearing on Trump T.V. last night, Newt Gingrich laid out the plan explicitly.
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GINGRICH: I think two words are going to define the night of 2018 election in the next three weeks. One is Kavanaugh and the other is caravan.
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HAYES: Think about that for a second, not the tax cuts, not healthcare, not anything they`ve been doing for two years but the Kavanaugh and caravan? Gingrich wasn`t talking about getting Brett Kavanaugh in the Supreme Court either, he was talking about this.
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GINGRICH: Anger over how the left smeared, engaged in character assassination, lied, used bullying tactics with Judge Kavanaugh.
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HAYES: That`s the playbook. Play up the feeling of threat of victimization even as you run the whole government. Democrat Abigail Spanberger who is challenging Representative Dave Brat is a CIA officer who`s briefly a substitute teacher in Islamic school. So the GOP decided to run this.
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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What is Abigail Spanberger hiding? Spanberger doesn`t want us to know that she taught at an Islamic school nicknamed terror high, a terrorist breeding ground.
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HAYES: That`s a high school they`re talking about, children in it. Republicans ran an ad against Democrat Nate McMurray that used the fact that he speaks Korean to portrayed him as anti-American and an ally of Kim Jong-un. They`ve demonized Antonio Delgado, a Rhodes Scholar Harvard Law grad running in New York as a "big-city rapper."
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ANTONIO DELGADO (D), CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE, NEW YORK: Who am I? I`m Antonio Delgado. I was raised to believe you`re supposed to love your neighbor.
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HAYES: You see what they`re doing there. That`s the Republican PAC that`s running the ad. They flash images of gang members and drug dealers to portray a nation under siege.
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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They don`t get it. They talk about solving illegal immigration but nothing happens. We who live here forgotten.
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HAYES: Perhaps the most odious ad in the entire country which is saying something in the cycle comes from Duncan Hunter, the California Congressman indicted for stealing campaign funds. Hunter is smearing his opponent as an Islamic terrorist sympathizer even though he`s a Christian born in San Diego with Secret Service Security Clearance.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ammar Campa-Najjar is working to infiltrate Congress. He`s used three different themes to hide his family`s ties to terrorism.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He is being supported by care and the Muslim brotherhood. This is a well-orchestrated plan.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ammar Campa-Najjar, a risk we can`t ignore.
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HAYES: And joining me now is Ammar Campa-Najjar, Democratic Candidate for Congress in California`s 50th district. Are you surprised by the tenor of these ads?
AMMAR CAMPA-NAJJAR (D), CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE, CALIFORNIA: I`m not at all. I mean it`s fitting with everything else we`ve seen. And honestly, what are we doing as a nation? We have policies, we have things we could talk about. This is a deeply un-American ad and I feel like John McCain if you were with us today would be so appalled. You`ll remember, he stood up against a woman who tried to disparage President Obama on the same line of argument. And I think the party of McCain, the party of Reagan even is long gone and it`s heartbreaking because I have friends who are Republican.
It`s deeply un-American. It`s not true. I`m not a security threat. I was given a clearance by the FBI. The security threat is Duncan Hunter who was criminally indicted for spending a quarter million dollars. And the corruption smoking gun that you talked about was when he paid back $60,000. He is guilty and it`s only a matter of time until people hold him accountable.
HAYES: I should note, we invited Duncan Hunter to appear on the program. We did not hear back from him.
CAMPA-NAJJAR: Of course not. Of course not.
HAYES: I would -- I would know that he couldn`t -- probably couldn`t pass a background check if he were to get a routine job in the -- in the federal government that needed security clearance.
CAMPA-NAJJAR: That`s right. For a couple of reasons: One, the indictment, two financial instability. He had to overdraft his account by $35,000. Three, his well-known documented excessive drinking. And then fourth, the womanizing all those things are things that are red flag. If I had any of that in my background I would not have gotten a security clearance and that`s why the Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, Republican stripped him with committee assignment on the Armed Services Committee. It`s not me it`s not Hillary, it`s the Republicans taking --
HAYES: Let me -- let me ask you this. This district I think is plus ten Republican maybe. I mean it`s a pretty Republican district. It was considered a safe seat before the indictment. It seems to me that he could just go after you on say that the tax cuts and ObamaCare. He could say, I voted for the tax cut bill and my opponent would not have and I voted to repeal ObamaCare and my opponent would uphold ObamaCare. Is that what he - - is he doing that?
CAMPA-NAJJAR: He`s not doing that. He has ten years of a record to run on. And what is he doing? He`s acting like an amateur because he is. And then he had his dad come out and attack me at a conference two days ago. He can`t even stand on his own two feet like a grown man. This is a guy who knows more than any poll, we have three poles that have us tied, Chris, but look at his ad. His ad tells you everything. He`s clearly threatened.
We do have policy contrast. I want to expand Medicare for people. You know what he wants to do, he wants to raise the retirement age to 72 years old. His big bold idea for people who are retiring is live longer, work seven more years, then I`ll give you your earned benefit, not the entitlement but the earned benefit. A guy who`s never worked a day in his life after serving our country has not worked a day in his life in Congress and he`s just out there drinking and partying. We need somebody who will restore stability and integrity to our country. We need somebody who`s -- country over party, not their life under a bus and I think I`m ready to do that.
HAYES: Well, here`s a question. Like, when -- other than these ads, what is -- what`s the -- what is the race about? I mean, it seems to me that you`ve got a guy who`s indicted so he`s backed into a corner, you`ve got yourself who he is trying to I think in a -- if you allow me to say a really gross fashion try to paint as a you know, a terrorist or whatever. But are the policy contrasts present in the race at all?
CAMPA-NAJJAR: I mean for me they are. You know, he wants to take away health care from 45,000 people in my district who rely on the ACA for health care.
HAYES: Does he defend -- does he defend that vote?
CAMPA-NAJJAR: No, he doesn`t talk about it. He just talks about me. He`s obsessed with me. And this is a guy who won`t take personal responsibility for his actions. You`ll remember, he blamed the DOJ for the indictment. He blamed his wife for the indictment. And I don`t think his wife signed off on individuals 15 through 18 in the indictment. I know you know what I`m talking about. You talked about it. One of them was her friend. She didn`t sign off on that.
Well, he doesn`t want to talk about our real issues because he has no leg to stand on. And it`s unfortunate. We could debate the real issues. I had a debate two weeks ago, he didn`t show up. I`ve had 18 town halls. This guy shows up to fewer town halls than Ted Cruz does. It`s a pretty low bar.
HAYES: He won`t debate you?
CAMPA-NAJJAR: He refuses to debate me. He had his dad come out at a press conference to attack me. He won`t even attack me himself. He`s too much of a coward and unfortunately, that`s what he wants to be. But for me, look honestly, I know there`s a lot of resistors who watch your show and my mom is one of them but my stepdad is a Vietnam vet and he`s a Trump supporter. And this race for him is not about the left and the right, it`s about those inside the political machine in Washington and those of us the outside.
And regardless of whether you`re Republican or Democrat, on August 21st, Chris, when he got indicted, this became about do we want a lawbreaker to be our lawmaker? Can we trust somebody to pass laws he can`t follow himself? It`s about something that transcends partisanship. It`s a post- partisan election now that has to do with the character of our country and the rule of law. A congressman cannot break the law.
HAYES: You know what`s funny is that`s certainly right. And what those ads are is his deepest desperate ability to reset it as precisely a partisan election because he thinks that he can beat you that way. Ammar Campa-Najjar, thanks for being with me.
CAMPA-NAJJAR: Happy to be here. Thank you, Chris.
HAYES: I want to turn now to Sabrina Siddiqui, Political Reporter at the Guardian who has a new piece on Republican attack ads pushing Trump`s anti- immigrant message to whip up fear. Also with me Greg Sargent an Opinion Writer who covers national politics on the Washington Post Plum Line Blog. He`s got a new book out called an Uncivil War. Sabrina, you wrote a good piece about this. This is not isolated. This is -- this is widespread across a whole bunch of races across the country.
SABRINA SIDDIQUI, POLITICAL REPORTER, THE GUARDIAN: Absolutely. I took a look at Republican political ads and I think what they really revealed is just how far the party has gone to embrace the President`s rhetoric and agenda when it comes to immigration. As you said it extends to people of color and not just Hispanic but also African Americans. And what -- the themes that were very clear, it was trying to link immigrants to violent crime.
There was such an emphasis on MS-13 in some of the clips that you played there and that`s juxtaposed with these Republican candidates. It`s really touting their support for Trump`s border wall. And so what that tells you is that the party is fully embraced the politics of fear and I think that it`s also worth pointing out of course that immigrants according to most studies are less likely to commit violent crime than native-born Americans and also that MS-13 accounts for less than one percent of gangs in the U.S. so it really is about spreading paranoia.
And we`ve had this conversation a few times on this show before. We were wondering whether or not the rise of Trump would lead to more Trumpian candidates, more people who fashioned themselves in his image. It`s not that just that you`re seeing those candidates emerge on the ballot, you`re also very much seeing what was once part of the fringe really becomes the Republican mainstream.
HAYES: Yes, Greg, this to me is what`s notable. This is a unifying project. Steve Bannon is going to go campaign for Chris Collins, the other indicted Trump supporting congressman, there`s two of them. And while he`s doing that, Paul Ryan`s personal PAC is paying for those ads that have Antonio Delgado as a big-city rapper. This is -- this is not a fringe or establishment dig, this is the core message of the party.
GREG SARGENT, OPINION WRITER, WASHINGTON POST PLUM LINE BLOG: You know, it`s interesting to the fact that -- what is really interesting to me is that not only do you have the anti-immigrant demagoguery really amped up to 11 but also you have George Soros in the mix.
SARGENT: And remember in 2014 right, there was a lot of this sort of stuff around Ebola. Remember Scott Brown ran some crazy ads about Ebola crossing the border and so forth but this time Soros is in the mix. And remembered Trump`s closing ad in 2016, the big statement of Bannonite, Trumpist, exclusionary xenophobic populism, like populist nationalism, I guess is how you might describe it had this combination. It had the hordes invading across the border, the dark hordes and it had Soros. So, well, this is really a party that has not just taken on the typical Trumpian anti- immigrant demagoguery but it`s gone full anti-globalist pro-Bannon, you know --
HAYES: That`s right. It`s the far-right -- it`s the globalist, also happens to be Jewish, the globalist who`s paying for the brown hordes to invade you which by the way in the right wing government of Hungary that is explicitly the their message specifically about George Soros. But the other part of this that`s striking to me, Sabrina, is the total absence of the two signature domestic policy issues of the Republicans. And I thought the Trump tweet today was amazing.
The Republicans on the trail are getting hammered on pre-existing conditions because it`s not popular to take them away. They voted to do that. The President, all Republicans support, people with pre-existing conditions, if they don`t they will after I speak to them. I`m in total support. Also, Democrats will destroy your Medicare. I will keep it healthy and well. The President self-signed off on a lawsuit that would destroy ObamaCare and take away pre-existing conditions but this is the approach all Republicans are using right now.
SIDDIQUI: Yes, and it`s fairly remarkable that you really don`t see many Republicans running on the tax bill that they passed last year which is the President`s signature legislative accomplishment. And a lot of that probably has to do with the fact that polling has found that the tax cuts which of course disproportionally benefited the wealthy and corporations, they are increasingly unpopular with the American public and so it`s not a winning argument. And I also think as we -- as we kind of talk about these politics of fear, it`s also important to kind of note that this isn`t just about a political strategy to secure votes and mobilize the Republican base.
All of this is ultimately in the service of the President`s immigration agenda, in the service of enacting what are very draconian immigration laws that not only would crack down on undocumented immigrants who are already in this country but also try to scale back even legal immigration. And so those are the policy implications of the way in which they`re trying to change the way that their base and if not the broader public perceives the issue of immigration in this country.
HAYES: Greg, your new book is sort of about these very positions and conditions in the political country and how to try to unwind them.
SARGENT: Well, yes. I mean, the case I try to make is that there`s the -- Trump sort of fills the space to such an extraordinary degree that you know, there`s a big disconnect at the core of almost all of our debate on this stuff which is that it took a figure as kind of menacing and as hostile the democracy is Trump to kind of rivet everyone`s attention on the state of our democracy but there are all these problems that predate Trump and will outlast him. And so it`s on every single front whether it`s immigration, whether it`s health care, whether it`s you know, Mueller, or whether it`s this or that, whether it`s some democracy, Trump fills the space and we only talk about Trump.
But what I argue is that we have to come up with some sort of way of holding on to this kind of pro-democracy energy that`s kind of poured out in reaction to Trump so that once he`s gone if that ever happens, if that ever happens, we`ll be able to sort of sustain that kind of reformist spirit without him there to galvanize it for us. We shouldn`t need a figure like Trump to get us all to ask tough questions about the state of our political system.
HAYES: And the key committed to me, Sabrina, having looked at these ads is if they win, if they hold the House among many other things they will do, they will move for a second round of tax cuts for the richest Americans almost immediately. They will run on this and they will -- they will use that to do more of what they`ve done.
SIDDIQUI: Well there`s clearly a desire to expand upon the tax cuts. Mitch McConnell openly said that there will be another attempt to repeal ObamaCare. And then, of course, there`s been some talk from Republican leaders about going after popular government programs such as Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security. So it`s very clear what the agenda is. The question, of course, is what voters prioritize as they head to the polls in November.
HAYES: Yes, 23 months of Koch brothers, one month of the caravan. That`s the ingredient. Sabrina Siddiqui and Greg Sargent, thank you for being with me. Next, is the President threatened to send U.S. Military at the border and consider starting up the family separation policy again? We are fortunate to be joined here by the former Secretary of Homeland Security. That`s in two minutes.
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TRUMP: Well, I will say this. If they feel that will be separation they don`t come. If they feel there`s separation in many cases, they don`t come.
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HAYES: Three weeks before the Midterms, President Trump is talking about reinstating his least popular immigration policy. One that resulted in the family separations of more than 2,600 children ripped out of the arms of their parents. The renewed interest in this frankly monstrous policy coincides with a record surge of migrant families seeking asylum. The border crossings have reportedly left the president in a sense and his cabinet divided over how to handle things.
Bloomberg reports that his Chief of Staff John Kelly and National Security Adviser John Bolton engaged in a profanity-laced argument outside the Oval Office today over immigration and border crossings including the performance of DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen. I`m joined now by person who used to have Secretary Nielsen`s job under Obama, former Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson. Good have you here.
JEH JOHNSON, FORMER UNITED STATES HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: Chris, thanks for having me on.
HAYES: First question, what do you think about the idea of returning to the policy of taking children away from their parents?
JOHNSON: I think it`s a bad idea. I think it`s a terrible idea. I could not ask a Border Patrol agent or an immigration enforcement person to rip a child out of his mother`s arms and we wouldn`t go there.
HAYES: Well, we did go there for a few months.
JOHNSON: Well, in the previous administration, we would not go there. Aside from that, as you can see from the numbers I`ve shared with you, the shock value of that kind of change in policy only has a limited effect. There was a downturn in the numbers of apprehensions on the southern border for about two months this summer and now they`re back up again. They`re back up again to reportedly last month somewhere around 40,000 per month. And so I lived this problem for three years.
HAYES: Yes, 2014 when you were there was the --
JOHNSON: 2014, 2015, 2016. I lived this problem for three years every single day. And the lesson learned the hard way was you can do all sorts of things, some of which are controversial to change immigration enforcement policy, send the message of deterrence, but as long as the underlining conditions of poverty and violence in Central America continue to exist, a mother is going to make the basic calculation that it`s safer to send my child through Mexico to the United States than to keep them in these three countries.
HAYES: I want to propose a radical reframing of this which I`m not sure you go along with.
HAYES: What -- there`s a sense -- this is a crisis. You know, you look at these tens of thousands of moms and children and that`s the way the Washington Post wrote it up, and back in 2014 that was a sense. And my feelings are what`s the crisis?
JOHNSON: Well --
HAYES: They`ll apply for asylum, they`ll get it or they won`t but they`re not going to hurt anyone.
JOHNSON: Well, big picture, illegal immigration on our southern border is a fraction of what it used to be. In fiscal year 2000, there were 1.6 million apprehensions on our southern border. In recent years, in the Obama and Trump administrations, that numbers is a fraction of it. It`s 300,000, 400,000, my second year in office was the second lowest number since 1972. But you`re right, the --
HAYES: And the overall -- we should note, the overall majority are folks like this.
JOHNSON: Well, now the demographics is totally changed. You`re correct. It is no longer single adults from Mexico, it is now women and children from Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala, and it does vary definitely on tax resources of our Border Patrol personnel, our immigration courts, those that have to hear these asylum claims because they almost all assert asylum claims, and as long as the underlying conditions exist, we`re going to be dealing with this and the Trump administration is reportedly about to embark upon another very controversial policy which as we can see from the numbers and the facts had earlier this summer are only a limited effect.
HAYES: I want to talk about that policy in a sec. Before we get to that though, this idea -- this is -- this is Newt Gingrich -- this is now a mainstream Republican view of the President, Matt Gaetz, Newt Gingrich. This is a coordinated conspiracy being funded by someone maybe George Soros. This is Newt Gingrich and he says, if Laura Ingraham estimate of 7,000 per person is right, the current caravan is at least $21 million project paid for by someone who wants to undermine America.
JOHNSON: Well, look, Chris, can we put aside the political demagoguery and rhetoric for just a moment. I spent hours and days with these women and children in South Texas and asked why did you come here and it`s because the gangs were going to kill my son or the gangs were going to kill me.
HAYES: Or the gangs were going to recruit my son or essentially draft my son.
JOHNSON: Correct. And so these families are making the basic calculation that it`s better to flee a burning building than to try to stay and fight the fire.
HAYES: So you`re saying this is not a conspiracy being run by George Soros? I mean -- I just -- the reason I bring that up is because that is an insane idea. It`s genuinely an insane idea and is now hanging embrace by --
JOHNSON: And unfortunately a large segment of the American public might believe it because there`s so much demagoguery and misinformation about the immigration issue.
HAYES: I feel like you guys worked your way through this problem. I mean, there was all sorts of talk. I mean, there was family detention that ran up against (INAUDIBLE), there was -- we know there were discussions about child separation. I mean, that didn`t get very far but the reporting indicates there were.
HAYES: Yes, but going through questions about deterrence and what you ended up after going through the whole problem is you got to do -- things have to change, the conditions have to change at Central America.
JOHNSON: Well, I`m not going to claim we fixed problem.
HAYES: No, I`m not saying you are. I`m just saying that like your understanding of the problem.
JOHNSON: We did things that were controversial. We as you noted expanded family detentions. We took a lot of heat for that. When I came into office, I was surprised to learn that of 34,000 immigration beds, only 95 were devoted to families. We expanded that. We took a lot of heat for it. It had along with the help that Mexico provided us on their southern border in effect that lasted about a year and then the numbers started to creep up again toward the end of 2016. I think the election probably played a factor there.
And so I come back to what I keep saying which is as long as the conditions in those three countries continue to persist, we`re going to keep -- we`re going to keep dealing with this because the push factors of illegal migration are always more powerful than any level of border security enforcement policy you can provide.
HAYES: And the -- and the sort of dangerous trap of deterrence in that context is that you have to compete with what they`re running from to deter.
HAYES: I mean, the thing they`re running from are generally life-or-death questions of whether their children will be killed. You can`t --
JOHNSON: I would ask these kids in South Texas, did you hear our messages about the dangers of the journey? Yes. Did you hear about our changes in enforcement policy? Yes. Did you hear that DACA was only available for those who`ve been here for five years? Yes. But the gangs were going to kill me and my mother said you have to leave. And so it`s a basic human calculation. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops once said to me and they had it exactly right. If you try to padlock a burning building for people, you have to provide an alternative pathway out.
HAYES: Yes. All right, Jeh Johnson, this was great. Thank you for making time.
JOHNSON: Thank you.
HAYES: Coming up next, what is so special about this photo and the white - - why the White House didn`t want you to see it?
HAYES: There`s a new photo out today of Donald Trump taking a meeting in the Oval Office. It looks like a normal presidential photo, but it`s actually not by a long shot. Instead, it appears to be documentary evidence of possible corruption in the White House.
The woman in the middle is Emily Murphy, the administrator of the general services administration. Now the GSA oversees the buildings in the federal government. And it`s also the landlord to Trump`s Washington hotel, which means he has a strong interest in what she does and in the neighborhood around that hotel. And that neighborhood includes the current FBI headquarters, which has for years been at the center of a debate: renovate on the current site or build something new out in the suburbs.
Now, if you are Donald Trump, you might have an interest in whether prime land opens up almost directly across from your hotel. Who knows what could go in there, perhaps maybe another competing hotel? And if you`re Donald Trump and you`re president, maybe you reach a hand into the agency process behind the decision about whether the FBI stays or goes and put a thumb on the scale to protect the revenue stream at your private hotel.
Now, that would be wildly corrupt, of course, not to mention insanely flagrant. And there`s a lot we don`t know about what happened at that January meeting in this photo, but we do know that Emily Murphy, shown here inside the Oval Office, sitting across the desk from the president of the United States, that she was asked by congress under oath if she ever discussed this issue with the president. Her answer was not yes. So maybe there`s more to the story we`ve yet to find out.
Still ahead, speaking of corruption, what we know about two newly reported secret hearings related to the Mueller investigation. Plus tonight`s Thing One, Thing Two starts next.
HAYES: Thing One tonight, we`ve been talking tonight about midterm ads, but one we haven`t mentioned yet that the internet has really been enjoying.
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SEN. JOE DONNELLY, (D) INDIANA: For the most part I`m an easy going guy but not when Mike Brawn keeps lying about my record. I split with my own party to support funding for Trump`s border wall. The liberal left wants to chop defense spending. No way.
I`m not into a fair fight, I`m about giving our troops the edge.
I voted to extend the Bush tax cuts. And Mike Brawn, he shifts jobs to China. We`ve got to cut that out. I`m Joe Donnelly. I approve this message.
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HAYES: OK, so there`s a whole lot going on there. And a lot to work with for Senator Donnelly`s opponent whose campaign quickly posted this remix.
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DONNELLY: For the most part, I`m an easy going guy, but not when Mike Brawn keeps lying about my record.
We`ve got to cut that out.
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HAYES: OK, that`s not bad. Slightly creepy.
But there`s much, much more and it`s particularly "Veep"y, and that`s Thing Two in 60 seconds.
HAYES: There are times during the Trump era when it feels like we`re all living through an extremely long episode of Veep, the crazy White House comedy on HBO. But a new campaign add from Indiana Senator Joe Donnelly takes this to a whole new level. Is it possible he purposely remade a Jonah Ryan ad?
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ANNOUNCER: Salina Meyer (ph) thinks she can chop our prosperity, our dignity, and our stature around the world. Well, someone is chopping back.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`m Jonah Ryan.
ANNOUNCER: Vote for Jonah Ryan, he`ll chop President Meyer down to size.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My name is Jonah Ryan, and I approve this message.
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HAYES: I mean, they`re practically identical down to the plaid shirts and the bad chopping puns. We can only hope that someday we`ll get Donnelly`s behind the scenes footage too.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hello there, I`m Jonah Ryan, oh, [EXPLETIVE DELETED], mother [EXPLETIVE DELETED], piece of [EXPLITIVE DELETED] you. [EXPLETIVE DELETED] you. Oh [EXPLETIVE DELETED].
Careful, careful, careful.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think the problem is that you lack upper body strength.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why am I even chopping the EXPLETIVE DELETED] wood, it`s the 21st Century. We don`t even use this [EXPLITIVE DELETED] anymore.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Worked fine.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And I grew up right here in the awesome state of New Hampshire.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Today, the chairman of the House Freedom Caucus, Congressman Mark Meadows, called on Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to resign, quote, "based on additional information we`ve learned over the last week it is clear Rod Rosenstein should resign immediately."
And Meadows wasn`t shy about what set him off. Rod Rosenstein gave an interview to Wall Street Journal after failing to show up in congress last week to answer questions.
Rosenstein did not fail to show up. Plans for his appearance before two House committees are ongoing. But that Wall Street Journal interview did happen the one in which Rosenstein said "I committed I would ensure the Russia investigation was appropriate and independent and reach the result, whatever it may be."
So, Meadows is turning up the heat on Rosenstein. There`s also reporting the Mueller team has been busy. CNN reporting hour long sealed hearing in the courtroom of the judge overseeing the case featuring trial and appellate prosecutors from Meuller`s office.
To wind our way through the latest developments, let`s bring in MSNBC justice analyst Mark Matthew Miller, former Justice Department spokesman under Attorney General Eric Holder, and MSNBC legal analyst Paul Butler, a former federal prosecutor.
Paul, let me start with you about the activity we know that they have been up to, including keeping that grand jury impaneled, which is hearing testimony, and these hearings that are sealed and motions that are sealed. What is that?
PAUL BUTLER, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST: So the Mueller team is interviewing witnesses, is meeting with the grand jury every Friday, and it`s doing a lot of secret stuff we don`t know about. I think these meeting with Paul Manafort are very significant. He`s met with them nine times since he agreed to cooperate.
So part of this is about obstruction of justice. Mueller finally has an inside man at this meeting at the Trump Tower with the Russian lawyer, a meeting that Don Jr. and Sr. have repeatedly lied about. That shows consciousness of guilty to our prosecutor. But more importantly for our national security, Manafort also has information about collusion. We know that when Manafort was running the campaign he was in constant contact with Konstantin Kilimnik, this Russian foreign intelligence officer.
And the other thing we know, Chris, is that when the Trump team learned that the Russians had damaging emails about Hillary Clinton, what did Manafort do? He did not call the FBI. He tried to set up a meeting with the Russians. What was he doing? What did Don Sr., what did John Jr. know? What did Jared Kushner know? Manafort knows the answers to that questions, which means that Mueller now knows the answers as well.
HAYES: Matt, what do you make of the escalation, rhetorically, from the House Republicans on Rosenstein?
MARK MATTHEW MILLER, FORMER JUSTICE DEPARTMENT SPOKESMAN: The Republicans are obviously upset he did this interview, but they`re also upset I think with members of their own party. If you look at the reports, Rosenstein is going down to the Hill to talk to the chairman of the Judiciary Committee and the Chairman of the oversight committee, but the people that -- and I should say the Democratic members, the ranking members as well -- but the people that won`t be in that meeting are Mark Meadows, Jim Jordan, other members of the Freedom Caucus who have been some of his biggest critics.
So, I think when you see him come out and do this interview, there are a couple things he was trying to do. One, I think he was trying to push back against some of this criticism from Republicans on the Hill. I think, two, he was trying to set up, you know, for after the election of what, you know, Bob Mueller is going to do to assure the American people that he`s been acting appropriately. And the result of these investigations are going to be appropriate when they`re rolled out.
And I also think he was trying to push back against a little bit of the criticism that he got from the other side of the aisle. You know, he took some heat, I think, for this meeting with the president where he talked about the meeting where he, you know, either did or did not say he wore a wire for coming off of Air Force One after meeting with the president, walking down with John Kelly. I think there was an appearance of impropriety there.
And Rod has always been someone who cares very much about his image, I think much more than most people know. And I think that`s why you saw him do that interview this week.
HAYES: Paul, you`re nodding your head.
BUTLER: The president was able to control and manipulate the FBI when it did the sexual misconduct investigation against Judge Kavanaugh. The president would love to be able to use the FBI and the Department of Justice in the same way in the Russian investigation. The problem is, the president is one of the subjects of that investigation, and Rod Rosenstein reminds the president of that.
So Rod Rosenstein tells the president I am not going to fire Robert Mueller. The president does not like hearing that, which is why after the midterms Rod Rosenstein is on his way out.
HAYES: Yeah, that`s the big question about this sort of timing of all this.
Don McGahn left. And we know he left on sort of bad terms with the president, Matt, but he was, according reporting that may or may not have come from him, a sort of line of defense stopping the president from doing that.
There is this real kind of gathering dread, anticipation of the day after the election when Mueller`s no longer in this sort of window, who moves what and how?
MILLER: Yeah, that`s right. And if you look at where he`s going with the investigation, it`s clear that some pieces of it are winding up. You know, Mike Flynn is going to be sentenced in December. A couple of prosecutors have gone back to their home offices.
But then again there are very clearly other shoes to drop. You know, Roger Stone seems like most the significant other show to drop and and whether there will be other Americans who are charged on the conspiracy or collusion side of this equation. So when you look at what happens after the election, I think with -- you know, with the White House counsel Don McGahn leaving, he was not a White House counsel who could push back against investigations, given that he was very much a cooperating witness, went in and spent something like 30 hours talking to the special counsel.
The president now has a team around him, Emmett Flood and the new White House counsel who is coming in who can both kind of push back against Hill oversight. There will be aggressive Hill oversight should Democrats take back the House, and not just on the Russia case, but on a, you know, host of scandals that have plagued the administration.
And then I think they`re also getting ready to fight, if they have to -- if Mueller does finally kind of take the nuclear option and subpoena the president -- I don`t think he will, but they have to be ready for that -- and if this investigation ends with something like an impeachment referral to the House and you see a Democratic House that doesn`t just want to sweep it under the rug, but wants to take up what Mueller reports to them and investigate it fully.
HAYES: I had forgotten -- I was listening to Slow Burn season two about Kenneth Starr basically -- the Starr report was a recommendation of impeachment. I mean, they printed out a bunch of copies. They gave it to the congress and said go do your thing.
MILLER: With boxes and boxes of evidence. I listened to it too.
BUTLER: And that investigation took six years. The Whitewater investigation took six years. This investigation is barely two years old, and it`s far more consequential. This is the most important special investigation since Watergate.
HAYES: All right Matthew Miller and Paul Butler, thank you both.
Next, why the president is changing his tone a bit on the death of Jamal Khashoggi. And why this story is not going away next.
HAYES: President Donald Trump had his strongest words to date on the apparent killing of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi after he walked into a Saudi consulate in Istanbul more than two weeks ago.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President, do you believe Jamal Khashoggi is dead?
TRUMP: It certainly looks that way to me. It`s very sad.
I think we`ll be making a statement, a very strong statement. But we`re waiting for results of about three different investigations. And we should be able to get to the bottom fairly soon.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: This on the same day the Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin tweeted, quote, "just met with Donald Trump and Secretary Pompeo, and we have decided I will not participating in the future investment initiative summit in Saudi Arabia," all of which suggests that the president, a frequent, if not obsessive cable news viewers, is listening to the coverage of this story, an idea he confirmed himself when he told The New York Times, quote, "this one has caught the imagination of the world, unfortunately, Mr. Trump said to reporters. It`s not a positive, not a positive."
The Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and President Donald Trump still insist on giving Saudi officials a few more days to get their story just right. Much like what happened on child separation, the president has realized this story is not going away and in fact has precipitated in international crisis, and at some point he is going to have to do something about it.
Here to help me understand what could happen next, former deputy assistant Secretary of Defense and MSNBC national security analyst Evelyn Farkas; and Dana Shell Smith, the former U.S. ambassador to Qatar.
Ambassador, let me start with you, perhaps. What do you think about the moves that Mike Pompeo has made diplomatically in the past few days?
DANA SHELL SMITH, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO QATAR: Well, I think most of us were fairly surprised to see him participate in a photo op, and not just any photo op, and not just any photo op, but a smiling photo op when he went to Riyadh.
You know, after what has happened, one would expect that the Saudis would have come to us seeking our help, but instead he traveled to Riyadh. And then he for some reason agreed to participate in a smiling, happy photo op that really just looked like we are participating in a cover-up of what has happened here.
HAYES: well, and Evelyn, I mean, part of what is bizarre about this, you have got Pompeo saying they`re look into looking into the investigation. Trump saying there`s going to be an investigation. A lot of people have made this joke about the O.J. finding the real killer, but there is nothing to investigate. Like, very clearly, the Saudis did this. It seems almost perverse, quasi-Stalinist, to talk about the disappearance of the man and how the Saudis are going to investigate.
EVELYN FARKAS, FORMER DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: Right. I mean, Chris, it seems to me like they`re stalling for time, because they think that the public will let this go. There was somewhere, I don`t recall which outlet it was now, but they were saying, well, that Jared Kushner was saying, you know, this will disappear just like when the crown prince put his relatives, the other rich sheikhs, under house arrest and took their money or when he put the original female activists who wanted to get driving, the right for women to drive in Saudi Arabia, he put them in jail recently.
You know, all these things sort of blew over. Yemen, of course the atrocity there`s kind of blew over.
But this is different. I mean, I`m sure Dana would agree with me. Reading what`s happening in Washington, D.C. right now, the mood is very different. And congress is not going to let this one go.
HAYES: Do you agree with that, Dana?
SMITH: I mean, I hope Evelyn is right. And I think the other incidents that she mentioned are an important part of the picture here because the fact is the administration has failed to respond to sort of an escalation of behavior on the part of the crown prince of Saudi Arabia. You know, he sidelined the original crown prince who was one of our greatest partners in the fight against terrorism. We didn`t say a thing. Fighting Yemen, killing a school bus full of children, we didn`t say a thing. Blockading one of our partners in the region that hosts our largest air base, didn`t say a thing. Kidnapped the minister of Lebanon, didn`t say a thing.
So, here we are -- I mean, maybe we said some things behind the scenes but we certainly didn`t message anything publicly that we had a problem with this behavior. And it`s not like we can wave a magic wand and dictate what happens inside other country, but we certainly have the right and expectation to set some standards for ourselves about who we`re going to associate with.
HAYES: Well, the ambassador makes a point about -- you know, the path to this was paved with lots of green lights.
HAYES: Or lots of sort of go aheads from the White House. And now the question becomes, Evelyn, everyone seems backed into a corner here, like they are workshopping their cover story in public. This is The New York Times: "Saudi Arabia weighs blaming intelligence officer for Khashoggi killing," and it`s all about how like the guy they`re going to pin it on is plausible, because he`s senior enough. And we`re getting all these reports. But it`s like no one is going to accept that.
FARKAS: Right. And he is also of African origin, Chris, that`s another component of it. You know, he is sort of an easy one for them to pick on if you know something about their culture.
Look, I think the other problem -- and you kind of highlighted this when you asked about the investigation -- is that I think our government knows what happened.
FARKAS: I mean, the Turks clearly, you know, have been pushing us. And every time it looked like our administration, that the president wasn`t going to actually come clean and say that he was dead and he had been murdered by the Saudis, the Turks released a little bit more information, because they`re sitting here like what`s going on? We know and we told you guys.
So I highly suspect that our intelligence agencies know and the president knows. And again, as I said before, they`re just stalling for time.
HAYES: Ambassador, you left your post. You were ambassador, if I`m not mistaken, from 2014 to 2017. So you span the two administrations. You left I think with some frustration in the Trump administration. And one has to note there is no ambassador to the Saudi kingdom. And there is no ambassador to Turkey, if I`m not mistaken right now. How much does that matter in these circumstances?
SMITH: It matters a lot. You know, I mean, the administration isn`t wrong that the personal matters a lot in these instances, and I don`t blame them for making the personal relationships one of their focuses, but to totally neglect all the other stuff that happens in a relationship, and all of the other information that an ambassador gets because of his or her access, it`s just -- frankly, it`s a dereliction of duty.
We`re pretty far into an administration to not even have nominees to some of these places. So, yeah, they`re playing with a -- they`re using a tool box that`s empty for the most part.
HAYES: Is MBS not surviving this a possibility? And I don`t mean that in a literal sense. I mean, Evelyn, like him being removed?
FARKAS: I think it`s a -- well, it`s a possibility. I don`t know how much of a probability it is because obviously he`s the favorite son of the king, and it will be up to the king notionally to decide to push him aside.
But he`s got a lot of rivals. He`s got a lot of enemies, all those people that he put under house arrest in the Ritz Carlton and his relatives.
HAYES: Yeah. There is a lot of motive.
FARKAS: Yeah, and a lot of people are uncomfortable with putting him in the line of succession and giving him all the power.
FARKAS: There were a lot of people, including Khashoggi himself, who were saying that he was a reckless young man who was inexperienced and shouldn`t be in that position.
HAYES: Yeah. I just don`t know how -- the thought that a year from now everybody is he did chop that guy up, but -- it`s really horrifying.
SMITH: And they`re Islamic. I mean, they`re supposed to be the keepers of the holy cities.
HAYES: Evelyn Farkas and Dana Shell Smith, thank you.
That is ALL IN for this evening. "THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW" starts right now.
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