Show: ALL IN with CHRIS HAYES Date: November 20, 2018 Guest: Elliot Williams, Michael Schmidt, Karen Attiah, Mehdi Hasan, Christina Greer, Eric Klinenberg, Mark Pocan, May Boeve
STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: -- to cross three states was all it took to make him President in 2016. That may be all it takes to deny him reelection. Still if the Democratic celebration is been a little subdued, after this Midterms, there`s a good reason for it. You don`t have to look that far in the rearview mirror to find precedence who have recovered from worst. That is "HARDBALL" for now. "ALL IN" with Chris Hayes starts right now.
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CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: Tonight on ALL IN.
HILLARY CLINTON, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE, UNITED STATES: It`s just awfully good that someone with the temperament of Donald Trump is not in charge of the law in our country.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Because you`d be in jail.
HAYES: Breaking news from the New York Times, Donald Trump wanted to order the prosecutions of James Comey and Hillary Clinton.
TRUMP: Lock her up. That`s right.
HAYES: Tonight, what we know about why the president will stop, the new implications for the Mueller probe as the President submits answers to the Special Counsel. And what it means for a new acting Attorney General who says he would indict Hillary Clinton. Then --
TRUMP: We put out a statement on Saudi Arabia. We`ll see how that all works out.
HAYES: Tonight, global shockwaves from the President`s decision to side with Saudi Arabia over American intelligence.
TRUMP: It`s a shame but it`s -- it is what it is.
HAYES: When ALL IN starts right now.
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HAYES: Good evening from New York, I`m Chris Hayes. A major development in the Mueller investigation arrives today. The President completing his written answers to the special counsel almost simultaneously with a stunning report from the New York Times which details yet another attempted abuse of power by the President. This Spring, President Trump told his White House Counsel to order the Justice Department to prosecute former FBI Director James Comey and Trump`s former political rival Hillary Clinton according to two people familiar with the conversation.
According to The Times, "the lawyer Donald F. McGahn II rebuff the president saying that he had no authority to order prosecution. And to underscore his point, Mr. McGahn had White House lawyers write a memo for Mr. Trump warning that if he asked law enforcement to investigate his rivals, he could face a range of consequences including possible impeachment. It`s not clear if the President read the memo or pursued the idea, but he continued to privately discuss it including the possible appointment of a special second special counsel to investigate both Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Comey. He has also repeatedly expressed disappointment in the FBI Director Christopher Wray for failing to more aggressively investigate Mrs. Clinton calling him weak, one of the people said.
McGahn`s own lawyer in a carefully par statement at the Times said that to his knowledge, the president never ordered those prosecutions. But again, according to Times "the President asked what stopped him from ordering the Justice Department to investigate Mr. Comey and Mrs. Clinton the two people familiar with the conversation said. Mr. McGahn reportedly explained that while the President could ask the Justice Department to investigate, that too could be seen as an abuse of power.
The multiple page legal memo prepared for Trump reportedly outlined a range of possible consequences quoting again, "Justice Department lawyers could refuse to follow Mr. Trump`s orders. If charges were brought, judges could dismiss them and Congress say -- added could investigate President`s role on a prosecution and begin impeachment proceedings. This news as CNN is reporting that on multiple occasions Trump raised the issue investigating Hillary Clinton with Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and Matthew Whitaker who was then the chief of staff to Jeff Sessions.
Whitaker has since been installed of course as the acting Attorney General after auditioning for the part on cable news and writing editorials like this one for USA Today in the summer 2016, the headline, I would indict Hillary Clinton. While this as the President today answered written questions submitted by the special counsel`s office according to his lawyers. Rudy Giuliani, counsel to the President added this provocative statement "it has been our position from the outset that much of what has been asked raised serious constitutional issues and was beyond the scope of a legitimate inquiry. This remains our position today. The president has nonetheless provided unprecedented cooperation."
Let`s bring in former Deputy Assistant Attorney General in the Obama administration Elliot Williams, MSNBC Legal Analyst Jill Wine-Banks, former Assistant Watergate Special Prosecutor and MSNBC Legal Analyst Maya Wiley, Vice-President of the Social Justice at The New School. Jill, let me start with you. The obvious parallel here and there`s been a lot of writing about this is Nixon. What is the import of a president attempting to order his the part of Justice to prosecute a political rival?
JILL WINE-BANKS, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST: It opens him up to impeachment. No question about it. One of the things --
HAYES: Wait, the order itself, you`re saying, just even attempting to do it?
BANKS: I think just the attempt -- first of all it shows all Americans that this is a president not qualified to be president. This is a president who does not understand how an independent Department of Justice must operate. He does not understand what it means in a democracy to have an independent investigation, and he cannot just pick his political enemies and say investigate. That`s what Richard Nixon did. He had an enemies list. He told the IRS to go after them.
BANKS: That is not appropriate in a democracy. Any person in America can say you should investigate something I saw somebody breaking into someone`s apartment. That`s a burglary. You should investigate it. But you can`t just say I don`t like that person, go and prosecute them. And he used the word prosecute, not investigate. So I think it`s a very serious breach of his authority and is a clear abuse of power.
HAYES: Eliot, you work to the Department of Justice. What`s your reaction to this?
ELLIOT WILLIAMS, FORMER DEPUTY ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL: Well, OK, so we already knew from the stories about when around the time Don McGahn was leaving but the President misunderstood what the role of the White House Council was.
HAYES: That`s charitable.
HAYES: I mean, maybe intentionally misunderstood but stick to it.
WILLIAMS: The Pre1sident -- the President believed that the White House Counsel was his personal lawyer, right? And now we have more evidence that he believed that the Justice Department were his personal goons, that he could send the Justice Department out. Now, I`m serious here. That he could send the Justice Department out to prosecute his rivals.
And as Jill had just said, this is not who we are as a free and fair nation that believes in the rule of law. What this does call attention to it, if you remember there was talk about what Matt Whitaker might have discussed in private meetings with the president, right? Because he was going over Jeff Sessions, his head when he was chief of staff and just meeting directly with the president. What was the substance of those conversations?
And certainly, I would think the special counsel should try to get to the bottom of that because it`s clear that -- and it also stretches logic that the President didn`t know what Whitaker`s views were before he came into the position. So certainly the Special Counsel or the American people, or the Congress in January needs to get to the bottom of this question of what Mr. Whitaker knew before he took the job and what he`s taking into the job now.
HAYES: Yes, all of this obviously, to Eliot`s point, is of heightened import because of the man currently running the Department of Justice.
MAYA WILEY, MSNBC HOST: Absolutely. This is -- so I completely agree with everything that`s been said. I think this is -- especially when you take it in totality with all of the incidents of abuse of power that we`ve seen this President try to assert in many ways including by the way, publicly saying that he fired Comey with the Mueller investigation in mind. I mean, we could go down a very long list of this president actually trying to use the Department of Justice as his own personal tool including protecting himself and his family potentially from crimes.
But at this point, what we have is Congress absolutely needs to get right on top of hearings with Mr. Whitaker to say what conversation did the President have with you about Hillary Clinton and about a whole bunch of other things because truthfully he really should not be in that job.
HAYES: I actually just want to pause you there and say that Michael Schmidt of the New York Times has an update on the blockbuster report he just published and he joins me now by phone. Michael, you have some new information.
MICHAEL SCHMIDT, WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Yes. Trump had repeatedly pressed Justice Department officials as well about the status of Clinton related investigation. So you have Trump talking you know, in our stories of McGahn about the need for Justice to prosecute Clinton and prosecute Comey but you have him talking trying to get updates on the Clinton investigation from Justice Department official. And one of those officials was the acting -- current Acting Attorney General Whitaker, the new -- the chief of staff for Jeff Sessions.
Whitaker was sent over by the White House as someone to keep an eye on Sessions and someone that Whitaker developed a very strong relationship, build a good rapport with the President during his time as Sessions` chief of staff. And you know, the President became very comfortable with him. So you have the President asking Whitaker about this. And you know, the President hit grounds a lot about why the Justice Department was not doing more to prosecute Clinton and Comey. So it`s just sort of more evidence about that just for the bigger issue of him really wanting the Justice Department that go after his political enemies.
HAYES: So let me just make sure I just understand this and then I`m going to come back to the panel here. But what you`re saying is that Whitaker is an individual who the President had face-to-face conversations with about asking pryingly one supposes about the status of Department of Justice investigations into Hillary Clinton and James Comey?
SCHMIDT: Into Hillary -- all we know is about Hillary Clinton.
HAYES: Got you.
SCHMIDT: He was talking about the status of the Clinton investigations and you know -- you know, Justice Department looking at questions around Uranium One --
SCHMIDT: And you know, so this is specific to Hillary Clinton.
HAYES: Got you. OK, Michael Schmidt who broke that story earlier for the New York Times by phone, thank you so much for that update. So Jill, that`s -- I mean -- so they -- I mean, look, the most obvious view, the Occam`s razor here is that all of this is exactly what it looks like which is that a crony and stooge woefully under-qualified the position of the chief law enforcement officer in the United States has been unconstitutionally placed in the role with the express purpose of subverting or destroying an investigation of criminal inquiry to the President himself.
WINE-BANKS: Chris, you are completely right. If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it is a duck. And this looks like obstruction to me. And his relationship between Trump and Whitaker is quite troubling. Back during Watergate, we had L. Patrick Gray, the Head of the FBI feeding information back to John Dean so that they could coordinate the cover-up.
WINE-BANKS: You cannot have the Department of Justice sharing information with the target of an investigation or the subject or witnesses. That is what destroys an investigation and its credibility and this just sounds exactly like the kind of thing that led to articles of impeachment against Richard Nixon.
HAYES: Elliot, there`s also the issue of the responses and I want your take on this as well, Maya. The responses have been submitted interestingly enough have nothing to do, there essentially asserting privilege over everything from the day he wins the election to anything the presidency. That means nothing on the transition, nothing in the presidency, they`re going to answer some questions, very lawyered questions about the campaign. What do you make of that? Elliot? I think, his sound might have gone out. Maya?
WILEY: Well, I mean, quite frankly, I think we saw this coming because the Trump camp has been asserting really aggressive broad constitutional authority essentially for the executive branch and the president that doesn`t make a whole lot of sense in a democratic order but -- and has been used really in I think in a self-serving way simply to protect this particular president. But this whole notion even of executive privilege like I can do things that are obstructing justice but veil them in an argument that I have the executive privilege to make these decisions like fire James Comey for whatever reason I so choose.
And we`ve even seen actual conservative lawyers making these arguments in the press and I think it`s a real problem for our democracy that we`re arguing that a president is somehow above the law and can assert these privileges where they`re really evidence and serious questions about his conduct.
HAYES: Well, and there`s two questions there, Eliot. One is the assertions being made about the breadth of executive privilege vis a vis presidential actions during both the transition and the administration which is interesting. And as far as I understand it`s somewhat noveled the transition part. And the second is the degree to which the Department of Justice and Mueller actually empowered enough to pursue a subpoena if that word -- what it takes which we don`t know.
WILLIAMS: Right. So a couple of these, one, my audio is out for a second ago, you might have come to me a little bit earlier. But look this -- regardless of -- the question here is the poor judgment that they`re exercising. Even if the law might have allowed the president to have taken some actions in the case you know, frankly during the transition or during the early presidency, or even when he was in the presidency with the McGahn, the question is whether it would have been the exercise of sound judgment to have done so.
And what we`ve seen time and again is the President is stretching the bounds and the limits of what`s permissible and what`s lawful. And this is -- you know, if I were advising a client, I would tell them this is ultimately how you end up getting into jail. This is how you end up getting yourself into trouble when you push the limits this far and we`ve seen it time and time again. And so certainly, you know, when -- ideally the Special Counsel will uncover it and get to the bottom of all of this, but again we`re just seeing a recklessness with respect to the boundaries of the law that should trouble all Americans.
WILEY: I think that`s right in terms of the boundaries of the law, but I think what we`re also seeing it`s Donald Trump is going to have a very hard time answering these questions without asserting privilege if he didn`t want to say some things I think that could potentially get him in trouble. And I think we just have to acknowledge that this president wasn`t going to have an easy time with these questions.
HAYES: Well, and Jill, I mean, the question -- he`s been shaking the cage right? I mean, what`s sort of -- what we have learned when you put all the pieces together is this president who was attempted to obstruct justice, he`s attempted to manipulate the Department Justice to you know, for his own ends. Various entities and interests have blocked him in various ways but we don`t know when he has been successful or if he`s been successful or if he`s on the threshold of being successful, Jill.
WINE-BANKS: Well, first of all, even if he is not successful, the attempt is a crime.
HAYES: Yes, that`s a good point.
WINE-BANKS: Attempting to do a crime is a crime. And the executive privilege does not allow him to have a criminal conversation even if he was president. So the question of whether he can exert kind of privilege while he is in the transition phase is a separate question. I don`t know whether privilege applies to the transition period but it certainly doesn`t apply to the transition period if those conversations were criminal in nature because if he was president it wouldn`t apply.
HAYES: And it`s also -- I mean, the other thing is every day that Whitaker is in this role is remarkable. I mean, there is essentially -- the OLC itself, the only precedent they come up with was 1866 and exigent circumstances for I think six days if I`m quoting that correctly. Whitaker is involved in an a sort of scam operation shut down by the FCC that returned $27 million in money and is criminally being investigated by the FBI. Today we got his ethics disclosures of his financial disclosure which crew is now saying were edited five times in the last two weeks after they withheld it.
WILEY: Yes, and I want to separate out the constitutionality of a president making an interim appointment that is a rational judgment versus this particular president --
HAYES: In this --
WILEY: -- making this particular interim appointment under all the circumstances we have with Mr. Whitaker including the fact that he clearly was told by someone who is a witness in the Mueller investigation. Hey, become a pundit to get the president`s attention in order to get a job in the administration who then becomes one of the people who is the endorser of this is a great person for the job even publicly he becomes a validator --
HAYES: Sam Clovis, you`re saying.
WILEY: Yes. Which is bizarre.
WILLIAMS: Chris, an important note about the OLC opinion, it is an opinion, it is not law. It is -- now attorneys at the Justice Department you know, can`t go to jail if they rely on that, but it`s certainly not binding in a court or anything like that. Now, courts will be the arbiter of you know, of whether Whitaker should have been appointed or whether the appointment was lawful but we know, we shouldn`t give too much stock to you sort of the significance of that OLC opinion, the Office of Legal Counsel opinion that said you know, that it was the Justice Department`s opinion that he was properly appointed.
WILEY: I think -- the thing that concerns me so much about this is I think there is a an argument that is a credible legal argument that the appointment power itself and not going in succession was not contrary to the Constitution. I think the problem here is we`re conflating a problem of Congress not doing its job of oversight.
WILEY: Particularly now, in this case, it`s going to be the Senate, that that`s our constitutional problem and that the president does not feel any accountability to the normal checks and balances including his own party saying we think you maybe should make a better choice.
HAYES: We`re going to see. I remain astonished in some ways that the -- Matt Whitaker is the acting Attorney General of the United States and continues to be, but I also think that that is not a tenable situation for that long. Elliott Williams, Jill Wine-Banks, and Maya Wiley, thank you all. Coming up, the President is stating in no uncertain terms that he sides a Saudi Arabia on the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. The stunning statement of the president reaction from Khashoggi`s friend and Washington Post Editor next.
HAYES: Even by the debased moral standards of the Trump era, today was a new low. From the moment Saudi Arabia murdered and reportedly dismembered a U.S. resident and Washington Post columnist in their consulate in Istanbul last month, Donald Trump and his administration have done everything they could to collude in a cover-up and obfuscate any investigation into what actually happened. Even after the CIA itself reportedly concluded that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered the assassination of Khashoggi, Donald Trump issued a statement that alternated between talking about countries like Iran spreading vile smears about Khashoggi and lying about how much business the U.S. and Saudi Arabia do together.
The statement of fact was so bizarre and rambling it prompted this reaction from former Secretary of State John Kerry during my podcast recording today.
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JOHN KERRY, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE, UNITED STATES: Well, I`ve never seen a statement that seemed to be drafted and uncorrected from the president directly.
HAYES: What did you think of the statement?
KERRY: I thought it was strange. I mean -- I mean, what strikes me more than anything else is we have a president United States from day one when he came in has been at war with the Intelligence Community of the United States of America let alone other people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: The current Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was dispatched to the microphones this afternoon to back up his boss which he did looking incredibly uncomfortable the whole time.
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MIKE POMPEO, SECRETARY OF STATE, UNITED STATES: So it`s a mean, nasty world out there, the Middle East in particular. There are important American interests to keep the American people safe to protect Americans.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: It`s a mean, nasty world there -- out there. That`s the position of the American Secretary of State after the President shrugged off the brutal murder of a dissident journalists. Karen Attiah, Jamal Khashoggi`s friend and Editor the Washington Post today called on other branches of government to do what the president will not, "it is time for Congress to act and impose consequences for Saudi Arabia`s dangerous behavior from Yemen to its bloodied repression of peaceful critics or if we do not, Khashoggi`s death will be a blood stain on America`s moral conscience that neither time nor Saudi hush money will ever erase. And Karen Attiah joins me now.
What was your reaction when you first saw the statement from the President?
KAREN ATTIAH, EDITOR, WASHINGTON POST: By all measures, I was stunned and disgusted and sickened. We all deserved better. Jamal deserved better. I think it was just -- for all the statements about the U.S.-Saudi relationship being some sort of special relationships, so special that we need to sacrifice human life in order to save it, there is no mention of concessions or pushing Saudi Arabia to change its ways. It made us Trump look like we`re servants to this regime that would butcher Washington Post journalists. And it -- and Chris, it puts all of us journalists, Saudi critics, any buddy who dares to have an opinion against the authoritarian government around the world, it puts us in more danger. It gives people like Mohammed bin Salman a green light to erase and silence anybody that they want, wherever they might be, for whatever reason. And it`s --I still I`m just really disgusted to be honest.
HAYES: On that -- the latter point, you think this -- that statement will be read by regimes around the world as essentially a green light from the President of the United States that you can do whatever you want to do to dissidents, to American residents, perhaps even to American citizens, Lord knows, and get away with it if there`s some strategic interest the President feels is in play.
ATTIAH: Absolutely. And this comes down to his feelings, not facts. Again, we know that he`s exaggerated the numbers when it comes to jobs created by Saudi deals. We know that the war in Yemen has been an absolute humanitarian catastrophe. We know that Saudi Arabia has not been able to contain its rivals in Yemen but they have been able to bomb school buses full of children. It`s just again a complete abdication of any sort of moral leadership on the -- on the part of the United States. The idea that Turkey`s Erdogan, President Erdogan has been stronger on calling for justice of a U.S. resident than our own president, it`s beyond imagination for me.
HAYES: What do you want to see happen now?
ATTIAH: Well, now as I said, it`s time for Congress to step up. It`s time for Congress -- already Bob Corker has tweeted that they`ve already sent a second letter to Trump requiring, demanding that he presents an inquiry into whether or not formally Mohammed bin Salman was responsible for Jamal`s murder. I think again, you know, this is an opportunity for us, Congress also to raise the profiles of other Saudi reformers and critics who are languishing in prison.
Women reformers who campaigned for the right to drive like (INAUDIBLE) who are reportedly women like her who are being tortured even potentially you know, harassed. It`s time for them to be let go. It`s time for the war in Yemen to end, and it`s time for sanctions, and it`s time for Mohammed bin Salman who`s been praised as some sort of reformer to be persona non grata in the United States. And it`s time if the reports are true of the G20 summit inviting him to Argentina, he needs to be shunned as a brutal pariah that he is.
HAYES: Karen Attiah, thank you so much for your time.
ATTIAH: Thank you, Chris.
HAYES: I want to bring Michelle Goldberg Op-Ed Columnist at the New York Times and MSNBC Political Analyst, and Mehdi Hasan, a Columnist at the Intercept and the host of the Deconstructed Podcast. We`ll start with you, Michelle. This statement -- and again, the standards are very low for the Trump era, the statement itself managed to come in under them.
MICHELLE GOLDBERG, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Right. I mean, both for many different reasons. Both because of its utter kind of proud immorality, its mendacity, I mean it`s just full of lies and it`s real flippantness. You know, I mean, he kind of can`t even pretend to see this murder of a U.S. resident, a columnist for a great American newspaper. He can`t even pretend to see this as a matter of great import right? I mean, maybe he did it, maybe he didn`t, you know.
HAYES: It is what it is.
GOLDBERG: Right. It is what it is. I mean, he can`t even pretend to take the issue seriously. And so -- you know, which is why it is such a signal to despots all over the world. It`s not as if the United States does not behave typically in the past. You know, the United States has often you know, continued its relationship with countries like Saudi Arabia despite all sorts of human rights abuses but there is still a difference when there is some sort of standard, some sort of sense that if you go too far you will damage your relationship with your most important patron.
HAYES: Yes, what do you think of that. Maybe -- that idea is sprung to mind to me today too of U.S. foreign policy has long been extremely hypocritical particularly with the Saudis who have a terrible human rights record but that hypocrisy is preferable to what we just saw from the president today.
MEHDI HASAN, COLUMNIST, THE INTERCEPT: No, well said Chris. We would all much rather prefer the United States pretends to care about human rights rather than openly say you know what, you know, it`s a mean, dangerous world. What do you say, it`s a dangerous world and Pompeo said it`s a nasty place out there. Yes, it`s dangerous and nasty because you`re turning a blind eye to one of your allies killing a U.S. resident, murdering a journalist on foreign soil. It`s dangerous and nasty to Yemenis who are having U.S. bombs dropped on them by Saudi planes because you`re turning a blind eye to. You`re not just a passive observer, you`re active participant in the dangerousness and nastiness in this world.
But this thing that stood out to me Chris in the statement, what was so revealing about this bizarre rambling statement was the Iran stuff right at the top. It`s very revealing because we know it`s not just about oil, it`s not just about arms sales, it`s not just about Trump`s bottom line. He`s making a lot of money from the Saudis, personally, even though he denies it. It`s not about all that.
It`s also about Iran, it`s about Israel, it`s about the fact that MBS, Benjamin Netanyahu and Donald Trump have formed this evil justice league to try and start a pointless war in the Middle East again, this time with Tehran. That`s why they can`t throw MBS under the bus, and Trump is very clear about that.
They devote the first two paragraphs of that statement to Iran, even though the last time I checked Iran, for all of it`s sins, wasn`t bombing Yemen and didn`t murder Jamal Khashoggi.
There were more references to Iran, Chris, in that statement than there are to Jamal Khashoggi and the crown prince of Saudi Arabia.
HAYES: It`s a great point. And that is -- the geopolitics behind this are exactly that, right? That there`s this sort of tacit, if not explicit alliship between the U.S., Saudis and Mohammad bin Salman, the government in Israel, to sort of confront the Iranians and roll them back.
You have this reporting about Kushner, who has been said to be in MBS`s pocket, the Saudi prince boasted Jared Kushner was in his pocket.
And then, the other point was about the financial interest, which always looms over this.
I want to play the president today denying it, compared to what he has said in the past. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I don`t make deals with Saudi Arabia. I don`t have money from Saudi Arabia. I have nothing to do with Saudi Arabia. I couldn`t care less.
Saudi Arabia, and I get along great with all of them, they buy apartments from me, they spend $40 million, $50 million, am I supposed to dislike them? I like them very much.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MICHELLE GOLDBER, THE NEW YORK TIMES: It goes to the point that for among everything else, the statement is weak. Right?
GOLDBERG: Donald Trump is enthralled to them.
HAYES: He`s subservient.
GOLDBERG: He`s a supplicant. And so, this isn`t kind of America first, this is him basically saying, you know, don`t worry, I`m not going to do anything to you. Don`t do anything back to me.
HAYES: The weakness there is striking, Mehdi.
HASAN: And it`s weird, Michelle`s right to point out the direction of travel. Who is the supplicant and who is the client`s state here? This is the United States of America.
And the stuff he bases supplication on is nonsense. The Saudis are not investing $450 billion in the U.S. economy as he claims in that statement. He just made that number up.
The Saudis are not helping national security. I mean he says the Saudies are helping our national security.
He even says in the statement, Chris, that Saudi Arabia can`t be abandoned because it`s agreed to lead the fight against radical Islamic terrorism, which he pointlessly capitalizes, which is absurd.
Asking Saudi Arabia to lead the fight against radical Islamic terrorism is like asking the Gotti family to lead the fight against organized crime. They spread the stuff. They can`t be tasked with cleaning it up.
The whole thing is nonsensical from start to finish.
HAYES: Alright, Michelle Goldberg and Mehdi Hasan, thank you both.
I want to bring in Congressman Mark Pocan, he`s a Democrat of Wisconsin and co-sponsor of a recent resolution to curtail U.S. support for the Saudi lead war in Lemon.
And congressman, I wanted to have you on to talk about that aspect of the conflict specifically because the president, in that rambling statement, begins by essentially blaming the Iranians for the war in Yemen, which seems a rebuke to sort of -- or a justification for continued U.S. facilitation of a war that is currently causing the worst humanitarian crisis in the world.
What do you think about that?
REP. MARK POCAN, (D) WISCONSIN: This is something that for about a year the Congressional Progressive Caucus has been working on. We now have bipartisan sponsors, Thomas Massie and Walter Jones on the republican side.
Just this week Leader Pelosi actually signed onto this as well. We tried to force a vote, because Congress, according to Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution, says we have to have a vote if we`re going to be involved in a war.
Right now we have logistic and targeting and we had refueling support going on. We need to have Congress involved, and yet Paul Ryan, in some arcane procedural motion, you know, rule and a bill on wolves, de-privileged the resolution and took away Congress`s ability to have that vote.
Next week in the Senate, Bernie Sanders, Chris Murphy and Mike Lee have a bipartisan resolution that they`re bringing forward. They think they may have the votes this time. If they can get it passed we`ll bring it back up in the House.
But Congress has to have a say on what right now 14 million people are facing starvation and we are partially involved because we are working with the Saudi-led coalition.
HAYES: Why should Americans -- you just spoke to it, but tell Americans who are watching this and may be skeptical why America has a role to play and what Americans can do to stop this mass starvation that seems incipient?
POCAN: So this is the worst humanitarian crisis currently on the planet.
The port city that`s been one of the main points of the conflict, 77% of the medicine, fuel and food comes through there. That`s what`s causing the starvation.
But we see this on a regular basis, the pictures coming from there, of what`s going on, and because of this we need to have a vote if we`re going to be involved.
And the president`s comments were over the top today. I really, truly believe he couldn`t find Yemen on a map, but he does know the dollars that are involved, not for the U.S., but maybe for himself when it comes to Saudi Arabia.
So we`ve had a very difficult time in dealing with this administration. That`s why Congress, as a co-equal branch of government, needs to have its say.
Paul Ryan has given up two years of doing that. We`ll do our best in the next few weeks. But if not, when Democrats take the majority in January, we will do something about this and make sure that we stop this starvation.
HAYES: One thing I`d say to people, if you think Mohammad bin Salman thinks he can get away with killing and dismembering a Washington Post journalist, imagine what he thinks he can get away with Yemen children.
Congressman Mark Pocan thank you so much for your time.
Ahead, the blue wave continues to grow with more surprise wins for Democrats day after day. There could be more wins even ahead. That`s next.
HAYES: Democrats have now added 38, 38 House seats in the midterm elections with two undecided races left, they could end up with a plus 40 gain. A popular vote margin for Democrats is now 7.8 points, bigger than the 7 point GOP margin back in 1994 when newly anointed House speaker, Newt Gingrich said, and I quote, "If this is not a mandate to move in a particular direction, I would like somebody to explain to me what a mandate would look like."
In the final outstanding Senate race, the runoff between Republican Cindy Hyde-Smith and Democrat Mike Espy in Mississippi, Hyde Smith may be in trouble in a state won by Trump by 18 points.
New York Times reporting that a private Republican poll last week found Hyde Smith`s lead had narrowed to just five points.
Joining me now for what all of this means, Democratic political strategist Karen Finney, and Christina Greer, Professor of Political Science at Fordham University.
Karen, I`ll start with you. Everyday goes by and the House numbers look better and better. It`s not just the number of seats. Dave Weigel was tweeting out the margins in Orange County, which I had not been looking at, because you know it gets called and you sort of --
But, in all these races, these are healthy margins, narrowest plus 2 in 39, Katy Porter by 3.4. Rouda over Rohrabacher, whichever one I thought was a squeaker, by 6.6 points. That was a whooping.
KAREN FINNEY, MSNBC: It was a whooping, and you know, Chris, that`s why it reminds us that the counting actually matters.
I mean to have a -- right -- and I think that`s one of the big lesson out of this midterm election that we have to make sure that every vote is counted always. And that when people show up to the polls they have the opportunity to vote and know that that vote is going to be counted.
I think that has made a huge difference as we`ve seen in the number of places across the country. You know, but again, the other thing you see in Orange County is people are winning by as some of these really impressive margins, but I think we also need to pay attention to how they campaign, the fact that people stayed very close to the ground. They ran good ground games. Good field programs. They stayed close to voters, close to issues that voters really cared about and were talking about things. And were talking about things like health care, which people really care about.
HAYES: Yeah, there`s a bigger takeaway here, I think, which is I thought Nate Silver nailed it with the piece, Trump`s base isn`t enough. Basically the idea is, like, yes we`ve all heard about his base for two years. It`s a remarkable thing how attached his base is to him. It`s amazing what they`ll forgive. It`s amazing how he can do no wrong in their eyes. It is not a majority of the country, that`s the brute fact of the matter.
CHRISTINA GREER, FORDHAM UNIVERSITY: And Democrats need to remember that. I mean, his base is very strong in the primaries, right, and so that`s where you have Republicans running scared and Republicans who used to be moderate and somewhat sensible sort of saying and doing things that leave the majority of Americans scratching their heads.
But I do think also the base isn`t enough, but the Democratic institution needs to make sure that they`re supporting particular candidates in their own primaries, and sort of before some of these competitive districts come up.
So the role of Tom Perez is not to just support Democrats, but also to help identify talent. And there are ways in which this blue wave that`s come in and all these women of color who are amazing, many weren`t supported by their party before they got out of their primaries, so that`s something the Democratic Party really needs to look at and look at themselves.
FINNEY: Here`s the thing, though, and I partially agree with Christina, and I actually the DNC -- you know I was there under Chairman Dean whose whole mantra was you`ve got show up and ask people for their votes and we should never concede a seat anywhere.
And I do think that under Tom Perez, we`re trying to get back to that strategy. And I think if you look at -- you know I worked on this race, what Stacey Abrams was able to accomplish in Georgia, the really important lesson there is the fact that she said I`m going to go to all 159 counties in this state, I`m going to talk to everybody, I`m going to unabashedly talk about who I am and what I care about and I think she also sent a message that you can do that and win, and we have to get away from these labels about, you know, expanding Medicaid as a liberal issue or a conservative issue, it`s a human issue. It`s an issue that people care about.
But I think what the party has to pay attention to is, if you look at what Beto accomplished, if you look at what Stacey accomplished, all across this country where you have now new volunteers, new grassroots donors, new voters, right. I mean, her campaign identified 1.4 million Democrats, potential Democrats, and went out and set out a year and a half before the election to register those people, motivate those people, stay in contact with those people and turn people out. And that`s what the party has to do all across the country over the next two years.
HAYES: So you`re talking about showing up in places. Mississippi is a place people that don`t expect Democrats to win. But there`s a contested race. Interesting there`s debate between Cindy Hyde-Smith and Mike Espy. Just to give a little context, she negotiated -- she only wanted it sponsored by the Mississippi Farm Bureau, members of whom financially support her. She didn`t want any journalists or audience members. And she insisted in the negotiations on being able to have a pad that she got an hour before the debate so she could take in, meaning that she and her staff can write things on it. So, I want to...
GREER: As a professor I`m like slow down. Slow down.
HAYES: That was a lot to process. I`ve been reading about the negotiations all day, but you just gave me a look like, excuse me?
GREER: Right, OK, sorry.
HAYES: Wait, I want to play you the clip. She got in trouble because she talked about someone that they`re so close she would go to a public hanging if he invited her. This is, of course, in Mississippi which was the heart of lynching in the south for year. Here`s her apology just now haltingly being read off said notepad in the debate. Take a listen.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CINDY HYDE-SMITH, SENATORIAL CANDIDATE, (R) MISSISSIPPI: For anyone that was offended for my -- by my comments, I certainly apologize. There was no ill will, no intent whatsoever in my statement.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Got to read the apology.
GREER: She needs to read the apology because she`s not apologetic. I mean, what we have to understand as a nation, and unfortunately we`re very ahistoric in this country, when it comes to lynching and the work that Ida B. Wells did and so many -- especially black women put their lives on the line -- Fanny Lou Hammer (ph) trying to register people to vote in Mississippi, people losing their lives in Mississippi, especially trying to vote, lynched for trying to vote, for her to make that comment, not apologize for days on end and then need to read it.
HAYES: Need to read it.
GREER: It`s a double bind.
But I do want to go back to something Karen said really briefly, I think that Stacey Abrams ran -- I mean, obviously, she did the work, right? I think the Democrats really do need to figure out how they want to utilize all of these new voters moving forward as well. I totally agree.
HAYES: And new political talent.
Karen Finney and Christina Greer, thank you both for being with me.
Still ahead, the latest on the crisis unfolding in California, the thousands of residents who have nowhere to go. Plus, another loss to the Trump administration in federal courts after a judge blocked the president`s attempted asylum ban for some migrants. That`s next.
HAYES: Another day, another federal judge telling the Trump administration they are completely out of line. This summer you`ll remember a federal judge overturned part of an executive order that made it easier to fire federal workers. Last week, a federal judge ordered the White House to reinstate Jim Acosta`s press pass. And last night, another federal judge ordered the administration to start accepting asylum claims from people coming into the country no matter where they enter.
Just days after the election, the president claimed that his administration would stop accepting asylum claims from migrants if they did not come through a port of entry. But as Judge Frye of the ninth circuit pointed out, quote, whatever the scope of the president`s authority, he may not rewrite the immigration laws to impose a condition that congress has expressly forbidden.
Trump called the ruling a disgrace and vowed to put in a major complaint, with whom remains unclear.
HAYES: There is a humanitarian crisis unfolding in the state of California in front of our eyes. At least 79 people have been killed in the Camp Fire in Northern California, now by far the most deadly and destructive fire in state history. Nearly 700 people are still missing. In total, nearly 13,000 homes have been burned down, which means tens of thousands of people have nowhere to go.
Some of them have ended up at a Walmart in Chico. Hundreds of people displaced by the fire are now sheltering in a tent city with rain on the way. It`s a wake-up call not only for California, but for the entire country.
We are now in the era of permanent climate disaster, and we better start getting prepared.
Joining me now May Boeve who is the co-founder and executive director of 350.org, an organization that pushes for action to fight climate change, and Eric Klinenberg, the director of NYU`s institute for public knowledge, and author of the book "Palaces for the People," which came out in September.
Eric, you`ve done a lot of work on disaster preparedness, emergency preparedness. And I look at California and I think to myself, this is a big rich country, and there are hundreds if not thousands of people with nowhere to go, we should be able to figure this out.
ERIC KLINENBERG, NEW YORK UNIVERSITY: We are the best protected people in the world. We have the best resources for dealing with these kinds of situations, and yet we act as if we have this will not to know about the danger that`s all around us.
If it was any other security threat of this magnitude, we would be doing everything possible to prevent it. And the fact that we`re not doing it around the climate threat tells us something that is very meaningful about who we are right now.
HAYES: Mae, a lot of people have been talking about this as a kind of before and after moment for the state of California and consciousness of what the real, tangible consequences of the era we have entered into are now.
MAY BOEVE, 350.ORG: Well, I`m speaking to you from California. This is the first day I haven`t worn my gas mask because the air quality is one of the worst places in the world right now. And California is a state that has done a tremendous amount to lead on this issue, but we`re seeing what we have done about climate change so far has been insufficient.
And these fires are scary. And the wide ranging impact of these fires is scary, but we`re not without knowledge about the solutions to this problem. And we have to do everything we can to support the people most impacted, particularly the most vulnerable among us.
But we have to look at the long-term, and for that we know who is responsible for climate change and we know the solutions are going to be good for all of us.
HAYES: You know, May made that point about the gas mask, and I`ve got say it`s like straight sci-fi dystopic look at the future. You have got the wealthiest square footage in all of the world, arguably, in Silicon Valley with people wearing masks, because no matter how much money you`re making, as an engineer or a venture capitalist, it doesn`t help if the air quality is terrible.
KLINENBERG: That`s right.
So, we know that climate change is going to affect the most vulnerable people and places, but it`s like the titanic. We`re all in that boat. So, some people are going to go down first, but everyone is in it.
And look, we`re sitting in Manhattan, and once upon a time I think people in Manhattan thought they were safe and protected and Sandy eviscerated that fantasy. The fantasy is eviscerated in Miami, and city after city is going to experience this kind of situation.
The real issue is when we will finally muster the political will to do what we all know is inevitable. We`re going have to shift away from fossil fuels and start to find renewable sources of energy before it`s too late.
HAYES: May, you know, there is this remarkable map. You know, there are some people on the east coast who had woken up I think yesterday and said to themselves, like man, am I imagining things because I`m watching the news too much or am I crazy or is the air quality bad? And that is a smoke plume that has blown across the continental U.S. and was in the MidAtlantic yesterday, which I think speaks to the point about how inescapable this is going to be for everyone.
BOEVE: Yes. And this does, as we were discussing, affect everyone. But it doesn`t affect everyone equally. And we`re not just talking about the United States. Climate disasters are striking in every single country, and the efforts to respond to them are similarly global in nature.
But there is good news. This week, actually, there has been tremendous pressure from young people, part of the Sunrise Movement, pushing members of congress on a green new deal. This is incredibly exciting. It`s the kind of ambitious policymaking we need, and we have to be able to turn to the solutions, because we cannot fight climate change one disaster at a time.
HAYES: There is also this collective action problem, right? I mean, this is the thing that I think people break up on, which is California is probably doing more than any other state in the union on this, right? I mean, they`ve cut emissions while they`ve lowered their unemployment rate and increased economic growth. They`re doing it, but that`s, you know, just California doing it is not enough.
KLINENBERG: Right. And it feels bad if you`re in New York and you`re doing it and they`re not doing it in New Jersey or Pennsylvania, let alone China or Russia.
But, look, I think what we`re hearing now is right there. There is a rising generation of people in this country and around the world that recognizes we can`t do business as usual anymore. We need some fundamental change. And what I see teaching on a college campus, when I talk to younger people generally is a real passion for dealing with this. It`s an emerging emergency social issue.
HAYES: That`s true.
KLINENBERG: And they get it. And the problem is we can`t leave them a problem that is insurmountable. And so we have this window for action. And I think it`s right, we`re seeing a younger rising generation inspire us to do the right thing.
HAYES: There`s also -- as I look at those images of destruction, May, people talk about a carbon tax or cap and trade or whatever -- variety of ways in which we would deal with carbon pollution, and they say well, it`s expensive. But there are 13,000 structures in California that have burned to the ground, people are going to be paying out hundreds of millions of dollars, if not more in insurance claims.
BOEVE: Well, and let`s not forget who the enemy is here, right. We`re dealing with the richest industry on earth who knew they were causing this problem and lied about it, and we`re not facing a shortage of resources in dealing with this problem, if we look at that industry.
And there is an increasing suite of lawsuits that are actually holding big oil accountable in cities across the world. So we have to look at that piece of the picture as well.
HAYES: All right, May Boeve and Eric Klinenberg, thanks for joining me.
I should mention Eric Klinenberg was a guest on our podcast Why is This Happening as well as Mehdi Hasan who was in the show earlier. The most recent edition to the #withpod hall of fame is Rachel Maddow. Maybe you`ve heard of her. Talk about a bunch of things, including her incredible new podcast Bag Man. You can find both of our podcasts on TuneIn or wherever you get podcasts
That is All In for this evening. The Rachel Maddow Show starts right now. Good evening, Rachel.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END