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President Trump arrives at Capitol Rotunda. TRANSCRIPT: 12/3/18, All In w/ Chris Hayes

Guests: Bob Bauer, Nancy Gertner, Adam Davidson, Charles Pierce, Wayne Goodwin, Brian Murphy

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST:  -- for our family.  Well, that`s HARDBALL for now.  Thanks for being with us.  "ALL IN" with Chris Hayes starts right now.



DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  Michael Cohen is lying and he`s trying to get a reduced sentence --

HAYES:  The President attacks Michael Cohen.

TRUMP:  He`s a weak person.

HAYES:  And grooms Roger Stone. 

ROGER STONE, CAMPAIGN ADVISER, TRUMP CAMPAIGN:  There`s no circumstance under which I would testify against the president.

HAYES:  As Robert Mueller prepares what could be another bombshell.


HAYES:  Tonight, a compromised president lashes out as the Special Counsel closes in. 

TRUMP:  I feel bad at General Flynn.

HAYES:  Then, the New Yorker`s Adam Davidson on what he says is the last phase of the Trump presidency.  Plus, what looks like a massive case of election fraud by Republicans in North Carolina, protest a Republican power grab in Wisconsin.  And as George Herbert Walker Bush lies in state, assessing the legacy of the 41st President in the era of the 45th. 

MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT, UNITED STATES:  There was a kindness about the man that was evident to everyone who ever met him.

PENCE:  When ALL IN starts right now.


HAYES:  Good evening from New York I`m Chris Hayes.  At this hour the vigil continues for former President George H.W. Bush who is lying in state at the Capitol.  Donald Trump is expected to visit within the hour.  We will keep an eye on that.  And that solemn scene comes on a day when the current president is having yet another angry public tantrum about the Russia investigation.  And if you think the President is lashing out now, well, just you wait.

Robert Mueller`s prosecutors have reportedly told defense lawyers that they are tying up loose ends in their investigation and what they plan to lay out just this week is expected to be explosive.  Today Trump went after his former right-hand man Michael Cohen who admitted last week that he lied to Congress to cover up the President`s extensive business interests in Russia.  Now, Cohen is set to be sentenced next Wednesday and he has asked a judge to give him no prison time in part because he`s cooperating with the government. 

Trump claimed that it would be outrageous for Cohen not to end up behind bars quoting him here.  You mean he can do all the terrible unrelated to Trump things having to do with fraud, big loans taxis etcetera and not serve a long prison term?  The President of United States went on to suggest that Cohen`s wife and father-in-law should also go to jail just like Rod Rosenstein and Hillary Clinton and pretty much anyone else that Trump doesn`t like, lock them all up.

Now, let`s be clear.  When the president says Cohen`s crimes are "unrelated to Trump," he is lying.  Cohen has, in fact, pleaded guilty to multiple crimes related to Trump and specifically related to getting Trump elected president.  Last week he admitted covering up Trump`s ongoing effort to build Trump Tower Moscow.  Before that, he admitted to illegally paying off Trump`s alleged mistresses to keep them quiet before Election Day.  That`s a lot of Trump-related crime. 

And remember, Michael Cohen is far from president Trump`s only problem.  Tomorrow Robert Mueller is scheduled to file a memo regarding former Trump National Security Adviser Michael Flynn.  Remember him?  He`s the one who pleaded guilty to lying the FBI about his contacts with the Russian government.  And in that memo that they`re going to file in court, we will all see information about any bad acts Flynn committed for which he was not charged and details about his cooperation with the special counsel.

A senior U.S. official tells NBC News that memo will be made public with possible redactions or an addendum filed under seal.  Then on Friday we`re going to get another detailed memo from Mueller, this one explaining why Mueller`s office pulled out of a plea agreement with former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort who was we later learn secretly briefing Trump`s legal team while ostensibly cooperating with the government.

The Special Counsel`s office confirmed today that memo also will be made public and it will lay out in detail -- this is according to language of Robert Mueller -- Manafort`s alleged crimes and lies about a variety of subject matters.  OK, if you`re Donald Trump that is not good.  Remember, Trump is already submitted written answers to Mueller.  You can`t take those back.  And then today after attacking Michael Cohen, Trump then praised his former campaign adviser Roger Stone whose mother team is investigating as it looks into possible Trump Russia collusion.

Now, Stone has vowed not to testify against Trump prompting Trump to tweet, nice to know that some people still have guts.  That`s one way of putting it.  Earlier this year, Stone wrote a book called Stone`s Rules in which he laid out the maxims that have guided his eventful career.  Here`s one of them.  "It meant nothing, deny everything, launch counter-attack."  Admit nothing, deny everything, well, it sounds familiar, doesn`t it?

During the campaign, Stone bragged about his contacts with Julian Assange of WikiLeaks which of course released the e-mails that Russia stole and made public as part of its effort to help get Trump elected.


STONE:  I actually have communicated with Assange.  I believe the next tranche of documents pertains to the Clinton Foundation.


HAYES:  Stone now insists he never talked to Assange and he appears determined to stay and the good graces of the one man who could get him out of jail even if he is found guilty.


GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, HOST, ABC NEWS:  You say you`re always going to be loyal to President Trump.  If you`re indicted or convicted, do you expect that he`ll pardon you?

STONE:  Well, first of all, generally speaking, in politics you avoid hypothetical questions.  That said, there`s no circumstance under which I would testify against the president because I`d have to bear false witness against him.  I`d have to make things up.


HAYES:  Joining me now to break down one of the investigations stands NYU Law Professor Bob Bauer who is White House Counsel under President Obama and co-authored a piece for Just Security entitled Yes Collusion.  Bob let me start with you as a former White House Counsel.  Imagine that you were serving a president who wanted to tweet what the president today tweeted about one individual who has cooperated with federal prosecutors and one who hasn`t, praising one and insulting the other.  George Conway sort of cheekily suggesting that`s witness tampering.  What do you make of that?

BOB BAUER, FORMER WHITE HOUSE COUNSEL:  As White House Counsel, I tear my hair out if you take this act together with all the other ways in which this president has launched attacks on the criminal justice system, attacked the special counsel, derided particular witnesses, expressed opinions about the evidence.  I think taken in the aggregate, these were all very dangerous steps that he`s taken, quite apart from the norms that he`s violating.  He could well at some point be subject to an investigation to these matters certainly as a question of law and without any doubt, in the aggregate, they could inform an impeachment proceeding.

HAYES:  Your story I thought was very good, your article in Just Security which you co-wrote Yes Collusion which is sort of about the kind of bigger picture as things falls into focus.  What`s your main takeaway as you follow this?

BAUER:  We hear a lot about collusion but oftentimes what we`re really talking about gets a little bit lost in the public dialogue.  The federal campaign finance laws prohibit U.S. nationals from colluding if you will, cooperating with foreign nationals that are making expenditures to influence elections.  They may not solicit that support, they may not benefit on a coordinated basis from that support, they can`t provide substantial assistance as the regulations permit to foreign nationals engaged in that activity.  And we now have growing an evidence that that`s precisely what happened between the Trump campaign and WikiLeaks standing alone as a foreign national entity and also as an agent of the government of Russia.

HAYES:  You also write today about the possibility of Michael Cohen`s lies to Congress and the degree to which they may end up back at the doorstep of the president particularly in light of the President saying no Trump- related crimes.  What`s your -- what`s your case there?

BAUER:  There -- from the sentencing memo that you find this intriguing suggestion or statement from Michael Cohen`s lawyer said he was in regular and close contact with the White House and with the President`s lawyers while he was preparing his testimony before the Congress that he now admits included a major falsehoods.  Falsehoods about the president`s negotiation during the campaign with Russia over a possible Moscow hotel project.

What was taking place in those conversations, presumably they had some conversation about the content of his testimony or why would he be in contact with them at all.  And if he did, did the president know and signal through lawyers and his staff that he wanted Michael Cohen to tell these lies.  We find in 1974 when the House Judiciary Committee took a look at Richard Nixon`s various acts of obstruction of justice.  They not only cited as impeachable, direct acts of approval of false testimony to investigators but also actions by the President to condone or acquiesce in testimony to the Congress and to other investigators that Nixon knew to be false.  That may very well be the case here.

HAYES:  Just to take a step back here, even before you get to the content of what the president might have been discussing with Michael Cohen, again, as a lawyer, as someone who worked in the White House Counsel, as someone who works the highest sort of legal stakes right, you don`t want to screw things up.  I mean, just the fact that the president was talking to Cohen about this at all particularly while this is going on is worrying itself, right? 

BAUER:  It is.  And a Cohen of course in testifying was also at the very same time still -- and this is also in the sentencing memo, a personal lawyer to the president.  So the conflicts were rife.  Was he  operating here as the president`s attorney when he testified and therefore giving cover on the Moscow Hotel project?  Did he somehow think he owed him careful attention to the President`s own interests at the expense of his own?  Had he told the truth, Michael Cohen, about the Moscow hotel project, he wouldn`t have been in any legal jeopardy.  He lied and now he is.  Who do you lie for and on what understanding with whom, when? 

HAYES:  That`s a great -- you know, that is a great point, right?  So his involved in itself is not -- he`s not transgressing by pursuing this deal and his capacity, the lie doesn`t help him at the first-order level at all is what you`re saying.

BAUER:  Correct.  And we know, and this is also true in the case of Michael Flynn`s lies to the FBI that there`s every evidence that what was driving the President during this period of time, all through 2016, frankly to the present day was the desire to deny any of the facts by showing the connections to in the dialogue with Russia and Russia agents.

HAYES:  That`s a great point.  Bob Bauer, thank you for making some time tonight. 

BAUER:  It`s a pleasure.  Thank you.

HAYES:  And now I want to bring in MSNBC Legal Analyst Nick Akerman who is an Assistant Special Prosecutor in Watergate and retired Federal Court Judge Nancy Gertner, a Professor at Harvard Law School.  Nancy, let me start with you on this -- on the question I just asked Bob about the President of the United States saying it`s good to see this person who just pledged he wouldn`t testify against me has guts, this other person who`s cooperating prosecutors is weak.  He should go to jail, his wife should go to jail, and his father-in-law should go to jail.

NANCY GERTNER, FORMER FEDERAL COURT JUDGE.  Right.  I mean, first of all that certainly could look like witness tampering as George Conway was saying.  But again, we`re now -- may be the best way to keep on looking at this is to look at it in terms of the articles of impeachment against Nixon.

HAYES:  Right.

GERTNER:  In other words, would this be sufficiently whatever the ambiguities of the law this is coming close to manipulating the testimony.  And if you add to that basically dangling a pardon to anyone, it would also vitiated in my view any pardon if there ever was one coming down the pike.  In other words, if he put it in a context of who was doing what for him, that would raise some interesting questions about the pardon itself.

HAYES:  You know, we`ve got two big documents set to come out this week.  We`ve gotten the Michael Cohen document late Friday night and make -- his lawyers making their argument for why he should receive no jail time, something on Flynn on Tuesday, Manafort on Friday.  This is coming off a big week last week.  What is your sense watching what`s being made public in the succession it is, Nick?

NICK AKERMAN, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST:  Well, first of all, you have to realize it may not be made public.  I mean, some of this stuff may be put under seal.

HAYES:  Right.  We have reporting indicating at least some of it will be public, but your point is maybe not all of it right?

AKERMAN:  Maybe not all of it.  And really actually maybe not the most important of this.

HAYES:  It`s a good point.  It`s a good comment.

AKERMAN:  Because Mueller has been very circumspect about what he is released publicly.  I mean, you get clues from peoples of guilty pleas but that`s about as far as we`ve gotten now and I know everybody`s salivating think there`s -- thinking there`s going to be something really important coming out this week.  I`m not so sure about that.  I mean, if you were able to get all of the proof that Mueller is going to present on mana Ford and why he lied, you probably have a blueprint to everything he knows.

HAYES:  Right.  So you think there might be in the center for Mueller`s office to keep some of that under seal because they don`t want to give away what they know vis a vis other foes. 

AKERMAN:  Exactly.  Because they`re going to have other people that are still testifying before the grand jury.  They don`t want to let all of the information out at this point.  And I think they want to present it all at one time in one major indictment.  So I mean, I think what you`re seeing is this is all being lined up for a major indictment.  You`ve got three witnesses, you`ve got Cohen who obviously takes us right into the sweet spot of the Russian conspiracy, you`ve got Rick Gates who was there straight through after Manafort left in August of 2016.  And then you`ve got Michael Flynn who probably provides the motive as to what`s going on with respect to a quid pro quo lifting of sanctions for the help.

HAYES:  Right.  Judge Gertner, I also wanted to get your feedback as someone who was a federal judge.  To watch the -- Rudy Giuliani who ran the Southern District in New York and who is the President of the United States` lawyer dismissively referring to these things as processed crimes, basically saying oh there`s this trumped-up stuff, you know, these are processed crimes.  So-and-so lied here, so-and-so lied there.  There`s nothing really to this.  And as a former federal judge who had to preside over a courtroom every day, like, what is your reaction the President`s lawyer using that term?`

GERTNER:  Well, I mean, it would be one thing if you`re talking about you know, lying of the date of the week.  You`re talking now about lies that go -- that are pretty central.  And the other thing about the Michael Cohen lies which are extraordinary, these worse lies that were done in a formal statement.  As he you know, it`s not the --

HAYES:  Yes.  He wrote them down. 

GERTNER:  He wrote -- he wrote them down.  This is what he you know, what he actually proposed and their lies about something central to this investigation.  Let me -- let me go back to one thing that Nick was saying though.  In one sense, one measure of how close Mueller is to finishing is how detail the submissions this week would be.

HAYES:  Right.

GERTNER:  Because what he`s been doing is doing a report in slow motion with all of these indictments.  These are -- these are more narratives and these indictments than I have ever seen.  So that will actually be one way we`ll know how far along he is by the detail this week.

HAYES:  Just to follow up.  So you`re saying the more detail, the further along he is.

GERTNER:  That`s right.  That`s right.  I mean, you know, you hold your cards close to the vest at the very beginning.  And then in addition, when you have someone like Mueller who actually from the beginning had to know that he could have been in jeopardy by any -- by the president at any time by firing Sessions or firing Rosenstein.  So what`s really clear is that he`s telling the report, this investigation through these indictments, through these submissions.  It`s almost as if like a storyboard.  You can put one up next to the other and then get -- see the links.  So I think that`ll be the cue this week as to how far along we are.

AKERMAN:  I think to some extent that`s true.  I mean, what`s really different about what`s happening here than in Watergate is very early on you had someone like John Dean who basically laid out the story.

HAYES:  Right.  He told everyone.  Exactly.

AKERMAN:  I mean, we knew -- we knew the narrative very early on in the whole investigation.  Here we don`t have that.

GERTNER:  That`s a great point.

HAYES:  Right.  And so he -- and what`s remarkable, that is -- it was just confirming that what Dean said was the truth because you have to come with he said-he said after that.  Final question here for you Nick because you have been very focus from the beginning on the sanctions, right, that the quid pro quo is the sanctions. 

AKERMAN:  Right.

HAYES:  It`s very clear even when they say what they talk about in the meeting in Trump Tower.  Lift the sanctions, lift the sanctions.  I thought this was interesting.  When you go back and you look at the Trump Tower deal they`re working on Sater and Cohen, Mr. Sater a Russian immigrant said he had lined up financing for Trump Tower deal with the VTB Bank, a Russian bank under American sanctions.  What that does is it gives Cohen, Trump, and Sater a personal financial stake in the lifting of sanctions.

AKERMAN:  Exactly.  This whole thing -- if you look -- go back to the Christopher Steele documents and the interviews he did and you can see the Russian perspective.  They were looking at Trump as somebody who`s trying to cultivate them and taking the help in the campaign.  And so it`s the same thing.  What were they looking for?  They were looking for lifting of sanctions.  And the key was the Michael Flynn plea because the materiality of his lie was the coordination between the Trump campaign and the Russian government and that was the giveaway because it`s all related to sanctions.

HAYES:  That`s a question for tomorrow.  Why did he lie about?  What he lied about?  Was the conversation with the Russian ambassador about sanctions specifically?  We might get more light shed on that tomorrow.  Nick Akerman and Nancy Gertner, thank you both for your time tonight.

AKERMAN:  thank you. 

HAYES:  Next, the steady stream of Mueller news signaling, they`ve reached potential endgame status.  More on that in two minutes.


HAYES:  Back in April, when Michael Cohen`s home and offices were raided by the FBI, it was a big story.  Adam Davidson wrote this piece in The New Yorker titled Michael Cohen and the end stage of the trump presidency.  And his argument was that the President`s business dealings are so shady they cannot possibly withstand sustained examination by prosecutors, and that an examination of the Trump organization could end up implicating Trump`s family along with his business associates.

Now, in light of last week`s plea deal, as we head towards Michael Cohen sentencing next week, Adam Davidson`s prediction seems more and more prescient.  And Adam Davidson Staff Writer at The New Yorker joins me now.  You wrote that.  You`ve got a lot of pushback.  People are like, we`ve been talking about the end forever.  It`s one of these things where it`s like the jar lid you know, you just -- you try it, you try it, at some point, it pops off.  Where are we now?

ADAM DAVIDSON, STAFF WRITER, THE NEW YORKER:  I think that where we are now is where we shifted to that week when they raided Cohen`s office.  Basically, for that, it was still possible to imagine this would be a fairly limited examination of Trump`s campaign and its specific relationships with the Russian government and that it would not look at financial matters at all.  If you remember that was what Trump`s legal team was arguing.  There was actually academics and others saying yes, yes, Mueller should stay only on this one narrow question and it should only be Mueller looking into it.

And what we learned that week and back in April when Cohen`s office was first raided is that no, this is going to be a multi-pronged investigation.  First of all, it`s not just going to be Mueller, it`s going to also be the Southern District of New York and then -- presumably, and then we learned, in fact, New York Attorney General and maybe other --

HAYES:  The state taxation body.

DAVIDSON:  The state taxation body.

HAYES:  Four -- there`s four entities just so people were clear, that file -- that sentencing memo filed by Cohen`s attorneys Friday night say there four entities who cooperated with, Southern District, Mueller, State A.G., and the State Taxation Board.

DAVIDSON:  Yes, exactly.  And then -- and that Trump`s businesses and the businesses of people close to Trump are now fair game and part of this investigation.  And I think what that open -- so we spend a lot of time appropriately talking about impeachment, talking about things in Washington, centered in Washington, but what I have to imagine Trump`s greatest fears are around losing money, losing his wealth.  He now has a very serious possibility of having to pay hundreds of millions of dollars in back taxes to his New York State.  His son Don Jr. has told people reportedly that he expects to be indicted.

I`m of the view based on other reporting I`ve done and some of my colleagues have done that Ivanka is at risk of prosecution.  So I think that even if nothing happens in the Mueller report, even if Congress is a you know, dead on arrival.  They`re not going to do anything, I think we now see a massive investigation of Trump`s entire world that is going to be painful for him.

HAYES:  And I think one -- so what`s also interesting is that when you`re talking about that sort of red line notion right?  So there`s like Russia and there`s a campaign in Russia, and then there`s a finance over here, and it`s a red line or it`s untoward or it`s not fair really go looking at those.  To me, the significance of the Cohen plea last week is the two are the same.

DAVIDSON:  They are the same.  Obviously.

HAYES:  Which is to say the financial interest in a Russian deal seems to be clearly part of the campaign to compromise him --

DAVIDSON:  Absolutely.  Yes, exactly.

HAYES:  -- in effectuation of what appears to be a clear conspiracy on the part of the Russian government.

DAVIDSON:  If you talk to prosecutors, they will tell you it`s really hard to do white-collar crime at all and it`s especially hard to do white-collar crime that crosses borders.  That`s because --

HAYES:  I`m going to stop you right there just so that people know what they`re looking at.  This is the President of the United States in a motorcade arriving at the Capitol to observe George H.W. Bush lying in state.  He there in the Capitol Rotunda.  The President departing from the White House there.  We will keep our eyes on that.

DAVIDSON:  Great.  So the -- these are really hard cases to prosecute because you need documentary evidence, you need insiders ratting out the bosses.  It`s very hard to do that.  But when your partner is a government that wants to influence you and makes clear to you in a variety of ways, we can destroy you by leaking these documents, or providing these documents, it becomes a very different case.  He`s extremely exposed.

HAYES:  This is -- this is a great point that you made back.  You said -- you talked about a theory of Trump kompromat.  Now, in my head, I think because we`ve been introduced to the notorious Ritz-Carlton tape is the idea that like there`s this idea that there`s like this one thing they can expose and they hold it over you and they wave it in your face.  And you`re point in that article is no, you -- they do -- they draw you into being a meshed in a web of sort of semi-illicit interactions that you know that they know about.

DAVIDSON:  Absolutely.  And this is -- we know well.  We -- this is well documented, well studied throughout the former Soviet Union which is there is not really a legal way to become a billionaire or to do major real estate development.  Someone asked me this week, is there a chance that Trump Tower Moscow was part of a money-laundering scheme, and I said, I would think most people who know about it would say by definition a luxury real estate development in Moscow is part of a money-laundering scheme. 

They bring you in but they make very clear and they have a lot of tools to do it that you can`t get out of line.  We see it in extreme with Khodorkovsky and other people who go against Putin and are suddenly thrown in jail on charges that clearly nearly every Russian oligarch is guilty of, but only those who go against him are arrested.  They know how to do it and he`s deep in that system.

HAYES:  Yes.  I mean, that that is the thing that I keep thinking about.  This is dangling over everyone`s head.  And not just that.  We know that Peskov and the Kremlin and Putin know that they`re lying to the public the whole time. 

DAVIDSON:  Absolutely.

HAYES:  That on itself because they can blow the whistle on that whenever they want to.

DAVIDSON:  Yes.  Trump knows that Russia is reaching out saying hey we have these e-mails and then he`s saying they don`t have those e-mails.  I`m not doing business with Russia.  So I`d say at a bare minimum, to me we have reached the point where it is no longer responsible to talk about this as who knows, maybe we`ll find something.  I feel strongly we were at the place where we know there`s extreme wrongdoing, extreme problems and it`s just a matter of the breadth of it and what the reaction will be.

HAYES:  Final question for you.  You wrote a great piece investigation into Trump real estate project in Azerbaijan where you had pretty good evidence on its face that they had violated the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.  What do you make of the story that Sater and Cohen were paired to offer Vladimir Putin a $50 million penthouse in Trump Tower Moscow?

DAVIDSON:  It is pretty unbelievable that --

HAYES:  I mean, that`s a violation on its face basically.

DAVIDSON:  Yes.  I mean, the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act is actually a strange law.  It`s it makes it illegal in America to do something that might be normal in another country which is bribing a foreign official.  But yes, you are not allowed if you`re a business -- does business in America to give things of value.  And by the way, people have gone -- people been convicted for like given a flight or giving like a nice pen.  So a $50 million apartment is beyond the pale.  Yes.

HAYES:  Adam Davidson of The New Yorker, thank you very much.

DAVIDSON:  Thank you.

HAYES:  I want to turn our attention now to the President of the United State who is in the Capitol Rotunda.  They have cleared the way for him to pay his respects to President George H.W. Bush who passed away Friday evening and is now lying in state there in the Capitol.  He has not made his way into the Capitol Rotunda.  That is the image of course of the coffin of George H.W. Bush who is lying in state as part of the official observance of his passing and mourning.  An official day of warning will be recognized by all parts the federal government on Wednesday.

Here with me now MSNBC Contributor Jennifer Rubin who writes the right term column for The Washington Post and Charlie Pierce writer-at-large for Esquire.  Jennifer, you know, it`s been striking to me to watch the remains of George H.W. Bush because, in the era as the first president who died in the era of Donald Trump, all of the focus is on the ways that he contrasts right? 

So people would say well, he was -- he was affable and kind and he was graceful and humble and he had a life of service and he served in World War Two and he sacrificed and all these things that are obvious for rebukes of Donald Trump.  It`s almost inescapable that context it seems to me in the way people are talking about H.W. Bush.

JENNIFER RUBIN, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR:  It absolutely is.  And that`s because Donald Trump is a president like no other president.  Perhaps George H.W. Bush was the end of an era.  He was the end of the last generation who became president, he`s the last of the war heroes, last of the World War II generation so he really is an extraordinary individual.  But we have now departed so far from presidential norms, so far from the minimal standards of conduct with Donald Trump that frankly, I think any president who dies from now on will have a little bit of that contrast.  It`s now just so great because we`re talking about someone who essentially was of that greatest generation. 

HAYES:  You know that`s -- it`s a great point, Charlie.  I remember someone making an observation during Superbowl commercials that because Donald Trump is so aberrant as a personality, so abnormal that even like the banal recitations of the American Civic Creed seem as like a rebuke to him, right?  So if Budweiser says like we`re all Americans, like oh they`re going after Trump and there`s a little bit it seems to me about in the ways people were talking about George H.W. Bush`s specific policy and political legacy.

CHARLES PIERCE, WRITER AT LARGE, ESQUIRE:  Well, I think you`re right.  I think when you heard Paul Ryan make a point of what a great family man George W Bush -- George H.W. Bush was, I mean that`s political banality 101.  But was there anybody watching who didn`t think it was a rebuke of the current president?

HAYES:  Right.

PIERCE:  I mean, it was obvious that it was.  Yes, I think that you know, obviously, his political legacy is a complicated one.  He was part I would argue, of the Republican Party that made Donald Trump inevitable at some point or someone like Donald Trump inevitable.  He could have beaten Michael Dukakis without Lee Atwater, without Willie Horton.  He didn`t have to run against the 1964 Civil Rights Act against Ralph Yarborough, but he did. 

He didn`t have to -- I mean he said the one -- the only smart thing a Republican has said about supply-side economics in the last 40 years.  He said it was voodoo economics.  And then he -- when he took the job with Ronald Reagan, he had to reverse himself on that.  He had to reverse himself on abortion which was handing a lot of the party where his part of the party over to essentially the Christian Right.

HAYES:  Yes.

PIERCE:  And he -- I mean, and the one thing he did that was courageous which was raise taxes, look bad on him because he had felt obligated to butch himself up in an acceptance speech by borrowing a line from an Arnold Schwarzenegger race.  I think the one -- I think the primary legacy of George H.W. Bush as president is that battlefield courage does not necessarily translate into political courage.

RUBIN:  I couldn`t disagree more.  Listen, you can pick small things, small mistakes in anyone`s career.  In the large sweep of his career, landing the plain, as they say, in the Cold War, without a shot being fired, having the self-discipline not to enmeshing us in an endless occupation in the Middle East.  The 1990 amendments to the Clean Air Act, his signature on the Americans with Disabilities Act, these were great steps.

And, yes, he made mistakes in his career.  None of these people are saints, but it was downhill after that, put it this way.  He was not of a peace with the recent modern Republican Party, to my great chagrin.

I will say this, there`s one way...

PIERC:  He bent -- he bent the knee of fealty to the element that`s created the modern Republican Party.

RUBIN:  No, I don`t think so.  Listen, the far-right was there when Ronald Reagan was there.  He just came along after him.

But I will say this, the biggest contrast is on foreign policy.  And we had someone who was really probably the best prepared person to ever hold the office on foreign policy, who navigated us through an incredibly tricky time, who was perhaps the master of those international relationships that held the world together for 70 years since -- went on to settle the world together for 70s since World War II and now you have someone who is destructive and has not a clue what Americans` role in the world will be.

So I think in foreign policy in particular, and at this moment when Donald Trump is so destructive and he`s so at odds with our allies, the contrast becomes even more great.

PIERCE:  Well, Donald Trump has never been part of a conspiracy to sell missiles to the Ayatollah, so, I mean...

RUBIN:  Neither was George Bush.  He was never involved.  Excuse me.  He was not.

PIERCE:  Of course not, that`s why he pardoned everybody except Shoeless Joe Jackson on his way out the door.

HAYES:  We should make the point as the president and the first lady pay their respects to George H.W. Bush there, lying in state in the Capitol, that George H.W. Bush did, Jennifer, offer a bunch of pardons to people that were implicated.

RUBIN:  He did.  But he was not himself involved.  And I think many people, including, frankly Gerald Ford pardoned people just to avoid a political scandal.

But, listen, to put that on his shoulders is ridiculous.  He was not involved directly...

PIERCE:  He was the master of foreign policy and he couldn`t turn that ridiculous escapade off. And George Schultz`s diary, which is under subpoena...

HAYES:  Let me say this.  Well, my understanding of the facts here is that there is no direct implication of George H.W. Bush, but that there were items in the investigation never quite got to him, of course he pardoned folks.  But it does strike me that the pardon there -- and this is true of Gerald Ford as we watch when Gerald Ford died that that was a sort of -- pardon`s of Nixon, of course, a kind of signature moment in his obituary, ending his presidency, for better or for worse. 

George H.W. Bush`s pardons here, sort of a less prominent part of his historical record.  But Jennifer, in the context I wonder what you make of it given what we are seeing right now?

RUBIN:  I`m sorry, given...

HAYES:  The pardons, I`m saying the pardons -- given where we are right now, right, given the fact that we`re thinking about pardons, we`re thinking about presidential pardon, we`re thinking about accountability and the rule of law, the pardons that George H.W. Bush did offer, and there were quite a few implicated in the special counsel`s investigation of Iran- Contra, how that has weathered versus say the way that he managed the end of the Cold War, which I agree I think -- and historians agree has weathered quite well.

RUBIN:  I think the difference there is that he did follow a process.  He went to the Justice Department.  He followed the process.  These were not cronies.  This was not a spur of the moment indication.  These were done in consultation with the Department of Justice.  And that they really were of a different type.

We`re not talking about Sheriff Joe here, we`re talking about people who were represented, who made a case for clemency, went through the process and got a recommendation from the Justice Department, and he proceeded.

So, listen, it wasn`t my favorite part of his legacy either, but I think it`s a long way to go from there to the current state of affairs. 

And I will say this, George Bush actually did stick up and give it to the far-right in a lot of instances.  You forget, he wrote that beautiful letter to the NRA resigning because they defamed the people who keep us safe day and night.  It was a beautiful letter...

HAYES:  Jack-booted thugs.

RUBIN:  And that kind of courage just stands in such contrast to what you have now, where the  president is slobbering over the far-right and they over he. 

So I think that may have been arguably the last Republican president who was willing to stand up to some of these groups and to say, no, I have a higher obligation and this behavior is unAmerican.

HAYES:  And, Charlie...

PIERCE:  He didn`t stand up to them when he was trying to become president.  He flip-flopped on abortion.  He flip-flopped on gay rights.  He never could get behind a civil rights bill, even the  first race he ever ran...

RUBIN:  He actually did get behind a civil rights bill.  He voted in favor of the 1968 fair housing bill.  And in terms of rights...

PIERCE:  He ran against -- he ran against Ralph Yarborough...

RUBIN:  ...on the other side.

HAYES:  I will say this, as a final moment on his civil rights legacy, something that Jennifer mentioned which I think should get a lot of attention in the remembrance is the Americans with Disabilities Act, a really remarkable piece of legislation that is very inconceivable to imagine the modern Republican Party signing given the expense that it has produced for folks.

Jennifer Rubin and Charlie Pierce, thank you both.

RUBIN:  You`re welcome.

HAYES:  Ahead, accusations of a stolen election in North Carolina.  Tonight, there is incredible new reporting that sure makes it look like Republicans maybe committed election fraud.  And that`s coming up.


HAYES:  Thing One tonight, as the Mueller investigation gets ever closer to the president, it is amazing to behold the brilliant legal minds that work on team Trump.  They appear to be down to two  people, the president himself and Rudy Giuliani, who have been taking their case to the court of Twitter.

Giuliani tweeted the other day complaining about the Cohen news, quote, "Mueller filed an indictment just as the president left for G20 in July" now, I don`t know if he meant to write, but he created a link that everybody can now click on.  And now, when you click on that link, it takes you to, a website with just one sentence, Donald J. Trump is a traitor to our country.

Well done, Rudy.

But if you want the really good stuff, as always, you have got to go to the tweets the president himself who today reached perhaps a new low besmirching the good name of a man they call Scott Free.  And that`s Thing 2 in 60 seconds.


HAYES:  Donald Trump has never been much of a writer, and his tweets are often filled with  interesting stuff, like unnecessary quotation marks and misspellings, and, of course, unnecessary capitalization.  Like this week, from today, "Michael Cohen asked judge for no prison time, capital P capital T."  And then in part two of the tweet he says Cohen has lied to get his wife and father-in-law off Scott Free.  And in that moment, the internet needed to know, wait, who the heck is Scott Free?

Scott Free was trending on Twitter as the reactions started pouring in.  This guy, who may or may not have just changed his Twitter name to Scott Free this afternoon, replied to the president, leave me outta this. 

Folks at Merriam Webster helpfully tweeted the actual spelling of scot- free, calling Trump`s version, quot, some guy probably. 

Everyone`s favorite lawn mowing kid meme made an appearance, are you Scott Free?

But Alex Stone may have won the day, writing, "I know of one person who can`t manage to board a plane, Scott Free."



CROWD:  Respect our votes.  Respect our votes.  Respect our votes.  Respect our votes.


HAYES:  Protesters ascended on the Wisconsin state capital today decrying what they are calling a last-minute lame duck power grab by the state`s Republican legislature. 

Now, you might remember this year`s election was a good one for Wisconsin Democrats.  For the first time in eight years, after trying and failing, Democrats won the governorship along with the lieutenant governor`s race and race for attorney general for the state.

So naturally, Republican majorities and the state legislatures have moved quickly in the last days of unified governance to pass a slew of measures that would limit the authority of both, you guessed it, the governor and the attorney general right before Democrats take those offices, that includes making it difficult for the new attorney general to withdraw Wisconsin from that lawsuit seeking to strike down Obamacare, even though health care and Obamacare were central issues in the campaign that the Democrats just won.

At a press conference today, people in the room apparently outright laughed when the state GOP suggested this was all just a bit of good government housekeeping before the term ended.  And a week ago, before their plan was made public, state Senate majority leader Scott Fitzgerald described it as, quote, inside baseball, the kind of legislative stuff that`s hard for me to believe people get excited about.  Spoiler alert.  That didn`t go so well.

Two years ago, you might recall North Carolina Republicans pulled the exact same stunt when they lost the governor`s mansion.  And right now as I speak, the Republican majorities in Michigan are reacting to the loss of the governor`s mansion in almost identical fashion.

Like the efforts to make voting harder and shrink the electorate, which Republicans in state after state have adopted, this transparent attempt to unwind the will of voters shows a party that is increasing little declaring war on democracy itself.


HAYES:  It now seems distinctly possible, as we learn more and more every day and every hour, the Republicans have attempted to steal a congressional election in North Carolina with the most brazen electoral fraud in a generation. 

All right, the state`s board of elections, which is a bipartisan body, has now twice declined to certify the midterm results in North Carolina`s ninth district where Republican Mark Harris appeared to win by only 905 votes over his Democratic opponent, and that is because of really striking irregularities in absentee ballots in the district.

In affidavits, some voters say that people came to their door and collected ballots, often unsealed and unfinished ballots.  As WFAE in Charlotte noted, quot, "unless a voter is disabled, it`s against the law for a third party to collect absentee ballots by mail from voters."  And the ballot irregularities appear to have disproportionately affected voters of color as the News and Observer calculated, quot, "more than 40 percent of the mail-in ballots requested by African-Americans and more than 60 percent of those requested by American Indians did not make it back to elections officials.  For white voters, that figure was just 17 percent."

Brian Murphy, a reporter with McClatchy and North Carolina News and Observer newspapers has been following this story.

All right, what is the latest as of today?

BRIAN MURPHY, MCCLATCHY:  Well, the biggest development today is there`s another report that the consultant for Mark Harris may have picked up -- may have had these ballots just delivered to his house and that no one is quite sure what happened to the ballots, if they made it back to the election board or didn`t.  And as the numbers you pointed out just illustrate, a lot of these ballots did not make it back.

HAYES:  So I want to just be clear here, and I`m going to play this sound from local news reporting on this.  There`s a guy named McCray Dallas (ph), who`s a local sort of conservative grassroots campaigner who`s done time for fraud before, he was working for the Harris campaign, the Republican campaign, is that correct?

MURPHY:  That`s correct.  He was an independent contractor with the Harris campaign.

HAYES:  And that`s confirmed, right?  So, he was working for the Harris campaign.  He was an independent contractor.  He`s got a history of fraud.  And I just want to be clear on this North Carolina law, you can`t send people to collect people`s absentee ballots even if you don`t tamper with them, like that on its face is illegal in North Carolina, right?

MURPHY:  Right.

HAYES:  So you can`t do that?

MURPHY:  You cannot, no.

HAYES:  OK.  Because I just -- there are places where you can do that.  I just want to be clear here. 

This is the local news reporting from WSOC TV contacting some folks that appear to have worked with McCray Dallas (ph) in collecting ballots.  Take a look.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  So what were you doing for these?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMAL:  I was helping McCray (ph) pick up ballots.

UNIDENTIFIED FMALE:  Easton (ph) says McCray Dallas (ph) paid her $75 to $100 a week to go around and pick up finished absentee ballots.  Dallas is (inaudible) county soil and water conservation district supervisor who appears to be at the center of the state investigation.  He was named twice in sworn affidavits as a worker for the Mark Harris campaign.

Easton (ph) says she never discarded ballots or saw who people were voting for, but after picking them up, she didn`t mail them, she gave them to McCray Dallas (ph).

Did all the people who voted, did their votes count?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMAL:  I guess.  Like I said, I don`t know nothing what happened after I dropped them off.


HAYES:  Some great local reporting from Joe Bruno there.

So, what does that mean?  Like, if this is true?

MURPHY:  Well, there are investigations by not only the state board of elections, Wake County, which is where Raleigh is, is also investigating it.  There are irregularities not only in the general election, but dating back to the primary.  And if you go back to the 2016 GOP primary in the ninth district and in Bladen County, there are also irregularities.  Wade County`s investigation dates all the way back to that.

The next step will be what the state board does.  And they can order a new election, even if the number of votes that were affected, the number of ballots that were affected would not swing the entire election.  If the taint affects the entire election, or if they feel like there`s no way that this election could be considered fair, the state board does hold the power to order a new election to happen in North Carolina 9.

HAYES:  I want to go back to one thing you said, there are similar statistical irregularities going back to 2016 in this county, and in the primary in this county, right?  That Harris does better -- that other people had drop-offs in their absentee coming back to the office compared to Harris int he Republican primary, right?

MURPHY:  In the Republican primary in 2018, Harris got 437 mail-in absentee ballots from Bladen County.  Robert Pitinger, the sitting representative from that district, got 17 in a race that was basically 50-50.  It was decided by 828 votes and yet about 400 different in just mail-in ballots.

If you look in the general election, even in Union County, which Harris won, McCready (ph) won the mail-in absentee ballots.  The only county in which -- in the district in which Harris won the mail-in absentee ballots was Bladen County.

HAYES:  Where McCray Dallas (ph) apparently, according to that reporting, was paying people $75 to $100 a week to go around and pick up those ballots.

Brian Murphy, thanks for that reporting.  Appreciate it.

Here with me now Wayne Goodwin, the chairman of the North Carolina Democratic Party.

Is it the Democratic Party`s position that there should be a new election in North Carolina 9?

WAYNE GOODWIN, CHAIRMAN, NORTH CAROLINA DEMOCRATIC PARTY:  yes, that is our position.  And we also want to ensure that there is no certification of this congressional race until after a full, thorough, public evidentiary hearing by the state board.

HAYES:  Republicans are complaining about two things.  One, they`re saying that the board of elections is operating secretly and that the person who is in charge of that board is a Democratic Party, quote, hyperpartisan.  What do you say to that?

GOODWIN:  I`d say they`re trying to change the narrative.  I mean, it`s quite interesting that for  years now, particularly the last couple years, all they could talk about is voter fraud here or alleged voter fraud there and they would never want to touch or talk about the problems with absentee ballots.  And now that their candidate, their nominee is in the midst of the greatest election tampering I`ve seen, perhaps any of us have seen in a generation or more, they are nowhere to be found. 

And so they`re trying to talk about the former chair of the state board of elections who has resigned and that was the right thing to do.  The board should be allowed to do its investigation.  And the Republican Party should step out of the way and let this investigation happen.  And I believe there should be a new election.

HAYES:  What`s the timeline look like?  I mean, have you ever encountered a situation like this?  I have covered politics for a while, and I`ve never quite seen something like this.

GOODWIN:  I have never encountered this in my life.  I`ve been involved in politics for 40 years now, since I was a kid, and I`ve never seen this happen before.  But we have -- the election itself is called into question.  It has been tainted.  And with the stories that I`ve heard from folks in the two counties where these activities happened, it`s shameful that the victims here are voters themselves. 

This is not voter fraud, this is where voters have become the victims by this scheme, by this particular scheme.  And it`s shameful.  And there needs to be a full investigation of this and the Republicans need to let the investigation happen.

There is a new chair of the state board of elections, so they can`t be crying that any further.

HAYES:  That new chair, do you have a sense of the timeline here?  I man, is this the kind of thing you can wrap up in a week?  I mean, you`ve got to move pretty quickly.  Th congress is going happen soon.

GOODWIN:  The state board decided that they would have a public hearing on or before December 21st, so there is quite a quick turn-around on this.  And this is to ensure that the facts are found out and that if there needs to be further actions taken, they can be taken.  It also takes into account the fact that congress does reconvene January 3.  So this is a quick turn- around, but they`re going to do the very best they can.  And I have every confidence that this board is going to give it a full and thorough investigation, as it should.

HAYES:  Should there be criminal investigations?

GOODWIN:  Yes.  I mean the allegations that we have all heard about violate the law.  And when you hear about folks who have people come to their door they don`t know about collecting absentee ballots, when you hear about folks who come to their door and are telling voters, oh, don`t worry about filling out your ballot, we`ll take care of the rest of it and ballots are not being sealed.  Ballots are not being signed.  They`re not being sent to some unknown address.

And then when you have folks who have completed sworn affidavits where they say that Mr. Dallas, who you`ve talked about a moment ago, has allegedly been promised $40,000 if Mark Harris won the election.  And then another affidavit that says that he has 80 people working with him on absentee ballots, this is criminal activity, I believe.

HAYES:  All right, Wayne Goodwin, thanks for you time.

That is All In for this evening.  The Rachel Maddow Show starts right now.  Good evening, Rachel.