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Trump lawyers resume talks with Mueller. TRANSCRIPT: 12/6/18, All In w/ Chris Hayes

Guests: Richard Blumenthal, John Harwood, Betsey Stevenson, Dallas Woodhouse, Ari Berman, Vanita Gupta

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST:  -- by the man who defeated him.  And that`s HARDBALL for now.  Thanks for being with us.  "ALL IN" with Chris Hayes starts right now.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST:  Tonight on ALL IN.

MARK HARRIS (R), CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE, NORTH CAROLINA:  I`m going to Washington to be your voice in the Ninth Congressional District.

HAYES:  Not so fast.  Renewed calls for a do-over in North Carolina. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  A new election is not only appropriate, it is necessary.

HAYES:  Amid mounting evidence of egregious electoral fraud on behalf of the Republican candidate.

HAYES:  I`ll ask the head of the state GOP to explain.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Good Republican activists don`t engage in this behavior.

HAYES:  And it`s not just North Carolina.

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), HOUSE MINORITY LEADER:  This is bigger than that one seat.  What the Republican power grab in Wisconsin and Michigan means for democracy in America.  Then --

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  What`s come out of Manafort?  No collusion.  What`s come out of Michael Cohen?  No collusion.

HAYES:  The Special Counsel prepares to reveal just some of what they have on Manafort and Cohen.  And Mr. Tariff Man --

TRUMP:  We have a trade deficit with everybody. 

HAYES:  -- gets hoisted on his own economic petard. 

TRUMP:  It`s the economy, stupid.  Did you ever hear what that was?  It`s the economy. 

HAYES:  When ALL IN starts right now.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAYES:  Good evening from New York I`m Chris Hayes.  In the wake of Democrats historic wins in this year`s Midterm elections, we are witnessing tonight a full-on assault on democracy by defeated Republicans across the country.  You know, there`s an old joke about the definition of chutzpah being a man who murders his parents and then asked the court for mercy because he`s an orphan.  Something somewhat similar is going on now at the Republican Party these days. 

For years they`ve used the non-existent threat of voter fraud as a pretense to make it harder for Democratic constituencies particularly people of color and young people to vote even though study after study after study shows that actual in-person voter fraud is stupendously vanishingly rare.  That has not stopped Republicans from baselessly accusing Democrats of trying to steal elections.  From Donald Trump claiming with no evidence making it up at a whole cloth that he didn`t lose the popular vote to Florida Senator Marco Rubio tossing out a Bible verse suggesting Democrats are making up votes, to House Speaker Paul Ryan implying again with no evidence that the California elections are somehow not legitimate.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE:  California just defies logic to me.  We had a lot of wins that night.  We were only down 26 seats the night of the election, and three weeks later we lost basically every contested California race.  This election system they have, I can`t begin to understand what ballot harvesting is.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAYES:  Meanwhile, in North Carolina, it appears the Republican candidate for Congress in the Ninth District hired someone who committed systematic electoral fraud.  And even though that Republican Mark Harris seemed to win by 905 votes, the state elections board has refused to certify those results.  And there are now criminal investigations and criminal subpoenas underway.  And tonight, some news the Democrat in that North Carolina race Dan McReady is refusing to give up.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DAN MCREADY (D), C0NGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE, NORTH CAROLINA:  Over the last week we have seen the criminal activity come to light and we have seen that my opponent mark Harris has bankrolled this criminal activity.  And so as of today, I`m withdrawing my concession to Mark Harris and furthermore, I call on Mark Harris to tell the American people exactly what he knew and when he knew it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAYES:  And yet as far as I can tell, not a peep from Paul Ryan, or Marco Rubio, or Donald Trump, or any of the other many prominent Republicans who peddle baseless conspiracy theories about Democrats stealing elections and voter fraud.  What`s worse, as people like Paul Ryan go out of their way to sow doubt with not a shred of evidence about the legitimate California elections, the thing that Ryan hinted at did appear to have actually happened in North Carolina conducted on behalf of the candidate of his own party.

And to top it all off, against the backdrop of a Republican campaign, apparently caught red-handed engaging electoral fraud, the state GOP in North Carolina is rushing to pass a new voter I.D. law in the lame-duck session before they lose their supermajority even though the fraud that did happen right under the noses has literally nothing to do with the fictitious in-person version Republicans use as a pretext. 

The whole thing is a shameless spectacle of bad faith, an assault by Republicans from the President on down on some of the most basic tenets of democracy.  They want to restrict voting rights, make it hard access polls, create doubt about legitimate elections, and if all else fails and they lose, refuse to hand over power as they leave office like they`re doing in Michigan and Wisconsin.

Here with me now is Dallas Woodhouse, the Executive Director of the North Carolina Republican Party.  Dallas you saw McCready`s call for a kind of full accounting from Mark Harris about what he did or did not know.  Don`t you think everyone in North Carolina is owed that?

DALLAS WOODHOUSE, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, REPUBLICAN PARTY, NORTH CAROLINA:  I think everybody in North Carolina needs to know everything.  And I have to tell you, Mr. Hayes, I mean, we are as horrified by the news reports as we`ve seen as anybody else.  They are -- they are revolting.  They are -- they are not what our activists, our good people that work in campaigns, you know, the volunteers.  This is not what they are about.  They try to elect Republicans because they think Republicans have better policy ideas. 

The people that have engaged in this behavior down in southern part of the state, they are political mercenaries, they are political hitmen.  They don`t care who wins, who loses, who -- they don`t care about budget policy.  They just care about getting paid.

HAYES:  But that appears to be the case.  If that is the case, I do want to cite something you said in the days after the election where you said in a phone call, we are trying to keep Democrats from stealing the congressional race from Mark Harris.  Now, that`s obviously an incredibly loaded charge that you made.  Do you want to apologize for that or take that back?

WOODHOUSE:  Well, no, because I made that call to donors of the North Carolina Republican Party which you`re not one of, I feel sure.  But if you`d like to be we`re at 1506 Hillsborough Street in Raleigh North Carolina.  No, but I think this --

HAYES:  But you were wrong, right?  I mean, your position was this is a sort of made-up scandal and the Democrats are out to try to steal this out from under our noses.  We won 905 votes, they`re refusing to concede.  That proved to be wrong, right?  I mean, you get out of their skis.  There was actual apparently criminal activity. 

WOODHOUSE:  OK, yes.  What I would say is you know, there are a lot of different things going on here.  The ground is shifting under our feet.  You know, I don`t think you can excuse the Democrats on the State Board of Elections that all of a sudden dropped this on our lap after no election protest was filed after Mr. McCready conceded the election, after no recount was called for, and after all of the local boards of Elections certified the race.  We have never seen that --

HAYES:  Wait a second though.  Wait a second.

WOODHOUSE:  Sir, if I can just -- if I can just finish this one point.

HAYES:  I will let you.

WOODHOUSE:  And at the same time, the state is engaged in a very difficult negotiation and fight over the control of the Board of Elections.

HAYES:  That I know. 

WOODHOUSE:  And so -- and so the Board of Elections that`s walking out the door simply comes out and says they`re not going to certify and at that time really don`t say why. 

HAYES:  OK, but --

WOODHOUSE:  And of course, we got to be suspicious to that.  I mean --

HAYES:  That`s a (INAUDIBLE) complaint.  Let`s put that to the side.  And I hear you and I know that --

WOODHOUSE:  No, but I think -- well, but you`re asking me about what I said and I think you have to put it in that context.

HAYES:  Right, but -- let me give you some more context, right?  Because as we look at this, it seems like there were some real red flags.  And it seems to me like the North Carolina Republican Party failed its own Republican candidate Robert Pittenger, the incumbent Congressional Republican.  These are the Bladen County mail and absentee ballots for that primary race this year.  Mark Harris 437 having hired the man in question, McCrae Dowless, apparently to do the same scheme over Robert Pittenger who is the sitting incumbent.

Now, you and I both know those numbers make no sense and there`s reporting today that Robert Pittenger`s people talked to you personally and to people from the NRCC complaining about shenanigans and nothing was done.  Is that true?

WOODHOUSE:  Yes, I`m trying to -- I`ve been trying to recall that.  It might have been -- if I can offer some context.  You know, the Republican Party rules prevent us from being involved in a primary.  We often get complaints about people who don`t like what happened in their primary races and perhaps we should have paid a little more attention.  I`ll plead guilty to that.  But here`s what I would say.  The only thing we could have done is call state and federal investigators and the Board of Elections which already knew and have been a part of this for a -- you know, have been investigating this for a decade and have it, got their hands around it.  That`s all we could have done.

And quite frankly, I looked at the overall vote numbers in Bladen County and I saw that Mr. Harris won.  I didn`t look at the absentee numbers.  You know, we don`t usually question the --

HAYES:  I get it.  I get it.  I know.  And believe me, if I was sitting your position, that stinks.  I mean, that -- to be -- something`s happened under your nose.  But you did fail Mr. Pittenger didn`t you?  I mean, he was the incumbent member of Congress.  He`s a Republican.  He lost to this challenger and it appears that he lost partly because of a vote padding from an illegal vote scheme.

WOODHOUSE:  The fact that Mr. Pittenger is an incumbent member of Congress, of course to the Republican Party rules he is a candidate like any other.  And if we failed Mr. Pittenger, his advisors failed him because he did not file on election protest.  I mean, what were we to have done when the own candidate doesn`t file the protest.  I mean there is a process for things.

HAYES:  I hear that. 

WOODHOUSE:  And look, look, we were horrified by that is anybody.  But I do think it`s important that the people that committed the acts are the ones that need to serve the second term of the Pence administration in jail.  They need to be punished.  And I am appreciative of the media and you for putting sunlight to this.  It is clear, it is clear Mr. Hayes there has been a systematic failure in the state of North Carolina.  I mean, among Republican governors, Democrat governors and board of elections going on back a decade to stop this.

HAYES:  Yes, let me -- let me stop you there because I want to sort of maybe argue on the other side for a moment.  It does seem there are some persistent irregularities in Bladen, some persistent regulars in Robeson, I think we might see some work things come to light.  But the other thing is we now have caught this individual.  It appears, again, there`s criminal subpoenas.  I don`t want to get out ahead of the facts.  But my question you is what happens now?

I mean, it seems to me this -- Mr. Harris, it`s reported had introduced McCrae Dowless, the man in question to another Republican who was running for office and said that he was -- that he had a system.  He said, he was known for getting out absentee votes.  Now, I don`t know if he knew he was doing bad stuff or not, but it seems like there is some real questions that Mr. Harris has to answer about that.

WOODHOUSE:  And I think that`s fair.  I would say that Chairman Hayes, I, and all the party leadership know Mr. Harris.  We know him to be an honorable good man.  It is my belief -- you know, I`m not in a court of law.  I can`t prove it, but it is our belief that people associated with the Harris campaign consultants or what if ever would have had to mislead Mr. Harris because he never would have been a part of it.  It is was not that important enough for him to win.  His integrity, his bringing people to Christ is more important than personally.  And I believe that.

As far as what happens now, we`ve got to hear from the State Board of Election, non-partisan investigators sooner rather than later.  You know --

HAYES:  They`re going to call -- don`t you think -- shouldn`t they -- you were saying that they should certify the election just a few days ago and move forward.  They should not do that, right?  There should be -- they should wait until they get the facts in and probably call a new election don`t you think?

WOODHOUSE:  I would say, yes to the first part of that, absolutely.  We believe the investigation should continue.  Now, remember that the criminal investigations both on the state and federal level continue no matter what happens with the certification of Mr. Harris` rates.  It is our belief that the question of certification is a numeric one.  If the Board of Elections investigators come out and they say that we have substantial reason to believe the outcome of this race could have been altered, then we absolutely should have a new election. 

HAYES:  Wait a second.  You think -- in a 905 vote margin, you think if they found that they`d stolen 904 votes that he should still be certified?

WOODHOUSE:  Well Mr. Hayes, no sir, because if they found that many, you know -- you know, you would have a substantial likelihood there were more.  I mean, I think --

HAYES:  But you think -- but -- I just want to make sure I`m understanding this.  You think it`s a numerical question --

WOODHOUSE:  Well, if you let me finish -- if you let me finish, I`ll explain it to you.

HAYES:  OK, go ahead then.

WOODHOUSE:  OK, just look.  If it rises to a level that it puts the outcome in question, then we should have a new election.  If they can assert and prove that whatever bad behavior that is going to be punished criminally could absolutely not have changed the outcome, then Mr. Harris should be certified.  If it`s in the middle which is far more likely, it seems we should delay certification until -- or the question of certification until the -- until the Board of Elections can answer that question for the people -- and you know, look, there`s so many innocent victims here. 

The innocent victims are the voters that cast legal votes to people who are not going to be represented in Congress.  I know you`re concerned about that.  But it seems like the U.S. House Democrat leadership has already indicated they`re not going to seat Mr. Harris so they`re unlikely to be represented at the beginning of the term anyway so let the investigation go and let the facts emerge, and we will abide by the facts. 

HAYES:  Totally.  Final question for you and it has to do with the fact that the Republican majorities in the state legislature right now moving for another version of the Voter I.D. bill.  The original was struck down by federal courts because they said it targeted African-Americans with and I quote the court decision here, almost surgical precision.  A study from the State Board of Elections found that if that law had been in place it would have maybe avoided one out of 4.8 eight million votes cast being fraudulent.

Do you see the irony of all the talk about in-person Voter I.D. fraud, voter fraud which is what Voter I.D. is designed to combat in-person fraud when this has been happening on the other side?  And while this is happening, legislators going back at Voter I.D. in the Capitol.

WOODHOUSE:  Mr. Hayes, is at your suggestion that they should not pass Voter I.D.?

HAYES:  Yes, it`s my suggestion.

WOODHOUSE:  The problem with that is the state citizens have passed a constitutional amendment --

HAYES:  Right.

WOODHOUSE:  -- that now requires the legislature to do it.  They have no choice.

HAYES:  Well, good luck on them for finding a good version of this, and I hope maybe they will turn their attention to what`s happening down and Bladen and Robeson --

WOODHOUSE:  I would say, Mr. Hayes, they have expanded that vote to many more IDs and they`ve tried to make sure that everybody has the ability to vote.  That`s all we want.  We want people to be able to cast legal votes and we want to run out corruption any way we can and the North County Republican Party will do everything working with people like you and anybody we can to do that.

HAYES:  I wish -- I wish you luck in that endeavor as that exactly what you`re into.  Dallas Woodhouse, thank you.  I really do want to thank you for coming on tonight.  I know you guys are in a tough spot right now.  It was good of you to come on --

WOODHOUSE:  This is as bad as it`s ever has been.

HAYES:  Yes, OK, thank you, Mr. Woodhouse.  I want to bring Vanita Gupta, the former head of the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division under Barack Obama and now the President and CEO of Leadership Conference on Human Civil Rights, and Ari Berman a Senior Reporter of Mother Jones, Author of Give Us The Ballot: The Modern Struggle for Voting Rights in America.  Ari, what`s going on down there?  Are you in North Carolina now?

ARI BERMAN, SENIOR REPORTER, MOTHER JONES:  No, I`m in Philadelphia right now.  Slightly a different place.

HAYES:  What is -- what is the North Carolina legislature up to?  Give us the history of the voter I.D. moves they`ve made down there?

BERMAN:  The history is that in 2013 North Carolina passed a sweeping rewrite of its election laws that required voter I.D. that cut early voting, that eliminated same-day voter registration.  They did this just a month after the Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act.  The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals struck down the law in 2016, said it targeted Black Voters with almost surgical precision. 

Then what happened is the North Carolina passed a new law putting this up for a vote in November as a constitutional amendment.  It was passed by the voters with almost no detail.  So the legislature had to then write the bill.  They have rushed into a lame-duck session before they lose their supermajority so the Democratic governor cannot veto it.  And basically, they are trying to pass a new version of the same law that was struck down in 2016. 

And Chris, as you mentioned, it`s really amazing they are now using the election fraud that their party committed in North Carolina as a reason to pass a new voter I.D. bill that targets a kind of fraud that is completely non-existent while exempting absentee ballots where the real fraud occurred in North Carolina.

HAYES:  The talking points that came out of the North Carolina GOP of which Dallas Woodhouse is the executive director a few days after this Vanita was like, well, we`re happy to see Democrats are worried about fraud now.  Grover Norquist saying the same thing, like, using fraud committed by Republicans as an example of why they should further the Republican agenda. 

VANITA GUPTA, PRESIDENT AND CEO, LEADERSHIP CONFERENCE ON HUMAN CIVIL RIGHTS:  Look, I mean it is despicable.  This kind of criminal activity is stuff that the country was all too used to in the 1960s.  This was systematic taking away of ballots, seeking to undermine African American voters.  Yet again, I mean, the history is not so far back. And North Carolina has had a real problem.  North Carolina legislators as Ari said just as recently as a few years ago passed the law that took -- the Justice Department when I was there, we sued the state of North Carolina for intentional discrimination of -- against African American voters and we were proved right by federal courts.

This kind of thing it`s exactly why we need a restoration of the Voting Rights Act.  Almost certainly there is going to be a criminal investigation by the Justice Department and we won`t hear about it because that`s what the Justice Department does until there`s an indictment.  But this is -- we should all be outraged about this.  And this notion that the North Carolina legislature now is coming together to double down on this voter I.D. law that was you know, its origins found to have been targeting African- American voters with almost surgical precision by a federal court, you know, I just -- there are no words.

And you know, we saw rampant voter suppression in Georgia.  We are now seeing democracy being undone by the Wisconsin legislators` efforts in Michigan basically to -- because outgoing lawmakers were unhappy and dissatisfied with the outcome of those elections seeking to undermine the will of the voters.  But the stuff in North Carolina is people don`t think that it actually happens in 2018 but we are seeing it happen right now. 

And I thought your interview with Dallas Woodhouse was actually quite extraordinary in a lot of ways.  You did a really good job of like pinning down the great irony.  But also I mean let`s remember you said this.  They had noticed that there was -- that there was something wrong that happened in the Republican primary.  They chose to ignore it and focus on the well- funded Democratic opponent and now here we are today.

And so again, for me, this just begs the whole need for the restoration of the Voting Rights Act, for democracy reform to be a major priority now.

HAYES:  It`s a great point about the -- what has been removed in terms of places like -- Bladen County might be a place that has preclearance.  I don`t know if it did in the old regime but it seems like the kind of place that maybe should have it right?  There are a little bit of extra scrutiny coming from the feds, Ari, because the whole history this is that there were pockets, large pockets, huge pockets where there was some stuff going on that was really not kosher and the federal government came in to specifically look at it.

BERMAN:  That`s absolutely right, Chris.  40 counties in North Carolina were subject to the preclearance provision of the Voting Rights Act.  But essentially the state had to approve voting changes for any new law they wanted to pass, same thing with Georgia, same thing with Alabama.  And remember, Chris, North Carolina is basically where the Republican Party perfected its Frankenstein monster.  It`s where all the craziest policies originated from.  So the lame duck ooze that we`re seeing in Wisconsin, in Michigan, in Ohio, they original in North Carolina in 2016.  They started there. 

That is when the Republican legislature stripped the Democratic governor of power in 2016, tried to take away his ability to appoint majorities on the Board of Elections, on the State Board of Elections.  The very State Board of election that is now investigating the fraud in Bladen County is unconstitutional because of how the Republican legislature took away authority from the Democratic governor.  So the power grabs were seeing in Wisconsin, in Michigan, in Ohio, and now again in North Carolina, these were exported by the Republican Party.

So the fact that this fraud occurred and now the Republican Party in North Carolina is using it as an excuse to pass laws making it harder to vote.  That`s a preview of what we`re going to see in 2019 and 2020 from Republicans.

HAYES:  Vanita Gupta and Ari Berman, thank you both for your time.  I really appreciate it.  Coming up, we`re in for a rare glimpse into Robert Mueller`s investigation as two key documents release tomorrow.  What we could learn about Michael Cohen and Paul Manafort in two minutes.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MELBER:  We`ve got some breaking news tonight.  President Trump`s lawyers have resumed discussions with the Office of Special Counsel Robert Mueller in recent days to people familiar with the matter tell NBC News.  This comes in the wake of Michael Flynn`s sentencing memo which showed a man fully cooperating even if what he was cooperating about was redacted.  And it`s on the eve of even more big court filings from Special Counsel Robert Mueller. 

Sentencing memos on president Trump`s former lawyer Michael Cohen who appears to be fully cooperating with both the Mueller probe and a separate criminal inquiry in New York.  A federal judge has set a deadline of 5:00 p.m. tomorrow for both the Special Counsel and the Southern District of New York to submit information relevant to Cohen sentencing.

Also, a court filing that is expected to detail how Trump`s former campaign manager Paul Manafort violated his plea deal which the special counsel`s office has referred to as Manafort`s "crimes and lies."

Joining me now to talk about what we can expect MSNBC Legal Analyst Jill Wine-Banks, former Assistant Watergate Special Prosecutor and MSNBC legal analyst Paul Butler a former Federal Prosecutor who worked in the Public Integrity Unit of the Department of Justice. 

Jill, let me start on this breaking news that they have resumed conversations after those written responses.  There was the seven or eight months of kicking the can down the road.  We`re talking, we`re not going to talk, you`ll get written responses.  What do you make of that bit of news, Jill?

JILL WINE-BANKS, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST:  I think everybody was expecting that there would have to be some follow-up questions because when you do written answers, they can be evasive leave vague, they can be anything that the lawyers want to draft, and they will certainly raise more questions.  So I`m sure that`s part of the discussion will be about follow-ups in the subject matter of the original interrogatories. 

But remember, the original interrogatories, his lawyers also said we will not talk about anything during the transition or the White House.  We won`t talk about obstruction, only what they would call collusion.  So it may also be that the evidence has grown so significant that there`s going to be some discussion about the possibility of his answering questions about that as well.  It`s hard to tell at this point.  We don`t have enough information to really draw conclusions so I`m just speculating on both of those possibilities being possible.

HAYES:  Paul, we`ve got three filings happening tomorrow.  Let`s start with Michael Cohen.  And there`ll be two filings for him, sentencing memos from both the Southern District of New York where he`s pleaded guilty to a variety of crimes including a campaign finance violation he says was at the direction of the President himself and of course lying to Congress with respect to the Mueller probe.  What are you looking for in those filings tomorrow?

PAUL BUTLER, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST:  I`m looking to see how much time Mueller recommends.  Michael Flynn got the deal of the century when Trump went on heat when Mueller ask for no jail time because he was implicated and a lot of really dirty stuff so that suggested that Michael Flynn`s cooperation was extremely valuable.  Same thing with Michael Cohen.  Under the federal guidelines he`s looking at from 51 to 63 months.  He pled guilty to eight counts in New York and the very serious crime of lying and -- to investigators in Washington D.C.

So the interesting thing about Michael Cohen`s cooperation Chris is it kind of brings together Trump financial deal leads and collusion.  So the red line for Trump, the line in the sand has always been Mueller can investigation collusion but don`t go near my finances.  What we know from Michael Colin`s cooperation is that there`s not a bright line for Trump between money and politics which means there`s not a bright line between his financial dealings and collusion. 

So first it was about working with the Russians because that put cash money in Trump`s pocket if they were going to OK the Moscow Tower.  But then it became how can the Russians help me win this election.  And if Trump was lying about what he knew and when he knew it so that means that Michael Cohen knows it.  But it also means the Russians know it which gives the Russians leverage over the president.

HAYES:  Jill, there are four investigations.  This is according to a court filing that we got.  There are four investigations Michael Cohen is involved -- is cooperating with.  The Russian investigation, Special Counsel, the campaign finance violations which again he said in court under oath the President told him to commit, the Trump foundation with the New York Attorney General, and possible tax fraud with the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance.  That`s a lot. 

BANKS:  It certainly is.  And that means that he also could end up with a very good plea deal and a recommendation.  It`ll be interesting to see what happens.  I think that what is interesting also is his own submission to the court in support of his recommendation, his own recommendation that he get no jail time actually made him extremely sympathetic.  I have never felt sympathy for Michael Cohen, but reading that document and I came to see him much more as a human being. 

I think it`s an interesting read and his lawyers did a very good job of consolidating information from friends and from people who know him, people he has helped through his children`s school, and portrayed him in a way that is quite different than the medallion king who deals with porn stars.  And it doesn`t take away that he did that.  He admits it all.  He says, I did wrong.  I was terrible.  But compare me to these other things as well, and I think they did a good job so it`ll be interesting to see what Mueller recommends,

HAYES:  Someone pointed out, people forget all the dirty stuff John Dean did before he came clean for Nixon before he turned around.  Paul, finally on Manafort.  I mean, we had that -- we had the Flynn filing on Tuesday.  Big question, are we going to learn new things?  All the interesting stuff is redacted.  Now tomorrow, Mueller`s office has basically said we`re going to lay out the crimes and lies.  What are you expecting in terms of how much there is or is not in that document?

BUTLER:  Yes.  So again, he`s going to have to reveal some information about why he believes Mueller -- why he believes Manafort did this it only benefits Trump, it does not benefit him.  He cannot get out of this guilty plea, it`s irrevocable.  So, why would he do something -- why would he voluntarily self-destruct on Trump`s part, on behalf of Trump.  Again, it`s a big risk.

Part of this is about criminal charges, but part of this is really a search for the truth.  And I think that`s one reason why Mueller`s so mad about Manafort because Mueller wants to know, again, did Trump offer you a pardon?  Why is Trump telling all these lies?  And Mr. Manafort, did you meet with Julian Assange?  And it`s not just about locking somebody up, it`s also about national  security.

HAYES:  Jill Wine-Banks and Paul Butler, thank you both.

Senator Richard Blumenthal on the new report on Saudi-backed lobbyists paying for 500 rooms in Trump`s D.C. hotel.  Why he says it`s more evidence for his lawsuit against the president after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HAYES:  We brought you the bombshell story last night that Saudi a funded lobbyists paid for an estimated 500 rooms at President Trump`s D.C. hotel in the months after his election.  Among other legal problems, the report will likely be of interest to people who have sued the president over alleged violations of the constitution`s emolument`s clause.  It seems to be a clear-cut case of foreign money flowing through a lobbying firm into the president`s bank account.

One of those lawsuits recently got a big win in court when it was allowed to move forwards towards discovery.  And joining me now, one of the main plaintiff in another lawsuit over the emoluments clause, Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut?

SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL, (D) CONNECTICUT:  My reaction to that story is that there is a despicable cruel irony in the Saudis using American veterans and putting them up in Trump  hotels, benefiting the president, and then using them to lobby against a measure that would help the 9/11 families who are seeking to sue the Saudis.

So the Saudis are using veterans, paying the president in violation of the emoluments clause, and that $270,000 going to Donald Trump`s organization is only the tip of the iceberg as Donald Trump himself has said, he gets tens of millions of dollars in payments for the condos and rentals in New York and in Chicago, all around the country, from the Saudis and other foreign governments.  So it adds to the strength of our lawsuit.

HAYES:  Yeah, I want to talk about this scheme that`s so bizarre.  And it`s unclear if it was actually a lobbying scheme or essentially a pretense to put money in the president`s pocket, but the legislation was legislation you championed, right?  And the legislation would have done what?

BLUMENTHAL:  The legislation, which was successful -- and, in fact, we overwrote a presidential veto to achieve it -- gave the 9/11 families in an ongoing lawsuit the right to stay in court and extract from the Saudis some compensation for the Saudi`s responsibility for 9/11. 

Remember, there is mounting evidence that the Saudis sponsored, perhaps financially supported, and endorsed the 9/11 attack through agents.  And that`s what the 9/11 families are seeking to establish in court.

HAYES:  Right. I want to be clear, through agents, right.  I mean, not through official channels, obviously, and that is not completely established, just to be clear.

BLUMENTHAL:  Correct.  And the justice against state terrorism acts, sponsored terrorism act, JASTA as it was known, would give them jurisdiction over the Saudis.

HAYES:  So, the Saudis pouring money into an American lobbying firm that has these veterans come to D.C., put them up, they get sent to the Hill to lobby on this.

You`ve got now one federal court that has okayed discovery in the D.C. --  in the Maryland, I think a New York AG lawsuit on the emoluments clause, how big a deal is that?

BLUMENTHAL:  That is a very big deal to go forward with what`s known as discovery, which means that documents must be produced, other evidence must be presented in response to subpoenas, but equally important we`ve overcome a really plausible legal hurdle to this lawsuit against Donald Trump.

Remember, the name of our lawsuit is Blumenthal versus Trump.  Why is going to court necessary here, because we can`t do our job unless the president is compelled by the courts to come to congress...

HAYES:  And say what`s happening?

BLUMENTHAL:  Say what`s happened, not only in this instance, with $270,000 in payments to him personally, he`s never divested his interests, but also the payments from the Philippine government, the other governments that have supported...

HAYES:  Trump properties.

BLUMENTHAL:  Trump properties -- condos, apartments and hotel rooms.

HAYES:  Matthew Whitaker is still the acting attorney general of the United States of America.  It was, I think, four weeks ago that he said he was consulting ethics officials on possible recusal from the Mueller probe, and then they`ve just gone silent.  Journalist after journalist, reporter after reporter, people that are in that building all the time trying to get some comment and they are just saying nothing about what those ethics officials said.  What gives?

BLUMENTHAL:  They have to be embarrassed by the possibility that the ethics officials are going to say Matt Whitaker has no business doing this job, because he has no proper role as attorney general of the United States, even in an acting capacity. 

He has said things that clearly require his recusal.  He has done things like his participation in a massive consumer fraud that ought to require his removal.  And so the ethics officials are silent, because whatever they say is going to be bad for Matt Whitaker.

HAYES:  All right, Senator Richard Blumenthal, thank you very much.  

BLUMENTHAL:  Thank you.

HAYES:  Still ahead, is the Trump economy headed towards recession?  We`ll talk about that coming up.

Plus, tonight`s Thing One, Thing Two starts next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HAYES:  Thing One tonight, it`s the oldest political line in the book, every vote matters.

JOE BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  Every vote counts.

BARACK OBAMA, 44TH PREIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  There`s no such thing as a vote that doesn`t matter.  It all matters.

HILLARY CLINTON, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE:  We can`t take our foot off the gas even for a short time.  Every vote counts, just ask my friend former Vice President Al Gore.

AL GORE, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  Your vote really, really, really counts.  A lot.  You can consider me as an exhibit a of that truth.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAYES:  You`ve heard it a million times, even from Beyonce, seen here endorsing Beto O`Rourke for Senate.

At some point, You might even tune it out, like, OK, we get it, we`ve got to vote. 

Now, there`s one group of people you wouldn`t think would need that reminder, the actual candidates for office, of course, or maybe they do.  That`s Thing Two in 60 seconds.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HAYES:  Voting for yourself sure seems like an exciting part of running for office, your name right here time right there in black and white on the ballot. But a first-time candidate in Arkansas missed out on that experience this week with some pretty unfortunate results.

Cliff Farmer was on the ballot this Tuesday in the runoff election for alderman in Hoksie, Arkansas, population 2,700.  And as the Jonesboro Sun (ph) reports, Farmer was going to be returning from out of town on a business trip on election day. 

Now Farmer`s wife voted in the early election, but Farmer didn`t.  He didn`t make it back to Hoksie in time to vote.

But his return flight landed at 6:30 Tuesday evening, and polls sadly closed at 7:30, so Farmer was unable to cast his ballot.  Here`s the kicker.  Farmer and his opponent, Becky Linebaugh (ph) are tied at 223 votes each.  The race will be decided next week with a coin flip or another game of chance.  I learned a lesson the first time I ran, Farmer told the Jonesboro Sun (ph), every vote counts, mine would have made a difference.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HAYES:  For my money, the single dumbest way to analyze whether the U.S. economy is doing well or not is whether the stock market is up or down, but that is the way the president of the United States and his administration have chosen to grade themselves.  Here`s Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on the matter.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  The stock market has rallied significantly since President Trump took office, and actually since the election, and then again since he took office.  Do you view that as a report card for the administration?

STEVE MNUCHIN, TREASURY SECRETARY:  Absolutely.  Absolutely.  I mean, this is a mark to market business, and you see what the market thinks.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAYES:  Mark to market business.  What does the market think?

That feeling you share by the man at the top.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP : The stock market has gained almost $3 trillion in value since the election.

We`ve added $3.3 trillion.

$3.4 trillion.

Almost $4 trillion in gain to the stock markets.

$5.2 trillion dollars in value.

More than $7 trillion.

We`ve created now almost $8 trillion worth of value just in the stock market.

Very proud of our stock market, what`s happened since I became president.

All-time high.  Think of it.  Nobody every talks about it.

So congratulations to everybody in our country.

Anybody unhappy with the 401(k)?  I don`t think so, right?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAYES:  Well, it`s been tough times for that point of view.  The Dow plummeted on Wednesday, and then it fell again today by nearly 800 points before rallying.  But it is now perilously close to being in negative territory for the year.

But, that`s not the only metric the president has touted where he`s getting failing  grades.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP:  We have a massive trade deficit with everybody, almost $800 billion a year we lose on trade.

We have these crazy deficits.  And we have these horrible trade deals, so I go in you got buy our stuff.  You got to buy everything, because we`re not going to stand for this imbalance, and they`re buying like crazy.  They`re buying so much they don`t even need it.  They just want to have me be  happy.

Unlike President Obama, we live by a different motto, it`s called promises made, promises kept.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAYES:  Well, you`ll never guess where the trade deficit is now.  That`s next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HAYES:  As the trade war heats up, news today the trade deficit with China hit a record high.  And after the stock market sank when the president tried to tweet his way into a truce with China, sort of, there was another apparent escalation in tension with the announcement that Canada`s Justice Department arrested a top executive of one of China`s biggest telethon companies on behalf of the U.S.

To talk more about what kind of effect Trump is having on the economy and vice versa, I`m  joined by Betsey Stevenson, former member of the White House Council of Economic Advisers under Barack Obama, and John Harwood, CNBC editor at-large who covers the economy and national politics.

Betsey, let`s start with you and on the trade skirmish, as it`s being called, with China.  It does look like it`s having a tangible effect, and it`s unclear what the way out is.

BETSEY STEVENSON, FORMER MEMBER WHITE HOUSE COUNCIL OF ECONOMIC ADVISERS:  Well, it is starting to have an effect.  I think it`s worth keeping in perspective that for the typical consumer, it`s not having a very big effect, but what it is doing is hitting hard the industries that either depend on selling to China like farmers selling their soy beans, or the industries that depend on buying the things that we put tariffs on like steel and aluminum, so our auto industry is really struggling.

So we`re starting to see those effects.  And, you know, I think that we`re also starting to see the effects of this escalating trade war in slowing growth around the world.

HAYES:  Yeah, that`s a big concern, John.  And you`re nodding your head.  You wrote a piece today about how the Mueller probe isn`t necessarily the first thing for Trump to worry about now.  What did you mean by that?

JOHN HARWOOD, CNBC:  Well, there is a rising possibility that he is going to be running for reelection in 2020 during a recession.  Growth has already slowed, and 80 percent of the forecasters  surveyed by the National Association for Business Economics say trade uncertainty has caused them to downgrade their projections.

We`re look at 2.9 percent growth for the year this year, 2.7 percent next year, and growth slowing markedly in 2020 with two-thirds of those forecasters for NABE saying we`re going to be in a recession by 2020.  If that`s the case, that`s big trouble for Donald Trump.  The last president who ran for reelection actually during a recession was Jimmy Carter and he got pasted.

HAYES:  Yeah, the cleanest, easiest model for presidential reelection is often just whether the economy is growing or not in the six months before the election.

Betsey, you know, there`s always this question about whether presidents deserve credit or not for an economy, and obviously they get it either way.  They tend to get credit when it`s doing well, blamed when it`s doing poorly.  What is your theory here about what the economy is doing right now in these fears of a recession.  Is that from the fed or is the president actually actively pushing it in that direction?

STEVENSON:  So I think it`s important to realize that expansions don`t die of old age, so we`re in a really long expansion, and some people hypothesize that maybe it`s going to come to an end just because it`s been around for awhile.  But that`s not the case, they die because something happens, some kind of shock, some kind of thing happens. 

And one of those things is an ill-conceived trade war.  So, I absolutely put the blame squarely on these policies that Trump has pursued, which are taking aim at trying to reduce the amount of trade the United States does.  And that is what -- what`s that doing is adding fuel on a fire to slow the economy.  There is nothing else that`s really causing that. 

What the fed is doing is trying to raise rates to normal rates to ward off inflation.  They`re paying close attention to whether they need to slow down.  In fact, they just came out saying that they may indeed be slowing down raising rates in 2019.  So I don`t think you can put the blame on the fed.  I think the blame clearly lies on the shoulders of this ill-conceived trade war.

HARWOOD:  And Chris, remember that President Trump has no political cushion here.

HAYES:  That`s a good point.

HARWOOD:  He has got an approval rating right now of 40 percent.  He has got the Mueller probe accelerating, and we`re going to find out more tomorrow and in the weeks to come.  You have got a Democratic congress coming to take him on.  If he has the economy slow down substantially or even lapse into recession, that is going to have a very negative effect on his standing going into 2020.

HAYES:  Yeah, Betsey, it`s a good point.  I mean, you -- having worked in a White House that inherited this economy in free fall, the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression and was kind of making decisions and dealing with trying to get it out of the ditch and sort of build towards normalcy, this president has from day one basically had a fairly strong economy to deal with.

STEVENSON:  He has taken an economy that was on an upper trajectory and really thrown every obstacle in its path that he could.

HAYES:  And, John, you know, the final thing I think about here is just how much those tax cuts, how much of it has gone to stock buybacks, how much of it was a kind of brief sugar high for markets, and how little enduring power it seems to have had both macroeconomiccally and politically.

HARWOOD:  It is possible that we will later find out down the road that it has had some underlying effect on business investment and productivity growth and that sort of thing.

But there is no reason to expect that right now.  It looks like a sugar high.  And the reason that people are expecting growth to slow in 2019 and 2020 is that the fiscal stimulus will wear out.

HAYES:  Right.

HARWOOD:  And ultimately not have any more effect.

HAYES:  All right, Betsey Stevenson and John Harwood, thank you both.

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

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