STEVE KORNACKI, NBC NEWS NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: -- are likely to ever say it publicly. That is HARDBALL for now. "ALL IN" with Chris Hayes starts right now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: Tonight on ALL IN.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I go by myself in the White House.
HAYES: Trump circus picks up where it left off.
TRUMP: I think I would have been a good general but who knows.
HAYES: As Democrats take over the House.
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), HOUSE MINORITY LEADER: We can go through this all back and forth. No, how many more times can we say no. Nothing for the wall.
HAYES: Tonight, the new balance of power facing the President.
PELOSI: Tomorrow we will bring to the floor legislation which will open up government.
HAYES: And just how long will the Trump shutdown last.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How long are you willing to keep the government shut down then in order to get --
TRUMP: As long as it takes.
HAYES: Plus --
TRUMP: Mitt is tough, he`s smart, he`s sharp.
HAYE:S: What to make of Senator Romney`s pre-emptive attack.
MITT ROMNEY (R), SENATE-ELECT, UTAH: He was endorsing me, I wasn`t endorsing him.
HAYES: And as Elizabeth Warren enters the fray --
SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D), MASSACHUSETTS: So I`m in this fight all the way.
HAYES: Tonight my interview with another Democratic presidential hopeful putting climate change at the center of a potential run when ALL IN starts right now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Good evening from New York I`m Chris Hayes. It is a new year but the same old Trump shut down. The partial government shutdown that Donald Trump engineered and explicitly claimed credit for, heck even bragged about has now dragged on for 12 days. For 12 days, 800,000 American citizens have been furloughed or forced to work without pay. But after two weeks of increasingly desperate flogging for $5 billion for a border wall the heat promised us Mexico would pay for, the President is still painted into the very same corner.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you willing to come up and give him some of this money for the wall because apparently, that`s the sticking point?
PELOSI: No, nothing for the wall. We`re talking about border security.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Nothing for the wall, but that means it`s a nonstarter.
PELOSI: We can go through this back and forth. No. How many more times can we say no? Nothing for the wall.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Nada, nothing. Instead of trying to solve the problem or which should be clear simply endorsing the Senate bill that passed with broad Republican support two weeks ago, the President is digging in.
Today he presided over a bizarre cabinet meeting in which he held court like the loudest guy at the bar without concern for truth or accuracy or any discernable through line. In front of him for some reason there was a large Game of Thrones style poster featuring Trump posing dramatically. It`s a very poster he used back in November to announce sanctions on Iran. I guess he just thinks it looks cool or he likes to look at it.
Later on Trump had congressional leadership come to the White House for supposed negotiation that by all accounts went nowhere as well as a briefing from Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen that Senator Dick Durbin said was chock-full of misinformation about the situation of the border. Durbin adding and I "it was preposterous."
So that`s what happened today and then there`s what happens tomorrow when everything will change for this President and for the country. Around noon, Nancy Pelosi is expected to be elected as Speaker of the House and assuring the new reality in Washington. House Democrats will not be able to pass legislation into law on their own since Republicans still control the Senate and the presidency.
But after two years in which Republicans have obstructed efforts to hold Trump to account, the Democratic majority will have the power to conduct real oversight. They will be able to demand testimony, to issue subpoenas to generally investigate an administration that has largely avoided any kind of accountability from Congress whatsoever.
Resolving the shutdown and reopening the government will be of course the first big fight. The Democrats finally taking power, there will be many more fights to come. Joining me now, a man who`s been 14 years in the House before being elected at the Senate two years ago, Senator Chris Van Hollen, Democrat of Maryland.
Senator just some recent news just now. Mitch McConnell saying that the bill that will pass out of the House tomorrow to reopen the government is DOA in the Senate. What`s your reaction?
SEN. CHRIS VAN HOLLEN (D), MARYLAND: Well, Mitch McConnell can say that and I`m sure that tomorrow after the House passes that bill Mitch will say that he`s not going to take it up but he`s going to have a hell of a time explaining how it is that he refuses to take up a bill that came out of the House. It`s virtually identical in many ways to the bill that passed the Senate with a big bipartisan majority just before the break two weeks ago.
And as the shutdown goes down, he`s going to have to answer a lot of Republican senators who are going to feel the pressure back home and just saying that well, Donald Trump told me not to bring it up, is not going to be a very satisfactory answer for many of them.
HAYES: Here`s a question. Do Republican Senators feel pressure? Is that -- I mean, one of the weird things about the way that our political dynamics work is that it`s unclear to me they do based on the ways in which they vote and sort of act together and the levers of the media that actually affect them?
VAN HOLLEN: Well, I`ve heard actually over the -- over the break from a number of Republican senators who are hearing especially from their small business contractors who do business with the government.
HAYES: That`s interesting.
VAN HOLLEN: So some of them don`t care so much about federal employees although it`s a reality that 80 percent of the federal employees in this country actually work outside of the Washington Metropolitan Area. They work in places around the country but the folks who were really get squeezed and who will never be made whole after the shutdown are a lot of these small business contractors.
And so I`ve heard from a number of Republican senators about that predicament, and again what the House is planning to do is send over two bills. One will say OK, let`s isolate our disagreement to the Department of Homeland Security. Let`s pass a bill to keep it open till February 8th and have a negotiation.
But for goodness sakes, the other eight departments of government that have nothing to do with the wall or for homeland security, why are we going to keep those shutdown? Why are we going to deny the American people those services? Why are we going to keep those 600,000 federal employees out of work and with no pay? And that`s going to be a harder and harder question to answer.
HAYES: You were there in the House, I think you were in leadership actually back in 2006 which is the last time Democrats took majority in the House. It was the first time Nancy Pelosi ascended to Speaker. She`s now re-ascending. It`s something that not many people have done in American history. What didn`t you learn and what a Nancy Pelosi learned from that time around in terms of thinking about how it works this time around?
VAN HOLLEN: Well, I think there are a lot of lessons. The House now has the ability to take the initiative on two fronts, right? First of all, as you were saying in the intro, you get the gavel, and that means the power to hold a hearing. I mean, think about it. Democrats now if they want to have a hearing, they couldn`t have it in the House. They`d be relegated to the basement right, to have their rump hearing that no one paid attention to.
Now they have the gavel. They have the power of oversight. They`ll also have the power of initiative, being able to pass legislation like their electoral reform and campaign finance reform bill. Now, it`s very true that that will have a hard time in the Senate, but it will give us in the Senate Democratic senators an opportunity to call upon Mitch McConnell to bring up that legislation.
It will show the American people not only what we`re against and making it clear we want to stop Trump but also that we have a positive agenda. And so she`ll be rolling that out. I will say, Chris, that one difference of course between now and 2006 is in 2006 Democrats also won a majority in the Senate so they were able to have both Houses moving in tandem.
HAYES: Well, also someone who`s been in the majority and the minority, I was reading some interesting clues from sort of fun quotes today from members who were about to go on the minority for the first time which is significant part of the Republican caucus. What`s your advice for them on what`s what changes? How does -- how does the shape and the culture of Capitol Hill change when a house changes hands?
VAN HOLLEN: Well, I can tell you it`s always an honor to be an either house, the House or the Senate but the worst place in Congress to be is in the minority party in the House of Representatives. Because the reality is that the majority, when they can keep party cohesion, when they can keep people together, can essentially do what they want.
Now, you`ve seen Republican speakers like Paul Ryan, even Speaker Boehner before him who couldn`t control their far-right wings and therefore we`re not able to get a lot of stuff done. But I believe that Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats will be able to seize the initiative. They`ll be able to pass out of the House lots of important legislation. And then the question goes back to what you were asking. What is the impact of that on Republican Senators?
There are a lot of Republican senators who are going to be up for re- election in two years in 2020. And we`ll have to see whether or not their loyalties will continue alight with Trump which is where they lie in primaries, right? They`re all scared -- they`re all scared to death of Trump supporting someone in the primary. But ultimately they got to get into a general election. And going all-in with Trump on things like the government shutdown and other things that will be coming up in the coming months will probably be a losing strategy for them in many of those states.
HAYES: It`s going to be very interesting. Cory Gardner in Colorado comes to mind. It`s Trump list. Senator Chris Van Hollen, thanks for being with me.
VAN HOLLEN: Good to be with you.
HAYES: I`m joined now by Chris Lu whose White House Cabinet Secretary under President Obama, Conservative Columnist Mona Charen who worked in the White House under President Reagan. I want to start with what happened today at the cabinet meeting which was deeply bizarre although we`re all sort of acclimated to.
It was 90 minutes of you know, it was like a guy you`ve encountered this person before on public transit or in a bar next to you or at a party who just like wants to tell you how the world works. Here was the one of the strangest parts of it to me which is Attorney General Whitaker with this sort of obsequious performance before the President to kick off what he had to say at the cabinet meeting. Take up -- take a listen, Chris. I want to get your response.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MATT WHITAKER, ACTING ATTORNEY GENERAL, UNITED STATES: Sir, Mr. President, I will start by highlighting the fact that you stayed in Washington D.C. over the holidays giving up Christmas with your family, New Year`s with your family, trying to bring an end to this shutdown and security to our southern border. You have demonstrated your dedication to delivering on this critical issue for our country and for the American people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Chris you are a former cabinet secretary. Is this what cabinet meetings are usually like?
CHRIS LU, FORMER CABINET SECRETARY, WHITE HOUSE: I convened 17 cabinet members during the first term for President Obama. If one of us whether staffer cabinet had ever done something like this, we would have been mercilessly mocked by President Obama. And in the Trump administration, this gets you the job of Attorney General.
I was in the cabinet meeting we had after we caught Osama bin Laden and President Obama who deserved certainly a lot of credit wasn`t lauded this way. So you know, this is -- with each one of these cabinet meetings, they get more and more bizarre.
HAYES: There`s a person that`s part of this, Mona, too. I mean, the Mattis move which I think did genuinely anger or upset a bunch of Republicans in a not kind of lip service way. This was what he had to say about Mattis which I thought was such a striking illustration of the President`s worldview. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Well, what`s he done for me? How has he done in Afghanistan? Not too good. Not too good. I`m not happy with what he`s done in Afghanistan and I shouldn`t be happy. I mean, I wish him well. I hope he does well. But as you know President Obama fired him and essentially so did I.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: What`s he done for me?
MONA CHAREN, CONSERVATIVE COLUMNIST: Right. And don`t you love that? And essentially that`s about as close as we get to I am lying.
HAYES: Yes, that`s a good point. Yes.
CHAREN: Yes. Look, I honestly and all -- you do wonder do they keep the barf bags underneath the table there at those cabinet meetings. It`s just beyond belief. I mean, the toadying and the lack of self-respect of -- and now admittedly this is already the B-team and some of them are C-team, but that is the part -- look, Mike Pence used to be a man a long time ago and look what he has become. It`s a -- it`s a really lamentable display. I`m sorry to say.
HAYES: Well, and there`s also -- you know, I think it was seven cabinet positions are currently filled with someone with an acting role. They`re staring down this -- you know, they`re in the middle of a shutdown, they`ve got Pelosi and the Democrats taking the House tomorrow, Chris, it`s unclear like who`s staffing the place and who`s running the place and what exactly the plan is here.
CHAREN: Well, the plans to have a huge poster of the President in the middle of the Cabinet Room table so that everyone can admire it.
LU: No. And you didn`t even include all the comments, the crazy comment he made where he said you know, I could have been a great general as well. I seem to recall a conflict called the Vietnam War that he made a lot of efforts to get out of. And so yes, I mean, we could have just -- we could do an entire show on crazy moments that came out of this cabinet meeting.
HAYES: But this is -- but here`s the thing about this. Like he`s still the President and the Congress is going to you know, take over some oversight power tomorrow, and the government is shut down and what`s just evident here, Mona, is that he is -- he`s painted into a corner and there`s no -- there`s nothing to be done other than wait for him to come around or give him some way to save face.
CHAREN: Well, this -- you know, you were asking about the changeover to control to the Democrats, what this will mean, and in one way it actually works to the President`s advantage, right? For the first two years, he didn`t have a foil in Congress, he -- so he chose the press. The press became the big foil, not Putin, not China but rather the American press but all right. But now he does have a foil. Now he has the Democrats in Congress and this is kind of in his comfort zone.
He`ll be happy to trade barbs and to do the nicknames and the belittling comments and have these you know kind of televised meetings and he`s very comfortable in this mode. It`s kind of like the tabloid fights that he`s been engaged in for decades in New York. So in that sense, he may be enjoying it and may be very comfortable.
HAYES: And it`s also the case, Chris, that it`s in -- it`s a kind of unburdening if you don`t care about the functioning of government to sort of play out the sort of tabloid spectacle that Mona`s describing.
LU: Well, it`s exactly right. And Senator Van Hollen explained it well. There are 800,000 federal workers who are furloughed or working without pay, you`ve got countless other government contractors who won`t get paid, it`s the government services that aren`t being provided. It`s not only the national parks that are now overflowing with garbage apparently. And you`ve got home loans, farm loans, not going out the door, passport applications being slowed down.
Look, most of what happens in government isn`t partisan and you would hope that regardless of party you would want to make sure that government works effectively. That`s why any of us come into public service. And the fact that he has so little disregard for this, that he`s willing to basically sink a quarter the federal government for a wall that`s not going to do anything just shows how little disregard he has for government.
HAYES: All right, Chris --
CHAREN: You know, there`s a pattern in each one of these shutdowns which is Republicans tell themselves and tell the country, oh no one cares about the government shutting down and oh only essential workers need to report to work. Well, why isn`t that the case every day and on and on? And then as it drags out, people begin to feel the pain. Americans are not as anti- government as the Republican Party or the at least the strongly ideological base is.
And eventually, they feel the pressure to reopen it. And I suspect -- you know, anything can happen but it strikes me that that pattern is likely to reassert itself.
HAYES: Yes. Well, the President was sort of thirsty for a deal just a few days ago so we`ll see what happens. Chris Lu and Mona Charen, thank you both for being with me. Next, the President says he`s prepared to keep the government close over the border wall fight for as long as it takes, as the impact of the Trump shutdown intensifies around the country. That in two minutes.
HAYES: We`re now on the 12th day of the current government shutdown. This is a partial shutdown which was happening at the holidays, a period where people take time off. And so the effects for a lot of Americans were relatively easy to miss. But there have been some eye-catching headlines, garbage, as Chris Lu just mentioned is starting to pile up in Washington D.C. The country`s national parks are facing similar issues.
New York Times reports the shutdown is devastating Native American reservations that depend on federal money for health care and food. Just yesterday I talked to a guy working for TSA who was working on New Year`s Day but hadn`t gotten paid since the government shutdown. Those things are going to start compounding and getting worse. Two weeks with no paycheck is one thing, two months quite another.
After meeting with President Trump the White House today, Nancy Pelosi said she would pass legislation that passed unanimously out of the Republican Senate to open the government. Legislation that does not include crucially wall funding but in the weight of the shutdown squarely on Trump`s shoulders.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PELOSI: We`re asking the President to open up government. We are giving him a Republican path to do that. Why would he not do it?
SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY), SENATE MINORITY LEADER: I asked him directly. I said, Mr. President, give me one good reason why you should continue your shutdown of these -- of the eight cabinet departments while we are debating our differences on homeland security. He could not give a good answer.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Joining me now, Democratic Congressman Jamie Raskin of Maryland. So is that my understanding, Congressman, tomorrow you`re going to pass legislation for the eight departments other than the DHS and basically say let`s just do that and sort of cordon off the DHS question?
REP. JAMIE RASKIN (D), MARYLAND: Well, right. What is the argument for closing down the departments of State of Agriculture, of Interior, of justice, of Commerce, of HUD and so on? Everybody agrees that they`ve got nothing to do with this conflict. It all comes down to Homeland Security so let`s pass a special bill dealing with homeland security and we can take it up again in four weeks. We`ll have time to debate it.
But otherwise, this looks like it`s just a completely petulant outbreak of obstructionism by the Republicans and we`re starting to fear that they`re really just trying to ruin the inauguration of the new House and everything that we wanted to do.
HAYES: Well, they were -- they were sort of trying. They were sort of spinning it that way. Although I`m not quite sure I sell that -- I buy that. I mean, what does it matter in terms of the inauguration? Like you guys are going to get the gavel one way or the other.
RASKIN: Well, right. I mean, the whole thing makes no sense. It`s irrational. Look, Donald Trump had basically agreed to drop his ridiculous demand for a border wall which you know, the people of Texas don`t want. There are so many landowners down there who are saying that it will be tied up for years and eminent domain lawsuits because they don`t want their backyards taken away from them by the government. So the idea this is -- that this is a solution is just absurd.
But you know, he had given up on that. And then he turned on Fox News and he saw Ann Coulter and the right-wing commentators blasting him and then he took it all back. And so suddenly it became urgent again. And so we`re looking for some serious responsible people on the Republican side to say this is not a way to run the government.
And what we`re giving them is bills that they endorsed either unanimously or by 90 percent, so they`re -- they`ve already been for these pieces of legislation. Let`s go ahead and pass it. We can isolate the problem and then we can continue the debate for a few more weeks about the wall.
HAYES: Well, but here`s the thing about the wall. Like I don`t even understand what we`re debating anymore because the President you know, the wall is this sort of constantly moving metaphor. I mean Lindsay Graham called it a metaphor. The President has reinvented the concept of a fence several times through you know, the wall you can see through it which is a fence. And then it says it`s not actually that, it`s just border security. Like do you understand what the actual fight is over? Is it the $5 billion? Is that the fight?
RASKIN: Well, yes. And of course, the $5.7 billion is really $35 billion, because it doesn`t make sense to spend $5.5 billion on a project unless --
HAYES: For one year. Yes.
RASKIN: -- one could go ahead and complete it.
HAYES: But you`re right. It`s you know, rearranging the silverware on the Titanic. We`ve got this monumental challenge of climate change which the rest of the world is talking about, record forest fires, droughts, hurricanes, extreme weather events like no one has ever seen before. This is what we should be focused on. Instead, we`re talking about this stupid medieval wall which everybody across party lines thinks is ridiculous.
And we`re asking the Republican leadership to step up right now and help us get back to the business of government. We want to reopen the government and then we`ve got legislation to reopen the democracy by getting rid of gerrymandering, by opening up the campaign finance system, and by arming people`s voting rights so they can`t be taken away again.
HAYES: Those -- that`s the first sort of affirmative. I mean, after the getting the government back and running, that`s the first sort of affirmative slate of legislation that the House Democrats are going to pursue right?
RASKIN: Correct. But there are other you know, multiple emergencies facing us as a people. You know, we are in a gun crisis here where tens of thousands of Americans are being lost every year to firearms and 97 percent of the people want a universal criminal and mental background check on all firearm purchases. If we put it on the floor, we can pass it overwhelmingly. We`ll have Republican support. Even if they allow it on the floor in the Senate, it will pass there.
We`ve got to go ahead and do that. We got a deal with climate change. We got to deal with prescription drug prices by giving the government the power to negotiate in the Medicare program the same power that it`s got in Medicaid and V.A. I mean, there these are things that are practical problems that we used to know how to solve and we can do it but we`ve got to get all the obstructionism and nihilism out of the way.
HAYES: Have you served in the majority before?
RASKIN: Well, in the Maryland State Senate where we abolish the death penalty in passed marriage equality and you know, passed the toughest gun safety law in America, but not in the House. I`ve only been in the House for one term so I can`t wait until tomorrow.
HAYES: Yes, exactly. What are you most looking forward to?
RASKIN: Well, you know, one of the things that struck me when I got to D.C. from Annapolis was that we were voting on all these bills, very big things like repealing the Affordable Care Act without so much as a hearing. Now, think about that. The hearing is the heart of the legislative process. That`s when you collect the data, you collect the facts, you get lots of views coming from lots of different perspectives, and even the people who`ve introduced the bill learn about it and improve it. But they got rid of hearings in the Republican Congress.
For the most part, we were voting on bills -- we were voting on constitutional amendments like the balanced budget amendment that had never had a hearing before. So I pushed very strongly and I`m proud to say it`s in the rules package for a provision saying that no bills will go through the Rules Committee to the floor unless they`ve had a hearing first. I mean, it`s a pretty basic thing. But I`m excited that we`re actually going to be involved in real legislative process instead of just mobilizing everybody into partisan camps.
HAYES: Yes. Spoken like a true legislator. The thing you`re most excited for is hearings which is you have the right job if that`s the case.
RASKIN: Hey, I`m going on the Rules Committee and I can`t tell you how excited I am about that.
HAYES: All right, Congressman Jamie Raskin, thank you very much.
RASKIN: My pleasure.
HAYES: Mitt Romney returns to his old position on Donald Trump as he enters the Senate. Not that old one, the other old, old one. Next McKay Coppins and Haley Byrd on what they make of Senator Romney`s shot at the President.
HAYES: Mitt Romney`s feelings about Donald Trump over the years have been a real roller coaster ride. Back in 2012 when he`s running for president, Romney did a whole event where he collected the endorsement of America`s most prominent birther. Four years later, wherein the shoe was in their foot and Romney was on the sidelines while Trump was running for president, Romney turned into one of trumps harshest critics.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROMNEY: Think of Donald Trump`s personal qualities. The bullying, the greed, the showing off, the misogyny, the absurd third-grade theatrics. Donald Trump is a phony, a fraud. His promises are as worthless as a degree from Trump University.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: I mean, where`s the lie right? Flash-forward a few months later after Donald Trump won the election, and there was the same guy. That guy, the guy you just saw in the clip, that`s him, that`s Mitt Romney breaking bread with the President-elect in hopes of becoming a Secretary of State. And then later when Romney decided to run for Senate in this cycle, he was more than happy to accept the President`s endorsement. And now one day before being sworn in a Senator, Romney is flip-flopping yet again publicly denouncing the President`s character in an op-ed for The Washington Post.
The thing is Romney is actually not that different from most of his party particularly establishment which is both embraced the President and condemned him when it was convenient and ultimately done little if nothing substantive to stop him. The question now is whether Romney`s op-ed represents some kind of turning point among his cohort or just more business as usual.
For more on where things stand on the eve of the new Congress I`m joined by the McKay Coppins, Staff Writer for The Atlantic whose latest piece is on Romney`s noisy arrival in Trump`s Washington and Congressional Reporter Haley Byrd. Haley, what -- would someone who is intimately -- as reported on the Republican Congress intimately and knows that every day in the Republican Congress you are faced with questions about the President, what do you make of Romney opening -- this being his opening gambit.
HALEY BYRD, CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER: Sure. So, I mean, the fact that he wrote the op-ed is unique. Most Republicans don`t say these things publicly about you know, the President not having the requisite character for the office and those sorts of things. But you know, when you get down to the practical applications of this op-ed, what Romney says sounds exactly what Paul -- exactly like what Paul Ryan has said for the past two years, and exactly like what a lot of Senate Republicans have said for the past two years which is you know, I`m not going to comment on every tweet, I will speak out if something egregious happens like if the President sides with Putin over the U.S. intelligence community in front of the entire world. But you know I`m going to go about my business as if this was any president.
And that is just a common refrain among a lot of Republicans in the Senate so it`s it doesn`t really represent a drastic shift. I mean, you have Jeff Flake and Bob Corker both leaving and those were two of President Trump`s most outspoken critics in the Senate. So I mean, you see Romney maybe filling one of those positions as someone who will speak out when something -- when the President makes a misstep. But it`s not totally out of line with what we`ve seen for the past two years.
HAYES: Well, and I think that -- Haley nails it there I think with McKay which is that part of me this read to me is very cynical which was basically him being like hey, don`t ask me about the tweets. I know the guy is a jerk. I hate him too. Don`t wear me down. I`m Mitt Romney and I`m here to vote with the Republican Party for the wall. So stop asking me about that stuff.
MCKAY COPPINS, STAFF WRITER, THE ATLANTIC: Well, I -- so I think that when Romney -- one of the interesting things about this is that Romney actually did not plan and up until pretty recently to make this big splash as he came to Washington. I`ve been talking to people close to Romney for the past year as he ran for senate out in Utah, and his kind of strategy, his thinking coming into Washington, is his victory in Utah was kind of a foregone conclusion. His idea was that he was going to come here and try to be on at least relatively good terms with the White House. He wanted to come here and kind of, you know, not necessarily be a Trump foot soldier, but show that he was open to it working with the president on issues where they had common ground.
He writes in the piece that December -- there were a bunch of developments in December that alarmed him. But what I`m told is the one that actually most concerned him was the departure of Jim Mattis, which I think a lot of Republicans have viewed as sort of the last buffer, keeping the president in line.
But, yeah, I think that he -- that Romney is coming to Washington now recognizing that there`s no way to kind of escape the Trump vortex. There`s no way to, you know, duck and dodge every question about Trump. And so he`s setting a baseline, saying this is where I`m at on Trump, and I`m going to answer some questions, I`m not going to answer every question.
This is also basically more or less what he`s been saying throughout the past year as he ran for office in Utah, getting relatively little national media attention. He`s basically just repeating those talking points now on a national platform as he`s coming into the senate knowing, by the way -- and I think this is important -- how the president would react to this, right?
I think that Romney wrote this knowing that Trump -- Trump takes everything personally, that he was going to interpret this as an assault on him, and that this meant that they were not going to be good friends.
HAYES: Well, I think that ship has sailed probably.
COPPINS: Maybe. Although, I mean, look, he obviously thought back in 2016 that he could mend fences when he -- after the election when he had that dinner.
I think that Romney probably has now learned his lesson from that and decided to assert at least some modicum of independence.
HAYES: The other part of this, just the sort of perfect capsule study of the Republican Party`s relationship with Donald Trump over the last five years, honestly, five, or six years, is here`s the head of the RNC, her name is Ronna McDaniel, Haley Byrd, Ronna McDaniel, she responds to the op-ed, for an incoming Republican freshman Senator, which is like, well, who`s this guy, Republican freshman Senator, I`ve barely heard of the guy, to attack @realdonaldtrump as their first act feeds into what the Democrats and media want is disappointing and unproductive.
Of course, Ronna McDaniel`s name is Romney McDaniel. She is the niece of the freshman Republican senator. And this, to me, Haley, just seems like one of these baroque expressions of fealty that the Donald Trump Republican Party demands.
BYRD: Well, I mean, sure. And I mean, that`s her job is to speak for the party, and support the president, and that`s what Romney said in response to this. He said something like, you know, it would have been less civil if we were, you know, at the Thanksgiving dinner table talking about this.
It`s unique and also just like seeing the party structure, the response to Romney`s op-ed was, like, doubling down on, oh, maybe we somehow block a 2020 primary challenger, even though that ship has sailed because they would have had to change the rules in 2016, so there was just this response, especially among like the presidents defenders in congress, like Rand Paul felt the need to hold a press conference about this op-ed, which was interesting to say the least.
HAYES: Well, and part of it is so weird. There`s like this witshcasting and this almost -- there`s always this sort of like a little bit of aggrievedness, McKay, where it`s like you have all these Republicans who are like, hey, why are you on my case about the guy I support and vote with who`s the most powerful person in the world who I think and you think is a psychopath? Like, what`s the problem? Why are you in my face about it?
It`s like, that`s why because that`s why. Well, you just said it. And Romney has the same MO here.
COPPINS: Well, I think part of the kind of animosity that other Republicans have toward Romney over this is because as Haley kind of alluded to earlier, all the Republicans in the Senate, or not all, but most of them have said similar things to what Romney wrote, at least in private, right. They kind of all believe the same thing about Donald Trump. Romney happens to come from a state where it`s kind of an idiosyncratic red state. You know, 64 percent of voters in it Utah told the Associated Press recently that they want to see Romney stand up to Trump.
HAYES: Right. Right.
COPPINS: So, he has a lot more latitude than most Republicans in congress do to kind of assert his independence. And I think a lot of them, frankly, hold -- have some disdain for that.
HAYES: That`s right, they`re jealous that he gets to like say publicly what they all say privately and they`re mad at all of us who asked them questions about it, who had the temerity to do so.
McKay Coppins and Haley Byrd -- Haley Byrd, who by the way, who is a phenomenal, phenomenal reporter whose work I read and been following and currently on the market if I`m not mistaken. If you happen to be watching this and you`re an editor, I would snap her up. You`re an idiot if you don`t.
Thank you both.
BYRD: Thanks, Chris.
HAYES: Ahead, the 2020 Democratic field emerges. I`ll talk to one presidential hopeful who is staking his campaign on climate change. Washington Governor James Inslee ahead.
Plus, tonight`s Thing One, Thing Two starts next.
HAYES: Thing One tonight, you can tell one of the things Donald Trump likes most about being president is when he gets to force a roomful of people to listen to him explain how the world works.
As noted here before, it`s like we elected the guy at the end of the bar to be president and now we`re all stuck in the bar with him.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: When I became president, I had a meeting at the Pentagon with lots of generals. They were, like, from a movie -- better looking than Tom Cruise and stronger. I think I would have been a good general, but who knows. I mean, I`m the only person in the history of our country that could really decimate ISIS. If another administration came in instead of this administration, you`d be at war right now, you`d be having a nice big, fat war in Asia. And it wouldn`t be pleasant.
I know more about drones than anybody. I know about every form of safety that you can have.
Look, look, when they say the wall`s immoral, well then, you got to do something about the Vatican because the Vatican has the biggest wall of them all.
If the Supreme Court rules that President Obama was wrong, which they should, because by the way,if he was right, then I`ve been given tremendous power. Can you imagine me having that power? Wouldn`t that be scary?
And we were at the bottom of this incredible room. I said, this is the greatest room I`ve ever seen. I saw more computer boards than I think that they make today.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: That went on for, I`m not kidding, more than an hour and a half today. And he went from that great room to another great room in the West Wing basement. That`s Thing 2 in 60 seconds.
HAYES: No, you`re not crazy, that was a very, very long 60 seconds. Now, where were we? Right. There was a time when the super secure room in the White House known as The Situation Room was a place where presidents did real national security stuff like manage the response of September 11, or monitor the Osama bin Laden operation. But in the Trump administration, the Situation Room seems more of a kind of catch-all space. It`s where John Kelly famously fired Omarosa, not from The Apprentice, from the White House.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
JOHN KELLY, WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: We`re here to talk to you about leaving the White House. It`s come to my attention over the last few months that there`s been some pretty, in my opinion, significant integrity issues.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
HAYES: Today, the president used the Situation Room for another stunt team maneuver: a meeting with congressional leaders, a briefing from DHS designed as a last-ditch attempt to convince Chuck and Nancy that we really need a wall.
It did not work.
Senator Durbin came out calling it, quote, "preposterous." And according to Bloomberg, Trump actually said out loud to Chuck Schumer that he couldn`t cave on the shutdown now because, quote, "I would look foolish."
Well, maybe it`s a little late to be concerned about that?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: We were at the bottom of this incredible room. I said, this is the greatest room I`ve ever seen. I saw more computer boards than I think that they make today.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: You`ve probably heard by now that Senator Elizabeth Warren has made it official, she will be running for president in 2020. You`ve also likely heard a lot of the by now standard punditizing about what it all means with various hot takes about whether she can avoid being pinned as unlikable, or whether her drinking a beer in her kitchen was sufficiently authentic, or whether because she didn`t run in 2016 she`s missed her moment.
Now as someone in the business of covering and analyzing American politics, I am genuinely sympathetic to the ways in which the insatiable demands for content means a fair amount of shallow quick takes on optics and electability, what have you, but I want to offer some advice to you, the viewer and voter and really out loud to myself as a kind of New Year`s resolution as we enter the presidential campaign: ignore that nonsense, seriously.
2016 represented the reductio ad absurdum of a political media industrial complex addicted to the spectacle and personal drama. And it is our job, all of our job, to do better this time around.
So, while there will be plenty of reasons to legitimately scrutinize the political successes and failures of various candidates, their messages, strategies, approaches, inconsistencies, what should count most for us doing the covering and for you out there making the decisions about who to support and vote for ultimately is what the candidate`s worldview is, what their platform calls for concretely, how they`ve conducted themselves in the past as a window into how they might be in the future, and what we can best find out about their mettle and their judgment. Who will they fight for? What will they fight for? Can they be trusted to do what they say? Everything else is noise.
And trust me, there will be an awful lot of noise in the next 22 months. We`re committed to try to turn down the din and listen and ask and get questions and answers about what matters.
Tonight, you can hear directly from Warren about what her vision for the country is in just a few minutes when she appears for an exclusive interview with my colleague Rachel Maddow.
And just ahead, a Democratic governor who`s planning on putting the single most important challenge of our time at the center of his possible campaign. I will talk to him about it next.
HAYES: When Senator Elizabeth Warren announced her presidential exploratory committee for 2020. She pointed out how big oil companies are destroying the planet. Today, she has gone a step further. Axios reports that Warren supports the idea of a green new deal to ambitiously tackle our climate crisis, economic inequality and racial injustice. That makes her the first major candidate to support a platform that`s being pushed by a variety of figures in the Democratic Party, including incoming Congresswoman Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez, designed to combat climate change while stimulating the economy.
Likely candidates such as Senators Cory Booker and Bernie Sanders have also shown their support for green new deal. In short, a commitment to big, fast, bold action on climate is becoming a threshold issue for Democrats running for president. It now appears someone has come along who intends to bank his candidacy on the issue of saving the planet.
Joining me now, Jay Inslee, Democratic governor of Washington, who may run for president with a special focus on climate change.
Governor, there are lots of issues, and as governor you have to oversee lots of issues. And you know that you have to do a lot of different things at once, why center climate?
GOV. JAY INSLEE, (D) WASHINGTON: Well, to govern is to choose. And right now, we know to a scientific certainty that we are the first generation to feel the sting of climate change. And we are the last generation that can do something about it.
In order to succeed in that regard, I am convinced beyond a shadow of a doubt that we need a president who will say firmly and with great conviction that this is the paramount duty of the United States, in that it has to be the first and foremost effort of the next president. I intend to do that if I were given that opportunity.
This has to be the first thing we have to do. It has to be the guiding principle of all of our policies. And we have to rally the country to a higher purpose. And by the way, we know we can do that. We know we rally the country to beat fascism in World War II and send a man to the moon. We can all be heroes here, but we need a certain trumpet from the White House, who will organize our energies to that -- in that regard.
And if I were president, that is the first thing I would do. And we need people to make that commitment.
HAYES: Yeah, the trumpet matters, but prioritization, as you`re saying, matters more. So, I want to be clear, right, there are12 million people who are out of status immigrants who don`t have status right now. There`s the DACA recipients. There`s the specter of gun violence. There`s a health care system that`s still quite broken. There`s inequality. What you`re saying is the first and most important priority, the thing to focus on first out of the game, which is the one that will get the most support and political capital, is climate?
INSLEE: That is correct, because without defeating climate change, nothing else long-term is possible for the future of our children.
Now, look, we have had wonderful success in my state, first net neutrality rules, best voting rights rules, best paid family leave, huge increase in the minimum wage, big transportation package when they can`t build a birdhouse in D.C. Big improvements in education. I would like to bring that to the entire nation.
But we have to focus and govern on the existential threat that now faces us, which is also not just a matter of great peril, but a matter of great promise. There is no better way to connect with people in the Midwest, in smaller communities, to help them grow jobs in their economically challenging circumstances, than to show them the job creating opportunities that we have demonstrated in my state, that are making carbon fiber in Moses Lake, small town, making solar power in Lynn, Washington, the middle of the wheat fields. This is a jobs message, perhaps first and foremost.
But we need a president who will show a vision for that type of optimistic future. And they need to do that out of the chute.
This is not going to be easy.
HAYES: Let`s talk about your state. There`s been a lot of substantive successes on emissions and carbon. But there is a setback in a referendum that was put to the voters, which was essentially a kind of carbon fee on big oil companies. It was put directly to the voters, and it lost in a liberal state where you`re popular, where these ideas are not anathema. This is not in the heart of a very conservative state, lost 56 to 43. What does that say to you about the politics of this issue still in the year 2018- 2019?
INSLEE: Well, it says that we need to use different tools, and thank goodness...
HAYES: That`s interesting.
INSLEE: ...we have lot of tools in the toolbox.
HAYES: So, wait, does that mean to you carbon fees or carbon taxes are politically toxic and dead?
INSLEE: Not necessarily. I wouldn`t take anything off of the table forever. But as of this moment, what we are doing in our state, today we adopted new emission standards. We`re going to adopt 100 percent clean grid law. I believe we will pass a clean fuel standard. We intend to make net zero homes, and we intend to give to outlaw super pollutants.
So we elected 10 new legislators this year in my state, all of whom are committed to working with me to defeat climate change. I believe by next spring, you`re going to see Washington continue the path of defeating climate change.
And by the way, we have had real success. We have a multi-billion dollar wind industry, because we passed a renewable portfolio standard. We have these jobs we`re creating in small towns. This is a story of success in my state, and we have blown up the Republican myth that if you focus on clean energy, it will hurt your economy.
I have the best GDP job growth and net wage growth of any state in the United States. So we`re bullish on this effort.
HAYES: Do you take lessons, also, from what`s happened in France and Macron where one of the sort of precipitating incidents or precipitating policies for the protests, some violent, that have spread throughout the country was a gasoline tax, which was part of, as articulated by Macro, a vision towards emission reduction?
INSLEE: Yes. The lesson is, this is not easy.
Look, and if we were made out of sugar candy, we might quit and go home. But climate change is not going anywhere, and neither are we. We intend to adopt the optimistic, technologically oriented vision of this nation, to adopt the multiple policies that can lead economic growth in our country. We`re doing it in my state. We`re going to continue to do it. We just need a vision of success in the White House that fits the can-do spirit of America. And we`re going to grow jobs by the millions when we do that.
So this is a good year. It`s going to be a good year in my state. It`s going to be better in 2020, when we elect a president who will say the paramount duty of this nation is to rally ourselves to do what we have done in the past, which is to lead the world.
HAYES: What kind of scale are we talking about? When you talk about mobilizing on the order of magnitude of something like defeating fascism, you`re talking about an enormous percentage of GDP, the highest deficits and outflow spending the U.S. has ever experienced, particularly in the modern era. You had to sort of mobilize all society. There were, you know -- there were even huge amounts of government command and control put over the economy. Like what is the scale when you say the stimulus of $700 billion -- we`re talking, or the new deal was X percentage of GDP, what are you thinking?
INSLEE: Well, we did sort of a first installment in the stimulus package years ago, $90 billion into clean energy, which was a small down payment of something that needs to be larger, frankly.
HAYES: Much larger, right?
INSLEE: Much larger. We`re going to have to be much larger than that. But we can`t be dissuaded by Republican rhetoric.
Look, they all were deficit hawks until they just passed a $1.5 trillion new deficit spending in their tax cut. We know we can finance this. We know there are multiple ways to do it. But when you think about the scale of this challenge, realize this -- several decades from now, we are going to have to have a transportation system that largely is based on electricity, rather than gasoline and diesel. That is going to require hiring millions of people to restore our new types of transportation infrastructure, which we`re doing today in my state.
We`re going to have to have buildings that don`t use energy. You know, frankly, we`re building those net zero homes and buildings today in my state.
We`re going to have to have manufacturing facilities to build batteries where we have been having, frankly, oil fields. That requires massive transformation. And it`s going to grow jobs, just like the Apollo project did. That`s why I named my book "The Apollo Project."
HAYES: Final question here, and it`s a technical one, but it`s in some ways the most important, do you support abolishing the filibuster?
INSLEE: You know, I`m going to have to get back to you on that. I certainly did when I was in the House. But as president, I`m going to defer to our next meeting when we can talk more about this, Chris.
HAYES: All right, I`m curious about your answer, because a lot of the things you are describing will be tough with that 60 vote threshold. Governor Jay Inslee, thank you so much for making the time.
All right, in case you missed it, we kicked off the new year with a brand new episode of our podcast "Why is This Happening?" It`s a very special one, because you hear -- we hear from you, our listeners. We`re always asking for you to email and tweet us your thoughts on the podcast, we really do read them all, so this week we released our first ever mailbag episode where we answer your burning questions with a special guest appearance by one Tiffany Champion, who you know and love from the podcast. You get to hear her actual voice.
We have a lot of big plans for #withpod this year, great new guests. We also have the possibilities from road shows. A lot of you have been telling us where you are and whether you would come out to a road show. We are collating all that feedback. You`re going to hear from us more on that.
And that is All In for this evening. The Rachel Maddow Show starts right now. Good evening, Rachel.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END