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Trump to hype border "crisis." TRANSCRIPT: 1/8/2019, All In w. Chris Hayes.

Guests: Rosalind Helderman, Veronica Escobar, Enrique Morones, Rachel Maddow, Nicolle Wallace, Brian Williams

Show: ALL IN with CHRIS HAYES Date: January 8, 2019 Guest: Rosalind Helderman, Veronica Escobar, Enrique Morones, Rachel Maddow, Nicolle Wallace, Brian Williams

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: That`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us. "ALL IN" with Chris Hayes starts right now.



DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Who`s going to pay for the wall?

HAYES: A president trapped by his own wall speaks to the nation.



HAYES: The Democrats will respond.

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: A wall is an immorality.

HAYES: Tonight, Rachel Maddow on the President`s self-imposed crisis. Chuck Todd on the latest from the White House. Steve Schmidt, Nicole Wallace, and Brian Williams, precedents and the politics of it all. Plus what we know about what`s actually happening at the border and today`s bombshell accidental revelation suggesting Trump campaign collusion with the Russians.


HAYES: When ALL IN starts right now.


HAYES: Good evening from New York I`m Chris Hayes. In just one hour, the President will address the nation getting a rare grant of primetime airtime from all the networks. We expect brief remarks from the Oval Office less than ten minutes and then there will be a response from the Democratic congressional leaders Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer. And this all comes as the increasingly desperate and cornered president looks for any possible way out of the impasse that he has painted himself into.

You`ll remember he made a promise on the very first day when he came down the escalator, a promise of a big beautiful wall and a promise that was always ridiculous on his face, that Mexico would pay for that wall. It was immediately apparent Mexico is never going to pay for it. Trump is now two years in and has no wall. Two years of unified Republican governance and the Republican Party that ran Congress did not prioritize building his wall or giving him the money to do it.

And so now here we are on the 18th day of a government shutdown. The President is cornered between a promise he made on one side and Rush Limbaugh, Anne Coulter and a bunch of angry supporters on the other. So tonight, a Hail Mary presidential address a last-ditch attempt to win a political showdown he is losing. An escape from a situation that Trump himself has trapped himself in.

Joining me now Julia Ainsley NBC News National Security and Justice Reporter who has been relentlessly fact-checking this White House on its dire claims about the border. Julia, welcome. What are you looking for tonight? They have been really throwing a lot a lot of dodgy and false statistics around. What do you -- what do you expect to see?

JULIA AINSLEY, NBC NEWS NATIONAL SECURITY AND JUSTICE REPORTER: Yes, well be fact-checking relentlessly, Chris. I am interested in how the President is going to try to build himself as credible in any means on -- as a source you can tell us why he needs this border wall and why he`s willing to continue a government shutdown or even call for a national emergency in order to fund this.

As you know, the numbers they have put out have been fact-checked when it comes to terrorists. We just reported yesterday that only six in early 2018, only six immigrants who were known or suspected terrorists who were caught coming across the border in early 2018. That is far below the 4,000 number that have been thrown out by this administration. I also wonder if he`s going to pivot away from the terrorism angle and try some of the other angles we`ve heard.

We`ve heard that this wall is actually needed for humanitarian reasons. That`s really hard to buy if you think about the fact that it would just force people into more desolate remote areas to make some of those journeys that have led to the child migrant deaths we`ve seen in the last month. Also, is he going to make the argument that this will stop drugs from coming over the border. As we know, more drugs come for legal ports of entry and through the mail.

So if he tries to make the argument that this will somehow stop the opioid overdoses that we`ve seen throughout the country, that`s also a hard argument to make. So we`ll be fact-checking along the way. But the whole point I think tonight, unless we get some jaw-dropping news about a national emergency, will just today, the President trying to explain to the American people why this wall is so important that it`s worth dragging out this shutdown. And so far it`s been hard to see how any of those points will cross that line all.

HAYES: All right, Julia Ainsley, thank you so much. Joining me now Chuck Todd, Moderator of "MEET THE PRESS," Host of "MTP DAILY." I understand you had an off-the-record lunch today at the White House of the President. What can you tell us about what their perspective is on this?

CHUCK TODD, NBC NEWS HOST: Well, I would say, I think the best way to put it, Chris, without violating the off-the-record line set of it and I think the way to describe this is I think this is their way of trying to preview the argument that they`re going to make tonight. To see if they can have some influence perhaps on how we frame tonight, right? So I just like to get all that out in the open and be transparent --

HAYES: Right. Totally.

TODD: -- as to what they`re up to. Here`s what I came away with, Chris. Number one is that they had to do -- they have to do tonight in order to calm Congressional Republicans down. They do seem to be concerned about that. That there was an acknowledgement they hadn`t made a cogent argument or given the air cover if you will to Republicans taking a beating on the Congressional side of the aisle.

So I get the -- I went there assuming we were going to get a hint on how they were getting out of this. I came away going oh, they`re not interested in getting out of this yet. So that`s another big I think take away. We`re not -- there isn`t going to be an announcement tonight of I`ll plan to open the government up tomorrow or I`m declaring a national emergency. He seems to be more about making a case to see if he can keep Republicans on his side.

When I say Republicans in this point, I mean, the congressional Republicans because they`re about to all leave him and I think they know that.

HAYES: That is -- that is really interesting and important insight into the context here. What -- one follow-up question. There`s two ways of looking at this. One is that this is tactically -- they`re leading into this tactically because they want to be talking about this and not on other things and they feel they`ve got the upper hand, they`re picking this fight affirmatively. The other is the ad hoc stumbled their way back into this and you don`t have a way out. Which of those two do you think it is?

TODD: It`s more of I think the latter. It is -- look, the President believes immigration is always a winner for him, period. OK. You don`t -- if you bring him a poll, he`ll say oh yes, they told me the wall was unpopular in `16 and I want it anyway. He believes there`s a silent majority out there with him on this wall. He believes it`s Democrats that don`t quite understand the importance of the immigration issue, and he really does believe if he can make his case that it`ll be the Democrats that get punished for this shutdown not the Republicans.

But he hasn`t really been able to -- I think that the biggest difficulty he`s had and I`ll be curious to see if he gets any better at it tonight is try to explain why you have to shut down the government in order to have this debate, right? Like that is the part of this that has you know, they say they need it, they say they lose leverage if they don`t, but to me if you`re threatening a national emergency, you`ve created more leverage for something. Just to play just negotiator here right, Chris? At the end of the day, he already created new leverage for himself, then why keeping the government shot?

HAYES: Right, it`s a good question. Chuck Todd, thank you so much for making a little time tonight. I appreciate it.

TODD: Good to see you, sir.

HAYES: All right, joining me now former Vice Presidential Candidate, current Democratic Senator from Virginia Tim Kaine. Senator, you`re fresh off the floor where Democrats successfully blocked a motion to proceed on what would have been the first bill for consideration in this new Senate. You made -- you had this to say earlier. The Senate should vote on nothing else until we vote to reopen the government, period. This shutdown is squeezing the finances in so many Americans including thousands of federal workers living in Virginia. As leaders, we can`t just whistle past the graveyard of this crisis. What happened today on the Senate floor?

SEN. TIM KAINE (D), VIRGINA: Well, in fact, it is -- it is still going on, Chris. There`s about 14 of us on the Senate floor speaking up until the President`s speech tonight. And the point we`re making is exactly the point that Chris just made. Why shut down the entire government, punishing more than 800,000 federal employees who are all going to miss a paycheck Friday if we don`t solve this, punishing citizen, hurting our country`s reputation to have an immigration and border security debate?

You want to keep government open and we can have that debate -- and Democrats have shown repeatedly as recently as last February that we`re willing to deal and put significant border security moneys on the table. But what we don`t want to do is we don`t want to pay for the President`s broken promise of a wall that Mexico was going to pay for. We just want border security to be done right. If it`s fentanyl that`s coming in the border -- over the border, a wall won`t stop it. The biggest group of folks without documents are those with -- who come in on legal visas and overstay.

You can build a million-foot wall and it`s not going to stop that. And apprehensions that are at the border are at a 45 year low. This is a manufactured crisis about the wall but the President shouldn`t be punishing everybody else because of his idiotic promise that he`s broken to get Mexico to build a wall for him.

HAYES: You`ve been in the Senate last two years, the first years of the Trump administration which had a Republican majorities in both Houses. Was there any motion by Mitch McConnell to pass a wall bill? I mean he created a reconciliation vehicle that evaded the filibuster. It`s a funding question. I think they could have gotten in on a reconciliation. Didn`t they do it? Did the Senate take up and say look, yes, president`s priority, we`re going to pass a wall bill.

KAINES: Yes. Now, that, Chris, that`s a great question. They used reconciliation to try to destroy ObamaCare. That was their priority. But I learned something very valuable. I was part of a bipartisan team that really presented to the President a bipartisan proposal last February. Border security money done right but in the amount the President asked done right to protect DREAMers and the President blew up the deal even though it was sort of like -- well he had asked for both halves of it.

What I concluded at the time is he`s not interested in the wall. He`s not interested in border security. He`s interested in a talking point to rally his base. So he has shown no interest in like sitting down and actually doing a negotiation and finding a path forward even when we offered him $25 billion in border security over ten years, he blew up the deal. This is a President who wants to use it as a talking point. He doesn`t really care about the policy and that makes it gratuitous and cruel to punish all these employees and the American public.

HAYES: There`s a deeper question here, Senator, though, which is can you even good-faith negotiate or have any kind of negotiations back of worth under these circumstances?

KAINE: Well, look, the answer is, it`s very hard to. He sends the Vice President here to make offers and then before the Vice President`s back at the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue, he undercuts the offers. So I know that that for Speaker Pelosi and Senator Schumer it`s been very difficult to do any kind of negotiation because it`s unclear whether the President will stick. We thought he was going to accept the deal in February and he blew it up.

We had a deal in December or so we thought. Mitch McConnell thought we had a deal and 100 Republican senators voted for it and President Trump blew it up. And all we`re asking our Senate colleagues to do is vote for exactly what you voted for three weeks ago and it shows how afraid they are of the President that they`re now hiding under the desk.

HAYES: All right, Senator Tim Kaine, thank you very much. Joining me now is former Republican Strategist Steve Schmidt. He is now an MSNBC Contributor. You know, the craziest thing to me, Steve, here is the government is shut down over the wall. No one knows what the wall is. No one. You can`t find a single person to tell you what the heck the thing is that the government is now shutdown over do you understand what it is?

STEVE SCHMIDT, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Well, of course not. It`s an absurdity and it always has been. And the entire premise of this tonight that Trump is going to address the nation to persuade the country of something is absurdity in and of itself. Donald Trump has persuaded nobody about anything from the moment he became President of the United States. Donald Trump is an insider. What he`s trying to do is to incite intensity amongst his base trying to hold Republicans together.

Now we saw a Republican Party in this last election that lashed itself to the mast of the S.S. Trump, went down to the bottom of the sea floor, Speaker Pelosi now runs the House. When you look at the map for 2020, that map is not an advantageous map for Senate Republicans. And it seems that they now are also lashing themselves to the mast of the S.S. Trump. Real pain is about to be felt in the economy by these workers who many of them TSA employees for example are working hard, protecting the American people without pay.

But again, understand what this is at a danger level. We have a president who will go on T.V. tonight and lie and lie and lie some more. This is a manufacturer crisis he`s setting up a predicate to declare a national emergency by which he will claim powers that heretofore have never been exercised by a president and all the while doing it with the scapegoating of minority populations. It`s a dangerous moment, as dangerous as it is stupid.

HAYES: I thought this item from Politico was interesting. So you`ve got - - the Republicans in the House, you`ve just mentioned the national emergency talk which is being floated and it`s hard to tell how seriously it`s being taken. This is some of the president`s advisors argue an emergency declaration of a border crisis to free up billions of dollars for the world wall, would allow Republicans to reopen the federal government without looking like they`ve caved. It would allow Trump and Republicans to save face they know privately. And I saw other reporting today indicating that House Republicans want him to do that but because it would take it off them and allow everybody to save face.

SCHMIDT: Well, again, people that have embraced the illiberalism of the Trump era. This is a small R Republican form of government. We are a Madisonian democracy. We are a system designed by the founders to be three co-equal branches of government. The President is not the maximum leader. He`s not a king. He`s not an emperor. And when we look around the world, where are the places that we see leaders declaring national emergencies to assert power from other governmental institutions?

Well we see that in Turkey with Erdogan. We see it in Russia with Putin. We see it in Saudi Arabia. You don`t see this in healthy liberal democracies. And so the entire premise of this national emergency is constitutionally dubious to say the least. It will almost certainly be hammered into the ground in federal court. But the idea that the President of the United States would manufacture out of whole cloth this crisis.

We saw in the election that this panzer division that was invading America through the southern border, this so-called caravan which he deployed active duty elements of the U.S. military to the border and his P.R. stunt, all of a sudden the Republicans lose and the danger of the caravan dissipates. We never hear about it again. This is about his ability to go to his rallies like the wizard in The Wizard of Oz and say look my faithful friends, I have given you the magical Trump wall. Nobody has seen it. Nobody knows where it is. It`s complete and utter nonsense trying to solve a problem that in fact doesn`t exist because there`s zero net illegal immigration coming across the southern border. Illegal immigration comes from visa overstays and people arriving at airports.

And so what he needs to be able to do is politically to save face. And the entire premise of this argument, this shut down is that this should never have been a debate if you take Trump at his word about American taxpayer dollars in the first place because he promised the American people to my ears at least several billion times that the Mexicans would pay for the wall. This is about the pesos not about the dollars.

Trump said no dollars would be used for the construction of the wall. The Mexicans would pay for it. They would pay for it in pesos. And the reality is there are no pesos because from the first moment he mentioned it, it was nothing other than a con. It`s a con just like Trump University was a con. It`s a con just like his business career is a con. It`s a con just like everything else having to do with this man is a con.

HAYES: And we will get the con from the Oval Office tonight. Steve Schmidt, thank you very much. We have a lot to talk about before the President`s Oval Office address including a check-in on the actual humanitarian crisis that is unfolding at the border. Nicole Wallace and Brian Williams are both here. Plus, a pre-speech fact check with the one and only Rachel Maddow. But first there is other really big news tonight. Potential smoking gun evidence of collusion between Paul Manafort and the suspected Russian intelligence officer, all that and more ahead.


HAYES: An accidental but explosive disclosure today courtesy of Paul Manafort`s lawyers showing a possible straight line between Trump`s campaign manager and a man believed to be a Russian intelligence asset. In other words, possible collusion. It came amid the protective legal battle between Mueller`s team and Manafort. You`ll remember the Special Counsel filed a court document back in December alleging that Manafort had violated his cooperation agreement that he had instead of cooperating repeatedly lied to Mueller`s team.

That document that they filed was heavily redacted. We couldn`t learn a lot from it. And today, Manafort`s defense team responded with their own document and while much of that was also redacted, they missed a few parts. They failed to effectively redact some key points. So this is what Mueller believes Manafort did as we learned. Manafort shared polling data with Konstantin Kilimnik related to the 2016 presidential campaign.

Kilimnik, a man trained by the GRU and who`s believed to be a Russian intelligence asset who`s also been indicted and fled to Russia. Manafort met with Kilimnik in Madrid. The timing of that meeting is somewhat disputed. To help figure out what`s going on here, I`m joined by Rosalind Helderman, Political Enterprise and Investigations Reporter from The Washington Post.

Crazy the way that we got this information today, Rosalind. Have you ever had something like this happen?

ROSALIND HELDERMAN, POLITICAL ENTERPRISE AND INVESTIGATIONS REPORTER, THE WASHINGTON POST: Well, you know, a few months ago, when they accidentally told us that Julian Assange had been indicted, you know, in an unrelated court document but yes, this is a really odd way to learn this kind of information. And because it came from Paul Manafort lawyers, it was sort of presented in the least objectionable way possible and yet was still pretty stunning.

HAYES: So we`ve got two assertions here. So basically the -- what we`re learning from this is the Mueller team says metaphoric lied to them about two discrete things. And one of them is sharing polling data, that Manafort gives Kilimnik, his Ukrainian deputy who was believed to be a Russian intelligence asset polling data on the presidential campaign while he`s campaign manager of Trump?

HELDERMAN: A little unclear. Definitely during the presidential campaign. You know, we don`t know whether it was during the time period when he was chairman. We do know that he was in contact with Konstantin Kilimnik throughout that time period including having an in-person meeting in early August when he was campaign chairman so we`ll have to wait and see on the timing.

HAYES: So they met together in early August. We also know they corresponded about you know, Oleg Deripaska, the Russian oligarch seeing Paul Manafort`s new job and maybe using that to erase debt, maybe getting a private briefing on the election. We don`t know why would Paul Manafort be giving polling to Kilimnik.

HELDERMAN: Yes, it`s a really good question. I mean, is it connected to this idea of giving as you said, Deripaska private briefings? Deripaska`s spokeswoman has said that those briefings never occurred. They never said that they received nothing. So is it possible that`s what we`re going on? I mean, the big question is what does Kilimnik do with that data? Why did he want it and what did he do with it? We just don`t know yet.

HAYES: The other thing is a meeting in Madrid. Now, the timing here seems crucial to me. We don`t know when the Madrid meeting happened. Is that correct?

HELDERMAN: Well, Paul Manafort spokesman told me just this evening that the one piece of information he could give about this filing is that that meeting happened in either January or February of 2017. So apparently after the election, nevertheless it was clearly a topic that Mueller`s team was asking Manafort about so it must be relevant in some way.

HAYES: Well, it appears that it had something to do with a "Ukrainian peace deal" which is something we`ve seen before the idea that Michael Cohen and Felix Sater passed to Michael Flynn or his office. Some plan to lift sanctions on the Russians. I mean, if Manafort is meeting with Kilimnik in Madrid to do that while the president is the president, that`s also pretty interesting.

HELDERMAN: Yes. And we don`t actually know if the peace plan is connected to Madrid. It`s three things. He lied about the peace plan, he lied about Madrid, and he lied about polling data. So you know, there`s a lot here we don`t yet know. But what we have been told today is a huge new piece of information.

HAYES: Yes. Also, again, why is he lying even after he`s cooperating with them. And we should note the contention from Manafort`s team is not that he -- that those things didn`t happen. They`re admitting -- they`re just saying he forgot basically right?

HELDERMAN: Yes. That`s exactly right. They definitely are saying yes, yes, all those things did indeed happen. He just wasn`t lying. He just forgot about that and his was memory was fuzzy. And after being shown documents for the Special Counsel`s team, oh he was immediately forthcoming about them.

HAYES: I`ve been to Madrid once. I definitely remember it quite, quite clearly. Rosalind Helderman, thank you very much. All right, back to tonight`s Oval Office address. Donald Trump may be inventing a national security crisis on the border but there is a humanitarian crisis. One being intensified and exacerbated by his administration particularly as women and children sleep violence and come to ask for asylum.

The Daily Beast`s reporting the Department of Homeland Security canceled a trip to the border because of the government shutdown. Advisory council members were supposed to use that trip to figure out how would it better deal with children and families. The New York Times reporting that the administration`s clampdown on legal immigration, that`s people trying to come through ports of entry and apply for asylum, has mostly served to create demand for illegal human smugglers.

Here with me now are two people who understand what`s actually happening at the border. Enrique Morones, the Founder and Director of the human rights group Border Angels and Democratic Congresswoman Veronica Escobar of Texas who newly elected to represent El Paso. Congresswoman, I`ll begin with you. When the President talks about a crisis at the border, you live in the largest by national community in the western hemisphere, if I`m not mistaken, right on the border. What do you see from your perspective?

REP. VERONICA ESCOBAR (D), TEXAS: Thanks for having me, Chris. I really appreciate it. I think it`s so important always to hear from people who live and work on the U.S.-Mexico border. You know, El Paso is one of the safest communities in the nation. We have been for about 15 years we have a wall. We were safe before a wall was constructed. And you`re right, the challenge that we are facing and there is a challenge right now in our southern border, it is chaos that has been created by this administration.

This administration has decided to use cruelty as a public policy as a way to deter immigrants from seeking asylum in the United States. And it`s that cruelty that we are having to deal with, cruelty that means CBP agents are standing at the ports of entry preventing asylum seekers from coming across so many of them are making more treacherous journeys to look for places where they can go around the wall or find other ways into the United States. It is chaos created by the President.

HAYES: Enrique, you`ve worked with folks on the border for four years. Where are things now over the course of your career or looking at folks coming across the dangers they faced, the degree to which that area is secured or not, what do you see now compared to what you`ve seen the past?

ENRIQUE MORONES, FOUNDER AND DIRECTOR, BORDER ANGELS: Well, Chris, as I`ve mentioned before, I was born and raised in San Diego. I`ve been in the border region all my life. And in my lifetime the border has never been safer. You have under -- undocumented migration at all-time lows in my lifetime. There is an international crisis and that is at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Because you have a man that has dehumanized children, taking the children from their parents, put the children in cages, teargas the children, and last month two of those children died.

That is because of Donald Trump`s hate rhetoric. He`s unqualified for being where he is and his words of hate are now causing the death of children. There is no crisis. Undocumented migration is at record lows. Yes, you see the caravan people which have every right to be fleeing poverty and violence and they`re trying to do it the right way and apply for asylum as the representative said. But the Border Patrol is blocking that under Trump`s orders. They`re literally taking some of the miters that have already crossed and walking them back into Mexico. That`s against the law.

So Donald Trump`s hate rhetoric is something that the whole world is watching. It`s shameful and he represents the worst of the American spirit. San Diego-Tijuana is actually the biggest border region along the entire U.S.-Mexican border. There already is a wall that covers a third of the 2,000-mile border. 11,000 people have died because of that wall. And even though the migration is low, it`s horrific what Donald Trump is spreading with his hate words and hate actions.

HAYES: Congresswoman, let me ask you this. So there`s two things that are happening, right? I mean, the net migration is effectively zero, apprehensions are very low, but there`s a real change in the composition of folks who are being apprehended. It is many, many more families and children. We saw the deaths of two children in the custody CBP, ill- equipped to deal with what they`re facing. Respond to an argument that the president makes and may make tonight that a wall would actually be humanitarian because it would effectively deter these families from even making the journey.

ESCOBAR: That`s right, Chris. That`s what he`s saying and just like in San Diego, El Paso has a wall. In fact, where Felipe was apprehended with his father in El Paso in the El Paso sector, there is a wall. I think what folks don`t understand and you don`t really quite get it unless you see it, and thankfully there have been Congressional delegations that have come to El Paso, three in the last month, and so they`ve been able to see for themselves that the border wall that exists doesn`t -- it doesn`t go straight through the U.S./Mexico border line, it`s actually further away from the Rio Grande, and it is on U.S. soil.

So you have folks south of that who are walking up and stepping foot on U.S. soil, essentially running into the arms of federal law enforcement in order to ask for asylum protections.

So a wall doesn`t prevent migration, a wall doesn`t prevent drugs, what a wall does do, however, is it distracts us and takes our eyes off of the real solutions. During the congressional delegation visits that we had in December, and just a couple days ago, what members of congress were able to see was that we have a federal agency that has known for four years that it is Central American families coming in to our country seeking asylum, something very different from what we saw five, six -- a decade ago -- five, six years ago, which was Mexican males looking for work and essentially trying to avoid capture we have had for the last four years, Central American families looking for border patrol in order to seek refuge in America.

But the agency, DHS, has essentially -- their strategy has been to ignore this reality. These migration patterns -- we are not equipped. Our agents are not trained. The infrastructure is not available to deal with this change in migration.

HAYES: So, this is a key point, congresswoman, just to follow up on this. Your point here is that an old model in which folks were attempting to evade CBP so that they could get in, in an unauthorized fashion, and then proceed to wherever to meet up with family and try to get work, that`s not the issue right now. These folks are not trying evade security. They are seeking out American CB -- Custom and Border Patrol, seek out American officials specifically to ask them to petition for asylum, and no amount of security answers that problem.

ESCOBAR: That`s exactly right. A wall doesn`t address that, a wall doesn`t give our border patrol agents the training they need, whether it be insuring they are certified EMTs or access to health care personnel or giving them access to more humane temporary holding facilities, a wall doesn`t do any of that.

HAYES: All right, Enrique Morones, and Congresswoman Veronica Escobar, on the border, thank you both for your time.

ESCOBAR: Thank you.

HAYES: In about a half an hour, every major TV network, including this one, will show Donald Trump`s first Oval Office address as the president. The decision to do so has been a controversial one. The president plans to talk about immigration at the southern border, a subject he can`t seem to talk about without making stuff up, which leads the administration jumping through hoops to defend his lies.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Which former presidents told President Trump, as he said, that he should have built a wall? All their representatives have denied that that was the case.

MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I know the president has said that that was his impression from previous administrations, previous presidents. I know I`ve seen clips of previous presidents talking about the importance of border security, the importance of addressing the issue of illegal immigration.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That`s different from telling the president, though, right?

PENCE: But, look, you know, honestly the American people want us to address this issue.


HAYES: When President Obama asked the major TV networks to air his speech on immigration in 2014, they said no, calling it, according to Politico a, quote, overtly political move by the White House.

President Trump has asked for less than 10 minutes of air time, and Democratic leaders Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer have been given the same time. MSNBC and NBC News will air their response.

I`m joined by Brian Williams, host of the 11th Hour; and Nicolle Wallace, host of Deadline White House. It`s wonderful to have you here at this hour.

BRIAN WILLIAMS, HOST, 11TH HOUR: Thank you for having us.

HAYES: Brian, the Oval Office addresses is a very specific genre and it`s different usually than what it`s being marshaled for tonight.

WILLIAMS: Having not known you were going to go there, I`m so glad you did. Home field advantage, and we`re sitting next to a former communications director in the White House, is not inconsequential. Within the home field advantage, that 18 acres, your choice of venues is critical. There`s a briefing room at the old executive office building. There`s the Indian Treaty Room where we just saw the vice president interviewed, a common backdrop. There`s the East Room. There`s the press briefing room. But then there`s the Oval Office.

Can anyone here remember the last time the opposing party asked for response time following an Oval Office address, which we usually associate with -- the list I brought -- President Kennedy, Cuban Missile Crisis; President Johnson, I will not seek and shall not accept another term to be president; President Reagan after Challenger; Nixon`s resignation. I mean, on and on and on, and including your...

NICOLLE WALLACE, HOST, DEADLINE WHITE HOUSE: Post 9/11 when he came back to the White House.

HAYES: Massive sort of epochal crises of the national imagination that happen as a means of addressing it as opposed to I`ve got a policy agenda that I would like to pursue.

WILLIAMS: Yeah, this was once your bailiwick.

WALLACE: Yeah, and listen, I think that we put the Obama 2014 speech in the category of addresses where time was requested, but not granted. But there was another speech, George W. Bush gave an address to the nation about immigration, and the late Tim Russert did a whole lot of haggling with this network to get that on the air, and we moved the speech several nights to get the networks to carry it, because it interfered with all sorts of programming.

So, and that was a speech which had at the time bipartisan support from the late Senator -- make me sound 100 years old, but late Senator Kennedy and the late Senator McCain and George W. Bush.

So, President Obama wasn`t the only president to be rebuffed for an address to the nation. And I remember that Obama speech, that wasn`t a partisan play. This is. Donald Trump has never said anything about immigration that wasn`t either overtly partisan, completely false or illegal. I mean, the first couple of Muslim bans were illegal. Everything he says is false and it`s all political.

HAYES: Let me ask you this, as someone who worked as a comm shot. (ph) in the White House. It strikes me that you`ve only got a few bullets in the chamber on an ask like this, right, you can`t come back next week and say it. If something hugely momentous happens like -- this strike -- I can`t tell how desperate they are, but what is your read on why they`re doing this now?

WILLIAMS: Former communications director?

WALLACE: Look, I think they live in a constant state of desperation and exasperation. And there are like seven of them. So, there`s not a lot people around whom to spread the president`s desperation, so it`s all out there. It`s on his Twitter feed. It`s laid bare. I mean, I think if someone loved him, they`d get him a pet.

I mean, everything that they don`t get a better version of him behind closed doors for the most part. So there` is lot of desperate need to have this issue go their way, because without that I don`t know how the shutdown ends.

WILLIAMS: Well, also the Rucker/Costa (ph) reporting and the it constant reporting from last night -- it always sounds like a law firm -- in the Washington Post. The the gist of it was they knew an Oval Office address was a thing.

WALLACE: They saw it on West Wing.

WILLIAMS: They considered using it on the tax bill, but they decided to roll it out for this.

HAYES: You covered -- you know, the last big shutdown we`re now bumping up in the record books against one of the shutdowns that happened between Clinton and Gingrich. And that was a place where that battle was waged quite differently by the White House.

WILLIAMS: Do you say...

WALLACE: So you`re old, too?

WILLIAMS: ...100 years old?

WALLACE: He just made you older than me.

WILLIAMS: As `94 gave way to `95 and `95 to `96.

HAYES: It`s a historical fact just for the record. WALLACE: He`s going to wrap himself in historical facts. We`ll talk about this later.

WILLIAMS: But it was, it was Clinton versus Gingrich, it was a classic battle.

The fundamentals were the same. It was an argument over funding and priorities. But the underlying topics, the talks, the specificity of what Clinton wanted, what the Republicans gave him, how he settled in the end, that was interesting.

HAYES: Well, that strikes me as the difference here, and I talked about the Steve Schmidt -- I`m going to talk about it with Rachel (ph) is, what the government is being shut down over is wholly unclear. There`s an approps (ph) bill line that say $5.7 billion, but that`s it. Fill in the blank, the wall. No one knows what it is.

WALLACE: If he make as case about national security tonight, the Democrats who run the committees of oversight over counterterror or national security will be within their rights to pull up the heads of the FBI and the CIA and say are there any terrorists on the southern border? And under oath they will have to say uh uh.

I talked to a former senior intelligence official today who said at the time I had my job I knew where they all were. And there were some that came through the northern border. There were some hubs of, you know, not terrorists, but there was jihadist activity that the CIA and intelligence agencies monitored in Canada. So, they monitor that border. They do not, and did not monitor the southern border for terrorists. You know why? There aren`t any.

HAYES: Right.

WILLIAMS: Someone familiar with the president`s thinking said to me tonight, if you`re surprised that they`re going to go out and do this with a straight face, you haven`t been paying attention for three-and-a-half years.

HAYES: Well, and the other thing that I think distinguishes this and the rhetorical mode of this president is, presidents of different parties tend to try to find -- to move public opinion on big issues and make a case. The president on Obamacare. I remember George W. Bush and the Social Security push, and the McCain/Kennedy speech was on immigration.

There`s no expectation by anyone tonight that he`s going to be talking to the median voter to persuade the unpersuadable on this issue.

WALLACE: No. And a source close to him told me after the Mattis debacle, which is still -- ripple effect still being felt from Turkey to Washington, D.C., that he`s terrified of his base. He lives in fear of two men, well one embodying the base, Rush Limbaugh, and the other Robert Mueller.

WILLIAMS: And remember where the news media are concerned? Right now, for this hour, lord knows how the world will change when I come on later, 11:00 Eastern.

WALLACE: You`ll have like six new stories.

WILLIAMS: This story is existing in that bubble of air as the car sinks into the lake that forms at the very top of the roof line. There`s a gap here right now. The first major Mueller story, beyond what we learned today, allegedly, about Mr. Manafort, that`s when it become interesting.

HAYES: Brian Williams and Nicolle Wallace, thank you both for making the time. As we await the president`s first ever Oval Office address, Rachel Maddow and I have some important things you should keep in mind while you listen to the speech. She joins me next.


HAYES: We are back just 15 minutes away from the president`s first address from the Oval Office. Joining me now, my colleague, Rachel Maddow, who will be taking over the coverage at the top of the hour. It -- I was just talking to Brian Williams and Nicolle Wallace, it`s a strange night, because it`s a familiar genre in a very unfamiliar circumstance.

RACHEL MADDOW, HOST, THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW: Yes. I mean, we have seen -- this is one of the things that presidents do, they give prime-time addresses to the nation on matters of their own choosing from the Oval Office, and it usually means there`s something that`s a really big deal, or there`s a really big persuasive case that the president needs to make.

And in this case, we`ve gone two years without the president doing this thus far. He doesn`t have much of a history of formal speeches of any kind, even though he`s been president for two years. And I don`t know what to -- I don`t know if this is going to be a normal speech.

There is such thing as a normal Oval Office address. I don`t know if that`s the idea or is this is supposed to be kind of a shock and awe political move.

HAYES: Well, and with him we`ve also seen him move between the genres of Donald Trump rally, Donald Trump off the cuff, and then like he`ll occasionally do a normal speech. And then that`s -- like someone wrote that and it got run through the prompter and it means nothing, because that was just a thing that someone put up...

MADDOW: And often after he does that,he will rebut it himself.

HAYES: Literally the next day.

MADDOW: Yeah, they had that -- they told me to say that, but...

HAYES: I mean, I think the most -- to me the crucial thing, and the most important thing to understand about this debate, about the wall, is that it is not a real policy, right. It`s not like cutting the corporate tax rate or repealing Obamacare or appointing conservative judges, it was never part of any Republican agenda before Donald Trump.

The wall was just a thing that he said on the campaign trail over and over again, and the reason why he started saying it, we now know, is that he used it as a kind of memory trick. And one of the president`s early aides, Sam Nunberg, telling The New York Times that Trump`s, quote, "political advisors landed on the idea of a border wall as a mnemonic device of sorts, a way to make sure their candidate, who hated reading from a script, but loved boasting about himself and his talents as a builder, would remember to talk about getting tough on immigration.

And sure enough, the wall was right there on day one when he announced his run for president.


TRUMP: I would build a great wall, and nobody builds walls better than me, believe me, and I`ll build them very inexpensively. I will build a great, great wall on our southern border. And I will have Mexico pay for that wall.


HAYES: There it is. Day one.

And then as Donald Trump`s central theme took off, and America under threat from scary immigrant invaders, the wall was its core motif. It was the imaginary symbol of his pledge to hold the invaders at bay, preserve the country from change and degradation -- again, it was not an actual policy to make a plan to build a real physical barrier and get Mexico to pay for it, the wall morphed from a mnemonic device into an applause line. And the president himself fully recognized that`s what it was.

Listen to what he told The New York Times editorial wall, "if my speeches ever get a little off, I just go we will build a wall, you know, if it gets boring, if I see people starting to sort of maybe thinking about leaving I can sort of tell the audience, I just say we will build the wall and they go nuts. And Mexico will pay for the wall."

And he was right, the wall worked every single time.


TRUMP: Build the wall, build the wall, build the wall, build the wall. We will.

CROWD: Built the wall. Build the wall. Build the wall.

TRUMP: Oh, we`ll build it. We`ll build it.

Who`s going to pay for it?

CROWD: Mexico.


HAYES: The president understood how important the wall was as a totem for his campaign, and he immediately, immediately understood the trouble he faced once that symbolism ran up against the reality of governing.

This is from his first call with the president of Mexico after taking office, a transcript of which was leaked to The Washington Post, quote "the fact is we`re both in a little bit of a political bind because I have to have Mexico pay for the wall. I have to. I`ve been talking about it for a two year period."

It`s the president talking to the Mexican president explaining that he`s screwed, because he made a promise he can`t deliver on.

Of course Mexico was never going to pay for the wall. Like the wall itself, that was never an actual policy. And because none of it was ever real, the president`s own party, which controlled congress for the first two years of his administration, didn`t want to pay for the wall either. Under one party rule, they could, in theory, have passed the funding, but they didn`t because you cannot fund an applause line.

So, now with House Democrats to blame for standing in his way, the president is holding the government hostage in an effort to force his wall into being.

MADDOW: But I think that leads to what the actual drama is of tonight`s prime-time speech from the president, from the Oval Office. I mean, if that`s where this comes from, right, if that`s the origin story, if this, as Sam Nunberg says, this was birthed as an effort to get the president to remember to talk about immigration without writing something on his hands, I mean, is tonight just a new stage for him to do the same thing he has been doing as an applause line for years now, or are they doing this tonight from the Oval Office, going big like this, because they`re signifying that something new is going to happen. They`re about to change this whole idea into something that they actually want to pursue as real policy rather than just beating it for effect, right?

I think tonight, you`re going to be able to tell, and fairly quickly, based on whether or not the president tries something new, whether he tries to make persuasive arguments that are designed to win over congress to some sort of real plan associated with all this rhetoric, or does he just keep saying the same untrue and fantastical alternate reality things that he`s been saying all along.

I think that is why it`s worth watching the president tonight, and I think that`s what is worth watching for. Does he keep lying about this thing? And if so, how? Because the lies that he`s been telling about it show that it`s never intended to be a real thing.

If he stops lying about it and actually starts trying to persuade people about it with truthful, rational arguments that are relevant to the point at hand, that will be something new. And so therefore, I think it`s important to watch for the kinds of lies that he usually tells.

I think there is two categories,. The first ones are ones that are totally rational, things that would appear to make sense if they were based in truth, which they are not.

The first type of lies he tends to tell about the border and the wall are lies that are at least rationally related to the theoretical idea of a wall, things that might make sense as part of a real argument, if they were based in truth, but they are not.

This first category of lies he likes to tell, I call them rational, but false, threat inflation. So these are lies like there is terrorists streaming across the southern border. That is one assertion that the administration has tripled down on in recent days. Terrorists are streaming into this country by the thousands over the southern border.

NBC News this week reports that the number of suspected terrorists caught at the southern border from fall 2017 to spring 2018 is not in the thousands, as the administration has been saying, it`s six, not 600, not 6,000, just six.

That said, this is the kind of thing where if you`re a member of the Trump administration and you say this thing about mass numbers of terrorists coming over the border, you say it over and over again, it might sound convincing enough to persuade someone who didn`t know better that, yes, maybe a huge border wall would make sense. But, of course, the assertion itself is false.

Another one of these rational, but false threat inflation lies is their assertion that drugs are pouring into the country and a border wall, once it was built, would stop drugs from continuing to pour into this country. If you ask the DEA, if you ever ask Trump`s former Homeland Security Secretary about this, they will tell you the vast majority of drugs entering the U.S. come through routes other than illegal southern border crossings. They come through legal ports of entry. They come through other ports of -- other forms of smuggling, including through the mail from China.

A big border wall stretching the length to the Mexico/U.S. border wouldn`t change any of that.

The same thing with Trump`s assertions that immigrants bring crime and disease with them across the southern border. That would be a rational argument maybe if it weren`t false. Crime rates among native born Americans are higher than those for immigrants.

Mexico actually has higher rates of vaccination than the United States does now.

But again falsely inflating that threat, as they have done on all those points, that`s at least a rational way to try to scaremonger people into supporting a wall that will actually do nothing to solve any of those purported problems.

But then these the other kinds of lies our president has frequently told about this wall and the problems it`s supposed to solve, and these are the ones that I think are going to make tonight almost a surreal experience if he keeps going there, because these are the falsehoods, these aren`t the ones that might be rationally persuasive if true like these other ones, The thing that really I think sets the wall stuff apart is what I call his magical nonsense, it`s the stuff that betrays the fact that this really was all just invented to make people laugh and applaud at his rallies and now, as Chris says, they are trying to reverse engineer it into something that makes sense when it doesn`t.

So, these are the kinds of self-contradicting nonsensical assertions that you have to make when you`re trying to convince your neighbor that not only do unicorns exist, but you have one, and they do, too, and actually your unicorns are best friends who play unicorn play games together all day long,can`t you see them?

I mean, these are the kinds of presidential lies like the wall has already been built. Is he going to say that tonight? I mean, this is perhaps one of Trump`s favorite lies in pursuit of building the wall and in arguing the need for a government shutdown over it, because the wall is already being built, construction is underway.

Last month he repeated this lie eight times in one single day. It`s completely nonsensical, right? We need to build a wall. The wall is already built. But he tells this lie because it makes the idea of a border wall sort of a live issue, it gives people the sense that you still need to be engaged in the kinetic drama and fighting over the border wall, because it`s a real thing. How real is it? Well, it`s already being built. I mean, that`s how you know that this fight over funding for the wall, this government shutdown, is not actually for a real thing, right. You can`t have an end to the world fight about needing money to build the wall while also arguing that the wall is already built, it`s magical nonsense.

And in fact, how does it make sense to have an end of the world fight about needing American taxpayer money to build the wall when Mexico is paying for the wall? I mean, even know, during the shut down over border wall funding, the president is still claiming that Mexico is paying for the wall, and so U.S. taxpayers must pay for the wall, or the government gets it? I mean, we need to fund this wall that Mexico is funding?

I mean, this is the magical nonsense part that will be interesting to see if he goes to tonight, all right? There are these continued varied assertions about what this phantom wall that may or may not have already been built, what it actually looks like, right? Is the wall concrete? Is the wall steel? Is it, in fact, see through steel, as the president asserted this past month?

I mean, the magical nonsense part of this is like we have to shut down the government because the Democrats refuse to pay for the concrete wall or the see through steel, that is already built and that Mexico is paying for so we don`t have to pay for it. I mean, that nonsense stuff is how he has tried to conduct the argument, which I think gives lie to Chris` thesis that this was never intended to be a real policy in the first place.

So what are we going to get tonight? Are we going to get more magical nonsense, more of this fictional applause line stuff, or are we going to get more of the made up threat inflation that isn`t magic, it just isn`t true? Or might he change tack? If he gives up all of those lies, then he may actually be trying to get a wall built. Maybe. We`ll see.

If he sticks with all this fiction, though, I think we know that this is the same campaign stunt this time in a really nice room in the White House instead of in some airplane hanger in front of people in red hats.

HAYES: It`s -- you know, the contradictory nature of it is makes this such a bizarre and sort of frustrating news event to cover, because when you say to people why is the government shut down, there is no clear answer because the president keeps changing what the metaphysical object at the core of the wall mythology is.

MADDOW: Because we need a wall. I just heard the president argue that the wall is built.

HAYES: And also I can just declare a state of emergency -- I don`t actually need -- you know, Mexico will pay for it and I actually don`t need congress and I can built it myself and I can DOD or the tweet about I can have the Department of Defense build it.

So -- but the thing is there is a real actual government shutdown over this that again, there is an equilibrium that has to be reached in which the government shutdown has to end. I mean, that`s the backdrop to all of this that we`re getting that he has ended up in this position tonight, giving this Oval Office address I think out of sort of some desperation, while the actual people who work for the federal government are not getting paid.

MADDOW: Yeah, and the president has asserted somewhat casually, that he would be happy if the shutdown went for on years, and that sounds like crazy talk, again, that just sounds like nonsensical talk, like the U.S. government being shut down for years is something that is inconceivable both in terms of the negative impact on the country, but also it`s inconceivable as a political reality that congress would allow that to happen. But does he know that that`s nonsensical? I mean, does he know that steel isn`t see through? Does he know that Mexico isn`t both paying for the wall and not paying for the wall?

HAYES: So here, I have been wrestling with this question which is why when the second producer who worked on that brought to me The New York Times interview I found it so fascinating, the transcript of him calling up Pena Nieto, the Mexican president, saying buddy, I`m screwed here, suggests to me that he is in on the con, because what you see -- and we never should have seen that. I mean, it is crazy and rare, almost unprecedented that that kind of call gets leaked.

MADDOW: A call between foreign leaders, the transcript of which gets leaked to the press.

HAYES: Nuts and they have no expectation that anybody is listening to that other than the person on the other line and staffers. The fact that he says that there say to me that he realizes day one with his hand on the bible, wow, I`ve written a check that I cannot possibly cash.

MADDOW: I read that transcript again today, too, and what`s amazing is that Pena Nieto is saying, you know, Mr. President, you know that Mexico will never pay for the wall that is never going to happen and the initial response from Trump to that is you cannot tell the press that. You cannot tell the press that, like help me maintain this magic.

HAYES: Keep this nonsense going.


HAYES: We`ll be collaborators on the magic nonsense.

MADDOW: So, the question, I mean, maybe the way out of this is that Democrats can come up with a way, or actually makes more sense, Republicans come up with a way, to just allow Trump to declare that he won and he got the money and the wall is being built, just let him have his unicorn, just say it`s true when it`s not. He can campaign on it all he wants.

I`m not sure that it matters to him whether or not it actually happens.

HAYES: I absolutely think if there is an out in which he basically uses DOD money to instruct them to start building some fencing on the very small sliver of the border that is actually DOD property.

MADDOW: And they never do it.

HAYES: Right.

They don`t even have to do it, they have to start doing it, that they will -- that is the most natural out here. The most natural out is a kind of emperor`s new clothes where the wall gets built and the government has to reopen, because the wall is being built, because it was never really a wall to begin with.

MADDOW: And none of that is true, but we all just agree to say it so that the issue goes away and the government can reopen.

HAYES: Rachel, it`s been great to have you here on All In. Come by any time.

MADDOW: Thank you. It has been -- as you say, it`s sort of a strange news day, but it`s nice to be here with you, my friend.

HAYES: All right, we are less than two minutes from this president`s prime-time address to the Oval Office, and so The Rachel Maddow Show starts right now.