Show: ALL IN with CHRIS HAYES Date: January 15, 2019 Guest: John Brennan, Mark Warner, Mazie Hirono, Sherrod Brown, Heather McGee, Kurt Bardella
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: What if he decides to form a third party after his presidency like Teddy Roosevelt did in 1912? What if he decides to lead a new lost cause like we saw in the south after the Civil War? What if he declares the election results are fake news and refuses to budge? Who knows? Do you? That`s HARDBALL for now. "ALL IN" with Chris Hayes starts right now.
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CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: Tonight on ALL IN.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: President Putin was extremely strong and powerful in his denial today.
HAYES: The alarm bells keep sounding. The President of the United States is a clear and present danger to the national security of the United States.
HAYES: Tonight new reporting that President Trump is pursuing Vladimir Putin`s agenda on NATO with former CIA Director John Brennan and Senator Mark Warner. Then, Trump`s pick to oversee the Mueller probe faces the Senate.
WILLIAM BARR, NOMINEE, UNITED STATES ATTORNEY GENERAL: That is vitally important that the Special Counsel be allowed to complete his investigation.
HAYES: Senator Mazie Hirono on all the assurances William Barr would not give. Plus, Democrats March on the Senate as a suffering from the Trump shutdown continues.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When February`s rent is due, we can`t pay it.
HAYES: The House vote to denounced Steve King. I thought you all knew me well. And Senator Sherrod Brown joins me live with an announcement.
SEN. SHERROD BROWN (D), OHIO: When you love this country you fight for the people who make it work.
HAYES: When ALL IN starts right now.
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HAYES: Good evening from New York I`m Chris Hayes. If Vladimir Putin has one overriding geopolitical goal even before lifting sanctions, it is to destabilize Western governments and undermine the NATO alliance that Putin views as a direct threat to Russia. Today, the Brexit initiative promoted by Russia during the campaign plunged Europe further into chaos after the British Parliament rejected the Prime Minister`s plan for withdrawal from the E.U.
Here at home, the U.S. government is still in the grips of the longest shutdown in its history with absolutely no end in sight thanks to a president elected we all remember with Russia`s help. And now as the nation confronts the very real possibility the American President is working for whatever reason to advance Russian interests. We get news the President has been pushing one of Putin`s top priorities behind the scenes.
After the revelations that the FBI opened a counterintelligence investigation into whether the President has been working on Russia`s behalf and that the president has taken steps to conceal his talks with Putin from his own advisers including confiscating interpreters notes. New York Times now reports the president has told aides he wants to pull the U.S. out of NATO. And not just once, he said to have brought it up over and over again throughout the last year.
According to The Times, members of the President`s national security team including Defense Secretary Jim Mattis managed to hold the President off. But since then Mattis resigned in protest specifically citing his commitment to U.S. allies and their efforts to counter Russia in his public resignation letter. On our show last night, my colleague Rachel Maddow talked to a former senior Justice Department official who knows a lot about how Russia promotes his interests around the globe.
David Laufman resigned last year as chief of DOJ`s Counterintelligence and Export Control Section, a job he held when the FBI opened its investigation into the sitting President. Knowing what he knew then and knowing what we`ve all learned over the last few days, this was Laufman reaction.
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DAVID LAUFMAN, FORMER CHIEF, DOJ`S COUNTERINTELLIGENCE AND EXPORT CONTROL SECTION: I think there`s a combination of things we can point to in the public record now. The unbelievable acquiescence to Vladimir Putin in Helsinki that was positively shocking to those of us who worked in national security all of our lives. All the many things that you`ve read about in the charging documents of people associated with the president, all those to me point to a reasonable inference that it is a painful languishing thing to acknowledge that the President of the United States is a clear and present danger to the national security of the United States.
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HAYES: The President of the United States is a threat to the nation according to a former career public servant who has prosecuted terrorists. Meanwhile, that same President gets to handpick the Attorney General to oversee the investigation into the President`s own actions. More on that ahead. Warning signals about this President had been flashing red inside the U.S. government for a long time.
Just a little over two years ago, some of the country`s most senior national security officials traveled to Trump Tower to brief then president-elect Trump on Russia`s interference in the election and on an explosive secret dossier alleging that the president-elect himself was operating in effect as a Russian intelligence asset. Two years later it looks like we`re right back where we started.
One of those senior officials who briefed the president-elect joins me right here in studio, former CIA Director John Brennan. Good to have here.
JOHN BRENNAN, FORMER DIRECTOR, CIA: Good evening, Chris.
HAYES: Mr. Laufman`s assessment the President of United States is a clear and present danger to the national security the United States. Do you agree with that assessment?
BRENNAN: Well, I know David Laufman well, worked with him for many years, have tremendous respect for his intellect as well as for his judgments. And I think a number of people have been saying for quite some time that the actions and the policies and the statements that Mr. Trump has been making undermine our national security. So I think David Laufman brought it together in a very crisp and succinct way.
HAYES: So you don`t think he`s wrong.
BRENNAN: I don`t think he`s wrong at all. No. I think especially if Donald Trump is thinking about taking the estates out of NATO, the organization that the United States and our European allies have in fact formed in order to prevent the Soviet Union`s expansion for so many years and now stands in the way of Russia moving westward. This is something that just is totally mind-blowing that a President of United States would actually entertain this notion.
HAYES: But let me push back in to play Devil`s advocate. That`s a policy determination. I mean, let`s imagine a president States is elected on take us out of NATO independent a Russian interference, OK, independent Russian interference. The President is the democratically elected person that determines the national interests at some point, right, in concert with the other branches of government.
If a president said I want to get a NATO or he said I want to abandon these twenty U.S. bases that we have around the world because I think they cost too much money, it seems dangerous to define him based on that as a clear and present danger to the country security when in fact he`s the democratically elected person that defines it.
BRENNAN: Well, I think what Laufman is saying is there`s so many things that Mr. Trump has done since he assumed the office of the presidency. His acquiescence to Mr. Putin, this inexplicable one-on-one meeting in Helsinki for two hours where he didn`t trust his Secretary of State or his National Security Adviser to be part of that discussion with Mr. Putin. I think it raises some serious questions about Mr. Trump`s intentions. But also I think his lack of understanding of history and the U.S. role in the world.
Yes, he`s in a policy differences with him but are you saying that a president of United States can do anything? Can he decide to disband the U.S. military and since he was democratically elected we should accept that? No. I think Mr. Trump has demonstrated time and time again that he is unfit for office and he is incompetent in terms of the protection of our national security.
HAYES: But to me -- the key point to me is this sort of is the policy positions taken by him and the suspicion that they are the product of something concealed or nefarious?
HAYES: Right? I mean, it`s not just facially what he`s saying, it`s the notion that I think many people share Mr. Laufman appears to and I think you suspect that those policy positions are the product of essentially some concealed relationship with the Russians.
BRENNAN: No, I don`t think I`ve said that. I don`t think David Laufman was saying that either. I think we`re saying that there are demonstrated examples of Mr. Trump`s policy actions that are undermining U.S. role internationally. Whether or not there`s some type of secret relationship that Donald Trump has with Mr. Putin, I don`t know and that`s what I`m hoping that --
HAYES: You don`t have suspicions.
BRENNAN: Well, I question whether why Mr. Trump is doing some of these things. Is he beholden to Putin in some way? Is he fearful of Mr. Putin, of the Russians, or whatever? But I do think that you know, the number of senior officers and officials in the U.S. government both current and former who really scratched their heads and trying to understand why Trump is pursuing some his policies.
HAYES: I keep coming back to a statement you made that it`s stuck with me for a long time. It was in House Intelligence Committee testimony in May 2017. He said frequently people who go along a treasonous path do not know they are on a treasonous path until it is too late. What does that mean and how does that apply to what we`re learning about the concerns of people inside the FBI about the President`s behavior?
BRENNAN: Well, the Russian intelligence services are very adept and frequently they will try to cultivate relationships with individuals. And they will try to get individuals to do things that they shouldn`t do or find individuals in let`s say compromising positions. And use that as a way to intimidate these individuals to further cooperate with them.
So individuals who may, in fact, have relationships with Russians, Russian citizens or individuals they didn`t even know a Russians and then all sudden they are doing things that they should not have done. And so they have come along a path and the Russians then it`s like we are reeling in a fish. You bring them a home and you allow them to then do more and more things because they are already in this predicament. And so when I was --
HAYES: And the more they do that, the more compromise they to comment.
BRENNAN: Right, exactly. And Russians take full advantage of that. And so I said you know, in that testimony, I don`t know whether a number of these individuals who may have met with Russian officials whether it be the Trump Tower other places realize that they were being reeled in by the Russians or whether or not they were doing this willingly and they were offering things because they wanted some type of quid pro quo.
And that I think certainly would be inexcusable if they in fact we`re seeking some type of favor from the Russians in order to protect maybe some things that had happened in the past or something they want to do in the future.
HAYES: Right. And just to be clear here, we were laying out of these sort of different scenarios. One is this sort of quid pro quo with this sort of explicit you give us this, we give you that. The other is sort of more insidious sliding towards essentially cooptation or cooperation almost without realizing what you`re doing.
BRENNAN: Well, that`s right. And infrequently what`s the point that they pass where they have that relationship and they can`t get out of it. And depending on the nature of the relationship, I`ve seen this so many times, what the Russians have been able to do with Americans who were not intending to go down this treasonous path, but they were doing some favors or they were doing some things for the Russians, maybe getting some money or for some things in return and then they just kept going on because the Russians are again very adept at exploiting that.
HAYES: What`s the recourse? What should be done?
BRENNAN: Well, I think we should be waiting for Bob Mueller`s report or continued indictments that becoming out. I am hopeful that Bob Mueller is going to come forward with a report that -- and further information that`s going to resolve some of these outstanding questions. And I do think that all Americans should accept the outcome in what Bob Mueller is able to put forward.
There is a lot of speculation, a lot of innuendoes and I think though some of it is unfair but I think we have to find out what actually is grounded in fact and evidence. But certainly, there`s a lot of circumstantial evidence that is very, very curious and worrisome. And this is something that I think all the American people deserve to know what happened in that election period and what American officials were actively working in support of the Russian aims.
HAYES: John Brennan, thank you very much for coming by. It`s always a pleasure to have you here.
BRENNAN: Thanks so much.
HAYES: Come by anytime.
BRENNAN: Thank you. Thank you.
HAYES: For more on what to do about the President, I`m joined by Democratic Senator Mark Warner of Virginia, vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee. I`ll start I think with the question I has just asked you on Brennan which is how you understand the recourse if in fact there is this sense now, it`s made explicit I think in the last 48 hours because of the reporting, the suspicion fundamentally of the loyalties of the commander-in-chief of the head of state.
SEN. MARK WARNER (D), VIRGINIA: Listen, Chris, I`m not going to jump to any conclusions but I do think we can recap what we know factually. We know factually in a bipartisan way. Our Senate investigation showed that Russians massively interfered in 2016 in our campaign to help Trump and hurt Clinton.
We know that Mr. Trump`s behavior during that campaign while he was willing to criticize virtually every other world leader, he was not willing to criticize Vladimir Putin. We saw the candidly embarrassing kowtowing of Mr. Trump to Vladimir Putin on the world stage in Helsinki.
Now we have these reports and I`m not sure if they`re true or not of whether Mr. Trump is trying to take America out of NATO. We saw the kind of strange announcement Mr. Trump made about taking America out of the Syrian conflict without any forewarning that frankly benefits Bashar Assad and again benefits Putin.
And we`ve seen as well that those figures inside the Trump administration like Secretary of Defense Mattis who were that forced to kind of say hey, American tradition, American role in the world is to stand up for human rights, for press rights, for a strong United West against oligarchs and dictators like Putin. He`s been pushed out of the administration.
And we even have today the administration didn`t get a lot of attention but there was a broad bipartisan coalition standing up against the Trump effort to try to remove the sanctions on one of Trumps cronies Oleg Deripaska. Luckily there were 57 senators that rejected the Trump administration`s approach. But there is a pattern here.
I`m not going to reach a conclusion until we finish our investigation or until the Mueller investigation is finished, but I do agree with John Brennan. I frankly think the vast majority actually my Republican colleagues also agree that Mueller is got to be able to finish his job and that report then needs to be made public to the American public.
HAYES: There are a bunch of outstanding factual matters that that are now at issue. And you`re the ranking member of the Intelligence Committee in the Senate. First I want to ask, what is the status of the Senate investigation which is not as far as I know wrapped up or issued some kind of final report unlike those in the House?
WARNER: We have seen over 200 witnesses. We have a number of witnesses that are still on the docket and we`ve got major figures like Michael Cohen and some of the other principals that we want to bring back as well as our desire that we need to hear from folks like General Flynn and Paul Manafort, people that have already gone at least partially through the Justice Department proceedings.
We need to have that information before we can conclude. We`ve got a lot of unanswered questions. I want this report. I want our investigation to be finished as soon as possible but we`ve got to get access to some of these individuals. Frankly, some who have been reluctant to testify and some frankly that Mueller needs to give agreement that we can see as well.
HAYES: Rex Tillerson was a Secretary of State who was in that meeting that The Washington Post has reported the President confiscated the notes from the interpreter. In an e-mail, Tillerson said he was present the entirety of the two President`s official bilateral meeting in Homburg but he declined to discuss the meaning, did not respond the questions about whether Trump had instructed for the notes to be taken. Do you think -- would you like to talk to Mr. Tillerson under oath about that?
WARNER: Listen, I would love to hear from the former secretary the state. Clearly, the President of the United States can meet one-on-one with other foreign leaders but anytime you meet with someone particularly that has been you know, traditionally viewed as an adversary as the case of Vladimir Putin, even if you want to meet one-on-one, you want to give your team a full readout of what happened. That has -- there`s lots of do outs that come out of the meeting of that nature.
And it is more than a little bizarre if the reporting is accurate and we don`t know this for a fact, that the President took in effect the interpreters notes, wouldn`t share him with anyone. And I still have not heard from anyone in the administration what actually transpired between Putin and Trump in Helsinki. And I don`t know any one of the administration that is even represented that they know what transpired.
HAYES: All right, Senator Mark Warner, thanks for your time tonight.
WARNER: Thank you, Chris.
HAYES: Today we heard from the man President Trump wants to oversee the Mueller investigation. I`ll talk to Senator Mazie Hirono who questioned William Barr today about what she makes of the nominee for attorney general. Senator Hirono joins me in just two minutes.
HAYES: President Trump`s nominee for attorney general William Barr says that under his watch Special Counsel Robert Mueller would be allowed to finish his investigation. In a confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee today, Barr also said he would stand up to the president if he thought it was necessary.
But crucially Barr stops short of promising full transparency saying that if he, not Robert Mueller would be responsible for sharing the Special Counsel`s findings with the public.
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SEN. MAZIE HIRONO (D), HAWAII: What I`m hearing you saying that in spite of the fact that you want to be transparent, neither Congress nor public will get the Mueller report because that`s confidential. So what we will be getting is your report of the Mueller report subject to the applicable laws limiting disclosure. So is that what you`re telling us?
BARR: I don`t know what -- at the end of the day, what will be releasable. I don`t know what Bob Mueller is writing.
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HAYES: Joining me now is the Senator who questioned William Barr today, Democratic Senator Mazie Hirono of Hawaii. Your assessment of the performance of the nominee to be attorney general.
HIRONO: I think he was clearly testifying for an audience of one, that person being Donald Trump knowing full well that Donald Trump does not contemplate any other attorney general who will recuse himself so there were a lot of questions trying to pin him down and would he recuse himself if the effects people at the Justice Department say so, and he kept saying no, no, no.
So I think that it was pretty clear that he was very careful. Also for a person who wrote extensively about the morality, the declining morality in our country when he was Attorney General, and when I asked him do you have any concerns about being part of an administration for which he audition of a president who lies every day, who calls a Mueller investigation or witch- hunt, who goes against the FBI, all of that and he just said no.
I said, so you`re standing up for this administration. That`s just concerning for somebody who cares about morality.
HAYES: Although -- I mean, isn`t that definitional senator? I mean, it seems to me that there`s a little bit of an issue which is the country needs an attorney general but I would suspect that anyone who would be willing to serve in this administration is someone who would immediately be suspect in your eyes.
HIRONO: I think everybody who auditioned for this job with a 19 page memo that he talked about with other members of the Department of Justice as well as the White House, I say that that`s somebody who`s really interested in being part of this administration. And my concern was that when you do something like that, I want to make sure that you can reassure me that you will be independent because that is what the attorney general`s office is supposed to be.
They are the independent legal arm of our country. They are not the President`s Roy Cohn as the president would like his attorney general to be.
HAYES: There were other areas pursued. I just want to just nail down this though. Two things on Mueller. One is that you`re saying it was clear he stopped short -- this is an observation of Aaron Blake I think that he would only recruit if he wants to, right? He will stop short of committing to following the ethics guidelines.
HAYES: And he may --
HIRONO: Stop Whitaker.
HAYES: And he may not release the Mueller report.
HIRONO: That`s right.
HAYES: So those are -- that`s your understanding of the takeaways as well?
HIRONO: That`s right. And then, he has some interesting views on immigration and the way -- the reach of Title Nine and Title Seven and protecting discrimination against gays and LGBTQ people.
HAYES: Yes. I wanted to follow up on that which is that it seemed to me in the main, his substantive views on racial disparities in the criminal justice system which he said on the whole, the system treated black and white people equally which I think is pretty contestable. The views on immigration, the views on Title Nine and the main did not seem that different from say Jeff Sessions.
HIRONO: I would say so. And in fact, he praised Jeff Sessions enforcement of the immigration laws and he used terms, Barr used terms such as that people are storming across our -- you know, coming into our country and he had a pretty strong I would say anti-immigrant fervor about him that pretty much come forces with this administration.
HAYES: He also seemed to be an advocate of the wall.
HIRONO: Yes. That`s because all the immigrants are storming through our southern border so we have to have a wall. This is why at one point I asked him whether as an attorney general he was actually going to rely up on facts as a basis for his positions and decision-making. And I used as an example something that the Department of Justice did with regard to the voter fraud that was going on in North Carolina where they wanted all of the voting information submitted millions of voter cards or whatever so that they could ferret out the people who were not supposed to vote and that is a massive misuse waste of time and of resources for the Department of Justice. And I ask them, are you going to keep doing that kind of thing as opposed to? He did say he would defend vigorously the Voting Rights Act. Well, he should care about all the voter suppression kind of laws that are being enacted after the Shelby County case.
HAYES: All right, Senator Mazie Hirono on that Senate Judiciary Committee got a chance to question Mr. Barr today. Thank you very much.
HIRONO: Thank you.
HAYES: Still to come, Senator Sherrod Brown will join me live with an announcement he`s being built as big. Stick around for that. And next, Robert Mueller wants more time with one of their key witnesses who say is cooperating with multiple investigations. The latest after this.
HAYES: Lots of developments in the Mueller probe today. The Special Counsel requested another delay in the sentencing of Rick Gates because the former Trump campaign official is cooperating in "several ongoing investigations according to a status report to the court." Also the Special Counsel filed yet another very heavily redacted and I should note properly redacted court filing describing the alleged false statements made by Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort.
That 31-page memo includes references to Konstantin Kilimnik, a Manafort associate and likely Russian intelligence operative or assets who Mueller has previously indicted -- Mueller has previously indicted for obstruction of justice. To dig into all this, let`s bring in Harry Litman who served as both Deputy Assistant Attorney General at the Departed of Justice and U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania and MSNBC Contributor Joyce Vance, former U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Alabama.
Joyce, the significance of that "S" at the end of investigation in the public filing by the Mueller team about wanting to postpone the Rick Gates` sentencing.
JOYCE VANCE, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST: I thought that was the most interesting aspect of the pleading, this notion of several investigations. And of course we speculate that there have been these emerging stories about a look into some of Trump`s inaugural activities, which could involve improper contributions using straw men from foreign citizens, also have maybe the possibility of some pay for play or paying for access to the administration. And then the question is what else is out there? Maybe Roger Stone and Jerome Corsi, who have both indicated being indicted, but of course using this several connotes at least three, at least in my mind, Chris, so there could obviously be other investigations out there that we don`t know about or that we`ve heard just a little bit about.
HAYES: One thing, Harry, that -- and Joyce sort of eluded to this, one thing that we see is the time of the investigated activities marching forward. So we start with looking at the campaign and now there`s talk about the transition. This is from the filing today on Manafort, "in addition to this documentary evidence, Gates has told the government in debriefings that in approximately January 2017, Manafort told Gates he was using intermediaries, including [redacted] to get people appointed in the administration. Manafort said he was talking to [redacted] up through approximately February 2018, which is the time of Gates` guilty plea." That now puts the presidency right in the focus.
LITMAN: Right into focus, and in particular the inaugural period. We also have another report today that there`s a big breakfast taking place January 18, two days before the inauguration involving, among others Devin Nunes, which might be part of this overall both pay to play on the -- and the foreign side.
An interesting part of what Joyce said, and she`s dead on with everything, is we have concurrent jurisdiction here with SDNY and the Mueller probe, SDNY generally taking the lead on U.S. defendants and the foreign probe -- the Mueller probe on countries that may have been involved.
And all this augurs, the several is the big word, but it all augurs potentially months of ongoing investigation. The inaugural investigation - - the investigation in the inauguration is pretty new. And then other ones, even if they`d been advanced, may take awhile to come to fruition, like the Stone and Corsi ones.
HAYES: It`s also a reminder, Joyce, of Gates` pivotal role in this, which I had sort of, I think in my head, forgotten a little bit, right? Manafort says he`s going to cooperate and the government comes out with this dramatic filing saying he`s a liar, and his lies and crimes will be laid out, he`s not actually cooperating. Gates, however, who looked like he wasn`t going to cooperate for awhile, appears to be in the same situation as Flynn, which is cooperating systematically, routinely, and for a very long period of time.
VANCE: It does look that way, and it`s important to remember that Gates was actually around with the campaign for longer than Manafort was, so he can walk this through some of these pivotal events, right, and these questions that we`re all still searching for answers to, like why did it the Republican Party dramatically change its platform to be favorable to Russia as opposed to pro-Ukraine during the convention?
Gates has a lot of insight into all of those questions and his cooperation is likely to be very productive for Mueller.
HAYES: Harry, as someone who worked in main Justice as well as being a U.S. attorney, the Barr hearing today, Barr did not get to that Elliot Richardson threshold of a sort of explicit pledge about what he would do. What did you make of it?
LITMAN: I mean, I thought generally he was playing it by the book, and what he was doing both vis-a-vis Trump and vis-a-vis the so-called Richardson pledge was not surrendering his power as attorney general. I think he felt he couldn`t do one if he didn`t do the other.
In general, the big focus is on recusal. My personal thinking is he didn`t say he wouldn`t follow the -- that he would pull a Whitaker, he just said that the regs ultimately give him that authority.
I actually think what is going to happen is he`ll submit it to the career ethics officials. They will probably give him a clean bill of health, because expressing an opinion is very different from personal involvement, and he will be able to follow it.
If they don`t -- and I think he probably suspects that already -- so I think it`s more keeping the authority under the regs to himself on all sides, rather than actually preparing the way to push back on the career ethics officials.
HAYES: That`s a great point. Harry Litman and Joyce Vance, thank you very much.
Just ahead, why did the party of Steve King choose this moment to rebuke Steve King`s racist comments? We`ll talk about that next.
HAYES: A huge loss to the Trump administration in federal court. A judge barred the administration from adding a citizenship question to the 2020 census. Asking people if they were citizens would have, according to many experts, discouraged consensus participation among households with non- citizens. And that would have lead to an undercount in immigrant communities and the places they`re concentrated that would have resulted in less political power for those places.
When he was pushing for the citizenship question to be added, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross lied to congress, falsely claiming the Justice Department were the one that initiated the request to add the question. Memos later revealed it had been, ding, ding, ding, Ross himself working with the White House.
The commerce secretary has faced no punishment for lying under oath, blatantly, his effort to add the question reflects a deep fear among some in the GOP about a diversifying America and what it will mean for white political power, and specifically Republican political power. It`s a fear we`ve seen expressed more forthrightly by Republican Congressman Steve King, dating back to the days he was pushing for a border wall on the House floor more than a decade ago.
King has a long history he has a history of making racist remarks and supporting racist politicians, but House Republicans have done almost nothing about it until now when they are longer in power in the House. Yesterday, Republican leaders stripped King of his committee assignments after The New York Times quoted him, questioning how the phrase white supremacist had become offensive?
Today, they joined Democrats to vote overwhelmingly to condemn King`s comments and white supremacy more broadly. Before the vote, King gave a speech suggesting his comments had been taken out of context, King telling his fellow lawmakers, quote, "I think I know all of you well. I thought you all knew me well."
Joining me now for more on both these topics, MSNBC policy analyst Heather McGee, a distinguished senior fellow at DEMOS; and Kurt Bardella, a former spokesperson for Republicans on the House oversight committee who has since become a Democrat.
I think Steve King has a little bit of a point today in that he`s like you guys -- you know who I am. I`ve been here for 60 years. Like why all the sudden did you turn on me?
HEATHER MCGEE, SENIOR FELLOW DEMOS: It`s like a Charlottesville moment, right. I mean, you can be racist in your policies, you can be racist in the things you say about your fellow Americans and your fellow human beings, but you just can`t say I`m a racist, and that`s what he did, right. He said why is it so bad to be a white supremacist or a white nationalist? What`s wrong with western civilization? I thought it was the best is basically what he said to the paper of record.
That is the only time that the Republican Party will actually give you some sort of censure, not literally, of course, because it would be great he had been censured on the House floor...
HAYES: He was not actually censured, to be clear.
MCGEE: But I mean that in terms of the broader meaning of the word, it`s like Charlottesville, right? I mean, it really is. In fact, the House resolution that was passed tonight was basically saying we condemn white supremacy again and what it was hearkening back to was in Charlottesville, and it feels like you have to do -- you should be able to be held accountable for your racist policies, your racist actions without just saying I`m a racist.
HAYES: You know, Kurt, it was interesting to me, too, as someone who worked for the Republicans when they were in the majority, the majority staff -- Darryl Issa`s committee and government oversight -- there`s -- am I wrong that If the Republicans had a majority of the House, there`s no way they call this for a vote? There`s no vote censuring or expressing disapproval. The only reason it passes overwhelmingly is because Democrats control what comes to the floor and then no one wants to vote against it?
KURT BARDELLA, FORMER REPUBLICAN SPOKESMAN: Right. I mean, mind you that Steve King now, being in the minority, they don`t need his vote for anything. They don`t need him on any congressional committee to move anything forward, their job right now is 100 percent obstruction of the Democratic agenda in the House, and so this costs them nothing.
This is them, the Republicans, trying to look like they`re doing something when in actuality they haven`t done anything. Their silent about Donald Trump`s overt racism, their silent about Steve King`s repeated remarks -- it was just a few months ago when he was caught on tape referring to immigrants as dirt.
So, all of this has to do with the fact that they`re in the minority now so they don`t really care and they`re trying to pretend like they`re doing something on racism so that for now on, going forward, they can say any time that someone else says something racist, because we know it`s going to happen, they can say, well, look how we handled Steve King. We`re not racist, we`re not white nationalists, we`re fair about this, but we all know better.
HAYES: Well, and to your point about the words versus actions, right, so on the split screen is like Steve King -- and the actions are Wilbur Ross pushing for this -- I mean pushing -- a federal judge today -- this is remarkable -- a federal judge says basically the way you did this was unlawful, which is remarkable, because it`s the federal government, like they can lawfully change things in the census. But they did it with such subterfuge, and they lied about what they were doing, but they were found unlawful, all to make sure there`s a question on the census which the experts say would reduce the counting of immigrant communities, which relates, I think, to this existential fear that Steve King has.
MCGEE: That`s right. I think if Republicans cared about the future of their party they`d be asking this question today, not just what is a white supremacist say, but what does a white supremacist do? Let`s look at Steve King`s voting record. Is this a voting record that is out of step of the mainstream of the Republican Party today, or is it in fact exactly what many of the Republican Party members believe and would vote for? The wall, cutting of social welfare benefits, gutting Obamacare, you know, the census question, all of these things that are part of the Republican platform are what a white supremacist like Steve King would do if he had legislative power.
HAYES: And there`s the question, too, about what -- why this obsession with the census, and specifically, as someone was -- on the house majority in oversight, can you imagine if an Obama administration official came before Darryl Issa and lied to his face in as blatant a way as we now know that Wilbur Ross lied to Democrats on that committee.
BARDELLA: Let me tell you something, Chris, the oversight committee has jurisdiction over the census. In 2012, when there was an effort by the Obama White House to change the jurisdiction of the census to move it under Rahm Emanuel at the White House we went crazy over it and ended up reversing that ever happening.
When the RNC was even sending out deceptive mail pieces looking like census to try to fundraise, we passed a law to ban it.
So here comes Wilbur Ross before the oversight committees testifying multiple times saying this actually was added for the first time in 70 years, was added because the Justice Department asked me to. Well, what we ended up finding out, of course, was that it came from Steve Bannon, Chris. Bannon was the person who wanted to add this.
So Wilbur Ross has lied before congress. We know now that Elijah Cummings, the new chairman of the oversight committee, is going to hold Wilbur Ross accountable. He is going to bring him before that committee and ask him answer why did he lie to them so many times?
HAYES: Steve Bannon, who I always think of thing he said to Steve Miller in a podcast, in an interview, he said legal immigration is, quote, the beating heart of the problem. And then you have to ask the question, what is the problem? It`s the problem that Steve King sees.
MCGEE: Right, exactly. This is the question, it`s fundamental. And I think all of us have to ask ourselves this question: who is an American? Who gets to be an American right now? This is a country that is occupied by ancestral strangers. We actually have very little in common with one another, even Ronald Reagan said that that was what made America great.
And so this is a question that Democrats and Republicans have very different answers to right now.
HAYES: Heather McGee and Kurt Bardella, thank you both being with me.
Coming up, Senator Sherrod Brown has an announcement to make about his plans for the coming months. He joins me ahead.
HAYES: A group of Democratic freshman members in the House staged a protest today, marching over from their side to the Senate side of the Capitol to demand Majority Leader Mitch McConnell hold a vote on measures the House has already passed to reopen the government.
McConnell was in his office, but staff said they`d up a meeting.
This record-setting shutdown has now lasted 25 days, and the pain is widespread across the country.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It`s been hard. It`s been a struggle just trying to make ends meet.
UNIDENTIFID MALE: 18-year federal government employee Laticia Williams (ph) sweeping her garage, shutdown from answering calls at the IRS. The single mother of two worried.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My daughter is a senior this year. I have senior fees. I have graduation. And she`s going to college next year.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hundreds of Coast Guard personnel lined up in Alameda for the food and supply giveaway. Most of these military folk are still working without a paycheck.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I am running low on money. I still got rent, car payment, car insurance, you know all the necessities.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Matt Confirst (ph) and his wife are both EPA employees, both furloughed.
Is there a deadline in your head where you`re thinking, OK, we`re OK until here?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think we could get through the end of the month, but it -- you never know.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Resorting to touching their savings, this local Coast Guard family not wanting to be identified say the tips they received on Thursday were not helpful by any means.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Had garage sales, telling too baby sit, and I think that was pretty demeaning and embarrassing.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It`ll be over soon. You can make it a couple more weeks.
So when February`s rent is due, we can`t pay it.
HAYES: Coming up, an advocate for federal workers and a very vocal critic of the shutdown. Senator Sherrod Brown is here with a special announcement. That`s next.
HAYES: Last November, liberal Democratic Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio won a third term, and he did so by six points in a state that Donald Trump won by eight. And that victory in Ohio prompted all kinds of speculation about Sherrod Brown`s potential as a presidential candidate.
Brown himself told the Washington Post, quote, "I really wasn`t thinking seriously about this until the day after election."
At least six Democrats have indicated they intend to run in 2020: Senator Elizabeth Warren, Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, former HUD Secretary Julian Castro, Congressman John Delaney, former West Virginia State Senator Richard Ojeda, and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, who just announced her run in an interview that airs later tonight on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.
Which brings us back to Senator Sherrod Brown who is here with me exclusively tonight and has an announcement of his own.
Senator Sherrod Brown, welcome. What are you up to?
SEN. SHERROD BROWN, (D) OHIO: Well, thank you, Chris.
As you know in all the times on this show, and we`ve known each other for awhile. I spent my entire senate career for the dignity of work. As you pointed out, we won a state by a comfortable margin that Trump had won overwhelmingly, and so I`m announcing tonight on this show that I`m planning a dignity of work listening tour kicking off in Cleveland and then the first of February going to Iowa with my wife Connie Schultz, which Iowa, and New Hampshire and Nevada and South Carolina.
And what I want to accomplish is I want to continue to learn about the dignity of work from everybody from whether you swipe a card, whether you punch a clock, whether you work for tips, whether you work on salary, whether you`re taking care of kids, and I want to hear from people around and I want this conversation and this dignity of work tour to encourage my colleagues running for president that this should be the narrative.
It`s the best way to govern, fighting for the dignity of work, and it`s the best way to win elections.
HAYES: So you`re colleagues running for president. So, going to go to Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina, which is the four first states in the primary schedule. That sounds like you are running for president.
BROWN: Well, Connie and I have not made that decision. We will make that decision in the weeks ahead. I said right after the election, as more and more people began to talk to me -- you know, we begin to notice that national Democrats and some pundits say that Democrats, they kind of make this a choice, either Democrats talk to progressives -- to the progressive base, or they talk to workers, working class families, regardless of race. To me, you`ve got to do both, that`s how we run Ohio.
You`ve got to talk to workers, you`ve got to have that progressive message. You talk to workers regardless of what kind of work they do. You do it without compromise on women`s rights and civil rights and gay rights and workers rights. And that what we`ve done in Ohio. I think that because Ohio is in so many ways the number one swing state in the country, a message that works there, the dignity of work works everywhere.
HAYES: Well, that`s sort of the question, right. I mean, you are someone who has run statewide many times in Ohio and I think just as a descriptive matter, had tremendous political success even in a time when that state has become more Republican and more conservative, those are just what the numbers bare out.
You managed to win again this year. Do you think that exports everywhere? Does that message -- and you`re an Ohio boy born and raise. You got a very deep connection to the state that you`ve cultivated over many, many years as an elected official in that state. Does it translate?
BROWN: Yeah, a woman working at a diner in Sioux City, Iowa or working as a physical therapist in Concord, New Hampshire, or working in Reno, Nevada as a construction worker, or working in Charleston, South Carolina as a computer operator, or working in an insurance company, all of us in government need to respect and honor the dignity of work. We don`t do that, that`s one reason wages have lagged behind.
We have seen corporate profits go up. We`ve seen productivity of workers go up. We`ve seen executive compensation explode. And wages are flat. That`s frankly because this government in Washington, especially the president, the president at the White House looks like a retreat for Wall Street executives. This president has betrayed workers, whether it`s GM workers in Lordstown in Ohio or it`s workers that are working construction in Nevada. He has betrayed workers, and the message of dignity of work will work for any Democratic nominee that comes down the line in the next several months.
HAYES: I want to get to two things, quickly. One, the strike in Los Angeles -- when you talk about dignity of work, the largest labor action happening in the United States right now is the strike by the teachers there in Los Angeles. I saw you come out in support for it. You support that strike?
BROWN: Yeah, I support those teachers. And you know who else supports those teachers and what I think tells you about how the country is moving more towards understanding the importance of collective bargaining, the importance of pensions, the importance of the dignity of work, is a lot of students join those teachers on those picket lines walking in and out of the school.
So, I think that it`s young people especially that are changing this debate. Look at these new particularly female women of color in congress. But I talked to two, I talked to two women today from Nevada -- or I mean, from Iowa, two freshman members of congress that were elected this year that I talked to. And, you know, they are seeing a change. They are seeing they are respecting and honoring work more. This congress is different. This country is becoming different. I think the Los Angeles teacher`s strike proves that.
HAYES: The preparations to run for president are obviously large. And you`re sort of undertaking them whether you get an the off ramp or not, I saw there are people undertaking on the other side. This is an item from Buzzfeed, two days after you won your third Senate term in Ohio last November an operative from American Rising, which is a conservative opo research group, sent a public records request for Kent State University where your wife, Connie Schultz, teaches several journalism courses. The group sought Schultz`s contracts and performance evaluations. Kent State responded 20 days later with 37 pages of documents.
Do you have a comment on them starting to look at Connie Schultz`, your wife`s, career right away?
BROWN: Well, I think it says a number of things. First, it says how great Connie is, how accomplished she is, how smart she is, how well she works social media, what a terrific writer she is. People all over the country know that.
The other thing is they take my potential candidacy seriously, and in the third thing it says is they will be dirty. They will be nasty. I`ve seen Carl Rove come into my races. And each time I`ve run, I know what he`s up to. I know that -- and when I think about Donald Trump, I know that bullies are always cowards. And we will be ready if it comes to that.
HAYES: All right, Senator Sherrod Brown, thanks for making the time.
BROWN: Glad to, thanks.
HAYES: That is ALL IN for this evening. "THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW" starts right now. Good evening, Rachel.
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