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Americans suffer on day 26 of Trump shutdown. TRANSCRIPT: 1/16/19, All In w/ Chris Hayes.

Guests: Richard Blumenthal, Sherrilyn Ifill, Nick Ackerman, Dan Kildee, Rashida Tlaib, Michelle Goldberg, Michael Moynihan


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  I am proud to shut down the government.

HAYES:  26 days into the Trump shutdown.

TRUMP:  I will be the one to shut it down.

HAYES:  Nancy Pelosi tells the President he`s not welcome in the people`s house.

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE:  This is a housekeeping matter.

HAYES:  As freshmen, Democrats go in search of Mitch McConnell.

REP. ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ (D), NEW YORK:  He`s not in the cloakroom, he`s not in the Capitol, he`s not in the Russell building, he`s not in the floor of the Senate, and 800,000 people don`t have their paycheck.  So where`s Mitch?

HAYES:  Plus, the President`s pick for attorney general caught peddling debunked conspiracy theory.  Why Senate Republicans are standing with the President in rolling back Russian sanctions.  And as the suffering drags on --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  From what we`ve been told, they have no problem affecting us as soon as they can.

HAYES:  How the Ann Coulter shutdown continues.

ANN COULTER, HOST, FOX NEWS CHANNEL:  I`ve been advising the president whether on Twitter, columns or in private conversations that you`re not allowed to know about.

HAYES:  When ALL IN starts right now.

COULTER:  He is dead in the water if he doesn`t build that wall.


HAYES:  Good evening from New York, I`m Chris Hayes.  Nancy Pelosi sent a message to the President of the United States today.  Until you reopen the government, you are not welcome in my House.  Pelosi sending Trump letter requesting that he reschedule his State of the Union address which had been set for January 29th for some time after the government is back open.  Alternatively, she said, Trump could simply deliver the address in writing as many presidents have in the past or speak from the Oval Office.

Pelosi said the security burden for an address to Congress would simply be too great in light of President Trump`s decision to shut down the government.


PELOSI:  We would have the President of the United States, the Vice President of the United States, the entire Congress of the United States House and Senate, the Supreme Court, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the cabinet of the United States, did I say that, and the Diplomatic Corps all in the same room.  This is an -- requires hundreds of people working on the logistics and the security of it.  Most of those people are either furloughed or victims of the shutdown, the President`s shut down.


HAYES:  Republicans responded with outrage and frustration.  Some dismissing Pelosi security concerns, others saying Trump should still deliver the speech.  House Minority Whip Steve Scalise telling reporters "I would encourage the President to still come and we`ll find someplace for him to speak."  Maybe there`s a conference room no one`s using.  Who knows.

It is now day 26 of the shutdown Trump claimed credit for, the longest shutdown in U.S. history.  And today, Senate Democrats held a news conference to highlight the impact on the 800,000 federal workers going without pay complete with pictures of some of the Trump shut down victims.  House Democratic freshmen went over to the Senate to try to deliver a letter to Mitch McConnell calling on him to hold a vote on a bill to reopen the government.

Before Trump decided to hold the government hostage for his wall, you might remember, the Senate had already overwhelmingly passed a bill to keep the government running.  And that same bill is now sitting on McConnell`s desk having passed out of the House.


CORTEZ:  We have voted repeatedly over and over again to reopen the government, work here.  Now, we`re on the Senate side, now we`re on the Senate side.  We`re roving out into the Senate`s side because the thing is we went to his office in the Capitol, we went to his office here in the Russell building, we went to the floor, he`s not.  We went to the cloakroom.  He`s not in the cloakroom.  He`s not in the Capitol.  He`s not in the Russell building.  He`s not on the floor of the Senate and 800,000 people don`t have their paychecks.  So where`s Mitch?


HAYES:  With negotiations at a standstill, Trump has been trying to crack the unified Democratic opposition who was shut down stands.  The cracks have instead been coming from within his own party.  At least four Senate Republicans including Lindsey Graham have been helping to circulate a letter designed to convince Trump to finally reopen the government and then talk about the wall later.

Meanwhile, the shutdown suffering just gets worse.  The New York Times reporting that a typical federal worker has missed $5,000 in pay from the shutdown so far as the shutdown inflicts far greater damage on the United States economy than previously estimated.  And millions of Americans are suffering not just government workers.  HuffPost today highlighting a little cafe in Kansas that simply relies heavily on federal workers which is now on the brink of closure.

The owner telling the reporter we are in a crisis mode.  I think what people don`t understand is that for people who aren`t government workers, it just trickles down to an extraordinary degree.

Joining me now for more on Pelosi`s decision and the impact the shutdown, Democratic Congressman Dan Kildee of Michigan.  Congressman, first, do you support the Speaker`s dis-invitation of the President?

REP. DAN KILDEE (D), MICHIGAN:  Yes, I do.  The President has to understand that there are consequences to his ignorant abstinence.  The fact that he is willing to shut the government down, he made the decision to shut the government down, brings consequences.  He can`t be protected in his careful and comfortable little bubble and get to go on as if nothing is happening and covered the problems by buying a bunch of hamburgers. 

There are consequences to this shutdown and they affect the American people.  They`re going to affect him as well.

HAYES:  The two most salient consequences I think in the political sense and what I think about things that could break this stalemate is air travel and tax refunds.  My understanding is you`ve talked to air traffic controllers who are working right now managing the skies without of paycheck if I`m not mistaken.  Is that right?

KILDEE:  Yes.  I met with them on Monday.  These are the people who keep us safe when we fly.  And they`re professionals.  They`re working hard.  They`re showing up for work.  It`s an already very stressful job.  And now we`re asking them to carry the additional stress of leaving a home where they can`t pay their mortgage or their rent, where they can`t take care of their families, and then show up at work and protect us all.  Now, they`re doing it but there`s a breaking point for everyone.

HAYES:  What`s the breaking point?

KILDEE:  The breaking point is that there may be slowdowns.  God help us there could be something even worse than that.  These services that governmental employees provide are really important and necessary services to maintain a civil society.  The President needs to understand that.  And the idea that he can with impunity and then just take care of his own needs, meanwhile shutting down the government, threatening our economy, it`s ridiculous.  This is insane.

He can open the government tomorrow.  I don`t blame him entirely though, Chris.  The United States Senate could take up legislation that itself pass just a few weeks ago that they thought was a good idea to open government and continue this debate over how we -- how we exercise border security.  Why not do that?

I blame the Senate.  I blame those who are essentially handing over their responsibilities to the President.  And Mitch McConnell has made Donald Trump the Majority Leader of the United States Senate.  He can`t even do the job he has, let alone do the job that Mitch is supposed to do.

HAYES:  I want to get response to something at Robert Costa reported yesterday.  So a couple of senior Republican Lawmakers tell me the only way this breaks open is if TSA employees stay home and Americans get furious about their flights.  That`s the only out they say and they are close to the White House.  What do you make of that?

KILDEE:  I think that`s just insane that they would wait that -- the idea is that something horrific has to happen before common sense prevails and we just passed spending bills that open the government and let us continue to have a spirited debate on the issue of border security.  If the President doesn`t have the confidence in his own idea and his own argument to submit it to the democratic process, I don`t know how we can expect this government to function.  This is a really dangerous moment.  This guy is off the rails.

HAYES:  Final question.  You`re on the Ways and Means Committee and my understanding was the IRS Commissioner was going to come and testify.  That was canceled today.  Are there going to be delays in people getting their refunds which strikes me as another very tangible and widespread effect that could change the calculus here?

KILDEE:  There very well could be.  I mean, obviously, this could have an impact on the entire tax season and the processing and those returns.  But think about it.  The President`s conclusion or his way to fix the problem is to order 50,000 IRS workers to come back to work without pay instead of simply signaling to the Senator he`ll sign a bill so bring them back and let them do their jobs and be paid for it.

HAYES:  Right.  So that`s -- that`s what happen right?  You guys -- you guys in the House did pass something to reopen the IRS, just the IRS specifically for this purpose.  That has not been taken up by Mitch McConnell in the Senate.  Instead, the executive branch, the federal government, the President has ordered 50,000 IRS workers back without pay to process the refunds?

KILDEE:  Right.  So I say to Mitch McConnell, do your job.  I say to the President, do your job.  If they did that, this would be -- this would be a resolved question.

HAYES:  Congressman Dan Kildee, thanks for being with me.  Nancy Pelosi`s call for Trump to not deliver the State of the Union to Congress during the shutdown has prompted a chorus of outrage from Republicans.


REP. JIM JORDAN (R), OHIO:  The Speaker of the House is thinking about not inviting the Commander-in-Chief, the President of the United States to come deliver the State of the Union address?

SEN. JOHN KENNEDY (R), LOUISIANA:  He can come to the Senate if Mrs. Pelosi doesn`t want him to come to the House.  I just -- I just think that sort of tactic is making things work -- worse. 

REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R), CALIFORNIA:  Speaker Pelosi should act like a speaker and have the President and keep her word like she invited him.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  She said it`s a security issue.

MCCARTHY:  It is not a security issue.  That`s politics and you know it.  It`s unbecoming of the Speaker to do this. 


HAYES:  With me now, one of the House Democratic freshmen who tried to track down Mitch McConnell today, Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib, Democrat of Michigan.  Congresswoman, Kevin McCarthy said it`s unbecoming of the Speaker for this modification to her invite.  What do you think of that?

REP. RASHIDA TLAIB (R), MICHIGAN:  Look, I think the priority right now is the American people.  You know, we`re supposed to have an open functional government.  It`s not even the workers.  It`s what the workers were doing for our residents back home.  And it`s absolutely our responsibility and we have to lead with compassion.  We have to focus on getting our government open and running.  We don`t have time for speeches.

We don`t have time for these kinds of events when we actually are in jeopardy of risky not only our public health, our environment, and so many things that are very much essential to our residents back home that need us to have a functional working government that`s working for all of us.

HAYES:  Well, here`s a question for you.  If it is that important to get the government back open which a Democrat seem to be making that argument more strenuously than Republicans and more strenuous to the White House that doesn`t really frankly seem to care to be honest.  Is there a point at which it just becomes worth it to throw them some appropriations to get the thing back open?

TLAIB:  Look, it`s not about the wall.  It`s not about that.  You can see that.  This is the same bills that we passed before we took the majority in the House.  These are the same exact bills that Senator McConnell and many of his colleagues supported.  We have actually bipartisan support of what we passed.  We even sent them an appropriations bill that just said we`re going to open it up for two weeks just so that the American workers, the workers that work for the federal government all across this nation can actually get back up and running and get paid.

We just don`t want to negotiate in these terms.  This is not the way to basically come in a good faith and trying to again work for the American people.  I can tell you, I went into McConnell`s office today with my colleagues.  It is very clear that they`re hiding, that this is not about some sort of crisis.  The only crisis that we have right now is the crisis that he created in shutting down our government.

HAYES:  What do you want to tell Mitch McConnell?

TLAIB:  Look, you work for the American people not the President of the United States.  We need you to lead.  We need you to do right for the people.  This is so critical for us to understand.  There are people getting evicted from HUD housing.  We have it right now.  I have one of the most polluted areas in Michigan and we don`t have EPA inspectors on the ground watching our air quality.  It is important for us to understand, McConnell, lead.  Lead for the American people.  We don`t need the President of the United States to sign this.

You send this back and let me tell you, in ten days it becomes a fact.  And even if he tries to veto it, we can override it.  Let`s put people first before this president.

HAYES:  What has it been like -- this is your first few weeks in Congress, what -- I mean, what a strange experience to come to Congress to inherit this situation?  What is that been like?

TLAIB:  This is not normal.  I mean, you have right now constituents calling me.  People that are trying to reach out to the SSA, my veterans who can`t get deferment on loans because again nobody`s there to pick up the phone.  It is not normal.  This is not the way to negotiate in any issues that you`re trying to resolve.  And the President knows this.  He`s being reckless.

HAYES:  Do you still think the President should be impeached?

TLAIB:  Absolutely.  Look, think about it today, just today, we found out that even though our national parks are closed that the Trump Tower here in D.C., the Trump Hotel in D.C. is being staffed by national -- the Park Rangers despite the fact that we have no staffing, no parks open for the American people.  And even today the Inspector General said that the federal agencies were in violation of the United States Constitution by creating a lease agreement with the Trump Organization.

Look, this is leading continually on to know that there`s a direct violation of the United States Constitution.  Think about the precedent that we`re setting allowing the President of the United States not to divest in all of his corporations.  He`s making decisions based on profit not based on what`s the best interest of our people.

HAYES:  Final question.  You were a state legislator, you`re not a new hand in politics, but you are new to Congress.  You had that moment that was blown up into a full news cycle, and I just wonder what that experience was like, what your takeaway from being sort of under that microscope for that period once?

TLAIB:  Well, look, I can tell you, you know, I am unapologetically authentic on me.  I am a Muslim American woman, brown woman that is living in the United States of America under his leadership so I`m passionate.  I`m passionate about making sure that we`re following the values that I believe in, of justice equality and freedom, and of course, my passion got the best -- better of me.  But I can tell you, more and more people around this country are with me and saying that we don`t want to create the slippery slope of having a President that really is for the bottom line for profit and not for the people.

HAYES:  All right, Congressman Rashida Tlaib, thank you for making some time tonight.

TLAIB:  Thank you so much.

HAYES:  For more on the politics of this fight, I want to bring in Michelle Goldberg, Columnist for the New York Times.  Here`s what`s been notable to me about this as we get into day 26.  This is a tweet from David Lauter of the LA Times.  He says, I`m not a member of any organized political party.  I`m a Democrat.  That`s the Will Rogers old joke for the Democrats.  So far in the shutdown fight, extremely disciplined deeds are proving Rodgers wrong.

MICHELLE GOLDBERG, COLUMNIST, NEW YORK TIMES:  Right.  Well, and that`s sort of Nancy Pelosi`s hallmark, right?  I mean, that`s why it was always ridiculous to act as if somebody else should be in that position because you could see with a different leader Trump be able to sort of create those fissures in the Democratic coalition that he`s tried to do by inviting Democrats from districts that went for Trump to the White House.

Although part of it is also that Trump I think is incapable of really grappling with the depth of people`s opposition so he kind of doesn`t understand the incentives.

HAYES:  Yes.  He thinks it`s all like -- he thinks he`s so glib but he`s so momentum minded that like why would anyone remember what we said yesterday.  Like let`s -- yes, let`s go talk it out.

GOLDBERG:  Right.  And I also think -- and I also think that he thinks -- I don`t know how much he believes his own lies and propaganda about the polls being fake news so -- but I do get the sense that he thinks there`s more support for his wall and his shot down than there really is.

HAYES:  Yes.  He does think that.  I think he thinks it`s -- the polls are wrong and that there`s a sort of invisible majority.  This is an interesting thing.  This is a thing that a Democratic Senator said to me last night anonymously.  We won`t move.  We cannot.  If this worked for Trump, this country will border on ungovernable.  And what I thought was interesting about this is at this point it`s -- what it would augur for governance in the next two years were Democrats to be like yes, this is the way that you can get your objective.

GOLDBERG:  Right.  Especially when you have somebody who is such a pure nihilist, right?  So the incentives are all in the one direction because Trump doesn`t care who he hurts.  He doesn`t care how long the government is shut down.  He doesn`t care how much dysfunction he causes.  And so he would be completely unbound in using this tool whereas Democrats you know, for obvious reasons, the one time that Chuck Schumer you know, tried to force a shutdown and when did it last, for less than 24 hours because Democrats are -- they can they care about making government work.

HAYES:  Well, and they also -- they also cared about -- they cared about the blame and they cared about the press coverage and they cared about that they were subject to political gravity.  What`s so bizarre about this President is something you have written about quite eloquently in the pages of the New York Times is that he`s governing from 38 percent of the country, and that`s just where he governs from always.

GOLDBERG:  Right.  And it worked for him in the election obviously in 2016 but I think that he has not internalized the extent to which that was a freak occurrence and he`s learned nothing from his drumming in 2018.

HAYES:  And in fact, we have seen his approval rating go down over time.  We know there are vulnerable Republican -- Congressional Republicans particularly in the Senate like Cory Gardner and Susan Collins but there is this question of just -- I mean, what would normally break this is first order concern for the fact the government needs to function even by the most ostensibly anti-government Republican, honestly.  That`s not going to break it in this case.

GOLDBERG:  Well, and usually -- and there`s never been a situation before where the president has actually been the one calling for the shutdown right?  Because presidents are usually -- this is something --

HAYES:  Right.

GOLDBERG:  -- a way Congress uses to get leverage over a president who usually in past cases wanted to govern.

HAYES:  Of course, right, that`s a good point right.  It`s inverted particularly the last -- I mean, when we had -- when we had Boehner and we had the House Republicans, and we have the shutdown in 2013 right in that fall, and then we have Gingrich.

GOLDBERG:  Right.  And so I also think that one of the things that`s starting to change is that so far we`ve had this catastrophic presidency but the kind of material consequences of that for most people who don`t live in Puerto Rico you know, for most Americans who don`t live in Puerto Rico have not been super manifest, right?  This is the first time you know, we`ve seen sort of our norms shredded, our standard shredded, our Constitution shredded, but you don`t actually see people dealing with the consequences of that chaos and their paychecks or in their ability to get around the country or do business.  Now that`s really happening.

HAYES:  I thought the Pelosi move today was fascinating because it was an affirmative escalation too.  I mean, basically, she`s playing cards that she can play and this is a pretty smart one because she does control who comes and speaks in that House.

GOLDBERG:  Yes.  I mean, and it was you know, it was like it was a show of strength and I also think a show -- a show that this isn`t -- you know, as some of the members of Congress think before.  This isn`t normal.  It`s kind of ridiculous the idea that he`s going to go between a bipartisan collection of members of Congress and say the state of the union is strong and people are going to clap as if that could possibly be true.

HAYES:  Yes -- no, it`s particularly ridiculous to give that speech under these conditions independent of the security concerns.  Michelle Goldberg, thank you for being here.  Ahead, the voice in Donald Trump`s ear telling him that he`s dead in the water if he doesn`t build the wall.  How Ann Coulter`s White House Counsel is helping to help to keep the Trump shutdown going in two minutes.


HAYES:  We`re now in day 26 of the Trump shutdown and just remember how this all started.  On December 19th of last year, the Senate voted overwhelmingly to keep the government open without any money for the border wall.  And with the understanding, the House passed the same measure and then the President signed it, easy-peasy.  The deal was struck. 

Then the next day, after columns like this from Ann Coulter, Trump blew up that deal demanding $5 billion for his wall, the one that Mexico was supposed to pay for.  Now, while the Republican party trips over itself to condemn Congressman Steve King for his racist comments, Donald Trump has apparently outsourced his presidency to the notoriously anti-immigrant Ann Coulter that she bragged about in an interview last night.


COULTER:  I`ve been advising the President whether on Twitter, columns, or in private conversations that you`re not allowed to know about.  To play this out, keep it focused on immigration.  As long as people are talking about immigration, you are winning Mr. President.  But whatever happens, just build the wall.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  So why is he digging his heels on immigration?

COULTER:  That`s why --


COULTER:  It is self-preservation because he`s dead in the water if he doesn`t build that wall.  Dead, dead, dead.


HAYES:  Coulter also had this to say about the people who are currently most impacted by the shutdown.


COULTER:  It`s very silly for Democrats to hold up funding government while they`re leaping about federal employees which with much better benefits, retirement plans and vacation and sick leave than anyone watching this program has.


HAYES:  While the likes of Coulter dismiss and denigrate the thousands of workers who have not been paid for weeks, local news outlets across the country are telling a very different story.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  There`s days I`m choosing that I`m like OK, I cannot make it in today because I had to go pull weeds for a family member just to make $20, $30 for gas so I could take my oldest son Ezio to his therapies.  He has five therapies a week.  He has autism and I`m not going to start pulling away from him so I can go do a job that I`m not getting paid for.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I just met somebody a minute ago, an air traffic controller here who worked throughout the holidays and on Friday received a paycheck for 77 cents.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  The biggest fear Jenny says they were told they`d be evicted from their rental home in a river of you come February.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Yes.  From what we`ve been told, they have no problem evicting us as soon as they can.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Everything that communicates with that airplane, to let it know where it is in space, where it is in the sky, where it needs to land, that`s the stuff that his team takes care of.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  We`ve been told not to work on something less it`s actually broke.  Whereas we would normally be working to improve the systems.  The layers of the onion are being peeled back.  The redundancies that are built in should make it safe, but the longer this shutdown goes, the more chance of something happening that we don`t want to happen.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I`m just trying to explain to my family why we`re not getting paid is tough.  A lot of our friends and stuff as well they don`t understand why we`re not getting paid trying to figure out what we`re going to put on hold until next time is probably the most difficult.


HAYES:  Joining me now, the man who interviewed Ann Coulter about her conversations of the President, Vice News National Correspondent Michael Moynihan.  Michael, how much do you think this is closer inflating a role and how much is it really the case that she has been kind of a key crafter advisor to the President on immigration from day one?

MICHAEL MOYNIHAN, NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT, VICE NEWS:  You know, I think that of course she`s going to overstate her role and she always plays coy with me.  I mean, I`ve talked to her a number of times about this.  But it`s important to remember that the initial policy that Donald Trump formulated in 2015 and `16 on immigration was written by Stephen Miller of course but with the input of Ann Coulter, right?

So the interesting thing about this is in the 19th she publishes this column calling the gutless president.  On the 20th, he unfollows her on Twitter and then doubles down.  So it`s the classic Trump thing where he`s like petulant about it.  He unfollows her and then he says, you know what, I got to do what she says because you know, I guess I am being gutless on this and my base needs the wall.

HAYES:  There`s a very weird dynamic between her and him and that clearly - - one of the things that I think is interesting though is she has convinced him and I don`t know if she thinks this is true that like this is a make- or-break issue for the presidency and other people too.  This is -- this is Lindsey Graham who does not come from the same part of the party or didn`t used to is Ann Coulter although they`re now essentially indistinguishable.  Listen to -- listen to him.


SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA:  It`s incumbent now planned to president if there`s no legislative pass to keep his word to build that wall through executive action.


HAYES:  He`s also said that he`s dead in the water similarly not quite those words, if he doesn`t build the wall.  Do you think that`s true?

MOYNIHAN:  No, I don`t at all.

HAYES:  Yes, I think -- I agree with you.  I think --


MOYNIHAN:  Yes, I mean, look, I mean, the problem with talking to people who are fire-breathing Trump supporters is that you`d hit them with numbers, poll numbers, they don`t believe any of them.  The Americans against the wall, it`s a fake -- it`s a fake poll, etcetera.  I mean, I`ve heard the same thing about repealing ObamaCare which was a drum that Trump was beating all through the campaign.

Now, I will give Coulter this.  She is right about the fact that nobody was chanting about ObamaCare campaign rallies.  Build the wall is a chant.  And if it`s -- if it doesn`t happen, it`s going to be a big failure amongst many other failures but I don`t think is going to break him.

HAYES:  Yes.  And I think -- I think they have they have projected more importance on this onto his base because I think the base is able to integrate any new set of fact.  I mean, literally the president could come tomorrow and say the wall has been built, were reopening the government and I think that might even work.

MOYNIHAN:  Yes, I mean, look, you know, Ann Coulter herself has changed a lot of her positions to kind of conform to Trumpism and this sort of new populism.  I think that these people are very malleable on a lot of issues.  I`ve seen that talking to people.

HAYES:  Here`s the other thing that I thought was really interesting again in this very weird like Coulter dynamic with the President where she sort of dishes out insult, pain, and suffering, he asked for more.  This is what she had to say about him as a negotiator.  Take a listen.


COULTER:  I`m sorry that it turns out he`s the worst negotiator God ever created but that`s where we are.  He needs $20 billion for a wall.  He`s already only asked for $5.7 billion.  Just spend it and we can get the government up and running again.

MOYNIHAN:  I thought he was a great negotiator, that he`s a great businessman.

COULTER:  It turns out that was exaggerated.


HAYES:  I think this is interesting because he has played this whole thing terribly and I am at least like at least there`s some semblance of reality in seeing the truth of that.

MOYNIHAN:  Yes, I mean, I actually had talked to Ann Coulter for another piece I did it about a year ago and she said the same thing then.  I mean, people are realizing that he is a horrible negotiator.  But when I put it to these people these sort of conservatives have dug their heels in, what is the President`s supposed to do?  What is -- what are they going to negotiate with?  And they say, well no, you just got to hold the line because what they`re already saying and you heard Ann Coulter say it there is that he`s already given up.  Because at $5.8 billion, that`s too little.  It has to be 20 million or $25 billion.

I mean, the starting point was $25 billion.  It whittled down to $20 billion, and then to $5.8 billion and conservatives who don`t like spending that much of the government money are dying to spend more of it.

HAYES:  Yes.  There`s an endless amount for wall funding.  Michael Moynihan, thank you very much.  Coming up, the President`s pick for attorney general trafficking in debunked Fox News conspiracy theories.  That and the mounting concern of William Barr next.


HAYES:  A Senate conformation hearing for William Barr as the next attorney general has wrapped up.  And for my money, one of the most disturbing revelations about the candidate came up in yesterday`s testimony.  It`s an email that Barr wrote to Peter Baker of The New York Times back in November 2017 when Baker asked him about the right wing fantasy that has peculated up through Trump TV and other places, of investigating defeated presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

Barr wrote, quote, "I have long believed that the predicate for investigating the uranium deal as well as the foundation, meaning the Clinton Foundation, is far stronger than any basis for investigating so-called collusion."

Now, keep in mind Uranium One, the deal he`s referring to, was fully cleared when Clinton was Secretary of State by a methodical inter-agency process. 

Barr`s uranium deal reference comes straight from the far right echo chamber, and calls into question the judgment and reading materials for a man who seems to be on his way to conformation as the next attorney general of the U.S.

I want to bring in Sherrilyn Ifill, president and director counsel of NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund; and MSNBC legal analyst Nick Ackerman, former assistant special Watergate prosecutor.

I just thought that was very revealing, because it said to me what information environment does William Barr immerse himself in?  He immerses himself in the informational environment of the Trump TV and Breitbart that say Uranium One is some big scandal.  This guy is going to be the attorney general.

SHERRILYN IFILL, NAACP:  Yeah, and this is another piece of evidence, Chris, no matter what he says sitting at that table, I think there are four writings that are deeply troubling in terms of William Barr.  One is the piece that he wrote in 1992, the case for more incarceration.  Another is...

HAYES:  Not great.

IFILL:  The memo that he sent last summer to the White House, to Trump essentially, where he seemed to be applying for the job by critiquing the Mueller investigation.  Number three is an op-ed that he co-authored in November 2018 in which he praised Jeff Sessions as on a outstanding attorney  general by any measure.  And now the fourth is this email.

So no matter what he says sitting at that table, we have those four writings, one from some time ago, but that he has not disavowed -- he had an opportunity to disavow it at the hearing, that`s the case for mass incarceration.  He thinks for the time in which he was writing it that somehow it was appropriate.  And then these three other writings.

And we can`t pretend that we don`t know what these are.  And I think that it`s deeply troubling.  This is someone who wants to head up the largest law enforcement agency in the world.

HAYES:  There was kind of a subtext diffusing the hearing yesterday, which is that this is a guy who is more or less in the club and is trusted because he is.  I mean, he was the attorney general before.  He`s not Whitaker.  I think he`s really benefiting, frankly.  I think this is sort of a brilliant move which they`ve accidentally happened into, which is that everyone is so desperate to get Whitaker out of there who has no business being the attorney general that it helps him.

But do you agree with me that was sort of a weird subtext to the hearing?

NICK ACKERMAN, FORMER WATERGATE PROSECUTOR:  Yeah, absolutely.  I mean, he comes in as somebody who had been under George W. Bush.  He comes in with all of the background that one would want.

HAYES:  Right, he`s got the resume.

ACKERMAN:  He certainly got the resume on paper, but once you start digging into it a little bit, I mean, you have to wonder about this guy.  That 30 page memo that he wrote that was a job application, he didn`t even have the right obstruction of justice statute in there.  He didn`t know what the standard was for corrupt intent.  He started talking about the law on obstruction of justice, which was just dead wrong in a couple of places. 

So you really have to wonder -- and he took full credit, by the way, for writing that memo.  He very explicitly said in his first statement I wrote and researched that entire memo.  I mean, if that was brought to me by a second year associate, I would be shocked.

IFILL:  Well, I`ve got to say I also think that it should work against him, actually, that, you know, he was the former attorney general in that period, because he seems not to have grown or learned.  I mean, one of the things that was astonishing about his testimony about mass incarceration was that he would not disavow.  I mean, almost everyone, including those who voted for the 1994 crime bill, recognizes that the collateral consequences of that was not what they anticipated.

HAYES:  There`s just legislation...

IFILL:  We just had legislation -- the First-Step Act, which he said he disagrees with many elements of it, but he would enforce it as the attorney general, which means he still thinks that some of that -- some of those -- you know, the mandatory minimums and so forth that were the result of the policies that he supported is still validate.

And then he said Fentanyl is the new crack.  So, we ought to worry.  We know what we did with crack, right.  We had the crack/powder disparity.  We all of the draconian sentencing and so forth, and you have someone sitting at the table who refuses to disavow that and then tells us Fentanyl is the new crack?

HAYES:  There`s also something he said about the Mueller report that caught some people`s eyes.  I wanted to ask you, Nick, about, which is that he compared it to the prosecutive or declination decisions and the reason caught lot of people`s eyes is that the Mueller report would be very different -- I mean he basically was sort of analogizing it to when the department is not going to bring charges against someone that you don`t have to make a big public showing of it, that`s what Comey did.

But a lot of people heard that and said wait a second, that`s not the terrain we`re talking about.

ACKERMAN:  No, no, absolutely not.  I mean, what was absolutely astonishing was he kept saying, well, I will release whatever I can in accordance with the rules and regulations, but he never explained what those rule and regulations are.

There are rules and regulations.  For example, you cannot have a report that talks about what  somebody said in the grand jury.  You cannot use grand jury testimony in the report.  And he can`t release that, it has to be a federal judge that provides a 6e order to release anything in a report that has grand jury material.

I mean, this whole thing about this report in a way is a bit bogus anyway.  I mean, Mueller has been issuing his report indictment by indictment.  And he`s going to continue to do that.  And you`ve got three cooperating witnesses, Cohen and Flynn and Gates, all of whom are going to be called before congress to testimony.  You`ve got grand jury that could issue a report to the chief judge in the District of Columbia if they so desire. 

HAYES:  So you don`t think that that`s big a deal, because you think it get out public anyway.

ACKERMAN:  It`s all coming out, believe me, it is all coming out.

HAYES:  We will see.  Sherrilyn Ifill and Nick Ackerman, thank you both.

IFILL:  Thank you.

HAYES:  Still to come, Senate Republicans deliver a win to Oleg Daripaska and Vladimir Putin.  Today`s dramatic vote on Russian sanctions ahead.

Plus, the president tries to reinvent the wheel.  That`s tonight`s Thing One, Thing Two next.


HAYES:  Thing One tonight, we crack open the old textbook on the history of civilization, because it`s fun to learn about some of the great achievements in human history.

Here`s one, the invention of the wall.  The first walls were built around cities, the oldest one dates back to around 9000 BCE.  It was called the wall of Jericho, you`ve probably heard about it.  Thousands and thousands of years later, meaning after that, meaning in the future past the wall period, around 3500 BCE, came arguably history`s greatest invention, the wheel.

Now, evidence shows it was another 300 years before wheels were used for transportation, but the wheel, of course, went on to have a myriad of uses from chariots, even to torture devices invented in medieval times -- note that medieval times were, again, thousands and thousands of years later than the wheel or the wall.

Now, everything I`ve just said is only true if you listen to the scientists and the people who studied these things and know what they`re talking about, but you could, instead, listen to Donald Trump.  And that`s Thing Two in 60 seconds.


HAYES:  So we`ve talked before how things get stuck in the president`s brain.  And there`s a new thing that`s stuck in the president`s brain this week: the wheel.  It`s been coming up a lot whenever he talks about the wall.  How it got there?  We do not know, but the wheel might just be this master communicators most effective wall argument yet.


TRUMP:  The wheel is older than the wall.  Do you know that?  And there are some things that work.  You know what, a wheel works and a wall works.

You look at a wheel.  Well I guess they`d say the wheel is old-fashioned, but it`s been around a for long time.

A wheel is older than a wall.

A wheel is an old thing, and a wall is an old thing.

They say it`s medieval, a wall.

They say is medieval, well so is a wheel.

But every car I`ve seen still has wheels.

You know, I`m looking at all these very expensive cars all over here loaded up with machine guns, and every single one of them has wheels.

Well, I looked at all the vans and all the serious equipment that they surrounded me with yesterday, everyone of those had the wheel.

I said do they all have wheels?  Yes.  Oh, I thought it was medieval.

Wheels work and walls work.

The wheel and a wall.

You know, the wheel and the wall.  Wheels and walls. 

And they haven`t found an alternative to either of those two, right?


HAYES:  Almost immediately after joining the Trump campaign in Spring of 2016, Paul Manafort started thinking about how to parlay that role into a better relationship with Oleg Deripaska.

He`s a billionaire Russian oligarch, closely aligned with Vladimir Putin for whom Manafort had previously done some work.  Emailing his lieutenant in Ukraine about the positive press coverage he`d been getting, Manafort asked how do we use to get whole?  Meaning, either to get paid or to pay him.  "Has OVD operation seen?"

Later, after taking over as Trump campaign chairman, Manafort offered to give Deripaska private briefings on the presidential race.  Weird.  All while publicly denying any ties to Russian oligarchs.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  So to be clear, Mr. Trump has no financial relationships with any Russian oligarchs?

PAUL MANAFORT, FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN MANAGER:  That`s what he said.  That`s what I said.  That`s obviously what our position is.


HAYES:  Convincing at the time and even more so now.

Last year when the Trump administration rolled out new sanctions in retaliation for Russian election interference, the long delayed response you might remember to a sanctions bill that was passed overwhelmingly by veto proof majorities in congress, Deripaska and his lucrative firms were at the top of the list.  They were going to be sanctioned.

But then after efforts to restructure the companies, and a multi-million dollar lobbying campaign carried out by none other than a former Trump campaign aide, low and behold the Treasury secretary announced just a few weeks ago he was taking Deripaska`s businesses off the sanctions list.

That decision set off alarm bells on both sides of the aisle, and so over the last couple of  days, a bipartisan group of senators made a push to overrule the Trump administration`s decision.  Despite a personal visit yesterday from the Treasury secretary, 11 Senate Republicans defected from their party, voting to reinstate the sanctions.  And though it wasn`t quite enough, they came up just two GOP votes short of moving the bill forward.

So now, amid new questions about his mysterious allegiance to Vladimir Putin, the president just handed Putin and his buddy Deripaska another win. 



MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  We`re now actually able to  begin to hand off the fight against ISIS in Syria to our coalition partners.  And we are bringing our troops home. 

The caliphate has crumbled and ISIS has been defeated.


HAYES:  ISIS has been defeated.  This morning the vice president declared with that phrase that ISIS had been defeated in Syria, language that`s similar to what the president said a month ago when he announced his decision to withdraw from Syria and proclaim the U.S. had, quote, won against ISIS.

But about two hours before the vice president made his remarks this morning, ISIS claimed  credit for the worst attack on Americans in Syria in the three-plus years that U.S. troops have been there.  Four Americans, including two U.S. service members, killed in an apparent suicide bombing in a city near the Turkish border.

Senator Richard Blumenthal, a Democrat from Connecticut, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, joins me to discuss this.  What do you on the committee know and what do you in congress know about what happened today?

SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL, (D) CONNECTICUT:  What we know for sure, Chris, is that these deaths are tragic and our hearts go out to the families, but we also know that they are tied to a chaotic and confused withdrawal of American troops without any plan or strategy.  They`ve talked about a conditions-based plan.  There are no conditions.  There is no plan.  And the result is that we have emboldened ISIS and we have endangered our own troops.

And my fear is as a member of the Armed Services Committee that we are drawing down those troops in a way that will further create dangers.

HAYES:  But what about the argument that this is precisely the reason the troops should be out?  I mean, ISIS doesn`t need an excuse to try to blow things up or kill people.  They`ve been doing this indiscriminately mostly to Iraqis and Syrians, we should note.  They will continue to do it.  And that the risk of American lives is precisely the reason that American lives should be withdrawn.

BLUMENTHAL:  And the question is not whether to bring our troops home.  Everybody wants our troops out of Syria.  The question is how it`s done.  Process matters.

HAYES:  OK.  Ii agree with that.  I stipulate that.  But I have also heard that about Afghanistan for most of my adult life.

BLUMENTHAL:  And we should be drawing down in Afghanistan in an orderly, planned way, with a timeline.

HAYES:  Do you understand -- back to Syria for a second.  Do you understand what the actual policy is?  Because it`s been massively confusing.  The president announced this out of nowhere, we`re gone.  We`re out.

Then Bolton and Pompeo seemed to unwind it.  Now Pence back saying basically that we`re gone.  Like, what -- do you know -- as the oversight committee in the senate, do you understand what the policy is?

BLUMENTHAL:  I will tell you surprisingly and shockingly not only do I lack an understanding of what this policy is and what the plan and timetable is, but I believe our own military lacks a clear and comprehensive view of what our strategy should be in the region.

And it has to be more than military, it has to be diplomatic as well.  It can`t be the United States alone.  It has to be our allies.  And we have been abandoning our allies, most prominently, the Kurds, a gift to Russia, because the Kurds are driven into the arms of Russia.

So I think our military is gravely unhappy and the best indication of it is the resignation of Jim Mattis.

HAYES:  One thing I think people don`t have a good awareness of is just how much this president has escalated the number of U.S. service members in Syria as part of the ISIS campaign.

In December 2016, it was 278 U.S. service members in Syria.  It`s now somewhere we think around 2,000, although we do not have any clear transparent accounting of them.

Do you have a clear, transparent accounting of how many U.S. service members are in Syria?

BLUMENTHAL:  We have no clear and transparent accounting, but also, we don`t know what the timeline for reducing that accounting is.  And the idea that ISIS, or the caliphate has crumbled, that we have defeated ISIS smacks of a mission accomplished moment, and really is naive at best, possibly delusional, dangerously so.

HAYES:  I want to ask you, since I have you here about the other big vote or the big vote today on the Deripaska sanctions -- close, but no cigar.  Democrats missed by two votes.  Bernie Sanders missed that vote.  He was in a meeting with staffers who were voicing concern about sexual harassment on his campaign, so that was you were down a Democratic vote, although probably weren`t going to get over anyway.

What -- is there an argument on the other side?  Like is this a close call or not?  I can`t tell.

BLUMENTHAL:  Well, you`re asking me as a lawyer and a former prosecutor to make the case for the other side.

HAYES:  Well, I guess I`m saying were you -- was this a tough call for you?

BLUMENTHAL:  None of the arguments on the other side are credible or persuasive.

HAYES:  The arguments are basically, look, he has done what he needed to do to take his fingerprints off of EM+ (ph), which is the sort of the holding company for his concerns.

BLUMENTHAL:  Or we need to reduce the price of aluminum around the world.

HAYES:  That`s another one.

BLUMENTHAL:  Here is the main point, it`s a gift to Russia.  Remember, the reason for these sanctions was to punish Russia.  The penalty on Oleg Deripaska and his companies like Russoil (ph) was because he is an oligarch who is joined at the hip with Vladimir Putin.  Both of them are thugs.

HAYES:  Right.

BLUMEHTHAL:  And he is one of Vladimir Putin`s chief economic henchmen.  So lifting these sanctions is a gift to Russia and it sends exactly the wrong signal.

HAYES:  All right.  Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, thank you for coming by.

BLUMENTHAL:  Thank you.

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