Governor Northam (D-VA) defies calls from Democrats. TRANSCRIPT: 02/04/2019, All In w. Chris Hayes.

Guests: Adam Serwer, Donte Tanner, Chris Christie, Tom Perez, Ayanna Pressley

Show: ALL IN with CHRIS HAYES Date: February 4, 2019 Guest: Adam Serwer, Donte Tanner, Chris Christie, Tom Perez, Ayanna Pressley

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: And that`s HARDBALL for now. "ALL IN" with Chris Hayes starts right now.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: Tonight on ALL IN.

GOV. RALPH NORTHAM (D), VIRGINIA: Ahead of glove and I used this a little bit of shoe polish to put under my or on my cheeks.

HAYES: The racist yearbook scandal continues in Virginia.

SEN. KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND (D), NEW YORK: He should resign.

SEN. CORY BOOKER (D), NEW JERSEY: He should step down.

SEN. SHERROD BROWN (D), OHIO: I think he should resign.

HAYES: Tonight, Ralph Northam uses the Trump playbook to keep his job.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I pledge to be a better man tomorrow and will never ever let you down.

HAYES: And hypocrisy on full display in the party of Steve King, Roy Moore, and Donald Trump.

KELLYANNE CONWAY, ADVISOR TO PRESIDENT TRUMP: You guys always want moral equivalence. You always want moral equivalence on everything.

HAYES: Then, as the White House explains executive time --

TRUMP: That watch absolutely almost all the time.

HAYES: My interview with Chris Christie on the hollowed out executive. And as the Democrats begin their oversight of the President --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you prepared for an attempt to impeach you?

HAYES: DNC Chair Tom Perez on Donald Trump`s State of the Union visits in Nancy Pelosi`s House.

TRUMP: You can`t impeach somebody for doing the best job of any president.

HAYES: When ALL IN starts right now.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAYES: Good evening from New York, I`m Chris Hayes. At this hour, the Democratic governor of Virginia remains defiant. Ralph Northam is refusing to resign despite near unanimous calls from his fellow Democrats to leaves office after the discovery of this racist photo on his 1984 medical school yearbook page.

Now, in his initial statement, Northam, apologized and said he was in fact one of the people in the photo. He didn`t say which one. But then he reversed course on Saturday denying he was in the photo. Northam though did not deny ever wearing blackface. He volunteered that he had put shoe polish on his face in 1984, the seniors a yearbook photo while participating in a dance competition dressed as Michael Jackson.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You danced the moonwalk?

NORTHAM: That`s right.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you still able to moonwalk?

PAM NORTHAM, WIFE OF GOV. RALPH NORTHAM: Inappropriate circumstances.

NORTHAM: My wife says inappropriate circumstances.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAYES: Your wife is right. A source tells NBC News that Northam told his staff today that he needs more time to deliberate about his next steps. He reported that he does not want to leave office as a "racist" for life. Northam took office last January and you have been fairly popular in Virginia until now. His approval rating has plummeted in the wake of the scandal falling from 48 percent to just 29 percent.

But despite his falling poll numbers and widespread calls from fellow Democrats locally and nationally to resign, Northam has taken a page from a Trump GOP playbook electing to set aside any shame and at least for now just try to power through. It`s what Trump famously did in the wake of the Access Hollywood Tape and multiple allegations of sexual misconduct and he`s a president now.

It`s what Roy Moore did when he stayed in his Alabama Senate race despite accusations of having sexually preyed on teenage girls one of whom was just 14 years old. He lost that race but not by much. And it`s what Iowa Congressman Steve King has done over and over and over again amid outrage over his white nationalist views.

Of course, there`s one crucial difference. While Democrats have been near- unanimous in calling from Northland to go, most Republicans did not call for Steve King or Roy Moore, or Donald Trump to step aside.

Over the weekend, Trump took to Twitter to deem Northam`s transgressions "unforgivable" which prompted reporters to ask Kellyanne Conway why Trump had not spoken out against say Steve King?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The President weighed in on Ralph Northam over the weekend, unprompted but I think a lot of people wondered why he didn`t do the same thing when Steve King was in the news about the white supremacy comments.

CONWAY: I mean, you guys always want moral equivalence. You always want more equivalent on everything.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAYES: Joining me now to break down the Northam situation and the response from both parties, Adam Serwer Staff Writer at the Atlantic, Donte Tanner President of Progressive PAC New Virginia Way and MSNBC Legal Analyst Maya Wiley, Senior Vice President for Social Justice at the New School.

Maya, I will start with you. I don`t even understand what Northam is doing but I do think it`s been interesting to watch the clarity of the Democratic Party`s response.

MAYA WILEY, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST: Yes. I`m really saddened by what Northam is doing because I think first of all, it was the most racist offensive photograph we can imagine seeing. The fact that he changed his story was taking a beginning of trying to have a discussion that might have redeemed him, might, if he had been able to articulate the story arc of his life where he went from the person who would put black shoe polish on his face as he talked about in that press clip you showed, to a person who understood how offensive that is and why that is.

And remember, he won his election. He significantly beat Terry McAuliffe`s margin and he beat Hillary Clinton`s, and he did it in large part because three-quarters of people of color came out in droves the vote for him. And yet he could not describe or explain what redemption he experienced. What experiences took him from that to who he says he is today and in fact, he went the opposite direction.

HAYES: What do you say, Adam, what do you think the difference is here and there a lot between say, the Steve King situation where he literally defended the term white supremacist just a few weeks ago in the paper record, on the record in the New York Times and the Northam situation?

ADAM SERWER, STAFF WRITER, THE ATLANTIC: Well, I think that the main difference between those two situations is that in one case you know, King went on for years espousing white nationalist views in the Republican Party did nothing about it until he came close to losing his seat. We`re in this case as Maya pointed out, Northam one-handedly -- and Democrats are still calling for him to leave because they believe that you know, the photo and his response to the photo -- I mean, I agree with Maya, he didn`t illustrate any sort -- he didn`t illustrate that he understood the gravity of what the photo represented for the voters that put him in office.

And I think if there had been some like genuine contrition there as opposed to like the weird thing with the moonwalk and the discussion of the shoe polish, he might be in a better situation than he is right now.

HAYES: What is the view look like from Virginia, Donte? You`re involved in progressive politics on the ground there. What are people saying?

DONTE TANNER, PRESIDENT, NEW WAY: We all feel the same way. We feel betrayed and the trust is no longer there. And I think that`s the reason why most folks are calling for resignation. What I`m also hearing a lot of is what do we do next. How do we move on from here? We have these conversations of race every so often and afterwards the conversation kind of dies out as we still sweep it under the rug or we don`t address the real issue that we want to talk about.

And I think right now we have that opportunity to do so and I`m hearing a lot of that clamor and people contacting their elected officials to see what we can do next. What actions can we take to build upon this story and make it go for a better place from here.

HAYES: I will say this. What he`s doing seems both sort of substantively objectionable and also irrational politically except for this part. Steve King is still a member of the Congress, Roy Moore stuck in that race and he got Donald Trump to actually come down and endorse him and lost but lost by a very little amount. He might be a U.S. senator today.

WILEY: And lost thanks to black women.

HAYES: He lost thanks to black women. The President is the President of the United States despite the fact Reince Priebus cuddling after the Access Hollywood Tape and according to report saying get out of the race. And the thing I think about is the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia which murdered someone and knocked him to death and lied about it is Mohammad Salman`s back (INAUDIBLE) and like there is a way in which if you just bully through, if you`re shameless enough, you can be rewarded in a sort of strictly descriptive political sense.

WILEY: I think the difference here, I think that`s unfortunately been true. I think the difference here is your core constituency --

HAYES: That`s exactly right.

WILEY: -- once you`re gone. The core --

HAYES: That`s why you can`t in this case.

WILEY: -- constituency for Steve King says, oh white supremacy, we`re cool. The core constituency here, White, Black, Latina, this is a multiracial group of constituents who are calling for him to step aside because he has violated the trust. And remember, I mean and I think what`s so disturbing about this, he could be driving -- if his leadership skills were what they should be, he should be driving an extremely important productive conversation about the rise of racism, the rise of segregation, the fact that hate crimes have increased 17 percent for black people in this country, the fact that in Virginia there is still an ongoing debate about symbols of the Confederacy and what does it mean to actually be an inclusive society.

HAYES: And that -- that`s the point, Adam, where I`m reminded of the Al Franken situation because what I think we`re watching in real time is the Democratic Party really try to start acting and a broad macro level like the multiracial party of gender and racial equality that I think for a long time the spouse to be, but for the first time I think because of its composition now he`s starting to act like it.

SERWER: Well, look, Northam was elected in part -- and ran in part on a repudiation of the overt expressions of bigotry by the President and of policies that he criticized as discriminatory. And I think if Northam wants to reinforce -- make sure that that social taboo against overt expressions of bigotry remain strong to the extent that it`s been weakened by the president, I think he has to set an example.

HAYES: Let me ask you this, Donte. Justin Fairfax who is the African- American Lieutenant Governor sort of a remarkable story, young, he had a famous photo of him sitting out the tribute to Robert E. Lee on the -- in the state assembly very recently. He now has been accused in a sort of strange way that`s essentially been kind of laundered through a right-wing outlet of sexual assault by a woman. It`s a real accusation. The Washington Post looked into it. They could find no corroboration one way or the other and he has strongly denied it but now there`s a very big question over what happens there. What do you make of that?

TANNER: Honestly I don`t think there`s still a question of race. That`s what we`re talking about here. The allegations that were brought up against Justin Fairfax, they`ll go to due course and whatever happens, we will support that decision. We will support the outcome. However, this whole conversation started off with our governor. It didn`t start off with Justin Fairfax. It didn`t start off with that uncorroborated story and I don`t want people to get off message here when they start thinking about what`s next. Oh look, we have another problem to worry about here with Justin. No, that`s not that`s not the messaging we wouldn`t have.

HAYES: Oh, I see, because you don`t want people to think, oh well, maybe we should just hang in there with Northam. Is that your point that like --

TANNER: That`s --

HAYES: Yes. The judgment has to be rendered one way or the other on Northam and dealt with whatever happens next is what you`re saying.

TANNER: Absolutely. Because the governorship represent somebody who represents all of Virginians, and if we don`t have that trust there, we need to ask that question, we need to have that conversation. And when you talk about race in Virginia, these are other issues that again they`re very serious and they need to be dealt with properly. But right now we`re talking about the governorship and the conversation of race here in Virginia and let`s not forget that.

HAYES: Final thing I think about is just what it says. I keep thinking about being a black medical student in that med school where that image is there and apparently aroused nothing, no controversy, no nothing, or black patients of the doctors who are training there. Like when you zoom out and think about the life world that this emerged from, it`s pretty haunting.

WILEY: The infant mortality, the rate of black women who died in giving birth or from pregnancy-related complications has increased over 200 percent in this country and it`s not a story of class, that is across class. It`s not about having resources for medical care, it`s because we have bias in the medical --

HAYES: Imbedded in the system.

WILEY: And I think this goes back to the 2013. That matter -- that`s saying his medical school had to shut down their yearbook --

HAYES: Had to get rid of it.

WILEY: Had to get rid of it.

HAYES: Got rid of your book.

WILEY: So this was an ongoing --

HAYES: Because why, because we`re wearing confederate garment --

WILEY: Exactly.

HAYES: Adams Serwer, Donte Tanner, and Maya Wylie, thank you all for being with me tonight. Coming up, breaking news from the Wall Street Journal. Donald Trump`s inaugural committee has just been served with subpoenas. Former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie on that development and much more in two minutes.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HAYES: Breaking news in just the last hour. The Wall Street Journal reporting that federal prosecutors from the Southern District of New York have issued a subpoena to President Trump`s inaugural committee. They are requesting documents related to the committee`s donors and spending. New York Times has since confirmed that report.

Joining me now, a man who knows a thing or two about the federal prosecution Chris Christie, former New Jersey governor and former U.S. Attorney. His new book is called Let Me Finish: Trump, the Kushner`s, the Bannon, New Jersey, and the Power of In-Your-Face Politics. Good to have you here.

CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), FORMER GOVERNOR, NEW JERSEY: Great to be back, Chris.

HAYES: Let`s start with this news because I saw you saying that to your mind, the bigger threat, the more worrying thing legally for the President than Mueller was the Southern District of New York`s inquiry. These subpoenas are coming from the Southern District of New York to the inaugural committee. What do you think of that?

CHRISTIE: I`ve always thought that was the bigger problem for two reasons. One because the Southern District of New York has no restrictions on their purview. All right, Bob Mueller has a task, it`s Russian interference and potential collision in the 2016 election. Southern District of New York is whatever the heck you want. And so --

HAYES: Particular the to find stuff.

CHRISTIE: That`s right. And you`ve got Michael Cohen, the President`s former lawyer as a tour guide, that means you could go anywhere, right. And so I`ve always thought that was the much more problematic thing in that. Listen, I know why there`s a focus on a Mueller and it`s appropriate but people should not take their eye off the ball.

HAYES: Well, two follow-ups on that. One is you know, you write about the book and one of the things you talk about is that you were the -- you were the transition chief before they won and then you were fired from the job.

CHRISTIE: Yes. Yes. Ceremoniously so.

HAYES: Hit the bricks. Done.

CHRISTIE: Booted.

HAYES: (INAUDIBLE)

CHRISTIE: Yes. It blew me. It was -- read the book. It was very unceremonious. Yes.

HAYES: And my sense is that that was a real Wild West operation after that. And when you -- when you think about you know, Rick Gates -- am I right that Rick Gates was kind of running the day-to-day at that point?

CHRISTIE: Rick Gates was running Inaugural.

HAYES: Inaugural, right.

CHRISTIE: Rick Gates was running the inaugural and Rick Dearborn was running the day-to-day of the transition. I mean, you couldn`t have found two worse people. I mean, seriously. If you would advertise, give me the worst people to run this, you couldn`t have found two words people. Gates is now a criminal and cooperating with the federal government and Rick Dearborn was so over his head in that job that he didn`t know which end was up.

HAYES: But isn`t that -- haven`t you just described the first two years of Trump administration?

CHRISTIE: Yes. And that`s -- and that`s --

HAYES: But isn`t that worrying?

CHRISTIE: Well, of course, it is and that`s the thesis of the book. The thesis of the book is there was a way for this to go better. It doesn`t mean that everything has gone wrong because everything hasn`t gone wrong and I`m definitely not one of those people --

HAYES: We`re still live.

CHRISTIE: I know. But you know, Chris, I don`t subscribe to the oh my God, this is the -- how many times have we said either I`ve watched you say this on this program or other programs on other networks and they say this is the inflection point. This is what the whole thing falls apart. I don`t have that fingers and toast to tell how many times this was said.

HAYES: That`s right.

CHRISTIE: So don`t subscribe to that. But I do say this that the first six months to a year of this administration was just so disorganized, so back-of-the-envelope, and I think 75 percent of that is due to the fact that they had a plan and they threw the plan out.

HAYES: But I want to -- I want to push back on that a little bit because I think -- I think that`s the thesis right? And in some ways it sort of -- it sort of threads a needle because it`s critical but at some levels, it`s exculpatory because it`s not an existential rendering of judgment on the fitness of the man at the top. The other argument is that the guy is manifestly unfit. He`s surrounded by cronies and criminals -- and that`s not a overstatement, like literally surrounded himself with criminials.

CHRISTIE: Right.

HAYES: And so, of course, the people that are running the government are bad and do a bad job. That seems like the Occam`s razor suggestion.

CHRISTIE: No, listen. I -- and I understand that`s the argument. I`ve heard that.

HAYES: I`m just saying that that`s out there.

CHRISTIE: Particularly on this network, I`ve heard that. But here`s --

HAYES: But it`s -- but it`s a straightforward argument. It`s not like a crazy one.

CHRISTIE: No. But what my point here would be that if you -- I subscribed on management to the garbage in garbage out theory. And -- but if you present people with quality on the way to pick from --

HAYES: But he loves garbage. He`s a garbage lover.

CHRISTIE: No. Let me an example. Let me give you an example of where that`s not right. So our top recommendation in the transition team that worked from May to November with 140 people putting together a plan for HHS was Alex Azar. Once the president was presented with Alex Azar, he took him, he picked him. He wasn`t presented with in the first time because they threw it out and they presented him with Tom Price who was manifestly unfit to run that -- run that department.

HAYES: OK, but counterpoint. Did you see this thing about the intelligence -- the intelligence community trying to get him to listen about North Korea or about anything, right? Intelligence person after intelligence person is saying you cannot convince him otherwise. They had -- they built like a scale model of the North Korea. See this is -- they build a scale model of North Korean nuclear facility. They put in a Statue of Liberty to show for scale to be like they shut down this one part but they didn`t shut down these other parts and he just refuses to accept it. Like that to me is -- that goes to the core essence of the man and his fitness.

CHRISTIE: Well, and let me explain to you where I think that comes from, OK. This is a guy whose whole life has been a salesman and the power of his brand, the success of his brand has been his ability to sell what he`s selling at that time. Let me finish, as the book says. So here`s the thing --

HAYES: I`m just -- my mouth is --

CHRISTIE: No, wait a second. He believes whether it`s Kim Jong-un or Vladimir Putin or Xi from China, that if he gets in the room, that he`s going to be able to convince them to do what they`re not doing so far.

HAYES: That`s right.

CHRISTIE: Give him another meeting -- that`s why he wants the second meeting with Kim Jong-un.

HAYES: Yes, but again, that is a descriptively accurate characterization of the man in his -- the way he thinks.

CHRISTIE: Right.

HAYES: He`s wrong and it`s dangerous that he`s wrong.

CHRISTIE: Well, but here my thing about North Korea though.

HAYES: Why can`t you just say that.

CHRISTIE: But wait a second. Because we have --

HAYES: They are huge stakes.

CHRISTIE: Wait a second. We`ve had previous presidents who have tried it the other way and it failed, manifestly failed. North Korea was not a nuclear power and we have played games going back to Clinton --

HAYES: Bolton and Bush ripped off --

CHRISTIE: Back to the Clinton administration, the Bush 43 administration, and the Obama administration that have allowed North Korea through the efforts that they made to continue to progress to where they are now. So why not try something different here, Chris.

HAYES: But no, but that`s -- but it`s the garbage in garbage out problem, right? I want to talk about the process of the way the guy makes decisions and the information he gets and it just seems to me based on all the reporting I see, right, people that have come out afterwards, that those are bad. The information he gets and the processes are bad. And if those are bad, that`s trouble.

CHRISTIE: Not all the information he gets is bad. Now some of it is --

HAYES: He sits and watch Fox News --

CHRISTIE: Wait a second. Wait a second. Somebody accepts and somebody rejects but I could tell you for instance, I`ll give you another example when he accepted good advice, OK. When he fired -- when he fired Jim Comey, he called me to ask me what would you do with the FBI Director`s job and I said, I think you should hire Chris Wray. And he said to me, who`s Chris Wray, and I said don`t know him but he is one of the best people out of the Bush 43 administration. Just meet him, meet him and I think you`ll be convinced he`s a good guy.

He met with Chris, he called me three days later and said, you`re right, he`s a great guy. I`m hiring him.

HAYES: But isn`t that just a stopcock situation, like you happen to be in a social circle and you happen to have a good person. Like he calls and talks to you on the phone and obviously you think your judgment is good which fine.

CHRISTIE: All right, I think you too, Chris, come on, admit it. Come on, come on.

HAYES: It`s not the topic of this interview.

CHRISTIE: Come on, you won`t get fired, I promise. I`ll talk to Phil. You won`t get fired.

HAYES: I`ll be honest. Your judgment is better than the President`s, I think.

CHRISTIE: Well, god bless you. Thank you very much.

HAYES: Yes, although it`s a low bar. I mean, that`s part of the problem.

CHRISTIE: Listen, I`m with you. I`ll take it.

HAYES: Here`s my theory. You know, they had -- the schedule got leaked today.

CHRISTIE: Yes, awful.

HAYES: Which is -- which is --

CHRISTIE: It`s awful.

HAYES: It`s a real betrayal.

CHRISTIE: It`s a total betrayal and it`s a problem. It`s indicating what the problem is inside that building.

HAYES: I totally agree with that.

CHRISTIE: Totally.

HAYES: Here`s my here`s my theory on this.

CHRISTIE: All right.

HAYES: You know, the old joke about you know, the restaurant has bad food and the portions are so small. My theory is -- my feeling, personally, and I think Mitch McConnell if you give him truth serum give them executive time ten hours a day. Don`t let him do anything. Have him watch Fox News. Like, I think Kelly and McConnell, and everyone that runs the institutional Republican Party would love it if the guy just sat and watched cable news and did not lift a finger because they think he`s incompetent.

CHRISTIE: Well, I think that`s an overstatement.

HAYES: It`s not that far from the truth.

CHRISTIE: I think it`s an overstatement. And what I would --

HAYES: That`s not far from the truth.

CHRISTIE: And what I would tell you is this that he has been able to accomplish things that the Republican Party --

HAYES: There are things.

CHRISTIE: Well, of course.

HAYES: Not these things.

CHRISTIE: But guess what, they weren`t able to get it done before.

HAYES: But, no -- well, because they have unified governments.

CHRISTIE: Well, but they saw -- and still in the Senate --

HAYES: But here`s -- but here`s (INAUDIBLE). What McConnell is -- what have they done, they`ve done judges. They tried to repeal ObamaCare and it didn`t work, they did the tax cut. Those are McConnell`s things. That`s what McConnell wants to do.

What have they not gotten? They haven`t gotten the $5 million for the wall despite unified -- $5 billion for the wall despite unified governments, and what they do is they roll him. You and I both know this. Before they say Mr. President, this is your idea and you`re doing great. And when he wants to do one of his things, they`re like yes, we`ll get to it.

CHRISTIE: But -- well, I think this is -- it`s a little more complex.

HAYES: Is that true?

CHRISTIE: It`s a little more complex than that because unified government doesn`t mean you get anything through the Senate. As you know, you need 60 votes. So back in the first -- back in the first --

HAYES: (INAUDIBLE)

CHRISTIE: No, I don`t agree with that. You ought to get nine Democrats, eight and then nine after the Alabama debacle, to be able to --

HAYES: Which again, who`s fault is that?

CHRISTIE: Well, you know who`s fault is that. You know, in part, in part it`s Jeff Sessions fault but we can get to that another time if you want. But you know, you got to get eight or nine Democratic votes for a wall, it`s very hard to do. And what I would suggest to you is that the President -- one of the places where he`s made his mistakes, and I put this in the book is not in anywhere around to him who has -- that he`s relying on.

There`s a real understanding of the way the legislative process works. When I was a Republican governor for eight years in a democratic legislature, here`s what I understood. Everybody had to win.

HAYES: Right.

CHRISTIE: And this is where the Democrats are at risk right now as we go it`s this last week before the next Armageddon, right, is the first time he owned it, stupidly. He said I`ll take the heat. I`m proud to do it. Great Schumer and Pelosi were sitting there going -- good, we`ll do nothing and you`ll get all the blame.

It`s not going to be the same way this time because now he`s compromised to reopen the government, doing exactly what they were -- he`s doing what they asked him to do was reopen the government without preconditions. He did it. Now, if I were the Democrats, I`d say to myself, listen, let`s give him something.

HAYES: They`re trying to do in the conference committee. But the point is that he`s going to rip it up --

CHRISTIE: No, they`re not trying to give him anything on the wall. Pelosi has said over and over again no money on the wall. We`ll, listen, give him something on the wall so he gives you something more permanent on something you want. You know how to get this deal done and I know how to get this deal done. But if the Democrats --

HAYES: He ripped up the first version. The thing you`re talking about, they had it worked out. It drives me insane. They had the wall for DACA deal, what did he do?

CHRISTIE: But that`s -- but that`s when --

HAYES: What did he do with the wall for DACA deal?

CHRISTIE: He made a mistake.

HAYES: He ripped it up.

CHRISTIE: He made a mistake.

HAYES: But that`s the thing. He`s the President of the United States.

CHRISTIE: I understand. But we`re still in the situation where you`re facing one of two options right, either closing the government again which should be unacceptable to everybody or option number two where he`s going to try to take executive emergency action which is going to land us in the courts and that should be unacceptable to people too.

HAYES: Let me ask you this. I think that the executive emergency act is interesting to me because it seems like a kind of breaking point. I mean, you`ve now got Cornyn on the record and off the record right, behind closed doors and on the record saying do not do it. Mitch McConnell on the record and behind closed doors. Why is that a kind of -- why is that a Rubicon for the Republicans in the Senate that have not broken with him on anything quite like that?

CHRISTIE: Because they`re protecting congressional authority. They`re saying themselves we are not going to give in to more executive power and less legislature power --

HAYES: To appropriate which is the thing that we have.

CHRISTIE: It`s the constant tension between legislative and executive branch. If I had a nickel for every time the Senate President in New Jersey said to me were co-equal branch of government, I`d be a rich guy, OK. So that`s the constant tension and that`s why they won`t do it. But the Democrats are going to back him into a corner if they`re given nothing to have to do this and try it because otherwise it`ll be complete capitulation. And politically, if you burn your opponent to the ground, what happens next, right?

HAYES: I mean, are you -- do you endorse them for reelection?

CHRISTIE: Right now, yes.

HAYES: Yes. You will endorse him against any primary challenger.

CHRISTIE: I don`t think there`s going to be any primary challenger.

HAYES: But would you endorse him against any primary challenger?

CHRISTIE: Against any that I know of, yes.

HAYES: Yes. You would.

CHRISTIE: I would. Because listen, I`m a realist in the same way that I endorsed him the first time. Remember I wrote in the book, Chris, that the reason I endorsed him the first time was twofold. Yes, I`ve been friends with him at that time for 15 years and I knew him very well, better than I knew any other guys on the stage. But secondly because it was clear to me who`s going to win. And my view was I got to try to make it better.

HAYES: Right.

CHRISTIE: I have a relationship with him, I`ve got to try to make him better. And listen, there were moments that I did.

HAYES: I don`t know how good a job you`re doing, but --

CHRISTIE: Wait a second. If you read the book --

HAYES: You`ve got Christopher Wray at the FBI. It seems like --

CHRISTIE: Well, how about that. And when you read the book, how did Judge Curiel mess ends? How did the (INAUDIBLE) mess end?

HAYES: Well, you should primary though.

CHRISTIE: Yes, you know, just when I need political advice from you. Thank you very much.

HAYES: Governor Chris Christie leaving the door open to a primary challenge.

CHRISTIE: Oh yes, and Chris Hayes leaving the door open to managing my primary campaign. This will be quite the combination.

HAYES: Come back any time. Thank you.

CHRISTIE: Absolutely. Thanks, Chris.

HAYES: Thank you. Coming up, the President`s first State of the Union with the Democratic House. DNC Chair Tom Perez on how Democrats will respond after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HAYES: Tomorrow night, the president will deliver his second State of the Union, his third address to a joint session of congress at a time when his power to persuade or even shape public debate is weaker than it has ever been.

We just went through a similar exercise about a month ago when the president demanded network TV time to address the nation from the Oval Office about why he was keeping the government shut down until he got his border wall, and the next day basically no one could remember a word of the speech.

And if anything, it seems to have convinced more people to oppose his case. Over the course of the shutdown, more Americans came to blame the president for making it happen, according to FiveThirtyEight. Just a couple of weeks after that big Oval Office speech, and after agreeing to delay his State of the Union speech, he was out in the Rose Garden admitting defeat.

When the president takes the dais tomorrow night, he`ll be doing in a very different House chamber, one now controlled by Democrats, including the most diverse freshman class in this country`s history. And for the first time, he`ll have House Speaker Nancy Pelosi sitting right behind him, his latest political target.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: Basically she wants open borders, she doesn`t mind human trafficking. When you have people dying all over the country because of people like Nancy Pelosi who don`t want to give proper border security for political reasons, she`s doing a terrible disservice to our country.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAYES: And yet the White House insists all evidence to the contrary the president just wants his speech to bring the country together.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KELLYANNE CONWAY, WHITE HOUSE ADVISER: Most importantly, in this State of the Union, the president is calling for an end to sort of resistance and retribution politics and calling for cooperation and compromise. He really wants to unify the nation as its commander-in-chief and its president.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAYES: For more on what to watch for and how Democrats will respond, I`m joined by Tom Perez, chair of the Democratic National Committee. Do those words mean anything to you at all? Is the president`s -- are the president`s words in a general sense worth anything to you or to the Democratic Party at this point?

TOM PEREZ, DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: Well, Chris, when I hear him talk about I`m going to deliver a speech about unity, if you think he`s going to deliver a speech about unity, I have a tower to sell you Moscow, because his entire presidency -- his entire campaign, the last 10 years going back to the allegations against the president`s place of birth have been about distraction, deception, and division. And that is what his presidency is about and continues to e about.

Democrats, on the other hand, are going to be talking about the things that matter most to people. We`re going to be talking about how we make sure that if you have a pre-existing condition, you can keep your health care and you can keep your health insurance. We`re going to talk about how to bring down the exorbitant cost of prescription drugs, the number of people on insulin that I talk to who can`t afford it any more. We`re going to be talking about how we build an economy that works for everyone, not just a few at the top, and we`re going to be talking about democracy reform.

HAYES: Right. But none of those things -- I mean, the question here, right, is all of those things, which are messages of the Democratic Party, none of them can become legislation or law unless there is some deal worked out with the president. And I guess the question is, has the Democratic Party given up on working with this individual based on everything that you just said in your opening answer?

PEREZ: Well, I haven`t given up. And I`m confident that the Democratic leadership hasn`t given up either. And I used to work for Senator Kennedy back in the `90s, and I learned from Senator Kennedy that idealism and pragmatism can never be mutually exclusive. We did a lot of bills with some strange bedfellows, combinations We are going to continue to try because we have got to help the American people, and that is why the focus on health care is so critically important, because we`ve seen so many people who thought that this was settled, that if they had a pre-existing condition they could keep their health care.

And I heard some Republicans, including people like Scott Walker, the former governor of Wisconsin, say, actually, I really want to keep pre-existing conditions. So we`re going to continue to work on issues that at least historically have been bipartisan issues. And we`re going to keep working like heck, because that is what the American people want, they want progress. And we`re going to fight for progress, but progress that works for everyone, not just a few at the top.

HAYES: Are you -- you know, Stacey Abrams, who is from Georgia and ran an incredible race just lost to Brian Kemp in that race down Georgia, she has been selected I think by Chuck Schumer, because the Senate and the House alternate about the response. What is the -- do you have any insight into how the messaging or crafting goes about in creating that message? Is it just Abrams` team? Is she working with you? Is she working with other people? Like how does that work?

PEREZ: Oh, I think there is a lot of people involved in that. And I think what you`re going to see from Stacey Abrams is a -- a message of hope and inclusion, you know, the antithesis of the message of division and fear.

Stacey Abrams` life has been really the American dream, someone who has worked and worked and worked and built a remarkable record of inclusion and opportunity for everyone.

And that is what she`s going to talk about. What does America look like when we`re all working together? It looks like an America in which we can, again, all have access to health care. I`ll get a job that pays a decent wage, that enables you to feed your family, that is what Stacey Abrams is going to talk about tomorrow.

And she`s going to talk about making sure that zip code never determines destiny. She`s going to talk about how, you know, it doesn`t matter where you were born, who you love, what your first language is, this America in every zip code can be everybody`s America, and that is what I love about Stacey, that`s what I loved about her campaign.

HAYES: There is obviously the Democratic Party in the person of Stacey Abrams and the freshman class has been quite forthright about embarrassing a vision of a pluralistic society. You are on the record calling for the governor of Virginia, Ralph Northam, to resign after the appearance of that photo in the yearbook. He appears not to be doing that.

Do you stand by that? Are you also -- are people being read into what his decision-making is or is he just doing this huddled with his own team?

PEREZ: Well, I hope -- I hope and I actually expect that he will step down.

HAYES: You do?

PEREZ: He`s lost the confidence of the residents of Virginia. Abraham Lincoln once said public sentiment is everything. When public sentiment is on your side, everything is possible. And when public sentiment is against you, nothing is possible. And this is not a tenable situation for him.

And you know what, this is hard. This isn`t easy. But you know what, one thing about the Democratic Party, we stand for the principles of inclusion. We will stand up, whether it is a Republican or a Democrat involved, when you have been involved in conduct that is inconsistent with our values, we will call you out. And that is what we have done here. And that is why I do still believe -- and I spoke with Governor Northam over the weekend -- I still believe that he will in short order understand that he has lost the ability to govern.

I know he cares about Medicaid expansion. I know he cares about making sure that we can attack the key issues that are all about opportunity for everyone and he needs to put the Commonwealth over himself. And I`m hopeful he`ll do that.

HAYES: All right, Tom Perez, chair of the DNC who I imagine will be at the speech we`re watching it. Thanks for joining me.

Still to come, the president loses more bargaining capital ahead of another shutdown fight. I`ll talk with Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley about that.

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

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HAYES: Thing One tonight, "Mr. Executive Time" has a busy week ahead. On Friday, the president will be getting his annual physical. You may remember last year`s was an overwhelming success. Trump totally nailed the cognitive test.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: Let me tell you, those last 10 questions are hard. They don`t show those 10 questions. They show the first one where you had to say, elephant, lion, giraffe, owl. That`s easy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAYES: The president also somehow grew an inch, measuring 6`3" last year, even though his driver`s license lists him as 6`2". It turns out that was an important inch, because at the weight they claim he is, 239 pounds, being 6`3" instead of 6`2" gets him on this side of being officially obese.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REAR ADM. RONNY JACKSON, WHITE HOUSE PHYSICIAN: It is called genetics. I don`t know. It is -- some people have just great genes. You know, I told the president if he had a healthier diet over the last 20 years he might live to be 200 years old. I don`t know.

I mean, he has incredible -- he has incredible genes I just assume.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAYES: Dr. Ronnie isn`t in his position anymore, but Trump still got those genes, and those genes are orange. And that is Thing Two in 60 seconds.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HAYES: So Donald Trump has a decidedly orange hue. I think that is pretty much an established fact. And over the weekend, The New York Times took a real deep dive into why that is. Both Omarosa and makeup artist Jason Kelly claimed Trump uses a tanning bed, which, you know, no shame. James Comey famously cited the bright white half moons under his eyes where I assumed he placed small tanning goggles.

According to Trump`s former boarding school classmates, he would pop a tanning bulb into a light socket to go to the beach. One top Washington dermatologist told The Times she believes Trump slathers himself with tanning creams or sprays to achieve his look.

Now, Times got one senior administration official to comment on the condition of anonymity who says Mr. Trump`s glow is the result of, quote, good genes.

Ah, yes, anonymous administration officials talking about Trump`s good genes.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TRUMP: If you believe in genes, some do, some don`t, but I had an uncle who was a professor at MIT for decades, a brilliant guy, Dr John Trump.

I always say my uncle, my uncle -- you know, because I do believe in the race horse theory, right, you know, slow horses don`t produce fast horses, right.

My uncle was a professor at MIT, one -- just a highly, highly respected intellect. I mean, I come from a very smart family.

Good genes. Very good genes, OK.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Bang on those windows if you are cold in them cells.

(BANGING)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Bang on those windows if you are hungry in those cells.

(BANGING)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAYES: This Sunday, protesters assembled outside of the Metropolitan Detention Center, a federal jail in Brooklyn where inmates had been without heat and electricity for at least a week. Lock-down inside freezing, darkened cells, as the polar vortex hit New York.

Today, lawyers filed suit on the inmates behalf and reports are that power and heat have been restored. But keep in mind it took days and banging protests from those inside before the federal government got its act together. And keep in mind, according to The Wall Street Journal, the facility houses more than 1,600 inmates, including many awaiting trial, meaning they are innocent until proven guilty, meaning they`ve been subjected to conditions that would be illegal in war, because they have been accused, accused and not yet convicted of a crime.

And keep that in mind, as well, when the president and his allies whine about innocent until proven guilty and the witch hunt that his criminal associates succumbed to and the terrible, terrible treatment of Roger Stone.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROGER STONE, FORMER TRUMP AIDE: To storm my house with greater force than used to take down bin Laden or El Chapo or Pablo Escobar, to terrorize my wife and dogs, is unconscionable.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAYES: That`s not true, by the way.

But Stone had enough money to post bail, so he`s out giving press conferences and running ridiculous fundraisers and getting standing ovations at Republican events rather than, I don`t know, languishing in some federal facility that views the people inside it with such dehumanizing contempt that it doesn`t provide them with heat and hot food in the coldest stretch of winter.

The plight of the of the accused in this country is very, very real, but the president and his cronies are not the faces of them.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HAYES: As the president prepares to address the nation tomorrow night, he is still desperately trying to escape from the corner he has painted himself into over his broken promise to get Mexico to pay for wall. Having shut down the government and tailed, he`s been increasingly vocal about declaring a national emergency to unilaterally appropriate the funds, but quietly it appears Mitch McConnell has nailed that escape hatch shut.

The Washington Post reports McConnell cautioned President Trump privately this week about the consequences to declaring a national emergency to build his border wall, telling him the move could trigger political blowback and divide the GOP, according to two Republicans with knowledge of the exchange.

What the president`s conundrum highlights is just how weak a president he is at this moment, and how poor his negotiating position is, the heads towards another possible shutdown having failed to make good on his preposterous promise.

It`s a weakness that is going to be front of mind for the members of congress sitting in that hall. One of them joins me now, Democratic Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts.

Congresswoman, this is s-- you are a freshman, this is your first time doing this. What are your expectations?

REP. AYANNA PRESSLEY, (D) MASSACHUSETTS: Well, my hopes and my expectations are vastly different. It is my hope that finally the occupant of this White House will own and sit in the responsibility, the responsibility of his office and offer a vision, demonstrate empathy, put this country on a pathway to healing.

He is seeded divisive rhetoric and policies which have polarized our country. You just referenced the meeting with Mitch McConnell. He is on a swift pathway, due to a lack of empathy and strategy, to not only dividing this country, but dividing the GOP.

I hope that Mitch McConnell will demonstrate greater leadership than he did in the midst of this manufactured, I underscore, manufactured crisis that the American family and worker were held hostage by for for one month, and are still digging out of that emotionally and financially recovering, but that Mitch McConnell will demonstrate greater leadership and put country before party.

I`m concerned that the president will not honor the responsibility of his office and instead, he will contribute to what is already a deepening polarization in this country and put us on path to another shutdown holding the American people and worker hostage as he seeks political cover for his campaign promise.

HAYES: Earlier tonight, Governor Chris Christie was on, and basically was saying that Democrats have to throw him a bone, essentially, that you got to give him some face saving way out of this situation, which he himself put himself in. What do you think about that advice?

PRESSLEY: Well, therein lies the problem. As Democrats, we are prepared to compromise, to negotiate, but not to compromise our values. Throwing the occupant of this White House a bone when he has already used the American people as bargaining chips, treated the American worker, family, immigrant as if they are expendable and disposable and therein lies the problem.

I know at one point in this State of the Union, he will say the state of our union is strong And that is just a falsehood. If the state of our union is strong, it is because as people are strong, and that is because they are resilient in spite of this administration, not because of it.

The real state of the union will be the stories that we will uplift, and the people that we have, such as Estephanie (ph), from my district, the Massachusetts Seventh, that we`re bringing as our guest to the state of the union, Estephanie (ph) is a student at UMass Boston, a graduate of Boston Public Schools, she is a Dreamer. Her father is an asylum seeker, and her mother is a TPS holder.

We need comprehensive, compassionate immigration reform.

HAYES: One problem to me for -- with this president and speeches like this is even if he gave a speech tomorrow night that shocked everyone and sounded like something Ayanna Pressley herself could have written and delivered, that it`s very hard to know what to make of what the president says, particularly when he`s giving a speech off a teleprompter. Like, do you have -- do you feel confident that you can trust stuff he says in a speech like this?

PRESSLEY: Well, I`m an optimistic person. However, what I would be looking for is more than a one-off, one time good performance and execution of teleprompter reading. But you know that beyond the State of the Union that the occupant of this White House would put into practice real leadership and governance, and that`s putting the American people first.

He ran on a pledge to put America first, and so far as I`ve seen in evidence of that.

HAYES: Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley, it`s a big night for you tomorrow night. You will be there for the first time.

Are you excited?

PRESSLEY: Yes, absolutely. I`m excited.

HAYES: All right. Thank you very much for making a little time tonight.

PRESSLEY: All right, thank you for having me.

HAYES: That is ALL IN for this evening. "THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW" starts right now with Ali Velshi who is in for Rachel.

Good evening, Ali.

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END