Dramatic evidence of republican election fraud. TRANSCRIPT: 02/18/2019, All In w. Chris Hayes.

Guests: Ted Lieu, Natasha Bertrand, Pat Rynard, Caitlyn Byrd, Nanette Barragan

Show: ALL IN with CHRIS HAYES Date: February 18, 2019 Guest: Ted Lieu, Natasha Bertrand, Pat Rynard, Caitlyn Byrd, Nanette Barragan

STEVE KORNACKI, NBC NEWS NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: That is a tough decision for anybody. It`s no wonder Joe Biden is taking his time here. And that`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us. "ALL IN" with Chris Hayes starts right now.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: Tonight on ALL IN.

ANDREW MCCABE, FORMER ACTING DIRECTOR, FBI: Intelligence officials in the briefing responded that that was not consistent with any of the intelligence our government possesses to which the president replied I don`t care, I believe Putin.

HAYES: The man who launched the investigations into Donald Trump speaks out for the first time.

MCCABE: A crime may have been committed. The President may have been engaged in obstruction of justice.

HAYES: Tonight, what we`re learning from Andrew McCabe and how the FBI viewed Donald Trump as a national security threat.

MCCABE: The Deputy Attorney General offered to wear a wire into the White House.

HAYES: Then nationwide protests as Democrats in Congress begin the process to undo President`s emergency declaration. Plus, as 2020 candidates hit the primary states --

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D), MASSACHUSETTS: Let`s start by changing the rules in Washington.

HAYES: A look at what`s working on the ground.

SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D), CALIFORNIA: American values are under attack and it is time to change course.

HAYES: And today`s stunning hearing on North Carolina`s election fraud.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We believe the evidence that we will provide today will show that a coordinated, unlawful, and substantially resource absentee ballot scheme operated in the 2018 general election.

HAYES: When ALL IN starts right now.

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HAYES: Good evening from Los Angeles, I`m Chris Hayes. The man who first opened investigations of the President which would later become the Mueller probe is now speaking out for the first time revealing just how alarmed senior Justice Department officials have been by the President`s disturbing and potentially criminal conduct.

Former Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe, the President`s abrupt firing of James Comey in May 2017 after having pressured him over the Russia probe set off a week-long crisis inside the Justice Department. McCabe telling 60 Minutes senior officials were so concerned about the President`s basic fitness for office that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, a longtime Republican personally appointed by Trump raised the possibility of trying to remove the president under the 25th Amendment.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MCCABE: The Deputy Attorney General was definitely very concerned about the President, about his capacity, and about his intent at that point in time. He was discussing other cabinet members and whether or not people would support such an idea, whether or not other cabinet members would share his belief that the president was really concerning, was concerning rather at that time.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Rosenstein was actually openly talking about whether there was a majority of the cabinet who would vote to remove the president?

MCCABE: That`s correct. Counting votes or possible votes.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAYES: McCabe also confirmed previous reports that Rosenstein had offered to wear a wire into the Oval Office to collect evidence on the President telling 60 Minutes the idea was never pursued. McCabe told a previously undisclosed story about the President`s trust in Vladimir Putin, one relieved to him by an FBI official after a meeting at the White House.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MCCABE: Essentially the President said he did not believe that the North Koreans had the capability to hit us here with ballistic missiles in the United States and he did not believe that because President Putin had told him they did not.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And U.S. intelligence was telling the president what?

MCCABE: Intelligence officials in the briefing responded that that was not consistent with any of the intelligence our government possesses to which the President replied I don`t care. I believe Putin.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAYES: According to McCabe, that comment which echoes many others the president made in public was part of a pattern of dubious behavior which prompted the FBI to start investigating the sitting president of the United States.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MCCABE: All those same sorts of facts caused us to wonder is there an inappropriate relationship, a connection between this president and our most fearsome enemy, the government of Russia.

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HAYES: In almost two years since that time, the President has allies in Congress and the media have done all they can to discredit McCabe and any other career official known to have played a role in the investigation. Now, McCabe is promoting a new book and he was fired last year after the Justice Department`s internal watchdog criticized his lack of candor under oath.

But the thing is that we don`t have to just take McCabe`s word for. McCabe`s account or the president`s behavior and the alarm bells is set off among the people around him looks a lot like the one James Comey gave in sworn testimony in his book. It looks a lot like the account of the senior administration official who wrote an anonymous op-ed in the New York Times basically warning the country the man that person worked for was completely unfit for the office.

It looks a lot like the reports that we read every single day in the paper filled with blind quotes from people who work in close proximity the president. Meanwhile, two years since the events McCabe described, the President still in office and if anything he`s only gotten more volatile.

For more on McCabe`s revelations, I`m joined by Democratic Congressman Ted Lieu of California, Member of the House Judiciary Committee. It`s good to be here, Congressman. How are you?

REP. TED LIEU (D), CALIFORNIA: I`m great. Thank you, Chris. What`s your reaction to what this really remarkable account McCabe gives of the way in which the President`s firing of Comey triggered this kind of crisis in the Department Justice?

LIEU: Andrew McCabe gave a number of very disturbing statements about the behavior of Donald Trump. To me, one of the most alarming was that Donald Trump believed Putin over our intelligence officials. No president of the United States should ever believe is former KGB operative over career U.S. intelligence officials. And it makes you really wonder what does Putin have on Trump that would make him behave this way. And it`s consistent with Trump`s behavior over the last two years with his bizarre relationship towards Russia.

HAYES: You know, the president has reacted all this and he and his allies on from T.V. and other places have had a narrative for a long time that essentially these are rogue elements of the deep state who didn`t like the results the election are sort of plotting a coup with the president, I think even use the word treason today. What`s your reaction to that framework for understanding these events?

LIEU: I`m a former prosecutor. These are law enforcement personnel. They`re looking at facts trying to determine if crimes are committed. Rosenstein is a Republican and he`s looking at the same thing we all saw which is the President fired the FBI Director. And then went on national T.V. a couple days later said I did it because of the Russia investigation that looks like textbook obstruction of justice and it makes you really wonder what is this president doing which is why it`s not surprising they may have had these discussions about the 25th Amendment.

HAYES: What does it say about the status to your mind constitutionally of Justice Department which seems to be kind of the core question here right? It`s part of the executive, it`s under the article powers of the president but in some level we want it to be independent. And here you see -- I mean, the McCabe account is people wrestling in real time with their where their responsibilities and loyalties lie.

LIEU: Yes. So this president raises all sorts of different constitutional issues that we never encountered because no one`s ever broken this many norms from this fake national emergency to the actions he`s taken to really attack the Justice Department, attack law enforcement. And when you look at the Constitution, nothing in there says you can`t indict a sitting president and the whole lesson Watergate to me is that the American people said no one is above the law and the DOJ is charged with enforcing the law and prosecuting people who committed crimes.

HAYES: And so you think that -- and you`ve made this clear before in hearings that you think that the -- one of the ways to resolve this inherent contradiction is just to say formally to the DOJ you do have the power to indict a sitting president.

LIEU: Absolutely. Because if you say you don`t, essentially the president is above the law because what you`re saying is none of the laws in America can be enforced against the President and there`s no way the American people would accept that. It`s not in our Constitution. And I`m very proud of what the FBI and the DOJ have done so far as well as their prosecutors out of the Southern District of New York as well as state attorneys generals, everyone`s taking their oaths to Constitution seriously.

HAYES: There`s something interesting about McCabe saying with the thing that precipitated this is the firing of Comey, right? They sort of -- they sort of thought what they might be seeing is a cover-up in plain sight of the Russia investigation. At the same time, you have the man who is now the Attorney General the United States William Barr on the record having written a memo saying the president firing Comey because it was exercising the constitutional duties almost by definition cannot be obstruction of justice. What do you think about that?

LIEU: It`s very interesting what Barr said later which is basically he didn`t have all the facts the time he wrote that memo. It`s also very interesting to look at his actual testament before the U.S. Senate. He does concede yes, there are lots of different cases where the president can obstruct justice. And just because Trump does this in public, in full view and brazenly, doesn`t mean it it`s not a crime. And that`s something the House Judiciary Committee on which I sit is going to investigate when I hold hearings and were to look at obstruction justice, abuse of power as well as witness tampering.

HAYES: Finally, I guess my question to you is where do you see -- how confident are you right now in the independence and protection inside that that building, Department of Justice with Barr now at the top and Rosenstein being widely reported moving out that that they`re going to be able to continue to do the work they need to do.

LIEU: So none of this is OK. It`s not OK that career FBI officials really struggling with what do we do with a president that looks like he`s violating a law. It`s not okay for the President to routinely attack law enforcement. But I have more help than I think some of my colleagues because even before the midterm elections last November, we still had a Republican-led investigation of a Republican president from the Department of Justice. That`s very impressive and that investigation is still going on.

I`m not sure a lot of countries would have allowed this to happen. The fact that Robert Mueller still has this job I think is a testament to how strong our institutions still are.

HAYES: You think they`re holding so far?

LIEU: I do.

HAYES: And you don`t think William Barr changes that by walking into the offices of the Department of Justice.

LIEU: I hope he doesn`t but American people voted to give Democrats subpoena power last November so we still had that option.

HAYES: All right, Ted Lieu, a congressman here from Los Angeles. Thank you very much.

LIEU: Thank you, Chris.

HAYES: For more on Andrew McCabe and what to do about an unfit president, I`m joined by Natasha Bertrand, Staff Writer for the Atlantic covering national security and MSNBC Legal Analyst Nick Akerman, a former Watergate Prosecutor. Natasha, the stories that McCabe tells largely line up with some previous reporting we had about the sort of air of crisis but it is somewhat remarkable to hear this individual say what he`s saying about the reaction inside that building to the president firing Comey.

NATASHA BERTRAND, STAFF WRITER, THE ATLANTIC: It is. And when I was speaking to him last week, and we have an interview being published with him tomorrow morning, when I was speaking with him last week about all of this, it just struck me that we actually had not heard an FBI official, a top FBI official, let alone the official who had actually launched the investigation into the president confirmed that this investigation had indeed been launched.

And so he was kind of talking about the process that the officials went through in order to determine whether or not this unprecedented decision was going to be made. He emphasized that this was not something that was precipitated only because the president decided to fire Jim Comey. He told me that concern about the president had been building for months and that is consistent with what we`ve heard from other people who were having those discussions at the time.

So obviously, I don`t want to give away too much about the interview before tomorrow, but I will say that that is one of the biggest takeaways from this is that this is not something that was perceived by people at the FBI as something that occurred in a vacuum. And that is why it`s kind of disingenuous for people to say well, the President had the constitutional authority to fire Jim Comey. No. It`s why did he fire him. It`s obstruction being equivalent to a national security threat in this instance.

HAYES: Nick has the Department of Justice had to face this before or was this completely uncharted territory?

NICK AKERMAN, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST: It`s really somewhat uncharted territory. I don`t think this has happened before. I mean I have been involved in a situation when Archibald Cox who was the first Watergate special prosecutor was fired by the President, President Nixon. And I remember having long torturous meetings among the staff about what to do.

I mean people would say all kinds of crazy things just like you heard about the 25th Amendment and about wearing a wire, things that people really couldn`t act on. I mean, at the end of the day we decided to tough it out, continue the investigation. I spent a lot of time talking to Washington columnists giving them the pitch that would -- it was extremely important to have an independent special prosecutor investigating the president.

So you go through a lot of turmoil. I mean, what McCabe described the other night on 60 Minutes, I pretty much identified with and I could see where people would have different reactions. But yet at the end of the day, we toughed it out. I called my senator at the time Ed Brooke, explained to him what was going on, the importance of having an independent special prosecutor. And by simply staying there, the investigation continued just as the investigation here is continued and things worked out and I think the same has happened here.

HAYES: You know, part of what is striking about McCabe`s account, Natasha, to me is -- and this sort of sinks up what you`re just saying, in some ways I think there`s a narrative again that the President and his allies have spun of these sort of rapidly anti-Trump forces who are trying to get the president. And rather the sort of opposite of that which is to say a bunch of people who don`t want to think the unthinkable essentially the president has conspired with a foreign adversary and is compromised, very slowly being dragged against their will to a conclusion that looks a lot like that.

BERTRAND: Exactly. And let`s remember that this was not revealed during the election right? The thing that was revealed during the election was the fact that there was a reopening of Hillary Clinton`s e-mail investigation. So the idea that there was a deep State out to get the president while he was running for -- during the election and trying to make him you know, not become president is just absolutely ridiculous on its face when you think about how hard they were trying to keep this investigation a secret from the broader public because they just didn`t know what they had.

But when you start to see things like you know, perhaps the classified intelligence that they were receiving about the conversations that were going on between the campaign and between Russians, when you see how the president was you know cozying up to Putin during the election and saying things out loud like hack my opponent, things like that, it just became really untenable for them to just sit there and say is there really nothing going on here.

And that I think is one of the biggest takeaways also from my conversation with Andy -- with Andy McCabe is that they did not feel like they had a choice here. They felt like they would have been derelict in their duties if they had not investigated the president. I mean if he`s telling his own federal law enforcement officials that he believes Putin over them, then what is Putin filling his ear with when he`s in meetings with him over the last two years? I mean, it`s just -- it`s a really serious question that needs to be answered.

HAYES: And it`s also clear from McCabe`s account, Nick, of just how decisively -- how decisively the firing of Comey backfired. I mean, that is the inflection point for all of this because that`s what essentially precipitates the concern and elevates into formal investigations in the Special Counsel appointment.

AKERMAN: That`s exactly right. But keep in mind in the context of everything else that was going on before Comey was fired and before Obama left office. I mean the New York Times was reporting in March of 2017 that members of the Obama administration were trying to maintain all of this evidence, all of this information so that it could be kept and looked at later on by congressional committees or investigators.

And it also has to be viewed in the context just as Natasha said. You`re dealing with the number two man in the FBI who has access to the most sensitive intelligence information that this country had on what happened during that election. So whatever he`s saying, whatever facts he`s giving you know this is just the tip of the iceberg.

HAYES: Yes. That just -- you can`t shake this feeling of you -- when you watch him and again I understand why people have attacked his credibility and he was fired for lack of candor, but this sense that you get from him and others of just these alarm bells going off blinking more and more urgently as time goes on. Natasha Bertrand and Nick Akerman, thank you both.

We have breaking news coming up. Sixteen states tonight just in the last few minutes have joined together to file a lawsuit against Donald Trump`s emergency declaration. That breaking news is just ahead. And next, Andrew McCabe`s indictment of the Trump administration extends beyond criticism of the president. Ben Wittes on McCabe`s allegations about both Donald Trump and Jeff Sessions in two minutes.

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HAYES: Former FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe`s new book is making headlines for what it says about the president but it may be even more brutal on Jeff Sessions. According to review of the book by The Washington Post Greg Miller, then-Attorney General Sessions comes off as a racist who has trouble keeping more than one thought in his head at a time. Someone who didn`t read intelligence reports and mixed up classified material with what he had seen in newspaper clips, and he blamed immigrants for nearly every societal problem.

Sessions also believe that Islam inherently advocated extremism and ceaselessly sought to draw connections between crime and immigration. Where is he from was his first question about a suspect. Then next where are his parents from? Then there were his thoughts on FBI employee Sessions said the bureau was better off from "You all only hire Irishmen, they were drunks but they could be trusted not like all these new people with nose rings and tattoos. Who knows what they`re doing?"

Joining me now Ben Wittes, MSNBC Legal Analyst, Editor-in-Chief of the Lawfare blog. One thought that comes to mind, Ben, is the bullet that was dodged in Sessions having to recuse himself early on given the account McCabe gives of Sessions behind the scenes.

BEN WITTES, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST: Well, yes, except that you know, since Sessions appears to hate foreigners and Russians are not domestic and he seems to be an incorrigible racist, maybe he would have been fine as head of the Russia investigation.

HAYES: Yes, right. Yes, out of -- out of sheer sort of --

WITTES: Xenophobia.

HAYES: Exactly, serious xenophobia. You know, you wrote something about the investigation about the sort of nexus between obstruction and collusion and the moment that Comey is fired and one of the things I think that has come into view with McCabe`s recounting is just what that connection is. What is it to your mind?

WITTES: Right. So I mean, I think that one of the things that interested me about McCabe`s interview is you know, the extent to which it validated that analysis that I did you know, back when that New York Times story about the obstruction and collusion investigations came out. You know, what McCabe describes is that they -- when they looked at the fact patterns surrounding the firing, they -- and the constellation of activities around it, they look at it and they say on the one hand well this may be an obstruction crime.

They also look at it and they say the obstruction crime itself may be a form of collusion. That is why would somebody want McCabe asks, why would the president want to shut down this investigation designed to protect the national security of the United States unless there were some untoward relationship between him and the Russians.

And so, you know, we have this idea that has really permeated a lot of the way we talk about the Russia investigation that there`s an obstruction side of the investigation and a collusion side. And I think the point I was trying to make in that article and I think that McCabe`s interview really bears out is that from the FBI`s point of view, those questions were not distinct from one another.

HAYES: What is your takeaway about Rosenstein? I mean, that the DOJ has pushed back a bit on the account although they haven`t really explicitly denied any of the -- of the particulars. What conclusions are you drawing about Rosenstein and what role he`s played throughout here?

WITTES: Well, look, I mean if Rosenstein could deny the essential allegations that McCabe is making or the claims, factual claims. They`re not even really allegations. If he could deny them, he would. But it seems like McCabe is telling the truth that A, the Deputy Attorney General offered to wear a wire in conversations with the president and that it was actually the general counsel of the FBI who said no, no, that`s a bridge too far. We`re not there yet.

And secondly, that it was the Deputy Attorney General who floated the idea and mentally started counting votes about whether he -- they could get the cabinet to invoke the 25th Amendment. Now, I want to say in Rosenstein`s defense, neither of these ideas is completely crazy. I mean, given the way Trump was behaving at the time, they are ideas that you know, are I would say I would you know tend to think that was probably wise not to pursue either of them, but I`m not sure they should have been utterly beyond the realm of conversation.

That said, Rosenstein when these stories floated in the New York Times a few months ago, Rosenstein really you know tried to pretend one, was it just an issue of sarcasm, and the other he kind of threw shade at. And I think that you know, he`s got some candor questions to answer for at this point.

HAYES: Well, I think and -- I think that the facts as established by McCabe and I think you`re right essentially undisputed by Rosenstein in the particulars lead to two possible interpretations with not a lot of space between them. One, which is the President and his allies interpretations which is that there`s this deranged you know, fifth column, this coup of folks that have it out for the President attempting to subvert the will of the voters and take down the president.

And the other is the behavior the President was so screamingly alarming that all these people are running around saying what if this man is compromised?

WITTES: And in Rod Rosenstein`s defense and my enthusiasm for his -- for him is altogether under control, I assure you. But in his defense, the president had just done something quite awful to him, right, which was to sort of use him as his set piece for something he meant to do other -- anyway and to kind of use him as a pretest for this. And Rosenstein had fallen into this trap and had let himself be used this way.

And I think you know, quite understandably in -- you know looking back on it within this terrible week that followed is trying to figure out you know, oh my God, what have I done and what have I done among other things to myself. And so he`s you know, trying to figure out how to put things right. He thinks he may have destroyed his reputation forever and he`s panicked.

And so I think these are things that happened in the context of this chaotic environment that emerges out when this thoroughly evil person and you know, manipulates the people around him somewhat wittingly and somewhat unwittingly on their parts and they`ve kind of discovered what a whole they`re in.

HAYES: All right, Ben Wittes, thank you so much for making some time.

WITTES: Pleasure.

HAYES: Next, there is a new lawsuit to block Donald Trump`s emergency declarations. That breaking news and the fight in Congress to stop Trump next.

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HAYES: Breaking news tonight, a coalition of 16 states have filed suit in federal court, calling Donald Trump`s emergency declaration unconstitutional and seeking a preliminary injunction, that is for the court to step in and put it on pause.

The attorney general of California announced the lawsuit in just the last hour saying President Trump, quote, "knows there is no border crisis. He knows his emergency declaration is unwarranted. And he admits he will likely lose this case in court."

Joining the state of California are the attorneys general of Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon and Virginia. This, as protesters from just about all of those states, and others, were out in the streets today as a show of force in opposition to the so-called emergency.

And that is not all, the president`s decision will also face a challenge head on from congress. Under the National Emergencies Act from 1976, lawmakers can introduce a resolution to block the order. House Democrats have already said they plan to introduce such a measure soon.

Here to talk about what could happen from here, Democratic Congresswoman Nanette Barragan of California. Good to have you here, congresswoman.

REP. NANETTE BARRAGAN, (D) CALIFORNIA: Thank you for having me.

HAYES: Let`s start with the breaking news, your state one of those suing the president. What do you think happens now?

BARRAGAN: Well, there are two ways to stop the president and one of those is lawsuits from California, other states and organizations. So I fully support that effort by California to do that.

The second way is for congress to act. And that is what we are going to do. There is a joint resolution that has been drafted by Congressman Joaquin Castro who is also the chair of the Hispanic caucus. And he is asking members of congress to sign on to that. I`ve signed on. We have seen other members through social media indicate they are going to sign on. And so that will be introduced.

It will then go to a committee of jurisdiction. It will go to the House floor for a vote. And it has to get a simple majority.

It will go to the Senate side, and the Senate will be forced to take a vote on this.

HAYES: This is key, because we know that there are any number of pieces of legislation -- for instance, HR1, that -- which, you know, has to do with voting rights and the Voting Rights Act, gerrymandering, that Mitch McConnell can just kill, right. You can pass something out of the House. He doesn`t have to do it.

In this case he has to take it up?

BARRAGAN: Yes, he does. That`s the way that the law is written, the way the joint resolution is. He has to take it up.

So, that is going to put a lot of pressure on Republicans and Democrats, although the Democrats I think are to make a decision on what they are going to do. Are they going to side with the president? Are they going to decide with giving away power that congress has? And a lot of these projects are in districts that are very red, military projects where he`s going to plan on taking money from.

HAYES: There was a -- FiveThirtyEight was doing some whip counting, and just to your point on the Republican side. You know, you have got Lamar Alexander, Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski, Rand Paul, Marco Rubio, Ben Sasse, Thom Tillis, and Pat Toomey have all said they oppose a national emergency declaration. Now, that and 2.75 gets you on the subway. We`ll see if they actually vote against it.

But he is starting out without the votes in the Senate to stop it from passing it looks like.

BARRAGAN: Right, but even if it gets through the House and the Senate, the president can veto it. And this is where it gets complicated, because we need a super majority, two-thirds to override his veto.

BARRAGAN: Do you see -- you know, it is interesting to have these two parallel tracks, right. So, one of the things I think people have been very critical of is the ways in which over the last 30 years, particularly, we have seen more and more power move from congress to the executive. If you have a choice between having congress sort of rebuke the president or having the courts strike it down, which would you like to see?

BARRAGAN: Well, I would like to see congress do it. It`s a co-equal branch of government., that`s the separation of powers, it`s a balance, but we have had the court to be our saving grace in recent times, and so it needs to be there.

HAYES: It also seems like it is likely that you will get one of these lower courts issues a preliminary injunction. And that kind of lets everybody kind of wriggle out of the vote, right? I mean, do you worry about that, right? It seems to me that it is important that you call the question will Democrats still go forward no matter what the courts do?

BARRAGAN: I think that the Democrats should go forward. We need to have people on record. This is a critical defining moment in time for congress and lawmakers to step up and put what is right and the constitution above party. And I think that is critical in this situation.

HAYES: You know, there is also public opinion, which plays a big role in all of this, and public mobilization. Polling from before this was actually announced, it was running about 66 percent against. We may see some movement after the president`s announced, because people who like the president tend to like whatever he does. But you were out at protests today here in Los Angeles. Why did you do that?

BARRAGAN: Well, I thought it was important for people to come out and speak up and protest. A lot of them are out there saying we have got to make sure to protect democracy and stop this power grab from happening. And so I want to be supportive.

And we saw a good number of people in Los Angeles. We saw protests happening in Washington and across the country. I think it is a sign that people are going to stand up. We`re going to hold this president accountable. And they want members of congress to do that, too.

HAYES: You know, two things seem to be happening in public opinion. One, the president is forcing a kind of backlash against him on issues on immigration, where you see support for increasing immigration, support for undocumented immigrants rising in polling, but I saw a piece in The Daily Beast last week that made the argument based from immigration rights advocates, the president was still winning the debate in how it was being framed, that by putting the border and security at the center of things, he is moving the conversation in his direction. Which do you think it is?

BARRAGAN: Well, you know, the congress just passed compromise bill. And in that bill a lot of money was put into border security. So, Democrats and Republicans alike are for border security.

Now, there is a humanitarian crisis happening at the border, and that was created by the president`s, you know, just cruel policies. I saw it first- hand when I went down there investigating the death of the kids down there. We just passed a bill that is going to put money into that. And I think...

HAYES: So that meaning the sort of humanitarian aspect in terms of undoing some of the blockage that`s happened there because they are over capacity.

BARRAGAN: It is to make sure that there is medical procedures in place, medical equipment in place, it is to address that children actually have food before they were getting, you know, noodles that were not even warm.

HAYES: That is all in the bill text.

BARRAGAN: It`s in the bill text. And that was a huge win that we got in to have humanitarian money going to the border.

And so there are lots of things in the compromise bill that are going to help the border security aspect. I represent a port of entry. You can have more technology. You can have more opportunity to catch more drugs coming in.

Now, the irony is under the emergency declaration the president is going to take money away from drug interdiction. And the very thing he says he is trying to stop is going to be taking away in funding because he wants to build this wall that we know is not the most effective way to stop what he says he is trying to stop.

HAYES: Congresswoman Nanette Barragan of Los Angeles, thank you for joining me.

BARRAGAN: Thank you for having me.

HAYES: Still to come, as the campaigns start taking shape, a look at how the candidates working to defeat Trump are honing their appeals to the voters who will decide their fate the earliest.

Plus, how President Trump was maybe nominated for the Nobel Prize? Maybe? That`s tonight`s Thing One, Thing Two next.

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HAYES: Thing One tonight, after declaring a national emergency on Friday the president headed to the classiest place on Earth, Mar-a-Lago, for a long weekend on the golf course. Luckily, the ongoing emergency didn`t effect any critical club systems, and we can report that the omelet bar was up and running.

This photo was posted to social media. You can see the president in his very beige outfit and a bright red cap making what we must assume is his first and only trip to the omelet bar that day.

Now, like any top not country club omelet bar, it is well stocked with a squeeze bottle of ketchup and a backup squeeze bottle of ketchup. You can also see behind the bar a framed Walgreens ad that Trump once did, which is a good reminder of the schlock, which can be hanging on the walls if you`re fortunate enough to be a member of one of Trumps clubs, including a portrait of himself, which he bought with charity money from the Trump Foundation and then reportedly hung at his golf club in Miami. Or most famously the fake Time magazine covers that The Washington Post says Trump apparently had PhotoShopped and framed and then hung in at least five of his clubs from south Florida to Scotland.

It makes you wonder, where will he hang his pretend Nobel Peace Prize? That`s Thing Two in 60 seconds.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) HAYES: During his bizarre Rose Garden performance last week, Donald Trump made this surprising claim...

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: Prime Minister Abe of Japan gave me the most beautiful copy of a letter that he sent to the people who give out a thing called the Nobel Prize. He said I have nominated you, or respectfully on behalf of Japan, I am asking them to give you the Nobel Peace Prize.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAYES: Yeah, a little thing called the Nobel Peace Prize, maybe you`ve heard of it.

Now, that would be special. Everyone immediately wondered what is he talking about? Is that really true or was it, like much of his press conference, something he pulled out of thin air?

Well, NBC News has the answer. We can now report Japan did, in fact, nominate Donald Trump for a Nobel Peace Prize after he asked them to nominate him for a Nobel Peace Prize. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe seen here falling down into a sand trap at Mar-a-Lago last year, acceded to what multiple Japanese government sources described as the U.S. government informally asking them to nominate Trump.

It turns out that two Norwegian lawmakers have also nominated Trump, according to Reuters.

We are not sure if Trump asked them to, as well.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: He said I have nominated you, or respectfully on behalf of Japan, I am asking them to give you the Nobel Peace Prize. I said thank you, many other people feel that way, too. I will probably never give it, because that`s OK, they gave it to Obama. He didn`t know what he got it for. He was there for about 15 seconds and got the Nobel Prize. He said, oh, what did I get it for?

With me, I probably will never get it. So Prime Minister Abe, gave me -- I mean, it`s the most beautiful five page letter. Nobel Prize, he sent it to them.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HAYES: For the very first time we finally have official factual findings in the crazy case of potential election fraud in North Carolina`s ninth congressional district. You might remember more than three months after election day they finally began the state election board hearing today and it is extremely damning for the campaign of Republican Mark Harris.

Here is how the executive director of the North Carolina State Board of Elections laid it all out.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KIM STRACH, NORTH CAROLINA STATE BOARD OF ELECTIONS EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR: We believe the evidence that we will provide today will show that a coordinated, unlawful and substantially resource absentee ballot scheme operated 2018 general election in Bladen and Robeson (ph) Counties.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAYES: State investigators found at least 1,000 ballots were illegally requested by a man named McCrae Dowless or his employees, well over the 905 vote margin that decided the race.

Dowless`s step-daughter, Lisa Britt (ph), a convicted felon on probation who admitted to illegally voting in the 2018 election, testified she was among the people who collected unsealed ballots from voters for Dowless.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It was unsealed and the ballot was not completed voted, and you can fill in the other offices?

LISA BRITT, STEP-DAUGHT OF MCCRAE DOWLESS: Yes, ma`am.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And who would have directed you to do that.

BRITT: I was directed by Mr. Dowless. Basically what we would do, or what I would do would be just about vote whoever was a Republican.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAYES: Do you hear that? They were collecting ballots and filling them in for people for whoever was the Republican.

Investigators say after Republican Mark Harris`s campaign hired Red Dome Consulting (ph), the consulting firm then paid McCrae Dowless more than $130,000 for one congressional race. Harris had admitted to directing Red Dome (ph) to hire Dowless, but denies any wrongdoing.

Despite this, the North Carolina GOP is still saying that their guy, Mark Harris, should be seated as a U.S. Congressman. In a tweet today that in the best light is still pretty damning, they wrote, quote, "I think you`ve got one innocent person in this whole thing, and he`s the one getting the really bad end of the deal here, and that`s Mr. Mark Harris." That statement the GOP picked to convince the country of their candidates innocence was set at today`s hearing by none other than Lisa Britt, the convicted felon who had moments before admitted to illegally collecting and filling in stranger`s ballots.

So, a consulting firm hired by a Republican candidate, paid someone that engaged in the worst, most aggressive and egregious documented electoral fraud of the entire cycle, and the party that likes to scaremonger about voter fraud thinks their guy should still get to be seated in congress.

The hearing continues tomorrow. And the State Board of Elections will decide whether or not disqualifies the fair election in the state of North Carolina or whether another election is needed.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HAYES: We are less than a year from the Iowa caucuses and the battle for the Democratic presidential nomination is fully underway. Many of the candidates are already on the campaign trail, particularly in the key early states of Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina and they`re meeting voters and honing their stump speeches, testing out what works and what doesn`t, like a stand-up comedian who tries out material in a small club before embarking on a national tour.

This is the laboratory for these candidates to sharpens their message, establish what makes them different. As President`s Day weekend was the most active in the 2020 race so far, as candidates garner big crowds and voters and local reporters started to form opinions about which -- what each of the candidates have to offer.

Joining me now are a pair of reporters who have been on the ground with those candidates, Pat Rynard, who runs a political news site Iowa Starting Line; and Caitlyn Byrd, political reporter at the Post and Courier in Charleston, South Carolina.

Pat, let me start with you in Iowa, which is obviously the place, the first contest you are a true Iowa caucuses nerd. You worked on it in the past. You have been documenting it carefully. What does it look like just from the crowd standpoint in terms of the enthusiasm, turnout, those kinds of things so far?

PAT RYNARD, IOWA STARTING LINE: Well, that`s one of the most fascinating things so far, Chris, is, you know, Kamala Harris, Cory Booker, Elizabeth Warren, they are getting crowds of 500 to 800 people out already.

HAYES: Wow.

RYNARD: I mean, those are turnouts that you would be happy to have like a month out from the Iowa caucus, much less than a year out. And what is fascinating to me personally, you know, I`ve worked in this state a lot. I know who these activists are. What is interesting is who is turning out to these events?

So, right now, you have got a lot of different candidates from different ideological backgrounds, but the people who I see coming out to these events don`t necessarily fit those. I`ve seen core Bernie Sanders activists out to see John Hickenlooper, even though they`re not going to end up caucusing for him. I`ve seen county party folks out at Elizabeth Warren`s events, even though they think she`s too far to the left.

But the interesting and nice thing is they are all finding something that they like about these candidates early on, because right now it`s all still pretty nice out there.

HAYES: You know, yeah, so far there`s -- it`s been very positive. There are no one attacking each other at this point.

That video we just showed, which we`ll show again, is Kamala Harris today making I think her first official campaign stop in New Hampshire, this enormous line snaking out of this church there, and Caitlyn, Kamala was down there -- Senator Harris was down there this weekend in Charleston and had an enormous turnout, if I`m not mistaken, right?

CAITLYN BYRD, THE POST AND COURIER POLITICAL REPORTER: It was huge. We saw numbers more than 1,000 was the crowd estimate that we got. They had to open up the second floor of the life center where we were, which was located inside of a very well attended black church in North Charleston.

They had to actually open that second part. People were even sitting on closed up bleachers to try and make sure that they had a good line of sight to the senator.

Everyone was just very curious that I talked to about hearing more from her directly.

HAYES: Yeah, so that`s one thing I think that seems clear in the early states from the sort of voter standpoint -- enthusiasm, huge turnout, very big crowds. I mean, Pat, you made this point, you know, at this point people are talking in living rooms usually of 20 folks. You`re getting 500, 800, 1,000 people.

What are you hearing from the crowds and the question and answer periods of these, Pat? How focused on different issues, electability, Trump, are the questioners in these events?

RYNARD: Yeah, so there hasn`t been too many questions about Trump. I mean, the folks who are turning out to these places are already riled up about him. They don`t need to hear more about him. They are asking the candidates about their own personal background, mostly questions about domestic policy, that type of thing.

You know, most interesting, a lot of the folks are coming out that I`m starting to notice are people new to the process.

HAYES: Interesting.

RYNARD: At Cory Booker`s event, I saw a lot of younger people who told me they knew about him through SnapChat, a lot of younger public schoolteachers at Elizabeth Warren`s events.

HAYES: Caitlyn, have you noticed differences in the ways in which the candidates coming through South Carolina have been kind of distinguishing themselves or focusing their pitch?

BYRD: Absolutely. We`re already starting to see some candidates making it clear to voters that they are doing their homework, doing things like going to Mother Emanuel AME Church here in Charleston, which as we all know is the site of the very tragic hate shooting where nine black African - Americans were gunned down while going to bible we`re also hearing pitches that should sound very familiar to voters here especially in the first congressional district where I am in Charleston, hearing lines about things about offshore drilling, haven`t heard Kamala Harris talk as much about offshore drilling, but when she was in South Carolina, she made that a very clear point.

She also talked a lot about -- yeah, she also talked a lot about the idea that we have more in common than we do that separates us, that also echoes Congressman Joe Cunningham who was recently election who talked about low country over party. That was his sort of selling pitch to voters here.

So, it`s been very interesting to hear how especially Senator Harris has been on the trail that she`s been echoing some talking points that did test and prove effective here as a political petri dish, if you will.

HAYES: And Pat, to that point about this sort of -- to over simply dynamics of kind of populism versus sort of unifying uplift, what have you been seeing in terms of the messages from candidates there?

RYNARD: They are really varying, which is fascinating. It`s a lot more enjoyable to be covering this this year as opposed to the Bernie Sanders versus Hillary Clinton establishment versus outsider fight, which the Democratic Party is way more complex than that.

And so they are coming at it from different angles. You know, Cory Booker, his stump speech is essentially like a big pep talk, an inspiration-type rally. There are other candidates like -- I guess going back to Hickenlooper who talk much more heavily about policy, Delaney as well, who talked about artificial intelligence. They are all highlighting -- every candidate is highlighting different parts of the progressive message.

HAYES: Pat Rynard and Caitlyn Byrd, who are in those early states where the folks are coming through, thank you for being with me and sharing what you guys learned. Really appreciate it.

That is "ALL IN" for this evening.

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