Show: ALL IN with CHRIS HAYES Date: February 20, 2019 Guest: Andrew McCabe, Jennifer Rubin, Carol Lam, David Cay Johnston
STEVE KORNACKI, NBC NEWS NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: That`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us. "ALL IN" with Chris Hayes starts right now.
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CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: Tonight on ALL IN.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Should the Mueller report be released while you`re abroad next week?
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: That`ll be totally up to the new Attorney General.
HAYES: A special council fire drill.
TRUMP: That will be totally up to the Attorney General.
HAYES: Making sense of the latest reporting that Mueller time is near. Plus --
ANDREW MCCABE, FORMER ACTING ATTORNEY GENERAL: We had good reason to open that investigation.
HAYES: What do you do with a president who obstructs justice? Can the new Attorney General keep the Mueller report away from the public, and is Donald Trump a Russian asset?
TRUMP: I`d never work for Russia.
HAYES: Tonight, I`ll ask all of those questions and more to the man who began the investigations into Donald Trump former acting FBI chief Andrew McCabe. Then, America on alert in the age of Trump.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To cut a crew stockpiling, trying to gather targets.
HAYES: What prosecutors say was a foiled mass terror plot by a right-wing extremist targeting Democrats and MSNBC hosts when ALL IN starts right now.
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HAYES: Good evening coming to you from Los Angeles California all this week, I`m Chris Hayes. Breaking news tonight, House Oversight Chair Elijah Cummings announced that Michael Cohen`s public testimony is back on. It was on, then it was off, now it`s back again. Cohen will appear in front of the committee next Wednesday, February 27th right in the middle of President Trump`s trip to Vietnam to meet North Korean dictator Kim Jong- un.
According to a memo released by the Oversight Committee, Cohen will address a variety of topics including the President`s debts and payments relating to efforts to influence the 2016 election, the President`s compliance with financial disclosure requirements, the President`s compliance with tax laws, and public efforts by the President and his attorney to intimidate Mr. Cohen or others not to testify.
We also have new reporting tonight bolstering the possibility that the Mueller investigation is ending very soon. As NBC News first reported last year, Special Counsel Robert Mueller is nearing the end of his historic investigation into Russian election interference and is expected to submit a confidential report to the Attorney General as early as mid-February.
Tonight, we have further confirmation of that timeline. CNN and the Washington Post both reporting that Mueller could end his investigation in the next few days. CNN points out Special Counsel office employees have been moving boxes and files out of their office. Four of Mueller 17 prosecutors have already ended their tenures with the special counsel. And the grand jury that Mueller has used to bring charges against Roger Stone, Paul Manafort, and several Russians hasn`t convened in almost a month.
Meanwhile, The Washington Post reports "an advisor of President Trump said there is palpable concern among the president`s inner circle the report might contain information about Trump and his team that is politically damaging but not criminal conduct. We`ll see, I guess.
Despite all this, we think we might know about the Mueller investigation. Some very basic questions remain including what is it, what is in it, who gets to see it. The only thing the guidelines say is that Mueller should submit a confidential report to the Attorney General. Then it is the discretion of the newly confirmed hand-picked Attorney General William Barr what if anything he shares with Congress.
In his confirmation hearing last month, Barr definitely did not make any commitments about what he would make public. Today, the President seemed rather confident to the man that he just installed in the job, the guy who auditioned with a long memo about how the President can`t commit a crime if he is exercising executive power will reach a conclusion Trump doesn`t need to worry about.
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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Should the Mueller report be released while you`re abroad next week?
TRUMP: That`ll be totally up to the new Attorney General. He`s a tremendous man, a tremendous person who really respects this country and respects the Justice Department. So that`ll be totally up to him, the new attorney -- the new attorney general.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Should the report become public, you think?
TRUMP: Now, I guess from what I understand that will be totally up to the Attorney General.
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HAYES: Joining me now as part of our team has been reporting this story NBC News Intelligence and National Security Reporter Ken Dilanian. All right, Ken, what is wrapping up mean and what are the sort of details of how this ends up getting given to the Attorney General?
KEN DILANIAN, NBC NEWS INTELLIGENCE AND NATIONAL SECURITY REPORTER: Great question, Chris. And first, I want to make clear that this isn`t just about reading tea leaves. Although you read some interesting tea leaves that CNN mentioned in their report because they`re staking out the grand jury and Mueller`s office, but we have solid reporting, law enforcement officials and congressional officials have been telling us for weeks that the Mueller investigation is wrapping up and that they expected a report to be filed as soon as mid-February.
And what that means as you said, it`s a confidential report by regulation. This is in reaction to the Independent Counsel law when Ken Starr as we all remember release this massive public salacious report. It hit Congress and the public at the same time but practically broke the internet back then. That is not going to happen. This is a confidential report that will go to the Attorney General.
Now the rules do call for a report from the Attorney General to Congress, a brief notification is the term used in the regulations about what`s in the Mueller report. But you and I both know there`s a huge public demand to know what Robert Mueller has found. I think William Barr understands that. People the Justice Department understand that. They know.
They have to in some form whether it`s a news conference or a report a summary, they have to explain what Robert Mueller found and particularly because the regulations really say that Mueller has to explain why he decided not to prosecute. But in the case of the President who can`t be indicted under Justice Department policy, it`s possible that Mueller has found what would be crimes against another defendant but he can`t indict the president so he`s got to explain what those are.
He could -- he could very well accused the president of impeachable offenses, obstruction of justice, but we do think that it is -- there are signs that the Stone indictment may well have been the last indictment. A lot of people were waiting for a big conspiracy case that was going to sweep up. Jared Kushner and the President`s children and other people around the president, look we can`t say for sure but it does not -- there are no signs that that is imminent, Chris.
HAYES: It does seem to me insane from just a standpoint of sort of an open democracy and self-governance for the document not to make its way to the public. I mean, given the interest, given what we`re talking about. And I guess the question is like does Congress have it within its power to shake that document loose?
DILANIAN: Well, I would say yes but there`s going to be a fight over it because right as you know, you know there are secrecy rules about grand jury material and Robert Mueller has gathered a lot of documents and testimony through the grand jury. And that`s supposed to be secret and normally Congress does not get access to grand jury material.
But there`s a precedent there was a grand jury report in Watergate, Leon Jaworski had the investigation and Judge Sirica wrote opinion where he said look, this great -- I know this is grand jury material, it`s secret but it`s very important. It`s pertinent to a House of Representatives impeachment investigation and so we`re going to send it over.
And so I think you`re going to see the same kinds of arguments made by the House Democrats in particular. They will subpoena this document if they need to. They will negotiate redactions if they have to, but they want to see the full document.
HAYES: All right, Ken Delanian, thank you so much.
DILANIAN: You bet.
HAYES: While the Mueller probe could be about to end, my next guest is there when the entire investigation got started. Andrew McCain served as a senior FBI official when the bureau began examining the Trump campaign`s links to Russia and later as acting FBI director, he oversaw the formal opening of investigations into the president himself.
He now has a new book, The Threat: How the FBI Protects America in the Age of Trump. Andrew McCabe, welcome to ALL IN. It`s very good to have you on.
MCCABE: Thanks, Chris. It`s good to be here.
HAYES: First, let`s start with your reaction to this report that the Mueller -- the Mueller report is wrapping up. As someone who was sort of intimately involved in the beginnings of the investigation, who knows the building over at DOJ and the FBI well, how do you conceive of or mentally model what this document is and what its function is?
MCCABE: Right. So first, I want to say make it clear that I am not in the prediction business. So although that I`ve heard Ken`s report on how solid we believe the reporting is that this is -- this document is imminent, I think we still need to wait and see when that shows up. But I am confident that the product that Director Mueller and his team will deliver to the Attorney General will be thorough, it will be fair, it will be objective, and it will include the results of all the work that they`ve done.
HAYES: What are the -- what is it like to navigate -- I mean, this is something you had first-person experience with at a particularly chaotic moment in the bureau and the Justice Department`s history. But are you confident that this has been done without political pressure and that the pressure that we know the President has applied because he`s applied it in public has not tainted the investigation?
MCCABE: Yes. So has it been done without political pressure? I think the answer to that question is clearly no. We`ve seen the President and his supporters try to pressure this investigation from many different directions over the last year and a half.
However, I am absolutely confident in Director Mueller and a team that he`s put together that they have charged forward and done their work regardless of the pressure or the interest or the media coverage or the talk about what they`re doing. And I think the results they`ve delivered to date speak for themselves.
HAYES: Why do you have trust in Mueller?
MCCABE: You know, Chris, I worked for director Mueller for about 12 years. I learned a lot about how the FBI conducts major, sensitive, complex investigations from working on cases that we interacted very closely with Director Mueller on. I`m familiar with not just his integrity -- the integrity, and honesty, and the independence that he brings to that work, but also with the granular way that he approaches his tasking.
Director Mueller is a guy who is most happy when his hands are deeply enmeshed in a complex investigation. He is a true investigator. He likes to know all the facts. He likes to know all the people. He likes to talk directly to the investigators on a daily basis to keep track of things as they`re developing, to participate in those conversations about strategy, about direction, about plans for the investigation.
So from my own experiences with him through the course of many investigations over the years, I`m quite confident that he brought that same approach to this task.
HAYES: Do you think that the report should be made public?
MCCABE: I do. I do. I think the report should first, of course, be shared with Congress and then I think it should be made public as broadly as it possibly can be made public, understanding that parts of it may be classified, parts of it may be sensitive, there`s all kinds of other concerns around releasing information of this kind, particularly if there`s a decision not to -- not to charge someone. But the team is well- positioned and DOJ is well-positioned to go through that report and come up with a summary, or a document, or a version that can be shared with the public.
You know, I think back to our own experiences with the Intelligence Community assessment which is the document we prepared that put together all the intelligence that we had, all the indicators from across the board, multiple agencies about Russian interference in the 2016 election. That document in its original form was one of the most highly classified you know, most compartmentalized documents I`ve ever seen.
It`s very, very closely protected and we were still able at the end of the day to take that document and distill it down into an unclassified version that we were able to share with the public that carried the sum and substance of the very important conclusions that we had drawn. So I see no reason why the folks at DOJ couldn`t do the same thing likely with the Mueller report.
HAYES: You know, part of what you`re alluding to and others have as well can write that it`s a strange situation right? You`re talking about investigations you`ve done with Robert Mueller, investigations the bureau does all the time 99.9999 percent of those investigations are not of the sitting president of the United States and they`re of citizens or non- citizens who can be indicted who go through a normal -- the normal course of the law`s treatment. This is a special individual constitutionally who (INAUDIBLE) says can`t be indicted.
How do you think about what facts and what the bar is for an individual that is the most powerful person in the world and also can`t be indicted so doesn`t -- there`s not the same kind of bar of beyond a reasonable doubt you would if you were bringing a criminal case.
MCCABE: Sure, sure. So it`s a -- you know, this is an incredibly complex situation. So in the FBI. we have a lexicon for what we refer to as sensitive investigative matters, right? So that`s a special class of investigations that are so sensitive for any number of reasons that they require additional levels of oversight both within the bureau and across the street at the Department of Justice.
You can only imagine that this is maybe one of the most sensitive matters that`s ever been investigated simply because of the involvement of the president and the people around him in his campaign. So they have a lot of hard decisions to make. If and I don`t know that this will be the case, but if the results of the report indicate that a that a charge cannot be brought, you know, that`s a very easy end to an investigation.
If you`ve determined that you`re going to pursue an indictment, that`s exactly what you do. And there`s -- we have processes in place to share so that the public finds out who`s been charged and what they`ve been charged with that sort of thing. It`s a much trickier situation as we found out with the Clinton e-mail case when you are not bringing charges. Whether that`s because of DOJ policy or simply because you don`t have the evidence that you feel that you need to go forward with a charge.
HAYES: Well, but just to talk about those two branches, right? Not having the evidence to go far with the charge which falls into a bucket that happens fairly frequently and I think a strong case right, for the fact that in a free society the tools of law enforcement don`t come out and say, here`s all some nasty stuff about this person that we couldn`t charge right? That makes sense this policy. It`s that other bucket which is that the person happens to be the president. That`s the tough one to wrestle with this case.
MCCABE: Right, right, that`s absolutely right. And you know, there`s a -- there`s a very delicate and you know, complicated, challenging balancing I would imagine that goes on there within the department and ultimately on the Attorney General`s desk to make that determination. But we have -- we are in a very unique situation here with a compelling public interest to understand exactly what the Mueller team has come across in the time that they`ve had this investigation. I`m sure those are all things that the Attorney General will consider.
HAYES: You know, I want to talk to you a bit more about your experience at the bureau and sort of the culture and actually go back a little bit and talk about what happened during the campaign if you will stick around.
HAYES: Andrew McCabe is going to be my guest right after we take this quick two-minute break. Do not go anywhere.
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TRUMP: People came to me, Dan Coats came to me and some others. They said they think it`s Russia. I have President Putin, he just said it`s not Russia. I will say this. I don`t see any reason why it would be. I will tell you that President Putin was extremely strong and powerful in his denial today.
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HAYES: The President`s oddly deferential even obsequious attitude towards Vladimir Putin is just one of the reasons that the FBI opened counterintelligence investigation of the President in the Spring 2017. We`re back with the man who led that effort former Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe.
OK, so there`s a bunch of facts that have been discovered by Mueller that have been put into indictments and then there`s just the public record of the President. What is your theory of the case of why the President behaves the way he does towards Vladimir Putin and Russia?
MCCABE: Yes. Great question, Chris. And that`s the one i think we`re all hoping to get ultimately. One day you`ll get an answer to that.
HAYES: No, I`m asking you, Andrew McCabe, a man who worked at the FBI for decades, who knows a thing or two around investigations, and has some mental framework for how he thinks about cause and effect.
MCCABE: Some mental framework -- I think that`s probably the only way I could describe it at this point. Chris, what I can tell you is that we were very confident in May of 2017 that we had facts and information in our possession that clearly put us at the threshold that required that we open a case. And that threshold is, of course, having an articulable, factual basis to indicate that a federal crime may have been committed, in this case, obstruction of justice, or that a threat to national security existed.
It was our belief at that time that we had indicators to believe that both factors might be present. What Director Mueller has added to that -- to that compendium of facts that complete understanding of what`s been going on, we can only guess that, but we can pull at those threads that you`ve mentioned right, the things that we`ve all observed over the last year, the president`s own conduct like in the clip that you showed from his really inexplicable statements in Helsinki. The things that we`ve learned about the President attending meetings with Vladimir Putin and insisting that no one else be present and trying to destroy the notes the translator`s notes of those meetings after fact.
I mean, these are very concerning and curious behaviors. These are behaviors that cause counterintelligence investigators to step back and ask themselves why. Why would a president act that way? Why would anyone act that way?
HAYES: What`s the answer.
MCCABE: I don`t know the answer to that, Chris. I`m not investigating it now.
HAYES: Right. Do you think he`s compromised? I mean --
MCCABE: I think it`s certainly possible. I mean, that was our concern in May of 2017. I haven`t seen anything since May of 2017 that would warn me off that possibility.
HAYES: What would that mean, I guess? I mean you know, there`s all this talk about an asset and then it`s been interesting to sort of immerse oneself in the literature and the sort of history of how assets are recruited and how they could be either witting or unwitting.
What is -- what is -- if he were compromised, I`m not saying you say he is right? You`re saying that`s an open question but you have concerns about it. What would that mean? What does that word mean in this context?
MCCABE: You know, we talked about people being compromised but actually the relationships that individuals develop with intelligence services generally are far more nuanced than that. There`s a broad spectrum of interactions that people -- that people enter into, relationships they develop with intelligence services, sometimes it`s completely unwitting if you`re someone who just -- you know, if you have an occupation with access to classified material and you have the unfortunate habit of you know, drinking too much and talking too much, you might all of a sudden find that you have a new friend who`s really interested in hearing all those stories that you talk about work.
You could end up being an unwitting or unintentional asset to a foreign intelligence service all the way to the other end of the spectrum where people actually offer themselves to foreign services for the purpose of you know financial remuneration or they are trying to accomplish some sort of political aim.
I`m not suggesting that the President or anybody else has a relationship like one or the other of those two spectrums but those are all the kinds of possibilities the counterintelligence investigators consider. Is this someone who is interacting either intentionally or unintentionally with a foreign intelligence service and are they providing information to the detriment of the United States?
HAYES: You had -- you recount a number of interactions you have with the president directly in the book and they`re sort of striking insofar as they kind of look like how he is on Twitter and in public. It`s not -- there`s not a huge difference in how you would imagine him being. When he`s sort of going off about his North Carolina victory or talking about your wife`s unsuccessful race, what was going through your head? What are you thinking about the individual who is the president of the United States?
MCCABE: You know, it`s hard to describe and I feel like I`ve really overused the term shock and surprise and I couldn`t believe it. But honestly, that`s what you`re -- that`s what I was thinking in those moments. You know, you enter -- I entered the Oval Office for the first time in my life on the evening of May 9th after finding out an hour or two hours earlier that Jim Comey had been fired.
I was summoned to the Oval Office by the president to meet with him that night. I stepped into that office. And I`ll tell you, Chris, you really - - that is an impactful moment in the life of any government professional. You are standing in the office of the presidency of the United States, the decisions that have taken place within those walls, the people that have that have worked there, the contributions to our society, it`s just -- it`s hard to describe so it really impacts you and it impacted me as I stepped in.
But then very quickly, you know, the President you know, stepped up from behind the resolute desk, came around the desk, stuck his hand out, shook my hand vigorously and began talking kind of at a mile a minute. It was an overwhelming experience.
HAYES: But what -- I mean, I`ve been in situations with people, I`ve been with -- especially with politicians where they sit and they`re talking for a really long time. They sound kind of unhinged. I`ve been -- you know, everyone has been unpleasant conversations they want to extricate themselves in. People have been with their bosses saying ideas they think are bad ideas and they`re trying to figure out how they`re going to massage their way out of the conversation.
What is your impression of the human being who is the most powerful person in the world talking to you the way that he is talking to you?
MCCABE: Well, in my case, he immediately launched into a conversation that was really not a conversation at all. It was a suggestion. It was the presentation of a narrative, of a version of facts that did not exist. And what I came to realize was this was a narrative that the President was kind of pulsing me to adopt. He wanted to see if I was willing to get on board with his version of these events you know, claiming that the FBI was ecstatic about the fact that Jim Comey had been fired and people were happy to have him go and nobody liked Jim Comey and the FBI.
These were all things that I knew not to be true so it was from the very beginning a perilous and really, really concerning interaction. I was trying to navigate that interaction by telling the President the truth but trying to do so in a way that I didn`t provoke an all-out confrontation with him right there in the Oval Office. A confrontation that may have been a more satisfying way to have that conversation but one that I thought would alternately be a distraction to my ability to lead the FBI.
HAYES: So you`ve been the target of the president for criticism since before he became the president on the campaign trail. There`s clips of him going after you. You`ve been a target of his allies in Congress and in the media over on Trump T.V. There is a narrative right, that essentially there was a conspiracy of people that hated the president inside the FBI including you. They cite the fact the I.G. found you lacked candor in its I.G. report and that you were fired because of that to question your version events and integrity.
What do you say to the basic idea that there`s these people inside the FBI, you among them who just don`t like the guy, didn`t like the guy from the jump, and were animated by animus essentially in the actions you took throughout that campaign and up into him being president?
MCCABE: Yes. That is just absolutely and completely false. I understand how that narrative may you know, the president and his supporters find that narrative to be helpful in their quest to defend and protect the president. But the fact is that narrative is not true. It`s not true as applied to me and it`s not true as applied to anyone that I work with in the FBI.
FBI people go to work every day, they put their personal lives aside, they put their personal beliefs aside, their political beliefs aside and they do their jobs. And I think if you look back over the course of the decisions that we made, the steps that we took at that time, each one of those has made for the right reasons. We don`t always get everything right. We make mistakes like any people and like any organization, but we honestly try to live up to the responsibilities that we have in a fair and unpolitical way.
The FBI people are very, very wary about even the perception that politics might be influencing the work they do. So this narrative of a persistent deep state that`s out to get the president, we wanted to overturn the results of the election is just absolutely false.
HAYES: Well, I would -- I would also say to you and this is the argument I made on air before which is that if the FBI was out to get the president, they could have leaked some details about what was going on before he was elected.
MCCABE: And that is a great point.
HAYES: The fact that all that stayed top secret while we learned every stroke of the Hillary Clinton investigation I think mitigates against the idea that you guys were out to get him. That`s just my own personal --
MCCABE: Well, I mean that`s absolutely right, Chris. And I would say you know, even more generally from having served within it for 21 years, the FBI not -- is not a place known to be a hotbed of kind of liberal leanings and anti-Republican politics.
HAYES: No, it is not.
MCCABE: And I think a lot of people could say and for good reason that our -- the decisions we made in the Clinton case likely had the effect of helping the candidacy -- the candidacy of Donald Trump. So when you put those things together, this narrative that there were people in the FBI, they were out to get the president is just absolutely makes no sense.
HAYES: All right, I want -- we have some breaking news tonight, a really disturbing case that has been cracked and there`s a charging document, someone plotting a terrorist attack essentially stockpiling weapons and is the former acting director at the FBI, I want to get your sort of response to it and also sort of the rhetorical conditions created in this country when the President sets his sight on people. So if you`ll stick around, we`ll be back with that breaking news and Andrew McCabe just after this.
HAYES: We are back with former acting FBI director Andrew McCabe, but first some breaking news, a court filing in Maryland tonight has revealed the arrest of a man being held on gun and weapons charges, a man prosecutors describe as a domestic terrorist who intended to carry out a major attack.
Prosecutors say U.S. Coast Guard Lieutenant Christopher Paul Hason had stockpiled 15 firearms and over 1,000 rounds of mixed ammunition with intent to, quote, murder innocent civilians on a scale rarely seen in this country.
Court documents describe Hason as a man obsessed with white nationalist and Neo-Nazi views, wrote in a draft email that, quote, liberalist, globalist ideology is destroying traditional peoples, especially white. No way to counteract without violence.
Court documents also say Hason stockpiled performance enhancing drugs he believed would help him in his attack, and that he appeared to abuse the pain medication, Tramadol.
A spreadsheet listing his apparent targets included prominent Democrats and media figures, including me, and some of my colleagues here at MSNBC as well as at CNN.
NBC News correspondent Gabe Gutierrez joins me now with the latest -- Gabe.
GABE GUTIERREZ, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Documents say that Christopher Paul Hason had worked at the Coast Guard`s D.C. Headquarters since 2016. He had also served in the U.S. Marine Corps in the late `80s and early `90s. But in those newly released court documents, prosecutors say that the lieutenant was a self-described white nationalist who called for focused violence and dreamed of ways to kill almost every last person on Earth.
Now, he`s charged with illegal weapons and drug charges, but prosecutors say, quote, that that is the proverbial tip of the iceberg, and that the defendant is a domestic terrorist.
Now, in draft emails, Hason had allegedly contemplated biological attacks and contaminating the food supply. And prosecutors say he also had drawn up a spreadsheet of targets, as you mentioned, Chris, that included prominent politicians including Democrats like Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, as well as media figures, including himself, Chris, and other hosts at this network as well as others on CNN.
Now, his Internet search history allegedly included most liberal senators. Where do most senators live in D.C.? And where and are Supreme Court justices protected?
Now, the court documents also say that he stockpiled steroids in order to potentially one day carry out these attacks. And law enforcement sources tell NBC News that they discovered all this when the Coast Guard looked through his search history.
Prosecutors are now arguing that he should stay in jail while he awaits trial. He was arrested due in court tomorrow for a detention hearing -- Chris.
HAYES: All right, Gabe Gutierrez, thank you for that reporting.
I want to bring back Andrew McCabe, former acting director of the FBI.
Mr. McCabe, does the FBI and federal law enforcement take seriously enough the threat of Neo-Nazi, white nationalist, extremist, right-wing violence?
MCCABE: The FBI takes the threat posed by domestic terrorism in all its forms very seriously. Does it take it seriously enough? That`s a different question.
As this threat continues and develops and becomes more violent and more intense, the FBI, I`m sure, is going through a process of constantly reevaluating how their intelligence collection and their investigative resources are positioned against this threat. But I can tell you from my own experience, it is one of the most concerning and closely watched threats that we have in the counterterrorism division at the FBI.
HAYES: You`re someone -- it`s hard to separate this from the way the president, say, talks about the press, particularly. He talked this morning about enemy of the people. And I should be clear, I don`t think a violent Neo-Nazi needs the president`s OK to drop a list of people they want to kill. But there is an atmosphere in which the president is constantly targeting the press, constantly talking about his political enemies in these very loaded terms. What do you think that does to the country and to people out there who might already have dispositions?
MCCABE: You know, Chris, I worry greatly that rhetoric along those lines, like we`ve heard from the president that talks about the press is the enemy of the people, that constantly vilifies and undermines the work that our free press does and they cannot have a beneficial impact on extremists and people who are prone to violence. And, quite frankly, we expect more from the chief executive of the greatest country on Earth.
So, these are comments that concern me much in the same way that the president`s constant vilification of people in law enforcement, people in the Justice Department, people in the intelligence agencies, constantly undermining the work they do -- you know, it`s not -- it doesn`t help, it doesn`t make the hard and dangerous and stressful work that they do any easier, doesn`t make it any easier to protect America.
HAYES: You`re someone who was anonymous essentially two years ago. I mean, no one knew who Andrew McCabe was outside of the people in the government and in the the senior levels of the FBI and Department of Justice. You were not a household name. Your face was not plaster anywhere. And you became famous first as an enemy of the president. I mean, the president sort of calling you out. Fox News focusing its fire on you. What is the first-person experience of that been like?
MCCABE: Well, Chris, and my heart goes out to you to see -- to listen to your report and understand that your name was included on this list. I think you`re unfortunately having your own experience as I have, as my family has. These are very concerning times. And to find out that you are discussed in that way or even just thought about, talked about, maybe searched on the Internet by one person is incredibly -- you know, it`s scary.
Nobody wants to think that they might, by virtue of the work that you do, by virtue of the service that you perform either for government, or in private industry or in the media, can become the focus of one violent person`s intentions.
I mean it`s scary.
HAYES: Is that something you`ve had to worry about?
MCCABE: You know, it`s something that I`ve been concerned with. I had security arrangements while I was serving in the FBI for obvious reasons. It`s something that concerns me to this day. You know, I can`t -- I`m not going to lie to you, when I sit there and listen to the president shout out lies and kind of slanderous comments about me and my wife to rallies of thousands of people and hear them all chanting back, I mean, it`s chilling. There`s no other way to describe it.
HAYES: All right, Andrew McCabe, the book again is The Threat: How FBI Protects America in the age of Terror and Trump. Thank you very much for taking quite a bit of time tonight. I really, really, really appreciate it.
MCCABE: Sure. Thanks, Chris.
HAYES: And we`ll hear more of the arrest of that Coast Guard lieutenant authorities say was planning a mass casualty attack, targeting prominent Democrats and journalists next.
HAYES: As we mentioned earlier this morning, the president of the United States once again referred to the New York Times as, quote, a true enemy of the people. Let us not forget the kinds of people who are listening when the president says things like that, people like, for stance, Cesar Sayac (ph). You remember him? That was the Trump super fan who covered his van in pro-Trump anti-media stickers and who is charge with sending more than a dozen pipe bombs to prominent Trump critics shortly before the mid-term election. And people like the man we learned about today, Coast Guard lieutenant, self-identified white nationalist, Christopher Paul Hason, who officials say was a domestic terrorist who stockpiled an arsenal of weapons with a plan to target prominent Democrats and members of the media.
Court documents say Hason have targeted one of my colleagues here at MSNBC after he viewed a headline claiming the colleague had referred to Trump as the worst president ever. He then -- his Internet searches included what if Trump illegally impeached, and civil war if Trump impeached .
Here to talk about the president`s words and their consequences, Jennifer Rubin, an opinion writer at The Washington Post and an MSNBC political contributor, and Pulitzer Prize winner David Cay Johnston, the founder of D.C. Report and the author of "It`s Even Worse Than You Think: What the Trump Administration is Doing to America."
Jennifer, pretty chilling stuff in the documents prepared by the Department of Justice in this case.
JENNIFER RUBIN, THE WASHINGTON POST: It is. Just as the bomber that you referenced in Florida, it was pretty chilling. And that`s not to say that the president causes crazy people to be crazy, it`s to say that his words have impact and they have particular impact on people who are mentally unbalanced or who have an inclination to violence.
There is also a problem here that Trump personally has lied over and over again trying to convince us that Muslims from outside the United States are the greatest threat to Americans, and in fact it is domestic terrorism. He has lied about this. He has lied about it to congress, and it`s about time I think we have some oversight hearings from Jerry Nadler and others in the House to really explore why we have not taken this more seriously and whether we need more resources or direction from the White House on this.
HAYES: You know to that end, David, it`s striking to me, this is a case with extremely lurid details as contained in the filing that we`ve talked about. It`s the kind of case that the government would often usually put a press release out about or there would be some kind of either U.S. attorney`s office or the DOJ. We found out about this because of a professor, actually, who sort of follows this and grabbed the court filings, and then that turned into this case. Strange to me, David, that this is not a case that the Justice Department is putting out a press release on.
DAVID CAY JOHNSTON, FOUNDER, D.C. REPORT: Well, the Justice Department right after Jeff Sessions became Donald Trump`s attorney general, downgraded domestic terrorism and groups like the KKK and others who promote white supremacy. Big surprise given both Jeff Sessions background and Donald Trump`s race baiting throughout the campaign.
Donald Trump`s been giving aid and comfort to these people, and those who, as Jennifer noted, mentally unbalanced or already tend toward violence, are being encouraged by Donald to act on their impulses, not just fantasize about them.
HAYES: Yeah, there is a feeling, Jennifer, when I talk to other journalists, there is a general feeling, and you know, there was that awful, awful shooting in Annapolis at the newspaper, which was not -- was related to something not having to do with the president of the United States, it was a sort of preexisting obsession and beef that this individual had, but there is a sense to people like someone is going to get killed eventually, that the rhetoric and the temperature and the way -- and we saw that guy jump into the camera well at a recent Trump rally and essentially try to assault a BBC cameraman, like there there is a palpable sense among journalists when they are out at bars and they`re drinking or they are at a cocktail party and they`re talking with their friends that like there is an environment in which something terrible is going to happen.
RUBIN: Exactly. And you`re right to reference the individual was at Trump rally who jumped in, and attacked a BBC journalist. Unfortunately, I think that didn`t get enough coverage in the America media. I would like to think it wasn`t because we are provincial, but because we were probably following some other Trump atrocity of the day.
But when he baits his crowd, when he tells them to turn and point fingers and scream at journalists, when he isolates a journalist as he did during the campaign, a single journalist and points them out, he is essentially giving people all the impetus they might need to commit violence, to act in ways that are illegal and that are threatening to journalists.
And I think this is a concern in every news room, I think it`s a concern in every network. I think the degree of security they provide is greater than it has been in the past, and it`s because of this president.
HAYES: You know, David, every politician in some way has their critiques of the press. They argue with the press. They berate the press occasionally. I came up in Chicago politics where Mayor Daly (ph) was -- would be quite tough on reporters. What makes this different? Is it different the way this president talks about it, the language he uses, the atmosphere he`s created?
JOHNSTON: Oh, this is absolutely different. I mean, none of us went into this business to be liked, especially those of us doing investigative reporting. We understand that a lot of people don`t want to hear things.
But when previous administrations, when American correspondents were traveling with the secretary of state and were roughed up or troubled by local thugs working for whatever the dictator in power at the moment was, the U.S. State Department personnel would step in about this and they would speak about it.
Previous presidents have talked about how valuable having a free press is, even if -- when the minute they get in the residence of the White House they scream and yell and holler that they`re unhappy about what`s being reported.
Donald Trump is not at all like this. He is in a unique category by himself. And whenever he is out of office, under -- doesn`t matter what the circumstances are, he will continue, I believe, to call for violence, to promote the idea that we really don`t have a legitimate government, which is fundamentally what he`s been doing, and particularly violence against journalists, people of color, and people whose religion he doesn`t like.
HAYES: Jennifer Rubin and David Cay Johnston, thanks for being here.
A lot to get through in this breaking news tonight. Now amidst growing reports about the potential end of the Robert Mueller investigations as early as next week, a new day for Republican and what the president`s former personal lawyer, Michael Cohen. We`ll talk about that next.
HAYES: It`s been an extraordinary day of breaking news with a U.S. Coast Guard officer arrested in what prosecutors are calling a domestic terror plot. We also learned from House investigators that Donald Trump`s personal attorney Michael Cohen will testify in public next week, and there are now multiple news outlets, including NBC, CNN and The Washington Post reporting with special counsel Robert Mueller may soon release his report on the Russia investigation, which we discussed with former acting FBI director Andrew McCabe earlier this evening.
Joining me now to discuss Mueller and McCabe, Carol Lam, former U.S. attorney for the Southern District of California, who also served as a superior court judge in San Diego; and MSNBC national security analyst Clint Watts, a former FBI special agent.
Carol, let me start with you, as someone who ran a U.S. attorney`s office, I want to ask a question about this breaking news, and something I raised with Jennifer and David, is it strange there was no press release, no official statement for something -- a fact pattern that is as lurid as this one is?
CAROL LAM, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY: I do find that very strange, Chris, I have to say. Normally something like this where they`re members of the media being targeted, members of congress being targeted, I would have expected the Department of Justice come out with a press release.
HAYES: That would be fairly standard operating procedure?
LAM: It certainly would have been while I was U.S. attorney, yes.
HAYES: Clint, I want to talk about Michael Cohen being back on -- back on after being off. What do you make of the fact that he was scheduled, he canceled, he talked about intimidation with the president of the United States.
Elijah Cummings said he will get him on. And now it appears he is going to be testifying in public under oath next week.
CLINT WATTS, MSNBC NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: I just don`t know. It keeps me in a delay, and that makes me think it`s more than just surgery or recovery.
I think there has been lots of negotiations going on behind the scenes. I imagine Capitol Hill is part of it. I wouldn`t be surprised if the Mueller investigation is part of it too, and you have got a new attorney general, you know, that has just taking over. Lots of things are in the mix. And I just find these constant delays all too curious based on all the other circumstances we see swirling around right now.
HAYES: Yeah, it does look like we are finally going to hear the man`s testimony, which is the first time, you know, we`ve talked about this before, Carol, that the Mueller investigation is a black box. It doesn`t leak, there is all this stuff. There is a lot that the public wants to know just as citizens that this is going to be one of the first opportunities basically since Comey came before congress to have an open airing under oath.
LAM: That`s absolutely right. But I think what we have to prepare ourselves for is at first it`s going to take a little bit longer perhaps than the public is hoping and expecting, because like a house renovation, it always takes a little bit longer than we think.
But, you know, Mueller, unlike many of the previous special counsel, he is already indicted a lot of people. Those are already in the public domain. The part that it might be interesting that will be reserved for the special counsel`s report, I think, might be parts of his investigation where he thinks that one of two things, either he is concerned that he cannot meet the very high bar, and I think he`s probably as a good prosecutor putting extra requirements on himself, because what he doesn`t want to do is bring a criminal case against very, very high levels of governmental officials and then lose the case before a jury that would be a destabilizing factor for the government. And I think somebody as god as Bob Mueller is probably taking that into account; or he is concerned that perhaps if things really do involve people at very high levels of government, he wants to have a discussion and a deliberation with the attorney general as to where the appropriate place is for such prosecutions to be brought.
HAYES: You know, Clint, one of the things people have noted that is a little strange, I didn`t get a chance to ask Ken Dilanian this, there are still sort of these open threads. There is a guy named Andrew Miller who is an associate of Roger Stone who has fought his subpoena. Mueller`s team has been fighting him. There is a subpoena for an unnamed corporation that is owned by an unnamed foreign government that`s gone up to the Supreme Court and back down. They are fighting that. That is not resolved.
There is this seizures of Roger Stone`s material. None that of is resolved. What do you make of the fact that there appear to be loose threads just right there, and it also looks like he`s headed towards some kind of conclusion?
WATTS: I think there are some things that we may never know, and that has to do with national security. One of the big gaps that we`ve talked about before, and we still don`t know about is WikiLeaks.
Look, if you want to push a collusion conspiracy, WikiLeaks sets between Stone, Stone`s associates and everybody in between. You have to put to put that Russia connection together. And the same thing with Kilimnik. You know, when they went to the Vanders One (ph) filing, they said person A in 2016 is acting as an agent on behalf of the Russian intelligence services, that has not been closed out either.
And this will go into national security deliberation. How much do we push? Is there a sealed indictment maybe with WikiLeaks somewhere in there? And will we ever know about it?
There is a lot of negotiations I think that happen at the classified level behind the scenes.
HAYES: That`s interesting.
WATTS: Where decisions have to be made. I mean, the belief has always been that should WikiLeaks ever go down, that day or the next day there would be an unbelievable release of additional material. It`s always thought they`ve been an information time bomb, so to speak.
So, I`m not sure that it`s this straight forward as yes, no, collusion, or not. I think there is a lot of things we probably don`t know they have to consider.
HAYES: Well, there is also just a complete uncharted territory question, which you`re sort of alluding to, when you talking about what the nature of the Mueller report is. There is no -- there is no perfect analog for what he`s supposed to do, what his work product, right, Carol?
LAM: That`s absolutely right there. There is no model for him except for the limited instances in the past where we`ve had reports from independent counsel or special counsel.
But, again, this is so different. This case is so different. It`s so huge in terms of the scope and the time period and the number of people they`re looking at, and not to mention the complications with international aspects of the case that really didn`t exist in prior instances.
HAYES: All right, Carol Lam here in Los Angeles, it`s great to have you; and Clint Watts, thank you.
That is ALL IN for this evening. "THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW" starts right now. Good evening, Rachel.
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