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Michael Cohen on Trump crimes & racism. TRANSCRIPT: 02/26/2019, All In w. Chris Hayes.

Guests: Adam Schiff, Randal Pinkett, Alva Johnson, Mehdi Hassan, Jerrold Nadler

Show: ALL IN with CHRIS HAYES Date: February 26, 2019 Guest: Adam Schiff, Randal Pinkett, Alva Johnson, Mehdi Hassan, Jerrold Nadler

STEVE KORNACKI, NBC NEWS NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: -- day for the President in Hanoi and in Washington. That is HARDBALL for now and "ALL IN" with Chris Hayes starts right now.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. Cohen, should the president be worried? What evidence do you have of criminal conduct?

HAYES: The man who kept Donald Trump`s secrets begins telling what he knows.

MICHAEL COHEN, FORMER LAWYER OF DONALD TRUMP: The man doesn`t tell the truth and it`s sad that I should take responsibility for his dirty deeds.

HAYES: Tonight, Congressman Adam Schiff on what he expects to hear from Michael Cohen and the House Republican already threatening the witness. Then, my exclusive interview with Alva Johnson, the former Trump campaign staffer accusing the President of sexual harassment. Plus, Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler on the vote to block Donald Trump`s border emergency, potential perjury for Matt Whitaker, the Trump Org`s threat to his committee and today`s family separation hearing.

REP. PRAMILA JAYAPAL (D), WASHINGTON: Did you ever say to the administration this is a bad idea?


HAYES: All that and why Donald Trump only Falls for certain dictators.

TRUMP: And then we fell in love.

HAYES: When ALL IN starts right now.


HAYES: Good evening from New York I`m Chris Hayes. The longtime personal attorney and fixer to the President of the United States just wrapped up over nine hours of closed-door testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee. And in the last hour, he made his very first remarks on the way out of that marathon session.


COHEN: At this point in time, I really appreciate the opportunity that was given to me to clear the record and to tell the truth. And I look forward to tomorrow to being able to in my voice to tell the American people my story. And I`m going to let the American people decide exactly who`s telling the truth.


HAYES: Tomorrow Michael Cohen will testify in public before the eyes of the world then before the House Oversight Committee getting a full account for the first time since pleading guilty to campaign finance crimes for facilitating the President`s hush money payments in the run-up to the 2016 election. Cohen begins serving a three-year sentence for those and other charges in early May.

Few people outside the President`s family have had as much exposure to Donald Trump`s modus operandi, in his business and his personal life as Michael Cohen. A lawyer who by the way was officially disbarred today in New York State has been involved in just about every Trump operation now under investigation by federal prosecutors or members of Congress. And that includes the President`s inaugural committee, the Trump Organization, the family business, and plans for a Trump Tower in Moscow developed during the presidential campaign.

According to numerous reports, Cohen is planning to spill the beans about all of it tomorrow with the eyes of the country watching him. Among the revelations he`s planning according to a knowledgeable source, Cohen will alleged the President both inflated and deflated his net worth in some cases to avoid paying taxes. He`ll outline what he describes as the President`s lies, racism, and cheating in his private business, and Cohen will accuse the president of committing a crime while in office related to those hush money payments to Stormy Daniels.

According to the source, Cohen plans to bring records to back up his claims. Tonight, The Wall Street Journal reports Michael Cohen will bring documentation that he claims proves that he was reimbursed for his payment to Stormy Daniels in the form of check, some of them signed by Donald Trump who was, by the way, President at the time.

Now, none of the claims Michael Cronin is making should come as much a surprise. The President`s racism has been evident since he headlined the birther movement. His shady business practices have been widely reported. He`s already been incriminating in an illegal scheme by federal prosecutors identified in court filings as Individual One who masterminded the hush money payments.

But there`s a giant difference between reading about the President`s conduct and discreet reports brought out over time, often described to anonymous sources and getting a comprehensive account straight from a first-hand witness on the record and on camera. Cohen`s explosive testimony could help crystallize those incremental news bits from all the investigations.

And after his public appearance tomorrow, he`ll be back before Congress for a third day on Thursday testifying before a closed session of the House Intelligence Committee. Now the President`s allies are already trying to discredit Cohen painting him as a liar which he is having pleaded guilty to lying to Congress.

According to the Special Counsel`s office though, information Cohen gave them was found to be credible and Cohen who could face additional charges if he continued to lie has said he is done protecting the president.


COHEN: He knows the truth, I know the truth, others know the truth, and here`s the truth. The people of the United States of America, the people of the world don`t believe what he`s saying. The maid doesn`t tell the truth and it sad that I should take responsibility for his dirty deeds.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So you`re done with the lying.

COHEN: I`m done with the lying. I am done being loyal to President Trump.


HAYES: Congressman Adam Schiff of California chairs one of the committees that will get a chance to question Michael Cohen this week the House Intelligence Committee where Cohen will testify behind closed doors on Thursday. Congressman, it`s good to have you. What are -- what are you expecting? What are you looking for tomorrow and on Thursday?

REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA), CHAIRMAN, HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: Well, we`re certainly hoping in the testimony in both days to get the full facts from Michael Cohen. In our committee, our particular interest in the false statements that he made doesn`t go beyond what he testified to in terms of the Moscow Trump Tower deal. Who was aware that he was going to come and testify falsely? Was he given encouragement to do so?

Just the allegation surrounding the Trump Tower in Moscow are quite damning and I find them you know really staggering when you sit back and you think of that candidate Donald Trump running for president while denying any business dealings with the Russians was seeking to make the most lucrative deal of his life, something that would make him hundreds of millions of dollars and seeking the Kremlin`s help.

That is deeply compromising whether it is criminal or not. It is deeply compromising of the national security interest of the country. So we intend to explore that with him. We intend to explore issues of obstruction of justice, and other light he can shed on the Russia investigation. So we have -- we have a lot of questions for Mr. Cohen.

HAYES: I should note the prosecutors have already said in one of Cohen`s criminal information filings that Cohen discussed the status and progress of that Moscow project with Individual One which is the President on more than three occasions. Cohen claimed the committee briefed family member of Individual One within the company about the project.

Now that he has pleaded to lying about the specifics here, do you anticipate you will get the full story from him? Do you believe you can trust him as a credible witness?

SCHIFF: I think he`s made the decision to come clean and it`s interesting to watch the people around the President and including the president attack him for essentially making retribution for deciding to cooperate with authorities, to tell the truth. They would much prefer that he kept on lying I suppose.

But you know, as a former prosecutor who has dealt with witnesses that have been dishonest in the past, you always look for corroboration. You don`t rely solely on the testimony. So one of the things that we`ll be asking about when he makes different statements at odds with what he said earlier is what documentary evidence exists, what conversations did you have, were they by phone, were they in person, who else was present. All the kind of foundational questions that allow you to do follow-up and corroborate what a witness has to say that`s going to be very important.

HAYES: He finished today with this on the Senate Intelligence slide. How much interaction are there between your two committees. Obviously, you`re -- the chairs and ranking members are both in the gang of eight. Do you talk to them after a day like today? Do you debrief at all?

SCHIFF: You know, there`s certainly some interaction between the two committees, but they are two distinct investigations. Obviously, there`s a lot of overlap with the scheduling of witnesses but they are really quite separate investigations. And that is also true by the way of the Special Counsel`s investigation which brings up another very timely issue and that is you have the Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein suggesting that maybe they shouldn`t share with Congress or the country the full report and what it has to say about people not indicted.

Well, the Justice Department was sharing hundreds of thousands of pages of discovery in the Clinton e-mail investigation and we are not about to allow them to have some kind of a double standard particularly when there is such intense public need to know. And in addition to that, if the department is to maintain a policy you can`t indict a sitting president, they cannot also say and we`re not going to share with Congress the evidence that would allow you to consider whether other remedies are necessary.

HAYES: One final follow-up here and it goes to something you said earlier and I want to just make sure I`m clear on this. You talked about his previous testimony if anyone directed him to. Of course, there was this sort of wild 24 hours in which BuzzFeed wrote a story in which they said that the President had directed him explicitly to lie before Congress about the Moscow Tower project. Its timeline, that was then knocked down by the Special Counsel`s office. Do you intend to ask about that under oath?

SCHFF: We certainly do. We want to know why he made the false statements he did, what was the length and breadth of them, who was aware that he was going to testify to this? After all there were public written copies of his testimony before he came in. Were those vetted with people in the White House or elsewhere? And so, absolutely.

Now we don`t know how much of the BuzzFeed report was true or false, but there is a story there that we want to hear and we want to hear the truth, and we`ll certainly be asking about that.

HAYES: All right, Congressman Adam Schiff of the House Intelligence Committee, thank you very much. I`m joined now by two people with inside knowledge of the President`s conduct behind the scenes, MSNBC Analyst Tim O`Brien, Executive Editor of Bloomberg Opinion and author of the book Trump Nation, and Randal Pinkett who is the winner of season four of The Apprentice, Co-Author of the book Black Faces in White Places. Good to have you here, gentlemen.


HAYES: I saw some reporting that says the press suggest the President will be -- he`s in Vietnam, will be staying up all night to watch Cohen`s testimony. I got to think that he`s worried about this .

TIM O`BRIEN, MSNBC ANALYST: Of course he`s worried about it because it`s reality T.V. This is where he lives. He`s aware of the power that televised testimony has on people`s imaginations. It`s much different than reading about it in the newspaper or seeing in a court filing. Someone on T.V. telling a narrative about something that occurred resonates with people in a very rich way. And he knows that because he made a living off of that. So, of course, he`s worried about it.

PINKETT: Absolutely. And I would echo what you said earlier, Chris. This is the first time we`ve heard from somebody that close to his inner circle with insight around his business, around his comments on race, around his dealings both in the Trump Organization and in the White House as well. I mean, this guy went from 2006 until 2018. That`s a long run, a lot of information.

And while we`ve heard from others in the inner circle, particularly if I contrast that would say Omarosa, this is the first person who has had such an extensive insight to all those matters. And I think that that`s what troubles him the most is the extent to which Michael Cohen has seen everything.

HAYES: You know, you just -- you just mentioned race and you know, there was this story that Cohen told him in Emily Jane Fox. He says, I told Trump that rally looked like a vanilla on television. Trump responded, that`s because black people are too stupid to vote from me which I have no way of verifying that. That`s obviously a disgusting thing to say. But I do wonder in your mind, does it make a difference to hear that from him under oath than the various things that we`ve already seen them say in person that are obviously pretty bigoted and racist?

PINKETT: Right. I would say this. I don`t think it`s going to make a difference for people who have already formed their opinion on Donald Trump. What it might influence though is for people who are in his inner circle. I think I`ve learned from Omarosa and from Michael Cohen is this sense that I should have done more while I was in that Trump inner circle.

And it might have someone say to themselves you know, I`m hearing the same things that Cohen heard. I`m seeing the same shady behaviors. Maybe I need --

HAYES: That shape --

PINKETT: -- about my role as well. Or maybe I should be worried because I might end up in the same place Michael Cohen`s going.

HAYES: So of all the reporting that we`ve gotten right, so clearly there`s you know, he`s -- people close to Cohen have been talking to reporters about what he`s going to say. This is the thing that blows my mind and this is apparently what curtains up on tomorrow. This is the Wall Street Journal.

Mr. Cohen will provide documentation of his reimbursement for the $130,000 Clifford payment. Mr. Cohen will show the panel a signed check. Mr. Trump signed some of the checks reimbursing Mr. Cohen which Mr. Cohen began receiving after Mr. Trump took office according to another person familiar with the payments. That`s the President signing checks on an illegal hush- money scheme.

O`BRIEN: Right. And denying any role in any of it prior to that. And since then really, he`s never -- he`s never cops to the fact that he was in the Oval Office signing hush money payments checks. And it really you know, it speaks to how flagrant the corruption in this administration is. This is the most financially conflicted administration in the modern presidency. We know that already. The families refused to separate themselves from their business interests everything else.

But this goes beyond that. This is Trump reaching into his personal checking account, by the way, we know from testimony --

HAYES: Trump Org, we should say.

O`BRIEN: Yes. But even within Trump Org, Allen Weisselberg, the family accountant said, that the checks were going to be cut from the President`s personal funds.

HAYES: Right. So he`s reaching essentially into his own bank account to pay off his lawyer, to keep someone quiet about it an affair he had while his wife was pregnant with their son. It`s also makes you wonder like what other thing -- what other checks is he signing there. The guy is the president. He`s sitting in the White House with like what -- Weisselberg brings in the checkbook and he`s -- I mean, for the love of God.

PINKETT: I think it`s the tip of the iceberg. So we know we won`t get into Russia publicly but when we think about just that one example of what has been leaked. If Cohen has documentation on all of what we know to be the shady dealings of the Trump Organization and can have documentation to back that up, and take the veneer off of this facade that Trump has been as successful as he`s claimed could be, the house of cards that he`s built is going to begin to come tumbling down.

O`BRIEN: You know, that`s the door. Randal gets right on it. Michael Cote opens a door to other people in the Trump Organization who`s been there even longer. Allen Weisselberg, the accountant, was Fred Trump, Donald Trump`s father`s accountant. He joined the company in the 1970s when Donald did. He handles all of Trump`s personal income tax returns. He has signed at most important checks that have gone through there. He authentically knows where the bodies are buried.

HAYES: He has talked to the Southern District of New York. We know that - -

O`BRIEN: Keep cooperating with them.

HAYES: -- for a fact. It also -- you know, one of the things he talked about is property tax payments but it also I think will lend some new urgency to the tax return question which has floated out there and hung around the president and he`s sort of gotten away with so far not releasing but it`ll be interesting to see if there`s some new urgency of that after we hear from Michael Cohen. Tim O`Brien, Randal Pinkett, thank you both.

O`BRIEN: Thanks, Chris.

HAYES: Next, Alva Johnson in her own words. My exclusive interview with a former Trump campaign staffer who was suing the President alleging he forcibly kissed her in 2016 during that campaign. Alva Johnson tell her story right after this.


HAYES: Alva Johnson was enthusiastic on Donald Trump`s presidential campaign. But in a new lawsuit, she says that on August 24th, 2016, then- candidate Donald Trump seen there that day "forcibly kissed her without her consent as he exited an RV in Florida while on the campaign trail."

Johnson`s lawsuit also alleges the Trump campaign paid her less than her counterparts because she`s a black woman. The White House strenuously denies both claims Sarah Sanders called the sexual misconduct accusation absurd on its face and said is contradicted by quote multiple highly credible eyewitness accounts.

We do not know what exactly happened on that day in Florida. There are in fact three people who say they were present and deny Johnson`s claim. But the claim is not as Sanders suggests absurd on its face. The conduct that Johnson describes is the same conduct that the President himself bragged about on the infamous Access Hollywood Tape that came out six weeks after the alleged incident.

Her account echoes stories from at least fifteen other women who accused the president of kissing them and touching their bodies without their consent. And here to sell her story on camera first time is former Trump campaign staffer Alva Johnson. Thank you for coming.


HAYES: So before we get to August 24th, I just want to ask how did you get on the campaign? What motivated you to be a part of the Trump campaign?

JOHNSON: Well, I thought it may have been a good idea to have a businessman in office. When I join a campaign, there was still 16 other candidates, Republican candidates. So I didn`t think he really had a chance of winning but I felt that it would be good to have -- to support a businessman. I thought that maybe some business acumen would be -- would be needed.

HAYES: And what was your experience in the campaign before this happened as you allege in August 24th?

JOHNSON: I started off as the director of outreach coalition`s for the state of Alabama. I threw one of the largest rallies during that time. The ones --

HAYES: With Sessions on where his -- with the hat on?

JOHNSON: With Sessions on with the 33,000 -- yes. I threw that --

HAYES: I sat here in this desk and we covered it live.

JOHNSON: And so I feel like I helped legitimize him in some ways because of successes like that. And then afterwards I traveled to various states during the primaries. I was in Indiana. I was in Wisconsin, Utah, and I helped secure the delegates and helped win Indiana which also gave him the GOP nomination.

HAYES: Tell me what you say happened to you on August 24th the day that you allege in the lawsuit the president forcibly kissed you?

JOHNSON: So I usually -- like I always like to make sure that our volunteers are the ones that get to spend that time with him. That`s not what I`m there for. They`re are the ones that making the phone calls. So I was -- I had my distance. I was over in a corner. I wasn`t close to him. I was wearing a baseball cap and -- but he had to pass me on his way exiting from the R.V.

And so as he passed me, I looked at him and I said, now you go and do a good job. Go kick ass because I`ve been away from my family for a long time. And so he stops. He grabs my hand and he starts looking at me. And then as he`s looking at me, he`s holding my hand, he said I`m going to do a good job. I`m not going to let you down. I know you`ve been away from your family and I appreciate what you`re doing.

He`s holding my hand, holding my hand and then he starts coming towards me. And so he`s still holding my hand and then I just had like a lot of internal dialogue. I`m like OK, is he going to hug me? You know, like -- and then he keeps coming closer, and I`m like OK, is he going to he`s going to hug me. I`m like oh my God, I think he`s going to kiss me because he was coming directly for my face.

I mean, this is what the bill of a baseball cap. And so he just starts getting closer. And then when I he`s going to kiss my lips, I turned my mouth and he kissed me -- he caught me right in the corner of my mouth. And I was just kind of frozen. I didn`t know how to process it. I knew it was inappropriate because I worked in human resources so I knew that it was completely inappropriate. It was gross and creepy. Like I can sometimes still see those lips which -- and so he walked out and --

HAYES: Were there other people right around you at that point?

JOHNSON: Yes. There were two other women that were still on the R.V. There was only three women on the R.V., myself, Pam Bondi, and Karen Giorno. And so --

HAYES: This is inside the R.V.?

JOHNSON: This is inside of the R.V. And it`s -- most of the volunteers that kind of filed out because they had to file out in order for him to exit.

HAYES: Was there any like debrief? Was there any eye contact exchanged after that? Was --

JOHNSON: Well, you know, Pam kind of looked at me like you know -- and Karen Giorno or know who I reported to at the time kind of grabbed my elbow like kind of congratulatory. And I didn`t feel that way. You know, I was just -- I was really grossed out.

HAYES: Pam Bondi, I should say, says the following. As a career prosecutor and attorney general, I have -- had I seen anything improper I would have taken action. I was with the President in the R.V. and these allegations are false. So she`s an eyewitness there and she says you are not telling the truth.

JOHNSON: I wish she would have taken action. But no, that`s not true.

HAYES: I guess my question is how much did this resonate with you as an infraction? Was it something that you felt like I immediately need to go to talk to supervisors? Was it like a creepy thing that you kept yourself? Like what did you do afterwards?

JOHNSON: So afterwards, like I didn`t know how to process it. I didn`t know what context to put it in. And so I just kind of went on with my job. I push it to the back of my head. You know, you second-guess yourself. I`m like OK, I`m wearing like a U-neck T-shirt, I`m wearing a baseball cap, I`m wearing jeans. So I just kind of pushed it in the back of my head. I didn`t know how -- like how to how to contextualize it.

HAYES: And at what point -- fast forward a few -- six weeks after that, right? So the Access Hollywood Tape comes out. Two things happen. The president says, I just start kissing women if I`m attracted to them. You could do anything and grab them by wherever. And then a number of women make on the record accusations about similar unwanted sexual contact. What`s going through your head when you hear that?

JOHNSON: So when I heard the audio, I mean I was like screaming in my car. I`m like, oh my God, that`s exactly what he did to me. Like he literally described exactly what he did to me, minus the grab the pee. He -- I see one that`s like a magnet. I can`t even help it. I just go right in the kiss. I don`t ask. And so for me it solved the questions. You know, you kind of second-guess and you -- so it solved every question I had about the intention. It solved every question I had about the amount of inappropriateness that it was, and I never went back to work.

HAYES: After that?

JOHNSON: I never went back to work. And I had never missed a date before then.

HAYES: Did you give an explanation?

JOHNSON: I was afraid, you know. I was afraid, you know. like at the election, like the campaign was still going on. And so I just -- you know, I just told him I wasn`t coming back and then they sent me a letter terminating me although I quit.

HAYES: So that was -- that was the breaking point? You`d gone through this experience, you saw that Access Hollywood tape. Did you think in that moment because there are women coming forward, do you think about doing that yourself?

JOHNSON: I immediately found a lawyer. And a couple of days after Access Hollywood, I spoke to a lawyer who found me to be very credible. They could see how distraught I was. I was down in Florida, a state I didn`t live in. I was living in campaign housing that my boyfriend and I went in when my roommate went to work and got all of our things, made sure everything you know, left the keys on the dining room table and found alternate housing that we pay for.

And so, I found an attorney right afterwards but he -- for business reasons, he didn`t move forward with my case. And so at that point you know, James Comey has the breaking news. And so I`m down in Florida crying my eyes out, listening to salons, you know, and breaking news is they`re reopening the Hillary Clinton investigation. So I became terrified because it shifted the momentum. And I`m like oh my God, he might actually win this. And so I`m thinking like what am I going to do, like sue the president, you know? I became scared.

HAYES: There`s a -- you talk to people contemporaneously about this when it happened?

JOHNSON: I called people immediately when I was driving from Tampa back to our office in Sarasota like that day. So I never waited --

HAYES: Your boyfriend --

JOHNSON: My boyfriend, my parents. Like I never waited to -- like you know, I called them and I remember being on the phone with my parents and driving from Tampa back to Sarasota. And I was telling them about it and for some reason I started it`s become emotional, like I had to pull off at the interstate. And so yes, I told people like immediately like the same day that it happened.

HAYES: So there`s -- you talk to this lawyer. He ultimately doesn`t go forward. We`re sitting here in 2019, you file a lawsuit. To people that look at that lag between that and now and you know, you gave an interview in 2017 where you praise the president. I think you applied to work in the White House at one point. To people that look at that and say well, how do you explain -- what do you say to them when they look at that and they are confused?

JOHNSON: So I mean, I`m under a nondisclosure. I felt like my vocal cords have been clipped for years. I`m not -- you`re not supposed to criticize him. You`re not supposed to criticize the family. You`re not supposed to criticize the campaign. You cannot criticize his business. It`s used as a weapon against us. And so you know, I had no representation.

At the point he`s become the president, I`m like well, let me just move on with my life. And it`s -- I`m a regular person. It`s kind of how I feel about things like I live in a very red state. And so it becomes overwhelming and you don`t know what to do. But then in the meantime, you know, you see Charlottesville happened. I start to develop a lot of guilt because I felt like I legitimized you know -- and I worked for the campaign for a very long time.

So I -- then you then you have the babies in cages, you know. And I felt like I never signed up for things like that. I`m sorry, sorry. I never signed up for that. And then you have him mocking women with the #MeToo Movement, making fun of them. And for me, I`m sitting there, and I`m like this is exactly what you did to me. And I don`t feel like -- I don`t want to keep my mouth shut. I want my voice back. I want my freedom to speak freely without the fear, or at least without good people surrounding me that will help me fight this.

HAYES: What do you see happening next as you pursue this? I mean, there`s an NDA. Obviously the president -- the White House has denied it and they are going to try to get this thrown out. He`s the president, and the NDA. How committed are you to pursuing this?

JOHNSON: I am going to fight, like I`m not giving this up. I have -- if I was going to give up, I would have given up a long time ago. I never gave up, I just didn`t know what to do. I didn`t know what else to do, but I am not giving up. I will fight this because this is -- you know, he seems so proud of his misogyny

HAYES: Did you see that on the campaign? Was that -- I mean, I think there are some people who are probably watching this who are saying to the television screen, wasn`t that clear to you who this guy was and what he did and he was all about? And he came down the escalator and said Mexico is sending rapists and, you know, and he talked about how hot his daughter was on Howard Stern

JOHNSON: Yeah, which is gross, but again, there were 16 people in the race. Like there were -- you know, we still had Jeb Bush, you still had Ben Carson, like there was no way that I absolutely even felt that he had a legitimate chance.

HAYES: So, this was just a sort of thing to do?

JOHNSON: No, it wasn`t just a thing to do. I feel like I contributed a lot.

HAYES: No, I`m not saying...

JOHNSON: I had skillsets -- yeah, I had great skillsets that I brought that table, but I didn`t think he really had a legitimate chance of winning. And then at the point he became the nominee and I`d been on the campaign for so long, and I wasn`t around him as much as I worked with the people, like I liked working with the people. And so I worked with a lot of his supporters. I helped build the offices and things like that. And so, yeah, you know, I didn`t think that he was going to win.

HAYES: That was not your first interaction with him, am I correct, on the RV?


HAYES: So, you had other interactions.

JOHNSON: I had two other interactions.

HAYES: Two others. And how -- what were those like?

JOHNSON: The first time I met him, it was in Birmingham. And I was going to -- it was before I joined the campaign. It was right -- like it was a condition of us -- well, you know, you have to meet him so that you can join the campaign.

So I remember walking towards him and he`s looking like me. He`s like oh, fantastic, fantastic, beautiful, beautiful. And so for me when I immediately reached him, it felt like a longer walk than it was because of the comments. When I reach him I immediately tried to divert his attention like, hey, by the way I`m going to be coming on board to work for you.

So, I didn`t feel like I would still have to endure anything like that now that I`m an employee, and I was actually an employee of the campaign. And then I was only around him one other time. But like I said, like I never took selfies, it was legitimately all about the volunteers and the people who were sacrificing their time.

So anytime he was around, it was more important for me -- for them to have that time with him then it was for me, myself. Like I was I never that type -- like I never -- you know, I was never running up behind him.

HAYES: Part of the lawsuit is about differential pay, both because of your gender and your race. How did you -- did you know that that time? How did you learn that? What caused you to sort of pursue that avenue?

JOHNSON: This is another reason why I will not stop is because I had absolutely no idea I was being so grossly underpaid compared to other people who either had similar jobs or who had less responsibility. There was a kid who during his spring break, you know, knocked on doors and then he took a permanent job during the general election who was making more then double a month what I was making, who was an 18-year-old white male. And with me coming with 20 years of work experience, you know, from private sector, but I was a rock star on the campaign.

HAYES: Why do you think that was -- that race and/or gender was at the heart of that?

JOHNSON: Because in -- you know, thankfully I have great lawyers now who have looked to see what other people are making compared to what I was making and there really isn`t no other excuse. I mean, I didn`t -- if my job performance didn`t -- you know, wasn`t so great, then they would not have constantly asked me to travel from state to state.

I was on the road from March until October, until I left away from my family. You know, there are other people that were on -- on staffers who were not invited to travel. And so they put me in some of their most important primary states that they needed to win. So, it definitely was not because of my job performance. I don`t know how else to quantify I don`t know how to quantify the fact that I was so grossly underpaid.

HAYES: Final question for you. You are now public. You are here talking to me, you`re on camera, your name is out there. Are you prepared or worried about being a public figure and being someone that he and his supporters will very likely publicly attack?

JOHNSON: I know that they will. And I just have to be tough. You know, I`m not going to back down from this fight. You`re not going to underpay me, you`re definitely not go physically violate me. My opportunity to move forward in court is also the opportunity for the other 20 plus women who have accused him of physically violating their space.

I think women deserve to be paid the same that men are being paid. And I was -- like, I`m not going to look at my family. I have children. I cannot look my children in the eye -- in the eyes knowing that I`ve been treated this way and not fight for myself. So I`m in this fight for the long haul.

HAYES: Alva Johnson, former campaign staffer for the president now suing the president of the United States. Thank you so much for making the time tonight. I really appreciate it.

JOHNSON: Thank you so much. Thank you.

HAYES: We`ll be right back.


HAYES: Another crucial day for Democratic oversight in congress. Today`s hearing in the House Judiciary Committee on family separation came as newly revealed documents allege that thousands of migrant children in U.S. custody were sexually abused over a four-year span.

Scott Lloyd, the Trump administration`s former refugee director, who said the buck stopped with him, faced a withering line of questioning from Democrats.


REP. MARY GAY SCANLON, (D) PENNSYLVANIA: Did you ever consult with any mental health professionals or get any advice from them on how to implement family separation?

SCOTT LLOYD, FORMER DIRECTOR, OFFICE OF REFUGEE RESETTLEMENT: There is nothing surprising about the determination that there could be mental health consequences to separation from a parent for any period of time. It`s something we took under advisement.

REP. MADELEINE DEAN, (D) PENNSYLVANIA: Isn`t it true you instructed your staff to prevent minors seeking abortion from meeting with attorneys, lawyers to get advice?

LLOYD: OK. So there is one instance where we said that there was...

DEAN: So it`s a yes?

LLOYD: In one instance we said for a brief period of time it would be not -- because it wouldn`t be appropriate to meet with an attorney at that point.

REP. PRAMILA JAYAPAL, (D) WASHINGTON: Did you ever say to the administration this is a bad idea? Here`s what my child welfare experts have told us? We need to stop this policy? Did you once say that to anybody above you?

LLOYD: Do answer your last question, I did not say those words.


HAYES: Joining me now, the chairman of that committee, Congressman Jerry Nadler of New York. And Chairman, there is a lot to get to, there are questions about whether Matthew Whitaker perjured himself before your committee. There are also questions about the Trump Org and their possible message to you. I want to start with that family separation hearing with Scott Lloyd today. What did you learn from that hearing today?

REP. JERROLD NADLER, (D-NY) CHAIRMAN HOUSE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: Well, I think we learned a number of things. We learned, first all, the consequences of total lack of oversight by the Republicans over the last few years that the Trump people thought that they could get away with everything, and we are bringing some of this to light now. We learned of the absolute contemptuous attitude that some of these people had toward the people in their care that they didn`t care at all about the welfare of the children, that they were perfectly happy in the service of a policy to scare people away from claiming asylum to tear babies out of the arms of their parents. They didn`t care about the effects on the babies.

We learned Scott Lloyd, who used his position as the head of Office of Refugee Resettlement to personally monitor and discourage in every way teenagers from getting abortions, never talked to his superiors or anyone else about the effects of tearing babies out of the arms of their mothers. He only cared about stopping abortions. He didn`t care about the effects on children.

So, those are some of the things we learned.

And we learned most of all I think the necessity for keeping a spotlight on what these people are doing because they cannot be trusted not to torture children.

HAYES: On Scott Lloyd, who is no longer in that role at ORR, if you were to assess his competence, his ability just to do the job from a 1 to 10 based on what you know and the hearing today, what would you say it was?

NADLER: I would say it was a one, if that much. He had no experience in the area. He was an anti-abortion zealot, and those were his credentials to be put in charge of the entire refugee program, which is insane.

HAYES: I want to talk about Matthew Whitaker, too, since I have you here. Obviously, he came before your committee. There with questions about whether the president interfered in any way, talked to him, for instance, about the Southern District of New York. He seemed to knock that down. And there`s now some question about whether he perjured himself. House Judiciary Committee believes it has evidence that President Trump asked Matthew Whitaker -- I`m reading from The Wall Street Journal -- at the time the acting attorney general, whether Manhattan U.S. attorney Jeffrey Berman could regain control of his office`s investigation into Mr. Trump`s former lawyer and his real estate business, according to people familiar with the matter. What are you going to do about it?

NADLER: Well, we have reason to believe that he wasn`t completely forthright with the committee on that and on a couple of other things. And he has agreed now to come back in front of us and to try to clarify these matters. And we`re working out a date.

HAYES: So, he`s going to come back?


HAYES: Will that be voluntary like the last time it was voluntary, and he told you your time was up?

NADLER: Well, I hope he`s learned a little more humility. His arrogance was un-befitting any American official. But at the moment it`s voluntary, it could be compulsory, if necessary. But right now, he`s cooperating and we`re work on day to come back and talk to us, and we`ll see what happens from there.

HAYES: Michael Cohen is going in front of the House Oversight Committee tomorrow, that is not a committee you chair, that`s a chair by Elijah Cummings. But I do want to ask you this question, because I have you here. You`re a member of congress and you`ve served for awhile. You`ve been in the minority and you`ve been in the majority. Matt Gates, who is a Republican, who is a very sort of outspoken advocate for the president, tweeted this at Michael Cohen, "hey, Michael Cohen, did you wife and father-in-law know about your girlfriends?" No evidence that he supplies that. "Maybe tonight would be a good time for that chat. I wonder if she`ll remain faithful when you`re in prison. She`s about to learn a lot."

Have you ever seen a member of congress make a statement like that in advance of a witness coming before a House hearing?

NADLER: Well, I don`t know that I`ve seen that, but I`m not going to waste time responding to every stupid thing that Matt Gates says, but it does remind me of the president tweeting or talking to Fox News and in effect threatening Michael Cohen`s father-in-law and that came very close, if it didn`t cross the line into witness tampering. And I wrote a letter, along with Chairman Schiff and Chairman Cummings to the president warning him against witness tampering and other improper actions.

HAYES: Final question about the Trump org. The Washington Post reporting the Trump Organization had asked House committee to cease investigations, citing an alleged conflict of interest, and they reproduce a letter there. Your response to that?

NADLER: Well, it`s nonsense. We`ve retained on contract two very good people to help us with our investigations of the what`s been going on and they`ve been vetted very carefully on ethics and the Kramer Leaven Law Firm (ph) today wrote a letter in effect dismissing it. It was just nonsense.

HAYES: All right, Congressman Jerry Nadler, thank you for making some time.

Coming up, as the president lands for his summit with Kim Jong-un, a look at the president`s love affair with the North Korean dictator.


HAYES: Breaking news tonight out of North Carolina, in a story that we have been covering closely here on All In, where Mark Harris, the Republican at the center of that election fraud scandal in the ninth district, says he will not run again in a new election.

You may remember, Harris led by 905 votes back in November after the election, but allegations of fraud very quickly emerged. Lots of irregularities, people started piecing together. A subsequent investigation then revealed an illegal ballot scheme that was run by a man that Harris hired named McCrae Dowless.

Last week, Harris`s own son testified before a state body that he had warned his dad about Dowless who he was convinced had previously broken the law. And Harris, after spending the last several months, along with the North Carolina GOP demanding he be seated in congress, was forced to admit defeat and call for a new election. So now, the Ninth District will get the chance to elect someone else, maybe even the Democrat from last year`s race, Dan McCreedy, who is running again. Though, however it turns out the district will be without representation for at least several more months. And the new general election not expected until October.


HAYES: On the same day he touches down for a summit in Vietnam, there is new reporting about how Trump thinks Kim Jong-un, who had his half-brother murdered in a foreign airport by women rubbing toxins on his face, is a normal, well-adjusted dude.

It is frankly weird the way the president talks about the dictator who works his own people to the bone in prison camps, where they are sexually assaulted and starved to death.


TRUMP: I was really being tough, and so was he. And we would go back and forth, and then we fell in love, OK? Really. He wrote me beautiful letters, and they are great letters. We fell in love.


HAYES: Now, diplomacy with even the most monstrous regimes is often necessary for the sake of productive dialog and non-violent resolution of conflict, but that kind of cool-headed evaluation was not the position of the Trump administration itself back when it was threatening nuclear war with North Korea.

Remember right around the South Korean Olympics when Trump and his allies tried to paint anyone who opposed his increasingly dangerous rhetoric as morally bankrupt apologists for North Korea`s ruler, including pillorying the media`s Olympics coverage. Even as they`re now praising North Korea, they are attempting to run the same play of Manichaean moral blackmail, as they escalate U.S. threats against Iran and Venezuela.

If you don`t think the U.S. should precipitate a military conflict with Nicholas Maduro and Venezuela, you`re an apologist. And while en route to the summit in Vietnam, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo tweeted about Iran, quote, "the regime must behave like a normal country and respect its people."

OK, so North Korea is a normal country? And what about your buddy Mohammad bin Salman who hacked -- whose henchmen hacked a Washington Post columnist to death.

U.S. foreign policy has always been shot through with this kind of moral hypocrisy, but the Trump era has somehow made it all even more absurd.

Here to try to make sense of all this, Mehdi Hassan, columnist and senior contributor of The Intercept, host of the Deconstructed Podcast.

It`s always been the case the U.S. will -- in the same breath condemn some human rights abuses by, you know, adversaries and look the other way with allies, this version seems even harder to make sense of as a whole.

MEHDI HASSAN, THE INTERCEPT: As with anything to do with Trump, Chris, it`s always hard to make sense of his decisions. And we have an administration right now, which as you said in your introduction, is kind of kidding up to North Korea, in love with North Korea, sending love letters to North Korea while also saying we hate the Venezuelans, we hate the Iranians, they need to behave like normal countries. It`s just bizarre and makes no sense. It`s inconsistent, it`s inexplicable, it`s hypocritical.

But this is a president, Chris, who doesn`t really have a foreign policy doctrine. Most presidents before him -- Bush Sr., Bush Jr., Obama, Reagan, they had some kind of foreign policy doctrine. This guy -- I mean, Trump abroad basically is guided, and I use that word in the loosest of sense, it is guided by a kind of mixture of belligerence, resentment, prejudice, opportunism, and a series of brazen financial conflicts of interest.

And don`t forget ignorance, Chris, by the way, ignorance. He know nothing.

HAYES: Well, that`s exactly the thing. It`s like the hypocrisy of the Cold War, for instance, like it went along an axis, right. Like you were a U.S. ally and you were fighting the Communists, we look the other way at your human rights abuses. You weren`t, we talk about your human rights abuses.

This just doesn`t make -- it`s just -- there is no coherence. And you...

HASSAN: The Republicans hate North Korea. He hated North Korea, fire and fury. And suddenly now he`s in love with North Korea. It`s just weird and bizarre.

And by the way, this love affair with dictators, yes, every president has had love affairs with dictators, including Barack Obama, all of them have, but not with this kind of enthusiasm and giddiness and the writing of blank checks. And it matters, Chris. People say, oh, well, you just make noises about democracy. Actually, previous presidents pretending to care about democracy mattered in Bahrain, which no one talks about, small Gulf kingdom. I reported on it last year. There were people being tortured in prison cells in Bahrain where the tortures have said to them, Donald Trump gave us a green light. Now the president of America has changed. We can do whatever we want.

That is the real life on the ground consequences of this guy`s rhetoric, and this guy`s ignorance. This is a man who has nuclear weapons but thinks Nepal and Bhutan are parts of India, not independent countries and calls them Nipple and Button.

HAYES: The point you said there about, you know, Americans having love affair with dictators and this -- I think the difference here, one it`s just bizarre the way he talks about Kim Jong-un. I mean, remember the American government had all sorts of problems with Iran, no -- didn`t actually recognize them. There is no diplomatic relations before those joint talks.

Barack Obama, even during the talks, which he very much wanted to get done, was not going around saying that he was in love with the Ayatollah...

HASSAN: The Republicans could have crucified him if he did.

HAYES: Of course they would have. Of course they would have.

HASSAN: But, Chris, isn`t part of the case, as with Trump, everything is always about the personal, it`s less about the political, more about the personal. I suspect part of it is that he kind of wants to be a dictator himself. So we see that when he praises Xi Jinping and says oh he got rid of term limits, maybe I`ll do the same.

He praises Kim and he says when he speaks, his people sit up and listen. I wish my people would do the same.

I think there is a lot of envy going on here, which is part of the equation.

HAYES: Do you wonder what this means for actual American -- like how stable a foundation it is to build actual like nuclear diplomacy.

HASSAN: It`s not a stable foundation at all. Anyone who thinks that Trump is interested in nuclear diplomacy on the Korean peninsula has to ask the question why did he tear up the nuclear agreement with Iran? It just makes no sense.

He tore up hundreds of pages of years-long diplomacy with the Iranians by the international community to come back with -- what did he come back with last year, was it one page, two-page summery and he said the nuclear threat is over. And now we`re having another summit.

In fact, I remember him saying the denuclearization will begin immediately. So why are we having another summit? I thought it`s all fine over there.

HAYES: Right. Mehdi Hassan, thank you for your time.

HASSAN: Thanks, Chris.

HAYES: One last thing, you can now check out our live recording of "Why is This Happening?" Featuring special guest Stacey Abrams, it`s one you do not want to miss. Incredible conversation about her career, her plans for the future, and whether she would go on a date with Idris Elba.

Ton of fun. You can download it wherever you get your podcasts. That is All In for this evening. The Rachel Maddow Show starts right now.