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Democrats announce new hearing. TRANSCRIPT: 02/28/2019, All In w. Chris Hayes.

Guests: Rashida Tlaib, Jason Johnson, Sean Patrick Maloney, Richard Blumenthal, Chris Lu

Show: ALL IN with CHRIS HAYES Date: February 28, 2019 Guest: Rashida Tlaib, Jason Johnson, Sean Patrick Maloney, Richard Blumenthal, Chris Lu

STEVE KORNACKI, NBC NEWS NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: -- since 2012 and that certainly includes Republicans who now largely back a president with a very different view of Putin than Romney had back then. But few of them actually do what Albright did this week and admit it and grapple with it in public. That`s HARDBALL for now. "ALL IN" with Chris Hayes starts right now.



REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA), CHAIRMAN, HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: We had a long day but it wasn`t a long enough day.

HAYES: New hearings are announced.

REP. ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ (D), NEW YORK: Who else knows that the President did this?

HAYES: As the Cohen fallout grows.


HAYES: Tonight, how Democrats are expanding their investigation into criminal activity inside the White House.

COHEN: I am no longer your fixer Mr. Trump.

HAYES: Plus --

REP. RASHIDA TLAIB (D), MICHIGAN: What we have here Mr. Chairman is criminal conduct.

HAYES: Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib on her stand against racism and the president.

TLAIB: Donald Trump is setting a precedent. I reclaim my time.

HAYES: Then, breaking news from the New York time.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Jared has done an outstanding job.

HAYES: The President overruled his own intelligence agencies to grant security clearance at Jared Kushner and then lied about it. And as Trump defends the North Korean dictator over the death of an American.

TRUMP: He tells me that he didn`t know.

HAYES: A look at who the President decides to trust.

TRUMP: Roy Moore denies it. That`s all I can say.

HAYES: When ALL IN starts right now.


HAYES: Good evening from New York I`m Chris Hayes, we have officially entered a new phase in the investigations -- plural -- into the president after the first ever public testimony by a member of his inner circle. The nation watched and presumably, the President watched as Michael Cohen before Congress and the American people implicated the President in numerous crimes also claiming the President had prior knowledge of the very first WikiLeaks dump of the 2016 election.

Now Cohen was back on Capitol Hill again today for the third day in a row, this time giving closed-door testimony to the House Intelligence Committee. Afterwards, Chairman Adam Schiff announced more hearings to come.


SCHIFF: We very much appreciate Mr. Cohen`s cooperation. He has obviously had three very long days. He`ll be returning on March 6th for additional testimony. The following week on March 14th, we`ll have an open interview with Felix Sater on Moscow Trump Tower. I should tell you just to set your expectations, not every hearing is going to be like the open here with Michael Cohen.


HAYES: Cohen dropped a lot of names in yesterday`s testimony before the House Oversight Committee, alleged accomplices or witnesses who could corroborate his claims about the president including the president`s children. The Oversight Chairman Elijah Cummings told reporters today that he wants to hear from every single person whose name shows up in the hearing transcript.

House Intelligence is reportedly interested in the one whose name came up the most, Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg. He`s been with the company for decades and is said to know every last detail about the business.

We already knew the president was implicated in the criminal scheme to violate finance campaign finance law to which Cohen pleaded guilty last year identified as individual one in those court documents. And Cohen`s testimony now brings that scheme inside the White House.

Cohn presented what he said was a reimbursement check for the illegal Stormy Daniels hush money payment signed by the President in dated August 1st, 2017 while Donald Trump was in office. But that is just one of the many potential crimes of which Cohen accused his former boss. Besides the campaign finance violations, Cohen implicated the President in tax fraud, insurance fraud, bank fraud, perjury, obstruction of justice, false statements to law enforcement, and self-dealing in his Charitable Foundation.

That was just the stuff that Cohen was authorized to talk about and that appears to be the tip of the iceberg.

REP. RAJA KRISHNAMOORTHI (D), ILLINOIS: Is there any other wrongdoing or illegal act that you are aware of regarding Donald Trump that we haven`t yet discussed today?

COHEN: Yes, and again those are part of the investigation that`s currently being looked at by the Southern District of New York.


HAYES: Now, those potential crimes has anything to do at all with the investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller. And on that front, Cohen dropped a bombshell that suggests Mueller could be sitting on much more explosive information than he has disclosed thus far. In the prepared section of his testimony, Cohen claimed that Roger Stone gave the president advance notice of the first WikiLeaks dump in summer 2016, a revelation he presumably made with authorization from the special counsel.

That doesn`t appear anywhere in Mueller`s court filings though it does fit with the timing that the Mueller folks have already laid out. According to Mueller`s indictment of Russian military hackers, WikiLeaks confirmed to the hackers at the Russian GRU folks who had gotten the stolen material on or about July 18, 2016, that it received the stolen DNC documents it would release them shortly thereafter.

Cohen testified that stone spoke to the President on July 18th or 19th. As journalist Marcy Wheeler points out in New York Times, if Mr. Mueller is hiding similar examples of the president participating in the conspiracy, it suggests that whatever he plans to release in a report may have some unanticipated bombshells.

I`m joined now by one of the members of the House Intelligence Committee who questioned Michael Cohen behind closed doors today, Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney of New York. Congressman, do you learn anything new today?

REP. SEAN PATRICK MALONEY (D), NEW YORK: Yes. I learned quite a bit today. I`m not at liberty to discuss the specifics of the testimony but what I can tell you is that Michael Cohen was credible. He was forthcoming and we appreciate his cooperation.

HAYES: Were there things you discussed, I imagine, that we`re not discussed in the open session before the Oversight Committee?

MALONEY: Yes. That`s true as well. And again, while I can`t go into the specifics, I think this week will be remembered as a seminal week in the investigation of these matters. I think the testimony of Mr. Cohen is absolutely central to getting at the truth of what happened and we are happy to see that big piece of the puzzle fitting in.

HAYES: Do you have a clearer sense of what happened after today`s testimony?

MALONEY: Yes. That`s three yeses in a row. Again, this is because Mr. Cohen has been incredibly forthcoming. He answered every question. He was cooperative, generous with his time after you know doing this two days in a row and now a third day, and he`s coming back next week.

So we are looking forward to his continued testimony. We`re not through and again, this is just one witness with one set of evidence to provide, but he has been very helpful.

HAYES: Was the March 6th return testimony always on the books or was that because today went long and you had more stuff?

MALONEY: You know, I don`t know the specifics of that. I think -- I think I`ll leave that to the Chairman to discuss in detail. I don`t -- I don`t - - I didn`t know about it before today. I think common sense, to tell you there`s a lot to discuss here and we are being very thorough.

HAYES: Felix Sater is going to be before your committee on March 14th. He, of course, a person that exchanged e-mails with Michael Cohen about how our boy can get elected president and we can build this Trump Tower in Moscow. What is the thinking just in a general sense between what`s an open session and in closed session before the committee yours?

MALONEY: Well, look our focus is more on Russia per se. Yesterday you saw some eye-popping testimony. I thought you did a great job of summarizing it. I mean, to have a witness come in with documents demonstrating that the President was involved in a criminal conspiracy to evade campaign finance laws and cover it -- cover it up, I mean, that`s quite -- that`s quite a lot. That`s a pretty good day`s work.

But I`ll tell you, our focus is really on Russia. It`s on the interactions between the Trump campaign and the Russians. There`s a lot we have not learned before that you know, every day that goes by, every new fact shows what a joke the Republican investigation was in the last Congress. So it`s very important that we do a thorough job and we get the facts out to all of you.

HAYES: You mention your Republican colleagues. I`ve always wondered this because I`ve never been in a closed session because I`ve never been able to sit on the House Intelligence or Senate committee. Is it the same vibe in closed session as it is when the cameras are rolling?

MALONEY: Well, I`d say it`s a trade-off. I mean, there`s a real value to having all of you see it in real time, but there`s also a benefit to being behind closed doors where naturally there`s less of a temptation to grandstand.

The fact is -- the fact is that a lot of our Republican colleagues didn`t attend today`s hearing or only attended for a brief period of time, and that`s the kind of thing they can get away with when we`re in closed session. But I will tell you what was --

HAYES: Wait, they weren`t in there?

MALONEY: That`s right.

HAYES: Like a lot of them?

MALONEY: What I can tell you is that it dwindled as the day went on. And I think that`s -- I think that`s pretty amazing when you consider what we`re dealing with. But what I`ll tell you is that the value of a closed session is that you can really go deep, you can be thorough, and you can -- and you can really take your time to get all the facts.

I have to say the staff of our committee you know, deserves a medal for the work they`ve done and I really do want to commend Mr. Cohn for the level of cooperation he`s provided. Obviously, he has credibility issues and we need to take that seriously. Corroboration is really important to everything he says. But look, it was a very -- it was a very good day.

HAYES: All right. And he will be back March 6th, and also Felix Sater on March 14th, and we will keep our eyes on both of those. Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney of the House Intelligence Committee, thank you.

For more on the new phase the Trump investigation is launched by Michael Cohen`s testimony, I`m joined by Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, Member of the Senate Judiciary Committee an MSNBC Contributor Joyce Vance, former U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Alabama. Senator, let me start with you. Do you feel like you we -- are in a new phase after yesterday?

SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL (D), CONNECTICUT: This week has been a very bad one for Individual Number One, for Donald Trump. This has been a week of truth felon telling and fact-finding, and I think that we`re in a different faith because all of those crimes you indicated are in the investigation not only by Robert Mueller but also in the Southern District of New York, in the Eastern District of Virginia. These criminal investigations are spread among them and Cohen has been a powerful and compelling witness.

HAYES: You believed him yesterday?

BLUMENTHAL: He has credibility problems because he lied to Congress before. But --

HAYES: Yes. I mean, he has lied to Congress before but he has a long record of lying all over the place.

BLUMENTHAL: He has a long record of lying and he worked for a gentleman who has a record of allegedly lying. But remember this. I used to make arguments with the jury and I used to tell them you know, we don`t make these drug cases or these organized crime cases with choir boys. We make them with people who were involved and they have criminal wrongdoing in their background, and he directly linked Donald Trump to very serious criminal wrongdoing which is corroborated by other witnesses and documents,

HAYES: Joyce, the one person who I thought must have been pulling their hair out yesterday or calling their lawyer or enzyme some sort of shelter was Allen Weisselberg. I mean, the guy must have been mentioned two dozen times. What do you think his future is both in front of Congress and in front of Southern District?

JOYCE VANCE, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST: Well, I think you`re right. It wasn`t a very good day for Mr. Weisselberg. We know he`s already spent a little bit of time with prosecutors. We know he was given some form of limited immunity for testimony but we don`t know what it related to.

HAYES: Limited immunity which is key right? He came before a grand jury and prosecutors sometimes will say look, whatever you say in this you`re immune for it, right?

VANCE: Presumably that`s what happened. And that`s different from being a cooperating witness. A cooperating witness works out a deal that they won`t be prosecuted or they`ll get less time and they will fully cooperate. That`s not what happened with him. It`s a little bit risky for him to testify up on the Hill. If he asserts the Fifth Amendment privilege, folks up on the Hill won`t get the testimony they want.

If they give him immunity to compel that testimony, there is a risk, a strong risk that it could immunize him from whatever charges Southern District of New York might be contemplating.

HAYES: Let me -- let me ask you about the Southern District. When you say Southern District and you mentioned East District, those are things you know from public press reports, right? There`s no like back-channel communication to you on the Judiciary Committee or anyone that those investigations are happening, correct?

BLUMENTHAL: We know that the Southern District is investigating campaign violations of a possible financial crime because they have returned indictments there.

HAYES: Right. But I mean you know that based on the public record, right? There`s no secret -- there`s no secret knowledge about what`s happening in those places you have access to, correct?

BLUMENTHAL: That`s correct.

HAYES: There`s a bunch of other people who are named yesterday including the president`s children, Ivanka Trump, Donald Trump Jr. Rhona Graff was the President`s personal assistant, David Pecker at AMI, the chief operations officer Matthew Calamari also named yesterday who has one of the all-time greatest names of anyone I`ve ever encountered in years I`ve been doing news. do you anticipate seeing those people up on Capitol Hill?

BLUMENTHAL: Very definitely. I would anticipate. For example, Donald Trump Jr. hopefully coming back before the Judiciary Committee. He testified before the Judiciary Committee in our interview that his father had no advanced knowledge about the Trump Tower meeting on June 9th.

HAYES: He told you that under oath in closed sessions?

BLUMENTHAL: He told us that under potential penalty of perjury. Michael Cohen yesterday described in some detail a meeting where the President was told by Donald Trump Jr. about that meeting in advance. He also --

HAYES: He thinks -- Michael Cohen is making a deduction there. I just want to be scrupulously fair about it.

BLUMENTHAL: And he told him also about the conversation with Roger Stone where the President encouraged and approved Roger Stone talking to WikiLeaks about the dump of stolen, I emphasize, stolen e-mails.

HAYES: What do you make -- I mean, you`re a prosecutor. You ran the U.S. Attorney`s office. I mean, put yourself through the head of whoever`s running that shop down an SDNY with -- between what Michael Cohen said, whatever they have from the (INAUDIBLE). I mean, you know, insurance fraud is a crime, tax fraud is a crime. All that stuff is crimes. I mean, don`t they have an obligation to go digging on that pretty hard?

VANCE: Absolutely. You know, if you`re investigating a bank robbery and you stumble across a murder, you don`t just ignore the murder and say well, we`re here to look at bank robbery. And prosecutors and agents and you know that`s just like I do, they`re like curious four-year-old children. So anything that doesn`t fit, anything that you have more questions about, that`s what you investigate and you go until you`ve investigated an answer to every last question that you have.

It`s not a complicated process in that sense. It`s using your common sense to follow and answer all the questions that you have about what happened.

HAYES: There`s also the question yesterday about taxes and the degree to which this has been swirling forever. Obviously, your colleagues in the House have the power to subpoena them, to get their hands on them, do you - - how important is that to you after yesterday`s testimony generally?

BLUMENTHAL: Profoundly important. And we are investigating also in the emoluments lawsuit that we brought. We hope to get tax returns because the President has benefited by the payments --

HAYES: Oh you`re going to try to get them through discovery.

BLUMENTHAL: Exactly right.

HAYES: Interesting.

BLUMENTHAL: Now, one more point about Donald Trump Jr. and Joyce said it very well. Once these threads are established, once the connections are made, Donald Trump Jr. in effect lying to a congressional committee, Donald Trump Trump Jr. signing those reimbursement checks, Donald Trump Jr. implicated in other criminal activity, you have the connections that are the hallmark of a conspiracy.

HAYES: You seem to have your eyes on Donald Trump Jr. You think he lie to your committee?

BLUMENTHAL: I think he lied to our committee at least so far as we can tell right now.

HAYES: All right, Senator Richard Blumenthal and Joyce Vance, thank you both. Ahead, Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib on her takeaway from the Cohen hearing yesterday and why she decided to speak truth to power as she put it when it came to racism and the president.

And next, breaking news at the New York Times, new reporting tonight that the President of the United States lied flat out about overruling his own intelligence agencies to get national security clearance for his son-in- law. That story in two minutes.


HAYES: Well, they lied again. This time about how Jared Kushner got his top-secret security clearance despite all kinds of red flags like for instance telling the Russian ambassador during the transition he wanted to use Russian facilities away from the prying eyes of American intelligence to set up a secret back channel with the Kremlin and not reporting that wildly sketchy meeting on his own security application.

Or the report from Washington Post that officials from at least four countries discussed ways to manipulate Kushner by taking advantage of his complex business arrangements, financial difficulties, and lack of foreign policy experience. And yet despite all those honking red lights, Kushner was upgraded to top-secret security clearance over the objections of career officials who had rejected his application.

And so the question is how did that happen? Who had the power to give Jared Kushner top-secret appearance?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did you tell General Kelly or anyone else at the White House to overrule security officials? The career veterans?

TRUMP: No. I don`t think I have the authority to do that. I`m not sure I do. But I wouldn`t -- I wouldn`t do it. Jared is a good -- I was -- I was never involved with his security. I know that he -- you know, just from reading I know that there was issues back and forth about security for numerous people, actually, but I don`t want to get involved in that stuff.


HAYES: So flat denial there. Did you do it, no, and then a long hypothetical, I don`t want to get involved? OK, the president said no. That denial then echoed by none other than Ivanka Trump a week later.


ABBY HUNTSMAN, CO-HOST, ABC NEWS: There were some issues early on and there are a lot of people that question whether you were given special treatment by the president overriding other officials.


HUNTSMAN: Can you speak to that?

I. TRUMP: There were anonymous leaks about there being issues but the President had no involvement pertaining to my clearance or my husband`s clearance, zero.


HAYES: Just a lie, just a flat-out on-camera lie by Ivanka Trump right they`re looking at Abby Huntsman and lying. Just the words coming out are lies. They`re untrue things, lies. The New York Times reports tonight that it was President Trump -- oh shocker -- who ordered then-chief of staff John Kelly to give Kushner top-secret clearance.

Joining me now Chris Lu former White House Cabinet Secretary and Assistant to President Obama. OK, Chris, mystery solved. Not that surprising but how big a deal is it?

CHRIS LU, FORMER CABINET SECRETARY, WHITE HOUSE: Oh it`s a big deal. And I say that and it`s hard to get shocked by anything these days, but let`s take a look at the process. This is a process that is run by career security officials who evaluate not only your travels, your financial dealings, your contacts, and they weigh it in terms of the national security risk.

And these career officials said that Jared Kushner posed a security risk. And this was so serious that this got bumped up to the White House chief of staff and the White House Counsel. And to both of their credits, they said Jared Kushner did not deserve a clearance.

And yes, the president can override this but I would say it`s disingenuous for him to say he doesn`t know about this process. If you`ll recall, he revoked John Brennan`s security clearance so he knows full well how this process works. So this is a big deal.

HAYES: Yes. And one thing to keep in mind here is when you`re thinking about both the career officials who are human beings who work embedded in an institution and they know you know which side the White House is pushing on, and also the White House Counsel Don McGahn and the chief of staff, no one wants to be the one to say no to the boss`s son-in-law getting security clearance to do his job.

The fact they did that in like based on the factual record makes you think it must have been pretty bad.

LU: Well, and exactly right. I mean, we know that from his financial disclosure form. He had to do it -- redo it 40 times along the way. You have seen the reporting about health foreign officials thought that they could potentially compromise Jared Kushner as part of his dealings.

Let me put this in context. I work for Barack Obama for 11 years, I had to get a security clearance three different times. I had to go through the process as did everyone who serves at the highest level and has access to this information.

If I could not have qualified for clearance, Barack Obama would not have overridden the recommendations. He would have found another place for me. And you don`t need to believe me. James Clapper, the former DNI went on T.V. today and said he`s not aware of this ever happening before.

HAYES: Yes. So here -- what you`re saying is there`s no special favor there. Maybe you get a job in you know, HHS or something where you don`t have to have clearance. But it`s just not done that you override in this way?

LU: It is just not done. And Chris, let`s put this in the broader context of how this president handles security matters. We know that he has used an unsecured phone. We know that he`s held national security meetings in front of Mar-a-Lago guests. He`s disclosed classified information to the Russian Foreign Minister, to fundraisers, and we know that he`s revoked the security clearances of his political opponents.

And on top of all that he ran an entire campaign based on the baseless allegation that his opponent had misused in for classified information. So this is hypocritical in the extreme.

HAYES: Plus, we should note that Don McGann and John Kelly were both so alarmed by this issue or so determined to cover their own reputations that they both wrote contemporaneous memos being like, this is Donald Trump doing this.

Here`s my final question to you. What is weird about this is the president you know, the national security state that we have erected basically post- 1945 and the classification system which is metastasized, it all sort of is run by the president at the top. The president is the ultimately the person who gives or takes away clearances almost like a king in certain ways. He could have just granted this. Why the lies? Why do they lie about it?

LU: You know, I don`t know why the lies. I mean, I`d like to think that they tried to run the normal process but I suspect you know, as you see from the New York Times reporting, he kept thinking somebody below him was going to take care of this and he finally got so frustrated and he overruled it.

HAYES: Right, yes, exactly. He didn`t want it to be him reaching in to do it for his son-in-law by the way who has this portfolio and is running around the Middle East talking to MBS right now making -- putting a peace deal together. Chris Lu, thank you very much.

LU: Thank you.

HAYES: Yesterday, we all watched his Michael Cohen testified that the president is a degenerate racist. North Carolina Congressman Mark Meadows, a close ally the president objected to this fact and he did so by displaying a woman next to him named Lynne Patton, an African-American Trump supporter who happens to now work for the Trump administration. She used to work for the Trump Org.

It wasn`t too long before Rashida Tlaib, a Democrat from Michigan calls him out on this strange display. Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib joins me to talk about it next.



TLAIB: Just to make a note Mr. Chairman. Just because someone has a person of color, a black person working for them does not mean they aren`t racist. And it is insensitive that some would even say it`s -- the fact that someone would actually use a prop, a black woman in this chamber in this committee is a lone racist in itself.

REP. MARK MEADOWS (R), NORTH CAROLINA: My nieces and nephews are people of color. Not many people know that. You know that Mr. Chairman. And to indicate that I asked someone who is a personal friend of the Trump family who has worked for him, who knows this particular individual that she`s coming in to be a prop, it`s racist to suggest that I asked her to come in here for that reason.


HAYES: So that exchange happened yesterday at the very end of the Cohen hearing. And today, Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib and Congressman Mark Meadows had a brief conversation on the House floor during some other House business and that ended with a hug. In the interim, Meadows outburst prompted some searching through the man`s archives and not one but two videos surfaced showing Meadows during his first congressional run in 2012 engaging in birtherism.


MEADOWS: 2012 is the time that we`re going to send Mr. Obama home to Kenya or wherever it is. We`re going to do it.

If we do our job from a grassroot standpoint, we won`t have to worry about. You know, we will send him back home Kenya or wherever it is.


HAYES: Meadows was asked earlier today about those comments.


MEADOWS: It was early on in a primary. And certainly it didn`t indicate any personal malice that I would have towards any president, previous or sitting president. Anyone who knows me knows that there is not a racial bone in my body.


HAYES: Not a single racial bone in there.

Joining me now from Detroit, Democratic Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, a member of the House Oversight Committee.

Mr. Meadows has spoken about your exchange today on the floor. I wanted to hear your side of what that exchange was today.

REP. RASHIDA TLAIB, (D) MICHIGAN: Yeah, I was -- I looked up and there he was, thanking me for being gracious. We had an exchange about what happened in committee. And we went our separate ways.

It was really, you know, thoughtful of him to come up to me and to thank me that way. I think some of my colleagues were around were also kind of watching the exchange, but I did appreciate that he did that.

HAYES: Do you -- are you, do you regret saying what you said yesterday in the hearing or do you stand by what you said yesterday in the hearing?

TLAIB: Oh, absolutely not. I mean, I really do stand by it. And folks need to know, I come from a community that I was raised in, which is the most beautiful blackest city in the country, and fully around us in what`s happening, I think, in the country right now, with this sitting president of the United States. Very much, I wanted to be heard. I wanted to be seen. And for me, at that moment, watching this young woman stand up behind Congressman Meadows in that way was very hurtful and it was very disrespectful.

HAYES: Did you -- what is the bigger lesson here? Because I think one of the things that happens every day in congress now, the House minority, the Republican Party, is overwhelmingly white and male. I mean, you know, you really see it. The majority is a much more diverse coalition of folks from different ethnic backgrounds, different races. It`s female representation is higher and it kind of seems like we`re watching these sort of two Americas interact tensely with each other in every single committee hearing.

TLAIB: Yeah, I mean, I can tell you, so many of us -- I mean, this is the most diverse class, the largest class since Watergate, but I think many of us didn`t run to be the first of anything, many of us, especially the women of color that are there, really ran because they had a desire to do right by their communities and their families that they represent. But also, you know, we didn`t come just to make congress look differently, which I think is important, but also we, you know, want to speak differently, we want to feel differently, we want people back home to be able to relate to this congress, to feel like it is a people`s congress and reflective of who we are.

HAYES: I thought that moment was an example of that, I have to say. I mean, if you had not said that -- a lot of people remarked about that, a lot of people remarked about that moment on social media, a lot of people we work with remarked about it. Had you not said it, I don`t think it would have gotten said in that room, so that was -- it was a striking moment for that reason.

Did you -- I want to pivot to the substance, because you were in that committee to talk to Michael Cohen and hear his testimony. Did you find him credible, did you feel like learned new things yesterday?

TLAIB: You know what I did find is -- I mean, this is a man that represented and was a personal lawyer for the sitting president of the United States for 10 years, but all of his criminal acts, his lies, all of it is related, interconnected, to the president of the United States, the man that sits in the Oval Office right now.

And so much of these criminal schemes continued on into the 2017 year, not only from the money he paid back, the bribery he paid back to Mr. Cohen but also this constant just a reflection of what he is as a president, I mean from the fact that he used fraudulent schemes, the fact that he`s lied in the past. All of the different terminologies that I think Mr. Cohen presented to all of us was very much eye opening.

But at the same time a lot of us knew this was happening, but I think at a moment, I remember sitting there and when he was saying that as he was leaving the Oval Office, Mr. Cohen looked back and President Trump says to him, you know, you`re getting your next payment, it just takes a little bit longer because the White House mailing system. I mean, at that moment, it`s just the gravity of the fact this is a sitting president of the United States, sending, you know, I don`t even call it hush money, it`s bribery, to continue that scheme while he sits in the Oval Office. What else do we not know as an American people?

HAYES: Well, I guess the question, that example you just bring up, that is something that`s already been charged and pleaded to as a felony crime in the Southern District, in the jurisdiction of the Southern District. Did you hear anything impeachable yesterday? What has it done to your thinking about impeachment?

TLAIB: From day one, and everyone knows this, from the number of public statements, but also op-eds I`ve written and statements that I`ve made publicly throughout my district and even in D.C., I can tell you it is so much interconnected, but most importantly for me as an attorney, as somebody that even just took the oath of office and upholding the United States constitution, it is my duty and responsibility to hold every single person to the rule of law, to the United States constitution.

And I can tell you, the biggest fear, and what makes many of us upset is the fact that he hasn`t divested in any of his domestic or international businesses. Much of the decisions he`s making right now is so much in conflict in what is the best interest of the American people.

And this is the emolument clause of the United States constitution. This is in there and it`s very clear, because this is not going to be our last CEO, folks. I mean, America needs to wake up and understand that if we`re going to let this president not provide and be transparent about not only his taxes, but the fact that he hasn`t completely cut ties with the Trump organization.

We`ve already seen leases that have been entered into between the White House and the Trump organization. We`ve seen over 1,000 illegal contacts from Saudi Arabian government to a number of other entities with the Trump organization. That alone is so dangerous and threatens our democracy in this country.

HAYES: Illegal contacts? What do you mean by that?

TLAIB: I mean, for instance, the Saudi Arabian government spending $270,000 at the Trump Hotel in D.C. To me, that`s an illegal act. I mean, you`re spending...

HAYES: I see. In terms of the emoluments. I got you.


HAYES: I wanted to make sure that there wasn`t some huge news story I missed.

TLAIB: No. I would tell people if there was.

HAYES: Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib, thank you so much.

TLAIB: Thank you so much for having me.

HAYES: Still ahead, Matt Gaetz`s witness intimidation and the desperate lengths Republicans will go to to win the favor of the president.

Plus, meet Mattie Calamari (ph). That`s tonight`s Thing One, Thing Two next.


HAYES: Thing One tonight, Michael Cohen named several people yesterday who may have known about dirty deeds inside the Trump organization, but one name in particular really stuck out.


ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ, (D) NEW YORK: To your knowledge, did the president ever provide inflated assets to an insurance company?


OCASIO-CORTEZ: Who else knows that the president did this?

COHEN: Allen Weisselberg, Ron Lieberman, and Matthew Calamari (ph).


HAYES: I`m sorry, who? Is that a real person? Matthew Calamari? As this Twitter user so accurately put it, Matthew Calamari sounds like the made up name by the screenwriter of a mafia B-movie who doesn`t know any actual Italians. But he is real, and he is spectacular.

This is Matthew "Matty" Calamari, executive vice president and chief operating officer of the Trump organization. If he doesn`t really look like the executive type to you, well he`s not. He reportedly caught Trumps eye back in the 80s when the future president saw him roughing up some hecklers at a tennis tournament where Calamari was working security.

Trump hired him as a bodyguard and sometimes chauffeur, which is what Calamari was doing when this exchange occurred as described in a 1993 Trump biography, "`You`d do anything for me, wouldn`t you Matty,` Donald called out from the rear of the limousine. `Yes, sir, Mr. Trump,` Calamari assured him. `Would you kill for me, Matty?` Donald pressed. `Yes, sir.`"

Loyal, but how do you think Matty Calamari might fare under questioning by members of congress live in front of the entire nation? Hard to say. We can only go by what we`ve seen before.


MATTHEW CALAMARI, EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT, TRUMP ORGANIZATION: Um, because, wow, because, wow, I`m not doing too good.


HAYES: That`s Thing Two in 60 seconds.


HAYES: Michael Cohen painted a compelling portrait yesterday of the Trump organization as a criminal operation. The more characters we meet involved with the company, the more they look like a bunch of Pallies (ph) in a bad crime movie. Consider his right-hand man and long time bodyguard Keith Schiller, seen here punching a protester in the face. Schiller went on to become director of Oval Office operations in the White House, because operations is a whole different kind of meaning for Mr. Trump.

And then the COO of the Trump organization, Matthew "Matty" Calamari, who once reportedly told the president he`d kill for him and allegedly terrorized the family of a Trump employee who is planning to reveal evidence of financial misconduct at the company.

Matty Calamari may now be called before congress as a witness to crimes at the Trump org, and we can only imagine how he`ll do under the harsh spotlight.


TRUMP: And another man who`s done a great job for me is Matthew Calamari, my chief operating officer -- Matthew.

CALAMARI: Donald, you know I don`t care for Jen very much, got to be honest with you, because, wow, because, wow, I`m not doing too good.

REGIS PHILBIN, TALK SHOW HOST: Why are you looking at me?

CALAMARI: I don`t know.

TRUMP: You`re doing great, Matt. Who do you like? Who do you like of the two?

PHILBIN: Who do you like of the two, Matt? Which one?

CALAMARI: All right, Kelly. I think, wow, OK.

PHILBIN: Donald, what he`s trying to say is he likes Kelly.

TRUMP: Hey, Regis. People think this stuff is easy, right Regis? It`s not so easy.



HAYES: It`s always interesting to see whom the president trusts, who he attacks, and who he defends. He called Hillary Clinton a liar. He called the women, many women who accused him of inappropriate sexual contact and sexual assault liars, but Kim Jong-un, who runs the world`s biggest gulag state, that imprisoned American tourist Otto Warmbier and returned him with such extensive brain damage that he died soon after?


TRUMP: Those prisons and those camps, you have a lot of people, and some really bad things happened to Otto, some really, really bad things.


TRUMP: But he tells me he didn`t know about it and I will take him at his word.

(end video clip)

HAYES: Take him at his word. Because if you are a certain kind of powerful man, Donald Trump takes you at your word. Like Russian President Vladimir Putin and his denial of U.S. election interference.


TRUMP: My people came to me, Dan Coates 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 reason why it would be. I will tell you that President Putin was extremely strong and powerful in his denial today.


HAYES: Strong and powerful denial. Donald Trump also defended failed Republican senate candidate and accused child molester Roy Moore.


TRUMP: Roy Moore denies it. That`s all I can say, he denies it. And by the way, he totally denies it. He denies. I mean, Roy Moore denies it. And by the way, he gives a total denial.


HAYES: Not just any denial, a total denial of being a child molester.

He also gave the benefit of the doubt to former White House staff secretary Rob Porter, who is accused of abusing both of his ex-wives.


TRUMP: He also, as you probably know, he says he`s innocent and I think you have to remember that. He said very strongly yesterday that he`s innocent.


HAYES: Well, if he said it very strongly, I mean he`s probably...

The president even defended Prince Mohammad bin Salman of Saudi Arabia, whose henchmen brutally cut up and murdered a Washington Post journalist inside a Saudi consulate.


TRUMP: I spoke with the Crowned Prince yesterday, and he strongly said that he had nothing to do with this, this was at a lower level.


HAYES; Those are the kind of men that Donald Trump trusts, those are the kind of people he puts his faith in, which might not be surprising given those who blindly give their own loyalty to Donald Trump. That`s next.


HAYES: Florida Republican Congressman Matt Gaetz found his way into the hearing room for Michael Cohen`s explosive public testimony yesterday, which was a little odd, because Gaetz is not on the oversight committee, and then told reporters he was there to ask questions, a remarkably bold move given that he`s not on the committee, and also that Gaetz appeared to explicitly threaten Cohen shortly before his testimony in what many took to be a blatant attempt at witness tampering. Gaetz did ultimately apologize for his threat admit an investigation by the Florida State Bar Association for potentially violating professional conduct rules.

But the apology may not have been very sincere. Today, Edward-Isaac Dovere reported that President Trump called the congressman last night from Hanoi to talk about the Cohen testimony and the threats (since rescinded) Gaetz made about Cohen. "I was happy to do it for. You just keep killing it," Gaetz was heard telling him.

Now, Gaetz is a particularly special flower, but nearly every Republican in the house is to some degree a version of Matt Gaetz devoted not to Republican policies or a conservative ideology, but to Donald Trump above all else.

Joining me now, Joy Reid host of MSNBC AM Joy, and MSNBC political analyst Jason Johnson, politics editor at The Root.

Gaetz is -- Gaetz is at the avant-garde, right? He`s like -- that`s like everyone is trending in the direction of Matt Gaetz in the House.

JOY REID, HOST, AM JOY: Absolutely. Matt Gaetz is basically Michael Cohen without the salary, or with the taxpayer paying his salary. And so the irony is that they didn`t get the irony, well Michael Cohen says I`ve been doing what you all have been doing, I did it for 10 years. They`re literally still doing it. Matt Gaetz is the new Michael Cohen.

HAYES: I find -- I actually find the psychology of that bizarre, because to me the president seems like such a -- in some ways, like absurd and ridiculous figure, he seems like a deeply not psychology but kind of a broken person in certain ways, like in a deep way, and this certain kinds of person, the Matthew Calamaris of the world, the Michael Cohens of the world, the Matt Gaetz`s of the world who are like that, I will do anything for you.

JASON JOHNSON, THE ROOT: Look, it`s Devin Nunes. There are tons of them, right.

HAYES: No, there are tons of then.

JOHNSON: They are willing to be that guy. They are the guy who would steal candy from the store they worked at to give to the popular kids in high school, because they think maybe then I`ll be invited to the party. What Michael Cohen was saying the whole time is the party is not that good, and you end up in jail at the end. But Gaetz doesn`t care. And he`s denied that he made that statement to the president, but if you didn`t say it then, you`ll say it at some other point, because that`s what you are about.

HAYES: But this is a different theory I think then a theory I often hear, which is very popular, which is they are afraid of their base and they have to do this, and so they are doing it.

I think there are those Republicans, but I thought when you saw -- mostly what you saw in the hearing yesterday from the Paul Gosars and your Congressman Higgins and your, you know, and from Mark Meadows, this is them. This is their belief system. They are genuinely loyal to the president because they genuinely admire him.

REID: And the thing is, is that Matt Gaetz is not at risk for his base. That is a deep, deep red district that he`s running in. I`ve been talking with Florida, you know, folks in the Florida political world, particularly on the Republican side, since this stuff happened, and it`s very clear.

You know, Matt Gaetz is -- he`s a true believer, he`s drunk all the Kool- Aid, gulped it down, but the reality is, is these people, who are -- let`s be clear, some of them Trump supporters, have said what Matt Gaetz doesn`t understand that Michael Cohen understands, if he were to lose reelection, he would be a loser to Donald Trump. Donald Trump would cut him off. He will not be hired by Donald Trump. Donald Trump will consider him a nobody.

HAYES: The wildest thing about this is that the memory hole that we will ultimately enter into, because right now CPAC is happening. I saw Dave Weigel (ph) and a few people being like George W. Bush does not exist at CPAC, he does not exist. The guy never existed. People are like, oh, finally a Republican president who is against abortion. It`s like, eight year -- and why? Because he ended in essentially disgrace and ruin. He was extremely unpopular. He was a bad president. The historical record I think shows that pretty clearly. And George W. Bush is gone.

But there was a time when there were people running around ready to carve the guy`s face into Mount Rushmore.

JOHNSON: And you`re going to see the same thing with Trump.

And let`s say he looses in 2020. I mean, look, they`ll just find a new person that they want to worship, but they`ll say that he was the greatest person, he was taken out by the liberals and all the other terrible people out there.

But I think the other thing to remember is this, it`s the fact that the president, even though he`s not loyal to you, and even though he won`t protect you, the sort of patina of shamelessness that he is presented has helped other people.

Jim Jordan, given his own scandals, given some of the scandals of some of the people on the committee, you know, but they are able to say this because I`m under penumbra of President Trump, and that`s what these guys are doing.

HAYES: Jim Jordan was a wrestling coach at Ohio State University where there was a doctor who repeatedly and routinely and apparently systematically molested, groped and sexual assaulted the wrestlers there, multiple wrestlers have come forward on the record to say there is no way that Jordan did not know about this, it`s something we talked about all the time. Jordan, of course, has denied that. But, yes, for him to be up there launching the character assassination...

JOHNSON: ...conspiracies everywhere, but apparently couldn`t see them when he was a coach.

REID: But the reality is, is that Donald Trump has empowered a certain kind of DGAF manhood, a kind of right-wing I can do it meanness. Like he`s -- this is what people want to indulge in. He gives you the ultimate permission to indulge, it`s like being in a gang. I hate to use another mafia -- and a lot of people are connecting to sort of the mob, but it`s the same kind of thing, you know this is a dangerous, you know this can actually get you killed, but there is something intoxicating about being in the mob.

HAYES: Yeah. I think that`s it`s it, right. And I think the reason I think that has more explanatory power, particularly on what`s going on in the House side, is like that`s all it is, really, on the House side. I mean, more and more, there are people...

REID: They`re gerrymandered. They`re not going to lose.

HAYES: For some people -- right, the ones that are sort of...

JOHNSON: They`re not in danger.

HAYES: And the people that are conflict -- there is people I think in the Senate who are conflicted. I think there are lot of people -- I think there are still people in the House who behind closed doors and off the record will say things, but I think a thing that people don`t reckon with is they like -- they genuinely like Donald Trump. They love him. They admire him. They think he`s great. They want to defend him. That`s like -- no one is, you know, extorting them.

JOHNSON: It`s Roger Stone with Nixon now. But I promise you, there will be Trump tattoos on the backs of these guys by 2020 -- of Trump, of Melania, of anybody in this administration.

And you see it -- look Lindsey Graham is the perfect example of this. It is intoxicating. And they don`t care that they`re hated by other people. Now I`m part of the team, now I`m one of the cool guys.

HAYES: Yeah, we should Justin Amash stood out yesterday for not being like that, who asked some really good -- just straight forward questions.

REID: And you know how many Justin Amash`s are? One.

HAYES: Joy Reid and Jason Johnson, thanks for being with me tonight.

REID: Thank you.

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