Judge: Wilbur Ross broke law, violated constitution. TRANSCRIPT: 3/7/19, All In w/ Chris Hayes.

Guests: Elliot Williams, Walter Dellinger, Franklin Foer, Natasha Bertrand

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST:  Thank you so much.  David Corn tonight as always, Barbara McQuade as always, Malcolm as always, Tom Winter as well, thank you all.  That`s HARDBALL for now.  "ALL IN" with Chris Hayes starts right now.

CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST:  Tonight on ALL IN.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  Paul Manafort was with me for a short period of time.  He did a good job.

HAYES:  Donald Trump`s campaign chairman faces justice.

PAUL MANAFORT, FORMER CAMPAIGN CHAIRMAN, TRUMP CAMPAIGN:  He was the most incredible candidate I`ve ever worked for.

HAYES:  Tonight, as Paul Manafort learns his fate.

SEAN HANNITY, HOST, FOX NEWS CHANNEL:  You were confident from day one.

HAYES:  What we know about the fraud, the deception, and the collusion of the man who helped elect a president.

HANNITY:  You never lost that confidence.

HAYES:  Plus, as Democrats try to thwart Paul Manafort`s pardon strategy --

MANAFORT:  That`s obviously what the -- our position is.

HAYES:  What we`re learning tonight about Michael Cohen`s own pardon play.  Then, why another judge says the Trump administration broke the law to try and rig the census.  And as the right melts down over the Green New Deal.

HANNITY:  Beyond dangerous, beyond scary.

HAYES:  Author David Wallace-Wells on why climate catastrophe is closer than anyone thought when ALL IN starts right now.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HAYES:  Good evening from New York I`m Chris Hayes.  President Trump`s campaign chairman Paul Manafort is going to prison.  Less than an hour ago, the judge in Manafort`s Virginia trial sentenced him to 47 months in prison minus nine months for time served.  That is -- it should be clear, far less than the federal guidelines which called for 19 to 25 years.

Before he handed down the sentence, federal judge T.S. Ellis call the Sentencing Guidelines too high saying Manafort, the man who made millions of dollars working for dictators around the world had "lived an otherwise blameless life."  Manafort still faces sentencing in front of a D.C. judge next week who has already found that Manafort breached his plea agreement by lying.  Judge Amy Berman Jackson could tack on as much as ten years on to Manafort` current sentence.

Now, with the never-ending flood of information about the alleged crimes of Donald Trump and his associates, it`s very easy to process each individual story we get in the context of an expectation that there will be some once and for all smoking gun revelation down the road and around the next corner.  But I think on this day of all days is Paul Manafort is set to go to prison, it`s important to take stock of what we already know about Paul Manafort because it is unbelievably scandalous.

This is a guy who contra Judge Ellis was sleazy from the jump, who started a lobbying firm back in the 80s with none other than Roger Stone, another Trump advisor who may himself be going to jail soon.  Who when he was hired on the Trump campaign at the time, people warned that Trump was -- that Manafort was a scandal waiting to happen.  Who so desperately wanted to join the campaign that he offered to work for free despite being in huge debt and then immediately tried to figure out how he could "get whole" with the massively powerful Russian oligarch close to Putin that he owed money to.

Who gave internal polling data to a guy the FBI assessed to be linked to Russian intelligence and lied about it who then later collaborated with that guy in getting their story straight in violation of his bail sending Manafort to and the alleged Russian agent fleeing back to Moscow to escape his own indictment.  Who is then convicted on eight counts of tax and bank fraud who agreed to plead guilty in other trial and then live in his own cooperation because he was so desperate to conceal the full truth?

Paul Manafort himself is a walking scandal in any universe including this one.  Just the existence of Paul Manafort as the president`s campaign manager would be shocking, jaw-dropping, top-five scandal of all time.  And just to be clear, Manafort did collude with Russia.  He colluded.  After it was publicly known the Russians had hacked the DNC, after he was part of the Trump Tower meeting with Russians looking to get dirt on Hillary Clinton who said the Russian government was supporting Donald Trump, after Donald Trump stood on stage and said this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP:  Russia, if you`re listening, I hope you`re able to find the 30,000 e-mails that are missing.  I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAYES:  After all of that, Paul Manafort gave the campaign`s internal polling data according to one footnote appears to be at least 75 pages worth to a man the FBI says to have ties to Russian intelligence and walked him through it.  Why?  On two separate occasions, Paul Manafort was given the option to tell the truth or risk more time behind bars and both times he chose to lie rather than the reveal the full story and we still don`t know why.

Joining me now is Ari Melber, MSNBC Chief Legal Correspondent, Host of "THE BEAT."  Lots of shocked reaction to what happened in the courtroom.  What`s your takeaway?

ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST:  My takeaway is this is how the system works and we know that.  You`ve covered these stories in and around cities across the country.  Paul Manafort was described by all accounts by a very sympathetic judge as someone who should benefit and get an exception to these federal rules.  You would get 20 years or closed 15, or 12, but you get the exception just four years because of otherwise blameless life.  Otherwise blameless life.

Those three words about Paul Manafort as you so expertly just laid out are absurd to anyone who has followed this.  On my show earlier today, we had a former state Republican chair talking about how disgusting he finds Paul Manafort`s behavior he doesn`t want to be an example to Republicans.

HAYES:  Republicans will come out of the woodwork to text you or D.M. you about Paul Manafort, that it worked with them.

MELBER:  Yes.

HAYES:  To be like, oh that guy, that guy is real sleazy.

MELBER:  So if somebody deserves exception in our system, much lower than the normal thing, is it this guy based on that conduct of felonious activity in multiple jurisdictions, that`s why he`s got a whole another sentencing next week, who after being convicted lied to Mueller, said I`m going to help you, then committed new obstruction, witness tampering, mislead the prosecutors

Another thing that people may be interested in today inside that courtroom was the Mueller prosecutor said this guy kept lying to us.  It was 50 hours not because he helped, but because he kept wasting so much of our time.  And these careful prosecutors, they had to still run that down and confirm it. 

So that`s the headline, that`s a pre-Trump era racist, classist, aspect of the way our laws are not applied equally, but it`s also really an indictment I think of the way this court has operated within a larger story that is important which is what`s going to be the end of the Mueller probe.

HAYES:  Yes, I want to pause there for a second just -- on this sort of comparative justice.  Because I think that one of the big things that people are doing in reaction to this is they have lots -- this guy -- I mean, first of all, to trace back the steps, right, many of the things that Paul Manafort were convicted of tax fraud, bank fraud, he was doing in plain sight for years and he wasn`t even being investigated.

So the very fact that he was in a courtroom was almost a sort of bad luck accident that he came into the crosshairs of Robert Mueller.

MELBER:  Absolutely.  And so there`s some sort of attitude whether it`s a Virginia elite Beltway attitude or what some call the swamp that somehow these aren`t serious crimes.  And so gosh, why is he up for 20 years?  He`s up for 20 years because we have guidelines around this type of thing.  These are not blameless to use Judge Ellis` very poor choice of words, these are blame-full, these are blameworthy.

These are crimes by someone who had enormous money and power more so than most Americans would ever have and who used that power and money to further enrich himself, to steal from others by stealing, tax fraud charges, to go around the world selling his wares and then -- and this is important, to run as you pointed out, an American election campaign for the person who now occupies the White House while hiding all these foreign dealings.

There`s a reason we have laws that require the disclosure of foreign lobbying because there`s national security implications.  The notion that tonight a federal judge looks at all of that, most of it anyway, some of it is next week, and says this is blameless stuff, and boy, they were too tough on him, it tells you a lot about the American justice system.  I think it tells you less about Paul Manafort.

HAYES:  I want to just read this tweet from a public defender in Brooklyn who says, for context and Manafort`s 47 months in prison, my client yesterday was offered 36 to 72 months in prison for stealing $100 worth of quarters from the residential laundry room.

MELBER:  Thank you -- thank you for highlighting that.

HAYES:   That`s the thing that happens in --

MELBER:  You could do that story all night, every night, all year at the American justice system.  We`ve said at times it feels like America is going to law school through the Mueller probe.  Well, tonight is one of those nights where don`t lose the outrage that you feel that people have because it comes from a higher calling that we want the justice to be done in this country equally and we still can try to do that.

HAYES:  So let`s talk about the one part of this that I find so strange and digging on this and you mentioned it.  This is a guy who two times has a sort of Damocles over him, OK.  So he`s a guy who`s indicted and charge and he gets house arrest.  Now that`s -- again, talking about the two justice systems, right?  A lot of people spend a lot of time in place like Rikers, like Kalief Browder did three years there before he killed himself.

He gets house arrest and can`t -- he`s not supposed to talk to anyone about the case, whatever, and is so compelled to engage in a cover-up, violates the terms of that and sends himself to jail.  That alone, that first thing he did is strange.

MELBER:  Absolutely.  He`s walking around here, and at one point he had the two ankle braces, ankle monitor, and he goes on and he commits more crime which has been proven, which is why he was in jail pretrial detention.  Before that like many other wealthy people, he didn`t have to be in jail before trials you mention at Rikers, and all these other facilities there`s that.

And so what does that tell us?  It tells us that he thought this was a system that ultimately would always give him a break he didn`t deserve.  And tonight, and this is -- I`m sorry, some of you reports that and is not happy news.  Tonight, Paul Manafort was partly right, at least about Judge Ellis.  He was right to think he could always basically get a break that nobody else would get.

HAYES:  Well, and in terms of what break he`s angling for right?  So he does that on the front side.  He`s going back to Konstantin Kilimnik, Kilimnik ends up getting indicted, fleds to Russia OK.  Now, all that happens, he gets convicted.  Now you`ve got a second trial and he pleas, and he does this crazy thing again which is that in the midst of the plea, he lies to the people, the conditions of his pleas is he has to tell the truth which is another crazily reckless thing to do in any other context.

HAYES:  Right.  This is the part that is just a very gangster.  Now, when you try to understand what El Chapo was doing in Mexico and why he acted the way he did, the shorts -- the short version of the store was he was above the system anyway.  So even when he was put in jail, he knew they`re going to help him escape.  It didn`t work so well in the United States and our system is still I think something to be proud of compared to a lot of places.

But Paul Manafort was acting that way either because he`s so accustomed that he can`t wrap his head around the idea that anything might ever catch up with him or as Kevin Downing, his lawyer, said when walking out of the courtroom tonight, they didn`t talk about their victory.  A lot of lawyers would say look at how well we did it we did in there.

HAYES:  We did it.  We convinced the judge.

MELBER:  They didn`t make a preview argument to the next thing they have to do.  His learn is supposed to represent him next week where he could get 10 years.  They said something for an audience of one in the White House, they said no collusion.

HAYES:  That was the one statement from Kevin Downing, his lawyer.

MELBER:  It was brief.

HAYES:  Comes out and says -- comes out having gotten a downward departure of 15 years below the max the guy was facing doesn`t talk about any of that, doesn`t thank the judge.  Here`s a look.  Here`s Kevin Downing.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KEVIN DOWNING, LAWYER OF PAUL MANAFORT:  Manafort finally got to speak for himself and made clear he accepts responsibility for his conduct and I think most importantly what you saw today is the same thing that we had said from day one.  There`s absolutely no evidence that Paul Manafort was involved any collusion with any government official from Russia.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAYES:  Government official.  Konstantin Kilimnik who he get the polling data to may not be a government official but their suspicion that he`s connected to intelligence.

MELBER:  Well, I want to --

HAYES:  That is -- I mean, that is such a remarkable thing for him to come out I think to come out and say.

MELBER:  I think you put your finger on the parsing.  I don`t want to make light of this, but the best collusion isn`t done with current formal government officials. 

HAYES:  Of course.  Of couese.

MELBER:  That`s number one.  Number two, his words Mr. Downing there said most important.  Most important was not citing a judge who just gave you a sweetheart deal or saying this proves that that was overdone, or even --

HAYES:  Right.

MELBER:  The most important thing is something that he wasn`t --

HAYES:  The most important to a person who we all know was watching.

MELBER:  Exactly.  And let`s not forget.  Bob Mueller is so by-the-book that when he did broaden out to potentially beyond the core of what might have been the collusion charges, he went back to DOJ and asked for that authorization saying I found these felonies.  I want to make sure we`re good, I mean pursuing them regarding Mr. Manafort.  And DOJ under a Trump appointee Roger Rosenstein said yes, proceed.  We have only a redacted version of that.

But again, legally what Mr. Downing is doing which he knows because he`s an able lawyer, has no significance.  He`s making arguments that are extra- legal, out of the courtroom presumably for the president.

HAYES:  And we should note that the Mueller`s prosecutors already said in open court, right, in hearings we have that this sort of meeting with Kilimnik goes to the core of their inquiry.  And also that they thought that one of the reasons Manafort was lying to them was because he was trying to get a pardon.

MELBER:  Right.  They think that was at issue.  You also have these reports about pardon discussions in New York which I know you`re covering and are interesting as well.  So all of this raises to the question of what are you hiding?  Why does Paul Manafort have to go to these great lengths when he could have gotten a sweetheart deal?  Why are you still having Bill Barr talk about well, the rules that require this to be private?

If the Mueller findings are going to be so good for you and potentially clear the president, why you need to hide them?  There is still something really weird here even though as I always say, there hasn`t been chargeable collusion found as of tonight.

HAYES:  Ari Melber, thank you so much for making time to come down the studio.

MELBER:  Thank you, Chris.

HAYES:  I appreciate it.  Joining me now starting to break this down, MSNBC Legal Analyst and former Federal Prosecutor Mimi Rocah as well as Elliot Williams, former Deputy Assistant Attorney General for Legislative Affairs at the Department of Justice.  Elliot also lobbies for law works whose mission is to protect the Special Counsel.  Mimi, former prosecutor, your reaction to this sentence.

MIMI ROCAH, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST:  I find this jaw-dropping.

HAYES:  Really?

ROCAH:  Yes.

HAYES:  That`s surprising.

ROCAH:  Yes.  And here`s why.  You know, as Ari mentioned, the sentence that was recommended, the guideline sentences has been called, that is some arbitrary sentence.  It`s something you know, that many judges and scholars and people come up with based on a formula of the amount of money involved in the offense, the scope of the offense, the duration of the offense, the role of Manafort.  He was a leader and organizer here.

So you know, maybe it was on the high side and most judges would have given some variance down, but this is a drastic variance.  And so it`s not just this huge discrepancy with people who are convicted of you know, stealing much smaller crimes.

HAYES:  Stealing $100.

ROCAH:  It`s a huge variance with people who are convicted of these kinds of crimes too.

HAYES:  In the same classic crimes.

ROCAH:  Yes.

HAYES:  Even among white-collar defendants who have committed fraud for instance, this is a surprising part of it.

ROCAH:  In my experience, yes.  I had -- I had many cases that I was involved with defendants who committed front fraud crimes of far smaller scope who had this type of sentence.  For this kind of crime, I am very surprised.  And he didn`t express any remorse.

HAYES:  That is part of what strange here, Elliot.  There -- the allocution basically said you know, I feel bad because things have gone kind of terribly.  I feel humiliated.  But it was not -- it was bad.  He did not say it was it was wrong of me and I am sorry that I defrauded the government and others.

ELLIOT WILLIAMS, FORMER DEPUTY ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL FOR LEGISLATIVE AFFAIRS, DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE:  And acceptance of responsibility is a factor considered at sentencing.  Look, as you know, as Mimi has said, the guidelines are just advisory.  You know, courts don`t have to follow them, and the court didn`t chose not to do so here.

But it`s so remarkable given how many individuals across the United States are sentenced to sentences within the guideline range for either the identical conduct or different conduct or mandatory minimums for non- violent conduct.  And so to some extent this were desensitized to how willing we are to look past white-collar crime. 

Because if you think of other instances in which someone would have carried a 190-months sentence, like if it were a violent crime or even a drug offense or something like that, and someone got 48 months or 47 seven months, there would be rioting in the streets to some extent.  And so, you know, all this stuff about the blameless life and so on, it is indicative of how we as a society sort of tolerate the treatment of white-collar criminals.

And so -- and again this failure to accept responsibility is a factor and it`s almost surprising that the judge didn`t rely on that much more.  Because you know, I know from a number of times in cases you know, judges really do hammer that point.  The defendant failed to accept the severity of his conduct and you know, crimes on the banking system which are severe.

HAYES:  Judge Ellis who is -- who has a sort of I think -- what`s right-- eccentric reputation a little bit.  Like he`s sort of a known character.  He was a character here at one point in the trial of apparently getting one of the -- making one of the prosecutors cry, berating them, sort of dismissively saying in front of the jury that you don`t even care about these crimes, you`re just trying them to flip, saying something in front the jury at one point that was wrong.

ROCAH:  Right.

HAYES:  That then had to be corrected.  So this was -- I mean, he took a heavy hand throughout these proceedings.  I do wonder if Paul Manafort and his lawyers are wishing they got for a bench trial.

ROCAH:  Well, and also remember, the whole reason that Paul Manafort is still now facing ten years in another court next week is because he, Paul Manafort refused to agree to have his cases consolidate --

HAYES:  Which was a bizarre play.

ROCAH:  It was.  He was trying to game the system and it`s not working out for him because he could have had it all in front of Judge Ellis.  He`s now facing ten years.

HAYES:  It`s a great point.

ROCAH:  But to your point about Judge Ellis`s look, there are many judges who are eccentric.  In my experience, again, which is what I can speak from, even eccentric judges though at the end of the day, they keep their views about how an investigation started or you know, whether or not they like the investigation or things like that out of it.

They really look at the person before them, the crimes they committed, and their whole life and who they are as a person, that they`re supposed to do that.  And it feels here like Judge Ellis didn`t do that.  Like he let other views interfere.  And that to me as a prosecutor, former prosecutor is what`s tragic about it.

HAYES:  Let me say this just to take a step back, Elliot.  You know, because I think people are so surprised by this sort of massive downward departure, it`s worth just saying this right.  So tonight, Michael Cohen who is the President`s longtime personal associate, trusted confidant, fixer and lawyer came before the house and accused the President being implicated him in crimes, he is about to go to jail.

He`s going to do three years.  He`s pleaded to a variety of federal offenses, felonies.  He`s a felon.  Michael Flynn who was the President`s trusted National Security Adviser, basically his only big top one and it was the National Security Adviser for the United States has pleaded guilty to a felony.  He`s yet to be sentenced but it`s possible he will get some jail time, sometime in prison.

Roger Stone who was one of the President`s longtime associates who he`s known for 30 years who he conferred with before the campaign and throughout the campaign and even the White House is staring down the barrel, so jail time may end up thrown in for pretrial detention because he cannot listen to the judge.

Today Paul Manafort, the President`s campaign manager got four years.  I mean, I don`t know anyone that -- I mean, that`s crazy.  Like the President of the United States is surrounded by, surrounded by associates close associates who didn`t crucial work for him who are all felons, Elliot. 

WILLIAMS:  Yes, yes.  And we keep hearing the words no collusion as if that`s where this all stops.  These individuals are committing serious crimes that carry with them, you know, because look, as Mimim has said, guideline sentences.  This is what you know, Congress and society have deemed to be serious enough conduct to warrant 120, 190-month sentences.  These individuals have either pled guilty to or in this case been convicted of very serious offenses and they`re all around the president.

Now, what we keep hearing are these words no collusion, but what we`re not hearing is yes, felons because they are convicted felons.  All of these people are you know, and I just -- and I just -- we don`t want to poopoo the severity of lying to judge`s, lying to Congress, and in cheating on banks.  These are very significant crimes.  That strike to the core of us as a civil society.

HAYES:  Yes.  I mean having covered local politics in a few places having lived in Providence, having covering Chicago, like you encounter politicians where all of their associates go to prison.  This is the thing that happens.  Usually, in the end, history doesn`t judge the politician at the center of the circle of people going to prison particularly well.  Mimi Rocah and Elliot Williams, thank you both for your time tonight.

I`m joined now by former Acting Solicitor General Walter Dellinger, was also Assistant Attorney General and head of the Office of Legal Counsel.  Mr. Dellinger, many thanks for coming on.

Let me -- let me ask a sort of higher level question here which has to do with pardons and the question of pardons.  What is your interpretation of the Kevin Downing no collusion statement of Robert Mueller`s prosecutor saying that they thought that Paul Manafort was lying to them in efforts to obtain a pardon, and some news breaking now about Michael Cohen may be putting out feelers and that may be being dangled?

WALTER DELLINGER, FORMER ACTING SOLICITOR GENERAL:  Well, if there`s anything that would be more disturbing than the sort of unfairness to the system of justice of this -- of the sentence that was handed down this afternoon.  And then what would be worse would be a pardon of Paul Manafort particularly after the president has clearly in public dangled the possibility of pardon.

Every time he`s been asked about it, he said something in him that immediately shifted to what a wonderful person Paul Manafort was of how unfair the prosecution was utterly inappropriate for the President to make those comments.  And Manafort`s plea in court today was really aimed at Donald Trump.

He didn`t express contrition.  He talked about the case of ways that could clear a Donald Trump.  Remember what this man did.  He -- the prosecutors has put on evidence that he concealed $60 million in 31 different bank accounts mainly foreign which meant that he failed to pay taxes on $30 million, an amount that would have to be made up for off the backs of other American taxpayers.

And the idea that there would be any justification for pardoning someone for that kind of fraud on the American taxpayer is really unthinkable.  And I think for a president to dangle pardons in the way that the President Trump has done and for Manafort to be playing for the pardon as a way that really undercuts a system of justice is in itself at a minimum highly inappropriate and corrosive to the system of justice.

HAYES:  I just want to back up what you just said because you just gave a characterization of the President`s remarks and I want to actually play the tape here because it`s exactly what you said.  This is him in August of last year being asked about a possible pardon of Manafort.  He got asked this a bunch of times but here is his response.  Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Will you pardon Paul Manafort?

TRUMP:  I don`t talk about that.  I don`t talk about that.  I think the whole Manafort is very sad when you look at what`s going on there.  I think it`s a very sad day for our country.  He worked for me for a very short period of time.  But you know what, he happens to be a very good person.  And I think it`s very sad what they`ve done to Paul Manafort.  Thank you very much.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAYES:  I mean, you know, Michael Cohen talked about the President speaking in code and understanding that code.  In the context of what we now know, it`s hard to look at that clip and not see it for waving a big you know, sign in front of Paul Manafort.

DELLINGER:  Yes, that`s exactly right.  And when William Barr testified at his confirmation hearing for attorney general, he noted that if a -- if a president were to dangle a pardon with the corrupt intention of influencing a witness` testimony that he thought that would be a crime for the president and it would certainly be a grounds for removing someone from office.

The President`s comments about the ongoing investigation had been appropriate from the first day until the last day for a president to be making.

HAYES:  Let me ask you one last question because you you`re an extremely distinguished lawyer in many different domains.  And one of the things you did was you were the head of the OLC at one point.  That`s the Office of Legal Counsel inside the Department of Justice.  It makes -- it`s sort of the highest court of the land internal of the federal government that makes sort of rulings establishing how the government interprets its own laws inside the federal government.

And it`s OLC guidance of course that says that a president cannot be indicted.  That`s the sort of sitting guidance of the OLSC.  There`s debate about that about how stringent that guidance is.  As someone who ran the OLC, I`m curious your opinion on that.

DELLINGER:  Look, I think that`s been greatly overstated how solid that is.  It was a 1973 opinion.  It mainly dealt with whether a president can be put on trial.  It`s really dicta even in the more recent opinion about well could you just indict him to stop the statute of limitations from running.  The 73 opinion was repudiated in a filing in the Supreme Court within months.  So I think it would be open to reconsideration.

And here is the last thing that is wrong with it.  It gives a president that incentive to run for re-election exactly to escape justice by having the statute of limitations run.  It`s usually five years.  It would run on all of these -- on all of these crimes.  And that should not be tolerated.  The White House should not be a sanctuary from justice.

HAYES:  All right, Walter Dellinger, thank you so much on this night for making some time.

DELLINGER:  You`re welcome.

HAYES:  I really appreciate it.  Joining me now are two staff writers to Atlantic who have covered Palm Manafort and the Russia investigation extensively, Franklin Foer and Natasha Bertrand.  Frank, let me start with you because you wrote an incredible profile and the page the Atlantic on for -- on Manafort and not just this last part of his career that the totality of it.

When you hear Judge Ellis say you have lived a largely blameless life, does that match your reporting about the arc of this man`s career?

FRANKLIN FOER, STAFF WRITER, THE ATLANTIC:  In an otherwise blameless life, what a joke.  In an otherwise blameless life, he lobbied for arms on behalf of an Angolan Generalissimo who burnt women and children alive.  In an otherwise blameless life he stole money from a Russian oligarch and then went into hiding.

And in otherwise blameless life, he invented a system of corruption in Washington where he took some of the worst goons, thugs, autocrats in the world and he tried to whitewash their reputation so that they would be exempt from reprimand for human rights abuses.  He invented corruption in modern Washington and it was -- it was a culture of impunity.

And today`s decision, this slap on the wrist where he escapes with this in otherwise -- in otherwise blameless life label, the decision essentially ratifies the world of impunity that Paul Manafort pioneered.

HAYES:  Natasha, where do you think this goes next in terms of Judge Amy Berman Jackson who has already found him -- found him to have lied in the context of that plea agreement, and who`s been I would say, whose tone towards him has been sharper than what we`ve seen from Judge Ellis.

NATASHA BERTRAND, STAFF WRITER, THE ATLANTIC:  Yes.  It`s a great question, Chris.  And I think that all eyes now are on Judge Amy Berman Jackson.  She has been less forgiving I think, from the very beginning than Judge Ellis has been towards Manafort.  And she could sentence him to up to ten years in prison.  And I think that she probably will.

I mean, just seeing the reaction, the outrage to this sentence that was imposed by Ellis, it just seems like she`s now in a position to justify that kind of sentence come next week.  Now, of course, we should be completely out of the prediction business at this point because this was a really shocking, astonishing downward departure from the sentencing guidelines and former prosecutors that I`ve been chatting with all night are just amazed by this, except for one and that is you know, our very own Chuck Rosenberg who has gone before Judge Ellis many times in the past and has said this is actually kind of a pattern for him in terms of how he treats white-collar crime. 

He`s never really viewed it as that serious, of course, compared with you know, the drug crimes and things like that and he`s getting increasingly erratic as he gets older.  And I think that when we -- when we walked into that courtroom in the Eastern District of Virginia in August for Paul Manafort trial, we saw from the very beginning that Judge Ellis did not really seem to have a grasp on Paul Manafort`s life of crime, of his of his life of corruption.

He was shocked at the amount of people and reporters that had actually turned out to this hearing.  He didn`t understand why people were so interested in this man.  And so I think that was --

HAYES:  Really?

BERTRAND:  -- that was -- yes, this was something that he said out loud that he was shocked at the presence of all these reporters and all the media attention it was getting.  And from that point onward we were all just like, OK, it doesn`t really seem like Ellis gets it.  And then combined with his pattern of kind of, you know, doing these downward departures with white collar crime, it kind of makes sense, even though it is pretty shocking.

HAYES:  You know, there`s also this question that hangs over all this, Frank, which is like at some level there`s some set of truths that Manafort was protecting that are still with him.  I mean, in the testimony today, if I`m not mistaken -- and I was sort of reading notes as I came on to air, but I think one of the Mueller prosecutors said we didn`t really get any good information out of Manafort.  Like there are things that he knows he didn`t tell us.  There`s some secrets he is going to take to prison with him.

FOER:  Right.  So when they cut a plea deal with him last September, implicit in the deal was that Mueller`s team believed that Manafort had information that would help them in their broader investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election.  And there are all sorts of plot points, and you`ve discussed some of them tonight -- his relationship with Konstantin Kilimnik, the polling data that he gave to Kilimnik that was supposed to go to Russian oligarchs -- Ukrainian oligarchs and perhaps others.

And we look at this whole litany -- it was clear from the unsealed transcripts of hearings and Judge Amy Burman Jackson`s court room that the Mueller people regard this one meeting on August 2, 2016, where Manafort is with Kilimnik and his other deputy Rick Gates and they`re at the Grand Havana Room in Manhattan, a cigar club, and they pass the polling data to him.  Mueller`s prosecutor Andy Weissmann has said this meeting goes to the very heart of what we`re investigating. 

So it seems almost obvious that Mueller wanted Manafort to talk more about this, to explain more about his relationship to Kilimnik, to explain more about what was going to happen to that polling data, and you mention the relationship of the oligarch Oleg Deripaska whose name hasn`t really come up in any of the trials thus far.

But it`s clear from the emails that we have, that Manafort was trying to leverage his position atop the Trump campaign to repair his debts with Deripaska.  We don`t know what became of that, but the evidence that we have is so highly suggestive.

HAYES:  Natasha.

BERTRAND:  Yeah, exactly.  I mean, I think that the comment that Kevin Downing made after the sentencing was over was just really striking.  And the first thing I thought was, was that a comment that was directed at the president?  What that a comment that he was making to emphasize the fact, much like I think Judge Ellis was trying to emphasize to the onlooker in the courtroom, that the Mueller investigation is a witch hunt, that the Mueller investigation has not produced anything concrete, that Mueller is just taking his sweet time, and we haven`t really gotten any concrete conclusion out of the Russia conspiracy and collusion angle.  And I think that that`s something that he was trying to transmit to the president, like, hey, Paul Manafort maybe be still -- he`s still -- it maybe a lenient sentence, but he`s still willing to accept a pardon because he`s willing to tow this line.

And as we`ve seen, Manafort kept a foot in the door the entire time.  He was still communicating with Trump`s legal team while he was cooperating with Mueller`s prosecutors.  And also, you know, we can`t just let it stand when Kevin Downing says that there was no collusion, you know, between Manafort and Kremlin officials.  That may not have been the case, but he certainly was colluding with a Russian, Konstanin Kilimnik when he gave him 75 pages of polling data. HAYES:  Yeah, Franklin Foer and Natasha Bertrand, thank you both.

Joining me now, Democratic Congressman Eric Swalwell of California.  He sits on both House and he sits on both House Intelligence and Judiciary committees.  Congressman, your reaction to today`s sentence?

REP. ERIC SWALWELL, (D) CALIFORNIA:  Good evening, Chris.  It`s a sentence that is far too short for a list of crimes that are too long.  And, you know, I think I spent more days in detention in high school then Judge Ellis thinks that Paul Manafort should spend in jail for what he did to defraud the United States, not pay taxes, not register as a foreign agent.

HAYES:  He`s going to do three years.  I mean, I take the point, I just want to reset for the audience.  He`s a 69-year-old man, three years is not nothing.  We put people in jail in this country for extremely long periods of time, which skews, I think, our vision, just to be clear.

SWALWELL:  Yeah, and as a former prosecutor I think you`re seeing a white collar white washing sentence here where you have a person of privilege who is spending a significantly less sentence than people of color spend for committing crimes that I think are far less dangerous and offensive to our society.

And I mean, how can you be a person of color right now and not just be embarrassed for the criminal justice system, or feel like it`s a criminal justice system where if you have means you can escape -- you can get leniency, and if you don`t, you can spend a long time in jail.

HAYES:  Your colleague Adam Schiff has just tweeted something about Kevin Downing`s statement, which I was going to ask you about.  He says this: "the statement by Paul Manafort`s lawyer after an already lenient sentence, repeating the president`s mantra, no collusion, was no accident.  It was a deliberate appeal for a pardon.  One injustice must not follow another."

Did you have the same reaction to that Kevin Downing coming out of the courtroom and saying the most important thing to take away here is no evidence of collusion with Russian officials.

SWALWELL:  It gave me goosebumps, because I listened to Michael Cohen in the public hearing.  I listened to him for 16 hours in the Intelligence Committee hearing that wasn`t public, and we learned a lot about the Trump code, that people like Paul Manafort and others know the code that Donald Trump speaks to them and the code they`re supposed to speak to Donald Trump.  And when the lawyer is saying words that mimic or pair it what Donald Trump is saying it`s as if, you know, the fix is in and Paul Manafort knows if he just keeps quiet a pardon is coming his way.

HAYES:  Let me ask me ask you a follow up on that.  You`ve now listened to Michael Cohen for a long of time, and I want to talk a little bit about the pardon question.  In both public and private testimony, the public testimony you watched with the rest of us, private testimony you heard in person that can`t speak specifically about, what do understand now about the way the president operates that you didn`t before?

SWALWELL:  I saw a person who ran a business, who ran his personal life, who ran a campaign, a transition and an administration in a very corrupt way.  And you know Chris I sat back and I was hoping to hear -- because he is the president of the United States, and you want to root for the president, that you would hear redeeming qualities about him, that he has a vision for the country, that he signed up to do this because he wanted to make people`s lives better, because he was an honest person, and after hearing from Michael Cohen in private over 24 hours over the last two years, I didn`t hear any of that.  I saw someone who just games the system, who thinks all of this is really just about mass publicity for himself.  And it`s disheartening to think that he leads our country, but I don`t feel as powerless as I did two years ago when I listened to Michael Cohen, because now we can actually do something about it.

HAYES:  You had a tweet, which I thought was interesting.  You said I challenge the president if you`re innocent of Russian collusion and didn`t offer any pardons, declare now no person in the Russia investigation will be pardoned.  Your move.

Do you think it`s notable -- I mean, do you have the same interpretation the president`s statements about pardon that say Walter Dellinger (ph) had just a few minutes ago that not closing the book on it, keeping it on the table, talking about how Paul Manafort`s being railroaded, amounts to him essentially dangling it?

SWALWELL:  Yes, I absolutely believe that.  But, here is my prediction.  And here is where the joke is ultimately going to be on Paul Manafort, Donald Trump is not going to pardon Paul Manafort.  He is going to dangle the pardon to make sure that he stays quiet, and hopefully others stay quiet, but Donald Trump is always going to do what`s in his best interest, and so he`s not going to do anything that`s going to hurt his best interests.  And Michael Cohen figured that out and that`s why he has come forward, but whether he pardons him or not, if he`s dangling him and trying to keep him quiet, that is still obstruction of justice.

HAYES:  Final question on Michael Cohen who you just mentioned whose testimony you heard.  You know, he said under oath before the oversight committee that at no point did he ask for a pardon, and then today his lawyer says well, Michael Cohen did send his attorneys to go inquire about a pardon shortly after the raid.  Those are in some tension.  I guess you can split hairs and say he didn`t personally ask.

But, does it call -- you know, a lot of people point to that and saying, look, we knew this guy had credibility problems.  This calls into question his testimony?

SWALWEWLL:  So, I know the answer to this, and I hope when our transcript comes out soon, it will actually answer this.  I can`t go into what he said, but this is cleared up very clearly from his testimony as to what he meant by that in a way that I think most Americans will understand.

As to his credibility, Chris, I just want to say this, remember he lied on behalf of the president.  He came congress without any life jacket, without any cooperation agreement from the Southern District of New York.  He saw that Paul Manafort had touched a hot stove and got punished for breaking a cooperation agreement and lying further. 

I don`t think he`s going to lie to us.  I think he is someone who`s compelled to tell the truth, one because he doesn`t trust Donald Trump to help him, and two, I sense that he felt like it was time to finally do the right thing.

HAYES:  All right, Congressman Eric Swalwell, thank you very much.

There`s even more Trump World lawlessness to report on.  A federal judge has ruled that a top Trump cabinet member has broken the law and acted unconstitutionally, and his actions, if left unchecked, could do serious damage.  All of that courtesy of Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and that story is next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HAYES:  Paul Manafort going to jail is is even more evidence that Trump associates were lawless almost from the start.  And the lawlessness has continued well into this administration.  For the second time this year, a federal judge has taken extraordinary step in ruling that Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross acted in bad faith and broke several laws when he added a citizenship question to the census.

At first glance, this might not seem so adding a citizenship question to the census would, according to civil rights advocates, and Census Bureaus officials themselves, scare off non-citizens from being counted and lead to an undercount in the country`s immigrant communities.

What that means is states with significant immigrant populations, like the 18 states soon to block the citizenship question, could be short-changed when it comes to federal funding and resources, even representation in congress.

Last year Ross says that there was no evidence that the response rate would drop when the citizenship question was added.  He told congress said it was the Justice Department that, quote, initiated the request, which would lead doing a better job of enforcing the Voting Rights Act of 1965, because we know how obsessed the Sessions DOJ was with that.

Well it turns out none of that was really true.  Court documents revealed that Ross actually came up with the citizenship question after Steve Bannon asked Ross if he`d be willing to speak with Kansas Secretary of State Chris Kobach about a possible citizenship question.

The lies that Ross has told are so egregious that last month when a federal judge ruled against the decision to add that question to the 2020 Census.  He wrote that Ross`s explanations for his decision were unsupported by, or even counter to the evidence before the agency, and that it was not in accordance with law.

Then yesterday, a second federal court found Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross acted in bad faith, broke several laws, and violated the constitutional underpinning of representative democracy. According to the judge in short the inclusion of the citizenship question of the 2020 census threatens the very foundation of our democratic system and does so based on a self- defeating rationale.

Going forward, I`m joined by Hansi Lo Wang, he`s NPR`s national correspondent who just focuses on the 2020 census.  And Hansi, it`s great to have you, because you have been the beat reporter that I follow on this beat, which is an important one and a complicated one.

Tell me what happened with the Ninth Circuit federal judge?

HANSI LO WANG, NPR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT:  Well, this is Judge Richard Seborg (ph) of San Francisco and he ruled that Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, who oversees the census, that he violated administrative law by adding this question asking about U.S. citizenship status.  This is a question that asks is this person a citizen of the United States.  And the Trump administration was planning to ask this question of every household in the country.  That`s the constitutional requirement, that every household in the country, every person living in the country, has to participate in the census.  And Judge Seborg (ph) ruled that that violated administrative law, because he found that there was no legitimate reason for adding the citizenship question. 

The Trump administration has insisted that this is about the Voting Rights Act, but court documents, voting rights experts, say that this is not going to help enforce the Voting Rights Act, this is not going to produce better data, which is what the Trump administration says this question would do, and Judge Seborg (ph) also said this was unconstitutional, that adding this question, including this question, would harm the government`s ability to fulfill a constitutional mandate to count every person living in the country.  And by doing that, by adding this question, that would harm that purpose, that`s why this question, Judge Seborg (ph) said, is unconstitutional and should not be allowed to be added to the 2020 census.

HAYES:  The constitutional argument -- it is in the constitution that they have conduct a census. And it`s every person, it`s not citizens, you count everybody. 

One thing that`s notable here, I think, and maybe you can explain this a little bit, is that, you know, from a legal sense, the -- in some sense the Commerce Department, which runs the census, has the ability to put stuff in the census or take it out, it makes changes.

It`s a fairly high bar you have to cross to convince a federal judge that they`re doing this in such egregious bad faith or with so little foundation that a judge actually reaches in a knocks down a decision.  And yet that`s happened now twice.

WANG:  That`s right.  And, you know, Judge Seborg (ph) wrote in his opinion that he`s not saying in his ruling and in his opinion that the sentence could never have a question about citizenship status.  He says that in this current political climate where there is increased immigration enforcement, there`s growing anti-immigrant rhetoric, Census Bureau research suggests this question will discourage households with non-citizens, and these are households that may include citizens, from participating.  And that would directly impact the accuracy of these population counts that form the basis of our democracy.  This how we determine how many congressional seats and therefore how many electoral college votes each state gets.

HAYES:  All right, so now we get a Ninth Circuit decision that has struck this down.  There is a district judge, Judge Furman (ph) in New York, who also struck it down in a trial.  That was then appealed directly in a strange move directly to the Supreme Court, which has taken the case.  Does the fate of this question now rest with the Supreme Court?

WANG:  Yes. Whether or not this question is included on the 2020 census is really in the Supreme Court justice`s hands. 

I just want to clarify that Judge Seborg (ph) is part of the Ninth Circuit in terms of geographically, but he is a district court judge, and right now we are waiting to see what the Trump Administration does.  They`re likely to appeal Judge Seborg`s (ph) ruling, and likely maybe to the to the Ninth Circuit or directly to the Supreme Court, which would be another unusual move of skipping over the Ninth Circuit to going all the way to Supreme Court.  We`ll see what the Justice Department does.

HAYES:  All right, Hansi Lo Wang, who has been doing fantastic reporting on this, has a great following on Twitter, thanks for joining us.

Just ahead, the new era of big government courtesy of Wyoming Republicans who essentially want to force taxpayers to subsidize failing coal plants, that`s next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  It`s increasingly obvious it`s a choice between freedom and socialism.  Under guise of Medicare for all and a Green New Deal, Democrats are embracing the same tired economic theories that have impoverished nations and stifled the liberties of millions.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAYES:  For the entirety of my adult life, that is the story that conservatives have been trying to tell, that they are the party and movement of freedom and the other side is the movement of Socialism and big government, but that is just about the dumbest, most misleading way to understand what the big fights in American politics are actually about.

Here is an example.  Take the bright Red Republican state of Wyoming, land of freedom loving libertarians who hate big government, right?  Republican lawmakers there have just passed in both houses a law that will basically stop coal fired plants from going out of the businesses when market forces deem them too costly and inefficient. 

What one University of Wyoming professor described a hidden tax on families and workers.  Let`s be clear, that is a Republican law to prop up coal plants, even when they are failing businesses.  And to what?  Stick it to the libs?  Subsidize a failing industry?  Isn`t it exactly the kind of thing that Republicans call socialism?  That phony binary of freedom versus socialism is a ruse, it`s a tool that men like Donald Trump and Mike Pence and others used to justify policies that contradict their words, policies that help their friends and harm the people they don`t care about.  It`s the language Republicans use to justify kowtowing to fossil fuel interests and delaying any action on the deathly looming crisis of climate change.  It`s exactly the argument they use against a Green New Deal, that it is, horror of horrors, socialism.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS:  Talking about Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio- Cortez`s bizarre, horrific new piece of legislation.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Which is one of the problems with the Green New Deal is it`s the the old kind of socialism.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  This is a socialist agenda if there ever was one.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  It`s like a socialist Christmas morning wish list.

HANNITY:  This is a real serious threat to our way of life.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAYES:  Remember, propping up coal firepower plants with state subsidies and forcing the power of the state to keep them in business, not socialism, that`s freedom.  Green New Deal socialism.

Fox News might be freaking out over the Green New Deal, but polling shows it`s actually pretty popular among American voters, particularly young people who potentially have the most to lose as climate change begins to wallop the planet.

Here with me now to talk about what we can still do, David Wallace Wells, deputy editor of New York Magazine, the author of an absolute must-read new book, it`s called the "Uninhabitable Earth," life after warming.  He was a recent guest on my podcast, "Why is This Happening?"

All right, David, we have, according to the IPCC report 12 years to reduce emissions in half, that`s the goal of the Green New Deal.  Is that, take away the politics and Sean Hannity`s ranting, is it a technically possible thing?  Can we do it with what the technology we have now?

DAVID WALLACE WELLS, NEW YORK MAGAZINE:  I think it`s possible but as the UN says it would require a global mobilization at the scale of World War II against climate.  And I don`t think we`re anywhere near that kind of mobilization now, so I think practically speaking it`s going to be an outside bank shot if we`re going to get there.

HAYES:  Meaning that we have, like we could do it in that it`s technically feasible but the level of resources, commitment that would have to be devoted to it is the World War II level.

WELL:  Well, just there are so many obstacles.  There is the political obstacle.  There is the cultural obstacle, all the things we have to change about our economies, and not just in the U.S., but all around the world, the coordination problem between nations in Europe and Asia and Africa -- I mean, the China and U.S. would have to get on the same page about carbon, which we`re very far from doing.

But technically, yeah, I think it is possible that if the world had a global dictator and that global dictator was singularly focused on reducing carbon in half by by 2030, I think it is technically possible. But I should say that the UN has run all of these scenarios about how to keep us below two degrees of warming, which is considered the threshold of catastrophe and many of the island nations of the world consider genocide, and almost none of those scenarios would allow us to get under two degrees without what`s called negative emissions, which means kind of magical technology that sucks carbon out of the atmosphere.

That technology is really been only tested in labs, and we don`t know if it would work at scale or how expensive it would be.

The UN says we can`t stay below the threshold of a catastrophe without significant deployment of those technologies.

HAYES:  One of the things I learned from your book and our conversation is, two degrees has been this threshold for a very long time, that`s what we`re trying to avoid, that catastrophe, but one of the things you made clear is you think about 20-year-olds who are going to be voting and who are going to be living the duration of their lives and they are going to turn, you know, 80 in 2080, right?  That the difference between two degrees and three degrees, three degrees and four is enormous in terms of what it means, it`s not just like we`re going to miss or get the two-degree benchmark.  Every single little bit of warming we add is going to make a huge difference to what life looks like on planet Earth and here in the U.S.

WELLS:  Absolutely.  And you think of these numbers, two degrees, three degrees, four degrees, they sound like small differences, and two degrees itself is going to be quite catastrophic, it would mean many of the biggest cities in India and the Middle East would be lethally hot in summer, which would produce a global climate refugee crisis perhaps numbering in the 200 million, 300 million range.  The UN says it`s possible it could produce a billion climate refugees, which is as many as live in -- as many people as live in North and South America combined.

But if we get all the way to four degrees, we`re talking about a global GDP that`s 20 to 30 percent smaller than it would be without climate change.  That`s an impact twice as deep as the Great Depression.  And it would be permanent.  There would be parts of the planet that could be hit by six climate driven natural disasters at once.  We would have twice as much war as we have today.  And that`s because climate change is not one issue among many, it`s not something that only affects parts of the world, it`s an all encompassing threat that is going to have impacts no matter where you live, no matter what kind of life you have, no matter how wealthy you are.

And I think that`s a realization that is only just beginning to set in, that this is not something that we can escape or plan away from, it is something that will affect all of our lives going forward even if we manage to quite radically reduce carbon and avert the worst-case scenarios.

HAYES:  So that sort of brings us back to what to do about it, right.  And the Green New Deal, which I think is the most ambitious program put forward in American politics ever, and there is a talk about the cost, right?  One of the things you just said is the cost of doing nothing is going to be catastrophic and unparalleled in civilizational history.  Like, we -- the cost-benefit of investing a huge amount of money right now is obvious.

WELLS:  Yeah, the economic research has really shifted on this.  Just a few years ago, the total conventional wisdom was that it might be good in a humanitarian way to take climate, but it would also be really expensive.  And I think that`s one reason why we have had such slow progress on climate even as we knew it was a looming problem over the last decade or two decades.  But that conventional wisdom has really flipped. 

There was a big report 2018 that found that the global economy could add $26 trillion of wealth by just 2030 by rapidly decarbonizing.  I don`t think that`s yet sort of filtered into the minds of our policymakers, but when it does, I think we`re in for a real sea change in perspective.  And I think it does fundamentally change the calculus that even the average citizen makes when thinking about this issue, which is just to say we can find a more -- a future that is both prosperous and safe from the deepest climate impacts at once.  We don`t have to be making trade offs between, say, jobs and climate action. Both of those paths are the same path, and we should choose to take them.  The only reason we wouldn`t, is out of -- as you were just talking about deference to interests like the coal industry.

HAYES:  Yeah, if we get our act together and invest now, it`s a better future in both directions.  David Wallace Wells, thank you for your time. 

If you want to hear more about his book, "The Uninhabitable Earth", or about this subject, you can check out our discussion on my podcast, "Why Is This Happening", which is available wherever you get your podcast.

That is ALL IN this evening.

"THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW" starts right now. 

Good evening, Rachel.

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