IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Some investigators unhappy with Barr. TRANSCRIPT: 4/4/19, All In w/ Chris Hayes.

Guests: Caitlin Ostroff, Ron Wyden, Mazie Hirono

CHRIS MATTHEWS, ANCHOR, MSNBC:  That`s HARDBALL for now.  "ALL IN" with Chris Hayes starts right now. 

CHRIS HAYES, ANCHOR, MSNBC (voice over):  Tonight on ALL IN. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) 

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), SPEAKER OF THE U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES: 

  Release the Mueller report as soon as possible. 

(END VIDEO CLIP) 

HAYES (voice over):  A torrent of complaints from the Mueller team. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) 

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT, UNITED STATES:  My Mueller report was great. 

(END VIDEO CLIP) 

HAYES (voice over):  Against the Attorney General. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) 

REP. JERROLD NADLER (D-NY), CHAIRMAN, HOUSE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE:  Barr is an agent of the President.  He was put there for that purpose. 

 

(END VIDEO CLIP) 

HAYES (voice over):  Tonight, the latest issues with the Barr summary. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) 

REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA), CHAIRMAN, HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE:  Barr did not come into this with clean hands. 

(END VIDEO CLIP) 

HAYES (voice over):  And renewed urgency to release the Mueller report. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) 

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC), CHAIRMAN OF THE SENATE`S JUDICIARY COMMITTEE:  Yes, I want the report to come out publicly. 

 

(END VIDEO CLIP) 

HAYES (voice over):  Then, the national security nightmare of Mar-a-Lago. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) 

TRUMP:  Many of the world`s great leaders request to come to Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach.  They like it.  I like it. 

(END VIDEO CLIP) 

HAYES (voice over):  New evidence spies may be trying to infiltrate the Winter White House. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) 

TRUMP (video clip):  No, I think it`s just a fluke. 

(END VIDEO CLIP) 

HAYES (voice over):  Plus, a Congressional rebuke to the gun lobby. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE SPEAKER:  The NRA is becoming a toothless tiger. 

(END VIDEO CLIP) 

HAYES (voice over):  And meet the President`s latest picks. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE SPEAKER:  Trump is a big guy, too.  I mean, he looks like a football player. 

(END VIDEO CLIP) 

HAYES (voice over):  For the Federal Reserve. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE SPEAKER:  Do you back-y, back-y; stand, stand? 

(END VIDEO CLIP) 

HAYES (voice over):  When ALL IN starts right now. 

HAYES (on camera):  Good evening from New York.  I`m Chris Hayes.  After two years of total silence from Special Counsel, Robert Mueller`s investigators.  The dam has now broken open.  It`s been about 24 hours since "The New York Times" broke the story that members of Mueller`s team believe that Attorney General, William Barr, downplayed some of the findings in their report.  And in that time, the main thrust of "The New York Times" reporting has been matched in quick succession by other outlets, including NBC News. 

Some of the details differ, and there are conflicting accounts of what went on behind the scenes leading up to the speedy release of the Attorney General`s now-infamous four-page synopsis.  One thing is clear: The simple fact that all of these stories and all of these outlets are coming out right now at the same time after two years without a single anonymous peep from inside the Special Counsel`s Office shows that people involved in the investigation are deeply frustrated with Barr`s characterization of their work, and they want the public to know about it. 

We now know that Special Counsel`s team prepared summaries for each section of the more-than-300-page report though it is not clear whether those summaries were ready to be released straight to the public.  According to "The Washington Post," quoting an unnamed U.S. official, "The report was prepared `so that the front matter from each section could have been released immediately or very quickly.`  It was done in a way that minimum redactions, if any, would have been necessary, and the work would have spoken for itself." 

Now, other sources dispute that account, claiming the summaries contained sensitive information that required redaction by the Justice Department.  According to a department spokesperson, every page of the report was flagged for material potentially protected by grand jury secrecy. 

In a new letter to the Attorney General, House Judiciary Chairman, Jerry Nadler, is demanding that Mueller`s summaries, which we now know about, thanks for this reporting, be made public and that Barr turn over all his communications with the Special Counsel`s Office about the final report. 

"The Post" and NBC News both report that some investigators are unhappy about Barr`s specific handling of the question of obstruction of justice after Mueller himself declined to reach a conclusion about the President`s conduct.  Well, Barr found the evidence insufficient to prove that the President obstructed justice.  "It was much more acute than Barr suggested," one source told "The Post." 

According to the U.S. officials who spoke to NBC News, at least one faction with the Special Counsel`s Office says their intent was to leave the legal question of obstruction open for Congress and the public to examine the evidence. 

And then there`s the question of whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russia, which Mueller found insufficient evidence to prove or establish a criminal conspiracy according to Barr`s synopsis.  A senior law enforcement official told NBC News that while that part is accurate, some team members say Mueller`s findings paint a picture of a campaign whose members were manipulated by a sophisticated Russian intelligence operation. 

Of course, there`s only one way to resolve all these discrepancies: to get to the truth of what actually happened, and that is to release the report as soon as possible, as much as possible without jeopardizing ongoing cases, national security, or grand jury secrecy. 

Tonight, protesters all over the country are demanding just that, hitting the streets to call the Attorney General to disclose all of Mueller`s findings. While much of the public wants that to happen, the same cannot be said for the President`s allies in Congress. 

Today, for the fifth time, Senate Republicans blocked a call for unanimous consent, calling for the report to be released. 

To help understand what all this means, I`m joined by two people with lots of experience running Federal investigations, Joyce Vance, former U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Alabama, and Chuck Rosenberg, former U.S. attorney, former senior FBI official who worked for Robert Mueller.  Both are MSNBC contributors. 

Joyce is someone who ran a U.S. attorney`s office and who`s been on prosecuting and investigating teams.  What is going on in the last 24 hours? 

JOYCE VANCE, CONTRIBUTOR, MSNBC:  I think we`ll have to read the Mueller report to get the ultimate answer to that.  Look, it`s not unusual, Chris, for teams to disagree about what the evidence says and whether or not there should be indictments and, if so, what for.  What`s irregular here is that we have a decision-maker, Robert Mueller, who was entrusted with resolving those conflicts and making a decision. 

He chose not to make a decision about obstruction.  Whether that`s because he believed he shouldn`t make one in a situation where a sitting President couldn`t be indicted, which seems very likely or whether there`s a different answer, the only way to restore public confidence is for all of this to come out now. 

HAYES:  You know, it was always clear, Chuck, that there was, in the full report, more derogatory information about the President than there was in the synopsis offered by Barr, and we know that because Barr chose to include the quote from Robert Mueller saying, expressly, this is not an exoneration.  What do you make of the reporting around that question on obstruction? 

CHUCK ROSENBERG, CONTRIBUTOR, MSNBC:  Yes, you`re right, Chris.  It`s not at all surprising that there would be more in the report.  I mean, it`s 300 or 400 pages, right?  And you don`t take 400 pages to say, "Nothing happened.  Move on," so that`s interesting to me.  What Joyce said is really important.  Prosecutors disagree with one another.  Prosecutors disagree with agents.  Agents disagree with prosecutors. 

HAYES:  Yes, all the time. 

ROSENBERG:  All the time, and that`s because this is art, not science.  And two well-intentioned people could look at the same set of facts and come up with a different answer.  That happens all the time so I`m not surprised that there`s more.  What I think will be interesting will be the armchair quarterbacking after we see what that is because, inevitably, whether Bill Barr is right or wrong, he will be second-guessed. 

And he will be second-guessed vociferously, particularly given the fact that so much of the obstruction stuff is public facing stuff.  We`ve already seen it. 

HAYES:  Right. 

ROSENBERG:  Right.  Recusals or calls for recusals and non-recusals, and pardons, and firings, all of which seem to me to be obstructive behavior.  Whether or not it constitutes a crime remains to be seen. 

HAYES:  NBC News is reporting that three government officials said that a dispute within the Special Counsel`s Office on the facts and the law was one factor behind Mueller`s decision not to make a question on obstruction to the point you and Joyce just made.  Then, there`s this question, Joyce, of the summaries, which is really interesting to me.  And, in some ways, we have a kind of factual dispute in the reporting, which is worthy, sort of ready to go and ship out publicly or did they need to be redacted? 

I want to read to you what Jerry Nadler has written to the Department of Justice about those summaries and grand jury material. 

He says, "It is notable that the Department`s press statement this morning does not deny the existence of these summaries.  The Department merely indicated that every page of the confidential report was marked `May Contain Material Protected` under the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure, Section 6(e).  If these summaries were, in fact, produced for public consumption by experienced prosecutors, then a precautionary marking should not be an impediment to public production in a very short period of time." 

Nadler is sort of zeroing on in on the lawyerly pushback from the Department of Justice, basically saying, "Well, there was something stamped on every page." 

VANCE:  Yes, that`s not particularly unusual.  I`m focused on this `in a very short time` language because what that seems to mean is that prosecutors, out of an abundance of caution, should go to a Federal District Court Judge, should get an order permitting them to release grand jury and then should make this available to Congress and perhaps even to the public, depending on what`s contained in it, but this seems to me to be an excused put forth by DOJ where one really doesn`t exist. 

If they had said there`s national security information or other types of information they need to screen, that would have been one thing, but the pushback from DOJ was grand jury material, and that`s easy to take care of. 

HAYES:  Right.  You know, there`s also the counterintelligence part of this.  NBC News is sort of the only ones with the reporting on that part of it, and I`ve always thought, look, the whole point of this was we know that there was a criminal sabotaging enterprise undertaken by an adversarial foreign intelligence apparatus to tip the election in one direction.  That`s pretty well-established at this point. 

ROSENBERG:  Unanimity among the intelligence. 

HAYES:  Right, and we`ve seen indictments to that effect that show some of the facts backing that up at least asserted by prosecutors.  You know, there`s always been this question of -- look, let`s say they were clean as daisies.  They were innocent of anything.  They didn`t realize what they were doing.  What exactly was going on with all the contacts?  That, in and of itself, is something the President doesn`t like to talk about and his defenders don`t like to talk about but apparently is contained within the report. 

ROSENBERG:  Right, and not every -- to your point, Chris, not every counterintelligence investigation yields a criminal indictment, criminal charges.  Many, if not most, counterintelligence investigations are designed so we understand what our adversaries are trying to do to us. 

Russia is an adversary -- make no mistake -- and we saw what they were trying to do to us so even if Mueller is done -- and he appears to be quite done -- I imagine the Counterintelligence piece will be carried on by the FBI for years. 

HAYES:  What do you mean by that? 

ROSENBERG:  What I mean is that Russia hasn`t gone away.  Russia hasn`t closed up shop.  Russia`s work is not done. 

HAYES:  Right.  I see what you`re saying. 

ROSENBERG:  And so whether it`s an interference in the 2016 Election, or the 2020 Election, or economic espionage, or it attempts to eavesdrop on our public officials, the Counterintelligence work of the FBI will continue because Russia is an adversary. 

HAYES:  Joyce Vance and Chuck Rosenberg, it was great to have both of you for your perspectives.  I appreciate it. 

I`m joined now by a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee who`s been a vocal critic of the Attorney General, Democratic Senator, Mazie Hirono of Hawaii.  Senator, your reaction now to 24 hours` worth of reporting across multiple outlets that there is some unease on the part of Mueller`s team about the characterization of the report from Barr? 

SEN. MAZIE HIRONO (D), HAWAII:  I think these concerns that are being expressed that the Barr four-page letter did not accurately characterize the 400-page report makes it even more important and more critical that that report is made public. 

HAYES:  Are there conversations -- we know what`s happening on the House, which is under Democratic control and Jerry Nadler running a letter, pursuing it.  Lindsey Graham has taken a fairly laissez-faire approach to this entire thing.  Are there conversations on the Senate judiciary side about how to deal with all of this? 

HIRONO:  Well, of course, the Democrats of that committee as well as other Democrats are very much focused on the need for the Mueller report and the underlying materials to be made public.  So we have a President who started off by saying, "Sure, let`s make it all public," you have the House that voted unanimously to make it all public and, suddenly, there`s all this, "Oh, well, the four-page letter is good enough."  What are they trying to hide? 

If I were the President and I thought that I was solely exonerated, I would want everything to be laid out for the public, and that`s what he said.  And now, they`re backing off that so they`re hiding the ball.  What`s going on?  That`s why the report has to be made public. 

HAYES:  You voted against Barr to be Attorney General.  Obviously, he passed nonetheless.  How do you feel about that vote in the light of his actions in the past week and a half? 

HIRONO:  Well, we all know that he auditioned for the Attorney General`s position with a 19-page unsolicited memo about how the President cannot be accused of obstruction of justice, and when the Mueller investigation did not draw a conclusion on that very issue, lo and behold, Barr steps in and says, "There is no obstruction of justice." 

Well, we all know what we saw and heard.  We heard the President fire.  We saw him firing Comey, wanting to fire Mueller, continuously calling this a witch hunt, which he still calls.  And, in fact, I think it`s astounding that the President is now calling for an investigation into how this investigation began. 

Well, it began because the Russians tried to interfere with our elections, and don`t you think it`s the least we can expect from our President that he did not collude or conspire with a foreign country out to interfere with our elections?  That`s the least we can expect, but, my goodness, what does he have to hide?  Why doesn`t he just go with what he originally said, which is, "Let it all come out." 

HAYES:  Is there anything that William Barr can do now to demonstrate to you that he does have integrity and that he is acting properly? 

HIRONO:  By releasing the report.  And when you start hearing from the very people who worked for two years on this investigation, expressing the kind of concerns that his four-pager did not accurately reflect this investigation, I think that`s cause for concern.  And the way that he can remedy that is to make the report available and open. 

HAYES:  Do you imagine a universe in which -- I mean, I think the House is obviously going to issue subpoenas for it.  There`s going to be back and forth now to Jerry Nadler, asking for those summaries that we know have been prepared.  Do you envision a universe in which the Senate Judiciary Committee hears witnesses, hears from people about this, talk to Barr about all this? 

HIRONO:  Well, Barr has offered to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee in May so that`s good.  We`ll be able to question him although, well, I hope that we`ll have time to review their, I hope, as un-redacted a version of the Mueller report as possible, but it`s not as though Lindsey Graham, the Chair of the Judiciary Committee, is jumping up and down, wanting to go down the path of full disclosure so I`m very disappointed in that. 

But the American people can, thank goodness, that the House, at least in terms of a number of the Chairs, are investigating various aspects of the Trump organization so, thank goodness, they think that`s good for our country that we have some level of checks and balances at least on the House`s side in particular. 

HAYES:  Final question: Do you view these three stories or four stories coming out about the unease of the Mueller folks as effectively a warning, as effectively them saying that there will be further disclosures unless, in fact, the report comes out? 

HIRONO:  I think that that kind of question will always hang in the air unless the report is made public.  And I think for the good of the public interest, that report needs to be totally transparent.  Otherwise, these kinds of questions will always linger.  And for the President to run around saying that he`s been totally exonerated, we already know that that is not true.  When you think about a foreign country interfering with our elections -- and they`re still doing it, by the way -- I think that we need to know what`s in that report so that we can draw our own conclusions. 

HAYES:  Right.  Senator Mazie Hirono, thank you for your time. 

HIRONO:  Thank you. 

HAYES:  Next, the Barr-shaped cloud hanging over the Department of Justice and why one former DOJ official is saying tonight that the Attorney General is now in open warfare with the Special Counsel`s Office.  That`s in two minutes. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) 

HAYES:  Attorney General William Barr came into the job with a fairly decent reputation in Washington from his first time around as AG that, despite the fact that during that time when he was AG, he recommended pardons for six Reagan Administration officials involved in the Iran-Contra scandal in 1992, later saying, interestingly enough, that he thought they had been "unjustly treated" by a special counsel who charged them with offenses including lying to Congress. 

Okay.  It`s now been nearly two weeks since Special Counsel Mueller completed his 300-plus-page report, and all we have to show for it, of course, is Barr`s four-page summary characterizing it.  It increasingly looks like Barr is either whitewashing here or, worst-case scenario, engaged in covering something up.  As former Justice Department spokesperson, Matt Miller, wrote in an op-ed today in Politico, "The Attorney General`s actions raise suspicions about whether he`s acting primarily to benefit the President because they don`t make sense when viewed through any other lens." 

Matt Miller joins me now along with former assistant special Watergate prosecutor, Jill Wine-Banks.  Matt, what`s your case here about how Barr`s behavior is impacting the integrity of the Department as a whole? 

MATT MILLER, JUSTICE & NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST, MSNBC:  Well, if you look at the Attorney General`s actions over the last couple of weeks, every time he`s had a decision to make about how he would handle the conclusion of this investigation, he`s chosen an option that would benefit the President. 

And instead of taking other options like -- say, for example -- releasing the summaries that we now know that Mueller`s team had wrote or, say, not releasing anything until they`d had a chance to go through and make full redactions, or, say, going to the grand jury or going to the district judge and asking for grand jury material to be released, things that would be in the typical practices of the Department in investigations like this, he has instead inserted himself and chosen the path that would not only favor the President but would do it at the risk of bringing controversy upon himself, which is something attorneys general don`t usually try to do. 

You aren`t usually trying to choose controversy, and if you put yourself in his shoes and ask, "Why are you choosing the path of most resistance?" when it goes against what would usually be the best practices of previous presidents or the Department and you say the only reason he`s doing this is because it`s an option that benefits the President, it means it puts a taint on his actions and, I think, puts a cloud over him and over the Department at a time where the Department really has been suffering under politicization and accusations of politicization that they can`t afford for going on three years now. 

HAYES:  Do you agree, Jill? 

JILL WINE-BANKS, FORMER ASSISTANT SPECIAL WATERGATE PROSECUTOR:  I completely agree with everything Matt said.  I would go even a little further because nothing that has happened makes me trust Barr.  He wrote a memo to audition for the job in which he made an argument that made no legal or factual sense.  He basically made up facts that he didn`t know to support an argument that didn`t seem to be legally supportable. 

He also, in his four-page letter, refers to the fact that there needed to be an underlying crime in order to have any obstruction, and we know from the Watergate case that that is simply not true.  There`s no evidence that Richard Nixon knew about the break-in until after it happened, but he certainly immediately got into the obstruction and was impeached for that. 

HAYES:  Right. 

WINE-BANKS:  He would have been indicted and was named an unindicted co- conspirator for his role in that, and there is no doubt in my mind that that was completely legal so it just doesn`t make sense and it also doesn`t make sense to me from the moment I read his summary that that could be true.  I cannot believe that Mueller would have given to him the power to make a decision where Mueller knew what the decision would be based on his original memo so it just doesn`t make sense. 

And it`s really fish that we`ve allowed this to happen and that he`s gotten away with it.  He`s definitely helping the President because it`s hard to overcome a first impression, and the first impression was him saying that he was exonerated for one and, while he wasn`t exonerated, he wasn`t convicted or indicted for the other either.  And that`s the impression that people have, and it may not be true.  We need to see the full report. 

HAYES:  Right.  Matt, there`s another theory here, right?  One is that he`s acting in bad faith, fundamentally; he`s acting as an agent of the President as opposed to an independent arbiter.  But, you know, one thing that you talked about during Jeff Sessions` tenure that always stuck with me is the President`s haranguing, and belittling, and sort of public bullying of his own AG was ineffective in the short run in the sense that he didn`t un-recuse himself. 

But it did create a set of incentives in a context in which the next AG operates, which is that Barr knows if he crosses the President, he will be subject to harangues, and to bullying, and to insults, and to Trump being mad at him.  And you do wonder how much that affects him even if he tells himself he`s acting in good faith. 

MILLER:  That is exactly right, and that is the worry you have to have about any senior appointee at the Justice Department under this President. 

HAYES:  Right.  Exactly. 

MILLER:  But Barr made the exact opposite case about himself in his confirmation hearing.  He said that, "Look, I`ve been an Attorney General already.  I don`t need this job.  I`m at the end of my career.  I`m at a place where I don`t need to be bullied by anybody.  I can be independent," and I think that`s the case he made to convince senators that he wouldn`t be pushed around by the President, but then when you look at his actions, they don`t make sense through any other lens. 

And the point that Jill made, I think, is a key one.  When you look at his actions, the reason he got picked for the job -- most attorneys general, if they came into office with that kind of already question of whether they could be impartial hanging over their heads, would bend over backwards to go the other direction.  And when you have a special counsel like Bob Mueller who is one of the most respected prosecutors of his generation, known for his integrity, the smartest, easiest, least-controversial thing would have been to just defer to him. 

Barr hasn`t only deferred to him; he`s inserted himself into the process to make his own conclusions and we now know has kind of released the report in a way that at least some of Mueller`s prosecutors find misleading. 

HAYES:  What do you think, Jill?  One more question on this, which is one of the things that appear in "The Times" -- and it seemed clear if you`ve sort of read through the lines of the Department of Justice officials talking to "The Times" yesterday, sort of giving their version of events although not with their name on it or on the record -- that he didn`t want to release derogatory information and repeat the kind of sin of James Comey with his big announcement Hillary Clinton in which he passed judgment on her behavior.  Does that scan to you? 

WINE-BANKS:  Well, I think it does in a way you don`t want to make the same mistake twice. 

HAYES:  Yes. 

WINE-BANKS:  But we`ve learned from the episode with Comey that it only took a very short few days to go through everything and to determine that there was really nothing there so instead of Comey announcing that there was a reopening of the investigation, he should have done that first and never opened his mouth.  And that`s what should have happened here. 

HAYES:  Right.  That`s a good point. 

WINE-BANKS:  Barr has the resources at his fingertips.  He could have done any redaction that was necessary.  And I want to point out -- and Matt mentioned this -- going to the judge and asking that the release of the grand jury testimony be done in the public interest is an easy thing to do, and if he was serious, that`s what he would have done.  That`s what should`ve happened.  Americans have a right to know.  Certainly, Congress has a need to know.  They must get this. 

And the only thing that throws me off a little is that I don`t think that Barr is stupid.  I think he may be politically motivated, but it would be stupid to say something in that four-page document that is 180 degrees from what Mueller intended, and that throws me off a little bit. 

HAYES:  Yes, and I don`t anticipate, for that reason, that we will see something 180 degrees.  It`s a question of the shades of the degrees in between.  Matt Miller and Jill Wine-Banks, thanks for joining us. 

HAYES (voice over):  Ahead, how a woman carrying a malware-infected thumb drive managed to get onto Donald Trump`s Mar-a-Lago property.  And just how big are the security breaches of the President`s Florida estate?  Next. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HAYES:  Part of what makes Donald Trump`s continued ownership and maintenance at Mar-a-Lago so obviously corrupt is that anyone can pay a quarter million dollars to become a member and then go saddle up to the president at the omelet bar and put a bug in his ear about, say, some regulation that`s hurting their business.

Then, of course, there`s also the national security problem at the club, where Trump regularly conducts open air diplomacy.  For example, back in 2017,  Trump ordered missile strikes on Syria from Mar-a-Lago, which Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross later classily described as the, quote, after dinner entertainment.

The club is quite obviously a massive target for foreign intelligence operations, and anyone who wants relatively cheap access to the most powerful man in the world.

Cindy Yang, the former of the spa named in a prostitution operation in February has been accused of selling access to Trump to Chinese executives via events at the club.  She denies the allegations.

And then this weekend, a Chinese citizen tried to enter Mar-a-Lago carrying a thumb drive containing malicious software.  She now faces federal charges.

It appears this maybe, may be part of a broader trend.  The Miami Herald reports that, quote, since Trump became president, longtime Mar-a-Lago members have noted the increased presence of foreigners at charity events and galas, in particular large contingents of Chinese people who spoke little English.

It`s a circus, one longtime employee told The Miami Herald on the condition of anonymity for fear of repercussions at work.

The employ said Chinese guests would bring gifts of cheap electronics and constantly ask staff to help them get face time with Trump or his family.

And joining me now, one of the reporters who brought us that news, Caitlin Ostroff of The Miami Herald.

Caitlin, what have you learned about how things have changed at Mar-a-Lago since Trump became president?

CAITLIN OSTROFF, MIAMI HERALD:  I mean, we know from speaking with employees and people who work there and who have worked there that, you know, Mar-a-Largo is essentially very hard to secure logistically, that, you know, Secret Service said that they don`t screen the people, they don`t decide who gets to come into Mar-a-Lago, because it is a private club, and so people can bring guests, people can purchase tickets, and so getting into Mar-a-Lago is still relatively easier than most events that the president would ordinarily be at.  And it does kind of pose a security challenge for the intelligence services to kind of make sure that that area is completely secure.

And so, you know, there has been this influx of Chinese nationals that staff have said they`ve noticed at the club, and that`s raised concerns among experts of who is getting access.

HAYES:  Just to go back to a point you made there, so it`s the president`s club, and Secret Service put out a statement the other day after this woman was apprehended, right, as she was attempting to talk herself in, essentially, that they don`t control who goes in and out of Mar-a-Lago because it is a club.  They just make sure that I guess there`s probably mags and stuff like that, but anyone who is invited can go there and get next to the president, more or less?

OSTROFF:  Right.  I mean, there`s -- the club has its own security that checks people into the entryways of the club, but that`s really up to the club`s discretion.

HAYES:  How often -- I mean one thing it seems to be the case is that when the president is down there he`s not sort of sequestered, he kind of gets a kick out of mingling with people down in Mar-a-Lago.  So, it is not outside the realm  of possibility that if you`re there for an event or you`re a club member you can get a little face time with the president, which is an unbelievably valuable commodity.

OSTROFF:  Right, and that was being marketed by Cindy Yang and others on Chinese social media of, you know, we can get you access to the president and the people within his family and his orbit and, you know, Mar-a-Lago was one of the main ways in which they pitched that was, you know, this is a place where you can get access to the president.

HAYES:  What do we know about the woman who was apprehended and now facing charges that was arrested the other day?

OSTROFF:  So, we know from audio of her first court appearance that she said she was an investor and a consultant with a Chinese asset management company.

But aside from that, we still really don`t know that much about her.  She is still something of a mystery to federal investigators as far as we know.  As to how she got there exactly she said that she saw the -- that she heard about the event through a message from one of the bundlers of Cindy Yang`s  events, Charles Lee, she said that, yeah, she was there go swimming and then said she was there for a United Nations friendship event.  And so we really don`t know that much about this woman just yet.

HAYES:  All right, Caitlin Ostroff, thank you so much for being with me tonight.

OSTROFF:  Thanks.

HAYES:  Coming up,  Herman Cain, Steven Moore, and how Donald Trump`s remaking of the Federal Reserve in his image is actually a reelection plan.

Plus, why the vice president is demanding we return to the moon, quote, by any means necessary, that`s tonight`s Thing One, Thing Two starting next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HAYES:  Thing One tonight, we are coming up on the 50th anniversary this summer of the U.S. sending men to walk on the moon, and Vice President Mike Pence is already making big plans.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  Now has come the time for us to make the next giant leap and return American astronauts to the moon.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAYES:  Wait.  Another giant leap?  No, no, no.  The last thing, that was the giant leap when we went to the moon the first time.  We already leaped.  Remember?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NEIL ARMSTRONG, NASA ASTRONAUT:  That`s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAYES:  Now that was almost a half century ago, but for some reason Mike Pence seems to want to go back to that time.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PENCE:  The president has directed NASA and Administrator Jim Bridenstine to accomplish this goal by any means necessary.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAYES:  That`s a weird phrase to use there.  And that`s Thing Two in 60 seconds.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HAYES:  So Mike Pence has been among the voices on the right beating up on the idea of a Green New Deal, a moonshot to do something about climate change before it`s too late.  At the same time, he is pushing a different moonshot to go to the actual moon, which of course we already did, that`s why it`s called the moonshot.

But going to the moon was hard and expensive when we can did it a half century ago, and it`s proving hard and expensive now.  NASA is struggling with its moon rocket, and the NASA administrator said this week that they`re going to need additional means.

And while there are practical reasons for space exploration to go back to the moon, we`re not so sure why it`s such a national emergency all of a sudden that we have to go now by any means necessary.

Maybe Mike Pence just wants to go back and live like it`s 50 years ago.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PENCE:  It is the stated policy of this administration and the United States of America to return American astronauts to the moon within the next five years.

(APPLAUSE)

PENCE:  Some will say it`s too hard, it`s too risky, it`s too expensive.  History is written by those who dare to dream big and do the impossible.

(APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HAYES:  A big bipartisan majority of the House of Representatives today voted to reauthorize the lapsed Violence Against Women Act.  Big deal.

Most notably, the bill included a new provision that expands restrictions on gun purchases and ownership for people convicted of domestic abuse and stalking.

Unlike a lot of votes in the House, it was not party line.  33 Republicans, which is a lot these days, voting with every Democrats, except for Colin Peterson of Minnesota, to pass it, though the opposition the GOP side was energetic and rather hyperbolic.  Mo Brooks going so far as to call the bill an assault on, quote, biology. 

But mostly Republicans were just standing for square with the NRA, which, not surprisingly lobbied desperately behind the scenes against the bill because it would apply some fairly common sense restrictions to gun ownership.

Now, we already know that abused women are five times more likely to be killed if their abusers owns a gun.  A recent analysis found that a majority of mass shootings from 2009 to 2017 were related to domestic or family violence.

And keep in mind -- I think this is important -- unlike the proposals to ban those on, say, the no fly list from access to  firearms, the due process complaints here are essentially moot, since the people in question are all people with convictions or pleas.

Now, that said, it is a big loss for an NRA that is, slowly but surely, losing its aura of invincibility on big political battles, although luckily for the gun lobby there`s a Republican majority just waiting in the Senate that will be much, much more friendly to the idea that violent and abusive romantic partners should be able to continue to get their hands on guns.

But, if today`s vote shows anything, it is that the forces for gun sense are stronger than they have been in years.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HAYES:  There is one man who most threatens Donald Trump`s re-election chances, and it`s not Robert Mueller or any Democratic candidate, it is Jerome Powell, the chair of the Federal Reserve, that`s a man that Trump nominated for that position, because he literally thought the last Fed chair, who by the way was the first woman to ever have the job, was too short, like physically too short, literally, that`s why he fired her.

But ever since Powell took office, Trump has repeatedly berated and harangued him for raising interest rates.  Axios reports Trump regards Powell as one of the greatest mistakes of his administration, and that`s saying something. 

The Feds decision to try to put the breaks on the economy in an election year particularly probably has more to do with whether Trump is re-elected than almost any single factor, so clearly worried about that, the president has decided to try to stuff the board with preposterous cronies.

First, Stephen Moore who is not an economist, has been wrong about almost all of his predictions, has $75,000 in unpaid taxes, was found in contempt of court of shorting his ex-wife more than $300,000 of alimony, child support and the balance of their divorce settlement, and also has said he`s going to have to learn about the Fed on the job.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STEPHEN MOORE, FEDERAL RESERVE NOMINEE:  I`m kind of new to this game, frankly, so I`m going to be on a steep learning curve myself about how the Fed operates, how the Federal Reserve makes its decisions, and this is real exciting opportunity for me.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAYES:  Well, it`ll be exciting to learn, won`t it, while you`re doing the job?

Now today, Trump said he has made another recommendation for the Fed board, former CEO of Godfather`s Pizza, and Republican presidential candidate, Herman Cain.  Maybe you remember him.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  So do you agree with President Obama on Libya or not?

HERMAN CAIN, FORMER CEO GODFATHER`S PIZZA:  OK, Libya.  I`m ready for the gotcha questions.  And they`re already starting to come.  And when they asked me who`s the president  of Ubeki-beki-beki-stan-stan -- I`m going to say, you know, I don`t know, do you know?

President Obama supported the uprising, correct?

Aw, shucky ducky, as the man would say.

But I believe these words came from the Pokemon movie.  The media pointed that out.  I`m not sure who the original author is, so don`t go write an article about the poem. 

I do not agree with the way he handles it for the following reasons.

No, that`s a different one.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAYES:  Oh, dammit, I hate when that happens.

Now both of Trump`s Fed board picks are drawing scrutiny and criticism from Republicans and Democrats alike.  And Democratic Senator Ron Wyden and Sherrod Brown sent a letter to Stephen Moore requesting more information on his outstanding debts.  Senator Ron Wyden, the ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee, joins me now.

Senator, what are your concerns about Mr. Moore?

SEN. RON WYDEN, (D) OREGON:  Well, first of all, Chris, the Fed is responsible for bringing us stability and competence with respect to our economy.  And you name some unqualified  individual who in effect brings in a bunch of economic quackery, and you can really put our economy at risk.

Now, with respect to Mr. Moore, you have somebody like George W. Bush`s top economics man saying he was for a bunch of snake oil economics; for Mr. Cain, nobody can forget his 9-9-9 economic proposal which was just laughed out of any kind of debate at all.  And certainly what Senator Brown and I are going to do is make sure, for example, if somebody like Mr. Moore isn`t paying his taxes, he`s got other problems with respect to child support, we want the record to be clear on that point.

HAYES:  You mentioned George W. Bush`s economic adviser, that`s Greg Mankiw, he`s a Harvard professor, who said of Stephen Moore he does not have the intellectual gravitas for this important job. 

Do you think that fundamentally the president is trying to sort of build a board around Powell that can push him, that he knows are essentially loyal soldiers for him on rate decisions and the like, so they can sort of bully Powell a bit?

WYDEN:  It sure looks like it.  And I think the president just resents Powell`s independence.  I voted for Powell.  By the way, Powell had a history of working with Janet Yellen.  But let`s stick again to the facts.

Stephen Moore, for example, was one of the architects of the horrendous Trump tax cut, that`s one that the Trump people said would pay for itself, and there were billions and billions of dollars off on that.

So this is really a crucial time to recognize that the Fed is independent.  We want capable, competent people.  And we certainly don`t want people who are just going to carry water politically as we move into an election cycle.

HAYES:  You know, there seems to me to be a similarity between the Department of Justice and the Fed, both are part of the federal government.  DOJ is actually within the executive, the Fed is  independent.  But there`s traditions of independence and arms length from the president for important reasons in both cases.  And the president hated Jeff Sessions, because he felt he was not obedient enough, and now he hates Jerome Powell for exactly the same reasons.

Are you worried fundamentally about the Feds independence?  The president will be able to successfully harangue, to bully, to get his cronies on the board to steer the economy in a way that`s most favorable to him for reelection chances?

WYDEN:  Well, let`s put it this way.  I think that Mr. Powell is showing a lot more political independence, which is key for the Fed, than Bill Barr is showing at the Justice Department.

HAYES:  Interesting.

WYDEN:  But we`re at a crucial time.  As we know in the trade area, my part of the world, what we like to do is innovate.  We like to make things.  We like to grow things.  We`re looking at trying to tap Asian markets.  Essentially China has stepped in and really exploited the fact that the Trump people are AWOL there.  We can`t walk away from these growth areas for our economy where we can get value-added jobs that, for example, that are export driven and the Trump people don`t seem to get that.

HAYES:  Another qualification question, this one on Herman Cain, you just talked about Moore -- you know, there`s a sort of national conversation right now, obviously in the era of #metoo about sexual harassments, groping, unwanted sexual advances.  In 2011, Cain admitted to a settlement was made over sexual harassment claims.  I believe there have been four on the record, if I`m not mistaken.  Is that disqualifying in this era or any era?

WYDEN:  It certainly is a serious issues.  In other words, we just heard about the Cain appointment tonight, so it`s something that in my view is very, very serious and has to be thoroughly vetted.

HAYES:  I want to switch gears for a moment just because I have you here and you`re a member of the United States Senate and you have talked about and voted on the issue of war powers in Yemen.  Historic today in the White House -- I`m sorry, in the House of Representatives was passed a war powers resolution to end U.S. involvement and aid for the Saudi war in Yemen.  It passed out of the Senate already.  You voted for that, if I am not mistaken.  It now, for the first time, a war powers resolution will go to the president`s desk.  How significant is this?  What happens next?

WYDEN:  This is enormous.  This is making a statement that the congress is not just going to duck and sit on its hands with respect to our constitutional responsibilities as it relates to conflict and war.  And for too long the congress has done it.

The Saudis, of course, have singularly walked all over so many of our interests.  For example, in the state of Oregon we`re particularly troubled about some Saudi nationals who came in, they engaged in some really reprehensible behavior, seemed to have been involved in manslaughter, and we have real questions about whether the Saudi government was involved in actually whisking them out of  the country before trials.

So we are pushing back.  We are sticking up for American interests.  That`s what the president said he was all about.  Now the congress is actually doing it when the president isn`t.

HAYES:  All right, Senator Ron Wyden, always a pleasure, thank you, sir.

WYDEN:  Thank you.

HAYES:  For you at home, don`t forget to check out our podcast Why is This Happening?  We`ve had a lot of great guests recently, including this week`s interview with film maker Astra Taylor, who has a captivating documentary out now called simply What is Democracy?  Which, as she shows, is a much harder question to answer than you might think.

You can find that and all of our other episodes wherever you get your podcasts.

That is ALL IN for this evening.  "THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW" begins right now.  Good evening, Rachel.

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