CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: That`s HARDBALL for now. "ALL IN" With Chris Hayes starts right now.
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CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: Tonight on ALL IN.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I`m under audit, but that`s up to whoever it is. I -- from what I understand, the law is 100 percent on my side.
HAYES: Trump pulling out all the stops to block House Democrat from seeing his tax returns.
TRUMP: I fight like hell to pay as little as possible. Can I say that? I`m not a politician.
HAYES: Tonight, how the President has stacked the IRS in his favor, whether it will work. Then ...
JOE BIDEN, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I just want you to know, I had permission to hug Lonnie.
HAYES: The political calculation behind Joe Biden`s non-apology tour.
BIDEN: I`m sorry I didn`t understand more. I`m not sorry for any of my intentions.
HAYES: Plus, a new lawsuit filed to get the Mueller report released to the public. And one of the Democratic candidates who have now qualified for the debate stage.
ANDREW YANG (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: There is no way I can do this alone.
HAYES: Andrew Yang will join me when ALL IN starts right now.
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HAYES: Good evening from New York, I`m Chris Hayes. Donald Trump is doing everything he possibly can to keep Congress from seeing his tax returns. Lawyers retained by the President today took a very hard line against the Democratic request from Congress for six years of Trump`s returns. The President`s lawyers instructed the Treasury Department, interestingly enough, not to comply, and insisted Trump had no legal obligation to do so. "We are confident that this misguided attempt to politicize the administration of the tax laws will not succeed."
Trump was asked about his lawyer`s stance during the visit to the U.S.- Mexico border where Trump had come to pretend that replacement fencing designated for upgrade during the Obama administration was actually newly built Trump wall. The Department of Homeland Security even put a cute little plaque honoring Trump on the replacement fencing to make the President`s lie appear more convincing.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We`ve seen the letter that your lawyers have sent about your tax returns. Is there anything you`d like to say about it or explain?
TRUMP: Nothing whatsoever. Nothing whatsoever. I have nothing to say about it. It`s -- I got elected. They elected me, now they keep going. I`m under audit. When you`re under audit, you don`t do it, but I`m under audit. Other people are under audit and nobody would do it when you are going through an audit. And I always go through audits. They audit me all the time.
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HAYES: Trump`s legal offensive and dubious, dubious claims about being under audit are just part of his strategy to keep those returns private. The President has installed people who are likely to do his bidding into top positions at the IRS in much the same way that he installed Attorney General William Barr whose job application included a letter preemptively clearing the President of obstruction of justice. The man that Trump chose to head the IRS, Charles Rettig, wrote an op-ed in 2016, arguing -- you`re not going to believe this -- Trump should not release his tax returns.
And Trump was so very much invested in the confirmation of the IRS Chief Counsel Michael Desmond, that according to a new story in The New York Times, he asked Mitch McConnell to prioritize a confirmation vote for that guy, the general counsel of the IRS saying it was even more important than getting Barr confirmed. Interesting. As you probably guess, this is not just some random appointee. Michael Desmond had previously advised the Trump organization on tax issues and also worked in private practice with Trump-ordered lawyers. He stacks the IRS with allies, Trump insists he has the law on his sides.
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TRUMP: Hey, I`m under audit, but that`s up to whoever it is. I -- from what I understand, the law is 100 percent on my side.
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HAYES: Let`s be clear, that`s 100 percent false. According to law, if the chair of the House Ways and Means Committee makes a written request, "The Treasury Secretary shall furnish such committee with any return or return information specified in such request." Shall furnish, there it is in black and white, there is no wiggle room there. That`s the law passed by Congress, signed by a president. The Democrats are very careful not to give Trump an out.
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REP. RICHARD NEAL (D-MA), CHAIRMAN, HOUSE WAYS AND MEANS COMMITTEE: We followed IRS guidelines, which suggests to taxpayers that six years is generally the measurement that they use for advising taxpayers on how long to keep their forms. So, we didn`t want to have the case perhaps dismissed on a technical glitch. So, again, I think as I said to you now for a long period of time, we`ve taken a very methodical approach to what will likely be an established court case.
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HAYES: We already know about some of the ways that the President is profiting from his office, such as when, just for example, foreign dignitaries stay at Trump`s hotel in a transparent effort to curry favor with the President. But there`s a whole web of potential corruption the members of Congress cannot possibly know about unless they see the President`s tax returns. And for some reason, Trump really, really does not want that to happen.
Joining me now to discuss Trump`s attempt to stonewall, former Obama White House cabinet secretary Chris Lu. I thought it would be useful to start off with a comparison set of what -- no, seriously, because there`s a way in which he has kind of gotten away with this. He has normalized it, even though it`s so insane. Not only did he didn`t release his taxes during the campaign, but since becoming president, what was the standard operating procedure in the Obama White House?
CHRIS LU, FORMER OBAMA WHITE HOUSE CABINET SECRETARY: Well, let`s not only take that, let`s go all the way back, every President going back to Richard Nixon has put forward their tax returns. So, that`s something that routinely happens during a campaign, you put that out.
HAYES: Right. But just -- I want to be clear, not just during the campaign, because once you become President it seems very important that you release your taxes, you show that you are abiding by the law.
LU: Exactly. Every year on April 15th, you put it out, and the press would dissect it to see how much you gave in charitable contributions, what your booking come with, that is a standard practice.
HAYES: I always want to be clear that if the idea here is that you`re under audit and can`t do it, every President has a sort of special process, generally, right? The IRS runs them through a, quote, audit, and they all did that.
LU: Well, exactly right. And he`s not under audit every single year of his tax returns that are sitting out there.
LU: But also, let`s consider this whole issue involving the IRS chief counsel. Now, don`t get me wrong, this is an important job. Is it the most important job that you would want to move that to the front of the queue. Let`s think about this. There`s no appointee to be the Secretary of Defense, the FAA administrator, the ICE -- the head of ICE, the ambassador to Mexico. So, the fact that you would move this person to the front of the line, you don`t have to be much of a conspiracy theorist to think, this is kind of suspicious.
HAYES: Well, we do know the President is a details man.
LU: He is a details man, like really --
HAYES: Like zero in on now.
LU: Right, he cares exactly about the letter of the IRS law and again shall means shall. There`s no wiggle room there.
HAYES: Yes, you`re among many things, you`re a lawyer as well.
LU: I am a lawyer.
HAYES: And the sort of legal presentation in that letter is pretty wild.
LU: Oh, Chris, any first year law student can drive a truck through the hole that letter creates. The letter basically says the committee can only ask for the tax returns if there`s a legitimate legislative purpose. Any first year student could spit out tons and tons of hypotheticals about maybe why the President should have to divest all assets. Maybe he shouldn`t be owning a hotel down the street from the White House, maybe he shouldn`t be engaging in foreign activities while he`s a president. All of those things can be the subject of legislation.
HAYES: Where do you think -- where -- what are the political stakes here? Because it is -- it is interesting to me that though the President has taken vocally and facially a kind of like, I don`t think we should do it, but hand me the lawyers. They went -- they basically gone nuclear, they`ve gone zero to 60 right away.
LU: They`ve absolutely gone zero to 60, and as you said, this is going to play out in the courts. And it`ll be interesting because the letter of the law is very clear, but obviously given the assault that this administration has had on the judiciary in terms of putting their judges on, and it`ll be interesting to see what those judges do with a very clear reading of a statute.
HAYES: Well, this is part of the subtext here, is they`ve done this with a bunch of cases, they are unprecedented and skipping circuit courts and appellate courts (INAUDIBLE) right to Supreme Court. They think they`ve got five votes. They`ve got five of their cronies sitting in the Supreme Court who will vote with them whenever they need to no matter what the black letter law says.
LU: Well, and that`s the irony, conservative justices are supposed to look at the black letter --
HAYES: The plain meaning of the text.
LU: The plain -- there can be no plainer meaning than shall means shall. And so, it would be really -- I mean, quite a travesty of justice if you could find five Supreme Court justice who would say that shall does not mean shall.
HAYES: Are you certain though this is -- essentially the courts will -- I mean, the courts will step in here, right?
LU: The courts will step in here. I mean, I -- it is -- look, they`ve asked for an opinion from the office of legal counsel, it`s very clear they`ll get the kind of opinion that they want. And then, the Ways and Means Committee through the House general counsel will have to sue for this.
HAYES: All right. Chris Lu who served as Cabinet Secretary in the Obama administration, thanks for being with me.
LU: Thank you.
HAYES: For more on the President`s efforts to keep his tax returns private, I`m joined by Jesse Eisinger, senior reporter and editor of ProPublica and David K. Johnston, Pulitzer Prize winning founder of D.C. Report. David, you`ve been a tax reporter for years. What`s the context here for the power that Ways and Means has under the law to make this request?
DAVID CAY JOHNSTON, PULITZER PRIZE WINNING FOUNDER, D.C. REPORT: Well, this law is even stronger than what you just discussed. Because it empowers the Chief of Staff for the joint tax committee. That`s not an elected congress person, that`s a lawyer hired by Congress. The Chief of Staff for that committee has the power to get tax returns. They`re provided with tax returns all the time. If you have a refund of $2 million or more, it`s checked by Congress. This is an anti-corruption law. And what Donald Trump and his lawyers are really saying, Chris, is very simple, I am above the law.
HAYES: There`s a question, Jesse, you`ve been reporting in depth on the IRS. And now, we have a real question about the institutional fortitude of the place, right? I mean, it has been besieged by political forces that are particularly since 2010 Republicans working hard to make it harder to enforce tax law on the wealthy, now it`s kind of an ultimate text case with these political appointees.
JESSE EISINGER, SENIOR REPORTER & EDITOR, PROPUBLICA: Yes, well, it`s a broken bureaucracy. It has been starved of funding, tens of thousands of people have left, it does not adequately audit corporations or the wealthy, disproportionally audits the poor. Now, interestingly enough, it has been very resistant to political pressure.
HAYES: That`s my point, right.
EISINGER: You know, there are only two political appointees in a bureaucracy of 70,000 people. And they don`t have an enormous amount of power. And so, you could see -- it might be difficult for them to wield the kind of power that would result in blocking this, but of course, then it will fall to treasury, treasury wields a lot of power over the IRS. It`s within -- the IRS is within treasury. So, it really remains to be seen, but you know, it`s a credit to the bureaucracy that this hasn`t leaked yet. These people are hardworking, they`re dedicated civil servants, they`re really honorable people. So, they believe in the tax laws here, but we`ll have to see about this giant court fight that`s going to happen.
HAYES: Well, there`s a ridiculous assertion here, David, to me at least, facially ridiculous, this is the letter that Trump`s now lawyers that he`s retained, say, from our firm welcomes the opportunity to represent President Trump in his capacity as a taxpayer. Like, there`s this thing they do with him where like he`s just a private citizen, he`s a taxpayer. You don`t -- you -- it`s not like some metaphysical question about like the private Trump and the public, he`s the President of the United States. He doesn`t get to get out of that.
JOHNSTON: Well, they`re desperately trying to find some way to get around the crystal clear language we`ve had since 1924, shall. And it`s not just tax returns, it`s related tax information shall be provided. This is an anti-corruption law, and one of the things I hope we do in our discussions about this going forward, Chris, is let`s call the IRS what they are, they`re the tax police.
HAYES: Right. And ...
JOHNSTON: Donald Trump is proposing to go against the tax police.
HAYES: Well, he`s also proposing in a sort of bizarre way to sort of intercede. I mean, one part of the government has asked another part of the government for this information it`s entitled to by law, and here comes his private lawyers to intercede, to say, you can`t do it.
EISINGER: Right. And pretending that he`s a private citizen, or as you said, you know, there`s a (INAUDIBLE) cat type of existence. Now, that`s really not going to stand, I doubt, unless you get to the Supreme Court, because of the very issue that we were just discussing, which is that you can -- you need to have a legitimate legislative purpose, but the legitimate legislative purpose is obvious, not just in looking at the president and corruption, but looking at how the wealthy are audited, looking at how the games that the wealthy play, the list goes on and on and on for what Congress has legitimate purpose in looking at his returns for.
HAYES: Also, it`s worth zeroing in on something Chris and I just touched on, David, which is that we all know that he didn`t release his back taxes during the campaign, he didn`t release them for that year, but then he got into office as President, and he hasn`t released them. Not only he did not release them, we on this show would call up to ask whether he had filed or filed for an extension and got no answer for months. They just simply wouldn`t answer the question of whether he filed his taxes or filed for extension. Then they said they filed for an extension. Then we called back on October 15th, and we got no answer about whether he had actually filed. So, there`s just this open question about what he`s doing now as President.
JOHNSTON: Well, and there -- in addition to let`s ask questions about is his return actually under audit, he wouldn`t release the audit letters. Is there a different procedure for auditing? And one of the things Donald is no doubt worried about, is if we get his -- if Congress gets his tax returns, will Congress then order further investigation, find out that the records he gave the IRS do not match up with financial transaction records that the government has for money flowing across borders?
HAYES: Say more on that.
JOHNSTON: Well, we -- Donald -- one of the questions about Donald is has he been laundering money for wealthy criminals, for oligarchs, for others through real estate transactions and other deals? Every transaction in the world can be traced, if you want to put enough time and money into it, except for a system called hawala. So, if Trump has listed revenue from one place and the records of the transactions show that it`s a lot more or less, he can have really serious problems there that go way beyond taxes.
EISINGER: OK. But -- well, first of all, let`s talk about the audit. Now, there`s nothing restricting someone who`s under audit from releasing his tax returns.
EISINGER: So, that is completely bogus.
EISINGER: OK? So, if you could --
EISINGER: The whole time. It`s -- so, the other thing is that very few people are under perpetual audit.
EISINGER: So, now as president, he should be under this kind of quasi- audit, but -- so that`s also bogus. But, let`s be cautious about the tax returns. The tax returns are not the Rosetta Stone that will let us know everything about every source of funding that he`s ever had. He`ll have overlapping LLCs, and you know, a Russian doll of corporate structure. It`s not -- no pun intended there. So, they`re not going to tell us whether he`s been laundering money for the Russians, whether he`s got dubious debts or, you know, he owes money to questionable characters. That`s not going --
JOHNSTON: But, Jesse, that`s the starting point for that. They have a starting point to look at that.
EISINGER: Yes, it`s not -- it`s not -- it`s not useful. It`s not use; useless.
EISINGER: But you know, they`re not going to be -- it`s not going to --
EISINGER: The scares will not fall from our eyes once we see the dot.
HAYES: That`s a useful caution, Jesse Eisinger and David Cay Johnston. Thank you both for being with me.
Now, to one of the Democrats in Congress who wants to see the president`s tax returns. Representative Maxine Waters of California. First question, Congresswoman, why is it so important? Why, why do you support the actions by your fellow Democrats to get the president`s tax returns?
REP. MAXINE WATERS (D-CA), CHAIR, FINANCIAL SERVICES COMMITTEE: Well, first of all, it has been stated over and over again that so many other presidents released their tax returns. That everybody expects that the president of the United States would follow suit and he would release his returns.
He`s lied, he said that they`re under audit. He never intended to release them. He is not going to release them until we make him until we force him to do it. He thinks now that if he goes to court if he ties it up in court, if he makes it go on long enough that he`ll get to the Supreme Court, he think he owns enough votes in the Supreme Court in order to be protected.
This president is an expert criminal who knows how to do everything possible to protect himself. And all of those people who get in the way, who happened to be hired by government will be fired. He attacks any government official who denies him what he wants to have.
And so, we know enough about him now in order to want to get those tax returns to find out a lot more about him. First of all, he lies about his net worth. Secondly, there is information floating around that shows that, in fact, he has earned money that he has funneled into the foundation that should have been money declared in his tax returns.
It goes on, and on, and on. We have every reason in the world to want to see them, we`ve got to fight for them. The law gives the Ways and Means Committee, the right to go after them, and we cannot let up.
HAYES: I should -- what you`re referring to there, I think is some of the investigations by the New York Attorney General into the Tax Foundation. An improperly moving money between the foundation and the Trump Org which is for a profit.
You -- you`ve interacted quite a bit with Secretary Mnuchin in your role in your -- in your committee. Do you trust him to do the right thing here?
WATERS: Oh no, absolutely not. He is part of the gang, he`s one of the boys. He is not going to do anything that he thinks the president of the United States would get angry about, and fire him, and get rid of him. No, I don`t trust him at all. He`s a part of the clique.
HAYES: Are there broader implications here for the -- knowing about the president`s possible corruption or possible improper avenues of influence over him?
WATERS: Well, let me just say this. The president of the United States thinks he owns his cabinet. He tries to run his cabinet. Look what he`s doing to Powell over at -- you know, the Federal Reserve. He`s basically trying to run the Federal Reserve and everybody knows that it should not be interfered with.
WATERS: It doesn`t matter. He thought the Attorney General, even Sessions should do whatever he`s told to do.
WATERS: Sessions had a less -- enough sense to recuse himself, but he got rid of him. So that`s how he operates.
HAYES: Final question, you`ve been investigating Deutsche Bank from your perspective, the finance -- Financial Services Committee in the House where you -- in which you chair. Any updates on document production in that investigation.
WATERS: No. I don`t have any more information except to say that my staff is involved in working with staff from the Deutsche Bank requesting documents. And I must say Deutsche Bank is being cooperative.
And so, we are going to continue to do our work to get the information that we need in order to make some determination about -- first of all, why did Deutsche Bank lend him so much money when no other bank in the country would lend him money. He even sued Deutsche Bank. But they did an unusual thing. And so, we want to find out about that. There`s a lot that we need to find out about those his financial operations.
HAYES: All right, Representative Maxine Waters. Thank you for being with me tonight.
WATERS: You`re so welcome and thank you.
HAYES: Next, the fight to make the Mueller report public. My next guest is now suing the government to get a released. He makes his case in two minutes.
HAYES: As we await, a possible subpoena for the Mueller report from House Democrats amid a growing crescendo of public demands to see it. There`s a good case to be made that legally, the report belongs in public view. It`s a possible document that should be in the public domain.
That`s the case that BuzzFeed is making. They filed a Freedom of Information Act request for the document that got a runaround. And now, in response, they are suing. Joining me now is the FOIA ninja of American journalism, Jason Leopold, senior investigative reporter of BuzzFeed. He is legendary at shaking documents out of places. He is bringing lawsuit against the government.
Jason, the case by Congress and Jerry Nadler is we`re a coequal branch of government. We have oversight capacity, ergo, you have to give it to us.
But you`re making a different case. You`re saying they should -- the public, us, as citizens have a right to see it. What`s the case?
JASON LEOPOLD, SENIOR INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER, BUZZFEED: Yes, they do have the right to see it. I mean, obviously, this is -- this was an investigation that took place over the course of two years. That was the center of many news reports and lots of debate, particularly about the end of the investigation.
So, what -- we are -- what we want the Justice Department to do is we want them to process this report in accordance with FOIA, with the Freedom of Information Act. That means that when they process it when they go and redact information from it, we want them to explain to us and explain to the public each and every redaction under FOIA`s nine exemptions. Why they are redacting certain information.
We want them to -- you know, make a case to the court why certain informs needs to be withheld. And then, what we want to do is challenge that and challenge the information that they`re withholding through litigation. So, what gets sent to Congress and what will ultimately be made public will be essentially what Bill Barr and Robert Mueller decide. We want them to justify that.
HAYES: I see. So, this gives -- this will gives essentially a legal recourse to challenge the redactions, which is part of the reason for the approach.
LEOPOLD: Right, exactly. I mean, we want this to be as transparent as possible, and as much information to be released. And I`ll note that this is going to be the first of many FOIA lawsuits probably that will file because there`s a voluminous body of records that exist from the investigation.
So, we want to find out what took place behind the scenes. But with regard to the report, we`re obviously saying, this report needs to be processed as quickly as possible. So, what happens is the government will respond to our Freedom of Information Act request.
They`ll essentially I expect them to hand us the exact same report that they hand to Congress. We then want them to go back and reprocess it and apply the exemptions under the Freedom of Information Act, and then, explain that in various legal documents.
HAYES: There`s another story that has to do with the trove of documents that you`re involved. And that has to do with Michael Cohen.
LEOPOLD: My favorite person.
HAYES: Yes, your Michael Cohen, your homey. So Michael Cohen, this is -- I really don`t know what to make of this. There is a trove of new documents that Michael Cohen and his lawyer Lanny Davis says have been discovered -- they have discovered as he`s about to go to jail.
And he`s written a letters; I guess to House Democrats, saying, "We`ve got these documents, there`s new interesting stuff in it. Can you help us maybe lobby for less jail time?" It seems just stupendously sketchy even by the standards of Michael Cohen and Trump role. What is going on here?
LEOPOLD: Well, as you could imagine, 14 million documents makes my mouth water. You know, I`d love to see what that -- what those documents are. I think he actually referred to as 14 million files. It is -- we reported last night based on this letter that they sent to Congress that these files are actually are in a hard drive that were returned to Cohen after his office, his home, and his hotel were raided.
So, it`s unclear whether this is just something that he recently discovered, was unaware of exactly what he had during the time that he served as Trump`s personal attorney. And obviously, what he`s saying is that these -- it`s not just these records and these documents, but there are images, there are recordings that`s been a very important revelation that has come out over the past year. What kind of recordings does he have?
LEOPOLD: So, he seems to be sort of dangling some evidence that he claims would be hurt President Trump and in a hopes that would reduce his jail time.
HAYES: Its screw. There`s something. Jason Leopold, thank you very much.
LEOPOLD: Thank you, Chris. I appreciate it.
HAYES: Coming up, while the Democratic Party is in a crucial moment, debating race, and gender, and power, just what`s going on with Joe Biden?
Michelle Goldberg and Barbara Boxer who served in the Senate join me next.
HAYES: Fresh off his straight to camera video responding to several women who say he made inappropriate physical contact with them, Joe Biden was back in front of a friendly crowd today speaking at a conference of the International Brotherhood of Electric Workers. That audience of mostly male, mostly white union workers, represents the kind of voters that Biden claims he can bring back to the Democratic Party if he runs for president. And then this happened.
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JOE BIDEN, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I just want you to know, I had permission to hug Lonnie. You guys can sit on the edge, I don`t want you to have to stand.
But it`s up to -- by the way, he gave me permission to touch him.
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HAYES: Yeesh (ph). After the event, Biden told reporters it was not his intention to make light of other people`s discomfort.
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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you sorry for the way that you made these women feel?
BIDEN: I`m sorry I didn`t understand. I`m not sorry for any of my intentions. I`m not sorry for anything that I have ever done. I have never been disrespectful intentionally.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: That unwillingness to make a straight apology appears to be part of the bet politically that Biden is making as he gears up for is an all but assured presidential bid, that is off the cuff gold old boy appeal gives him an opening in the Democratic Party. At the same time the party is engaged in this very intense debate over gender and race, class, and structures of power.
Barbara Boxer has served with Biden for many years in the U.S. Senate, is now the host of the Boxer podcast, and Michelle Goldberg is a columnist for The New York Times, whose latest piece is titled "The wrong time for Joe Biden. He`s not a sexual predator, but he`s out of touch."
And maybe since I`ve given that capsule summary, what is your take broadly on Biden, particularly as seen through the microcosm of what`s happened last week?
MICHELLE GOLDBERG, THE NEW YORK TIMES: So, unlike I think a lot of feminists and other people with my particular politics, I have a lot of affection for Joe Biden as a political figure, but I think that this -- I don`t if problem -- but you know this sort of both this history he has of kind of over-familiarity with women, let`s say, and also his sort of clumsiness in handling what was obviously going to be an issue is a sign more broadly of the way that he is sort of out of touch with the the vanguard of the progressive movement is, where much of his party is. And it`s a sign of the fact that if he does indeed decide to run for president, we is going to have to spend a lot of his time apologizing for his last 30 years, or for much of the things that he has done over the last 30 years.
HAYES: Although it seemed to me -- I that -- I`ve heard that a lot, but it also seemed to me, Senator Boxer, that today was sort of a pivot away from that. I mean, between the jokes and saying, look, I don`t apologize for my intentions, that basically it`s sort of, like, look, this is who I am sort of move.
BARBARA BOXER, (D-CA) FORMER SENATOR: That`s right.
And, you know, I really respect Michelle, but I just don`t agree with her. I think that the voters are going decide this issue. It`s a much bigger issue than Joe Biden, it really is about our interpersonal relationships and how we should conduct ourselves. I can tell you, I come from the same school of politics as Joe Biden. We went into it because we care about people. And it`s a person to person connection that you make. And, boy, I hugged people, and when they were struggling after an earthquake, flood, fire, gunshots, whatever it was, I mean, I was there and I was close.
Now, what have we learned from this is that several women did not find Joe endearing. And that`s fine. And that`s important. And I think he gets it now. We are going find out.
HAYES: That`s a really interesting perspective. What you are saying is, you are basically sympathetic to what he is saying, that, look, this came from a pure place, if there are people that felt uncomfortable, I feel bad that, I mean, I should -- but that ultimately the voters will decide. I think that`s true. And I think in some ways when you talk about the vanguard, I think that`s a really advised word, because I think part of the bed of Joe Biden, and your colleague Rod Dowthit (ph), made this case, is like the world of the Democratic voter is maybe not in the same place on these issues as the vanguard is.
GOLDBER: And I think there are a lot of people who either don`t understand -- I`ve actually gotten voice-mails from people, some one person saying I`m a 95-year-old New York Times reader, why are you saying such terrible things about Joe Biden. He`s a good man. I don`t understand what any of this is about. And he kept repeating that phrase over and over again, I don`t understand.
And I think for a lot of people it does seem like, you know, this sort of seems like feminist overkill, or like they are demanding a very sterile form of politics, and it seems sort cold and sad. And I get that criticism.
I just think that if Joe Biden may be were a little bit more nimble in handling this, he would understand that part of what people are objecting to is that he keeps emphasizing his own good intentions instead of forthrightly apologizing to women for making them feel uncomfortable and sort of speaking to their experience.
HAYES: Let me -- just to do justice I think to the substance of the issue. I thought this from a former White House internal who said that he made her uncomfortable is important. She said -- and I appreciate his attempt to better in the future. To me, it`s not mainly about Joe Biden has adequate respect for personal space, it`s about women deserving equal respect in the workplace.
Fundamentally, this kind of thing is a sort of function of patriarchy, and he puts women in a sort of subordinate position.
There -- you are shaking your head in disagreement, senator.
BOXER: Well, yes, because he did the same thing to men. Joe is a warm, affectionate individual. And he has learned that he can`t continue this. But it`s not just about women. I`ve seen him -- you know, I have seen him go to a male colleague whose son had cancer and actually hold that colleague in his arms.
I`m telling you, do we want the Mike Pence response, which is he`ll never go to lunch with a woman alone and he won`t have a woman in his office without keeping the door open? I mean, is this where we are headed?
I think this is a moment for the country to decide this.
HAYES: Let me ask you...
BOXER: And yes, Joe can do better than he did and I think that he will. But we should give him a chance.
HAYES: OK, but let me follow-up, and I`ll come back to you for a response, which is the other argument here is that this is part of a broader issue, right, that like Joe Biden has had a long career in public life and public service. He`s had a variety of positions throughout the years. Maybe some of those, and certainly some of them, if you go back to the 1970s and busing, are out of sync with the 2019 Democratic Party, and that there is fundamentally a mismatch between the man and the time, right? And that this is a microcosm of that. What do you think of that critique?
BOXER: Well, let me just say this, we all evolve. We don`t stay the same. It would be bad if a politician who started out as I did -- when I was a kid, essentially -- well, pretty much a kid, I`ve changed over the years. I`ve changed my positions over the years, in some ways to become more progressive. And I think Joe has done the same.
Now, are we going to punish people and only give people who just rolled out of bed and just woke up in the Democratic Party and said I`m everything you want because I was born yesterday?
HAYES: That is an interesting line.
GOLDBERG: Well, I would say -- I mean, I feel like this discussion is being framed as do we throw Joe Biden on the ash heap of history or make him president?
HAYES: I think literally no one is asking that he be canceled. Like, I think that`s a straw man. No one is saying that.
GOLDBERG: I do think that if you are going to kind of say you want to lead the Democratic Party as currently constituted, then this whole history of positions, and the touching is only a small part of it, it`s also Anita Hill, it`s also the bankruptcy bill, the Glass-Steagall, the Iraq War vote. You know, to me it`s do we want to relitigate all of these things? And is he the right man for this moment?
HAYES: All right, former Senator Barbara Boxer and Michelle Goldberg, that was an excellent discussion. Thank you both for doing it.
Ahead, the presidential candidate you probably know the least about, but whose fund-raising has already qualified him for the first debates. My interview with Andrew Yang, coming up.
And Trump TV`s obsession with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is tonight`s Thing One, Thing Two next.
HAYES: Thing One tonight, it`s been a whole week since our special show in the Bronx with Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and the Green New Deal. And some people on the right have still not settled down.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`s official, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is a moron and nasty.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Cortez continues to dodge her basket case of errors, her reality check bounced a long time ago.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She ought to go back and get a job at Ikea instead of congress.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The thing that`s amazing, Ed, is how shrill they are getting.
I think she`ll become even more shrill as we move along.
TRUMP: The Green New Deal, done by a young bartender, 29 years old.
ED ROLLINS, GREAT AMERICA PAC CHAIRMAN: She was a barmaid.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She was a bartender like two years ago.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: 29-year-old former bartender to teach you about science.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: That are former bartender gets the last word. And that`s Thing Two in 60 seconds.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Of all the many constant weirdly obsessive attacks on Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the idea that she is not qualified to represent her district because she used to be a bartender seems to be the cheapest and probably most unAmerican.
There is obviously a long history of everyday Americans with regular jobs stepping up to serve their country and congress. Congressman Don Young of Alaska used to captain a tugboat along the Yukon River, Ted Yoho (ph) of Florida is a large animal veterinarian. Virginia`s Rob Whitman worked at a tomato canner while he was in college, Jim Jordan, AOC`s colleague on the oversight committee, was an assistant wrestling coach -- and we know how that worked out. And Paul Gosar of Arizona was a dentist.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. PAUL GOSAR, (R) ARIZONA: This morning I watched -- by the way, I`m a dentist, OK, so I read body language very, very well.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: As everyone knows, a dentist apparently is a body language expert. As for the former bartender, now congresswoman from New York, she seems unphased by the haters.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ, (D) NEW YORK: I`m proud to be a bartender. Ain`t nothing wrong with that. There`s nothing wrong with working retail, folding clothes for other people to buy. There is nothing wrong with preparing the food that your neighbors will eat.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, girl, go on.
OCASIO-CORTEZ: There is nothing wrong with driving the buses that take your family to work. There is nothing wrong with being a working person in the United States of America, and there is everything dignified about it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: So there is a wild scandal unfolding in Baltimore that has that city`s mayor, Catherine Pugh, on the ropes. Thanks to great investigative reporting by The Baltimore Sun, what`s emerged over the last few weeks is this: Pugh has got a self-published children`s book, Healthy Holly, and it appears to have been used as a means for powerful interests to buy access and influence with the mayor and put money right into her pocket.
As far as we can tell, this book, well the general pocket could never actually buy this book, but Kaiser Permanente, and the University of Maryland medical system certainly did, paying Catherine Pugh hundreds of thousands of dollars for her books.
Both businesses have connections with Pugh or business before the city. And since the Sun first broke the story, it has been uncovered that the Associated Black Charities purchased books as well as a Baltimore businessman named J.P. Grant.
Now, Pugh has apologized for her initial deal with the University of Maryland medical system, calling it a mistake, but it`s not an isolated case of an ostensibly above board market transaction being used as a cover for some shadiness.
Yesterday, the Boston Globe had a story about a guy who just happened to buy the Harvard fencing coach`s houses for almost twice the assessed price. The sweet profit for said Harvard fencing coach was almost half a mil, and then lo and behold, wouldn`t you know it, the deep pocketed buyer`s kid gets into Harvard on the fencing team.
The buyer has told The Globe it was an investment and favor for Braham (ph), the coach whom he said had become his close friend.
So again, a facially legitimate market transaction, just buying a home, one person purchasing one legally from another, but with a massive side benefits.
And, wow, sure is hard to think of places where that might apply to our current political leadership, right? I mean, if a mayor`s self-published children`s book, or a fencing coach`s home can be a vector for what looks like bribery, think about the opportunities that abound for a president who owns a vast real estate portfolio and all kinds of nested and obscure businesses.
Now, some of this is already happening right out in the open. The foreign leaders dumping money into Trump Hotel right in front of our faces, sketchy figures flitting to Mar-a-Lago to get next to the president.
But we have absolutely no idea just what else is going inside the black box of the president`s private businesses. And he`s doing everything in his power to keep it that way.
HAYES: When the DNC first announced their debate schedule, they had to figure out how to draw a line for participation that would avoid some of the poll-based weirdness of the RNC`s approach back in 2016, so they offered two ways to qualify, one being a polling criteria, in which candidates must register 1 percent or more support in three polls, publicly released, between January 1, 2019, and 14 days prior to the date of the organization debate, the other through fund-raising where candidates may qualify by demonstrating the campaign has received donations from at least 65,000 unique donors and a minimum of 200 unique donors per state in at least 20 states.
All right, the idea, which I think is a good one, is that that level of grassroots financial support shows a candidate even, if they`re not polling above 1 percent, has an actual base.
Well, so far at least 11 official candidates, and two unofficial candidates, have passed that threshold, including Andrew Yang, a 44-year-old tech entrepreneur who is running on a campaign of universal basic income and other things, and has become something of an online sensation.
And the aforementioned Andrew Yang joins me now.
How are you?
ANDREW YANG, 2020 DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I`m doing great. Thanks for having me, Chris.
HAYES: The question I ask everyone, first question, of all people in America above 35 ages or older, why should you be the president of the United States?
YANG: Well, America right now is the third inning of the greatest economic and technological transformation in the history of the country. And I spent the last seven years helping create thousands of jobs in the Midwest and the South.
In my opinion the reason why Donald Trump is our president today is that we automated away 4 million manufacturing jobs in Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and the swing states.
So I`m running for president to let America know it is not immigrants that are causing these economic dislocations, it is technology. And we need to evolve to the next form of our economy as fast as possible.
HAYES: See, that`s a compelling theory of the case about what`s happening, but it`s not a compelling theory necessarily of why Andrew Yang should be making a million different judgment decisions at the highest level of stakes that include life or death, including military involvement, like you. You would be doing it. Why you?
YANG: Well, I think what`s animating a lot of our dysfunctional politics is that our economy is becoming increasingly punitive and inhuman for many, many Americans around the country.
So, the reason I should be president is that I have a vision that actually helps provide a path forward for tens of millions of American families, which I would suggest would help make our foreign policy more sound, because we`d be making better decisions if people weren`t operating from a sense of scarcity at all times.
HAYES: I ask this of other people, too, are you prepared to order people to die or to kill?
YANG: Well, one of the paramount responsibilities of the commander-in- chief is to keep the American people safe. And while raining death on other people is not my first choice, that`s -- if that`s what it would take to keep the American people safe, I`m 100 percent ready to do just that.
HAYES: You -- one of the things you`ve been sort of pushing is this idea of a universal basic income. It`s an idea that`s gained a lot of currency recently, it`s sort of central, I think, to one of your platform or your vision of how to adapt to what you say is this kind of toxic technological change. What is it?
YANG: What is universal basic income?
HAYES: Yeah, how would it work?
YANG: Well, universal basic income is an idea that`s been with us since the founding of the country. Thomas Paine was for it, called it a citizen`s dividend, Martin Luther King championed it in 1968, called it the guaranteed minimum income. And what it is, it`s the policy where every citizen in America gets a certain amount of money to meet our basic needs, no questions asked.
So my plan, the Freedom Dividend, would put $1,000 a month in the hands of every American adult starting at age 18. This would make children and families stronger, would improve our health, nutrition, graduation rates, but it would also help millions of Americans make transitions in this time of historic change.
HAYES: That would be $33 billion a month, right, somewhere around there?
YANG: So, the price tag is a bit less than that, in part because we`re already spending hundreds of billions of dollars on many, many programs that in part substitute out the costs. But the big change we have to make to afford this freedom dividend is who`s going to win from AI and new technologies -- it`s going to Amazon, Google, Facebook, Uber, the biggest tech companies. What we have to do is we have to put the American people in a position to benefit from those innovations.
HAYES: What -- why -- I`ve met you before, we went to the same university. You seem like a successful individual, you`re 44 years old, like, what made you think I`m going to run for president of the United States?
You never served in public office, correct?
YANG: Well, I was an honorary ambassador of entrepreneurship in the Obama administration and I started a national nonprofit that raised millions of dollars to help create jobs in regions around the country.
And the reason I`m running for president is that America does not understand what is happening to us. We`re in the third inning of the fourth industrial revolution. And this industrial revolution is going to up-end many of our traditional economic understandings. And I`m running for president to help galvanize energy around real solutions.
HAYES: But isn`t -- I mean, we just ran a huge experiment. Never in the history of the republic have we had someone have the highest office in the land without military experience or public service experiment. I think a lot of people feel like it`s an enormously failed experiment. Why roll the dice on that again?
YANG: Well, Donald Trump would not be our president today if people thought that our government had been operating at the highest possible levels over the last number of years.
Now, Donald Trump is a terrible president because he`s a terrible president, but Donald Trump is not necessarily representative of every entrepreneur or other people with different sets of experiences around the country.
HAYES: Final question. You have a lot of following online. And there`s some part of that following online that are some -- people with some really gnarly views, like you have weirdly attracted some white nationalists, some people in the kind of darker, grosser parts of the Internet who have cottoned on to you. What do you think about people with white supremacist avatars who are supporting you?
YANG: Well, I`ve completely disavowed any of that sort of support. And I`m the son of immigrants. I do not want the support from people whose views are completely antithetical to what I hold. But I`m focused on trying to solve the problems of the American people. And unfortunately those problems are just gathering strength over time. We have to think much, much bigger about how to build an economy that`s trickle up from people, families, and communities up. And that`s what my campaign is all about.
HAYES: All right, Andrew Yang, thank you very much for making the time.
YANG: No problem, Chris. Great to see you.
HAYES: Good to have you here.
That is ALL IN for this evening. "THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW" starts right now with Ali Velshi in for Rachel. Good evening, Ali.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END