Trump still claiming "Russian Hoax". TRANSCRIPT: 5/3/19, All In w/ Chris Hayes.

Guests: Brian Beutler, Julia Ioffe, Joe Neguse, Carol Leonnig, Jay Inslee, Cornell Belcher, Danielle Moodie-Mills

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST:  And 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.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Did you tell him not to meddle in the next election?

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  Excuse me, I`m talking -- I`m answering this question.  You are very rude.

HAYES:  The president who wouldn`t talk to Robert Mueller about Vladimir Putin talks to Vladimir Putin about Robert Mueller.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Did you tell him not to meddle in the next election?

TRUMP:  We didn`t discuss that.

HAYES:  Tonight the growing fears and new evidence that the 2020 election could be a replay of 2016?  Then --

H.R. Haldeman, Former Chief of Staff, White House:  That the way to handle this now is for us to have Walters call Pat Gray and just say, "Stay the hell out of this."

HAYES:  Carol Leonnig on the Mueller evidence that could be as consequential as a Nixon tape.  Plus, governor Jay Inslee on his big climate announcement today and the absurdity of the electability argument when it comes to the Democratic primary, when ALL IN starts right now.

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HAYES:  Good evening from New York I`m Chris Hayes.  Today the President called the man who orchestrated the criminal sabotage of his political opponent in the 2016 election to joke about how they got away with it.

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SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, PRESS SECRETARY, WHITE HOUSE:  Earlier this morning, the President spoke with President Putin.  They had a very good discussion, spoke for a little over an hour.

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HAYES:  Just one week ago, Trump`s own FBI Director Chris Wray warned that Russia has continued to meddle in U.S. elections and also has big plans for 2020.

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CHRISTOPHER WRAY, DIRECTOR, FBI:  We`re very much viewing 2018 as just kind of a dress rehearsal for the big show 2020.

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HAYES:  The Mueller report laid out in excruciating details of way in which "the Russian government perceived it would benefit from a Trump presidency and works to secure that outcome, and the Trump campaign expected it would benefit electorally from information stolen and release through Russian efforts. 

Yet Trump took to Twitter after today`s call to dismiss what he called the "Russian hoax" and he pointedly declined to tell Putin not to interfere in 2020.

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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Mr. President, did you address the election meddling issues that came up in the Mueller report with Mr. Putin today?

TRUMP:  We discussed and he actually sort of smiled when he said something to the effect that it started off as a mountain and it ended up being a mouse, but he knew that because he knew there was no collusion whatsoever.  So pretty much that`s what it was.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Did you tell him -- Mr. President, did you tell him not to meddle in the next election?

TRUMP:  Excuse me, I`m talking.  I`m answering this question.  You are very rude.  So we had a good conversation about many different things, OK.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Did you tell him not to meddle in the next election?

TRUMP:  We didn`t discuss that.  Really, we didn`t discuss that.

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HAYE:  I mean, of course, they didn`t discuss that.  The President was very clearly happy Russia interfered the last time.  And every single thing he said and done since suggests he`s absolutely hoping me do it again.  Why would he tell him not to do it?

The only possible very thin read of an excuse for the behavior of the president and his campaign in 2016 is that he and all his aides were just too darn stupid to understand what was happening.  That cannot be said now.  They know what is happening and they are doing it again.

They don`t need a secret back channel.  They don`t need secret messages.  Trump colludes with Putin out in the open.  He effectively invites the Russians to keeps subverting our democracy so long as it benefits Trump.

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UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Would you now with the whole world watching tell President Putin, would you denounced what happened in 2016 and would you warn him to never do it again?

TRUMP:  I have President Putin he just said it`s not Russia.  I will say this.  I don`t see any reason why it would be.  I will tell you that President Putin was extremely strong and powerful in his denial today.

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HAYES:  So strong, so powerful in that denial.  Trump isn`t even bothering to change the playbook.  I mean, part of his 2016 strategy, the main part of it was to leverage Russian involvement and Russian criminal sabotage against his opponent to further a narrative that his opponent is corrupt.

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TRUMP:  Russia if you`re listening, I hope you`re able to find the 30,000 e-mails that are missing.

Now, this just came out.  This just came out.  WikiLeaks, I love WikiLeaks.

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HAYES:  He`s doing the exact same thing.  They are running the exact same plate in front of our eyes this time around.  This week the New York Times reporter reported that Rudy Giuliani spirited a successful pressure campaign to get the Ukrainian government perhaps with some understanding, a favorable treatment from the White House to reopen an investigation tied to Joe Biden`s son.

It is a blatant move to use a foreign power to tarnish Trump`s potential general election opponent and to provide ammo for Trump to stand onstage next year at the Republican National Convention and lead a chant of lock him up.

Joining me now Brian Beutler, Editor-in-Chief of Crooked.com, who has a fantastic new piece entitled Democrats green light Trump`s authoritarian ambitions.  And Brian, you sort of wrote a piece about how it`s happening again.  What was -- what was the thrust to your argument?

BRIAN BEUTLER, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, CROOKED.COM:  I mean, the thrust of the argument is that if I underplayed one thing is that what happened in 2016 happened when Trump didn`t have the powers of the presidency behind him.  But now he can kind of send a Rudy Giuliani to do this kind of freelance collusion with any country that he wants that will play ball right. And right now he`s most concerned about Joe Biden.  He thinks Joe Biden has the best chance of beating him so he sends Rudy Giuliani to try to gin up some kind of corruption scandal in Ukraine involving Joe Biden`s son.

Simultaneously he speaks to his own Attorney General William Barr to look into the evidence that the Ukrainian government is supposedly collecting on Joe Biden`s son so that there can be a U.S. side investigation of it and then he can -- he can say that just like Hillary Clinton was under investigation, Joe Biden is under investigation.

So it works just on both ends just exactly as it did in 2016 with foreign meddling in the election that Trump is welcoming or in this case even --

HAYES:  Soliciting.

BEUTLER:  -- soliciting before our eyes, right, and then you know a federal criminal investigation of his opponent this time ordered by him in a corrupt way by his own attorney general who`s shown all the willingness in the world to do it for him.

HAYES:  Here`s from that Times article.  Mr. Trump in turn recently suggested, this is Trump, that he would like William Barr to look into the material gathered by Ukraine prosecutors echoing repeated calls from Mr. Giuliani that the Justice Department investigated Biden`s Ukrainian work and other connections between Ukraine in the U.S.

I mean, this is him -- like this is him turning lock her up into actionable U.S. abuse of power from the White House against someone he perceives as a political opponent.

BEUTLER:  Yes.  It`s -- that`s absolutely right.  And the thing is that there`s no reason why it can`t work.  And I mean the goal for him if isn`t necessarily to defeat Biden in the general election.  He probably just doesn`t want to have to run against Biden.

So if he can get this underway quick enough, he can move on to the next candidate, and the next candidate, and the next candidate because he`s president now.  So --

HAYES:  And that`s only half the strategy here.  I mean, when you watch -- I mean, it`s really striking to me that the day after he fires Comey, what does he do.  He sits down with the Russian Foreign Minister and the Russian ambassador to say well, glad we got rid of that.  Which that may be the text.  But the subtext is OK.

And then what does he do you know, once the Mueller report comes out, and once Barr has done his turn on Capitol Hill and snubbed his nose at the House, he calls Vladimir Putin to basically be like yes, look, we`re on the same page, right.  I mean --

BEUTLER:  It`s over.  The cloud has been lifted.

HAYES:  Exactly.  I want to bring in Julia Ioffe.  She`s a Correspondent for GQ who wrote after the Helsinki summit last year about what Putin has on Trump.  And how do you perceive this call today in the broader contours of what seems to me not even any kind of like secret back channel, just like an obvious wink-wink, nudge-nudge, tacit understanding between these two men about exactly what they`re you know, shared interests are?

JULIA IOFFE, CORRESPONDENT, GQ MAGAZINE:  Yes.  I mean, just that you know, the phrasing that they agreed that there was no collusion was just -- I don`t --

HAYES:  It`s hilarious.

IOFFE:  I have no words.  My -- because my jaw fell off.  So even if I had words, I wouldn`t be able to form them.  It`s really just stunning.  It`s I think -- you know, basically the handcuffs are off.  You know, the line in Moscow was that Trump every time -- that Trump was you know, had his hands bound by the investigation, that he was afraid to talk to Putin afraid to make overtures to Russia, afraid to kind of thaw the relationship because of the Mueller investigation that any kind of overture to Russia would be would look suspicious.

Now, you know, all the constraints are off and this is -- this is the result.  You know, it was kind of inevitable that is something like this -- at least this time it wasn`t a phone call.  At least it wasn`t -- it was just a phone call, it wasn`t our president standing next to the head of a foreign adversary -- or an actual foreign adversary and saying like I trust him.

HAYES:  Right.

IOFFE:  Although I`m sure that`s going to be coming in the next couple of months.

HAYES:  But there`s also the way, Brian, I mean, to sort of think about what we`re seeing happen for our eyes is that to me this is also just a green light, a very clear green light and almost a kind of targeted public arrow pointing of like hey Russia, if you want to direct the GRU`s resources somewhere, maybe go snooping around like the Biden`s inbox.  Maybe you can get something out of there.

Like it just seems so obvious from the context to me that this is all just happening in front of everyone`s faces.

BEUTLER:  I mean, what just happened right?  Like Robert Mueller released a report that didn`t necessarily say that what happened in 2016 was legal, but that you can get away with it if you`re -- if you`re just you know, helter-skelter enough about it.  And so he doesn`t have a disincentive legally speaking.

He doesn`t have a disincentive from Congress because Democrats don`t seem to want to meet you know, the degree of abuse of power that he`s demonstrating with power of their own.  And Republicans in Congress are united seemingly for the purpose of keeping Democrats fractured against doing an impeachment.

So there`s no disincentive for him at all and every incentive because last time it helped him win the presidency.  So I don`t find myself surprised by it given the backdrop, but I guess that`s just where we are.

HAYES:  Julia?

IOFFE:  Yes.  I mean, this is kind of the worst case scenario and it`s playing out within the two weeks that the Mueller report came out right?  We were all wondering what would happen in 2020 if this is what the Russians did in 2016?  Well, now we know.  In 2016 it was kind of maybe unclear why was it in Russia`s benefit or in Putin`s interest to elect Donald Trump.

Now we know.  It`s very clear.  Today they talked about opening up trade, opening up investment, money, money, money, money.  Trump said at this press conference that he wants to do more business with Russia which is I mean, we barely have any business with Russia.  In fact, we have a lot of sanctions out on Russia, right?

HAYES:  Yes, there`s a reason right now. 

IOFFE:  So now -- so now -- right, in part because of what Putin did in 2016.  And now again, all the gloves are off, the constraints are off, his hands are untied, and he can write like I will trade with you.  I will lift sanctions.  And now it`s very clear why Putin would want to see a second term of Donald Trump.

HAYES:  Although just slightly to push back on that.  I mean, the gloves aren`t off in the sense that he`s constrained by the fact that he`s been overridden both by his own national security apparatus, by the people that work for him, by Congress on all these issues, and he doesn`t care enough to --

IOFFE:  But where is that national security apparatus now?  I mean, Mattis is gone, Tillerson is gone, H.R. McMaster is gone.

HAYES:  Yes.  Although John Bolton is sitting there trying to go to war against Venezuela where there`s like a bunch of Russian troops so -- I mean, Russian arms at least.

IOFFE:  Yes.  But I think that if it -- honestly, if it`s between John Bolton and Vladimir Putin --

HAYES:  Exactly.

IOFFE:  I worry --

HAYES:  The money is on Putin on that.

IOFFE:  Yes.  Yes.  Maybe -- actually maybe in a weird way to the benefit of everyone within the narrow issue of Venezuela.  Brian Beutler and Julia Ioffe, thank you both for being with me.

BEUTLER:  Thank you.

HAYES:  I now want to turn to one of the House Democrats trying to figure out how to deal with all this.  That`s Congressman Joe Neguse of Colorado.  A member of the Judiciary Committee, a first-term member of the United States House of Representatives.

Let me ask you first an abstract question which is dangerous but I`d love for you to answer.  If the president -- would the president, any president ordering a criminal investigation of a political opponent to the Attorney General be itself on its face impeachable?

REP. JOE NEGUSE (D-CO):  I mean, I certainly think that to the extent the president the United States is ordering a criminal investigation into a political opponent in doing so with a corrupt intent, I would think that that would something -- be something that would potentially be impeachable.

HAYES:  I mean, this you know, this New York Times reporting the President has sort of urged Barr to look into findings by Ukrainian prosecutor, the fact that we can sort of see Barr as essentially a kind of lead blocker for the President, I mean how concerned are you about right now the integrity of that Department of Justice?

NEGUSE:  I`m deeply concerned about the integrity of the Department of Justice.  I mean, what I would say -- I read Brian`s article and I thought the underlying premise of the article, and that is to say that the Congress has a constitutional obligation and responsibility to hold the president accountable in an appropriate way.

And absent doing so, I think one can worry about whether or not we are setting a dangerous precedent for not just this president in terms of his time at office but obviously for future presidents.  And you see this by the way happening in real time with respect to the way in which the Attorney General has handled the events of the past 30 days, right.

Obviously from the misleading statements that he made in front of Congress, his efforts to mislead the American public about the findings and conclusions of the Mueller report leading up to obviously snubbing, not showing up to the hearing before our committee, the Judiciary Committee in the House just yesterday and obviously ignoring a lawful and duly issued subpoena issued by the Judiciary Committee for the full Mueller report in an unredacted fashion for members of Congress. 

So -- I mean look, at the end of the day, I think that we`re going to have to take steps to ensure that we hold this administration accountable.  I`ve said that we should proceed with a contempt citation against the Department of Justice and against the Attorney General absent his willingness to engage in good faith which as you know the chairman of our committee just today can have made a last effort to try to get the attorney general to see the light.

HAYES:  Two questions.  One I guess is how much of Barr`s actions changed minds just within the Democratic members of that Judiciary Committee?  Like are you responding -- is it moving what you`re thinking about what you may have to do based on his actions?

NEGUSE:  Yes.  I think it is.  I think it is impacting not just certainly the way in which I approach the work ahead, but also other members in the Congress.  And I would also say, Chris, the American public.

I mean, I have had a lot of conversations of course on the last several days with folks who are just completely disturbed by the wholesale obstruction of Congress that this administration and this Attorney General seem to be engaged in.  So yes, I think that that`s -- you`ve hit the nail on the head.

HAYES:  Is anyone talking about the possibility of impeachment proceedings against Barr?  And I only ask that because obviously that is a constitutional remedy not just for the president of the United States, constitutional remedy for members of the judiciary and for members of the cabinet.  And both of those have been used at different times in American history.

And right now there`s a question you know how Barr is held accountable.  Is that something that people are discussing?

NEGUSE:  Yes, I mean I think you there have been a number of people, a number of people in the caucus who have called for those proceedings to commence against the Attorney General.  I`m sure as you know being a history buff of sorts that the last time that has happened it`s been almost 150 years since a cabinet official has been impeached.

I mean, look, from my vantage point, I think the important part of our work ahead would be twofold.  One, to exact compliance from the Department of Justice.  And I think the way that you do that is following the next step which is to say proceeding with a contempt citation, issuing a subpoena to the Attorney General so that he appears before the committee and answers the questions that we are authorized to pose to him.

And then secondarily, I think and perhaps even more importantly doing everything we can to make sure that the special counsel appears before our committee so that he can talk to just -- not just the Judiciary Committee but to the American people.

I mean, I am very concerned to your point about the prospect for meddling in the next election by a foreign adversary primarily Russia.  And I think it`s important for the special counsel to have the opportunity to detail the findings that he ultimately reached in volume one of the report which you know, because of the confusion created by the Attorney General I think have been lost in some -- to some extent in the last few weeks.

HAYES:  Are you confident that you will have Mueller before your committee?

NEGUSE:  I certainly hope so.  And we`re certainly going to take every -- in my view, I think we should take every legal step that we can to ensure that we hear from the special counsel.  And I would hope that the Department of Justice would not -- would not engage in the type of instruction that they`ve already engaged in and obviously we`ll have to -- we`ll have to see in the next -- I hope that that happens in short order.  I think they`ll be more to -- more to share we hope next week on that front.

HAYES:  All right, Congressman Joe Neguse, thank you for being with me.

NEGUSE:  Thank you, Chris.

HAYES:  Next, Robert Mueller`s equivalent of the Watergate tapes perhaps.  The detailed notes taken by a White House aide that became the blueprint the Mueller report.  What the insider account tells us about the president`s actions in two minutes.

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RICHARD NIXON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  Don`t, don`t lie to them to the extent to say there is no involvement, but just say this is sort of a comedy of errors, bizarre, without getting into it, "the President believes that it is going to open the whole Bay of Pigs thing up again.  And, because these people are plugging for, for keeps and that they should call the FBI in and say that we wish for the country, don`t go any further into this case", period!

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HAYES:  Comedy of errors, the hapless bunch of stuff that happened.  On August 5th, 1974, following an order from the Supreme Court, the White House released a transcript of the so-called smoking gun tape that showed Richard Nixon helping to plot the Watergate cover-up.

Just three days later, Nixon announced his decision to resign for the presidency.  It took hard evidence the president attempting to obstruct justice to turn public opinion and force him from office.  It`s been an open question whether Robert Mueller would ever be able to find such evidence against the current president if it existed because the president is known not to write e-mails and does not as far as we know maintain a secret recording system in the Oval Office, although good Lord --

But as Washington Post Carol Leonnig points out, Mueller may have found the next best thing, extensive notes taken by Annie Donaldson who served as chief of staff to former White House Counsel Don McGahn.

Washington Post National Reporter Carol Leonig joins me now.  Tell us about who Annie Donaldson is and what role she plays in the saga.

CAROL LEONNIG, NATIONAL REPORTER, THE WASHINGTON POST:  She`s a loyal lawyer, diehard conservative, a person who came into the White House with every goal of trying to help Donald Trump implement his agenda, but also very loyal to Don MacGahn, the White House Counsel who she followed into the administration.  She had been associate of his at a law firm Jones Day and was the person he tapped and trusted to manage the office for him and to also be a scribe for important moments inside the Oval Office that were very disconcerting to Don McGahn.

HAYES:  Why were these notes taken?  They`re sort of -- my sense is there`s a culture of note-taking that happens in the Trump administration memorializing memos.  Why?

LEONNIG:  Well, I actually differ with this a little bit.  I`ve heard a lot of people talking about the reasons people take notes.  Good lawyers take notes.  They all take notes.  It`s like being a reporter.  You can`t remember what someone told you and what`s important unless you write it down.

There were people who tried to memorialize events, memo to file to use Comey`s term because he was worried that he was going to need a contemporaneous record of what he and the president had discussed that worried him.

In this case, McGahn is definitely trying to keep a record along with his chief of staff Annie Donaldson, and it surely is to show the efforts to keep the president within the guardrails so to speak, to avoid the impulses that lead him to do things that look criminal.  So certainly that was part of the motive but the other one is just basic.

HAYES:  Right.

LEONNIG:  You know, Annie had to keep notes.

HAYES:  And how -- I mean, how key are these notes, basically, I mean, to what Mueller was able to find and what we`ve learned?

LEONNIG:  So the notes are incredibly important in at least two of the episodes out of 10 that Mueller investigated, Chris.  Remember, he found -- his team found substantial evidence to potentially bring a case of obstruction in four of the 10 episodes they investigated.  And Annie`s notes are important in many of them but particularly in two involving Don McGahn.

The first one is in June of 2017 when the president is urging Don twice in two phone calls to his home, urging him to reach out to the Justice Department`s senior-most officials and try to help remove -- argue that Bob Mueller should be removed as special counsel.

HAYES:  Right. 

LEONNIG:  Right, because he`s got conflicts of interest.  And McGahn doesn`t think these conflicts make any sense and he`s trying to explain to the president you don`t want to do this.  It`s going to look like meddling.  It looks like you`re trying to knock off Mueller.

The second is in February of 2018 when the president angrily summons McGahn to his office and says the New York Times is reporting that you -- and now the Washington Post as well is reporting that I ordered you to fire Mueller.  I never did that.  I want you to correct the record.

And Don McGahn stands his ground and says you know, I`m sorry Mr. President, that`s kind of how I took it.  Those notes of Annie`s are also really important because they help concretize --

HAYES:  I see.

LEONNIG:  -- that Don was sticking with that.

HAYES:  So there`s contemporaneous recordings of both those incidents which ended up being sort of part of the key evidence of these two of 10 incidents of possible obstruction.

LEONNIG:  But two incidents that have substantial evidence of the President`s intent.

HAYES:  All right, Carol Leonnig of the Washington Post, great piece, thank you very much.

LEONNIG:  Thank you, Chris.

HAYES:  Coming up, presidential candidate Jay Inslee on his plan to tackle one of the most important issues for 2020 voters, possibly the most important issue.  His new climate proposal is next.

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GOV. JAY INSLEE (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  I decided on my deathbed I wanted to be able to look at my three grandkids in the eye and tell them that I did everything humanly possible to rescue them from the monster of climate change.  And that means running for president of the United States.

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HAYES:  Washington Governor and Democratic candidate for president Jay Inslee today out there in California owned a pretty bold plan to radically decarbonize the American economy over the just the next two decades.  A new poll out this week shows the primary election is focused like never ever before on the issue of climate change.  82 percent of Democrats listed climate change as a top priority which was the highest number for any single issue.

And Inslee`s plan is well to put it mildly aggressive.  The governor says he would mandate that all electric energy needs to be emission-free by 2035.  Joining me now Washington Governor and 2020 Democratic candidate Jay Inslee.  Governor, what are the sort of main ideas here behind the plan?

INSLEE:  Well the main idea is that this is a big, bold, ambitious plan because we are a big bold and ambitious nation.  And as a can-do nation, it needs a can-do president.  And basically, this plan is based on four principles.

One is based on success.  And it`s based on the success I have had as governor passing 100 percent clean electrical grid bill, passing a bill for energy efficiency, passing a bill to eliminate super pollutants we need success.

Second is based on a multi-sectoral basis.  So we have something tailored to each sector of our economy. Third is concrete.  Look, it doesn`t help us to have airy little dreams of future proposals, this is concrete.  These are rules.  These are enforceable rules, and it`s based on my two decades of work on this subject, so I think we are ready for business.

HAYES:  Talk about the enforceable rules.  I mean, is there a hard cap?  Does the cap faze in over time?  Like how, the -- there is a lot of talk of carrots right now, and talk of sticks have gotten very out of fashion for some reason.  But it`s hard to see de-carbonizing without them.

INSLEE:  Well, listen, we have got a regulatory caps that are legally enforceable.  We know the scientific reality is we are not going to be able to burn coal forever, so we have a hard cap in my state in 2025, a little later for the nation, so that we will not have coal-based power.  we have a cap that requires 100 percent clean electricity without fossil fuels in 2035.

We have a hard and enforceable cap that we won`t have internal combustion engines, at least not ones without biofuels, in 2030 to be sold after that date.  These are enforceable measures.  We need it.

HAYES:  2035.  And so let`s just talk about the grid, is that a technically feasible thing?  That`s take -- forget about the country, let`s talk about your state Washington, could you get rid of every non-renewable source, or every carbon emitting source and keep the lights on in Washington if you started now in the next 16 years?

INSLEE:  You bet.  And here`s the reason why, I think we have to understand how innovative and technologically adept a country we are.  Here`s an example, we had another existential threat decades ago, it was called fascism.  And in 1940, we built 77 Jeeps.  Four years later we had built 640,000 Jeeps, that`s the type of what we can do when we put our minds to it.

And right now, the most rapidly growing segment of our energy  economy is in renewable energy.  Jobs in renewable energy are growing twice as fast as the rest of the economy,  we need to break the stranglehold of the fossil fuel industry, stop these $27 billion of giveaways and get down to business of building a clean energy economy.  I know we can do it.

HAYES:  When you are on the trail as -- you sort of announced as a climate candidate.  You have run as a climate candidate.  I`m curious when you`re out on the trail -- obviously climate is front of mind for a lot of voters.  I happen to think it`s the most important issue in a sort of civilizational and historical sense, but people have got all sorts of stuff.  I mean, you have got an undocumented uncle who might get rounded up any second.  You -- you know, you have got health care bills. 

How -- what are interactions on the trail like vis-a-vis people`s general sense of what they want out of a president, what they want you to talk about versus.

INSLEE:  Well, I they want -- I know they want, as you at the top of your show indicated, they want somebody to defeat climate change.  And this is because it`s not one issue, it`s all the issues.  It`s the economy where we are suffering billions of dollars of damage, it`s health care, where more people die from air pollution coming out of our cars and car wrecks, it`s national security, because of mass migrations. 

But I also have a portfolio of success.  The first guy to stand up against Trump`s Muslim ban. I`ve sued him and won 21 times now.  I`ve got the best paid family leave, the highest minimum wage, the first net neutrality.  I`m the first governor to pass a long-term care plan, and now a public option, and big, big teacher pay increases.

So, virtually everything many of the candidates are suggesting, I have accomplished in my state.  And that is the advantage of being a governor who can actually get things done.  They want to get things done.

HAYES:  Well, I have to respond, it`s the advantage of being governor with two Democratic houses and the legislature,  if I am not mistaken.

INSLEE:  Well, you are mistaken.  My first four years...

HAYES:  Right, yes.

INSLEE:  My first first years, I had a Republican senate. 

HAYES:  You now have both, right?  I mean, some of the big, particularly on climate, has happened since you flipped them.

INSLEE:  That`s right.  And we need to get rid of the filibuster in the senate, and that`s why I`m the first candidate to say that, because that artifact would stop us cold from getting climate change legislation.  And I hope more of the other candidates will follow my lead on this.  We need somebody who can actually get things done.

Now, I have got bipartisan things done, the biggest education package.

HAYES:  Let me stop you right there.  Is anything bipartisan possible on climate at the scale and scope necessary that you and I agree on about the scale and scope?  Is anything bipartisan possible with this Republican Party at the federal level?

INSLEE:  Well, I think there may be things we can do on a bipartisan basis.  We might be able to find ways to sequester carbon in top soil and in trees in the forest products industry, those kind of things might have some bipartisan success.

But look, we have to get the Republicans to lead, follow, or get out of the way.  And right now they are not leading or following, so they really need to get out of the way and let us move forward to the nation`s destiny to build a clean energy economy.

HAYES:  All right, Governor Jay Inslee, 2020 presidential candidate, governor of Washington State, thanks so much for making the time.

INSLEE:  Thank you.

HAYES:  Coming up, why the idea of a candidate`s supposed electability is, well, nonsense?  I will make my case ahead.

Plus, a future presidential candidate just talking to some youths about cocaine.  That`s tonight`s Thing One, Thing Two, next.

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HAYES:  Thing One tonight, it may only be 2019, but the 2020 campaign is already starting to get ugly as old videos are dug up from campaign`s past, perhaps none more shocking than this clip from the night of the New Hampshire primary, February 9, 2016.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HAYES:  The repository of authority, the things people trust, believe in, the fairness of the game is doubted by large majorities of Americans, a lot of that has to do with stagnating wages in the middle, but you see that play out in different ways in both Trump`s -- particularly closing message and railing against pharmaceutical companies and the like, and Bernie Sandwich`s -- Sander`s message from the beginning.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAYES:  OK, I slipped and called him Bernie Sandwiches.  In my defense, we were in a restaurant, and Howard Fineman was sitting right behind the camera right in line of my sight eating a big old pastrami sandwich.  Also, maybe I was a little hungry.

And the next thing you know, Bernie  Sandwiches is a thing.  The good news is it did lead to one of the great iPhone games of all time.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HAYES:  Bernie.  Bernie.  Bernie.  Bernie.  Bernie Sandwiches.  Bernie Sandwiches.  Bernie Sandwiches.  You`re welcome, America.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAYES:  For the really good oppo, you`ve got to go back way earlier than 2016, and that`s Thing Two in 60 seconds.

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HAYES:  Long before he was a senator and presidential candidate, Bernie Sanders was a U.S. congressman, and long before that, he was the mayor of Burlington, Vermont.  While he was mayor, Bernie decided the best way to get his message out was to bypass the media and be the media himself.

Much like Donald Trump He had cable access television, and a weekly show called Bernie Speaks With the Community.  It featured the mayor going around Burlington and, well, just talking to people like the time he chatted about communism with a couple of teens in the mall.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I`m kind of an anarchist, but Communism doesn`t bother me, like a true communism  where it just goes to like no freedom of enterprise, because then everybody gets a chance to live and be safe, you know?  But when it goes as far as cutting down people`s freedom of speech, you know, that`s not -- I don`t feel that`s right.

SANDERS:  Distinguishing between what you mean as true communism as opposed to what exists, say, in the Soviet Union?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Yeah.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAYES:  If you`re thinking, wow, I really need to see more of that, the folks at Politico paid to have nearly 30 hours of it digitized, which you can now watch at CCTV.org.

And may I suggest the episode where (inaudible) kids about the dangers of smoking.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SANDERS:  Does anyone know what cocaine does to you?

BOY:  Yes!

SANDERS:  Well, what does it?  That`s right, it screws up your mind and it screws up your body.  What about even smoking cigarettes.  Who here smokes?  Come on, raise your hand? 

BOY:  My mom...

SANDERS:  No, other than your parents, who smokes?  You guys smoke?  I have seen a lot of kids who were 12 and 11 smoking.

BOY:  I don`t smoke.

BOY:  I don`t smoke, because I`m a little kid.  I`m only 5 years old. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

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(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DESMOND MEADE, PRESIDENT, FLORIDA RIGHTS RESTORATION COALITION:  Number one, when the debt is paid, it`s paid.

HAYES:  It`s paid.

MEADE:  And then number two is that basic concept of forgiveness that`s inside each and every one of us.  Because I haven`t found anyone who will raise their hand and say I don`t ever want to be forgiven for anything that I have done ever.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAYES:  One of the great stories from the mid-term elections was people coming out to vote in Florida across party lines, across racial lines, to reinfranchise felons who had served their time, giving them the right to vote again.

Florida`s Amendment 4 won by nearly 65 percent, a clear super majority.  That guy you saw at the beginning is one of the organizers behind it.  Now, Florida Voting Rights Coalition spearheaded by two convicted felons, a Republican and Democrat, advocated for restoration of voting rights.

Well, that was the first act.  That was the wing.  That was the good news.  The second act was Republican lawmakers in the Florida statehouse trying to undo it.  They came up with the idea that when the amendment restores the right to vote to felons who completed, quote, all terms of their sentence including parole or probation, they should add to that court costs, fines, fees and restitution.

Now, drafters of the amendment envisioned no such thing, and it was not in the text of what was on the ballot that 65 percent of people voted for.

And this new obstacle that`s been introduced puts at a minimum, tens of thousands of people who have completed their sentence at risk for having their newly reinstated right to vote now stripped away.

Two similar  bills passed the GOP-controlled Florida House and Florida senate this week, and today they passed a compromise bill that would give a judge the digression to dismiss the fees and fines or convert those fees and fines to community service.  But that process, in and of itself, could backlog courts, not to mention the cost to petition a court shouldered by a person who has just released been back into society having served their time.

Advocates like the man you saw above, Desmond Meade, of the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition, are calling on the Republican governor Ron DeSantis to veto this bill.

Now, keep in mind that without the bill, 1.4 million felons who have completed their sentence would be free to vote in the next elections, and critics are rightly calling this bill a modern day poll tax, paying money in order to vote, a very common practice in the Jim Crow south along with felon disenfranchisement, which both grow out of the same tradition, frankly.

It`s yet another example of how Republicans in the modern conservative movement are maximally dead set against expanding access to the ballot instead of making sure that everybody can vote.  They are still making sure some people can`t.

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HAYES:  New poll out this week showing Democratic contenders head-to-head against Donald Trump that got a fair bit of play yesterday.  It is still early, early in the race, but the poll suggests one thing I think you can take away.

Donald Trump is surprisingly weak for an incumbent, given the economy, the state of the economy right now.  The poll also shows the main Democratic candidates largely falling within broadly the same range against the president, which makes you question the recent drum beat of electability, particularly since Joe Biden entered the race.

As FiveThirtyEight noted, Democrats think Biden is electable but he`s not everyone`s first choice, all of which leads to one big question as Democrats discuss this increasingly, does anyone know what electability even means?

Here to mull that over, Danielle Moodie-Mills, host of Sirius/XM`s Woke AF, Democratic pollster and strategist and MSNBC political analyst Cornell Belcher, and MSNBC National Correspondent Steve Kornacki.

Steve, let me start with you.  Do you think it is -- let`s just start with the concept, it is a coherent concept to begin with?

CORNELL BELCHER, DEMOCRATIC POLLSTER:  It can be.  Look, I one thing that happens with electability is you often take the candidate you want to win for other reasons, you then say, hey, by the way, this candidate can win.  So , I think that`s a big part of it.

But I`ve seen examples in the past, a famous one I can remember, you go back to Bush/McCain, 2000 on the Republican side.  And I remember McCain by the end of that race when he really kind of caught fire was clearly out-polling Bush against Al Gore, the Democratic candidate that year.  And McCain tried to make that case to Republicans, you could look at the numbers and it was clear as day that McCain had a stronger chance.

Now, Bush was slightly ahead of Gore in those polls.  And Republican voters ultimately decided, hey, you know what, even in the face of a clear electability scenario, we prefer Bush for other reasons.

HAYES:  Here`s my feeling, Danielle, about electability, it only is relevant at extreme parts of the spectrum.  Like, if the Democrats are like we`re going to make Anthony Weiner our nominee for president, I would be like that`s a bad idea from an electability standpoint.  I think everybody would agree, like obviously there are extreme cases.

But once you get toward the people that are in the discussion like do you think there`s distinguishable differentiation there?

DANIELLE MOODIE-MILLS, HOST, WOKE AF:  I don`t.  And I talk to people every day on Sirius/XM.  And they tell me I don`t care who the Democratic nominee is, I just need somebody that can beat Trump.  And so when we talk about like electability and whether or not somebody is likable and whether or not...

HAYES:  But that`s what they`re saying.  They`re saying I want to vote for the electable one.

MOODIE-MILLS:  But they just want to vote for someone.  And I don`t think that anyone has any clear or distinguished idea as to what that looks like, so everyone is really excited about Kamala Harris after her presentation this week and stumping Barr.  But at the end of the day, it`s like, OK, well can she go the long haul?  And everybody likes Biden until you find out in 2015, he thinks that Cheney was like a decent guy -- war criminal.  But, you know, but that`s OK.

So, right now I don`t know what we mean when we say electable.  Is it like you want to have a beer with them?  Or are you going to pull the lever for them?

HAYES:  You know, the problem -- I think, Cornell, the problem is the polling suggests that people -- to Danielle`s point, Democratic voters are thinking about it a lot, but it ends up being a strange game of meta mental modeling of what do other voters think about who they would vote for, not me?

BELCHER:  So you have -- you have all these voters out there making these really, you know, straightforward, rational, decisions.  And in the real world, that doesn`t happen. 

I worked for a guy in `08 who had who, you know, was a fresh -- was a new senator with a funny sounding name, Barack Obama, and he certainly was not electable.  Hillary Clinton was certainly the most electable candidate there. 

And, but listen, I think through the process of you running for president and you telling your  story and your putting your narrative out there, you are bringing more people -- you`re bringing more  people to you.

I hate the story about electablity, because I really do hate the story about electability, because it makes all the voters think that like us, like political strategists and pundits on television, and they don`t.  And they`re thinking with their pocketbooks, they`re thinking with their with their values, and that matters most.

HAYES:  But you do end up with a kind of -- one of the things I have encountered, and I have encountered as a political reporter, Steven, I wonder if you have too, you do get -- end up with a lot of pundit voters where like you`ll go to a rally -- this is particularly -- because these are the people that are the most like high interest, right, the people that are like going to a Des Moines event, right, early in the caucus season.  And you`ll ask them a question and they`ll answer like well I think Joe Biden can really appeal in Southwest Pennsylvania where -- and they`re just like spouting back some punditry that they read somewhere.  And it`s unclear like, well, what do you actually think?

BELCHER:  From Steve, they haven`t.

STEVE KORANACKI, MSNBC NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT:  I actually think that`s a totally legitimate thing for activists, for primary voters to do, because think about this, in the old days, these are party primaries.  Parties need to think strategically.  They need to nominate candidates who can win general elections and then implement the party`s agenda.  So, asking which candidate is most likely to win seems a reasonable thing.

I think when you get into this electability question, it`s always to me when you get closer to the election, not April the year before, but when you`re in the election year, if there`s a clear difference in the polls...

HAYES:  That`s interesting, right.

KORNACKI:  If one of the candidates is running 12 points better against Trump, I think that might tell them...

HAYES:  OK, that`s a good point.  So that -- it`s not a crazy question to ask, right, like who has a better chance, but it`s a better question to answer with some data which we don`t have in any reliable sense right now.

MOODIE-MILLS:  We don`t have any reliable data.  And frankly, what we know about the candidates that are running right now is that there`s a large swath of people that we don`t know anything about.  And so we`re looking at everyone`s past, you know, votes and past legislation that they...

HAYES:  Or just name recognition, in the case of Joe...

MOODIE-MILLS:  Yeah, or fact that we just like Joe Biden.  I keep asking is that a nostalgia vote or is that an actual real vote?  Does America just need a hug right now from somebody that they like and know, or do they really think that Joe Biden can be up to the task, right in this particular time and not just a good throwback.

And I think that that`s a question that a lot of people are asking themselves right now specifically about Joe Biden.

HAYES:  Well, and then also the Biden question to me, Cornell, one of the things I think that is dangerous, and it relates to what Steve just said about how far out we are, right, the polling right now, it`s like it doesn`t matter until you go through the crucible of the fight.

KORNACKI:  Yes.

HAYES:  We all -- everyone saw -- Hillary Clinton was like the most popular politician in America at one point and, you know, of course that didn`t last because there was an entire machinery that was set up to pull that number down.  And so right now pointing to anything just seems a little bit ridiculous.

BELCHER:  Well, well, we, we spend -- well, 2008, we spent millions and millions of dollars, in fact, to pull that number down.  That`s called a campaign.

HAYES:  Right.

BELCHER:  I think the electable thing I think -- if you`re Joe Biden`s campaign, this electable stuff is problematic, because a lot of your predicate was built on I`m the guy who`s most electable, I`m the guy who`s going to bring back the blue wall, et cetera, et cetera.  And today, although this poll is a small sample size, but it`s getting a lot of press, but today, that argument, that predicate by the Biden campaign looks a lot weaker against this field when everyone on this -- in the field is basically beating Donald T.  I think it speaks more to how -- how poorly positioned the incumbent here is.

But to your point, there`s going to be a campaign over the next couple months and none of this really means anything until these candidates start spending millions upon millions of dollars to move voters.

HAYES:  There`s also this -- I want to read this Marco Rubio quote, because the other thing that looms over all this is that Donald Trump is president of the United States.   This is Rubio February 28th, 2016, "we cannot be the party that nominates one who won`t condemn white supremacists and the KKK.  We cannot be the party that does that."  Good point, Marco.

By the way, not only is that wrong, it makes him unelectable.  Mark Penn memo, for the Hillary Clinton campaign, March 19, 2007, "Obama is unelectable except perhaps against Attila the Hun."

KORNACKI:  My favorite one of these, I remember Jerry Brown in 1992 called Bill Clinton the Humpty Dumpty candidate.  He said all the political consultants, all the political money in the world cannot put him back together and beat George Bush in 1992.

HAYES:  And he had a point at that point.  The guy had already been through all this like crazy scandals.  And the idea was like really, this guy?  And the answer was, yes, really this guy.

MOODIE-MILLS:  We like him.

HAYES:  So, that I think ultimately is the problem, right, like people end up because you feel like no one actually knows what this thing is, particularly this early on, it`s wielded as a cudgel to sort of, you know, either on behalf of someone`s favorite part of the favorite candidate or against other candidates or along lines of sort of race and gender, right, so that you end up with this kind of patrolling rod that doesn`t actually tell you what is going on.

So you should just vet who you like.  That`s my -- no, I`m serious.

KORNACKI:  Yes.

HAYES:  Vote for who you want to be president of the United States.  That`s what you should do, America.

BELCHER:  Yes.

HAYES:  It`s a crazy idea.  Danielle Moodie-Mills, Cornell Belcher, Steve Kornacki, thank you all.

That`s ALL IN for this evening.  "THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW" begins now.

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