CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: And both cases, two guys are arguing at the backseat but one truth setting between them. And that`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us. "ALL IN" with Chris Hayes starts right now.
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CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: Tonight on ALL IN.
ANDREW NAPOLITANO, CONTRIBUTOR, FOX NEWS CHANNEL: The President of the United States of America is prepared to commit a felony to get re-elected.
HAYES: The President tries and fails to launder his call for collusion through Trump T.V.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Of course you have to look at it because if you don`t look at it, you`re not going to know if it`s bad. How are you going to know if it`s bad?
HAYES: Tonight, the head of the Federal Elections Commission on her stinging rebuke of the President. Plus, Donald Trump finally faces the questions he avoided from Robert Mueller.
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, ABC NEWS: Why would Don McGahn lie -- why would he lie under oath to do -- why would he lie under oath to Robert Mueller?
TRUMP: Because he wanted to make himself look like a good lawyer.
HAYES: Then, what today`s announcement of the debate stage lineup means for the Democratic candidates. Beto O`Rourke on the case he`s making to African-American voters in South Carolina. And new horror stories from America`s growing and unprecedented migrant detention camp when ALL IN starts right now.
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HAYES: Good evening from New York I`m Chris Hayes. Today we learned that the President of the United States has taken the drastic step of accusing his own former White House Counsel of perjury.
We know the charge of making false statements to officials is something that Trump is keenly aware of because people have been convicted or pleaded guilty to this crime include Trump`s first national security adviser, his campaign chairman, his deputy campaign chairman, a trump campaign foreign policy adviser and of course, Trump`s longtime personal lawyer and fixer.
In an interview with ABC, Trump accused Don McGahn, former White House Counsel of lying to Robert Mueller about Trump`s requests from McGahn to fire the special counsel.
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TRUMP: No special counsel should have ever been appointed. You know why, because there was no crime. They had no --
STEPHANOPOULOS: But he --
TRUMP: -- excuse me. They had no evidence of crime.
STEPHANOPOULOS: He lays out a lot of evidence including the episode where you ask your White House Counsel Don McGahn. You tell him, Mueller has to go. You call him twice and say Mueller has to go. Call me when it`s done.
TRUMP: OK, now, the story on that very simply. Number one, I was never going to fire our Mueller. I never suggested firing Mueller.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Do what he says.
TRUMP: Excuse -- I don`t care what he says. It doesn`t matter. That was to show everyone what a good counsel he was. But we had a business --
STEPHANOPOULOS: Why would Don McGahn lie -- why would he lie under oath to do -- why would he lie with Robert Mueller?
TRUMP: Because he wanted to make himself look like a good lawyer or he believed it because I would constantly tell anybody that would listen including you, including the media, that Robert Mueller was conflicted. Robert Mueller had a total conflicted interest.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And has to go.
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HAYES: A person close to former White House Counsel Don McGahn dismissed Trump`s claims telling NBC News "it`s just fantasyland. Of course, despite allowing McGahn to talk to Mueller, Trump is not letting McGahn testify before Congress. And presumably it`s not because Trump is worried about McGahn lying.
We also know how aware Trump is of the significance of lying to investigators because seconds later he explained fear of perjury is the very reason that he didn`t talk to Robert Mueller.
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STEPHANOPOULOS: If you answer these questions to me now, why not answer them to Robert Mueller under oath.
TRUMP: Because they were looking to get us four lies, for slip in the statements. I looked at what happened to people and it was very unfair, very, very unfair, very unfair.
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HAYES: I didn`t talk to him because they were looking to get us for lies and you know me. Meanwhile, President Trump called into Trump T.V. this morning to attempt I guess to clean up his comments from earlier this week when he just flat-out welcomed foreign attacks on the 2020 election.
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TRUMP: First of all, I don`t think anybody would present me with anything because they know how much I love this country. Nobody is going to present me with anything. Number two, if I was -- and of course, you have to look at it because if you don`t look at it, you`re not going to know if it`s bad. How are you going to know if it`s bad?
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HAYES: Real galaxy brain stuff there. By the way, that was just a short clip from like a nine-hour interview that the Fox News anchors had to wrap in the end. Why would anyone think that this guy, this president would accept foreign dirt on a political opponent?
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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. I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press.
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HAYES: Donald Trump made it very clear in 2016 that he wanted and welcomed foreign aid, criminal foreign aid in his quest to be president and he got criminal foreign aid in his quest to be President. he made it very clear this week he would welcome criminal foreign aid again. And the question now is who will be willing to step up and hold them accountable to try to prevent that.
Joining me now, the Commissioner of the Federal Election Commission Ellen Weintraub. Last night she took the unprecedented step of releasing the following statement. "Let me make something 100 percent cleared the American public and anyone running for public office. It is illegal for any person to solicit, accept, or receive anything of value from a foreign national in connection with the U.S. election. It`s not a novel concept. Any political campaign that receives an offer of a prohibited donation from a foreign source should report that offer to the Federal Bureau of Investigation."
Ellen, tell me -- I mean, I guess how settled is this? Are we in like a gray area of the law here or is this fairly clear to your mind?
ELLEN WEINTRAUB, COMMISSIONER, FEDERAL ELECTION COMMISSION: No, it`s pretty clear to my mind. But since it did not appear to be clear to everybody, I thought it`s a good idea to clarify it.
HAYES: What this federal law prohibit? Tell me more.
WEINTRAUB: Federal law plainly prohibits anyone in the United States from soliciting, accepting, receiving anything of value from a foreign national in connection with the U.S. election. That`s federal state local elections and it can be anything of value.
Of course we are particularly concerned if the thing of value might be coming from a foreign government because that is the thing that our Founders at the very beginning of the government -- of our -- of our country were most concerned about when it came to foreign influence.
HAYES: And thing of value I think is sort of a weird in somewhat nebulous concept. I mean, obviously, it is flatly illegal, and obviously illegal if you know a foreign government were to write you $100,000 check or you had a bunch of straw donors who were foreign cutouts which is actually something that someone pled guilty to of vis-a-vis the president`s inauguration, flatly illegal.
Does like a bunch of information on your opponent count as a thing of value?
WEINTRAUB: The law was written that way to be as broad as possible. When it`s -- anything of value comes after a laundry list of other things that are specified in the law. And then there`s this catch-all term anything of value to make sure that indeed anything of any value is going to be covered by the law.
HAYES: So I want to read you something that Susan Collins said today. And she was talking about Mark Warner`s proposed legislation that would essentially mandate FBI reporting of such overtures and why she was objecting to it. This is Senate legislation. I`m not asking you to weigh in on this, but this is her objection.
Collins also told me Mark Warner`s legislation requiring reporting to FBI of offers of campaign assistance from foreign government agents is overly broad. She said Canada shouldn`t be in the same category as Russia.
My question to you is from the standpoint of federal election law, is there any difference between Canada and Russia?
WEINTRAUB: Well there actually isn`t. And it`s funny that she should mention Canada. Much as -- and I like Canada.
HAYES: Who doesn`t?
WEINTRAUB: So I don`t want to -- who doesn`t like Canada, right?
HAYES: Congratulations to the Raptors.
WEINTRAUB: But the leading principal, the leading case on this subject actually concerns a Canadian, someone who is living and working in this country. It`s the Bluman case. The decision was handed down and written by then-Judge Brett Kavanaugh, now Justice Kavanagh, who is no sugar when it comes to calling out campaign finance laws that he doesn`t like.
But when it came to analyzing the prohibition against foreign nationals including Canadians from making any kind of contribution, donation of anything of value in connection with a U.S. election, he said, we don`t look at this the same way we would look at most campaign finance questions because this is a question of national sovereignty.
This is a question of who is part of our United States political community, who gets to participate in choosing our elected officials. And Canadians, they don`t count.
HAYES: Right. So I guess the question is, there`s no -- from federal law standpoint, good information, bad information, ally or adversary. Like it`s just a flat prohibition. Like if you`re running for office and you`re getting anything offered to you or soliciting anything, a briefing book, like help renting a banquet hall for a fundraiser, you know, any of that from foreign nationals and particularly foreign governments or cutouts thereof, that`s just flatly illegal.
HAYES: OK. Who enforces that?
WEINTRAUB: Well, we have civil enforcement authority at the FEC and the Justice Department has criminal enforcement authority if it`s a knowing and willful violation?
HAYES: So what does that mean? I mean, my general sense is that people are not -- how can I put this politely since you`re a head of the FEC? They`re not staying up at night in cold sweats worrying about the FEC.
WEINTRAUB: I`m hurt.
HAYES: I don`t -- I mean that in no way to disrespect your work. I just mean that there`s a very big difference between looking at like a civil penalty from the FEC and you know, prison time.
WEINTRAUB: Absolutely. There -- I would be more afraid of prison time than of a fine from the FEC. But I should point out that when it comes to foreign national contributions, this is the rare issue on which the FEC actually is capable of speaking with one voice.
Recently we had a case that involves one of the largest penalties that the FEC has managed to collect in a very long time, was almost $1 million and it involved foreign national spending in our elections. And we had a unanimous decision on that. It was almost $1 million penalty.
HAYES: That`s interesting because generally the FEC is quite deadlocked and it`s meant that enforcement can be very difficult. No, I mean, the enforcement can be very difficult to come by. It`s -- I think it`s three and three commissioners right. You guys are free from each party. Often you split. It`s hard to come to consensus.
But you`re saying that from Judge Brett Kavanaugh sitting on a court to the bipartisan members of Federal Election Commission, this is one area of campaign finance law which has been under sustained ideological and judicial attack for years. This is one area that`s like black-letter law, red line, everyone agrees no, no, no.
WEINTRAUB: It certainly should be. That is my experience and I know that there have been several laws that have been introduced in Congress, and I would urge every member of Congress to take the same attitude and to join together in a bipartisan fashion because there is nothing more serious than an attack on our democracy from a foreign adversary.
HAYES: All right, Ellen Weintraub of the FEC, which does great work. Let me just be very clear, enforcing their campaign finance laws is they`re under assault left right. Thank you very much.
WEINTRAUB: Thank you, Chris.
HAYES: Joining me now is Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut. In April, he introduced a bill that would require federal campaigns to report offers of assistance from foreign governments. Objections from your colleagues to this. Marsha Blackburn objecting to unanimous consent to move forward on similar legislation yesterday. Susan Collins expressing her worry that you don`t distinguish routine. Is that -- is that pretextual or is that good faith?
SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL (D-CT): I think it is totally pretextual. There`s really no good faith explanation for objecting to a law that makes absolutely crystal clear there is a duty to report this federal felony as Ellen Weintraub quite well.
There is no question, no ambiguity in the law that accepting dirt or derogatory information or anything of value from a foreign government or a foreign national by a political candidate is against law. Reporting it ought to be a matter of patriotism and common sense, but it may need some clarification.
HAYES: If McConnell brought that up, if he -- if he were to bring it up for a vote, would it pass?
BLUMENTHAL: That is a great question, Chris. The answer is yes, unquestionable.
HAYES: Yes, unquestionably. Like you you`ve got more than enough votes.
BLUMENTHAL: Well, you know, your reporters, MSNBC reporters were in the halls buttonholing my colleagues yesterday, Republicans.
BLUMENTHAL: And to a person, they all said what Trump articulated as no duty to report was appalling and reprehensible. And anyone knowing the American public these days is aware that the American people want reporting.
HAYES: So is -- here`s my question to you. So we know Mitch McConnell is out there to protect Donald Trump. It`s just clear that`s everything he does, right, protect Republican Party, protect Donald Trump.
Donald Trump in announcing this, the hypothetical to me is less important than what it`s signaling now, right. Because he`s -- what he`s saying is I`m open for business to everyone. I would like you to do this again. We`ll listen if you`ve got some stuff, right. Is McConnell signaling something similar by blocking this legislation?
BLUMENTHAL: He is. And that`s what makes it so regrettable, even reprehensible because you`re absolutely right. That`s the key point. Donald Trump is saying show me what you have. I`m willing to listen. In a way --
HAYES: Call me, Norway.
BLUMENTHAL: In a way he is signaling the Russians who helped him last time --
HAYES: Yes, not in a way. It`s very clear.
BLUMENTHAL: -- to the Chinese and everyone else. And that undermines the ability, the professional law enforcers that the FBI and the counterintelligence units in our intelligence community to protect our nation going forward.
So putting aside the past and the Mueller report and all the arguing about who`s responsible and who`s to blame, we ought to be deeply concerned about what is happening to our nation in the future.
HAYES: Marsha Blackburn was the one that objected unanimous consent. Today, the -- I think today the President thanked her for doing that to make it clear you know, on whose behalf that was. But he says was so interesting. Fighting obstructionist Democrats.
I just want to be clear about this. There`s actual legislation that`s actually crafted that you think would pass and would certainly pass in the House that Mitch McConnell is obstructing, right? I mean, there`s a proactive attempt to legislate here that is being blocked by the Senate Majority Leader.
BLUMENTHAL: And that legislation by the way that I introduced was introduced at the same time by Eric Swalwell in the House. It has 31 co- sponsors there including the chairman of the Judiciary Committee. So there`s no question that it will pass.
We have an identical bill in the Senate that`s supported by a number of my colleagues including Cory Booker, and Sheldon Whitehouse, and Martin Heinrich, and I think would pass by an overwhelming bipartisan majority. Because what the President is saying in effect is I`ll listen to any information you have, but I`ll only report it if it`s in his word incorrect.
Which is kind of like the bank robber offering you money that you know has been stolen and you`re saying well, I`ll report it the FBI if it`s counterfeit. If it`s real, I`m going to hold on to it. So it is laughable except that the consequences are so serious in terms of other governments, foreign agents, undermining our democracy and attacking us again which the president is demoralizing and demeaning in terms of really reinforcing that activity.
HAYES: All right, Senator Richard Blumenthal, thank you for making time.
BLUMENTHAL: Thank you.
HAYES: Next we now know which 2020 Democratic candidates will be sharing the stage for the first two nights of debates. How it all breaks down, what it means to the campaigns in two minutes.
HAYES: The first Democratic debates of the cycle will appear right here on MSNBC on Wednesday June 26 and June 27th. Tonight, we know which ten candidates will square off on which nights. The candidates debating on the first night will be New Jersey Senator Cory Booker, Former HUD Secretary Julian Castro, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, former Maryland Congressman John Delaney, Hawaii Congressman Tulsi Gabbard, Washington Governor Jay Inslee, Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar, former Texas Congressman Beto O`Rourke, Ohio Congressman Tim Ryan, and Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren.
And the ten candidates debating on the second night are Colorado Senator Michael Bennet, former Vice President Joe Biden, South Bend Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg, New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, California Senator Kamala Harris, former Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, California Congressman Eric Swalwell, author Marianne Williamson, and entrepreneur Andrew Yang.
So how did we get here? The candidates were sorted into two groups, one of those polling at over two percent national polls and one for those who are not. By doing this, debate organizers had hoped to avoid a situation where the lottery would cluster leading candidates on the same night.
But the luck of the draws is the luck of the draw. It means that four of the top five polling contenders at least at the moment will be appearing on the second night. To talk more about this first big moment of concentrated attention on the 2020 race I`m joined by Christina Greer, Associate Professor of Political Science at Fordham University, Alexi McCammond former -- Political Reporter covering the 2020 race for Axios, and someone with a fair amount of experience preparing for big debates Philippe Reines former adviser to Hillary Clinton.
All right, where to start? So here`s my basic feeling about this generally. What happens -- a lot of people aren`t paying attention and there`s this thing that sets in particularly like political narratives of like oh that person`s pulling at one percent. But a lot of these people are like genuinely talented and impressive top politicians like Amy Klobuchar is like very popular Minnesota, Jay Inslee is sitting governor.
I think there`s an opportunity above and beyond any fighting or scoring any points for people just to demonstrate and introduce themselves to potential Democratic voters.
CHRISTINA GREER, ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR OF POLITICAL SCIENCE, FORDHAM UNIVERSITY: True. I mean, we know that the bar is so low for governance. I mean, thinking about our president right now. So as long as you know, these people don`t act like brutes, I think that you know, they`ll be ahead of the current president.
The issue is what happens now and I think primary voters, certain primary voters will tune in, but it`s really about how they do in Iowa. That will then change the discourse and how they do in New Hampshire and subsequently South Carolina.
So this is a way for them to introduce themselves to also just I think different funders, different types of funders, and so many of them want sort of these small dollar donation.
HAYES: Right to keep going, to keep the machinery.
GREER: To keep the momentum, exactly. And --
HAYES: That`s interesting. Enthusiasm is almost more important than sort of broad appeal.
GREER: Exactly. And if the rules keep changing to see who gets to participate in debates and if we -- if the Democratic Party has to sort of try and weed out these 20 down or whittle them down to a smaller number, if the parameters and the parameters change, then it helps to have if you`re a governor from Colorado, it helps have interesting people from New York or Vermont who are interested in your campaign.
HAYES: You know, I haven`t thought of it that way. It`s like primarily.
GREER: Well, that`s why I`m here, Chris.
HAYES: Yes. It`s like in some ways particularly because the metrics are very donor-focused and because this is such a long campaign and people need to stay in it, keep paying staff, one huge opportunity is just to get people familiar who might be potential small-dollar donors.
How do you see the candidates who are not pulling about two percent right, and there are a fair amount of them, and some of them are very you know, prominent politicians. How do you think their strategy -- what are they thinking about going in?
ALEXI MCCAMMOND, POLITICAL REPORTER, AXIOS: Well, when I`m talking to campaigns privately and Democratic strategists, they talk about how this is a moment for people to really go on the offense against someone like Joe Biden, to really highlight his policy record and try to go after him in that way, to try to stand out by attacking him on his record.
That`s obviously a really risky move for someone who`s already pulling so low, whose name ID isn`t that high, and who people aren`t enthusiastic about. And they only have --
HAYES: Wait. People say that`s a thing they want to do?
MCCAMMOND: Yes, yes. They said they haven`t wanted to do it until the debates because it just wouldn`t be wise to do it until then. We`ll see who has the guts to do it on the debate stage. But also their time to respond to things is so short. What is it, between a minute and two minutes?
So you`re either going to be selling a policy plan which we know Elizabeth Warren will say I have a plan for that or you`ll be selling a feeling and a vision for the country to sort of talk about that enthusiasm to maybe get donations or name ID or recognition in some other way.
HAYES: You know, Philippe, I thought a lot about this question of like to attack or not attack just from a sort of tactical standpoint. And I don`t -- I`ve never run a campaign and no one should take my campaign advice. But humble little old me, I just think being too aggressive out of the gate here is like has more downside risk than upside?
Like it just seems to me that the way you introduce yourself particularly if you`re you know Amy Klobuchar, or Jay Inslee, or Cory Booker, it doesn`t help to be on the attack. But what do you think? You`ve done this a lot more than I have.
PHILIPPE REINES, FORMER ADVISER TO HILLARY CLINTON: I think you`re 100 percent right, though my win-loss record isn`t much better than yours. But I think you know --
HAYES: Well, it`s painfully honest, Philippe.
REINES: I know. One thing is you know, if you`re going up on stage to be someone different than you`ve been for the five, six months before, then you`re doing something wrong.
HAYES: Yes, that`s a great point.
REINES: So if someone is combative on the stump, if someone goes after Biden, or goes after Bernie, or goes after anyone and you transfer that onto the stage, that`ll work. But people will smell it very quickly. The most obvious example is probably Rubio in 2015 who was trying too hard.
Now, thankfully we don`t have any Rubio`s but you know, there`s a way to carve out conflict here because you know, you write out 20 names which was very impressive by the way.
HAYES: I nailed it.
REINES: And you forgot the 21 because each night is going to have an 11th person debating that is not going to be on stage but the focus, and that`s Donald Trump. And it`s going to be in a very different way than previous years.
So it is possible for a candidate to be -- now remember, I mean Joe Biden, part of his appeal is that people are looking at him and saying he can take on Trump in terms of just who he is, in terms of having the moxie to do it.
It`s possible for someone to be very positive on the say substantial on the policy plan side and then look right into the camera and say I`m coming after you because you`re the worst president in history. That`s not the same as like you know, I`m going to attack Joe Biden. You know, where`s Joe?
REINES: Oh, there is Joe. Joe`s already down there. And you know, again, if you`re going in there with a different plan than who you are, you`re probably already losing.
HAYES: It`s a good point too about the degree which the sort of -- and this has been something I think a lot of campaign reporters have written about in an interesting way which is how much do Democratic candidates talk about Trump or not talk about Trump in this dump which is a big tactical, rhetorical, and I think in some ways substantive decision and it`s going to be a big decision in the debate.
GREER: Well, I mean, I think you know, Liz Smith who`s been working with Pete Buttigieg had a tweet the other day essentially saying, I think Pete Buttigieg has mentioned Trump the least of all the candidates.
HAYES: Yes, he is on the lower end of that spectrum.
GREER: He`s on a much lower end. And you know, she was like, our strategy is to introduce people to who we are and talk about our plans and our policies. And so obviously they`ll get more specific I`m sure as the months go on, if he -- if he sort of keeps this way, but I think that is an interesting strategy to sort of -- for certain candidates. It`s like I just need you to know who I am and what I want to do for you.
HAYES: But what`s also interesting is there`s a pack mentality, right. In those situations is like you can go in saying I`m going to do something but then you`re live in the moment, you`re around a lot of other people. And everyone has had this experience like whether you`re in a meeting or some group setting we`re like all of a sudden, the group is moving in one direction, and that`ll be an interesting test as well.
MCCAMMOND: Right. I mean, when I talk to Obama-Trump swing voters, they have so much Trump fatigue and specifically with Democratic candidates. They will call out candidates who they think are too anti-Trump.
They -- I was in Erie, Pennsylvania earlier this month and a few of them were like really hot on John Hickenlooper because of the fact that they view him is not being anti-Trump. And that is something I just have not heard as voters being hot on John Hickenlooper at this point in the cycle.
HAYES: I mean, there -- some of you said, right, like if you voted for Trump, it feels like a personal attack. People are like he`s the worst president ever although, you know, sometimes you got to say the truth. But Philippe, how hard is it to -- here`s the sort of ultimate question to me.
In 2016, Trump was the attentional focus from the first moment and never let go of being the attentional focus. How much does the attentional focus beyond positive, negative, you know, sounding good or not sounding good matter in this kind of group enterprise?
REINES: A lot. You know, a lot of it has to do with the five moderators that you know coming from MSNBC, NBC, and Telemundo that are going to be leading and choosing the questions. But you know, it`s very hard to answer your point about group mentality and PAC think is right on the money because people go in there with plans.
And don`t forget, some people are good debater, some people aren`t good debaters. You`ve got people on this list who haven`t debated in five years, some who haven`t debated a real opponent, some who are very good at it, some who are relish it.
And you know, it`s very hard to tell. People -- you know, everyone comes in with a plan but you`re talking about twenty different plans. And no plan survives first contact with the enemy. And you know, some people think on their feet better than others.
And there`s another dynamic here first on the donations that was an important point because the end of the quarter is only a few days later. So you know, someone could look at the -- look into the camera and have a great comment that`s really not picked up on the media next few days but that`s a great mailing. You know, we`re finishing out the quarter trying to loose few hundred thousand dollars.
REINES: But the other is, we don`t know what we want. I mean you`ve got a primary electorate that`s all over the board. And by the way, that`s OK right now, but I think an important point is that people`s support is an inch wide and an inch deep. So the margin of error, if you have a bad debate, I mean there`s no one going into the debate that is so stuck in so gung-ho on John Delaney that if he makes a cent -- a mistake, that they`re not going to shift to someone else.
HAYES: Yes. Well, Steve Jobs once said, it`s not the customer`s job to know what they want. I think it`s often the case of voters as well. Christina Greer, Alexi McCammond, and Philippe Reines, thank you very much for joining us.
REINES: Thank you, Chris.
HAYES: Ahead, what to make of an administration that lies about just about everything and seems bent on starting a war with Iran. Former Obama Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes joins me next.
HAYES: There are two things we know about the Trump administration and its relations with Iran. The first is they`ve taken every opportunity to escalate tensions with that country, walking away from a multilateral nuclear deal, designating Iran`s Revolutionary Guards a terrorist group among other groups.
And the second thing that we know is that this administration just lies all the time on any given topic from the mundane to the profound. That leaves them with very little credibility in anything at least of Iran. And that is the context for the Secretary of State`s announcement that Iran was responsible for attacks on two ships yesterday in the Gulf of Oman.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKE POMPEO, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: This assessment is based on intelligence, the weapons used, the level of expertise needed to execute the operation, recent similar Iranian attacks on shipping, and the fact that no proxy group operating in the area have the resources and proficiency to act with such a high degree of sophistication.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Today, the British Foreign Minister chimed in Iran was almost certainly responsible for the attacks.
Now, the U.S. military suggested mines have been used and they released video claiming the show an Iranian vessel removing what they say is an unexploded mine from more of the tankers after it was evacuated. The video wish to be clear does not prove how the object got there or what it was, only that they say Iranians were removing it.
But then according to the Japanese shipping company that actually operates a tanker, it wasn`t even hit with a mine. They said the crew saw some kind of flying object strike the ship.
I`m joined by MSNBC Political Contributor, Ben Rhodes, former Deputy National Security Advisor under President Barack Obama. I just say that this is sort of a frustrating situation as both the journalist and the citizen. We don`t see the intelligence. And so -- and I`m, you know, I grew up in the Iraq War so I`m just being skeptical.
BEN RHODES, FMR. DEPUTY NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR, MSNBC POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Yes.
HAYES: You`ve worked in the White House. You`ve dealt with the Iranians.
HAYES: You`ve looked and tells like what is your read on all of this?
RHODES: Well, my read is in this part of a world, all kinds of actors are bumping into each other. The Iranians very well could`ve done this but it could`ve been some other proxy force. It could`ve been people when they drive up the price of oil.
I sit back, Chris, and I worry about two things. One, the two most disastrous roles in history of this country of the Vietnam War and Iraq War, both began under false pretext.
Then the other thing that worries is that Donald Trump has lied repeatedly about Iran. When he pulled out of the Iran nuclear deal, he said they weren`t complying with the deal even though they were and that had been verified right? So --
HAYES: And certified by his own government.
RHODES: Certified by his own intelligence committee which frustrated him. So There`s been -- there`s kind of a pyramid of lies built about Iran in the same interview today where Trump blamed Iran, he told some lies. He said that they withdrawn -- they`re withdrawing from Syria, they`re withdrawing from Yemen, they`re on the defensive since I came into office.
That was a lie. In the same breath that he was saying that they`re responsible for this. It matters that the American people, if they`re going to be asked to go to war, you need to be able to trust the people or taking them out.
HAYES: OK. There`s also something tricky. So a lot of attention like is the intelligence right or not but also that the argument that`s being constructed here. I just want to bring it out.
HAYES: So if the Iranians, you know, the Revolutionary Guard attacked a U.S. ship, right?
HAYES: That would clearly be an attack, right?
HAYES: But that`s not what they`re claiming, right? They`re saying that some forces under the influence, is the term, right? Some group that has a tie to the Iranians are attacking not the U.S. but our allies and interests.
HAYES: Now, once you zoom out to the two categories --
RHODES: Yes, yes.
HAYES: -- you`ve gone from us in Iran to like --
HAYES: -- a whole bunch of proxy forces in the region including the --
HAYES: -- Houthi rebels in Yemen and then a whole like -- are we going to go to more the half of like the Saudis being able to ship oil?
RHODES: Yes. This exactly the key point, right? So for the last year, they`ve been expanding --
RHODES: -- the basis under which they can take an action against Iran. And so, what you`ve seen is them provoke Iran, pull out of a deal that Iran was complying with, throw sanctions at them, designate the Iranian Revolutionary Guard as terrorist organization. One provocation from us after another.
We`re also saying that Iran is going to be held to a higher and higher bar. Any attacks from Iranian proxies on anybody that we see as a friend in the region is a pretext for us to potentially do something. It feels like we are trying to provoke the Iranians to do something to give us the pretext to have the war which (INAUDIBLE).
HAYES: And also is the fact that there is a war happening in Yemen in which Houthi rebels who are indigenous to Yemen.
HAYES: They are Yemenis, who are -- get some sort of aid from Iranians, have been fighting the Saudis who are friends for years now. Like if that`s the bar --
HAYES: -- but that`s been going on for years.
RHODES: Yes. And the Saudis are indiscriminately killing civilians and precipitating a famine in Yemen.
And by the way, when you`re looking at what`s happening in the region, the Saudis and Iranians, they might want the war. Maybe, you know -- they might want to try to provoke a --
RHODES: -- pretext from the Iranians as well. Do the American people want to go to war over the fact that two tankers blew up in the middle of the Gulf of Oman? Do the American people want to go to war on behalf of Saudi Arabia, a country led by a murderous dictator who kills people in third countries and drags famines in Yemen? No.
So, you know, to me, what they`re trying to do is create a situation where Iran is forced into doing something we`ve been use as a pretext.
HAYES: Two (INAUDIBLE) the Congress Republican Matt Gaetz and Elissa Slotkin. Gaetz if you know --
HAYES: -- his far right wing is basically you get. He said that they were disturbed by what they -- what appeared to be laying the legal ground work under administration briefing the Congress to use the 2001 Authorization of use Military Force --
HAYES: -- against Iran. What do you think of that?
RHODES: I think that it`s insane and Pompeo has been laying this ground work for a while too. He`s had number of comment for the last couple of months pointing to the 2001 authorization. This was the Post-9/11 authorization that allows us to go after of them said go after al-Qaeda and their associated forces. To say almost 20 years later --
HAYES: By the way that phrase is al-Qaeda and the associated forces that you guys in --
HAYES: -- Obama administration used that all over the place --
HAYES: -- including all sorts of groups that didn`t even exits at the time of the 9/11.
RHODES: Yes. And people are right to raise those concerns. I would prefer to reappeal that 2001 EAMFL together the fact that, you know, Congress wasn`t came to do that. But put that aside. Iran, 20 years later, Iran is a Shia majority country --
RHODES: -- al-Qaeda is a Sunni terrorist organization, they are not allies to say that the Post-9/11 authorization that was used to punish people of 9/11 text is going to justify legally war against Iran is crazy. I said real quick, Chris, Trump`s policies, just like the trade war at China, already driving in oil prices.
RHODES. So it`s actually hurting Americans right now this (INAUDIBLE) policy towards Iran.
HAYES: All right, Ben Rhodes, great to have you. Thank you.
Coming up next, (INAUDIBLE) with Beto O`Rourke and he`s making a case to African American voters in the south plus tonight`s thing one, thing two, starts next.
HAYES: Thing 1 tonight as we mentioned earlier, the stage is now set for the first Democratic primary debates right here in MSNBC coming up in 12 days. It`s going to be a two-night affair with 20 candidates split into two groups of 10, dubbed the orange and the purple groups, for some reason. It`s the largest field primary contenders in the history of the Democratic Party and the debates will be historic with the most female presidential candidates, ever on the debate stage at once three each night.
Now, we`ve seen big groups before. The first Republican debate of 2016 cycle also featured 10 candidates at once. It was the Top 10 out of the group of 17. And the other seven were relegated to the kid`s table early debate stage.
Back in 2011 at the 6th GOP debate of that cycle, nine candidates shared the stage in Orlando. The current Democratic candidates will likely be looking to these past debates for lessons on how to handle themselves on such a crowded stage. Our advice, first things first. You really want to nail that walk out.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Texas Senator Ted Cruz.
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HAYES: And that`s Thing 2 in 60 seconds.
HAYES: As we get closer, the Tonight 20 person extravaganza, the first 2020 debates were reminded of the particular Republican debate in the last cycle. The eight debates in Gulf`s Town New Hampshire which only featured seven candidates, but boy, did they have a really rough time getting everyone out on the stage.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let`s welcome the candidates for the Republican nomination for president. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Dr. Ben Carson.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Texas senator, Ted Cruz.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Businessman Donald Trump.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Florida senator, Marco Rubio.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Former Florida governor, Jeb Bush.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And Ohio governor, John Kasich
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Ladies and gentlemen, the Republican candidates.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And Dr. Ben Carson, please come out on the stage. You`re standing there as well, Dr. Carson.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And Donald trump.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And lastly, we welcome back to the debate stage, Donald Trump. Yes we`re going to introduce Ohio Governor John Kasich.
HAYES: Former Texas congressman Beto O`Rourke will be among the 10 candidates debating on the first night of the Democratic debates, kicking off the 2020 election which of course you can see right here on this network on June 26th.
Today, O`Rourke was on a campaign trail in Beaufort, South Carolina, courting voters in a state that was one of the very first Democratic primaries. My colleague, MSNBC correspondent Trymaine Lee got a chance to speak with him. They talked about some of the poignant and recurrent issues faced by black voters today in what he thinks about his debate draw.
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TRYMAINE LEE, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: The line up is out how do you feel, day one how do you feel about the line up?
BETO O`ROURKE (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I feel great, I`m glad we`re going day one, love the fact that I get to be on that stage and tell some of these stories we`ve been hearing. Everywhere across the country today here in Beaufort, but really everywhere about the things that are most important to the people that I want to serve so I`m ready for it.
LEE: But the black vote in particular for the Democrats is very important and obviously, black folks, and black women in particular being the base right, at the clear base of the Democratic Party. In a place like South Carolina, and all across the country, I`ve talked to folks who say, you know we want a candidate that has a specific black agenda, not wanting some so called minority agenda. Do you see the need for a specific agenda aimed at black folks and if so do you have one.
O`ROURKE: Yes. I think it begins with inclusion into this in economy. You begin with the understanding that there is 10 times the wealth in white America than there is in black America today. You then have to address equity and education to make sure that you have the skills and the training and the change to pursue your economic potential in this country.
Our plan calls for a doubling in the size of the community development financial institutions capacity to lend into communities of color, to small businesses and particularly small business owned by women of color.
We need to make sure that we have true criminal justice reform that means ending the war on drugs, that has become a war on people, ending the prohibition of marijuana knowing that our marijuana laws are disproportionately enforced against communities of color so that we expunge the arrest records for those caught for possessions of substances, legal in most states in this country today
So, in a country whose very foundation is racist, we need to meet this challenge in every single part of America, every single sector of our economy and in my plan to help lead this country does that.
LEE: Can I ask you the question about my black specific agenda and you laid out a general plan here. Sounds a lot like reparations, is there a difference and you said you are in support of reparations, in your conception of what reparations could be, and could look like and could be enacted, what does that actually look like? Is that different from your plan generally with black folks?
O`ROURKE: I think reparations begins with a full telling of the full American story, the fact that the wealth of this country was built on the backs of those who were kidnapped from West Africa and actually most of those slaves brought here in bondage first set foot on American soil and was now South Carolina.
And that their heirs and descendants were in no meaningful way able to take part in what their ancestors had produced. So yes, we need to repair that damage done. And yes we need to ensure that we stop visiting these injustices on future generations, the legacy of slavery. And yes, we must immediately address income and economic inequality, health care disparities, and lack of educational access.
And the fact that we have segregation today in America in our schools that is in some ways every bit as bad as America before Brown versus Board of Education in 1954. But ultimately that conversation must lead us to a true reckoning and the repair that is at the root of the word reparations.
I would sign into law House Bill 40 offered by Sheila Jackson Lee of Houston, Texas which formally begins that national conversation in our nation`s capital and then make sure that the people of this country engage in that conversation and lead us to the specific actions that will allow us to again begin to repair hat damage done and should we stop visiting it on future generations.
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HAYES: That`s MSNBC correspondent Trymaine Lee with presidential candidate Beto O`Rourke. When we come back, beyond the breaking point on migrant detention camps, a reporter broke the story on the "human dog pound," next.
HAYES: The United States is now holding more than 19,000 immigrants in detention. Last week we talked to a woman who literally wrote the book on detention camps Andrea Pitzer the author of "One Long Night". And she predicted what we would see next.
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ANDREA PITZER, AUTHOR: I expect to see contagious diseases, malnutrition in some cases and mental health crisis. I mean we`re going to have that all very soon. There might be reports already coming with that.
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HAYES: Along the whole there`s new reporting today from CNN about exactly that with more than 5,000 migrants quarantined because of exposure to mumps or chicken pox, that`s what happens when you mass detention civilians, a sprawling and growing camp system lacking resources, funds, and personnel and certainly lacking in compassion given everything we`ve seen, and that gives rise to conditions so bad a university professor who went to see things for himself described one detention area as a "human dog pound."
Here with me now, Bob Moore, the reporter who wrote that story about the so called human dog pound. Bob, you`ve been doing great reporting down there. You interviewed a New Mexico professor who went to some facility, where did he go and what did he say?
ROBERT MOORE, BORDER JOURNALIST: Yes, his name is Dr. Neal Rosendorf, professor at New Mexico State University and after the release of a report earlier this month about overcoming conditions at bridge facility here in El Paso he went down to sort of see what he could find for himself and he wound up looking for border patrol agents he wanted to talk to.
And because of some massive security failures, was able to kind of wander around this facility and without finding any border patrol agents, instead stumbled on this incredible sight of 150 to 200 men who were kept outdoors, the temperature around that time was around 99 degrees, and they told him that they`ve been kept outside for a month, had not been allowed to shower in that time and were still wearing the clothes that they were wearing when they were detained.
HAYES: Wait a second. You`re saying that he came upon 100 to 200 men outside, in -- near El Paso is that right?
MOORE: Right in down town El Paso.
HAYES: In El Paso 200 men outside in 99 degree heat for a month. They`ve been kept in those conditions, the pictures tarped from the chain link fence?
MOORE: Yes, and you could see the distress on the faces of some of the men that also told them that they weren`t well fed, they weren`t well cared for. And, you know, this isn`t the first time we`ve seen people detained outside in El Paso, but the Custom and Border Protection officials have said in early April that they had stopped doing that but apparently they resumed doing it again some time in late April.
HAYES: Well, that`s important because you -- I think one of the reporters who broke that story about the outdoor detention, if I`m not mistaken, and you have first hand reporting and photos of it, and quickly soon there after they basically cleared it out if I am correct. Now it seems like it`s back.
MOORE: That`s right the one difference this time is it appears that it`s only adults that they`re detaining as there do not occur to be any families being detained outside right now.
HAYES: What have you seen generally in your reporting on how the system right now on the Trump administration is dealing with migrants who are coming seeking asylum?
MOORE: It`s broken. The agents themselves are under distress the migrants are under distress. You`ve got Customs and Border Protection and ICE pointing fingers each other over who`s responsible for all of this. It`s just a system that`s completely broken at this point.
HAYES: Do you have concerns about the health and welfare of these folks?
MOORE: Absolutely. The temperatures are only going to get warmer in El Paso. These men have managed to sort of pitch some shelters up over their heads, but that only keeps them out of the direct sun light so they`re going to be exposed to this extreme heat so you`re going to see dehydration, heat stroke other problems like that.
HAYES: All right, Bob Moore, thank you for your great reporting on this, please keep it up and come back. That is all in for this evening. The Rachel Maddow show starts right now Ali Velshi in for Rachel. Good evening, Ali.
ALI VELSHI, MSNBC HOST: Chris good to see you, you have yourself a great week.
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