CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: I think I`ll try Buttigieg, I tried Beto last week, maybe I`m getting a little tired of Bernie. It really is like that. There`s going to be winners next week by the way and candidates would wish it never happens.
This is HARDBALL for now. "ALL IN" with Chris Hayes starts right now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: Tonight on ALL IN.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Make America great again.
HAYES: As the president kicks off his campaign, the raging controversy over the growing detention camps on our border and what we call them.
REP. ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ (D-NY): The United States is running concentration camps on our southern border.
Hayes: Then, what we learned from Hope Hicks today.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is the White House answer -- letting you answer any questions today?
HAYES: And what Democrats plan to do about it.
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): The obstruction of justice --
HAYES: Plus, mounting alarm that the Trump administration is using the Bush playbook to sell war with Iran.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We learn more and more that there was a relationship between Iraq and al-Qaeda.
MIKE POMPEO, SECRETARY OF STATE, UNITED STATES: There is a connection between the Islamic Republic of Iran and al-Qaeda, period full stop.
HAYES: And Ta-Nehisi Coates rebuts Mitch McConnell on reparations.
TA-NEHISI COATES, WRITER: For a century after the Civil War, black people were subjected to a relentless campaign of terror, a campaign that extended well into the lifetime of Majority Leader McConnell.
HAYES: When ALL IN starts right now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Good evening from New York, I`m Chris Hayes. Is the Trump administration currently running concentration camps at the border? Somewhat remarkably this is a debate we are not having in this the year 2019 as the administration builds out day by day, a sprawling and ever- expanding system of irregular detention for desperate migrants who the President rails against and vilifies at every turn.
Of course, many of the President`s apologists have attempted to turn this urgent humanitarian and world crisis into a debate over what freshman Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez called them.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OCASIO-CORTEZ: The United States is running concentration camps on our Southern Border and that is exactly what they are. They are concentration camps.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Those comments had set off a firestorm of both good faith and bad faith criticism and there are legitimate reasons to object to the use of that term in the context. As many pointed out direct allusions to indications of the horror of the Holocaust are always treacherous territory.
The term concentration camp though predates the Nazi regime and applies to many camps operated throughout the world throughout history is in the public imagination in the U.S. intimately tied to the machinery of death that the Nazis constructed. Analogies to the Nazis always run the danger of cheapening the sheer scope of the horror of the Holocaust.
What we confront right now in the U.S. is not genocide or mass murder. In fact, the discomfiting truth is that in fact an expansion of a set of systems already workshopped by the last Democratic president.
But good-faith objections aside, there was also swift massive efforts made to turn Cortez`s comments into their own controversy by people who have shown absolutely no concern whatsoever over the conditions for the human beings inside those camps themselves or the fact that at least seven children are known to have died in immigration custody since last year.
These are three of those children, eight-year-old Felipe Gomez Alonso, 16- year-old Carlos Gregorio Hernandez Vasquez, they were both suffering from the flu when they died in CBP custody. CBP says seven-year-old Jakelin Caal Maquin died for an infection that shut down her vital organs. According to her family, she was well-fed and a good health when she arrived at the border with her father.
Now, before these deaths of those children, no child had died in CBP custody for nearly a decade. Something is wildly horribly wrong. Children are dying in our care and custody yet so many of those in high dungeon over the words of Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez have shown absolutely zero concerns about the deaths of these children.
Zero concern about the administration ripping literally thousands of children even infants from their parents arms. Zero concern about the U.S. currently accepting fewer refugees fleeing war and oppression than any Administration in recent U.S. history.
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REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): I think Congresswoman AOC needs to apologize not only to the nation but to the world.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This type of rhetoric from our elected leaders is irresponsible, reckless, misinformed, and wrong.
REP. LIZ CHENEY (R-WY): We`ve had there`s a long history if you go back, Ed, people who really are left-wing zealots ignoring history, ignoring facts to pursue their causes. At some point you just sort of run out of ways to describe how ignorant this is.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Yes, the rhetoric, the ignorance. Instead of an honest reckoning with this administration`s policies, professional legacy cases like Donald Trump Jr. and Liz Cheney along with the other opportunists in their party try to score cheap rhetorical point in bad faith, something we should note there well practice that in something that will only intensify as we march towards the election.
But no amount of debased and craven news cycle trolling can adequately obscure the moral stakes here. The President of the United States was greeted for his kickoff rally for his campaign yesterday by white supremacist supporters flashing white power signs.
One reporter quoted a disillusioned GOP operative who said the Trump campaign is well aware of the organized participation of Proud Boys rallies merging into Trump events. They don`t care. And we know how the president feels about gatherings of avowed Nazis and white supremacists like the ones who marched in Charlottesville.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: You had some bad people in that group, but you also had people that were very fine people on both sides.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: It`s the same President who uses all the darkest rhetoric authoritarian nationalism to rail against the shadowy forces of internal enemies. He even uses -- he accuses immigrants of infesting the country like vermin, the way that yes, Nazis talked about Jews and others.
This rhetoric has been made into policy on the ground but right now under our noses, a vast system of irregular and unjust attention is being constructed that will be very, very difficult to unbuild where migrants are held in what DHS`s own Inspector General describes as egregious conditions.
Today, Ocacio-Cortez tweeted in response to the performative outrage over comments "DHS ripped thousands of their children from their parents and put them in cages with inhumane conditions. They call their cells dog pounds and freezers. I will never apologize for calling these camps what they are. If that makes you uncomfortable, fight the camps not the nomenclature.
I`m joined now by MSNBC Contributor Michelle Goldberg, Columnist for the New York Times and Charlie Pierce Writer-at-Large for Esquire. I guess at some level the silver lining here is that we`re talking about the massive expanding sprawling system of regular detention that is being erected under everybody`s noses.
MICHELLE GOLDBERG, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Right. And yes, I mean, I suppose that`s the only silver lining to this kind of deeply asinine debate. And I think -- like you said, you know, I think that there is an argument to be had whether the term concentration camp -- although we use it in a host of other context. You know, people use it regularly to talk about the camps in China, it was used to talk about the Japanese internment camps which are now being repositioned to hold some of these migrants.
But there is an argument that you know, this is so connected in people`s minds to Nazi death camps, that people think you`re comparing Border Patrol to Nazis, and it`s not a useful rhetorical technique and that we should find another way to talk about these camps where we are concentrating ethnic out groups in deplorable conditions. Fine.
HAYES: But there is something -- but that`s the reality where concentrating groups that are being vilified by the president who have extremely little power, who`s showing up at the border, who are migrants, who are talked about as infesting vermin by the President of the United States in conditions that our own government has called egregious.
GOLDBERG: And there`s also -- there is -- you know, I feel like we`re always charting new frontiers of indignity with this administration or with this media climate. But there is something so grotesque about seeing apologists for a white nationalist president who openly traffics in fascist tropes, then wrapping themselves and they`re kind of unctuous phyllo- Semitism and using it to lecture in many case Jews.
I mean, it`s bad enough that white nationalists are back, there is -- the idea that white nationalists are going to lecture Jews about the memory of the Holocaust, I mean it is grotesque.
HAYES: And Charlie, to me this is also just -- this is a small taste of what is to come, right. The sort of -- we call it in the office sometimes a flop, right, like in soccer or basketball right, the sort of performative taking of umbrage that you see all the time but in this case we`re seeing it from someone like Don Junior or Liz Cheney that will intensify and there will be a real test as we head towards the election.
CHARLES PIERCE, WRITER AT LARGE, ESQUIRE: There`s no question. And I -- to get my own two cents on the whole semantic debate, George Takei tweeted out this afternoon, hey, I was in two of these -- two of those things that were concentration camps. These are concentration camps. I think George Takei is dispositive on the subject.
That being said, we are coming into a Dark Ages broadswords and you know, mace and leather apron bloodfest of a campaign. I mean, it is going to be -- and I will -- I will become (INAUDIBLE) on this right now. It`s going to be the worst campaign in American history by far. It`s going to -- it`s going to be worse than any of those ones in the 1850s where people got called hermaphrodites.
HAYES: It`s going to be bad. I mean -- and to the point that you were saying about this sort of fascist tropes, I mean, we had someone arrested yesterday for assaulting a reporter at that event. We had -- again there are white nationalists who showed up to sign flash white power symbols --
GOLDBERG: Right. And no one has even talked anymore. I mean, this --
HAYES: Exactly. That --
GOLDBERG: -- that we`ve all become desensitized to.
HAYES: Well, what`s remarkable is like that happened yesterday and that is not the driving controversy of the day --
GOLDBERG: Right. The driving --
HAYES: -- pertaining to the specter of fascism that may haunt the year of 2019. It is not the people who are showing up to battle they say Antifa or whatever in the streets, no it`s what words that AOC use.
GOLDBERG: Right, it`s not a president whose chief propagandist Steve Bannon and openly calls himself a disciple of Leni Riefenstahl who was Hitler`s propagandist. I mean, these-- you have -- I know it seems like ancient history but it`s only a couple of years ago that he had an advisor Seb Gorka who was a lifetime member of a Nazi-aligned Hungarian group.
And now you have Gorka out there criticizing other people for anti- Semitism. I mean, we are so far through the looking-glass. And the thing that really kind of sends me deeper into despair is that on the one hand, you have people who are -- you know, obviously -- they`re working on obvious bad faith. They`re just trolling. They -- you know, none of these people were outraged when someone on the Trump National Security Council compared carbon-dioxide the demonization of carbon dioxide to the team it is they Jews not in the Holocaust.
HAYES: Right. And that person has been chosen by the president.
GOLDBERG: Right. But also have you know, I think kind of good faith both sides mainstream reporters who are reporting this as if this is a you know, kind of legitimate national controversy instead of a ridiculous sideshow.
HAYES: Well, and that to me, Charlie, that`s -- the point here is if you`re going to report about the controversy which it is news, we`re doing it here, it`s like it`s a controversy about what actually the conditions and the camps are.
PIERCE: Right. And you`ve been there, Chris, and I have. And you know -- but everybody I`ve ever talked to who`s been there have said that this policy is a stench in the nostrils of the world. And just you know, as an illustration of where we are, was there ever a more pathetic empty suit or a pair of empty suits then Lindsey Graham and Marco Rubio at that rally last night.
In 2012 when he spoke to the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Marco Rubio was going to be the Republican Barack Obama. He was going to be the guy who lifted the Republican Party up and his issue was going to be comprehensive and relatively humane and bipartisan immigration reform. And now seven years later, he`s sitting in the audience --
HAYES: That`s right.
PIERCE: -- he`s head bobbing like one of those banjo playing bears at Chuck E. Cheese watching a madman rant at the podium. I mean, it`s an astonishing -- you know, if I believed in dementors or vampires, I would say that the souls have just been sucked out of these people.
HAYES: Yes, and he was very touchy on Twitter about his attendance there. Charlie Pierce and Michelle Goldberg, great to have you. For more on the reality on the ground for migrants in Trump`s America, I`m joined by Lee Gelernt, he`s the Deputy Director of ACLU Immigrant`s Rights Project.
OK, this is the data we have. ISIS detaining more than 53,500 immigrants in jails across the country which is a new record. That number is jumped by nearly 700 in less than a week. Since late last year, ISIS detained nearly 10,000 more immigrants. What is going on with immigrant detention right now?
LEE GELERNT, DEPUTY DIRECTOR, ACLU IMMIGRANT`S RIGHTS PROJECT: Yes. It`s completely unnecessary. Are there some immigrants who need to be detained? Of course. But what`s happening is there`s no individualized assessment so they`re detaining everyone not just people who are flight risks or danger. We`ve always said after a hearing, if they`re determined to be a flight risk or a danger, then maybe you got to detain them.
But right now they`re just wholesale detaining mothers, fathers, children. It`s out of control. There are plenty of ways to ensure appearance. And asylum seekers, in particular, want to be at their hearings because they don`t want to live in limbo, they want to have a permanent status and they will show up. And at the end of the Obama administration, there was a case management system that was developed that ensured appearance at practically 97 percent rate.
HAYES: I mean, we should say -- and I want to sort of present the administration`s case and get your response to which is that the numbers have gone up unquestionably. There are more people coming to the border. The causes for that are a little unclear. They say look, we`re overwhelmed. We don`t have the systems in place to deal with all this and you too good Liberals are wringing your hands but this is what we got to do.
GELERNT: Yes. Well, one of these is the numbers are not historically high. But the other thing that`s going on is all the resources are focused on law enforcement and putting people in jail rather than allocating resources to process asylum claims and hold hearings. And so if the resources were allocated differently --
HAYES: I see.
GELERNT: And so one of the things is the administration says well, these are all families or what that should say is they`re not dangerous, they`re just sitting down when they cross the border and say I need asylum. So they don`t need as many agents out there doing law enforcement, what they need are people to process the asylum claims.
HAYES: Now, the administration of Barack Obama in 2014 started something called family detention 2014 when it saw similar surge at the border. It was criticized I should say by immigration lawyers and civil rights advocates.
GELERNT: And we -- and we criticized it.
HAYES: And you criticized it. And ultimately -- and people then we`re talking about its uncomfortable relationship to a camp situation back in 2014.
HAYES: It was basically ruled in violation of a consent decree called Flores, right. What is this -- is this administration doing family detention again?
GELERNT: You know, it`s unclear. Right now it looks like they`re starting to do it but what we`re hearing is that they want to do it wholesale and they want to get rid of the Flores consent agreement. And what they basically want --
HAYES: That`s the only thing binding them from a full-scale build-out of a larger camp system.
GELERNT: That`s right. And other constitutional rulings. But what we`re hearing is that they want to do it, they want to put them all in detention centers, have them give up on their legitimate asylum claims or process the claim so quickly that people don`t get due process.
And so we are -- we will be in court, other groups will be in court to stop that, but we can`t go back to a system of family detention. You know, the Obama administration did do it but they ended it quickly. And by the end of the administration, they had figured out a way to ensure people`s appearance at court hearings without detention.
And right now the conditions are so bad. I`m not one to make historical comparisons so I`m going to leave that to others, but the conditions are horrendous. And not only that, but they are still separating children.
HAYES: What do you think of what Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said?
GELERNT: I`m going to leave that controversy to others for -- I am the lawyer, I like to get the facts out. I`m going to let others make this. But we do need to focus on what is actually going on in the ground. Because this idea that the administration is only going after hardened criminals and that everyone`s being treated fine is absolutely wrong.
HAYES: Are the conditions acceptable or humane?
GELERNT: No. The conditions are not acceptable for either adults or children.
HAYES: All right, Lee Gelernt, thank you very much.
GELERNT: Thanks for having me.
HAYES: Next, the President`s former Communications Director stonewalls the House Judiciary Committee claiming immunity. Congressman Ted Lieu says what he witnessed behind closed doors today is ridiculous and he joins me in two minutes.
HAYES: A few days after we found out the number two at the Justice Department personally intervened on behalf of former Trump campaign chair, now convicted felon Paul Manafort, the Department of Justice set one of its lawyers to aid non-government employee Hope Hicks as she testified before the House Judiciary Committee today.
Democratic lawmakers say that over and over Hicks` DOJ lawyer intervened to assert absolute immunity over her answers about whether the president obstructed justice what she saw in the White House or even the most basic details of her time there.
The height of absurdity that Hicks came to the Hill to remain silent as her Bill Barr appointed lawyer who worked for the U.S. not the President, protected the prerogatives of Donald Trump in the never-ending obstruction of Congress that his administration is waging.
Joining me now one of the Democrats who attended Hicks` interview today Democratic Congressman Ted Lieu of California. Congressman, what was it like?
REP. TED LIEU (D-CA): Thank you, Chris, for your question. Let me first make clear that the Trump administration is obstructing every line of inquiry from Congress. For example, we want to know why is the Trump administration suing to eliminate health care coverage for Americans with pre-existing conditions. They`re blocking us.
Specific to hope Hicks testimony today, they were asserting something that doesn`t exist. The White House attorneys and Department of Justice attorneys were saying she has absolute immunity. That`s not a thing. No court has ever recognized it. They`re going to get destroyed in federal court.
HAYES: Well, OK. So is that -- before I want to get to that, I want to -- you start off with something that I`ve been curious about. We`ve been tracking and it`s hard to track in this sort of public record a document production by this White House along a range of questions whether it`s Puerto Rico, the Census, lots of document requests have come from Congress doing routine oversight, nothing to do with Mueller. Has any of that, just the most basic obvious constitutionally empowered oversight, has any of that been met by this administration?
LIEU: Most of it has not. That`s why you saw the Oversight Committee actually hold Wilbur Ross in contempt. We are getting some movement from Attorney General Bill Barr so now they`re letting members the House Judiciary Committee and House Intel Committee review the underlying evidence. So we`re getting some movement there. But for most lines of inquiry, we`re getting total obstruction by the Trump administration.
HAYES: Now, to this doctrine of this absolute immunity, the chair or the committee Jerry Nadler said the White House is having the doctrine of absolute immunity which we will destroy in court. I have to say I`m not a lawyer, but I have never heard of absolute immunity which sounds extremely powerful, almost comic book-like. What is that?
LIEU: What the White House is asserting is that Hope Hicks doesn`t have to say a single thing about her time in the White House. That`s patently absurd. And it was so absurd that we would ask questions such as where`s your office located? Objection.
And finally, it got so absurd I actually asked a question, I`m very excited I got through. I basically said, OK, on your first day of work the White House, was it a sunny day or a cloudy day? They did let her answer that question.
HAYES: OK. Now I actually now understand this is the first time. So what -- an executive privilege is a claim about the constitutional protection for the President to get unvarnished advice. That pertains to some specific subset of discussions that happen in a White House.
What you`re telling me is the White House isn`t making that claim. They`re making a broader claim that literally no scintilla a fact about her time in the White House does she have to testify to congressional oversight about. That`s that what is what separates absolute immunity from executive privilege implications.
LIEU: That is absolutely correct. So for example, she did talk about her time on the campaign and on the campaign, she was directed by Donald Trump to basically lied American people about Karen McDougal with the hush money payments and so on. And then she was asked a follow-up question about a time the White House because she at that point would have realized that what she said was a lie and they would not let her answer it because it was at her time in the White House.
HAYES: So you -- I guess the next step will be some litigation about this in court and whether the courts will find for it you think they`ll be destroyed. Do you worry that there is essentially now too much riding on the course, right, that they have essentially met all of your subpoenas and your calls with blocks and legal maneuvering that will then be litigated in the courts and that allows them to sort of run the clock out on what you`re trying to do?
LIEU: That`s a good point. So we have asked for expedited review and then two of the previous court cases that we won, we got expedited review going to appellate courts. In this case we`re going to litigate it, we`re going to win in court. We`re also going to ask -- again, for expedited review, but we can also take a separate action known as inherent contempt where we can impose fines without having to go through a court process.
We don`t want to do that. We want to try the court process first but that is always out there to get witnesses to comply.
HAYES: All right, Congressman Ted Lieu, thank you very much.
LIEU: Thank you.
HAYES: Next, is Bolton and Pompeo began to sound more and more like Rumsfeld and Cheney. There`s new reporting tonight that even the president is getting freaked out by his own administration`s campaign for war with Iran right after this.
HAYES: One of the most infuriating aspects of the run-up to the Iraq war was that the desire to go to war proceeded the rationale. Members of the Bush administration very clearly wanted a war with Iraq but they had to come up with the rationale to justify it so what they ended up doing is throwing a lot of different stuff at the wall to see what would stick.
Now, some of it was actually true like the argument that Saddam Hussein was a brutal dictator who oppressed and even gas his own people. Completely factual. But some of the reasons they gave for raiding -- invading Iraq we`re either made up or distorted beyond all recognition like famously the claim that Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, he did not, or that he was in league with the terrorists behind the 9/11 attacks. He wasn`t.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD RUMSFELD, FORMER UNITED STATES CONGRESSMAN: We do have solid evidence of the presence in Iraq of al-Qaeda members including some that have been in Baghdad. We have what we consider to be a very reliable reporting of senior-level contacts going back a decade and of possible chemical and biological agent training. When I say contacts I mean, between Iraq and al Qaeda.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Oh yes, Iraq and al-Qaeda. It`s hard not to feel like we`re watching a rerun right now as the Trump administration tries to build a public case against Iran blaming the regime for a whole range of bad behavior, some real, some wildly misrepresented. It`s true that Iran funds groups like Hezbollah in Lebanon, the Houthi rebels in Yemen. It may well be true as the administration claims that Iran was indeed responsible for recent attacks on shipping the Middle East.
The administration was also claiming that Iran was behind a suicide attack on U.S. forces in Afghanistan for which the Taliban publicly claimed responsibility. In what appears to be an effort to co-opt military authorization passed after 9/11, they`re bringing back one of the Iraq War`s greatest hits claiming some kind of murky ties to al-Qaeda.
This was the Secretary of State a couple months ago.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
POMPEO: The factual question with respect to Iran`s connections to al- Qaeda is very real. They have hosted al-Qaeda, they permitted al-Qaeda to transit their country. There`s no doubt there is a connection between the Islamic Republic of Iran and al-Qaeda, period full stop.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: I`m joined by -- now by Erin Banco who is the National Security Reporter for the Daily Beast who has new reporting tonight the President has actually told his advisors to tone down the tough talk on Iran.
Erin, your piece jumped out at me precisely for the reasons -- the parallels the President very famously talked about the Iraq war being a mistake, he talks about now even though he supported at the time to be clear. And I`ve been wondering you know there`s all these sort of backdoor reporting about the sort of power vacuum and who`s actually jockeying for war with Iran . What does your reporting suggest?
ERIN BANCO, THE DAILY BEAST: That`s right. So, as you pointed out, we know that the Trump administration officials have been coming out and trying to draw some sort of connection between Iran and al Qaeda. And this is worrying lawmakers on the Hill who say, you know, we`re concerned that you`re going to take the 2001 AMF and run with it and bypass congress and confront Tehran militarily.
And so as these discussions are taking place what we learned is that over the weekend, President Trump told his advisers, listen guys, we`ve got to tone down the rhetoric on Iran. You know, we can go out there and blame the country for attacks on the two oil tankers in the Gulf, but we need to sort of scale of back a little bit. And this is as he`s headed into the launch of his 2020 campaign.
And so what we know now is that this has really become a focus of top Trump administration officials. We saw Brian Hook in front of the House Foreign Affairs Committee today, who`s one of the top people working on Iran policy at the State Department, who made it very clear to all those watching and to lawmakers that the goal is not to go to war with Iran; instead, it is to get Iran to come to the negotiating table and to sort of cripple the Iranian economy as much as they can to sort of destabilize some of their military and nuclear activities.
HAYES: Yeah this again is a stated goal, though part of what the danger here is, as far as I read the reporting, yours and others, is that there are different factions within the White House and a president at the center of it who isn`t -- you know, isn`t really on top of managing this. I mean, there`s very clearly a battle happening behind the scenes amongst different interests, some of whom very much want military escalation.
BANCO: That`s correct.
And, you know, even lawmakers on the Hill are sort of confused. They`re scratching their heads saying, wait a minute, I thought a couple of weeks ago we are almost certain that we were potentially going to go to war with Iran down the line. And now you`re telling us that, wait a second, no, that`s not what we`re trying to do here.
And so lawmakers are definitely mistrusting of the Trump administration when it comes to Iran, especially when it comes to its intelligence and the way that intelligence has been communicated to the American public.
And as we quoted Representative Cicilline in our story today, who says I`m not sure what their end game is here. They don`t seem to really have a strategy. And if they do have a strategy, they`re certainly not making that clear to us, and that`s even more concerning for lawmakers.
HAYES: Here`s my theory, he wants to rerun North Korea where and he talked tough and then he got this big -- the pageantry of these two big meetings. Nothing has come out of it, but he got to like say that he`s a diplomat and he had a -- the problem is that in case of North Korea, there was no deal in place. They ripped up the deal with the Iranians. Why the hell are the Iranians going to come back to the table after Donald Trump ripped up the deal? Isn`t that his problem?
BANCO: Exactly. And so what we know is that the Trump administration has quietly over the past couple of weeks been trying to reach out to Iran...
HAYES: Get negotiations.
BANCO: That`s right -- through the Iraqis, through the Japanese, through individuals in Oman. And so now we hear that Brian Hook is off to the Middle East yet again to try to talk to regional partners, we don`t really know about what, but we know it`s about Iran, and to try to talk to EU leaders about shoring up support for the U.S.` position on Iran. And it just seems like a mishmash of different ideas about what we can do here.
But we did learn tonight right before I came is that top officials from the State Department will be briefing congress come Monday, an all member meeting, so they should be getting at least a little bit more information in terms of the intelligence side of this on Capitol Hill Monday morning.
HAYES: All rig ht, Erin Banco, thank you very much.
Still to come, Ta-Nehasi Coates, makes the case for reparations in front of congress and directly responds to Mitch McConnell in doing so. Highlights from that remarkable hearing ahead.
And tonight`s Thing One, Thing Two starts next.
HAYES: Thing One tonight, presidents are of course in charge of a lot of things but Donald Trump seems for fixate, and maybe even obsessed about, some of the least consequential stuff. We call this the fabric swatches after this segment with Trump`s former ghost writer.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TONY SCHWARTZ, GHOST WRITER: These businesses that he acquired, the Plaza Hotel and the Trump Shuttle, he would buy them and there would be a lot of hoopla. He was interested to that point. And then he had no interest in running them on a day-to-day basis and no knowledge of how to do it. So he focused on the fabric swatches. I think, for one thing, it played into his germophobia. You know, he was always replacing the carpets and the drapes and he was always talking about deep cleaning the airline seats, you know. And so that`s what his life became. He would say what do you think of this piece of velor here, you know, and I`d feel it and we`d talk about it.
And at the center of all this chaos was this man feeling fabric.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Yes, and then the man feeling fabric became president and has thankfully actually wasted a ton of time on the small stuff.
One of the first things he did was add a lot of gold fabric to the oval office along with a bunch more flags. He worked with Sharpie to create the perfect black magic marker. And he`s been very hard at work making sure the next Air Force One is red, white and blue.
But the totally inconsequential thing that Trump seems to care the most about has to be his big parade, and that`s Thing Two in 60 seconds.
HAYES: Back in the summer of 2017, Donald Trump went on one of his first overseas trips and went to the big Bastille Day parade with French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris. Trump has been obsessed with having a parade of his own ever since.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I was your guest at Bastille Day. and it was one of the greatest parades I have ever seen. We may do something like that on July 4 in Washington down Pennsylvania Avenue.
I don`t know, we`re going to have to try and top it.
I`d like to have a parade. A lot of the generals would like to have a parade. We`d have a lot of plane flyovers. I think it would be something great for the spirit of the country, you know.
We`re thinking about doing on the Fourth of July or thereabouts a parade, a salute to America parade. We`re thinking about doing something which would become perhaps a tradition and the fireworks is there anyway, so we just saved on fireworks -- we get free fireworks, because it`s already being done, so that`s very good.
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HAYES: Well, Donald Trump is finally getting that parade. The Interior Department released the details today. D.C.`s July 4th festivities will begin with, quote, marching bands, fife and drum corps, floats, military units, giant balloons, equestrian and drill teams and more parading down Constitution Avenue. And then to fully turn it the Fourth of July into a Trump rally, the president will deliver a speech from the Lincoln Memorial in the evening followed by music, military demonstrations and flyovers by Air Force One. Seriously.
And then that new tradition, fireworks on the Fourth of July.
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TRUMP: July 4th in Washington, D.C., come on down. We`re going to have a big day. Bring your flags. Bring those flags. Bring those American flags. July 4th.
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HAYES: Today, for the first time in a dozen years, congress held hearings on reparations for African-Americans to consider legislation that was first introduced three decades ago. It`s a much more active political issue today with several candidates in the Democratic primary field coming out in favor of some version of it. So active, in fact, that yesterday Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell was asked about it and gave this answer.
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SEN. MITCH MCONNELL, (R) KENTUCKY: I don`t think reparations for something that happened 150 years ago, for whom none of us currently living are responsible, is a good idea. We`ve tried to deal with our original sin of slavery by fighting a civil war, bypassing landmark civil rights legislation. We`ve elected an African-American president. I think we`re always a work in progress in this country, but no one currently alive was responsible for that.
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HAYES: Today the person probably most responsible for pushing the idea of reparations into the mainstream, at least today, is Ta-Nehisi Coates who wrote that seminal essay "The Case for Reparations" in The Atlantic five years ago.
He got to testify and responded to McConnell.
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TA-NEHISI COATES, WRITER: Yesterday when asked about reparations, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell offered a familiar reply: America should not be held liable for something that happened 150 years ago since none of us currently alive are responsible.
This rebuttal proffers a strange theory of governance, that American accounts are somehow bound by the lifetime of its generations, but well into this century the United States was still paying out pensions to the heirs of civil war soldiers. Beyond the treaties that date back some 200 years, despite no one being alive who signed those treaties. Enslavement reigned for 250 years on these shores.
When it ended, this country could have extended its hallowed principles: life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness to all, regardless of color, but America had other principles in mind. And so for a century after the civil war, black people were subjected to a relentless campaign of terror, a campaign that extended well into the lifetime of majority leader McConnell.
But what this committee must know is that while emancipation dead-bolted the door against the bandits of America, Jim Crow wedged the windows wide open. And that is the thing about Senator McConnell`s something, it was 150 years ago and it was right now.
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HAYES: The at times impassioned hearing was considering simply whether there should be a commission to study the issue as the bill proposed called for.
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DR. JULIANNE MALVEAUX, LABOR ECONOMIST AND AUTHOR: Poverty is a problem in our nation but you can`t fix poverty nor can you fix inequality unless you deal with racism. And dealing with racism is about dealing with reparations.
I don`t care about a personal check made out to Julianne Malveaux anybody else, but how about we fully fund our historically black colleges and universities.
REP. KAREN BASS, (D) CALIFORNIA: slavery might have ended in the mid-1800, but apartheid and terrorism lasted for 100 years after that. we passed a bill on lynching last week. Why did we even have to do that? Black folks fought the Democratic Party. Nobody acts as though the Democratic Party was not a racist party until there was a movement that fought for justice.
REP. LOUIE GOHMERT, (R) TEXAS: It is important that we know our history and we not punish people today for the sins of their predecessors in the Democratic Party. But...
COATES: You lie.
MALE: I just stated all facts. And again, we have people who are denying history.
MALVEAUX: I want you all congress people to deal with issues of economic structure. Our economic structure has generated an inequality that makes it difficult for people to live their lives.
COATES: If I injure you, the injury persists even after I actually commit the act. If I stab you, you may suffer complications long after that initial actual stabbing. That`s the case with African-Americans. They`re people well within the living memory of this country that are still suffering from the aftereffects of that.
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HAYES: Tomorrow night we will have Ta-Nehisi Coates right here in the studio to talk about all of this. And Senator McConnell, you`re welcome to join too.
HAYES: Donald Trump has a few Achilles heels politically these days. But while Gallup might have his latest approval ratings at a mere 43 percent, and he is losing head-to-head match-ups with various Democrats in recent polls, and he was greeted for his campaign relaunch in Orlando with an editorial endorsing, quote, not Donald Trump, there is one place he is the favorite with a huge advantage: Donald Trump is the second sitting president to run for reelection since the 2010 Citizens United decision. We already know Trump`s inclination, playing fast and loose with ethical and legal restraints, and for the first time in modern history, the president filed FEC paperwork for reelection the very same day he was inaugurated.
The combination of incumbency with big money, PACs, super PACs, millionaires and billionaires who want things directly from this president, and a small dollar list the campaign has been building since his first day in office, add up to almost certainly the most formidable money advantage of any incumbent ever.
In fact, the RNC announced today that Trump campaign had raised $24.8 million in the last 24 hours, more than the first day fund-raising of Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, Beto O`Rourke, Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren combined.
Here with me to talk about this, Michelle Ye Hee Lee, a national political enterprise and accountability reporter who wrote about the president`s fund-raising totals for The Washington Post, and Daniel Weiner who is a senior council with the democracy program at the Brendan Center for Justice at NYU`s School of Law and a campaign finance expert.
Michelle, what is different about the fund-raising apparatus Donald Trump has compared to his predecessors?
MICHELLE YE HEE LEE, THE WASHINGTON POST: Unlike presidents before him, President Trump started raising money for his reelection as soon as he became president, which means he`s had a long time already to just stockpile a lot of money away for his reelection campaign.
In the first 24 hours of his official launch yesterday, he reported raising $25 million, so that`s about a million an hour. And even after that, he held a big money luncheon with wealthy donors the day after, which is today, and the campaign reported raising $6 million. So, that`s a ton of money just in the past 48 hours and far eclipses anything that the Democrats have raised so far.
HAYES: You know, Daniel, I remember when during the Clinton years, there is big money raising scandals about essentially the Clinton -- the president, right, giving donors perks, like you can sleep in a Lincoln bedroom and all this stuff, and some of that led to some of the campaign finance reform that would come after, the recognition being the presidency is sort of a powerful tool for fund-raising and you don`t want to sort of incentivize what looks like bribery, right, like you can get a spot on my board.
It seems like that`s blown out of the water here. You`ve got donors going to Mar-a-Lago, showing up at his hotels, like it just seems like this is so rife for abuse right now. What is your worry as someone who studies this?
DANIEL WEINER, NYU SCHOOL OF LAW: Well, listen, thanks very much for having me on tonight, Chris.
You are exactly right. You know, we have a sort of toxic combination of a president who has kicked the permanent campaign into overdrive, and really put it on steroids, and a system now where frankly the Supreme Court, congress, and the dysfunctional Federal Election Commission have all worked to undermine our campaign finance laws. And so that`s what you get here.
You do have to give the president his due. He is raising a lot of money from big donors. He`s also raising a lot of money from small donors. And I think that that is a testament to the fact that this president, whatever his poll numbers, also has has a very devoted base.
But without question, it is also kicked into overdrive by the fact that we essentially don`t have a functional system of campaign finance law anymore. And we have these norms which are going to persist long after Donald Trump is gone of a permanent campaign from day one of any presidency.
HAYES: Let me follow-up with that and then I`ll come back to you, Michelle, but hypothetically, could Sheldon Adelson write a billion dollar check to a super PAC working to get the president-elected?
WEINER: Well, absolutely he could. And not only can he do that, he could a billion dollar check to a super PAC that the president set up, that the president staffed with his own aides, and that the president raises money for as well. So, that is the world we live in right now.
HAYES: So, follow-up question, could he anonymously give a billion dollars to said super PAC?
WEINER: Well, he couldn`t anonymously give a billion dollars to the super PAC unless he did it through some other entity, but he could give a billion dollars to a dark money group, which is a group that doesn`t have to disclose its donors. Not only could Sheldon Adelson do that, but, you know, the Russian government could do that. Anyone can do that. And yes, that money would not be disclosed.
HAYES: All right. Michelle, it`s not just the president has been raising money, they`ve been spending it, too. I think the Facebook part of this is fascinating. This is a New York Times graphic. This is Trump`s spending verse all of the Democratic candidates. Until recently, it was more than all of the Democratic candidates combined, and even now it`s 2-1 when you look at the entire field versus how much he is spending. This is clearly a focus.
LEE: Yes. And what`s notable about the president`s campaign spending on Facebook is that as he spends money on Facebook, he is able to better know the followers and better fine tune his message to his followers, and he`s expanding the number of people, the audience that is actually seeing his ads.
The big difference between the Trump campaign`s Facebook advertising right now and the Democrats` Facebook advertising right now is that Democrats are basically targeting the same primary voters, the most engaged people who are actually paying attention, which means they are messaging to a really narrow set of people who are on Facebook, who are getting those ads. Meanwhile, President Trump is just expanding the audience getting his ads.
And I wanted to add one more note about the super PAC structure that President Trump now has which is a big difference compared to 2016 when he said I don`t have a super PAC. Anyone who has a super PAC is beholden to the major donors. There is both a dark money and super PAC infrastructure surrounding the president. They are planning to spend at least $300 million to help him get elected. So all of those big donor are all lined up behind him, plus the massive small dollar army that President Trump already has.
HAYES: Plus, you have got -- Daniel, you`ve got just the normal sort of schmoozing of big donors that has become kind of the coin of the realm in Washington politics for a while.
WEINER: Right. Now look, it`s fashionable to blame Donald Trump for everything that`s wrong in Washington, I just want to be clear with your viewers, though, that this is a system that we had before Donald Trump. He has kicked it into overdrive after running against it to some extent in 2016.
But this is a great illustration of the very forces that got Donald Trump elected disillusionment with our system are now perpetuating him in power.
HAYES: Yes. And it`s worth noting what Michelle said, which is that a big -- part of his shtick in 2016, which was sort of honoring the breech a bit, was like, oh, I`m not beholden to any donors and no, no, no, not it`s like he is the most donor-backed candidate in history, and certainly the most donor-backed incumbent.
WEINER: Absolutely, he is. And, you know, again, we`re seeing this really sort of unique combination. You know, what I worry about, what you asked before, though, is again what`s going to be left with when Donald Trump isn`t on the political scene anymore? And that -- this is a model for campaigns that could persist long after he`s gone.
HAYES: Michelle Ye Hee Lee and Daniel Weiner, thank you so much for sharing your time.
That is ALL IN for this evening. "THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW" starts right now. Good evening, Rachel.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END