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Trump admits defeat TRANSCRIPT: 7/11/19, All In w/ Chris Hayes.

Guests: Guest: Thomas Saenz, Pramila Jayapal, Gary Peters, Vicky Ward, Cass, Sunstein, Mark Schleifstein

STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC HOST:  That old fable is true in this campaign that slow and steady wins the race.  That`s HARDBALL for now.  Thanks for being with us.  "ALL IN" with Chris Hayes starts right now.



TRUMP:  Are you a citizen of the United States of America?  Sir, you can`t ask that question.  Why?

HAYES:  The President folds backing away from his threat to force a citizenship question on the census.

TRUMP:  It`s deeply regrettable but it will not stop us from collecting the needed information.

HAYES:  Tonight, Trump`s new plan to marginalize immigrants.

TRUMP:  We will leave no stone unturned.

HAYES:  Then, new questions about Jeffrey Epstein`s finances and just how wealthy he actually is.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Is Jeffrey Epstein a billionaire?


HAYES:  Plus, New Orleans bracing for disaster as flooding and storm surge threatens to top the levees.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  We`re just completely stranded here.

HAYES:  And Trump`s so-called social media summit.

TRUMP:  I`m actually a good speller but everyone said that the fingers aren`t as good as the brain.

HAYES:  The rogues gallery of far-right trolls invited to the White House.

TRUMP:  Some of you are extraordinary the crap you think of is unbelievable.

HAYES:  When ALL IN starts right now.

TRUMP:  I call Twitter a typewriter.


HAYES:  Good evening from New York I`m Chris Hayes.  Today Donald Trump waved the white flag acknowledging in so many words that he could not override a Supreme Court ruling barring his administration from adding a citizenship question of the census under a bogus pretext.


TRUMP:  It`s deeply regrettable but it will not stop us from collecting the needed information and I think even in greater detail and more accurately.


HAYES:  In admitting defeat, Trump ordered government agencies to share existing data that would allow the administration to effectively build a citizenship database and that could have some very serious implications that we`ll discuss shortly.  But on the key issue, he lost and he lost on one of the most consequential questions there is.

The census done every ten years ordered by the Constitution sets the groundwork for nearly everything the government does.  It`s used to determine how many seats each state has in the house, how the nation allocates billions upon billions of dollars in federal revenue not to mention Electoral College votes and the makeup of state legislatures, decisions about where to build infrastructure, a host of other questions.

To do that, the government needs an accurate headcount of every person in the United States.  Adding a citizenship question of the census would undermine that goal because it would have discouraged undocumented immigrants and their families among others from participating.  And that would have hurt states and districts that are more diverse and tend to be the most often represented by Democrats.

Of course, the Trump administration didn`t admit that was the point.  They argued absurdly what they wanted to do to add the question was in an effort to better enforce parts of the Voting Rights Act which the Trump administration has been hostile to from the start.

In March, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross went before Congress and he just flat-out lied in an effort to push that bogus story.  But Ross` lies were eventually exposed and court after court ruled against the administration until the citizenship question ended up before the Supreme Court.

And that`s when something even wilder happened.  The estranged daughter of a deceased Republican operative discovered files on his hard drive that completely undermined the administration`s position.  The hard drives showed the operative helped come up with a pretext for adding that citizenship question and that he believed that drawing political maps that exclude non-citizens would "would be advantage to Republicans and non- Hispanic whites."  In other words, we could tip the scales to white people and Republicans.

Now, that may have been the tipping point.  In a 5-4 decision, Chief Justice John Roberts sided with the courts liberal wing ruling the administration could not add the question based on those bogus pretexts.  The administration then began printing the census forms even as Trump raged and hemmed and hawed and tried to find some other way around the Supreme Court but today crucially he didn`t.

But here`s the thing.  Trump may have lost in the substance but his anti- immigrant rhetoric will continue to have a chilling effect.  That rhetoric has been the defining aspect of Trumpism from day one.  From the start, he has worked to scapegoat, dehumanize, and vilify immigrants and frankly to just scare the hell out of them.

We`re learning now that on Sunday the administration plans or says it plans to conduct mass immigration raids on at least 2,000 families across the United States.  You might think the administration would want to keep such rates quiet to maintain an element of surprise but the raids and sells aren`t entirely the point.

The point is to make people feel scared and alienated and like strangers in the place they live.  And to make the people who hate immigrants and love Donald Trump, it felt so good.

Joining me now Thomas Saenz, President and General Counsel of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund which sued the Trump administration over the citizenship question and was one of two suits, this one was the one based in Maryland.  Thomas, first your reaction to the President`s decision today.

THOMAS SAENZ, PRESIDENT AND GENERAL COUNSEL, MEXICAN AMERICAN LEGAL DEFENSE AND EDUCATION FUND:  Well, it`s a little late.  He`s ten days behind his lawyers who told us at the beginning of the month that they would move forward with Census 2020 without a citizenship question but it`s certainly a victory, a victory if it sticks.  We want to make sure that this is a final decision that cannot be reversed at any point in the future.

But if it is a final decision and we can get a quarter that prevents it from being reversed, it`s a great victory.

HAYES:  What is the if?  I hear some hesitancy in your voice.

SAENZ:  Well, as you know, we`ve gone through ten days of a purported reversal.  We want to make sure that this is a decision that won`t be revisited prior to the census next year.  And we`ll get it put in a court order that will prevent them from reversing decision at any point.

HAYES:  What does it say to you?  It was interesting to me.  So there`s been this pretext all along that that was cooked up and we all know that right that, the Jeff Sessions Department of Justice was so intent on enforcing the Voting Rights Act they had to ask this question.  That was preposterous.  It was cooked up by Wilbur Ross, and Steve Bannon, and Kris Kobach, and all those folks.

The President today basically came out.  He came right out and said why he wants this information.  I want to play for you and get your reaction to hearing him be explicit about what they`re after.  Take a listen.


TRUMP:  You need it for Congress.  You need it for Congress, for districting.  You need it for appropriations, where is the fund going.  How many people are there?  Are they citizens, are they not citizens?  You need it for many reasons.


HAYES:  Sorry, that was Friday, but he`s being very clear there that they want to orient representation and everything around citizens.

SAENZ:  That`s right.  They want to change the rules.  We`ve known from at least the 14th Amendment that every person is to be counted and included in apportioning House of representative seats among the states.

They appear to want to revisit that and we have throughout our history counted the total population recognizing that everyone is a constituent in drawing the districts that are represented by Congress members, state legislators, and others all around the country.

So yes, they`ve been warned more explicit about seeking to change the rules just as they know the existing rules will play out against them.

HAYES:  What do you mean by that?

SAENZ:  Well, Donald Trump knows that he has alienated the Latino community.  He further knows that the Latino community is growing quickly in important states across the country.  And anything he can do to diminish the count and the influence of the Latino community, he seems to have concluded would benefit him politically personally and also those who follow him.

HAYES:  But it`s bigger than Donald Trump, isn`t it?  I mean Hofeller, the individual who died and his daughter found of the hard drives.  He`s a member of the GOP establishment in good standing.  He cooked up the maps that were struck down by courts in North Carolina.  Do you see this as part of a broader project?

SAENZ:  Yes.  I think it`s quite clear that there are folks on the right who for many, many years indeed they pursued court cases all the way to the Supreme Court, have been interested in changing the rules about drawing districts because they recognize that the demographics are not in their favor particularly because the Republican Party regrettably has alienated the Latino community largely because of a near unanimous anti-immigrant nativist streak in their policymaking and that is dangerous over the long term.

I`m in California and this happened in California a quarter-century ago.  When Pete Wilson`s championing of an anti-immigrant proposition on the ballot gaining re-election but really catalyzed a change in the politics of this state so it went from being a purple state to a very solidly blue state largely because the Republican Party in California had alienated those groups that were growing in size, Latinos, Asian-Americans, and those who support them.

HAYES:  Final question.  This was remarkable litigation in a lot of ways both the suit in Maryland and New York.  What was your big lesson from the fact that in some ways the levy held here?  I mean, I was a little scared we were going to get our Andrew Jackson moment frankly, that some kind of just outright facial disobeying of a Supreme Court order.  What`s your lesson about what happened here?

SAENZ:  Well.  I think it`s a lesson about the strength of the courts and how important they are which is it further an indication of why we should all be concerned about unqualified folks with evident biases being appointed by Donald Trump to lifetime appointments on the federal courts.

The federal courts really are our last bulwark of defending the Constitution against very real threats like the one you`ve described.  So this -- in this case, the courts played their role and that`s something we should all be proud of but also be vigilant about maintaining.

HAYES:  All right, Thomas Saenz, thank you for making time.  I`m joined now by Democratic Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal of Washington, Member of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security.  Your reaction to what looks like the close of this chapter today although I guess suppose the President kept the door open.

REP. PRAMILA JAYAPAL (D-WA):  Well, I mean, I think, Chris, that it was you know supposed to be a giant cream puff for all of those Trump supporters, but it was completely empty because in the end, he couldn`t deliver what he had been promising which was to try to exclude as many brown and black folks across the country so that he could critically affect reapportionment, affect how much money goes to different places.

I mean, this I think was a big defeat for him.  The problem that I have and I`ll just reiterate what Tom said you know, so articulately is that he is still going to terrorize immigrant communities and he might be able to achieve a similar impact of terrifying immigrant community so much that they don`t come out.  So that`s what we got to work against now.

HAYES:  That was exactly what I was going to ask you about.  In fact, in the -- in the status hearing in Thomas` case in Maryland, the plaintiffs there who were suing the government basically were asking the judge can you please tell them to not keep saying this because the rhetoric might have the effect of scaring people about what the census is about.

If the President is out there every day, let`s say the citizenship question is not on it which it`s not going to be, but the President is saying we`re coming to your door to find out if you`re a citizen.  That can have precisely the effect the question would have.  What do you do about that?

JAYAPAL:  Not only that, but how about these raids that he`s going to institute over the next you know, potentially starting as early as Sunday and over the next several months.  I mean, this is all about terrorizing communities, cruelty to immigrants.

I mean this administration and I said this in a committee hearing today, it trades in two things.  Number one, cruelty towards immigrants and number two money that goes to for-profit corporations that are minting money off of that cruelty off, of caging children.

And so this is just -- he doesn`t have -- the census -- let me just be clear, the census question was -- the citizenship question on the census was a huge victory for us.  I don`t want to diminish that in any way.  However, this president is still continuing to move towards the same goals he`s always had which is you know, terrorized, scare, keep all of these people in the shadows.

HAYES:  Let me ask you about the raids that have been announced by ICE.  There are people who argue and some of them are Democrats, some of them are in my inbox that look, these are families that have deportation orders right.

I mean that -- what they have said is the universe of people we`re going to be going for our folks that have had deportation orders, they have had process, they have gone through the immigration process, they have been ordered deported.  What would you have the government do?  Isn`t this just enforcing law and shouldn`t we enforce our immigration laws?

JAYAPAL:  So this is the thing.  If you remember back to when Obama instituted prosecutorial discretion because advocates across the country including me at the time was an advocate on the outside pushed for the Obama administration to understand that our immigration laws are so broken that there are a lot of people who have final orders of deportation that have committed no crime other than illegal presence in the United States or illegal reentry in many cases.

And so what the Obama administration did is they said yes, we`re going to use prosecutorial discretion.  We`re only going to go after those with the most serious crimes because we recognize that Congress has not done its job in passing comprehensive immigration reform.  And so we have these two signs at the border as I heard somebody say the other day you know, the help-wanted and then the no trespassing signs.

And so we have this completely broken system that is hypocritical in nature because we need that labor, we need these folks in the country, but we are not willing to change the system.  So just because you have a final order of deportation does not mean that you have done anything other than have illegal presence in this country or illegal reentry into this country.

So to say that these are people who have gone through the process is ridiculous because the process is completely broken and the amount of money that it will take to deport all of these people that is taxpayer dollars.  And let me tell you, at the end of the day, if they`re successful in deporting all of these people, then just plan that you`re not going to be able to eat any vegetables, you`re not going to be able to operate our economy.

This is going to have a massive impact on our economy.  That`s why the Chamber of Commerce says this is crazy.  We need immigration reform.

HAYES:  All right, Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal, thank you for being with me.

JAYAPAL:  Thank you, Chris.

HAYES:  And joining me now Senator Gary Peters of Michigan, top Democrat in the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee which handles oversight of the census.  I imagine you`re happy with the decision not to sort of try to get around the court order but do you have concerns about what the president announced today in the attempts the executive now going to make to get its hands on citizenship data?

SEN. GARY PETERS (D-MI):  Well, we have a lot of questions.  I`m not sure exactly what he intends to do.  I think we need to get more information.  But you`re right, I`m pleased that the citizenship question won`t be on the census.  It`s absolutely critical that every person in this country is counted.  It`s outlined in the Constitution.

The Supreme Court verified and actually called what the Trump administration was doing a contrived plan to put something on the -- on the census form that would actually have political repercussions and not really be focused on what the intent of the census is which is to count every individual in the country.

You`ve got substantial federal resources that come to states as a result of the count.  You`re talking about the very core aspects of our democracy when it comes to representation and experts who deal with the census every day.  Those that have testified before my committee were concerned about the undercount.

In fact, the economists at the Census Bureau themselves thought you`d probably have several million folks, now counted probably nine million people or more, and to try to get them counted would cost hundreds of millions of additional taxpayer money to count them.  It was a bad decision.

And when you consider that the census is a very complex, difficult undertaking, and prior to putting any question on the census, they research those questions for several years.  There was no research whatsoever.  This just came out of the blue, was put into the census.  Experts were clear it would lead to an undercount and now the president wants to look for other data.

I`m not sure what he`s going to do but that raises a whole host of issues related to privacy, security of that data, and some of that data was given to agencies for one purpose and it may be transferred to another purpose, and that`s certainly something that the American people didn`t bargain for.

HAYES:  Do you -- do you -- let me ask you a question I asked Thomas Saenz at the top of this.  Do you view this as part of a larger political project to essentially reduce the political potency of constituencies particularly immigrant and immigrant adjacent constituencies that are not favorable to Trump or the Republican Party?

PETERS:  Yes.  I think there is -- it was clear.  I think that`s what happened in the court case.  There was evidence that this was based on politics.  It wasn`t based on the reasons that they gave to the court.  In fact the Supreme Court and the opinion said that the reasons the Trump administration gave were contrived.  There was another motive behind it.

You know, our Founders who wrote the Constitution were very clear that every person should be counted.  This is a republic, a representative republic.  And in order to have a representative republic work the way it should, you have to actually know how many people are residing in that country.  It`s how we determine apportionment, electoral college, all of the core functions of our democratic republic.

HAYES:  All right, Senator Gary Peters of Michigan, thank you for being with me tonight.

PETERS:  Thank you.

HAYES:  Next, the Southern District of New York wants to know where Jeffery Epstein is getting all of his money and the reported billionaire will not tell them.  What we know from new reporting into the Epstein money mystery next.


HAYES:  Lawyers for Jeffrey Epstein today asked a federal judge to let the accused sex trafficker out on bail arguing he could stay in home detention under electronic monitoring at his 77 million-dollar Manhattan mansion, lots of room to move around.

Prosecutors have strenuously fought to keep the financier in detention.  On Monday they described Epstein who is already a registered sex offender as "a man of nearly infinite means."  But they also said that "the defendant has refused to answer any questions about his income or assets so the scope of his wealth and his assets remain entirely concealed to the government and to the court."

In a letter to the judge today, prosecutors made it clear they still don`t have that information writing, "As of this filing, the government still has not yet received any financial disclosure of information from the defense in connection with the defendant`s application for bail."

Now, while Epstein is clearly very wealthy with personal jet, four homes, and a private island, it remains really unclear exactly how he made that money or how much he actually has.  The New York Times dug into what`s been reported about Epstein`s wealth and finds that "much of that appears to be an illusion, and there is little evidence that Mr. Epstein as a billionaire."

The paper adds Mr. Epstein`s wealth may have depended less on his math acumen than his connections to two men.  Steven Hoffenberg who confessed to running a massive Ponzi scheme in 1995, OK, and Leslie Wexner, founder of the retail chain like the Limited, now the CEO of the company that owns Victoria`s Secret.

Wexner, in particular, appears to have done significant business of Epstein including real estate and money management, as well as forming a personal bond with him.  But it is still completely unclear how Epstein, a one-time math teacher in private school managed to go on to own mansions, planes, and the aforementioned private island.

The mystery has been around for a long time.  Back in 2003 for example, Vanity Fair ran a lengthy piece by reporter Vicky Ward noting that many of the myths about Epstein`s fortune were in fact untrue.  That reporter Vicky Ward is here with me now.  Great to have you back on the show.


HAYES:  So you wrote this big profile back in 2003 which was like oh, there`s this kind of Gatsby-esque figure and he`s inviting all these academics and stars around and you set out to try to find out what`s the deal with this guy, and what did you find then?

WARD:  Well, I found that he was a phony and he was a liar.  And you know interestingly, he didn`t you know, he was very aggressive in the way he handled me.  And you know within 24 hours, I had -- I was starting out on the piece, I had phoned him to let him know I would be looking into him.  But I then got a phone call from the then CEO of Bear Stearns, then a major investment bank Jimmy Cayne.

Jimmy Cayne wanted to pull me in, spend the afternoon with me, show me around Bear Stearns and tell me how brilliant Jeffrey Epstein was, sort of valuable client he was to the bank.  And yet the truth was completely different.  The truth was that he`d had spent only five years there and actually being kicked out for a violation.

And later on, you know I asked some SEC documents in which Jeffrey Epstein gave a deposition and it was quite clear from the line of questioning that the investigators were concerned and speculated that Jeffrey Epstein had knowledge about activities by Jimmy Cayne and Ace Greenberg who was then the chairman of Bear Stearns.  And they were -- there was a lot of inquiry about an insider trading case that went on for years.

And the reason I bring this up is because I think that leverage over financial people is perhaps the key to Jeffrey Epstein`s wealth.  You know, knowledge about people, knowledge about their money is power.

HAYES:  Well, one of the things I think we can rule outright, is that you know, if you look at big billionaire hedge fund managers --

WARD:  Right.

HAYES:  His transactions, his public record looks nothing like them, right?  Is that fair to say --

WARD:  Completely.

HAYES:  -- that like people that have big multi -- you know make million- dollar just running hedge funds, people trade with them, they know -- like they leave a trail.

WARD:  Yes.  You see them.  You see their footprint in the market.

HAYES:  Right.

WARD:  If George Soros does a trade, you see it.

HAYES:  Right.  And that`s not true with Epstein?

WARD:  That`s absolutely not true with Epstein.  Furthermore, you know, as I reported back then, he gave a deposition and in a different suit in the - - I think late 1980s saying that really what he was doing -- and he lived by the way, in a quite a humble apartment back then, was running a round recovering stolen money for the government and for private clients.

And the interesting thing about that is if you know how to recover stolen money, you also know how to hide money.  And the reason I mentioned that is that what I did discover is that before Les Wexner his mentor who I went to meet within jail at the time, the man called Steve Hoffenberg was serving a 20-year jail sentence for what was then the biggest Ponzi scheme in American history.

HAYES:  He was made before made off.

WARD:  He was made before made off.

HAYES:  And Hoffenberg was -- I mean this is established, this is not like --

WARD:  Right.

HAYES:  He was Epstein`s mentor.

WARD:  Right.  He told me that he taught Jeffrey Epstein everything he knew.

HAYES:  He told you there sitting in jail, they`re sitting in prison for having ripped off people.

WARD:  And he`s told me -- he`s told me since he`s come out, I spoke to him very recently.  And he also has told me since you know, in the last week or so, that you know, Jeffrey`s basically stole all his money.  His money should have been seized by the government but that Jeffrey took it.

HAYES:  That is, by the way, I think not something that`s been like established by courts.  That`s an application --

WARD:  No, that`s an (INAUDIBLE)

HAYES:  Just to be clear on that.  I guess the question is do you think -- I mean will we find out the truth here, right?  They raided his house, they have gotten into a safe.  Like is this a thing the government will get to the bottom of?

WARD:  Well, I think it`s what`s so interesting in the indictment is the word conspiracy, right, because that means obviously means there are conspirators.  And you know, also the mention of the public corruption unit because that possibly suggests -- I`m speculating -- corruption.

HAYES:  Right.

WARD:  It seems to me that other people will be questioned.  How could they not be?

HAYES:  Yes.

WARD:  And then that will lead to the money trail.

HAYES:  All right, Vicky Ward, thank you for your great reporting.  Thank you.

WARD:  Thank you.

HAYES:  Ahead, new votes on subpoenas for Trump world as they leave impeachment off the table.  My next guest suggests Democrats are making a mistake.  Cass Sunstein joins me with his case for impeachment next.


HAYES:  With less than a week before Special Counsel Robert Mueller is set to testify before congress, the House Judiciary Committee voted today to authorize subpoenas to a dozen people, some of whom will key figures in Mueller`s investigation.  The list includes Trump`s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, former deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein, former Attorney General Jeff Session, former national security adviser Michael Flynn, and former Homeland Security Secretary and White House chief of staff John Kelly.

Now to be clear, no actual subpoenas were issued today.  The chair of the committee, Jerry Nadler, was just given the authority to subpoena if he so chooses.  And keep in mind they`ve already  issued a bunch of subpoenas.  In fact, just yesterday Mike Flynn, along with Trump`s former deputy campaign Chairman Rick Gates, flat out missed their subpoena deadlines to turn over documents and testify before the House Intelligence Committee.

It`s pretty clear that the Trump White House and his allies are just intending to run out the clock  here.  It`s also pretty clear that House leadership has made it a priority, perhaps over any other priority at the moment, to avoid impeaching the president, even though there are over 80 members of congress who are in favor of opening an impeachment inquiry right now.

And as the president continues to violate and acts and flaunt his lawlessness, there is one remedy given to the House of Representatives to rein him in, one really, and that`s impeachment.

Joining me now Cass Sunstein, former administrator of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs under President Obama and a Harvard Law professor, author of the book "Impeachment: A Citizen`s Guide," just published an op-ed in The Washington Post titled "Impeachment isn`t optional.  If facts point in that direction, congress must act."

Cass, you are not -- I think your reputation is not as a kind of like fire- breathing radical. I think your temperament is fairly moderate in temperament and judicious.  But you seem to come down on the impeachment side here.  Why?

CASS SUNSTEIN, FORMER ADMINISTRATOR WHITE HOUSE OFFICE OF INFORMATION AND REGULATORY AFFAIRS:  Well, impeachment side with respect to congress` obligations, not necessarily with respect to any particular president.  So it`s probably good to go step by step and look at the issues with a degree of solemnity and not in a partisan way.

So if you go back to the founding, the idea of impeachment was essential to us having a constitution at all.  The idea was that the king was a very bad idea, and we didn`t want to have something like that, and impeachment was to make sure we would have a republic, not a monarchy.  And that was a predicate for having the constitution at all.

So if the question is whether an impeachment inquiry is obligatory or instead discretionary in the face of very serious allegations, the answer that emerges from the founding period is it`s mandatory, it`s a republic if we can keep it.

Now on the Trump question, in particular, we have to look at facts, you know, in the Mueller report in detail.  But to say we can just say there is an election coming or it`s divisive and therefore we can bracket it, that`s a betrayal of the system.

HAYES:  Yeah, that`s interesting.  You said if, after assessing the facts, the House concludes that a president, Democratic or Republican, has clearly committed high crimes and misdemeanors, then impeachment isn`t optional.  In that event, the House has a duty to act regardless of the potential for any political fallout.

It`s interesting, because there is sort of debate about whether this is a legal or political question.  And I think a lot of people say, well, fundamentally it`s a political question.  It is given to the political  branches.  It is a question of votes.  It is not a matter of the courts.  But you kind of have a different view, I think.

SUNSTEIN:  Yeah, I think nothing could be further from the truth.  It`s like saying two plus two equals six than to say it`s a political question.

The whole point of the impeachment clause was to say there is an ascertainable standard -- treason, bribery, other high crimes and misdemeanors.  It`s not up to the House to make it up.  The House can`t impeach the president because he has the wrong views -- it thinks he has the wrong views on  climate change or that he`s unsuited for office, that`s not legitimate.  At the same time, if there is treason, bribery and other high crimes and misdemeanors, that has to be ascertained clearly.  That`s fair to the president.  It`s something very grave about this.

But if the inquiry does produce that, it doesn`t matter whether the president likes elephants or donkeys or is one in terms of political affiliation, then the mechanism kicks in.  And that suggests that what the House is obliged to do is not to impeach the president, that would outrun everything, it`s way too early for that, but to think very seriously about volume two in particular of the Mueller report, which strongly suggests there are problems, like really serious problems, of obstruction of justice, then  that inquiry is obligatory.

HAYES:  If it was -- it`s an interesting point you made.  I hasn`t quite thought of that, right, there is an articulable standard, and that`s key, right.  The idea is that it`s not purely political wills of power, like we don`t like you, you`re out of here, right.  This is the standard.

But it`s kind of a hazy standard.  I was actually just reading -- someone had flagged a quote from de Tocqueville in "Democracy in America" where he is writing about like what the heck does high crimes and misdemeanors mean anyway?

SUNSTEIN:  Yeah, Tocqueville was great, but French.

HAYES:  But it`s difficult.

SUNSTEIN:  No, the history is very clear.  So there is an English history.  There is a history in the Colonies, and there is a history in the post revolutionary America.

So the words "high crimes and misdemeanors" were more like the word motor vehicle than the word gotcha, which can mean any number of things.

So the term was actually well understood, it means egregious misuse of authority.  It doesn`t mean crime.  You can have things that are crimes that are not high crimes and misdemeanors -- shoplifting isn`t a high crime and misdemeanor.  You can have things that are not crimes, like going on vacation for eight months to Key West, that`s not a crime.  That`s fine for an American to do, but that is a high crime and misbehavior within the constitutional meaning.

So, it`s a tempting mistake for modern reader to think these words can mean anything at all, but the reason the words got through was people said ah- ha, I got it.  It`s like motor vehicle.

HAYES:  It`s a coherent concept.  Cass Sunstein, that was very illuminating.  Thank you so much.

SUNSTEIN:  Thank you.

HAYES:  Ahead, new alarms over whether the levees in New Orleans will breach as Tropical Storm Barry closes in.  We`re going to go live to New Orleans next.  Don`t go anywhere.


HAYES:  A hurricane warning is in effect tonight for a large swath of the Louisiana coast, and there is a tropical storm warning in the New Orleans area as the first major storm of the season barrels through the Gulf.  Barry is expected to strengthen in the coming hours and make landfall as a category 1 hurricane on Saturday, but it is moving very slowly, which will likely result in huge rainfall totals. According to the National Hurricane Center, the storm could produce 15 to 20 inches of rain, even 25 inches in isolated areas.

Now you may recall a similar situation in the Houston area with Hurricane Harvey nearly two years ago when that very slow-moving storm dumped more than 60 inches of rain in some areas.

The other factor plaguing New Orleans, of course, is the geography.  The city is essentially a bowl, and with the Mississippi River on one side and Lake Pontchartrain on the other.  And the combination of an already swollen Mississippi, following the wettest 12 months on record, plus the predicted storm surge, and those huge amounts of rain, makes for a serious threat of flooding and even the possibility the Mississippi River could crest over the levees for the first time in modern history.

Joining me now is Mark Schleifstein.  He`s an environmental reporter for The Times Picayune and the New Orleans Advocate, who has been watching and covering the storm closely.

Mark, what are the three -- what are the major concerns for the Army Corps and the folks in New Orleans who are monitoring this?

MARK SCHLEIFSTEIN, JOURNALIST:  Well, the biggest one really is the rainfall potential.  This has the potential of being a huge rainmaker, and that`s a real problem for New Orleans on a regular day, much less while you`ve got hurricane-force winds or even tropical storm-force winds coming along.

Our pump systems have been tested over and over again and found failing in the past.  Lots of them have been rebuilt and fixed.  So things are looking a lot better right now. 

But our other threat is  extremely unusual, and that`s that we have this really high Mississippi River.  It`s about 16 feet above sea level right now.

HAYES:  Wow.

SCHLEIFSTEIN:  And it could reach 19 feet above sea level on Saturday.

Now officially, the flood level in New Orleans is 17 feet, but the reality is that the levees and flood walls protect the city to about 20 feet.  And yesterday we had a real scare, because the National Weather Service said that Barry might actually put 20 feet of water into this area along the river, and that really would see, you know, you have the potential of seeing some of those flood walls over-topping or at least leaking.

And ironically, there is this one spot in what`s called Uptown New Orleans, which is the Army Corps of Engineers headquarter building where they have not built an improvement to their flood walls.  And so they`re actually the low spot in the system in the city.

HAYES:  The Army Corps headquarters is a building I`ve actually been to when reporting on the aftermath of Katrina.  And I guess the other question here is obviously in the wake of Katrina, there is huge amounts of rebuilding around levees.  There is the rain issue.  There is the over- topping 

I guess a feeling is everyone confident that the levees are structurally sound?  That what happened in Katrina wasn`t over-topping, they just actually failed, often from the bottom out.  Do you feel like that -- does everyone feel like the re-engineering that happened post-Katrina means that each if they don`t over-top, the force of the river can be held?

SCHLEIFSTEIN:  Well, a significant chunk of the levee system in the New Orleans area actually was raised a couple of feet over the last several years, last three years to deal with increased sea level rise in the future.

But, you know, the real problem is that we`ve had water against these levees for 120 days or  even longer.  This is a very long period.  So they`re basically soggy levees.  And that`s the real concern.  That additional two feet to three feet is not going to make a difference in terms of the sogginess, it`s really if you have over-topping, whether or not the levees were able to stand the water running down, especially in the earthen (inaudible) areas, the water running down and eroding that backside of the levee.

HAYES:  That`s really, really illuminating and worrying.  Where everyone is thinking about you down there in New Orleans and pulling for you.  Mark Schleifstein, thank you so much.

SCHLEIFSTEIN:  Sure, thank you.

HAYES:  Coming up, a truly bizarre scene at the White House today, and that is really saying  something.  The president`s club meeting for some of the Internet`s biggest trolls, next.


HAYES:  They called it a summit, but this was no Yalta.  This afternoon, White House hosted what they dubbed a social media summit to ostensibly discuss the challenges in today`s online environment.  And a set of social media companies like Twitter and Facebook, they invited a pack of  Trump supporting, race-baiting conspiracy theorists, kind of like an ice cream social for trolls.

And the troll in chief, and the man who is -- and I mean this earnestly, literally more gifted than trolling than anyone in history, the man who trolled himself into the White House, stole the show.  It was basically what you would expect.


TRUMP:  I called Twitter a typewriter.  That`s really what I really call twitter.  I`m very, very careful.  I`m actually a good speller.  But everyone said the fingers aren`t as good as the brain.

There is no doubt in my mind that I should have millions and millions -- I have millions of people, so many people, I wouldn`t believe it.  But I know that we`ve been blocked.

I used to watch it like a rocket ship when I put out a beauty.  Like when I said -- remember, I  said somebody was spying on me?  That thing was like a rocket.  I get a call two minutes later.  Did you say that?

I said yeah, I said that.  Well, it`s exploding.  It`s exploding.  I turned out to be right.  I  turned out to be right.

Some of you are extraordinary, the crap you think of is unbelievable.  I mean, some of you guys are out there.  But even you should have a voice.

But some of you -- no some of you deserve -- some of you.  I mean it`s genius, but it`s bad.  Our country is really powerful and really strong.  Never been like this. Woops.  How did a fly get into the White House?  I don`t like flies.  I don`t like flies.


HAYES:  Just to note, it was not true that he was being spied or or wire tapped, tapping his phones was the tweet he was referring to, which was false like so many of the things the president tweets. 

The president opened the floor for questions and called on former deputy assistant to the president, now right-wing radio host, Sebastian Gorka.  But right as Gorka was asking his question about censorship, the audio was cut off.


TRUMP:  How is your new show going.  Going good?


TRUMP:  I heard -- good.

GORKA:  Thank you.  Yes, indeed.  America First, Salem Radio Network, Sebastian Gorka.


HAYES:  15 seconds later the video went to black and the press was escorted from the room.

Now, it could be easy to laugh at the so-called summit, but what took place at the White House threatens to undermine the truth in American politics.  We will talk about that after this.



TRUMP:  From the standpoint of somebody that maybe has used social media better than anybody, because I became president -- I`m sure I could have done it, as we said, much -- I would have -- there`s not question I would have done it either way.


HAYES:  The president`s performance today was surreal and comic and kind of pathetic, but the people he invited to the White House represent very real vectors of disinformation that were very much a part of electing the president in the first place.

Joining me now, someone who has been closely covering disinformation on social media, NBC News reporter Ben Collins.

What  was today all about?

BEN COLLINS, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT:  It kind of felt like commencement of the first meme war where he was saying, like, hey guy, congratulations for all the work you`ve done in the past couple of years helping me out, you know setting narratives on Twitter and Facebook, sometimes using disinformation, sometimes, sometimes not, sometimes just rapid support.  And by the way, buckle up, we`re about to do this all over, man.

Any idea -- this was labeled as talk about censorship on social media, this was just -- it was an awards ceremony basically.

HAYES:  In which he is -- these folks -- I just read a book that`s coming out in the fall that is great on this topic called Antisocial.  These folks really -- they are marginal figures, in many ways -- but they were actually quite central to the ways in which victors of disinformation and memes and attacks on Hillary Clinton and other people seeded into the public consciousness in 2016.

COLLINS:  Yeah, I talked to a bunch of disinformation researchers about this meeting and seeing the names that were walking through that door today, and they said these are the same people at the center of these network graphs.  You see the center of the node in these that explodes out with all these other smaller accounts, right.

In the public sphere, you may not know their names, but you definitely know the smears that they pushed out.  And that`s the point.  In fact, if you know their names, they are not doing their jobs correctly.  They want to lay low enough in the mainstream media, so they can continue to push the this stuff.

That`s what today is sort of a double-edged sword.  He wants to bring them in and he wants to say good job, nice job everybody, but he didn`t really want to get of the anonymity that they had been provided.

HAYES:  Well,  and then have -- I just want to say this, because this is sort of a perfect example of like the ridiculousness of this enterprise, this is Sebastian Gorka who actually worked in the White House on the national security council of all places like getting heckled and then yelling at someone in the Rose Garden?  Do we have that?  Can we play that?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Gorka!  Gorka!  Gorka!

GORKA:  You`re a punk.  You`re not a journalist, you`re a punk.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Go home.  Go home.  Hey, Gorka, good job.


HAYES:  That`s Brian Carom (ph) who reports to the White House for Playboy yelling get a job as Gorka walked away.  But that`s like sort of the vibe, that vibe just there, contentious sort of down the block tough, fights -- fighters.

COLLINS:  It`s important to not disassociate this from the larger problems we have with social media right now.  These people who were invited today got famous because the algorithms made it so the loudest voices won, especially on YouTube, especially on Twitter.  These people were able to build audiences and quit their jobs and get jobs just yelling at people on YouTube.

HAYES:  Off the algorithm.  This is so key to understand, like -- there`s not just some like meritocratic playing field, it`s the things that activate a certain kind of emotional response, particularly like hatred or anger, right, those are the things the algorithm are pushing up to the top and these folks have benefited from -- they have had the thumb on the scale in favor of them at these major places like Facebook and YouTube.

COLLINS:  Yeah, exactly.

So, what YouTube`s algorithm did was here is a political video that you like that`s benign.  Here is a louder version of that, and a louder version of that, that`s what auto play did on that service until a couple of months ago.

So, that these people have grown immense audiences worthy of the president`s approval here is not surprising.

HAYES:  And it`s why they and Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley, these conservative senators and Trump are all obsessed with what rules Facebook and YouTube put into effect for these platforms.

COLLINS:  Yeah, it`s hard to know -- actually at this point I would say who has power over who.  Who is creating the policy and who is catering to the people who want that policy passed.

In a lot of the cases, you know, a lot of these sort of hit campaigns start and then make their way to the president.  And if you are making policy based on the loudest possible voice on  YouTube and Twitter, that`s where it is really dangerous.

HAYES:  All right, Ben Collins, great reporting on this.  Thanks so much for coming by.

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