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Breaking through the Democratic primary narratives TRANSCRIPT: 7/31/19, All In w/ Chris Hayes.

Guests: Elie Mystal, Christina Greer, Leonard Lance, Lee Gelernt

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST:  We`re going to have a better sense after tonight of who could be the best contender to go head to head with the man who has spent his presidency stoking racial division.

That`s HARDBALL for now.  Thanks for being with us.  "ALL IN" with Chris Hayes starts right now.



SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  I don`t understand why anybody goes to all the trouble of running for president of the United States just to talk about what we really can`t do and shouldn`t fight for.

HAYES:  What the main narratives coming out of the Democratic debates are missing and why the 2020 forecast for Congressional Republicans is starting to look ominous.  Then --

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  The intelligence agencies have run amok.  They`ve run amok.

HAYES:  Ben Rhodes on Donald Trump`s brazen politicization of American intelligence.  Plus, shocking new reporting that the Trump administration is still separating migrant families in spite of a court order to stop.

TRUMP:  We`re going to keep the families together.

HAYES:  And Trymaine Lee investigates one of the central lies of the Trump presidency.

TRUMP:  If I win, we`re going to bring those miners back.

HAYES:  When ALL IN starts right now.

TRYMAINE LEE, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT:  When you hear politicians, President Trump down talking about saving coal mining -- coal miners, is it patronizing them --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Baloney, it`s a baloney.


HAYES:  Good evening from New York, I`m Chris Hayes.  Even weeks, even before this week`s debate happened, the narrative of the Democratic primary fight had settled into these ruts.  These ruts that are so deep that it is hard to push the conversation out of them to explore any new terrain.

The narrative is about a single axis of ideological disagreement between different candidates.  The moderates versus the progresses as it is often short-handed, and it goes something like this.  On one side, our candidates, and pundits, and reporters who are intently focused on an all- important specific type of voter that must be won over mainly the white working-class voter in the industrial Midwest, the voter who went for Barack Obama and then turned around and went for Donald Trump.

And all kinds of candidates and pundits and observers have extremely strong and develop views about what this kind of voter can and cannot tolerate for what they will or will not go far.  And if the party crosses a certain line, the thinking goes that voter will not vote for the Democrat and Trump will win.

It`s an argument about electability though often it reflects the observers` actual politics just cloaked in the language of analysis.  Now, let`s be clear.  Focusing on this particular type of voter is not completely unjustifiable because that is one of the demographic groups that really did help Trump become President Trump.

But for one thing, it`s not the only group out there.  There are plenty of past victory for a Democratic candidate that do not involve winning back those voters, boosting turnout among voters of color or young voters or those voters who voted for Obama and then didn`t vote in 2016 of whom there are quite a few.

Plus, and this is crucial, nobody actually knows what that voter or for that matter any voter will or won`t go for with certainty.  No pundit really knows 100 percent, what positions will they will win them over or alienate those voters.  Yet a lot of people talk as though they do.

OK.  So that`s one side of this big argument.  The flipside is the people who are pushing a very ambitious progressive agenda and who effectively argue that there really are no political or public opinion constraints whatsoever to doing that.

By this logic you propose ideas simply because they`re merit, they`re righteousness, and then you fight for them confident the public can be won over.  No matter the position, the thinking goes, you won`t alienate voters, there won`t be blowback, or your motivate voters to make up for the ones you alienate.  You just want to go big.

Now, going big might well be a winning strategy and that ambitious progressive agenda might be right on the merits.  But the view that it`s cowardly to consider what the public opinion constraints, not to mention the institutional ones might be, strikes me as more than a little bit overboard.

The political gravity does still exist.  Public opinion does still matter.  There are positions that really are genuinely unpopular that really can`t hurt a candidate with the voters.  That doesn`t mean a candidate shouldn`t take them on but there are trade-offs.

Somewhere between these two extremes is the grounds for a bit more fruitful discussion I think.  And for that discussion let`s bring in three very sharp minds Christina Greer Professor of Political Science at Fordham University, Steve Kornacki National Political Correspondent of MSNBC and Elie Mystal Executive Editor of Above the Law and Contributor at The Nation.

Is that how you -- what do you think about the framing that we`ve had so far and those basic ideas between sort of the polls in this debate?

ELIE MYSTAL, EXECUTIVE EDITOR, ABOVE THE LAW:  Yes.  I think the framing that you described is correct.  I think that framing is bollocks but I think that you described it exactly right.  I`m obviously in the go big kind of category and so I have my own opinions here.

But I do think that the important thing to surface is that where I think the framing that you described is particularly wrong is that everybody on the Left wants to beat Donald Trump.  We all know that.  We all assume that.  We all understand.

That the difference in the party and you really saw this last night I think in the debate between Bullock and Warren here.  There is a group in the party that Bullock was representing in this -- in this analogy that thinks that the way to beat Donald Trump is to say that America is basically fine, everything is going fine, it`s just that we have an idiot in charge.

And so just remove the idiot and everything else should just go back to normal and we`ll be OK, right.  The Warren sand kind of more progressive side is saying, no, things are not fine.  The structures that allow Donald Trump to exist still exist, and if you do not attack those lectures then Donald Trump wins again.

HAYES:  But the thing about that is that`s a -- so that`s a substantive argument.  I completely agree, right.  There`s an actual disagreement here which is why I think the debate is illuminating to be honest, right.  Like there`s a disagreement between the theories of the case of what is a matter with America to put -- right?  Like what are the problems the country faces?

And there are different -- for a political standpoint though, I think that what you`re saying about the go back is essentially what Biden has going for him politically, right?  I mean, the idea that we`re in awful anomalous times with an awful anomalous president as many Democrats find him to be, and we should go back to something that is not that is I think, Steve, the core of the Biden case and the Biden support, and the reason that he is leading in the polls even after a bad debate showing the last time and even after -- even if he`s not sort of in line with where the kind of energy ideologically is.

STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT:  Yes.  And I think there`s a -- there`s an unspoken message with the Biden campaign to Democrats which is don`t overthink this, which is Donald Trump is president but Donald Trump lost the popular vote by upward of three million votes.  Donald Trump got 46 percent of the popular vote in as president because he stitched together a 77,000 vote plurality across three states about ten days after James Comey came down and said, by the way.

So I think the Biden message is essentially we -- he`s speaking to Democrats here saying that we are really, really close and it took an incredible combination of circumstances to put Donald Trump there and I`m the guy you can nominate and not screw it up.

HAYES:  Which by the way, I don`t think that idea which I think is actually a pretty good read in some ways on the politics of what that race was, right?  Like there are a bunch of fluky confluent factors that produce the result.  That actually doesn`t -- that to me has is interesting because it doesn`t have a specific ideological valence.

If you take that analysis, right, then you can say if you`re Warren or Sanders like right, that`s right.  Like we`ve got a majority.  The guy is sort of weirdly back came off the Comey letter.  Let`s do what we want to do.

CHRISTINA GREER, PROFESSOR OF POLITICAL SCIENCE, FORDHAM UNIVERSITY:  But the problem is it`s the structural distinction between the two factions within the party.  And we have multiple factions within the Democratic Party but the two major factions.  And so the Biden, Bullock, Delaney, Ryan, they`re essentially saying -- it`s like, we can go back to brunch pretty soon once this man is removed, because our lives are discomforted right now but they`re not fundamentally altered.  The Bernie, Warren quasi I would say Castro and this crew, I would say Kamala, Buttigieg --

HAYES:  Buttigieg I think too in some ways, and Marianne Williamson.

GREER:  Marianne Williamson --

HAYES:  I`m serious, dark psychic force.

GREER:  Yes, true, maybe not for the presidency but for some other things.  Maybe she`ll be the chaplain, I don`t know.  But I think the difference between the more progressive factions is saying something is fundamentally broken and something always has been fundamentally broken which then gives Donald Trump and his administration talking points to say you don`t love America.

MYSTAL:  And I just -- I just want to back up on that because it`s not an accident that the centrist, moderate, whatever you want to call them wing of this party is mainly white males, right?

HAYES:  Right.

MYSTAL:  That`s not an accident and it`s exactly as Dr. Greer says.  It`s because they`re lies from their perspective have not been -- have been inconvenienced, have been disquieted by Donald Trump.  But the kind of this psychic threat to use the Marianne Williamson that Trump poses to black and brown communities is a whole different kind of problem.

HAYES:  OK.  But to push back on that for a second, and I think that one of the most interesting things about Biden`s announcement was how much he focused on Charlottesville at that announcement and how much he does talk about.  I mean not, you know, not in the terms of a person who doesn`t have the lived experience which he does not as a you know, 70 plus straight white man who`s been in politics 40 years, but he is quite focused.

I mean, I made this point because I said, you know, people who were paying attention to Marianne Williamson, that dark psychic force which I thought was a pretty good phrase to describe the phenomenon.  And Josh Barro made this point.  It was like he`s like Biden is the one who`s talking about Trump in those -- in sort of those terms.

MYSTAL:  But he`s got no policy there, and that`s where the problem is.  Like it`s great to say like oh, this -- again, psychic force is out there and it`s bad, but Biden doesn`t have -- again Biden and this part of the party, their thought is that -- is that this is all just words.  Trump uses a lot of bad words.  And we stop using the backwards we can go back to the way things were as opposed to like addressing the structural issues of white supremacy that some of the other candidates are actually talking about.

GREER:  And so -- but this is also why it`s like Biden doesn`t get it because your announcement is in coal country and in Pennsylvania, right.  And so this framing is still like the real America are these white working- class people.  It`s like that is not --

HAYES:  But -- OK, but doesn`t get if for who?  I mean, that`s the thing.  Like he is still leading, right?  And one of the things that I think is interesting is that if you look at you know, black voters in South Carolina for instance, like he`s leading hugely among black voters in South Carolina.

GREER:  Well, black voters are strategic voters, and so they`re --

HAYES:  I`m not saying they aren`t, I`m just saying like --

GREER:  They`re rewarding him for his eight years of loyalty to Barack Obama.  They`re rewarding him in many ways because they want him to beat Donald Trump.  And there are many people not just blacks, but many people across this country who think that the strategy to beat Donald Trump is to get a straight white man into the Oval Office.

HAYES:  Well, this gets back to the sort of question, right, about how -- one of the things that happens here is voters modeling other voters, right?  And that`s -- and that`s -- well, that`s the sort of strangeness here, right?  There`s almost a meta debate laid at the debate of the Democratic primary which is why -- who are you choosing along which criteria, right?

The person that is going to be the person that beats Donald Trump and when you think about who would beat Donald Trump you think about the 77,000 voters, right?  You think about like who can get those people back.  Or the -- or which the case I think Warren is making and Sanders is making although they make both, they also make electable arguments.  Just you know, the person that you think has the best ideas, right?  And I think there`s some interesting polling data around how Democrats are thinking about that.

KORNACKI:  Well, I -- but I think that`s where the -- that`s where it gets complicated I think for Democrats because if you`re voting on -- if you`re a Democrat and you`re voting on what you think the best ideas are, you can look at polling and says -- that says your version of the best ideas not very popular with general election voters.

You can go issue after issue that came up last night replayed -- having a Medicare-for-all program that gets rid of a private insurance.  That`s two to one popular with Democrats.  You`re going to win a Democratic primary if it`s just on ideas and it`s just Democratic voters, flip it around and ask about general election voters, 54-41 opposition.

You saw Warren in there with decriminalizing border crossings.  That`s a 50-50 issue in the Democratic Party right now.  Nationally that`s a 28-62 issue.

HAYES:  Although flip it around, right, when you look at like abortion, abortion being illegal in all cases in Roe v Wade overturned which was what Donald Trump`s position was.  He literally said, I will appoint -- you know, in that debate with Hillary Clinton, that`s like a -- that`s a 60-40, 65-35 issue itself.  He managed to rid a lot of that right?

KORNACKI:  I`ll give -- I`ll give you another one though.  This -- I think again, when I say this is the unspoken message of the Biden campaign, I think part of it is think of the success that Obama-Biden as a ticket had in 2012.  What was one of the best weapons they had to use against Republicans?  It was the Paul Ryan budget.

HAYES:  Yes, right.

KORNACKI:  It was the Paul Ryan budget, it was Medicare, it was the fact that Romney put Ryan on the ticket.  It was the fact that Romney then reinforced the message by having the 47 percent tape come out.  But that is an example where you could take any poll in 2011 and you could say, this broadly --

HAYES:  Yes.

KORNACKI:  Nobody wants to go after Medicare and they gave him the issue.

HAYES:  And the thing that -- the thing -- that is always my response actually when people say, well, Republicans think big.  You know, they`ve been going big on Medicare privatization.  And I always say, right, and they haven`t been able to privatize Medicare literally because it`s so impossible.  Like the political constraints exist.

MYSTAL:  But this is where we in the media also have to take some responsibility because we are doing some of the framings for the Democrats in an unfair way.

GREER:  Sure, thank you.

MYSTAL:  Like we talk about Warren`s -- just like as you said, you talked about it in the sense of Warren decriminalizing border crossings.  And when you talk about it like that, sure, you`ll get a lot of white Republicans who don`t agree it.  Let`s talk about it as freeing children who were in cages because --

HAYES:  But those are -- those are different things though.

MYSTAL:  No, it`s not.  No, it`s not.  She was trying -- and she was trying to say this during the debate.  Dana Bash liked her answer.  She was trying to make that direct connection between decriminalizing border crossings as allowing as decline Trump`s ability to cage children.

HAYES:  OK, but I`m just saying as a matter of policy, decriminalizing border crossing is a policy that`s independent of that insofar as single adults who come over would no longer face the possibility of prosecution.

It would take away the weapon that was used yes to take children away which is why she`s making that argument, but like that policy -- again, I don`t think that policies particularly popular although I do think there`s a really good case for it on the merits and that`s one of the trade-offs that this debate and you know, future debates are going to be about.  Christina Greer, Elie Mystal, Steve Kornacki, thank you all for being with me.

Ahead, the growing list of House Republicans who are just jumping ship, running for the hills, choose your metaphor, ahead of the 2020 election, what it signals about the state of Trump`s party in two minutes.


HAYES:  There are all kinds of ways to take the temperature of the political moment.  You can look at the President`s approval rating, you could look at national polling, you can look at head-to-head theoretical matchups.

But one of the most revealing things for me is to just go and look at the people who are making the highest-stakes decisions on the available data about what they think the future will be politically.  And those people tend to be Republican and Democratic incumbents in Congress.

Just in the past two weeks five Republican members of the House announced that they are retiring,  Paul Mitchell of Michigan who was a member of the House leadership, Pete Olson of Texas, Martha Roby of Alabama, one of just 13 women in the House at the Republican side, Rob Bishop of Utah, and then just yesterday we got Mike Conaway of Texas.

That does not include the others who announced their departures earlier this year, Susan Brooks of Indiana, Rob Woodall of Georgia, and we`re still ways away from the 2020 election.  Last time around you might remember, back in the lead-up to the midterms, 26 House Republicans called it quits.  And of course, many of the Republicans who stuck around got walloped in that election when their party lost 40 seats making it their worst loss since Watergate.

Now, keep in mind because the Republicans lost so many seats in 2018, there are only so many vulnerable Republican seats left.  But I think the Pete Olson retirement is particularly notable.  He had a brutal election last time around.  He barely squeaked out a win against Sri Preston Kulkarni who he called a "Liberal Indo-American carpetbagger."  His opponent it plans to run against him again and is raising money to do so.  The district is located in the heart of Harris County which includes parts of the Houston suburbs that are part of the blue affectation of Texas.

So that retirement feels like a real weathervane.  As for the others maybe they know something we don`t know or maybe it has something to do with the man occupying the Oval Office.  Joining me now former Congressman Leonard Lance of New Jersey who was one of those 40 Republicans who lost their seats in 2018.  It`s great to have you here.  Great to have you back.

LEONARD LANCE (R), FORMER CONGRESSMAN:  Thank you for having me.

HAYES:  What do you think as someone who has sat in a position you had -- you were representing a district that I think Hillary Clinton had won, right?

LANCE:  Yes.

HAYES:  So you knew that you were going to have an uphill battle.  What do you -- what goes into the thinking you think of an incumbent member in a district like yours was or maybe like Olson`s in thinking about retirement?

LANCE:  There are several factors and of course one of the factors is whether or not you think your party is going to continue to hold the House.  The last time the House changed in a presidential election year, Chris, was 1952.

HAYES:  Right.  So the idea -- right, because we`ve seen these big swings in `94 midterms, we saw one in 2006 in midterm, we, of course, saw them in 2010, and in 2018, all midterms.  So you`re thinking part of it is it`s not fun to be in the minority and it`s not going to flip.

LANCE:  A couple of generations ago, Sophie Tucker has said, I`ve been rich and I`ve been poor, and it`s better to be rich.  I`ve been in the majority and I`ve been in the minority, and of course, it`s better to be in the majority.

HAYES:  How much of a difference is it?

LANCE:  When you`re in the majority, of course, it`s more likely that your bills will come out of committee and will reach the floor.  The House is a majoritarian institution.  In the Senate, it`s quite different and even senators in the minority have a good deal of power and that`s really not as effective a way in the House.

HAYES:  So do you read these -- what did you read on these?  I mean, someone like Martha Roby is not in what I think people think of as a particularly contested seat.  Well, Mike Conaway was in West Texas.  Those don`t seem like frontline districts.

LANCE:  Midland Texas is an extremely Republican seat.  Martha Roby, my friend, has young children, and this is also true of a younger child with Congressman Mitchell so I think there are personal reasons in some of the cases, and then in other cases, it might be based upon the political landscape.

HAYES:  How much -- and I would love you to answer this as honestly as you possibly can.  How much is it -- it`s the -- being the minority but also having to answer for the president all the time?

LANCE:  That very well may be part of it and certainly some of the moderates who may be retiring do not want to have to do that at least not 100 percent of the time.

HAYES:  Did you have that thought?  I mean, how was -- what has it been like to be on the outside looking into American politics and to the House during this year?  Do you think yourself like I wish I was there or do you think you say to yourself I`m glad I`m not?

LANCE:  I would had preferred to be there, obviously.  But I thought there was a good deal of courage by the close friends of mine who voted with the Democrats recently.  Susan Brooks who is retiring, for example, Fred Upton, these are persons who I think that did the right thing.

HAYES:  Voting on the Democrats -- with the Democrats on what?

LANCE:  I`m saying that the president was wrong on his tweet with the Squad.

HAYES:  What was your read on that?  Did you think that -- I thought of you because I`ve had you on the program before and you had to sort of walk a very fine line.  You`re Republican and the President is the head of the Republican Party.  You were representing a Hillary Clinton district.  You knew you were in a tough re-election battle.  You don`t have to walk any fine line anymore.  Like what -- did it strike you when you saw the president say they should go back to their countries and the crowd chanted "send her back."

LANCE:  I would have told the crowd please don`t do that, and the president should not have engaged in that tweet to begin with.

HAYES:  Do you think the president is racist?

LANCE:  I think he has instances where he has engaged in that type of behavior.  Do I think personally that he is a racist?  I do not but he certainly should do a much better job regarding tweets and he should have apologized for what he said because after all, these are representatives of their districts.  They are American citizens to the extending extent that you or I are American citizens and that was completely inappropriate.

HAYES:  How do you think these outbursts from the president attacking Elijah Cummings, talking about Baltimore, this language of infestation, saying that he hates white`s and cops, what do you think that does in the district that you represented?

LANCE:  It does not go over well and that is true across the board.  I think it`s true of Republicans, and Democrats, and Independents.  And we have to do a better job in inner cities and I would like to see more entrepreneurship but certainly, we shouldn`t disparage a whole congressional district.

HAYES:  All right, Leonard Lance, former Congressman from the state of New Jersey.  Great to have you come back again.  I appreciate it.

LANCE:  Thank you, Chris.

HAYES:  Next, President Trump`s war on the Intelligence Community continues as he staffed two crucial positions with less than qualified loyalists.  Former Obama Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes on what the president is up to next.


HAYES:  The President has been at war with the Intelligence Committee literate -- Community literally from day one.  Trump`s first speech after his inaugural was at the CIA, you might remember.  And they`re in front of the agency`s memorial to fallen agents, he lied about how many magazine covers he`d been on, he lied about the crowd size in his inauguration, and he lied about the weather.


TRUMP:  So a reporter for Time Magazine and I have been on their cover like 14 or 15 times.  I think we have the all-time record in the history of Time Magazine.  But we had a massive field of people.  You saw that.  I get up this morning, and I turn on one of the networks and they show an empty field.  I said, wait a minute.  I made a speech.  I looked out.  The field was -- it looked like a million, a million and a half people.

First line, I hit -- got hit by a couple of drops, and I said oh, this is - - this is too bad but we`ll go right through it.  But the truth is that it stopped immediately.  It was amazing.  And then it became really sunny.


HAYES:  It didn`t.  It rained entirely throughout his speech.  Of course, ten days prior to that, Trump had compared America`s intelligence agencies to Nazi Germany so maybe the performance at the CIA was an improvement.

Since then, the president has been doing everything in his power to kneecap and subvert the Intelligence Community often with the aid of surrogates like former House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes.

And now the President has two new opportunities to have his people playing crucial roles in America`s intelligence services.  The first you probably heard about that`s Texas Congressman John Ratcliffe who Trump announced as his pick for Director of National Intelligence way back three days ago.

It hasn`t gotten great sense as the New York Times reports aides the Congressmen were forced to clarify his claims that he had won terrorism convictions as a federal prosecutor as his background came under new scrutiny.  It turns out Ratcliffe never actually prosecuted a terrorism case.

And then there`s the other Trump loyalists who was promoted this week.  The Daily Beast reports former Congressional Staffer Kash Patel who helped write the Nunes memo attempting to undermine the FBI`s Russia investigation has now been promoted to the role of Senior Director of Counterterrorism, Directorate of the National Security Council.

That is right.  The guy who tried to end the Russia investigation is now in charge of counterterrorism at the NSC.  Joining me now for more on Trump`s war on the Intelligence Community Ben Rhodes, served as the Deputy National Security Adviser under President Obama, now an NBC News and MSNBC Political Contributor.

Ben, let`s start with Kash Patel at NSC.  I don`t know that position that well but it seems like a pretty big deal job for someone who has proven himself liable to sort of bend over backwards to pursue the president`s interests.

BEN RHODES, MSNBC POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR:  Yes, Chris, it`s an enormous job.  I was at the National Security Council for eight years.  The Senior Director for Counterterrorism is essentially the coordinating point for the entire government`s counterterrorism policy, so how are you coordinating the work of our diplomats with the work of the Intelligence Community, with the work of the military in the counter-ISIS campaign, and the effort against al-Qaeda.

This is a big, big job and Kash Patel has mainly distinguished himself as a partisan and conspiracy theorist to undermine the Russia investigation over the last several years.  I actually got caught up in this myself when I was brought in before the House Intelligence Committee where he was the counsel at the time charged with unmasking Trump officials and intelligence reports, revealing the identity of Trump officials and intelligence reports.

The facts were that I had revealed absolutely zero Trump officials in intelligence reports, but that did not stop Cash Patel and his boss Devin Nunes from pursuing this.

HAYES:  Ratcliff, to me, is an interesting case, because the nomination hasn`t been sent over yet.  Burr gave a real kind of shady statement about the guy.  And then the president said this about Ratcliff the other day, which I don`t think necessarily helps the case.  Take a listen.


TRUMP:  I think that John Ratcliffe is going to do an incredible job, if he gets approved.  He`s got to get approved.  But I think he`ll do a great job.  I hope gets approved. 

I think we need somebody like that, though, we need somebody strong that can really rein it in.  Because as I think as you have all learned, the intelligence agencies have run amok.  They have run amok.


HAYES:  Do you think Ratcliffe is going to get confirmed?

RHODES:  I think there are real problems with this, Chris, and I think there is a likelihood that he`ll get confirmed, but there is a possibility he won`t.

Look, the reality is the Director of National Intelligence, there are two things that are paramount here.  One is does this person have the qualification to run the sprawling nearly $100 billion enterprise of the U.S. intelligence community?  He has no qualifications to do that.  He is not familiar with the work of these agencies.  The statute creating the Director of National Intelligence says that the person must have experience in intelligence.  He does not.

HAYES:  Shall have -- let me just say, shall have extensive national security experience, if I`m  recalling this from memory, but I think that`s the phrase.

RHODES:  That`s exactly right.

And the other thing, Chris, is the politicization of intelligence.  You need that person to give you the facts.  We need that person to be dispassionate and not ideological.  That position, the DNI, was also created after the Iraq War intelligence failures in part for that reason.

And in Ratcliffe you have someone who has distinguished himself mainly by, again, trying to undermine the Mueller investigation.  Do we really think this person will give Trump and the nation the facts if Russia, or when Russia, is intervening in our election in 2020 or on Trump`s policies on Iran and North Korea?  I don`t think so.  That makes us less safe.

HAYES:  A final question, a move announced by the administration today about the foreign minister of Iran, Zarif, who folks probably know. We`ve seen him.  He`s given interviews.  He speaks fluent English.  He studied in the U.S.  They`re basically banning him from travel and sanctioning him individually, I believe, is the steps they`re taking.  What kind of message does that send?  What does that do to the current impasse with Iran?

RHODES:  Well, it`s a total incoherent step.  And there is no rationale for sanctioning Zarif really other than the fact that he happens to be the foreign minister from Iran.

The fact of the matter is the Trump administration has been engaged in a policy that has made a military conflict much more likely.  Trump blinked when he had the opportunity to take a strike and said he wanted to pursue diplomacy.  How can you pursue diplomacy if you`re sanctioning the foreign  minister of the country you want to engage with?

The other thing is Zarif deals a lot with our allies in Europe and with countries like Russia and China.  They`re important to addressing the Iran situation.  Those countries will not like this step.  And they will see it as very aggressive and frankly nearly unprecedented step in sanctioning the foreign minister of another country like this.  So it further isolates the United States from our allies as well as other major world powers and makes it less likely that Trump can get any diplomatic resolution to what`s going on with Iran.

HAYES:  All right.  Ben Rhodes, thank you very much.

RHODES:  Thanks, Chris.

HAYES:  Coming up, a special All In report on one of the central lies of the Trump presidency. Trymaine Lee has the story ahead.

Plus, tonight`s Thing One, Thing Two starts next.


HAYES:  Thing One tonight.  If there is one thing we know about Donald T, it`s that he is a big liar.  The Washington Post tally of his false and misleading claims is approaching 11,000 since he became president, Hall of Fame numbers, really.  Not that Trump reads The Washington Post, because if there is another thing we know, it`s that Donald Trump is not much of a reader.

We know he prefers his briefings in bullets, or as little as possible.  The New York Times reported that national security council members had been told to keep papers to a single page with lots of graphics and maps. 

And so when the president gave this interview yesterday, we had to wonder, is he a reader or a  liar?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  As you approach this job in a day in the presidency here in the White House, walk us through that day.

TRUMP:  Well, I stay up late.  I like to read a lot, which is people don`t understand that, but I do read a lot.


HAYES:  You can make the call on whether you believe that or not.

There is one thing we know he is not reading about, and that is American history, and that`s Thing Two in 60 seconds. 


HAYES:  As we`ve laid out here time and time again, Donald Trump is a very specific strategy when he flubs a word in the teleprompter, something we all do from time to time, he likes to pretend that he meant to do it.


TRUMP:  They sacrificed every day for the furniture and future of their children.

Authority and authoritarian powers.

Through their lives and though their lives were cut short.

Our hope is a word and world of proud independent nations.

What standard, and really, if you think of it, when you talk about the great sailers (ph) and the great sailors of the world, we have them.  But what stranded sailor doesn`t feel relief.


HAYES:  That gets me ever time.  But yesterday during a speech to mark the 400th anniversary of the first representative assembly in Jamestown, Virginia, we witnessed an entirely new phenomenon.  It came as Trump clearly first learned about the Virginia lawmaker George Wythe.  He was one of the first Virginians to sign the Declaration of Independence.  And although  his name is spelled W-Y-T-H-E, it is pronounced with.

In Trump`s teleprompter, his speech writers clearly had employed a tactic that we use here all the time, they spelled the name phonetically so that when the president started naming these legendary lawmakers and got to George Wythe, he would pronounce it correctly.  And on that point accomplished.


TRUMP:  Right here in Virginia, your predecessors came to Williamsburg from places you all know very well.  They were named such as George Washington from Fairfax County, Thomas Jefferson from Albemarle County, James Madison from Orange County, James Monroe from Spotsylvania County, Patrick Henry from Louisa County, George Mason from Fairfax County, George Wythe -- W-I-T-H.  It`s a great name.




TRUMP:  We`re going to put the miners back to work.  The miners go back to work.


HAYES:  Donald Trump has repeatedly promised he would bring back coal jobs across the country, a promise that was obviously impossible from the start.  Instead, here`s what`s happened: the coal industry has seen a rash of mines going out of business as coal use has declined nationally in favor of cleaner, less carbon emitting and also cheaper forms of energy.

Mines are sold repeatedly from one company to another, passing off their debts and obligations, running operations into the ground and then leaving miners out of work.  And right now, miners once against find themselves out of a job, this time in Virginia, West Virginia, Kentucky, and Wyoming.  Ad company called Blackjewel, the country`s sixth largest coal producer, filed for bankruptcy earlier this month, leaving most of the company`s 1,700 people out of work, including 600 in the tiny coal dependent city of Gillette (ph), Wyoming.

Trymaine Lee has their story.


TRYMAINE LEE, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT:  There has been coal mining in the Powder River basin of Northeast Wyoming for over 100 years, but in the 1970s, the industry suddenly boomed thanks to one of the most sweeping environmental laws in the country.

RICHARD NIXON, 37TH PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  A goal of clean air, clean water, and open spaces for the future generations of America.

LEE:  The passage of the Clean Air Act in 1970 was intended to stop acid rain.  It called for wider use of low sulfur coal, like the kind found in Wyoming.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Here in Wyoming`s Powder River Basin, this one seam contains over 19 billion tons of coal.

LEE:  The mines started generating billions of dollars in coal revenue per year, and the population of the region`s largest city, Gillette, grew tenfold.  But for the last decade, coal mining in Wyoming and across the country has been on the decline as natural gas and renewable energy sources rise.

The coal industry was dying and then came Donald Trump.

TRUMP:  The mines are a big deal.  I`ve had support from some of you folks right from the very beginning, and I won`t forget it.

LEE:  He gutted environmental regulations and promised to save the mines and save jobs.

But in the Powder River Basin in Wyoming, just days before the Fourth of July, 600 miners in Gillette suddenly found themselves out of works as two mines shuttered their gate for the first time in their nearly 50-year history.

LYNNE HUSKINSON, COAL MINER:  And they`ve never shut the mines down.

LEE:  And this is the first time they actually just shut the mine down?

HUSKINSON:  Yeah, it`s unprecedented.  This has just never happened.

LEE:  How long have you been in the coal business?

HUSKINSON:  I started in December of 1979.

For me, this is the first time unemployment.  So I`m in a better position than some of these people that, you know, they need their paycheck.  I`ve talked to several people that need a paycheck yesterday.

LEE:  What kind of chaos has this thrown into the lives of coal miners such as yourself?

SAMANTHA WALDNER, COAL MINER:  Not being able to pay bills, not knowing how we`re going to pay bills, not knowing how we`re going get jobs, what to expect.

LEE:  There are only 30,000 people living in Gillette.  The loss of 600 jobs is devastating.

WALDNER:  It`s just a mess, a mess of people, families broken, house is not going to be paid for.  There is going to be foreclosures.  It`s awful.  It`s hard.

RORY WALLETT, COAL MINER:  Corporate giants take advantage of their workers.  It happens all too often, and it`s horribly sad, it`s horribly disheartening.

LEE:  The company that owned the mine since 2017, Blackjewel, went bankrupt, leaving miners jobless, a pattern that has been repeated again and again.

Blackjewel and its CEO Jeff Hoops declined to comment for this report.

SHANNON ANDERSON,  POWDER RIVER BASIN RESOURCE COUNCIL:  There has been six coal mine bankruptcies in Wyoming since 2015, so this is the sixth of those bankruptcies.  Unfortunately, it was also precipitated by severe financial mismanagement by the owner, Jeff Hoops.

LEE:  How did Jeff Hoops come to become this villain on the tip of everyone`s tongue?

BOB LERESCHE, POWDER RIVER BASIN RESOURCE COUNCIL:  Well, he didn`t cause this, he took advantage of it.  He came to a disabled industry, bought it up cheap.  But it`s basically the bankruptcy laws.  And when markets change, the bankruptcy laws wiping out all these debts make it possible for these vulture capitalists to take control of huge assets, which otherwise would have no chance of getting.

LEE:  Then who is to blame?  I mean, because there are folks losing their job and they say it`s because there is a war on coal.  But who the should they blame or what should they blame?

LERESCHE:  They should be blaming the market, and the evolution of things.  I mean, people used to make buggy whips and they don`t have a job anymore.  Things change.  Gas is cheaper, solar energy is cheaper, wind mills are cheaper.  That`s what happened.  It wasn`t anybody, it was the market.

LEE:  For the hundreds of miners now left behind in Gillette, not the dying goal industry nor the vulture capitalists circling the remains nor the president using them as a campaign prop saved their  jobs.

WALDNER:  I think everybody knows that there is going to be a change and that coal is never going to come back to where it was.

WALLETT:  There is going to be some of us that hang around with coal because it is in our blood.  We see that it`s a viable product.  We see it`s been put there, not to get religious, but a lot of  us feel it`s been put there by god for us to use.

HUSKINSON:  There will be some coal jobs, and maybe they can find a way to use it.  But as it is right now, it`s not helping the predicament we`re already in as far as the climate.

LEE:  When you here politicians from President Trump down, talking about saving coal mining, coal miners, is it patronizing?

HUSKINSON:  Baloney, it`s baloney.

LEE:  Do you think that as Americans we need to shift to different forms of energy and not rely on...

HUSKINSON:  Let`s just say that I signed up for a wind technician job.

LEE:  So, you`re already there?

HUSKINSON:  Oh, yeah.


HAYES:  That was yet another fantastic report from Trymaine Lee.

There is a potential buyer for the Wyoming mines, it`s a company that owned them previously, but the fate of the miners still remains unsettled.

Coming up, shocking new court documents shows the Trump administration is still separating families at the border defying a court order.  ACLU`s Lee Gelernt joins me next.


HAYES:  For the past year we have been told by this administration and the president himself that family separation is over, that he, in fact, ended it.  Well, we learned last night, thanks to the ACLU, that that is not at all the case.  Family separation is not only still happening, it is widespread and systematic.

According to new court documents filed by the ACLU, from June 28 of 2018 through June 29 of 2019, the government separated more than 900 children from their families, including numerous babies and toddlers.

The documents showed the government continued to take children from their family members using criminal history, no matter how minor, or unilateral judgments that a parent is unfit as their stated cause.

The Trump administration continued to do this for over a year after the president signed an executive order saying that he ended family separations.  From the filing, quote, "one parent was separated from their child based on a 27-year-old drug possession conviction.  Another father was separated from his three young daughters because he has HIV. One mother had her child effectively kidnapped while she was in the hospital" -- listen to this -- "she broke her leg at the border and was briefly hospitalized for emergency surgery.  While she was in surgery, her 5-year- old child was separated from her and taken to a facility in New York, which then refused to release the child to her  mother," because she broke her leg.

Another father was declared to be an unfit parent for allowing his sick child to sleep in his arms mother, quoting here again, "one day while the child was sleeping in her father`s arms she wet her diaper.  Because the child was still recovering from illness, her father wanted to let her sleep instead of waking her to change her diaper.  A female guard criticized him for not changing the diaper and called him a bad father.  The guard then separated the father and his infant."

So how is the administration getting away with this over a year after she said they stopped?  Joining me now to answer that question, Lee Gelernt, deputy director of the ACLU`s immigrant rights project.  His latest filing is the reason we know about what the government is doing.

900 children taken from their parents.


HAYES:  How are they doing this?  How can they get away with this?

GELERNT:  Well, we hope that they will not get away with it now that we`re gone to court.  We have the evidence.  We`ve put it before the court.  And we hope they won`t get away with it any more.

What they said was, well, we`re just separating when the parent is a danger to the child and that`s what they were telling congress, that`s what they were telling everyone.  We then get the documents.  We then go out in the field to investigate and talk to NGOs, turns out that the narrow  exception the judge laid down when the parent is genuinely a danger to the child, they`re driving a truck through that. -- traffic violations, disorderly conduct.  One case it says theft for $5, and then they`re declaring the parent too dangerous to be with the child.

They`re basically doing family separation under the pretext, oh, we`re going to protect the kid  from these dangerous parents.

HAYES:  So my understanding is there are about 2,700 kids in that first class.

GELERNT:  Right, right.

HAYES:  And the number that had been separated for these sort of -- the stated reason of danger or criminality was like 29, is that right, something like that?

GELERNT:  Originally.

HAYES:  Originally, right?

GELERNT:  Right.

HAYES:  So it was -- so at the time a fairly narrow group of people.

GELERNT:  Exactly.

HAYES:  My understanding from your filing is that because the court said, OK, that`s a different group and they don`t apply, they then saw that as license to use that as essentially a pretext to then start separating children again.

GELERNT:  That`s exactly right.  They took advantage of the judge saying, here`s a narrow  exception.  And we urged the judge to have that narrow exception.

HAYES:  Right, there are some cases...

GELERNT:  Of course.

HAYES:  ...where they would be a danger to the child.

GELERNT:  If you see the child being abused, we want the child -- so, the judge laid down the narrow exception and said, OK, I`m glad that there are so few kids.  Then we turn our back and now  there`s 900 kids, 185 of them are under 5- years-0old, for the most minor -- sometimes it`s just an allegation, sometimes you have law enforcement, as you pointed out, saying you`re a bad father because you should have woke the kid to change the diaper.

I mean, these are law enforcement agents acting as if they are experts on parents, making unilateral decisions, ripping children away from their parents.  Shocking.

HAYES:  I mean, unreviewable for the parent that this happens to.  For the mother who wakes up from getting her broken leg fixed, like she can`t do anything.

GELERNT:  Right.

So one of the things we`re going to be saying to the court is you need to reinforce the standard you set forth and we need a process for pushing back.

We`ve said if there are going to be further disputes, we want a child expert resolving those disputes or maybe a court monitor.  Hopefully there won`t be these...

HAYES:  They -- I mean, this is really -- they lied about it when they were doing it the first time around, right.  They said they weren`t doing it.  Kirstjen Nielsen got up and she lied to the American public and she lied to congress and the president lied.  And then they got sued by you.  And the judge said, stop doing this.

GELERNT:  Right.

HAYES:  And then the president has turned around and lied, and said, no, no, I stopped it.  Obama started it, I stopped it, a complete utterly Orwellian gaslighting lie.

GELERNT:  Right.

HAYES:  And what you`re telling me right now is after all this, after they lied about doing it, after they were ordered by a judge to stop doing it, and after they lied about stopping it, they have started doing it again under these sort of pretexts.

GELERNT:  Yeah, this is as shocking a moment in this whole saga as we`ve seen and we really need the public outcry that we saw last summer.  We need that public outcry.  It can`t just be in the courts.  The public needs to say enough is enough.  And it`s our job to make sure these facts keep getting out there.

HAYES:  Is it your understanding that this is -- that, you know, we found the memo, Jeff Merkley got that memo about child separation.  Is it -- you can`t know this, I think, at this point in terms of where you are in the litigation process.  Do you think this is ad hoc kind of cruelty or ad hoc decisions being made at a local level?  Or do you think there is something again systematic, something being pushed down as policy like there was with the 2,700?

GELERNT:  I think it`s coming from the top, because what we`ve now clarified with the government -- because the judge said try and resolve this without court papers, is the government`s view is they can separate for any criminal violation no matter how minor.  So obviously a directive was going out... HAYES:  Use this -- use the loophole.

GELERNT:  Exactly.

HAYES:  Lee Gelernt, thank you for what you`re doing.

GELERNT:  Thank you for having me.

HAYES:  That is ALL IN for this evening.  MSNBC`s special coverage of decision 2020 continues now with Ari Melber. 

Good evening, Ari.