Bernie Sanders unveils $16.3 trillion climate plan. TRANSCRIPT: 8/22/19, All In w/ Chris Hayes.

Guests: Bernie Sanders, Moira Birrs, Paola Ramos, Jelani Cobb, LindaChavez, Ben Howe, Devlin Barrett

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST:  And that`s why he`s so crotchety.  When you can`t take it out on the world, just be miserable around the house, and that`s what Trump has been doing.  And unfortunately for him, looking like he`s doing it.

And that`s HARDBALL for now.  Thanks for being with us.  "ALL IN" with Chris Hayes, live show right now.

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CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST:  Tonight on ALL IN.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I`m not going to be able to stay here longer.  This fire is spreading.

HAYES:  As the catastrophic fires in the Amazon burn, the unmistakable political routes of the world climate crisis.  And my interview with the latest candidate to unveil a climate plan, Senator Bernie Sanders.  Then, now the ragtag Republican plan to primary Trump is getting more serious.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  This is the time where somebody`s got to be brave.

HAYES:  Why the shrinking field for Democrats could be a good thing.

JOHN HICKENLOOPER (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  I`m John Hickenlooper candidate the United States Senate.

HAYES:  And new scrutiny for Donald Trump`s attorney general as we learn more from the Jeffrey Epstein investigation.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  That I think he made a rational calculated decision.

HAYES:  When ALL IN starts right now.

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HAYES:  Good evening from New York I`m Chris Hayes.  This year has been the year in which the climate crisis has made itself the most ferociously known.  Of course, that was true last year and the year before that and 2020 will almost certainly be worse.  But this year we`ve already showed you this footage of Greenland melting in front of our eyes.  We`ve shown you the fires in Siberia in the Arctic where the underlying peat is burning, and these are the images that are capturing people`s imagination right now rightly.

Much of the Amazon is on fire.  Here is the smoke hovering over Brazil`s largest city Sao Paulo which is 2,000 miles from any of the fires.  Your satellite images of the fires themselves.  I have to say I almost didn`t want to put this on television because I find it so paralyzingly terrible, it gives me the same feeling in the pit of my gut when I`m watching the Chernobyl miniseries.

The reason why this is so particularly horrifying these images you`re seeing in the Amazon is that not only is the fires releasing carbon in the atmosphere, they`re getting rid of what people have called the lungs of the planet.  The single biggest repository of natural life that takes carbon out of the air that does the thing we need more of is the Amazon.

It`s home to at least ten percent of the world`s entire biodiversity and we need it.  We`ve always needed the Amazon but at no time did we need the Amazon more than the period now where we need to be taking carbon out of the air.  And instead what you`re watching on your screen is the machinery for taking carbon out of the air being turned into carbon and put into the air.

It`s as bad as it gets.  The important thing to understand and the reason that we`re showing you these images, the ones you`re seeing on your screen is that this is not just some natural thing that just happens.  It is in many ways the product of politics, of right-wing politics, of a right-wing movement dedicated to climate denialism and climate destruction just like the right-wing movement we have right here in the U.S.

In Brazil, this guy Donald Trump`s buddy Jair Bolsonaro is the president.  He is a man who critics have called a fascist, a man has joked about he would not deign to rape an opposition member of parliament because she is "not worthy of it," who`s thrown around all sorts of anti-gay slurs, who`s praised Brazil`s history of military dictatorships, who`s threatened the revocation of civil liberties and who ran explicitly on a platform of no more of these namby-pamby environmental regulations.

Open up the Amazon, let the agro-industry of Brazil get into the Amazon and start cutting.  This is what he had to say about Brazil`s part of the Amazon.  "Brazil is a virgin that every pervert from the outside wants."  Implying Brazilians should cut it down before others have the chance.

He actually fired the head of the agency that tracks deforestation.  He disputed the data from that agency that shows the rise in deforestation in his own administration since coming to the office and he has delivered on his promise.  He has opened up the Amazon.  The images you see in your screen are partly a result of that.  Huge swathes of the Amazon are on fire.

All of which is to say what is producing the fires is politics, what is producing the climate crisis is politics, and what will produce the solution to the climate crisis is also politics.  Which brings us to our own country, we have our own right-wing movement of denialism that has done everything in its power to make the climate crisis worse.

And unfortunately, only one of the two parties really in this country has committed and now with increasing boldness and vision and urgency to solutions on the scale necessary to reverse the crisis.  Yesterday, climate focus candidate Jay Inslee dropped out of the presidential race although in some ways he was I think the victim of his own success.

He put out a plan which Greenpeace is called the gold standard for dealing with a crime and emergency but partly because I think of his presence many of the other Democratic candidates for president have produced really quite ambitious climate plans like Beto O`Rourke, and Senator Elizabeth Warren, even the front-runner Joe Biden.

And today, Senator Bernie Sanders unveiled a plan of his own, a Green New Deal, a $16 trillion plan on how to fight climate change.  Joining me now Democratic presidential candidate Senator Bernie Sanders, Independent from Vermont.

Senator, it`s a long plan.  It`s like -- you know, it`s pages and pages and I read it today, and the biggest thing I was taken by is the sheer ambition.  It is enormous in scope for what it imagines.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (D-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  Well, Chris, this is the way I look at it.  You can approach climate change the way Donald Trump does, call it a hoax, deny the reality, and that is obviously an incredible danger for the planet.  Or you could say well you know, climate change is real but we can`t do all that much, we can`t really disrupt the economy, we can`t do that, we can`t do that, we got to look at it from a political point of view.

Or the third approach which I have tried to take you, is to say look, the scientific community tells us we have a handful of years in which we must act boldly and transformatively to move away from fossil fuel to energy efficiency and sustainable energy or else the planet we will be leaving for our children and future generations will be a planet that is increasingly unhealthy and uninhabitable.

Man, I just came from Paradise, California, and you remember the tragedy there, unbelievable, unbelievable.  It looked like a bomb we`ve dropped in that community.  So if we believe, Chris, that climate change is real.  If we believe what the scientists are telling us, we have got to be bold, we have got to be comprehensive, we have got to be aggressive.  That is what that plan is about.

HAYES:  There`s -- I want to talk about one part of the plan that I find fascinating which is about how power is generated and distributed.  You talk about there`s public -- there`s some federal public administration of power in this country based on the Tennessee Valley Authority and others, and basically, you propose essentially a federal takeover of the whole thing that essentially a Tennessee Valley Authority extension for the whole country, right?  Am I -- am I understanding that correctly?

SANDERS:  Yes, that`s -- you`re in the ball park.  That`s right.  Look. the TVA has done a lot of good work.  It produces electricity from hydropower and other sources.  What we need to do is have an aggressive federal government saying that we are going to produce a massive amount of electricity from solar and from wind and from other sustainable energies and we will sell it out.  And by the way, we`re going to make money doing that.

But you can`t you nibble around the edges anymore.  We need to transform our energy system.  That means a massive increase in sustainable energy.

HAYES:  So I think people that watch the program know that I am not exactly a deficit hawk.  I`m not -- you know, I think that America is a very wealthy country.  It can afford a lot of big investments, but this is really large.

I mean, the amount of money we`re talking about you`re talking about in the plan replacing every old diesel school bus which is a really good idea from a climate perspective replacing old mobile homes in the country, right.  It`s big and comprehensive.  When people say to you how do you pay for it, is this a thing that America can afford, you say what?

SANDERS:  Well, the first thing is we cannot not afford it.  I mean, we are playing for the future of the planet so we have got to do it.  And second of all, we pay for this in a number of ways.  And one of the ways we pay for it is as you have just described, a massive federal project that produces sustainable energy, it`s going to make money as well.

Furthermore, we do away with the tax breaks and the subsidies that the fossil fuel industry now receives which in fact is massive.  Thirdly, we create 20 million new jobs as we transform our energy system and improve our infrastructure, and those are going to be good-paying union jobs, and those folks are going to be paying taxes fourthly for a variety of reasons.  We`ve got to cut military spending.

Fifthly, we do away with Trump`s huge tax breaks for the rich.  And six, we have a progressive tax system which demands large corporations and the rich start their fair share of taxes.

HAYES:  So on the on the job creation, that $20 million -- the 20 million job number jumped out at me and at first I thought, well this is implausible just even within the plan.  But the plan, when you`re talking about like replacing every diesel school bus in America which is what the plan calls for, that`s a lot of jobs.  What is your -- to me there`s a -- there`s a mismatch between the promises and the reality that makes these things hard, right?

There are coal workers right now out of work in Wyoming.  There are co- workers who are stationed I think in Harlan County, Kentucky not getting their pensions, not letting those that coal move because they`ve been screwed time and time again.  What do you say to them when they say, why should I believe that the promise you`re making can be a reality?

SANDERS:  Well, one of the things that we do -- and we put many, many tens of billions of dollars into a just transition program which says to those coal miners and the men and women to work on the oil rigs, you are not our enemy.  You`re working to feed your family.  I am perhaps the strongest pro-union, pro-work member of the Congress.  Those people are not my enemy.  What is my enemy is climate change.

And we have a very, very strong approach to make sure that those workers get trained for new jobs, they get the health care that they need, they get the educational opportunities that they need.  But the bottom line of all of this, Chris, is either we believe in what the scientists are telling us or we do not.

And if we believe what they are telling us, is that we got fewer than 12 years in order to transform our energy system or else there will be irreparable damage done to our country and the planet.  Well, if that is the reality, I happen to believe the scientists, then we have to act comprehensively.

The last point that I want to make on this, Chris.  This is not just an American issue.  And what is so very dangerous about Trump is that we need a president who is leading the world.  That`s hard.  That is really hard.  If you think what I`m talking about for our country is difficult, try getting Russia, and China, and India, all these other countries about and what I have been saying, and I know that this is not going to happen, some are, but maybe just maybe in the midst of this crisis, maybe the countries of the world wake up and understand that instead of spending $1.5 trillion every year on weapons of destruction designed to kill each other, maybe we pool our resource together and we combat our common enemy which is climate change.

HAYES:  You know, you raise the international stakes and, of course, the U.S. is somewhere around 30 percent of world emissions.  Even if we do everything right and China and India emits and as Africa develops, right, and it begins emitting more, we`re all in a lot of trouble.

 I want to ask this question because you give a speech once about the rise of the sort of the far populous right across the world.  And I think Bolsonaro in Brazil is an example of that.  Do you see a connection essentially between that movement and the climate battle like we are seeing play out in Brazil?

SANDERS:  I do.  I mean, I think you have right-wing extremists like Bolsonaro and like Trump who are appealing to working-class people and say see all these wealthy environmentalists, they don`t care about you.  They`re talking about some nonsense which isn`t applicable to your lives.

And that is why we need a kind of movement that brings working-class people into it and says we are on your side.  And your kids and your grandchildren are going to need a planet which is habitable and healthy but you are not going to be punished for what the fossil fuel industry is doing.  We`re going to protect your jobs.

HAYES:  All right, Senator Bernie Sanders, it`s a really interesting plan.  It is really ambitious in scope.  And folks, definitely check it out.  It`s on the Web site.  Thank you very much.

SANDERS:  Thank you, Chris.

HAYES:  For more on what is actually happening the Amazon, I`m joined by Moira Birss.  She`s a Finance Campaign Director for Amazon Watch which is an advocacy group trying to protect the rainforest.  Let me start with just the sort of top-line as a group that works to protect the Amazon of why are these fires happening?  Why is it so bad this year?

MOIRA BIRSS, FINANCE CAMPAIGN DIRECTOR, AMAZON WATCH:  Well, first of all, thanks so much for having me and for bringing this really important issue to your audience`s attention.  These fires actually appear to have been started by farmers who farm in areas of previously deforested Amazon.

They apparently started these fires both to clear more land for agribusiness but also as a sort of omage or a signal to Bolsonaro that they were hearing his calls to open the Amazon for business, that they were hearing his calls that the Amazon should be raised for profit-making, and so they were answering his call.

HAYES:  Wait, so this -- I mean, the year over your data is crazy on this, right?  This is a huge increase your year.  So what you`re saying is like this is -- this is the policy playing out.  These are people taking the signal from Bolsonaro and setting the fires themselves to clear land.  That is -- is there -- there`s evidence of that?

BIRSS:  Yes.  So several Brazilian news outlets have went to this region and interviewed these farmers and they`re quoted as saying that they did this to clear land for agribusiness and inspired by Bolsonaro and his rhetoric.

HAYES:  How -- what are the stakes here?  For folks that are watching this, I think everyone viscerally is horrified.  I think we all grew up hearing about the Amazon and deforestation.  The first time I was in the Amazon and I saw a part that had been deforested and chopped down, I was like sort of blown away.  What is -- what -- how important is this from a climate perspective?

BIRSS:  This is extremely important from a climate perspective.  You referenced in your opening remarks the ways that rainforests, really dense tropical rainforest like the Amazon serve to climate protection purposes.  They both absorb carbon when they are standing.

And so the destruction whether by logging or fires eliminates that possibility of their carbon absorption.  But also when they`re cut down or burned, they release more carbon dioxide, all that carbon dioxide that they`ve been storing, they release that into the atmosphere so it`s a double whammy for the climate.

HAYES:  There`s been a 77 percent increase from the same period in 2018, almost 40,000 fires.  Two things from the president of Brazil.  Bolsonaro has blamed the NGOs -- and he hasn`t specified which but I imagine perhaps Amazon Watch is one of them for what`s happening. Do you have a response to that?

BIRSS:  Well, as I said earlier, there`s a clear admission from Bolsonaro supporters that they`re the ones that started this.  And I think it`s really indicative of the kind of rhetoric that Bolsonaro uses.  He himself has from the day one of his campaign made clear that he wants to see the Amazon burned down or torn down and opened up for mining and agribusiness.  And so it`s really just preposterous and as you mentioned earlier, reminiscent of the kinds of flip-flopping that President Trump uses to hide the ridiculous remarks that he makes.

HAYES:  Are there things -- final question.  Are there things the international community or people that are watching this right now and feeling that feeling of sort of like impotent sorrow can do?

BIRSS:  Yes, definitely.  And I really recognize that feeling of impotence.  I`m feeling it myself and our office has been flooded with phone calls and emails of people wanting to help and wanting to jump in airplanes and help put out the fires, and that`s a really admirable and understandable feeling.

Unfortunately those of us here in the States and around the world, regular citizens or small NGOs like Amazon Watch, we can`t go hop in a plane and put out fires both logistically but also because that`s the responsibility of the Brazilian government.  But there is a lot that we can do.

The Bolsonaro administration right now has more or less carte blanche to continue with these policies of rolling back protections on the rainforests because agribusiness industry and its financiers are continuing to buy and continue to invest in Amazon agribusiness and mining.

Amazon Watch did research just to the spring that traced those supply chains and traced the financial flows into the agribusiness industry in the Brazilian Amazon and we need to be holding those companies accountable.

HAYES:  Amazon Watch is the organization where you can find that information.  Moira Birss, thank you very much.

BIRSS:  Thank you.

HAYES:  Next, is the Democratic field about to be cut in half?  What we know about the candidate movement as the third debate approaches in two minutes.

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HAYES:  You`re six days away from the qualifying deadline for the next Democratic debate in September.  So far, only ten candidates have made the cut, although there are a whole bunch approaching the threshold.  Probably not coincidentally in just the last week, two candidates were probably not going to make the debate stage have dropped out of the race entirely.

Last night, Washington Governor Jay Inslee, you might have seen, told my colleague Rachel Maddow that he`s officially out of the race.  Today he announced he would be seeking a third term as a Governor of Washington.  Also today, former Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper who dropped out of the presidential race last week announced a Senate run.

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HICKENLOOPER:  I`ve always said Washington was a lousy place for a guy like me who wants to get things done, but this is no time to walk away from the table.  I know changing Washington is hard but I want to give it a shot.  I`m John Hickenlooper, candidate for the United States Senate.

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HAYES:  That`s a very good shot although I wonder how many takes it took.  Hickenlooper`s entrance is bad news for the incumbent Republican Cory Gardner who is polling ten points behind a generic Democrat right now.  And with Hickenlooper and Inslee gone from the Democratic presidential field, it leaves just 22 candidates vying for the Democratic nomination.

The question though is how long is the field going to stay that big.  To help me answer the question, I`m joined by Paola Ramos Host of Vice`s Latin X Series, former staffer for Hillary Clinton`s 2016 Presidential Campaign, and Jelani Cobb Staff Writer at the New Yorker, Professor of Journalism at Columbia University.

I think the Hickenlooper news is significant because many people have been jumping up and down and pointing at Senate races with -- to some of the candidates being like maybe you should do this and that`s what he did.

PAOLA RAMOS, FORMER STAFFER FOR HILLARY CLINTON`S 2016 PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN:  Yes, it is significant.  It is narrowing down.  But I also think that there`s something else that is happening which is that people are widening and redefining what electability means, right?

So it used to be the case that we thought that electability meant that it was just about beating Donald Trump, but now it`s turning into something else which is why the race will continue to be this massive fight because it`s about who can win and who can beat Donald Trump the right way which is what I think we`re going to see in the debate.  The right way meaning who is centering marginalized communities at the center of the conversation.

HAYES:  Well, so what you`re saying is that you think -- I mean, that to me implies, right, that there`s a thinking among Democrats that like more than one candidate can beat Donald Trump.  You think that`s the case?

RAMOS:  I do think.  And I think that`s --

HAYES:  You think that`s what Democrats think?

RAMOS:  I think that`s what people think which I think that`s the important thing.  I don`t -- I don`t know if Democrats are thinking about that.  I know what people are thinking in the streets.  I know how young people are thinking.  And the thinking is that we want someone that not only uses Latinos and black people and women as pawns to beat Donald Trump, we want someone that uses us and that inserts us in the future of this country and that`s the difference.

And that`s why I think as you just talked to Senator Sanders, like she is talking about people of color when he rolls out climate change.  There`s a difference.

HAYES:  You know, it`s striking -- it`s striking to me that in the number of candidates, we still have 22, there`s going to be this sharp drop-off as we go into this third debate.  And I think that like there`s a little bit of this electability the proof is in the pudding, right, where it`s hard to make the argument you could beat Donald Trump if you`ve gotten, gotten traction in the race so far.

JELANI COBB, STAFF WRITER, NEW YORKER:  Right, and I mean think about this.  We have this point of like replication point where people are like oh we have -- I`m the moderate.  I can beat Donald Trump because I`m a moderate.  Well, I`m more moderate than that moderate.  And people are trying to out moderate -- it becomes like --

HAYES:  John Delaney, John Hickenlooper --

COBB:  It`s exactly the kind of nice Anglo-Saxon surname, I mean first name insert last name here and it becomes almost like a kind of elevator music version of American politics like -- and none of that has caught on.  I also think if we look back to 2016, there`s a reason why Bernie Sanders did so much better than Martin O`Malley did.

You know, when there was a clear distinct difference in what Bernie Sanders was saying versus what Hillary Clinton was saying and people understood that there were these distinctions.  In a field of 24 people now 22 people, you`re necessarily going to have some kinds of replication --

HAYES:  Yes, you have to distinguish.

COBB:  And that`s also why I think there are so many people who are in that one percent, two percent kind of point which just spread out in that -- in that rank.

RAMOS:  Yes.  And we`re talking about 2016.  I`m talking and I think immediately about the less than 50 percent of Latinos that did not vote, right.  When they were given the option, when they were given two ideas and we presented to them the image --

HAYES:  You`re saying the general election.

RAMOS:  In the general election, but still these are people that are in Nevada, that are in Texas, they`re in California.  These are the real voters.  When we gave them that option, 50 percent of them did not show up.  So that`s why we need --

HAYES:  You`re thinking about passion and enthusiasm --

RAMOS:  Passion, but also -- but a genuine vision of where they see themselves not just as immigrants but as part of all of these candidates plans, and that I think is very important that we`re underestimating.

HAYES:  You know, there`s -- the Biden campaign put out there sort of a big electability argument and it is striking.  When you look at -- I mean, really it is the case right now that there`s three people who are polling at above say 15 percent which is Joe Biden in the lead and then usually sometimes not always Sanders in second and Warren and close, right.  So -- and then there`s everyone else.

I mean, then there`s Harris and Buttigieg and they have respectable numbers, and then you`re down to like the sort of two percent, right.  So there`s a huge field of the bottom which I think is going to get sheared off.

But it is true that when you look at those three, it`s like Joe Biden`s like I`m Joe Biden and I work with Barack Obama.  You know who I am.

COBB:  Right.

HAYES:  And then there`s Sanders and Warren who are also quite distinct in their pitches and you -- I don`t think they -- the rest at the bottom are going to last long.

COBB:  No, they won`t.

HAYES:  I mean, it`s going to winnow.

COBB:  I`ll tell you -- I`ll tell you this, though.  Here`s the thing that scares me.  We had this conversation four years ago and when we talked about Hillary Clinton and she had a -- she was a known quantity.  They either loved her or hated her and as it turned out, there were people who - - a lot more people who hated her than maybe we even thought.

And so when we look at Joe Biden, he has that long track record.  And when you look at politicians who have that much time in Washington, it is easy for them to get whipsawed by changing values.  We`re having a conversation a few weeks ago about busing.

HAYES:  Right.

COBB:  Busing, and you`re having to explain that.  And so I worry that in a general election, there can be that kind of whiplash where you always bring up a kind of --

HAYES:  Although I will say this about Joe Biden.  I mean, it`s early but like there`s been a lot of news cycles that maybe the Biden team isn`t psyched about that have been critical and he -- Joe Biden is still there at the top of the field.  Like it is -- it is -- there is a constituency for Joe Biden that is powerful and strong.

And I think what they see and what they have really leaned into and I think in sort of fascinating way is like I`m the Obama Vice President and I have a long record and like you know who I am and that`s -- and I think that when you talk about like a clarity of message, they now have a very clear message I think.

COBB:  Sure.

HAYES:  Like it is a distinguished and clear message they have.

COBB:  And that smaller field that I think that becomes trickier though.

HAYES:  Well, that`s --

COBB:  In a kind of smaller field, it`s easy to distinguish yourself against him.

HAYES:  That`s why to me the September debates where we`re sort of maybe down to everyone on the same stage is like sort of the end of act one.  I`m starting to get an act two where you can start to have these conversations that are more than this weird sort of long-tail conversation.  We`ve had Paola Ramos and Jelani Cobb.  Thank you both for joining us.

Next, the lingering questions in the death of Jeffrey Epstein.  The updated will, the new subpoenas, and who knew what after this.

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HAYES:  Convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein was found dead in his federal jail cell nearly two weeks ago, and we still do not have a good picture of what exactly happened.  We do know that Epstein signed a new will two days before his death, according to the New York Post, putting an estate worth more than half a billion dollars into a trust, which almost certainly will make it harder for his victims to sue for damages.

We also know the Department of Justice was in charge of keeping him alive.  And the man in charge of that, Attorney General William Barr, said he`s angry about Epstein`s death.  He just removed the acting director of the Federal Bureau of Prisons.

Both the DOJ and the FBI are investigating Epstein`s death, but there are jail workers who are refusing to cooperate with those investigators.  The New York Times reports that federal prosecutors have now subpoenaed roughly 15 employees of the Metropolitan Correctional Center, and according to The Washington Post there were eight jail officials who knew Epstein was not to be left alone in his cell.

The reporter who landed that scoop, Devlin Barrett of The Washington Post is here with me now.

What do we know about what directions were given and who knew what about the protection of Jeffrey Epstein inside that facility?

DEVLIN BARRETT, THE WASHINGTON POST:  Well what we`re told is, you know, there`s a key moment in this process where Jeffrey Epstein is taken off suicide watch.  This happens on July 29th.  And what we`re told about that process is that it was very clear inside the MCC, not just among lower level officials, but their supervisors as well, that there were two things that were supposed to happen once he was taken off suicide watch.

One that he would be checked on every half hour.  That`s a standard in the unit he was placed in, and two, that there was an understanding that he would have a cell mate at all times.  And the reason for that is you want another pair of eyes on him who could holler out if somethings going wrong.

HAYES:  Right.

BARRETT:  So, that`s what was supposed to happen.  And part of the concern and frustration by the attorney general and others here is everyone seems to have understood what was supposed to happen and then it just did not happen.

HAYES:  Do we know why it didn`t happen?

BARRETT:  Well, that`s a great question.  So, you know, among the union officials, the union officials have argued that, you know, they are so short staffed and so overworked that something like this was bound to happen, not necessarily with Jeffrey Epstein, in particular, but something like this was always bound to happen in that place at this time with so few people working.

Frankly, there are folks in the Justice Department who think that`s a poor excuse for letting what`s arguably the most high profile defendant in your entire system kill himself, but that is part of the conversation that`s going on. 

And look, someone who talked to me for this story said you can`t underestimate the degree of incompetence and far reaching incompetence that may have been involved in this.

HAYES:  It`s interesting you say that, because I think there`s reasons when this news turned up, right, and I`m sure you`ve seen people reacting in this way, there`s a -- obviously because of the man`s  connections, because of some sense that perhaps he knew a lot of things about other famous people that he had spent time with, right.

BARRETT:  Absolutely.

HAYES:  ...that this -- that there`s something fishy here.  I`m, that`s the first...

BARRETT:  Sure.

HAYES:  I guess, what is your reporting indicate about the level of just basic competence in that facility?  I`ve talked to lawyers who have clients there who have emailed me who have basically said similar to what you said, don`t overestimate how well run that facility was.

BARRETT:  So, for example, two years ago that jail just let a guy out who had years left to serve.  And that inmate told them, no, no, I`m not supposed to be let out yet.  And they said get out of here, you`ve got to go.

HAYES:  Wait, really?

BARRETT:  Oh, yeah, that was in 2017.  And so he ended up coming back himself.  He gets out.  He walks around Manhattan basically for six hours.  Calls his lawyer, and his lawyer says, look, you`ve got to go back.  This is not going to work.  And so he returns himself to the jail.

So there are issues and problems at this jail no question.  I think the secondary question, though, for the investigators and everyone else is, look, this isn`t just some, you know, bank robber.  This is Jeffrey Epstein.  Everyone knows the Justice Department has, you know, a troubled - - lets say troubled history with this particular defendant, of all the people to not keep an eye on he`s the guy.

So I think there`s layers of going -- of looking at this and understanding what went wrong, but I do think people who know the system, people who know that jail and people who know the Bureau of Prisons, frankly are not surprised that there could be this degree of incompetence.

HAYES:  You know, the lawyers I`ve talked to, again, with clients there had that reaction.  They were not as surprised as everyone else that this happened.

Devlin Barrett, thanks so much for your great reporting.

BARRETT:  Thank you.

HAYES:  Coming up, is Donald Trump about to be the first sitting president since George H.W. Bush to face a primary challenge from his own party?  The forces lining up against the president ahead. 

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

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HAYES:  Thing One tonight, trivia time, can you name the current White House press secretary?  It`s hard because she`s never held a single press briefing, despite being on the job for nearly two months, so we really haven`t had the opportunity to get to know anything about Stephanie Grisham, until The New York Times came out with this profile today, detailing Grisham`s, quote, turbulent rise to a top White House gig. 

As the Times describes it, Grisham`s career history contains red flags that most administrations might deem troubling.  She lost a public relations job with AAA in Arizona after being accused of cheating on expense reports, lost a subsequent job with an advertising agency following an accusation of plagiarism, has been arrested twice for driving under the influence, the second while working on the Trump campaign in 2015.  So, you might understand why the press secretary might be reticent to do too much press.

The question is is that better or worse than what we had before?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEAN SPICER, FORMER WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY:  This was the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration, period, both in person and around the globe.

He won overwhelmingly with 306 electoral votes, the most since any Republican since Reagan.  You had a -- you know, somebody as despicable as Hitler who didn`t even sink to the -- to using chemical weapons.

SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, FORMER WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY:  The president in no way, form, or fashion has ever promoted or encouraged violence.

President Trump in his first year-and-a-half has already tripled what President Obama did in eight years.  Not only did he do that for African- Americans, but for Hispanics, 1.7 million more Hispanics are working now.

The separation of illegal alien families is the product of the same legal loopholes that Democrats refuse to close.  And these laws are the same that have been on the books for over a decade.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAYES:  We haven`t had a chance to see the new press secretary lie to us like that.  But if you`re missing the previous two, well, good news.  They both have new jobs.  And that`s Thing Two in 60 seconds.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HAYES:  OK, more trivia.  In all the world of media, can you name the place that just decided to hire Sarah Huckabee Sanders to be a contributor despite just the mountain of lies that is her resume?  Yes, OK, you know, it`s Fox News.

Sanders has been hired to do political commentary.  Will make her debut in a couple of weeks on Trump TV and Friends, basically doing exactly for Trump TV what she did for Trump from the podium, only paychecks will come from a different place, probably.

But wait, there`s more, Sarah Sanders` predecessor Sean Spicer also has an exciting new gig.  He`s going on "Dancing with the Stars" where he`ll try to fox trot his reputation out of the gutter.  Spicer is no stranger to entertainment gigs.  You may recall him as the White House easter bunny.  And while there is new the host of Dancing with the Stars and others associated with the show were upset at the news Spicer would be joining the reality show, the reality show guy who fired him from the White House thinks Spicer will do a great job.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SPICER:  This is all I got right now, a good old box step.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  OK, what can you do?

SPICER:  Go back, over, back.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Is this the fox trot?

SPICER:  No, this is the box step.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  The box step?  Isn`t it the same thing?

SPICER:  Huh?  Oh, no.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Like the sixth grade dance.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I know, right?

No, this is the sixth grade dance, remember.

SPICER:  OK, that just happened.  If that`s a dance, I`m going to win that one.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  OK.  You want to do the prom picture?  Oh, OK.  So what are we doing here?

OK, you are a good little spinner.  Yeah, there you go.  Yeah, OK, yeah, this is like the -- here we go, now do the...

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Now can you dip.  Can you dip me?  There you go.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HAYES:  I said before on the show the way that I think about the president`s mind is that it`s like a stream that little bit of refuse get thrown or dropped into.  And most of the time when there`s some cockamamie idea, you can be sure it didn`t original with the president.  When he tweets something nuts in the morning, there`s a good chance he just saw it on Trump TV and Friends.  And so my first thought about the president wanting to buy Greenland was who threw that in there?  Where did that Greenland idea come from?

And now we have a solution to that mystery.  It turns out it was a little candy wrapper Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton threw in Trump`s brain stream.  Speaking at an event Wednesday Cotton said quote, "you`re joking but I can reveal to you that several months ago I met with the Danish ambassador and I proposed that they sell Greenland to us." 

Cotton`s communication director told The Washington Post Cotton believes he may have caught the ambassador a little off-guard by raising the idea.  I think that`s probably true.

Now that Tom Cotton has taken this garbage idea and thrown it into the president`s brain and the president turned around and got mad and the whole thing is now an international incident, someone has to get back to the work of repairing the torn relationship between the U.S. and Denmark.

Hopefully there is someone in the  position of ambassador with the tenacity and deft touch, someone with years of diplomatic experience.  Meet the U.S. ambassador to Denmark.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Just who exactly are you anyway?

CARLA SANDS, ACTRESS:  That`s none of your business.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  You`re right.  You`re absolutely right.

SANDS:  I am the princess, Ella Zaina (ph). 

(LAUGHTER)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I`m on my way to marry a very important man.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAYES:  The Princess Ella Zaina (ph) is played by Ambassador Carla Sands.  She stars in the 1988 classic movie Deathstalker and the Warriors from Hell.  Before she became an international diplomat, Carla Sands had what could generously be called a movie career.

I should say, and be very clear here, that the under-qualified major party donor ambassador is a long-standing and embarrassing bipartisan tradition.  Today, The Daily Beast did a profile of sorts of the ambassador, and thanks to their reporting, we know that after a brief career as an actress she went on to be a chiropractor. 

The report also reveals that she has combined an active social media account with an active imagination re-tweeting conspiracy theories and wild ideas, quote, "among them are tweets sharing Prager University posts about humans are not responsible for global warming because humanity lived through the Roman warm period, the cooler Dark Ages, and then the Medieval warm period."

In June, she tweeted former Hercules actor Kevin Sorbo calling for Prager University to be  taught in all schools.

Prager University is not really a university, it`s not accredited, it`s just the name for a bunch of far right videos.

While Carla Sands is our reputation to a country to which we just canceled a state visit.  I will say, at least she is not our ambassador to the United Nations.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Do you yourself believe in climate change?

KELLY KNIGHT CRAFT, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE UN:  I believe there are sciences on both sides that are accurate.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  You believe that there`s scientists -- science that proves that there is -- man is not causing climate change?

CRAFT:  Well, I think that both sides have, you know, they have their own results from their studies and I appreciate and I respect both sides of the science. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HAYES:  President Donald Trump`s approval rating among Republicans sits between 80 percent or 90 percent, which is high, although that comes with a bit of an asterisk which is that Trump has driven a lot of people away from identifying as Republicans, people like Michigan Congressman Justin Amash who has called for Trumps impeachment and who was a Republican in good standing, but has now switched to being an independent.  He is the kind of person who wouldn`t show up in one of those polls.

Here is the fundamental problem, there are a number of self-described conservatives who do not like Donald Trump but most don`t really have any political base or power.  And that`s the problem facing anyone who wants to mount a primary challenge to the president in the GOP.

And yet, interestingly enough, there are people who want to give it a shot anyway.  Former Massachusetts governor William Weld is in.  He has declared he is running.  Now, former South Carolina Governor and Congressman Mark Sanford, a former Illinois congressman and talk show radio host Joe Walsh appear close to joining the race and challenging the president.  And Anthony Scaramucci says he is going to rustle up a bunch of ex-Trumpers to take the president on as well.

Ultimately, this stakes here may be mostly about Donald Trump`s own psyche.  He is almost certainly going to trounce any Republican who challenges him.  And yet there`s a lot of reporting that suggests his team is obsessed with staving off primary challenges.

Here to discuss, former Reagan administration official and chair of the Center for Equal Opportunity Linda Chavez, and former Tea Party activist Ben Howe, who is an author of "The Immoral Majority," a new book about evangelicals and Trump and co-host of the Fifth Estate podcast.

Linda, I don`t know.  I guess I`m skeptical, but I`m seeing all this noise.  It looks Sanford and Walsh will get in, Scaramucci is trying to rustle some group of folks.  Is there anything here, do you think?

LINDA CHAVEZ, CHAIR, CENTER FOR EQUAL OPPORTUNITY:  Well, I mean, if you look back at what happened to President George Herbert Walker Bush in 1992, he did get challenged by Pat Buchanan.  Obviously,  Buchanan`s challenge, while I think stronger than any of the people we`ve been talking about are going to be able to muster against Trump, did harm him.  And I think it set him up for ultimate failure in the general election. 

And I think that`s what this is all about.  None of these guys that we`re talking about likely to defeat Donald Trump, unless Trump goes even farther off the rails than we`ve seen him so far.  But being able to damage him, being able to come at him as Walsh might from the right could have some impact and might dampen the support.  And after all, a lot of this is a bout getting people to the polls in the general election.  And if you`ve diminished support during the primaries, that`s going to make it harder for Trump come the general election.

HAYES:  Ben, your new book is about a kind of devil`s bargain, I suppose it is, between a lot of conservative evangelicals in this country and Donald Trump and the kind of ways in which that has been locked in.

Is there any undoing of that?  Or is that the kind of background truth against which any of these challenges would play out?

BEN HOWE, AUTHOR:  No.  I think that in the 2020 election, the thing we have to remember, we look back at 2016 and it was -- we look at it like it was the big dumpster fire year.  It was insane.  And there was so much unhinged rhetoric coming out of Trump and coming out of his supporters.  Everybody was at each other`s throats.  But they also all thought he would lose, even the people who supported him.

Now we`re going into 2020.  He has got two Supreme Court justices that he has already been able to get on the court.  The promised land of more conservative justices on the Supreme Court is around the corner if he can win re-election.  And now they know he can win.  So, they`re going to come out in my opinion, evangelicals will come out in record numbers.

HAYES:  That`s very interesting point.

Do you think, Linda, that the point about the president`s psyche in all this -- I mean, I think this is an interesting story if only because I think it will obsess Donald Trump.  I mean, if you have, for instance, three contenders who are primarying him, then someone might give them the platform for debate.  And I can only imagine what it will do to the president to watch a  primary debate for the Republican Party.

CHAVEZ:  Well, I doubt that Donald Trump would participate in such a debate.  You remember he didn`t participate in all of the debates last time.

So, I think Ben is right about the evangelical support, but he cannot win the general election solely with his base.  And that`s the important point.  And it is some of those people that you might peel off who voted last time who thought, well, he sounds a little crazy but he is not going to govern that crazy.  Well, with all that he has done, and particularly the effects of the trade war and possibly coming up to a mild recession again, something George Bush faced in `92, could harm him.

HAYES:  Well, and Ben, there is to me -- it`s a question about making a statement.  I mean, i think it`s very clear that Governor William Weld of Massachusetts, who is a kind of throwback Republican to a kind of sort of northeastern WASPy, almost -- a lot of equanimity and sort of noblesse oblige and almost liberal sensibility in certain ways he sort of thinks about things, that he`s making a statement about what the Republican Party is and what conservative values are, and that to me seems a losing cause insofar as Trumpism is conservatism right now.

HOWE:  This is the thing, though, I don`t think that the statements that they`re trying to make are necessarily about this coming election.  I mean, perhaps they would like to prevent him from winning, perhaps they would like to harm him, but I think ultimately there are a lot of people that would like to start setting up life after Trump.  I mean, there were a lot of big figures in the GOP that we don`t hear from much anymore that don`t seem like they`re as insanely devoted to Trump, like Bobby Jindal and Scott Walker, who I don`t see as much from them as I used to.

And so I feel  like if he wins re-election or if he doesn`t win re- election, there`s going to be a move towards life after Trump, and this is kind of the opening salvo, or freshman team.

HAYES:  That`s a really great point, I think.  What do you think, Linda?

CHAVEZ:  Yeah, I think that`s right.  But I do think that it is possible to beat Trump.  I think there are people like me who -- I have not voted for a Democrat for president since Lyndon Johnson, if you can believe that.  And so, you know, there are people like me who have been Republicans for a very long time but who may pull the lever this time for a Democrat just in order to keep this president,  who I believe is a real threat, an existential threat to democracy, out of the White House.

HAYES:  All right, Linda Chavez and Ben Howe, thank you both for being with me.

Before we go, one final reminder, tomorrow night special edition of our show in front of a live studio audience.  We have great show planned.  We`ve got some great guests, including Barack Obama`s White House photographer Pete Souza.  It`s going to be fun.  We hope you tune in. 

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

Good evening, Rachel.

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