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Trump claims others support his call. TRANSCRIPT: 8/26/19, All In w/ Chris Hayes.

Guests: Franklin Foer, Lynn Sweet, Carlos Curbelo, Waleed Shahid, KarineJean-Pierre

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST:  It`s clear that Trump`s agenda is.  It`s getting his Doral resort packed by the next G7.  Again, one of the differences between a public servant and a true business person, watch Donald Trump in action.  And that`s HARDBALL for now.  "ALL IN" with Chris Hayes starts right now.



DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  It`s tremendous wealth.  I`m not going to lose that wealth.

HAYES:  The President skips out on climate as the world`s most important resource burns.

TRUMP:  I`m not going to lose it on dreams, on windmills.

HAYES:  Tonight, Trump`s head-spinning turn on the global stage as it relates to China, Russia, and a planet in crisis.  Then, as the impeachment count grows again, did the president just announced high crimes and misdemeanors in France?

TRUMP:  Doral happens to be within Miami.  It`s a city.  It`s a wonderful place.

HAYES:  Plus, the latest of a long-shot effort to primary the president, and the first signs of actual movement on the Democratic leader board when ALL IN starts right now.


HAYES:  Good evening from New York I`m Chris Hayes.  If you were lucky enough as frankly, I was to be enjoying a pre -- final pre-Labor Day summer weekend and were not paying attention to the minute-by-minute antics of our commander-in-chief, here`s a quick noncomprehensive rundown of Donald Trump`s G7 summit.

Like so much about this president, it was at one level amusing but also horrifying because the stakes of all the things that he`s so glibly blowing off are so high.  For instance, the Amazon which is still burning at an alarming rate.

Over the weekend, the New York Times covered the fact that there are also now devastating fires in Bolivia and experts say it could "take up to 200 years to the forests in Bolivia to heal.  The world leaders at the G7 had a meeting about it.  And all the leaders were there except one.  Guess who?

The new White House Press Secretary said Trump skipped because he had scheduled meetings and bilaterals with Germany and India.  One problem with that account, the leaders of both those countries were at the climate meetings, so who knows.  Well, for more on the Amazon fires and what the world leaders did and didn`t do about them in just a few minutes.

Trump also continued his ongoing so-called negotiations with China at the G7.  Earlier at the summit, Trump sort of said he had second thoughts about his trade war before trying to take it all back.  But the bottom line about the China situation right now is that financial markets, American domestic audiences, global audiences, and the Chinese themselves all see that Trump is flailing.

We all see the same thing.  And so as is often the case, the President apparently invented a lie to try to extricate himself saying the vice- chairman of China called and wants to make a deal but the phone call appears not to have happened.  At least the Chinese government says it didn`t happen.  And I leave it to you America, who do you believe, Donald Trump on a whim or the Chinese Communist Party.

Meanwhile, Trump doubled down or tripled down or wherever the count is now on inviting his old buddy Vladimir Putin back to the global party.  Trump is advocating for Putin`s long-standing position, a position that is the origin of this entire era of Russian aggression towards the U.S.

Putin`s main complaint is that we punished him for breaking international law when he invaded Crimea.  And the origin of the sanctions that Putin has been trying to get lifted, it all started with that.  Russia`s G8 expulsion all started with that.

When Putin picked which horse to back in the 2016 presidential election, when they had all those weird associates floating back-channel peace deals to the White House that would allow Crimea to be forever recognized as part of Russia, this is what it was all about.

And here is the President of the United States on the world stage in front of all the world leaders again repeatedly spouting Russian talking points and toeing the Russian line.  Joining me now for more on the President`s whirring performance at the G7 summit former CIA Director John Brennan, now an NBC News Senior National Security Intelligence Analyst.

What is the significance to you of the President insisting repeatedly that Russia should be invited back to the G7 despite no progress made on Crimea or the original infractions that led it to being booted out?

JOHN BRENNAN, NBC NEWS SENIOR NATIONAL SECURITY INTELLIGENCE ANALYST:  Well, Chris, it just shows that Donald Trump still does not grasp the seriousness of what it is that Trump -- what Putin has done not only to Ukraine but also the fact that he interfered in our election, continues to support the genocide of President Assad in Syria, all of these transgressions that have come from the Russians.

And for him then to say blithely that he believes that they should come back into the -- what would be the G8 despite the unanimous view of those countries previously, that because of the annexation of Crimea, because of what they`ve been doing in Eastern Ukraine that Russia does not deserve a seat on the table.

So it`s still rather puzzling as to why Donald Trump continues to give Putin the benefit of the doubt when in fact he should be coming down pretty hard on the Russian leader.

HAYES:  Do you think that over the course of this presidency so far that both world leaders and global diplomatic corps and intelligence services have changed the way they reacted to this President statements as they have acclimated themselves to the degree of lack of preparation or tossed- offedness of what he might say in these sort of events?

BRENNAN:  Oh, absolutely.  I think a lot of their leaders have written off what he says certainly publicly.  But also I`m very concerned that given his public dishonesty, what dishonesty is he engaged in in the private meetings with these world leaders, with those allies with countries that we have worked with so hard for so long?  What is he telling them?

But I think that they realized that he is way, way out of his depth, that he is incompetent but also he is somewhat delusional as far as how he views the world and his inability to grasp the reality of the geostrategic situation around the globe today.

HAYES:  What are -- what are the stakes?  Is that -- I mean there`s some universe like I suppose in which maybe everyone is better off if they just don`t pay attention to the things the president says, this particular president because he might contradict it.  So what are the stakes I guess of sort of America`s geostrategic position when that is the case with this particular president?

BRENNAN:  Well, I think they`re all just trying to handle Trump the best they can.  They recognize that although they may not like and respect the person, he still, unfortunately, represents America on the world stage and they want to maintain and strengthen relations with the United States because they know that one day Trump will no longer be in the Oval Office.

And so I think they`re trying to be as respectful as they can, but you know, in some days I really miss being in the intelligence business because I would love to find out what it is that these leaders are saying behind the scenes to themselves about Mr. Trump.  I can just imagine.  And unfortunately, I think it`s something that we as Americans should be very, very concerned about.

HAYES:  There`s another example.  He has done this.  The president has appeared to have fabricated interactions with foreign leaders on multiple occasions.  He had -- the head of Pakistan was there and he said that the head of India Narendra Modi had called him and told him he wanted to take care of Pakistan.

The Indian government then had to say that`s not the case and subsequently, there was some intense repression that happened in Kashmir.  This is a call that he said he got from the Chinese.  I guess -- does it matter?  Like what happens when the president makes up interactions with foreign leaders?

BRENNAN:  Well, it`s bad enough that Donald Trump is so incompetent in terms of carrying out his responsibilities, but it`s the dishonesty that I think really hurts this country most.  It`s when the American people listen to him and they know that he is lying but also the foreign leaders who again look to the United States as being the leader of the Western world, of the free world, of the entire world.

If they cannot put any trust in confidence in what the president our state says they are not going to be able to follow through on what it is that needs to be done in order to strengthen bilateral relationships between their country and ours, but also do what they can on behalf of global stability and prosperity.

They recognize that Donald Trump is just fabricating one story after another.  So how can they put any stock in what he says or what he says he`s going to do?

HAYES:  Well, this -- I mean, this gets to the dichotomy that you were talking about before, right.  So they have a meeting about the Amazon forest fires and the president doesn`t attend, and there`s obviously a full plate of things on the G7 menu.

There`s a dichotomy between the United States as an institution and as a country and then Donald Trump personally.  And what I`m hearing from you is his inability to tell the truth actually affects the degree to which you can have effective say diplomacy or peg commitments from the U.S. state as an entity in these sorts of situations.

BRENNAN:  Well, there`s little logic or continuity to U.S. policies and a lot of these matters.  I`m sure that there are a lot of professionals whether it be diplomats or others who are very concerned and trying to do everything they can about climate change, about all these international and transnational issues that affect all of our countries.

But how can they work effectively with their foreign counterparts when the President of the United States is not, in fact, able to articulate these issues in any sensible way with his counterparts?  So it`s just very -- it undermines our ability as a country to be able to effect positive change.  And I think these leaders are just waiting for the day that Donald Trump is going to be part of history.

HAYES:  You know, the G7 obviously does not include China.  The President is in the midst of this trade war with China which is more or less launched unilaterally using authority -- natural security authority to put tariffs on the Chinese goods.  And I wanted to get your sense of how this playing out.

It seems to me there`s two sort of polls here.  One is that the previous relationship with China along a bunch of different ways had some deep dysfunctions in it.  I think there`s pretty good evidence that the nature of the trade relationship has had some economic costs for Americans.

And then on the other poll, there`s a lot of people who kind of want a new cold war with China.  They want a kind of aggressive posture of confrontation.  And threading that needle strikes me as a difficult though necessary role for the president.  And what do you think is happening now?

BRENNAN:  Well, you`re right.  It is an issue that needs to be addressed.  Previous administrations have tried to address the imbalance in terms of how both countries conduct a trade with one another and with the world.  And so it`s proper and right for Donald Trump to be engaging with the Chinese as well as with the North Koreans and with others.  It is how he is going about doing it.

He doesn`t understand the implications of just imposing these large tariffs.  And I don`t think he really has a strategy despite whether his advisors say about how he`s going to come out of this trade war with China.

And so there`s a lot of things that are happening that he wants to have the focus of the international media on him in terms of what he`s doing and being a strong man, but trying to understand how what he is doing is going to help the United States in the long run.  It`s beyond me.

HAYES:  So final question on this.  Is there any risk that the trade war -- you know, you`ve got a trade lane, right?  So we`re dealing with them on this trade stuff.  And then there`s a lane of our two militaries and they have a relationship that can be tense in adversarial but there`s also cooperation on some things.  Is there risk, I guess, of one leaking over to the other as the rhetoric gets heated up on both sides?

BRENNAN:  There is that risk.  And fortunately, so far it looks as though this trade war has stayed within those trade channels.  And I`m hoping that the Chinese as well as the United States -- I`m not going to start to affect other aspects of the relationship and other issues such as the one China policy or on cyber or on the South China Sea.  And those tensions could ratchet up very quickly.

And so we`re not just going to have a trade war then, we could have a real bilateral crisis with China, and that`s not what we want nor need at this point in time.  So Donald Trump has to be mindful that China is a major world player.  It has a lot of levers that it can pull.  Hopefully, they`re not going to pull them because they`re going to be hurt, we`re going to be hurt.

And so it`s best to get these tensions back down so that we come up with some type of reasonable outcome of what really has been this trade problem.

HAYES:  All right, John Brennan, thank you very much for that.

BRENNAN:  Thanks, Chris.

HAYES:  Probably the most pressing front of mine issue the G7 was the fires that are raging in the Amazon.  Most of the world leaders had a meeting about it and decided to kick in a paltry $20 million which I mean a lot of money for you know, people but not a lot for the scope of the problem.

Squarely in the middle of all of it is the problem that most of the fires are mostly in the sovereign nation of Brazil and the country`s president seems to be sort of essentially pro-fires.  We call it the world`s lungs but the problem that affects the whole world is in Brazil and this is just one of the ways in which sovereignty, the very notion of it will be challenged in the climate crisis era.

Joining me now Franklin Foer, Staff Writer for the Atlantic Magazine.  His latest piece is titled the Amazon fires are more dangerous than WMD.  And Frank, I want to write this -- read this quote which sort of makes the comparison.  If a country obtains chemical or biological weapons, the rest of the world tends to react with fury or at least it did in the not so distant past.  So what is the analogy you`re making here about the Amazon fires?

FRANKLIN FOER, STAFF WRITER, THE ATLANTIC:  So this is an urgent problem that is not just a problem limited to Brazil.  That if we`re indeed describing the Amazon as the world`s lungs, that implies that the implications of the fires are global and therefore they demand a global response.

And I think something actually very important happened at the G7 which is not the $20 million that the -- that the nation`s volunteered to give for the sake of fighting fires, but Emmanuel Macron, the President of France threatened to cancel European trade deal with Brazil.

And that caused Jair Bolsonaro to change his tune almost instantly.  At the beginning of the weekend, he was saying that the fires in Brazil are a matter of Brazil`s sovereignty, that the rest of the world shouldn`t interfere with their fighting of the fires.  He was still -- he ran for president on a platform of deforesting the Amazon.

But after Macron applied pressure, after the G7 decided that they were going to make this a significant issue, Bolsonaro almost instantly changed his message.  He sent the country`s military to fight the fires and he said that the Amazon was a national treasure that deserved to be preserved.

And so what happened is actually important.  It`s a harbinger of what can be accomplished when the nations of the world say that you know, what happens in one country is a problem for the entire world.  And we`re going to apply the same sort of diplomatic tools that we would use in the case of dealing with WMD to solve a problem like the destruction of the Amazon.

HAYES:  You know, it`s interesting you say that because I`ve been following some of the news from Western China where the Muslim Uighur population has been put on these terrible internment camps, re-education camps.  And for a long time, it wasn`t really covered.  There`s been a lot more attention to it.

And if that pressure does seem to be having some effects now on Chinese policymaking, you`re saying there`s something similar with the climate.  What does it mean when Donald Trump does the opposite?  When he doesn`t show up to the meeting, and when he says it`s essentially a hoax, and he says this sort of -- this America first, we`re exporting a ton of fossil fuel and I`m not going to give it up for your pipe dream of windmills.

FOER:  Right.  Well, let`s acknowledge at the start that a lot of the G7 nations are totally hypocritical on Climate, that Canada is building this pipeline, at the same time that they`re chastising Brazil.  Macron is guilty of his own hypocrisy.  I think Donald Trump`s absence in these meetings is actually kind of useful for the rest of the world to get on with its business that Trump is just going to be an obstruction -- an obstructionist presence in these meetings.

So the fact that he`s not there is tremendously sad for us as Americans but maybe it`s smoothing the way for decent policies to be enacted by the rest of the international community.

HAYES:  Do you think -- I mean when you talk about this sort of idea of sovereignty and pressure, right, what you`re seeing also is the contours of the order now as the climate crisis intensifies are these questions are going to be more and more front and center there`s going to be nationalist backlash in all kinds of places, right?

I mean, it`s not just that America will have its version of you can`t tell us what to do.  Lots of countries do it.  Those kind of politics are easy to find all the way around the world.  And to me, I wonder if you think this is the case, there going to be a major political challenge to the kinds of coordinated efforts we need.

FOER:  We`ve already seen this.  If you think about the refugee crisis in Europe as an extension of the climate crisis, that there`s certainly climate refugees fleeing there.  And you see the way in which the European countries are unable to coordinate across national boundaries in order to deal with this issue and you see the way in which that issue has already triggered the sort of nationalist backlash that you`re describing.

You`re -- what you`re seeing are the contours of a global world order that is incapable right now of dealing with this crisis which will surely get worse with every year.  And so what it demands is new levels of cooperation but also the use -- the use of all these traditional tools in our diplomatic toolkit to try to discipline nations that are acting in the obstructionist sort of way.

HAYES:  All right, Franklin Foer, thank you so much.

FOER:  Thank you.

HAYES:  Next. the number of Democrats favoring impeachment keeps on ticking up as the President gives them even more material to work with during the visit to France.  That story in two minutes.


HAYES:  A head of a progressive group have taken to calling this month Impeachment August as their members have been pressuring Congressional Democrats who are home in their district for a recess to come out formally in favor of impeachment.

And though it is not dominated headlines, it does appear to be working.  Today, Illinois Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi came out in favor of an impeachment inquiry.  That makes him the 133rd member of the House caucus to do so.

Also today, the House Judiciary Committee issued subpoenas for former White House aide Rob Porter to testify about the President`s efforts to obstruct the Russia investigation.  Porter was forced to leave the White House last year after it was revealed he had been accused of domestic violence by both his former wives and various red flags have been waived.

As Democrats continued a somewhat strange and slow-motion internal debate about what to do with the president`s flagrant abuse of power, the President continues giving them ammunition like just today when he used the opportunity of the G7 to shamelessly promote his money-losing a golf club in Miami.


TRUMP:  We have a series of magnificent buildings, we call bungalows.  They each hold from 50 to 70, very luxurious rooms with magnificent views.  We have incredible conference rooms, incredible restaurants.  It`s like -- it`s like such a natural.  We wouldn`t even have to do the work that they did here and they`ve done a beautiful job.  They`ve really done a beautiful job.  And we have also in Miami.


HAYES:  To talk about the legal implications the president using the international stage as an infomercial for his property, I`m joined by Barbara McQuade, former U.S. Prosecutor for the Eastern District of Michigan and an MSNBC Legal Analyst.

And Barbara, I want to start there -- and there`s other stuff I want to get to, but you know, we had cast (INAUDIBLE) on this program and he said this thing that`s stuck with me about impeachment.  He said look, there are things that wouldn`t -- that aren`t crimes but be impeachable.  For instance, going on vacation for eight months, not a crime but if the president did it, you might have a case to impeach him.

Promoting your golf property, not anywhere in the federal criminal code, perfectly legal thing to do, but using the G7 to do so, that may be a different thing.

BARBARA MCQUADE, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST:  Well, yes.  You know, we`ve heard this before under the Emoluments Clause to the Constitution.  It says that the is not supposed to take things of value from foreign governments.  And the idea is it would be a conflict of interest.  His loyalty is supposed to be to the United States.

We`ve seen some lawsuits on this theory relating to his hotel in Washington D.C. there was a Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals opinion that dismissed that lawsuit but only on the basis of standing.

HAYES:  Right.

MCQUADE:  It found that the attorneys general in Maryland and D.C. didn`t have standing so it does not address the merits.  And I think if a court were to address the merits by someone who has standing, we could see a lawsuit there or as you say grounds for impeachment.

He is blatantly violating the Constitution.  You know, maybe you give him a pass when he doesn`t understand what the rules are, but he`s already been on notice that this is a violation of the law.  And to use the platform of the G7 to tout his bungalows in the form as you say of an infomercial is absolutely a blatant violation of the Constitution.

HAYES:  So there was a mention today about the subpoenas for Rob Porter that were issued by the House Judiciary Committee.  And this gets at the crux of one of the issues here and it`s a long-standing pattern and theme.

House Judiciary Committee is trying to do oversight.  We know what`s going to happen.  The White House is going to intervene and say you can`t talk to him and it`s going to play out in the courts.  Two questions, what are their chances of success but more importantly what will that timeline look like?

MCQUADE:  Well, one of the things that`s really interesting is as you say, we have seen again and again this invocation of not just executive privilege but executive immunity saying not only might he declined to answer some specific questions designed you know, to promote candor in providing advice to the president, but he`s not even going to show up.  You know, that alone is problematic.

And we saw in the Nixon administration that refusal to comply with legitimate inquiries from the Congress isn`t impeachable offense.  And so even if they don`t get relief in the courts, maybe at some point members of Congress will say this refusal to comply is alone an impeachable offense.

HAYES:  That`s -- and there are many members of Congress who have articulated that as a possible standard although there`s this kind of dual- track hope, right, to have the article three federal courts essentially decide and adjudicate this battle between the two other branches of government.

And it made me think of this piece from the Washington Post is that it`s unlikely the House Dems are going to get Trump`s tax returns before the 2020 elections, some frustration within the Democratic -- I saw you just shake your head and frown -- but you know this -- in some ways this is a tried and true tactic by Trump to push things to litigation and run out the clock as long as possible.  And it worked in avoiding a personal interview with Robert Mueller, and now that looks like it may work on the tax returns.

MCQUADE:  Yes.  And I think it`s frustrating on two fronts.  One is you`re a little bit at the mercy of the courts.  We`ve seen in some instances some judges put this on a fast track and make a decision very quickly only to see it then stall in the Court of Appeals.

So on the one hand, we`re a little bit at the mercy of whether judges decide to put this on a fast track.  One hopes that they would just to get a resolution.  We`re also seeing -- I`m a little frustrated with the pace of Congress.  There are some members of Congress who want to push this and see it go quickly, others who I think are dragging their feet on the theory that it might be politically damaging to push for an impeachment.

You know, I think you have to look at the political consequences of impeachment but also the duties of members of Congress to hold the president accountable because if President Trump is successful in stalling this and running out the clock, it sort of sets a precedent in the future of how future presidents can engage in similar tactics.

And so to some extent, what is the duty of members of Congress to sacrifice their own political self-interest to say presidents cannot do this and we are putting a stop to this now and forever?

HAYES:  All right, Barbara McQuade, thank you so much for joining us.

MCQUADE:  Thanks, Chris.

HAYES:  Ahead, the field Republicans vying to deny Donald Trump his party`s nomination keeps on growing.  Tonight, one of Trump`s potential primary opponents is crashing a big Republican event down South Carolina.  That story is next.


HAYES:  An interesting scene unfolding tonight in South Carolina where Vice President Mike Pence just gave the keynote at Congressman Jeff Duncan`s ninth annual faith and freedom barbecue.  It`s the sort of thing that a Republican vice president does.  But also attending is the former governor of that state South Carolina Mark Sanford, also former member of Congress who is now openly mulling a primary challenge against Donald Trump.

I should tell you that Sanford was shouted down and heckled by some folks at the barbecue, by sign waving supporters of Donald Trump as he talked to a local reporter.  You see him there.

If and when Sanford were to announce, he would join William Weld, former Republican governor of Massachusetts, and now former Illinois Congressman Joe Walsh who launched his own campaign yesterday.

It is deeply unclear if any of these men have an actual constituency in the modern Trumpist Republican Party, but I will say this, unlike Weld, Walsh is sort of a Trumpian figure in his own right.  He had a reputation for saying wildly offensive things while a member of congress along with promoting birtherism and other stuff.

In a term that seems to signify something about the trajectory of Republican politics over the  last few years, the man who was once the most offensive member of the Republican Party is now running as the conscience of the party.

To talk about what`s going on here, I`m joined by former Congressman Carlos Curbelo, Republican from Florida now an MSNBC political analyst, and Lynn Sweet, Washington bureau chief for The Chicago Sun-Times.

Lynn, you covered Joe Walsh a bit.  He was a radio host and then a kind of Tea Party star and then he was booted out.  And I can`t tell what the angle is here.  What do you think it is?

LYNN SWEET, CHICAGO SUN-TIMES:  Well, the think with Joe Walsh is sometimes just a figure of the moment that we`re in.  And he is somebody who for all his past -- he`s a flawed messenger, he admits it, because he has in his run for president apologized for all the terrible things he has said that he says has contributed in a way to the Trump era that we`re in now.

But why is he in this?  I take him for the moment, I mean, he`s a big self- promoter.  I know that. He once told me in 2011 his thing is to, you know, shout from the mountain tops.  That`s symbolically why he`s in congress.

But he just is -- is one who knows about this kind of rhetoric and knows where it leads.  He finally said enough.

HAYES:  Yeah.

SWEET:  And I don`t find that hard to believe in him.  Yes, does he get enormous publicity out of this and a national platform?  But, remember, he`s a conservative radio talk show host.  He may not keep his job.

HAYES:  Yeah, I mean, the point I would say about Walsh, congressman, is that whatever you -- whatever the substantive feelings one has about him or his politics or the things he said in the past, many of which I found very heinous, William Weld is not going anywhere in a GOP primary.  Like William Weld does not represent any incarnation of a current or post-Trump Republican Party.

Mark Sanford and Joe Walsh maybe do.  What do you think?

CARLOS CURBELO, FORMER CONGRESSMAN (R) FLORIDA:  Chris, I think all of these candidates and potential Republican primary challengers have their obvious strengths and weaknesses; however, it`s also clear that none of them represent a serious threat to the president, at least at this time.

But here`s the thing.  Let me take you back to 1992, Pat Buchanan ran against President George Herbert Walker Bush that year.  He did not win a single state, but he was not an irrelevant figure in those presidential elections.  He divided the party.  President Bush was weakened going into the general election.  And a lot of people think that that`s one of the reasons why he lost.

So the president doesn`t have to worry about any of these candidates...

HEYAS:  Winning, right.

CURBELO:  ...being a direct threat, but he does have to worry about them weakening him and the perception that Republicans are divided going into November of 2020.

HAYES:  Lynn?

SWEET:  Well, there is a difference.  Pat Buchanan was far more organized in 1992 than Joe Walsh is today.  There is no campaign.  He had a great slick video.  He`s booked on cable shows.  It will be interesting to see if Fox covers him at all.

HAYES:  It will be.

SWEET:  It`s really, really hard to get on the ballot in many states, besides the early states it might be a little easier and to run delegate slates.  So, this might be over sooner than later if Weld and Sanford, if he gets in, and Walsh can`t figure out a way to get on the ballot.

HAYES:  I will say -- I agree with that.  I do think that coming -- going on capable news is a good thing to do if you want to get in the president`s head because as far as I can tell watches it all day.  But it is also interesting to me -- I agree with you, congressman, there is no threat here as to who will get the nomination.  There is a possibility of some damage.  But what notable is all the reporting I`ve seen and the actions taken, I mean even having Pence down there in South Carolina, which is an early primary state and not a swing state, right?  Let`s be clear, like South Carolina is not going to the Democrat.  Why are you spending time in South Carolina?  It`s an early primary state.  They seem to be kind of focused on it.

It does seem to playing a role in their heads whether or not out objectively in the world it matters.

CURBELO:  The president`s team understands that any sitting president having a primary  challenge is a problem.  That doesn`t mean it`s a big problem.

HAYES:  Right.

CURBELO:  Again, it doesn`t mean that he is in jeopardy of not winning the nomination, especially now that the RNC has tightened its rules to protect him.

HAYES:  Explicitly, yes.

CURBELO:  But this is not 1992 in the sense that there is social media.  There are many more TV outlets.  There is cable.  There is radio.  So these candidates, they may not get on the ballot, but they can make a lot of noise.  They -- their criticisms can get amplified, and this is a president that needs a strong, unified  base to win a November election.  And any fissures in that base, any erosion, could be very problematic.

HAYES:  The one thing, Lynn, that I mean, as the president was talking about China, right, there is piece in The New York Times about the sort of the gyrating economy and Trump`s volatile approach to it raise alarms.

There`s a lot of genuine uneasiness behind closed doors among Republicans on this more than anything, right?  If the economy tanks, if this trade war gets out of control, then we`re in a different situation than the one we are in now which the  president polls around 41 percent with an economy with unemployment at 4 percent.

SWEET:  Well, I think that`s not where -- I mean, I talked to Joe Walsh yesterday and I said I know you`ve been talking to Bill Kristol and George Conway, what advice did you get?  Walsh, because he`s of the three we`re talking about, he`s the only conservative who wants to run to the right, who does have credentials in that conservative wing of the party, he said he`s not running on issues, he`s running on George -- excuse me, he`s running on that Donald Trump is unfit to be president.

HAYES:  Right.

SWEET:  So whether or not the economy goes up or down or if it`s wrecked, that`s not where the assessment is that you can have people listen to you about what the problem is with President Trump.  And that I think is what Walsh -- when he is totally capable of giving as good as Trump might get -- so far, by the way, Trump hasn`t taken his tweet bait.

HAYES:  That is interesting.  Although, congressman, I don`t think there is any appetite really -- I mean, what is your assessment of the appetite within the Republican Party and Republican primary voters for the determination the president is unfit for the office he holds?

CURBELO:  Look, Chris, we`ve seen the statistics.  About 90 percent of Republicans support this president.  Our politics have become extremely tribal.  And a lot of Republicans are willing to overlook some of the president`s obvious flaws.

Now, that`s because things in the country are going relatively well, especially when it comes to the economy.  If the economy starts collapsing, if this trade war further disrupts markets and 401(k)s start dropping then you can see that some of these candidates could get some tracks.

Are they going to win?  Probably not.  But could they cause problems for the president?  Could they weaken him going into the fall?  Certainly.  And that`s why the president`s team, I think, is taking this seriously.

Publicly they`re brushing this off, but when you see the moves they`re making, they`re obviously taking steps to tamp down any traction that either Walsh or Sanford could get.

HJAYES:  Well, to bring it back around to 1992, Lynn, to your point, I will never forget being a kid and watching an SNL skit early -- I think it was in `91 and the conceit of it was the Democrats who was lining up to lose to George H.W. Bush.  The whole conceit of the skit was, obviously the Democrat is going to lose, because at that point he`s polling at 85 percent.  The Gulf War had just concluded.  And the whole idea was like this guy was unbeatable.  And before you know it, like, the economy turned and the political fortunes of that presidency turned very fast.

SWEET:  And that`s -- and we know that Bill Clinton, then the governor of Arkansas, was just  standing ready to take advantage of it, because everyone else self-proclaimed themselves ineligible to win.

HAYES:  And that`s right.  And Buchanan was there as well.  And that`s where that damage came from.  But it all happened -- the first thing to happen were the underlying economic realities in that moment.  Former Congressman Carlos Curbelo and Lynn Sweet, thank you both for joining us.

SWEET:  Thank you.

CURBELO:  Thank you, Chris.

HAYES:  Ahead, is there an actual shift in the Democratic leaderboard.  Tonight, there are new signs the Democratic field could be narrowing down.  And tonight`s Thing One, Thing Two starts next.


HAYES:  Thing One tonight, the president has been known to come up with some, to put it kindly, strange proposals that seem to just pop into his brain out of nowhere, sending his staff scrambling to spin whatever the heck it is he`s talking about.

The Space Force, for example, and going to Mars before he`s out of office or the big, beautiful see through border wall.  See through because drug dealers might throw big bags of drugs over the wall and then hit innocent passersby, of course.

Then there was the suggestion we should rake our forest floors better to prevent wildfires because that`s how they do it in Finland.  And of course earlier this month we got wind of the scheme to buy Greenland despite the fact that the sovereign territory is not up for sale.

Just yesterday we learned of a Trump idea that`s so wild even his staff was floored.  Quote, "you could hear a gnat fart in that meeting.  People were astonished.  After the meeting ended, we thought what the "f?" What do we do with this?"

And that`s Thing Two in 60 seconds.


HAYES:  According to a new report from Axios, President Trump has been very interested in a brilliant plan to stop hurricanes: drop a nuclear bomb on them.  Trump has reportedly made that suggestion multiple times to senior homeland and national security officials, paraphrased by a source in the room for one briefing as saying, quote, "I got it.  I got it.  Why don`t we nuke them?  They start forming off the coast of Africa as they`re moving across the Atlantic.  We drop a bomb inside the eye of the hurricane and it disrupts it.  Why can`t we do that?"

The source added the person briefing the president on hurricanes was knocked back on his heels.  People were astonished.  After the meeting ended we thought, what the "F," what do we do with this?

Of course, the idea went nowhere and never entered a formal policy process, according to Axios` sources.  And this morning, the president tweeted from the G7 summit in France calling the story ridiculous.

But Donald Trump would not be the first to toy with the idea.  One government scientist purportedly floated it back in the `50s.  It was considered a dumb idea back then, too.  But then again,  their hurricanes weren`t as bad.


TRUMP:  This is a tough hurricane, one of the wettest we`ve ever seen from the standpoint of  water.



HAYES:  All right, he`s the new poll that is turning everyone`s head today.  It`s from Monmouth University showing something we have not seen before, essentially a three-way tie among the top Democratic front-runners, Senator Bernie Sanders, Senator Elizabeth Warren and former Vice President Joe Biden.

Now, the caution about this poll is that the sample size is really quite small, just under 300 Democratic voters, and that means the margin of error is large, plus or minus 5.7 percentage points.  A lot.

It`s important to note the RealClearPolitics polling average, which is a little less noisy, more reliable, still has Joe Biden with substantial lead although even there, only Biden, Sanders and Warren have double-digit support.  They pretty clearly seem to be at the top tier.

So, the average comport to the idea there are three at the top, but if the Biden folks are taking comfort in the low sample size of today`s Monmouth poll, there`s another poll out today, this one from the home state of Monmouth University, which is New Jersey.  It shows something somewhat similar, with the same three candidates, Biden, Sanders, and Warren clustered today at the top.  This poll is a much larger sample size, 635 voters, a margin of error, plus or minus 3.9 percentage points.  And it`s interesting, because New Jersey is not a first-round state, it`s not Iowa or New Hampshire, no one is really doing many town-halls or state fairs in New Jersey yet.  Those voters are basically just watching it on television or reading about it on the Internet.

And right now with a third debate set for September, only ten candidates have qualified for that debate, which means it looks like, at least for now, we might have our first ever one-night debate, everyone on stage, including those top three front-runners.

So after Labor Day, act two of the Democratic primary begins.  We`ll talk about that, next.


HAYES:  Right now, and this is just a snapshot of where things are, there seem to be three candidates in the top tier of the race of the Democratic presidential nomination -- Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.  After them, there are, perhaps, five or six candidates with some significant or more than nominal support.  As the candidates narrow down, we`re now getting to another phase in the race.

Here with me now, two people with plenty of insight into the current state of the Democratic race, how it appears to be breaking down, Waleed Shahid, spokesperson for Justice Democrats, and Karine Jean-Pierre, spokesperson for and an MSNBC political analyst.

Karine, let me start with you.  Before you sort of get into the horse race numbers, do you see the sort of race -- to me, we`ve sort of turned a kind of corner where the field is narrowing.  People are announcing they`re dropping out.  There`s going to probably be one debate as far as now and the tiers seem more, less permeable than they might have four or five months ago when who knows who would rise and who would fall.  What do you think?

KARINE JEAN-PIERRE, SPOKESPERSON MOVEON.ORG:  I think you`re absolutely right, Chris.  You laid it out pretty well.  Look, we have a debate coming up right after Labor Day, which we know in past electoral cycle, that`s when people start paying a little bit more attention.  They`re much more focused.  And we have to understand, though, this race is still fluid.  Things are still moving around and we have to see, right, you were talking about the Monmouth poll and the margin of errors  and how we`ve never seen anything like that.  We don`t know yet if that is the norm, or if that is just an  outlier.  So we have to keep an eye on that.

But, yeah, this was pretty shocking, right, what we saw today with the Monmouth poll is pretty shocking.  It`s a lot of what people have been saying that Joe Biden is the front-runner but not the runaway front-runner, right?  Or that we`ve been seeing with these crowds with Elizabeth Warren that she`s been getting these crowds, but this poll tells you a little bit more about why she`s getting this crowd. 

And actually this poll,  I think, is the best for Bernie Sanders.  You get a real.  This is really good poll for Bernie Sanders. You get a real sense that he has a solid 15 percent to 20 percent support where in 2016, that would not have worked with really a two-person race.  But right now with a multi-candidate race, that`s really impressive for him.  And that is going to be helpful, because as we are trying to figure out who`s going to stay and who`s going to be out as you were just talking about, Chris.

HAYES:  Yeah, I mean, Elizabeth Warren -- I mean, the one thing that seems clear to me -- like there`s literally one story that all of the data points out.  Like if you`re going to tell a single story so far, which is that there`s one candidate who has made the most gain, and that`s Elizabeth Warren.  That just seems to me borne out by all of the polling, all of the anecdotal data, the reporting, and then these crowds -- you know, 15,000 people in Seattle.

You know, Joe Biden announced he has been at the top of the polls and sort of been there.  Bernie Sanders has been around number two through most of this.  The most movement it seems is with this campaign.

WALEED SHAHID, SPOKESPERSON, JUSTICE DEMOCRATS:  Yeah, I think that the poll, the Monmouth poll, is showing trends at their logical ends where Elizabeth Warren has been slowly and steadily climbing in the polls and now she`s, you know, she`s up there always number two or number three with Bernie Sanders.  And I think she`s putting together this coalition of Hillary Clinton voters in 2016 and Bernie Sanders voters in 2016, that could be a pretty powerful coalition.

HAYES:  The question of that coalition, and this is where I think the question about Biden, where does he go from here, right, is, Karine, is where are the voters that he adds, right?  And also, this sort of generational question.  A lot of us talked about in terms of race.  He`s been pulling far ahead with African-American voters.  But there`s a big generation gap.

I mean, white and black voters above a certain age favor Biden quite heavily, under a certain age, that does not appear to be the case.  And if you`re Biden, and you`re choosing between those two age demographics, the older ones are the ones that come out in primaries, so that`s probably the one you`d bank on.

JEAN-PIERRE:  Yeah, it`s incredibly problematic for Biden.  In that Monmouth poll he was at 6 percent, I think with voters 50 and under.  That is not where you want to be.

HAYES:  Just to caution, that`s a small -- that`s a very small -- a cross sample size.  I`m not going to take this as gospel.

JEAN-PIERRE:  Margin of error, 5 percent to 7 percent, yes.  Absolutely, we need to put that out there.  But just using that because that`s what we have at the moment with that snapshot, that`s pretty terrible.  And here`s the thing here, you know, it`s like we`re going to need a movement to beat  Donald Trump, not just a candidate who could beat Donald Trump.  You`re going to need a movement  and that includes a coalition that we`ve seen a Barack Obama do twice, and that includes young people.  And think that is the problem.

And, yes, older people are more likely to vote.  We see that.  They`re more consistent voters.  But you have to put together a coalition.  And I think that is the problem that Biden could foresee.

HAYES:  That coalition -- Barack Obama put together that coalition.  And one of the things he did was, you know, highly educated liberals have always sort of had their primary horse in races and had a hard time winning the nomination largely because along race lines it`s been hard to put that coalition together.  Barack Obama broke through that, right?

That, to me, strikes me as one of the big questions right now in the race for essentially non-Biden candidates or particularly Warren and Sanders.  Warren whose appeal right now from the best we can tell in the polls is quite white.

SHAHID:  Yeah, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren are going to figure -- have to figure out how to earn the support of a lot of those black voters who are now with Joe Biden.  I think Kamala Harris also has that same issue.

HAYES:  And Pete Buttigieg if he wants to stay in a tier that`s appreciable polling.

SHAHID:  But overall, the point about voters under 50 is true that overall, they are more progressive-minded.  They seem to be centering policy more than older voters, and that makes sense because of everything we knew about Millennials from the 2016 campaign.

HAYES:  It`s interesting to me, the Biden campaign really has -- we show the screenshot for one second, which is the head-to-head polling he has in his first ad.  I mean, they`re really leaning into this argument, like the Biden message right now is it`s electability, it`s decency and it`s normalcy. And that`s it, that`s the message.  It`s much more than it`s policy, like those are the three things.  And look, I can beat Trump, and you know me, and I`m a decent guy, and all this nightmare might end.  Short and sweet.

Waleed Shahid and Karine Jean-Pierre, thanks for sharing your time.  That is ALL IN for this evening.  "THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW" starts right now. 

Good evening, Rachel.