CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: I think we`ve just defined fake news.
And that`s HARDBALL for now. "ALL IN" with Chris Hayes starts right now.
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CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: Tonight on ALL IN.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Whatever it takes. I mean, we`re going to have a wall.
HAYES: The President encourages aides to break the law and promised pardons if they`re caught.
TRUMP: I do have an absolute right to pardon myself.
HAYES: Tonight the shocking new reporting from the Washington Post and Congressman Al Green on what looks like another impeachable offense. Plus, the mayor San Juan on Puerto Rico`s preparations for hurricane Dorian. Deadline day for Democrats, did the field just get cut in half? And as the Amazon fires rage our president`s new plan to open up America`s largest National Forest to loggers.
TRUMP: We`re going to take care of the floors. You know, the floors of the forests it`s very important.
HAYES: When ALL IN starts right now.
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HAYES: Good evening from New York I`m Chris Hayes. There`s a case to be made that there is a loaded gun embedded in the Constitution, and that loaded gun is the pardon power just sitting there waiting to be abused. It`s a power given solely to the president and it would theoretically allow for all kinds of misuse.
For example, what if a really, really violent genuinely fascist president ordered his chief of staff to murder the head of the opposition party on federal property and then pardoned him? What are you going to do? The only constitutional solution is impeachment but if his party controls the Senate and they stick with them.
At its most extreme, the pardon power is a way of undoing the entire structure of the rest of the Constitution which is what can make it so dangerous if abused. We`ve seen its surface in impeachment proceedings before in the case of Richard Nixon. Nixon famously dangled pardons in front of the people in front of people who had committed crimes on his behalf as part of the articles of impeachment.
And the reason you have to use impeachment to check the pardon power is because there`s literally no other check in the Constitution, not one. It is unreviewable and absolute. If you don`t use the impeachment power to check the pardon power, then the pardon power is absolute. That`s the way the Constitution works.
Which brings us to this story in The Washington Post which says President Trump is so eager to complete hundreds of miles of border fence ahead of the 2020 presidential election, he has directed aides to fast-track billions of dollars` worth of construction contracts, aggressively seized private land and disregard environmental rules.
He also has told worried subordinates that he will pardon them of any potential wrongdoing should they have to break laws to get the barriers built quickly. This is not the first time Trump has reportedly done something like this. Jake Tapper reported in April that on a trip to the border, Trump told the head of Customs and Border Protection Kevin McALeenan he would grant him a pardon if you were sent to jail for blocking asylum seekers from entering the U.S. in defiance of U.S. law/
Tapper also reported on the same trip, the President told border agents to not let migrants in. Tell them we don`t have the capacity, he said. If the judge give you trouble, say sorry judge, I can`t do it. We don`t have the room. The President did not them a pardon but he did encourage them to break the law.
But this is now apparently a pattern of behavior for this president. Washington Post has this blockbuster story about how the president is running roughshod over the rule of law in every way to build the border wall that Congress denied him the authority to build and that Mexico was supposed to pay for.
Instead, Trump is trying to shake down the system of checks and balances to get his wall built because he thinks it matters to his base. The Post reports when Trump`s aides suggested that some of his orders are illegal or unworkable, "Trump has suggested he would pardon the officials if they would just go ahead, he had said. He has waived off worries about contracting procedures in the use of eminent domain saying take the land."
Again, the most damning detail here aside from the corruption which we`ll get to is that he`s telling people as the Washington Post reports don`t worry, I`ll pardon you. And here`s what`s really revealing. When the White House is confronted with this extremely damning account of the president abusing the pardon power, they don`t deny it, no.
An anonymous White House official told the Post and said, Trump is joking when he makes such statements about pardons which of course implies he`s making them. So he`s joking about the pardons but not about worrying people to break the law?
And then, of course, today the President tweeted it was all fake news that he would give law-breaking aides a pardon. He didn`t address whether or not he told aides to break the law. And of course, this was after the White House had already acknowledged that Trump said he would give out pardons questioning the tone not that he had said it.
But it`s not just the pardons. The President of the United States is directing people to ignore or to break the law. Directing someone explicitly to break the law is an impeachable offense full stop. Joining me now Democratic Congressman Al Green of Texas, one of the first members of Congress to call for President Trump`s impeachment and said just last week he will try for the fourth time to impeach the president when Congress returns next month.
Do you think directing subordinates to break the law and offering them pardons constitutes a high crime misdemeanor under the Constitution?
REP. AL GREEN (D-TX: Thank you for having me on. Yes, it does constitute an impeachable offense and it can be a high crime or it could be a high misdemeanor. You and I have discussed high misdemeanor before. But here`s what`s important. If you look at Federalist 69, it makes very clear what you have called to our attention about the President`s ability to pardon persons. And Federalist 69 makes it clear that this is the case in all offenses saving impeachment itself.
For example, if we the members of the Congress should impeach the vice president, the president cannot pardon the vice president who has been impeached. So Federalist 69 tracks pretty much what you`ve said. But here`s the real concern -- the real concern is this. Will Congress have the will to impeach the president.
This President has demonstrated that he disrespects the Congress. He`s demonstrated that he doesn`t believe that there any guardrails. He has so much has said that if he went out on Fifth Avenue and if he shot someone that he would still maintain the support level that he has from his base. But the question becomes now, if he does something dastardly, will des Congress have the courage, the intestinal fortitude to go forward with impeachment?
I think the president has called our bluff. He sees us with more bark than bite and he`s willing to do whatever he thinks he can to satiate his base. He has promised them a wall. He will deliver a wall by any means possible.
HAYES: I should note there`s been 135, I believe, members of the Democratic House caucus along with one Independent member who have come out in support of either impeachment or impeachment inquiry. You are obviously one of them. I want to ask you a follow-up question about that, but I want to return to the facts for a moment which is this question.
The president`s defenders will often say well, he says a lot of stuff. I mean, you saw this in the Mueller report where he contemplates or orders Don McGahn to fire Mueller and McGahn doesn`t do it. He tells people to do things and everyone says, well, he`s blowing off steam or he`s joking in the case of the pardons.
Does it matter to you whether the orders are effectuated? If the president is kind of impotently lawless, if he tries to break the but can`t get subordinates to do it, does that matter from the standpoint of impeachment?
GREEN: Here`s what matters. Is he abusing his power and is he intending for his orders to be carried out? The president is quite clever. He does back off of these things and we haven`t been able to get someone to give us the actual testimony indicating that he intends for this to happen.
I understand that these are stories that have been reported, sources that have not been clearly identified, but if you can get the proof positive evidence that this is what he intended, then the carrying -- following through on it is not going to be necessary because he is encouraging the breaking of the law.
And the President can`t do this, not in stay in office with a Congress that has the will to follow the Constitution and impeach him.
HAYES: Well, then, my final question for you is something like this, which is again, we`ve kept two instances here reporters uncovering this as things that had allegedly happened. The White House seeming to confirm it though quibbling about the tone, is that something that should be the subject of an impeachment inquiry? Should there be formal investigation into this when Congress returns in the fall?
GREEN: Among the many other things, yes, Congress should make inquiries. We should not allow the president to make these kinds of statements if he`s making them to his subordinates, and then go -- let that go unchallenged. This is what Congress is here for. And we should not allow the belief that the Senate may not find the president guilty and remove him from office to prevent us from doing our job.
We have a mandate. We should follow through. And if we follow through, then we`ll find out what the Senate will do. The Senate may have an epiphanous moment and realize that the country is at risk and that the president should act appropriately.
By the way, we often talk about how the soul of the country is at risk. Well, the soul of the House of Representatives is at risk. We have not acted as we should have. And if we do not with setting precedents that are going to follow us for the rest of our lives probably because you don`t know what the next president will do. And he will then point to the ineffective Congress that did not take action. We cannot be feckless. We have to be efficacious.
HAYES: All right, Congressman Al Green, thank you very much.
GREEN: Thank you.
HAYES: For more on the President`s lawless behavior, Ian Bassin former Associate Council for President Barack Obama, now Executive Director of the legal watchdog organization Protect Democracy and Joyce Vance former U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Alabama, she is now an MSNBC Legal Analyst.
First, Joyce, sort of at a high level, your reaction to the push by the president to sort of by any means necessary build the wall and an explicitly ordering his subordinates to either ignore or actually violate the law.
JOYCE VANCE, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST: So it`s hard to have any reaction to this except for absolute outrage. This is the nation`s top executive, the man who takes an oath to uphold the laws, promises he`ll uphold the Constitution which includes a clause that specifically orders him to fulfill his duty to the law. And apparently the law is no more important to him than anything else is.
He`s willing to order people to violate the law not to achieve some good gain, not to achieve some positive goal but to fulfill a campaign promise that he`s made in hopes that he can be re-elected in 2020. It`s really abominable.
HAYES: Ian, how do you see this legally in terms of recourse?
IAN BASSIN, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, PROTECT DEMOCRACY: Well, I would have some advice for federal officials and workers right now who are considering what to do which is be very careful what orders you follow because that pardon may not be worth the paper it`s written on.
Let`s play this out. If a federal official violates federal law in following a Trump order, it`s unlikely that the Trump administration is going to prosecute them because of the president`s willing to pardon them. He`s probably willing to intervene with DOJ to stop a prosecution. So what would the President do?
Presumably, he would issue a pre-emptive pardon to protect that official from being prosecuted by a subsequent administration. But here`s the catch. If that subsequent administration concludes that that pardon was actually invalid and unconstitutional because it was in violation of the president`s take care clause and decides to prosecute and let a judge or court answer that question, if you`re that federal official, do you want to gamble your freedoms on whether a court sides with Trump`s interpretation of the Constitution?
HAYES: I mean, that`s -- if you`re taking him at face value that he would absolutely give you a pardon which I would say you know, that and $3.00 gets you on the subway, like I wouldn`t -- I wouldn`t counsel anyone to take a pledge from the president like he will be there for you and when you know -- but it`s a very good point in terms of what the sort of constitutional parameters are here.
There`s also the question Joyce of the corruption behind this. I mean, multiple reports now indicating the President, one of the things he doing is pushing for a specific contractor for this construction. This again from the Washington Post. He`s recently urged the Army Corps to award a contract to a company he favors North Dakota based Fisher Industries though the firm has not been selected.
Fisher has been aggressively pushed by Trump ally Kevin Cramer who briefly held up the confirmation of a Trump Budget Office nominee last month an attempt to put pressure on the Army Corps.
You were a federal prosecutor, Joyce, and I imagine you`ve prosecuted corruption cases. I covered a lot of corruption back in Chicago and as a cub reporter. This is corruption 101. Like a person in power puts pressure on the government to hire a contractor who is politically connected is the most basic and obvious corruption story across the country.
VANCE: You know, it really is. I mean, corruption here is the feature it`s not a bug. Usually you see a senator or a mayor when you`re looking at a public corruption case, something where one small piece has gone amiss. But here it it`s wide open, it`s the way of doing business. There is apparently this preference for friends of friends, there is no shame about it.
The most interesting thing watching this as a former federal prosecutor is seeing how easy it is to come by the evidence of it. They don`t really go to a lot of trouble to hide it.
HAYES: Ian, there`s sort of litigation right now, civil litigation about a bunch of aspects of the wall construction. The litigation about whether exceeds his authorities with the emergency declaration that`s a lot of money. There are plaintiffs who are suing because of the takings of the land. How do you see the legal recourses and the guardrails on whether they`re holding right now?
BASSIN: Well, those cases are important because one of the things they highlight is that when the true and the president runs roughshod over the law like this, there are real people whose lives are impaired and injured by it.
So we at Protect Democracy represent El Paso County and the border network for Human Rights who are suing the president because his fake emergency declaration was not only invalid and unconstitutional but it`s caused real harm to the community in El Paso Texas. He essentially wrongly declared their area an emergency disaster zone, and that is impacting them in all sorts of negative ways.
And in fact, there is a hearing tomorrow in El Paso in federal court on that case in which it`s not as Trump said some liberal running to the Ninth Circuit, it`s actually being argued by our co-counsel in the case Stu Gerson who was the acting Attorney General and head of civil litigation under George H.W. Bush.
And if you want to see the impact on these lives, we set up a site anyemergency.org telling the stories of the people in El Paso who are being impacted by the president`s lawlessness.
HAYES: Joyce, what do you think is happening at Department of Justice right now? I mean, this is an institution that is filled with lawyers who tend to take obeying the law very seriously.
VANCE: So you know, DOJ, its ability to indict cases and take them to juries and get convictions largely depends upon its integrity. So it`s difficult in many ways to watch people like the Attorney General taking steps that cause people whether they`re right or wrong to question his integrity.
The rule at DOJ is even if something is technically not a conflict of law, you don`t do it if it could give even the appearance of impropriety because that integrity is so important. At the same time that we see some issues with leadership, there are prosecutors all over the country who have their heads down. They`re prosecuting cases, they`re protecting the American people, they`re doing the right thing. They will be there for us and they will be there to try to resurrect the institution when this is over.
HAYES: All right, Ian Bassin and Joyce Vance, thank you both. Next, the President lashes out at Puerto Rico again as they feel the effects of another hurricane. San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz joins me next.
HAYES: All eyes are on Puerto Rico tonight where it is narrowly avoiding a direct hit from Hurricane Dorian. It was upgraded from a tropical storm to category one hurricane earlier today slamming through the Virgin Islands. And while it slid past Puerto Rico, the National Hurricane Center is still warning of the risks of flash flooding through tomorrow morning.
There`s already one reported hurricane-related death in Puerto Rico. By this weekend, durian could be making its way to Florida as a category three hurricane. We`re keeping an eye on that. Dorian comes two years after nearly 3,000 fellow Americans died in Puerto Rico after hurricane Maria doing damage that still has not been fully repaired.
Mayor Maria Melendez of Ponce told the New York Times, as we say, the electric grid is held together with tape. According to Puerto Rico`s Bureau for Emergency and Disaster Management, 30,000 people across the island still have blue tarps as roofs two years after Maria.
The island is also still reeling from a corruption scandal last month that brought people out into the streets to protest. It forced the resignation of Governor Ricardo Rossello, the man who stood by Trump after hurricane Maria and said only 16 people had died.
And if all that was not enough today, Donald Trump topped it off with a series of insulting tweets about Puerto Rico which he seems to view solely as a place that`s insufficiently grateful to him for throwing paper towels to it.
Here with me now by phone the Mayor of San Juan Carmen Yulin Cruz. Mayor Cruz, let me first ask by how you`re preparing and how things are looking down there?
MAYOR CARMEN YULIN CRUZ, SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO: Well, first of all, thank you for the opportunity. Fortunately, things are looking very good. We certainly in San Juan were much more prepared than we were two years ago. Our entire medical system including our Municipal Hospital all have generators and we`re very proud of the fact that our Hospital at all seemingly is the only one in Puerto Rico that has not one but two systems of generation of power generation.
And that`s very important because one of the things that we lack after Irma and Maria because there was no power was the ability to have people access appropriate health care or any type of health care at all. We opened four shelters in the city of San Juan. We had a high number of 45 people. So as people were looking at the hurricane -- storm and then hurricane progressing, they knew that it was going further and further away from San Juan.
And we had -- and we still have so we will have it for any other unforeseen circumstance that comes next month the month of September water, food, surgical equipment, medications and everything we need in the hospital for one month for ourselves, and in order to take care of people outside of the our municipal jurisdiction within our geographical jurisdiction of San Juan.
So we are much more and better prepared. I had a wonderful conversation this morning with MaryAnn Tierney, the Regional Director -- Administrator of FEMA Region Three from Philadelphia opening those channels of communication fortunately enough. It wasn`t necessary for FEMA to provide us any of the direct federal assistance at this point in time. But it`s always good to I`m cautiously optimistic.
And as the day went by and progressed, everything she said she was going to give in search of information she did. So it`s good it seems like FEMA has learned some of the hard lessons that had to be learned since Irma and Maria. We certainly in San Juan have learned those also and we had sort of a dress rehearsal. Now hurricane season gets really, really harsh in September, and of course, we are hoping for nothing to happen, but if it does we feel much more prepared.
And now our thoughts and prayers move to our brothers and sisters in Florida. And rest assured that if the time comes for us to repay everything that the American people, not the American government, the American people, the Latino population in the diaspora have done for us, we will be there. We will get on the plane to help because we know how it feels when you are left to your own device in your darkest hour.
HAYES: There`s been obviously a tremendous amount of political turmoil on the island of Puerto Rico, the resignation of Ricardo Rossello, battle over the succession there. I wonder, do you feel that that`s had a tangible or material effect on the ability and capacity of government agencies down there to mobilize in advance of disaster as hurricane season now bears down on you?
CRUZ: A lot of the first line of resistance comes from the municipality and that was very evidence after Irma and Maria. So there is that structure at the municipal level has stability. We also have to understand that the current governor Wanda Vazquez was a member of the Rossello administration. She was the Secretary of Justice.
So it`s not like this is her first hurricane or her first environmental situation. Of course, it is one as herself heading the situation. But one of the things that it did him, it was that the Rossello administration and the way that they treated President Trump`s comments after Irma and Maria gave President Trump and his administration the ability to look the other way, they`ll look -- the ability to say you know what, everything is fine in Puerto Rico. That is the agenda we`re going to push no matter what the reality is.
And some of us had to fight very hard to ensure that people knew the reality of what we were truly facing. That hadn`t because now Rossello had to resign because of the corruption in his administration, because of every insensible thing that was said on that check.
It gave Donald Trump a more fuel to call the Puerto Rican people corrupt, just like he calls Mexicans criminals for no reason at all. He continues to make sure that he chastises the people of Puerto Rico. We still have 30,000 people living under blue tarps, 1.3 million out of three million Puerto Ricans need some sort of assistance to get food on the table, 900,000 Puerto Ricans are on the edge of losing any ability to get medical plan or medical assistance.
So we have a very weakened electrical infrastructure. We have a fiscal control board that is really just working for Wall Street rather than working for the Puerto Rican people. And this is -- it`s almost a perfect storm so to speak.
So there are a lot of challenges that have taken place and President Donald Trump continues to remind us of how awful it is to have a person who calls himself a leader that sees himself as having the responsibility to belittle, to lie, to distort information, and to try to make a group of people invisible while those people are trying to literally fight for their lives.
HAYES: Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz in San Juan, thank you so much for taking some time and all our thoughts are with you. It looks like we`re all very happy it`s going to spare the worst of Puerto Rico. Thank you very much. Still ahead, while the Amazon burns, new reporting tonight the President is pushing to open up our largest National Forest to loggers. That story next.
HAYES: The rain forest is still burning. Record fires continue to rage throughout the Amazon as the right wing government of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro now says they now will accept foreign aid and resources to fight the fires as long as they get to decide how to use the money.
They also plan on sending the army in to help, which is something of an about-face after more or less running on a platform of opening up the Amazon to more development.
But the Bolsonaro government isn`t the only right wing government in the western hemisphere with big plans to chop away at precious rain forests, climate consequences be damned. The Washington Post is reporting the Trump administration -- in fact Donald Trump apparently himself -- have reportedly instructed the agriculture secretary to open Alaska`s Tongass forest up for logging and mining.
The forest is the largest intact temperate rain forest in the world, also literally the largest forest in the entire country, and it`s been protected from logging and mining since President Bill Clinton issued an order putting it off limits on the way out the door back in 2001.
George W. Bush tried to reverse that policy but was stymied in court.
There is no question Trump will likely face a lawsuit as well if and when this actually happens.
To talk about what`s going on, I`m joined by Juliet Eilperin, senior national affairs correspondent with The Washington Post who broke the story; and Eric Jorgenson, managing attorney for the Earthjustice Alaska regional office.
Juliet, let me start with you. What do we know about whether in fact order has been issued and what it would mean legally were it to be issued.
JULIET EILPERIN, THE WASHINGTON POST: well, when we refer to an order, we mean verbal instruction. So, in other words, it`s not like an executive order has been issued, but the president, based on our reporting, has had a conversation with the agricultural secretary where he has instructed him to exempt the state of Alaska from this 2001 roadless rule, which as you said was instituted in the final days of Bill Clinton`s time in office.
And so now the Forest Service, which had been contemplating more modest changes to how the forest would be managed, is now working on proposing doing that. And so right now you have folks in the government working to issue a proposal that would lift the restrictions on these kinds of activities.
HAYES: Eric, for those who don`t know, can you tell us about the significance of this place and what the consequences would be if it were in fact opened up in the way that it appears the Trump administration is going to order.
ERIC JORGENSEN, MANAGING ATTORNEY, EARTHJUSTICE: Sure.
The Tongass National Forest is the crown jewel of America`s national forest system. As you said earlier, it`s the largest national forest in the country. It has the most roadless wild acres of any national forest in the country in areas that are now protected by this roadless rule.
It is important in so many ways to the American people. It provides the biggest climate buffer, the biggest carbon sanctuary anywhere in the national forest system. It provides areas that are unique in the world -- it is the largest remaining temperate rain forest, it`s rare, and people come and visit it from around the country and around the world, it provides important habitat for wildlife, rare and threatened in other parts of the world, including grizzly bears and wolves, and species like salmon that are still wild in our streams and still the key part of the economy and the way of life here in this region.
It`s also very important to the Alaskan native people who live in the Tongass National Forest and for millennia have used it to support their way of life in the region.
So from almost any perspective, the value of the Tongass National Forest and its roadless areas is hard to measure, and the future of this region and the value of it globally depends on continuing to protect these wild roadless areas, areas that have been protected for almost 20 years now. And it`s working here in the region and nationally. There is no good reason to change the rule today.
HAYES: Juliet, obviously this is something that other Republican administrations have sort of tried, the roadless rule, meaning you can`t go into the areas that don`t have roads in these forests, so it`s sort of limits the amount of new development and logging and mining that can happen in them.
What are the legal obstacles to them being able to do this unilaterally?
EILPERIN: Well, while they have discretion to, for example, change potentially this rule and change the management plan to the forest, as you alluded, it`s clear that they would face legal challenges in the same way that, for example, George W. Bush did when he was president. He did exempt more than 2 million acres in the forest and instigated timber sales there. Ironically now we have roaded roadless areas. There are, in fact, were roads that were constructed in areas that then after a court decision in 20 -- you know, subsequently are now technically supposed to be roadless areas.
So, essentially, what you would have is a move by the administration to exempt Alaska, then change the management plan so that they could start holding timber sales. But again, there will be plenty of groups rushing in to court to try to block this before some of these actions take place. And we`ll just have to see how that plays out.
HAYES: Eric, are you confident you can beat this back in the courts?
JORGENSEN: The administration has to be able to justify any kind of a change to the roadless rule. We don`t think they can. As Juliet mentioned, the Bush administration attempted to put in place an exemption for the Tongass National Forest. It failed. Judges rejected that attempt to exempt the Tongass, because the agency wasn`t able to explain the about face in their position. And we think it will be very difficult for the Forest Service to justify an exemption of the Tongass and meet the requirements of the laws to do it.
HAYES: All right, Juliet Eilperin and Eric Jorgensen, thank you for making time, both of you.
Ahead, what happens now that half of the Democratic field failed to make the debate stage? One candidate already announced she is dropping out. We`ll talk about that coming up.
And tonight`s Thing One, Thing Two starts next.
HAYES: Thing One tonight, pretty much every single day of the Trump presidency brings a new scandal. Today as we`ve discussed, it`s a report the president directed aides to seize private land to get his border wall built and told subordinates he will pardon them if they have to break the law to get it done.
Now, of course, we say it all the time, can you imagine if President Obama had done that, or any of i t.
But it is a good reminder of how relatively scandal-free his presidency was. As our friend Pete Souza reminds us today, this day, August 28 is actually the anniversary of multiple shocking Obama era scandals. On this day in 2010, President Obama went fly fishing and had bad form.
On this day in 2012, he fist bumped two people at once.
And on this day on 2014 we saw by far the biggest scandal of the entire Obama presidency, the tan suit.
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LOU DOBBS, FOX BUSINESS: The president is so nattily attired normally, I think it was shocking to a lot of people.
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HAYES: Shocking indeed. That`s Thing Two in 60 seconds.
HAYES: Remember that time it was pray for Donald Trump day and the White House called up a random church on the way home from his golf course to have them ready to pray for Trump when he stopped by? And then Trump showed up still wearing his golf clothes and spikes and his 18 hole hat head and the pastor later apologized to the congregation.
It`s amazing how something like that can happen and we all completely forget about it within a few months. But it come backs to mind today as we celebrate the fifth anniversary of the greatest scandal of the Obama presidency, the day he showed up in the briefing room wearing a tan suit, and the whole world went bananas.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What`s upsetting is it showed him relaxed, it showed he was on vacation. People are dying, people are...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So it reinforced the wrong image?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, it was a nightmare. And only the Democrats, and only liberals could actually elect a guy who wears a tan suit.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When Nixon and Kennedy debated, Nixon wore a tan suit and that didn`t bode well for him, did it? It wasn`t a suit of strength.
DOBBS: Well, the president is so nattily attired normally that I think it was shocking to a lot of people.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mmmm, look at that, that horrible light tan suit.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When Evans writes me on Twitter a serious man wears dark blue or black to important meetings. I think it`s a sign to enemies he is a wimp.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I mean, the guy, serious, he needs to burn that thing, because it looks like he just got off the links. It`s not good.
REP. PETER KING, (R) NEW YORK: ISIS is watching. If you were the head of ISIS, if you were Baghdadi, or you were any of the ISIS -- anyone in the ISIS leadership, would you come way from yesterday afraid of the United States? Would you be afraid that the United States was going to use all its power to crush ISIS, or would you think here is a person who is going to go out and do a few fundraisers over the Labor Day weekend?
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HAYES: President Obama learned the valuable lesson that they, he never wore that suit again. He learned his lesson, tan just isn`t the right color for a man of such stature, tan is more the color the president might wear when he is belly up to the breakfast bar about to horse down an omelet before golf, because that`s how you crush ISIS.
HAYES: On Monday, we covered the eyebrow raising Monmouth University poll that showed a three-way tie for the lead of the Democratic presidential primary. Though I cautioned when we did that it`s just one poll and you have to see if it is an outlier or a trend.
Well, the data is in and it was an outlier. Don`t take my word for it, that`s what Monmouth`s poll director himself says in a statement in which he attributes Monday`s poll results to, quote, the uncertainty that is inherent in the polling process.
Polling is not an exact science, particularly any given individual poll. They have margins of errors, confidence intervals, and that`s why it`s best to rely on poll averages, which despite the conventional wisdom were pretty close to correct in predicting the national vote totals in the 2016 presidential race.
The six Democratic primary polls released since that Monmouth poll averaged out to show a race in which Joe Biden is in first, still relatively comfortably, followed by Bernie Sanders in second, and Elizabeth Warren close behind in third.
But the biggest action in the race right now is not at the top of the field, it`s at the bottom. The DNC grim reaper is coming for about half the field who as of today do not qualify for the next democratic debate. We`ll talk about the purge and the big-name candidate who dropped out of the race today, right after this.
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SEN. KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND, (D) NEW YORK: Hey, everyone. I wanted you to hear it from me first, that after more than eight incredible months I am ending my presidential campaign. I know this isn`t the result we wanted, we wanted to win this race, but it`s important to know when it`s not your time, and to know how you can best serve your community and country. I believe I can best serve by helping to unite us to beat Donald Trump in 2020.
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HAYES: Senator Kirsten Gillibrand today became the latest Democrat to drop out of the presidential race on a day that she, along with about half the field, failed to qualify for the next Democratic debate.
For the latest on the Democratic race, I`m joined by Olivia Nuzzi, Washington correspondent for New York magazine, who comes to us from South Carolina, where she is covering the Biden campaign. Also with me, Dave Weigel, national political correspondent for The Washington Post, and Alex Seitz-Wald, NBC News political reporter.
Dave, let me start with you because you have been on the trail constantly. I -- my theory about this field is that Democratic voters, primary voters, didn`t actually want as big a field as they got and we`re going to see some pretty severe winnowing. What do you think?
DAVE WEIGEL, THE WASHINGTON POST: Oh, that`s absolutely right. You hear it all the time when you`re asking voters in Iowa and New Hampshire and early states, they`re annoyed they have to make this many choices. They are happy they`re not down to two choices. And frankly, that`s a reason I think this race has gotten a little less bitter than the 2016 primary got by this point. But they are exhausted by having to choose between what was at one point 25 people, maybe a little fair to the likes of Jay Inslee and people who, by a lot of measures, had a right to break into this thing.
But you`ve already heard people winnow their choices down to four or five, and it`s in line with the polls. And frankly, you`ll probably hear this from other people who have been on the trail, you hear a lot of voters just embody pundits and rank the candidates and say who would be a good vice president and say what the safe choice is. That does not leave a lot of room for people polling at 1 percent who are trying out of left field.
And I think lot bet that Elizabeth Warren, but would be weaker than she is, or Joe Biden would be weaker than he is, and their bet has not come through.
HAYES: Olivia, is that square with some of the things you have been hearing?
OLIVIA NUZZI, NEW YORK MAG AZINE: Yeah, totally. I think you do hear a lot of pundits speak and consultants speak, not just from voters, but from the candidates themselves, but I think it`s also skewed a little bit, because the people that we most often talk to -- I know Dave talks to everybody on the ground, but at least in my experience, when you go to these events, you are talking to people who are really, really interested in politics, really cover this very closely, and are almost almost like professional undecided voters in a way. And so it`s not surprising that they mirror -- they echo the same things we say on TV or that they hear political consultants say.
So, I think it`s important to be on the ground, obviously, and to talk to voters. But I try to kind of put that in context with polling with everything else more broadly so that it`s not just skewed towards what anything -- any one thing says.
HAYES: Well, I think, Alex, that there`s a little bit of a feedback loop, right, between like the sort of conversation of electability, but it`s also the case -- you see some folks -- I mean, this is a huge marker in this race, because we`re now going to have one debate night with 10 people as opposed to two with 10, right, so it`s split in half, the debates. And there`s complaints by some of the campaigns that didn`t make it. And the argument the DNC makes is, look, you had a chance. I mean, we bent over backwards to make this as equitable as possible. People like Mayor Pete Buttigieg, no one has ever heard of, and he`s going to be on that stage. What do you think about that argument and the sort of state of the race in terms of organic enthusiasm for the 10 or 12 folks that aren`t going to be there?
ALEX SEITZ-WALD, NBC NEWS POLITICAL REPORTER: Right, Chris. I mean, this was the largest presidential campaign field in history, so I think some winnowing was perhaps in order.
And I do think this is an inflection point with this debate here. We`re down to 10 candidates on the stage. It`s all the major ones for the first time. And I think voters have had a chance to see these lower polling candidates. They`ve had a chance to break out.
I don`t think at this point I don`t think we`re going to get another Pete Buttigieg out of left field candidate, that the race has stabilized and it`s stratified. We have a clear top tier with Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, kind of a medium-sized second tier and then all the other ones who are still praying for that Hail Mary. They`re probably going to stay until October, because even if you miss the September debate, you can still get on the October stage given a little bit more time. But then after that, the threshold is probably going to go up.
And so I think for voters, it clarifies things. It makes it easier to understand. There were too many options I think for a lot of people before. And now they can take another look, a deeper look at some of these candidates and maybe get beyond the pundit think and start to think about who they want to be president.
HAYES: Dave, you have done some reporting about Tom Steyer, who is a billionaire, who has been spending a lot of money to try to get on the debate stage and has not. And I think it points to an interesting asymmetry. I think if you look back at GOP presidential primary leaders in February of 2011 through February of 2012, all these different people you have had at the top.
And this is Trump back in April 2011, based at least in one poll -- Giuliani, Palin, Bachmann, Herman Cain, and then that was the 2011-2012 race. And then you have Donald Trump. And I think there was thinking in Democratic circles like, anything can happen, like anyone has a shot.
And I think Steyer and others they shown, and I`m curious if you think this, that like the Democratic primary base is different than the Republican primary base in terms of what they are looking for vis-a-vis like conventional experience and things like that.
WEIGEL: Oh, absolutely. The polls -- when they ask people do you want governing experience in a candidate, the Democrats overwhelmingly say yes. I mean, I think there`s some people who had egg on their face because they looked at Marianne Williamson trending on Twitter and assumed Democratic voters were going to bump her up to 5 or 6 percent, that`s not the way they think.
The way I look at the other 12 candidates we keep referring to, these kind of ghosts fading out on the outside of the debates, is I feel that a lot of people got into this with a big trapeze net waiting for voters to abandon Joe Biden, waiting for voters to decide that Bernie was too old, waiting to decide that Elizabeth Warren couldn`t hack it, and they`ve been wrong.
And so what you`ve had instead -- I mean, the 10 candidates who are going to make the stage add up to about 84 percent of the total polling in this race. The people who have been left off add up to about 4 percent. There just hasn`t been that much interest, because the three candidates at the top that we`re mentioning, and a couple of people like Pete Buttigieg, had their moment and broke through, and Democrats don`t feel the need to patronize the people who didn`t.
HAYES: Olivia, you were at a Biden event today, who remains at the top of this race, according to polling. Your impressions?
NUZZI: Well, you know, today -- I`ve been with him for the last two months on the road on and off. And it was remarkable today I think because the poll -- the general perception of the polls that it was an outlier, and because he wasn`t defensive, he wasn`t explaining away a gaffe or clarifying something today, which is pretty rare for him on the road, he was in a really good mood, and he was a lot clearer. He wasn`t meandering as much as I`m doing right now. And he wasn`t -- he seemed to be in really good spirits, and just seemed to relate to people in a deeper way and didn`t really have a big misstep.
And I think -- I don`t know what that really tells us, other than he was in a good mood because he didn`t have any bad news for a few days, but it was interesting to see -- it was kind of a glimpse in a slightly different side of him than I think reporters see when he is kind of a little bit annoyed, feeling like he shouldn`t have to be explaining himself as much as the reporters want him to, yeah.
HAYES: Alex, quickly, October, I think -- what do you think is the size of this field when we actually get to voting Iowa February?
SEITZ-WALD: It`s hard to say. But I think we will be down to more like five or six than 10 or 12. And I`m guessing the names won`t be too surprising, if you look at who is up there now.
HAYES: All right, Olivia Nuzzi, Dave Weigel, and Alex Seitz-Wald, thank you all for being with me.
That is ALL IN for this evening.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END