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The weaponization of the Department of Justice. TRANSCRIPT: 10/1/19, All In w/ Chris Hayes.

Guests: Mimi Rocah, Ta-Nehisi Coates, John Harwood, Christina Greer

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST:  Thanks for being with us tonight.  "ALL IN" with Chris Hayes starts right now.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  What do you know about those conversations?

HAYES:  The first big showdown of the impeachment era.

MIKE POMPEO, SECRETARY OF STATE, UNITED STATES:  So you just gave me a report about a whistleblower complaint none of which I`ve seen.

HAYES:  Tonight, why Democrats are accusing the Secretary of State of trying to stonewall and obstruct the inquiry.  Then --

Stephen Colbert, Comedian:  Is it time to dare I say lock him up?

HAYES:  New arms over the Justice Department and the State Department investigating the President`s enemies.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  We have found many crimes on the other side.

HAYES:  Then, new evidence Republicans may be misjudging the politics of impeachment.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Trump should come out and say, you want to impeach me, knock yourselves out.

HAYES:  And my exclusive interview with author Ta-Nehisi Coates on his new novel The Water Dancer when ALL IN starts right now.


HAYES:  Good evening from New York I`m Chris Hayes.  It has only been a week since Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi announced an official and formal impeachment inquiry to Donald Trump, and since then things have been moving at a blistering pace.

But the basic facts have not changed.  The scandal is still the same.  The President corruptly abused his office to coerce a foreign state to come up with dirt against a political rival and then he and his White House tried to cover it up.

But it is just one instance of a president using the entire machinery of our government to his own private ends exclusively with no regard whatsoever for the public interest or the national interest.  And that is what the scandal of Donald Trump writ large is really.  That is what Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is trying to do at State Department.  It is blessed I have to say this, not Mike Pompeo State Department, it`s not Donald Trump State Department, it is our State Department.

Today, Pompeo pushed back on House Democrats demand to interview key State Department officials as early this week calling the effort "an act of intimidation."  But his efforts to stonewall the impeachment inquiry are already crumbling.

Just a few hours ago, we learned that the former U.S. Special Envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker will testify in the House`s impeachment inquiry on Thursday just two days from now.  Volker resigned his post suddenly last week after he came up in the whistleblower complaint about President Trump`s dealings with Ukraine.

Volker is not alone.  The former U.S. Ambassador Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, the woman who Trump seemed to threaten menacingly in his conversation with Ukrainian president will also testify before the House committees next week.

Mike Pompeo coming out today telling House Democrats the State Department will not show up for impeachment hearings.  It really takes some hutzpah because we now know Mike Pompeo was reportedly on that same Ukraine call with President Zelensky.  But remember, this is how he reacted when asked about it exactly a week ago.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  The Wall Street Journal is reporting that President Trump pressed the President of Ukraine eight times to work with Rudy Giuliani to investigate Joe Biden`s son.  What do you know about those conversations?

POMPEO:  So you just gave me a report about a whistleblower complaint none of which I`ve seen.


HAYES:  That wasn`t the question though, right?  She`s asked him, what do you know about those conversations.  He was on the call so he knew about the conversation.  That was a week ago.  Here`s how Pompeo reacted just five days ago.


POMPEO:  I haven`t had a chance to actually read the whistleblower complaint yet.  I read the first couple of paragraphs and then got busy today.  But I`ll ultimately get a chance to see it.  If I understand it right, it`s from someone who had secondhand knowledge.


HAYES:  Mike Pompeo is a sharp guy.  It`s the president is fond of saying, West Point, Harvard, the whole thing.  He could probably read the whistleblower complaint pretty quickly.  He only runs a few paragraphs, but of course, that is immaterial because he was listening to the phone call that`s at issue.

And Mike Pompeo as Secretary of State knowing full well that military aid to Ukraine had been stopped through the President of the United States shakedown a foreign leader for dirt on his opponent, invitation -- in fact, even a threat to menace and to meddle in American elections.

He heard the President disparage and vaguely threatened the U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine, a career foreign service officer who apparently wouldn`t play ball with Rudy Giuliani`s ongoing insane conspiracy theory and who was now planning to testify before Congress.

This is the same Mike Pompeo whose State Department appears to have been up to its neck colluding with Rudy Giuliani in this entire scheme to wield the power of American foreign policy for the sole purpose of extorting dirt from the foreign entity.  That Mike Pompeo.

The same Mike Pompeo whose State Department has launched this utterly insane inquiry into former Secretary of State and yes, yes, this is what I`m talking about, Hillary Clinton`s former aides and their e-mails -- you heard that right -- three years after the fact.

They are now looking into as many as 130 members of State Department after announced that they have in 2019 retroactively classified things they sent to Hillary Clinton which could now constitute potential security violations.

Yes, no, you`re not crazy.  That is what I said.  The State Department officials said things at the time that were not classified, three years later the Trump ministration came in and classified those things and all those people -- one of whom we`re going to hear from in a little bit -- are now under State Department investigation.  That Mike Pompeo.

Mike Pompeo like Vice-President Mike Pence and like Attorney General and William Barr is in up to his eyeballs in all of this.  Speaking of Barr and the scandal unfolding at the Department of Justice, the Attorney General has been apparently flying across the globe basically trying to dig up ammo for Trump T.V.

What he runs is our Department of Justice.  The Department of Justice that is tasked with enforcing of law for all of us, not working as an arm of the President`s reelection campaign or to support his Twitter trolls.

William Barr should be investigating the actions the president not spending taxpayer money to undermine American intelligence services because keep in mind we know President Trump has already done just that.

It was just four days ago the Washington Post reported that President Trump told two senior Russian officials in that infamous 2017 Oval Office meeting that he was unconcerned, unconcerned about Moscow`s interference in the 2016 presidential election because the United States are the same in other countries.  In other words, have at it, boys,

It is a stunning breach of public trust for the President of the United States, a breach that undercuts American intelligence and law enforcement, and a violation of the most sacrosanct duty that the president has.

Joining me now for more on the Trump Administration`s attempt to stonewall the impeachment hearing Democratic Congressman Tom Malinowski of New Jersey, a member the House Foreign Affairs Committee which is where those State Department officials are scheduled to appear for depositions.

He also served as senior director on President Clinton`s National Security Council and most recently in the State Department under Barack Obama as an Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor.  It`s great to have you here, Congressman.


HAYES:  You`re uniquely situated to evaluate the various equities at stake here because you`ve worked at NSC, you`ve worked at State, and you`re now a member of Congress.  So when Mike Pompeo says how dare you try to bully the people of Foggy Bottom and I will stand up for their integrity, and you can`t talk to them, and you`re a member of Congress, what do you say?

MALINOWSKI:  He`s been bullying the people at Foggy Bottom since he got there, and the President has as well.  Look, what these people cannot stand is that there are still patriotic folks working for the U.S. government who believe that their job is to work for America.  Not for a president, not for a person, but for the country, who have taken that oath.

And what he`s learning I think this week is that the oath keepers at the State Department are going to stand up to the oath breakers.

HAYES:  It`s striking to me that Kurt Volker is going to testify although he no longer works on State.  It`s more striking to me that Marie Yovanovitch who is -- Marie Yovanovitch who is the ambassador and a lifelong foreign service worker is going to come testify even though Mike Pompeo said she wasn`t going to.

MALINOWSKI:  Well, he can`t tell her enough to testify.  What`s he going to do, run her out of the Foreign Service?  He can`t do that.  The President threw her under the bus in the most threatening possible way.  They yanked her from Ukraine because they were running a shadow foreign policy through Rudy Giuliani who is maybe the President`s lawyer.  And now they expect her to somehow be respectful of this scheme and listen to the Secretary of State?  Of course not.

So these folks will testify.  Secretary Pompeo will fail in his efforts to intimidate them.  And we`ll know even more about something that we know a lot about.

HAYES:  So you`re confident that for all the bluster embodied in Pompeo`s letter that he will not be ultimately successful in stopping your committee and other committees from getting what they need.

MALINOWSKI:  Gosh, I sense fear more than bluster.  Look, this is a rare Congressional investigation in which we already know most of the facts before we even begin.  We`re filling in a few details about maybe the circumstances under which the aid was cut off to threaten the Ukrainians presumably to cough up this dirt, but they`ve admitted to the central fact that the President tried to extort election help from the foreign leader.  We know this.

And you know we still have to go through the process because even if you`re caught red-handed in America robbing a bank, you are going to still have a trial and have testimony and a jury and give you a chance to defend yourself, but that`s what this is.

HAYES:  There is an announcement today which caught my eye, and you may or may not know anything about this but I thought I would ask you, you`re on the relevant committee.  Multiple Congressional sources confirming that the State Department office of the Inspector General has reached out to Congress tomorrow with an urgent request to brief staff tomorrow on docs related to State Department and Ukraine.  Does that happen a lot?

MALINOWSKI:  No.  It`s really interesting.  I have no idea what it`s about.  We`ll see I suppose in the next few days.  But again, you know, it`s really interesting how inspectors general that these different agencies are playing this role of establishing checks against presidential authority.

Again, what the president is trying to do, you know, the big picture is to free himself from all of the bounds of ethics and morality and law and to get rid of all of the referees, the Intelligence Community, the FBI, the press.  And what`s standing up to them right now, inspector generals at the Intelligence Community, the State Department, other agencies who are saying, no, we took an oath to the Constitution, not to the President.  We`re going to keep her oath.

HAYES:  Final question.  You`re a freshman member of Congress.  You`ve worked in government for a very long time.  You represent a district that had been represented by a Republican and it had sent Republicans to Congress I think for many years.  Are you confident now home for these two weeks that you can explain why you support an impeachment inquiry and what at House Democrats are doing?

MALINOWSKI:  Absolutely.  Look --

HAYES:  You jump to that question.

MALINOWSKI:  I ran -- I made two basic promises.  I`m going to fight for the interest of the people of New Jersey.  We need a tunnel, a Hudson River tunnel.  We need to -- we need to get back our state and local tax deductions, we need better health care.

But I also promised to stand up for the Constitution and do what is right.  And people voted for me on that basis.  And this is something, my goodness, everybody can understand.  No president should use our foreign policy to extort election help from foreign countries.

No Republican, no Democrat -- if we allow this to happen, if we base our foreign policy on whether foreign leaders will help a president win reelection, what are we going to do, give a better trade deal to China because they give Trump dirt on Pete Buttigieg?  You know, it`s crazy.

HAYES:  It`s crazy.  Although now that you bring it up, it doesn`t seem so crazy.  Congressman Tom Malinowski, thank you very much.

MALINOWSKI:  Thank you.

HAYES:  Joining me now for more on the Trump Administration`s lawless behavior, Maya Wiley former Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York in the Civil Division, now Vice President for Social Justice at the New School and Chris Lu former White House Cabinet Secretary under President Barack Obama as well as former Counsel to the House Oversight Committee.

Starting on what one of the things the congressman just said which I think it`s really important here, when we`re talking about Marie Yovanovitch who`s a central figure in all this, and I like many reporters have been trying to get to her over the last week as you can imagine, that there are civil service protections enshrined in the law.

And the amount of bullying and fealty to the man at the top that is so sort of cringe-inducingly manifested by people like Mike Pompeo and Bill Barr is not necessarily the case for the folks in the career offices.

MAYA WILEY, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST:  Yes.  I think I think one of the things that was so important about what Congressmember Malinowski said is that this fundamentally is about whether their checks and balances that is about whether these agencies, these career staff whose jobs are essentially to serve the interests of the American people are able to do that without the power of the presidency being used to tell them not to.

And one of the things that happen was Marie Yovanovitch which is I think is also really important in the whistleblower complaint that the State Department itself stood up and said, yes, that`s not true, was the allegation that she -- which got her terminated essentially was that she had created a list of people who should not be investigated.  And it was the State Department actually that said, that`s just not true.

HAYES:  Right.  They defended her from the --

WILEY:  They defended her and yet -- and yet she was recalled for Ukraine.  And she was a careerist, she was -- she had served both Democratic and Republican administrations, and that`s actually what we need in our -- in diplomacy is the consistency, the history, the professionalism, and the service of country not of party.

HAYES:  That -- I mean, the fundamental thing that you see in the phone call, right, is that the president -- there`s no discussion of the American foreign policy in Ukraine whatsoever of the national interest.

In fact, Zelensky tries to bring it up and say, we`d love to sell you some oil and you know, and the president has no time for it, OK, the fundamental inability almost as a sort of conceptual matter for the President distinguish between his own personal interest and the interest of America.

CHRIS LU, FORMER WHITE HOUSE CABINET SECRETARY:  Yes.  And let`s be clear.  Let`s add now Bill Barr here who is jetting around Europe talking to Italian officials, British officials to try to get intelligence.  So it is now a fundamental part of U.S. foreign policy to go chase down conspiracy theories and to dig up dirt on political allies.

And for me, it always goes to harken back to Watergate.  You look at article one, article two of Watergate, it talks about misusing federal agencies to punish your political opponents and that`s what`s happening here.  And then we see the obstruction of justice in article three playing out here as well.

And the irony of all this is Mike Pompeo getting up there and attacking the whistleblower and saying this is just second-hand information.  You want to know who has first-hand information, that would be Mike Pompeo because he was on the call and he won`t testify.

HAYES:  And in fact, in the response from those committee chairs, they say, you`re a fact witness in this because we know you`re on the call.  You should have nothing to do with telling us who does or does not come to talk to us.

WILEY:  He`s conflicted.  He is conflicted.

HAYES:  By definition.

WILEY:  By definition.  But remember that this is obstruction -- Chris is absolutely right, obstruction of Congress preventing Congressional oversight which is a constitutional power of Congress is also an impeachable offense.  And this is obstruction of Congress.

HAYES:  It`s interesting you say that because you can see -- I mean when you listen to Congressman Malinowski about oh they`re going to get the information, the difference in both the kind of legal regime we`re operating under since the announcement the formal impeachment inquiry and the political locus of power between two or three weeks ago and now where this administration was getting away with a lot of stonewalling, a lot of tying things up the litigation, that`s not happening anymore.  Why?  Explain to me as someone who worked in a White House why is it not happening?

LU:  Well, look, I think to the extent these things ever get played out in courts, Congress is always on better ground when they`re operating under their Constitutional impeachment power.  That being said, while I know Nancy Pelosi wants to focus on this specific incident, you can easily imagine an article two that will focus on obstruction of Congress that`ll include not only this, it`ll include the Mueller report, it`ll include the tax returns, it`ll include Wilbur Ross getting held in contempt.  This is part of a broader pattern of this administration stonewalling and that simply can`t stand.

WILEY:  I was just going to add to that, that Congressman Malinowski actually provided part of the explanation which I think is important to underscore.  And that is this is a case on this particular issue where the facts are already out in the public.  It`s already as far as I can tell impeachable right now.  They don`t actually need a lot of additional information to say we`ve got on this one, we`ve got the articles.

HAYES:  Again, that`s what keeps driving all this is that -- is just how red-handed they were caught in the commission of the act and how sort of lamely attempts to sort of --

WILEY:  And admitted it.

HAYES:  Right, exactly.  Right, admitted it.

LU:  I mean, Chris, go back to Watergate.  Richard Nixon held on to that smoking gun tape.  He went all the way to the Supreme Court.  When it finally came out, he had to resign eight days later.  This group of people turned over to transcript because they thought it exonerates them so it`s all out there.  The President has confirmed all of it.

HAYES:  All right, Maya Wiley and Chris Lu, thank you both.  Coming up, the growing concern over the President co-opting the Justice and State Department to investigator`s political enemies.  The latest in two minutes.


HAYES:  When Attorney General William Barr came before the Senate Judiciary Committee back in May, he was able to bat many of the questions away and be invasive and prognathous.  There was one moment where he seemed pinned.  And it was when Senator Kamala Harris asked him this.


SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D-CA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  Attorney General Barr, has the President or anyone at the White House ever asked or suggested that you open an investigation of anyone?


HARRIS:  Yes or no.

BARR:  The President or anybody else --

HARRIS:  It seems you would remember something like that and be able to tell us.

BARR:  Yes, but I`m trying to grapple with the word suggest.  I mean, there have been discussions of matters out there that they have not asked me to open an investigation but --

HARRIS:  Perhaps they`ve suggested.

BARR:  I don`t know.  I wouldn`t say suggest.

HARRIS:  Hinted.

BARR:  I don`t know.


HAYES:  I don`t know.  Just kind of it was sort of in the air, you know, we were just brainstorming together and he lose track who says what.  We do know actually according to the Washington Post that Barr "held private meetings overseas with foreign intelligence officials seeking their help in a Justice Department inquiry that President Trump hopes will discredit U.S. intelligence agencies examination of possible connections between Russia and members of the Trump campaign during the 2016 election."

In other words, it appears the Attorney General was and is hard at work helping the President try to prop up a disproven conspiracy theory for political gain.  And that is the reason that exchange from back in May is so striking.

You know, there`s a kind of sacrosanct principle for the rule of law that investigations have to be initiated because of some factual predicate, because there`s some reason to believe there is wrongdoing and that they are not and cannot be a tool of those in power to simply punish political enemies or dissidents.

And that`s the way it works in tons of places from Russia, to Turkey, in many other countries.  It`s not just the security forces they show up at your house the middle of the night to take you away because you`ve openly criticized the president, no.  They show up and knock on your door and serve your warrant and say your finances are being looking into.  That`s how it works.

Ginning up reasons to investigate political enemies is the hallmark of authoritarian regimes.  And also Donald Trump very clearly and this is an even controversial opinion -- he said it publicly -- Donald Trump believes it is his right to order investigations into anything.

He spent just about all of Jeff Sessions term as Attorney General tweeting orders at Sessions about what and who to investigate.  He withheld aid and demanded the Ukrainian President help investigate his political rival.  One of the particularly dangerous things now is the current Attorney General William Barr seems to be going along with it.

The Attorney General of the United States must be an independent guarantor or some form of equal justice that does not submit to the political wimps of the man in power.  But William Barr appears to have been co-opted and that is the true danger here.

I`m joined now by former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Michael Fuchs, now a Senior Fellow for Center for American Progress, someone worked in government particularly foreign policy.

Watching the Attorney General explicitly requesting the President, according to reporting, put him in touch with foreign officials, talked to foreign heads of State on diplomatic calls about this Russia gate counter- Mueller report investigation, how common is something like that?

MICHAEL FUCHS, SENIOR FELLOW, CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS:  Not common at all, Chris.  And it`s really hard to overstate just how concerning it is to see the President of the United States, and then along with him the Attorney General of the United States, the top law enforcement officer of our country using those close alliance relationships and those close intelligence sharing relationships around the world to further the President`s own personal political agenda, and to boot, of course, also trying to discredit at the same -- the same breath the work of our own intelligence agencies, again, it`s hard to overstate just how concerning this is and how unprecedented it is.

But it`s clear as the days go by now, and we see the drip, drip, drip of more things coming out just the extent to which this president is he using the United States and government as his own personal foreign policy implementer.

HAYES:  You know, there`s an argument I guess to be made that it`s perfectly legitimate to have an investigation where you sort of look interior to the House about what happened in 2016.  And Mueller and John Durham who`s been assigned to this is very well-respected individuals in the legal world.

What do you say to people who say look, you just got to trust that this is all on the level and these people are operating in good faith and this is legit?

FUCHS:  I say that there have already been numerous investigations that have looked into this over the last handful of years and come up with of course nothing that would make you believe any of what you see some of the critics out there talking about.

And we have a 448-page report from former FBI Director Robert Mueller going into painstaking detail about exactly why and how he went about his investigation.  And so I think that we have it right there in black and white in 458 pages.

HAYES:  OK, there`s another place in which we`re seeing what appears to me a kind of punitive investigation that`s in the State Department where you used to work.  This -- I`ve read this story now three times and I just can`t make sense of it.  It seems so obviously nuts to me so help me with it.

The idea that the State Department is now investigating the e-mail practices of people that Hillary Clinton e-mailed with State, and it`s because they`ve retroactively e-mailed -- the e-mails were on subjects that were not considered classified at the time but have been or are being retroactively marked as classified, and then looking at 130 people, I think you may be one among them, were caught up down this dragnet.  What is going on over there?

FUCHS:  Well, look, Chris, I mean this is, again, this story is just another piece of this broader trend, this broader pattern that we`ve seen from President Trump.  And again -- and again, remember, it`s not just President Trump.  And that`s one of the biggest things I think that we`re learning about in recent weeks.  It`s the Attorney General of the United States.  It`s the Secretary of State.

Not only of course with this story but numerous other incidents over the past few years with Secretary Pompeo and his predecessor Secretary Tillerson of going after and trying to go after State Department officials, career officials, civil service officers, foreign service officers for no reason other than they were believed to have worked in the department at the same time as the previous administration.

And so again, just using these career officials in some cases ruining their careers all for political retribution.

HAYES:  All right, Michael Fuchs who was in the State Department, now at Center for American Progress, thanks for being with me tonight.

FUCHS:  Thank you, Chris.

HAYES:  Tonight as the impeachment inquiry moves forward, there`s some curious movement on the fight to get the President`s tax returns.  I want to talk about that, and also Mimi Rocah on today`s news from the Southern District of New York after this.


HAYES:  In the background of the current impeachment fight, there`s a continued ongoing effort to get Donald Trump`s tax returns.  Remember those?  And in a surprise move, the Southern District of New York part of our government, has filed a brief letter to a judge saying that they plan on joining the president`s private lawyers` efforts to stonewall and keep those taxes secret.

I should tell you the actual brief comes out tomorrow.  Former SDNY prosecutor and MSNBC legal analyst Mimi Rocah said she`s holding out hope that there is more to this than there appears.  And Mimi Rocah is here with me now.

So, I saw this story yesterday and I read it and didn`t really understand it.  What -- so there is litigation, this has to do with Cy Vance`s efforts to get the president`s tax returns, and he`s the Manhattan district attorney.


HAYES:  And he wants to get the president`s  tax returns...

ROCAH:  He subpoenaed them.

HAYES:  He subpoenaed them as part of a criminal inquiry for his own purposes.

ROCAH:  Right, a criminal inquiry of not just Trump.  I mean, it appears to be of the Trump organization and the hush money scheme, which I mean this is important I think to keep in mind.  Would -- so, in other words, he`s investigating other people.  So any attempt to stop him from getting the tax returns is not just stopping a legitimate investigation that may implicate Trump, but other people involved in a criminal scheme.

HAYES:  So issued the subpoena and the president`s lawyers immediately filed to basically block it, right?

ROCAH:  Correct.  They file a suit in federal court as opposed to moving to quash the subpoena in state court, which would be the more normal way of dealing with this.

So they`re trying -- they smartly, I mean if you think it`s smart to be craftily like this, are trying to get it into federal court, into the federal system as opposed to dealing with a New York state court judge.

HAYES:  And that`s where they`ve been doing all their fighting on all this stuff.  They`re fighting  the House subpoena of the financial firm as well, and also fighting the weighs and means committee`s attempts to get it.  Three are three different fronts I think they`re fighting on right now.

ROCAH:  Yeah, I mean they`re really trying to keep these tax returns from us.

HAYES:  OK, so then the Southern District of New York says what?

ROCAH:  They basically -- so they filed a letter first just saying sort on the -- I think the day before the subpoena was due to be returned, meaning the documents had to be turned over in state court, the Southern District came in and said, well, we might want to join in their, President Trump`s, lawsuit.  So hold up, give us some time.  And, you know, frankly the judge could have said, Judge Marrero, could have said you`ve known about this, why are you coming in at the last hour here?  But he didn`t, he gave them until I think yesterday, or was it today to say what they were doing.  And so now they`ve said, yes, we are joining -- we, the Southern District of New York, are going to join in some way the president`s personal lawsuit to stop this.

HAYES:  That sounds -- is that as weird as it sounds?

ROCAH:  It is quite weird, yes.  And look, I do want to say I want to see what the brief says  tomorrow.  I mean, right now what we know is that Trump`s lawyer`s basis for trying to stop this is saying something really outrageous, right.  They are saying the president not only can`t be prosecuted in the federal system, which again is a DOJ policy, they`re saying he can`t be investigated or prosecuted at all, anywhere, federal or state system.  That is taking this to a whole new level.

And by the way they`re also impeding the congressional investigation so that would mean there`s absolutely nowhere...

HAYES:  Right, they`re saying that congress can`t have this stuff, even though like there`s both law and some constitutional basis to think the congress can investigate the president.  They`re saying no, no, no you can`t do that.

But also any authority with criminal investigatory power, whether state or local, not only cannot indict the president, but cannot investigate him, meaning that no one can.

ROCAH:  Exactly.

HAYES:  I mean, that is the official position of the president`s lawyers.

ROCAH:  That is, of the president`s lawyers.

So now the question is is that really the position of the Department of Justice and my old office, the Southern District of New York?  That`s why I was saying I was holding out hope.  I am hoping that there`s some procedural argument they are going to make tomorrow that will make this not quite as horrible, but right now if that`s the argument, if that`s the substantive argument that they join, that would be very disappointing and will to me signal really that Bill Barr has sort of taken over the last bastion of independence in the Department of Justice, which is the Southern District of New York.

HAYES:  All right, we`re going to look for that actual filing tomorrow, maybe we can get you back.  Mimi Rocah, thanks for being here.

ROCAH:  Thanks.

HAYES:  Next, with public support for impeachment on the rise, the president`s approval rating dropping in key states.  A look at the political calculations Republicans are making after this.


HAYES:  Momentum among voters is moving towards impeachment, and last week there`s been a big jump in public support for impeaching the president, the majority support for an impeachment inquiry.  There`s all this bravado on the part of Republicans around what is happening right now around impeachment.  They keep saying things like, bring it.  Bring it.  Go ahead and do it.  And it is true there are so few House Republicans left in truly competitive seats.  Many of the ones that are have already announced they`re retiring.

But basically House Republicans probably don`t really care.  In fact, they`re probably anxious to have the fight, because they`re in safe seats anyway.  But it is a different story in the Senate, which is of course where the trial will be held if the president is in fact impeached.

Here is Donald Trump`s approval rating in Arizona.  He`s underwater by 5 points.  That`s the state where Republican Martha McSally will be running to keep her senate seat next year.

Here`s the president`s approval rating in Maine, underwater by 13 points, where Susan Collins is already among Democrats` top targets to flip a Senate seat.

Here is Donald Trump`s approval rating in Colorado, where the president is underwater by 15 points and where Cory Gardner is yet another vulnerable Republican Senator up in 2020.

Those Republican Senators are facing the very real chance they`re going  to have to vote to say, yes, it was fine the president attempted to use American foreign policy to coerce a foreign power to investigate his political rival.  Believe me, it`s not a vote they want to take.

Here with me now to talk about how this plays out, Christina Greer, associate professor of political science at Fordham University, and John Harwood, editor at-large at CNBC.

And I`ll start with you, Professor Greer, as a professor of political science.  I think Mitch McConnell cares about one thing, which is staying the majority leader of the United States senate.  And that depends on keeping people like Cory Gardener and Susan Collins and Martha McSally.  And I think he`s a savvy enough political operator to understand that like if he could make this go away, he would.

CHRISTINE GREER, FORDHAM UNIVERSITY:  It`s funny because we talked about public opinion today in class and we talked about these very numbers.  I mean, this is the bind that Republicans find them  in, they have cast their lot with Donald Trump.  They have shown time and time again that they will support this particular president.

HAYES:  Even if they`re on the wrong side of a 40-55 split.

GREER:  And also on the wrong side of history.

This is slightly different, though, because, a, all politics is local, b, if they lose their seat to Democrats, they know that, you know, obviously the balance of the Senate goes in a total different direction, and there goes Donald Trump`s presidency -- let`s just say he gets elected for a second term.

But Mitch  McConnell on the one h and is dealing with a very erratic leader.  His leader is erratic.  So he`s saying everything is fine and make sure we hold the tide, but you know more and more Republicans know Donald Trump`s base is going nowhere.  It does not matter what he does, says, or has done.

But there are some Republicans who do feel like this may be a bridge too far.  We keep saying when does the dam break, right?  When to Republicans sort of just have way too much.  This actually may be the case where when you aren`t admitting that you have talked to foreign powers, some possibly our adversaries, and asked them to interfere in American democracy.

I`m not going to hold my breath, but this may be an opportunity for some Republicans to realize that, you know, for the sake of democracy, not for the sake of a man who is running a kleptocracy right now, that they actually need to step up and make sure that they hold the tide.

HAYES:  John, you`ve reported on politics in Washington for a very long time.  And I wonder your sense in reporting on this -- you did a great piece sort of knocking down some of the more nonsensical refutation that have been thrown about here, that there is an understanding among Republican leaders, if not the White House, that there is genuine political danger here. 

JOHN HARWOOD, EDITOR AT-LARGE, CNBC:  Absolutely.  There`s genuine political danger.  And I think Professor Greer is right about you can`t expect or assume that Republicans are going to break off in significant numbers, but you can`t dismiss the possibility either. 

We had a Monmouth poll that came out today, or yesterday, that showed 16 percent of Republicans supporting an impeachment inquiry, 23 percent in a CBS poll over the weekend.  Those are significant numbers for a president who has had only single digit opposition from within his party.

This is a case where unlike with the Mueller report, there isn`t even a veneer of plausible deniability about what happened, we have the transcript of his words, which tracked the whistle-blower complaint.  That`s a difficult fact pattern.  It`s why so many senators when reporters approach them in the hallway they turn the other direction and say I haven`t read it.  I don`t know.

And I think that`s because once you switch the -- flip the switch and they lose the ability to dodge this issue altogether.  They have to take a vote on it, that`s where it gets really tough.

HAYES:  Yeah, that`s a great point.  They can run away from reporters in the halls and they can sort of talk around the issue, but eventually if, in fact, he`s impeached, if it goes to the Senate, like you`re going to -- you know, you`re going to have to vote on it one way or the other.

There`s also to me -- you talk about, you know, sort of a bridge too far, there`s also, to me, the rhetoric coming from the White House.  I mean, in the past week the president has called for Adam Schiff to be charged with fraud, to be arrested for treason.  He`s demanded to meet the whistle-blower, in contravention of federal whistle-blower protection law.  He`s demanded that Schiff be investigated.  He`s called people who helped the whistle-blower almost a spy and implied that back in the old days they would be hanged or executed, right, what we did for treason.

Just tonight he`s saying, "as I learn more and more each day I`m coming to the conclusion what is taking place is not an impeachment, it is a coup, intended to take away power."

I guess the question is like how much of this kind of rhetoric should we be worried about or how much is the ravings of someone who`s essentially impotent in this whole process?

GREER:  OK, well, we should have been worried when he came down a gold escalator and he called Mexicans rapists...

HAYES:  Sure.

GREER:  So, the time to be worried has since past. 

HAYES:  Well, but he`s the president now, which is big difference.

GREER:  There is a fundamental difference, and he`s been supported by -- as I`ve always  said on this show -- he`s always been supported by the Republican Party who has upheld some of these erratic  beliefs and just sort of said, oh well, that`s just him. 

But, you know, but I think some of these senators are also looking -- anyone who`s been in Donald Trump`s orbit has not landed well, right?  Either they`re in prison, unemployed, unemployable or heading to prison.  And so certain senators have to realize at a certain point in time they need to get off this Titanic and save the democracy.

HAYES:  I also wonder if they worry, John, about just like how much this rhetoric is going to escalate, you know, arrest for treason, it`s a coup...

GREER:  Civil war.

HAYES:  Civil war, all of these sort of gnarly tropes of kind of violent resistance the president seems to be intent on cultivating.

GREER:  Yes.  They`re going to be concerned about that.  Well, more importantly their constituents, especially those suburban constituents led by women who have drifted over towards the Democrats.

You know, I was down, as I think you were, Chris, at the Texas Tribune festival and had a conversation with Jeff Flake, the former Republican senator.  And he was widely quoted as saying there are 35 Republicans who vote to convict Trump if it were a secret ballot.  But he also told me something interesting, which is if you start to get a small critical mass that show the willingness to break away from tribe, and vote to convict, if you got four, five, six, that`s when the thing could open up and you`ve got some of these Senators in vulnerable states -- Arizona, Maine, Colorado you mentioned -- but if you get those, break those loose, then you have the potential of a larger number going along.

HAYES:  All right.  Christina Greer, John Harwood, thank you both.

Still to come, my exclusive interview with Ta-Nehisi Coates on his new book.  We`ll be here at the desk just ahead.


HAYES:  So, a few months back on my podcast Why is This Happening I talked to other David Wallace Wells about his book called "The Uninhabitable Earth," which is about the what`s going to happen to the world as we get warmer and warmer, and more specifically the ways in which the climate crisis will increasingly be the all come encompassing background to how we view everything that happens in the world.

And I`ve been thinking about that point ever since, how climate isn`t just an issue or a political struggle or a set of policies but it`s the enveloping condition of our lives at this moment and how naturally that means that we as a culture are going to have to sort of represent the crisis in our art, in our TV, our movies, our books. 

And that`s why I`m so excited for the conversation that I`m going to have at our live WITHpod tour event in Los Angeles in just a few weeks, because there I`m going to talk to the great Adam McKay, one time SNL head writer, now an Oscar-winning screenwriter and director who specializes in taking complex moments of history and transforming them into cinematic art, something he`s done with both the financial crisis in The Big Short, and the Bush/Cheney years in Vice. 

Adam is also obsessed with the climate crisis.  And he`s thinking about how to produce works of TV and film about it.  Adam and I will also be joined by a brilliant author named Omar El Akkad who wrote one of my favorite works of fiction in the last few years.  It`s called American War.  If you can get it and read it, you should.  It`s set in the U.S. in the new future in which another southern states have seceded in response to a law banning fossil fuel use.  It`s beautiful and haunting and it`s informed my imagination both dark and bright about our climate future.

Together, we`re going to be on stage at the Theater at the Ace Hotel in Los Angeles, Monday, October 21, discussing all this as a special live addition of Why is This Happening?  I`m really looking forward to it.  I think it`s going to be a great night and a great conversation. 

If you`re in the Los Angeles area, you should come be a part of the WITHpod experience.  Tickets are available now.  You can find them by going to, searching Chris Hayes, or you can find a link on our website,  Get your tickets now.  I hope to see you there.


HAYES:  For more than 20 years, Oprah`s Book Club was this kind of social and literary  phenomenon.  It basically transformed American publishing entirely.  And then it stopped for almost a year.  And now it`s back.

The new debut book Oprah Winfrey has picked for the relaunch of this phenomenon is the novel "The Water Dancer" by Ta-Nehisi Coates.  It`s about an enslaved man named Hiram who through his ability to bend time and space tries to find his way to freedom.

And joining me now is National Book Award-winner, Pulitzer Prize finalist, recipient of the MacArthur "Genius" Grant, author of "The Water Dancer," Ta-Nehisi Coates. 

TA-NEHISI COATES, AUTHOR:  Thanks for having me.

HAYES:  How are you feeling?

COATES:  I`m OK.  I`m all right.  Week two of week seven, like I was telling you.

HAYES:  This book, I -- you and I have talked about this book for years, because it had been in process for years, what was the origin of it?  And when did you know you wanted to write fiction, you wanted to write a novel, as opposed to an essay or memoir?

COATES:  So, I think I had fantasies, like I always loved like Junot Diaz`s "Drowned," always loved Colson Whitehead`s "Intuitionist," you know, like E.L. Doctorow, all that.  I had fantasies, but I didn`t think it was quite possible.  You know, fiction it looks like magic.

HAYES:  It really does.  To me it`s like someone being like yeah I just ran 50 miles.  And I`m like that doesn`t -- like a human can do that?  It`s like yeah, yeah, if you train you can do it.

COATES:  Because you believe it, like you actually get into that -- but what I quickly realized was like it`s like all writing, it`s not, it`s work.  It`s a lot of work.  And so after I finished my first book,  my editor was like, and my agent, they were both like we think you should try this.  And it took 10 years.

HAYES:  Was there a -- is there a mental switchover that happens in your head from writing an essay or a work of nonfiction to being in the world of the book and writing in the world of the book?

COATES:  Yes.  The fiction feels more closed off than nonfiction.

HAYES:  From the world?

COATES:  Yeah, yeah, yeah, like when you`re writing in nonfiction I am operating in the world of Chris Hayes and everybody, it`s a mutual sort of thing, you`re -- you know what I mean, you`re working it, whereas in fiction, it`s actually just your world.  You know, even though it`s slavery, it`s actually your slavery, you understand what I`m saying?  You`ve painted, you know, certain things, certain vocabulary, there are certain ways of being among the characters, so it`s a much more closed-off space, I would say.

HAYES:  How much...

COATES:  It`s like going in a room and shutting the door, which is sort of cool, actually.

HAYES:  Right, I imagine there`s something liberating about that.

COATES:  Yeah, yeah, extremely.

HAYES:  The book is incredible.  I got to read it a few weeks ago.  And actually I read it and then I`ve been reading the David Blight Pulitzer Prize-winning biography of Frederick Douglass which is fantastic.  And when I was reading the Blight book, I was thinking about your book and about the research that went into it, because the book is about slavery, and a slave, and his life world, and his journey to freedom.  How much were you -- how much research was there?  How much were you trying to sort of like figure out how to conjure that world?

COATES:  It was a time.  I mean, I read a bunch of primary documents -- letters, narratives, books written by enslaved people or freed people.  I went to a bunch of plantations -- went to Monticello,went to Montpelier, went to the Whitney plantation down in New Orleans, which is outside of New Orleans.  Yeah, quite a bit.

HAYES:  Did the physical bearing of being in those locations, because there`s these long descriptions of what the plantation is like.

COATES:  Right.

HAYES:  Did that transform the way that you thought about the world?

COATES:  Yes.  Yes.  And the descriptions of that are almost entirely inspired by Monticello and Montpelier.  And you know, there are a lot of Jefferson, and there`s a lot of Jefferson crossed with Frederick Douglass sort of thing.

HAYES:  There is a -- yeah.

COATES:  But, yeah, it was a lot.  It was a lot.  I mean, I don`t -- without the historians and the archaeologists, you know, both of those two sites, it`s no way I could have wrote that book.

HAYES:  You know, there`s one theme in the book that I had not thought of a lot, I think, which is the paradox for the slave, which is that the diminished economic prospects of the master spell uncertainty and possibly a worse fate, which is to be sold down the river, essentially to go into the deep south, from say somewhere like Maryland to somewhere like Mississippi.  And that in a weird way like you`re so bound to this master that them encountering economic ruin can be a terrible thing for you because it means things are going to get worse for your life.

COATES:  Right.  And Jefferson is the stereotypical case of this.  I mean, here you have a guy, you know, for all his brilliance, he was a bad businessman...

HAYES:  Basket case.

COATES:  Just a complete, complete total -- I mean, it`s like drinking really expensive wines, and living high on the hill, and when he dies, he`s deeply, deeply in debt.  And the thing that he has that is of most value is the bodies of people.  And they literally sell those people out on the lawn  outside of the big house at Monticello and break up those families to pay off his debt.

HAYES:  From one too many bottles of wine.

COATES:  From one too many bottles of wine, exactly.

I mean, Monticello, in many ways in and of itself is just a -- like where they built it, it`s like bad farming land.  There`s no water to get to it.  It was just a terrible, terrible idea, but he had this vision of being up on a hill, which in itself is kind of a metaphor, you know.

HAYES:  Well, there`s this is -- another thing in the book that really stuck with me was just the fact that the way a plantation operates in a slave society is that the slaves actually -- it`s not just that they have all the labor, they actually had all the knowledge.

COATES:  That`s right.

HAYES:  The place entirely depends about not just the slaves` backs and muscles, but they actually understand when things have to be planted, what has to happen.  Every process in the entire place is the slaves` mental acuity driving the whole thing.

COATES:  Well, think Jefferson often wasn`t there.

HAYES:  Right.  An absentee landlord, essentially.

COATES:  He was completely absent.  And one of the things I think about is the huge marble columns, beautiful marble columns -- not marble.  I don`t know what they`re made of, but these huge columns outside of Monticello, they literally -- and this enslaved man named Jupiter cut the columns and had them put in.  They don`t know how he did it, like even now, like they have no idea how he did it.

And so one of the thing I was trying to get across in the book, is enslavement is not just enslavement of the body, it`s not this run over there and pick cotton, you know what I mean, it`s actually the enslavement of the mind also in so many skills.  Jefferson had Sally Hemmings` brother taken over to Paris, trained as a French cook.  I mean, that`s like a heavily -- you know what I mean, you can`t just -- you know, that`s not just brute labor.  You know, to make sure he that could have have all these fine delicacies that he enjoyed.

HAYES:  There`s the quote from the Warmth of Other Sons by Isabel Wilkerson about the sort of northern migration when you say, "what binds these stories together was the back against the wall, reluctant yet hopeful search for something better, any place but where they were.  They did what human beings looking for freedom throughout history have often done, they left."

And I thought about that quote, and I thought about your book, which is about that, and also a bout the moment that we`re in when we see people doing everything they can at the greatest peril to show up at the border with their 9-year-old, maybe even drowning in the river.

COATES:  Right.  And the other part, I mean just linking to the news today -- and I really did not realize this until about January or February or so, family separation, destruction of families is a huge theme in the book.  And I was thinking it`s really coincidental that this is happening in policy right now.  But in fact I think this is what you do to people who you despise, period, you make war upon their families.  This is typical in American history.  This didn`t end with enslavement for black folks.

And so I don`t think it`s a mistake that Trump in all of his despising, you know, of immigrants at the border, is taking it out on the children.  I don`t think that`s coincidental.

HAYES:  The book is called "the Water Dancer," it`s a beautiful.  It is a great read by Ta-Nehisi Coates, debut novel.  Thank you for taking time on the tour.

COATES:  Thank you.

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

Good evening, Rachel.