STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Now, on top of all of that, the fourth Democratic debate is on Tuesday night. We`re going to be here to cover all of it.
That`s HARDBALL for now. Thank you for being with us. And ALL IN with Chris Hayes starts right now.
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CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: Tonight on a special edition of ALL IN. The ambassador speaks.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ma`am, do you feel that you`re unfairly targeted by the Trump administration?
HAYES: The former Ukraine Ambassador defies the White House and warns Congress about the president. Plus --
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, I don`t know. I haven`t spoken to Rudy. I spoke to him yesterday briefly.
HAYES: New clues that Rudy Giuliani himself may be in serious legal jeopardy after his associates get busted. Then, Jane Mayer with her reporting on the invention of the Ukraine conspiracy theory. And Richard Engel live from the front lines in Syria on the deteriorating situation for Kurds after Donald Trump ordered U.S. forces to stand down.
Live from Studio 6A in Rockefeller Plaza, ALL IN starts right now.
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HAYES: How are you doing? Hello, how are you? Thank you. It is great to be back here at our home here in 30 Rock. We are not even three weeks into the formal impeachment inquiry, we`re already in the star witness phase of things. Today in defiance of Donald Trump, in defiance of the State Department, in defiance of Mike Pompeo, this woman just wrapped up over nine hours of testifying before the House investigating committee. Yes, that`s a long time.
Her name -- her name is Marie Yovanovitch. Now, she is a career diplomat. She`s got multiple foreign postings, she has language fluency, and she`s also the former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine. She is the one and you may have sort of seen this when that call first came out, right? She is the one that the President kind of threatened infamously in the call with Ukrainian president.
Remember that party that`s very weird, it`s kind of gross, frankly. Donald Trump, he`s talking about how bad his own Ambassador is to the president of Ukraine. And he says, she`s going to go through some things. OK.
Now, she already lost her job earlier this year. She was recalled as U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine, basically, it appears, because she kind of stood in the way of this corrupt shadow foreign policy that the President and his bagman Rudy Giuliani had cooked up.
So she was an obstacle to their scheme to coerce a foreign government into manufacturing dirt on the President`s political rival. And so they had to get her out of the way. And so she was sent back to Washington D.C. very briefly. In fact, I think you can tell the whole story of this scandal and indeed, the whole Trump era as a kind of the story of two archetypes, right? The bag man Rudy Giuliani and the civil servant Marie Yovanovitch, right?
So the civil servant Marie Yovanovitch, she shows up today to talk to the House investigating committee. She is still -- let`s be clear. She is still an employee of the State Department, OK. Her livelihood, her paychecks every other week, they come from the State Department. At the last minute, the State Department said you cannot show up. But she showed up and basically said here I am, fire me.
And Marie Yovanovitch, the civil servant, put her career as a diplomat, as a Foreign Service officer on the line. She put her livelihood at stake today. And she did it because she wanted to come and deliver a message to the committees about the way that Donald Trump is corrupting the American government.
She told the committee today there was a campaign of disinformation that was waged against her and that campaign worked. She was abruptly recalled, told to come back to Washington "on the next plane." She was told by her boss, the number two at State Department she had done nothing wrong, that this was not like other situations. That`s a quote, which is surely the case.
She even said that Rudy Giuliani`s buddies, OK, the guys that were just arrested, remember them? They probably saw her as an obstacle and wanted her pushed out because they wanted to make money in Ukraine, and of course, she was standing in the way.
She was referencing these two guys that were arrested yesterday trying to flee the country hours after having lunch with Rudy Giuliani at the Trump hotel. A weird set of events. Marie Yovanovitch had an entire campaign waged against her because she stood in the way, she says, of this corrupt abuse of power that`s fully coming into light.
And she is a civil servant who I think based on her testimony today, based on people that have worked with her, views her role as serving the American people and not Donald Trump himself. Someone that I know -- someone that I know, a source who worked with her in an official capacity said this to me, "never ever said a cruel word or a wrong thing, just the perfect example of a public servant."
So in this story, she stands in, I think, for a kind of person in our government and in our political community that is the enemy of Trumpism. It`s the kind of person that Trumpism must destroy in order to triumph. She`s a public servant, who`ve used our duty as doing her best for the country she serves, which is true, I got to say, the overwhelming number of people in the civil service of this nation, from the FBI, the USDA, the Energy Department.
If you interview them like I have as journalist, you have people in your family, they are really on the whole -- I mean, some of them are good, and some of them are bad, and some are all in between, but they`re on the whole. They are people who are trying to represent the interests of the United States of America, not the man who happens to be occupying the White House, which is a distinction.
And the thing is Trumpism cannot see that distinction, right? Trumpism cannot deal with those kinds of people because Trumpism is all about subverting the country and the public`s interest, the public trust, all of us to the whims of the man Donald Trump. Trumpism cannot be implemented by civil servants. It doesn`t work. Trumpism can only be implemented by lackeys and by a bagman. Bagmen like Rudy Giuliani.
Rudy Giuliani, who by the way, does not work for the U.S. government. He does not draw a government salary. He has no official role in American foreign policy. He answers to one person, that is Donald Trump. Donald Trump has anointed him personally to do his bidding. He has Michael Cohen 2.0.
Before you had Rudy Giuliani -- that`s really true. Before he had really Giuliani, Trump had Michael Cohen, and Michael Cohen was the President`s fixer and his bag man. He took care of hush-money payments, and he took their real estate deals, and he took care of keeping things out of the newspaper. And now well, Michael Cohen is in prison so he can`t use Michael Cohen anymore, so he`s got Rudy Giuliani, right?
Rudy Giuliani, he`s not really his attorney in any like real sense. He`s not like writing legal briefs that are going before course. The President`s real lawyers to do that, believe me. He`s in court a lot. The lawyers take care of that. Rudy Giuliani is just a fixer with a law degree. And he has apparently been tasked with a pretty clear mission by the president, which is to manufacture dirt on my political enemies so that I can get reelected.
Instead of running a foreign policy for the people of the country that represents our collective interests, Donald Trump and Rudy Giuliani are running and have been running a shadow foreign policy that has nothing to do with the interests of the United States.
I mean, that is basically what Donald Trump pulled the president of Ukraine, right there, right? Clear as day in the White House call notes that they released, after he said, I would like you to do us a favor, though, right, the key part of that phone call, the ask, the ask.
He goes on to tell the Ukrainian president that he has to talk to Rudy, basically saying, Rudy is great, highly respected guy, great guy, Mayor. He`s my guy. Give him a call. Talk to Rudy. Talk to Rudy. Donald Trump brought up Rudy on that call multiple times because Giuliani was his guy running his scheme. And that scheme started well before the call. We know that now.
If you go back and you look through the months before the call, the shadow foreign policy is all right there in front of us. Rudy Giuliani is running point to pull off the scheme and he`s got to get rid of the person in his way who is the civil servant, Marie Yovanovitch because she takes her job seriously as the ambassador Ukraine. She is not there to implement some corruption.
So then Rudy and his associates, what do they have to do? They got to get rid of her. So they start this crazy pressure campaign against her, right? They enlist their allies and talk about how bad Marie Yovanovitch is.
For instance, here`s the president`s son, OK, who color me crazy, is not I think super into the details of which foreign service members are posted to which locales generally and suddenly Don Jr. has a strong opinion about who the Ukrainian Ambassador is calling for her removal. Where does that come from?
Rudy Giuliani is whispering on everyone`s ears about how they need that dirt on the president`s political enemies. And in order for them to get that, they got to get rid of this obstacle Marie Yovanovitch. She has to go. And he`s tweeting about how Ukraine has to open investigation to the Biden`s. And then he puts together this crazy propaganda folder of conspiracy theories attacking Marie Yovanovitch, attacking this civil servant, and the Biden`s, and he sends it over to the State Department in this weird envelope with some calligraphy.
He did this. He admitted to it. That makes it sort of seemed like it came from the White House as the return address, just the White House. And the intent clearly is to give them the message that this is coming from the president. It is coming from the president because it`s coming from the president`s bagman. Circulate this around. Know who this person is.
Rudy`s job is to run this entire corrupt policy for Donald Trump, coerce a foreign nation, and occupy a foreign nation into manufacturing dirt on his political opponent. That was his vision, that was his goal. But here`s the thing. That is not an American goal, right?
It is directly counter to American interests, the public national interest, our interest collectively as citizens, Republican, Democrat, Conservative, Liberal, all of us together, right? Our interest is for American elections to be decided by Americans. Not by some Ukrainian prosecutor.
Donald Trump`s interest, his particular interest is for foreign countries to interfere on his behalf like they did in 2016. That`s in his interest. And so that is what Rudy Giuliani did. And now as the sheer scope of this thing keeps getting bigger and bigger, they are all desperate to cover it up. But the problem here is that there are more Marie Yovanovitch out there. Believe me.
There are dozens of people in the government who really do view their duty to the country and not to Donald Trump, and it is just a matter of time for them to come forward like the first whistleblower did, and now the second. There is only one bag man and he -- gosh, I don`t know what his future holds. But there are many civil servants like Marie Yovanovitch who are not afraid to stand up and to tell the truth.
My first guest has just returned from a trip to Ukraine, Congressman John Garamendi, a Democrat from California. Congressman --
REP. JOHN GARAMENDI (D-CA): Good to be with you.
HAYES: It`s good to have you, Congressman. You just got back from a congressional delegation to Ukraine. It was planned before all this stuff broke. What did you hear there? What was it like to go there under these circumstances?
GARAMENDI: Well, it was kind of weird. First of all, we did have another civil servant there, Mr. Taylor, Ambassador Taylor, and he made it very, very clear that something was very much a miss. So we`ve seen two examples here, Yovanovitch and Taylor, two ambassadors who stood up to the president and said, no, no, we`re not going to let that happen.
So we had that going. We also met with an extraordinary group of people, the Minister of Defense, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, young, aggressive, determined to end the corruption and determined to build a democracy and push Russia out of their country. It was thrilling in many ways. It was also on the edge of the seat because a lot of things were going on.
HAYES: Bill Taylor is the -- is the chief of mission there right now. He replaced Yovanovitch. He`s a career Foreign Service officer. He also shows up in those texts that were given to us last week. He`s the one saying, I think it`s crazy to withhold military assistance to help a political campaign on the record, right? Did he come to you that he wrote those texts, that that is him?
GARAMENDI: We actually step off the bus to meet them outside the Ministry of Defense and return to him, and one of my colleagues said, wow, that was some sort of text. Good for you. And he said, yes, yes, it was. It was just at that very, very moment the news broke as we stepped off the bus.
And he did confirm that yes, he did that. he didn`t go any further detail, but I can assure you, he should be one of the witnesses before that very same committee. Once again, as civil servant standing up to power and staying, Mr. President, you`re outta line, we`re not going to put up with it.
HAYES: There`s another -- there`s another individual who`s going to testify, we think, before the committee. Again, the White House has been trying to shut these people down. You have people coming forward. Fiona Hill actually worked in the White House in the NSC. She was the Russia specialist there. She has left that position.
It`s our understanding that she`s going to lay bare the kind of parallel foreign policy when she comes before the committee. Is that your understanding as well?
GARAMENDI: That`s what I understand. I`ve actually had the experience of questioning her in the Armed Services Committee, and she is going to be one extraordinary witness. She knows her stuff, she knows what`s going on, and she`s going to speak the truth to power.
HAYES: Do you think that they were close to getting away with this scheme? I mean, it strikes me that had the whistleblower not collected the worries of people that work with him in the White House, had the whistleblower complaint not come forward and been pushed out by Congress, that they may have just successfully squeezed the Ukrainians into announcing the great fanfare that they`re looking into the Biden`s.
GARAMENDI: Well, I think that`s probably exactly what would have happened. And because that was what the President was trying to do, that is to totally throw his oath of office out the window, take care of himself in his reelection, break the law, at least two different laws are probably broken here, campaign finance and probably a bribery law. All of that came to light because once again, a civil servant out there in one of the agencies, probably one of the intelligence agencies said this is wrong, blew the whistle.
Interestingly enough, it was done not by him or herself, but there are others that obviously, we`re part of it, and now a second whistleblower. This is going to unravel very, very quickly on the president because he`s done wrong. And he`s been found out.
HAYES: You have been a longtime supporter of impeachment, you`re a Democrat, you`re in California. You also have another position I think`s interesting, which is that you think it would be good if the House took a vote now, as some sort of resolution calling to officially inaugurate the impeachment inquiry.
It`s something that was done under Bill Clinton. It was done near the beginning of the Watergate impeachment inquiry, not at the very beginning. Republicans are saying Democrats should do that. Nancy Pelosi is holding off. Why do you think that`s a good idea?
GARAMENDI: Well, I think it gives us more power to all that we`re doing. It`s more formalized, more power, it`s obviously -- it`s a full vote of the -- of the House. I think I may be out there pretty much by myself right now --
HAYES: You are.
GARAMENDI: But nonetheless -- that`s -- yes, I am.
HAYES: Well, there are Republicans that agree with you.
GARAMENDI: I`m afraid so.
HAYES: But you think -- you think that that would like formalize it or grant some sort of legitimacy, the process, some more teeth to it?
GARAMENDI: Well, the process that we have now is legitimate. The rules of the House are right in line with what we`re doing with the four committees that are carrying on the investigations. All of this is legitimate. It`s by the book. It`s just that I think one more thing could be added to it and shut down the Republicans and the President and say, OK, you wanted to vote, here it is. But I don`t think that`s going to happen, at least not right away.
HAYES: All right, John Garamendi, Congressman from California, thank you very much for making time tonight.
GARAMENDI: Thank you.
HAYES: When we return, the situation in Syria is deteriorating right now. We`re going to go live to talk to Richard Engel who`s reporting from the region. Do not go anywhere.
HAYES: Tonight, the situation on the border between Turkey and Syria is deteriorating as Turkish forces continue to pound northeast in Syria. There are new reports about an explosion near U.S. forces who are in the area still.
A statement from the Department of Defense tonight saying, "U.S. troops in the vicinity of Kabani came under artillery fire from Turkish positions. The explosion occurred within the few hundred meters of location outside the security mechanisms zone and an area known by the Turks to have U.S. forces present.
That follows a statement from the Turkish government saying, "We firmly reject the claim that U.S. or Coalition forces were fired upon, that they opened reciprocal fire on terrorist positions located just over half a mile from the U.S. observation post." This adds, of course, a dangerous and tense new dynamic to an already very tense situation.
We go now to northern Syria. Our NBC News Chief Foreign Correspondent Richard Engel is on the ground and joins us live. Richard, what do you know -- what have you seen or heard about U.S. forces being possibly in the way or at risk as the Turkish assault continues?
RICHARD ENGEL, NBC NEWS CHIEF FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT: So, U.S. forces, their location was fired up. Multiple artillery shells landed near their base. We were told that the American forces were not injured, were not hurt or killed, but they heard these explosions, they had to pull back for their own safety, and they immediately complained to the Turks, hey, this is to close, don`t do this.
And the Turks said in a statement, we did not target the Americans. We were targeting the Kurds. And the problem is the Kurds and the Americans for the last four years had been working together. They have been co- located in many situations. So the American said they were almost hit and the Turks said, well, we didn`t try to hit you, we tried to hit your terrorist friends. And that is the problem here.
The American troops have put -- have been put in an incredibly uncomfortable situation, an untenable situation, and for some of them, they believe an immoral situation. There are still 1,000 U.S. troops in this country. People keep talking about American troops being pulled out, being pulled back. There are 1,000 troops here.
For the last four years, these troops were working with the Kurds, they were fighting against ISIS. They were incredibly effective in destroying the ISIS state. And the reward that their partners got, the Kurds, was to have President Trump order American troops to pull back. And when President Trump gave the green light to Turkey, the Turkish forces invaded and now the American troops have to watch their allies under attack and now themselves they are getting shells fired right next to their base.
And the reason I said that President Trump gave the green light to this assault even though the President and Secretary of State Pompeo continue to dispute this, it is obvious that this happened. It is in black and white. It is in a White House statement. You can go right now to the whitehouse.gov and find it.
There was a phone call between President Trump and the Turkish President Erdogan. Then after this phone call, the White House issued a statement that said the Turks will soon be carrying out their military invasion. U.S. troops will be pulling back and U.S. troops will not be in the way. And then lo and behold, that`s exactly what happened.
U.S. troops pulled back, the Turks invaded, and now those Kurdish allies are getting killed, and about 100,000 of them have had to escape the border area and flee for their lives.
HAYES: Richard, you`ve been reporting on this war for years. And I know you`ve done incredible reporting in this area in Kabani specifically which was this remarkable sight of a battle with ISIS and those Kurdish fighters. You were there. You saw it happen.
What is it like to watch this army and these people that have given their lives and their blood and everything to defeat ISIS now find themselves under shelling and bombing from the other side, from the Turks?
ENGEL: It is obviously a terrible betrayal. It is a stain on American history to have an ally that is then betrayed. But the real frightening part is this could just be the beginning. The Kurds are deeply concerned that this isn`t just a campaign by Turkey against the Kurds because the Turks don`t like the Kurds and they`re punishing them somehow.
The Turks believe that this is going to be a long term campaign and they want to settle this area. So the Kurds that we`ve been talking to say they are soon going to face a campaign of genocide, a campaign of ethnic cleansing that President Trump gave the green light to.
And there was a demographic factor that is very important here. So in the spirit of the way you`ve been laying out things, let me just lay this out, because I think you need to understand this framework to understand this context.
There are about two million Kurds right here in northern Syria, right where I am, with the American protection over the last four years as they`ve been fighting ISIS. These two million Kurds have created a little state and it has been hugely successful, one of the most stable places in the Middle East. And they`ve had this immense friendship with the Americans and the Kurds have been going more and more confident, as they`ve been getting more and more stable. Towns like Kabani were opening up and we`re flourishing.
Just across the border in Turkey, there are roughly 12 million Kurds. And for a long time, they have been complaining in Turkey that they`re treated as second class citizens, they have been uprising staged by those Kurds in Turkey. And Turkey has been very concerned that if there is this successful Turkish -- Kurdish enclave here in northern Syria, that it will inspire the 12 million Kurds inside their country to rise up.
So it`s not that they`re just attacking this enclave to destroy it. Turkey has a plan to move Arab refugees from inside Turkey and settle them here, settle them on top of this enclave, one to three million people displacing the Kurds. And that is why the Kurds are so panic, they say they are fighting not just against the Kurds -- not just -- not just against the Turks, they are fighting for their own existence.
So they say it is not just a mere betrayal, that they`re just offended that they worked so hard with the Americans. They say, Donald Trump with this order, has opened the door to possible ethnic cleansing. And like I said already 100,000 of them are on the move.
HAYES: Richard, that was the best explanation I`ve heard of this entire situation in this week of coverage. Thank you so much for joining us live from Syria tonight. I really appreciate it. Richard, I should note, has a documentary airing this Sunday here on MSNBC On Assignment, Trump in Ukraine: Fact and Fiction airs at 10:00 p.m. this Sunday.
When we come back, I`ve got a group of lawyers and former prosecutors to tell us just how much trouble is Rudy Giuliani in.
HAYES: Yesterday, we had the first indictment of the impeachment era. Two men, associates of the president`s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, Igor Fruman and Nev Parnas were nabbed as they were about to leave the country at Dulles Airport hours after dining with Rudy Giuliani.
Today we have multiple reports THAT there IS an ongoing criminal investigation by the Southern District of New York that includes looking at Giuliani himself, which sounds not great for Rudy.
So where does this go from here? I want to bring in some legal experts to talk about that, people who understand not only the ins and outs of these kinds of investigations and prosecutions, but also the constitutional underpinnings as we head towards impeachment. Mimi Rocah, who is herself a former prosecutor from the Southern District of New York, also an MSNBC legal analyst; Glenn Kirschner, a former assistant U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia and also an MSNBC legal analyst; and Melissa Murray, professor at NYU`s school of law, a constitutional law expert. She`s also one of the hosts of the Strict Scrutiny podcast about the Supreme Court, also, full disclosure, with my wife Kate Shaw. It`s really good. And I would say that even if I were not conflicted.
So as someone who worked at the Southern District, I was just so fascinated by the timing of all this and what it means. Like, what is your reaction to this big arrest being announced right at this moment and its proximity to Rudy Giuliani?
MIMI ROCAH, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Well, I mean, first of all it sounds like from the reporting that SDNY you know had to take this case down because they found out -- which, you know, the agents do that, they`re looking, they`re investigating people, they have alerts that can come up when someone`s buying a one way ticket out of town.
So it sounds like it timing was dictated by that. But this is not an indictment that they threw together overnight. I mean, first of all, just to get an indictment they would have had to go to a grand jury. If you`re really arresting someone on the fly, you do it by a complaint not an indictment. So, this has clearly been an ongoing investigation for a while, which, you know -- and we`re hearing now about Giuliani being in their sights himself.
I thought that was evident even from the paper yesterday. I mean, he`s -- his name is nowhere on there, but he`s like the elephant in the room, right. Because we know not only is he just friends with these guys, these are the guys he was using for that, you know, rooting out corruption scheme that he was doing over the Ukraine.
So I mean there`s going to be a big connecting the dots here. And I will say that on the one hand it`s going to be frustrating for us because we may not hear about all those connection for a while, because once again now we`re back in sort of a grand jury investigation mode. But I have a lot of faith that the Southern District can connect those dots.
HAYES: Well, and there`s a question, Glenn, about the political independence here. I mean, one of the things that was striking to me is you have Jeff Berman. He`s the U.S. attorney down there. He is an appointee of Trump, although sort of technically of the court -- complicated, but -- and he`s out there doing his thing knowing that he just nabbed two associates who a week earlier were represented by their lawyers as part of the president`s legal team.
GLENN KIRSCHNER, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: And don`t forget you know who his boss is, who Berman`s boss is, Attorney General Barr. So I loved your opening because you took Giuliani down like a cheap pup tent.
HAYES: Well, I was just stating the facts plainly.
KIRSCHNER: Now, let me just pivot to Barr, because I think he becomes sort of intensely interesting at this moment, because first of all think back to the call, Trump to President Zelensky. Just as you said in your opening, Trump is like get with my man Rudy, get with my man Rudy. He also said get with my attorney General Bill Barr, that`s my other man.
Let`s put ourselves in Bill Barr`s shoes for a minute. Uncomfortable place to be.
KIRSCHNER: We`ll take those shoes off. We`ll wash our feet. We`ll be fine when this is all done.
So, if you`re Bill Barr and you see the summary of that phone call, you now have either been outed for being part of a dirty deal that Trump had with the Ukraine if, in fact, you are part of it, or if you aren`t part of it...
HAYES: You`ve been pulled into something...
KIRSCHNER: You`ve been accused of something that is horrific, an abuse of office, and an impeachable offense and for Barr, perhaps a crime.
Barr has got some tough decisions to make. All of a sudden, what do we see? Barr approves an indictment and an arrest of some Giuliani associates. I think Barr is going to have some really difficult decisions to make.
HAYES: You know, it`s also Barr`s Department of Justice that has been arguing on behalf of the Trump administration in federal courts where they been losing over and over. I mean, today is a remarkable day. So they lost three cases today. They lost -- no, in one day, three big cases. They lost in the D.C. circuit court, they lost 2 to 1 in an appellate case about whether the president`s financial firm has to hand over his tax returns to congress. They lost a district court case about a new rule in which they want immigrants to have to certify that they won`t be a public charge, meaning that they can pay for their own health insurance, and they lost another district court over the wall emergency. Like, is this normal for an administration to lose this much?
MELISSA MURRAY, NYU SCHOOL OF LAW: Can I go back to Glenn`s point really quick?
HAYES: Yes, please.
MURRAY: MAGA, making attorneys get attorneys.
HAYES: I haven`t seen that.
KIRSCHNER: ...fist bumping. Nice. I love it. I love it.
MURRAY: It`s been a blistering day for the Trump administration on the judicial front. So there were three really important cases. The D.C. Circuit case where Judge David Taddle (ph) and Judge Patty Mollett (ph) both ruled that the administration had to comply with the subpoenas from congress. The only person to dissent on that three judge panel was Naomi Rao, a newly appointed judge, a Trump appointee, former member of the Federalist Society, not a surprise perhaps.
HAYES: Took Brett Kavanaugh`s seat after he was elevated to the Supreme Court.
MURRAY: Took Brett Kavanaugh`s seat, really took his seat.
So, again, I mean, that`s sort -- they were very clear in their decision that the president was not above the law. And one of the things that was really interesting is that all of this is happening with the impeachment inquiry in the background, but the court did not mention that. This was simply a case of the president exceeding his authority, just basic authority, and overriding congress` constitutional authority to conduct oversight. So that was a huge loss.
The other loss was the public charge issue, right. So the Trump administration has promulgated this regulation that says that we`re not going to allow immigrants to come to this country if they are likely to be a public charge. And they expand the rule from simply being something who is on public assistance to anyone who might be in receipt of Medicaid, who might receive food stamps, a much broader interpretation.
HAYES: Millions and millions of people.
MURRAY: Millions and millions of people, the most crabbed and ungenerous interpretation of the immigration laws that we`ve seen in a generation. And a federal judge said, no, like absolutely not. And then you have the border wall down in El Paso. Judge David Brionis (ph) saying that this is an excess of presidential authority to divert funds from other agencies to build a wall.
HAYES: So the theory here -- and I want to read this quote about Stephen Miller. So, they have been losing a lot of arguments. They`ve been making a lot of crazy arguments in court, the Department of Justice, arguments that I think that a lot of other lawyers, people who worked at DOJ, look at and say that`s a really bad argument, sometimes taking their names off briefs.
And this is an argument -- this is from a Washington Post profile Stephen Miller, the president`s adviser. His argument is that judges are not making decisions based on facts, so there`s no point trying to win a political fight with a legal fight, just do the reg, the regulation, and try to get to the Supreme Court as fast as possible. Do you feel like DOJ right now is just essentially like we don`t care, we`re going to make maximal arguments and then we`ve got our five -- we can count to five votes on the Supreme Court?
ROCAH: Right, it`s interesting because I mean, trial lawyers, lawyers who are going to litigate in court always say bring your best case to court. And in part of why Trump keeps losing, right you want to have your best set of facts to make good law. That`s how you make good law for your clients, the Trump administration is bringing all these cases not with good facts and having to take really extreme positions. I mean, you also on top of the three cases you mentioned, we have Judge Morrero (ph) in the Southern District I think it was just last week, though it feels like a months ago, saying no, no, you can`t stop a state district attorney from subpoenaing...
HAYES: That`s right. That`s how the week started.
ROCAH: Right, and that was a pretty blistering -- you know, the president is not a king, right, was in that opinion.
So I think on the one hand, yes, that must be what they`re counting on, because no one would -- that and running out the clock, because no one would think that you`re actually going to win on the merits in these cases unless you have the full on Trump appointees who aren`t following the law.
HAYES: There`s also the running out the clock, which has been very successful for the president in his past civilian life. Like, you don`t pay someone for $10,000, they sue you to get it. You counter sue. And then you`re in court for however long and how long is someone willing to wait out to get to $10,000? That sort of worked with some of the subpoenas, right. He sort of done the same thing to congress.
KIRSCHNER: Yeah, they have no supportable legal positions. They have nothing but an attempt to run out the clock.
I`ve been saying that the state of our judiciary is strong. And I think it remains strong. And I think when Supreme Court gets a hold of cases that deals with the balance of power, they`re typically very reluctant to give over power to the executive branch. I still have confidence in our Supreme Court that when they get these things they will largely do the right thing.
HAYES: Well, that is what hangs over all this. When you talk about the Trump judge today, and again I don`t want to be overly political like she wrote an opinion that was her legal reasoning on this, I`m not going to say that like it was in bad faith and cynical, but there is fear I think of some, that you basically do have a Gorsuch and Kavanaugh provided majority. And when the Nixon tapes version gets to that Supreme Court, when the Bush v. Gore of this era gets to the Supreme Court, like are you confident that case is going to be judged independently with integrity and on the merits?
MURRAY: Well, so this has got to be what Chief Justice John Roberts stays up at night...
HAYES: Literally stays up at night, yeah.
MURRAY: Literally stays up at night thinking about.
Everyone perceives this court, whether because of the blistering confirmation battle, or everything that`s come since with the census case and the gerrymandering case, everyone in the public assumes that there is perhaps some political maneuvering going on on this court. And that`s the last thing that Chief Justice Roberts wants. He wants this court to be above the fray.
We are going into an election cycle, he does not want the court to appear to be enmeshed in dirty politics. And that`s what`s going to occupy them. And I think he`s going to be the pivotal voice on the court trying to steer it out of these political waters.
HAYES: It`s hard for him to avoid. Mimi Rocah, Glenn Kirschner, Melissa Murray, thank you so much for being here tonight. It was great.
Up next a look at how wacky online conspiracy theories made their way through the president`s brain and into official U.S. policy. New Yorker`s Jane Mayer is here. Don`t go anywhere.
HAYES: One of the most disturbing parts of Donald Trump`s phone call with the president of Ukraine, which has gotten less attention, is that one of the things the president does is ask the Ukrainian president to investigate a completely insane conspiracy theory that basically goes like this, that the DNC worked with Ukraine to hack itself and then frame Russia.
It is one of many baseless conspiracy theories that bubble up on the right and taken hold of Rudy Giuliani and the president and Trump TV and are now directly influencing U.S. policy.
Jane Mayer of The New Yorker has been tracing how this type of information makes its way to the White House. And in a great new piece, she documents the invention of the conspiracy theory on Biden in Ukraine that could ironically enough end up bringing down the Trump presidency.
And joining me now is the great Jane Mayer, chief Washington correspondent for The New Yorker.
HAYES: You wrote a piece this week about the sort of origins of this story that has worked its way through conservative media and to the mind of Donald Trump and into that phone call, like where does this start, this story about the Bidens being -- running some corrupt operation in Ukraine?
JANE MAYER, THE NEW YORKER: Well, I mean what interested me was it started to some extent in the same place where a lot of the conspiracy theories started for the 2016 campaign. There is a dark money group called the Government Accountability Institute, which looks like a charity but it`s actually a non-profit that`s filled with money from one of the largest Trump supporters, Robert Mercer, a hedge fund manager.
And they -- it exists to create opposition research basically that they can get into the mainstream media. And that`s where a lot of this began.
HAYES: so, Robert Mercer was a funder of Steve Bannon`s and Breitbart, right, and Cambridge Analytica, and he runs this. And there`s a guy that works for this government, this innocuous surrounding Government Accountability Institute named Peter Schweitzer (ph), right? What did he do in 2016?
MAYER: So in 2016 he did -- he wrote a book called Clinton Cash. And he was working for the Government Accountability Institute and for Breitbart. And it`s a book that basically tried to frame Hillary Clinton as corrupt and taking -- it`s so complicated. This is the thing ab out conspiracy theories is they`re so complicated that nobody with a normal sort of mind can check all the details. And a lot of them are foreign, because the thing with the Hillary Clinton thing was also about Uranium One, which is a...
HAYES: It was a uranium sale, yes.
MAYER: Uranium sales and Russia and Putin. And you`re sitting at your desk thinking how am I ever going to check this and you really -- you hardly can. And so it started -- so there was this book "Clinton Cash," and it was created with the help of Steve Bannon and this Trump supporter`s money. And Peter Schweitzer who wrote it to get the story into the mainstream press. And it did hit the front page of The New York Times.
HAYES: It partnered with The New York Times with -- right, they got an exclusive look of the book, isn`t that right? And they ran...
MAYER: The Times is very touchy about this.
HAYES: They are, yes.
MAYER: And they are saying we made no deals. All I can tell you is in 2015, you know, as the election was gearing up, they mention the book on the front page and referred to the story that basically made Hillary Clinton look like she was selling America`s national security in exchange for money for the Clinton Foundation.
HAYES: Yes, and basically this narrative gets set, right, about Clinton shady donors and Clinton shady money and Clinton shady dealings and you hear it repeated often on the campaign trail by Donald Trump. It`s boosted by the Schweitzer book. And one of the points you make in your piece is like they are running the exact same play, the literal same play in 2020.
MAYER: Right, exactly. And so I`m looking at this story and trying to trace back where it`s coming from and I think oh, no, we have seen this movie before and the press is no better capable of screening for it, because we`re really not setup to sort of screen out this information.
And one of the things that I have to say is a kind of work of genius on the part of Bannon and the Government Accountability Institute is they realize that reporters were skeptical of spin that seemed partisan, but that they would take dirt. If there`s really good dirt...
HAYES: Right, like oppo, basically...
MAYER: Oppo on public figures. And so they took a look at Biden. Coming into this election now and you`ve got a president who has his own corruption issues. And so what do they do? They look for a way to make the Democrat look corrupt. And Biden`s son is indeed involved in a sort of wheeling and dealing in the Ukraine that seems pretty seamy (ph) in a lot of ways. It`s not great.
But what the conspiracy theory develops is that the vice president is the one who is going to stop -- save his son by stopping him from being investigated. And that`s not true.
HAYES: No, in fact it`s literally the opposite of the truth. The prosecutor...
MAYER: It`s the opposite, exactly.
HAYES: My favorite tell on this -- so the prosecutor that Biden calls to fire, right, had already put aside this case. And in fact he was being called to fire by the entire world because he was not investing in prosecution, right. So multiple reporters who have reported this story said no, you don`t understand, Joe Biden getting rid of this guy was, if anything, going to put his son at risk, right. Like it would be more likely that his son would end up on the wrong side of an investigation if they got rid of this guy, it was literally the opposite of the conflict that they are alleging against.
MAYER: But for two years you have got these Republican conservative operatives pushing this fake conspiracy theory. And you can watch -- if you go back and look, and you can see how it is like a game of telephone. It gets worse and worse and worse and then somewhere along the way comes Rudy Giuliani. And when he gets into it, it gets all over Fox. And when it`s all over Fox, it gets directly into the president`s brain. And then he`s convinced that this -- that phony conspiracy theory is real.
HAYES: Is real, and then he`s using the American state to essentially pursue it and investigate it.
MAYER: Exactly. So they kind of snookered themselves, in some ways, at the end of the day.
HAYES: Yeah, what`s fascinating to me is I think for a long time there was a bifurcation in the media where the folks like the president and Politicos would read the New York Times, they`d read the Wall Street Journal, and then the base would watch Fox News and listen to Rush Limbaugh.
But now they all -- like the members of congress and the president and the president`s staff and the president`s lawyers, they all just watch Fox all day. Like they all read this stuff. And I think they largely believe a lot of it.
MAYER: Well, it`s -- you can see in this whole thing, it`s an incredible danger, not just for the United States, but also even in a weird way for the president himself, because he got caught up in his own echo chamber on this thing.
And then the next thing you know, he`s on the phone with the president of Ukraine trying to use leverage to get him to go along with a story that the president of Ukraine knows isn`t true.
MAYER: And it`s a disaster.
MAYER: And he may get himself impeached over this.
HAYES: You have written a lot and researched a lot on dark money and the way that dark money moves. And I was thinking about President Obama after Citizens United gave this speech famously condemning it with Justice Alito sitting in the front row. And the justice shook his head no when he condemned the decision. And one of the things he says there is this is going to open the flood gates for the possibility of foreign money coming into elections.
And you go back and you look at that speech now, that looks pretty prophetic.
MAYER: I mean, and that is exactly when Alito said no to the thing -- to the idea that there would be foreign money. This is foreign money coming in. I mean, what -- there is an FEC case that involves the two friends of Rudy`s who have -- for setting up a straw donor and putting what looks like foreign money directly into U.S. elections. Totally against the law.
HAYES: Totally against the law, but done through vehicles...
MAYER: Where you can`t track it. And that`s the problem with dark money, you can`t see where it`s coming through -- from. So, I mean, it is built that way.
HAYES: You have also been doing -- you`ve done a lot of reporting on the vice president as well, profiled him. It is fascinating to watch him try to navigate this, because he is -- he is directly implicated. He was the one who was sent to send messages to Zelensky. We know that. He says that he talked about corruption, which we know what that`s a code word for. And yet, he also is trying to distance himself from the actual sort of abuse of authority that we saw in the phone call.
MAYER: I mean, he has said that he didn`t know what the corruption thing was about exactly.
HAYES: Oh, he was just carrying a message.
MAYER: He was just carrying a message. He`s -- somebody said that up until this point he`s been the vice president who wears asbestos underwear. Everybody else is catching on fire, but somehow he`s managed not. I think it`s getting hot, though.
(LAUGHER AND APPLAUSE)
HAYES: Well, he...
MAYER: He actually had one of his top staffers listening to the phone call with Zelensky on July 25. And so what people have been wondering about is though the vice president was not on the phone call himself, there would have been a transcript available that would have gone to the vice president`s office. Soon after that on September 1, the vice president went to Warsaw and met with Zelensky. Did he not look at the transcript of the phone call before he met with him?
HAYES: Right. And right now he has to essentially plead ignorance, right.
MAYER: That`s what he`s saying. It is the better of the two options.
HAYES: You have seen him also just completely unable to give any kind of accounting. He was -- one of our own reporters actually pressed him I thought quite well at a rope line event he did with Joni Ernst, and he just won`t answer the question like did you know the president wanted them to open an investigation on the Bidens. He cannot answer that question.
MAYER: It`s obviously very uncomfortable for him. But I mean it`s interesting to think about if he -- you know, when you think back on Nixon, it wasn`t just the president who went down. It was his Spiro Agnew, his vice president, too, ahead of him that went down.
I mean, it could create an opening at the top that would be difficult and interesting.
HAYES: Yeah. That`s an understatement.
Jane Mayer who is in town tonight because tomorrow she is going to be interviewing Nancy Pelosi as part of the New Yorker festival, which should be a fascinating conversation. Thank you so much for being here tonight.
MAYER: Thank you.
HAYES: Don`t go anywhere. Rachel Maddow is coming up.
HAYES: Thank you all for joining us tonight to everyone at home and here with me at Studio 6A. We will be back here next week. And then I`m headed for you, Los Angeles. I will be doing a live recording of my podcast, Why is This Happening? in the beautiful theater at the Ace Hotel that the award-winning writer/director Adam McKay and author Omar El Akkad, that is happening Monday, October 21. Tickets available now. You can buy yours at msnbc.com/withpodtour.
That does it for us for All In for the evening. The Rachel Maddow Show starts right now. Good evening, Rachel.
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