Show: ALL IN with CHRIS HAYES Date: October 18, 2019
STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: -- exciting news than that, even more, important news than that. Monday night, Chris Matthews will be back in this seat. Well, not this seat, but the equivalent seat in Washington, the important news there though. Chris Matthews is back on Monday.
That`s HARDBALL for now. Thank you for being with us. "ALL IN" with Chris Hayes starts right now.
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CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: Tonight, on a special edition of ALL IN.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Should Rudy register as a foreign lobbyist?
HAYES: Steve does the Trump and Rudy show go beyond Ukraine?
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You have to ask Rudy those questions.
HAYES: Tonight, the case that Trump`s debacle with Turkey and Rudy search for dirt on Joe Biden are part of the same story. Plus, Stephanie Ruhle on what may be the most corrupt act by any president ever, and the MSNBC return of Steve Schmidt.
STEVE SCHMIDT, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: We`ve reached the hour that George Washington warned us about.
HAYES: Live from Studio 6A in Rockefeller Plaza, and ALL IN starts right now.
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HAYES: Thank you. We got a big show tonight. We`ve got Steve Schmidt making his triumphant MSNBC return. Stephanie Ruhle is going to be here to talk about the President`s gobsmacking corruption. And we`re going to get caught up on what happened in the Ukraine scandal.
There are two other stories though that I`ve been looking at, OK. One has been getting a ton of coverage, the other not as much. But these are -- they`re two different stories and they`re being reported as different stories like they`re in different parts of the newspaper, there`s different articles about them, and I think they might just actually be one story.
So the first story is the thing that we have all been watching jaw a gape with horror, and that is what the president United States did almost two weeks ago after a single call with the Turkish strongman Recep Erdogan. He greenlit a Turkish invasion of Northeast Syria. That paved the way for ethnic cleansing and horrific human rights abuses against the Kurds.
Now, the Turkish incursion has knocked out our counter-ISIS campaign that we were running there risking ISIS reconstituting itself. It goes against years of blood and toil by both Kurdish fighters and American fighters fighting side-by-side. And that all happened after one phone call where Donald Trump completely and totally capitulated to Erdogan`s interest.
To the shock, surprise, and horror of essentially the entire United States government from the State Department, to the Department of Defense, to the troops on the ground who had to retreat so fast they left their mess halls intact, and then we had to bomb our own base in Syria to stop it from falling into enemy hands.
The President has tried to save face on this. He set a million different wild and contradictory things about his rash and almost inexplicable decision. And the White House also released a rambling and childish letter that the President wrote -- definitely it was the president who wrote it. It`s not ghostwritten.
The President wrote to Turkish President Erdogan, it ends with the American president telling the Turkish president, "don`t be a tough guy, don`t be fool, I will call you later." And he sent my Mike Pompeo, Secretary of State and Vice President Mike Pence to then cut a deal with Erdogan after he had already like let the whole thing happen.
And the deal essentially gives Erdogan everything he wants. It`s a near- total victory where he evades sanctions picks up territory and gets to and I want to be clear about this ethnically cleanse Northeast Syria of Kurds, not just the Kurdish fighter, all of the Kurdish civilians.
He views them as a huge threat. This is what he wants to do. Trump said the deal was great for everybody, but in fact, this whole story is a story about giving Erdogan everything he wants at the tremendous cost of the lives of the people on the ground and also American interests.
So we`re helping Turkey advance its project of ethnically cleansing the area of the Kurds and President Trump himself referred himself to the Turkish plan as cleaning it out.
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TRUMP: You have a 22-mile strip that for many, many years Turkey in all fairness they`ve had a legitimate problem with it. They had terrorists, they had a lot of people in there that they couldn`t have. They`ve suffered a lot of loss of lives also and they had to have it cleaned out.
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HAYES: Cleaned out. They had to have it cleaned out. OK, so that is -- that is the one story. It`s one story and that is a story that`s dominating a lot of the politics and coverage. Everyone is watching that and thinking why did this happen, right? 354 people in the House condemned Trump`s decision. That includes 129 Republicans. They never do this.
Most or much of the Senate has criticized it. Nobody likes it. Huge bipartisan consensus, it`s terrible across the ideological spectrum, not just the partisan spectrum, from Noam Chomsky to Bill Kristol, why did he do this? Why did Trump do this? That is one story.
And then over here, there is another story, that the presidents trusted associate, bagman, buddy, adviser, attorney, personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani has maybe been working off the books on behalf of the Turkish government.
So I`m going to explain that in a second, but actually based on your reaction, maybe story one and story two are not two stories. They are connected to each other. Because story two is about the same guy, let`s remember, who we know was running the off-the-books Ukraine policy, right? The same guy who has his fingers in American foreign policy despite the fact that he has no standing to do so.
The guy at the center of the Ukraine impeachment scandal it turns out was also working another angle. And that angle was to personally lobby for literally the top two priorities of Turkey`s President Erdogan in the United States.
Erdogan has two specific things he desperately badly wants out of the U.S., OK. He`s got a very connected gold trader who is part of a vast money- laundering scheme to bypass U.S. sanctions against Iran, a Turkish man connected to Erdogan. That guy is being prosecuted by the Southern District of New York. And the President of Turkey does not like that and wants him let go.
So you got your gold trader and then you`ve got your cleric. The cleric`s name is Fethullah Gulen. He is the leader of religious movement that is very, very popular in Turkey, a very outspoken Erdogan critic. And Erdogan absolutely hates this guy because he is convinced that he fomented a coup against him.
Now, Gulen happens to live in the United States in the Poconos of all places, in the mountains in Pennsylvania, and he lives as a legal permanent resident which is random. Erdogan wants him extradited back. OK?
So those are the two things that Erdogan wants from the U.S. government, the two things he arguably cares most about in terms of specific internal U.S. matters. Those are also the two things that Giuliani we now know was personally repeatedly lobbying the president about.
Giuliani was that gold trader`s lawyer, OK. He represented him. And back in 2017, Giuliani traveled to Turkey and held a secret meeting with Erdogan to basically figure out -- a way out for Turkey to further aid U.S. interests in the region in exchange for releasing the gold trader which is weird because plea bargaining is usually a thing that happens between defense lawyers and prosecutors in the United States, not with a foreign head of state in a foreign country.
So that`s one of the issues that Erdogan wants in the U.S. That`s Giuliani was working on. Here`s the other. We learned just this week, OK, that Giuliani privately urged the president, President Trump to extradite that Turkish cleric multiple times, so much so that one former official described it as Giuliani`s hobbyhorse. It was the thing he just keeps bringing up in White House meetings.
And it got so bad, and it got so frequent White House officials even went and they checked lobbying records to make sure Giuliani was not registered to lobby as is legally required on behalf of Turkey, and he was not.
Now, if this is all starting to sound familiar as if maybe you`ve heard something like this before, it gets because you have. You remember, Donald Trump`s first National Security Advisor, remember that guy, Michael Flynn, lock her up Michael Flynn?
OK, Michael Flynn wrote the most insane op-ed on Election Day about -- you`ll never guess, on Election Day 2016 the same Turkish cleric. This is Election Day. The day people go to the polls. He didn`t write an op-ed that says hey, go vote for Trump. He didn`t say we`re going to make America great. No, he writes it up at an Election Day 2016 being like we have got to get this cleric out of the Poconos and back to Turkey.
This is the title of the Election Day op-ed. Our ally Turkey is in crisis and needs our support. What do we later find out? Well, we later find out Michael Flynn was paid half a million dollars to lobby for the Turkish government. He is currently awaiting sentencing in December. He could be going to prison for lying about this.
Which brings us back to that crazy letter, that very, very, very crazy letter, the one that Donald Trump sent Erdogan last week. For all of its weirdness and childish tone, there was one line in that letter that stands out more than ever. Here it is.
"I have worked hard to solve some of your problems." What problem has Donald Trump`s worked hard to solve for Turkey? The line has a certain ring to it knowing what we know now about who Donald Trump tasked with his foreign policy, not the Secretary of State but his bagman Rudy Giuliani.
And it`s starting to feel to me more than ever that maybe these two stories Donald Trump getting rolled by Turkish strongman Erdogan and letting him invade Northeast Syria to ethnically cleanse Kurds, and Rudy Giuliani basically lobbying on behalf of the Turkish government starting to feel like maybe those true stories are really one story where the policy of caving to Erdogan, all Trump foreign policy fundamentally now appears suspicious and corrupt. That perhaps it itself is the act of corruption.
And coming off a week of deposition after deposition in the Ukraine impeachment tale, it does make you wonder, maybe Ukraine is just this isolated incident in which the President was using Rudy Giuliani and the instruments of American power purely for his own interest, right? Or maybe Ukraine is one example of a thing he has been doing a lot in a lot of places with Rudy Giuliani. And if it`s the latter, maybe you might want an impeachment inquiry that looks into all of it.
One of the people in the leadership of the Democratic Party is here with me tonight, the Chairman of the House Democratic Caucus Congressman Hakeem Jeffries of New York. Good to have to have you. So let`s start on that point about the scope. You know, someone said something the other day and said it`s like when you shake the tree, all these crimes fall out. Like why would you -- why would you stop shaking the tree and keep the inquiry limited to the scope of the Ukraine affair?
REP. HAKEEM JEFFRIES (D-NY): Well it is very important to shake the tree. I think that`s what we`re doing. What we`ve seen basically is that the Trump administration has been characterized by five things, chaos, crisis, confusion, corruption, and criminal activity. And we are going to --
HAYES: You didn`t just do it on the spot.
JEFFRIES: I did.
HAYES: No, you didn`t.
JEFFRIES: We got to follow the facts, apply to law, be guided by the United States Constitution, and uncover and present the truth to the American people.
HAYES: But that`s not responsive to the question because the question is right now there is an inquiry whose scope, as I understand it, being conducted by Chair Adam Schiff as part of the oversight committees, pursuant to the impeachment inquiry, covers the Ukraine matter and only the Ukraine matter. Am I misunderstanding that?
JEFFRIES: Well, actually to clarify and to modify that, the focus will remain on the Trump-Ukraine scandal as we know it because there`s evidence of wrongdoing that`s hiding in plain sight. And what you have is that the President pressure the foreign leader to target an American citizen for political gain and then withheld at the same time $391 million in aid to a very vulnerable country that had been authorized on a bipartisan basis.
That is textbook abuse of power, undermines our national security, and the president betrayed his oath of office. And so, the Intel Committee led by Adam Schiff who`s doing a phenomenal job will continue to unwind that thread.
But Speaker Pelosi has also said that we are operating under an impeachment inquiry umbrella. So there are a total of six committees looking at the wrongdoing that has continued to come out of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
The Foreign Affairs Committee is involved, the Oversight Committee is involved, the Ways and Means Committee is involved, the Financial Services Committee is involved, and of course, the Judiciary Committee is involved as well.
HAYES: There`s also one other aspect of this which pertains to Rudy Giuliani which is there now a criminal investigation of the Southern District of New York in which two of Rudy Giuliani`s associates, men who were represented by their own lawyer as being part of President Trump legal team have been indicted in federal court. That`s another variable in this.
JEFFRIES: That`s a variable but it`s part of the same narrative in terms of the wrongdoing that has been unleashed on the country by President Trump. Now, Rudolph Giuliani, you know, what a guy. I mean, failed mayor, failed presidential candidate, failed lawyer, on his way to being a convicted felon.
HAYES: You think -- do you really mean that?
JEFFRIES: I think so.
HAYES: You think -- you think -- I mean, in all seriousness, do you think he has criminal exposure right now?
JEFFRIES: Absolutely, for the reasons that you laid out in terms of the possibility that he was illegally lobbying on behalf of the Turkish government. But here`s the key. The rough transcript of the July 25th phone call makes clear that Rudolph Giuliani certainly in the context of the Ukraine scandal was operating at the explicit direction of Donald Trump who made it clear to the Ukrainian president that he was to follow up with his personal lawyer who`s not a diplomat, he`s not a member of the State Department, the diplomatic corps, or an ambassador. He was a political thug operating on behalf of Donald Trump to solicit foreign interference in the 2020 election. That`s outrageous.
HAYES: Yesterday, Mick Mulvaney came out and admitted it. And I think he -- in his defense I think he got confused because they alternate between, we didn`t do it and we did it, it`s fine. And he forgot which day it was in terms of the messaging. But I saw Jim Jordan say well, it doesn`t change anything for me.
I mean, do you feel like your Republican colleagues on the House side -- and I saw Congressman Rooney now, a Republican saying he is open to an impeachment inquiry. Is there any set of facts or is it just there is no set of facts that would sway them?
JEFFRIES: Well, there are some members on the Republican side who are part of what I refer to as the cover-up caucus. And they are simply -- right, it`s unfortunate. They`re not interested in upholding their oath of office. They`re interested in covering up wrongdoing by Donald Trump.
Hopefully, there are others who take seriously the fact that we are in Congress not to put party first but to put country first and that`s what we should --
HAYES: How do you -- I`ve seen a lot of reporting on the timeline here and there was a lot of reporting about aids and people in leadership like yourself thinking to move quickly and strike while the iron is hot because the facts are quite damning and they`re out and from the public. And you have polls showing that as many as 55, 54 percent in favor of impeachment itself. How do you -- how do you think about the timeline and how do you balance that with what we talked about earlier about getting to the bottom of things?
JEFFRIES: Well, what the Speaker said is that we`re going to proceed expeditiously which I interpret as potentially something is done prior to the end of the year as it relates to the recommendations that the six committees led by the Intel Committee will make to the Judiciary Committee as relates to potential articles of impeachment. Now, one thing about the Mulvaney reveal, that was a straight-up confession --
JEFFRIES: -- of what took place.
HAYES: That is the correct word.
JEFFRIES: I appreciate your affirmation. But you know, listen, we`re going to undertake a serious and solemn investigation as it relates to unraveling what has occurred in presenting the truth to the American people.
HAYES: I wanted to offer my condolences for the loss of your remarkable colleague Elijah Cummings who passed away yesterday. He obviously was -- has had an incredible career long before Donald Trump ever ran for office, but has also been crucial as part of the Oversight Committee. How are you and your colleagues dealing with that loss?
JEFFRIES: Well, it was a very tough day on the Hill. He was an incredible statesman, an incredible man, an incredible public servant. And he would consistently encourage us to defend our democracy, stand up for the Constitution, make sure that we present the truth to the American people consistent with our solemn obligations as members of the House of Representatives, the people`s house.
He inspired us with his wisdom and with his work ethics, and with his integrity and stature in life. His legacy will continue to inspire us to finish the job that he was such an important part of starting.
HAYES: All right, Congressman Hakeem Jeffries of New York, thank you very much. I appreciate it. If you are having trouble following everything that`s happening with the Ukraine scandal, it`s actually a lot less complicated than you think but it`s also far more damning. We`re going to talk about that next.
HAYES: The Ukraine -- the Ukraine story is not some mystery where you have to read the whole book to find out who has done it. We know who has done it. We found out on the very first page and then the rest of the novel is now being told in flashback as we found out how we got to this point.
This week there was a lot of movement, a lot of information about how this happened, a bunch of people are called to testify. It is hard to keep all the facts straight. So to go through what we learned this week, I`m joined by a pair of great reporters who have been covering this story doggedly day-in-day-out Josh Lederman a reporter at our own NBC News and Natasha Bertrand National Security Correspondent for Politico and an MSNBC Contributor.
Josh, let me -- let me start with you. We had a bunch of people testify this week and there`s just a little bit of breaking news now about one of the individuals who testified, State Department official George Kent about the fact that Rudy Giuliani lobbied the State Department to grant a visa to the very same corrupt Ukrainian prosecutor that Biden pushed to oust. Is that right?
JOSH LEDERMAN, NBC NEWS NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER: That`s right, Chris. There have been some rumors going around Washington for several days about this. And our colleagues at CNN have locked down this story tonight. And what they`re reporting is that back in January, Rudy Giuliani pushed the State Department to give a visa to this former prosecutor Viktor Shokin so he could come to the United States to give to Rudy Giuliani what Giuliani thought would be dirt basically about Joe Biden and about the president`s political opponents.
Now, this is the prosecutor that Joe Biden back when he was the sitting V.P. had tried to get the Ukrainians to get rid of because he didn`t think he was pursuing corruption enough. And Rudy Giuliani wanted to speak with him, tried to get the State Department to give him a visa. And then when the State Department declined, according to CNN`s reporting, Giuliani went to the White House, tried to get the White House to overrule the State Department.
Now, they didn`t give him a visa but why is this important, because this is a fresh example completely separate from the whole issue about the quid pro quo and linking aid to assistance where Rudy Giuliani, the president`s personal lawyer given this Ukraine portfolio was pushing the U.S. government to take a position to actually do something concrete in furtherance of the president`s own domestic political goals.
HAYES: Yes. And that -- and that, Natasha, has been sort of the story the through-line for all of this. What do you see is the -- there was a bunch of testimony this week, one person for the White House, several others who were State Department officials, what was your sort of big takeaway about what we learned this week?
NATASHA BERTRAND, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Yes. So two things, the first is that the State Department is obviously getting its kind of revenge now, right? They`re having their opportunity to speak out finally and explain all of the misery and the chaos that they`ve been through over the last two years particularly over the last obviously eight or nine months with regard to the Ukraine story.
The second one though and one I think that`s more important is them raising alarms about a foreign influence operation taking place yet again on American soil targeting the 2020 election. It is -- the very clear through-line here is that people connected to the Russians.
We know about Dmitry Firtash who is a crania oligarch who is very connected to Putin, very connected to the former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych who himself was very connected to Putin has hired two of President Trump`s closest allies and people he considered to be his lawyers for a long time during the Russia probe in order to help him dig up dirt on Joe Biden and then relay it back to Giuliani and relay it to the White House that it can be used against him.
I mean, it`s like a repeat of 2016 all over again. The only difference is that you have these Ukrainian -- Russian connected Ukrainian middlemen who are acting in order to undermine the President`s top opponent.
And so I think what State Department officials now and even you know, I think what Jim Mattis the former Secretary of Defense who finally came out yesterday and showed himself to have a little bit of a you know kind of spying about all of this when he made that joke about bone spurs and, you know, kind of dug at Trump a bit, they`re feeling a little more comfortable pushing back now because they see the President is in a very weakened position.
HAYES: That that dynamic I think is an important one is a sort of meta- story the fact that all these people showed up. They all gave their testimony. The State Department told them not to show up. They were given subpoenas and they showed up anyway.
Josh, you had some great reporting on some of the testimony we got at the beginning weak from a John Bolton deputy who actually worked the NSC. That`s not the State Department, the White House Fiona Hill that I think was some of the most damning stuff that we heard all week. What would -- what do we know about what she told the committee?
LEDERMAN: Well, she told the committee that John Bolton was so upset by all of this freelancing on Ukraine that he referred to it as a drug deal, referred to Giuliani as a -- as a hand-grenade. But Fiona Hill also testified about a just extraordinary incident that took place in July that kind of crystallizes this whole thing where there was this meeting with two visiting senior Ukrainian officials where Bolton was saying, look, we`re not yet ready to commit to granting President Zelensky a White House visit.
And in the middle of this meeting, Ambassador Sondland, the ambassador to the E.U. interjects and says, actually, as a matter of fact, Trump is ready to do that if you guys will open up this investigation. Bolton then abruptly ends the meeting but it doesn`t end there because Sondland then escorts these two visiting Ukrainians to the basement of the White House for a private follow up.
When Bolton sends Fiona Hill, the top Europe official in to hear what`s going on, she hears them discussing Burisma, that natural gas company that Hunter Biden joined the board of.
HAYES: Yes, that`s the company.
LEDERMAN: Exactly, that`s the company.
HAYES: So she goes down -- they take him down to the basement to talk about the condition of being -- of investigation into the Biden`s.
LEDERMAN: Exactly. And it was the immediate aftermath of this that Fiona Hill at Bolton`s direction went to John Eisenberg the top lawyer at the National Security Council to report what they knew and what they thought was completely unacceptable.
HAYES: Natasha, there is a big witness being called I believe next week because we now have the manifest for that which is Bill Taylor who is the person who currently runs the operation in the embassy in Kiev and who was the one who famously wrote the text, I think it`s crazy to withhold funding for help with a political campaign. We`re going to hear from him next week, is that right?
BERTRAND: Yes. So he`s scheduled for a deposition with House staffers, House Democratic staffers on Tuesday. And he, of course, is the one who was raising alarms internally about this kind of shadow foreign policy that Giuliani and Sondland were conducting along with of course the special envoy Kurt Volker.
He decided very wisely, I think most experts would say, to put in writing the fact that he was aware that this was aid -- that this withdrawal of aid was specifically linked to the President`s political objectives.
So I think that people are going to -- especially in the Hill, they`re going to want to draw out of him a bit more what he knew about the connection between the aid and the obviously the political side of things, and also whether that he learned anything about what Sondland told the president on that phone call because Sondland, of course, wrote this very lawyered response back to Bill Taylor when he raised alarms about this saying no quid pro quo.
I think also they`re going to want to know more about what happened internally at the State Department especially what happened at the Embassy in Kiev, and what more bill Taylor can say about this entire operation. He`s going to be a very valuable witness.
HAYES: All right, Natasha Bertrand and Josh Lederman, thank you both very much. That was great. OK, in all of history, what do you think was the most brazenly corrupt thing a U.S. president has ever done? Well, you might have to go all the way back to yesterday afternoon. The great Stephanie Ruhle, next.
HAYES: The literally most iconic form of corruption is awarding government contracts to cronies, friends and families. It`s the kind of thing that almost every corruption case throughout history around the world in every town in America revolves around at some level. That what Boss Tweeds Tammany Hall was all about. When you think corruption, that`s it. It`s the most iconic corruption that exists. You award government contracts to your cronies, your friends, maybe cut outs, you take some off the top.
This guy did one even better, he awarded a government contract to himself. I mean it`s the most canonical corruption crime you can imagine, and so as people argue over is this a technical violation of the emoluments clause. Don`t over-think it. People go to jail in America all the time for this kind of thing.
I want to bring in someone who hasn`t hesitated to point out corruption when she sees it and has been covering this story, MSNBC Stephanie Ruhle.
STEPHANIE RUHLE, MSNBC: Can I just congratulate you?
RUHLE: I think we should tell your audience who`s watching that you actually have a live audience. If they thought it was a laugh machine...
HAYES: No, it is not. No.
RUHLE: ...or like your friends, you have a real audience. So, there you go.
HAYES: They`re real humans. So you`ve been doing some reporting on this, and one of the things to start out with is how big a -- how much -- how many rooms is this? How many nights is it? What is the scale of what we`re talking about?
RUHLE: So, let`s just think about this. I spoke to one former administration official, who`s been involved in planning these types of events, and he said to me don`t think that this is just a week or two, everyone converging on the resort and there for the summit. This will be 50 to 100 nights of advance teams, logistics teams, from all of these countries preparing for this big event, all of them staying at the Trump resort.
So for Mick Mulvaney to say we`re doing this at cost, the president won`t be making any money, that`s just factually incorrect.
HAYES: Well, the president again reiterated this idea of like at -- it doesn`t make it any better, but what does at cost even mean?
RUHLE: OK, that`s exactly it. What does at cost mean? This is the month of June, so I ask you who is going to golf resorts in Miami, Florida, in the month of June?
HAYES: No one.
RUHLE: No one. So the costs are actually sunk. The Trumps have already spent the money to keep the resort open.
HAYES: Right, because they have a big empty hotel because it`s South Florida in the summer.
RUHLE: Those costs are sunk. So anything that they are paid -- so even if they say we`re going to give you a deal, which we don`t know that to be the case, they`re going to make money. So they would be normally losing a ton of money in June, and now they`ll be losing less money, because it will be a full occupancy.
And remember, this is a resort with only two presidential suites. Do you mean to tell me that a whole bunch of world leaders are going to be staying in a standard room with two double beds and a shower?
HAYES: Shinzo Abe is like bunked up with...
RUHLE: Yeah -- a mini-fridge? Come one.
HAYES: It was so funny yesterday, because Mulvaney comes out -- you know, they`re doing this totally corrupt thing, but then Mulvaney comes out, and it`s obviously corrupt. Like, we`re all watching it, but he has to give this whole rigmarole about like, we looked high. We looked low. We looked east. We looked west and we looked everywhere and the only place we could do it is South Florida in June at the president`s facility. Like it -- there is nothing about it that even has a plausible cover story.
RUHLE: World leaders and an infinite number of mosquitoes in the most humid weather in June. But remember, Mick Mulvaney is pulling a classic move from the Trump play book. Let`s distract everyone. Let`s distract everyone so this whole room and every journalist can set their hair on fire and say corrupt, corrupt, corrupt, it`s emoluments.
We can cover this, and talk about that this is unjust or corrupt, but that doesn`t distract anyone from covering Ukraine and the impeachment inquiry.
HAYES: No. And in some ways. it`s all the same story because the point is, the question is is it the American interests that are being pursued or Donald Trump`s personal interests? And in all of these cases, that is the thing. But this is just the -- I have never seen, and I`ve covered -- I was like a beat reporter in Chicago which is just a factory of corruption, right? Illinois and Chicago, like, if you cover some small town mayor whose brother`s construction company he was kicking contracts to the local prosecutor would indict him and send him to jail.
HAYES: Like, Ray Nagin, Kwame Kilpatrick, Rod Blagojevich, these people are all in prison for doing this.
RUHLE: Well, he might get pardoned.
HAYES: Yes, that`s true. For now.
RUHLE: But just think about how much is going to go into the resort and who`s going to pay for it. So even if Mick Mulvaney is being evasive about preparations, you know, what gets done with the resort, who do you think is going to pay: the taxpayers?
Here`s an example. You`re going to have to renovate the resort to an extent, I`m not saying upgrade it to make it more beautiful, but you have to do things to prepare for all these visitors.
RUHLE: You have to add entire buildings for security. But think about, for example, helipads. You`re going to have to add one to two helipads for these people to come in. Where are they going to do that, the golf course.
So, when the summit is over, there`s no need for two helipads? So, then what happens? Well, obviously the U.S. government has to get rid of these helipads? And what does that do? Wait for it, leave way for a brand new renovation and repairs of the golf course paid for by the taxpayers.
HAYES: Right, that is such a great point. All the upgrades for security that have to be unmade or reconstituted afterwards, you plausibly bill to the government and there you go, you`ve now paid for a renovation of your property off the government dime.
RUHLE: And I think that`s really important, because they`re going to quickly say, listen, of course we have to make these adjustments for security.
It`s after the fact. Do you mean to think when they get rid of the helipads they`re just going to throw some sod down? Of course not. It is a golf courses. And golf courses cost tens of millions of dollars to upgrade.
And we know that this resort is in disrepair. And I haven`t even mentioned bed bugs.
(LAUGHTER AND APPLAUSE)
HAYES: Someone made the point that, maybe the safest time to go somewhere is right after a big bed bug infestation, so maybe they can make sure that that is...
RUHLE: Possibly. Maybe, you could put bedbugs aside. I mean just walk through -- for Mick Mulvaney, it was another hotel developer who called me this morning who said stop it. This is word-smithing at best, flat out lying at worst, to say we`re doing this at cost when there would be ghosts in the hotel in June.
HAYES: That`s a boondoggle. Stephanie Ruhle, that was fantastic. Thank you very much.
Do not go anywhere. Steve Schmidt, the one and only, makes his return to MSNBC, and that is next.
HAYES: Driven by the standards of the Trump era, I think this week has been particularly insane. It`s been an insane week, it`s been an insane month, it`s been an insane eight months. And one person we have not heard from this entire crazy time is Steve Schmidt, a lifelong Republican, a political operative and consultant who became an outspoken never Trumper, an MSNBC Republican, if you will.
He`s been gone for around eight months for some reasons you might know, some you might not. But he is back here tonight making his first return to MSNBC. Please welcome Steve Schmidt.
How are you, man? Great to see you. Have a seat. It`s great to have you back.
STEVE SCHMIDT, POLITICAL STRATEGIST: It`s great to be back.
HAYES: So, you were working on a -- you were working for Howard Schultz.
SCHMIDT: I was.
HAYES: Who was the Starbucks CEO who toyed with a run. How was that? How`d that go?
SCHMIDT: He, as you know, he thought about being a candidate for president. He took a look at it closely. And in the end he decided don`t want to be a candidate for president. So I`m delighted to be back.
HAYES: That`s what you`ve got to say about that?
SCHMIDT: I do, yeah.
HAYES: What has it been like to -- if not take a step back from the news, because I imagine you consume it, but just to watch the ark of the news and not be as sort of intimately involved in commenting?
SCHMIDT: I think it gives you a bit different perspective in that you`re not talking about it three, times, four times, five times a day, having tweeted in nine or 10 months. And so it`s healthy to some level just to step back from all of it.
I mean, part of I think living in a democracy is freedom from the leader, that ubiquity of the president constantly in your face. This is not something you see in normal democracies. We ought to have freedom from our politicians. They shouldn`t be the central figures in our lives in the all consuming and deeply worrying matter that they are.
HAYES: It`s a really great point. I mean, there are many ways in which just to -- I think to a core instinctual and visceral level he really does have much defection for strong men, but actually likes that system and imagines himself at the head of it and has in some ways oriented our political culture around that vision.
SCHMIDT: I think one of the things, there was a trilogy of FDR books that were completed by, and I`m blanking on the author`s name, but he talked about the fact that FDR, as he was architecting the world that we live in today -- and he said to the Canadian prime minister, Mackenzie King, he said that his ambition wasn`t that this new world order, this American-led liberal global order wasn`t that it would last forever. He only wanted it to last as long as every person that every person who was alive on the day that the war ended was still alive.
And it`s had a good run. So you see this weekend in stark ways the retreat and decline of American influence in the world. We see the ability of the Chinese, culturally, to impose silence on some of our most famous athletes, some of our most outspoken citizens. We see the filling of the Middle East with Russian influence as opposed to American. We see America`s adversaries with license to move. We see chaos in the world. And so we`ve entered this consequences stage of the Trump presidency.
And I think when we look at it, we should take very seriously what the former head of the U.S. special operations command Admiral William McRaven said. And he`s not a deliberate man. He said the Republic is under attack from within by the president.
So, we`re moving into a very, very serious time in this country now.
HAYES: I want to talk about -- you just mentioned what`s going on in Syria, and I wanted to talk to you about that. There`s two things. One, it`s really interesting to me to watch Republicans react to this, Lindsey Graham in particular, but a lot of them, because I think to myself, I`m like, this is a travesty and horrible, but this is the thing? This is the thing. Like wasn`t the kids in cages, it wasn`t, you know, selling out American interests a million other ways, or the rank corruption, this is the thing.
And I almost can`t model the ideological vision that makes this the breaking point, but I feel like you have a better sense of it.
SCHMIDT: Well, it`s psychologically fascinating the disassociation that you see playing out as if the silence and acquiescence to the nonstop lying, to the corruption, to the incompetence, that none of that accumulated to this moment as if they have no responsibility for it.
So he will have been elected three years ago. He`s been president for a substantial period of time. And his behavior is getting worse, because of the license that he`s been given by members of the congress who are -- who are members of a co-equal branch of government who have subordinated these institutions to the strongman president who as Admiral McRaven I think correctly and appropriately said is a real threat to the republic.
HAYES: There was some talk about -- you know, there was a bipartisan vote in the House condemning the Syria policy. There might be one in the Senate.
I guess I wonder does it matter more than this issue, right? Like, there`s some line of argumentation that you can see Republican Senators start to get freaked about the very durability of the country`s interests being vouchsafed by the man in charge of it that might make them more open, or more willing to break with Trump on other things. But do you think that is true?
SCHMIDT: We haven`t seen it so far. This is the first instance. Because the incompetence of the decision and the consequences of that decision, we have hundreds of ISIS fighters have escaped from prison. They`re not going to go to community college. What they`re going to do is they`re going to kill people, and they`ll kill people in western capitals.
We see a foreign policy disaster really of unprecedented dimensions. And the consequences of that disaster will be felt for years.
We don`t know what`s going to happen. We don`t know how any of this will play out other than to say that Trump has unleashed vast quantities of human suffering. He has destabilized the most destabilized region in the world. And he has harmed deeply the national security interests of this country.
HAYES: I want to sort of play devil`s advocate for a moment on this. And I actually believe it more than a devil`s advocate. One thing as I`ve watched the criticism of this decision, I thought to myself, I imagine a future in which, say, a Democratic president, even a Republican president, withdraws from Afghanistan, something that I think has to happen at a certain point.
SCHMIDT: Of course, absolutely.
HAYES: We cannot be there forever. It is 18 years, the longest war in the Republic.
And I worry, I guess, about the forms of argumentation being made here being used there -- we`re abandoning our allies. The Afghan government. We fought beside these Afghan fighters. We are unleashing hell. The Taliban will rush back in. And I worry about essentially the same kinds of arguments being used then and stopping -- and promoting a war going on essentially forever.
SCHMIDT: I think one thing is certainly likely to be true is that before the next presidential election, we will see the first American soldier, sailor, airman or marine who was born after 9/11 killed in action somewhere in the global war on terror that that day`s events wrought. And so the idea that we should have a permanent garrison force for 20, 40, 50 years in Afghanistan, I profoundly disagree with. The idea that we can turn Afghanistan into a Jeffersonian democracy has always been a fool`s errand.
That being said, how we get out has to be...
HAYES: The how is a huge part of it.
SCHMIDT: ...as with care, with thought, and, frankly, a lot greater thought than how we entered into some of these countries.
HAYES: I think the how is a great point, and that`s I think part of what has united people so much about this, is how insane the how was. I mean, I remember that Sunday night, all of a sudden Twitter lights up and it`s like, wait, the White House put out a statement on what? They`re doing -- there`s a sense in which -- you`ve said this before -- he`s getting worse.
I`ve seen people say this since he came down the escalator, but I felt like the Doral decision yesterday felt to me like some kind of a break, because it is so egregious. It`s indefensible. It is -- right -- like how do you understand what he did yesterday with that?
SCHMIDT: Oh, it`s just extraordinary. I mean, they`re like pigs feeding at the public trough. It`s -- this is what the emoluments clause in the constitution directly speaks to, it`s what it`s there for. It`s completely, utterly indebatebly, indisputably unconstitutional. It`s an extraordinary level of corruption.
And the brazenness of it is really at some level, you teeter between being outraged and sitting back and laughing. When Mick Mulvaney goes out and he says, no, absolutely it`s the best place, of all the places. It`s the best one in all the land, Doral.
HAYES: There is also a sense in which -- you know, there are all these stories in the beginning I found sort of maddening, which were clearly I think coming from folks inside the administration, of like don`t worry we got this. You know, there`s a famous op-ed. But there`s this idea of like we`re the guardrails. Don`t worry. We`re keeping him checked. And I always found those really annoying and self-serving.
That being said, it does seem to me the case that there are fewer internal guardrails now, that there were more people before who, for whatever reason, could distract him or push him off stuff then there are now and that`s why you`re getting the Doral decisions, you`re getting the insane reality show stunt he tried to pull with grieving parents whose child was killed, you`re getting the Syria withdrawal.
SCHMIDT: I thought the news conference in Ankara was just extraordinary with the vice president. It was like he was Meatloaf from an "Apprentice" episode you know trying to please Mr. Trump, right, on the charity candy sale.
SCHMIDT: And the sycophancy around him has led us, I think, to a dangerous place. But now what we`re seeing, I think, is a level of corruption that is so obvious, so deep particularly with Ukraine, we`ll start to see I think as facts come out, there is more nervousness on the Republican side than there has been heretofore.
HAYES: Steve Schmidt, it`s great to have you back, MSNBC political analyst. Thank you once again. Thank you for coming here tonight. Don`t go anywhere.
Rachel Maddow is coming up next.
HAYES: Thank you again for being here tonight. We`ll be back November for more shows here in Studio 6A. Keep an eye out for details on how you can come join us in this lovely audience.
And don`t forget, if you live in Los Angeles, you can come to a special live recording of our podcast Why is This Happening. That`s this Monday. I`m heading to L.A. on Sunday. October 21. I`ll interview two people I deeply admire, director and screenwriter Adam McKay, and author Omar El Akkad. The night we`ll be talking about art and climate and I`m so looking forward to it. There are still tickets left.
Plus, big news, we now have details for the third stop of our tour, which is Chicago. Tuesday, November 12. We`ll release tickets Monday at 10:00 a.m. Central. You can get tickets for Chicago at the same place you got them at L.A. That`s MSNBC.com/withpodtour.
That is All In for this evening. The Rachel Maddow Show starts right now. Good evening, Rachel.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END