KELLY O’DONNELL, NBC NEWS WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Could we call this the mid-Career Achievement Award? Because I feel like I’m just getting going. Thank you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: Well, she’s right, of course, about everything, and also about asking questions. It’s what we do. And that’s HARDBALL for now. "ALL IN" with Chris Hayes starts right now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ALI VELSHI, MSNBC ANCHOR: Tonight on ALL IN.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You see what’s going on with the witch hunt?
VELSHI: Democrats score a major impeachment victory in court.
TRUMP: It’s a terrible thing that’s going on in our country. No crimes there.
VELSHI: Tonight, why a federal judge ruled that the Trump impeachment inquiry is valid, what it means for getting more evidence, and the former Trump official getting ready to talk.
TRUMP: You know, John is known as a tough guy.
VELSHI: Plus, the growing backlash to William Barr’s criminal investigation, what we learned when Rudy Giuliani but dialed an NBC reporter.
TRUMP: Rudy is a great gentleman. He’s been a great crime fighter. He looks for corruption wherever he goes.
VELSHI: Then, why is the President suddenly trying to sell his D.C. hotel, and the incredible scene in Baltimore today where the Honorable Elijah Cummings was laid to rest.
HILLARY CLINTON, FORMER DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Like that Old Testament prophet, he stood against corrupt leadership of King Ahab and Queen Jezebel.
VELSHI: ALL IN starts now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELSHI: Good evening from Washington D.C., I’m Ali Velshi in for Chris Hayes. One of the ongoing arguments at the White House has been making about the impeachment inquiry is that they do not have to comply because it is not a formal impeachment inquiry.
They say, the White House says, it does not count until there is a formal vote on the House floor. Well, today a federal judge blew a huge hole in that argument saying that the impeachment inquiry is legal. "Even in cases of presidential impeachment, a House Resolution has never in fact been required to begin an impeachment inquiry."
And because of that, Judge Barrel Howell ruled that the Department of Justice must turn over to Congress all the grand jury material that has been redacted in the Mueller report by next Wednesday. Even more specifically, Judge Howell said, "The Department of Justice claims that existing law bars disclosure of to the Congress of Grand Jury information. DOJ is wrong."
I should tell you, usually Congress does not have a right to view grand jury material. But back in 1974, in the midst of the Nixon impeachment proceedings, the court ruled that lawmakers were allowed to look at Grand Jury material so they could weigh in on impeachment.
And so now, a lot of the stuff that we did not know from the Mueller report will be turned over to the Democratic-controlled House Judiciary Committee pending appeal of the ruling. The decision is a big win for Democrats who have wanted to see the full Mueller report since it came out. But it also boasts -- boost of legitimacy of their court claim related to the impeachment inquiry.
Just today, the House impeachment committee subpoenaed depositions from to Office of Management and Budget officials and State Department officials after the administration blocked them from appearing. It’s been three weeks since the first deposition in the impeachment inquiry. And NBC News reports that the 65 hours or so of testimony from current and former officials has painted a clear picture that President Trump was demanding a quid pro quo from the Ukrainian government, and things are not looking better for the President.
Next week, current national security official -- National Security Council official Tim Morrison is expected to corroborate some of the most damning testimony that we’ve heard this week. And if he does appear on Thursday, Morrison will be the first person who heard President Trump’s infamous call with the Ukrainian president to testify.
He will also be the first current White House official to testify. Morrison’s attorney tells NBC News that he plans to appear if he subpoenaed. Even more concerning for President Trump, NBC News reports attorneys for Tim Morrison’s old boss, former National Security Adviser John Bolton had been in contact with the House impeachment committee officials.
Remember, the New York Times reports that former National Security Council official Fiona Hill already testified that Bolton was so concerned about the rogue foreign policy being run in part by U.S. ambassador to the European Union, Gordon Sondland, and the acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, that he told her "I am not part of whatever drug deal Sondland and Mulvaney are cooking up."
Publicly, President Trump removed Bolton from his position just days before the Ukraine story began to leak and criticized him in a tweet. "I disagreed strongly with many of his suggestions, as did others in the administration." This is Trump tweeting about Bolton.
Now, Bolton has remained mostly silence since he was just a -- silent since he was dismissed. But he did tell the Washington Post Robert Costa, "I will have my say in due course." And it now appears that John Bolton might have his say in a sworn deposition before the House committees on the impeachment of his former boss, President Donald Trump.
Joining me now is one of the Congresspeople on the Judiciary Committee which will get to see the less redacted Mueller report, Democrat Congressman -- Democratic Congressman Joe Neguse of Colorado. Congressman, good to see you again. Thank you for being with us.
REP. JOE NEGUSE (D-CO): Good to be with you, Ali.
VELSHI: Let’s just understand. This has been a little while since we’ve had this conversation about the redactions and Congress’ need to see them. What’s the argument that the Judiciary Committee has made that it needs to see the redacted information, and what do you think you’ll see as a result?
NEGUSE: Well, a couple of things. I think as you know, the argument was that ultimately the House was fully engaged and is engaged in an impeachment inquiry. And therefore, under Rule 6E, had every right to access these important materials, as the committee and the committee’s rather now make a decision as to how to proceed.
I would just say, I think you’ve got the historical context right at the beginning of the program, but I -- it’s important for this victory not to be seen through a partisan lens. Ultimately, in my view, it’s not a win for Democrats, but ultimately a win for the American people.
It was a major victory for the Constitution and for the fundamental rule of law in our country for Judge Howell to ultimately conclude what we all knew to be true, which was that the House was engaged and is engaged in an impeachment inquiry and that these ludicrous process arguments made by the Republicans really are untenable.
And you know, I think the fact that Judge Howell, you know, rejected these frivolous and, in many cases, spurious arguments made by the Department of Justice, to me it’s a good day for democracy. So ultimately, obviously the committees are going to proceed under the path that we’ve chartered. It’s going to be important for the judiciary committee to access these materials and we’ll go from there.
VELSHI: So you mentioned 6E, Grand Jury testimony. Tell me what you -- generally speaking, because we don’t have access to that as reporters, what do you expect to learn? Are there dots that you saw in the Mueller report that you believe will be connected because you get to see this otherwise redacted information?
NEGUSE: Sure, so much of this is detailed in the litigation filings that the committee submitted in the district court litigation. Ultimately, there were a number of unanswered questions, as you know, a number of gaps that we believe could be filled by the grand jury materials, the evidence that was submitted before the grand jury.
There also as you know, a number of questions that have popped up as to who testified before the jury and who did not, and some recent DOJ filings that created some further mystery around that particular question.
So, look, I think it is important to just contextually remember. I mean, at the end of the day, the committee has to have access to this material, is entitled to this material under the rules of both the House and ultimately precedent as was cited by Judge Howell. But right now, the focus should remain and will remain the abuse of power that the President engaged in with respect to the Ukraine scandal. As you know, that that posed --
VELSHI: Right. So I want you --
NEGUSE: That conduct -- go ahead.
VELSHI: Sorry, Congressman. Draw a line for me that in between those two, because the focus and the number of members of Congress who have said that they would vote in favor of an impeachment inquiry, which is well beyond the amount that would be -- the number that would be needed to open one is about the abuse of power generally speaking related to Ukraine. What’s the link now that you and your fellow Democrats will make between that inquiry and the Mueller report?
NEGUSE: So it’s a good question. The Speaker early on made clear that the six committees of jurisdiction would be proceeding under this Impeachment Inquiry under an umbrella so to speak. And so ultimately, the focus, as I said, will be and should be on the Ukraine scandal and the realities of the President’s abuse of power and his betrayal of the Constitution, in my view, when he sought to have a foreign power interfere in the presidential election in 2020, and ultimately, undermining the integrity of our election.
So I think that Chairman Schiff has done a masterful job at gleaning significant evidence, much of which you described in the opening of your program. The other committees are going to continue to do their work. And as you know, much of that work is tied up in litigation, some of which we’re discussing tonight.
So that work is going to continue. I imagine the Department of Justice will appeal this decision. I would hope that they would not but I have no illusions under this attorney general who, of course, is acting more like the President’s Personal attorney than an attorney general and chief law enforcement officer. I imagine they’ll proceed with an appeal.
So we’re going to follow the facts where they lead us and that is important work that lays ahead before the Congress.
VAUSE: I was just checking my phone to make sure that that appeal hasn’t been filed yet because I think you’re right, it probably will happen. But thank you, Congressman, good to see you again. Congressman. Joe Neguse.
All right, joining me now for more on what we have learned and what we could learn from the impeachment inquiry and this new development with the Judiciary Committee, Mimi Roca former assistant U.S. Attorney in the Southern District of New York, now and MSNBC Legal Analyst and Washington Post Reporter and MSNBC Contributor Carol Leonnig whose latest reporting tonight is about how the president is frustrated with White House efforts to stop witnesses from appearing before the impeachment inquiry.
Thanks to both of you for being here. Mimi, let me start with you and the ruling by the D.C. District Court that the Mueller report, the unredacted portions of it or at least some of them have to be handed over so that Congress can look at them. What’s the meaning of it?
MIMI ROCAH, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST: Well, Ali, I think it’s pretty remarkable opinion not for its ultimate conclusion, but the way in which Judge Howell got to her conclusion and what she said in the course of that. I mean, first of all, as you were discussing with the Congressman, I mean, she really just knocked down this talking point, basically this process argument that the Republicans have been making.
And she didn’t do that in a political way. She just said, you know, look at the Constitution, look at the rules of the House. There’s no requirement that certain votes be taken or this be conducted in a certain way. And this is really the executive branch trying to step all over Congress’ article one powers.
And the other thing that’s remarkable -- so she just does away with that argument. But again, does it in a non-political way, which I think is important. It’s different than the public hearing a Democratic you know, elected official say it.
And the other thing striking to me is how many times she says in this opinion, DOJ is wrong. And she just really points out the absurdity of arguments that DOJ has been making on the President’s behalf. That’s not a very common thing. I mean, I’m not saying that, you know, Department of Justice doesn’t lose arguments. They do.
But to have a judge repeatedly in a 75-page opinion, say, you know, this argument is basically outrageous, and you’re trying to curtail the power of Congress and you’re stonewalling, the White House and the department justice or stonewalling Congress. I mean, those are remarkable statements. And it’s really, I think, important. As the Congressman said, it’s not political. She’s calling out these pretty outrageous arguments that we’ve all been talking about on T.V., but to hear a judge say it is, is you know, vindicating, really.
VELSHI: Carol, I want to switch to these depositions that we’re getting and your brand new reporting on this. It’s just been published in The Washington Post in which you write, the president is increasingly frustrated that his efforts to stop people from cooperating with the probe have so far collapsed under the weight of legally powerful congressional subpoenas, adviser said.
Now, it’s not related to the ruling that Mimi was just talking about because that’s a different matter for the Mueller report having to do with the Judiciary Committee. But there has been mixed success from the White House in stopping people from testifing.
CAROL LEONNIG, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Absolutely. It’s been largely a failure. And the difference, Ali is that you have civil servants, mostly career professionals who are not senior White House advisors. Those are the witnesses in this case with first-hand knowledge of what the President did, what Rudy Giuliani did, why OMB money was held up military aid to the Ukraine. And those witnesses have to basically comply with and crush congressional subpoena.
And actually, you know, Judge Howell’s -- I couldn’t agree more with Mimi about the importance of a judge saying this out loud that this is a House Impeachment Inquiry that’s authorized. And the White House’s arguments about this are in some respects laughable.
But that has been proven already by the fact that all of these witnesses have joined in to this secure basement in the House offices, because one of the legal claims that the White House has made and the State Department of the Defense Department have made to these witnesses, you better not go in there, because this is not an authorized inquiry.
The lawyers for those witnesses have all obviously agreed that that doesn’t hold water. And that they’re their witnesses, their clients can go in.
VELSHI: And in fact, in a lot of cases, people have said we’re not going to testify. And the minute the House pushes, they say I’m on my way. And Mimi, I did on Twitter promise our viewers that we’re going to dedicate at least a good portion of the show to how to secure your phone so that you don’t accidentally butt-dial in NBC reporter and then record a voicemail in which you discuss fraud. Someone named Robert and needing to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars which Rudy Giuliani did.
Now, you mentioned something earlier today that the one change in Rudy Giuliani’s behavior of late is that he’s not all over T.V. waving his phone and telling people things. So what’s up?
ROCAH: Yes. I mean, he’s been noticeably quiet, at least, when he is intending to me, and he’s declined interviews, which for Rudy Giuliani is, I mean, that’s very telling. This whole incident with the phone and like you just probably the first time and hopefully only time I’ll say on T.V., the butt-dialing incident, I heard you mentioned that earlier today, you know, it’s remarkable again, because of the substance.
I mean, one of the lines that caught my attention in the you know, what we are able to discern from that conversation. He says, he’s talking about Ukraine, and he says to whoever is speaking to, they wouldn’t go through with the investigations so we had to force them to. You know, that’s -- wow.
If I heard that on a wiretap as a prosecutor, if I were monitoring a phone and heard that, our jaws would have dropped, because you don’t usually get sort of admissions that explicit. And again, I think this just knocks down this argument that there’s no quid pro quo, which again, you don’t need, but now I mean, you have Giuliani in a moment when he was unguarded and didn’t know someone was listening, saying, essentially admitting, explicitly admitting that they forced Ukraine to do these investigations, these sham investigations.
VELSHI: All right, well, you and I now have both for the first times I think in our career said butt-dialed on T.V. We have somehow preserved Carol’s integrity and she hasn’t had to say it. Who knows what happens next? Thanks to both of you, Carol Leonnig and Mimi Rocah.
Coming up next, brand new backlash to the Justice Department’s decision to investigate itself. Ben Wittes and Kim Whaley on what William Barr is up to in two minutes.
VELSHI: There is an inconvenient truth that Donald Trump likes to gloss over when he attacks the government institutions that he distrust, the so- called Deep State. And it is that the FBI played a huge role in helping him get elected president.
Remember, there were investigations into both presidential candidates during the 2016 cab campaign. But voters never learned that the Trump campaigns ties to Russia were being investigated that was kept quiet. What they did here from the then-Director of the FBI James Comey was the about the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s e-mails.
Comey then even announced that he was reviving the probe less than two weeks before election day, which polling expert Nate Silver argues probably cost Clinton the election. Now, Donald Trump’s Justice Department is now investigating the conduct by the FBI and other intelligence officials during the campaign. But the Department of Justice is not investigating why the tipped the scales to benefit Donald Trump.
Now, in an apparent effort to say he hate Trump, Attorney General William Barr is instead overseeing a politicized probe into how the Russia investigation began, which we learned last night has been turned into a criminal investigation. The review is being overseen by Connecticut U.S. Attorney John Durham, who will now have the power to subpoena witnesses and panel a grand jury and file criminal charges.
The person who oversaw the launch of the Russia investigation is James Clapper, the former Director of National Intelligence. Clapper said last night that he believes he is now under investigation by Barr’s Justice Department, and he seems absolutely mystified as to why.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Do you have any idea even - what they might think may rise to the level of a criminal offense?
JAMES CLAPPER, FORMER DIRECTOR, DNI: No, I don’t. That’s obviously an item of great interest to me. What is it that any of us did that would rise to the level of a criminal infraction? I just don’t know.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELSHI: I’m joined now by former assistant U.S. Attorney Kim Wehle, who was Associate Independent Counsel during the Whitewater investigations. She’s the author of How to Read the Constitution and Why. Also with me as Ben Wittes, Editor in Chief of the Lawfare Blog, Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution, MSNBC Legal Analyst, and I should note, a friend of James Comey.
Welcome to both of you. Ben, let’s start with that. Donald Trump’s beef was with James Comey. He then got him out of the way saying it was about Russia. And then it became -- as soon as Robert Mueller was appointed, it all became about the illegitimacy of the investigation. And that has been his cause from the beginning. What does this mean to you that this has become a criminal probe?
BEN WITTES, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST: Well, I mean, one of two things and I honestly don’t know which it is. So one is you know, John Durham Barr’s kind of handpicked U.S. attorney from Connecticut who’s been doing this review has been looking at the kind of origins of this investigation. And the possibility that is not nefarious is that in the course of looking at that, they’ve stumbled upon something that they feel is potentially criminal AND so they’ve opened a criminal investigation to examine it.
That could be something big, or it could be something as trivial as you know, some individual may have they think lied to them in the course of that. So that would be the innocent explanation that something has just risen in the course of this review or been referred to them by the Inspector General probably more likely.
The less flattering or innocent possibility is that this is always been a fishing expedition in order to delegitimize the Russia investigation and kind of give Trump a hook to hang the witch hunt theory on, right. And so they started it as A review and have kind of cooked something up.
And it’s very odd for the Attorney General himself to be flying around the world to kind of gathering string for something like this and sort of talking to foreign partner, law enforcement, and intelligence agencies himself about something like this.
So I think there’s a lot of reason to be very anxious about it and very skeptical about it, and worried that it may not be a completely on the up and up kind of investigation.
VELSHI: Kim Wehle, I think Ben puts it well. It’s odd for the Attorney General be flying around the world gathering string. But it’s not just string he’s gathering, he’s gathering string from other governments, about an organization under him, the FBI. The whole thing is remarkably curious, the FBI -- the Department of Justice is basically investigating itself on a criminal side. What’s your interpretation of what’s going on here?
KIM WEHLE, FORMER ASSOCIATE INDEPENDENT COUNSEL, WHITEWATER: Well, it’s very troubling on a number of fronts. Of course, we haven’t gotten the Inspector General Report yet so it makes -- it seems like it would make sense to make that the number one thing that the American public would look at before you take this next step, that’s a little curious.
Of course, there’s also this question that there’s an overlap here, potentially, between this investigation as in the origins of the Mueller probe and what Congress is doing, regarding the President trying to get Ukrainians to look into some of the matters that led up to the interference in the 2016 election.
So there’s the Justice Department getting involved -- getting politically involved in something that really they should stay neutral about. Mr. Barr, of course, has mentioned in the summary of the transcript himself. So arguably, he’s a witness in that probe and he should not be involved in this. He should arguably recuse himself.
And then the bigger issue from a structural standpoint, is that this could create a disincentive for career public servants in the criminal justice process system as well as in the national security system to actually do their jobs for fear of being retaliated against and punished.
And of course, we also have this -- the problem with potentially foreign governments that might help us in these efforts clandestinely that that produce what we have here, a very successful independent -- special prosecutor probe that has people in jail, has multiple indictments.
This was not something the American public needs to worry about somehow going off the rails, and we have to worry that our foreign partners are going to share information with us going forward.
VELSHI: Ben, let me ask you about Bill Barr. We’re just reporting about Rudy Giuliani, sort of the Presidents outside hatchet man, butt-dialing an NBC reporter, but we know that he’s doing the President’s bidding on the outside having to do with all sorts of things including Ukraine and the origins of this investigation. Bill Barr seems to be playing that role on the inside.
WITTES: Look, when Bill Barr was named, I was actually cheered by it. I had all thought of him as somebody who was an institution guy. He’d been Attorney General before. He’d been deputy attorney general. I actually thought it was a pretty good thing for the Justice Department. I think his tenure has been an unmitigated disaster for the department --
VELSHI: Unless you’re Donald Trump.
WITTES: Well, so, right. But you can’t serve two masters at once. The institution of the Justice Department and Donald Trump at the same time because their interests are not consistent with one another. And this may be just a simple example of that. As I’ve said before, there may be a sort of more innocent explanation for it.
But look, one of the things that’s so peculiar about this situation is that we don’t even know what they’re investigating.
What we know is that it has something to do with the John Durham investigation. It kind of grows out of this review of the origins of the investigation. We don’t know whether it’s a Justice Department subject that is alleged to have done something whether it may be in some other agency. So we really don’t know who’s under investigation or for what, and it makes it very hard to evaluate.
VELSHI: Ben, good to see you as always. Thank you for being here. Ben Wehle -- Kim Wehle and Ben Wittes, thank you both for being with me tonight. Still ahead, the President abandons America’s Kurdish allies but he does assign troops to secure the oil, a catastrophic policy just got worse. That’s next.
VELSHI: On his very first full day in office, President Trump went to the CIA headquarters, he stood before the wall of stars, which honors officers who died in service, and he gave this kind of crazy rambling speech.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: The old expression to the victor belong the spoils, you remember they always used to say keep the oil, I wasn’t a fan of Iraq. I didn’t want to go into Iraq. But I will tell you when we were in, we got out wrong. And I always said in addition to that keep the oil.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELSHI: To the victor belong the spoils, that was Donald Trump on day one. And since then he has on more than one occasion made it clear that he thinks not looting the Middle East for oil was a bad idea. And now that he has the chance that is exactly what he seems to be doing.
The Secretary of Defense Mark Esper announcing today that instead of the president’s hastily announced pull out from Syria, we will actually leave some troops in that country, but not to defend our allies, the Kurds, or to save human life, or to honor our promises as a nation; instead we will leave those U.S. troops there to secure the region’s oil.
As Trump tweeted out today, what are we getting out of the deal? I simply say the oil.
Here with me now, a former U.S. army officer and veteran of the Iraq war, John Soltz. He is the chairman and co-founder of an Vote Vets, an advocacy organization for veterans, an advocacy organization that has had a lot more to do because of the amount of time America has spent in the Middle East.
Donald Trump has some audience when he says we need to get out of there, but this is not a lot of people in the military are saying is the way to do it.
JOHN SOLTZ, CO-FOUNDER, VOTE VETS: You know, Donald Trump came up with a plan to leave Syria, I think there would be a lot of cross-partisan support for it. And I think overall what we’ve seen in the last two weeks is foreign policy by tweet. And you could look at the data point from people that look at Central Command in Tampa to people that are on the ground in Iraq or Kuwait to people at the White House to people over at the Pentagon and nobody had any idea he was going to do this.
And so we have made one decision after another. And some of it was process. I mean, obviously, we’ve got troops in Syria that aren’t really, you know, there’s no congressional authorization for them to be there. I think that’s something that Democrats would have taken up, but not at the abandonment of the Kurds, and certainly not at the international perception that the U.S. military’s job is to invade countries to take their oil. These are just fundamentally large problems.
VELSHI: Nor is it for veterans, for members of the military, for soldiers, that’s not something -- that’s a very different mission to sign-up for then, freedom and liberty and protection of America, that almost feels mercenary.
SOLTZ: Right, it is mercenary. And to be frankly honest last year or the year before we had mercenaries protecting the oil fields in Syria, and we had -- you know, a showdown with Russians.
So, there’s a huge amount of contractors in both Iraq or Afghanistan. And it certainly is not what we signed up for.
I think the issue, though, is that the president he’s swayable when you talk about things in this way. And so we really have an agent-actor issue at the civil, military level with him. And so when Lindsey Graham and Jake Keane, neocons, go back into his office, there are some bases in Syria we don’t want to give up, and they convince him with this argument that he was -- to be frankly honest, he stood up and trashed the Iraq war in the Republican debates, but also said we should invade and take the oil, so this is a message that he’s been on since he was a candidate.
VELSHI: General Bob Scales was in earlier today, and I was talking to him about this and he said there’s a problem for members of the military because they fought alongside those Kurdish fighters for a long time, and a lot of those Kurds died in support of a mission that was -- that America was a big part of. The idea of pulling out in betrayal of them is something that a lot of members of the forces are not going to abide by.
SOLTZ: It’s heartbreaking. On my second tour in Iraq, I trained the Kurdish Peshmerga. They were absolutely wonderful. I would take you, your family, anybody to Duhok, Iraq to drink some chai with them. They were our best allies on the ground. They have common purpose.
And to be frankly honest, when you talk about training Kurds, it makes Baghdad and Damascus and Ankara nervous, because people are always afraid that they’ll become too powerful. And when ISIS came back into Iraq, the second and third Iraqi army divisions capitulated and they were literally all that we had, and specifically on the Syrian side of the border, they stepped up in an unprecedented way. This is certainly a black mark for anybody who served on the ground with them like I did in Iraq.
VELSHI: John, good to see you again. Thank you for joining us. John Soltz joining me tonight.
Just ahead, the Trumps are now looking to sell that brand new Hotel in Washington, D.C. The reason why and the ridiculous price is next.
HAYES: It was just over one week ago when acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney dusted off the cobwebs in the now rarely used briefing room and announced that the federal government had awarded the contract for hosting next year’s G-7 summit to the president of the United States and his Doral resort in Florida. Trump would go onto reverse his decision two days later after a sustained bipartisan uproar.
That was the most recent episode in the long saga of the president’s sketchy hotel business dealings until today. The Wall Street Journal is reporting that the Trump organization is exploring selling its lease on the marquee property in Washington, D.C. for $500 million.
The Trump hotel in Washington has of course been the subject of a lot of controversy and several lawsuits alleging that the president is illegally profiting off the presidency by making money off of all the domestic and foreign officials who stay at the hotel. And the fact that so many officials do stay there is part of what makes this news so strange. While many of Trump’s other properties are losing business, revenue at the D.C. hotel was up about $400,000 last year.
Meanwhile, the Trump organization appears to be trying to find other ways to rake in more money. David Fahrenthold of The Washington Post reports this week that after the president visited his golf resort in Doonbeg, Ireland this summer his company charged the local police officers sent to protect him more than $100,000 for food and coffee.
And if you think that’s a big bill, wait until you hear some of the numbers still on the president’s tab in cities across the country. More on that after this.
HAYES: President Trump’s campaign received a big bill last week, the Albuquerque Journal reports that the city sent an invoice for more than $200,000 following his rally in the area last month, that includes charges for things like police overtime and barricades.
But Albuquerque is far from the only city where the president has an outstanding bill, the Trump campaign owes nearly $575,000 to El Paso, Texas for services related to his February rally, plus late fees, and more than $80,000 in Tucson, Arizona. That tab has been lingering unpaid since March 2016.
The city of Spokane, Washington has also been trying to collect about $65,000 since early 2016. Mesa, Arizona has been waiting for nearly the same amount since late last year. Eau Claire, Wisconsin says Trump owes them over $47,000. He owes $43,000 to Billings, Montana, $35,000 to Erie, Pennsylvania, $16,000 to Lebanon, Ohio, more than $9,000 to Green Bay, Wisconsin and about $8,000 to Burlington, Vermont.
And then there’s over half a million dollars that the president owes Minneapolis, Minnesota, for his rally earlier this month.
And we cannot forget Washington, D.C., not a city, but stiffed by the president nonetheless. Trump owes the district a whopping $9 million in unpaid fees for the inauguration and this summer’s July 4 salute to America.
Joining me now for more on all the president’s debt is Dave Levinthal, editor at-large at the Center for Public Integrity, which published an exhaustive study earlier this year on the Trump campaign’s refusal to pay their public safety bill.
Dave, good to see you. Thank you for being with us.
DAVE LEVINTHAL, CENTER FOR PUBLIC INTEGRITY: Hey, great to be with you tonight.
VELSHI: Dave, what can one do about this? I mean, I think every city that hears that Donald Trump is coming has got to be aware of this because policing and public safety and security has long been issues that cities have difficulty paying for.
LEVINTHAL: Right. And when the president comes to town, these are huge rallies, typically, 10,000, 15,000, 20,000 people.
VELSHI: And they can’t not do it.
LEVINTHAL: Well, you know, I’ve asked that question to them, and they said it’s unthinkable that we would not provide police protection for any events, whether it’s the president, a concert, a sports event and not provide police protection not only for the people who are in the event itself, but for our community writ large. So none of them are considering that, but by the same token, too, I talked to the mayor of Minneapolis, Jacob Frey, an d he made it very clear he wanted to be more aggressive with the president.
I talked to the mayor of El Paso, Texas, Dee Margo, who is a Republican and he said, hey, look, this is an issue about our municipalities being able to pay their bills. And if the president is coming to town in a campaign event, raising money himself, the least that he can do, his campaign can do is, in their words, do the honorable thing and help offset the oftentimes extraordinary amount of police protection that has to be allocated to an event such as...
VELSHI: But the campaign is record breaking in the amount of money its able to raise.
LEVINTHAL: They’re doing great.
VELSHI: It does well. It’s got money. What’s their argument?
LEVINTHAL: They really don’t have an argument except to say that this is not something that they control, that the U.S. Secret Service -- and they are correct in this -- is the one that will say OK Minneapolis, El Paso, Lebanon, Ohio, Chicago, New York, whatever it is, you’re responsible for working with the Secret Service, municipality, and putting together a security plan.
Well, that’s all fine and good, but the problem here is really in a way congress -- congress has not allocated money to the U.S. Secret Service to reimburse any of these cities that we’ve just talked about. So, effectively if the Trump campaign isn’t willing to volunteer cash and pay bills that are received from the municipalities...
VELSHI: They are not obliged to?
LEVINTHAL: They are not obliged.
VELSHI: So the Secret Service is obliged to provide, or coordinate the necessary security, but when the president is somewhere...
VELSHI: The fact that it’s a campaign event the Secret Service doesn’t have the privilege of walking back on that and saying well that’s not our jam.
LEVINTHAL: Right. And the municipalities, they’re going to provide that police protection anyways. So if the Trump campaign isn’t willing to pay the bills that the municipalities sends it, they’re kind of left holding the bag.
VELSHI: When things like this happen, to what degree is a municipality able to sort of carve out the part that was paid for because there’s this big event, versus things that they would normally have to do?
LEVINTHAL: So, oftentimes it depends on where the event is. If it’s a city-owned facility, and we’ve seen this with certain cities -- Nashville would be a good example -- where Donald Trump will come to a city-owned facility. The city says, OK, well we own the facility. You’re going to have to sign this contract, you’re going to pay your bills up front.
If it’s not a city-owned facility or a city own facility or a city-owned facility managed by, say, a third party, as is often the case, they have a lot less leverage. And that’s where it gets sticky and the municipalities are kind of in this catch-22 where they’ve got to provide security, but they may not get paid for the hundreds of thousands of dollars in overtime and police costs for a president who says, hey, I love law enforcement, but he yet apparently doesn’t like them and love enough to actually have his campaign pay up.
VELSHI: What’s the consequence of this? These cities just go into hoc? They don’t have the money? I would imagine a lot of these cities $50,000, $60,000, $70,000 is a big deal.
LEVINTHAL: It is a big deal, and it may not be a big deal for a city of a million people as much as it would be for a Green Bay, Wisconsin, or for a Lebanon, Ohio, a city that may only have 20,000, 30,000, 50,000, 80,000 people, that could pay a lot of police officers salaries for days at a time when you add that up.
So, it’s a big hole in their budget. Sure, there’s a lot that goes good with a presidential event. You get the limelight on your municipality, your local government, your local people, but by the same token, too, it is a situation where the city budget, it’s a city budget, you’ve got to pay it and if you don’t have money coming in and have a lot coming out, then you could be in a pickle.
VELSHI: So, like many things in this administration some of it shouldn’t come as a surprise. There has been long before Donald Trump became elected president, this story has followed him along for years, the accept services do not pay.
LEVINTHAL: Without question, and he hasn’t changed.
Now, what we’ve asked all the Democratic candidates, too, what are you going to do if you’re in a similar situation? And Bernie Sanders and some of the other candidates have definitely had big rallies. It’s a mixed bag, but you definitely have some candidates on that side, whether it’s Beto O’Rourke, Cory Booker, Kamala Harris who have effectively said, hey, we are going to pay bills. We will honor them. If the police department or the city hall or any given city that we have a big rally in sends us a bill, we’re going to pay it and we’ve got documentation that shows that many have, although Joe Biden hasn’t gotten back to us whether he is going to pay bills of that sort for his part.
VELSHI: Dave, always good to see you. Thank you for being with us.
LEVINTHAL: Great to be with you.
VELSHI: Dave Levinthal with the Center for Public Integrity.
All right, at the end of another tumultuous week the final farewell Congressman Elijah Cummings is next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JENNIFER CUMMINGS, DAUGHTER OF REP. ELIJAH CUMMINGS: Dad, thank you for teaching me the dual power of my beauty and my brilliance. This might sound boastful but ever since was a little girl my dad always told me I was beautiful. That may sound basic and like a no-brainer but dad wanted me to understand and appreciate my blackness and truly feel that my rich brown skin was just as beautiful as alabaster or any shade of the rainbow.
MAYA ROCKEYMOORE CUMMINGS, WIFE OF REP. ELIJAH CUMMINGS: I want you all to know it was not easy, what Congressman Chairman Cummings did was not easy, and it got infinitely more difficult in the last months of his life when he sustained personal attacks, and attacks on his beloved city.
And while he carried himself with grace and dignity in all public forums, it hurt him, because one thing you do not know about Congressman Cummings, he was a man of soul and spirit.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELSHI: Thousands of people gathered in Baltimore today to celebrate the life and legacy of the late Congressman Elijah Cummings. His family was joined by former presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and several of his congressional colleagues at Congressman Cummings long-time church in Baltimore to say good-bye to a man who dedicated his public life to public service.
Cummings died last week at the age of 68 after after more than 20 years in congress. This past year, when Democrats won the House, Congressman Cummings became the chair of the powerful House Oversight Committee, which continues to ramp up its impeachment inquiry into the president.
Congressman Cummings is undeniably more than a character in Donald Trump’s America. And while no one speaking today directly mentioned the president of the United States, he was certainly in the subtext when they reflected on the life of Congressman Cummings.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HILLARY CLINTON, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: It is no coincidence, is it, that Elijah Cummings shared a name with an old testament prophet.
Like the prophet, our Elijah could call down fire from heaven, but he also prayed and worked for healing. He weathered storms and earthquakes but never lost his faith. Like that old testament prophet, he stood against corrupt leadership of King Ahab and Queen Jezebel.
And he liked to remind all of us that you can’t get so caught up in who you are fighting that forget what you are fighting for.
BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I have to say listening to Elijah’s daughters speak, that got me choked up. I’m sure those of you who have sons feel the same way, but there’s something about daughters and their father. And I was thinking I want my daughters to know how much I love them, but I’d also want them to know that being a strong man includes being kind, that there’s nothing weak about kindness and compassion, there’s nothing weak about looking out for others, there’s nothing -- there’s nothing weak about being honorable. You’re not a sucker to have integrity and to treat others with respect.
I was sitting here and I was just noticing the Honorable Elijah E. Cummings. And, you know, this is a title that we confer on all kinds of people that get elected to public office. We’re supposed to introduce them as honorable.
But -- but Elijah Cummings was honorable before he was elected office. There’s a difference. There’s a difference if you were honorable and treated others honorably.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELSHI: Elijah Cummings, born in 1951, the third of seven children of sharecroppers from South Carolina.
That is All In for this evening and for this week. The Rachel Maddow Show starts now. Good evening, Rachel.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END