Fusion GPS c-founders discuss Steele Dossier. TRANSCRIPT: 11/26/19, All In w/ Chris Hayes.

Guests: Nancy Gertner, Betsy Woodruff Swan, Asawin Suebsaeng, Ryan Goodman,Hamed Aleaziz, Glenn Simpson, Peter Fritsch, Michelle Goldberg

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST:  -- nationalism to take us down.  Not just we Americans, but the world with us.  Next Monday I`m going to talk to former Secretary of State John Kerry about his new initiative on climate and much more.

And that`s HARDBALL for now.  "ALL IN" with Chris Hayes starts right now.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST:  Tonight on ALL IN.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  You`ve seen the polls and without the highest, I`m the highest I`ve ever been in the polls.

HAYES:  Half the country supports impeaching and removing Trump from office as House Judiciary sets its first impeachment hearing for next week.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  If we can get Don McGahn or John Bolton, I think I would add and a great deal to it.

HAYES:  Tonight, the push to slow down so key witnesses can testify.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I think Mike Pompeo would be a critical person to hear from, by the way.

HAYES:  As the White House fights it out in the courts.

MIKE POMPEO, SECRETARY OF STATE, UNITED STATES:  When the time is right, all good things happen.

HAYES:  Then, how the top Republican on the Intelligence Committee is now implicated in the Ukraine scandal.

REP. DEVIN NUNES (R-CA):  Do you know who paid Christopher Steele to do -- to generate the Steele Dossier.

HAYES:  Plus, the inside scoop on the Steele Dossier from the people who commissioned it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  There was no democratic conspiracy to frame Donald Trump.

HAYES:  And just who is the constituency for the newest candidate in the 2020 race?

MICHAEL BLOOMBERG (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  I`m going to make my case and let the voters who are plenty smart make their choice.

HAYES:  When ALL IN starts right now.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAYES:  Good evening from New York, I`m Chris Hayes.  We have some breaking news tonight.  The New York Times just reporting that Donald Trump had already been briefed about the whistleblower complaint when he finally released that aid to Ukraine.  It`s further evidence for House Democrats contention that the reason the aid was released was simply because Trump and his cronies got caught.

Now, that news comes as the impeachment process is continuing to move forward rather quickly.  Just hours ago, Democrats released a final set of closed doors deposition transcripts, which included, get this, testimony that two Office of Management and Budget staffers quit after expressing frustration about Trump`s hold on that military aid to Ukraine.

And with the House Intelligence Committee having wrapped up its public hearings, at least for now, the Judiciary Committee announced its first public hearing will take place next Wednesday.  It will focus on the constitutional grounds for impeachment.

That committee led by Congressman Jerry Nadler is responsible for drafting the Articles of Impeachment that would be presented to the full House for vote.  In a letter today, Nadler asked Trump if he would attend the hearing, and crucially asked Trump to quote indicate who will act as your counsel for these proceedings.

In a statement, Nadler also pointedly told Trump he has a decision to make.  "He can take this opportunity to be represented in the impeachment hearings, or he can stop complaining about the process."

There`s been a very clear attempt by Trump and his allies over the last few weeks to try and spook, psych out Democrats about the popularity of impeachment.  The president as he has want to do about just about every single fact has just been lying.  He`s been claiming that impeachment is broadly unpopular, literally making a ballsy claim support that assertion.  And his enablers have been cherry-picking poll data to suggest there`s been some kind of major backlash against the process.

But that`s simply not true.  A new poll from CNN finds it 50 percent of Americans believe Trump should be impeached and removed from office while 43 percent say he should not be.  That figures unchanged since October.  It matches the highest support for impeachment in that same CNN poll.

I mean, for context, in the first month of the Republican impeachment hearings of Bill Clinton in October 1998, only a third of Americans favored impeachment.  I should note that a new Quinnipiac poll has numbers that are slightly more favorable to the president with 45 percent saying Trump should be impeached and removed a slightly higher number saying he should not be though the differences within the margin of error.

But think about that for a second.  Even the poll that is more favorable to Trump, nearly half the country says the president should be impeached and take it out of the White House.  And while Democrats may be having a hard time getting through to the 40 percent or so the country that appears determined to support Trump no matter what, there is no clear evidence of impeachment backlash.  It`s just not there.

In fact, Reuters reports that net support for impeachment grew steadily during the Congressional hearings from net supportive free points before the hearings up to net support of seven points today.  And remember, there`s still a lot of information we don`t have, because the White House won`t release documents or allow key witnesses to appear.

Just yesterday, a federal district judge ruled that former White House Counsel Don McGahn must testify to the House and the White House has no right to assert that Trump and his top aides have "absolute immunity" before appearing from Congress.

This morning, Trump claimed that he would love to have Mike Pompeo, Rick Perry, Mick Mulvaney, and many others testify, though that`s preposterous and would be a bit more credible if Trump himself weren`t the one blocking them from testifying.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo who witnesses haven`t testified was deeply involved in the President`s extortion scheme, responded to Trump`s tweet with this cryptic comment.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  The President tweeted just a short while ago that he encouraged you essentially to testify in the impeachment investigation.  Is that something you`re considering?

POMPEO:  When the time is right, all good things happen.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAYES:  OK, thanks, Chauncey Gardiner.  Then there`s former National Security Advisor John Bolton, who according to testimony referred to Trump`s extortion scheme famously as a "drug deal."  An attorney for Bolton today claim that Bolton is not compelled to testify by that McGahn court order, even though the judge`s ruling seemed to indicate the opposite that everyone is essentially ordered to appear before Congress.

Bolton himself, meanwhile, husband posting preposterously coy tweets amid speculation he`s saving his secrets were a lucrative book deal reportedly worth about $2 million.  And all this has led to increasing calls for Democrats to perhaps slow down the impeachment process just a bit to try to compel Bolton and others to testify.

To discuss that as well as today`s developments, I`m joined by former U.S. District Judge Nancy Gertner, senior lecturer at Harvard Law School and a former senior FBI official and U.S. Attorney Chuck Rosenberg, an MSNBC contributor.

Nancy, let me start with you.  As a former federal district judge, what the law says about absolute immunity, compelling testimony from people as various from Mick Mulvaney to John Bolton, and Mike Pompeo, in the -- in the light of yesterday`s decision by a federal judge saying McGahn does have to testify.

NANCY GERTNER, FORMER DISTRICT JUDGE:  There was nothing surprising about that decision.  Every other witness that is ever subpoenaed to a court or to Congress has to appear.  Then they can make their claims about this privilege or that privilege.  But they have to appear.  They have to walk in the door and sit at the table and describe -- you know, and answer the questions that they can answer, raise issues with respect to questions they can answer, and have the decision-maker say, well, yes, that`s privileged or not.

No one -- I can`t -- I just can`t imagine the claim that you don`t even have to respond and justify what you can answer and what you can`t.  So it wasn`t surprising.  What was surprising is that the judge felt she needed 120 pages to say it, which says something about her concern that sort of the bedrock principles are being challenged here.

HAYES:  You know, Kevin Kruse`s story in Princeton had this to say, Chuck.  A lot of news today suggests House Democrats should reconsider their rush to wrap up the impeachment hearing.  They need to issue subpoenas and forced testimony from Parnas, Giuliani, Mulvaney, Pompeo, Bolton, and McGahn at the very least.  Get it all on the record.

From your background building cases, investigating facts, what do you think about the trade-off here between focus and timeliness versus getting all the evidence you can?

CHUCK ROSENBERG, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR:  Sure and you know, Chris, the judge may disagree, but when I was a federal prosecutor, my mantra was there`s no such thing as too much evidence.  And so I understand the political imperative, I understand why Democrats feel they need to move quickly.  I would just prefer to know everything.  And if I can`t know everything, I would prefer to know as much as I could possibly know.  If that means tapping on the brakes slightly, that makes sense.

And oh, by the way, Chris, I don`t really care if a witness has an R or a D after their name.  If they`re telling the truth, I`d like to hear it.

HAYES:  Yes.  And this goes back to the argument that Bolton`s attorneys now making.  And Bolton does -- he`s a key figure here after some of his deputies have already come before the committee and given their testimony.  Often its testimony about Bolton, about Bolton`s concerns, about Bolton instructing them to go tell the lawyers.

And Nancy, their lawyer is holding well, you know, the Mcgahn ruling has nothing to do with him, but he`s a former official whose has his subpoena withdrawn, I believe.  But presumably, if subpoenaed, would fall under the exact same legal theory that McGahn falls under, right?

GERTNER:  Right. I mean, if there are national security issues, that -- which is what the sort of rubric that he`s trying to hide under, then he comes and says, I can`t answer because of national security.  Not that I can`t appear, but I can`t answer this or that.

Not only that, I think that the judge and the ruling on McGahn made it quite clear that no one has a blanket immunity not to testify.  And then I sort of try to think about the questions that would be asked the questions.  The questions that would be asked are not, one believes, sort of deep national security secrets because they`ve already been asked to the others.

So all you`d be asking is did the president tell you why he was holding up the aid?  Did the President tell you to tell Zelensky X or Y?  He`s just the sort of, you know, connective tissue between the President and the Ukrainians.  But I don`t see anything national security about that, that hasn`t already been disclosed from one end of the, you know, these hearings to the other.

HAYES:  That`s a great -- a great point.  Chuck, I want to ask about this revelation today that came out in one of the transcript that was released with a career oh and be official.  Two OMB officials resigned voicing concerns over Ukraine aid hold, an official testified in those deposition hearings.  We didn`t know this before.  It strikes me is fairly significant that we have two career officials basically saying this hold on aid is unlawful and resigning it appears at least in part over that decision.

ROSENBERG:  Yes.  I thought it was significant, Chris.  And you know, I think career officials really any officials have a couple of options if they believe that an order from the President is unlawful they can resign, or they can refuse to carry it out and get fired, or they can do something that the law forbids.

So between those three options, right, and the last one is a bad one.  You don`t want to do something the law forbids, and nor do you want to ignore a presidential order, you resign.  And it`s a very personal decision.  I understand it.  I respect it.  But if that`s the situation, which they found themselves, then they simply could not in good faith abide a presidential order, then you have to quit.  And that`s what they did.  I`d like to know more about it, but it seems right to me.

HAYES:  Yes.  I`d like to know more as well.  Nancy Gertner and Chuck Rosenberg, thank you both for being with me.  That was great.  I want to bring in now a pair of reporters from the Daily Beast White House Correspondent Asawin Suebsaeng and Politics Reporter Betsy Woodruff Swan.

A bunch of things happening right now in terms of a few developments.  I want to talk about the Times story first, Betsy.  There has always been the assumption that when Gordon Sondland calls Trump just a day or two before the aid is released, and Trump is in a "bad mood" and barks, "I want nothing, I want nothing.  I want no quid pro quo."  That he was saying that because he knew he was being accused of precisely that because he knew about the whistleblower complaint.

Tonight, the New York Times establishes that in the reporting that he did, in fact, know about the whistleblower complaint when that call happened and when the aid was released.  How significant do you think this is?

BETSY WOODRUFF SWAN, POLITICS REPORTER, THE DAILY BEAST:  It`s significant because it firms up to somewhere where people had made -- where people had surmised without knowing absolutely for sure what was going on.  You know, when the President said, I want nothing, no quid pro quo, it certainly sounded like a classic example of someone protesting too much, and of someone using a term that they had heard somebody else use.

Of course, I think it was widely observed that for that Trump sort of asserting affirmatively that he didn`t want a quid pro quo, wouldn`t really make sense in the course of the conversation that Sondland described unless the President himself knew that he was facing allegations of having engage in that kind of behavior.

And the New York Times story basically firms up the assumption that a lot of folks had been making, which is that he knew what was going on when he went into that conversation with the E.U. Ambassador.

HAYES:  Asawin, there`s sort of documents coming out from an internal White House review around the OMB aid being held up, some questions about when it was held up.  It does strike me as significant that you actually had people in OMB who apparently resigned over.

And also reporting suggesting that -- and this is not surprising -- a sort of post hoc effort to justify the hold on aid, which, as far as I can tell, no one has actually produced a concrete and contemporaneous explanation at the time of why it was being withheld.

ASAWIN SUEBSAENG, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, THE DAILY BEAST:  No, absolutely.  And it really does get to the heart and just adds another layer to this cake of just how fully Rudy Giuliani working on behalf of President Trump, his client, really did subvert and force his will on to an important subset of American foreign policy.

To flashback to a year and a half ago, when Rudy Giuliani was talking to us when he was defending Trump during the Mueller probe, he was talking to us and pretty much any other media outlet that would listen about how he fellow Trump attorney Jay Sekulow, and other attorneys on Trump`s outside legal team, were working on this "counter-report" to counter the Mueller report that at that point wasn`t going to come out for months.

And the counter-report ultimately was never released.  And it was sort of a curiosity of what the hell happened to this?  Well, in a weird way, as Giuliani told us, flash forward almost a year and a half, it kind of has spilled up out into the public realm in sort of a serendipitous way because the root of this entire scandal is because Trump attorneys such as Giuliani and Sekulow wanted to do essentially a book report to counter the Mueller report that morphed into the Biden related scandal.

HAYES:  Yes, that`s a great point.  The origins are in this.  Speaking of Rudy Giuliani, I want to play a clip of an interview with Donald Trump and his -- and his old buddy, a man who used to have a cable show until he was fired because of so many accusations of sexual harassment.  This is Donald Trump talking about Rudy Giuliani who`s intimated he has insurance against the president and won`t run the bus over him.  And this is what Donald Trump is now saying about him.  Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BILL O`REILLY, FORMER HOST, FOX NEWS:  What was Rudy Giuliani doing in Ukraine on your behalf?

TRUMP:  Well, you have to ask that to Rudy.  But Rudy, I don`t even know -- I know he was going to go to Ukraine and I think he canceled the trip, but you know, Rudy has other clients other than me.  I`m one person --

O`REILLY:  So you didn`t -- you didn`t direct him to go there on your behalf?  You didn`t --

TRUMP:  No.  But you have to understand, Rudy is a great corruption fighter.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAYES:  I mean, there`s so much that`s fascinating about this, Betsy, but the first thing that sticks out to me is, you`re going to have to ask Rudy is literally what he said about Michael Cohen back in April 218 when he was first asked about Stormy Daniels.  He said, you`re going to have to ask Michael.  And look where Michael ended up.

SWAN:  Right.  It did not have a happy ending for Mr. Cohen.  Trump telling people to talk to Rudy kind of ironically also matches what he was telling some of his senior administration officials that called him with questions about Ukraine.

HAYES:  Yes.

SWAN:  He said, go talk to Rudy.  The reality is Rudy unquestionably was one of the -- one of Trump himself senior envoys to Kiev while this entire process was playing out, and everybody knew it.  The Ukrainians knew it.  The Americans knew it.  Trump knew it.  Rudy knew it.  There was no mystery to this.

And remember, part of the reason that there`s such a robust conversation about whether or not to expand the number of witnesses testifying before the impeachment inquiry is that we haven`t actually heard from people who are really, really in the weeds with Rudy himself on the work he was doing for the president.

HAYES:  Right.

SWAN:  Lev Parnas is a person who would potentially be able to provide that testimony.  Andriy Yermak, who was an aide to the president of Ukraine who met with Rudy shortly after the Trump Zelensky phone call, Yermak told me on the record that Lev Parnas was at the table when he and Rudy had a conversation that is now proven to be incredibly faithful.

Parnas hasn`t yet testified.  So there`s a lot of information out there that congressional Democrats still don`t have.

HAYES:  That is a great point.  As for Rudy, Asawin, I mean to Betsy`s point, he literally tells Zelensky on the phone call to talk to Rudy.  He tells him to talk to two people William Barr and Rudy.  He -- I mean, he will try because he tries to do this but all these things and just sort of like bend reality to his will, but there is just no question that he`s directing people to get in contact with Rudy.

SUEBSAENG:  No, absolutely.  And look, like -- as Betsy was mentioning earlier about how in the open and how public this was, and it wasn`t actually a secret, at best it was an open secret, that Giuliani was acting on President Trump`s behalf on this stuff is he was telling reporters on the record for months, in very -- in a very loquacious manner, in the months leading up to the scandal, before the -- long before the impeachment inquiry, was even launched.

And when he would talk about it to reporters at various outlets, including at The Daily Beast, he would repeatedly say how he was keeping President Trump abreast and briefed on all of his progress.  So if President Trump wants turn around now and talk about how, oh, he was doing his own thing, well, there were numerous opportunities for him to tell his lawyer to not get the hell off if he actually wanted to.

HAYES:  Asawin Suebsaeng and Betsy Woodruff Swan, thank you both for your time tonight.  Next, Devin Nunes, the top Republican in the impeachment inquiry is now implicated in the President`s scheme to get Ukraine to dig up dirt on Joe Biden.  What to make of all that in two minutes.

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HAYES:  Congressman Devin Nunes, the top Republican on the House Intel Committee has been a kind of chief conspiracy theorist during the impeachment inquiry using both his official position and his spot at the microphone to advance the very conspiracy theories President Trump was asking Ukraine`s President Zelensky to pursue, debunked claims about the 2016 election as well as manufactured dirt on the Biden`s.

And now there`s this weird new development from Giuliani`s indicted associate Lev Parnas who is saying that he helps Nunes set up meetings to pursue those very same conspiracy theories.  Nunes, who has literally sued a cow on Twitter has made vague references that he`ll be filing a lawsuit over all these Ukraine stories, which seems to be his go-to move.

But on the question of whether he met with the corrupt former Ukrainian prosecutor Viktor Shokin as asserted by one of Parnas` attorneys, Nunes never directly answered, though he called the story demonstrably false.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Bottom line, where are you in Vienna with Shokin?

NUNES:  Yes.  So look, Maria.  I really want to answer all of these questions.  And I promise you absolutely will come back on the show and answer these questions.  So none of this is true.  As what I`ve said, my statement is it`s demonstrably false.  We`ll get to all the facts when it filed in court.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAYES:  Today, New York University Law Professor Ryan Goodman who`s co- editor in chief at Just Security put together a comprehensive timeline of Nunes and Ukraine disinformation efforts and he joins me now.  Good to have you here.

So I guess broadest view, right?  Like, what do we know about what role Nunes has played in essentially sort of furthering researching, fomenting the sort of main storylines that are the subject of the impeachment hearings, and in that phone call with Zelensky, that there was a Ukrainian effort essentially to hack the DNC server and frame Russia and that, you know, that there`s some deep corruption illegal activity, vis-a-vis the Bidens?

RYAN GOODMAN, CO-EDITOR, JUST SECURITY:  So the allegations seem to be that that`s exactly what Nunes himself was trying to do from late November 2018 to at least late March 2019, which is to try to get dirt on Joe Biden, and to try to get this corrupt former prosecutor in Ukraine Shokin to also give information about, you know, Ukrainian interference in the 2016 election.

So the very matters that are at the heart of the impeachment inquiry, not necessarily quid pro quo or pressuring the Ukrainian government, but still searching for manufacturing this kind of dirt.

HAYES:  I mean, the broad view here, there were -- there`s two things.  One is that you`ve got these sort of disgruntled ex-Ukrainian prosecutors who are sort of selling a story to Rudy Giuliani and others and the sort of right-wing media because they have sort of personal interest, I think it`s fair to say.  And there`s questions about whether Nunes was actually directly interfacing with them as part of his own gathering of information.

GOODMAN:  That`s right.  So it would be exclusive enough if all we were left with was the very first report from the Daily Beast that Nunes was coordinating with Lev Parnas, this Giuliani associate who`s indicted.  And this associate Lev Parnas is saying that he`s willing to testify under oath with Congress and he has recordings, audio and otherwise -- and documents that will prove that he was doing all this one speaking with Nunes directly, speaking with nurses top aide Derek Harvey.

Then there`s this other piece that came out over the weekend CNN and then backed up by the Washington Post, that Nunes actually has his top aide Derek Harvey meeting privately with this group, this kind of cabal of Giuliani, Parnas, Fruman, John Solomon, the Opinion Columnist at the Hill that`s promulgating all of this disinformation.

And one thing that`s also remarkable is that John Solomon confirms the meetings, which is something that you wouldn`t thought he would have done.  So it`s not just Lev Parnas --

HAYES:  Wait, Solomon has now confirmed the meeting that the meetings existed?

GOODMAN:  CNN in their initial report says John Solomon is one of these people that privately meets regularly, frequently -- multiple times a week at this private room in Trump International Hotel in Washington.  And then there`s this line.  John Solomon says, He confirmed the meetings, but he said it wasn`t a team, because it formed more organically than that.

But that`s incredible because that really is the disinformation effort that`s underway, that`s been underway this whole time that George Kent testify was just a bunch of lies.  It was trying to oust the U.S. ambassador and was trying to promulgate these ideas about dirt.  I don`t want to say find dirt, it was actually to manufacture dirt.  And they`re in these meetings as Derek Harvey dropping in occasion.

HAYES:  Who is a Nunes` staffer?

GOODMAN:  Top aid.

HAYES:  So you have -- I mean basically, you have Nunes up there sort of doing this promulgating it from the microphone, but it also appears that there are -- there`s both some confirm reporting and allegations that he`s intimately involved with the whole crew, like the team, basically, of people that are running this operation to essentially spread this kind of different information and achieve the ends that the President wants out of Zelensky in the phone call.

GOODMAN:  That`s right.  So it`s just bad on its own terms, and then it`s much worse given that we`ve just gone through two weeks of an impeachment inquiry, public hearings, and not a peep from Nunes that he`s actually implicated.

HAYES:  OK, so that to me is a crazy thing.  Like I feel like a member of Congress can travel where he wants to travel and talk to who he wants to talk to.  As a member of Congress, he can -- if he wants to talk to Viktor Shokin, he can talk to Viktor Shokin.  If he wants to -- you know what I mean?  Like he`s a member of Congress, he could do that.  It`s crazy if that stuff happened and he doesn`t say anything about it while he`s sitting there and the impeachment hearing.

GOODMAN:  Unbelievable.  And --

HAYES:  While they`re testifying about like, all this stuff.  There`s all this disinformation, where it`s coming from.  And here`s this guy, here`s that guy, and here`s this.  And he`s just sitting up there being like, oh, yes, I met with all those people.

GOODMAN:  Right.  And one of the things he does is he actually enters into the Congressional Record, one of John Solomon`s articles.  It`s just -- it`s a remarkable thing.  And just another piece of it is that he`s not -- like you said, he could do this potentially on in the open.

HAYES:  Right.

GOODMAN:  But in fact, apparently, according to Lev Parnas, takes the trip in December of 2018 because then he wouldn`t have to report the details of it if it were after the new Congress was in power, because then his chairperson would be Adam Schiff.

And there is in fact, in the congressional travel records, Nunes and his team with Derek Harvey going to Vienna late November to December 3rd, 2018, but they don`t say -- sorry to Europe and -- but they didn`t say where they went to.  That`s what he wanted to say on Fox News, were you actually in Vienna, did you meet with Shokin?  It`s an easy thing to just say no.

HAYES:  Fascinating.  Well, I don`t know who`s telling your truth here, but at some point, I think we will find out definitively.  This is a thing that we`re going to know or not.  Ryan Goodman, thank you for your time.

GOODMAN:  Thank you.

HAYES:  Next, after Republicans take their conspiracy theories about the now-infamous Steele dossier into impeachment hearings, the founders of the firm behind the dossier attempt to set the record straight and they join me next.

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(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NUNES:  It`s the Democrats who got caught.  They got caught defending the false allegations of the Steele Dossier, which was paid for by them.  We should forget about them reading fabrications of Trump-Russia collusion from the Steele Dossier into the congressional record.  They themselves were colluding with Russia by funding and spreading the Steele dossier, which relied on Russian sources.

Trump is a long time Russian agent as described in the Steele Dossier.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAYES:  If you watch Trump TV on any given night, or listen to the Republicans on the House intelligence committee, the story of the 2016 election is not an unprecedented and wildly successful intelligence operation by the Russian government to criminally sabotage an American election in favor of Donald Trump, rather it`s a conspiracy by a small consulting firm to bring down Donald Trump, a conspiracy that resulted in Donald Trump getting elected and no one ever leaking the incendiary Steele Dossier during the campaign.

Now the co-founders of the boutique firm at the heart of that, Fusion GPS, that`s the research firm that hired Christopher Steele, and paid him to compile his now infamous dossier, they have written a book telling their side of the story.  It`s called "Crime and Progress: Inside the Steele Dossier and the Fusion GPS Investigation of Donald Trump."

And Glenn Simpson and Peter Fritsch join me now.  Good to have you here.

So, here`s the thing that I think is the most interesting about what you say in the book and I think the hardest for some people to believe.  So I want to give as much credit as possible for your critics to start out, right.  Their theory of the case is that like you`re being paid by the Clinton campaign, through the Clinton campaign lawyer, and you`ve then commissioned this ex-British intelligence official to go -- whose got these Russian sources who looks into the sort of stuff that`s happening with Russia.  Like, obviously the Clinton campaign is going to learn about that, because you`re working for them.  And your contention in this book is like the firewall is so thick that they just had no idea about the stuff that`s happening on the start of the project.

GLENN SIMPSON, FUSION GPS FOUNDER:  That`s not quite it.  I mean, first of all, there`s a time line issue which is that we started this investigation for the Republicans in September 2015, so the entire predicate for what we did when we switched over the Democrats was based on information that we gathered for the Republicans.

HAYES:  Right.

SIMPSON:  So there`s a flaw in the theory there.

When we did switch, we were communicating with a lawyer, and we didn`t know what was happening with the information from there.  It`s obvious from the public record that some of the information was getting to the Clinton campaign.  The distinction is that when Christopher Steel decided decided it was necessary to go to FBI, that he really thought this was a national emergency and there`s going to be an attack on the United States, we didn`t tell anyone, because we didn`t consider that to be part of the campaign or the election.

HAYES:  Right, so that`s the key point is that the Clinton campaign -- I mean,  this is the crazy thing about 2016, there`s an FBI investigation into Donald Trump and his possible contacts with the Russians that does not leak during the campaign.

PETER FRITSCH, FUSION GPS CO-FOUNDER:  Correct.  Yeah, no, I mean, the firewall that you allude to is really methodological in nature.  And it was -- you know, when we first tasked Chris, or hired him, to do this work on behalf of the Clinton campaign, we didn`t tell him who the client was which is actually fairly important methodologically if you`re trying to conduct a human intelligence investigation as he was.

You know, we trusted him, because he is one of the most accomplished foreign intelligence officials we know in the Transatlantic alliance.  And we trusted him to carry that work out responsibly.

SIMPSON:  So in the intelligence business and the investigations business there`s compartmentalization, which prevents information from sloshing around and getting out, and there`s also just a methodological need to avoid confirmation bias.

So if you know who your client is, that might influence what you find.

HAYES:  Right, so what you don`t want is a person selling you information that they think you want.

SIMPSON:  That`s a big problem in the industry.

HAYES:  Is it?

SIMPSON:  Yes.

FRITSCH:  Well, it`s just a -- you know, anyone likes to tell their boss...

HAYES:  I found great stuff.

FRITSCH:  Well, what they want to hear.

HAYES:  And one of the trajectories that happened here, as I understand it, both with Steele and with you two is that the more information you learn, the more worried you get as essentially citizens or people and not in the context of the -- the profile that you have as a business proposition.

FRITSCH:  I mean, the title of the book alludes to an active citizenship not to a judge and jury role that we`ve assigned ourselves, right, to actually adjudicate these matters, what we`re saying is, you know, the equivalent is you`re on your way to work and you see, you know, someone robbing someone you call the appropriate authorities to investigate and intervene.  That`s what we did.

I mean, I should be clear, that that`s what Chris did.  He`s the intelligence professional.  We`re former journalists, right.  We deferred to him and his judgment, and he thought it was of such import that he had to do something about it.

SIMPSON:  Right, I mean, what we said if you in your professional judgment think that this really is going to be a digital Pearl Harbor, then we`re certainly not going to stop you.

HAYES:  So Steele has come under a lot of attack for the documents.  People have said they`re wrong, a; and b, that he himself was played by Russian disinformation, that essentially they were playing both sides of the coin.  They were somehow seeding this information to him to create this kind of doubt and roil up the American political system.

SIMPSON:  We`ve heard it all.  I mean, again, it doesn`t make sense since the main finding of the Dossier was that the Kremlin was organizing an attack on the American election system that was intended to get Donald Trump elected president of the United States.

HAYES:  That is the top line finding that he has.

SIMPSON:  It`s hard to believe we agree now that we see what`s going on in Ukraine.

FRITSCH:  Right, so why would the Kremlin leak that?  Why would that be disinformation?  It just doesn`t compute.

SIMPSON:  More relevantly, Chris Steele has spent a career looking at Russian disinformation, identifying it and outing it and protecting the Transatlantic alliance and NATO against it.

So, that -- you know, we trust him to...

HAYES:  Well, but here`s the final question on this, because I mean part of what -- part of the way that this -- and this is exclusive to Russia, it`s the way that sort of disinformation works more broadly, and Russia has no monopoly on that, we should be very clear.  It operates organically right here, it operates in countries around the world.

The way that misinformation operations is that it creates a kind of like haziness over everything, where you can`t really tell what`s true and what`s not?  Right, like there`s facts and counter-facts and things are sort of speeding by you.  And I guess the question is like, I feel like we`ve ended up in that place vis-a-vis this whole story in many ways.  Like do you feel you have focus, you have razor sharp vision into what actually happened in 2016 and what the nature of the connections were between the campaign and that Russian disinformation effort, which we now know is established?

FRITSCH:  I mean, it`s history right, so it`s accumulating all the time.  I wouldn`t use the words laser sharp focused.  I would say that we have amassed over the lats three years mountains of evidence that what we saw happening in 2016 really did happen, and it was really bad and it`s about to happen again.

SIMPSON:  Some of the people in the dossier are in jail now, right.  And they were not  common figures.  Chris Steele I don`t think when he first reported on Carter Page had ever heard of him.  So that speaks to the depth of his sourcing.

So we find that there is this mis-impression that there is all these things that are wrong in the dossier, and it`s attributed to the mixed messaging that you`re talking about, but it`s not disinformation so much disinformation from Russia as it is from congress.  So for the two years that the Republicans controlled all of congress, Trump and the Republicans messaged consistently that there were all these problems with our work, with Chris` work, that there`s all these mistakes, and there was no -- there was no response, because no one else had a megaphone.

I mean, congressman -- sorry.

HAYES:  Well, that is going to continue and only intensify of course as the impeachment hearings go on.

Glenn Simpson, Peter Fritsch, the book is called "Crime and Progress."  Thank you both, gentlemen.

SIMPSON:  Thank you.

FRITSCH:  Thank you.

HAYES:  Coming up, just who makes up the Bloomberg base?  The first look at the 2020  polling with Michael Bloomberg in the field is next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HAYES:  Today we got the latest national primary Democratic polls since former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg`s announcement and, well, he`s got a ways to go.  Coming in at 3 percent with margin of error of 3.2 percent.  Bloomberg, of course, has a lot of name recognition and a lot of money.  And also has, according to a new Morning Consult Poll (ph), the most unfavorable rating of any candidate in the race.

His blend of being a conservative relatively on economic issues and liberal on social ones seems to be the least represented part of American politics among actual voters, but the most represented among super elite people like Mike Bloomberg.

To talk about what his entrance to the race means I`m joined by Michelle Goldberg,  columnist for The New York Times. 

Is there a constituency in the primary for a Mike Bloomberg?

MICHELLE GOLDBERG, NEW YORK TIMES:  No, but there`s a constituency -- I mean, who knows -- not that I have seen in any polling or really like you said in any research about what the electorate actually looks like, right.

When people survey the electorate along two different quadrants, the conservatism on economics and conservatism on social issues, the least populated quadrant is, you know, economically conservative, socially liberal even though there`s a ton of people like that in New York City, in Washington, D.C., in other places where elite rich people gather, which I think gives them a false impression that that`s kind of the median voter position.

HAYES:  Yeah, it`s like, actually the other quadrant, which is like real hostile or worried about immigrants and also pro-universal health care that is like in some ways the least represented one, and also the one that Donald Trump helped to tap into.

GOLDBERG:  And I don`t know if you even remember this, but you and I did an event a long time ago, maybe ten years ago, where we were talking about how, yes, the person who -- the terrifying person who could kind of come along in American politics would be the person who is economically progressive, but socially reactionary. And Donald Trump I think hasn`t actually been economically progressive in practice, but that`s what he promised people, right, he promised people great health care.  He promised them no cuts to entitlements.

HAYES:  Trade deals -- right.

GOLDBERG:  So, the Bloomberg thing is so bizarre to me, because these are obviously intelligent people.  He can obviously afford decent polling, but it`s just where that comes from, especially for somebody -- I mean, I think you were there, I was in 2004 at the Republican National Convention when Michael Bloomberg endorsed George W. Bush, right.  I mean, that goes in any commercial if he becomes a serious contender.

HAYES:  In fact, let`s play him doing that at the 2004 RNC convention in New York.  Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MICHAEL BLOOMBERG, FORMER NEW YORK CITY MAYOR:  I want to thank President Bush for supporting New York City in changing the homeland security funding formula, and for leading the global war on terrorism.  The president deserves our support.  We are here to support him.  And I am here to support him.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAYES:  Torture, Abu Ghraib, war crimes, Guantanamo, hundreds of thousands of dead Iraqis, 5,000 dead Americans in Iraq, tens of thousands wounded, the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, a city that drowned, I mean, that`s just the quick on George Bush.  That`s what Michael Bloomberg pushed for right there.

GOLDBERG:  There`s actually no -- I mean there`s certain parts of Michael Bloomberg`s agenda, you know, around climate change, around guns that I suppose have some reach, although he`s not necessarily better on those issues than any of the other candidates who are running.

HAYES:  That`s the other thing, like what makes those interesting is those against the rest of his ideological profile, but they`re not specifically dynamic or interesting.

GOLDBERG:  Let`s say you want a billionaire who`s done a bunch on climate change, you already have got Tom Steyer in the race.  And so, again, I think his entry is interesting in that it`s a sign of elite panic about the field, which is in itself concerning.  But it is, again, it`s almost hallucinatory, and it`s especially hallucinatory on people who discount Bernie Sanders chances.  Bernie Sanders is far more electable in the United States of America than Michael Bloomberg.

HAYES:  Michelle Goldberg, thank you for joining us.

Still ahead the Trump administration`s assault on asylum in the United States.  The latest shocking escalation coming up. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HAYES:  For months, protests against the government have raged in Iraq where Iraqis are fed up with both corruption and Iranian domination of the state.  On this week`s Why is This Happening I talked to author James Verini about his incredible book about Iraq, "They Will Have to Die Now" in which he chronicled the Iraqi army`s brutal bloody battle to take back Mosul from ISIS and the long shadow that our war and wars on that country cast over all of it.

Verini spent months embedded with soldiers in that fight for Mosul.  And he describes with vivid detail what he witnessed first-hand.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JAMES VERINI, AUTHOR:  Whenever a mortar shell would come in and I would get to the ground, which you`re supposed to do, soldiers, even generals, would laugh at me because the idea is if you`re here, if you`re in a war you should be prepared to die.  That`s what war is for.  And if you`re not prepared to die, you shouldn`t be here.  And the soldiers in the counter-terrorism service, the Iraqi special forces, I think felt particularly this way. 

It was strangely proximate to the attitude of the jihadis, which was say their role essentially as to die, eventually, if not sooner then later.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAYES:  That episode is out today.  You can find it wherever you get your podcasts.  And if you were a fan of the podcast, we`ve still got some tickets left for our final date of the fall WITH pod tour right here in New York City with two certifiable geniuses, two experts on storytelling and spectacle and provocation, which are basically what our entire national life revolve around at this moment for better or probably worse.

Legendary Pulitzer Prize-winning playwrite Tony Kushner and young phenom Jeremy O. Harris, whose Broadway debut has ignited controversy and accolades, both of those amazing artists will join me on Sunday night, December 8 in a town-hall in Manhattan.  You can get tickets at our website, MSNBC.com/WITHpod or go to Ticketmaster and search Chris Hayes.  It`s going to be a great conversation, a great evening.  We hope to see you there.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HAYES:  It was 14 days ago the Southern Poverty Law Center published an expose of hundreds of emails of White House advisor Stephen Miller trafficking in the ugliest stereotypes of immigrants and white nationalist website and themes before he actually went to the White House.  And that man is the president`s chief adviser in immigration, who, according to NBC News reporting has long believed that, for instance, asylum officers are soft.

Under his direction largely, the Trump administration is quietly succeeding in essentially  choking off asylum as a feature of U.S. law. 

Here`s just one example of how nuts things have gotten.  The Trump administration has now worked out a deal with the Guatemalan government to relocate rejected asylum seekers to, get this, a remote spot in the middle of the Guatemalan jungle.  This is just one aspect of a full spectrum policy undertaken by Trump that has effectively destroyed the right to asylum in the United States in 2019.  And here with me now to talk about that policy change, Buzzfeed immigration reporter, Hamid Aleaziz. 

Hamid, you`ve been doing incredible reporting on this.  And there`s a bunch of different ways the Trump administration has essentially is it fair to say like choked off asylum on the southern border?

HAMED ALEAZIZ, BUZZFEED:  Essentially at the end of the day they`ve implemented a series of policies to restrict asylum at the southern border.  You know, this latest effort like you mentioned sending asylum seekers from El Salvador and Honduras to Guatemala is just the latest unprecedented step.

HAYES:  So as I understand it a huge part of this, you`re working out these deals with other countries that migrants might get to before they get to the U.S., first Mexico and then Guatemala and Honduras that basically has migrants not allowed to traverse further and stay where they are.

Talk to me how they`ve gone about doing that.

ALEAZIZ:  So, this is really an effort by the former DHS secretary, Kevin McAleenan.  He took a lot of time traveling to these Central American countries working out these deals with Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador.  And the first deal to actually be implemented is Guatemala.  They`re starting off with small numbers, only in El Paso, but all asylum officers have to be trained on this policy by today.

So we could expect, you know, an expansion pretty quickly here.  And this is paired up with other major policies that have been instituted as well.

HAYES:  What is the new policy?  What does it mean?  How does it work?

ALEAZIZ:  So, adult asylum seekers from El Salvador and Honduras will be basically told right now only in El Paso they will be flown to Guatemala to obtain protections there.  The only way they can avoid that is if they affirmatively say they fear for their lives in Guatemala, and at that point they have to meet this pretty high threshold to avoid being sent to Guatemala.

HAYES:  Wait a second, I just want to make sure I`m tracking this.  Desperate people who have traveled from Honduras and El Salvador, who have come, and they made it to the U.S.  They`re now in El Paso where this is being piloted.  They going to be sent to the jungle of Guatemala, not back to where they`re from, to a place they`ve never been in the middle of the jungle in Guatemala unless they can pass a bar in an asylum interview?

ALEAZIZ:  Right, they`ll be sent back to Guatemala, yes.

HAYES:  That`s new and sort of nuts.  I mean, these people are going to be deposited in the jungle in Guatemala.  They`re not from there.

ALEAZIZ:  Right.  I mean, as far as the location in the jungle I`m not quite sure where the specific location where they`ll be sent, but yeah but this is completely unprecedented.  This is country where people are fleeing to America, you know, there`s no requirement they had to actually travel through Guatemala, according to the asylum officers who have been trained up on this policy.

HAYES:  There`s also this hundreds and thousands remain in Mexico policy, right, which is people who are in this kind of limbo hat are conditions like for these people that have essentially being sent back to the border to Mexico?

ALEAZIZ:  We`ve seen already reports of, you know, the shelters and really bad situation.  You know, the point where there`s reporting late last week that families are telling their children to cross the border on their own to try to obtain asylum that way, because of the desperation. 

I mean, these are situations where the shelters have not been set up adequately, according to advocates on the ground, and there`s been a lot of reports of crime, extortion, kidnappings.

HAYES:  It`s a really crazy thing that`s happening on the southern border. Hamed Aleaziz has been documenting really well.  Thanks for sharing that great reporting with us.

ALEAZIZ:  Thank you so much.

HAYES:  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