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Trump repeats false wind turbine claims. TRANSCRIPT: 12/23/19, All In w/ Chris Hayes.

Guests: Chris Van Hollen, Sheryl Gay Stolberg, Norm Ornstein, MickeyEdwards, Lena Taylor, William Barber, Kennji Kizuka, Zolan Kanno-Youngs

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST:  It could take Nancy Pelosi.  And that`s HARDBALL for now.  Thanks for being with us.  Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy Hanukkah.  And Mr. President, you better watch out because Santa Claus is coming to town, and he knows who`s been good or bad.  "ALL IN" with Chris Hayes starts right now.

CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST:  Good evening from New York.  I`m Chris Hayes.  We`ve got a big show tonight, including some serious impeachment developments we`re going to get to in just a minute.  Reverend William Barber is here to talk about evangelical support for the President and what it really looks like.  There is more on the Firestorm over a Trump campaign official caught on tape, talking about apparently admitting to voter suppression.  And tonight, new reporting on Stephen Miller`s secret plan to skirt the law and increase deportations.

But we begin tonight with impeachment.  It`s been five days since the House of Representatives voted to impeach President Trump for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, but we still don`t really know when the President`s Senate trial will start.  Democrats have been clear that the evidence they have amassed is sufficient to prove high crimes and misdemeanors, but that doesn`t mean that what they`ve unearthed is everything.  I mean, that`s pretty clear.

Just today, we saw another example of what is still out there.  In a new court filing, lawyers for House Democrats argued there are still witnesses who`ve been subpoenaed, who`ve been blocked by the White House who Democrats have argued, have possibly vital information.

In a court filing today to try and get the testimony of former White House Counsel Don McGahn, Democratic lawyers, wrote "If McGann`s testimony produces new evidence supporting the conclusion that President Trump committed impeachable offenses that are not covered by the articles approved by the House, the committee will proceed accordingly, including, if necessary, by considering whether to recommend new articles of impeachment.

New articles of impeachment, there`s a phrase.  We haven`t finished with the old ones yet to be clear.  Remember The house -- the White House hasn`t turned over any documents.  The reason for that appears to be that every new bit of evidence is bad for President Trump.

The Center for Public Integrity shook loose some documents, including some damning e-mails from the Office of Management and Budget, including one sent less than two hours after President Trump`s phone call with the Ukrainian president that shows a senior OMB political appointee asking the Department of Defense to hold off sending military aid to Ukraine.

And in the e-mail, "Given the sensitive nature that request, I appreciate you`re keeping that information closely held to those who need to know to execute direction."  Well, that`s an interesting thing to have written down and sent the day of the phone call.  Don`t give Ukraine military aid, and also, please don`t tell anyone about it.

The White House Calls the timing a "coincidence," which sure, but also there also might be a paper record to connect these two very clearly related dots.  Today, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer laid out the evidence he would like to see at Trump`s trial, including e-mails and other communications held by the White House and State Department.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says he`s actually willing to consider having witnesses in the Senate a trial, but take that one with the biggest grain of salt you can find.  McConnell doesn`t want to open any more door than he has to here.  He wants the trial done, the President acquitted as soon as is practicable.

The argument Democrats are making in this standoff that we have right now is if you want to get to the bottom of this, you`ve got to hear from the people closest to the President.  Now joining me, one of the 100 people who will try the president in the Senate next year, if those articles are sent over there, Democratic Senator Chris Van Hollen of Maryland.

Senator, Nancy Pelosi is repeating her request basically saying, look, we`re not going to send this over and appoint our House managers unless we know what kind of process it`s going to be.  Lindsey Graham is very upset about this.  The President is very upset.  He keeps tweeting about it.  What is your read on where things stand in this situation?

SEN. CHRIS VAN HOLLEN (D-MD):  Well, Chris, it`s good to be with you.  And Speaker Pelosi is exactly right.  She`s trying to get some assurances that the trial in the Senate will be fair.  And that, of course, includes the ability to call witnesses.  You just named Michael Duffy, where we have new documents that just surface that are very incriminating.  There are other key witnesses in the White House and other documents.

And so, Speaker Pelosi is just saying to the United States Senate, hey, just let me -- let me know you`re going to have a fair trial that we`re going to be able to call these witnesses and get these documents, and I`ll send this over tomorrow.  I mean, I`ll do it right now.  She`s very eager for the trial to begin, but she like -- I hope every American wants it to be fair.

HAYES:  You sent a letter today, it was interesting to the GAO, asking for a legal analysis of one of the things the ministration did which was to withhold this aid.  Talk me through your thinking there.

VAN HOLLEN:  So, we know from the mountain of that villains from the House that the President abused the powers of his office, right?  He withheld the critical military systems from Ukraine to try to extract this personal political favor, interfere in our elections.  But I also believe that in doing so, he violated the Impoundment Control Act, that the withholding was illegal and a violation of the law in a different sense, as well.

And that would hold true I believe, even if we accepted the President`s sort of fanciful view of events where he claimed that this was just some kind of policy review.  Now, we know that`s not true from the facts, but even that, in my view, would be a violation of the Impoundment Control Act and an illegal withholding.  And so that`s what we`re asking GAO about.

HAYES:  Impoundment Control Act is specifically a statute that directs money to be spent if so directed by Congress, right?

VAN HOLLEN:  That`s exactly right.  I mean, the Congress appropriated these funds.  In fact, the president had to sign the appropriations bill to put into effect.  And the Impoundment Control Act sets out very narrow circumstances under which the executive branch can withhold funds after that fact.  And if they do withhold funds, they have to notify Congress.

Now notice no notification was ever provided to Congress under the Impoundment Control Act because we know what they were up to.  They were trying to use these funds to pressure President Zelensky to do their political dirty work.

HAYES:  You know, this zeroes in on what is, in some ways, the linchpin of this entire story here, right, the withholding of aid, but also from a factual perspective, the details of which I think we know the least about, I think it`s fair to say.  We know a lot about everything else, but the actual mechanics by which the aid was withheld and at what direction, we got that new piece of evidence today with the e-mail to DOD on the day of the phone call.  Is there other evidence you would like to see on that question?

VAN HOLLEN:  I believe there`s lots of evidence.  And the administration is claiming that this latest revelation, this latest e-mail from Michael Duffy is not that important because they`d already started conversations previously about withholding assistance.  All that tells us as what we know, which is this was an ongoing scheme that came to a head in the phone call.

The fact that they`d already been discussing what the President`s wishes were with respect to withholding the aid just adds ammunition to our argument.  And yes, we would want those documents, those conversations.  Look, we all know that Mitt Mulvaney blurted out the truth when he had that press conference at the White House.  I`ll bet he tells a very different story when he has to put up his right hand and swear under penalty of perjury like the witnesses had to do in the House.

HAYES:  Is it your sense that there are -- and there`s been some reporting on this, but it`s a little spotty about what the status of the conversations or negotiations are.  Obviously, there`s Pelosi on the House side with withholding sending over the articles and announcing impeach managers, and there`s conversations between Schumer and McConnell.  What is your sense of the status of those conversations?  Are those active conversations right now?

VAN HOLLEN:  My understanding is that Senator Schumer and Senator McConnell met just a few days ago.  They had a preliminary conversation.  Senator Schumer indicated that a fair trial required the ability to call the witnesses that we`ve talked about, as well as get the documents.  And Senator McConnell was unwilling to do that.  And so that`s where we are right now.

And Speaker Pelosi is continuing to seek those assurances, as she should.  I mean, she`s got to send over house managers.  She wants to have some sense of what the trial will look like.  So that`s where we are right now.  And I think, you know, Speaker Pelosi, his decision has opened up a very important public conversation, which we would not really be having in the way we`re doing it right now, which is what`s a fair trial.

And you and I know that every American understands that it`s not a fair trial if you don`t get to call your witnesses, especially relevant fact witnesses who have personal knowledge of the impeachment, articles.  And so that`s why these Republican senators who, you know, may ultimately have to vote on this should be very careful because if they vote to deny the ability to get this evidence, and then it comes out later, they`re going to look complicit in the cover-up as well.

And so we`re going to keep pushing.  The American people are on our side with respect to a fair trial and witnesses and getting the documents.

HAYES:  All right, Senator Chris Van Hollen, thank you very much.  Have a great holiday.

VAN HOLLEN:  Thank You.  You too.

HAYES:  Joining me now for you on the state of the President`s impeachment, Sheryl Gay Stolberg who`s a Congressional Correspondent for the New York Times and Norm Ornstein, Resident Scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, and co-author of One Nation After Trump.

Sheryl, let me start with you.  I`m curious what your reporting indicates about how this is being viewed on the Hill because I think at first there was some idea like what exactly is Pelosi doing here and what has become clear over the last few days is it`s driving the president batty, and that is going to produce its own kind of pressures on the Hill, given how obsessed the president seems to be.

SHERYL GAY STOLBERG, CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT, NEW YORK TIMES:  Well, that`s exactly right.  It`s frankly, a little hard to tell how it`s being received on the Hill, because lawmakers are at home for a two-week recess.

HAYES:  Right.

STOLBERG:  But you`re absolutely right.  You`re absolutely right to say that is driving the president a little batty and that, in fact, was Speaker Pelosi`s intention.  She wanted to withhold the articles because she knew that she could exert a little bit of leverage over Senator McConnell to do what Democrats want, which is to produce witnesses, to allow witnesses to testify.

President Trump wants a speedy trial.  He has indicated that he wants witnesses to testify.  And so Pelosi See is trying to, you know, just exert her -- the last remaining power that she can now that these impeachment articles have been adopted.

HAYES:  Norm, I thought the one piece of e-mail the Senate of Republican -- there was a bunch of e-mails, but this one particular e-mail on the day that the call happens was relevant both for what it showed, and also for what it sort of suggests about what is incomplete in the factual record.

NORM ORNSTEIN, RESIDENT SCHOLAR, AMERICAN ENTERPRISE INSTITUTE:  Absolutely the case, Chris.  Because it wasn`t just that you had this move to withhold the aid done 90 minutes after the call.  It was within that e-mail it said keep this hush, hush, which suggests that what OMB had said that there was a real policy difference here was a sham to begin with.  That there`s more in the record that we can find and we can find from the author of the e- mail that would suggest that this was a direct order from the president for the reasons that we know.

And I would add, also, Chris, that I think Speaker Pelosi had another reason here beyond putting leverage on Majority Leader McConnell and on driving Donald Trump batty, which is that as every day goes by, we have more incriminating and damning information.

We had another story from this Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington that Trump`s business and Trump manipulated aid -- or excuse me, tariffs to Argentina while he awaited trademark.

HAYES:  Right.

ORNSTEIN:  And then released it or brought the tariffs after the trademarks.  The other articles of impeachment that could follow are going to be pretty difficult as well if they do.  And at the same time, we see Rudy Giuliani careening out of control and his relationship with Lev Parnas, with the Ukrainian oligarchs, and possibly illegally paying Giuliani to represent Trump.

All of this as the week Go by could lead to more damning information and force the Senate to actually hold a fair trial.

HAYES:  I guess that`s -- I mean, that`s partly, Sheryl, I think part of the play here by the Speaker, and partly I think it`s also just attempting to get some kind of framework conceded to in advance from Mitch McConnell about what this looks like.

STOLBERG:  Right.  That`s exactly what she wants.  You know, Senator Schumer, the minority leader has asked specifically for four witnesses, four top White House officials, including John Bolton, the former National Security Adviser, Mick Mulvaney, the Acting Chief of Staff, and also Michael Duffy, the OMB official who wrote that e-mail asking the Pentagon to keep it hush-hush.

So, Schumer has asked for these witnesses and also some documents, McConnell is resisting, and Pelosi wants to give Schumer a little bit of room in his negotiations with McConnell so that they can come to terms on something that Democrats feel will be fair.  And she doesn`t want to release these articles until she`s assured of that.

HAYES:  You know, Norm, I wonder if there`s a -- you know, it`s unclear to me what -- the leverage your depends partly on McConnell`s posture, partly on the politics for the four or five Republican senators who may have to sweat this on a vote if their voting not to call.  And partly on just the President`s personality, how much this -- he starts beating down McConnell`s door to kind of work McConnell over to allow it.

ORNSTEIN:  And it`s pretty clear that from the rants that we`ve seen from President Trump at his rallies and other places, that he could do even more foolish things or make more gestures that are very bad.  You know, among the House Democrats, there was some sentiment to withhold the articles even if they never got to the Senate if there wasn`t some agreement.

I actually think your point about the four Republicans or more in the Senate who will have to sweat this out would suggest that at some point you want to have the Senate move forward.  You want to put on notice those Republicans, especially the ones who are up in 2020, Martha McSally, Joni Ernst, Susan Collins, and Cory Gardner, among them, Thom Tillis, that they`re either going to vote to allow witnesses who have potentially important information or to stand for a sham trial.

And at some point, you really want to see that move forward and see what the Chief Justice John Roberts who will be presiding over will do with his own reputation at stake.

HAYES:  Yes.  It does seem to me that the political play here is a lot about teeing up those votes, making those votes, if not -- at the very least, as painful as possible for a Republican majority to hold together and see if you can pry any loose to get a majority.  Sheryl Gay Stolberg, Norm Ornstein, thank you both.  Have great holiday.

ORNSTEIN:  Thanks.  Same to you, Chris.

HAYES:  Up next. Trumpism now defines Republican Party members.  How the president secured such abject Toadyism and how it keeps it next.


HAYES:  To me, one of the most iconic moments of last week`s impeachment vote in the House, one that perfectly exemplifies the current relationship of the Republican House caucus of Donald Trump was Missouri Congressman Billy Long sitting there the whole time, just in the background with the cash seemingly sticking out of his jacket pocket, which was weird.  And then upon further review, and has long himself proudly pointed out, the money was actually fake.  They were custom made $45 bills with Trump`s face on the front.  That`s kind of weird but sums it up, doesn`t it?

The Congressional Republicans are increasingly involved in what looks like a cult of personality around Donald Trump, more than their own political party or movement.  A recent article New York Times talks about how Trump has brought that about.  And a lot -- a lot of it is not real rocket science.  I mean, he is just obsessively focused on punishing anyone who crosses him.  And that obsessive focus and the punishment, the intimidation has worked.

"To defy Mr. Trump is to invite the President`s wrath, ostracism within the party in a premature end to a career in public and politics.  To talk about what`s happening here, I`m joined by Mickey Edwards, former Republican Congressman from Oklahoma, and Jelani Cobb, Staff Writer for The New Yorker.

Mickey, let me start with you.  What -- so there`s one sort of basic Occam`s razor element to this I think is kind of interesting, if simple, which is that other presidents have this feeling that they understand the way politics works, that members their own party might have to cross them or distance themselves on tough votes.  Brock Obama would always sort of let sort of sleeping dogs lie if, I mean, a moderate member had to come out against.  Trump isn`t that way.

Every slide is taken personally.  Everything is -- he will come after you and that has actually effectively kept a kind of discipline.

MICKEY EDWARDS, FORMER CONGRESSMAN OF OKLAHOMA:  Yes, you know, Chris, he - - it isn`t a matter of loyalty that`s going on here.  So some people know, previous presidents know how politics works.  This President knows how psychology works.  And he knows how bravery and cowardice work.  He`s got a group of senators and House members who want their jobs.  They want to keep their jobs.

To some extent, it`s about policy.  They want -- they want lower taxes or they want various kinds of things that Trump is doing.  But the main thing is they don`t want to lose.  They`re afraid to lose, being called senator or congressman, they`re afraid to lose the salary.  They`re afraid to lose this thing of having people open doors for them.  And so they are willing - - it`s not out of love for Trump.  The ones I talked to don`t have any love for Donald Trump.  They don`t have any respect for Donald Trump.  But they don`t want to lose their job.  That`s pure cowardice, more than anything else, not loyalty.

HAYES:  There`s a deeper thing happening that is reflecting and I thought was interesting, which is an ideological transformation which is essentially it is a cult of personality.  And this is -- this is club for growth which putatively had an ideological perspective, although that was always sort of dubious to me, to begin with, but it was always about cutting taxes for rich people.  But they`re polling in these primaries is poll after poll showed us Republican primary voters wanted their nominee to support President Trump.  So in order to make sure they were viable and get reelected, they end up being supporters of his.  And they added this was over and above at the actual issue positions.

JELANI COBB, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:  Yes, I mean, so -- I mean, there`s a whole array of interesting things around this.  One of which is that when you look at what would previously be kind of at least deal breakers you think about the attacks on people`s family members.  Remember when there was that attack on John McCain`s family about his daughter and the 2004 election, and the 2000 primaries rather, and then, you know, we saw how -- just how much tension ratcheted up between McCain and Bush four years after that as a result of it.

Well, how is it that in 2016, this current president was able to insult Jeb Bush`s wife, Ted Cruz`s wife, John McCain, and still have George P. Bush endorse him.

HAYES:  Right.

COBB:  Still have the support of Ronna McDaniel Romney, obviously, who was so I guess enamored of being connected to them, but she doesn`t even really use her last name.

HAYES:  At his direction.

COBB:  Yes.  And so I mean, I think these things are pointing to the idea of this being a cult of personality.  Also, remember when Republicans care about deficits?  Remember when Republicans care about free trade.  All these things that are not so much ideological as they are Trump`s on the peculiar quirks with his own psychology.

HAYES:  Yes.

COBB:  So he wakes up and thinks something and then that becomes Republican orthodox.

HAYES:  You know, the fear -- that point about dignity -- this is what`s always surprising to me, Mickey, is just like, I guess my own -- my own psychology is such that I have enough kind of, I don`t know, lack of better word like moral vanity about how people perceive me that I would just never -- like debasing yourself that way comes with its own cost, which is that you`re debasing yourself publicly.  Like, even if you don`t have actually some integrity of your dignity, it just seems so embarrassing that these people embarrass themselves so routinely -- that it`s some visceral human level that doesn`t -- disincentivize them from doing it, but it doesn`t.

EDWARDS:  It doesn`t.  And one of the things I`ve been saying, Chris, is that some of these people don`t realize that they`re making a name for themselves, a legacy for themselves, that when they die, their obit is going to lead with the fact that they stood by Donald Trump, who by that time will have been completely discredited.  And it will be a stain that will be with them forever.

But the other thing here, though, Chris, is that they have bought into -- it`s a cultural thing.  You know, culture war is about secularism versus Christianity and so forth, and that is also driving this.  So the members of Congress may be cowardly, but the people who are voting and the prime -- in the party primaries are not.  They are the ones are being driven by the sphere is of what the left is doing.

HAYES:  Yes.  And that`s where the connection is, right?  I mean, the connection on the grassroots to him is -- which comes, you know, up in the article over and over is that like he is the only person fighting for us, he is the tribune of us, he is our kind of icon.

EDWARDS:  Right.

COBB:  Sure.  And also, it`s gone.  I mean, there`s always been -- I don`t want to fall into the trap, especially as a historian of kind of painting the past in these gold leaf tones, but there`s always been a degree of polarization.  But I think what is different and distinct now is the belief which is fairly, you know, well-rooted on the right now that the left poses in an existential threat to the country.  Even so --

HAYES:  And to them.

COBB:  And to them.  Right.  And even so that they`re kind of focus on Vladimir Putin and what he`s been able to do, and the weird kind of obsequiousness that the President of the United States displays toward him, and the huge obvious glaring national security implications of that, none of that seems to register.

HAYES:  Yes, right.  When you`re up against extinction, right?  That`s the reasoning Mickey Edwards and Jelani Cobb, who we can now officially welcome as an MSNBC Political Analyst, which is great news, thank you both for joining us.

New evidence and the importance of voter suppression for Republicans in the swing states Trump needs to win.  That story next.


HAYES:  The Wisconsin Republican Party has been at the vanguard of voter suppression efforts and it has been for quite a while.  Back in 2011, Republicans took back the legislature and state house and they passed a voter I.D. law requiring citizens to show documentation before casting a ballot.

The new obstacles they put into effect contributed to suppress turnout in 2016 when the state went for Donald Trump by fewer than 23,000 votes.  Last week, we told you about the right-wing group in that state that successfully sued to knock 200,000 people off the voter rolls.  Democrats are fighting that move both in the courts and on the ground-contacting voters who have been purged.

And now, it appears that Republicans are intent on going even further.  The AP obtained shocking new audio from a closed-door meeting of Republican lawyers in the state where a top Trump campaign advisor admits quote -- and I`m quoting him here, "Traditionally, it`s always been Republicans suppressing votes in places, adding that party should start playing offense a little bit.  That`s what you`re going to see in 2020."

Now, Justin Clark, that senior political advisor or senior counsel to the Trump campaign offered this explanation to the AP saying and part, "As should be clear from the context of my remarks, my point was that Republicans historically have been falsely accused of voter suppression and that it is time we stood up to defend our own voters.

Joining me now for more on all this, Wisconsin state senator Lena Taylor.  She`s also a Democratic candidate for mayor of Milwaukee.

Senator, first, your reaction to hearing what this Trump campaign official said behind closed door and his defense of it.

STATE SEN. LENA TAYLOR, (D-WI) MAYORIAL CANDIDATE, MILWAUKEE:  I wish I could tell you I was shocked, but I have to tell you that we`ve had voter suppression efforts by Republicans here in the Wisconsin, and in particular in Milwaukee area, with the Green Vest movement.  And I wish I could tell you that I`m not offended, but I am as a lawyer to hear another lawyer talk about being a part of voter disenfranchisement.

And in the end, I`m very concerned because, you know, intimidating individuals to not vote is really pushing against our democracy at a time that we need to be encouraging more people to come out. 

HAYES:  What was -- you mentioned the Green Vest movement.  What`s that?

TAYLOR:  So the Green Vest suppression effort that happened years ago, really just before I was elected even, individuals wore these green vests, and they did very similar to what the Republicans are saying they`re going to do now, security of their voters or the voting process.  The Green Vest individuals were there and intimidating individuals away from the polls.

Now, they didn`t have the bands like the task force like the Republicans did before, and in turn were sued and why they didn`t do this, you know, for a while is because of a decree that happened in court.  Well, that`s been lifted, you know, because of a judicial race, which I mean -- a judge which is why judicial races are important, everybody, and that you should participate.  But that is the same thing that we`ve experienced here.

We`ve had them do all kinds of stuff, Chris.

HAYES:  So just as folks are clear, if they`re following this, that Republicans sending lawyers marked in some way, green vests from the case of the 1982 lawsuit arm bands saying voter protection task force, that are visible, that folks found threatening that may have turned people away who were worried about whether they could vote or not, they were sued.  There was a consent decree that stopped the RNC from doing that, that was lifted in 2018. 

And the context of these remarks is that they can now do that.  What are the preparations happening among the Democratic Party or civil society groups in Wisconsin around the vote this time around?

TAYLOR:  Thank you for asking.  The ACLU has been -- and the League of Women Voters -- they have been suing and being on top of things.  Candidates in the Democratic Party were already on the ground in races even like mine locally, we`re very engaged with individuals and making sure that they check that their registration is still valid, because we also have the effort that`s happening to purge like 230,000 votes.

Now maybe 20,000 can go back on the rolls.  But let`s just be clear, that could affect like 30,000  something voters in Milwaukee.  Well, that could hugely impact a race like mine.  That could hugely impact even presidential races, because let`s be clear Trump only won Wisconsin by about 24,000, 25,000 votes, less than that.

And so 30-something thousand votes in Milwaukee, that`s exactly what Tony Evers, our new governor, won by.

So, this is really very concerning.  The intimidating factor of having individuals around with guns like they did in other states could be concerning or even if they do the green vests effort like they did before, asking people questions and intimidating individuals.

I just want people to really understand that this is an important time that you have to go out and vote, you have to press through whatever challenges are put up, but we have to be prepared to know that this administration is willing to cheat.  This administration is willing to do whatever they can in order to suppress the people`s voice.  And so I appreciate you having this -- you know, this moment so that we can talk about this.

This is hugely concerning, because it`s coming from many angles.  It`s coming from the court issue.  It`s coming from the dissent (sic) decree being changed -- consent decree being changed.  It`s coming from legislation that`s been changed over the course of the last eight years.  You know, all of these issues together.

HAYES:  Right, and the margins matter a lot for every statewide race, including the presidential race.

TAYLOR:  Exactly.

HAYES:  All right, State Senator Lena Taylor...

TAYLOR:  Exactly.

HAYES:  Thank you so much for joining me.

TAYLOR:  Well, please, if anyone wants to support me, Chris...

HAYES:  Major evangelical publications standing by its call for Trump`s removal amid a backlash from Trump supporters -- sorry about that -- Reverend William Barber joins me on that next. next.


HAYES:  Christianity Today, one of the premier evangelical publications in America, continues to stand by its editorial last week calling for Trump`s removal from office due to this, quote, "profoundly immoral  behavior." 

Yesterday, after suffering a barrage of criticism from the president and his supporters, Christianity Today reaffirmed its stance on the president`s fitness for office writing, "we hold fast to our view that the wholehearted evangelical embrace of Trump has been enormously costly."

Meanwhile, evangelicals who support Trump have been very vocally critical of the publication.  The Christian Post yesterday published a list of some 200 Christian leaders condemning Christianity Today`s call for Trump`s removal.  The list includes people like Ralph Reed, Jerry Falwell Jr., and former Congresswoman Michele Bachmann.

All of this has triggered a pretty fascinating conversation about the relationship between the white evangelical Christian movement and the president of the United States.  Joining me now is someone who`s thought a lot about Christian theology and politics, Reverend William Barber, evangelical pastor and coalition leader of the Poor People`s Campaign.

Reverend, I`m curious what you made of the editorial itself?

REV. WILLIAM BARBER, POOR PEOPLE`S CAMPAIGN:  Well, first, Chris, when you think about Christian moral critique in a viewpoint, racist voter suppression, racist attacks on Latinos, taking people`s health care, refusing to address poverty, are all violations of Christian morality, are all sinful, and are all the wrong direction for a nation.

So when Christianity Today says that whatever the benefits of Trump`s presidency, they must stand against his immorality, it kind of reinforces this distorted moral narrative that you focus on the person and not the policies.  And I mean, I can actually celebrate as an evangelical that Christianity Today took a stand.  I understand the author is getting all kinds of mean-spirited hate and what not.

But it`s troubling, because to suggest that the immorality of Donald Trump is just personal is kind of a dangerous focus on personal piety and not public policy, which is actually the focus of the scripture.  It`s almost like saying if he was just a nicer guy, then his policies would meet the standard of Christian morality, and that in itself is very problematic.

HAYES:  But that part that comes down to a deeply contested question in American life, right, between people of different religions, and particularly within the Christian tradition, within the Christian evangelical tradition along lots of different lines about, you know, what is essentially biblical policy or what is morally defensible policy, and obviously while evangelical Christians in this country have focused a lot on abortion, a lot on judges, and not that much on many of the issues you just  talked about.

BARBER:  Well, and in many ways they say a lot about what god says so little and so little about what god says so much.  It`s one of the reasons we`re having a mass poor people`s assembly and a moral march on Washington in June to challenge this kind of limited morality, because it`s just not, Chris, biblical.

Now, there may be a lot of discussion, but when you go to the bible -- we`re in the Christmas season, for instance, and Isaiah 9, the Christmas season says and the government shall be upon his shoulders and over his kingdom establishing and upholding with justice and righteousness.  The next verse in Isaiah 11 says, "but with righteousness he will judge the needy and just as he will give decisions for the poor." 

And when Jesus started his ministry, he said -- Luke chapter 4, he said the gospel is about good news to the poor, the broken, the sick, the imprisoned or unaccepted.

So you can argue that the things they talk about are the main issues, but they`re not the main  issues in scripture.  They`re not the main issues in the mouth of Jesus.  It`s more of a political decision funded by a lot of money to try to use religion to consecrate a lot of injustice and not to critique the real injustices and the social injustices of our society.

Even -- Chris, even joy to the world says he rules the world with truth and grace and makes the nations prove the light of his righteousness or his justice.  We need to have -- I am glad, if this is what it took, we need to have this conversation just like the abolitionists had the conversations against  slave holders and just like the civil rights movement had a conversation over against those who purported Jim Crow and tried to use Christianity to support Jim Crow.

HAYES:  Do you think there are people who are persuadable?  Given how polarized things are?

BARBER:  I really do.

HAYES:  Yeah.

BARBER:  I really do.  I`m meeting them all over.  You know, we are on this -- we must do more mobilizing, organizing, registering, educating voters, people for the movement vote leading to June 20 of 2020, this mass poor people`s assembly, and in the back hills of Kentucky and down in Alabama and Mississippi, we are finding a lot of people who have decided to read their bibles, not just listen to, read and listen to Falwell and really read what the gospel says. 

And they know something is deeply troubling.  There`s something deeply troubling they are saying when somebody can say their for -- against abortion -- but they`re for taking health care once people get here, you know, they`re for tax cuts for the wealthy, but they`re against living wages here when the bible clearly instructs us to pay the laborer his hire.

You know, they`re for the capital being in Jerusalem, but they`re not for dealing with the poverty and the problem of capital among the poor here in this country.

I do believe, and I`m meeting people all over, white and black, many who identify themselves as evangelical, but they stopped doing it because the way the evangelical title had been hijacked and we must recover it and take it back.

HAYES:  Yeah, that`s one of the last parts of that editorial, in fact, Reverend William Barber.  Thanks so much for making time tonight, Merry Christmas.

BARBER:  Thank you so much.  God bless you.

HAYES:  New depths of depravity from the Trump administration.  The secret plan to use migrant children to target other immigrants coming up.



TRUMP:  You know, the windmills, bum, bum, bum.  Bing,  that`s the end of that windmill.

If Hillary got in, you`d be doing wind, windmills.

You tell me that one, OK.  Rear, rear (ph).

They want to go to windmills.

Try liking a windmill when it`s 50 feet away from your house.


HAYES:  Donald Trump has a longstanding, deeply held vendetta against wind power, of all things.  Now, its origins are likely in a huge fight  that he had in Scotland over the offshore wind farm by his Aberdeen golf resort, it`s a fight that the Trump Org lost and was then ordered to pay $290,000 in legal fees to the Scottish government.

And as best we can tell, Trump has never forgiven wind power for that fight.  And so he`s been telling fantastical lies about wind turbines of all things,. regularly, everywhere he goes, often just completely unprompted out of nowhere, just like a real big rant against wind power. 

This weekend, for instance, when he embarked on a cosmic meditation on our place in the  universe and also how wind sucks.


TRUMP:  I never understood wind.  I know windmills very much.  I`ve studied it better than anybody, it`s very expensive.  They`re made in China and Germany, mostly, very few made here, almost none, but they`re manufactured, tremendous if you`re into this, tremendous fumes, gases are spewing into the atmosphere. 

You know, we have a world, right?  So the world is tiny compared to the universe, so tremendous, tremendous amount of fumes and everything.  You talk about the carbon footprint.  Fumes are spewing into the air, right?  Spewing.  Whether it`s in China, Germany, it`s going to the air.  It`s our air, their air, everything, right?

So they make these things.  And then they put them up.  And if you own a house within vision of some of these monsters, your house is worth 50 percent of the price. 

They`re noisy.  They kill the birds.  You want to see a bird graveyard?  You just go -- a bird graveyard -- go under a windmill some day.


HAYES:  To be clear, what the president says about wind turbines is not true that they are all foreign manufactured, they drive down home values, or kill birds at an astonishing rate, all that`s false.

First, GE and American company commands the biggest marketshare of wind turbine manufacturing and installation in the U.S., according to the Department of Energy.  The CEO of the American Wind Energy Association even  told The Washington Post 80 percent of the wind farms that had been built since 2016 have been built in states that went for Trump.

Also, a 2016 study into home values and wind turbines in one state, quote, found no unique impact on the rate of home sales near wind turbines.

The birds the president is pretending to be worried about, well, they`re killed at higher rates by cell towers and power lines and building glass, like that found on the various Trump Towers.

Although, to be totally fair here, if you`re going to pull something out from that riff, the  president is 100 percent correct on one thing: the world is tiny compared to the universe.  Real food for thought on America`s deepest thinker.


HAYES:  Startling new report from The Washington Post exposes a secret plan conceived by Stephen Miller, the president`s top immigration adviser, among other things, to essentially embed like ICE informants within the Office of Refugee Resettlement, that`s the agency that`s within the Department of Health and Human Services, that cares for unaccompanied migrant children in  government custody.  And it`s part of a longstanding effort by the White House to use information from these kids` parents and relatives when they go to pick these kids up from the government shelters to then target the family members for deportation. 

Just the latest of many cruel and punitive measures that Miller has successfully pushed for and implemented.  Joining me now for more is Kennji Kizuka.  He`s a senior researcher and policy analyst on refugee protection at Human Rights First, and Zolan Kanno-Youngs, homeland security correspondent for The New York Times who reported today on House Democrats demanding documents from DHS to investigate rising migrant deaths.

Let`s start first, Kennji, with you.  I know you`ve done a lot of work with unaccompanied minors.  The implications of essentially putting people into another agency to gather information from children for the explicit purpose of deporting relatives.

KENNJI KIZUKA, HUMAN RIGHTS FIRST:  Look, the problem with this is that the of that the purpose of that agency is to ensure that unaccompanied children find a relative or someone else in this country to care for them.  And by placing informants in HHS, that frightens parents away, it tells sponsors that they should be afraid to come forward and try and pick up their children.

HAYES:  It`s literally at cross-purposes of the thing that ORR is tasked to do, which is to place these kids with someone who can care for them that they have a relationship with.

KIZUKA:  When this DHS has done this in the past, parents have not stepped forward to pick up their children, or they`ve withdrawn from these sponsorship agreements, and other relatives as well because they`re afraid that by coming forward, they themselves could be deported.

HAYES:  Zolan, there`s been reporting about the conditions in migrant detention, not just for children, but some underage children as well as adults, particularly care for things like the flu or extreme illness.  The oversight committee announcing they`re going to look into this today.  Tell me about that.

ZOLAN KANNO-YOUNGS, THE NEW YORK TIMES:  Yeah, so the oversight committee of the house, the House oversight reform committee basically requested documents pertaining to deaths this year of migrants that were in federal custody.  As you said, three of those deaths were related to the flu. 

Now, Customs and Border Protection does not have a policy of providing vaccines for the flu to migrants in custody.  They say that`s because these facilities along the border are meant for temporary stays, only 72 hours.  That`s their policy. 

However, what we saw this year is that migrants were forced to stay there for much longer than  that.  And ironically, CBP would often say, look, the facilities meant for children are full.  You know, we can`t move migrants into those facilities. 

But many would also say that when you institute policies for information- sharing such as sharing of fingerprints or putting agents into these facilities, then it prevents sponsors from coming forward and clearing out those facilities.

So you see the catch-22 there in a way.

HAYES:  Yeah.  The sort of larger thing that`s happening here, and this is something that Miller`s been remarkably successful on, and I think people don`t maybe quite understand what has happened, because we talk a lot about conditions in detention, things like that -- effectively asylum at the southern border has been essentially rewritten, unilaterally, by the White House without passing new laws through these third-party agreements such that they can now basically turn away almost anyone showing up on the southern border asking for asylum.

KIZUKA:  Without a physical wall, the Trump administration has managed to turn back, as you said, nearly every asylum seeker either by sending them to Mexico or now with this agreement to send them to Guatemala and also banning them from eligibility with these transit bans.

And so as a result there are tens of thousands of asylum seekers in danger who`ve been delivered into the hands of people who were kidnapping, raping, torturing, and murdering them.

Our organization has documented over 660 cases of asylum seekers who`ve been attacked in Mexico as a result of being placed in this MPP program that the Trump administration has brought about.

HAYES:  Zolan, it`s been a sort of remarkable policy transformation that has taken place a little bit below the surface and away from congress.

KANNO-YOUNGS:  Yeah, in a way -- I mean, you hit the nail on the head, there may be few miles of wall in places where there were no barriers before; however, the Trump administration has built out this wall in the policies that they`ve instituted.  More than 55,000 migrants now forced to wait in MPP.  As you said, really a policy that stemmed from the White House and DHS without that collaboration from congress, you`re right.

And what you`re seeing is reports of violence for those migrants.  And it`ll be interesting to see -- I mean, for MPP specifically, you have to look back and remember just how fast that unraveled.  You know, it started out with just a dozen, a couple hundred, you know, over the span of a month.  And now we`re at 55,000, you know, now that we`re in December after it was initiated in January.  I would expect to see the same for some of these other agreements.  We`re already seeing families now being returned to Guatemala as well under another asylum deal.

And don`t forget about the little things as well.  You know, the now- charges on asylum applications as well that have been pushed by the White House.  It`s the little things as well in regards to the overhauling of the system.

HAYES:  Yeah, they have managed to sort of stack up a lot of obstacles that when stacked high enough essentially become insurmountable for tens of thousands of people.

Kennji Kizuka, Zolan Kanno-Youngs, thank you both for joining me.  I appreciate it.

That is ALL IN for this evening.  "THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW" starts right now with Ali Velshi in for Rachel. 

Good evening, Ali.