Trump re-election TRANSCRIPT: 12/30/19, All In with Chris Hayes

Guests: Eric Lipton, Al Green, Shirish Date, Jelani Cobb, Alexi McCammond

   (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST:  Tonight on ALL IN.  Pompeo, Bolton, Mulvaney --

GORDON SONDLAND, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO EUROPEAN UNION:  Everyone was in the loop.

HAYES:  A stunning new report on the role of Trump`s top men played in the corrupt Ukraine extortion scheme, and the day they all tried and failed to convince him to end it.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  I don`t want to make money.  I don`t care about making money.

HAYES:  Then, the fleecing of America.

TRUMP:  Look, I like golf.  It`s fine.

HAYES:  A new breakdown of the $120 million hustle in which we pay Trump to golf at Trump properties.  What a deal.

JESSE WATTERS, ANCHOR, FOX NEWS CHANNEL:  When you look at what they did, it`s rewriting history.

HAYES:  Plus, the triggering, the pathetic truth behind the great Home Alone 2 scandal, when ALL IN starts right now.

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HAYES:  Good evening from New York, I`m Chris Hayes.  We have new incriminating information about President Trump`s corrupt scheme to extort Ukraine into manufacturing dirt on his political opponent.  Now, keep in mind, we already knew a lot.  It was three months ago that we saw the notes from Trump`s call with Ukrainian president.  And when the Ukrainian president said he would like to buy more American weapons to combat Russian aggression, Trump responds, "I would like you to do us a favor, though."

Then the House held a whole impeachment inquiry, you probably watch some of it, and they found enough evidence to impeach the president on two different counts, abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.  But the main point of contention in the impeachment right now, at this very moment, is this somewhat unprecedented limbo that the actual articles of impeachment are currently in.

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi says she will not send over those articles to the Senate until she gets some sense from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell about what the trial will be like.  And we know that the inner sanctum of the President, Trump`s closest advisors, the people who actually knew the most about what was happening and why, that they have all been blocked from testifying before the House.

The White House is blocked from the release of any documents as well.  But now reporters from the New York Times found something extremely important, something we did not know before that provides a glimpse crucially into what kind of incriminating testimony Trump`s closest advisors would give if they were allowed to, or required to by say, a subpoena from the Senate for its impeachment trial.

The Times reporting there was a meeting in late August in the White House where "Defense Secretary Mark Esper joined Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and John Bolton, the National Security Advisor at the time, for a previously undisclosed Oval Office meeting with the President, where they tried but failed to convince him that releasing the aid was in the interest the United States.

Those are three of the most senior members of the Trump ministration, arguably the most senior other than the President, the Vice President, trying and failing to get the president to back off, to lift his unlawful hold on aid to Ukraine.

Now, of course, we know the hold of the aid was part of the inducement to coerce Ukraine into manufacturing dirt on his political opponent and pursuing an insane conspiracy theory.  The crazy thing is this story, all of this, the whistleblower complaint lead to impeachment, that`ll broken September.  We did not know that this meeting with these principles in the White House and the president, we didn`t know it existed until the New York Times reported it today.

They also found Trump`s Office of Management and Budget was preparing incredibly broad and specious legal arguments to support his scheme.  "By late summer, top lawyers of the OMB who had spoken to lawyers at the White House and the Justice Department in the weeks beforehand, were developing an argument not previously divulged publicly.  And Mr. Trump`s role as commander in chief would simply allow him to override Congress on the issue."

OK, just override Congress, just like that.  The Times also reveals that Trump`s Acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, who had previously publicly declared that they held up the Ukraine aid so Ukraine would start an investigation -- remember, he admitted the quid pro quo, that Mulvaney took unusual steps to keep this scheme under wraps.

"Mr. Mulvaney is said by associates to step out of the room whenever Mr. Trump would talk of Rudy Giuliani to preserve Mr. Trump`s attorney-client privilege, leaving him with limited knowledge about their efforts regarding Ukraine."

That`s weird for a bunch of reasons, but primarily, it completely undercuts the idea that what the President was doing with Rudy was for the national interest, because Rudy Giuliani is Donald Trump`s personal lawyer.

Now, Giuliani is not supposed to be conducting foreign policy on behalf of the U.S., but if he was doing that, for some odd reason conducting foreign policy, there is no reason for Mick Mulvaney to leave the room.  There is no privilege to protect when you`re advising the president.  That in and of itself is an utter tell the entire operation was for the personal benefit of Donald Trump and not the country.

Now, this New York Times report comes as Secretary Mike Pompeo is heading to Ukraine at the end of the week.  He will meet with the Ukrainian president who by the way, we should note, still has not gotten that White House meeting with Trump that was the original thing that he wanted so desperately from the president.

And Secretary Pompeo will not be meeting with Ambassador Bill Taylor, the U.S. Chief of Mission in Ukraine, the guy who famously texted "I think it`s crazy to withhold security assistance for help with a political campaign."  The guy who testified before Congress said it was his "clear understanding security assistance money would not come until Ukraine`s president committed to pursue an investigation."  That guy Ambassador Taylor is now on his way out.  He plans on leaving Ukraine literally a day before Secretary Pompeo arrives in the country.

And get this, just yesterday, right, right before Pompei was going to make this big trip, Taylor is leaving, we learned that President Trump had a phone convo with Russia`s Vladimir Putin on Sunday.  How do we learn it?  Only because the Kremlin posted a brief readout of the conversation yesterday.  The White House did not provide anything until 10:45 this morning because why would anyone be curious about private conversations between President Trump and President Putin?  According to the readout, Trump did not mention Russian election interference or its continued occupation of Ukraine. 

It was just less than two weeks ago, Nancy Pelosi announced this interesting gambit to withhold sending the Articles of Impeachment to the Senate, and a lot of people are left scratching their heads.  But to the extent that new information has arisen in the interim, information like what we learned today, maybe it is a smart idea to leave that window open.

Joining me now is Eric Lipton, an Investigative Reporter for the New York Times.  He helped break this story detailing Trump withholding aid to Ukraine.  Eric, can you -- let`s start with that meeting.  Can you just tell us what the context of it was, the purpose of it, what happened, what do we know about what happened in it?

ERIC LIPTON, INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER, NEW YORK TIMES:  Tension had been growing for several weeks through July and into August when -- particularly with the Department of Defense.  There was real frustration with the inability to spend money which Congress had allocated, defense contractors that actually already been you know, designated to provide certain like radio equipment and supplies to Ukraine.

And there was a real agitation growing and the Department of Defense among the personnel there who are in charge of getting the money out the door, among the lawyers there who wanted to make sure the money was spent before they ended September.

And also, John Bolton had had, you know, hearing from other members of the National Security Council, and from folks at State, had been pushing President Trump and the administration to lift the hold.  And what we learned also is that Pompeo had had similar feelings.

So there had been a number of conversations that particularly Bolton and Esper had had with senior people in the White House.  And this came to a head towards the end of August when the three of them gathered in the Oval Office around the President`s desk on a sunny day in late August, and they made the point that this was in the national interest to provide this military assistance to Ukraine.  But still, President Trump was unwilling and unready to let -- to lift the hold.

HAYES:  I mean, one of the things that you`re reporting highlights there and even in what you just described there, is that there are genuine legal concerns.  I mean, we`ve been talking a lot about whether there was a scheme of extortion, a quid pro quo, a this for that, but take everything aside, and the phone call itself, just withholding the military after the President signed and appropriation passed by both houses of Congress, post significant legal problem for a whole bunch of lawyers up and down the chain within the White House.

LIPTON:  That`s right.  There`s something called the Impoundment Control Act which was passed during the Nixon administration after Nixon tried to stop funding for projects that he didn`t support.

HAYES:  Right.

LIPTON:  And it was -- it was passed by Congress to make clear that it is Congress that controls, you know, how much money is spent and what the money is spent on and that the President doesn`t have the power to simply defer or to block funding for programs that Congress has appropriated.  If the President is going to defer that funding, the president needs to notify Congress.

And so basically, what DOD had said to the White House and to the Office of Management and Budget is basically you have until like August 5th to get this hold worked out.  And if you do August 5th, we`re going to be fine, August 3rd or August 5th.  And so August 3rd or August 5th comes and passes, and still nothing has happened.  And at that point, it really starts to escalate.

And that`s when Esper gets involved and there`s a real question at that point whether or not they`re violating the Impoundment Control Act.  And that`s when they the administration began to prepare this legal justification which concluded that the President has the constitutional power as the chief of, you know, maker of foreign policy to basically say, forget about it, we`re not going to spend this money.

HAYES:  We should note, again, whenever this subject is raised, the President himself signed the law that appropriated this money.  This was not foisted upon him.  There`s a lot of your piece which I think is really important too which is that if there were policy rationales for all of this, they were never made public.

There was no public announcement that Mr. Trump wanted this assistance withheld.  Neither Congress nor the Ukrainian government was formally notified, which is part of what again is so strange about this entire situation.  It`s causing alarms inside the government.  No one is saying word won publicly about it.

LIPTON:  It was fascinating as we got inside the Office of Management and Budget through interviews and documents that we had access to, in which there was just a complete confusion among the folks whose job it was to, you know, execute on this order that it come from the president, that they wanted to be able to explain to people, the State Department at the Pentagon, why this hold was in place, and they just kept asking and asking, and they were simply told, you know, there is no explanation, just do it.

And it was quite frustrating to them, because they were trying to -- they wanted to be able to explain it, which was -- would perhaps have to get more, you know, deference by the agencies, but they were unable to explain it.

HAYES:  All right, Eric Lipton, great reporting, you and your colleagues.  Thank you very much.

LIPTON:  Thank you.

HAYES:  Joining me now for more on the legal implications of Trump`s actions, Joyce Vance, former U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Alabama, now an MSNBC Legal Analyst.  What are the legal implications here from what you gleaned from that Times article and what Eric and his colleagues revealed?

JOYCE VANCE, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST:  Well, this story is tremendously important, Chris, not for the least of reasons, because as you mentioned in opening that delay appears to be a friend for the Democrats.  You know, the truth has a habit of coming out.  Sometimes it takes time.  But it appears here that now the truth is, is coming out maybe in drips but it`s starting to look more like a waterfall.

And what jumps out from this story is that this meeting in the Oval Office between Trump and some of the top leaders in government looks a lot more like an intervention than it looks like a meeting.

HAYES:  Right.

VANCE:  And this is, you know, this is a meeting that`s familiar to any prosecutor who`s ever done public corruption cases.  You almost always see something like this, whether it`s a governor or a mayor, there is a point at which their senior leaders, their senior advisors come and sit down in their office and say, look, you`ve been lucky so far, but this has gone on long enough, and you`re really fixing to get into a lot of trouble here, and this has to stop.

And clearly, the president chose not to stop here, and so we see these sort of gymnastics, right, these almost a contortion to try to come up with a theory that`s contrary to the clear language of the constitution that gives the power of the purse to Congress, some expanse of new form of executive power that says the President can override congressional enactments of funding.

HAYES:  It also strikes me that it just highlights how important the witnesses who we`ve not heard from are.  I mean, the fact that the principles in that meeting are people that it would be nice to hear from firsthand or at least to see the written paper that might have gone back and forth.  How important is it do you think calling witnesses in light of this new revelation?

VANCE:  So I think we can measure the importance of these witnesses against the ferocity with which the President has tried to avoid permitting them to testify.  You know, no one keeps witnesses who can exonerate them from testifying.  Trump has gone to such extreme lengths to keep these folks from testifying, that we can be almost certain that their testimony will be very probative of the truth. And the truth is not friendly to the President.

And we know that because we now know that these people had explicit conversations with the president while his scheme was underway, while these legal positions were being developed that were apparently so faulty that they were never made public, they were never offered to Congress as a justification for violating the Impoundment Act, which tells us that the folks at OMB didn`t think that they could make those legal arguments with a straight face.

So this witness testimony is critical.  Any proceeding in the Senate, any sort of a trial that doesn`t involve their testimony will be fatally flawed.

HAYES:  I want to ask you about one prominent member of the Senate who`s calling for witnesses in the Washington Post today, Doug Jones.  There`s also an NBC report about Doug Jones today in which way he might go on impeachment, the possibility he would break with Democrats at the Senate trial.  I know you know him fairly well.  You`re from Alabama.  You`ve been in some of the same circles.  What do you think he`s sort of thinking as he enters this?

VANCE:  So I suspect that Senator Jones doesn`t view this as a political issue, not a matter of Republicans versus Democrats.  He`s a former prosecutor, but also a former defense lawyer.  He`ll be interested in hearing the facts and thinking about the law and making whatever decision is warranted based on that evidence.

But one thing that I think we can be certain of for anyone like Senator Jones who looks at this through legal filter, is that when the president who`s sort of our stand-in here for a defendant in a criminal case, even though it`s not a criminal case, when it`s that defendant who procures that absence of material witnesses, then you draw all of the inference as against that person.

And here we can assume that the President has a lot to hide or we`d be hearing from these witnesses.  I think that that`ll influence Senator Jones in his calculus.

HAYES:  All right, Joyce Vance, thank you very much.  Joining me now, Democratic Congressman Al Green of Texas who submitted his own articles of impeachment against President Trump over two years ago.  Congressman, let me begin with the Speaker`s decision to await to appoint House impeachment managers until some kind of basic procedural stipulations are made by Mitch McConnell.  Do you support that?

REP. AL GREEN (D-TX):  Thank you for having me.  I think that it is imperative that we try as best as we can to get a fair trial as opposed to a fake trial.  A fair trial necessitates witnesses and the production of evidence, documents, if you will.  A fake trial allows the Senate to simply convene, have a few perfunctory procedures, and then vote to dismiss.

I believe that trying to get a fair trial is a good thing for us to do.  It will enhance the public`s belief that we are sincere and we are maintaining the moral imperative to go forward.  I also think we have to be careful not to go so far as to allow this to become in the minds of many, political expediency.  That`s a line that we do not cross.  But I do believe that does for trying to get the Senate to do what it has been said to have to do in the Constitution is a fair thing to have done.

I would also add this, the Chief Justice has a role to play.  He has the dignity and the majesty of the Supreme Court in his hands.  He can be a fly on the wall, or he can be the judge who has findings of facts and conclusions of law.  He can literally make his own rulings known to the public by way of the written word, as well as his open announcements in the Senate.

So I think that the Chief Justice has to step up.  He can`t be a fly on the wall.  He`s got to be person who lives up to what is expected of a presiding judge.

HAYES:  You just mentioned political expediency and insincerity, which those are two charges that have been leveled against Democrats during this entire affair particularly since September when the formal impeachment inquiry has started, and you play a starring role in those charges.

I mean, the argument goes like this of House Republicans and Trump and his allies, the President and his allies is basically the Democrats wanted to impeach Donald Trump from day one, they cast about looking for a set of facts that they could plausibly use to do it, and all of it was pretextual and reverse engineered to get to this point.  Exhibit one, Congressman Al Green, who`s been calling for the man`s impeachment for two years now.  What`s your response to that charge?

GREEN:  Well, the genesis of impeachment, to be very candid with you, was when the President was running for office, and he had members of his own party to talk about his unfitness to hold office.  The persons who are running against him, Mr. Romney spoke of is not being fit to hold office.  Mr. Cruz made statements about it.  So the President didn`t have the luxury of persons from his party, having been on his side as it were throughout this entire ordeal.  Senator Graham has said some very harsh things about the president.

With those things in mind, and with the President`s behavior before us, firing Mr. Comey, who was investigating the intrusion of Russia into his campaign, our election, that was something that was not to be tolerated.  And the President has continued to try to thwart the efforts of Congress to investigate with Mr. Mueller.

The president by and through his White House Counsel, tried to get this done again to deal with Mr. Mueller, to extricate him, remove him from the process.  The White House Counsel has not testified before the Senate yet.  My hope is that he will be among those that will be called.

Now, more specifically, I said that the President would claim that he was exonerated if there were impeachable actions that he performed, and we did not move to perform our duty to impeach him.  He has distorted the truth.

He has twisted it and tried to crush it to Earth.

But Carlisle is right, truth crushed earth shall rise again.  And no lie can live forever according to William Cullen Bryant, truth crushed to Earth to rise again and Carlisle, no lie can live forever.  I think that we`re at a point now where the Senate is on trial.  Before there`s a trial in the Senate, the Senate is now on trial.  And Speaker Pelosi is withholding the articles will give us an opportunity to find out whether there will be dignity and integrity as a part of the Senate`s trial.

And if the public sees that there is not the dignity and not the integrity, it will not surprise me, it wouldn`t surprise me one scintilla to see people coming to the actual trial itself.  They may not be in the room, they may not be in the Senate, but it wouldn`t surprise if people came from across this country to be there at the time this trial is taking place so as to show their concern for a fair trial as opposed to a fake trial.

HAYES:  All right, Congressman Al Green, thank you very much, sir.

GREEN:  Thank you.

HAYES:  Next, the real Donald Trump, the president publicly names the alleged whistleblower in his toxic Twitter feed.  That story in two minutes.

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HAYES:  For months -- for months now, basically the moment after we learned about the whistleblower`s complaint on the President`s dealings with Ukraine, the right-wing media has been obsessed with the identity of the whistleblower.  Many right-wing outlets have published the name of a person they claim is a whistleblower.  We don`t know if it is.

And they`re not alone.  Don Jr. has out of this individual, Senator Rand Paul, Congressman Louie Gohmert, all of them have done it.  And so perhaps it was only a matter of time before the President did it himself.  He did it over the weekend in his favorite venue for this sort of thing, his Twitter feed.

The thing is, those tweets have real-world effects.  As the Washington Post notes, "when threats against the whistleblower spike often seemingly spurred by presidential tweets, he is driven to and from work by armed security officers."

That`s a U.S. government official who needs a security detail because the president is directing venom at him.  And this all comes amidst a very, very noticeable uptick in the President`s Twitter activity, which has always been dark, and weird, and angry, and insulting.

In fact, the New York Times analyzed more than 11,000 tweets and the President going all the way back to his first day in office.  Unsurprisingly, the Times found that more than half of all his tweets were attacks on someone or something.  "No other category even comes close."

And then there is the president`s activity of retweeting accounts.  Some of it are brand new with zero followers pushing forward weird conspiracy theories from the darkest corners the internet, behavior that raises serious questions.  For instance, how does he even find these accounts to retweet them?

Joining me now is NBC News Reporter Ben Collins who spends much of his time chasing down bots and conspiracy networks.  Ben, let`s start on that first question.  Sometimes the President will retweet an account, and it has very few followers, sometimes it`s following zero people.  In one case recently, in this recent jag, he retweeted the first tweet of an account.  And I thought to myself, how did he get there to find out this person were tweeting and retweet their first account.  How does that work?

BEN COLLINS, NBC NEWS REPORTER:  Yes.  So in this case, he got there from Seb Gorka.  But Seb Gorka retweeted this account that had -- that was, you know, created the day before, had tweeted once, and he tweeted about -- you know, he said that he was Joseph from Boro Park, a Hasidic neighborhood in Brooklyn, and he said that he is no longer a fan of Jerry Nadler after 30 years of being a fan of Jerry Nadler.

Twitter took this account down in like a day because they did some basic forensics.  They tried to send out an e-mail and the e-mail didn`t work.  So these aren`t really easy things to track down.  But he`s, you know, he`s been on one recently to -- that`s probably the best way to put it.  And when he is, he retweets these very shady accounts.  And the accounts all have very specific hyper-targeted messages just like Joseph from Boro Park.  And they are almost always impossible to verify.

HAYES:  Yes.  We should say that Joseph from Boro Park, the idea was that this was a Jewish constituent of Jerry Nadler, who sort of turned against Jerry Nadler.  The profile picture was actually from the New York Times story about Jewish-Trump supporters.

COLLINS:  There wasn`t -- there wasn`t a lot of work for this one.

HAYES:  Yes, Boro Park.  But it`s also -- I guess, part of the question I always think is like, where -- so in that case, you had Seb Gorka, but there`s also the question of like, where does the President get this stuff?  I mean, Dan Scavino is his social media sort of manager.  How do -- how is he getting into his brain that these people are out there saying these things?

COLLINS:  Sure.  I think what we really have to do is come to the reality that we are all in now, which is that there are two different realities for news -- for news now.  And he has ventured into the one that appeases him the most.  And there is an entire ecosystem that exists to push narratives that absolve him of every crime, absolve him of every wrongdoing that has ever existed.

And there is a you know, there is an ecosystem that exists to help those writers, you know, push buttons, you know, own the libs basically is, unfortunately, what it is.  That`s what it`s about.  And, you know -- so for example, a really good example of this, is Facebook banned the name of the guy that people believe is the whistleblower.  They banned it from posts from showing up there, the posts are hidden.  But what they didn`t do is they didn`t take it out of titles of news articles.

So, you know, Conservative news outlets would push these stories and be like, you won`t believe who the whistleblower is, and then they leave the title in this, you know, with the guy`s name in it on Facebook, and those would go wildly viral.  There is an incentive structure for this sort of thing now that, you know, it feeds into the president, and the President only sees this stuff.

He`s, you know, he searches specific names, specific concepts, and he is fed algorithmically stuff that he agrees with, so he retweets it.

HAYES:  It`s such a great point that like no amount of standards, like we are not reporting that name and no amount of standards, except the president -- the most powerful person in the world with the biggest platform from elevating something.  I mean, that`s really what`s going on here, right?  Like news organizations and Facebook and everyone say like, we`re not going to report this, and the President could just retweet someone or say, you know, use his platform to do it, and there`s no containing him in some ways.

COLLINS:  Yes.  And this is something that we`re having to deal with for the remainder of our lives where you know, he has a separate fire hose that connects to people that is in a lot of ways larger than a lot of mainstream media, a lot of even alternative media.  He`s created a secondary ecosystem for himself that absolves them of everything.

You know, in these spaces, there was just a graphic up there that showed, you know, this pipeline from 4chen, all the way to Facebook.  In these spaces where he`s like a god-emperor, that`s what they call them on 4chan, and you know, and this Reddit forum called the Donald`s, the largest Donald Trump community on the internet, you know, he cannot do wrong, right.

And while not every living person is on 4chan and Reddit, some of this stuff makes it downwind, and it makes it down when through, you know, through Infowars, through gateway pundit, things like that.  And when it happens, it gets to the president and then it gets to regular people.

HAYES:  Right.

COLLINS:  So something that can very easily start unfortunate even though, you know, these people, normal people would never be.  Unfortunately, to him, it can still get to regular people just through this, you know, just some there`s downwind effect.

HAYES:  And he is the key link of the chain which is what`s so fascinating about that.  Ben Collins, thank you so much.

COLLINS:  Thank you.

HAYES:  Coming up, every time Trump goes golfing, you pay the bill, he gets the money.  Just how much of the now $118 million has gone into his pockets?  The reporter working to track that down will be here next.

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TRUMP:  I love golf, but if I were in the White House, I don`t think I`d ever see Turnberry again, I don`t think I`d ever see Doral again -- I own Doral in Miami -- I don`t think I`d ever see many  of the places that I have.  I don`t think I`d ever see anything, I just want to stay in the White House and work my ass off and make great deals, right?  Who`s going to leave?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAYES:  Who is going to leave, indeed?  That was a real theme of then private citizen Donald Trump`s attacks on President Barack Obama.  In fact, eight years ago on this very day he tweeted, quote, "I play golf to relax.  My company is in great shape.  Barack Obama plays golf to escape work while America goes down the drain."

Of course you will never guess what he did today.  This is the president`s public schedule, it`s blank.  Instead, he was out at the Trump International Golf Club in West Palm Beach.

It should be noted in his three years in office Donald Trump has well, well outpaced President Obama in terms of golf outings.  And obviously there`s the shameless hypocrisy here, but there is also the cost, which is not nothing.  According to a HuffPost analysis, Trump`s golf rounds have cost the U.S. government more than $118 million.

Now, to be clear every time a president of any party through the years goes and golfs, and presidents do golf, they like to do that, it does cost the U.S. government money.  The thing that makes this so very different is that some portion of that money is going back into Donald Trump`s pocket, because it`s always at his properties and we do not know the simple matter of how much.

Here with me now, the HuffPost senior White House correspondent behind the analysis, Shirish Date.  Shirish, I really like this piece.  How did you work through the math of just -- first, let`s start with the total cost of what the golf outings have billed to the government?

SHIRISH DATE, HUFFPOST SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT:  Right.  Well, we got a break on that because the General Accountability Office, which is what used to be the Government Accounting Office, did a study of the first four trips the president made to Mar-a-Lago way back in the first few months of his administration.  And they founding that those four trips added up to more than $13 million, and then they broke out all the costs and you can see how much went for Air Force One, how much went for the various transport planes that bring his limo down, et cetera, et cetera. 

And so we could basically figure out roughly what these trips were costing wherever he went, and that`s how we come up with he`s now the 26th trip down to Mar-a-Lago.  He`s made a whole bunch, a couple of dozen to New Jersey.  And that`s how we get up to $118 million.

Each trip to Mar-a-Lago is $3.4 million, by the way, so it`s not nothing.

HAYES:  Right, and then the question becomes -- so some portion of that, the question is how much does the U.S. government actually hand over to these Trump properties.  And the president goes and golfs or stays at one of his properties.  He`s got a security retinue, like the Secret Service, I remember, we found at one point was getting charged for the golf carts.  Do we know -- do we have any inkling of what the answer to that question is?

DATE:  Well, the easiest way would be for the White House to tell us, right.  I mean, it`s our money, it`s the taxpayer money, we should be able to find that out.

So, I`ve asked many times and they`re not at all interested in letting us know how much they`re charging for top White House staff, how much for the Secret Service to be staying at Trump properties.  But there have been lawsuits from groups that have looked into this, and my estimate right now is it`s at least $3 million has flowed back into Trump`s own cash registers and possibly more.

The $3 million figure is probably just the Secret Service and some top White House staff for lodging, for food and beverage.  We don`t know for what other things they`re being charged.  They won`t tell us.  And these lawsuits take time.  In other words, a group called Property of the People just last month put out some numbers based on the first 25 golf trips that the president had made, and that came out to a quarter of a million.  Well, he`s now at 235 golf trips, so that`s -- you know, just extrapolate the math and that comes out to $2.5 million. 

We know that they went to town on a couple of early Mar-a-Lago visits, bar tabs of $1,000 with just some White House staff.  They`re being charged $550 a night for the rooms. 

So yeah, it adds up pretty quickly.  But they just don`t want to tell us, which I find kind of amazing given how much of a hard time this president gave to the last president for going to golf on his own dime, you know, going to places in Hawaii and Martha`s Vineyard, where the government was not paying, by the way, to pay for his room and stuff.  Of course Secret Service, et. cetera, they all went too, but.

You know, given all that criticism that we`re not able to find out is kind of interesting.

HAYES:  It is remarkable, actually, that we don`t have an answer to that very simple question.  Shirish Date, thanks so much for sharing that reporting.

DATE:  It`s my pleasure.  Thank you.

HAYES:  Still ahead, it is our last show of the decade.  How about that?  Now we`re facing a potential impeachment trial, Democratic primaries in the presidential election, and seriously who knows what the hell else.  2020 coming up.

Plus, tonight`s Thing One, Thing Two is next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HAYES:  Thing One tonight, Donald Trump Jr., the author of Triggered, shows us all once again what that word really means when he got very upset over a story that his dad had his very short cameo scene cut from a Canadian broadcast version of the 1992 movie "Home Alone 2."

The scene, which is about 10 seconds long, occurs when Macaulay Culkin enters a hotel he learned about on the gameshow Ding Dang Dong, and then encounters Donald Trump in there on his way from doing god knows what.

That scene was cut, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation says, for time, and it was cut way back in 2014 before Trump became president.  They did it to fit commercials in.  I think every sentient person is familiar with the concept.  It happens with pretty much every movie when it goes to broadcast TV.

Trump himself apparently tweeted about it, taking it in stride.  But on Trump TV it was the most outrageous thing since the war on Christmas.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  How bad is Trump derangement syndrome for you to cut that out of a happy movie.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Well, I think they`re terrified that people will remember that before he was the new Hitler he was actually a beloved mainstream -- and I think they`re terrified of these little things that will remind people of just how deranged his...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  It`s also censorship.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAYES:  Oh, it`s all of that, really.

Donald Trump wasn`t necessarily in Home Alone 2, because he was a beloved mainstream figure, however, it was more like that was the way you had to pay off Donald Trump if you wanted to shoot a movie scene at one of his properties, and that`s Thing Two in 60 seconds.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HAYES:  For as long as anyone has heard of Donald Trump, it`s been because he`s worked so hard to make sure that you have heard of Donald Trump.  Remember when he would pretend to be a publicist named John Miller and call up newspaper reporters to boast about his sex life?

(BEGIN AUDIO  CLIP)

TRUMP:  And frankly, he gets called by everybody.  He gets called by everybody in the book, attractive women.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Like who?

TRUMP:  Well, he gets called by a lot of people.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

HAYES:  And then we made that man our president.  So when the controversy erupted about Trump being cut from the movie Home Alone 2, we were reminded of a story actor Matt Damon told a couple of years ago, which probably explains why Trump was in that movie in the first place.  It seems Trump had a little arrangement he forced on movie companies.  Damon says, quote, "the deal was that if you wanted to shoot in one of his buildings, you had to write him in a part.  Martin Brest had to write something in Scent of a Woman and the whole crew was in on it.  You have to waste an hour of your day with a bull blank shot. Donald Trump walks in and Al Pacino`s like Hello, Mr. Trump.  You waste a little time so that you can get the permit, and then you can cut the scene out.  But I guess in Home Alone 2 they left it in."

Now, Donald Trump has done a whole lot of cameos, and who knows how many movies he`s been cut out of.  And Matt Damon wasn`t even in Scent of a Woman.  So this is all hearsay, unless  you had somebody who is in the film itself, like I don`t know, maybe Chris O`Donnell.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHRIS O`DONNELL, ACTOR:  We were -- explained to us in order for us to film at the Plaza, we had a little walk-on part for Donald and Marla.

What was amazing was he went through the whole -- he came through hair and makeup and he ate on the set, but he looked the same going into hair and makeup as he did when he left.

CONAN O`BRIEN, LATE NIGHT TV SHOW HOST:  Wait, so what part did they give him?  I don`t remember this.

O`DONNELL:  It`s nothing.  It got cut out of the movie.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HAYES:  Last night, Jews around the country lit the menorah for the final night of Hanukkah, one night after a man broke into the New York home of an orthodox rabbi and stabbed five people who were there to celebrate the holiday, at least one of whom is now in critical condition.  The suspect in that stabbing is now in custody. 

He`s pled not guilty to five counts of attempted murder, one count of burglary.  And today federal prosecutors also charged him with another five counts tied to a federal hate crime statute.  Prosecutors say they found handwritten journals in his home containing anti-semitic statements that he conducted searches about Adolf Hitler, Jewish Temples in the area, and, quote, prominent companies founded by Jews in America.

In a statement, the suspect`s family said he has a long history of mental illness and hospitalizations.

Now, this attack follows the murder of three people in a Kosher market in Jersey City just three weeks ago allegedly carried out by two individuals driven by anti-Semitic ideology and hatred.  And in between those two attacks, there`s been an unnerving spate of anti-Semitic incidents and assaults on the streets of New York City against Orthodox Jews, particularly my home borough of Brooklyn.

As The Washington Post notes, in New York City anti-Semitic crimes have jumped 21 percent in the past year, and FBI statistics show that Jews are year after year after year the number one target of anti-religious hate crimes.

Antisemitism is a force as vile and fearsome and bloody and old as just a bout any ideological force in the world.  The true test of a flourishing pluralistic society is if it can protect its religious minorities and specifically because of the special enduring poison of antisemitism if it can truly protect and secure its Jewish brothers and sisters.

It is a test the U.S. and many countries around the world now face at a scale and with stakes not seen I think in generations.  It is all of our job to make sure we pass that test.  Happy Hanukkah to all.  And may the light vanquish the darkness.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HAYES:  It is our last show of the year.  In fact, it`s our last show of the decade.  And I think everyone would agree it`s been a great year and a great decade.  Let`s just hope it keeps get better and better next year. 

Joining me now to talk about whether America is about to get even greater, New Yorker Staff Writer Jelani Cobb, a professor of the Columbia University School of Journalism and an MSNBC political analyst, Alexi McCammond, a political reporter at Axios.

Alexi, next year is crazy because we know -- a lot of times on the news you don`t know what is coming, but we know two big things are happening next year.  We know pretty much with certainty there is going to be an impeachment trial, I think, and there`s going to be Democratic primaries, a nomination process, and then an election.  And those are going to start right away.  And I think people aren`t maybe quite ready for how quickly that`s going to hit.

ALEXI MCCAMMOND, AXIOS:  I wish that I weren`t ready for how quickly it`s going to hit.  I don`t know that I`m ready for how quickly it`s going to hit.

But the other wild card here, and I guess this is the evergreen wild card, of course, is President Trump, but specifically, President Trump running a reelection campaign while he has just been impeached by the House and is going through an impeachment trial in the Senate.

I mean, we saw the rhetoric coming from him about impeachment before the 2018 mid-terms when he was doing these pseudo reelection rallies that were supposedly for other Republicans up and down the ballot, but were really about himself and his presidency in 2018.  Let`s imagine what the rhetoric will be like at his rallies as he`s properly running for reelection for the presidency while undergoing a senate trial, and everything else is happening on the Democratic side.

I mean, let`s also not  forget the way in which two weeks before the midterms he suddenly threw out he was going have a middle class tax cut for Americans.  So there are a number of legislative things and proposals that he could throw out there that could be wild cards that are dictated by the 2020 election and the way that he is seeing Americans move and the Democrats move as they`re trying to run to unseat him.

HAYES:  You know, as Alexi talks about the sort of wild card here, I find just in talking to people and sort of interacting with viewers of the show or listening to the podcast, people I email and talk with, there is a stone of dread that sits in people`s stomachs right now.  And a lot has been there I think for a lot of people since Donald Trump was elected.

JELANI COBB, COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY:  Since November 8, 2016.

HAYES:  But it`s gotten more intense recently I think as people think about the reality of this nominating process and worry -- Ed Kilgore had a good piece in New York Magazine saying my 2020 existential dread.

Are you feeling that?  And what is your understanding of why people are feeling that?

COBB:  I mean, I think there is a kind of baseline dread that`s been there since November 8, 2016, right, or November 9, I should say.  And really, one of the things I think that concerns me is the idea of what happens after the senate trial.  Barring something extraordinary, the Republicans are going to do in the Senate what we expect them to do and acquit Donald Trump, but with each thing that`s  happened with him, he has been emboldened.  

Now, there is a famous shoot someone on Fifth Avenue comment, and this is at least politically as close as you get to that.  If you have solicited the assistance, the unwilling assistance of a foreign government in an American election and...

HAYES:  On the phone while people listen.

COBB:  On the phone while people listen, and you are essentially immunized by that from the Republicans in the Senate, what won`t you do after that?  I think that`s the kind of dread that you have.

And also, the other thing i have to say about this is that -- and we`ve had this conversation before, that world affairs are complicated.  And if you`re a person who reads history with any kind of intention, you understand that there are really sober-minded, rigorous thinkers who have blundered their way into catastrophes.

HAYES:  Yes, yes.

COBB:  And so we`ve been on cruise control for so long that everyone is kind of like just let there not be something in North Korea or something anywhere in the globe that could turn into a hot spot.

HAYES:  This is such an important point.  I mean, in some ways, we have all been very lucky in a weird way.

COBB:  Tremendously.

HAYES:  In terms of what has happened in the world in the last three years.  There has not been the initiation of a massive new offensive war between, say, great powers.  There has not been an enormous financial cataclysm like we saw of the great recession.  There has not been a natural disaster outside of Puerto Rico, which was by the way the biggest one and the biggest test that he had to face and thousands of Americans died in Puerto Rico, so that was a very pointed example of what can go wrong.

And Alexi, that to me is also the sort of thing that sort of hangs over everything as we think about the election is we tend to think we know what the issue set is, but there are a lot of sort of smoking tinderboxes around the world, a lot of things that can just enter the picture at any moment.

MCCAMMOND:  That`s exactly right.  And those things are all happening as President Trump is facing these sort of political thorns in his side, so to speak at home.  I mean, North Korea still hasn`t given up their nuclear weapons, yet we see the way in which he continues to talk about North Korea and dictators around the world like Kim Jong-un and goes out of his way to embrace those folks while pushing away some of our closest allies, which is ultimately contributing to him being laughed at when he is around other foreign leaders and contributing to the decline in America`s standing on the world stage.

And that is something that we`re going to have to rebuild whenever President Trump leaves the White House.  And that`s not something, to Jelani`s point, that I think scholars, global scholars and political folks, are taking lightly as they`re watching maybe some of the ways in which we`ve been lucky so to speak with President Trump so far.

HAYES:  Biggest hope for this year?

COBB:  I mean, I think the cynical part of me is that we get through it.  Biggest hope is obviously at the end of it Donald Trump is no longer the president.

HAYES:  I think that`s -- you speak for many when you say that.  You channel the voice of many.  Jelani Cobb, Alexi McCammond, thank you both for being with me.  Happy New Year.

That is ALL IN for this evening.  "THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW" starts right now.

  THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END