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Who was Qasem Soleimani. TRANSCRIPT: 1/3/20, All In w/ Chris Hayes.

Guests: Ro Khanna, Max Rose, Dexter Filkins, Ryan Crocker, Wendy Sherman,Hooman Majd, Zainab Salbi, Natasha Bertrand

STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT:  Congress will take up where they left off negotiating the impeachment trial of President Trump in the Senate.  Also on Monday, we`ll be just four weeks away from the Iowa caucuses.  Chris will have the very latest on the campaign.  That is HARDBALL for now.  "ALL IN" with Chris Hayes starts right now.



DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  We took action last night to stop a war.

HAYES:  Massive contradictions from the White House.

TRUMP:  We did not take action to start a war.

HAYES:  As more American forces head to Iraq.

MIKE POMPEO, SECRETARY OF STATE, UNITED STATES:  Americans in the region are much safer today.

HAYES:  Tonight, the fallout from the strike to kill Iran`s top general, reaction from the region, and the dangers of escalation.  And the New Yorkers, Dexter Filkins on how the death of Qassem Soleimani is a crucial turning point for the entire Middle East.  Plus, the impeachment of Donald Trump.

TRUMP:  We did nothing wrong.

HAYES:  Well, it looks like even more news evidence and how Chuck and Nancy are trying to keep up the pressure on Mitch McConnell.

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY):  Will we conduct a fair trial that examines all the facts or not?

HAYES:  When ALL IN starts right now.


HAYES:  Good evening from New York, I`m Chris Hayes.  More American airstrikes in Iraq today, and we are suddenly at an extremely perilous moment falling one reckless act by the American president, and here`s where things currently stand.

President Trump who has been stewing and vacationing at his personal club in Florida, awaiting an impeachment trial for abusing his office by attempting to extort a foreign country to meddle in our next election, ordered from that private club in Florida a deadly military strike in Iraq yesterday, executing an act of war against Iran without congressional approval.

NBC News has confirmed that last night, the United States killed Iran`s most powerful general Qassem Soleimani in a drone strike at the Baghdad airport.  Soleimani was the commander of Iran`s Quds Force, an elite unit of Iran`s Revolutionary Guard widely believed to support many violent groups throughout the region.

In addition to running this force, Soleimani ran operations in Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, Yemen, making him arguably the most powerful man in the Middle East.  The strike that killed Qassem Soleimani has precipitated a sudden and rather enormous escalation and tensions between the U.S. and Iran and the Middle East as a whole.

Tonight, we have used yet another escalation by the U.S.  NBC News reports there`s been yet another U.S. airstrike north of Baghdad targeting more Shiite militia leaders, that one killing six people.  It`s worth walking through the events that led us up to this moment.

Last night strike came on the heels of pro-Iranian protesters storming the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad doing significant damage to parts of the compound, but thankfully resulting in no injuries or fatalities.  The protests were in response to a U.S. airstrike that killed at least 25 members of an Iran backed Shiite militia group in Iraq and wounded dozens.

That in turn, a retaliation by the U.S. for a series of rocket attacks against coalition basis that killed U.S. contractor and injured for U.S. service members.  And all this is the context of the Trump administration`s most recent strike, most recent chain of events in an ongoing campaign to confront Iran.

Donald Trump campaign explicitly on getting out of the Iran nuclear deal, a deal the Trump administration knew was working, a deal that his own administration certified in writing that Iran was in compliance with.  And then in 2018, Donald Trump pulled out of the deal and set the U.S. on a path of confrontation with Iran.

Last night, after the Trump administration unilaterally killed one of the most powerful man in the Middle East, a senior government official with a drone strike in a sovereign nation, everyone who follows the region closely said what was plainly true, this is a massive escalation.  This attack was something that could have been done before and was not precisely because of the ramifications of what will come after.

Today, President Trump came up to speak not from the White House but from his personal resort in Florida implausibly saying the attack was a de- escalation.  The Pentagon said the same thing.  I`m sorry but no one can honestly believe that.

Here`s some of the responses we have heard so far.  Iran`s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said, "a harsh retaliation is waiting for the criminals whose filthy hands filled his blood."  Iran`s President Rouhani said, Iran will "take revenge for this heinous crime."  The U.S. State Department has warned U.S. citizens to depart Iraq immediately out of concern for their safety.  The Iraqi government said the attack is a violation of Iraqi sovereignty.

Back in the U.S., Republicans are doing a lot of chest-thumping, while at the same time both Democratic and Republican members of Congress say they were not briefed in advance of the strike.  And the Trump Administration says they have intelligence that Qassem Soleimani was plotting imminent attacks on American diplomats and military personnel.

And if that`s the case, well, they should show that intelligence to us.  At least they show that intelligence to members of Congress.  Trump`s acting head of Homeland Security said, "there are currently no specific credible threats against our homeland.  And the New York Times reports, "Senior Trump administration officials, including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo repeatedly said on Friday that the new attacks under General Soleimani`s leadership were imminent.  But one Defense Department official, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal planning, said that there was nothing new in the threat presented by the Iranian general."

Importantly, this is also in the context of administration and a president that has been documented ad nauseum, every day, to lie about everything all the time, even the stupidest, most trivial things.  It was not even a month ago that the President was impeached for abusing the powers office and trying to cover it up.

There is absolutely no reason for anyone in the U.S. to credit anything the president or his administration says about matters of life and death and war and peace until it is demonstratively verified, full stop.  It`s a rule for everyone on this and everything else.

Joining me now, Democratic Congressman Ro Khanna of California.  Today, he and Senator Bernie Sanders announced new legislation to block funding for a war with Iran.  Congressman, your response to the latest news of another airstrike north of Baghdad, another a militia leader apparently targeted on the heels of last night`s strike.

REP. RO KHANNA (D-CA):  Well, we need to understand that just killing bad guys isn`t making us any safer.  I mean, if that were the case, Afghanistan and Iraq would be like Switzerland.  We`ve been trying this policy.  It has not worked.  And the question is, when are we going to realize that this is actually putting Americans at more risk, it`s creating more terrorism, and increasing the cycle of violence.  And as you pointed out, it has no constitutional basis.

HAYES:  Have there been briefings to Congress on what the intelligence was or what the rationale was that you`ve been a party to or your colleagues have been a party to?

KHANNA:  There has not been yet.  There is supposed to be.  I`m on the Armed Services Committee.  Apparently, we are going to be brief tomorrow or early next week.  The point though, is there is simply no rationale that one can discern from the public facts.

I mean, it`s not like killing Soleimani is going to stop the militias that would actually be undertaking any of the attacks.  And if he really was plotting something, why not arrest him?  We had intelligence that he was going to be at the airport, why not sees him and asked him about the attacks.  There simply is no justification for a strike against him without any congressional approval.

HAYES:  Do you -- is your view that this was not lawful or unlawful?

KHANNA:  Unlawful.  It`s clearly unlawful.  I mean, you`ve got one of the most powerful generals of Iran, a sovereign state, and we`re basically going and taking him out with no consultation from Congress, no approval from Congress.  There`s -- the administration hasn`t even given us a clear reason for what the authorization of force would be.  I heard someone was saying that it`s the 2002 AUMF that we use to get Saddam Hussein.

HAYES:  That`s right.

KHANNA:  I mean, that`s absurd.  I mean, it`s about as smart as the war in Iraq was.  I guess that`s the only parallel.  But how you can say that Congress` approval to get Saddam Hussein is now approval to go get a top general in Iran makes no logical sense.

HAYES:  An Iranian general, he was in Iraq, we should note, yes.  And National Security Adviser Robert O`Brien today saying, citing the 2002 AUMF, that`s different than the 2001 AUMF, although one against Iraq, which is still in operation, which brings me to the question of what should Congress be doing now to constrain further escalation from the President?

KHANNA:  Well, Senator Sanders and I have introduced a bill that would cut off any funding for any offensive action against Iran or Iranian officials.  It`s important to note, Chris, that this bill was in the National Defense Authorization.  Senator Sanders and I supported it.  It passed the House.  The majority of the Senate was for it.  It was stripped in the conference committee.

And both Senator Sanders and I at the time said, we can`t do that.  We`re giving the president a blank check.  That was a mistake.  We need to correct that mistake and assert very clearly that Congress is simply not going to fund a war against Iran.

HAYES:  What is the next step then for Congress when you reconvene?

KHANNA:  I think we take up this legislation in the House that says that there will be no funding for the President to conduct offensive action against Iran or Iranian officials.  And we should realize Congress is not a bystander here.  We have the power of the purse.  The question is, are we willing to use it?  I mean, we could in the appropriations process, say very clearly, we`re not going to give funds for this kind of action.

The challenge is that there are people who get scared.  They say, oh, we don`t want to be seen as weak on national security.  And so Congress has punted traditionally to the executive branch.  It`s time for Congress to actually act with the powers that the Founders gave us.

HAYES:  All right, Congressman Ro Khanna, thank you very much.  Joining me now is Democratic Congressman Max Rose of New York.  He`s a member of the House Committee on Homeland Security, a veteran on the U.S. Army.  He served as a combat platoon leader in Afghanistan.  And for his service, he received the Bronze Star and Purple Heart.  3,500 more U.S. service members, a bunch of them are shipping out of Fort Bragg I think today.  Where do you see this going?

REP. MAX ROSE (D-NY):  So first of all, let me say this about the death of Qassem Soleimani.  No one should mourn his death.  I think about the people who I served with, some of them were injured by IEDs that under his direction were placed in Iraq.  So when we talk about the justification for this killing, well, I can think of 600 justifications for the kill, the 600 soldiers who Qassem Soleimani killed in Iraq.

But that`s not the question, not whether this was justified or not.  It`s whether this was a wise decision or not.  And from that question flows two points.  One is where is this intelligence, this intelligence of an imminent threat?  Where is it?  We have got to see it.

Of course, America has the right to self-defense, and the president as commander in chief has the right to execute that self-defense, but we need to see it and Congress should have been consulted.  And secondly, if your intent is to de-escalate, then a counter-attack is inevitable.

And it will be on a soft target.  It will be somewhere that we cannot expect.  It could be a cyber-attack, it can be an attack on an embassy, it could be an attack right here in New York City where we know that there are Quds Force and Hezbollah have agents.  What is our plan then?

We have to have a strategic plan when we execute something as significant as this.  And that is what Congress is deserving of to see.  And we will not stop until we can get an acknowledgment of that.

HAYES:  Well, I mean, what does that mean, though, in real sense, right?  Like, I mean, what Congressman Khanna said here strikes me is accurate.  Largely, I think a lot of Democrats took a lesson from 2002 AUMF, the one being cited today, never go on the record on a vote, let the White House do what it is, and then you could just put out statements.

ROSE:  Right.

HAYES:  I mean, if you`re serious about constraining the president, like the Democrats control the House.

ROSE:  So I`ll give you a few things.  One `01 AUMF, `02 AUMF need to be repealed and replaced so they fit a 21st-century national security context.  Second, though, we have to firmly state that if you want to wage war on Iran, that requires a new declaration of war.  `01, `02 AUMF do not apply to that.

HAYES:  Isn`t -- I mean, I understand the rationale here, and I`ve seen some folks make the rationale that we were in Iraq under the invitation of that sovereign government, though they`ve said this is a violation of their sovereignty, that there`s the right of self-defense, that there was a plan of an imminent attack, we have the right to strike them there.  OK, I`m not going to question that either way.

But is it not the case that assassinating, killing, air striking a senior government official in the Irani government, a government we don`t have diplomatic relations with and have a very, very tense relationship with, is an act of war, if so facto, right?

ROSE:  Well, so it depends on how you look at Qassem Soleimani.  You can look at him as a normal general.  I don`t think that does his role of justice in terms of what he has done over the last 20 years, as he has led power military and terrorist organizations throughout the region.

So there is an expansive authority for self-defense if you are considering what the Shia militias were doing in Iraq.  But consider this, we cannot forget about ISIS in this context.  It was not too long ago that we were coordinating or at least implicitly partnering with Shia militias to fight --

HAYES:  Yes.  The same ones that we are targeting right now.

ROSE:  Exactly.  So throughout the 21st century in Iraq and in the larger region, the pathway to stability has not been solely through military action, it has been through politics and negotiation.  We put the sons of Iraq on our payroll, a Sunni militia.  We have got to realize that if we want long term stability in the region, yes, we have got to have a military footprint, but it comes through diplomacy and American leadership.

HAYES:  Speaking of the military footprint, I mean, at this moment, that military footprint is in jeopardy.  The Iraqi parliament -- the Iraqi Prime Minister and President have both condemned the airstrikes.  Now we have another one north of Baghdad tonight, yet another militia leader.  There is good reason to believe there may be a vote essentially to boot out American military presence in Iraq.

ROSE:  Right.  And we have seen that before.  Look, after this decision, this is Donald Trump`s Middle East.  This is a decision of incredible consequence.  I believe that as a member of Congress, we do have to be respectful of the fact that they claim they have intelligence.  Although every day that we go without seeing it, I grow suspicious.

But with that being said, this will only get more complicated and we need to have a plan for de-escalation, not a plan for escalation.

HAYES:  Final question.  Is what has the U.S. done in the last two days escalation or de-escalation?

ROSE:  Well, it depends because this was not the first step of escalation.  There were a series of steps of escalation previous to this executed by both Soleimani as well as larger forces at hand.  The deeper question though is what happens tomorrow because there are certain things as I`ve said that are inevitable whether it`s an attack in an embassy, a cyber- attack, attack on a Jewish community in Eastern Europe, or attack on a soft target here in America.  That will be the fork in the road, and that is the question of whether we wage war or not.

HAYES:  OK, Congressman Max Rose, thank you very much.

ROSE:  Thank you very much for having me.

HAYES:  Up next, to understand the massive implications of the airstrike, we need to know who Qassem Soleimani was, the expansive role he played in the Middle East.  I`ll talk to a journalist who spent a lot of work piecing together those details in two minutes.


HAYES:  Back in 2013, Dexter Filkins of the New Yorker wrote a profile the man dubbed the shadow commander, Iran`s Qassem Soleimani, who is -- who we learned yesterday had been killed by an American drone strike in Iraq.

In the profile, Filkins trace the massive roles Soleimani played in shaping the Middle East for decades.  And in the six years since that profile came out, Soleimani`s influence and importance in the region had only grown larger.  Soleimani`s rise was aided indisputably by the U.S. invasion of Iraq which, of course, weakened Iran`s biggest enemy and regional counterbalance.  The invasion helped Soleimani to consolidate Iranian control inside the Iraqi government, and aided his ability to play an incredibly powerful role throughout the region.

From his home base in Iran where Soleimani was head of the elite branch of the Revolutionary Guard known as the Quds force, to Iraq where he directed Iranian backed militias and imported bombs that were responsible for the deaths of hundreds of Americans.  He also had a huge saying he will become the new Iraqi government.

In Syria he was largely responsible for the survival of brutal strong man Bashar Al Assad, providing troops and supplies that helped him beat back a civil war and rebellion.  In Lebanon, he helped develop and prop up the militant group Hezbollah including sending his operatives to aid the group`s attacks on the Israelis.  And in Yemen, in the devastating civil war which has been first and foremost ruthlessly pursue and prosecuted Saudi Arabia, Soleimani helped prop up the Houthi rebels as part of a proxy war against the Saudis.

The person overseeing this whole project of extending Iranian force was Qassem Soleimani.  Now, the United States has killed him, and no one is entirely sure what comes next.  I`m joined now by the man who wrote that excellent profile of Qassem Soleimani, New Yorker Staff Writer Dexter Filkins, whose new piece discusses the dangers posed by the killing of Soleimani.  What was the Quds force and what was the role that Soleimani played?

DEXTER FILKINS, STAFF WRITER, NEW YORKER:  It`s huge, most important operative in the middle east by far, no one`s even close.  It all goes back to the end of the Iran-Iraq war a long time ago, but it was a catastrophic event for the Iranians, a million people dead in that war.

HAYES:  Just a complete and utter charnel house for everyone involved.

FILKINS:  Total bloodbath, total bloodbath.  And they had been invaded by Iraq.  And at the end of that war, it basically ended as a stalemate.  The Iranians said, we`re never going to let this happen again.  And that`s where Soleimani comes in.

And essentially over the last 30 years, created what you just described, which is this kind of sphere of influence that reaches from Tehran all the way to the Mediterranean, through Syria, through Iraq, into Lebanon, Hezbollah, Assad, the militias, everything you talked about.  That`s Soleimani`s vision.

HAYES:  And the huge thing that changes what he is able to do in the region, but if you want to one thing is the Iraq war.  I mean, the fall of the Saddam Hussein regime, and the new regime that comes after is part of the first domino in terms of him coalescing, this kind of regional hegemony.

FILKINS:  Well, the American invasion?

HAYES:  Yes.

FILKINS:  Well, it basically was a big opportunity for him.  And so when the Americans went in, basically they empowered the Shiite majority.  And Soleimani stepped in and empowered, created, directed armed, trained the Shiite militias, which we`re now hearing so much about.  But during the war during, the American War, they killed hundreds of Americans.

I mean, they -- and that was Soleimani like pulling the levers.  And there was a particular thing called an EFP, Explosively Formed Penetrator, really highly lethal IED that killed so many, wreak havoc on the Americans because it could penetrate armor, yes.  And that was -- that was -- those were made in Iranian factories by the hundreds.

HAYES:  He talked -- let`s talk a little bit about the militias because he was traveling with a militia leader who was killed, another a Shia militia leader was apparently struck in this airstrike.  What are those militias?  What role do they play in the Iraqi state?

FILKINS:  Well, it`s weird because that role has changed.  These guys were our enemies.  I mean, the guy who was killed last night was a sworn enemy of the United States.  And then when -- and then when ISIS took over a large part of Iraq, they became our friends, because they wanted Shia, they wanted to fight the Sunnis, and so basically, we kind of coordinated with them.

HAYES:  I mean, we have this alliance with -- tacitly with us, Iraqi Army, the Shiite militias, and Soleimani too who was also leading part of the fight against ISIS.

FILKINS:  Yes.  I think it was -- they described it to me as a cooperation without coordination.  So it was like, you know, very thin difference there.  But then when ISIS was defeated, then you have all these Shiite militias which are left over, heavily armed and still acting at Iran`s direction.  So they became players in there in the -- in the Iraqi state.  They could basically act as political parties with guns, and that`s basically what they were doing.

And so -- but once the -- once ISIS was defeated, they turned back on us and we turned on them.  And that`s kind of where we are today.

HAYES:  What do you see happening now?

FILKINS:  Oh, man, you know, it`s hard to look into the crystal ball but --

HAYES:  What are the consequences here?

FILKINS:  Well, the Iranians have to respond.  They have to respond.  I mean, this is one of the most powerful people in the country and he`s responsible essentially for their -- for their foreign policy and for basically defending the revolution as they see it.  And so, they`ve got to respond.  I think it was a credible blow to them, I mean, a real body blow to the Iranian regime.  So, it`s going to be difficult for them.

I mean, the person who would respond under normal circumstances would be Soleimani.  He`s gone.  It`s not clear who`s going to step in.  But you know, Soleimani a really extraordinary character.  He was -- he was highly intelligent, a great battlefield commander, something of a cowboy, but at the same time, he could walk in a room and talk to diplomats and talk to politicians, super sophisticated, highly intelligent.

So he could kind of do it all.  And it`s not clear they have anybody like that.  So they`re going to -- they`re going to hurt for a while, but they will respond, and they`ll probably do it in a place that we haven`t thought about.  They`re not -- you know, I don`t think they`re going to do it in Iraq.  Why would they do it in Iraq?  They`ll do it somewhere else.  They have -- they have -- they can strike practically anywhere in the world, and they`ve shown that in the past, Thailand, Nigeria, Latin America.  They can do it all over the place.

HAYES:  All right, Dexter Filkins, thank you so much for being with me tonight.  I really appreciate it.

FILKINS:  Thank you.

HAYES:  Still ahead, some pretty interesting impeachment developments today including a dust up on the Senate floor, some potential new evidence as well.  And coming up, President Trump`s decision to do what two other administrations deemed too risky because of the potential fallout.  What happens now after this?



POMPEO:  The world is a much safer place today.  And I can assure you that Americans in the region are much safer today after the demise of Qassem Soleimani.

HAYES:  Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was insisting this morning the world is a much safer place now that top Iranian General Qassem Soleimani is dead.  And literally as he went on T.V. making that case, the State Department, the department he heads up was telling Americans to get out of Iraq.

"Due to heightened tensions in Iraq in the region, the U.S. Embassy urges the American citizens to heed the January 2020 travel advisory and depart Iraq immediately.  Now, the stated goal of the attack that took out Soleimani was deterrence.  You can read it in the Pentagon statement released.  "The strike was aimed at deterring future Iranian attack plans."

Today, Washington Post Columnist Josh Rogan points out "early signs are that the U.S. strike on Soleimani is not restoring deterrence.  So if this strike precipitates additional attacks to the region, as many almost everyone expects it will, then the strike by its very definition has failed, according to the Trump administration, that the world is not a safer place.

In fact, as many noted today including Congresswoman Elissa Slotkin who notably worked as a Shia military analyst in the CIA before coming to Congress, "What always kept both Democratic and Republican presidents from targeting Soleimani himself is a simple question.  Was the strike worth the likely retaliation and the potential to pull us into protracted conflict?"  In other words, would the costs outweigh the benefits, and they never did until now by a famously reckless individual, the president of the United States.

Joining me now to talk about this, Ambassador Wendy Sherman, former Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs.  She was a lead us negotiator for the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.  And Ryan Crocker, the American Ambassador to Iraq from 2007 to 2009, and who during his time in Iraq had to deal with intermediaries to Qassem Soleimani.

Ambassador Crocker, let me start with you.  How do you anticipate this cost-benefit analysis shaping up in the cascade of effects from the strike?

RYAN CROCKER, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO IRAQ AND AFGHANISTAN:  This is another term in what really is a very long war.  When I was out in Iraq as an ambassador during that period, `07-`09, as you`ve heard from others on the show, Soleimani was basically directing attacks against our troopers using some very sophisticated weapons, and he killed a lot of our soldiers, hundreds of them.

So is this a declaration of war?  Hardly.  It`s simply another step in a long war.  And I don`t think we can do the calculus just yet.  This is by no means the last move.  I expect the Iranians will do something, and then it`ll be back to us. 

So what I worry about here is not the immediate consequences of Soleimani`s killing, and I`ve got to tell you, from my perspective, if anyone ever needed to be killed, it was him.  It`s the consequences.  What`s next?  Is there a forward strategy by the administration?  Do they have an Iran team set up and ready to go? 

You know, based on what we`ve seen of administration actions in other areas, I`m skeptical and we`re going to be in for a long haul. 

HAYES:  Ambassador Sherman, to take a step back here.  I mean, when we`re talking about the sort of -- Ambassador Crocker said one more move in a long war.  There was a real change in the U.S. and Iran relationship under the Obama administration.

  There had been no diplomatic relations.  Obviously, there still are none after the famous embassy kidnapping and hostage situation.  You were part of a team that put together the nuclear deal. 

When you look at the decision to exit that deal, and what has resulted from that decision, how do you see that? 

WENDY SHERMAN, FORMER UNDERSECRETARY OF STATE FOR POLITICAL AFFAIRS:  Well, I see it as terribly awful for the National Security of the United States and the safety and security of Americans all over the world.  And I think we`re seeing that today. 

As Ambassador Crocker said, we are about to have the next sequence of events unfold, and it`s an escalatory cycle that is not leading in a very good direction. 

I quite agree, Qasem Soleimani was a horrible, horrible person who did real damage to America, to the stability of the Middle East.  That`s said President Bush, President Obama did not take actions to take him out because they understood what the consequences were and one has to make that calculus. 

The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the nuclear deal got started when President Barack Obama in his inaugural address said, I will reach out my hand if you unclench your fist, because he knew as bad as Iran was, if it had a nuclear weapon, it would be able to deter our actions in the Middle East to protect and work with our partners and allies. 

HAYES:  On that point, Ambassador Crocker, in sort of a broader sense of the International Relations right now, isn`t the lesson here for anyone that they better get a nuclear weapon when they look at how the U.S. has reacted to North Korea versus what`s happened in Libya and Iran? 

Libya, famously giving up its nuclear program.  Iran entering voluntarily into this joint deal.  Now after an exit from that deal, the U.S. has assassinated and killed their highest commander.  Libya, obviously Qaddafi has been killed with U.S.-backed assistance. 

And the President of the United States talks about the love letters he gets from Kim Jong-un and how wonderful he is. 

CROCKER:  This is an administration, to put it mildly, that is hardly consistent, and that`s part of the problem.  Let me say this about the nuclear agreement. 

As a professional diplomat for many years, I think that was an outstanding achievement.  And Ambassador Sherman was absolutely key to its success.  It did make the world a safer place.  And I think the Trump administration made a major mistake in repudiating it. 

In terms of the message it sends to wannabe or almost are nuclear powers, I think is again, complex.  We don`t seem to have a strategy in North Korea, and we`re kind of seeing that play out. 

In the case of Iran, I`m reminded of something that the late Yitzhak Rabin, Prime Minister of Israel said after Oslo that we will negotiate peace with the Palestinians as though there were no terror.  And we will fight terror as though there were no negotiations. 

And the one fault I would find with the Obama administration`s Iran policy is that for the sake of negotiations and the agreement, they didn`t really challenge what the Iranians were doing elsewhere in Iraq and Syria and of course in Yemen.  That I think, too, is a mistake. 

So, in terms of taking Soleimani off the field, as Dexter Filkins said earlier, it is going to have an actual real impact on Iranian terrorism capacities.  There`s no question.  I think that`s a basic good. 

What I want to see is has this administration got a plan because it`s going to take a plan.  There are going to be a number of moves ahead that we`re going to be ready for and prepared to counter. 

HAYES:  But, Ambassador Sherman, I mean, I have heard critiques about having a plan for the entirety of my adult life.  I was 21 years old when September 11 -- twenty-two years old and for 19 years, the longest period in this entire Republic`s history, we have been at war. 

And I have heard endless, endless critiques of the lack of plan.  There was no plan.  There was no plan after Iraq.  And what we have had is unfathomable amounts of war and bloodshed and the loss of American service members` life and hundreds of thousands of civilians in the Middle East dead and trillions of dollars spent, and the same conversation over and over and over again about which new military action is going to put us on a better direction. 

SHERMAN;  I quite agree with you, Chris.  I have enormous admiration for Ambassador Crocker, who has served us for so many years.  He is one of those extraordinary Foreign Service officers who has really kept us safe in so many places in the world. 

And he is right that we have to look at the entire landscape when we deal with these very difficult issues.  But I think you would also agree there is no doubt that President Obama`s efforts to have a nuclear deal so that we could then focus -- maybe we should have focused sooner in Ambassador Crocker`s view in different ways on the other nefarious actions of Iran. 

But we still had a lot of tools in our toolbox to do that, and we were trying to do exactly what you`re asking for, which is war no more.  To have a channel with Iran so that when things came up that might escalate out of control, we had a channel of communication.  That doesn`t exist anymore. 

HAYES:  That channel is gone.  Wendy Sherman and Ryan Crocker.  Thank you both for sharing your expertise tonight.  I truly, truly appreciate it. 

Coming up, Iran is vowing harsh retaliation while Iraq calls the airstrike a dangerous escalation.  How it is viewed in the region and how they might respond, next. 


HAYES:  The Iranian government tonight is vowing revenge in the wake of that airstrike that killed Qasem Soleimani.  They named a new commander to take charge of the Quds Force, the military unit that Soleimani led until his death yesterday. 

The Supreme Leader of Iran met today with Soleimani`s family.  He has called for three days of public mourning, promising quote, "harsh retaliation." 

Now everyone is waiting to see the calculation of the Iranians` response expecting that there will be a response. 

Meanwhile, the Iraqi Parliament plans to hold an emergency session this weekend to address the attack with an official Iraqi government account tweeting English.  A quote from the Iraqi Prime Minister that quote, "Carrying out operations to assassinate Iraqi figures and figures from another country on Iraqi soil is a flagrant violation of Iraqi sovereignty and a dangerous escalation." 

Here with me now to talk about what happens next as viewed from the region in Iran and Iraq is Hooman Majd, journalist and author of several books about Iran, who is just back from an interview with the Iranian Ambassador to the U.N. and Zainab Salbi, the author of "Between Two Worlds: Escape from Tyranny: Growing Up in the Shadow of Saddam." 

Welcome to you both. 


HAYES:  Let me start with you because you were just in that interview with the Iranian Ambassador to the U.N., what is the official posture of the Iranian government right now? 

MAJD:  I think the official posture is that Iran will retaliate, and this is an act of war.  And as an act of war, Iran reserves the right to retaliate at a time of their own choosing.  So that`s the official posture and there will be a retaliation. 

And he wouldn`t get into, you know, what kind of retaliation or where or how, but there`s no question there will be retaliation of probably a military sort. 

HAYES:  Well, that`s a quite -- I mean, there`s a real sort of -- there`s discussions now about how their perspective on this from a sort of game theory perspective is, in that these are also rational actors with a bunch of calculations to make. 

And also, I think fair to say do not want an escalatory cycle that spins out of control.  Is that fair to say? 

MAJD:  I would say that`s very fair to say.  Yes. 

HAYES:  And so there`s some thinking there about what that would mean ...  

MAJD:  Correct. 

HAYES:   ... in response. 

MAJD:  Correct.  I mean, but when I say a military response, the Iranians look at this, as you took out one of our top military officials, we reserve the right to react violently to that action. 

When I say violently, rather than like, you know, pulling out of the nuclear deal, right, increasing enrichments to 20 percent. 

HAYES:  Right, a military response. 

MAJD:  A military response.  This doesn`t mean that their military is going to go to war with the U.S. military, whether in Iraq or anywhere else in the Middle East, but it means there will be a violent response. 

HAYES:  I thought of you, Zainab today because we`ve talked throughout the years, we talked about Iraq.  And the context for this moment is that there have been these incredible protests in Iraq, this sort of amazing sort of uprising of the civil society against corruption and against both Iranian and American domination, essentially and the sort of pro-national sovereignty for Iraq.  And what does what happened last night mean for Iraqi civil society? 

ZAINAB SALBI, FOUNDER, WOMEN FOR WOMEN INTERNATIONAL:  Well, there are three kinds of responses in the Iraqi streets today.  There are those who are angry, there are those who are happy and then there are those who are worried. 

Those who are angry are backed by Iranian militias or supported by Iranian Government, militias in Iraq that are very strong, helped liberate Iraq from ISIS, you know, so they are strong, and they are a good chunk of Iraqis. 

But the ones who are happy and worried are the two kinds of Iraqis who have actually been dominating the streets of Iraq in the last three months and the most amazing secular, liberal, national revolution led by the youth. 

People who are courageously going out in the streets saying "No more Sunni and Shia.  No more Christian and Muslims.  We are one country," calling out of the corruption of religious leaders and government officials, saying we want a new election law.  We do not want any sectarian government, basically.  We want a secular leader. 

The Prime Minister resigns as a result, you know, in November 30th, after killing 500 of the protesters, and now they are debating who should be the Prime Minister of Iraq. 

So there is a movement towards progress basically, with these demonstrators. 

Those demonstrators are right now divided, basically.  Those who are worried are saying, we do not want a proxy war happening between Iraq and Iran on our land. 

HAYES:  On Iraqi soil. 

SALBI:  We are tired.  We are exhausted.  It`s angering, to be honest.  I mean, Chris, hundreds of thousands of Iraqis have died, you know, in the last -- since the U.S. invasion, and so we do not want any more wars for God`s sake. 

And then there are those who are saying, if the U.S. is going to intervene, come, but intervene fully, like, come and occupy us basically and take over and help us get rid of the Iranian-backed militias and all of that. 

But the point is, there are so many points in here that there is a movement, a secular civil movement in Iraq, that we don`t know its status right now.  So the government may say, we have a war at hand -- 

HAYES:  Enough of this. 

SALBI:  Enough of that.  You know, go back home.  So that`s very likely a chance in here. 

But we also have Iraqi Shias, no?  That whole narrative of Iraq Shia supporting Iranians and all of these things has stopped. 

Now, a lot of Iraqi Shia saying we do not want the Iranian intervention in our soil. 

HAYES:  There is also -- I mean, the Iranian government is under incredible pressure and stress, too.  There have been protests there and there were, you know, the ratcheting up of sanctions, which have a material effect on average Iranian. 

MAJD:  Huge, huge effect. 

HAYES:  There`s a travel ban.  I mean, there`s lots of things that America has done to make the lives of Iranians miserable. 

MAJD:  Miserable. 

HAYES:  You know, they say it`s for this higher purpose, but that`s in the effect. 

MAJD:  Maximum pressure on them. 

HAYES:  What does that mean in terms of like their calculation of what to do next? 

MAJD:  Well, I mean, I think that the calculation is going to be based on what the Iranian government feels the people of Iran care about. 

And right now, it seems, at least the majority of the people in Iran want some form of revenge. 

HAYES:  Do you think that`s true? 

MAJD:  I think that`s true.  Yes.  I`m not saying all Iranians. 

HAYES:  Right. 

MAJD:  But I`m saying -- 

HAYES:  Well, there`s some rally around the flag. 

MAJD:  Yes.  There`s always going to be a rally around the flag.  I mean, imagine if you will, you know, if a foreign government assassinated somebody that we don`t like that as a Democrat, we don`t like. 

HAYES:  Right. 

MAJD:  You would still say that`s not okay. 

HAYES:  Correct.  Yes. 

MAJD:  I do not want John Bolton killed by a foreign government. 

HAYES:  Correct.  Yes. 

MAJD:  And I think in Iran, there`s a little bit of sense of that.  You know, our top general who prevented ISIS from coming to Iran, and prevented ISIS from getting past Iraq and actually defeated -- help defeat them -- has been assassinated by the U.S. government quite proudly by the U.S. government. 

So I think that effect is there, and I think the Iranian government -- I would disagree with what Ambassador Crocker said, I don`t think that they`ve been necessarily weakened.  This is a huge blow.  It`s a huge emotional blow, I believe for the Iranians. 

But they`re very deep.  The Revolutionary Guards commanders, they kind of like pop up.  It`s like, what are you going to do?  Play whack-a-mole with the Iranian Revolutionary Guards? 

The person who has replaced Qasem Soleimani has been with him since the Iraq War. 

HAYES:  I think there are pictures of him sitting next to him during the Iran-Iraq conflict and so he has been there for long. 

MAJD:  And next to the Supreme Leader.  So these are not people who are not aware of -- or who are not aware of what the policies, the plans were, and if those plans were set in stone by Soleimani -- 

HAYES:  They will continue. 

MAJD:  They will continue. 

HAYES:  Hooman Majd and Zainab Salbi, thank you both for that. 

MAJD:  Thank you. 

HAYES:  I really appreciate it.  Just ahead, a reminder that while all of this is unfolding, the President is awaiting an impeachment trial in the Senate.  The latest in the impeachment of President Trump, coming up. 


HAYES:  I may be in our regular studio tonight, but next Friday -- next Friday -- we`ll be back in Studio 6A in front of a live studio audience.  We have a lot in store for 2020 here at ALL IN. 

We`re kicking off the year with three Friday audience shows in a row, starting Friday, January 10th.  So if you are in the New York area this month, you are in luck. 

Tickets are available right now for three dates: January 10th, 17th and 24th.  All you need to do is head to to claim yours. 

Also, we`ve got a lot up our sleeve for this coming year.  So keep an eye out for more announcements because there is a lot coming down the pipe. 

When we come back, there`s been a ton of news about the extortion scheme that led to the impeachment of President Trump.  All the new details and how they play in the Senate trial after this. 


HAYES:  We still do not know when the impeachment trial of Donald J. Trump -- just the third in American history -- will begin. 

The Senate reconvened today with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell saying if the House will not send over the Articles of Impeachment, then the Senate will just not hold the trial. 

Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer responded demanding that McConnell allow witnesses in the President`s trial. 


SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY):  We are not asking for critics of the President to serve as witnesses in the trial, we are asking only that the President`s men, his top advisers tell their side of the story. 


HAYES:  Today, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi who is holding back those Articles of Impeachment until McConnell agrees to some basic ground rules for fair trial said, quote, "Today, Leader McConnell made clear that he will feebly comply with President Trump`s cover up of his abuses of power and be an accomplice to that cover up." 

Meanwhile today, we learned of some additional evidence that`s on its way to the House.  A Federal judge in Manhattan saying that Rudy Giuliani`s indicted associate, Lev Parnas can give impeachment investigators phone data and documents seized by prosecutors in his criminal trial, what Parnas`s lawyer say are relevant to the Impeachment Inquiry. 

For more, I`m joined by Natasha Bertrand, national security correspondent at POLITICO.  Let`s start with that development, which strikes me as interesting, although it`s hard to know just how significant it is.  What do you think? 

NATASHA BERTRAND, NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT, POLITICO:  Yes, I think it`s a pretty big deal.  I don`t think it was entirely unexpected, to be honest that the judge would rule this way.  But they`re very eager to cooperate with the House Intel Committee, right, because Lev Parnas really wants friends. 

The President has turned on him.  He is no longer in contact really with Rudy Giuliani or his other associate, Igor Fruman.  So he is trying to get a good deal here.  He does not want to go to jail.  He wants an immunity deal. 

And he is trying to give House Democrats everything that they want essentially, whether it be tape recordings, which he says he has, audio recordings on his iPhone, text messages, e-mails, et cetera so that they can tell a court that he has been cooperating with them and that they should go easy on him essentially. 

So I do think that this could produce new evidence, whether or not it is produced before the Senate reaches any kind of verdict on Trump`s impeachment remains to be seen. 

HAYES:  Well, I mean, the larger issue here that strikes me is the documentary record as it stands is incomplete.  Just over the last few weeks, we`ve gotten new documentary evidence, including those unredacted e- mails that were very damning for the White House, the President directing the hold himself that DoD was worried about unlawfulness.

You have to wonder what other documents are out there that right now the White House is not turning over? 

BERTRAND:  Chris, just in the last 20 minutes, "The New York Times" broke a story saying that the Office of Management and Budget has refused to turn over 20 pages of e-mails sought by "The New York Times" in a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit, between a top aide to acting Chief of Staff, Mick Mulvaney and O.M.B. discussing the hold on Ukraine aid. 

They said that they would inhibit the free kind of flow of conversation between Executive Branch officials that allows policy decision making to be conducted. 

So here we have yet more of concealment from the administration on issues related directly to what the President asked for regarding this Ukraine aid, how it all played out, and this goes a step beyond them just redacting e-mails. 

They`re actually refusing wholesale to turn over any of the documents that they`ve requested. 

HAYES:  That`s amazing, because they just got caught, right, because of the story we brought you last night that Just Security getting access to those unredacted versions.  When they complied with FOIA a judge`s order, they redacted portions which we now learned the redactions were just to spare them from embarrassment. 

There was no sort of conceivable national security rationale.  Now, they`re using an executive privilege argument to try to withhold 20 pages of e- mails? 

BERTRAND:  Essentially yes, and coincidentally or not, one of the officials, who is a participant in the e-mails that are being withheld from O.M.B., Robert Blair -- or sorry, Michael Duffy, who is in the Office of Management and Budget, he is the one that told the Pentagon explicitly that the order to withhold Ukraine aid was coming directly from POTUS, from the President. 

So he clearly had insight into the White House decision making there and that`s exactly why his testimony is being sought by Senate Majority -- or Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer. 

HAYES:  So we`ve got -- I mean, we`ve got a roadmap now here of the documentary evidence that they`re not turning over, and also we have these witnesses.  Is there any movement in this standoff between the two branches of Congress? 

BERTRAND:  Not so far.  It`s kind of just in limbo at this point, because Mitch McConnell is saying that he is not going to start anything until the Senate -- until the House sends the Articles of Impeachment. 

And Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi have said that these Articles won`t be sent until Mitch McConnell agrees on the rules.  So there`s no path forward here that we can see. 

HAYES:  All right, Natasha Bertrand, you`re going to obviously monitor that.  Thank you. 

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

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST:  Good evening, Chris.  Thanks my friend.  Much appreciated. 

HAYES:  You bet.