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U.S. and Iran appear to stand down. TRANSCRIPT: 1/8/20, All In w/ Chris Matthews.

Guests: Sherrod Brown, Jackie Speier, Rula Jebreal, Michelle Goldberg,Spencer Ackerman, Walter Dellinger

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST:  The people who got Iran to the boiling point this point, are you three.  And that`s HARDBALL for now.  Thanks for being with us.  "ALL IN" with Chris Hayes starts right now.



REP. GERRY CONNOLLY (D-VA):  My reaction to this briefing was it was sophomore and utterly unconvincing.

HAYES:  House will vote to check the President`s ability to wage war.

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY):  As the questions began to get tough, they walked out.

HAYES:  As the White House infuriates Republicans.

SEN. MIKE LEE (R-UT):  It`s un-American, it`s unconstitutional, and it`s wrong.

HAYES:  Tonight, where we stand after Iran`s retaliation.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  Iran appears to be standing now.

HAYES:  What we learned from the White House briefing to Congress on the assassination of Soleimani.

LEE:  Probably the worst briefing, I`ve seen at least on a military issue in the nine years I`ve served in the United States Senate.

HAYES:  What we know about what`s happening in Iraq and Iran.  Spencer Ackerman and Michelle Goldberg on how we got here.  Plus, new pressure to start the impeachment trial in the Senate and the growing call for the House to subpoena John Bolton.

TRUMP:  He would know nothing about what we`re talking about.

HAYES:  When ALL IN starts right now.


HAYES:  Good evening from New York, I`m Chris Hayes.  By the end of last night, all official messages from the Iranian government seemed clearly intended to communicate that the missile attack on U.S. troop positions in Iraq was a self-contained retaliatory strike, and that this exchange of violence between the two nations was now finished if the United States declined to retaliate itself.

The big question today, as we all woke up, was would the United States and more specifically with President Trump take the off-ramp, particularly in wake of the fact there were no U.S. casualties and no Iraqi casualties.  In fact, the Washington Post reported today that U.S. officials knew the Iranian missiles were coming hours in advance, thanks to intelligence sources and a heads up from the Iraqis.

The President came out today to address the country essentially claiming victory while also lying about the Obama administration`s culpability and just getting basic facts wrong off the teleprompter including the year of the Iranian nuclear deal.  And yes, this is really how the announcement began.


TRUMP:  As long as I`m President of the United States, Iran will never be allowed to have a nuclear weapon.  Good morning.  I`m pleased to inform you the American people should be extremely grateful and happy.  Iran`s hostilities substantially increased after the foolish Iran nuclear deal was signed in 2013, and they were given $150 billion, not to mention $1.8 billion in cash.

The missiles fired last night at us and our allies were paid for with the funds made of available by the last administration.


HAYES:  OK, this was a speech the nation in the midst of the precipice of war and they did not fact check the year the Iran deal was signed, which you can Google in five seconds.  It was signed in 2015, not 2013.  So that gives you an indication of how truthful and rigorous whole thing was.  The cash wasn`t given to Iran, those were frozen and seized Iranian assets that were returned.

It`s also is case that while Iran remained extremely active in the region following the signing of the Iran deal, the hostility Trump referenced all started and intensified in the wake of this President`s decision to pull out of the Iran deal.  As Obama Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes pointed out, Iran didn`t fire a single rocket at U.S. interest in Iraq during the Iran deal.

Now, Trump also announced more sanctions on Iran.  It is worth pointing out that getting rid of the Iran deal combined with more sanctions is the exact maximum pressure campaign this administration has taken that lead us to this point, that led us to last night.  Now everyone is breathing a sigh of relief when the worst darkest moments last night looked like the beginning of an unimaginable amount of destruction and horror and human misery.

But all of the conditions of instability and tension are still present today with no function diplomatic channels.  The Shia militias are still in Iraq.  We still have thousands of Americans service members right next to them.  We still have thousands of American service members throughout the region.  Iran still has tons of proxies throughout the region.  Iran is moving away from the restraints of the nuclear deal.

President Trump is absolutely alienated just about all of our allies.  He said today he wants NATO to become more involved in the Middle East.  But just last month, Trump left a NATO conference early after a video of other world leaders, our closest allies, laughing at him went viral.

By the way, the U.S. military has suspended its anti-ISIS campaign.  The Iraqi government still wants our military out of the country and all the tension that led to this moment is still there.  And we still have a president who lies about everything all the time, no matter how big or small, who lied today and address before the nation who gets basic facts wrong, who has zero credibility and presenting evidence to anyone about anything.

Today, members of his administration went to brief Congress about the intelligence that led to that original strike on Soleimani.


CONNOLLY:  Without commenting on content, my reaction to this briefing was it was sophomoric and utterly unconvincing.  I was, well, utterly and persuaded about any evidence about the imminence of a threat that was new or compelling.

REP. ELIOT ENGEL (D-NY):  The basic theme of it was the administration essentially saying trust us.  And that`s really what it all boils down to.  I`m not sure who I trust or what I trust when it comes to these issues, because we`ve been told so many different things that really just bother me.


HAYES:  Democratic Senator Chris Murphy tweeted, "The bottom line is this.  I did not hear evidence of a specific imminent threat that would allow an attack without congressional authorization.  With consequences as serious as these that is unacceptable."  And the concern wasn`t just from Democrats.  It was bipartisan.  Here is Republican Senator Mike Lee of Utah.


LEE:  I had hoped and expected to receive more information outlining the legal, factual, and moral justification for the attack.  I was left somewhat unsatisfied on that front.  The briefing lasted only 75 minutes were upon our briefers left.  This, however, is not the biggest problem I have with the briefing, which I would add was probably the worst briefing I`ve seen at least on a military issue in the nine years I`ve served in the United States Senate.

What I found so distressing about that briefing was that one of the messages we received from the briefers was do not debate, do not discuss the issue of the appropriateness of further military intervention against Iran.  And then if you do, you`ll be emboldening Iran.  The implication being that we would somehow be making America less safe by having a debate or a discussion about the appropriateness of further military involvement.


HAYES:  That`s a Republican senator saying he didn`t get enough facts about the reason for Trump`s military strike, and that he was told that questioning decision itself makes America less safe.  Clearly, that made him angry.  And who can blame him?  Joining me now, Democratic Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio, who is at today`s intelligence briefing.  He voted against the Iraq War as a member of the House back in 2002.  Senator your reaction to the briefing today.

SEN. SHERROD BROWN (D-OH):  Well, not much different.  And as you know, Chris, we have an obligation, a duty not to talk about what was -- what was discussed and what we were told in a classified briefing, but I can -- I think you`ll learn from history and I listened to what Mike Lee just said, and 20 years ago, we saw another Republican administration lie about getting into a war, saying that it`s not patriotic suggesting or more strongly than suggesting it`s not patriotic to even debate and discuss and to dissent from this idea of going to war.

And, you know, one of the things we learned is there`s no -- there was no imminent threat to cause this assassination to happen, right when it did.  But the lessons of history that administration`s far too often lie to get us into war says that, that we need to be cautious.  And the point of -- the point of optimism here though, is I think there is a window of opportunity now as a lot of my colleagues think, a window of opportunity for negotiation.

And I`m hopeful that the bellicosity, and machismo, and brazenness aside from the president, from the breathless president, as he talked about nuclear weapons and didn`t know what he was talking about, that that he will tone down that rhetoric and begin to allow negotiations and get serious about it.

HAYES:  Was there -- is there indication from the administration, though, that there`s any channel for negotiation?  And part of the problem that seems to me is that there was a channel that have been constructed for two nations that don`t have diplomatic relations through the Iran deal and through the joint framework that`s now been discarded by the Americans.  Is there even a channel for talks to happen right now?

BROWN:  Well, there`s a -- there`s a channel if the President can quickly rebuild his relationships with France, Germany, Britain, and the E.U.  Probably not NATO so much in this case, but the signatories to the Iran deal, the nuclear arms deal that did the JCPOA because even though the U.S. has pulled out, even though the Iranian say they`re pulling out, the inspectors are still there, the Europeans are still engaged.

So it`s not a question of are there any channels.  You can -- you can dig them a little deeper and a little wider and get more through them to continue the tired metaphor there.  But you also --but you got to have the will of the administration to do it.  And I don`t know listening and I can`t talk details in a classified briefing but it struck me as the same kind of lies I was hearing 20 years ago when I was a House member about the war in Iraq.

And we knew that five years, 10 years out, we would pay a long term terrible price.  And we`re still paying for the Iraq War emotionally, and physically, and financially, and strategically with what`s happening in Iran.

HAYES:  Final question on this.  What are the differences now?  It strikes me that it was interesting to see Mike Lee come out, to see Rand Paul.  It does strike me that both in terms of public opinion at the end of this era we`ve been at war for 19 straight years since the first bombing of Afghanistan, the wake of 911.  There really is a different sense of appetite, frankly, and politics, and public opinion about the idea entering into a brand new conflict with, you know, a nation of 80 million people.

BROWN:  Speaking out -- speaking out early against Iraq -- against the war in Iraq, in the fall of 2002 and early 2003 was politically difficult.  I`ll just put it that way.  I mean, it`s clear to me being against it was the right thing for our country, and I was always willing to take that political hit.

But in those days, it was still -- September 11th was still fresh in people`s minds.  The administration was much better thought of in the -- among the public than the Trump administration.  So you have now people suspicious and skeptical of an administration lying because they remember it 20 years ago.  You have a president who`s much less popular than George Bush was, at this point, back in 2002 and 2003.

So -- and you have a public that knows that Donald Trump lies about everything as you pointed out at the top of the show.  So that makes this in some sense, easier but more -- it makes opposition to this war likely to be more successful than opposite, if the President continues, then the war in Iraq of almost two decades ago.

HAYES:  All right, Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio, thank you very much, sir.

BROWN:  Thanks, Chris.

HAYES:  Joining me now, Democratic Congresswoman Jackie Speier of California, member of the House Intelligence Committee, also brief today on the President`s strike of Soleimani.  Your reaction, Congresswoman, to what you heard.

REP. JACKIE SPEIER (D-CA):  Thank you, Chris.  I would concur, frankly, with my colleagues in the Senate.  It was a fair amount of rope a dope.  It was also I think, frustrating for many members, both Republicans and Democrats that the unwillingness of these highly placed persons within the administration to give us specifics.

So the vagueness of the rationale continues to plague us.  The strategy continues to be one of attack and belligerence, and it`s the last thing that we should be doing right now.  There is this window of opportunity.  We need to start diplomacy.  That is the only way we`re going to be able to move forward.

And I would say that the President, here`s your opportunity to do what you did with NAFTA and create a new agreement in your own image.  The JCPOA has relevance.  We want to make sure that Iran does not continue to build an arsenal of nuclear weapons.  We have to go back to the table.

HAYES:  There`s reporting today that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is going to move for a vote on a War Powers Resolution that would explicitly constrain the White House and what actions it could take.  Do you support such resolution?

SPEIER:  I do support the resolution.  And I think the speaker took that action after the briefing because it was pretty clear that the President does not have any interest in negotiation.  So on the one hand, he comes out this morning and says that Iran has stood down, but then he says I`m going to impose more sanctions.

That does not bring us peace.  That places more and more of our service members at risk, our diplomats at risk around the world.  And I can assure you that there are proxies out there that are still anxious to do us damage.  So we need to tamp this down and tamp it down fast.

HAYES:  There`s been some conflicting rationales legally by the administration about the strike on Soleimani, which, of course, was the major escalation in the chain of events here.  One of them they`ve given is that it was authorized to the 2002 authorization to use military force against Saddam Hussein`s Iraq.  Does that work to you?  Does that scan?

SPEIER:  No, of course, it doesn`t.  The rationale that was given and it`s been said publicly by Mike Pompeo, so I can certainly say it to you was that the President was relying on article two as president of the United States and on the AUMF from 2002, which was focused on taking out Saddam Hussein and fighting Iraq.

What we did there was kill an Iranian on Iraqi soil.  And an argument can be made that, you know, killing someone on the host country`s land is not allowed unless you can establish that they have not the ability to do it or unwilling to do it.  And certainly, that was not something that was contemplated by the President when he made this decision.

HAYES:  I know, obviously, you can only speak for yourself.  But having been on the Hill and in these briefings, the degree to which a Democratic caucus us united in support of the resolution, this Speaker is going to be moving forward to attach some constraints to what the President can do.

SPEIER:  I think there`s going to be a strong vote tomorrow in the House and I would not be surprised at all if we do not have Republicans voting for this as well.  What it is saying is clearly the President cannot take action against around without first coming to Congress and seeking the authority that the Congress has to declare war.

HAYES:  All right, Congresswoman Jackie Speier, thank you so much.

SPEIER:  Thank you, Chris.

HAYES:  Coming up, how the extraordinarily reckless behavior the president is still reverberating around the Middle East and what it means for Iraq and Iran next.


HAYES:  For all of the audible size release, honestly, I think across much of the political spectrum, frankly, that the acute moment of crisis seems at least in the very short term to have passed in U.S.-Iran relations.  All of the conditions that brought us here are still present and looming over everyone`s heads.

Here to talk about what this means for the region for Iran, Iraq, and the greater Middle East, to be with intimate knowledge of the area, its history, Hooman Majd, journalist and author of several books about Iran.  He has a piece out in the Washington Post today titled, if Iran -- "If Trump knew anything about Iran, he would never have threatened its culture" also an MSNBC News Analyst.  And Rula Jebreal, a journalist, foreign policy analyst who spent decades writing about and reporting on the region.  It`s great to have you both here.

We talked to you after the Soleimani strike, what was -- there was a moment last night when we were covering it live, there`s this question, what is this?  What are we looking at, right?  Are we looking at something that`s fairly limited and meant to sort of show retaliation, we`re not going to just let you do this, or are we looking at a massive escalation that`s going to plunge us somewhere?  It looks to be the former is that your interpretation?

HOOMAN MAJD, MSNBC NEWS ANALYST:  Absolutely.  But it`s kind of both in a way.  They had already signaled, the Iranians had signaled that they were going to have a military response.  Now they use ballistic missiles, not Katyusha rockets, which are very accurate, the ballistic missiles, so they obviously hit the bases in a way to not create so much damage or casualties that they could then -- that would then escalate it further.

But the signal there is that we can do it.  We can hit you.  We can hit your bases with our missiles.  If they fire 20, or 25, or whatever the number is because there`s some conflicting reports of the number of missiles from the U.S. Pentagon, if they fire 20, they can fire 100.  And so you can imagine what kind of damage they can do.

But clearly, this was also a message.  So it was a little bit of both.  It was an aggressive act, they could say to their people, we did this, but it was also telling President Trump, you know, be careful, be careful what you do.

HAYES:  The conditions here.  I mean, one of the most -- to me, the most dangerous condition in terms of the spiraling is the fact that we still have U.S. troops, thousands of them in Iraq, next to, I mean, in close proximity to the Shia militias, some of which are integrated into the Iraqi government, but essentially under the command of the Revolutionary Guard, just right next to each other.  That hasn`t gone away, Rula.

RULA JEBREAL, JOURNALIST AND FOREIGN POLICY ANALYST:  Absolutely not.  And, by the way, the Iraqi militia themselves, Sunni, or Kurds, and others, they`ve been on standby looking at the escalation and thinking our loyalty is to Iraq.  We will be -- the Americans one day, they will leave, but we will have to do with Iranians for decades to go.

HAYES:  Right.  So there are now -- even the people in Parliament who voted to reject the Americans and tell the Americans, thank you, goodbye, who`ve been telling the Americans don`t attack Iran, don`t do anything because the main goal that the Iranians have is to tell -- basically, to eliminate the Americans and to tell the Americans, please leave the Middle East, the entire Middle East.  This was their strategy number one.

Trump -- Donald Trump gave them exactly what they wanted by killing Soleimani.  And then the other element of it, now ever, all the bets are off on the nuclear capacity and ambition.  So now the two goals that Trump basically ran the election saying, I will never go to another war in the Middle East, now he basically walked back on that promise.  And the other promise of well, I can get another deal from the Iranians what he`s getting, he might be getting the atomic bomb.

HAYES:  Well, that`s -- that is the question, right?  I mean, it seem --

MAJD:  If he was a lawyer, he`d be disbarred.  I mean, this is malpractice on a level that is just -- it`s unbelievable.

HAYES:  Well, it seems to me my interpretation of this because I, you know, covering him every day, right is that he wants -- and Jackie Speier just said it, he wants NAFTA 2.0 for the Iran deal.  He wants a thing that he can call his own.  But the question is, is there a table to return to after this.

MAJD:  There is no table.  There is no table.  And every move he makes, moves any table miles further away from where it could have been.  I mean, the Iranian Iranians have been talking about, well, if you lift the sanctions, we`ll talk.  If you come back to the JCPOA, we`ll talk.

If you don`t come back to the JCPOA, but don`t impose these unilateral sanctions, or impose your sanctions but don`t stop other people from doing business with us so that they are then in violation of the nuclear deal, we can be at peace.  But no, he has to do the maximum pressure.  Today in the speech today, maximum pressure.

HAYES:  More sanctions.

MAJD:  More sanctions.

JEBREAL:  Even the people in the street who are protesting the Iranian regime, whether in Iraq, in Iran, in Lebanon, basically --

HAYES:  Of whom there are thousands and millions, right?

JEBREAL:  Millions in the streets.  400 Iraqi died last month, died protesting their regime`s -- and basically, they were hating Soleimani more than anything else.  These people, with one move by this president, basically are now today backing this regime that they loathed with all their heart.  Because they understand that what President Trump is doing to benefit Trump himself, his popularity, his reelection campaign, what the Iranian regime has been doing right or wrong is basically to create a Shia block, powerful block to stand up to the Sunnis, to stand up to Israel, to stand up to America.

So the narrative, the anti-American narrative that disappeared from the region for a while, is back, basically is back and being backed even by secular movements who until two days ago were demanding reforms.

HAYES:  There`s two -- there`s two sort of loaded guns still lingering, right?  There`s the nuclear program and there`s the proxies, right?  I mean, what you just talked, there`s Hezbollah, there are -- there are the militias, there are the Houthis, that`s a little more complicated and I think somewhat more independent than say Hezbollah.  That said, where do you see the nuclear trajectory going, and what actions do you expect from those proxies?

MAJD:  Well, I mean, the proxies, I think it`s -- you`re right that the Houthis are a little bit different and Hezbollah and the Shia proxies in Iraq are obviously tied much closer to the other one.  I`m not sure that the Iranian system can give a direct order that they wouldn`t want to follow. And I don`t think they work that way.  I think they work together in the interests of each side.

HAYES:  Right.

MAJD:  Certainly, for the Shia militias in Iraq, they -- at least the ones that are associated with Iran.  They believe that it`s in their interest.

HAYES:  Yes, it`s a partnership that benefits --

MAJD:  It`s a partnership.  And especially exactly what Rula said that when the U.S. eventually leaves or with, you know, the only the 5,000 troops that we do have, who`s sitting on their board?

HAYES:  Right.

MAJD:  And you have to remember from the Iranian standpoint, Iraq fought an eight-year war with Iran, a million dead soldiers on both sides.  They remember that and they have these militias and these proxies to bring bed that partly from their perspective is to prevent that from ever happening again.

HAYES:  I mean, if there`s one lesson of this era, it`s that the people in countries whether it`s Afghanistan or Iraq will be there --

MAJD:  Yes.

HAYES:  -- always, and we won`t be.

JEBREAL:  And that`s

HAYES:  And everyone makes their calculations with that knowledge.

MAJD:  But the nuclear deal is --

JEBREAL:  Trump`s rational -- excuse me, about negotiating with the Talibans, he said that Soleimani is basically a little guy, he was planning something.  Guess what, the Talibans were killing soldiers until yesterday.

HAYES:  And they were about to campaign on the 9/11 anniversary.

JEBREAL:  And he has been negotiating with them.  Why this rationale would work for the Talibans and with what normal -- first Soleimani, and the reason is, we have Sheldon Adelson, we have the Emiratis, and the Saudis who are pushing their own agenda here in the United States.

MAJD:  Yes, their people who want war.  But I mean, back to your question very quickly on the nuclear deal, I mean, it`s gone.  I mean, it`s basically gone.  I don`t know how it can be preserved.  I don`t know how Trump gets Obama JCPOA, you know, too.  It`s not going to happen.

HAYES:  Hooman Majd and Rula Jebreal, that was excellent.  Thank you both for being here.  Coming up, the Speaker of the House still holding out on sending impeachment articles -- well, the President has been impeached among all this, maybe that`s not coincidental to what`s happening, even as some Democrats get antsy.  The status of the impeachment of Donald Trump next.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Are the artists going to be transmitted tonight?  Anytime soon?

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA):  Do you listen when I speak?  I said, when we saw what the arena is that we would be sending members in, then we would send over the articles.  We haven`t seen that, so I don`t know how many more times I have to say that and how many times you want to ask it.


HAYES:  For three weeks now, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi is held off on sending the articles of impeachment over to the Republican-led Senate and she presses for a fair trial. But there are growing calls for senators on both sides of the aisle that say it is time for Donald Trump`s impeachment trial to begin.  The number of Democratic Senators came out today to make the case that Pelosi should send over the articles -- Senator Richard Blumenthal, quote, "we are reaching the time when the articles should be sent.  Senator Joe Manchin, "I think it`s time to turn the articles over and let`s see where the Senate can take it."  And Senator Chris Murphy, "my hope is that we`ll be able to get the trial started next week."

And this comes after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who has vowed to run the impeachment trial in, quote, "total coordination with the White House," came out yesterday to announced that he has secured enough votes from within the Republican caucus to start the trial without calling any witnesses.  That said, senators could still vote to seek witness testimony after opening arguments are made.

There remains, of course, the outstanding question of former national security John Bolton, who said on Monday that he is willing to testify if he is subpoenaed by the Senate.

Now Trump has dismissed the threat posed by Bolton saying yesterday that Bolton, quote, "would know nothing about what we`re talking about," but that`s plainly not true.  In fact, there`s reason to believe that for all the complaints Republicans had during the House impeachment about secondhand  information and hearsay, there`s probably no better fact witness than John Bolton. 

He is an obvious witness to everything.  Bolton participated in numerous conversations and meetings about Trump`s scheme, according to his lawyer.  It`s a claim backed up both by witness testimony and news reports.  And we know, thanks to testimony from Fiona Hill that Bolton wanted no part of Trump`s scheme, decrying it as a, quote, "drug deal."

The question now is what Nancy Pelosi and her colleagues in the House do next.  I`m joined now by Walter Dellinger, former acting solicitor general and head of the Office of Legal Counsel, who spending a lot of time looking at the senate rules and thinking about what happens here.

What do you think, Walter, about the idea expressed essentially by Democratic senators, which was Pelosi took a run at this.  She tried to withhold them for leverage.  That`s not going to happen.  Send them over.  What do you think of that?

WALTER DELLINGER, FORMER ACTING SOLICITOR GENERAL:  Well, I always trust her judgment.  She`s shown it to be really extraordinary.  And she is right in this sense, Chris, the idea of proceeding to have a trial where the House managers may not be able to call any witnesses or indeed subpoena the documents that are in the hands of the White House counsel that are directly relevant to the matter at issue, is just absurd.  There is no defensible argument against not hearing from witnesses in this case.

And if the majority leader has his way and precludes witnesses and evidence from being submitted, then Trump will stand in history as having been impeached and never exonerated, because you cannot have exoneration at a so-called trial in which there are no witnesses and the evidence isn`t gathered and submitted.

HAYES:  Well, what do you think about this idea?  I mean, some have raised the idea of the House subpoenaing John Bolton, essentially arguing that now that he`s announced himself open to a subpoena that he can`t like pick and choose which houses can do that.  If the senate isn`t going to do it, then the House can do it, and they either send the articles over or Neal Katyal talked about maybe retaining one of them.  What do you think about the idea of the House subpoenaing John Bolton now as part of the impeachment inquiry?

DELLINGER:  I think unless it`s assured that he is going to be allowed to testify at the behest of the House managers at the senate trial, then certainly he should be called to the House.  There`s every reason for doing so.  You know, the House submitted a report, along with the articles of impeachment, they will be submitted.  And the House`s report could easily be supplemented by the additional evidence that came from the testimony of John Bolton, so there`s no rule here that would preclude the House from supplementing its report.

It wouldn`t necessarily have to add additional articles unless Bolton revealed that an additional high crime and misdemeanor unrelated to the Ukrainian matter.

HAYES:  There`s been arguments from Republican Senators, Marco Rubio has made this argument, that essentially that the way it should work -- and he doesn`t really cite a source of authority for this, is that the sort of record is created by the House and the Senate tries on that record, the way that an appellate court reviews a factual record that`s set at a trial court.  What do you think of that idea.  What do you think the constitution and precedent says about what the senate`s role is here?

DELLINGER:  Well, that position makes no sense.  The House`s impeachment is the bringing of a charge, like a grand jury bringing an indictment.  The prosecutors often present just enough evidence to the grand jury in order to sustain an indictment, but the real trial comes with the evidence that`s before the Senate.

And history belies that as well.  The Andrew Johnson impeachment, there were nearly 50 witnesses that were called in the trial in the Senate who did not -- many of them did not appear before the House of Representatives.  There are trials of judges where there are as many as 15 character witnesses that are called by one side or the other.

It`s just the wrong concept.  A Senate is to try all cases of impeachment, and its own permanent rules, which are in place unless they are set aside by a vote of two-thirds of the Senate.  The rules contemplate that there will be testimony in the Senate and that they will hear live witnesses.  There are half a dozen rules that regulate the hearing of witnesses and testimony in the Senate.

HAYES:  So, that`s a great point that in the Senate rules that they adopt I think at the beginning of every congress, there are already rules that contemplate that witnesses would be part of an impeachment trial, because that has been a standard part of impeachment trials throughout the years.

DELLINGER:  Yes.  Well, there are standing Senate rules on impeachment trials.

HAYES:  Right.

DELLINGER:  Reaffirmed in 1986.  And those will provide, for example, that each witness shall be examined by only one person for each side, the cross examination shall be by one person and the examination, so the rules are suffuse with expectations that there will be live witnesses before the senate.

HAYES:  The final question, I guess, is what happens now.  Like it seems to me that there`s no real guiding authority from the constitution.  There is an impasse.  Is there any guiding authority, or is this essentially Nancy Pelosi will or will not send it over at her leisure?

DELLINGER:  Certainly that is within her discretion.  Now, when it comes over, one common mis-impression is that it takes four Republicans to join with the Democrats, it only takes three to produce a 50/50 tie on whether to block or hear a particular witness summoned by the House managers with the tie to be broken by Chief Justice Roberts.

He`s a process guy, he`ll want to hear the witnesses.

HAYES:  Oh, that`s interesting.  I thought it was the vice president, but because it`s in the context of the trial, the tie-breaking vote goes to the presiding justice.  Walter Dellinger...

DELLINGER:  The vice president has nothing to do with it.

HAYES:  I learned something new.  Walter Dellinger, thank you very much.

DELLINGER:  Coming up, the persistent fallacy that Trump is somehow an anti-war president when the evidence proves otherwise, that`s ahead.   But tonight`s Thing One, Thing Two is next.


HAYES:  Thing One tonight, with all that`s going on with impeachment, Iran and everything else, there are still people in Washington trying to get things done.  One of those people, believe it or not, is Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, who has initiated an administration turf war of trying to move the United States Secret Service back into the Treasury Department, where it used to reside, before it was moved to Department of Homeland Security after 9/11.  Mnuchin argues the Secret Service anti-counterfeiting operations and cybersecurity are better suited to the Treasury Department.

And he maybe right about that.  In fact, lawmakers in both parties have been working with him, including Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein, who is apparently all for it if we can just make some small adjustments to the reporting laws so that the cost of presidential travel be included for greater transparency, accountability, and oversight associated with the protection during travel of presidents and their families.

In other words, all those costs related to the president, like the more than 50 visits to Trump properties outside the Washington area since he took office, we need to that within 120 days, and we`re good to go.  And to that, Mnuchin said, yeah, how about no?  We prefer they make those disclosures next year, in other words, in 2021, after the election. 

Because if the full extent of Trump`s travel costs were released before the election, that would be no good for Donald Trump, and that`s Thing Two in 60 seconds.


HAYES:  When we talk about the corruption of this president and this administration, we`re often talking about the big things like abuse of power and extortion, trying to illegally start wars, but the corruption is all day, every day, especially around the issue of Trump`s travel and golf trips and the full administration-wide campaign to make sure no one ever really knows how much is being spent on what, and how much crucially is going straight into the president`s pocket.

In his exhaustive reporting in The Washington Post, David Fahrenthold has been able to show us that if we extrapolate out the cost of one month of Trump travel that we know cost $13.6 million, Trump would have exceeded Barack Obama`s total expenses, all eight years of it, before the end of Trump`s first year in office.

But as Fahrenthold keeps telling us, that`s just from snapshots of information, we still don`t have the full picture, because the White House refuses to hand over what every administration has always released, they will not disclose how much government money is spent at his golf resorts and other properties, even though we do know that his properties made $4.2 million from Republican campaigns in the lead-up to midterms.

The Secret Service has been providing their cost reports either late or just not at all, and the White House refuses to provide Trump`s travel costs.

Steve Mnuchin and Donald Trump would like for you to wait for any of that until next year.


HAYES:  One reason that the threat of catastrophe in the Middle East remains present at this moment is that the president is surrounded by people who have been quite openly pushing for full military confrontation with Iran for awhile, and one of them is perhaps his single most infamous adviser.  He holds no official government title.  He draws no salary from the public, but he is, as we`ve learned in painful detail over the last several months, essentially running a shadow foreign policy all his own, one which has led to the president`s impeachment.

I speak, of course, of Rudy Giuliani who, aside from his various meetings with various Ukrainian figures, to manufacturer dirt on Joe Biden has represented Turkish interests and then push for policies favorable to President Erdogan.  And he has a longstanding relationship with a fringe Iranian dissident group known as the MEK, a  group rooted in Marxism and Islamism, that`s often described as a cult, and whose primary goal is to overthrow the Iranian regime.

The MEK is actually based in Albanian now, and its members are mostly Iranian exiles in the west.  And they have paid tons of money to American political figures in order to curry favor with them, including John Bolton, Howard Dean, Ed Rendell, and, of course,Rudy Giuliani.

When contacted by the Daily Beast on Monday, Giuliani cited the MEK as a reason he supported the assassination of Qassem Soleimani saying the Iranian general was, quote, "directly responsible for killing some of my MEK people."

This would be a little like favoring action against the U.S. because you had friends in the Branch Davidians.

In fact, the group is so toxic and out there that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, that Mike Pompeo, sent a cable yesterday to all U.S. diplomatic posts ordering them not to meet with the group.

But, of course, Rudy doesn`t work for the State Department, so he can do whatever he wants and we all get to deal with the consequences.  Just what those consequences are, next.


HAYES:  There`s been a persistent subtext in coverage of Donald Trump, often stated explicitly that somehow the man is deep down opposed to military intervention abroad, but he ran on both pro-war crimes and military escalation with Iran and also at the same time getting out of other wars.

And here`s the thing, since he has been president, the United States has accelerated air strikes and targeted killings in most of, if not all the areas, where the U.S. has been carrying out drone and  bombing missions. 

There`s not a lot of coherence to Trump`s views, which he changes all the time, and many on which appear to largely center on his self-perception and contempt for former President Barack Obama.

But as Spencer Ackerman writes in The Daily Beast, this confrontation with Iran is actually the  logical conclusion to the war on terror and its architects, quote, "the Soleimani hit had less to do with national security than it did with an aggrieved, hysterical sense of national honor."  Ackerman continues, "Trump is no alternative to the war on terrorism, nor a departure from it, he is its inevitable product."

In writing in The New York Times, columnist Michelle Goldberg argues that Soleimani`s killing is a result of intersecting dynamics, including, quote, "the influence of rapture-mad Iran hawks like Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Vice President Mike Pence."

Joining me now to discuss this, Spencer Ackerman and Michelle Goldberg.  You touch on this a bit in the column.  You know, there`s always been this sense that like Donald Trump is anti-war in some way.


HAYES:  Which always seems to me to credit way too much coherence to his views on this stuff at all.

GOLDBERG:  Well, I think Donald Trump is anti-American commitments, period.  Right?  So, he`s sort has always been for maximum American brutality with minimal American commitments, which is I think is why the drone strikes are such a perfect example of his philosophy, right?  He wants basically an unrestrained field for American aggression.

HAYES:  And war crimes and barbarism.

GOLDBERG:  Right, and he has run on war crimes, has been pro-war crimes for his entire time in public life.  But again, where he pulls back is where there`s any American commitment.  And there`s something good in that, right?  I mean, I don`t think that there`s something good in his philosophy, but there`s obviously -- that does restrain him so he isn`t going to, I don`t think, invade Iraq -- I mean, invade Iran.

HAYES:  Right.

GOLDBERG:  What frightens me is that he would order some sort of massive bombing campaign that would inevitably entangle America in a war with Iran.

HAYES:  That, of course, is -- I totally agree with that, right.  Like -- and you even see, like, I saw Ted Cruz saying no one wants a land war in Iran, like land war is doing a lot of work there, right, like this idea of like well no one is going to -- we`re not going to send troops to Iran, it`s like, right, but in some ways this connects to what the logic of what the war on terror is, right, it`s this sort of forever war where we`re fighting everywhere, but we`re never going to get too bogged down.

SPENCER ACKERMAN, THE DAILY BEAST:  And let`s remember what it means to have a war on terrorism.  We`re not talking just about a war against a discrete enemy, against something that can be defeated.  The subtext of the war on terrorism is important here, just as you mention the subtext of Donald Trump is important here, the war on terrorism is fundamentally about who violence ought to be inflicted upon, the subtext of that is Muslim barbarians is essentially that we have seen for the past, you know -- we`re going on an entire generation has been shaped by this really gruesome and, frankly, racist subtext that`s been driving policy, whether we want to admit it or not.  And we ought to.

And it is because of that subtext, because of the slow acceptance into American life of who this violence in not just abroad, but in the United States as well, who it can be legitimately used against, who could be locked up, who can have due process denied to them, who coming into the United States ought to be viewed as a threat then by degree slowly and slowly not allowed into the United States and so on and so forth, that has a really catalytic structural effect on the United States that we haven`t dealt with in really all of its manifestations, we just see it in this occasional sense of objections to these wars that the United States can`t figure out how to end.

The exhaustion of that unlocks a whole lot of authoritarian possibilities that we see with Trump.

Well, the perfect example of this being the fact that like Qassem Soleimani, who was responsible for tremendous amounts of blood shed throughout the region, which I think everyone agrees about, right, had also just like been part of the anti-ISIS coalition and is viewed among certain segments of Iranian society, and among the Shia militia, as essentially like a warrior against terrorist, like literally as an anti-terrorist leader.

GOLDBERG:  Right, and their justification is that the authorization for war in Iraq in 2002 then how extends to authorization for strikes in the number two official in Iran, you know, the arch enemy of Saddam Hussein.  It`s this sort of like blanket  permission, but I also don`t think that probably -- I mean, I guess Trump acknowledged today that there was this hostility between Iran and ISIS, but I don`t think in a lot of his rhetoric -- I think in his rhetoric they`re all sort of one mass.

ACKERMAN:  So, one of the things that`s also important to recognize about Soleimani is what just -- you know, other countries have nationalisms too.

HAYES:  Of course.

ACKERMAN:  And it doesn`t really seem to enter into the conversation of the United States that this is what will happen when the United States attacks another country.  We`ve seen massive demonstrations against the Iranian regime, all of that has been overtaken by this sense of national outrage over this strike.  And the United States isn`t going to figure out a way out of that until ultimately it comes to terms with what it`s been doing for 20 years, and you know obviously much, much longer in the region, but especially after 9/11.

HAYES:  The other thing that`s persistent, and I think the three of us are part of the same generational cohort, frankly, as journalists who are defined by the Iraq war and watching that happen, I think, is this idea that the same -- the same braggadocio, the same Mark Esper saying we don`t want to start a war, but we can finish it.  We`re still in Afghanistan 19 years later.

GOLDBERG:  Although it does have this sort of cut-rate aspect, right, so that...

HAYES:  Yes, that`s true.

GOLDBERG:  They kind of made a little bit more effort with weapons of mass destruction, whereas now it`s just sort of, yes, we`re transparently lying about an imminent threat.  Nobody is really pretending otherwise.  And we`re not even going to -- you know, and nobody is really going to kind of make too big of a deal over the fact that we`ve just lied about this.  Everybody is glossing over that.  It`s almost -- it`s not even kind of considered a scandal anymore.

ACKERMAN:  It`s addiction.  The more you do the drug, the less of the effect it`s going to have on you so you have to do more and more in order to get this kind of effect that you`re going for.  Our high has worn off.

GOLDBERG:  I think the addiction metaphor, I`ve been thinking about it so much, because if you`re dealing with, say, someone who has an addiction to alcohol, and each individual drink is defensible, like, well it was the holidays.  Well, I was upset, right.  And it`s like, it`s true, like one drink doesn`t hurt you, in the aggregate, over the course of enough time, you`re doing something extremely toxic and destructive, in the aggregate, over the court of time over the last 19 years it`s impossible, I think, to say that U.S. foreign policy, military policy, and the war on terror has succeeded.  It really is an addiction.

Spencer Ackerman and Michelle Goldberg, thank you both.

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