CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: Or will the attorney general of the United States be squashed like a bug like all the other Trump cabinet secretaries who dare to take seriously their trusted roles in the world`s greatest democratic republic. And that`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us. "ALL IN" with Chris Hayes starts right now.
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CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: Tonight on ALL IN.
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): The President is again trying to manipulate federal law enforcement to serve his political interest.
HAYES: The Attorney General complains he can`t do the President`s bidding while the President keeps publicly asking him to do his bidding.
WILLIAM BARR, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: I cannot do my job here at the Department with a constant background commentary.
HAYES: Tonight, Neal Katyal on what Congress can do to rein in Trump`s abuse of power, and how one state attorney general is standing up to the President. Plus, Steve Kornacki and Michelle Goldberg on what could be many pathways to a Democratic victory. Trymaine Lee reports on how black voters see the Democratic field.
TRYMAINE LEE, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: There`s this idea that black voters and the black vote is like a monolith. But that`s not necessarily the case within your friend rubric.
HAYES: And renewed scrutiny and brand new controversy as Mike Bloomberg clients in the polls.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But why did you say it?
MICHAEL BLOOMBERG (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It was five years ago.
HAYES: When ALL IN starts right now.
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HAYES: Good evening from New York, I`m Chris Hayes. We are in an extremely dangerous moment for American democracy and our rule of law because of a president who was both dangerous and also weak and a coward. That`s the paradox of this moment. In the week following his impeachment for acquittal for abuse of power, we have watched Trump constantly attempt to use his office to abuse his power.
Just today, the United States sicked (ph) his followers on a random American citizen who just did her constitutional duty to serve on a jury. She was a juror in the trial of Trump`s longtime buddy and associate Roger Stone. And today, Donald Trump accused her of bias.
Now, that juror is a real person. Someone who believes somewhere, has a family, and a life. And now she almost certainly has a tangible security problem on her hands. She woke up today as an American who did her constitutional duty with the most powerful person in the world training his rhetorical fire at her. And now, she has to worry about people seeking to do her harm.
This happens to every person who`s been on the receiving end of Trump`s attacks, more or less. The Ukraine whistleblower, one example, was driven to and from work by armed security officers. Let`s not forget, of course, that two years ago one of Trump supporters mailed pipe bombs to more than a dozen people he considered to be Trump`s enemies. That man is now serving a 20-year prison sentence.
This is where we are right now. And just today, President Trump has just undertaken a new round of impeachable abuses of power in front of everyone. Here he is admitting that he is currently using federal policy to punish the citizens of New York in order to get New York State to drop lawsuits and investigations into him. Almost exactly the scenario that how awesome feature managers warned about during Trump`s trial just two weeks ago.
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REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): For legitimate reasons, you might say to a governor of a state, hey, governor of a state, you should ship in more towards your own disaster relief. But if the President`s real motive in depriving a state of disaster relief is because that governor won`t get his attorney general to investigate the President`s political rival, are we ready to say that the President can sacrifice the interests of the people of that state or in the case of Medvedev, the people of our country, because all quid pro quos are fine. It`s carte blanche.
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HAYES: Today, Trump`s Attorney General Bill Barr gave an interview saying Trump`s tweets about the Justice Department pending cases and judges overseeing these cases, "Make it impossible for me to do my job. "And that sure is true because it`s clear that Bill Barr job is to enact Trump`s corrupt policies. And when you got the president constantly drawing attention to that fact, well, it makes it a lot harder for him to get away with it.
The success or failure of Trump`s current power grab depends on civil society and on ordinary citizens and on whether institutions will allow themselves to be bullied and cowed by a man who is fundamentally weak and a coward. The four lawyers who quit Roger Stone`s case, they refuse to be bullied, and they deserve tremendous accolades for that. Former Ukrainian Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch refused to be bullied. So did Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman.
And today in New York State Attorney General Letitia James refused to back down as well, responding to Trump`s tweet "When you stop violating the rights and liberties of all New Yorkers, we will stand down. Until then, we have a duty and responsibility to defend the constitution and the rule of law."
The way Trump works is that he intimidates people into giving up ahead of time, or alternatively, he wears you down with the duration of the fight. But Trump is weak. He is unpopular. I`m not making this up. People seem to have lost sight of this over the last few weeks. Here`s just the last five polls.
You can see in his last four polls of approval ratings are at 41, 50, 40, and 41 percent. That 50 is Rasmussen which tends to poll pretty well for him. The way Trump loses is when people refuse to be cowed. And the other thing that has to happen is people have to speak out about what they know. It`s scary and maybe for certain ex-officials, it might impair your speaking fees. But yesterday night, Trump`s last Chief of Staff John Kelly was able to give a little hint of how he really feels about the president at a paid speech.
He criticized the President`s handling of Ukraine, North Korean, and immigration. And John Kelly knows a lot more than that. And I think it`s fair to say that he owes the country not just people that pay him a lot of money and accounting of what exactly he saw. As his former National Security Advisor, John Bolton who was a $2 million book deal, but declined to testify before the house.
And there are a whole lot of other people, many people who have seen some crazy stuff inside the Trump administration in our federal government. Because if there`s one consistent theme is the people closest Trump tend to end up the most horrified by the conduct. And they owe it to their country to speak up now.
Now, Congress still exists, even the president would like you to forget about it. And just because President Trump was impeached and acquitted, doesn`t mean Congress is gone. And there are ways for Congress to tangibly act against Trump`s power grab. Former acting Solicitor General Neal Katyal has one suggestion, and he joins me now.
Neal, how do you see -- what do you see is the abilities of the House Democrats, particularly, because they control that body to act concretely in ways that more than putting out press releases or statements restrains what we are seeing this president do right now?
NEAL KATYAL, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST: Well, Chris, I think we are in an extraordinary situation and I think it demands an extraordinary response from Congress. I mean, today, we learned that Bill Barr, of all people, has attacked the president for saying that his tweets make it hard for him to do his job. And that makes sense, because, you know, there`s a long tradition at the Justice Department that you don`t have political interference, you don`t have presidents weighing in and saying, oh, help my friend, give him a lighter sentence, which is exactly what happened here.
And so, Trump failed even to Bill Barr standard. You know, this is a guy, Bill Barr, who mischaracterized the Mueller report, who sat by last week when the President had his acquittal ceremony and celebration and the president attacked, "FBI scum." He was quiet about all of that. But here, even Trump managed to fail the Bill Barr standard. And that`s kind of like failing a class at Yale, Chris. Like, you really got to try to fail that class at Yale.
But you know, the president managed to do it here and fail even Bill Barr`s standard. And so I do think, yes, it demands an extraordinary response from Congress. And one response, our founders gave the Congress the purse power, the power to spend money. And they fund the Justice Department and one hand can give another can take away.
KATYAL: So you`d -- every year there`s an appropriation for the Justice Department and I`m certainly not advocating that the Justice Department be defunded its entirety. There`s all sorts of wonderful career prosecutors and civil servants on the civil side to do all sorts of important things. But there are things that this administration has done with the Justice Department, which are beyond the pale.
And so that includes, you know, child separation, it includes having the Attorney General have members of his staff who are lackeys who go and serve, and they kicked out the old federal prosecutor in Washington, D.C. and replaced it with one of Bill Barr`s people. you could defend that salary.
You could just take a comprehensive look at the things that we fund that our taxpayer dollars go to fund at the Justice Department and say, oh, we`re not paying that bill anymore, because that is reprehensible. And, you know, that`s going to be a fairly long list, but it`s an important list.
HAYES: What do you think about the obligation of people also to speak out? It seems to me that there are a lot of people who know more than they`re saying. The two most obvious, of course, John Kelly, who got some headlines for a speech. It was a paid speech. John Bolton who`s you know teased a little bit and some books have leaked.
There are other people who know what`s going on. There are people inside the Justice Department, I think who we`re probably scared. But what do you think their obligation is at this moment?
KATYAL: So I do know actually. As a matter of fact, I`ve gotten calls in the last 24 hours from people at the Justice Department, career folks who are concerned, who have seen things, and they`re afraid because, you know, they don`t know what to do, because the president and his minions are going to go and attack them if they try and blow the whistle, even to Congress, even through appropriate channels.
This is a president who is vindictive and is not bound by the law as his actions of the last week have shown. So I do think -- you know, I understand their concerns. At the same time. I think they have to follow the lead of these four brave prosecutors and tell the truth to the American people, and what happened. And they should do it, obviously, through appropriate channels.
But you know, our country is built on the idea of whistleblowers. Even in the Continental Congress in 1777, we`ve protected whistleblowers who blew the whistle about government abuse. And we are now seeing in our lifetimes one of the greatest threats to that and these whistleblowers do have to come forward.
HAYES: You obviously, you wrote a book about impeachment in the run up to the president`s impeachment. What do you make of the president admitting today, essentially a coercive quid pro quo with the state of New York, not a foreign government, the state of New York using federal policy to punish New York travelers to have tangible material effects on the income of New York, on the tourist industry in exchange for them dropping investigations into them?
KATYAL: Yes, it is impeachable behavior. In an ordinary world, this would have been something that would have led to articles of impeachment. So too, just what he`s doing with Roger Stone, the fact that your friend, you benefit and then you don`t -- you know, you throw the book at other people. That`s what King George III was accused up. So all of this is squarely within impeachment territory. Unfortunately, we have a Republican Senate that I don`t think honors their obligations and oaths to the Constitution.
HAYES: I really think -- I mean, just to come back to what you said, the Judiciary Committee, there`s -- I think, the government is funded through September 30th. And everyone`s going to be worried about some big high stakes fight in the run-up to the election. But if you don`t play hardball, you`re going to get rolled is really my feeling.
KATYAL: Exactly. I mean, I don`t take any pleasure in recommended these extreme measures. But Chris, we need extreme measures. This is not something that`s happened in our lifetimes. What he is doing to the Justice Department is unprecedented. Whether you`re Republican, a Democrat, or Independent, you should be very afraid of this president wielding the prosecution power in this way.
HAYES: Neal Katyal, thank you very much. Joining me now for more on the President`s attack on the rule of law, Ian Bassin, former Associate White House Counsel in the Obama administration, now Executive Director of Protect Democracy, a nonpartisan group working to present prevent America from sliding towards authoritarianism.
Ian, there`s a lot of outrage and hand wringing and fear and disgust at the actions the President have taken which really are over the line in so many ways. What do you tell people about what the -- what to do with that?
IAN BASSIN, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, PROTECT DEMOCRACY: Look, when you look around the world these days, you see autocrats in countries like Egypt and Russia and Venezuela behaving the way Donald Trump is behaving. And the one thing that we still have that`s different in those countries is we still have the freedom to speak out and the freedom to speak up, the first three words of the Constitution, "We the People."
We now know that Republicans and the Attorney General are not 1going to stand up to an autocrat. And so it`s up to us to do it. And I think one of the things we can do right now that`s concrete, the men and women of the Department of Justice and the federal civil service all taken oath to uphold the Constitution and do what`s right. And they are being pressured now by their president to abandon that oath.
And as you mentioned, this for brave prosecutors in the Roger Stone trial, they stood up for their oath. Civil servants need to hear from the American people that we expect them all to uphold their oath. I would encourage people. Tell your friends go online. Hashtag uphold the oath. They need to hear from us that we want them to stand up for the principles of our Constitution.
HAYES: I was so struck by the President going after the fourth person on that jury today because, you know, this is someone who has done their civic duty, they have convicted this individual, and for the President to rain down venom upon them, felt to me is almost one of the most sort of strong man things that he`s done in an incredible list of them throughout the first three years in office.
BASSIN: Look, the famous thing about autocrats is the public often looks at the people they go after and think, well, at least it`s not me. But the problem as history shows, eventually it is. And I look, one of the founding principles of this country is, if any one of us had done what Roger Stone had done, the President is coming to give us special treatment. But he`s given special treatment to his friend and that notion, that fairness, that unequal application of the law is not just a problem as a matter of principle, it`s a problem because eventually, that catches all of us in its wake. And unless we want our country to go down that road, we have to stand up as a population.
HAYES: Do you think -- and this is an honest question, you give me an honest answer. And I don`t know if you guys run polling over there. Do you think this bite with voters, with people that are assessing the legacy of this president, these things like the rule of law, the integrity of the civil service, the integrity of the judicial system?
BASSIN: It does bite and here`s how we know it bites. There were a group of voters who voted for Barack Obama in 2012 and Donald Trump in 2016. And one thing polling showed about them is they didn`t like Hillary Clinton because in their view, and this was their view, if they had done what she had done, they would have gone to jail. And that notion of unequal application of justice really struck people in their core.
And now we have a president whose claiming that power on his own, that that law enforcement works to protect his friends and becomes a weapon to go after his enemies. And that`s something that viscerally people react to. But it`s not just what the public can do. I think it`s really important that civil society respond.
You know, when we formed Protect Democracy, we understood that people who are Republicans and Democrats could come together to use the levers of our system to protect our Constitution and we`ve done that. When the President stood up a commission to suppress votes, we sued and we helped get it shut down. When the President, you know, made a fake emergency declaration. We sued and we got a national injunction.
We even got more than 1,000 alumni of the Department of Justice to stand up and issue a statement calling for the rule of law, defending those still there. And as Neal Katyal said before, people currently at the department have said those statements are really helping them withstand the pressure they`re under and uphold the oath.
HAYES: All right, Ian Basin of Protect Democracy, thank you so much.
BASSIN: Thanks, Chris.
HAYES: Still to come, can Michael Bloomberg buy his way to the nomination. A look at how the billionaire use his own fortune to again power in New York City when his mayor with someone very familiar with the Bloomberg playbook. That in two minutes.
HAYES: Today we got our first look at national polling at the Democratic primary post-New Hampshire. Senator Bernie Sanders is 10 points ahead of that polling of Vice President Joe Biden who`s just one point ahead of former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. One of the takeaways here and there`s a bunch is the shift in black support among the top three candidates. Biden is losing that support while both Sanders and Bloomberg are trending up.
What we`re encountering right now with the Bloomberg candidacy is just completely and totally unprecedented. CNN reports Bloomberg has already spent more than $350 million of his own money. He has a reported net worth of $60 billion left to play around with. The New York Times points out that he`s paying field organizers as much as $6,000 a month. In December alone, he dropped roughly $200,000 catering his New York campaign office.
No one has ever seen money on a scale like this in a presidential campaign. But the people that lived through the Bloomberg years in New York, this is all very, very familiar. Bloomberg uses money not just for ads and campaigning, but to essentially purchase political acquiescence among the very, very divisive politics in New York City.
Today, a journalist who`s covered Bloomberg extensively had this incredible Twitter thread talking about how the method works. "One reason all works so well is that Mike and the team he was able to acquire are smart, other rich candidates have failed. But Mike`s team has a combo that`s rare, maybe even unprecedented in U.S. politics, unlimited money, elite intelligence, and Machiavellian ethics."
Joining me now, the author of that Twitter feed, Journalist Blake Zeff, who had a front-row seat to all three of Bloomberg campaigns for Mayor here in New York. Blake, I`ve known you for a long time and you both covered as a journalist, New York City politics, and worked in New York politics. You know Bloomberg well. And one of the things you hit home here is we`re all looking at the spending on the ads but the way that his money works in New York was bigger than that. What do you mean?
BLAKE ZEFF, JOURNALIST: That`s exactly right. I think when you hear people talking about the Bloomberg spending, it`s always about oh, he`s spending so much on commercials, he gets to amplify his message more. He -- you know, he gets to run more commercials. It goes so far beyond that. In New York, what he would do --and you know, keep in mind this was a Republican mayor in a very Democratic city. A Republican mayor, who was a Rudy Giuliani ally who had gotten into some trouble because his policing policies stop and frisk had been ruled unconstitutional.
How did he get endorsements from key Democrats in his New York City races? Well, one thing he would do is that he would donate very generously to keep people -- you know, to nonprofits, or maybe a church group that someone who led the church was very influential. So he was able to curry favor with people who can then give him very meaningful endorsements.
Furthermore, he could also silence critics. After he transferred his voter ID from Republican to Independent, the Republican Party never attacked him after that for the rest of his mayoral. It was sort of curious, but then you look at those financial filings and you see, he was giving them millions of dollars. So he`s been able to use his money to both curry support but also silence dissent.
HAYES: The most incredible example of this is when you know, he was one of the people who advocated term limits for mayoral -- mayors, right? and there was a two-term limit, and then he wanted a third. And so they had to unwind that. And all the groups that probably would have been at the forefront, sort of New York, good government, civic groups of going against that just got a ton of money from Michael Bloomberg. And lo and behold, they didn`t raise a hue and cry.
ZEFF: It was amazing. And beyond that, you know, he sort of give us the context. The voters in New York City said we are putting a law into place and a voter referendum saying you can`t run for mayor for more than two terms. Well, he really, really wanted to run. And so he was able to get a whole coalition of folks to support him in that including, as you say, charities and nonprofits who then we later learned were given millions of dollars by him.
HAYES: How do you think of him as a candidate? I want to play this clip. So in the last few days, I think he`s starting to get the scrutiny that someone who`s polling, you know, third in a national election would get. This is just one example of a whole bunch of things you`ve said that one would think would be very problematic, if not toxic, for a lot of Democratic voters. This is him basically, blaming the financial crisis on essentially people of color borrowing too much and getting rid of redlining regulations. Take a look.
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MICHAEL BLOOMBERG (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Redlining, if you remember, was the term where banks took hold, neighborhoods, and said, people in these neighborhoods are poor. They`re not going to be able to pay off their mortgages. Tell them, your salesmen don`t go into those areas. And then Congress got involved as local elected officials as well and said, oh, that`s not fair. These people should be able to get credit. And once you started pushing in that direction, banks started making more and more loans, where the credit of the person buying the house wasn`t as good as you would like.
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HAYES: First of all, factually, completely wrong on the history of this because the CRA which is the Community Reinvestment Act passed in 1970, it is not what causes the crisis in 2007. My question to you, though, is, do you expect him to campaign much and have to respond to this, or do you think his tactic is going to be, don`t do a ton of interviews, don`t do a ton of events, and essentially try to not ever engage with these questions while just flooding the airwaves?
ZEFF: Bingo. That`s exactly where the ads and the advantage of all those ads comes in, because Michael Bloomberg doesn`t like to do interviews. He doesn`t want to get tough questions on these kinds of things. Most politicians wouldn`t want to but they have to because they don`t have endless amounts of money. And the way that you get known by the public is through doing these interviews, these forums, these debates and so on.
But for Michael Bloomberg, if he can just run ads all the time, he`s making a bet. That bet is that far fewer people are going to see what you just showed, then you`re going to see the hundreds of millions of dollars, maybe billions of dollars-worth of commercials that he`s going to be putting out. And those commercials can say any story that he wants.
One commercial that he`s putting out talks about him being essentially best friends with Barack Obama. You would look at and think maybe he was even his vice president. In truth, as we said, Bloomberg was a Republican for much of his term, but also didn`t even endorse Obama in 2008. In 2012, he did it at the last second in an op-ed where he basically attacked Obama as being too partisan and divisive.
But a lot of people are going to see those ads and fewer people are going to see the kinds of things that you just showed, and that`s the bet that he`s making. And it`s very hard to then correct all those ads, because who else is going to put a billion dollars on the air correcting all that? So it`s absolutely a bet that he`s making. And to your point, he`s not going to want to be doing lots of interviews. He`s going to let these ads and the stories he can create for them do the talking for him.
HAYES: Final quick question. If he qualifies the debate, he`s missing one poll now to qualify for the debate in Nevada. Do you think he goes to debate?
ZEFF: I think the -- look, I`m not a -- I`m not a psychic so I can`t predict. I think there will be a lot of pressure on him to actually do it. But I`ll tell you, they like the system perfectly fine right now where he can just hide, not do debates, not do interviews, not yet tough questions from people like you, and instead, have those commercials air all the time, have those endorsements come out from people who`s given money to, have these crowd sizes that events get written about when in fact those crowd sizes are largely because these events are fully catered with free wine and lots of food, and basically create this alternate reality that gets depicted in the way that he wants it. That is the way he`s run his races in New York and it worked three times.
Blake Zeff, thank you so much for making time tonight. Still ahead, how is it that both Michael Bloomberg and Bernie Sanders both beat Donald Trump in head -- in head to head -- the latest head to head polling? Our own Steve Kornacki, Michelle Goldberg are here to talk about what it could mean about the possible multiple paths to a potential Democratic victory in 2020, next.
HAYES: The Democratic nominee electability question is so fraught, partly because it is just so hard to know. And I don`t think it`s not worth thinking or talking about it in a rigorous way. But it`s hard to do so. So here`s one little top line that suggests just how complicated it is. In the most recent Quinnipiac poll that came out earlier this week, the two people winning against President Donald Trump by the largest margins are literally the complete opposite, OK.
On one side over here is Bernie Sanders, and the other side over here is Mike Bloomberg. And aside from the fact they`re both 75-plus and Jewish, you could not pick two people with more different profiles, strengths, and weaknesses, and politics and all that. And yet, there they are, the two at the top of the poll, which says something about the fact that I think there are many different ways a coalition could be built to beat Donald Trump with many different pluses and minuses.
Mike Bloomberg has been endorsed by Congressman Max Rose and Congresswoman Stephanie Murphy, both Democrats in swing or suburban districts, places where he would seem to play well.
But Bloomberg also has among the lowest favorability ratings of those running. And there`s good reason to believe he would do quite poorly among, say, white voters without a college degree in the Midwest, which is, of course, key to the electoral college.
Bernie Sanders, on the other hand, has a higher favorability rating. And there`s some reason to believe that after spending his whole life, political life, in a white rural area where you have to appeal to both rural voters and lots of white voters without college degrees, that he has got a pretty good way of communicating a kind of populism that might improve his margins, and a similar way to Sherrod Brown has done in Ohio.
So, Sanders might be stronger among that electoral college belt, but many of the same Democratic House members in swing districts think he`d be a real problem for them in their own races.
So, what does that all add up to? Here with me now to talk about what this does or does not mean, MSNBC national political correspondent Steve Kornacki, New York Times op-ed columnist Michelle Goldberg.
I was just so struck by this, right, because everyone`s wrestling with this question. It`s like here`s a little bit of data, and it`s a snapshot in time that suggests the two people who are the most diametrically opposed are both at the top.
MICHELLE GOLDBERG, NEW YORK TIMES: I just wish we had some data about which part of those two coalitions were overlapping, right, whether it`s -- I don`t think it`s the same 51 percent of people who are saying they`re going to vote for the Democrat in both of those two polls, but we just don`t know, right?
HAYES: Although, here`s one question I think is really interesting, when you look at the cross tabs, and I`ve looked at all the head to head polling, there`s a degree to which whoever the Democratic nominee is, most of the coalition looks the same, right. Like, the most extreme version of this, which some people have sort of said is in this era, the nominee doesn`t matter that much, that basically negative partisanship is what`s driving everything. You pick a person, you put them, and you make them the nominee, and basically that`s -- I mean, what do you think about that theory?
STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Right, polarization plus or minus a few points, that`s every election right now.
HAYES: Right, but the plus or minus may be even less than it used to be.
KORNACKI: Much less than it used to be. We don`t live in the age of 49- state landslides anymore, and even if Democrats have a disastrous nominee, somebody who proves to be one, it`s not going to be McGovern/Nixon in that sense.
But disastrous now can be three points worse than somebody else.
HAYES: Among a certain cross-section in the state.
KORNACKI: It`s still a key question. And I think when you get to like why is Bloomberg and Sanders, why does it look the same against Trump, I think one theory I`d put out there is you got to this in your last segment, the real intense scrutiny of Bloomberg is just starting.
KORNACKI: And the real intense scrutiny of Sanders, for that matter, is just starting. Both of them have something in common right now, they`re both very widely known. And I think Sanders` opponents have kind of left him alone so far. I think that`s changing now. And Bloomberg is just now getting scrutiny from the media and from him opponents, so I think there`s a question of...
HAYES: A little name recognition.
KORNACKI: ...is that a little artificial?
HAYES: But there`s also the question of like do -- like Amy Klobuchar hasn`t gotten a ton of national scrutiny, I think it`s fair to say. She doesn`t have tremendous name recognition, but she was beating Trump by four or five...
HAYES: Like everyone was beating him in a somewhat similar margin -- Elizabeth Warren, who by the way, her husband worked for her I have to disclose -- that the question that I always have is like when the machinery of the campaign is done, when the billion dollars of Trump ads have been dropped on the head of whether it`s Bloomberg, Klobuchar, Buttigieg, Warren, Biden, or Sanders, does it all converge to the same number?
GOLDBERG: And that`s what we don`t know. And I think that`s what is kind of causing so many Democrats such panic, right.
I think people are terrified. Terror makes people risk averse, which I think has something to do with people flocking towards Bloomberg, right? There`s a sense of comfort in the like metaphorically big rich man is just going to come and, like, put everything right.
And I think people, you know, Bernie Sanders` numbers looks like he`s really electable. And, actually, Bloomberg`s issue positions make him look really unelectable, right? Like the most unpopular combination if you look at polls of American political attitudes are socially liberal, fiscally conservative.
GOLDBERG: Outside of, like, California, Washington, D.C., almost nobody actually feels like that.
But there`s a perception that, you know, Biden having collapsed, people just want a strongman who can get it done.
HAYES: Well, and part of the question here, too, which is a huge uncertainty, Steve, when you`re looking at precedent is, the question of Bloomberg`s money just isn`t any model, and it`s not in any history. Like, no one knows what it means.
GOLDBERG: But socialism isn`t either.
HAYES: Right, that`s true.
GOLDBERG: That`s the other thing, right?
HAYES: That`s a great point.
GOLDBERG; There`s such an age bifurcation on this, because for younger people it`s no big deal. If you`re older -- I mean, I`m ashamed to say I`m old enough to remember what a big deal it was that Bill Clinton went to the Soviet Union, right? That was a big deal. And he had to answer for it. Going to Moscow when he was in college.
And so, and we`ve never sort of had a counter-cultural candidate in the way that Bernie is, right, somebody who instead of coming up through meritocratic institutions basically comes up through the counterculture.
GOLDBERG: And all the baggage that that does or doesn`t entail. We just -- we don`t know either of these things and it`s the unknowability of it, the fact that political science and history has no answer for it, that has people, again, because this is such an existential choice that, you know, that has people, especially the people who aren`t really ideologically committed to one of these candidates, at a loss.
HAYES: There`s also the question, too, about, like, what we know about what money does in a presidential election and where you hit the plateauing of the diminishing return of the marginal dollar, which is something we don`t know.
KORNACKI: Well, we don`t know. There`s two questions there, too. One`s the general election. and one`s the primary.
KORNACKI: And the scale of this in the primary where you`ve got this fractured field and everything. We`re clearing seeing just to be able to -- I saw this week there was a poll that had him first place, Bloomberg, in Arkansas, you know. You get the field to yourself.
HAYES: Right. No one is campaigning, no one is running ads.
KORNACKI: This amount of advertising spending, it can get you that right now. We know that. Let`s how much more -- let`s see when the scrutiny comes from the press right now if his money is able to offset that in a way it wouldn`t for other candidates. Those are some of the questions.
I think when you get to this general election thing, the other issue is this, though, I think let`s assume that whoever the Democratic nominee is the negatives are going to outweigh the positives in polls by the end. The Democratic nominee will look like Hillary Clinton on election day 2016 which was 43 percent favorable, 55 percent unfavorable.
Why did Hillary Clinton still end up losing to Donald Trump? Really, it was the folks who said, I don`t like Hillary and I don`t like Donald Trump. I have a negative view of both of them.
HAYES: And I`m voting for Trump.
KORNACKI: Wisconsin, it was 60-23 Trump. It broke for him like that, especially if those three states. And that was the difference maker.
So just getting the Democrat unliked may not be enough for Trump. He`s got to get them to still break for him even know even though...
HAYES: That is a great point. Like, that`s a fascinating sort of subsection of the electorate to think about, like, if president drops a billion dollars on this, you know, nominee`s head, whoever it is and they end up having their favorability go down and then it comes time to be like, I don`t like Donald Trump and I don`t like the Democratic nominee, like, how that breaks...
KORNACKI: A 50/50 split in those states, the Democrat wins.
HAYES: That is a fascinating, fascinating thing. Steve Kornacki, Michelle Goldberg, thank you so much for sharing your time.
Coming up, a special report from Trymaine Lee on what South Carolina voters think of the 2020 field.
Plus, the return of Thing One, Thing Two right after this.
HAYES: Thing One tonight, there`s a prestigious government program called the White House Fellowship founded by President Lyndon Johnson in 1964. And every year a group of talented young people get to become White House Fellows.
They`re given amazing opportunity to work in top offices in the federal government with senior White House staff or cabinet secretaries, for example. And fellows are then expected to apply what they learn serving the nation as leaders in public service or in their communities or future professions. Strictly nonpartisan. It`s produced an impressive list of alumni who`ve gone on to reach the highest levels of the government, military, business, like retired four-star general Wesley Clark, former Secretary of State Colin Powell, Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao, Dr. Sanjay Gupta. Heavy hitters.
And so, of course, the ones who choose the White House Fellows are, themselves, top-notch people. Members of the president`s commission have included former Senator Tom Daschle, Harvard Law Professor Laurence Tribe, Tom Brokaw was a commissioner.
And this week President Trump has chosen two new members to join that elite commission, these guys. Yeah, I`m serious. The return of the White House Whack Pack is Thing Two in 60 seconds.
HAYES: One of the biggest stories of the first three years of the Trump administration has been the fast and frequent departure of White House employees. But now that we`re in year four, all the characters from season one are coming back. This week we learned that Sean Spicer who left his utterly humiliating tenure as press secretary to go Dancing With the Stars is now being appointed to the president`s commission on White House Fellowships, along with Reince Priebus, the shortest serving White House Chief of Staff in American history.
That comes as President Trump has found a way to get Hope Hicks back in the building. She`s returning as a counselor to the president, but will be working with Jared Kushner on the myriad of projects he oversees, and also the president`s re-election campaign, apparently, with public money. I don`t know about that.
To top it off, former Trump bodyman (ph) John McEntee is coming back to the West Wing in a new role. You might remember him, because he was literally marched out of the building in 2018 after his security clearance was denied reportedly in part because of an alleged online gambling habit. I guess McEntee will now be leading the presidential personnel office, where he`ll be in charge of filling hundreds of top jobs across the federal government.
You can hire back the Mooch, and we can truly get the gang back together.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANTHONY SCARAMUCCI, FORMER WHITE HOUSE COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: But I don`t have any friction with Sean. I don`t have any friction with Reince. This is the White House, the United States of America, and we`re serving the president.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Ohio Republican Congressman Jim Jordan is one of the president`s fiercest allies. You`ve probably seen him a million times on TV, this show and others. He talks fast, rarely wears a jacket. And during Trump`s impeachment, he was actually put on the House Intelligence Committee temporarily just so he could stick it to Democrats.
Trump loves Jim Jordan, of course. Lately, the president`s been shouting Jordan out pretty much anywhere he goes.
But Jim Jordan also has an interesting past. From 1986 to 1994, Jordan was an assistant wrestling coach at Ohio State University. And while he was on that coaching staff, the team doctor, a guy named Richard Strauss, sexually abused at least 177 male students, according to an independent investigation conducted by law firm Perkins Coie.
Now, the investigation was commissioned after a whistle-blower came forward to say he was victimized. A former Ohio State wrestler named Mike DiSabato. Other former students have joined him. And 350 students have now filed suit against university.
Now, the whistle-blower, and numerous other former wrestlers, say that at the time they told Jim Jordan, among others, what was going on. And they say Jim Jordan turned a blind eye to the systemic sexual abuse happening right under his nose.
That claim is backed up by that same independent investigation which found the abuse was, and I quote it here, "open secret, including among the coaching staff."
That whistle-blower telling NBC news, quote, "I consider Jim Jordan a friend, but at the end of the day he`s absolutely lying if he says he doesn`t know what was going on."
At a public hearing on Tuesday, that whistle-blower`s brother, who was also a wrestler at Ohio State, said that Jim Jordan called him in 2018 to pressure him to contradict his brother.
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ADAM DISABATO, FORMER OHIO STATE WRESTLER: Jim Jordan called me crying, crying, groveling, on the Fourth of July, begging me to go against my brother, begging me. Crying for a half hour. That`s the kind of cover-up that`s going on there.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Jordan`s spokesperson said that is not true and Jordan has denied he knew about the abuse.
The whistle-blower`s brother was asked about that denial at the same hearing.
DISABATO: He`s throwing us under the bus, all of us. He`s a coward. He`s a coward. He`s not a leader, he`s a coward.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Every time you see Jim Jordan talking about anything other than this, I think it`s probably useful to keep in mind what you just heard.
HAYES: We are now deep into this presidential election cycle and there have already been dozens if not hundreds of polls often broken down into different demographic categories like young people or Hispanic voters or African-Americans. And it is very easy in that context to lose sight of the fact that those polls are representations of the views of millions of people who individually may have wildly different life experiences and views.
MSNBC Correspondent Trymaine Lee is launching a series called The Race Report focusing on the intersection of race and politics in the 2020 election. And tonight he has a report for us from South Carolina where African-American voters make up a majority of the Democratic electorate and where Joe Biden, who has seen his national support among black voters slip from 49 percent to 27 percent is hoping to reinvigorate his candidacy.
Trymaine Lee spoke with a group of South Carolina voters before Iowa and New Hampshire to find out who, if anyone, had their vote.
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TRYMAINE LEE, MSNBC NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: In Charleston, South Carolina, I met with members of a group who meet up often to talk about family, faith, and politics, nearly all are black, college educated, and in their early to mid 30s. There are about 30 of them in all, a seemingly homogeneous group.
But these men and women aren`t necessarily on the same page when it comes to the Democratic primary.
LEE: There`s this idea that black voters and the black voter is like a monolith, it`s like one big bloc and it`s Biden. All you hear is Biden, Biden, Biden. But that`s not necessarily the case within your friend group, right?
JOHN MITCHELL, SOUTH CAROLINA VOTER: I wouldn`t say so, not at all, honestly. As a matter of fact, I think I probably hear his name less than a lot of the others.
LEE: Which names are you hearing that people are supporting?
SAM BELLAMY, SOUTH CAROLINA VOTER: So, previously, you know, it was Harris.
MITCHELL: Kamala, yeah.
BELLAMY: We hear yang a lot.
BELLAMY: Can`t pronounce it -- is it Buttigieg?
MITCHELL: You hear his name every now and again, and then Bernie.
NAJEEMA WASHINGTON, SOUTH CAROLINA VOTER: This is 2020, where are we headed? Where are we headed? It`s not the same world. Globalization, pending war, impeachment. There are things we have to take into consideration, and I`m not sure that a Bernie Sanders who as old as my mom, or Elizabeth Warren, or a Joe Biden, are the people that are going to take me into the next country that I want to live in.
LEE: What issues are important for you? And what do you hope your candidate of choice will speak on?
JEREZ MITCHELL, SOUTH CAROLINA VOTER: The issues that are really important to me, one, are women`s issues and mental health, particularly, mental health because that`s the field that I`m in.
VICTORIA MOORE, SOUTH CAROLINA VOTER: I want to talk about student loans. I want to talk about health care. I want to talk about the future of the environment and that there will be a world here when my daughter grows up.
LEE: All of the top-tier candidates are trying to sway voters like these folks. They`re visiting historically black colleges and universities, joining black congregates for Sunday church services, and spending millions for ads on black radio.
Why do you think we`re so stuck on the idea there`s just a black vote? Because when you don`t -- when you talk about other groups, there`s the Midwestern vote, and working-class vote, and the single-mother vote. But you always hear, it`s just the black vote. Why is that?
MITCHELL: Because we haven`t had the privilege or luxury, if you will, of being able to be as segmented. We almost have always had to kind of collectively put together our vote to make a real difference.
BELLAMY: A lot of people, they don`t look at African-Americans as people who are politically astute. I don`t think they realize how how -- politically involved African-Americans are, how interested in politics we are, especially as the times change we`re getting more and more active, younger people are coming up. So I think it`s changing. And I don`t think people have had accepted that change yet.
HAYES: And joining me now from Nevada, which along with South Carolina, will be holding the next two democratic contests, Trymaine Lee.
Trymaine, that last point I thought was a really interesting one, because there`s a kind of -- there`s a sort of idea of the black vote is monolithic but his point, the gentleman you interviewed, saying that people do not recognize how politically astute black voters are, can be. I think there`s some of that sometimes in the way that people talk about it in a monolith, those two things combined.
LEE: Oh, without question, Chris, it`s the idea of this one big bloc, all you have to do is go to the churches, all you have to do is go to the barbershops. But there`s so much nuance and diversity within that voting bloc, which includes breakdowns of generational divides, and class, and education.
But the idea, as he mentioned, that these are also sophisticated thinkers, it`s not just pragmatism saying you know what let`s congeal together for whatever outcome we want, but they`re actually thinking about these things because they`re living identity issues. They`re living when it comes to social justice concerns, education, health care, among them.
And so any of these top-tier candidates, none of them should really take any of these votes for granted. We see that shift in polling from the support for Joe Biden. But when we talked to these voters, it was clear going throughout the state and even in Iowa, and other places, talking to black voters, you know, Biden`s name will come up, but not often. It was all these other candidates.
So if they don`t come to these communities, they`re definitely leaving votes on the table.
HAYES: You know, one thing that was also interesting in those interviews, things that happens, particularly in debates, or particularly in discussions, is when people talk about the black vote, they will talk about, say, race and criminal justice and that policy access, but of course, as the people you talk to, like, people interested in mental health or universal health care or climate change, or all of the issues that all kinds of voters are interested in, and you sigh less people talking about that in the context of, quote, the black vote.
LEE: Because it`s so easy to boil it down to criminal justice, because we`ve all seen the flare-ups across this country year after year. It`s easy to talk about a mother who lost their child from gun violence or police violence. But when you get into the idea of mental health, and the stressors of white supremacy, and all the structural inequality that we deal with every single day, there are voters that are thinking about that, but it`s easier to just point to criminal justice.
And I would often ask voters, you know give me the list of your top priorities. Criminal justice would be on the list, but it was rarely the first on that list -- it was health care and education, and so many other issues. And so I think these candidates should be paying attention.
And as they say time and again, go to those communities, not just take the easy route and go to the gatekeepers, but go into these communities and talk about, you know, specific wants, desires, and need of these voters, Chris.
HAYES: Quickly, what do you make of the Michael Bloomberg polling that we`ve seen recently, and also Bernie Sanders, both of whom have seemingly increased their support among African-Americans, according to the latest national polling.
LEE: I think with Michael Bloomberg, outside of New York City, there are many folks who don`t remember stop and frisk. They don`t remember the soda tax, and all the issues that he had in New York City.
But he`s also a billionaire, unlike a number of other billionaires, alleged billionaires, who actually puts their money where their mouth is. So, regardless whether it`s gun violence or school issues, he actually puts his money there. So when he names his, you know, plan to shrink the wealth gap, the Greenwood Plan after the Tulsa race massacre, going to those communities and talking about getting black folks in home, and building wealth through home ownership, he has the money to do that.
HAYES: That`s interesting.
LEE: And they know, so it`s appealing.
HAYES: Trymaine Lee, thank you so much. Great report.
That is All In for this evening. The Rachel Maddow Show starts right now. Good evening, Rachel.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END