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Transcript: All In with Chris Hayes, 3/20/22

Guests: Jacqueline Alemany, Adam Schiff, Michael Schmidt, George Conway


The Washington Post now reporting the Department of Justice investigation has expanded its scope as it relates to the attack on the Capitol. The Guardians reporting that Trump used an official White House phone that is through the switchboard to call Republican Senator Mike Lee of Utah on January 6 previously reported, but that call is missing from the call log. The federal prosecutors have collected evidence showing how one tweet from Donald Trump played a crucial role in inciting the far-right groups who showed up to storm the Capitol. Tonight, the brutal Russian attacks on Ukraine are continuing as peace negotiations are underway in Turkey.



CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC ANCHOR (voiceover): Tonight on ALL IN.

MERRICK GARLAND, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: The actions we have taken thus far will not be our last. We will follow the facts wherever they lead.

HAYES: New reporting from the Washington Post, the Justice Department has widened the January 6 investigation beyond what we know.

Tonight, Congressman Adam Schiff on what this expansion means who the grand jury is talking to. And a new reporting on the missing White House call logs.

Then, George Conway on the ex-president`s crimes and his slipping grip on the party. Plus, he says his Republican colleagues invited him to orgies and use cocaine. Tonight, the backlash against Madison Cawthorn.

And while Ukraine`s president tonight says his country is at a turning point, and what we know about what`s actually happening on the ground in Kyiv when ALL IN starts right now.


HAYES: Good evening from New York, I`m Chris Hayes. We`ve got some breaking news tonight about the January 6 investigation but not the one in Congress. You see night after night, we keep telling you about the potential crimes that appear to have been committed in the run-up to the January 6 insurrection.

And there has been, I think, it`s safe to say, a palpable sense of frustration with the perceived lack of criminal investigation progress against those responsible. Since July of last year when the bipartisan select committee started investigating insurrection, collecting documents, evidence, testimony, they have been essentially firing rockets towards the Department of Justice for months now with one consistent message.

Here`s a whole bunch of evidence, maybe you should do something. This happened most recently during Monday`s hearing, where multiple committee members called on the DOJ to take stronger action against Donald Trump and his allies who are responsible for the attempted coup, which culminated in the attack on the Capitol. Even as committee Vice-Chair Liz Cheney of Wyoming pointed out, evidence of criminality is obvious.


REP. LIZ CHENEY, (R-WY): We have learned that President Trump and his team were warned in advance and repeatedly that the efforts they undertook to overturn the 2020 election would violate the law and our Constitution. They were warned that January 6 could and likely would turn violent and they were told repeatedly by our state and federal courts, by our Justice Department, and by agencies of our intelligence community, that the allegations of widespread fraud sufficient to overturn the election were false and were unsupported by the evidence.

And yet, despite all these specific warnings, President Trump and his team moved willfully through multiple means to attempt to halt the peaceful transfer of power, to halt our constitutional process for counting votes, and to shatter the constitutional bedrock of our great nation.


HAYES: So, tonight, at this hour, we are following some breaking news on precisely that front. It seems as though the Department of Justice is listening. The Washington Post now reporting the Department of Justice investigation has expanded its scope as it relates to the attack on the Capitol. "In the past two months, a federal grand jury in Washington has issued subpoena requests to some officials in Donald Trump`s orbit who assisted in planning, funding, and executing the January 6 rally." That`s according to people familiar with the matter.

Now, we do not know who exactly has been subpoenaed, that is not reported in the story. But thanks to the great investigative work by the January 6 committee, there is, of course, a long list of potential targets. Trump enablers who work to sow doubt in the results election and to rally his supporters to D.C. potentially disrupt the peaceful transfer of power for the first time in this country`s history.

And this new phase of the investigation just serves to highlight exactly why it`s so obviously important that we find out exactly what happened during well, those missing seven hours of call logs from January six. You recall we first got the first glimpse at these documents when they were published by The Washington Post and CBS News yesterday.

The House Select Committee already has these documents. And this is what the gap actually looks like in the presidential call logs. Sort of jumps out at you when you look at it like that, right? The last call, there on the top, logged in the morning of January 6 comes in the White House switchboard at 11:04 a.m. Senator David Perdue of Georgia and the next one listed not until 6:54 p.m. when Donald Trump instructs the operator to call back as aide Dan Scavino. Just nothing listed between those over a period of 457 the most eventful minutes in recent American history while the violent mob was ransacking the Capitol on national television.


We`re going to talk more about what we learned from the calls that are captured in that log but first, the Guardians reporting that Trump used an official White House phone that is through the switchboard to call Republican Senator Mike Lee of Utah on January 6, that call previously reported, but that call is, as we just showed you in the document missing from the call log. "The former president called with a placeholder number that shows up on a call is incoming from a number of White House Department phones, which means the call should have been reported in the internal presidential call log."

We know from the previous reporting, that call took place at 2:26 p.m. after rioters broke into the Capitol building, and Mike Pence was evacuated from the Senate floor for his own safety. And as that chaos ensued, Trump dialed Mike Lee mistakenly thinking he was calling his colleague, Senator Tommy Tuberville of Alabama.

Lee handed over the phone to tell real who spoke to the President for several minutes, ending the call when the Capitol Police began evacuating the Senate chamber. So, this new reporting that the call came not from some burner phone, not from some aid cell phone, but from the official White House phone through the White House switchboard sure seems close to a smoking gun.

Donald Trump was not just avoiding using official lines on January 6, apparently, maybe using cell phones, so-called burner phones something Trump claims he knows nothing about. Though his former national security adviser John Bolton told CBS that he heard Trump use the term burner phones several times.

But the Guardian report indicates that Trump or someone in his administration appears to have actually tampered with the records. There should be a record of the call from the switchboard and it`s not there, which means it was removed at some point and many others likely from the walk. That said the calls that are recorded here before the mysterious disappearance window do provide a window into what Trump was doing on the day of the insurrection.

The log shows Trump was still trying to shore up support for his plan to overturn the free and fair election to circumvent the certification of the electoral vote. He called Senator Josh Hawley of Missouri, of course, infamously raising a fist to the insurrectionists, one of the leaders of the plan inside the Senate chamber to do what the mob wanted, that is to object to the Electoral College certification called him at 9:39 a.m., Senator David Perdue at 10:54 a.m. probably not talking about the weather.

In the evening as the Capitol Police were still working to clear the building after 100 of their officers were injured, some cost and some sprayed pepper spray and some threatened with their own guns, Trump appear to be concerned about social media. He spent several minutes on the phone with White House Counsel Pat Cipollone at 7:01 p.m. just after Facebook removed his video addressing the rioters that`s the one where he tells him he loves them.

In fact, Trump spoke to a lot of lawyers that night which also makes sense given what had just transpired, including several who`ve been helping him with his plot to overturn the election. At 7:17 p.m. he took a call from Kurt Olson who is pushing Trump`s claims of election fraud.

Again, this is after the mob ransacked the Capitol, after the violent insurrection. 7:30, he spoke to former North Carolina Supreme Court Justice Mark Martin, one of the people advising Trump that Mike Pence could reject the electoral college vote, which again, seems like he`s still at it. 7:53 he talked to Cleta Mitchell who was, of course, on the infamous call to Georgia Secretary of State, Brad Raffensperger, asking him to find the votes needed to win.

So it certainly seems like throughout the day and into the night after the violent mob had attacked the cops and the Capitol and ransacked it, and a bunch of them had been chanting hang Mike Pence outside that Trump was still looking for ways to stay in power, still trying to get it done, get done with the mob was unable to get done even after the bloody siege on the Capitol failed.

Again, this is just based on what we know what wasn`t hidden, what was not tampered with or deleted, or excluded. It doesn`t include the missing seven hours. But this new reporting tonight of an expanded DOJ investigation into the planning and financing of the rally that preceded the riot, it is even more important we know about all the conversations that Donald Trump had that day.

In order to understand the full story about how the insurrection came to pass, seems we need to know who Donald Trump spoke to over that missing seven hours and 37 minutes and crucially what they talked about and why he wanted to hide it. Jacqueline Alemany covers Congress at the Washington Post. She`s one of the reporters on that breaking news of the expanded DOJ investigation. We get a little snippet of your reporting, Jackie, but if you can fill us in on more what have you learned?

JACQUELINE ALEMANY, CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT, THE WASHINGTON POST: Yes, Chris, thanks for having me again. We have learned today that the criminal investigation into the January 6 attack has expanded probably much to the relief of January 6 lawmakers who are serving on the panel investigating and insurrection who have been clamoring all week for the Department of Justice to take more action.


But we now see the Justice Department actually doing so to try to determine the full extent of any conspiracy to stop Congress from certifying Joe Biden`s electoral victory on January 6. There are not many details that we`ve been able to figure out about the actual investigation because it is a grand jury and Grand Jury subpoenas are a legal mechanism that is used by prosecutors to gather information for a criminal investigation but doesn`t necessarily mean that any particular recipient is under investigation or will face charges. But it is a start.

HAYES: Yes, you`re right that the development shows the degree to which the Justice Department investigation, which already involves more defendants than any other criminal prosecution in the nation`s history, has moved further beyond the storming of the Capitol to examine events preceding the attack and just to sort of, take a step back and elaborate, right? We`ve got I think, last count 722, somewhere in that ballpark of defendants, right. These are people that were directly -- you know, involved in actually invading the Capitol.

A few months ago, we got the first seditious conspiracy charges, right. So there`s a sort of pool of charges of you are trespassing, you`re trying to block a congressional proceeding, then we got another sort of tranche of more serious prosecutions that were your part of the seditious conspiracy, right, these having to do with Oath Keepers or other groups that had mobilized that may be stashed weapons.

What you`re reporting is indicating is the efforts at least what they`re looking at has moved one level up that chain to people that may have been organizing events around January 6 that weren`t directly, you know, involved in the -- in the sort of storming itself.

ALEMANY: Right. That`s exactly right. Some of the subpoena requests have gone to former officials in former President Trump`s orbit who actually assisted in sort of the logistics around the rally, the planning, the funding, and the executing. And this is aligned with the strategy the Justice Department has said that they were going to take all along, starting from the bottom up moving their way up to people closer and closer to the formal -- former president.

But again, those people who received subpoenas actually also had very limited information because of the nature of the investigation. Prosecutors were trying to keep this as under wraps as possible. But we have heard from those who received subpoenas that the scope of what was asked for is very similar to what the January 6 investigation had also asked from these officials who were subpoenaed.

HAYES: All right, Jackie Alemany with that great reporting for The Washington Post. Thanks for joining us. I really appreciate it.

ALEMANY: Thanks, Chris.

HAYES: Congressman Adam Schiff is a Democrat from California. He serves on the House committee investigating the January 6 attack. He was the lead impeachment manager in Donald Trump`s first impeachment trial. And he joins me now. And Congressman, first, just your reaction to this news about the Department of Justice, its significance, and what you think about it.

REP. ADAM SCHIFF, (D-CA): Really, if accurate, I have no reason to believe it isn`t. It is significant. And frankly, I think it`s long overdue. We`re now well, more than a year after this attack on the Capitol. There has been I think, you know, a consistent level of concern not just among members of Congress, but among the public, that it shouldn`t just be the people who broke into the Capitol that day, but also those who organized that attack that are under scrutiny.

I will feel, frankly, better about whether the department is doing everything it should, though, when I see signs that are looking beyond the attack of the 6th, at some of these other multiple lines of effort to overturn the election. As Judge Carter in that, you know incredible opinion this week, found more evidence of likely criminal activity by the former president.

HAYES: Yes. I want to just read that. The judge wrote that Trump`s action is more likely than not to constitute attempts to obstruct an official proceeding, which would be that is criminal obstruction of the count of presidential electoral votes in Congress. They fall into the crime-fraud exception and must be turned over. I think they`re -- you know, obviously, that`s not the standard of proof that would be necessary to convict to trial but it`s a remarkable finding by a sitting federal judge presented with briefing and evidence to say that it`s more likely than not the president committed this official felony.

And, you know, I guess my feeling watching all of this the whole time is this -- what Trump did in the context of the U.S. is unprecedented, but not in the context of the world, right? People try coups or they try to stay in power. Usually, it`s kind of a shoot-the-moon situation, like you succeed and you grab the machinery of the state or you don`t and you face consequences. It is pretty rare to try one fail and then just kind of hang out at your golf course for a while, which is what`s happened here.

SCHIFF: Well, that`s exactly right. And you know, it`s important to recognize that yes, there is a different standard than the one Judge Carter applied.


He didn`t need to find proof beyond a reasonable doubt in order to have those documents turned over to Congress. But you also don`t need proof beyond a reasonable doubt to start an investigation.

HAYES: Right.

SCHIFF: Indeed, you almost never have proof beyond reasonable doubt when you just begin the investigation. And if a federal judge is saying that there is, you know, proof that more likely than not Donald Trump engaged in a crime of trying to overturn the election and that is well substantiated by his opinion, that is a pretty sufficient basis for the Justice Department to say, you know, we ought to look into that.

And, you know, again, I`m glad they`re examining those who may have funded or organized the rally. We`ve been doing that now for months and months. It`s late, but I`m glad they`re doing it. But they also need to look at these multiple lines of effort to overturn the election. And they need to look at anyone who was involved, no one gets a pass, you know a former president and not someone who never held office before.

HAYES: Let me ask you about the call logs. It`s one of these things where I think that no one has yet sufficiently definitively established. There was some post facto tampering or tampering at the time with the actual records and yet, it seems there is no other plausible explanation. What is your theory or belief about how there is a seven-hour gap in those logs?

SCHIFF: You know, I have been speculating about the reason for the gap in the logs. And you know there are a lot of possibilities. Of course, it`s possible that the records were deliberately omitting certain calls but it`s possible that there are other explanations that are more benign. And I don`t want to rush to judgment. I can`t tell you, we need to get the answers. I can also tell you that we have multiple sources of information about what the President was doing.

And more importantly, as it turns out, what he was not doing while the Capitol was being attacked. So we`re not relying just on the logs that we get from the archives. So we are talking to witnesses, many of whom were in the room that day with the president or were knowledgeable about what he was doing or others that may have been preview to phone conversations. So we`re going to complete the picture of what he was doing. And if there was any kind of intent to obstruct, conceal, cover up with respect to those logs, I`m confident we`ll get those answers too.

HAYES: Yes, I mean, just to follow up on that, my understanding is that if there was any tampering, ex post facto, particularly at the moment, that would involve people, right? I mean, there are other people who were, you know, tasked with this or, you know, detailed there by Menora (PH), or something going to have to do it. So it -- I guess if they tampered with it, we`ll find out. Do you feel confident of that?

SCHIFF: I do. I do feel confident about that. And you know, the other thing to bear in mind about the record-keeping is I think we have seen enough already to know that the White House wasn`t following the law when it comes to record-keeping in many respects. All those boxes of documents in Mar a Lago, some of which were evidently classified and made and highly classified. Those are also a really serious problem your reporting of the four present flushing documents down the toilet. So it`s not like they don`t have a history here --


SCHIFF: Of failing to follow the law when it comes to record-keeping.

HAYES: And it`s so shocking too, given what a fetish he has for proper document retention protocols, as exhibited in that 2016 campaign. Congressman Adam Schiff, thank you very much.

Tonight, as we learned the Justice Department has reportedly expanded its investigation on January 6 beyond the attack on the Capitol, which makes this beat of a report in The New York Times a bit more interesting.

The federal prosecutors have collected evidence showing how one tweet from Donald Trump played a crucial role in inciting the far-right groups who showed up to storm the Capitol. I`ll talk to one of the reporters who broke that story right after this break.



HAYES: The revelation that there is a 457-minute gap in the official White House phone logs on January 6 has renewed scrutiny of the President`s phone usage on the day of insurrection. Now, of course, we know that Donald Trump was making calls that day and likely during that period, some have raised the possibility Donald Trump was using a burner phone.

And despite Trump`s claims he doesn`t even know what the term burner phone means, we also know that`s not true, or at least that`s what former national security adviser John Bolton says. He says he heard Trump use the phrase in several distress cushions. Maybe they were just talking of the wire, who knows.

But Donald Trump`s public pronouncements on Twitter about January 6 are also getting new attention. Particularly this tweet, which was, I have to say, striking at the time, it wasn`t like it, you know, went unnoticed. December 2020 where he says big protests in D.C. on January 6, be there, will be wild.

According to new reporting from New York Times. "Extremist groups almost immediately celebrated Mr. Trump`s Twitter message, which they widely interpreted as an invitation to descend on the city in force. Responding to the president`s words, the groups sprang and -- sprang into action, court filings and interviews by House committee show.

Extremists began to set up encrypted communications channels, acquire protective gear in one case, prepare heavily armed quick reaction forces to be staged outside Washington. Trump said it`s going to be wild. It`s going to be wild. Kelly Meggs, a Florida leader of the Oath Keepers wrote on Facebook on December 22. He wants us to make it while that`s what he`s saying. He called us all to the Capitol and wants us to make it wild. Yes, sir. Yes, sir. Gentlemen, we are heading to D.C."

Joining me now is one of the authors of that report, Michael Schmidt, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, and a New York Times Washington Correspondent. As the textual evidence, we cited there indicates, in the process of these prosecutions of a lot of people, it seems the Department of Justice has come upon this finding that that`s -- it sort of organically emerged as they`ve been sifting through this evidence that a lot of people heard something very specific in that tweet.


MICHAEL SCHMIDT, WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT, THE NEW YORK TIMES: It paints a picture of Donald Trump is truly the leader of a movement, a movement of people that followed every word that he had to say. And sometimes we have to think about a pre-Trump world in this and think there`s a reason why leaders don`t say things typically like that because they have people that follow them and they call --

HAYES: Right. Will be wild, is not a thing a president normally says.

SCHMIDT: Correct. On a date that is incredibly consequential in which it`s clear, they`re trying everything they can to overturn the election and they responded in kind, and in very detailed ways. I think what made this story convincing to us is that it wasn`t just one case. It wasn`t just one trial. It just wasn`t one congressional disclosure you know, as such coming out of the committee, this was across the board.

And you start to see these themes in the documents as they continue to be filed. We have hundreds and hundreds of cases that are being prosecuted. And inside the documents in those cases are these little, you know, pieces, these clues about how the prosecutors are viewing things and this is something they`ve keyed in on.

HAYES: You say that the next day, this is after this prosecutor says, Guy Wesley Reffitt, I think that sounds pronounced, began to make arrangements to travel to Washington arrives in time for Armageddon all day on January 6, he wrote in the Three Percenters group chat. Three Percenters is one of these, sort of, more militant groups.

He told his compatriots he planned to drive because flying was impossible with all the battle rattle, he planned to bring, a reference to his weapons and body armor, prosecutors say. Some of the group appeared to share his anger. On December 22, one member in the chat, the only way you`ll be able to do anything in D.C. is if you get the crowd to drag the traders out.

What`s interesting about this, to me is, there are sort of two audiences, right? There`s the more casual like, I`m going to go with my Magga flag. But then the like, the most hardcore people are also hearing something very specific in that call.

SCHMIDT: Well, they call them normies. These are people maybe who are not part of the militant groups that are Trump followers. And I think what the surprise was on January 6, was that the normies were going to go along with what the militants were doing. And I think the militants were so surprised by how much the normies were willing to go and storm in the way that they did. And that`s why I think that they had -- they did as much damage as they did. Because they had all those people, it wasn`t just the militants.

HAYES: Well, and one of the great things in the -- in that incredible piece of The Times did that the visual investigation is that at every key moment where transgression happens at the point of contact, it tends to be these folks, the Three Percenters, the Oath Keepers, the Proud Boys who were -- who were the first people to jump a barrier, break a window, enter. And then you`ve got hundreds and hundreds of people behind, right? So there`s this sort of interplay and we`re seeing it here where it`s like the president puts out this call, these folks mobilize this sort of cadre and then this huge crowd follows him.

SCHMIDT: Here`s the abnormality of January 6 that always struck me. If you`re a police officer and you have a -- you know, an incident with someone on the street, that`s a bang, bang play, that`s going to happen pretty quickly. Maybe a struggle goes on for a few minutes before someone came. This was hand-to-hand combat between the police and the rioters that went on for hours.

And there are injuries and there -- things, you know that come out of that, that law enforcement does not see in the typical day-to-day because there are not hour-long fights hand to hand between groups of individuals trying to repel them. And that has always struck me about the violence on the 6th.

HAYES: All right. Michael Schmidt, thank you very much for joining us. Whatever power the big lie had on January 6, these days, Trump`s obsession with 2020 seems more and more pathetic. The big wine, that`s coming up with George Conway.



HAYES: Tonight, the brutal Russian attacks on Ukraine are continuing as peace negotiations are underway in Turkey. Today, the lead Russian negotiator said that they appear to be on the verge of a breakthrough with Ukraine agreeing to a number of conditions. That is in line with what the Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told their state media today.


SERGEY LAVROV, FOREIGN MINISTER, RUSSIA (text): We see the results of yesterday`s talks in Istanbul as a positive movement forward. It is not the final result, but the fact the Ukraine negotiators have confirmed the necessity of the neither nuclear nor bloc status of Ukraine and the necessity of its security provisions not within NATO terms. I think this is existing progress.

I think it is also progress that our Ukrainian colleagues have understood that questions of Crimia and Donbas are completely solved.


HAYES: I`m not so sure about that last part. While Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy told Russian journalists on Sunday that neutrality and non-nuclear status are certainly on the table, a spokesman for Ukraine`s Foreign Ministry said Kyiv was only willing to discuss the final status of Crimea and Donbas once Kyiv restores its sovereignty over them.


Now, the fact that negotiations are happening at all is at least a reason for maybe cautious optimism as the Russian invasion enters its sixth week and attacks in eastern Ukraine intensify. One of the main indicators we have for whether things are changing is the situation on the ground.

Sudarsan Raghavan has an at-large correspondent with the Washington Post. He`s currently in Ukraine. He has been extensively covering the Russian invasion since the very beginning. And he joins me live from Ukrainian capital Kyiv right now.

And Sudarsan, there was a lot of noise made over the last 48 hours about Russia redeploying from Kyiv, diminishing its presence around Kyiv, giving up on the attempt to circle it. What has it been like in that city over the last two days?

SUDARSAN RAGHAVAN, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Well, it`s hard to tell what`s happening all around Kyiv, but certainly, you know, we had some -- a team of our specialist there was in a northern part of Kyiv earlier today. And they were bombarded, actually.

They were -- they were in this village and suddenly, you had Russian artillery and mortars hitting him and they had to duck for cover in a shelter. So, certainly, in that part of the -- of the area, which was roughly about 20 miles north of Kyiv, the fighting is still going on.

So, you know, the past few days, it`s -- it has been a bit intense on the outskirts of Kyiv. And you had definitely fighting in places like Irpin, as well as some other villages and towns in the area. And certainly at night, we were -- we`ve been hearing shelling both outgoing and incoming in around the capital.

HAYES: How is -- how is the city functioning right now? We`ve looked at places -- I mean, the worst-hit places have been I think it`s fair to say Mariupol, which is a site of humanitarian disaster the Russians have triggered. They`ve created a siege conditions in which people are starving and dying in just horrible, horrible ways. In Kharkiv, as well, which has been shelled intensely. How is Kyiv as a city holding up amidst all this?

RAGHAVAN: Well, the situation in Kyiv is much different than what`s happening in Kharkiv or Mariupol. I mean, people were expecting the same thing that happened, an intense bombardment to happen in Kyiv. But so far, that hasn`t materialized. In fact, what we`re seeing here, especially in the past week to 10 days or so is sort of a resurrection of life to say the least.

I mean, despite the fact that there`s still bombings going on in and around the Capitol, people are trying to move on with their lives. You`re seeing people coming out, going for walks on the street, cafes and restaurants, some of them are opening up, hair salons are opening up. So, it`s really a mixed picture. It`s very surreal, in fact, even jarring at times to see the difference.

You know, the other day, I was in an area where literally we were being shelled by -- you know, by the Russians. And 20 minutes later, I was in a restaurant in downtown Kyiv where it was filled and you know, you can order a cheeseburger and fries. It`s a very surreal situation in Kyiv.

But at the same time, this is a reflection of the resilience of Ukrainian people. Like, despite the fact that they`re -- that they`re still in danger, they still have their underground bunkers ready, they are -- they want to move on and continue their lives to try to get some semblance of a normal life back.

HAYES: That`s an increase -- an amazing dispatch. If there`s one lesson I`ve learned over the last several years, it`s the human ability to adapt and its will towards normalcy is his incredible, incredible feature of our species.

Sudarsan Raghavan, thank you very much.

RAGHAVAN: My pleasure.

HAYES: Still to come, is Donald Trump`s self-destructing? George Conway and whether the MAGA base is bored of the 2020 obsession and what a post-Trump Republican Party could look like, just ahead.



HAYES: Congressional Republicans are so mad on Congressman Madison Cawthorn of North Carolina, not for the reasons that you watching my show might be. They`re not upset that he has been accused by multiple women of sexual harassment, inappropriate behavior, allegations he denies. They`re not mad he has suggested arm citizens should topple the U.S. government in a violent revolution or that he once tweeted out an article comparing Black Lives Matter to Nazis.

None of those things seem to get Cawthorn`s fellow Republicans upset because they are accustomed to a certain amount of inexcusable behavior from congressional trolls like Cawthorn and Lauren Boebert of Colorado, Marguerite Taylor Greene of Georgia, yadda, yadda, yada. No, Cawthorn is in trouble for these comments he recently made on our right-wing podcast.


REP. MADISON CAWTHORN (R-NC): Look at all these people. A lot of them that I, you know, I`ve looked up to in my life, always paid attention to politics, guys that you know -- then all of a sudden, you get invited to like -- oh, hey, we`re going to have kind of a sexual get together at one of our homes. You should come. And I`m like, what did you just ask me to come to? And then you realize they`re asking you to come to an orgy.

Or the fact that you know, there`s some of the people that are leading on the movement to try and remove, you know, addiction in our country, and then you watch them doing, you know, cocaine right in front of you.


HAYES: There`s so much you could say about that. I`ve really liked the doll with the blue hair right behind your shoulder there. Now, I have no idea if those statements are true or not. The closest we have to anything like it at all is public reporting of The Daily Beast last May that two witnesses allegedly saw Congressman Matt Gaetz of Florida using cocaine at a party after 2019 fundraiser.

Gaetz`s office did not return a request from the Daily Beast for comment on that specific allegation. And to be perfectly honest, I don`t really care one way or the other. But Cawthorn`s fellow Republicans do and it is telling that these comments, these are the ones that get Congressman Cawthorn in trouble.

Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy of California reportedly disciplined Cawthorn like a disappointed father, telling the 26-year-old he need to earned his trust back and claiming that Cawthorn told him he embellished his comments. Cawthorn embellishing?


Now, McCarthy spoke out so forcefully because his caucus is demanding it. According to Politico, members of the far-right House Freedom Caucus have reportedly considered kicking Cawthorn out of the group. And Republican Congressman Steve Womack of Arkansas who is 65 years old complained he is now fielding questions from constituents about orgies.

Now, the last point isn`t all that surprising. Here`s what happened. Cawthorn`s allegations on a written podcast of shadowy sex parties got caught up in the QAnon updraft that these folks have been stoking for years playing right into the Republican base`s belief the so-called deep state swamp is full of these depraved degenerates.

It`s still notable Cawthorn is being so swiftly rebuked by McCarthy and others in his party while say Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene emerge relatively unscathed after she attended a white nationalist conference with a man who once delivered an extended rift denying the Holocaust.

At the very least, we know where the line is. It`s at the key bumps. Appearing with Holocaust deniers is fine, but don`t go telling people about Republican drug and sex parties. We`ve got an image to protect.

Unfortunately for Republicans, the face of their party drags that image lower every time he shows up in public. George Conway will be here to talk about that next.




DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Remember, I offered to debate anybody on the election. You know, I didn`t have one to --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No one said yes.

TRUMP: I would get big rating.


TRUMP: I offered to debate any Democrat politician on the election of 2020 and they didn`t because they can`t defend it.


HAYES: Debate. Nearly 18 months since he was defeated in the 2020 presidential election, Donald Trump is still improbably whining about it. Now, I know, I`ll be the first to admit, I am not the audience for this kind of thing. But the ex-President`s 2020 obsession does feel increasingly pathetic and self-diminishing to me.

I mean, partly that is because these grievances come from a place of weakness, not strength. It`s whining in a way that doesn`t really make anyone feel good. I think even people on the right, it`s small and complainy and like past obsessed and neurotic. It all seems to be part of the bigger story about the power of Trump and how it seems, again, seems to be waning.

And I think there`s some anecdotal evidence. Over the weekend, Trump held a rally in a conservative part of Georgia, but in several accounts was lacking in attendance and enthusiasm. In fact at Atlanta Journal- Constitution reporter Greg Bluestein shared this photo saying, I`ve covered more than two dozen Trump rallies around the nation. This is the smallest crowd I`ve seen at a rally in Georgia since he won the 2016 election.

Georgia public broadcasting reporter Steven Fowler shared this photo saying people "Keep leaving during Trump`s speech. It`s cold and windy and there`s not much enthusiasm. That lack of enthusiasm has also hurt Trump`s most devoted supporters who are pushing his lie that the election was stolen.

Take for example, Alabama Congressman Mo Brooks, the guy who spoke at Trump`s January 6 rally wearing a bulletproof vest and saying, "Today is the day American patriots start taking down names and kicking ass." Trump endorsed him for reelection -- actually in the Senate election happening in that state for the open Senate seat when books started -- Brooks started trailing in the polls to another Republican in that open Senate seat primary contest. Trump withdrew that endorsement. Just took it back because it was not panning out.

In Georgia, Trump endorsed former Republican Senator David Perdue against incumbent Republican Governor Brian Kemp and Republican Congressman Jody Hice against incumbent Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger. And just for one reason, right, because Trump believes Kemp and Raffensperger, two conservative Republicans, did not do enough to help him steal the 2020 election.

Ahead of Trump`s disappointing rally in Georgia last weekend, Perdue who was narrowly defeated for reelection 2020 said, "In my election and the President`s election, they were stolen. While Hice was recorded saying, if elected, he would decertify the 2020 Georgia election results. I don`t even think that`s a thing.

But again, it`s not clear that this rhetoric is enough. A Fox News poll earlier this month found Perdue trailing Kemp by 11 points despite his embrace of Trump and the big lie the election was stolen. Those two Georgia endorsements are about the coup and the stolen election. Those are the only defining issues in both races for Trump. And they`re risky endorsements for Trump because they are primary races against incumbents who in every other way are right-wing Republicans.

George Conway is a conservative attorney, Washington Post Contributing Columnist. His latest piece tonight is titled, a federal judge said Trump probably committed a crime, the DOJ can`t ignore that. And he joins me now.

I don`t think, George, you`re the audience for this either. But you`re closer to possible audiences than I am. Let`s put it that way. You`ve spent your life in conservative politics. I wonder if you think that there`s a similar situation happening with his power in both these primary endorsements and just the general whining about 2020 shrinking?

GEORGE CONWAY, COLUMNIST, WASHINGTON POST: Yes, I think the problem he has is that he said it all before again and again and again and again and again and again. And he`s going to say it to his grave and it`s boring. And it`s just -- it`s just not interesting anymore. And people are -- have concerns other than Donald Trump`s ego, and who won the 2020 election.

I mean, he somehow managed to convince a significant number of Republicans that the election was stolen from him. But the fact of the matter is, is that going to drive the vote in 2022 and 2024? It didn`t even drive the vote in January of 2021. So, he`s -- you know, he`s creating problems for the Republican Party by focusing -- trying to focus the base of the party on things that don`t necessarily matter to the people who decide general elections.


HAYES: Right. It`s -- right, I think that`s there`s two really important points there. One is the boringness. And I think this is like, say what you will about Donald Trump, generally not boring. I mean -- you know what I mean? Like, that has not been the -- his ability to stoke attention, to be outrageous to gain attention, but the other thing is attention is a cruel mistress. It`s a -- it can be -- like, people`s attention spans are short. If you keep saying the same thing and obsessing over the same things, it`s hard to keep their attention.

The other thing I think that you point out here is there`s a narcissism here in which what he was good at before is channeling his grievances with the grievances of the people that he`s trying to kind of cultivate. And here it seems just wholly his grievances basically, have blocked out anything else.

CONWAY: Right. It`s just -- you`re sitting next to somebody on the plane or on the bus, and they`re just talking about wacky things that don`t affect you. And that`s what he`s been doing. And, you know, he seems to be deteriorating in this regard. I mean, you know, the other day, whether he`s asking -- he`s asking Putin to release all the materials on Hunter Biden. I mean, what?

We`re in the middle -- you know, we`re in the middle of the -- Putin is killing civilians in Ukraine, and all Donald Trump cares about is hey, you know, you may not like Joe Biden, because he`s trying to stop you from killing civilians. So, hey, let`s talk about Hunter Biden. Give us your stuff on Hunter Biden. It`s just absolute lunacy.

HAYES: Well, that -- and that I think is part of it too. I do think the Russia -- the Russian invasion of Ukraine is clarifying in this way that even though you`ve got elements of the right wing base, you know, Marjorie Taylor Greene and Tucker Carlson, you know, peddling essentially the Russian state line on this. The vast majority of Republicans don`t like Vladimir Putin, don`t think it`s -- what he`s doing is good. And Trump`s proximity to him I think is also another problem. It`s another sort of like, strike against him another kind of diminishing factor.

CONWAY: Right, absolutely. Because I mean, you can`t help but root for the underdog here, root for the people who are just innocently trying to live their lives and are getting murdered. And Donald Trump doesn`t see that. He`s not capable. It`s the -- it`s the -- you know, it`s not just the pathological narcissism, he`s -- it sociopathic. He doesn`t actually have any feeling for what`s happening in Ukraine.

He can mouthed the words, oh yes, it`s a terrible thing that`s happening in Ukraine. Oh, and by the way, let`s get the files on Hunter Biden. He just doesn`t care. It was like his reaction if you ever saw the tape of, you know, when they were interviewing him, just, you know, on the morning of 9/11.

HAYES: 9/11, yes.

CONWAY: He immediately goes to, I now have the highest -- the tallest building in Lower Manhattan.

HAYES: Goes to say I have the tallest building. Yes. So, you`re -- I want to talk about your piece because I too thought the federal judge`s decision issued on Monday was a huge deal. And I think it hasn`t quite -- I think people haven`t quite gotten their minds around it.

You know, obviously, it`s not like a criminal finding the judges isn`t saying like, this is, you know -- it`s not exposing him to criminal liability. But why do you think it`s important to have that decision in writing by a sitting federal judge who`s reviewed some evidence and arguments from both sides?

CONWAY: Because I think it`s crystallizing. And there`s a simplicity to it that makes you understand why one of the many reasons why this should be illegal and illegal at the level of where Donald Trump was behaving himself.

And Congressman Schiff really said it aptly. It`s like, this was the standard here for the this discovery -- or the subpoenas here were basically whether or not the committee proved by a preponderance of evidence that there was a possible crime, that there was a crime -- that the crime-fraud exception to the attorney-client or work privileges applied.

Well, that`s -- you know, that`s enough to win in a civil case. It`s more than enough to start a criminal investigation. You know, it`s more than probable cause. It`s more than what prosecutors rely on every day to crank out a grand jury subpoena. And that`s why it`s significant.

It`s also significant because it`s easy to understand. If you obstruct a proceeding, a government proceeding, that`s illegal. And if you do it corruptly, that`s illegal. If you -- if you try to defraud the United States, and it just -- you know, there`s 100 plus years of precedence, it doesn`t just have to involve money, you`re -- all you have to do is to use deceit or trickery or misrepresentation to hinder a government -- a lawful government function. Well, that`s what happened here, too.

They were trying to get people in particular, Mike Pence, not to do the job that was required of him under the Constitution and the Electoral Count Act.

HAYES: George Conway, as always, a pleasure to talk to you. Thank you very much.

CONWAY: Thank you.

HAYES: That is ALL IN on this Wednesday night. "THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW" with Ali Velshi starts right now. Good evening, Ali.