tv All In With Chris Hayes MSNBC February 15, 2016 8:00pm-9:01pm PST
tonight on "all in". >> if the democrats want to replace this nominee, they need to win this election. >> obama justice should not be appointed in an election year. >> what president obama plans to do and how republicans are plotting to stop him. thenning back to the future. >> i've been misunderestimated most of my life. >> the return of w greeted with
a trump assault. >> ever ask yourself why his brother went silent for all these years. >> donald's numbers are plummeting after the debate. >> i don't think cruz deal wells with pressure. i think he's a basket case. he's an absolute disgusting liar. >> as far as i'm concerned they're in default of their pledge. good evening. i'm chris hayes. as if the 2016 election wasn't unpredictable enough and didn't have high enough stakes. as of saturday with the death of supreme court justice antoni scalia, the balance is polarized. he was a legal founding member of the conservative block often joined in the majority by justice anthony kennedy. replacing him with a judge would tip the balance of the court away from conservatives. it would ease the fate of several profoundly cases now before the court, unsettled. it didn't take long after the
news broke for toyota be fully sub sooned by party politics. republican senate majority leader fired a shot across president obama's bow calling for the process of replacing him to be suspended until after the next president is selected. saying the american people should have a voice in the election of next supreme court justice. soon, the rest of the conference
was falling in line with that pledge. only a couple hours of telling the des moines register, i wouldn't make in prognostication about the future because there's so many balls in the area. the man in charge of hearings released statement saying standard practice over the last nearly 80 years that supreme court nominees are not nominated and confirmed during an election court. six have been confirmed in an election year since 1900. two were for seats that became vacant during the previous calendar year. they have the most to lose politically as a result of republican obstruction. president obama affirmed he plans to fulfill his constitutional obligations by naming a scalia successor. the white house said the president has begun discussions about identifying a nominee. this will remain in the news and at the center of the presidential campaign. on the trail today, hillary clinton kicked off a rally in nevada by calling on the senate to do its duty. bernie sanders addressed the subject near the end of his stump speech on the stop in michigan.
>> if the republicans in the senate act as if they have no responsibility to work with the president to fill that vacant position because they want to wait to see how the election comes out, the people of this country should send a clear message, that's not the way our constitution works. >> you talk about the constitution a whole lot. well how about obeying the constitution, and start holding hearings when president obama nominates the next supreme court justice. >> while both candidates agree on the nomination process, the supreme court is becoming an issue in the primary with sanders advisor telling the new york times clinton cannot be trusted to appoint someone to the supreme court who will take the issue of campaign finance seriously. clinton was asked if she would have a litmus test for justices on repealing citizens united as sanders says he does. >> yeah, look, i will be talking
in detail with anybody that i appoint. it's not just that decision. i have a whole range of decisions that i think are really important. yeah, it would factor very much into who i nominated. >> on the republican side, ted cruz seems to decide he's got to most to gain from a supreme court battle. a former supreme court clerk vowing to filibuster any obama nominee and releasing a new ad what he believes is at stake. >> life, marriage, religious liberty, the second amendment.
we're just one supreme court justice away if losing them all. >> would president trump ban partial birth abortion? >> i'm very pro-choice. >> you would not ban it? >> no. >> our ban partial birth abortion? >> no. i'm pro-choice in every respect.
>> we cannot trust donald trump with these decisions. >> they are showing the public to weigh in on
choosing the next supreme court justice. that's what the public did when they elected barack obama to a second four-year term. two of the party's candidates for president have been a little too honest about what's behind this. pure power politics. >> it should not be an appointment based on the record of president obama's selection of judges. they are way out of mainstream. this should be an important point we have in the election. >> i don't trust barack obama on the appointment of supreme court justices. we cannot have scalia replaced like the nominees he's this the president.
there's going to be a flu president. i believe it will be me. we'll look for someone that resembles scalia to replace him. >> mr. strickland, first i want to get your reaction. rob portman has said he believes that there should be no nominee, no hearings, no nothing. everything frozen in place until january. what's your response to that? >> well, my response is that senator rob portman is willing to put the wishes of his party's leadership above the constitution and his responsibility as an ohio senator to carry out those duties. the president nominate, the senate confirms. they have a responsibility to take the president's nominee, to consider it carefully and to make a decision and to vote yes to confirm or no to reject. they cannot have it the way they want it. that's just to say that the president has no right to make a nomination. i think this is an example of
where senator portman and many other senators are putting the allegiance to their party above their responsibilitys under the constitution to carry out their duties. here in ohio, senator portman will be held accountable for this kind of obstruction. we're sick and tired of it in ohio and across the country. we want this government to function. the president has every right, in fact, he has a responsibility under the constitution to put forth a qualified nominee and the senate has a responsibility to carefully and thoughtfully consider the qualifications and to make a decision to either confirm or to reject. they simply have no right to tell the president that he can't put forth a nominee and indicate they will not take indication. >> the constitutional phrase i hear is advice and con sent to presidential nominees.
what about the advice that the senate majority is giving is don't nominate anyone. we won't consent. >> i think that's rather silly. what we're seeing is crass, political maneuvering, they don't want to accept the fact that barack obama is elected twice. while he's the president, he has the right and the responsibility to put forth a qualified nominee for the supreme court. we cannot leave this court with a vacancy for the next year and a half or longer. i think the president is doing the right thing. i would call upon senator portman and every other senator to do their duty and to allow the president to put forth the nominee and to have them to carefully consider the qualifications. i'm not telling senator portman or anyone else how to vote but
they have a responsibility to accept it from the president and to carefully consider the qualifications of that nominee. if they don't do it, in my judgment they are rejecting their constitutional responsibilities. >> all right. thank you, very much. >> thank you so much. >> joining me now is jess mcintosh and michael steele. michael, let me start with you. were you surprised by the immediate move towards publicly announcing a bar on the process as opposed to saying, we welcome the president for filling his constitutional duty. we'll do our constitutional duty all the while never intended to confirm anyone the president nominates?
>> i have to admit i was surprised and disappointed. literally within the hour of receiving the word on the death, i felt offended for the family. leave the politics aside for at least 12 hours, 24 hours, to give us a chance to soak that in and to give respect to the man's memory and his legacy. to go headlong into this space, had to problems for me. the first was, a lack of respect for the man's memory and two number, bad political maneuvering. the president is the one who kick starts this process, not the senate. he jump starts it by saying i'm going to put forth a nominee and then the senate can do what it wants to do.
it can say mr. president, thank you, but no thank you or we'll take that under avisement and get back to you. i think we put guys like portman and others in a very precarious box because now they will defend against the strict lands of the world who will be hammering them on the process. >> it wasn't just mcconne will recollect -- mcconnel making that move. he doesn't have the maneuver room to say we welcome the nominee and behind closed doors, like we're not confirming. the problem is what michael just said, ohio, portman, nevada has an open seat. how do you think the politics play there? >> i think for a long time republicans have been playing this game where they intentionally gum up the works
and blame washington and blame politics and democrats and they blame the process. america buys that. they look at this dysfunctional washington machine and they say gridlock. this cuts the wrong way for them. it's so very clearly one party -- you had donald trump on the debate saying our strategy is to delay, delay, delay. the american people don't want that. it's very, very obvious there's a single party doing that and a party trying to move forward. >> one way to look at it is the blanket categorical -- by the way, i love that the people say the president has the right. like it's a free country, dude. no, it's his obligation. there's going to be more pressure on the senate to cave than if you just stop the whole thing from the get-go.
what do you think of that? >> i think that's fine until the president acts. the process starts when the president acts. it doesn't start because mcconnel blows the whistle and says game on. it start whence the president says here is my nominee. give me an up or down vote. we were over our skis a bit. let's keep in mind. this is not unusual. we saw this play out in 2007 with chuck schumer saying they were not going to move forward. there was no need to move forward on george bush's last nominee to the bench. this is not unfamiliar to either party. the problem is the timing and the distance between now and when the president leaves office. >> let me sort of jump in. there's been a lot of back and
forth accusations. people pointing to process or always hypocrite cal. everyone flips on the process question of whether things should move. it's all about the actual substance of who will be on the court. ignore all process arguments. that said, the closest at odd we have is a year and a half out, thurgood marshal retires. how do you think this plays
among the democratic base in terms of heightening focus? >> there's nothing more motivating for the democratic base in terms of flipping the senate and taking the senate back than the supreme court. our base understands -- >> do you think that's true? >> i think it's absolutely true. every research i've seen and emily's list and everything we have looked into is a huge motivating factor.
the reason why it's such a motivating factor is because it's a substantive argument. the democratic base likes a substantive argument. when we talk about what the supreme court means to you and your life, that's so much more compelling than a piece of legislation might be moving or not moving or getting gridlocked up in washington. this is real. >> the thing i keep about is you have the abortion case coming out of texas. that will be decided by a court. if they find four-four, it's shout down and the law stands. democrats can go to their base and say, literally row, in the most literal sense of our lifetime is on our ballot, you get to choose the tie breaker. it's probably a powerful argument in both directions. how do you think that plays on the republican side? >> i think jess is right. i think this is a ready made card for the democrats to play this fall. i think the tv commercials, all that sets up nicely for them. that's the politics of it. this does cut the other way for conservatives as well. you have the second amendment. you have hobby lobby. you have a number of cases that im culturally. >> i can't wait. thank you both.
still to come, the stakes of a vacancy on the supreme court during a turn that was stacked with hugely important cases. we'll look at the impact on those. first, here comes welcome. bush 43 makes his first appearance on the campaign trail. will it help or hurt the chances of a bush 45. donald trump press conference turns into a full on bludgeoning of ted cruz. >> i've never seen anything that lied as much as ted cruz. he goes around saying he's a christian. i don't know. you'll have to really study that.
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we have destabilized the middle east. they lied. they said there were weapons of mass destruction. there were none and they knew there were none. there were no weapons of mass destruction. world trade center came down. >> hold on. he had the gall to go after my mother. >> that moment when trump chose to cross the 9/11 line and blame bush for not preventing the 9/11 line. it will be official, nothing can stop him if he doesn't backfire. bush not a crucial win back in 2000. in one recent poll the president had 84% approve -- approval. right around the time, right has george w. bush was landing, trump was holding a news conference where he was pressed on the claim that former president deserved some of the blame for 9/11. what trump had to say, trust me you don't want to miss it, is next.
a public appearance by the president who showed up in south carolina to campaign for his brother ahead of the primary and take some apparent, not very thinly vailed shots at front-runner and the tormenter of his brother. >> it's not bluster. real strength, strength of purpose comes from integrity and character. in my experience, the strongest person usually isn't the loudest one in the room. >> since george w. bush left office, republicans have not spent a lot of time reckonning on his record. on saturday the gop debate trump took direct aim and today he took his argument even further. >> he kept the country safe after 9/11. what does that mean after? what about during? i was there. i lost a lot of friends that were killed in that building. the worst attack ever in this country, it was during his presidency. we had the worst attack ever. after that we did okay. that's meaning the team scored 19 runs in first inning, but after that we played well. i don't think so.
>> for nearly eight years it's been an article of faith among republicans that george w. bush does not deserve any blame for september 11 attacks despite having been in office nine months and his administration having received repeated warnings, which have been documented about al qaeda plots. it's an argument marco rubio made in response to trump at saturday's debate. >> the world trade center came down because bill clinton didn't kill bin laden when he had the chance to kill him. >> trump is refusing to play along. >> it was tremendous information and the cia and various other agencies were not talking and they were not getting along and there were a lot of personality conflicts and they all hated each other and we ended up with the world trade center. they had tremendous problems getting along together. that's management. if they did, they knew some bad thing wrs going to happen. they could have stopped it. >> trump even suggested that
george w. bush's decision is bad news for the ex-president's legacy. >> if the ex-president is campaigning for his brother, i think he's probably open to great scrutiny. maybe things that haven't been thought of in be past. i think it would be better for him if he stayed out. >> i have no idea anymore what to make of any of this in terps of trying to model the mind of the republican voter. this happened on saturday. everyone flipped out. then today, trump goes harder at it. you've got everyone sort of on the right and republican saying he sounds like michael moore. i don't know. what is your view of how this plays? >> what happened immediately on saturday was a kind of bandwagon effect. people in the room were booing donald trump for saying that. people in the room were the sort
of people who can't see any fault in george w. bush. not just republicans but donor, former ambassadors. people who have a lot riding on the bush administration and sort of a retelling of history. one of the questions i like to throw to republican voters on the trail is should we have gone into iraq? very infrequently can they say yes we should have. what's been happening over the last few years was an argument, well, maybe we shouldn't have but we were in a good place until barack obama came along. that's the risk of what trump is doing was stopping that rethink in its tracks. >> there's a way in which the phenomenon of trump has been tied to bush. i think there's an argument to be made. a guy who is a smart republican operative.
trump emerged as the anti-bush that basically trump's rise, trump support started off as reflective, anti-jeb, anti-republican posture. as soon as they confronted with jeb, they had this freudian reaction that pushed them into the arms of trump. >> the branding of the republican party in 2009, 2010, this was no longer a george w. bush party. this was a tea party that reckonned with the mistakes he made. you saw people that didn't tie themselves to bush. one of my favorite pieces of journalism from last year is when questions were asked of each republican running for president in an event in south carolina and said who is the best living president.
they couldn't say george w. bush. they were trying to say we miss the time before barack obama. we miss when this country used to be more successful in winning wars. they wouldn't quite come around to defend him. it reminds me where we find ways to rationalize mistakes that former presidents made. i think it was going pretty well. this argument is no longer universal because of what donald trump did. >> the ppp has a poll. post debate. trump is up five. he's got 30 plus points over rubio. if you're a republican and you thought professional political class, you thought i've got a read on where republican voters are, donald trump screams you're fired every chance you get. thanks very much. still to come, the republican fight is getting ugly in south carolina. latest attacks, threats and name calling ahead.
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when she was first lady and we tried to reform health care, we did not have 60 votes in the senate. when you hear all this talk, the definition of a revolution is having 60 votes in the senate and getting rid of the republican house. >> bill clinton countering one sanders campaign lines. he's occasionally deployed to criticize his wife's opponents. we reported on comments he made and we cited him as saying he's always makes something good happen. a lot of people say you don't understand. it's different now. it's rigged. it's rigged because you don't have a president who is a change maker. a number of people pointed out that clinton's full remarks changed the context of that point and he went onto defend president obama. here it is in full. >> she's always making something good happen. she's the best change maker i've ever known. a lot of people say you don't understand it's different now. it's rigged because you don't have a president who is change maker who congress will work with them.
he's done a better job than he's gotten credit for. don't you forget it. don't you forget it. [ applause ] don't you forget it. let me just tell you, i've been there. we shared the same gift. we only had a democratic congress for two years. then we lost it. some of the loudest voice in our party say, the only reason we had it for two years is president obama wasn't liberal enough. is there one soul in this crowd that believes that. >> we did not characterize clinton has trashing the president. we said he went off message which is true. here's the important thing. in cutting off that clip, we didn't allow you the chance to make that judgment for yourself. we shouldn't have done that. this guy, ted cruz is the
this guy, ted cruz is the most dishonest guy i think i've met in politics. you're willing to lie and hold up a bible, it's no good. i hope you can tell your friends what dishonest these politicians are. they are really liars especially ted cruz. he's an absolute disgusting liar. >> according to donald trump, ted cruz is the single biggest vessel of misinformation in the race. since the debate saturday night, according our informal count donald trump has called ted cruz dishonest or a liar 52 times. he's accused the cruz campaign of making robocalls. cruz said he have nothing to do with them. cruz has claimed if elected president trump would appoint liberal judges to the supreme court.
>> two of the candidates in this case, donald trump and marco rubio have the very same pattern. when anyone points out their record, they start screaming liar, liar, liar. i will continue focus on substance and truth and let other candidates focus on the insults and attacks. >> few hours aftercruz made the statement, donald trump delivered one of the most direct character assassinations of a presidential candidate that i've ever seen. >> i have never ever met a person that lies more than ted cruz. he goes around saying he's a christian. i don't know. you'll have to really study that. he's a liar. even jeb won't go and say like, boom. he's, donald trump is like against the second amendment. what cruz says is incredible. he's a lying guy. a really lying guy.
some people misrepresent. this guy is a plain out liar. my opponents liar, especially cruz. he's the single worth liar i've seen. he's a very unstable person. that's my opinion. >> trump went onto say if ted cruz didn't apologize he would sue him. relative to the fact he was born in canada, therefore cannot be president. >> we will bring a lawsuit if he doesn't strangten his act out. the democrats will file the lawsuit. in a sense i'm doing him a favor because i'm filing it early. if i file it, i'm filing it early. >> here is how cruz responded. >> donald trump held a press conference. he apparently lost it. have you noticed how rattled donald gets when his numbers go down. he gets very, very upset. >> joining me now is nbc
political correspondent. i mentioned this poll, do we have that graphic showing what the ppp numbers are, the most recent numbers. be numbers don't appear to be going down. donald trump at 35%. what do you make of this full scale character assault on ted cruz by donald trump? >> we'll see if there's polls in the next couple of days that back that up. the numbers suggest this trump strategy is working down here it's been working in general. he came as the clear front-runner. the margin you're seeing on the screen, that's the margin before saturday's debate, before the campaign started to heat up. i think he might be on more solids ground in launching this kind of attack against ted cruz. >> it's funny, you mentioned newt gingrich, coming down to south carolina, it was in south carolina where he hit mitt romney from the left on bane and private equity.
he talked about predator capitalism at some point. he was saying from the left this is bankrupt model of financial capitalism to put people out of business. he went onto win south carolina. to me that was indicator for stuff you don't find on the wall street journal page. trump is testing that this realtime. >> we might be seeing that with the attacks on the iraq war and george w. bush. there's this knee jerk a assumption that they will not stomach any attacks on george w. bush.
now you have a voice they trust within their party, within their tribe saying this stuff. they might just give up george w. bush and go with trump. >> trump, again, relayed his threat. he was making noise about a run. had a press conference, signed a pledge. first question i asked is why should anyone believe you would hold to this pledge, which he didn't answer. here he is today, threatening he might walk. take a listen. >> the rnc does a terrible job. just remember what i said. remember in this room, i signed a pledge, but it's a double edged pledge. as far as i'm concerned, they're in default of their pledge.
>> i think odds are more likely than not he's on the ballot in the fall one way or another. whether he wins this nomination. i can't see him going back to developing golf courses after this if he doesn't win the primary. >> the other thing, too, i don't think what you're showing there, the idea of dangling this prospect of a third party campaign. ordinarily you would say this is not a good tactic. you don't start talking about that. it's only going to turn voters away. what trump is benefitting is how many republican voters do not care right now about the proposition of the republican party itself winning. traditionally the role of south carolina has been it saved george bush senior. it saved george w. bush. the establishment candidate. something changed in the last five years. that's now newt gingrich won this thing in 2012. >> if trump wins in south carolina, the odds of stomping him in the republican primary diminishes. thank you.
there's a hugely important policy that on occasion when my children visit the set they get to play a piece of video of their choosing on air. so behold, a baby gorilla. my daughter is watching right now. because she joined us, ryan gets to see a baby gorilla on television. there's more. this is a baby tiger. ryan is a good and thoughtful sister who is thinking of her little brother david who couldn't be in the office today. here is some video of the baby tiger for david from ryan.
in the hours after reports of justice antonin scalia's death, he was celebrate bid the fierceness of his intellect. one of the most touching tributes came from his best friend on the court. in the statement which reads, from our years together at the d.c. circuit we were best buddies. we disagreed now and then, but when i wrote for the court and received a scalia opinion, it was better than my circulation. he once described the peak of his days an evening at the opera ball. he called it the famous three tenors performance. it was my good fortune to know him as a working colleague and treasured friend.
the court is compromised of four conservative leaning justices, four liberal leaning justices which means the possibilities of deadlock for cases. there's a full docket of cases to be decided. given the obstruction of justice, the eight justice court could remain that way for quite some time. i'll speak with a former clerk about what might be on the list after the break.
joining me now president and director of naacp legal defense fund and former clerk for justice antonin scalia. he had this position he would hire a token liberal among his clerks. what were your recollections of man. what was it like clerking for him? >> he was an incredible man. the striking thing is he was an originalist who was a conservative. the real test is when those two things conflicted which they did probably five times in the one year i was there. the test was would he follow his originalism or follow what it was to be a conservative? every time he came around to what his originalism told him what he had to do. >> he once joked about this. he did have a sort of, his
record on criminal defense where the bill of rights is quite explicit and was much more liberal than you would anticipate. chairman, let me ask you about this. i think the natural question everyone says if you get a 4-4 tie. >> if you get a 4-4 tie then the decision below is essentially affirmed. a court has the ability to argue reargument if they choose to do so. otherwise, the decision of the lower court at the appellate court will stand. >> that means the winner, the person that won the case in lower cart.
. >> in the case of texas, that law was upheld. if it could go to court, the law goes forward. >> in california where you have the public union case and the question about whether people have to pay dues for public unions. in that case the unions prevailed below, if it's 4-4, they win. >> everyone and their mother expected them to get creamed. they expected a 5-4 decision at the least. you're saying. >> well, we'll have to see what happens. the most interesting remains the affirmative action case. that's case in which justice kagen already recused herself. now we're talking about a case that would have to be 4-3.
whether the case would want to have the case decided or ask for reargument. we don't know, and we won't know. we're just not going to know for a while what the court decides to do. >> larry, do you have thoughts about who should replace the justice on the court that you clerked for, their names that you have seen circulating attractive to you? >> there's an incredible diversity that the president would pick. i'm not sure i know much about politics, but i would that would be politically tough for the republicans to stand up against it. >> two others i've heard. on the d.c court and clerked for o'connor. >> larry points out the other pressure. there's one pressure of the moment. make it difficult for the republicans.
this is the third appointment of this president, the first african-american. there's also the pressure that larry talked about. it's several generations. it's 30 years. you can't just think about this republican congress. you have to think about the shape of the court for generations to come. >> i should say on that note, loretta lynch, someone else i've heard about. that's "all in" for this evening. rachel maddow starts now.
thanks for joining us this hour. new polling came out tonight showing in the south carolina presidential primary, the republican front-runner, his lead is up to 17 points in south carolina. less than a week out from that contest. the next democratic contest is in nevada. there's not likely to be any significant polling in nevada. the next democratic race for which we've got a significant amount of polling is in south carolina. the latest polling out in that race tonight again from ppp, shows the front-runner for the democratic nomination hillary clinton also has a very significant lead in south carolina. her lead in south carolina now 21 points. let's take a 50,000 foot view. since last july thers