tv All In With Chris Hayes MSNBC August 23, 2017 5:00pm-6:00pm PDT
proved our suspicions true, that donald trump doesn't mean the meaning of his words but wants the crowd reaction. that's "hardball" for now. all "all in with chris hayes" ss right now. good evening from new york miami chris hayes. we have some breaking news tonight, for the second day in a row, we have more evidence that the president seems to be obsessed with russia, with russian policy, and crucially, the russian investigation. and that obsession is driving a wedge between the president and the republican party. last anytime, "the new york times" reported that during a phone call with senator mitch mcconnell that quickly devolved into a profane shouting match, the president was animated about what he intimated was the senate leader's refusal to protect him from investigations of russian interference in the 2016 election. tonight, we have learned of two more phone calls to republican senators, according to a new report from politico. trump expressed frustration over a bipartisan bill sanctioning russian and tried to convince senate foreign relations chairman bob corker that it
wasn't good policy. according to three people familiar with the call. trump argued the legislation was unconstitutional, and said it would damage his presidency. trump also complained about the russian sanction measures in that call with mcconnell earlier this month that devolved into shouting. and then trump dialed up senator thom tillis on the 7th two days before a joint call. tillis is working with chris coons on a bill designed to protect robert mueller, the independent counsel investigating the president's russia connections. a senior political aide also told politico, the president, it seems he is just always focused on russia. one of the reporter who is broke this story from politico, josh s do joins me now. what's the context? >> it seems like the president, when he sees folks on television or hears about a controversial policy or sympathetic that will affect him, he will just immediately dial them up.
he will say, get me and so on the phone and he'll express when he's frustrated or concerned or when he wants them to change something. now new chief of staff john kelly is trying to change that a little bit, to try to have a senator breathe, to try to have the call scheduled. to try to put some form and structure into these settings. but president trump likes to call people. and these senators, he sees them as his republican allies. and he often expresses displeasure, as we and others have reported. >> and the displeasure does seem to focus time and time again, as you report, on russia. i thought the fact that came up that it seemed to be the central issue with mcconnell, this is after the health care bill fa fails, according to the times reporting, that's what he's focused on as well. >> the president is very frustrated by these probes. we see in the early morning tweets, he see him calling it a witch hunt, we see the rallies, what he says in private conversations. he thinks this is an unfair attack against his presidency.
but that these probes have expanded, mushroomed to different veins, different associates of him. there hasn't been any wrongdoing proven, of course, so far, but it's kind of gotten hotter and hotter over the past few months and that frustrated the president. he also gets frustrated when these senators are trying to take some of his autonomy away. he wanted to determine the bill on russian sanctions and exactly what would happen. he wants to be able to fire mueller if he chooses to do so. he says he doesn't want to, but he says if i have that option, i might want to take it. and he says he doesn't like being backed in a corner. so you see him really getting frustrated by these different measures. >> the latter point about mueller, there's a sanctions argument, we'll get to sanctions in a moment. the latter point about mueller, the president said he's not going to fire mueller and there's a period indicating where people are trying to wave him off that. it is notable to me that he would express anger at tillis for sponsoring a piece of legislation that would bar him from firing mueller. >> well, i think the president sees this as by putting this legislation on the fore, by getting bipartisan votes on it,
it's a bad reflection on him. it brings up the option that he may then be considering this. it limits his hand. the president fashions himself as a dealmaker, as a negotiator, and i think he likes to have all options on the table, when someone tries to say, listen, we're going to curb what you can do here, we're going to take something away, we're going to take some of your power. he tends to lash out and not take that very well. >> i thought your characterization, based on the reporting, of the phone call with bob corker was fascinating to me, because it seemed like the president was attempting to make a fairly substantiative target against the sanctions on the policy merits. and my sense from the reporting that we've seen throughout his presidency is that's not something that he very often does or very often even seems capable of doing, but in this case, he did seem focused enough to apply that argument. >> well, senior aides at the white house briefed him extensively on this. it was something that he saw as a possible personal affront to him, these sanctions. he saw it as a way that it would make him and his administration look like maybe he did something
wrong. and he hasn't wanted so far to really admit the level of russian hacking like some others have. so i think the president, you know, gets really engaged on issues when they involve russia, or when they involve deals that he wants to be involved in. here, you know, the president said to senator corker, you know, this is unconstitutional. it's not, but he -- that's the argument he made to the senator. and he said, you know, we will still sanction russia. we're not trying to go easy on them. obviously, a lot of people have questions about whether he's really interested in doing that or not. it's kind of a matter up for debate. all of that said, the president here was pretty vociferous about the idea. i do not want this power taken from me. and i'm willing to argue for it. he made a series of phone calls, a series of public statements about this, and he gave a pretty lengthy public statement when they were passed, essentially saying, i didn't want to sign this. they forced my hand. and i think this was the tale of the whole issue. >> it sat there for six days. they said they kept saying it was very unclear. great reporting.
>> thanks for having me. >> i'm joined now by two reporters who have been closely covering the russia investigation. betsy woodruff and phillip. here's the statement that the president gave on the russian sanctions bill. despite the problems, i'm signing this bill for the sake of national unity. it represents the will of the american people to see russia take steps to improve relations with the u.s. we hope there will be cooperation between our two countries on major global issues, so that these sanctions will no longer be necessary. they were dragged, kicking and screaming into this position, and the question here is, why? do you feel like you have clarity on the answer to that? >> we don't have full clarity on it. i think what josh said earlier is absolutely correct, based on what i'm hearing from the white house, as well, which is that he viewed this as a threat to his autonomy as president. he didn't want this sanctions bill to be passed. the republicans on capitol hill defied his wishes and passed it with a veto-proof majority, anyways.
and he views this russia issue more broadly as a threat to his legitimacy as president. he likes to believe that he got elected solely because he was the better candidate and defeated hillary clinton entirely on his own merits. and any suggestion that russia did something wrong to meddle in the election, even if it didn't swing the election one way or the other, he views as a threat to the legitimacy of his victory. >> to that end, though win just want to follow up with you, phillip, and i'll get you to weigh in here, betsy. that is what the white house projects about the president's state of mind. it is also a possibility, not a certainty at all or even a probability, it's a possibility that the president did sympathetic wrong, that he's attempting to cover up. we have to entertain that as a theoretical framework through which to interpret his actions. >> sure, and you know, that's exactly what robert mueller and the special counsel team is trying to figure out and look into. and i have to tell you, they're going to be looking into these phone calls, i imagine, that the president made, especially the call with senator tillis, that politico reported on tonight, because that's yet another instance of the president taking
it upon himself to try to -- to influence something pertaining to russia. >> betsy, that to me is part of the tell here. we have a president, it's very hard in some ways to interpret a lot of his activities, because he seems so obviously and manifestly uninterested in the details of what's happening in the government. yet, there is selective sbre ii interest, and time and tile again, intense, focused interest of the details of this one particular thing, which is the status of the russia investigation. >> i think one piece of that is because the president's focus always zeros in on whatever cable news is talking about. and the mueller probe, despite the best efforts of mueller and his investigators not to make any news over the course of their investigation, has constantly generated story after story after story. and the result has been that the president, who watches cable news more closely than almost anyone in america, is constantly getting bombarded with these reports about mueller
potentially closing in on him and his associates. one important thing to keep in mind, though, is besides just that media part of this, there's genuine concern among some of the folks giving the president legal advice, not only that mueller might find something in the history of the president himself, but also that jared kushner could face serious legal jeopardy. we know there are a lot of questions about the kushner family businesses. there are ways that kushner was part of some of these meetings and the that have been controversial. and if you're donald trump and see your son-in-law being dragged through the dirt, whether he deserves it or not, that is something that will get and stay under your skin. >> and there's also this sort of secondary question, as you referenced before, about obstruction. we know the reporting indicates that one of the things that mueller is looking at is obstruction, particularly the fallout from the removal of james comey. and to the extent there's a pattern of the president here attempting to quash his own
investigation, one imagines it's possible that that adds to that pile of evidence that the special counsel is evaluating. zw >> i mean, that's right, the special counsel is looking into obstruction. we know that from reporting. so we have to assume that the investigators are going to be looking at any action that the president took public or private, to influence this matter. sk and cast a broad net that they're going to be looking at this. they're probably going to be looking at a number of things this president has done. but he can't help himself from becoming personally involved in this stuff. some of his advisers in the white house, the legal advisers, the political advisers have been encouraging him to keep his distance, to work through lawyers on all of this, to observe and respect, frankly, a legal structure that would protect him as a client. and he doesn't always listen to that. >> betsy, what is your sense, as someone who reports a lot on republicans on the hill, of how they will react to phone calls like this, in terms of tillis, in terms of corker? does it make them more or less inclined to maintain this sort
of distance independence from the president? >> it, ochbviously, does nothin to thaw the already very complicated relationships between the white house and capitol hill. and one thing i thought was really important detailed in josh's story is the fact that one of the folks who was treated to an angry phone call from the president was bob corker. remember, corker, at first, was very close with trump. he was considered a potential vice president contender. he was considered a potential contender for secretary of state, as recently as several weeks ago, i had a conversation with a lobbyist who works on foreign policy issues, who said, keep an eye on corker, because if tillerson decides to bow out, he's next in line. now, though, it looks like corker is no longer competing for this. first, we know, about maybe a week or so ago, corker told local reporters in his home state that he thought the president might not have the stability to be in the white house. that means this relationship is frayed, and the president's phone call to corker probably played a major role in him feeling comfortable leveling that kind of criticism. >> betsy woodruff, phillip rucker, many thanks.
joining me now are two republicans who have had a lot to say about the president's russia obsession. evan mcmullen and republican strategist rick wilsonsosowilso. rick, let me start with you. the sort of non-incrippletory set of facts is that the white house believes it's bad policy, and that he feels insulted on a personal level by the russia investigation, because there's nothing there. what do you -- how do you evaluate that argument? >> absolutely nothing else in donald trump's life causes him as much anxiety and anger and such an instantly visceral response as anything having to do with russia. and you know, it's the old thing from proverbs 28:1. the guilty man flees when no one pursues him. and every time russia comes up, donald trump's reaction is so hyperbolic and so over the top, and you can see in the discussions from this article
this evening that these members are thinking, why is he going so far off the rails on this particular question? and why is he, is he pretending that this is some sort of constitutional restriction on him, when it's perfectly in the p purview of congress. they may assume he doesn't know that, but his reaction to it has very much marked, i think, the investigation, and helped set a certain attitude inside the senate about where trump is on this. and i think it's made them more skeptical and much more dubious of his excuses. >> evan, what do you think of that? >> i think that's right. i think this is a reflection of fundamental issues about the president, not sort of just typical back and forth between the executive and the legislative branches about legislation. donald trump is deeply vulnerable, related to russia, and issues related to russia that have to do with his activities, before the campaign and potentially obstruction of justice. so this investigation is naturally going to put him at odds with the rest of the government, that in many cases
is just trying to do its job. the other thing is that donald trump comes from a background in which he was rewarded for bullying people. the problem is, is that senators are very hard to bully. it may work in the white house somewhat. it may have worked on the campaign trail, during a campaign season. but the reality is, for example, majority leader mcconnell does not like to be told how to do his job. and other senior republican leaders on the hill, have learned that in the past. and donald trump is going to learn that lesson, too. i suspect that what will happen going forward will be that you will see additional commitment among republican senators to advancing russia-related protections and investigations. but at the same time, they are in the same boat on other policy issues, whether it's funding the government or, you know, or tax reform or health care. so they will work together. that will happen. maybe they'll fail, maybe they'll succeed. but on the russia stuff, i think what donald trump has done is insured that republican senators
are going to make sure what needs to be done is done. >> there's also, rick, it seems to me, this sense of betrayal from the president. we saw this in the comey interactions, this sort of expectation of loyalty. that essentially, you work for me. and i think it seems to me that his posture towards the senate has been that very much, that you are essentially my employees. that you work for me. and my sense from reporting on u.s. senator is they don't love being treated that way by the president, even if it's their own party. >> chris, just if i could say -- >> yeah, please wec, evan, go a. >> there's this line out there that president trump's advisers believe that because his national popularity, although extremely, you know, terribly low, is higher than that of congress as a whole, that somehow he's in a better position than they are. but that's the wrong number to be looking at. the sort of little secret about congress is that, yes, congress as a whole is unpopular. but members of congress have totally different popularity or approval ratings within their
own constituency. and especially in the senate. and so, it's just an unsophisticated way of looking at the situation. >> go ahead, rick. >> and the other thing is, chris. this indicates very strongly, you know, donald trump is not a guy who understands that pesky constitution very well. and this is a government where the powers are separated between three co-equal branches. and one of those co-equal branches includes the senate, which is a body with enormous power, enormous scope of influence, and the ability of individual senators to have a bigger influence on the overall process, on the legislative side, that i think donald trump has ever grasped or understood. and he's made a lot of enemies there. and he's making a lot more enemies every day. i mean, this is a guy last night who had better things to say about kim jong-un than he did about arizona senator john mccain, who is suffering from brain cancer. this is a guy who has gone after jeff flake and dean heller and a number of other u.s. senators, in a way that -- it's not that he's politically competing with
him, it's that he simply doesn't understand that his an actual co-call branch of government. they don't work for him. they're not his employees. he can't yell "you're fired" and throw them out of the boardroom. and i think he also mistakes the sort of courtesy of the senate and the sort of traditions and folk ways of the senate for weakness. and a lot of these guys will smile and look in his eye and say, mr. president -- and then they're going to shank him. lindsey graham and others, you know, these guys are perfectly civil. and they also hold their ground perfectly well when the time comes. >> all right. evan mcmullen and rick wilson, thank you for your time tonight, gentlemen. >> thank you. up next, president trump goes off-prompter and stays decidedly on message. the fallout from last night's angry performance by the president in phoenix in two minutes. phone with our allstate agent,
and one great flag. >> the president was back on a teleprompter today, reading off boilerplate lines like unity and healing at an event at the american legion. that message, which was part of continued efforts to clean up the mess the president made of his response to charlottesville, stood in sharp contrast to the largely improvised, well, tantrum of a speech he gave last night at a campaign rally in phoenix. and there's no doubt which one represents the authentic donald trump. o off-teleprompter is on-script. by now, having won both the republican primary and general election with minorities of the popular vote, the president knows the potency of divide and conquer politics. he leaned heavily into those politics last night, railing against the backlash or his handling of the white supremacist violence in charlottesville, accusing the media of failing to give him credit for condemning hate groups. >> i hit him with neo-nazi, i hit 'em with everything. i got the white supremacists, the neo-nazi, i got 'em all in
there. let's see. kkk, we have kkk. i got 'em all. >> but the president left out the part where he blamed both sides for the violence in charlottesville and defended the, quote, fine people who marched with white nationalists. instead, he seemed to identify with their cause last night, and using the same language as white nationalists to talk about confederate monuments. >> it's time to expose the crooked media deceptions and to challenge the media for their role in formenting divisions. and yes, by the way, yes, by the way, they are trying to take away our history and our heritage. you see that. >> "they are trying to take away our history and our heritage." the president also hinted, he plans to pardon joe arpaio, the infamous arizona sheriff, who's convicted of criminal contempt for defying a court order to stop racially profiling hispanics. earlier, the white house had told reporters that there would be no talk of a pardon last
night. >> do the people in this room like sheriff joe? [ cheers and applause ] was sheriff joe convicted for doing his job? that's what -- i'll make a prediction. i think he's going to be just fine, okay? but i won't do it tonight, because i don't want to cause any controversy. is that okay? >> former homeland security secretary janet napolitano knows a thing or two about joe arpaio. she was governor of arizona from 2003 to 2009. she joins me now. governor, what did you make of that moment, the president sort of flirting with the notion of pardoning a man who's convicted of contempt of court for continuing to racially profile arizonians. >> well, i think he would be just wrong to pardon the sheriff. the sheriff was subject to lawful court orders to stop
racially profiling. he denied and defied those court orders. he continued to do it. he was found guilty of that. you know, it takes quite a bit of evidence for the department of justice to bring a criminal contempt charge, particularly against an elected leader like sheriff joe. and so for the president to hold that out as a tease was a dis to all of the people in arizona who have been victims of that racial profiling, and a disto the court system and the legal system that we have. >> you were attorney general of that state, if i'm not mistaken, you were governor of that state, you served as head of the department of homeland security, you are now running part of california's higher education system. as someone who has been around presidents, executives, people in power, what do you make of watching the president give a performance like he did last night? >> well, it was disturbing and
disappointing. because it was so clearly undisciplined, it was feeding inaccurate information, incomplete information. it was a lost opportunity to help bring our country together, which our country sorely needs. and, you know, was -- it was sort of a shocking performance, i must say. >> james clapper had some really strong words. he's a man that you worked with in the united states government. i want to play you his reaction to what the president said last night and get your reaction to that. take a listen. >> i don't know when i've listened and watched something like this from a president that i found more disturbing. this behavior, and this divisiveness, and the complete intellectual, moral, and ethical
void that the president of the united states exhibits. and how much longer does the country have to, to borrow a phrase, endure this nightmare? >> what did you make of those comments? >> well, those are, indeed, strong words. and, you know, i -- i think i, uh, uh stand back and i look at the president's performance, performances, particularly over the last several weeks, and, you know, i stand with the majority of americans who wish he had spoken with moral clarity and absolute unambiguity after the events in charlottesville. i wish he were not threatening to shut down the federal government over a wall, which will not be an effective means of dealing with illegal immigration across our border and will never be totally built.
i wish he were reaching out in a leadership way to even members of his own party, in an attempt to governor this country, as opposed to it being one long campaign rally. >> to that point, you had an op-ed about daca, which is the -- people who were brought here as children, in an unauthorized fashion, as immigrants, who were granted a kind of reprieve by the obama administration. and there's some talk of essentially the trump administration using them as sort of pawns in a showdown with the democrats in congress, in which they may not essentially continue to protect their legal status. what do you make of that? >> you know, i think these young people, these so-called dreamers, you know, really should not be used as trade bait, particularly for something as unpopular as a wall or building a wall with mexico.
i think that i dealy, you wou have congress and the president working on immigration reform that would really give us a 21st century -- >> well, that's not going to happen. >> -- immigration system that would work. that's not going to work. so have a stand-alone dream bill. if you want to provide permanent protection to these young people. but i don't think they should be used as trade bait. >> all right, secretary janet napolitano, thanks for joining me tonight. >> you bet. ahead, as we've been discussing, the president threatening to shut down our government, as the governor just said, if republicans won't fund the border wall. he said mexico would pay for. the insane outbreak of gop brinksmanship, next. lackhearts] ♪ who can turn the world on with her smile? ♪ ♪ who can take a nothing day, ♪ ♪ and suddenly make it all seem worthwhile? ♪ ♪ well it's you girl, and you should know it. ♪ ♪ with each glance and every little movement you show it. ♪ ♪ you're gonna make it after all. ♪
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republicans have a packed agenda when they return to congress on september 5th. among their essential tasks, passing a new spending bill and raising the debt ceiling by month's end. but last night in phoenix, president trump threw a monkey wremp wrench into those plans. >> build that wall. now the obstructionist democrats would like us not to do it. but believe me, we have to close down our government, we're building that wall. >> the president is threatening to shut down the government if congress doesn't pass a spending bill that includes money for a border wall. the same wall the president repeatedly, repeatedly promised mexico would pay for. republican leadership immediately tried to tamp down the shutdown idea. >> given the time of year it is and the rest of the appropriations we have to do, we're going to need more time to complete our appropriations process, particularly in the senate. so that's something that i think we all recognize and understand, that we're going to have to have some more time to complete our appropriations process.
so i don't think anyone's interested in having a shutdown. i don't think it's in our interest to do so. >> republicans, in fact, have been trying to reassure the country that they can get through their legislative deadlines in september without upending the economy. here, for example, is mitch mcconnell two days ago on that very subject. >> there is zero chance, no chance, we won't raise the debt ceiling. no chance. america is not going to default. and we'll get the job done in conjunction with the secretary of the treasury. >> we'll discuss the potential collision course between republican leaders and the white house after this praek. rd to br. so to breathe better, i go with anoro. ♪go your own way copd tries to say, "go this way." i say, "i'll go my own way" with anoro. ♪go your own way once-daily anoro contains two medicines called bronchodilators, that work together to significantly improve lung function all day and all night. anoro is not for asthma . it contains a type of medicine that increases risk of death in people with asthma.
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. congress gets back in session after labor day and they won't have much time until they hit two crucial deadlines. the debt limit spending and the spending bill they have to pass by september 30th. both headlines are major tests for president trump and the republican party, with repercussions throughout the economy and the world if either of them were to fail. someone who knows all about congressional deadlines, david jolley of florida, joins me now. what do you think was going through the minds of paul ryan, mr mitch mcconnell, and congressional leadership last night when the president explicitly said we're going to shut down the government if we have to to get that wall funding? >> chris, that's a great question. what was going through their mind and who they'll say publicly is wildly different. and that is why republicans on the hill in leadership have lost a lot of credibility. you said it earlier. there are no two donald trumps. there's only one. it's the one we saw last night. the lying, narcissistic, child of a man with no understanding of public policy, with no
ability for critical thinking, someone who puts the fortunes of his own interests and his own corporations, his own family above the fortunes of the country. a man who seemingly suffers from a clinical form of idiocy and someone who should be primaried, if you want to be a good republican. but the reality is, we have republican leaderships who embrace him when he is succeeding and look the other way when he is failing. the question on the shutdown, coming at the end of september, is how far does this president sell expectations on issues like the wall? he actually folded and collapsed in a spring negotiation over a short-term budget. he really did. he folded and collapsed and so did his budget director, mick mulvaney. the question is, does he oversell expectations or does he quietly just go away? and i think we've seen, this president really isn't up for a fight. he can't handle his own when he's in a fight. >> that is an interesting notion. because my sense is that democrats -- democrats generally don't like shutdowns, you know, no one likes shutdowns. but democrats generally don't like shutdowns. but in terms of how the politics
play out, my sense is that chuck schumer, nancy pelosi, democratic leadership thinks they have the better hand if the government is shutting down under unified republican control to pay for a wall the president promised we wouldn't have to pay for. zm su >> sure. so this is groundhog day and federal budget politics. i served on the appropriations committee, i spent 20 years doing federal budget politics. at the end of the day, the math is the math. it will take democrats and probably less than $100 republicans to work with democrats to pass a compromise budget. otherwise, nothing can actually get to the president's desk. i've lived through this. i've got the scars from it from being one of those republicans in the governing caucus. the question for donald trump is, barack obama used to always sign those budgets. does donald trump sign that budget? >> that's -- >> or does he refuse to and shut down the government? that's what we don't know. >> that's the fascinating new variable out of here. we've already seen the house freedom caucus basically drive john boehner into early retirement over precisely these kinds of showdowns. >> even while losing! conservatives are going to lose
this fight. >> right. >> conservatives are going to lose this. >> but your point is so important. they're going lose it because of the math in congress, where you're going to get essentially democrats and some portion of the republican caucus to pass something out of that house. the question is, the president can team up with the house freedom caucus to essentially scotch it and force a shutdown himself. >> in the house, you have the tuesday group and a few moderates. i call it within the republican caucus in the house, you have the governing caucus and the shutdown caucus. the governing caucus will join with democrats to pass a bill. that governing caucus reflects the politics of republicans in the senate, largely, who have little appetite for a shutdown. that is the governing budget that will get to this president. and we will wait to see. i think he doesn't have the spine to veto it. i think he undersells expectations and starts talking about something totally different to distract from the fact he's going to lose this fight. >> and that gets to what is one of the central paradoxes of this presidency, which is, it is just obvious the president doesn't
care, one way or the other, about the policy. i mean, he cares about the victories, he cares about the symbolism, clearly, but it's just clear from everyone around him what they say about him, all the reporting, that normally, the president would care. he would have a favorite outcome in a substantiative sense for what came out. this president pretty clearly doesn't have one. >> he doesn't understand policy. and the parts that he does understand, he lies about to his base. but, listen, let's go back to republican leaders on this. this is very important. leadership happens in public, not in private, by its definition, leadership has to happen in private. you can't be paul ryan, mitch mcconnell, and just have these backroom conversations. leaders lead movements. they lead voters. and we have seen a complete failure of leadership on capitol hill. you cannot look the other way at what happened last night. you have to be a republican that says, you know what, this president's incapable of leading and we should challenge him, either in a primary or completely constrict his powers of the oval office right now, by operating as an article i
congress with the authority that we were given by the voters. >> the president, with of course, has already been tweeting about both shutdowns, he talked about a shutdown last night. he's been talking about changing the rules to 51%. our country, he said this back in may, our country needs a good shutdown in september to fix this mess. the final question i have to you is, even in the wake of a climbdown, let's say he is -- he does ultimately not have an appetite for the fight, as he did in spring, when he got rolled essentially on this negotiation. it's also way of him essentially constantly setting up the congress as the people to blame for the continuation of all the things that his base hates about washington. >> listen, there is no moral equivalency between this president and some of the dictators we've seen in the dark ages of the middle east and other places around the globe. but the politics of some of those dark dictators was to always have an enemy. and that is what this president has modernized. he always have to have an enemy, even at the sacrifice of republicans. he will continue to do that, to keep his 35% with him. >> all right. former republican congressman, david jolly, thanks for joining
me. >> good to be with you, chris. ahead, the republican party embracing its most extreme members, like the conspiracy theorist and the birther that could soon be elected to the u.s. senate. plus, tonight's thing one, thing two starts next. ♪ cameras. introducing the newly redesigned gla suv. at a price that'll make you feel like
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if you want help improving your a1c and blood sugar, activate your within. ask your doctor about once-weekly trulicity. thing one tonight, the arizona republican party on its website heralding diversity on its people page. quote, the arizona republican party does not seek to divide its membership along racial, ethnic, or gender lines. just below it, several images with the titles that read african-americans, asian americans, hispanics. now, stock photos are often used on websites or ads, in fact, stock photo mishaps have become a microgenera of campaign reporting. as when a campaign ad on education, for instance, from republican senator richard burr of north carolina featured images of uniform schoolchildren, which were also stock images tagged as non-u.s. location and africa. so, when the arizona republican party used these images on its people page, one of them really
♪ we've got the beer ♪ ♪ miller beer ♪ so the arizona republican party on its people page featured this image of a supposedly republican asian american group of people, which the discerning eye might recognize as a publicity photo for comedian margaret cho's 1994 sitc sitcom, "all-american girl." here's another publicity shot for the short-lived comedy, which the actual "all american girl starring margaret cho" written on it. margaret cho supported democrats throughout the last presidential campaign, has been a vocal critic of donald trump. a spokesman for the arizona republican party told vice news, as soon as this was brought to our attention, the page was taken down. this was obviously a mistake and we apologize. how could such a mistake possibly have been made? we have one idea, just google asian american under images, there it is! the first photo.
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as republican officials and elected leaders put out their carefully worded statements, distancing themselves from president trump's most incendiary and racially divisive comments, let's take a look at where the pulse and the energy of the conservative movement is right now. in arizona, polls show far-right senate candidate, kelly ward, who president trump has all but endorsed, leading incumbent gop senator and trump critic, jeff flake. ward, who allies majority leader mcconnell have nicknamed kim trail kelly has, quoted with the conspiracy theory fringe by making appearances on 9/11 truther radio programs, advising
citizens to stay vi s ts t s ts. and in alabama, polls show luther strange, another mcconnell favorite, getting absolutely crushed in the race for jeff sessions' old senate seat by this guy. roy moore, who as alabama chief justice defied the supreme court decision, legalizing same-sex marriage, and refused to remove a giant ten commandments statue from the state judicial building. moore also doesn't think that president obama was born in the united states. that's also true of another popular figure look the base, former maricopa county sheriff joe arpaio, who was convicted of defying a court order to stop targeting and detaining suspected undocumented immigrants and who the president of the united states last night suggested that he plans to pardon. >> was sheriff joe convicted for doing his job? that's what --. he should have had a jury, but you know what? i'll make a prediction.
i think he's going to be just fine, okay? >> when we come back, more signs of where the gop base is at in the age of trump, plus the republican party's unbelievable decision mariachi band. that's next. for your heart... your joints... or your digestion... so why wouldn't you take something for the most important part of you... your brain. with an ingredient originally found in jellyfish,
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adults are just kids with much, much better toys. the c-class sedan, coupe and cabriolet. the thrills keep getting better. lease the c300 sedan for $399 a month at your local mercedes-benz dealer. mercedes-benz. the best or nothing. in a tweet today, they later deleted and apologized for the virginia republican party, calling ralph portman a race traitor, saying he turned his
back on his own family's heritage calling for the removal of confederate monuments. amazingly that was arguably not the most offensive move by the party today. the national republican senatorial committee attacked senator joe donnelly. the video made up of being serenaded by a mariachi band, you know, mexico. trying to brand him as mexico joe for allegedly profiting from outsourcing. joining me, jenna johnson, and "huffington post" michelle bernard. jenna, you were in the rally last night. i think there is a kind of attitudal nature against somebody like kelly ward or roy moore but the kind of reveling in behavior that you shouldn't
revel in seems to be something that the base really, really likes. the folks in that rally room seemed to like it. >> yeah. there's a lot of questions about what the republican base is right now. but for the people who showed up to the rally last night, these were donald trump's most devoted supporters. the people who were willing to wait outside, it was 107 degrees. they waited outside for hours to see him. waited inside. there wasn't that much water around. they were dehydrated by the time he got on stage. and they cheered a lot of the things that he was saying on stage. meanwhile, kelly ward was at the rally working her way through the line, working her way through the room. i think she talked to maybe everyone who was there last night, introducing herself, telling people who she is. and a lot of her supporters were there wearing these yellow t-shirts that said trump 2016, ward 2018. so she's really trying to
piggyback on this trump movement, and attract these supporters who are so dedicated to him. >> you know, there's reporting the president had huddled with some folks that also might jump into that race in the primary against jeff flake. but it seems one of the key trends here, particularly when you look at the alabama race or in arizona, that this is a phenomena that is bigger than the president. we think of him as so singular, but what's happening in alabama suggests that a lot of the gop base is looking for figures like that. >> you know, i went back today, chris, and looked at an old videotape. we were asked early on, whan is the state of the republican party today. if you go back and look at an old videotape from 1964 of george wallace, the former governor of alabama, introducing orville fobbis the former governor of arkansas, that's what the republican party is today. the republican party died the
day that president trump gave that speech about charlottesville and found a moral equivalency between the nazi sympathizers and protesters and reincarnated george wallace and fobbis. this is a man who is a lawyer who has defied the supreme court, defied the highest law of the land. joe arpaio has done the same thing. we've got donald trump who has come out and basically said joe arpaio did absolutely nothing wrong because he was doing his job. well, he wasn't doing his job. the question is, why we have so many people in the nation who are supporting people who disobey the rule of law. what good is it to have a democracy and to have a constitution if you only follow the laws of the land when you like them. these are not moral -- immoral laws they're disobeying, these are moral laws that the supreme court found and they basically said, we don't like them. they fly in the face of what we
believe america should be so we're just not going to follow them. and trump supporters and the president himself are saying, let's go for it. this is the wild, wild west. it is no longer the united states of america. >> one of the things that united states all those it seems to me, jenna, is the idea of having all the right enemies, talking about the president's supporters. that, you know, whatever -- essentially, you sort of come to your feelings about donald trump or joe arpaio or kelly ward based on who doesn't like them. and based on who they're fighting with. i wonder last night during the amazing 40-minute-long rant -- >> there's a lot of media out there. we are an easy target. i have to say this was a difficult rally. i was standing out in the crowd. this is a difficult rally to be standing out in the crowd for. people were angry. people were booing.
but as he kept going, and going, and going, and basically making the same attack again and again and again, i saw a lot of people around me checking their cell phones, people sitting down, one woman came up to me and we started having a conversation. and some people just left the rally, trying to beat the traffic, get ahead of everyone else. while these points might be big rallying points when he first says them, he seems to miss what he usually is able to do is hitting that point just enough times to keep people enthusiastic without just boring everyone. >> michelle, were you anticipating any sort of -- to the extent some of the polling would suggest -- do you think it will play out in the primary contests? do you expect it to be reflected in them? >> i think this is the future of the republican party for the foreseeable future.
as long as we're seeing people like paul ryan, you know, have an inability to just say what you're doing is wrong, and to call the president to task for his words, his deeds, this is what i think we're going to see from now on. >> jenna and michelle, thank you both for your time tonight. "the rachel maddow show" starts right now. >> thank you, chris, my friend. thank you for joining us this hour. rick wilson is a republican political operative. you've probably seen him here on msnbc. he's appeared on lots of different shows. the reason he's a popular guest is he's not only very connected in republican politics, he knows a lot of what's going on inside the party. and he also has a good sense of humor, which makes hit great on tv. one of the species of moderate republicans who is not afraid to be vocally critical for trump. he was a marco rubio supporter