tv All In With Chris Hayes MSNBC December 19, 2018 5:00pm-6:00pm PST
wrong about syria. trump ran against stupid wars. those who oppose them in syria opposed them then for the basic reason the stupid wars were the wars they cheered into being. it's "hardball" for now. "all in" with chris hayes starts right now. tonight on "all in". >> the russians said -- the russians, i'm sorry, the republicans -- >> one day after questions of treason about the president's former national security advisor -- >> i have no sympathy for mr. flynn. he lied. >> the president switches up russian sanctions, declares victory on isis in syria. >> he did it himself, which he has every right to do, but he needs to own it. >> tonight, what is the president doing and who is it benefitting? >> whoever advised this did the president a terrible disservice. plus, the reality of paul ryan's legacy as he finally bows out of congress. >> i am the same person now that i was when i arrived. >> remember this desperate mid
term campaign promise? >> on this one we're doing a pure 10% tax cut for the middle class. >> we have an update on that. "all in" starts right now. good evening from new york. i'm chris hayes. one day after a federal judge floated allegations of treason against the president's first national security advisor, the white house has made a variety of foreign policy moves that leave one asking whose interest is the president of the united states serving? you'll remember in federal court yesterday judge sullivan referenced the fact that michael flynn was secretly working for the turkish government taking hundreds of thousands of dollars from them and he questioned whether flynn could be charged with treason. flynn had a plan to kidnap a lawful permanent u.s. resident and he pushed to postpone a big bombing offensive against isis
in order, it a peertppears to p the turkish government. flynn was texting about a private nuclear business deal with the russians and saudis during the inauguration. and that's important context for what we saw happen today. today the president announced a sudden withdrawal of u.s. troops from syria taking basically everyone by surprise and his administration is leveling new sanctions on some of the russian intelligence operatives implicated in the 2016 election interference but crucially lifting sanctions on three massive russian corporations controlled in part by oli olig derapasta. he worked so closely with paul manafort for years. because of what we know about michael flynn and what he was doing and why he was doing it and his actions during the campaign during the transition, because of what we don't know now about our president's own financial entanglements, because of the report just yesterday trump had signed a lerlt of
intent for a moscow business plan and lied about it. something don jr. testified about before congress. it is impossible, impossible to evaluate whether today's foreign policy decisions and announcements and defensible on their merits were done for american interests or whether they are some secret deal or some other reason for the president's action. joining me is marcy wheeler, independent journalist and glen kirchner. glen, i'll start with you. you were in the courtroom when the judge floated treason. what was the reaction in that moment? what did you think about it and make of it? >> yeah, so, chris, i think when we heard the judge raise the possibility or the question of the prosecutors about, you know, whether there was any potential for general glyn to have been charged with treason, we were all kind of taken aback, but -- and i don't think treason necessarily applies to general
flynn's situation. i don't think he was engaged in sort of an attempt to align himself with the enemy in a violent over throw of the u.s. government, which is sort of what the cons if i tuesday contemplates, but here's why i am somewhat for giving of judge sullivan raising that issue. when you have a cooperating witness what you ordinarily do when you are bringing that witness on board, you try to get the witness to tell you every crime he's committed, then you decide what to have him plead guilty to. as you know, mueller's team had general flynn plead guilty to one charge of false statement. when a judge has to assess what the sentence is, one of the things he has to know is, okay, what is every crime that this cooperating witness has committed because that will inform -- >> right. >> -- what kind of a sentence i should give him on the one charge he pled guilty to. so sullivan was pushing the outer boundaries and it was a
little bit of a reach. but i don't think it was a wildly inappropriate area of inquiry. >> marcy, you wrote about this and you and i are on the same page in that people throw the word treason around far too often. it's something cop templated in the constitution, very narrow grounds. you wrote a piece about him saying this and you said this which caught my eye, it should gravely worry the trump people that sullivan's comments about whether flynn's behavior was treasonous came from someone who just learned what the mueller investigation was about. what do you mean by that? >> well, even on the docket itself it references an ex parte version of flynn's cooperation with the government. the government knows stuff that flynn told them that he doesn't understand and they shared that with sullivan. sullivan started yesterday's hearing -- i wasn't there so i could yell at him when he raised treason. like you, i don't want people to use that word inappropriately,
but he started that hearing yesterday by saying there is a great deal of non-public information in this docket and if i happen to slip and say something, please somebody tell me. and so he made it clear that he knows all of the details about what flynn has told the government and we don't. for example, the nuclear deal that he was plotting in the middle of the inauguration, that's not in any of the documents that are made public in the docket but that's something sullivan would have reviewed and know the full breadth of. sullivan is like the first person outside the mueller team to read everything he has on at least flynn. >> right. >> the first thing he says is, well, foreign agent or treason, which is it, general flynn? >> that's a good point, glen. the other issue here, i think, and what sullivan was getting at and how it evaluates how we deal with foreign policy. here's an individual part of the first american first campaign who was manifestly working for
foreign interests. they were paying him while he was essentially pretending to represent american interests, glen. you could tell that was at an almost emotional level that's what got the judge so fired up. >> yeah. there is no more dramatic statement that he was acting as a foreign agent for turkey all the while lying to the fbi, lying to the vice president, lying to perhaps others in the administration. i mean, it doesn't get any more dangerous. governmental misconduct doesn't get any more grave than that, chris. that's why i think judge sullivan was in my opinion something of a hero yesterday when he said, look, i understand that he has given the prosecution a lot of useful evidence, perhaps against trump and others, and that is what prompted the mueller team to recommend a very low sentence, 0 to 6 months including a possible sentence to probation, and of course the defense wants nothing more than 0 to 6 months and probation. sullivan said, not so fast.
these crimes don't really get anymore egregious. your recommendations are only advisory. i'll tell you, it was very ominous when he said i cannot promise you a non-custodial statement today. if you come back after your cooperation is complete, guess what, i cannot promise you a noncustodial sentence. >> marcy, something you've been writing about. it was front of mind yesterday. the most egregious acts of flynn is with the turkish contract he signed. this is about what the russians did and if there was collusion. there's lots of evidence saying there was lot of foreign interests over and above the russians. >> yeah. and i don't think it's going to stop with the turks and the russians. i expect they'll see middle eastern countries named as well. the whole point is flynn
literally did not come clean with the fact that he had been in the paid employ of the turkish government and he knew about it. all the time in the white house he was hiding that. importantly, this was at a time when he was trying to figure out how the trump administration would be involved in a russian/turkish peace plan for syria. >> exactly. >> that's one of the things that's redacted in his 302. he was thinking at precisely the time he sat down with the fbi of how the united states was going to be part of the russian/turkish/syrian backed plan. >> here we are with an announcement of that deal. joining me is ned price and special assistant to president obama, now an msnbc national security intelligence analyst and natasha bertrand. ned, i'll start with you on syria.
i want to be clear here because i think withdrawal from syria is an entirely defensible and indeed could be under certain circumstances praise worthy foreign policy decision that is rarely undertaken by people about the national state of course you can't withdraw, things will go to hell. that being said, i want to read this senior administration unofficial niemd jake tapper, they agree the president's decision by tweet would recklessly put people's lives in danger and hand a strategic victory to our add very sarris. the president fails to see how it will endang kwer our country. is that unusual? >> in this one, not so much. it would be in any other administration, it would be. it's left more questions than answers.
i'm not talking about question for people like us, i'm talking about mike pompeo, et cetera. a staple of their public remarks as recently as this month. you had state department officials saying, no, we would be in syria for the long haul and for iran. i think when you assess what was announced today, you have to remember that we have a president who isn't ideological when it comes to these things. this is a president who steaks strategically shift the news cycle, a president who at least on at least one occasion just before the mid terms has used the military for political purposes and a president who doesn't always act in our national interests, including with russia and turkey who are applauding this move today. >> that's where -- see, that's what's so maddening about the situation, natasha. it is impossible to
independently sort of evaluate these decisions on the merits precisely because the entanglements are unknown. turkey also quite happy about this. we should say probably iran as well, which is clearly no big friend of the trump administration but what hangs over this, natasha, is this is the kind of thing michael flynn was working on, the kind of thing the kremlin has been seeking for a long time. the kind of thing jared kushner was talking about and we don't know what hangs over them all. >> reporter: right. that's especially true because trump seems to have made this decision all on his own. >> right. >> he seems to have woken up this morning and had said, i want to withdraw from syria. was that a result of a meeting with the president and someone flattered him? the fact that the pentagon was left in the dark about this
essentially, they had these negotiations over the past few months and debating whether or not and how long the u.s. would be staying, they didn't know the president was going to take this drastic action. that shows whenever it was in a particular state of mind about michael flynn, whatever it may be. that led him to make the impulsive decision. that, i think, is what we should be worried about. we saw that the treasury department announced that it was going to lift sanctions on the core of the companies owned by this russian ollie gashisian ol. why was that made unless they were trying reward him with his mass stiff campaign. >> we should note on that, ned, that darapaska is the person
that paul manafort worked for. the first person he wanted him to get in touch with. >> he owed him money, asked him about getting made whole. once again, is this a decision made independently by -- in good faith on the merits or is there something else there? , well, the decision to roll back the sanctions and have him divest from some of the companies so that the companies could be delisted is an interesting one. this happened by accident. the administration didn't want to do it. "the daily beast" reported that in january when secretary of the treasury mnuchin went before congress to talk about the so-called oligarch's list that they mandated the trump administration to write and dictate, he asked if any of them
would be subject to sanctions. he didn't know the answer so he said yes. that forced the administration to it seems very clumsily and hand deadly enact sanctions on darapaska that sent the aluminum market -- he's an aluminum magnet into turmoil. this is how we got to where we are today, where the administration is trying to walk that back in a way that even the republicans and democrats on the senate intelligence commit tie in a rare statement issued today seemed they wouldn't be able to do. at least it will be a solution that will take careful monitoring to enact. >> natasha, this strikes me as the question always. are they crafty and devious or absolute clodish idiots. i think we need to take into account the absolutely massive lobbying campaign that he waged
here in washington. he hired a massive pr firm, he haired three law firms. he said make contact with the white house. convince them that they're bad for the market and they tanked as soon as the sanctions were imposed and in turn i will cut my shares, my stake in the company from 70% to 44%. it seems like a joke, right? he still owns a lot of that company. >> right. >> interestingly, the entity that will step in to take over the shares that he is giving up is btb bank which is under u.s. sanctions. it seems very convoluted. it seems like none of it was thought out. he is going to benefit from this and the kremlin is going to benefit. that is a key. these are russian companies.
it hurt the ruble exponentially. that's where the problem really lies. these were designed to punish russia and now we are going to get back into a place where they're not being held accountable. >> ned price, thank you both. next the bizarre story of a mueller proceeding that was so top secret they cleared the entire top floor of the house. we'll have some details about what that was about. i'll tell you in two minutes. (chime)
we now know a bit more about the super secret court proceeding in the mueller case that has captivated mueller watchers for weeks. on friday the d.c. circuit court heard top secret arguments in a filing related to a subpoena from the mueller group that had been challenged. they were so intent on keeping it secret they cleared a floor clear while journalists snuck around. the court issued a three page opinion. the subpoena was to a foreign government owned company.
that unnamed company fought the subpoena in court saying they were immune from mueller's reach. bad news for the mystery company and country yesterday. the d.c. circuit court said they had to comply. joining me now to figure out what exactly is going on and how it fits in the mueller investigation, maya wylie. and darryn samuelsson, senior white house reporter from politico which broke the story. darryn, this had been a big mystery. tell me how people first sort of found out about it and what we've learned. >> well, there are a lot of cases that are sealed before the district court with the primary mueller investigation is happening. we got wind of one where there was a deadline where something had to be turned in by hand. i physically went up to the court of appeals clerk's office and sat there for a couple of hours back in october waiting to see if i recognized anybody who
might come in from the mueller team. a couple of people who i kind of assumed were do you remember yours. as we were getting close to the noon dead lynlindeadline. i heard someone say he was there to pick up the documents from the special counsel. i asked him who he was, who he represented. he couldn't tell me his name. we saw two hours later something get filed by the mystery appellant who was trying to stop the subpoena. that was one of our big clues to put this connection to robert mueller. >> there are some pretty interesting legal questions here, maya. foreign owned -- a company owned by a foreign government being subpoenaed by a u.s. investigati investigation. what are the relevant issues? >> the relevant issues is could the company since the company is saying basically we're a sovereign nation -- >> owned by the sovereign state.
>> you don't get to tell us what to do. you can't tell us we have to comply with the subpoena and give you whatever you're asking us for. the district court said, no, because you're acting like a commercial entity, you're not acting like a state. so you can't hide behind that sovereign immunity that we are a state, we have jurisdiction over ourselves if what you're really doing is being a commercial entity engaged in commercial activity. >> so that's -- right. the heart of the issue here sovereign immune in the at this, long legal tradition. mueller couldn't subpoena the kremlin obviously. >> right. >> they're like, no, no, that's not the way it works. >> putin. we're going to tell you what you have to give us. >> is this state-owned enterprise more like a state or more like an enterprise and the court finding more like an enterprise. >> there was a second argument which was -- even if you don't buy that one, judge, under the criminal procedures of your -- of the united states, you can't make us do something
unreasonable and in this case you would be making us break one of our own laws. >> interesting. that's interesting. >> the judge said, okay. obviously when that happens it's the responsibility of that party to explain what their laws are and a court saying you've met the burden. the court said whatever that law was, the judge basically said that does make sense. >> so -- okay. that's the sort of legal issue. in terms of who this is, darren, there's lots of speculation, right? vtb bank is owned by the russian government. in the middle east whether the emira emira emirates or other clues of who this is? >> not really. all we know is a foreign company
owned by a foreign government. we've been speculating since we broke this story who it could be. there was speculation it could be president donald trump himself. >> right. >> other people have been filling my in box with other ideas from vice president pence to donald trump jr. obviously we have a little bit more detail. hopefully this will be unsealed at some point this time. the court said they would issue a more thorough opinion in the future. if this gets appealed up to the court of appeals or to the supreme court there's a chance we will get a little bit more detail. the recipient of the grand jury subpoena will have to come forward and give us a clear indication of what it is. >> how long can the appeals process play itself out in secret? >> it can certainly move so quickly so far. >> they can play it out in secret as long as they want. meaning, if it's sealed, it's sealed. it's sealed until they unseal it. >> can you argue if you want to -- the legal issues here are so novel which i'm not sure
because we haven't seen the actual filings, we don't know. can you have a secret argument? i don't think you have a secret argument in front of the supreme court? >> you can -- you can't have a secret argument. you could have some sealed documents before the supreme court. this was the point. parties will have to make a decision about what they're going to do about the appeal before it goes that far. i will throw in one i heard today is china which actually if you think about it, the industrial and commercial bank of china is actually the largest tenant in trump tower new york. >> that's true. >> interesting. >> they also have a lot of state owned enterprises. >> there's a big question if this were to be a russian firm versus let's say it were a middle eastern firm. if it were a middle eastern firm that would introduce a scope, a frontier that as of yet hasn't fully entered the kind of public view, right? >> yeah. if they go into the middle eastern sector, china, we have certainly taken a totally different turn in the russia investigation than where mueller was originally sent off to go
investigate. without really knowing which country it is i guess we have to sit back and wait here. obviously if it is a russian bank that would indicate to us that they are looking into trump organization finances and rudy giuliani was indicating they've been digging into tax deals or finances going back to the early '80s. that seems to be a hint that rudy knows something else that we're going to be learning about soon enough. that could be a sign of where we're headed. there are so many possibilities. i've gone down a lot of rabbit holes. you could spend a lot of time with this. >> maya and darren, thank you so much. coming up, as paul ryan bids farewell to congress, a look at his signature achievement, a massive republican con job. (chime)
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house speaker paul ryan is retiring from congress and today the wisconsin republican gave his farewell speech in which he offered more of the schtick he's been honing for decades. he's a think tank, policy guy, problem solver who rolled up his sleeves too fight the corruption of politics. paul ryan has built a very successful con. since before ronald regan the gop has said it's the party of low spending and budget deficits. ryan convinced a lot of people otherwise. here's the truth, ryan began his career pushing for more spinneding, not less during george w. bush's term he mocked the green eye shade austerity. >> he was an enthusiastic backer of the bush policies including the wars in afghanistan, bush
tax cuts which ryan argued weren't enough. he was the deciding vote for bush's costly expansion of prescription drug benefits but then something changed, i don't know, barack obama became president and suddenly paul ryan became an evangelist who cast the debt as an existential threat. >> if you take a look at the chart, the red tidal wave of debt. sean, this is the most predictable economic crisis. >> ryan's solution, of course, was to dramatically cut medicare, medicaid, social security. he never succeeded. once there was a republican back in the white house, so weird he became a lot less worried about the deficit and debt. he passed spending bills he didn't pay for, pushed through tax cut and the cbo added 1.9 trillion dollars to the debt. when ryan became speaker in 2015, the deficit was $438 billion. this year with unified republican government it's up to
779 billion. next year thanks in large part to paul ryan and his party it's expected to hit 1 trillion. joining me to discuss ryan's legacy, charlie pierce and direct from ryan's home state, ruth coniff, editor of the progressive magazine. let me start with you, ruth. paul ryan crafted this image in d.c. as a kind of wonk, the rare wonk, the person who really genuinely believed in what he was doing. i wonder what his reputation was like in wisconsin and what is he going back to? >> that's a really good point, chris. paul ryan had two images. one was in washington where he was celebrated as a boy genius and back in wisconsin he would run ads on television saying things like he opposed trade agreements that exported jobs. in his district of janesville where the gm plant closed they lost 50% of manufacturing jobs so this was very important to his constituents but those tv ads had nothing to do with the
votes that he supported which supported every single trade deal. he's seen as a friendly guy. very easy to talk to. i have watched him give these powerpoint presentations where he flashes up bar graphs and people try to follow it. he explains how trickle down economic is going to save us and voucher rising medicare is not going to be a problem. wow, this guy is good at math. i can't follow this presentation. a few grandmas come out and protest and then people see him as a nice guy and he's willing to talk to them. that's the package you get with paul ryan. >> that package, charlie, is what helped him sort of kind of cultivate a lot of reporters in washington. i think with him it's a little of the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king which is to say that he actually did have significantly more grasp of policy details than the vast majority of the republican caucus though maybe that's not saying much.
>> i think perhaps you're right. he certainly had academic patter down a lot better than a lot of them did. to me, and i grew up in massachusetts, paul ryan is the biggest fake i've ever seen in politics. i mean, nobody's close. if he's not doing this, you know, phony wonk thing, you know, where he's -- he's putting together his budgets with magic asterisks, he's going down the old jack kemp fwral how he cares about poor folks. paul ryan cares about one thing and only one thing shoving as much wealth up to the very, very top of the food chain and making sure it doesn't trickle back down again. that's the summation of paul ryan's legacy. >> that's a much clearer through line than deficits and debt i think. look at what he's done. although there is something that is interesting in his career, ruth, which is the ryan budget. i think that's the place where in some ways he got put in
charge and he was too honest about his vision. in some ways it was a high point for honesty. in 2010, 2011, 2012, yeah, we want to cut -- we want to voucherize medicare. that was one of the big ideas. we want to cut a lot of government spending. there was no political constituency for it. it wasn't popular at all. >> that's right. this is where the grandmas and tennis shoes came out and said, this is enough is enough with paul ryan. the u.s. conference of catholic bishops called him out and said it was the gospel of ann rand. the u.s. congress of catholic bishops said it does not represent the more rate of the catholic church in which ryan is a member and he brought up in promoting the massive cuts for programs that benefitted the poor. he promised an earned income tax credit and went on a cynical poverty tour and somehow that never showed up in his budget. there was a lot about that that seemed very cruel, really
gratuitously cruel to a lot of people. >> you know, one of the things, charlie, about donald trump is he recognized more than other republicans the political peril of ryanism. paul ryan's budget is very dangerous to republicans just before the election, be careful. he was right. >> there's no question about that. i mean, you know, my abiding memory of paul ryan will be joe biden laughing at him during a debate, which as far as i know is unprecedented in american political debating. that was the -- you know, it was an economic discussion that brought out the word malarkey which had never appeared in a presidential or vice presidential debate before. yeah, with the donald trump thing, you know, there's a story about a blind pig and an acorn, but i think, you know, with his kind of ferrell predator instinct for political danger -- >> exactly.
>> -- i think trump was right. every time ryan would present one of these budgets, everybody else in the republican caucus would hide behind the drapes rather than attach themselves to it because they knew what political poison it was. >> that's exactly right. you saw it as two moments. the bush social security privatization fight and the ryan budget where there's an uncommon degree of it and in both cases you saw massive political blow back. ruth, what you get is a lot of bait and switch which is basically what we got with the tax bill. >> yeah. i think the other thing that's important to note is remember trump came to wisconsin, held a huge rally in janesville, wisconsin, where paul ryan lives and had the crowd booing at paul ryan. >> that's right. >> the export of jobs, the collapse of manufacturing and this, you know, focusing on the so-called job creators while letting the jobs go over seas. so that was a very important moment. i think the other thing about paul ryan as much as he has separated himself from donald trump, it was really he and reince priebus, also from
wisconsin, who were the sort of young up and comers, very, very conservative in wisconsin who transformed the politics of the state. there was a lot of dog whistle racism in the rhetoric. talked about the safety net becoming a hammock. that set the stage for donald trump who is an archie bunker, really loud about it. same message. >> charlie and ruth, thank you both for being with me. still to come, congressman hakeem jeffries on the rare good news from congress. the criminal justice reform bill that passed the sentence. plus, hope you weren't banking on the no class tax cut that's in tonight's thing one, thing two and that's not a good sign. these techs in a lab. this builder in a hardhat... ...the welders and electricians who do all of that. the diner staffed up 'cause they all needed lunch. teachers... doctors... jobs grew a bunch. what started with one job spread all around. because each job in energy
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thing 1 tonight in the last days of the 2018 mid term elections donald trump was absolutely desperate to save republican control of congress and so he invented a middle class tax cut and talked about it over and over and over again. >> we're doing a pure 10% tax cut for the middle class. it's going to be a tax reduction of 10% for the middle class. >> we just passed a massive tax cut for working families and we will soon follow it up with another 10% tax cut for the middle class. >> that's all for the middle class. that's on top of the tax cut we got for the middle class and for business it's going to be great. >> okay.
literally nobody had heard about this miraculous tax cut including his own staff who had to scramble. >> i'm wondering about the logistics of this and whether or not you guys can actually do something like this before mid terms. >> if anybody can get it done, it's president trump. >> this can't possibly happen before the mid terms. mid terms are 13 days away and this has to be voted on and congress is not -- the house is not even in session. >> well, washington moves a little bit too slowly for the sheer volume and velocity of the trump agenda. >> regarding the president's new proposal, 10% reduction for middle class families, that's doable. we're just working through it. >> we're working through it. now of course republicans got walloped in the mid terms so whatever happened to the middle class tax cuts he talked about over and over again? that's thing 2 in 60 seconds. all right, that's my girl!
cut. >> we passed a massive tax cut. biggest tax cut for working families and we will soon follow it up with another 10% tax cut for the middle class. >> 10% tax cut for the middle class. 10% tax cut. another 10% tax cut. we're going to be doing a 10% tax cut for the middle class 10%. 10%. another 10% tax cut for the middle class. >> monorail. now it's been almost two months since the president first started talking about this but we still don't know what the heck is going on with the 10% middle class tax cut. treasury secretary steve mnuchin played along with donald trump before the mid terms saying october 20th that we hope to have something soon. the middle class tax cuts, looking into it. then he was asked yesterday about trump's promise in an interview with bloomberg. this is his real response. quote, i'm not going to comment on whether it is a real thing or
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mayhem is everywhere. so get an allstate agent. are you in good hands? yet again a federal judge has smacked down the trump administration for a flagrantly lawless power play. this time it's a pet project of former attorney general jeff sessions who tried to make it nearly impossible for people fleeing gangs to gain asylum here in the united states.
back in june sessions tried to redefine the u.s. criteria for claiming asylum. judge emmitt sullivan today said that sessions' efforts were not permissible not permissible, writing it is the will of congress, not the whims of the executive, that determine the standard for removal. the judge ordered the government to return the united states the plaintiffs who were unlawfully deported consistent with immigration laws. this administration appears to be doing everything it can to make life harder for people hoping to get away from horrific conditio conditions, even turning away people from legal crossing at ports of entry, a problem so acute, that to members of congress were with them, to firing tear gas last month, including the woman pictured here, maria castro and two of her children. that family now, as of this
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some rare good news out of washington. a pretty decent piece of legislation passed with broad bipartisan support, and is now going to be signed by president trump. it's called the first step act, which targets federal mass incarceration and long prison sentences. the final senate vote was 87-12. it's expected to easily pass in the house, which has previously passed a similar bill. it's the beginning of a corrective to the kind of tough on crime mentality and policy that was pushed to the extreme in the '70s, '80s, '90s, through today. the law would modify sentencing laws and make thousands of inmates eligible for early release or reduction in their sentence and expands job training and other programs to help prisoners reenter society. the bill passed thanks to progressive democrats and the
conservative senators and advocates as varied as the coke brothers and kim kardashian. it was also pushed by a guy in the white house who knows something about his once incarcerated father, jared kushner. joining me how, congressman jeff ris. a lot of people are scratching their heads, how could something decent come out of this congress? what is your answer to them? >> sometimes good things do happen here in washington, d.c. and it's been a phenomenal journey, a coalition of the unusual suspects, democrats and republicans, progressives and conservatives. people on the left and on the right. the aclu on the one hand, the coke broth koch brothers, and jared kushner. there's now a consensus
recognition amongst a wide variety of folks that the war on drugs has been a failure. we have an overcriminalization problem in america. and a mass incarceration epidemic where we have 5% of the world's population, and 25% of the world's incarcerated individuals. as you know, chris, we incarcerate more people in this nati nation, 2.2 million, more than any other country in the world that's outrageous and a scandal. and finally, congress is doing something about it. >> what they're doing in terms of the scale they're talking about, the vast majority of people behind bars in the u.s. are in state prisons. the federal prison is a small part of that. and the number of people that are going to be direct lly affected is small. what do you say to that? >> it's the end to mass incarceration, an epidemic that's been with us for almost
50 years. it's going to take more than a single act of legislation to wipe it away, but you have to start somewhere, and this is the first start dealing with overcriminalization in america. we're investing about $325 million over a five-year period of time to make sure that currently incarcerated individuals can get the education, the job training, the substance abuse treatment, the mental health counseling to successfully reenter society, dramatically reduce recidivism, and save taxpayer dollars. also as you pointed out, on the sentencing side, we've got substantial reforms that will roll back some of the regressive, tough on crime laws that were first put into place in the '80s and '90s during the height of the crack cocaine epidemic, and make some relief retro active, so that people that are in prison on unjust sentenceks get out >> there was previous iterations of this bill under the obama
administration that had a broader scope and so what kind of numbers are we talking about with this legislation? >> the federal system right now is about 180,000 folks who are currently behind bars. we're talking about thousands of people that we believe will be impacted immediately as a result of the passage. and tens of thousands of folks that will be impacted in a positive way moving forward over time. in terms of the specific retro active application, in 2010, congress, under the leadership of bobby scott, passed the fair sentencing act, which reduced the crack cocaine, powder cocaine disparity from 100-1, which was morally outrageous and not justifiable, to 18-1. but because jeff sessions and the senate blocked it from being retro active, that provision was not included in the 2010 fair sentencing act. the 2018 version of the first
step act will make the fair sentencing act retro active so that the people who are impacted by these unjust crack cocaine sentencing laws will finally get some relief. >> what is your theory about why donald trump, with the world view he has, and the politics he has, and the rhetoric he uses to talk about criminals, and law and order, is going to sign this piece of legislation? >> that's a great question i get asked a lot about it. when i was initially on this journey, i had to be convinced first that jared kushner was authentically committed to dealing with this issue. first, prison reform. and over time, sentencing reform, as well. and in working with him, along with tremendous leadership from the chair of the congressional black caucus, cedric richmond, i think we both concluded that there was an authentic commitment within the administration to deal with overcriminalization within america. donald trump would have to be convinced of that. jared kushner was an ally in that regard. but also more importantly, prior
to trump coming to town, you had the koch brothers and newt gingrich and the religious right, a wide variety of people, who were working with individuals like doug collins to lay the foundation to get something down. >> congressman, thank you. that is "all in" this evening. "the rachel maddow show" starts right now. >> thanks, chris. and thanks to you at home for joining us this hour. a lot of news, a lot to get to tonight. the president today, of course, decided to pull a rabbit out of a hat with a surprise announcement that he's ordering the u.s. pill tear to pull out of syria entirely, immediately, all at once, right now. the chairman of the senate foreign relations committee is bob corker, a republican senator from tennessee. senator corker spoke to reporters today soon after the president pulled this rabbit out of a hat and made this surprise announcement. and senator corker said as far as he could