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tv   All In With Chris Hayes  MSNBC  December 26, 2017 5:00pm-6:00pm PST

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thank you to all of you joining us. i i'm filling in for chris matthews. he's on a well-deserved vacation at the end of this year. "all in with chris hayes" starts right now. good evening from new york. i'm chris hayes. the president of the united states proclaimed he was getting back to work today, then he did, attacking the fbi and robert mueller's probe as one of his congressional allies came on this network and called for a, quote, purge of the fbi and the department of justice. the latest on the president's undermining of the mueller investigation in just a moment. also tonight, in the wake of the trump tax cuts, david cay johnston on the president's alleged declaration to his golf club patrons that you all just got a lot richer. plus, the latest grim details from the american disaster in puerto rico, where much of the island spent the holiday without power. and "the new yorker's" mosha guessen is here to share her thoughts on america's relations with russia and the state of the
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country one year into the trump presidency. our lead tonight, the plot to stop special counsel robert mueller's russia investigation did not take a break for christmas. the president spent the long holiday weekend at his florida club golfing and live tweeting trump tv, as he often does, and tweeting on apparent dvr delay, to be more accurate. this morning, he started off this morning using the latest conspiracy theory to discredit the russia investigation, linking it to the steele dossier. wow, dossier is bogus. clinton campaign, dnc funded dossier, fbi cannot after all of this time verify claims of dossier of russia collusion. fbi tainted. each of those claims is either false or distorted. the president appears to have been quotes jason chaffetz. >> dossier we have long known is bogus. the question is, how was it funded. and that question has not been answered yet. the second part is, did they use it to go to a court and get that court then to allow them to spy
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on americans? and if that happened, you have gone well, way, way, way beyond anything of reason and somebody, somebody should be prosecuted for that. >> it's true, we still don't know how precisely that dossier came to be, but yet though some of it remains publicly unverified, the dossier is far from bogus. much of it has turned out to be accurate, including its account in realtime of russia cyber operations during the election. beyond that, considered the central claim by chaffetz and others that the fbi was using the dossier in coordination with democrats to surveil and tarnish the trump campaign. had that been the case, a question, why did the fbi keep its trump investigation completely author rely, and totally under wraps until long after the election was over? why were the only leaks the from the bureau during the campaign all directed at trump's opponent, hillary clinton? those claims, about the dossier, are part of an ongoing push by the president's allies not just to discredit the mueller investigation, but to effectively incite an ideological purge of federal law enforcement, expelling anyone
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viewed as disloyal to donald j. trump. their latest villain is deputy fbi director andrew mccabe, civil servant, whose wife is an active democrat. the president of the united states spent a chunk of his christmas weekend tweeting misinformation about mccape, who would be a likely witness in an obstruction of justice case against the president. according to cnn, in closed-door testimony last week, mccabe told lawmakers that fired fbi director james comey informed him of those conversations he had with the president soon after they happened. comey has testified under oath the president, after taking office, asked for comey's loyalty and later pressed him to let go of the probe of now-indicted national security adviser, michael flynn. this campaign against federal law enforcement isn't just coming from trump tv and the president's twitter feed. among republican lawmakers, at least those who are saying anything in public, there now appears to be a somewhat remarkable growing consensus that the fbi, the federal bureau of investigation, is essentially
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some kind of liberal fifth column inside the federal government. >> i'm very concerned that the doj and the fbi, whether you want to call it deep state or what, are kind of off the rails. >> there are those who look at comments like the ones you're making and saying republicans are working to essentially try to discredit the department of justice, and thus discredit the russia investigations. is that not what you're doing? >> no, i don't want to discredit them, i would like to see the directors of those agencies purge it. and say, look, we've got a lot of great agents, a lot of great lawyers here, those are the people that i want the american people to see and know that good work is being done. not these people who are kind of the deep state. >> frank knows a thing or two about the inner workings of the fbi. he was the bureau's assistant director for counterintelligence serving under then-director robert mueller. what is your response to a sitting united states congressman using the word "purge," calling for there to be a purge of the fbi? >> and he said that in the same breath where he said he doesn't want to discredit the agency. but he would like it purged.
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so my question back to him would be, where would that purge end? would he like the fbi to be 50% republicans and 50% democrats? would he like to just completely politicize the fbi and ask for a show of hands as to whose party affiliation is what? it's supposed to be an apolitical. and we have some people who have showed bias. they've been removed from the inquiry. and they're moving forward. so it's pretty disturbing and part of a larger defense, apparently, to defend the president. >> have you ever seen -- i want to play you another congressman talking about andrew mccabe. one of the things i find interesting and noteworthy here is the kind of personalized attacks against people in the federal bureaucracy. these are not sort of political appointees. these are andrew mccabe's a lifelong civil servant. i want to play you louie gohmert and get your reaction. take a listen. >> he can't go fast enough. anybody that has that much disrespect for the republican
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party, for the president of the united states, this goes way beyond just having a political opinion like everybody does. so mueller, i have said since day one, since he was appointed, he's bad news. he's out for a scalp. he would love to get trump scalped. he would love to be the hero of the left and take out donald trump. >> what do you make of that? >> well, i'm laughing at mueller being the hero of the left. he's a republican who was appointed special counsel by a republican, who was investigating a republican. i don't understand where the scalp hunting is coming from. with regard to going after a lifelong public servant in the deputy director, andy mccabe, who is, as you're saying, a 21-year veteran fbi agent, who worked his way up from the streets to the deputy director's office, look, the sins of andy mccabe are this. he had a wife who had the audacity to run as a democrat in the state of virginia.
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he was appointed by jim comey and worked for jim comey. and as you pointed out, he recently corroborated jim comey's statement on the hill that jim comey was asked to be loyal to the president, by the president. those are really andy mccabe's so-called sins. this is a public servant who is going to retire anyway next year, because he's becoming eligible to do so, and that needs to happen. and it's the right thing for the bureau. >> i don't want to create the impression that it's off-limits to criticize the fbi. in fact, decades and decades of criticism of the fbi, which has often earned that criticism, i must note. it seems to me that the criticisms here aren't actually the actions so much as just the notion of the possibility of impartiality, right? so the idea is that anyone who sort of has any kind of political ideological affinity, like that, itself, is the discrediting infraction, as opposed to pointing to some actual actions that were taken. >> i think what's happening here is that you're seeing the president actually cede, in legal circumstances, called
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seeding the jury pool. in a state or local trial, you would actually ask for a gag order, because it's ruining the jury pool. he's doing this on a national level now with regard to a special counsel investigation. he's attack welcome you know, a single individual, and tainting any conclusion, because he's fearful of the conclusion. >> we've also seen the general counsel, jim baicker, these are people formerly generally anonymous, be removed by christopher wray, the political appointee. he now too is coming under fire. what do you make of that? >> again,wear s we're seeing a concerted strategy. identify got to tell you this, too. it's very normal for a new fbi director coming in to actually shuffle the deck and bring new people in. so what the public needs to be aware of is, that's likely to happen in even greater numbers soon. but you'll see the president kind of claim that it's his doing and it's because there's a purge occurring. when actually, there should have been quite a greater movement
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already with the new director wray coming on. >> great to have you, frank. now i'm joined by betsy woodruff, politics reporter for "the daily beast,". betsy, what's remarkable about this sort of bizarreo world we've entered into, the republican party, which has done so much rhetorically to bend over backwards, to put itself on the side of law enforcement, no matter what law enforcement has done, blue lives matter, we support cops and law enforcement, even in the wake of what seems like pretty obvious and serious law enforcement misconduct at the local level, is now running a kind of end mass campaign against federal law enforcement, right in front of the nation's eyes. >> it's really astonishing. and the timing of the president's tweets are uniquely astounding. the reason is a few days before christmas, the fbi announced and the attorney general, jeff sessions, chimed in, supporting and amplifying this announcement that the fbi had arrested a man who allegedly sympathized with isis and was planning a
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christmas day terrorism attack in san francisco. that was a huge announcement. it generated national news. it was the banner on the drudge report. but president trump was completely silent about this. completely silent about the fact that his top law enforcement agency, that those guys did their jobs. that they potentially stopped a slaughter. it's the only time i can think of when there's been major terror-related news and the president has been silent. and instead of saying, look at the great job our boys are doing, rah-rah, let's go get isis, instead of that, the president is tweeting about jim baker and andy mccabe and the dossier and the clinton e-mail investigation. it's really extraordinary the lengths to which republicans in this administration have gone to sort of cover their eyes and plug their ears, when fbi agents do their jobs and actually make us safer. >> naveed, having worked at the fbi, what do you think -- let's take a step back and think of what is being essentially sold right now by the president and
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his allies, which is that the fbi amounts to essentially a kind of like subversive left sympathetic fifth column. like, how does that square with your experience in the bureau? >> it's crazy. it's just -- look, it's almost the equivalent of being a public defender. you don't have to believe in your client. you can still give them a good defense. this is the same thing. and i've got to tell you, talking to line agents, not like frank, who was a -- you know, at the top of the rung here, but line agents who are actually doing this stuff. it's very much what betsy is saying. they look at this and say, i had a friend who's still a countersplenlcounte counterintelligence officer say to me, i'm really glad when the call came to join the mueller probe i said no, because look where they are. they're watching their bosses being dragged through the mud. >> that's an interesting detail. i want to focus on that. that suggests, and frank's point was a little bit that he's -- this is rooster taking credit for the sun coming pup that this stuff was going to happen and the president is trying to take credit for it.
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but what i hear from you is actually there is some kind of effect. people understand, if you join the probe, all of a sudden your face, anonymous line agent, might be on the -- running on trump tv all day. >> that's right. and look, it's not just the people who are there now, right? mccabe is retiring. he's had a 20-plus-year career. we have to keep recruiting young people. and there needs to be a constant pool of people willing to stand up and take on this job. and if they look at this and sort of see the high-level people being sullied, having their careers ended for doing their job, i think it's going to have a chilling effect. and the only people who are winning, chris, it's vladimir putin. the only ones who are benefiting from having a department, having the fbi and counterintelligence in disarray are adversaries. there's no one else. >> betsy, as to the point of doing the job that naveed just mentioned, you have a new piece just published. and the headline is robert mueller may indict paul manafort again. what's that about? >> having had conversations with numerous former justice department officials and legal experts over the last few days.
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one thing that i keep hearing when i ask folks, what's the most obvious thing they expect to happen next year is folks expect for mueller to hand down what's called a super ceding indictment. it's when a prosecutor like bob mueller essentially says, here's a new indictment that includes everything from the previous one, but also tacks on some additional charges. additional detail, additional problems for the person who's being charged. in this case, the reason so many folks, including a former tax division prosecutor at may and justice, a high-level white collar criminal defense attorney, a former irs criminal investigator, the reason all these folks are telling me this is because in the initial manafort indictment, there was a lot of detail that didn't actually amplify or support the specific charges. particularly on tax questions. there was a lot of detail about dicey financial dealings that manafort and rick gates were involved in, about questionable absences of financial information on tax forms, that
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indicates mueller might have enough evidence to bring additional charges against manafort. that could put more pressure not just on manafort, but also on rick gates, who my sources believe has the biggest potential to be additional cooperating witness to mueller. >> naveed, if that -- if things do escalate, and i think everyone is sort of white knuckling right now about what's happening in 2018, frankly. because it feels like we're on a path that's scary in certain ways. do you think the department and the fbi are prepared for what that might look like? >> that's a -- that's really the $64,000 question. i think the answer is yes. i think that when people over the last few weeks, we've heard mueller might get fired. i think it's important to understand that the investigation, while mueller is leading it, the investigation is bigger than one woman or one man. and i think that no matter what happens, who leads the investigation, who comes and goes, who retires and who stays, i think the investigation will go forward. there will be a culminating point. there will be something that this leads towards, whether that's criminal indictment, criminal prosecutions, i think
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the smart money is to say, yes, although we don't have the specifics. but it is going to end. it's going to go somewhere. and i think that that's going to be the interesting test for our democracy. >> we should note, in the past, it was an fbi agent named mark felt who was enraged by the president's treatment of the bureau that brought down richard nixon as deep throat. naveed and emily, thanks for your time. still ahead, the first years of trump and fears of authoritarianism. but the apparent corruption on display at mar-a-lago, the president boasting about cutting taxes for the rich. that story coming up in about two minutes. the 2018 cadillac xt5. beauty, greater than the sum of its parts. come in for our season's best offers and drive out with the perfect 2018 cadillac xt5.
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2016 election, president trump made a promise. he survived the clientele of manhattan's you shall upscale 21 club who cheered his victory. and what did trump promise the folks dining on $36 burgers and
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257d pla $75 plates of fish? >> thank you. >> we'll get your taxes down, don't worry. [ cheers and applause ] >> "we'll get your taxes down, don't worry." >> a year later, president trump adamantly denied he was jamming through a tax cut for the rich, a handout for the 21 club crowd. >> the rich will not be gaining at all with this plan. i think the wealthy will be pretty much where they are. pretty much where they are. this is going to cost me a fortune, this thing. believe me. i have some very wealthy friends. not so happy with me, but that's okay. >> but here's the thing. the president fully understands what he and republicans just did. while trump claimed his wealthy friends were not so happy with him over the tax bill, he celebrated with his wealthy friends, those who pay $200,000 to join his club. two anonymous sources told cbs news that just hours after signing the tax bill into law, president trump kicked off his holiday weekend at mar-a-lago friday night at a dinner where
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he told friends, you all just got a lot richer. joining me now, pulitzer prize winning investigative journalist, david cay johnston, author of the new book coming out next month, "it's even worse than you think: what the trump administration is doing to america." if indeed he said this, and this is cbs' reporting and not our own, they do have two sources who were in the room, if indeed it's accurate, you've got to say that the president is being honest in this instance. >> yes, i would agree about that. even if he didn't say it, though, trump has repeatedly asserted, you know, that he will pay more, is absolutely impossible under this bill, with one exception. if donald has been benefiting from an illegal tax shelter that this bill somehow undoes, then it's possible instead of paying nothing or getting refunds that he might have to pay some tax. but over time, his tax will fall by about -- by essentially half. >> and that's true. the kinds of people that could spend $200,000 to join mar-a-lago and then pay the
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annual dues, living in florida, have some residency in florida, those are folks who are going to see -- i mean, that is the folks that are going to benefit wildly from this tax bill. >> absolutely. and it would be actually, i think, productive, except congress doesn't allow it, to do audits on all of those people who own 100-foot, 200-foot-long yachts that are right around the corner from mar-a-lago, because it's hard to imagine anybody using after-tax dollars on something like that. >> there's news today from at&t, one of the things that happened after this tax cut. it was a bizarre, bizarre spectacle, i have to say. really strange. a bunch of corporations got together to announce that they were increasing capital investment or giving their workers bonuses. at&t was one of them. and then also announces much more quietly that they're going to lay off thousands of people just in time for christmas, which cuts against a little bit that the idea that they're so flush, that now everyone's going to get a raise.
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>> well, the fundamental idea to understand is taxes are a minor part of large corporations' business. if anything, you know, many multi-nationals turn a profit, as i've shown in the past>> we should say that comcast announced there would be some. >> they get a deduction of 35 cents on the dollar here, this year, if they waited until january to pay the bonuses, they would only get 21 cents on the dollar. so paying bonuses early was a smart tax move. >> i have not even thought of that. the value, the marginal value of the dollar is higher now than it will be next year, so if you're going to pay it, you might as well do it this year. >> final question here, is there some -- what do you think of the general mar-a-lago situation. while the president is in residence at his private florida
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beach club, wealthy individuals want favors from the government can pay him cash bribes and then lobby him personally. that's like, when you put it like that, it's a good point. >> i think that's exactly what's going on at mar-a-lago. after his election, he doubled the fee to join from $100,000 to $200,000. we're spending a fortune as taxpayers for federal secret service agents, federal officials, state and local police whose costs you're not longer going to be able to deduct beyond $10,000 a year, to rent space from the trump administration. interesting, you know, they want to cut the budget of the united nations, but they're adding to the revenue that goes to donald trump's properties from the federal government. i don't know how we're going to get someone who has standing to bring a case, but under the domestic emoluments clause, one of the three emoluments causes in our constitution, this is absolutely improper, chris. >> it certainly looks that way. david cay johnston, thanks for
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joik jo joining me tonight. >> still ahead, the president gave himself ten out of ten after the catastrophe in puerto rico, a man-made disaster more than 100 days later. that's next.
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americans spent their first christmas from hurricane maria without power. three months after the storm, the country's electrical grid is operating just 65% of capacity. the army corps of engineers says some areas may not get power back until may. the ongoing crisis there is taking a terrible toll. while the government says officially that 64 people died as a result of the storm, multiple news outlets now have looked at the data and say that it shows more than a thousand
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people may have lost their lives as a result of the storm. mathias schwartz, an investigative journalist who visited puerto rico to witness the man-made disaster that goes on months after the natural disaster made its mark filed this report for "new york" magazine. it's a great bit of reporting. what most surprised you or you sort of weren't prepared for? >> one of the things that surprised me the most, chris, was just the number of people who don't have electricity in their homes a hundred days after the storm. that number is 65% overstates considerably the progress that the government has made in getting the lights back on. i talked to a lot of senior people there, including someone from the army corps who says that more than half of puerto rico's population of $3.5 million people is still without electricity in their homes. we know that when people don't have electricity, they die. particularly in hospitals, that figure you cited earlier, 1,050
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roughly extra deaths for september and october. we don't know the november numbers yet. but it looks like overall, mortality in puerto rico is up about 20% due to hurricane maria. >> yeah, i want to play this, you know, there was this very bizarre and somewhat garish spectacle in which the president sort of applauded himself from the low death total in early days. i want to play it for you and compare it to what people there told you about their experience of it. take a listen. >> every death is a horror, but if you look at a real catastrophe like katrina and you look at the tremendous hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of people that died, and you look at what happened here with really a storm that was just totally overbearing. nobody's ever seen anything like this and what is your death count as of this moment? 17? >> 16, certified. >> 16 people certified, versus in the thousands. >> what was the sort of effect
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of those deaths to the folks that you talked to and reported on? >> in the thousands of deaths yo, you mean? >> yeah, well, people are sort of taking matters into their own hands, both in terms of the roads, the electrical grid, just providing everyday services to their neighborhoods. i think there's a lot of shock and a lot of denial about how bad it's been. i know that there are a lot of local governments who are misattributing deaths, deaths that are pretty obviously caused by the power going out are being chalked up to natural causes. i saw that firsthand, including an older guy in the orracovas municipality. . he was on an oxygen machine, the power went out and he died that same night. and nevertheless, the local government in that municipality still put that down as a death by natural causes, just because he was old and the feeling was that it was his time. so there still hasn't really been an accurate accounting of
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the effects of just how bad this has been for the people there. and there sort of -- that place of advantage of the white house here in washington, they can claim that the crisis is over. they've already substantially ramped down the response from a peak of 15,000 federal personnel on the ground, 5,400 right now. they pulled back the "us comfort," taken out the three-star general that was leading the effort, said it's time to transition the job to the puerto ricans, but the job isn't halfway over yet. you could say that it hasn't even really started. so what we're seeing is really a lowering of the bar of what kind of basic services are american citizens entitled to? it's going to be a hundred days without electricity for more than half of this u.s. territory in less than a week now. >> all right, mattathias schwartz, you can read his great reporting in "the new yorker". >> thanks, chris. coming up, what the president allegedly said about haitians what his administration
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has actually done to immigrants, that's next.
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in a year in which the administration repeatedly fought for a version of its muslim ban and terminated a humanitarian program for haitians, a new report in "the new york times" describes how much of president trump's far-reaching immigration agenda appears to be a reflection of his personal bias. for example, in june meeting, the president responded to a document that listed immigrant visas in 2017. quoting "the times," haiti had sent 15,000 people. they all have aids, trump grumbled, according to one
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person who attended the meeting and another person who was briefed about it by a different person who was there. 40,000 coming from nigeria, mr. trump added. once they had seen the united states, they would never -- quoting here, go back to their huts in africa, recalled the two officials who asked for anonymity. white house press secretary sarah huckabee sanders denied the president made those comments, saying, senior staff actually in the meeting deny these outrageous claims. darra linde has been report on immigration issues for a decade and has been closely covering the trump agenda this year as a reporter for vox. how much has changed? when you look back, it seems this was a place that was a focus for the first moments of the campaign, has been a focus of the administration, and place you can do a lot without congress. how much have they changed immigration enforcement in this year? >> basically, as much as they could. i think that the wholesale change that they want to see in immigration, you know, full replacement of the current family-based system with merit-based immigration, many of
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those parts that do no congress, they haven't done yet. but really to the extent you can retool the department of homeland security and state department to be about keeping immigrants out rather than selecting immigrants to come through, they've done basically everything in their power. >> what does that mean in terms of the lived experience of folks who are undocumented. question get these stories that have been horrifying. the father picked up at school. you know, the kid whose got treatment at a hospital, who's maybe getting zpo ting deported. but it's also the case of a lot of deportations under obama. i wonder what it looks like on the ground differently. >> the thing about those stories is that when you and i and others in the media see those and lift those up, other people are, you know, immigrants themselves are seeing them on social media and sharing them and so i've definitely heard a lot of cases of children, including, you know, often u.s. citizen children born here have lived here their whole lives coming home from school and knowing more about what the trump administration is doing than their parents would like them to know. but it's also worth noting that, of course, this isn't just
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authorized immigrants. you know, many mixed status families don't feel fully safe in the u.s. and, you know, in the case of haitian immigrants, 59,000 of them have been told by the trump administration that they, you know, have to go back to haiti over, after more than a decade living in the united states. so the feeling of kind of that you're being in the u.s. is conditional has become basically a condition of living as an immigrant in the u.s. >> there's also the refugee program, which they have effectively reduced to a 40-year low, i believe, at the time the global refugee population has exploded in the wake of syria. we are taking fewer refugees now than almost at any time in decades, right? >> yeah, and it's really more than that. the administration clearly has rejected the idea that there is such a thing as a global refugee crisis. they've pulled out of the u.n. global compact on migration. they have made it very clear that as far as they're concerned, they shouldn't have to deal with far-away refugees, because nearby countries should be doing them. and they also don't think the people coming from the northern triangle of central america, ie,
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close to the u.s., are refugees. so they've made it very -- they've kind of conveniently isolated themselves from any of the problems that have given rise to the refugee crisis. and thus said, well, you know, it shouldn't be our job to take people just because they're suffering elsewhere, which is not what the u.s. has done for the literal, since world war ii history of the global refugee program. >> all right, dara lind, thank you for making time tonight. how a russian troll army infiltrated the election, but first, thing one and thing two, next.
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thing one tonight, republican senator orrin hatch from utah is not hiding his feelings about president trump. >> i say this for you. he's been one of the best presidents i have served under. >> mr. president, i have to say that you're living up to every -- everything that i thought you would. you're one heck of a leader and
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we're going to keep fighting and we're going to make this the greatest presidency that we've seen, not in the generation, but maybe ever. >> the best presidency maybe ever. that is some serious adoration. but the senator hatch marches in lockstep with the president. how is his home state greeting him? well, he tweeted this out yesterday. grateful for this great christmas honor, from the salt lake tribune with the front page declaring him utahn of the year. pretty good! there's just one problem with hatch's victory lap. it appears he did not read past the headline and certainly did not make it to the second sentence that reads as follows, lest our readers or the honoree himself get the wrong impression, dot, dot, dot. what utah's largest paper really thinks of orrin hatch is thing two in 60 seconds. in jellyfish. in clinical trials, prevagen has been shown to improve short-term memory. prevagen. the name to remember. when it comes to travel, i sweat the details.
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apparently doing damage control, claiming the tweet was tongue in cheek, that's because the so-called honor doesn't stretch beyond the headline, as the tribune editorial board made clear, the recipient is whoever has had the biggest impact for good or for ill. the paper blasts hatch's part in the dramatic dismantling of the bears ears and grand staircase escalante monuments. and breaking a promise he knema in 2012 to step down after 40 years, utah's largest paper calls it his utter lack of integrity that rises from his enquenchable thirst for power. h? first, mix liquid gold velveeta with the one-two kick of ro*tel's diced tomatoes and spicy green chilies. then, find space for extra parking. lots and lots of parking.
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new details tonight on exactly what the u.s. knew about russia skbeempinterference and e government did not do about it. in an extensive report in "the washington post," the white house, the pentagon, the state department and u.s. and european intelligence services, as well as nato representatives and top
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european diplomats. shows the u.s. government knew all about the increasing threat of disinformation from russia, and when it came to countering it, big plans died of internal disagreement. a fear of making matters worse or a misguided belief in the resilience of american society in its democratic institutions. it was only in the waning days of the obama presidencies that u.s. agencies drew up specific covert plans for russian interference. one year after those instructions were given, the trump white house remains divided over whether to act. with me now, former cia analyst, ned price, senior director of the national security council of the white house under president obama. there is this kind of line that's emerged, which is that the obama administration did too little, didn't move quickly enough, david ignatius has said this among others. do you think that's a fair criticism? >> i really don't, chris. i'll tell you why. when this was developed, you have to recall the threat we were confronted with. we didn't know how far these russian active measures would go, if it would stop with this covert influence campaign that
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we saw extend through the 2016 election, or if it would include something much more dramatic, something even more hostile, like tampering with ballots, tampering with voter rolls. so when this came to our attention, when the intelligence community first brought this to our attention in 2016, our first priority was to ensure that it never got that far. to ensure that the russians would not take these measures to actually tamper with votes themselves, to tamper with ballots, to tamper with voter rolls. and through a concerted series of steps, diplomatic, intelligence, and public, you have to remember, we made this public a full month before the election, we prevented that. the department of homeland security said there was not an uptick in malicious cyber operations on election day. >> anthony blinken, who you worked, tony blinken at the nsc said, i thought our ground was not as fertile. we believed that the truth shall set you free, the truth would prevail, that proved a bit naive. there's a sort of tenor to the way this whole issue gets
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covered as to the poor, innocent, naive united states and the bad russians. but the u.s. runs one of the biggest and sprawling and most effective intelligence operations in the entire world. we've been involved in other country's elections from 1946 to 2000 at least 81 times, according to best estimates. it always strikes me as a little odd the way people talk about this as if people are like, we're just sitting here as the u.s. we never thought anyone could do something like this. that's not really true, right? >> what is fair to say is that this was unprecedented. the scope and the scale of this operation is unlike anything we have ever seen. when the intelligence community -- >> unlike anything we've ever seen targeted at us. >> the cia was giving bags of cash to the christian democratic party of italy for 24 years to have them defeat the communists. it's not like this has never happened. >> no. you're right on that point, chris. but i think it's also instructive to look at what the russians have done to us in previous elections. in the lead up to the -- into the lead up of the election of jimmy carter, they tried to
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recruit one democratic volunteer who was a campaign volunteer for jimmy carter's campaign. in the lead up to the 2012 election, they used the so-called illegals, the non-official cover officers, who were here to collect, you know, "new york times" articles and other open source information on our electoral charkistacteristi. so what we saw in 2016 was on a vastly different scale and the scope of what we saw was quite different. and it's my hope and it's certainly my expectation, it's my hope and expectation that this administration takes those lessons from 2016 and actually implements them. so that when the russians do this again in 2018 and 2020, as we know they will, we will have learned from this experience and we're better fortified against it. >> some of it, though, also strikes me as just difficult in a free society with the first amendment. disinformation -- you know, information is protected constitutionally. people can publish things, publish all sorts of crazy things. and it strikes me as a really
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difficult problem to deal with within constitutional parameters. >> it absolutely is. and that's the case in two different directions. one, we don't have the same authorities within our intelligence community to do the kinds of things that the russians did dpeagainst us. it's actually written into statute that a covert action cannot influence a u.s. person. and so when you're dealing in the age of twitter and social media and you put out, in the u.s. intelligence community puts out a covert influence operation, if that blows back and if that influences an american citizen, that violates the law. but second of all, it's also very difficult to measure how these things play on the american psyche and what the trump team has consistently done, they have pointed, including in this "washington post" piece, to the fact that, you know, what vote did this change? what voter in michigan changed his or her vote because of this covert influence operation? that's an incredibly difficult thing to measure. it's not something the intelligence community can or would measure. it's something for social scientists, frankly. >> ned price, thanks for joining
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us. >> thank you. still ahead, the allure of authoritarian thinking. the first area of trump. masha gessen is here to talk about that and her great new book, next. see that's funny, i thought you traded options. i'm not really a wall street guy. what's the hesitation? eh, it just feels too complicated, you know? well sure, at first, but jj can help you with that. jj, will you break it down for this gentleman? hey, ian. you know, at td ameritrade, we can walk you through your options trades step by step until you're comfortable. i could be up for that. that's taking options trading from wall st. to main st. hey guys, wanna play some pool? eh, i'm not really a pool guy. what's the hesitation? it's just complicated.
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a good read how to flatter department. a move prompted alexi to call for his supporters to boycott the election. with me staff writer of the new yorker, "the future is history how toltalerism reclaimed russia." putin making this move, i saw this commentary saying the opposition isn't going to win the election. what is the point of having your allies make this decoloration, to bar the chief rival from running? >> it's a great question. what he's basically doing is preventing from turning movement into a political enterprise. he's created this investigative organization that exposes
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corruption and calls for protests and calls for hundreds of thousands of people into the streets from all over russia. the biggest protest russia has seen twice this year but not political in the sense they are not acting together. they come out and go home. >> and continue to investigate corruption, this would be the change in the modality into a party. >> it would be a political enterprise because it would get people acting together in different regions in russia and that is absolute will you tly to the regime. it's too frightening to contempla contemplate. >> well, i think trump adores putin, please, and exasperated. [ laughter ] >> like many of trump's prior investors or creditors i would note. >> i'm not convinced that putin is an investor in the trump
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enterprise but i think that certainly moscow thought it got incredibly lucky with the election and they thought they presumed america functions the same way russia does, trump would say the word and sanctions would fall and of course, america still doesn't function quite the way russia does, and i think at this point putin wishes he were dealing with hillary because she would be consistent and predictable and trump hijacked his madman on the act. >> that's very interesting. you wrote a lot about your sort of worry about the american rhetoric around russia, which is a worry i partly share. you can sort of see shades of this kind of oh, so and so met with a russian like meeting with a russian is great offense but i was thinking about this story. >> you're doing the right now, chris. >> i was thinking about this story in the washington post that just started, one we reported on with a freelancer writing with a leftist site
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website who proved to be a russian agent under a fake name and at one level it's like really, what is the big deal? it sort of distills the creepiness of the measures they have taken in a way i find really unsettling that has an insidiousness to it you're questioning yourself all the time. >> i think that's the greatest effect and we're amplefyiifying. there is no clear trajectory between that and votes cast and it's as though -- >> that's the defense the trump administration makes. he was reciting a quote in the piece from a trump official saying show me where the effect is. >> show me where the effect is because actually, the assumption russia with this information influenced the american election contradicts everything we know about the way people vote. >> i'm not sure i buy that.
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why do you say that? >> what people read, if it doesn't confirm what they believe does not influence how they vote. >> okay. well -- >> and -- >> if you're really reductive about it, the logical conclusion of that is no coverage whatsoever has anfe effect. in some sense it has an effect. >> it does. $100,000 worth of ads on facebook. >> that i disagree. to me it's the wikileaks cash and e-mails every day from the campaign. >> that's a more complicated story. i'm talking about the social -- >> yeah, yes. >> we're talking about the leaks, yeah. >> right. so finish the thought because i cut you off about the way in which the amp lification proces happens. >> russia lives in this -- putin's biggest effect, we imagine this clear propaganda
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machine that has every russian marching in step. that's not what happens. what p happens in the regime pun created is reality is mush. nothing is what it seems and anything is possible and we have fought, we're falling into the same abias. almost of our free choice because we're choosing to engage what the endlessly revealed verdicts. instead of the really scary reality that we can actually observe and problem. >> which is the administration. >> the behavior of the administration and consecutive attack on the institution and judiciary and state department and on and on but this is stuff we can engage in. it's scary but reality. >> it's an excellent point. the book i started is an amazing look at the trajectory of russia post, you know, '91 and the way
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in which these sort of institutions got reasserted themselves and the lives of ordinary russians. fantastic read. pleasure. come back any time. >> thank you very much for having me. >> that's "all in" this evening. t"the rachel maddow show" start now with joy reid. thanks to you at home for joining us. rachel had a well-deserved off night tonight. we'll take you back to 2004 when george appeared to provide annual testimony on worldwide threats facing the u.s. the lion's share of the testimony focused on terrorism and the insure again in iraq. cia says russia could try to reassert itself after a putin victory. the cia warned after a greater assertiveness and


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