tv All In With Chris Hayes MSNBC May 12, 2018 12:00am-1:00am PDT
tonight on "all in." >> i look forward to inauguration. >> tonight, new reporting that the special counsel is tracing foreign-linked donations to president trump's inauguration. >> and i think they're going to pay a big price. plus -- >> drain the swamp. >> new details about the secret slush fund of the president's lawyer. >> explain what way this is a definition of draining the swamp. then, the new scott pruitt scandal involving a cover-up and an accused catholic cardinal. and on the anniversary of his last tough interview -- >> i said to myself, i said, you know, this russia thing with trump and russia is a made-up story. >> how the president has spent a year inside the trump tv bubble.
>> and joining me now by phone, the president of the united states. when "all in" starts right now. >> i will say fox ratings are phenomenal. good evening from new york. i'm chris hayes. every single day we learn more about what the members of trump world were up to after winning the election as they moved to take power in washington. and everybody day we learn that robert mueller is way ahead of us. abc news reporting today that mueller has been questioning witnesses about millions of dollars given to the president's inauguration from donors with ties to russia, saudi arabia, united arab emirates and qatar. those donations, let's be clear, are not illegal. inaugurations aren't regulated the same way campaigns are, so we don't know exactly why mueller is interested in those. what we do know is that his team is already interviewing tom barrack, realest state investor who chaired the president's inaugural committee. previously in 2016, barrack neglected to mention the role
played by connected donors. >> you'll see a tribute to america. so this president-elect has said very simple direction that this is for the people and by the people, american-oriented events to self-focus on the things important to us. >> and all the qataris. mueller's team interviewed barrack months ago. barrack's deputy of the inaugural committee was rickgates, remember him? he was cooperated with investigators since pleading guilty to his work with paul manafort in the ukraine. we also know there's a giant unsolved mystery at the heart of trump's inaugurations finances. one that my colleague rachel maddow has been covering for over a year. >> these images here, these are images from the biggest presidential inauguration we ever had as a history. this is the first obama inauguration in 2009. it was immense, biggest inauguration, biggest ever event of any kind in the city of washington, d.c.
to pull off that inauguration, the obama inaugural committee raised more money than had ever been raised before for an inauguration. they raised tens of millions of dollars. they raised $53 million. let's just put that up on the left side of the screen. all right, line, really big inauguration. now on the right side of the screen is an inauguration that was not nearly as big. the trump inauguration, the picture on the right, just as a matter of fact, it was much, much smaller than the one we saw in 2009. and it was of a different character, right? there were no mega concerts, no internationally-known celebrity performers flying in and having hundreds of thousands of people turn out to see them. i mean, the entertainment for the trump inauguration was, like, middle school bands and baton twirlers. but the trump folks collected from donors $107 million to put on this inauguration. the one with the baton twirlers and the high school bands.
and nobody at all lining whole big long stretches during the inaugural parade. if this is what your inauguration looks like, what do you need $100 million for? $107 million? >> that report was more than a year ago. and here's the thing, we still don't know what happened to all that money they raised. in subsequent tax files reviewed by "all in," the trump administration used $94 million excluding payroll and $5 million to charity. $94 million. that's about $50 million more than the first obama inauguration spent on the same category of expenses. somehow, despite holding a much smaller celebration, the trump inauguration says it's spending more than doubled that of the previously largest inauguration ever. okay. there's also a russia angle to this story which raised a whole bunch of new questions. according to abc news, mueller has specifically asked about two inauguration donors, both linked to victor vexelberg, a russian
who attended the president's swearing in. one is vexelberg's cousin and another investor who gave $250,000 to trump's inaugural committee. his company the in the news this week for paying half a million to the president's lawyer, fixer and bag man, michael cohen over the last year. according to "the washington post," they said cohen, intrater and vexselberg were seen together. here to break this down, author of "trump russia: a definitive history." and robert, let me start with you, you have been focused on the inauguration. am i wrong to say there are $50 million missing in front of everyone that we don't know where they went? >> it's not wrong to say that, it's -- i think a part of it, there's a lot of different
things happening there. there's the fact that you have certain established companies that appear to have just sort of taken the inaugural committee to the bank. you have a company called hard grove inc., for example, that president obama's inaugural paid. that was the large inauguration. they paid them $5 million. and in 2017, you have the trump inauguration paying them $25 million. so it seems -- there's no explanation for that. but this is a company that puts on events. it has experience putting on inaugural events. but then you have these other payments like, for example, the payment to someone close to melania, $26 million. this is a person who has a history of putting on sort of fancy galas in new york. but no experience putting on an inauguration. and she's paid more than any single contractor was paid in the last, in the first obama
inauguration. so that there are a lot of questions of, when you have this much money poring into a committee, and they are just handing it out to people, it's -- it raises questions of whether they were, you know, if there was good oversight of their spending. but also, you know, who else was getting paid? because the tax documents that they filed, the tax document that is you showed are really bad at informing us. because they don't outline, you know, the dates of expenditures. they don't outline, you know, who or what subcontractors were paid. so this could have been, you know, a boon to anyone who wants to grab that money and could be close enough to grab it. >> seth, you're someone who has written a book about trump and russia and there's a lot in there ability michael cohen, looking at him and his life and the way he butts up against folks from the former soviet union. what do you make of one line in
"the washington post" story that vekselberg, intrater and michael cohen are seen together at the inauguration. >> trump's ties are so deep and complex that you have people, you don't know who they are and who they represent, whether they represent russian mafia, russian government or both. and the interesting thing about that line you pointed out is when you open a lobbying shop, you know, the phone just doesn't ring. you open a lobbying shop and you build pre-existing, you build with pre-existing relationships. so the fact that vekselberg or people connected to vekselberg were his clients suggest these are relationship that is go back a long way. >> yeah, go ahead. >> i just want to break in and also remind people that intrater and blovatnik are two of three
donors that are really important. simon kukas also gets forgotten here. this is a guy who was born in russia, came to america in the 1970s, he never gave a contribution, he's been a u.s. citizen for decades, he never gave a contribution to a politician or party or anything. and then in 2016 after the truch tower meeting, he gives $283,000 to the republican party, to trump's campaign. he had given $2,700 to trump in the primaries, but all of that came late in the cycle. this is a person who was hand-picked by putin in 2003 to run a state-owned russian oil company. and he -- he is an american citizen, so it's not illegal. >> i want to be clear, because we just put up simon kukes, he's
accused no wrongdoing, he's an american citizen, it is entirely legal what he did. i don't want to tar by association because you have not been born in russia. >> absolutely, right. >> here's the question for you, seth, which i think gets to the complexity here, right? it can be hard to sort of keep track of this web, but there's a way you can view it as incorps terror or ex-corpitory. getting money from the former soviet union, maybe it doesn't look so weird in light of collusion that there are all the connections. what do you think of that argument? >> well, you know, the way i see this is to -- i try to step back a little bit. and i think when you look at what these guys were -- to me the interesting part is they were investing in michael cohen's essential consultants, which is both a pay-for-play operation and a slush fund at the same time. and what they were buying there or what maybe they thought they
were buying was influence. so this to me is another, in a series of attempted by people connected to russia, trying to get a food in the door in the trump campaign. and this goes all the way back to the, you know, to the april of 2016 when george papadopoulos is approached and goes into the trump tower meeting and the nra. and they are just repeated attempts to try to get, to try to knock on the door. and the reason they're doing that is because the door was opening. they were being let in. so, you know, they are going to try and whatever way possible, and this is the more conventional way of just giving to an inauguration or to a lobbying firm, to do that. >> all right, seth and robert maguire, thank you. i'm joined by nancy gertner, retired judge and former criminal defense attorney. and former u.s. attorney who served as deputy attorney general, very nice to have you here in new york. >> great to be here. >> i want to talk about two
pieces of information we know and the possible connection. "the wall street journal" that just crossed that said, mueller also asked ford about an approach from michael cohen, or michael cohen came and said, hey, ford, want to hire my essential consultants? and they said, yeah, you know what? no thanks. mueller asked him about this. and here's why i think that's interesting. that on its face has nothing to do with russia, right? am i wrong? >> nothing on its face, right. >> so i guess the question is, when you look at him having moved the cohen stuff over to the southern district of new york, there are different theories about why that is. one of them is he found stuff that didn't have to do with russia and wasn't in his portfolio and passed it off. one is he's trying to protect the investigation. i wonder if you have feelings on the two theories. >> the theories about why he passed it on? >> yeah, exactly. >> rosenstein passes it on. and i think it's probably playing it fairly straight, obviously, there's some leverage
here or you could even say arbitraz of risk here, but in fact, the bulk, and it doesn't have to be 100%, but the bulk of the crimes really concern something outside of mueller's marching orders. and there is also the possibility, and that's explicit in the transfer order, that if something really back in mueller's backyard emerges, it can return to him. >> right. i don't think we know because we don't know everything sealed, but you get a sense from the coverage that it was probably something that had to do with banking transactions, money laundering, the amount of cash that's going into this who knows what entity. but i agree, if anything comes up related to the russia investigation, lit go back. but it really is a great concept of basically offloading the risk to mueller by offloading this to the southern district, and maybe we thought to the new york ag as well. >> there's also the question, i think, here about what you find
when you start pulling on threads as an investigators, right? >> totally. first of all, as robert and like i said, it's a bit of a mystery with a few more threads in an unbelievably tangled web. but you have the trumpian themes of secrecy and big money and enrichment of friends and family. with the $26 million to the melania, that was something formed just a few weeks before. and then, this wild card that just keeps coming up three days a week. and it all has to do with russia. there's just -- there's just some russia wild card that, you know, emerges from there. and so it's a rich brood that comes together. >> you are talking ability how these may have been pre-existing relationships with the oligarch. so maybe it wasn't related to trump becoming president. the only thing is, then what is the explanation for the cover-up with the russian contacts? if this was so, these are my buddies, i have known them for a long time, why was it so
necessary to not disclose the contacts? >> that threw a line here as people sat in a courtroom in front of criminal proceedings, as someone who was a prosecutor, this idea of this sort of acting guilty, the sort of -- you know, with the essential consultants thing, i'm seeing a lot of people saying, pay-for-play in washington, people do start lobbying. cory lewandowski said, i'm going to do this and he was not getting bank transfers. >> money for access was okay. so money for access to people in power was okay, so why did you have to do this through some who knows what llc? >> right. i think it's clear, everyone is saying, yeah, typical pay-for-play. it wasn't. cohen was selling something else, secrecy. by not registering as a lobbyist, he was given the opportunity for the other companies to have what they hoped to have been quiet influence. i think you really saw that when
everything exploded a couple days ago. they were caught flat-footed and had very poor explanations. they obviously wanted not simple influence but the kind of back room triple bank shots to trump what they thought cohen could provide. >> still not illegal, right? just sort of something is going on. not illegal. >> right, on its face you're saying. >> that's right. >> with one possibility, and that is we know the sort of m.o. -- i agree, but we know -- there's no proof of this, but the m.o. of donald trump throughout his life has been to lend out his name and take a piece. so could he have been so foolish as to actually be enjoying tribute payments from michael cohen's $400 million? >> there's no evidence of that right now. but we also do know that it's a thing the politicians from, you know, new jersey local politics to illinois local politics to the mayor -- no, i want to be accumentical here.
these sort of things happen. and i'm sure there are things in your career, both as a judge and as a prosecutor, it's the kind of thing you have seen before. >> that's why following the money, it's a trite thing to say, but following the money, following the money coupled with secrecy, following the money coupled with absolutely no transparency with respect to -- this after all, it was the same slush fund that paid stormy daniels that is into which the at&t money is going. this is not the way an ordinary business operates. >> thank you. >> you're a former prosecutor. >> there's one other thing about it, a taste, some of it was supposed to go to redecorate mike pence's home. >> the inaugural money. >> yeah, the inaugural money, not the michael cohen money. >> the thing about the inaugural money, the same thing about the bank records, there are some records to show what the facts are. that's my obsession in this. we are peering through the black boxes. >> there's a 99 form they have to file eventually.
>> right. but it's very unitemized. so the stuff is like, we gave $26 million, but someone has bank records from melania's personal party friend planner somewhere, right? >> two people. >> i'm not crazy. >> two people and robert mueller. >> you think robert mueller has them, that's the key. great to have you here. >> thank you. as i mentioned, another major american corporation said they were approached by president trump's attorney. we're learning more about michael cohen and how the companies responded. more in two minutes. racing isn't the only and with godaddy, i'm making my ideas real. with godaddy you can get a website to sell online. and it will look good. i made my own way. now it's time to make yours. ♪ everything is working just like it should ♪
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capital. is that true? to find out if this is normal behavior, i'm joined by a new york times reporter who wrote a story called "how to get rich in trump's washington." i want to start with a tweet the president sent out that i thought was interesting that seems to acknowledge the allegation here. he says, why doesn't the fake news media state that the trump administration's antitrust division has been and is opposed to the ataround t purchase of time warner in a currently ongoing trial. such a disgrace in reporting. this understands that he precisely knows what is being alleged here. >> that's why they hired michael cohen to try to move the administration off that position. that's the whole reason. or to understand what is happening inside the white house. and can they move out of the position? what is different here, chris, is the secrecy. the cory lewandowski model is
come to my fancy office, hint hint, right by the white house. this was dark money, by the way. it was dark hunting lobbying money. >> or even cory lewandowski had this as his industry, it was an actual job he was doing. >> on top of that, cohen had an agreement with the major lobbying firm, through which he could have done this business and bought business into the traditional lobbying or consulting and do the half-and-half. this appears to be partly separate from that, meaning it was not really lobbying in the sense that we think it is. or even the sleazier version of lobby where you don't say you are a lobbyist, but you have a consultant full-time. this is a secret nonlobbyist lobbyist.
>> the former judge that was here mentioned this. we're living in a world now where remarkably the supreme court in the mcdonald decision legalized a certain form of bribery. they basically said it's okay to take money for access to a politician as long as there's no specific act or quid pro quo. does that end up providing a lot of legal protection for whatever michael cohen was engaged with in here? >> you know, it might, chris. it depends on the facts. but mcdonald was a real blew to prosecutors. it made it much more difficult to prosecute the pay-to-play conduct where an individual company has to pay money to a politician or his designee in order to have access or get contracts. so mcdonald has done a lot to make it much more difficult for prosecutors, whether that is helpful for cohen will depend on the specific fact of what he did here. i think nick makes this really great point, though, why didn't
cohen just go ahead and register as a lobbyist? if what he was doing was, in fact, setting up calls with the white house, he himself talking to the white house, nudging them on the issues, the easiest route to do that would have been to register. and the fact that he didn't register and that this all happens in the dark gives it a little bit more sinister of an appearance. >> i think there's something allegation interesting "the wall street journal" has a story on the approach to ford and ford rejected that. but there's an approach to ford, we know at&t went in for novartis, the president on the campaign trail talked about drug prices and putting the screws to drug companies for drug prices. he talked specifically about ford making cars in mexico and bringing them back to the u.s. and was going to hammer them on that. and he opposed the at&t/time warner merger. there comes a time when he says, you need a friend. >> it appears if there's coordination wean the president and cohen on these topics.
if there's no coordination at all, it looks like the business cohen was engaged in was identifying company that is were under the hammer from the president walking up to them very quietly and saying, give me some money, i can help you. and even if he didn't have the access he thought he had or couldn't change the policy, it's pretty sleazy. >> what would you want to know as an investigators, joyce, if you were sort of looking into this? >> so the most important question to me is where did cohen's money end up? and we'll find out the answer to that, or mueller will, probably has, based on the bank records that cohen has that will come from his financial institutions. and whatever the government was able to seize during the search warrants they executed recently. if that money somehow gets funneled towards trump, towards the white house, that will be really the most interesting piece of information from a prosecutorial point of view. >> just to be clear, all the
reporting is about where the money is coming in from. we know where some of the money went to, stormy daniels, $130,000 in an anonymous play rate, at $1.6 million for elliott brody. finally, nick, you cover money and politics. you influence peddling. you cover dark money. you cover this sort of beat for years as well as anyone. have you ever seen something like the vehicle that michael cohen created? >> no, not in lobbying. what we normally see are the consultancies like lobbying companies. and they do what they have to do -- >> to not register. >> right. because for some reason, they think being a lobbyist is the most honest person in washington. they are a person who registers and says, i'm a lobbyist. >> on the issues, they write disclosures. >> i'm a paid advocate talking about these four things. that's very honest. there's a whole world of people who are on the lighter end of what cohen was doing who set up consulting and say i'm an
advocate or strategic consultant or adviser and have connections back to somebody in power. >> nick and joyce, thank you for joining us. coming up, "the new york times" breaks a scott pruitt scandal so far beyond anything you could imagin a scott pruitt scandal could be, the cover-up of dinner with an accused cardinal and the reporter who broke the story will join me, next.
cardinal, not just a climate change skeptic, but he was under investigation for child sex abuse, which explains why epa staffers deliberately tried to hide the dinner. "the new york times" reporting that a move to keep cardinal pell off official schedules came after cardinal pell was charged on june 29th. the reporter who broke that story and many more about the epa, eric lipton is joining me now. there are two things here, eric. there's the decision to have the dinner with this cardinal. and then what they did to hide it. let's start with the dinner itself. how did that come about? >> the whole trip and aspects of it are quite irregular. all the get-togethers that pruitt had at the vatican, he visited the vatican library, he visited with vatican officials, were arranged by leonard leo, a group funded by charles koch. so these meetings are set with leo.
and why is it that the guy from the nonprofit funded by the industry is arranging meetings for the epa administrator? even before the trip occurred, folks back at the agency were looking over the people that leonard leo and others had urged them to get together with. and noticed on the schedule the names. their job is to vet the people that the administrator is going to meet with. and the name cardinal pell shows up. someone is vetting it and says, wait a second, this guy is under investigation for potentially being involved in sexual abuse. so they advised pruitt's aides to cancel the get-together. they went ahead with it anyway. so it was a irregular from the start. >> so you have this -- there's an internal debate to proceed with the meeting with card until pell. you have people going back and forth on whether they should do it. and basically, they urge him to cancel. they have the dinner anyway. okay. we also know from the documents that they knew exactly what they were doing, they were having dinner with this guy on purpose, it's in an internal schedule, right?
we have a document, you have a document in which they have on the schedule, dinner with cardinal pell. >> no. there's e-mails from may of 2017, where they are debating this trip, it's going to occur in june, about having a dinner with cardinal pell. although it was on dampbt night and different restaurant. but as early as may 2017, they planned to have the dinner with them. >> they have the dinner, it's a very expensive dinner and a nice restaurant, the cardinal was a fascinating guy. he's a roman catholic cardinal at the vatvatican. he's a climate change skeptic. then what happens when you ask for documents of the cabinet secretary's schedule? >> well, what happens is a few weeks later when he was criminally, when he was subject to suspect criminal charges in australia, back at the agency, they are like, wait a minute, this guy who we had heard, maybe we shouldn't meet with is now facing criminal charges. so what we have been told by three different people at the agency, including one of them on the record, who was the deputy chief of staff for pruitt, was there was a decision to keep
cardinal pell's name off the official schedule they were going to release to the public. now, i don't personally, it was probably a mistake to meet with cardinal pell. okay, fine. but the real mistake is to think that you can change a record or keep something off of a record because it's embarrassing. the public documents are public documents. and the public has a right to know who the cabinet secretary is meeting with. and the agency officials don't have the right to decide. they want to exclude something because it is embarrassing. >> right, this is all public information. this is how you have gotten your hands on it. the public wants to know what the schedule of the people who are in their government, like people that run the epa, what they're doing and who they are meeting with. >> right. they are working for us. they are funded by us. and they are -- and those documents, every document that they create are our documents. and they are entitled to be released. and they are required under law to keep correct and complete records of their activities. >> so they just violated that. they went back and tried to change history.
>> i don't know that they changed the documents. i have not -- i have no proof that they changed anything, but what we know is there were discussions to keep cardinal pell's name out of the record they were going to produce. we have four different schedules now discussing that trip. we have three detailed schedules and one summary schedule. cardinal pell's name is on none of those schedules. >> wow, eric, thank you for joining me. and for the dogged reporting you have been doing on the epa. really appreciate it. >> thank you. still ahead, the widely popular campaign promise the president just broke today. a check in on that swab training ahead. and the special anniversary in tonight's "one thing two thing" starts next.
thing 1 tonight, the one-year anniversary of president trump walking right up to the line of admitting that he obstructed justice when he fired fbi director james comey. >> what i did is, i was going to fire comey. my decision. it was not -- >> you had made the decision before he came in the room. >> i was going the fire comey. but regardless of recommendation, i was going to fire comey, knowing there was no good time to do it. and, in fact, when i decided to just do it, i said to myself, i said, you know, this russia thing with trump and russia is a made-up story, it's an excuse. >> this trump/russia thing, maybe i should fire comey. that was also the last time the president gave a network news interview.
probably not coincidentally. who he's been talking to over the last year? well, that is thing 2 in 60 seconds. pack in even more adventure with audible. with the largest selection of audiobooks. audible lets you follow plot twists off the beaten track. or discover magic when you hit the open road. with the free audible app, your stories go wherever you do. and for just $14.95 a month you get a credit, good for any audiobook. if you don't like it exchange it any time. no questions asked. you can also roll your credits to the next month if you don't use them. so take audible with you this summer... on the road... on the trail... or to the beach. start a 30-day trial and your first audiobook is free. cancel anytime, and your books are yours to keep forever. no matter where you go this summer make it better with audible. text summer17 to 500500 to start listening today.
president trump claims he's eager to talk to special counsel robert mueller, but over the past year he hasn't even done a network news interview. he might want to beef up his training. >> but i did not tape it. >> it's a smart way to stay honest in those herings. >> well, it wasn't -- it wasn't very stupid, i can tell you that. >> i'm so glad to see you. i'm so proud of everything you're doing. what do you see as the major problem facing the world? what is the major one? >> well, we have many problems. >> mr. president, let me get to the most important question i'm going to ask you today, how good is your press secretary? >> you guys want to start with good news? let's start with the good news. >> go ahead. >> you don't get a lot of good news in the media. >> you don't get so much. >> the market is up 25% since you won. >> after 18 months, not any kind
of reference to any collusion. >> there is no collusion. >> new york, we welcome the world's most famous new yorker in history! this man is single-handedly restoring the country to greatness. the kid from queens, president donald j. trump. thank you, sir. >> well, congratulations. i tell you what, i haven't done these interviews in a long time. so i said, let's do it on melania's birthday. >> do you want to tell us what you got her? >> well, maybe i better not get into that because maybe i didn't get her so much.
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donald trump was in full campaign mode in indiana last night, standing on stage in front of large signs proclaiming one of his slogans, promises made, promises kept. and one of the most popular promises he made during the campaign was to change the law so that the government could directly negotiate prescription drug prices with drug manufacturers. a move that would both save the government money and crucially mean lower drug prices for about 60 million americans. >> the problem is, we don't negotiate with the largest drug producer, with the largest drug buyer in the world. we don't negotiate. we don't negotiate. you pay practically the same for the country as if you go into a drugstore and buy the drugs. if we negotiated the price of drugs, joe, we would save $300 billion a year. now, these candidates, i'm going to do it.
the candidates are all controlled by the drug companies, the lumber companies, they're never going to do it. >> let's be clear, this is a liberal idea. it's something that prominent democrats have been pushing for a long, long time. and donald trump, well, he promised that he alone would follow through. because he's not bought and sold like all those other guys. well, today, trump finally unveiled his plan to lower prescription drug prices, and guess what? it does not authorize the government to use its huge purchasing power to obtain lower prices by negotiating directly with drug manufacturers. promises made, promises broken. now, we don't know exactly why trump broke his promise, but here are two things we do know. the drug companies he was talking about in the clip did not want the government to negotiate because they would cost them money. and two, the drug company novartis paid michael cohen $1.2 million, which they claimed got them nothing. trump cast himself during the campaign as and different kind
of republican, someone who would stand up to the greedy drug companies and fight for the average american. instead, he's pushed the same policies we have seen from republicans for decades. the only difference is he and his supporters keep pretending that drain the swamp is a real thing. more on that right after this. ♪ oh, look... another anti-wrinkle cream in no hurry to make anything happen. neutrogena® rapid wrinkle repair® works in just one week. with the fastest retinol formula available. it's clinically proven to work on fine lines and wrinkles. one week? that definitely works! rapid wrinkle repair®. and for dark spots, rapid tone repair. neutrogena®. see what's possible.
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tell your doctor your medical history, muscle or nerve conditions,... and medications, including botulinum toxins, as, these may increase the risk of serious side effects. with the botox® savings program, most people with commercial insurance pay nothing out of pocket. talk to your doctor and visit botoxchronicmigraine.com to enroll. this week alone we learned the president's fixer took millions of dollars in secret payment from corporations. we witnessed the president abandoning a campaign promise the drug companies didn't like. and we got new revelations about the corruption of the kristi gam gucci of the swamp olympics, scott pruitt. yet somehow donald trump supporters are still doing this. [ audience chanting "drain the swamp" ] >> joining me sam seder host of the majority report podcast.
jennifer rubin. conservative columnist with the "washington post." and dr. elizabeth rosenthal editor in chief of kaiser health news author of "an american sickness how health care became a big business and how you can take it back." libby, let me start with you. i think we have forgotten just how heterodox donald trump was on the subject of health sxart promises he made during the campaign versus how he's governed including today's drug decision. >> sure. he said that we should be able to negotiate drug prices at a large-scale level, and today what we saw is a proposal with 50 points turning somersaults not to allow the government to do just that. and some of the proposals are good ideas. let's put the price of prescription drugs in those ads. let consumers get some of those drug company rebates. but nothing does what every other developed country does to control drug prices, which is allow for large-scale direct
negotiation, and that's not just countries that have a single payer system or government-controlled health care system or socialist. it's every other country, whether it has a market-based system or single payer system. >> and sam, to me there's a method to this madness because the things he's promised that he walked away from, the things were popular. they were both breaks with other people in the republican field that distinguished him, and they were always politically popular. >> right. and i think in terms of economic populism the only thing he's basically stuck to his guns on to some extent is the tariffs, right? but he's been very good about remembering to rip apart families at the border. he's been very good about he releasing i.c.e. to go and terrorize -- >> he's kept those promises. >> he's kept the promises about letting police knock people in the heads when they get into the patrol cars. i mean, he's kept a certain -- >> that's a great point.
>> -- number of promises because he understands who his core audience is and they want to see those type of things. i watched that indiana -- or indianapolis rally. and the idea that they're chanting "drain the swamp" this week of all weeks, where it can't get more explicit that they are the swamp, i think is indicative of a problem that exists in the base of the republican party. >> what do you think, jennifer? >> absolutely. you'd never know it from watching fox news, which is where these people get their news. and that is the problem. it's a closed system. so i absolutely agree. the core of trump's message was actually racism and xenophobia. and that's why he keeps going back to it again and again whenever he gets into some political trouble or there's a scandal. he goes back to the wall. he goes back to illegal immigrants. and that's his bread and butter. but on the economic populism, and it's not just of course drug prices. he promised he wasn't going to cut medicare or medicaid. he came out with a proposal that wanted to cut medicaid.
he said that he was going to give us a health care bill that was super duper, was better than what we had, more choices, lower prices, and all it was was a big cut for obamacare. so again and again, whether it's health care or of course on taxes, there again, no economic populism there. that was a tax cut for rich people and corporations. you can think that that's a good thing or a bad thing, but it's not populism. and i think because the fox news environment and because the ecosphere of the republican party is now so heavily race-based, so heavily filled with this white resentment that that is what they focus on again and again and the rest of it kind of goes over their heads or by the wayside or they don't care about it. >> there's also a connection i think, libby, to the promises kept and promises not kept, right? which is that one of the conceits of the trump campaign, we saw in those clips we paid, i'm self-funding, ergo i will
stand up to the interest groups that run washington, and so all these people that want things, sheldon adeleson where he played a rant of him, were the health care government were very hard to go against, i will go against them. and that has not borne out. >> no. i thought what was interesting about the speech today, on the one hand he could say, you know, these are -- the pharmaceutical companies are the biggest lobbyists in washington. at the same time as michael cohen, as you said, was taking $1.2 million from novartis and that didn't seem like a contradiction to people. >> and there's a way in which, to jennifer's point, the 40% of the country that's with him, the people in that room are sort of -- are hermetically sealed off it seems. >> it's not just fox. the entire leadership of the republican party has been nurturing this base for years. i think it's been clear for at least some folks from the
outside what's been going on. they thought they could contain it and just sort of ride it to electoral victory year in, year out. so that hermetically sealed quality is not just a function of media. paul ryan could pierce that hermetically sealed bubble. mitch mcconnell could pierce that. in fact, show me an elected republican official who is not retiring who has even attempted to pierce that bubble, and you win a cookie. >> everyone says oh, yeah, he's retiring, he's retiring, she's retiring. and jennifer, it interacts with what we just were doing in thing 1, thing 2. it is a remarkable fact when you step back and think about it. this president cannot sit down for an interview with essentially a non-friendly outlet even when he's got a big achievement like he frees three hostages from north korea. his vice president has to do the round robins because the president can't afford to talk about what's going on. >> he cannot get out a cogent sentence. he doesn't know the details of
even the good things that he accomplished, as you said, the freeing of the hoft jds. he certainly doesn't know the details of something like the iran deal. he has no conception whatsoever what was in there. he just knew it was obama's, so it had to be bad and it had to be good to get rid of it and now we're better off and we're safer because we don't have the agreement. that's the level of thought process that goes into this. i would also say that the die was cast once he set his cabinet. if you're going to have a populist economic agenda, you do not stock it full with people from wall street. you do not put people like steve mnuchin in your cabinet and have him drafting tax policy. so on one hand he had this populist message, which you're right, it would have been interesting to see if he'd actually govern that way. i think the democrats were nervous that he might. but he decided to instead on the economic stuff go double and triple down what paul ryan and what the ted cruzes of the world
had been wanting, which is a lot of slashing in government. a lot of wealth transfer. and a lot of loosening of regulatory restraint on big business. >> which reminds me. the infrastructure, the much-anticipated -- which again, central part of the campaign. very politically popular. distinguished him from other candidates. essentially officially died this week. >> yeah. and jennifer's correct. at the beginning of the trump presidency there was some democrats who said if he comes with an infrastructure bill -- >> i talked to them. >> -- we will look at it. and of course that never materialized. on to the next, i guess anti-immigration thing. >> sam seder, jennifer rubin and libby rosenthal. thanks for joining us on this friday night. in case you missed my big news last night, we're launching a new podcast. it's called "why is this happening?" and in it i will explore the big themes of the news. it launches this tuesday. right now go to apple podcasts or tune in or whatever you use. check out the quick trailer. it tells you more about what
we've been up to. we've got some extra special music by my buddy eddie cooper in there. make sure you subscribe so you know when the first epszs go up. that is "all in" for this evening. she mainly comes in dreams, and it's so real that it feels like her. and she'll just give me a hug. >> why'd it have to happen to our family? why'd it have to happen to michelle? why that day? >> moment by moment.