ALL IN for November 22, 2016, MSNBC - Part 1



Johnston, Masha Gessen, Nick Confessore >

criticism and grave concern over the unprecedented conflicts of interest

that have arisen as the President-elect mixes the business of the American

people with his ongoing efforts to expand his personal business empire;

Trump foundation has literally admitted in its most recent IRS filing to

violating a ban on self-dealing or using a charity`s money to benefit

yourself. And in the same 2015 IRS filing, it has admitted to a similar

violation in a prior unspecified year or years. Raising the possibility,

Donald Trump himself signed under penalty of perjury an IRS filing that was

false. As Donald Trump transitions, senior adviser Kellyanne Conway talked

about finding a way to work with the media. But it`s still unclear if the

president-elect is in agreement. President Obama has awarded his very last

Medals of Freedom, bestowing the nation`s highest civilian honor on 21

recipients at the White House today. In just two weeks since the election,

Trump has already adopted some of Putin`s modus operandi shutting out the

independent press, vilifying dissenters, possibly even using his power to

line his own pockets.>

Russia; Government; Policies; Ivanka Trump; Families; Crime; Hillary

Clinton; Congress; World Affairs; Business>

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: Thanks for being with us. "ALL IN" with Chris Hayes starts right now.



KARL ROVE, FORMER WHITE HOUSE DEPUTY CHIEF OF STAFF: This is going to be thorny. It`s a blind trust to his kids.

HAYES: Donald Trump continues to do business, saying, quote, "The president can`t have a conflict of interest."

RICHARD NIXON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: When the president does it, that means that it is not illegal.

HAYES: Tonight, reports of Trump`s influence on business dealings in Argentina, and against wind turbines near Trump golf courses.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT-ELECT OF THE UNITED STATES: We`ve got all these windmills all over the place going -- driving you loco when you look at them, right?

HAYES: Then, another Washington Post bombshell. The Trump Foundation admits it violated IRS rules, as Trump takes the on the media.

KELLYANNE CONWAY: He is the president and they are the press, and they have to find a way to mutually assured, I would say, nondestruction.

HAYES: Plus, making sense of Trump`s newfound benevolence towards Hillary Clinton.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, so much for locking her up, I guess.

HAYES: And President Obama bestows his final medals of freedom.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This is what makes us the greatest nation on earth.

HAYES: When ALL IN starts right now.

OBAMA: This is America.


HAYES: Good evening from New York. I`m Chris Hayes. Donald Trump was defiant today in the face of growing bipartisan criticism and grave concern over the unprecedented conflicts of interest that have arisen as the President-elect mixes the business of the American people with his ongoing efforts to expand his personal business empire. "Prior to the election, it was well known that I have interests in properties all over the world", Trump tweeting last night, "Only the crooked media makes this a big deal!" Trump expanded on those comments in an interview today with reporters, from what he likes to call, the failing New York Times, there he is entering the lobby. After about selling his company to resolve the conflicts, Trump responded, quote, "That`s a really hard thing to do because I have real estate."

He also said that his daughter Ivanka, who will help run his business empire, in what the Trump camp falsely calls a blind trust, quote, "If it were up to some people, I would never ever see my daughter Ivanka again." Trump also telling The Times, quote, "The law is totally on my side. The president can`t have a conflict of interest." That comment echoing one infamously made by Richard Nixon in 1977, in an interview after his resignation with Journalist David Frost.


DAVID FROST, BRITISH JOURNALIST: So, what in a sense you are saying is that there are certain situations, and the Houston plan, and that part of it was one of them, where the president can decide that it`s in the best interest in the nation or something and do something illegal.

NIXON: Well, when the president does it, that means that it is not illegal.


HAYES: Trump is under increasing pressure to address his conflicts of interest including from conservatives. The New York Posts today, echoing the conservative Wall Street Journal with an editorial calling on Trump to, quote, "Clean this up." The Post op-ed editor tweeting, "If it were Clinton, we`d be howling." Karl Rove stating on Fox News that Trump is potentially poised for years of controversy.


ROVE: This is going to be thorny. It`s a blind trust to his kids? Now, typically, a blind trust has to be a liquid assets and independent directors. If he just simply takes his empire buildings and turns it over to his kids, that not - that may not meet the test and he can be embroiled for years in controversy about this.


HAYES: Those comments follow another new revelation, suggesting Trump is using the presidency to further his business interests. You may have noticed on the campaign trail, that Trump repeatedly railed against the seemingly odd target.


TRUMP: Wind is very tough because those windmills are very, very expensive, and they kill the birds and they look very terrible. Isn`t it amazing the way the environments love the windmills and yet they kill all the birds?

A wind turbine that kills all the bald eagles all over (INAUDIBLE) on me, that`s OK with them, right? Even though it needs subsidy.

The wind kills all your birds, all your birds killed. You know the environmentalists never talk about that. And I wouldn`t exactly say it makes your farmlands look beautiful. You`ve got all these windmills all over the place going -- driving you loco when you look at them, right?


HAYES: All your birds killed. Seems a bit of a weird obsession, right, until you know this. Trump has long fought to prevent the construction of an offshore wind farm near one of his golf courses in Scotland, going so far as to file a lawsuit to try to stop it. Trump even tweeted about the proposed wind farm a whopping 60 times. After his victory in the presidential election, Trump met at Trump tower with Nigel Farage, the interim leader of Britain`s Anti-Immigrant U.K. Independence Party, who Trump today suggested should be U.K. Ambassador to the U.S. even though that job is, well, already taken.

And at their meeting The New York Times reports Trump encouraged Farage and his entourage to oppose the kind of offshore wind farms that Trump believes will mar the pristine view at his golf course. A Trump`s spokesperson initially denied the conversation took place, but it was detailed by one of the meeting attendees who said Trump explicitly urged him to campaign against wind farms in Britain. Asked about that request today, Trump told times reporters, quote, "I might have brought it up."

Joining me now the man who broke the news, New York Times Investigative reporter Washington bureau Eric Lipton. And Eric, I mean, this is sort of extraordinary because these are - these meetings are happening with the President-elect of the United States, a man who is about to be -- arguably the most powerful man in the world, ostensibly about the people`s business, essential in his official capacity as President-elect. ERIC LIPTON, NEW YORK TIMES INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER: Right, and that`s the problem, is that you don`t really know when is it - what is he talking about behind these closed doors that the press is not given briefings on what is said. We don`t even know who is there necessarily, we didn`t know for example that there were these Indian real estate executives who were visiting his office and that he`s partnered with in India and building a high-rise towers there. So -- and we don`t even know all of - all of the people that he owes money to, we don`t have a full list of his debt. So, the problem is mostly not that these are all real conflicts but we just don`t know where the conflicts begin and end.

HAYES: In this case, I mean, you`ve also got him explicitly using a meeting that is, again, ostensibly under the sort of purview of his role as President-elect of the United States to very explicitly lobbying for something for his business interests and then denying it, or at least his people saying it didn`t happen, until someone else in the room says it did.

LIPTON: Right, you certainly - and you would think that once he`s elected, he would stop promoting the interests of his hotels, his golf course, and all of his other properties. He shouldn`t be discussing matters relating to his, you know, corporation now that he`s essentially a public official, and he -- we keep getting examples of him doing that and when we find out about it, we feel compelled to write about it, and he seems to think that it`s not a big matter of concern.

And in addition to that, he repeatedly appears to be inviting Ivanka to participate in conversations he has with world leaders including she sat in on a meeting with the Prime Minister of Japan. She participated apparently in a telephone conversation with the President of Argentina, and she is the Head of International Marketing and Development for the hotel chain. It would be pretty advantageous for someone who is in that position to have access to the world leaders of, you know, countries around the world through their father.

And so, I mean, you know, and you also wonder, you know, do foreign countries feel like, "Well, maybe we should take a lot of rooms out from this hotel because that would be a way of sending a message to Donald Trump that we want his help."

HAYES: Or after a conversation, I mean, they might -- there`s so many different ways in which this could sort of cascade even without any explicit quid pro quo, right? I mean, you can imagine of foreign entity thinking, "Oh, we should give a regulatory pass to this permit of this development or we should expedite this certain request through whatever official channels we can to make the President-elect or the president happy."

LIPTON: Yeah, that`s the problem. So every time there`s a permit that the Trump organization is going to be pursuing, there`s going to be - everyone`s going to look at it and wonder did they get special treatment? And you`ll never really be able to know because, you know, you don`t have the visibility into the permitting process, but we will be compelled to write these stories to raise those questions. We`ll interview these -- the officials in charge of issuing the permits, we`ll look for the possibility of special favoritism. It`s an endless thing.

I mean, every time the corporation does anything, we`re going to be compelled to be -- trying to ask, is there a conflict here? And that`s why you have from the Wall Street Journal to President Obama to Karl Rove to the New York Post, all saying that the only real solution here is to, you know, do something radical, which is to perhaps liquidate his properties.

HAYES: All right. Eric Lipton, thanks for your time tonight. I appreciate it.

LIPTON: Thank you.

HAYES: The most direct and worrying report we had so far about Trump potentially using his office to enrich himself, about the claim for a prominent Argentine journalist that when Argentine President Mauricio Macri called President-elect Trump to congratulate him on his election, Trump asked Macri to deal with permitting issues that are currently holding up a building. Trump wants to build in Argentina, which have been stalled since 2007. Both the Trump camp and the Macri camp denied the allegations, but that is far from the end of the story.

Here to fill us in, Argentine Journalist Silvina Sterin Pensel, New York Correspondent for television network Todo Noticias. Great to have you here.


HAYES: OK. So, both official channels have denied it, right?

PENSEL: Yes, exactly. Both camps said no. And so, many media, not you, so, you know, they accepted these nos.

HAYES: Right, they both said no.

PENSEL: The bible.

HAYES: Right, but there`s a little more to the story. Here`s - I want to show -- there`s Eric Trump on the night of election night with the partners in this proposed Yaryura Yellati -

PENSEL: Yelati, yes.

HAYES: -- who --

PENSEL: That`s Y Y -

HAYES: YY, there`s a development group that Trump group has partnered with. They`re there on election night. This is an active project they`re trying to get built.

PENSEL: Of course, yeah, yeah. It`s active and they also build with the same developer a tower in Punta del Este, in neighboring Uruguay, but you know, for YY, it`s business. They are not the President-elect.

HAYES: Right.

PENSEL: So the problem I would say it`s not in their hands, it`s more that the outrageous thing is that the President-elect uses call to receive congratulations from the Argentine President and then uses that moment, that space to tell them, "Hey, why don`t you just speed up things with those permits."

HAYES: Which again, they have denied officially, but we don`t know. And now, you have a situation in which if the permitting does come through and the tower gets magically built, everybody wonders what -- how did this happen?

PENSEL: Exactly. Apparently, the building has been stalled. It`s a 35- story building that`s going to be named the Trump Office, and it`s in a former parking garage in a very pricey area near to the obelisk and in the widest avenue on earth, which is in Buenos Aires, Avenue 9 de Julio. And so, you know, the thing is that it has to go back to the city legislature, to the city council.

HAYES: To get its permit.

PENSEL: Exactly. So, maybe Mr. Trump wanted to speed things up and the outrageous thing is that Ivanka Trump was also part of that call.

HAYES: This is the key. Right.

PENSEL: So, he`s saying, OK, my kids, my adult kids are going to be entirely focused on business and --

HAYES: She`s running the international marketing and she gets on - I mean, that`s the one thing we have confirmed, right? So, they deny officially that this happened but we do know that she was on the call. She`s the Head of International Marketing -- PENSEL: Officially, what the - what authorities are saying from Mr. Macri`s camp is that, you know, they`ve known each other since yesteryears, and so when Macri said, "Oh, how`s Ivanka doing?" Mr. President-elect Trump said, "Oh, she`s actually here. Let me pass her on to you."

HAYES: And yet every, I mean, and yet every one of these interactions which all may be totally by the board, as Eric Lipton was saying, they all carry with them by definition the possibility of conflict.

PENSEL: Yeah, it`s exactly what Mr. Trump was criticizing Mrs. Clinton, that pay for play, and the actual question is, why didn`t she exploit that more?

HAYES: Yeah, that`s a good point.

PENSEL: Because it`s the same. Only that instead of maybe paying to rebuild Haiti, it`s paying to have golf courses or Trump --

HAYES: Or Trump Tower in Buenos Aires. Silvina Sterin Pensel, thank you for the update. I appreciate it. Good to have you here.

Joining me now is Democratic Representative Maxine Waters of California, Ranking Member of the House Financial Services Committee today with her democratic colleagues sends a letter to inspector general at multiple agencies calling on them to investigate Trump`s conflict of interest.

And Congressman, I`ll begin with the statement Mr. Trump President-elect said today, which appears to be true. I mean, as a matter of American statutory law, he says, there are no - there are no conflicts of interest for the president. What do you say to that?

MAXINE WATERS, U.S. REPRESENTATIVE FOR CALIFORNIA: Well, I`m very much aware of that. The President and the Vice President are not held to the same ethical standards as Members of Congress. However, the conflict - the potential conflicts of interest with this president is going to take this country on a rollercoaster. I tell you, he enters the Office of the Presidency of without us knowing anything about his personal finances, about his taxes, and I believe that there are potential conflicts in so many different places. Just look for example at the fact of that hotel in Washington, D.C., the new hotel. That`s the general services has the power to determine the worth and the value of the lease. They`re leasing -

HAYES: That`s right.

WATERS: -- from the United States government. He is in an argument now with the GSA about the value of that lease, and he wants to pay less taxes, et cetera, et cetera. Now, don`t forget, he appoints all of these heads of these various agencies and he has the power by which to influence them. What happens when he appoints the head of GSA and Donald Trump is not happy with the amount of taxes that he`s paying for the lease that he`s got? Will he influence him? I tell you, the potential conflicts of interest are everywhere.

I was just taking a deep look at Deutsche Bank and the fact that Deutsche Bank has lent him about $2.5 billion over the last two decades. And he owes them now about $370 million. Deutsche Bank is a bad bank. We have fined them on any number of occasions, for example, I believe it is the Federal Housing Finance Agency fined them 1.9.2 billion -- $1.925 billion for fraudulent stuff that they were involved in, and then we had the Department of Justice that fined them $1,525,000,000 for some other fraudulent activity. And right now the Department of Justice is about to fine Deutsche Bank about, oh, I think, $14 billion for fraud that it was involved in with the mortgage crisis. And so, just think he owes them all of this money. He appoints the Attorney General.

HAYES: Right.

WATERS: What is he going to do to protect his interests? What is he going to do about the fact that Deutsche Bank may be thrown out of business practically having to pay $14 billion in fines and is he going to try and save them with the Attorney General? It`s a mess, and it goes further than even I`ve attempted to explain to you here this evening. It`s bad.

HAYES: All right. Representative Maxine Waters, thanks for your time tonight, appreciate it.

WATERS: You`re welcome.

HAYES: Still to come, a new bombshell report in the Trump Foundation. The group reportedly admitting on a tax filing that charitable funds were misused to benefit members of the foundation. More on that after the break.


HAYES: A stunning admission today in the ongoing story of the Trump Foundation. The foundation has literally admitted in its most recent IRS filing to violating a ban on self-dealing or using a charity`s money to benefit yourself. And in the same 2015 IRS filing, it has admitted to a similar violation in a prior unspecified year or years. Raising the possibility, Donald Trump himself signed under penalty of perjury an IRS filing that was false. Here are the details.

The Trump Foundation`s IRS tax filing for 2015 obtained by The Washington Post, certain simple questions weren`t answered. In one section of the form, the IRS asked if the Trump Foundation had transferred income or assets to a disqualified person? The disqualified person in this context might be Trump, the foundation`s president or a member of his family or a Trump-owned business. The foundation checked yes.

Here`s the actual tax document. The admission is stunning for several reasons. In David Fahrenthold`s extensive investigative reporting on the Trump Foundation, he has revealed how it appeared to pay legal settlements to end lawsuits out of the foundation (INAUDIBLE) paid for items that Trump (INAUDIBLE) like purchased to charity auctions like portraits of himself. And those are just some of the potential instances of self-dealing Fahrenthold has uncovered, instances that might count as income or assets to a disqualified person.

Now, we don`t know which of those examples or other instances caused that IRS form to be checked yes, but we know it was checked yes, and the form signed by Foundation trustee, Donald Bender.

We also know this, another line in the form after the Trump Foundation had engaged in any acts of self-dealing in prior years, the Trump Foundation checked yes again. As Fahrenthold reports, this appeared to be the first time the Trump Foundation had admitted such a violation. And since Donald Trump himself signed the Trump Foundation IRS filings in previous years, it is entirely possible Trump signed under penalty of perjury an IRS finding that was false.

Joining me now from Berlin, Germany, David Cay Johnston, Pulitzer Price and columnist of The Daily Beast, author of "The Making of Donald Trump" and a tax law expert. All right. Let`s start with this. I mean, how often is it that you just get an admission in a foundation filing saying, "Yes, we engaged in self-dealings?"

DAVID CAY JOHNSTON, COLUMNIST AT THE DAILY BEAST: Well, a number of people will admit, Chris, to wrong doing if they are fearful that they`re about to be prosecuted. Now, some attorneys will tell you don`t do anything if you`re subject to prosecution. Some defense lawyers will tell you "straighten up your act and clean it out." And in this case, these acts that Donald Trump committed over multiple years could make him subject to criminal prosecution because the justice department`s very exquisitely developed standards require that you commit multiple acts of trying to defeat the tax system, and there are - the acts that we know of that are illegal at the foundation are not all in one year.

HAYES: This is a key point. I mean, they`re admitting in prior - that last year and prior year, there is a pretty suggestive trail laid out by Fahrenthold that this foundation has been used in all kinds of ways that would legally meet the threshold of self-dealing, violations of tax law, and those forms are signed by Donald Trump. It does seem that there`s an - on the surface, there`s sort of a prima facie case for some possibly criminal exposure.

JOHNSTON: Well, Chris, this is a very important point, the justice department always says that we have a uniform policy. The reason the tax prosecutions are referred to a special section of justice is everybody is to be treated the same. Well, in Donald Trump`s case, we have at least nine illegal acts that we know of because of David Fahrenthold`s reporting committed by The Trump Foundation.

You have to also look at this in the background of the fact that Donald Trump confessed to sales tax fraud in the past, that his 1984 income tax return has badges of fraud as shown by testimony in a trial, and that he won`t produce his tax returns now. And if we`re going to have uniform application of the laws, then I think my call and that of some tax law professors for a criminal investigation by the IRS is more than appropriate.

HAYES: And I just have to ask you this because you`ve covered this area for a very long time. You won a Pulitzer at the times for your tax reporting, and you`ve covered this campaign. And think for a moment, Hillary Clinton admitted that she had broken tax law on documents she signed that the Clinton Foundation had violated IRS tax law and engaged in self-dealing. Can you imagine the scope, if that happened during the campaign, particularly of the media freakout over that?

JOHNSTON: Oh, I think it would have gotten tremendous coverage and Donald Trump would have taken his "crooked Hillary" line and gone much further with it. What you`re seeing here is Donald trying to get out of the way before he takes office any problems that he has, but if we`re going to have uniform application of the laws, if we are a nation of laws and not men, then there is more than ample evidence for a criminal investigation of Donald Trump`s tax returns and anything less than that, would suggest very strongly the official favoritism, which was complained about by two New Jersey Casino Control commissioners when he was a casino owner, and that we have seen in other government proceedings.

HAYES: You talked about cleaning things up. The other story from -- this is just the first two weeks in which this individual has been President- elect of the United States. Settling a $25 million fraud lawsuit over Trump University. Obviously, that`s not something you want hanging over your head as president. It seems like that went into it. But again, this is a fairly unprecedented territory, the President-elect settling an eight- figure fraud lawsuit.

JOHNSTON: Well, and here`s what`s troubling, Chris, about that decision. Donald Trump had no defenses as a matter of law as the Texas attorney general`s consumer rights lawyers pointed out when they tried to get action taken against Trump, and then the attorney general and now Governor of Texas Greg Abbott instead said, "Well, if you leave the state and don`t do any more business, we`ll let it go."

The settlement particularly by Eric Schneiderman, the New York Attorney General, did not require an admission of wrongdoing. Donald Trump put out a promotional video in which he said, "You`ll get a better education than the best business schools. I will personally pick the faculty." All of that was untrue and the advice that was given to people was, in many cases, contrary to law. This was a straight-out scam from the beginning, and I think it`s shocking that e Eric Schneiderman settled this case without an admission of wrongdoing.

Now, the two private cases in California, the class actions, I understand is a practical aspect. Eric Schneiderman has a larger duty than the individuals who got ripped off in New York, he has a duty to enforce the law. And I hope you invite him on the show and ask him to justify this special treatment and not requiring an admission of wrongdoing.

HAYES: All right. David Cay Johnston, thank you very much for your time, and I appreciate it.

Coming up, the bizarre lead-up to Donald Trump`s meeting with The New York Times. An outlet he continues to attack as president-elect. More on that, just ahead.



TRUMP: If I win, I am going to instruct my attorney general to get a special prosecutor to look into your situation because there has never been so many lies, so much deception, there has never been anything like it.

HILLARY CLINTON, FORMER DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It`s just awfully good that someone with the temperament of Donald Trump is not in charge of the law in our country.

TRUMP: Because you`d be in jail.


HAYES: Oh, he is, sort of, in charge of the law of our country in a certain way or will be soon. Donald Trump`s promise to jail his political opponent was a rallying cry for his campaign, "lock her up," which they chanted at rally after rally at the RNC, but today, the president-elect seemed to renege on that pledge.

During an on-the-record meeting at The New York Times, Trump said he has no interest in pushing for Clinton to be prosecuted, quote, "I want to move forward. I don`t want to move back. I don`t want to hurt the Clintons, I really don`t." The backlash from some of his supporters and political allies was swift broken promises, the headline at Breitbart, the hard-right website whose former chairman is Steve Bannon is, of course, Trump`s incoming Chief White House Strategist.

That was later replaced by a much more forgiving headline focused on Trump`s purported concern about divisiveness. Judicial Watch, the right- wing group that sued Clinton for access to her private e-mails, said in a statement that declining the prosecutor would be a betrayal of Trump`s promise to the American people to "drain the swamp" of out-of-control corruption in Washington D.C.

There was a tweet from Trump super fan Ann Coulter, "Whoa! I thought we elected Donald Trump president. Did we make him the FBI and DOJ? His job is to pick those guys, not do their jobs." The strange thing is Ann Coulter is exactly right. It`s not the president`s job to decide who the Department of Justice does or does not prosecute like some kind of monarch sending his subjects to the gallows. And Trump doesn`t get to decide through his kingly mercy and personal sympathy to the family to spare the Clintons that ordeal. That`s not how due process works in our justice system. The new president-elect doesn`t seem to know that, however. It`s just one of the ways he seems to be following the playbook used by undemocratic leaders the world over.