January 25, 2017

The uncertain future of the Trump administration has many Americans wondering just what to expect over the next four years. Chris Hayes, journalist, commentator and host of the MSNBC show All In With Chris Hayes, spoke with Cardozo professor Kate Shaw, co-director of the school’s Floersheimer Center for Constitutional Democracy, Tues., Jan. 24, about the new president’s agenda, rhetoric, unconventional style and the public concern.

The interview was part of Cardozo’s Public Law Week seminar offerings. Shaw, who is married to Hayes, is no stranger to Washington, having worked in the White House counsel’s office during the Obama administration, and having served as a law clerk for Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens.

Hayes said the Trump administration is surrounded by an “unprecedented level of uncertainty; a 21st century version of Andrew Jackson’s presidency.”

Reinstalling the Global Gag Rule, Hayes said, which Trump did on his first day in office via executive order, was fairly predictable. Had Rubio or Cruz been the president-elect, the same thing would have happened.

“Rich people will surely get a tax cut going forward and poor people will have less access to healthcare,” he said.

But the uncertainties that lie ahead are what he fears more. Hayes said given Trump’s unpredictability even thermonuclear war isn’t out of the question.

Hayes is skeptical, he told Shaw and the audience, about the rest of the administration and White House officials maintaining a level of honesty with the public. “You come to form knowledge through trust,” he told the audience. Hayes himself came of age during the Iraq war in the 1990s and said he can never again accept intelligence information without skepticism.

The staffers’ recent gaslighting behavior is stirring up fear in the public, Hayes surmised, and pushing the liberal resistance to be as strong as it is. During the campaign, Hayes said, he almost expected Kellyanne Conway to “sit in front of a camera and declare that Donald J. Trump will be the first woman president of the United States.”

Hayes urged students to mobilize and take on the challenges of organizing efforts to speak up.

Congressional leadership thus far has not helped instill trust, Hayes added, trying to push through Cabinet nominee hearings before OCE reviews and background checks are completed.

Polarization and partisanship in Washington cause big problems as well, Hayes said, and high polarization ultimately leads to low party control, which is what he feels led to Trump’s ascent.