Lisa Page speaks out in first TV Interview. TRANSCRIPT: 12/17/19, The 11th Hour w/ Brian Williams.

Elisabeth Bumiller, David Jolly, Rick Wilson

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST:  Thank you very much for joining us

tonight, I really appreciate it.


That is tonight`s LAST WORD.  “THE 11TH HOUR” with New Jersey Zone Brian

Williams starts now.


BRIAN WILLIAMS, MSNBC HOST:  Tonight the eve of the impeachment vote in the

House says tempers flared again today in the run up to the inevitable,

still starting just hours from now the House is starting its ultimate



And then today out of nowhere a letter arrives for Speaker Pelosi, written

or at least dictated mostly by the President and it reads that way.  Six

pages, a rant filled with mistakes and false claims, fueled by anger, the

Speaker quickly dismisses it as sick.


Meanwhile as they plan for the next step, senators fight over who will

speak at the President`s trial.  And just today another of the President`s

men learned his prison sentence all of it as the 11th Hour gets underway on

this Tuesday night.


Well, good evening once again from our NBC News headquarters here in New

York, Day 1062 of the Trump Administration on this the eve of the House

vote to impeach Donald Trump.  The House will start debate in the morning

and the end of the day will vote on two articles, abuse of power and

obstruction of Congress.


Tonight the Associated Press and Washington Post both report the Democrats

have the votes.  All Republicans are expected to vote as a block against

both articles.


Today, the House rules committee meant to set the terms for tomorrow`s

floor session calling for six hours of debate on the articles, no

amendments can be offered earlier today, the President was asked about the

situation he finds himself in.




UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Mr. President, do you take any responsibility for the

fact that you are about to be impeached?



to put it mildly.




WILLIAMS:  Today Trump also wrote a letter, six pages to Speaker Pelosi,

attacking her, condemning her caucus for carrying out the impeachment

inquiry.  For example he writes, “You have cheapened the importance of the

very ugly word impeachment, you are offending Americans of faith by

continually saying `I pray for the President` when you know this statement

is not true.  You are the ones interfering in America`s elections, you are

the ones subverting America`s democracy, you are the ones obstructing

justice, more due process was afforded to those accused in the Salem Witch



A White House official tells NBC News the President came up with the idea

for the letter and then relied on aids to draft it while directing the

process, the official adds the council`s office did suggest some changes,

some were made, others rejected.


To be clear in part because it contains so many errors and misstatements,

the letter is not being regarded as a serious document.  Tonight John Dean

called it pathetic.  David Gergen who has served four U.S. Presidents said

it reads like a two bit dictator.  Late today the Speaker was asked about

the document.




UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Your reaction to the President`s letter?


NANCY PELOSI, HOUSE SPEAKER:  No reaction.  It`s ridiculous.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  You have no reaction?  Why not?


PELOSI:  I mean, I haven`t really fully read it.  We`ve been working.  I`ve

seen the essence of it though, and it`s really sick.




WILLIAMS:  Tonight the Trump campaign is also using language similar to

that letter to Pelosi in a fund raising email to supporters, under the

subject line impeachment war, it reads, “By proceeding with an invalid

impeachment, Democrats are violating their oaths of office, breaking their

allegiance to the Constitution and declaring open war on American



As the House prepares for tomorrow`s impeachment vote, the Senate is

getting ready to hold the President`s trial expected in early January. 

This morning the Majority Leader McConnell responded to the Minority Leader

Schumer`s proposal for senators to subpoena documents and call witnesses

forward including White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, former National

Security Adviser John Bolton.


McConnell who has already confirmed he is coordinating with the White House

on the impeachment trial, made it clear he had no interest in this idea.





to act as judge and jury to hear a trial, not to rerun the entire fact

finding investigation because angry partisans rushed sloppily through it. 

It`s not the Senate`s job to leap into the breach and search desperately

for ways to get to guilty.  That would hardly be impartial justice.




WILLIAMS:  McConnell will indeed serve as one of 100 jurors at the Senate

trial which is why he said this for maximum shock value.




MCCONNELL:  I`m not an impartial juror, this is a political process, it`s

not anything judicial about it.  Impeachment is a political decision.




WILLIAMS:  At the White House the President pointed to McConnell`s comments

as a sign of Republican unity.




TRUMP:  I believe the Senate is equally as well-united.  I watched Mitch

McConnell this morning.  I watched numerous people last night, the

senators, and I think we`re equally well-united.  They know it`s a hoax,

it`s a witch-hunt.




WILLIAMS:  Just this very evening on this very network, the Minority Leader

Senator Schumer signaled the debate over calling witnesses during the

Senate trial is far from over here.  And he made clear he has strategy at

his disposal still.





nor Mitch McConnell wants to hear from these witnesses because they`re

afraid of the truth.  They don`t want to know the truth because it will

probably – we don`t know, but probably put President Trump in an even

deeper hole.


I`m allowed to ask for votes.  I will ask during the impeachment proceeding

for a vote on whether Mulvaney should testify, and whether Bolton should

testify.  And many of my Republican colleagues will be in a real dilemma.




WILLIAMS:  There is a new Washington Post, ABC News poll that`s got a lot

of headlines today because it finds 71 percent of those surveyed do want

the President to let his aides testify, 64 percent of Republicans

questioned in this poll said they agree.  Trump`s television lawyer Rudy

Giuliani is back in the news.


The New York Times says Rudy alerted the President a couple of times about

how former U.S. ambassador to the Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch had in his view

blocked the investigations that he believed could be of use to Trump

politically.  Those updates appeared to set the stage for the career

diplomat`s eventual ouster.


With that and here for our lead-off discussion on a Tuesday night,

Elisabeth Bumiller of The New York Times, her title until this week,

Washington Bureau Chief.  And so we welcome her tonight with

congratulations.  She has been added to the Times mast head as the paper`s

newest AME Assistant Managing Editor.


Also in D.C. tonight, Kimberly Atkins, Senior Washington Correspondent for

WBUR, Boston`s NPR News Station and visiting us here in our New York

studios from way down south is David Jolly, former Republican member of

Congress from the great state of Florida who has since left the House and

for good measure, his political party.


Good evening to all of you.  Elisabeth, may I ask, considering it was

written in the same structure where Lincoln wrote his second inaugural,

have you ever seen anything like President Trump`s letter today?



Once again, this is unprecedented.  We were talking at the office today

that it reads like one of Trump`s rants at his rally on White House



It sounds very much like it was dictated, we know, to White House aides. 

We know that Eric Yulan, who was the legislative director at the White

House has had some of the writing.  And also Stephen Miller was involved

with the writing.  And it certainly bears a lot of extreme touches.  Salem

witch trials are, for example, we should mention earlier.


WILLIAMS:  Yeah, I`m wondering who is going to tell him that there were 19

executions after that.


Kim, did the President, other than state of mind, reveal anything that was

picked up in your line of work that was perhaps new?



It was clear that he wanted to submit this letter, not just to Nancy

Pelosi, but to history.  He says so much in the letter itself, he wanted to

register his anger and his insults toward the Speaker of the House and

every single defense or rant he has made on Twitter since the impeachment

inquiry began.


He clearly is unhappy about being impeached.  Any other – if that was a

question at this point that has been laid to rest.  He is angry, and it was

basically a letter of grievance.


So the question is, is it also a signal to Republicans as to how he expects

them to respond, how he expects them to defend him as this impeachment

inquiry moves forward?


WILLIAMS:  Congressman, you sat down and reminded both of us, this letter

goes in the record, like it and not, this is history.



is, how will history remembered this letter?  Because it is rambling, it

shows mental unfitness, unwellness perhaps, in his emotional state on the

eve of becoming the third president to be impeached by the U.S. House of



And I would encourage anyone who has read that, that by contrast, maybe

read the two articles tonight or before the debate tomorrow, whether you`ve

read the President`s letter or not.  Because I think what the President is

reacting to is the gravity of what the language of the impeachment articles



If you haven`t read it, and you`re watching tonight, it says that Donald

Trump, in the language of the impeachment articles, betrayed the nation. 

The President betrayed us, betrayed the nation.  It says, he subverted the

constitutional process.  It says, he solicited foreign interference and

persists in corruptly doing so.


I think what Donald Trump is wrestling with, what we can see through that

letter is this is someone who, despite all the awesome powers of the

presidency knows.  But it doesn`t contain the power to undo history or to

rewrite history.  The President can`t undo the language of the articles of

impeachment in a tweet or in a six-page rambling letter to the Speaker



WILLIAMS:  Are you expecting any shenanigans tomorrow in the will of the

House from your former colleagues?


JOLLY:  I am.  You know, typically the Rules Committee shuts out any

minority rights in a major matter like this, and they have done so.  So the

minority will have half of the debate time.  The question is do they try to

pull a stunt to take control of the narrative?


And to the earlier comment, I`m curious, you`ve seen on the hill

Republicans may begin to make the argument that there was no crime.  They

seem to feel comfortable saying, look, there was no crime.  So, therefore

this whole impeachment process is hogwash.


The President is making a very different argument in saying that it was

invalid.  He`s tearing down the powers of the Congress and saying, this is

invalid, using language suggesting it`s unconstitutional.  I`m curious if

House Republicans stick with, there`s no crime, or do they adopt the

President`s very unscrupulous language, because that`s where you begin to

enter the danger zone for moments of history, and frankly, for the future

of the House impeachment power.


WILLIAMS:  Elizabeth, gallons of ink have been spent many, many column

inches spent just in the past few days either accepting or rejecting any

comparisons to where we`ve been before, most notably, I guess, Clinton a

generation ago.  In your view, where are we right now tonight?


BUMILLER:  Well, there was actually – first of all, Clinton was contrite,

a publicly contrite, at least.  He was raging behind closed doors at the

White House, but he was very contrite and apologetic and remorseful in

public.  Obviously, Donald Trump is the exact opposite of that.


But if you look back, we were looking back today at the four, the three

impeachments – three – the two previous impeachments and then the, a near

impeachment of President Nixon.  Each one of those was really about the

divisions in the country at the time.


We look back at Andrew Johnson, it was 1868.  There was a raging debate in

the country about what kind of America it would be post civil war.  And

during the time of Nixon it was – there was just a continuing division of

culture – the culture wars of Vietnam and Watergate certainly.


Clinton was much the same.  The divisions in the country were quite

pronounced at the time between Republicans and Democrats.  And we see it

today with Donald Trump.  Not that this is just about the divisions in the

country.  Obviously, the President did leverage military aid to Ukraine in

return for a political favor.


WILLIAMS:  Kim, the President, I`m told, has been tweeting in the last few

minutes.  Control room has these to put up on the screen.  “Good marks and

reviews on the letter I sent to Pelosi today.  She is the worst!  No wonder

with people like her and Cryin` Chuck Schumer, D.C. has been such a mess

for so long.  And that includes the previous administration who and now we

know for sure SPIED on my campaign.”


Kim, give us a quick glancing fact check here on the spying issue, one more

time.  And do you think the President is disappointed there haven`t been

more Democratic defections?


ATKINS:  I think perhaps he is.  I think that`s probably just a bit of what

we can expect from his rally tomorrow night in Michigan, which will be

taking place at the very same time as he – as the House may be voting on

these articles of impeachment.  Yes, we know from the report that was

released by the I.G. that the Obama administration or anybody else spied on

President Trump`s campaign.


There were certainly mistakes that were made by the FBI, but in no way

amounted to a spying campaign.  That is just one of a number of

inaccuracies in President Trump`s letter, which again, mirrors his Twitter

feed, which is also usually filled with a bunch of factual, inaccuracies, I

believe, according to The Washington Post.  He has exceeded 15,000 since he

took office.  It`s just one more bit of his messaging, the messaging we can

expect throughout this process as it – as the impeachment process leaves

the House and heads to the Senate, which is controlled by Republicans.


The question then, again, is how the Republicans, each one who has to

answer not only to – for themselves, but to their constituent treats this

process and how they move forward.


WILLIAMS:  David Jolly, to Kim`s point, the Republicans she was just

talking about, not that they are all not deeply principled people.  These

poll numbers out this morning, get your attention.  And if they are

followed by more poll numbers, that robust, they`re going to get the

attention of Republicans.


JOLLY:  And the interesting thing in today`s poll numbers is that the

American people want a fair trial.  You know, when we see impeachment, yes

or no, around 50/50, to me that says we have a fully informed public.  And

generally we behave in 50/50 partisan lines.


These are poll questions around should there be a fair trial in the Senate? 

And to go back to what the President just tweeted, because this draws into

light and contrast the behavior of Senate Republicans.  The President

tonight is frustrated, angry that he cannot control the Congress.  He can`t

stand the lack of control.  He can`t control tomorrow in the House.  And so

you`re seeing the true presidential behavior.


In the Senate, he feels safe because he can control it because Mitch

McConnell has told Mr. President, I will do whatever you want me to do. 

Lindsey Graham has said, I will do whatever you want be me to do.  Don`t

worry, Mr. President, you`re in charge of the Senate.


That is the most damning condemnation of the United States Senate in 2019

that the President of the United States feels like he can control that

independent body on the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue when what we

should see is the behavior of an independent Congress that we`re going to

see tomorrow, a lower House, saying Mr. President, this is not your

process, this is ours.


WILLIAMS:  And that, ladies and gentlemen, watching at home, is where we

are on a Tuesday night in December with great thanks to Elizabeth Bumiller,

Kimberly Atkins, and David Jolly for starting off our conversation tonight.


Coming up for us, Rudy appears to pull his client Donald Trump further into

the morass of the Ukraine ambassador case.  And later, a new campaign to

defeat the President launched by anti-Trump conservatives.  We`ll talk with

a founding member of the Lincoln Project when we continue as The 11th Hour

is just getting started while Abe Lincoln looks on, on a Tuesday night.




WILLIAMS:  As we mentioned, Rudy Giuliani told The New York Times he gave

information to President Trump about how Ukraine Ambassador Marie

Yovanovitch was impeding those investigations in Ukraine.


Giuliani said he told Trump a couple of times about how Yovanovitch had

frustrated investigators that could help Trump.  Giuliani said the

President then connected him with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo as one

does, who asked for more information.  And within weeks Yovanovitch was

recalled, out of a job.


Meanwhile, a judge ruled today that indicted Giuliani associate Lev Parnas

could remain free on bail after prosecutors argued it could – it should –

his bail should be revoked for concealing assets.


The judge said he didn`t believe Parnas was being intentionally untruthful. 

Prosecutors said Parnas hid or forgot about a million dollar payment from a

lawyer for Ukrainian oligarch Dmitry Firtash.  If that name Firtash sounds

familiar in addition to being unique, it`s because he had ties to former

Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort.  We should note Lev Parnas has

pleaded not guilty to campaign finance charges.


With us to talk about all of it tonight, Maya Wiley, Former Assistant U.S.

Attorney for the Southern District of New York, now with The New School

here in New York.  And Frank Figliuzzi, former FBI Assistant Director for

Counter Intelligence.


Maya, at a very basic level Maggie Haberman tweeted tonight that Trump`s

job is to keep Rudy close but not too close.  Rudy`s job is to arise any

room between the two guys.  Is Rudy inadvertently helping the feds and

hurting himself continually?



Yeah.  I mean, that – it`s not plus, it`s not every day where you see the

defense attorney saying to the prosecution, let me hand you something

that`s going to help you make your case against my client, which is

essentially what we heard Rudy Giuliani do.  So he`s not – he`s certainly

not helping himself, but he really isn`t helping Donald Trump since –

remember that the Democrats have said that this begins as, you know, act

one scene one –




WILEY:  – is clearing the decks of Marie Yovanovitch who is going to stand

in the way of resurrecting conspiracy theories that have been debunked

because they`re not in the national interest.  So if you have to move her

out of the way in order to set your own team in place to accomplish what it

is you`re trying to get done, which is the investigations on the Bidens,

which we`ve already heard from her she spoke quite eloquently about.  You

know, what you`re really doing is saying, yes, when the Democrats in their

articles of impeachment say that we were trying to clear away the anti-

corruption ambassador in order to be able to move the defense of Donald

Trump by getting these investigations started, that`s just making the case.


But remember that Giuliani has to worry about.  He has gotten a counter

intelligence investigation.




WILEY:  Maybe you should talk about that connected to Firtash.  But this is

just not a good for either him or Donald Trump.


WILLIAMS:  Hey Frank, do you remember during normal times when the

introduction of Russian money, a Russian revenue stream into a case

anywhere near the President of the United States would have been a pretty

big deal?



Would have been the lead story and talked about for days.  But in this

bizarre world we`re living in, it`s a blip on today`s radar screen.  But

let`s let this resonate for a while.  We`ve learned now that a million

bucks has flowed from this guy Firtash who is connected to Putin and flowed

into the hands of Parnas and then perhaps into – or his wife`s hands,

let`s put it that way and then perhaps ended up somewhere near Rudy



Do we have a Russian government flow of cash that Rudy needs to explain? 

Do we have Rudy explaining to all of us that he confesses now to having

removed – caused a U.S. ambassador to be removed, to do what?  To push a

rash of Russian narrative, a Russian intelligence myth that it was Ukraine

that muddled and meddled and interfered with our election?  What`s going on

here?  And that`s the nature of counterintelligence, trying to figure out

who is dominating, who is influencing, who is getting paid, who is working

for the other team?


WILLIAMS:  Maya, is it your impression that this federal judge did Lev a

huge solid today and allowed Lev to walk the streets of New York in effect

of free man?


WILEY:  Yup.  I was surprised Lev Parnas got to walk the streets.  I mean,

remember that Lev Parnas had a one way ticket out of the country when he

was –


WILLIAMS:  Yes, pretty much at Dulles in the departure lounge, yes.


WILEY:  Yes.  When he was arrested and pleaded poverty, essentially, when

he said I can`t pay all this bail.  And only had to post $200,000, that`s a

lot of money for us, but compared to what he was being asked to.


And then we find out $1 million from, as Frank says a Russian-connected

oligarch apparently – why do you think he`s not a flight risk?  I mean, it

seems to me that he has all of the markings of one.  Obviously the judge –

you know, I think judges do really important work for us and judges

evaluate the facts as they see them.  I think that Lev Parnas got something

that most of us would not get, big, big gift at holiday time.


WILLIAMS:  Frank, we learned a bunch of things today.  Number one, on the

Manafort front, he is in the prison hospital, has been apparently since

Thursday with heart trouble.  So there`s that, number two.  His former

buddy, Rick Gates, who was very helpful in at least three cases that we

know of, was sentenced to 45 days ever weekend jail, who knew that was a

thing.  Three years of probation, is that commensurate, in your view,



FIGLIUZZI:  So, here`s how to read this.  When you see something – and

I`ve seen a lot of people today on Twitter complaining this was way too

lenient and that Gates got off easy.  Here`s how I read it.  He must have

given up everything he has and everything he could possibly give up on big

targets.  And he`s been rewarded for that.  And here`s what I zeroed in on

and focused on like a laser in the sentencing today.


The judge saying he is continuing to cooperate.  He`s agreed to cooperate

in ongoing and sealed investigations.  That is huge for anyone watching

this closely.  This isn`t over yet.  And part of the reason he, “got off

easy” is because he`s still working ongoing cases that we don`t even know

about yet.


WILLIAMS:  The gift that keeps on giving.  Both of these guests have agreed

to stay with us.  Coming up after this break, she is one of the President`s

favorite targets.  Tonight Lisa Page made her television interview debut in

this very studio on this very network.  A look at what she had to say when

we come back.






RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST:  Given what you`ve been through with the past

couple of years, why speak now on your own terms?


LISA PAGE, FORMER FBI LAWYER:  Honestly, I just wasn`t planning to and I

didn`t want to.  I`ve led an entirely anonymous life and hoped to return to

one.  And when the President, you know, finally did that vile sort of

simulated sex act in a, you know, rally in Minneapolis, I just finally had

to accept it`s not getting better.  And being quiet isn`t making this go





WILLIAMS:  Former FBI lawyer Lisa Page who is a frequent target of our

President tonight granted her first television interview.  And in it she

was asked by Rachel Maddow about that insurance policy text message that we

hear so much about from the President.




MADDOW:  Can you explain to us tonight what was meant by, for example, the

insurance policy text message?  So this is you and Peter Strzok texting

about prospect of that President Trump was going to be elected, the

unlikely prospect.


PAGE:   Right, I mean, it`s an analogy.  First of all, it`s not my text, so

I`m sort of I`m interpreting what I believe he meant back three years ago. 

But we`re using an analogy.  We`re talking about whether or not we should

take certain investigative steps or not based on the likelihood that he`s

going to be president or not, right?


You have to keep in mind, if President Trump doesn`t become president, the

national security risk, if there is somebody in his campaign associated

with Russia, plummets.  You`re not so worried about what Russia is doing

vis-a-vis a member of his campaign if he`s not president, because you`re

not going to have access to classified information.  You`re not going to

have access to sources and methods in our national security apparatus.


So the insurance policy was an analogy.  It`s like an insurance policy when

you`re 40.  You don`t expect to die when you`re 40, yet you still have an

insurance policy.


MADDOW:  So don`t just hope that he`s not going to be elected and therefore

not press forward with the investigation hoping, but rather press forward

with the investigation just in case he does get in there.


PAGE:  Exactly.




WILLIAMS:  Back for more, Maya Wiley and Frank Figliuzzi.  Maya, I just

looked at you.  She matter of factly said that if Trump doesn`t get

elected, the national security risk plummets.  Put that on the pile of

notable sound bites of 2019 that we`ll get to some day.  Talk about the

degree to which in attacks on people like her, the President has changed

our perception of our institutions, whether it`s your beloved Department of

Justice, Frank`s beloved Federal Bureau of Investigation. 



Yes, it`s an astounding thing, a shocking thing that we have a sitting

president undermining the very agencies that he sits atop of.  Remember

that as the chief executive of the country, the executive branch, these are

agencies that essentially report up to him.  And we rely upon in this

country to make it work for us.  In other words, public servants serve us. 

They serve the public.  So what trump has done is tremendously damaging,

particularly to law enforcement, particularly to the notions of an

independent law enforcement.


Because what he`s essentially said is, unless I think you`re loyal to me, I

will come for you.  And you will have a very hard time defending yourself

because as president, he has a bully pulpit almost no one can compete with.


That`s essentially what we`re hearing from Lisa Page, is.  Here I was a

public servant.  You know, I regret some of those exchanges, and we should

not ignore that, of course.  Public servants have political views that they

must keep for themselves and not have infused in their work.  But she was

cleared of any wrongdoing by an inspector general, and she still, still has

to live with the reputation damage to her.


But the department, it`s not just her.  Remember, James Baker who was –


WILLIAMS:  Right, counsel.


WILEY:  – was counsel also felt that he had to come out because Trump

called him a liar, and he had trouble getting work, he says, after that. 

That`s devastating.


WILLIAMS:  Frank, you`ve been tough on Lisa Page.  She has her regrets as

she expressed again tonight.  But I think you`d also agree has paid a heavy




that Lisa Page had terrible judgment in having an extra marital affair in

the workplace.  We may say she had terrible judgment using FBI devices to

talk about politics and opinions.


But what we can no longer say, as Maya pointed out is that, Lisa Page had

anything to do with the opening of the Russian case or the supervision of

it afterwards.  That`s in writing from the inspector general of the

Department of Justice.  So when we`re seeing the lashing out and attempted

destruction of a woman who dedicated her career to public service, what

we`re really seeing is a president who doesn`t have any facts on his side

any more and just chooses to find the most convenient scapegoat and victim

he can lash out.


And, boy, it increasingly looks like he likes to do that with women.  And

Lisa Page has decided to fight back.  And I`ve toyed all day knowing she

was going to do this, very substantive interview with Rachel tonight.  I

toyed with this theory of, what would you do in this situation?


She`s going on the offensive.  It doesn`t mean Trump is going to stop, but

it means that Trump now knows he`s on notice that when he lies about her

and continues to denigrate her, she can come back publicly and come right

back at him.


WILLIAMS:  Our thanks to two former public servants, frequent contributors

around here.  Maya Wiley, Frank Figliuzzi.  I greatly appreciate it.


Coming up, they are four Republicans who will here after become known as

the co-founders of a group to channel the Republican Party of Lincoln and

by doing so, defeat Donald Trump.  One of the co-founders is here with us

here next.







process was afforded to those accused in the Salem witch trials.”  I mean,

are you kidding me?  Innocent people were tortured and hung.  Their corpses

were thrown in shallow graves.  An 80-year-old farmer named Giles Corey was

literally placed between boards and crushed to death.  I mean, for the

President to say that he is being treated worse than the Salem witch trials

is unhinged.




WILLIAMS:  Some prominent conservatives are now taking formal steps to stop

the President`s reelection.  The group which includes Rick Wilson, John

Weaver, our own contributor Steve Schmidt and George Conway, the very

husband of Kellyanne, are forming a Super Pac they call the Lincoln



In today`s New York Times` op-ed, the organizers write this among other

things.  Over these next 11 months, our efforts will be dedicate to

defeating President Trump and Trumpism at the ballot box and to elect those

patriots who will hold the line.


It`s not just the President they`re taking to task.  They go on to say this

President`s actions are possible only with the craven acquiescence of

congressional Republicans.


There was praise for this group tonight from Jennifer Ruben of the

Washington Post who writes, “At least the Lincoln Project founders can say

to their children and grandchildren that they gave their all to defend the

deeply held principles on which this country was founded.  That is far more

than many will be able,” and I would add willing, “to do.”


With us for more, Rick Wilson, Lincoln Project Co-Founder, long-time

Republican Strategist, author of the forthcoming book, |Running Against the

Devil”, due out next month.


By way of explaining your new effort, are you sure you want to do this,

this putting country over party thing, because I don`t see anyone else out

there doing this.


RICK WILSON, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST:  You know, we`re not doing it for any

of the normal reasons people would do these things.  We`re not doing it to

make a ton of money.  We`re not doing it to aggrandize our egos.  We`re

doing it because between the four of us, the main founders, we`ve been

around politics for about 120 years collectively.  We`ve been to this rodeo

a few times.


And all of us give a damn about this country in a way that Trumpism denies. 

And Trumpism is not about the sacred nature of the American experience and

about the propositional nature of this country.  It is a cult dedicated to

a mad man.  He is displaying it today and tonight that he is an unhinged

maniac.  That he is lavishly corrupt and will do anything to defend

himself.  And we happen to believe that the country is more valuable than a

temporary moment, a blip in the politics of this country.


You know what, we`ve gone back and forth.  We`ve played ping-pong

ideologically in this country a long time.  And no Republican ever gets too

much power too long and no Democrat ever too much power for too long.  And

that`s part of the design feature of this country.


This is a man who sees himself as unbounded by the law, by the

constitution, by anything else.  And we believe firmly that he needs to be

stopped.  And frankly, the people that are enabling him and empowering him,

and looking away from the immorality and criminality of this man, they need

to have a political lesson applied to them as well.


You know what, we`re not going to have as much money as Mitch McConnell and

Donald Trump, but we are some scrappy old bastards.  We`re going to get in

this fight.


WILLIAMS:  Explain to the good people watching your theory about going

after you other Republicans with their names on ballots to get to the king.


WILSON:  Sure.  Let me tell you, right now Susan Collins and Corey Gardner

and Martha McSally, they`re nervous as long tailed-cats in a room full of

rocking chairs, OK?  They do not want to be asked questions.  They do not

want to be on the spot.  Why is that?


It`s not because they have some moral question, it`s because they know that

Donald Trump is political poison and if they are exposed to that, it will

kill them.  And so, we`re going to offer them the opportunity.  You can

either win fabulous prizes or you can have Donald Trump smeared all over

you like a carcass in the middle of a – road kill carcass and it`s going

to stink you up for a long time.  Your call.


And in a lot of these cases, you know, we`ve got – what we see right now

is that there are – it takes four Republicans in the Senate to blow the

whistle on this thing and just say, we have to have a trial.  We have to

hear witnesses.  That`s it, just four.  Just four could stand up and do

this.  Even three could probably make it happen.


But right now even the ones who claim that they are all morally concerned

and they have questions and issues, they`re going to vote with Mitch

McConnell on this.  There`s no external pressure.  They`ve abandoned their

oaths.  They`ve abandoned their principles.  And right now nothing else is

out there to stop them.


WILLIAMS:  Rick Wilson has agreed to stay here with us over this break. 

We`ll do that and when we come back, some of the President`s supporters

seem to be ignoring a repeated plea in his impeachment defense, one that

you may have read on a t-shirt near you.






DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF UNITED STATES:  I would say read the transcript.


Just read the transcript of the phone call.


Read the transcript. 


And I`ll say it and I`ll say it again.  Read the transcript.


Read the transcript.  It`s all about the transcript.




WILLIAMS:  To be clear and for the record, we`d love to read the

transcript.  We`ve never seen a transcript of the call Trump made to the

Ukrainian president.  We just saw a summary with gaps and ellipses built in

that the White House put out to us.


But what it does say, what we are allowed to read from the call, backs up

what the whistle-blower said.  And despite the fetching rally attire, Trump

supporters don`t seem to be in a rush to read the transcript or the

summary, at least not those that talked to the daily show last week.




UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Read the transcript right.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Have you read the transcript?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I have not read it.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  But we should read the transcript.




UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Look at the transcript, right?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Yes, look at the transcript.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Have you read the transcript?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I trust the word of our President, man.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  It`s important that everybody reads the transcript.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  It is very important.  Pay attention and think for



UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Yes.  You have – but to be clear, you have not read

the transcript.




UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  But it is just important.




UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Don`t be a sheep, think for yourself.




WILLIAMS:  Rick Wilson is still here with us.  What is this moment we`re



WILSON:  This is a moment where a parasite crawled inside of a political

party and ate it from the inside out.  And it still sort of sounds like and

looks like the old Republican Party, but right now the virtues of the new

party are slavish obedience to Trump, blistering pig ignorance.


I mean, those guys, they should be ashamed.  They should sink in the damn

earth out of shame by thinking – having a moment where they`re called on

the primary – the primary defense of this President in this case and they

should say to themselves, I should go home and read.


Maybe I should switch off the agitprop channel for a little while.  And

maybe I should try to grind my way through a few of the basic facts in this

thing.  But they don`t and they won`t.  That`s the old party.  Now it is,

you know, are you enough – is your passion for Trump strong enough?


WILLIAMS:  Let`s go back to Susan Collins, just because it`s fun to go back

to Susan Collins.  What does she do if Chuck Schumer gets an up or down

vote on the Senate floor.  Should we call John Bolton?  Should we at least

hear from John Bolton?  What does she and her ilk do?


WILSON:  Well, look, my prediction of what she does is she will agonize and

she will waffle and she will go through a whole fan dance.  She will furl

her brow and she will express deep concern.


And then at the end, she`ll give this anodyne speech and say, well, I

didn`t see enough evidence, so we have to move forward and won`t vote for

it.  That`s what`s going to happen in my pessimistic prediction.  And I

think you`re going to find a lot of people who politically might be smart

for them.


Look, Cory Gardner`s in a state that`s not just turning purple, it`s

turning dark blue.  His survival may depend on this.  You know, 63 percent,

64 percent of the vote is going to come out of Boulder and Denver.




WILSON:  It`s not red hat country.  He`s got a political existential crisis

on his hands.  Martha McSally, if she wants to keep that seat, that`s not a

state that`s deep red anymore either.  So the political cost of supporting

Trump is something they are weighing against their terror they feel about

him being angry at them or tweeting at them.  But as we`ve seen over and

over again, they`re much more comfortable being in the tall grass scared to

death than they are standing up for what`s right.


WILLIAMS:  Final question is about the six-page screed that we got from the

President today.


WILSON:  Sure.


WILLIAMS:  You`re a student of history as well.  I can`t drop the thought

that that was written in the same structure where FDR wrote in the word

infamy in pencil.


WILSON:  Sure.  This is, you know, there is a great rhetorical tradition in

this country with presidents.  It is – the work of presidential speech

writing and communication is something that has mattered for a long time. 

I mean, the power of words in the presidency has mattered since Washington. 

I mean, you look at some of the things that were produced from the pen of

Abraham Lincoln.


WILLIAMS:  The letter to Mrs. Bixby.


WILSON:  And they are emotive, and they are powerful, and they`re

passionate, and they uplift America.  This was the rantings – this is

like, you know, they walk into the lunatic asylum and the guy`s written his

manifesto on the wall in his own waste products.  I mean, he`s just

completely bonkers.


And so, you know, we`re not seeing – when they send us their rhetoric,

they`re not sending their best.


WILLIAMS:  What day do people have to wait until this comes out?


WILSON:  January the 14th.


WILLIAMS:  This is a galley copy for just really cool kids.


WILSON:  Yes, it is.


WILLIAMS:  But it will be out in hard cover and kindle and all that.


WILSON:  It sure will.


WILLIAMS:  And you`ve recorded the audio book.  Great to see you.


WILSON:  I have recorded the audio book and looking forward to it.  Thank

you for having me, sir, as always.


WILLIAMS:  One of the co-founders of today`s Lincoln Project.


Coming up for us, why so many of our fellow citizens spent this December

night outdoors?




WILLIAMS:  Last thing before we go tonight, a couple of related items. 

First off, in cities and towns and hamlets across our country tonight, on

this eve of the impeachment vote, under the banner of the indivisible

movement while also as small as the molecular local level, people marched



They marched in 27 degree snowfall weather in Maine.  They marched outside

the offices of congressmen with names like Scalise and Van Drew, to name

two Republicans.  From New York, to Georgia, to Oregon, on west to Alaska

and Hawaii, they marched in cold weather and warm under clear skies and in

the rain.  They marched in support of impeachment.


A related item, the folks at PolitiFact have arrived at an important

decision, determining the lie of the year from among some of the 15,413

lies that “The Washington Post” has determined this President has told thus

far in office.


PolitiFact`s honor this year goes to the President`s contention that the

whistleblower got the Ukraine call almost completely wrong and because the

opposite is true, because that is completely wrong, and because the

President has predicated so much on that false statement.


And finally, on the eve of the vote tomorrow in the House, a look at where

we`ve been, a reminder of the voices we`ve heard from in the long journey





WILLIAM TAYLOR, TOP US DIPLOMAT IN UKRAINE:  I encountered an irregular,

informal channel of US policy-making with respect to Ukraine.



It is improper for the president of the United States to demand a foreign

government investigate a US citizen and a political opponent.



quo?  The answer is yes.



involved in a domestic political errand.  And we were being involved in

national security foreign policy.  And those two things had just diverged.


SONDLAND:  Everyone was in the loop.  It was no secret.  Everyone was

informed via e-mail on July 19th, days before the presidential call.



undermines the US, exposes our friends, and widens the playing field for

autocrats like President Putin.  Our leadership depends on the power of our

example and the consistency of our purpose.  Both have now been opened to





WILLIAMS:  With that, that is our broadcast for this Tuesday night.  Thank

you so much for being here with us.  Good night from our NBC News

headquarters here in New York.




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