Bill Taylor, testifies there was a quid pro quo. TRANSCRIPT: 10/22/19, All In w/ Chris Hayes.
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: John Brennan join me to talk about the latest
on the impeachment inquiry. And that`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being
with us. I`m back. It`s great to be back. “ALL IN with Chris Hayes
starts right now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: Tonight on ALL IN.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There was no, with pro quo.
There is no pro quo.
There was no quid pro quo.
HAYES: Explosive testimony from the top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine
completely undercutting the primary defense of team Trump.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There was no quid pro quo.
REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): There was no quid pro quo.
REP. JIM JORDAN (R-OH): No quid pro quo.
HAYES: There was a quid pro quo. And tonight we have new detail about
exactly how much the President was squeezing Ukraine in return for an
investigation into his political rival.
REP. ANDY LEVIN (D-MI): It`s not even noon, right? And this is my most
disturbing day in Congress so far.
HAYES: What we learned today and what it means for the case against Donald
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): If you could show me that, you know, Trump
actually was engaging quid pro quo outside the phone call, that would be
HAYES: Then the infuriating quota to the most ridiculous story of 2016.
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (D-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The American people
are sick and tired of hearing about your damn e-mails. And the anxiety of
some Democratic donors as 2020 campaigning hits full swing when ALL IN
starts right now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Good evening from Los Angeles, I`m Chris Hayes. There was
absolutely explosive testimony on Capitol Hill today, the most damning
testimony so far against the President of the United States in the House
Bill Taylor, the U.S. Chief of Mission to Ukraine currently, wrote the
famous smoking gun text “I think it`s crazy to withhold security assistance
for help with a political campaign.” That man showed up before Congress
today with a 15-page opening statement that Democrat says was backed up by
lengthy notes and documentation.
I should note, Bill Taylor went in to testify at 9:30 this morning and got
out less than an hour ago. He testified under oath for nearly ten hours.
And thanks to his testimony, there is no longer any question whatsoever
that President Trump`s Ukraine policy was a corrupt abuse of power that did
center around a quid pro quo.
Before I get into all that, a quick introduction to Bill Taylor. As he
says in his opening statement, he was a West Point cadet before becoming an
infantry officer with the 101st Airborne Division in Vietnam. Then, a
career State Department official who served under both Democratic and
Republican administrations in important locations through the decades
including Afghanistan, Iraq, Jerusalem, and Ukraine.
In his opening statement, Taylor explains it did not take long to figure
out that things were not right in Ukraine when he arrived in June to his
new job. “Once I arrived in Kiev, I discovered a weird combination of
encouraging, confusing, and ultimately alarming circumstances. There was
an irregular informal channel of U.S. policymaking with respect to Ukraine.
One which included then special envoy Kurt Volker, U.S. Ambassador to the
European Union Gordon Sondland, Secretary of Energy Rick Perry, and as I
subsequently learned Mr. Giuliani.”
Taylor then describes meeting a month later when a staffer from the Office
of Management and Budget made him realize that this irregular channel of
U.S. policymaking as he put it was up to no good. This is the staffer from
OMB – “she was from the OMB and her boss had instructed her not to approve
any additional spending of security assistance for Ukraine until further
“All the OMB staff person said was that the directive had come from the
President, to the chief of staff, to OMB. In an instant, I realized that
one of the key pillars of our strong support for Ukraine was threatened.
The irregular policy Channel was running contrary to the goals of long-
standing U.S. policy.”
Again, the threat to U.S. support for Ukraine was coming from a shadow
foreign policy that was being directed personally by the President of the
United States and implemented by his acting chief of staff who also happens
to be the head of OMB.
Now, it is worth stopping to remember that we first learned about Bill
Taylor`s role in this entire affair from his text messages previously
shared with Congress. And in one of those messages, he bluntly asks the
Trump appointee, an inaugural donor U.S. Ambassador to the E.U. Gordon
Sondland “Are we now saying that security assistance – that`s the money
that was appropriated by Congress – and a White House meeting are
conditioned on investigations?” In other words, is there a quid pro quo at
the heart of this?
And Sondland infamously responds, call me, or rather let`s not make a
written record of this conversation. But now, thanks to Bill Taylor`s
testimony, we know what they talked about on that phone call. And what
they talked about undermines the core of Trump`s argument that there was no
quid pro quo.
Taylor says this. “During that phone call, this is after the call me
instruction, Ambassador Sondland told me that President Trump had told him
he wants Presidents Zelensky to state publicly that Ukraine will
investigate Burisma, the company Hunter Biden was involved with, and
alleged Ukrainian interference in the 2016 U.S. election.”
“Ambassador Sondland also told me, he now recognized he had made a mistake
by earlier telling the Ukrainian officials, to whom he spoke, that a White
House meeting with President Zelensky was dependent on a public
announcement of investigations.”
“In fact, ambassador Sondland said everything was dependent on such an
announcement including security assistance. He said that President Trump
wanted President Zelensky in a public box by making a public statement
about ordering such investigation.”
Sondland said that everything including the U.S. security assistance to
Ukraine was dependent on Ukraine`s president publicly announcing
investigations into Trump`s political rival and a debunked conspiracy
theory to clear Russia meddling in the 2016 election and perhaps
nonsensically implicate the DNC in hacking itself.
That is a quid pro quo. Trump demanded a public announcement of an
investigation, the quo. In return for a meeting and military assistance,
the quid. Now, if that was the only instance of it happening, it would be
very, very bad, indeed impeachable, but it was not the only instance.
Taylor describes talking to a National Security Council aide a week later
who described a conversation with Trump appointee, again Gordon Sondland,
“According to Mr. Morrison, President Trump told Ambassador Sondland he was
not asking for a quid pro quo but President Trump did insist that President
Zelensky go to a microphone and say he is opening investigations on Biden
in 2016 election interference, and that President Zelensky should want to
do this himself.
Trump was insisting the Ukrainian president publicly announced
investigation into his political rival, an act which again isn`t of itself
an impeachable offense. Taylor says that Sondland spoke to Trump and
cleared things up saying, “President Trump said it was not a quid pro quo.”
They keep saying it like it`s a magical invocation.
“Ambassador Sondland said that he had talked to President Zelensky and his
assistant Mr. Yermak and told them that although this was not a quid pro
quo, if President Zelensky did not clear things up in public, we would be
at a stalemate. I understood stalemate to mean that Ukraine would not
receive the much-needed military assistance.”
So again, it was not a quid pro quo, but if President Zelensky didn`t do
exactly what President Trump wanted him to do, manufacture dirt in his
opponent, announce it on American television, then Ukraine would not get
the military aid passed by Congress and signed a law that it so desperately
needed to defend itself from a Russian army occupying part of the country.
Actually, there is another way to describe that kind of arrangement. It`s
extortion. Nice country. It would be a shame if something happened to it.
Joining me now are two Congresspeople who attended Bill Taylor`s deposition
today Democratic Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida,
Democratic Congressman Jamie Raskin of Maryland. Both members of the House
Congresswoman, I`ll begin with you. And I understand the normal rules of
engagement here that you will not talk about testimony, but the public
statement is now public as a matter of record. Your reaction generally to
what you heard today from Mr. Taylor.
REP. DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ (D-FL): Ambassador Taylor`s testimony was
absolutely damning. It was the most significant testimony we`ve heard the
date. In my opinion, it was like watching someone used one of those
connect-the-dots workbooks and go from point A, to point B, to Point C,
essentially really filling in so many of the blanks. Many of those blanks
being completely you know, forgotten by Ambassador Sondland in his
testimony last week, a very noncredible set of testimony.
A very noncredible deposition in which it was extremely hard to believe
that he had as many lapses in memory over events that were significant in
the last few months, when Ambassador Taylor had really in excruciating
detail, the ability to lay out exactly the parallel and shadow foreign
policy that clearly was taking place and that the President was appeared to
be advocating to – for a foreign government, to pressure the foreign
government to open an investigation for his political benefit jeopardizing
our national security interests.
HAYES: Congressman Raskin, I know – is your position that the call notes
which show the President saying famously after a question about military
assistance, “I would like you to do us a favor though,” that in and of
itself is an impeachable offense. It`s an abuse of power. It`s corrupt
and all those things. You don`t need a quid pro quo.
That said, based on the testimony that`s been offered particularly what
Bill Taylor said today, do you think there`s sufficient evidence now that
demonstrates there was a quid pro quo?
REP. JAMIE RASKIN (D-MD): Well, the cumulative effect of all the evidence
we`ve seen is overwhelming and decisive, and we haven`t seen anything that
contradicts any of it. One of my Republican colleagues today said to me,
well, there was no quid pro quo because they never actually got the
information on the Biden`s they were looking for.
But you know the evidence is just preclusive it seems like that there was
this extraordinary effort for a shakedown of a foreign government for
corroboration for a discredited conspiracy theory about the 2016 race and
also for the dirt that they wanted on the Biden`s.
And if you think about what`s happened, if the President takes an
appropriation from Congress that we send to a besieged ally resisting
Russian aggression, and then he appends all of these restrictions to it,
that is thwarting the will of Congress. He`s trying to usurp the
legislative power, and that is an absolute violation of the separation of
HAYES: Congresswoman, this stuck out to me and it`s one of the themes I`ve
noted here is despite the fact that at times the President and his allies
seemed to want to make the argument it`s perfectly fine to do this, the
behavior of the people involved seemed to indicate they recognized
something foul was afoot, that they were up to no good themselves.
And I want to read this from the opening statement from Taylor. “I sense
something odd when Ambassador Sondland told me on June 28th he did not wish
to include most of the regular interagency participants in a call plan with
President Zelensky later that day. Sondland said he wanted to make sure no
one was transcribing or monitoring as they added President Zelensky to the
call.” How significant do you think that is, Congresswoman?
SCHULTZ: Well, I think one has only to look at the text messages that were
released where Ambassador Sondland, you know, indicates to Ambassador
Taylor that he should call him like you said earlier, so that they would
avoid a written record of their conversation.
There clearly was an effort to keep part of this process under the radar
outside of the normal foreign policy process in order to really keep people
from knowing that President Trump was trying to A, withhold foreign aid
that Congress had previously approved, and that the Pentagon, by the way,
had certified should be released. And B, that he was tying a meeting with
Zelensky to his insistence that Zelensky open investigation both on Burisma
and Biden as well as this wacky conspiracy theory about the 2016 election.
And what we need to know is how Republicans feel. Are Republican actually
OK with the President pressuring a foreign government to – you know, for
his own political and personal gain to investigate his rivals, withholding
foreign aid that, by the way, as an appropriator, Chris Hayes, I can tell
you that we required the Pentagon to certify that corruption was reduced in
the appropriations act before that funding could be released. And the
Pentagon sent a letter to the Congress saying they should.
SCHULTZ: And it was not released. On the contrary, it was withheld for
the President`s personal and political gain.
HAYES: Congressman, one thing that`s striking to me as well, and I wonder
if this is what you make of it, the notion that the deliverable as the
pressure escalates isn`t just the investigation itself, but a public
announcement of the investigation. Perhaps even in an interview with an
American news network. What do you make of that?
RASKIN: Well, that, of course, is what the President was looking for. He
wanted to be able to go on T.V. and say President Zelensky announced that
they`re investigating the Biden`s they found sufficient predicate to
investigate corruption and so on. I think that`s one of the reasons that
so many of these great State Department officials were scandalized by what
was taking place.
Look, a quid pro quo in the sense of well, if this president gets a meeting
in the White House, then the president would like to come to Ukraine to
have a meeting. That kind of relationship is perfectly legit.
But here what happened was they said if you get the meeting in the White
House and if you get the military assistance Congress voted for you, you
give us all of the political information that we want and you give us the
statements that we want to be able to circulate around the world about the
corruption of the Biden`s. That`s a completely different thing.
The quid-pro-quo there is will give you something legitimate that`s been
voted for by Congress in return for a bunch of political dirt that`s got
nothing to do with the office of the presidency and nothing to do with the
government. It`s all benefiting you personally.
And that`s been the cardinal sin of this administration from the beginning.
The corruption of public office for private purposes whether it`s money-
making or whether it`s turning the presidency into an instrument of re-
HAYES: Congresswoman, final question for you. There will be – obviously,
it will be the case and the White House`s statement is out today. There
were people that attack Bill Taylor`s credibility, attack his character.
What is your assessment of his credibility and character?
SCHULTZ: This is the most credible witness that I have heard in a long
time, his impeccable credentials, his being an expert on Ukraine, his
service in Vietnam, his service in the military before that. This is an
individual who was unimpeachably to use the term in a different way.
At the end of the day, making sure that we get to the bottom through this
impeachment inquiry of President Trump`s intentions is why we`re conducting
these investigations. And so you have to compare the information you get
from different witnesses.
And I will tell you that compared to Ambassador Sondland, Ambassador Taylor
was extremely credible, was excruciatingly detailed about his
recollections. And because of his expertise and his ironclad integrity,
his testimony will be – will be held up as a significant component of the
pathway to how what we decide when it comes to articles of impeachment as
it should be.
HAYES: Congressman Raskin, quickly, how close are you to moving to the
next phase of this process?
RASKIN: Well, the fact investigation continues. It`s sort of like a car
accident where you get all of the material witnesses to come in and to
state exactly what they saw and what they understood. So you know, we
still have an open mind about everything that took place. But it`s true
that a lot of the facts are being filled in and we`re getting a very
credible testimony from some very credible witnesses.
Ambassador Bill Taylor has been serving United States essentially since he
was a cadet at West Point. He fought in the Vietnam War. He was the Vice
Director of the U.S. Institute of Peace. He`s had an extraordinary career
in public life. We can`t say specifically what he said today, but I think
his testimony along with that of many other people is painting a much more
detailed portrait of what took place.
HAYES: All right, Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Congressman
Jamie Raskin, thank you both.
SCHULTZ: You`re welcome.
HAYES: Joining me now are two reporters who have been covering Taylor`s
testimony all day, Anne Gearan White House Correspondent for The Washington
Post. She was the first to get her hands on Taylor`s explosive opening
statement today. And Kyle Cheney Congress Reporter for Politico, he`s been
speaking to members of Congress throughout the day as the – at the exit –
as they exit the deposition.
Anne, you got the sense that even though much of this was sort of known, or
hinted at, or implied, there was a palpable “oh my word” reaction on
ANNE GEARAN, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, THE WASHINGTON POST: Yes, for
sure, Chris. Some lawmakers today described gasps in the room and just,
you know, people glancing one to another as Bill Taylor`s testimony
unfolded. And one of the things that the lawmakers seemed most struck by
is really clear in the – in the opening statement that my colleagues and I
obtained today which is it`s a roadmap.
He kept detailed meticulous notes by date of when he had conversations,
what they were about, who said what, and what the – what the next step
was. And he lays it out in almost cinematic fashion in this opening
statement. And then this happened, and then that happened, and then all of
a sudden I became completely aware that this aide was being conditioned on
not only a meeting but on the investigation of the Biden`s.
He`s very specific. And he contradicts not only the president`s denials of
any quid pro quo, but he also very specifically contradicts the testimony
last week of Gordon Sondland.
HAYES: Kyle, what have you been hearing?
KYLE CHENEY, CONGRESS REPORTER, POLITICO: Well, two things really struck
me was that the people that were coming out of the room and speaking in
almost hyperbolic tones about what they heard in there were not the people
that were typically on the front lines of this investigation. These are
members of the committees who have a role but haven`t necessarily been the
people that are sort of the spokespeople for what`s going on.
So you saw in their – in their eyes essentially of what – that they had
really felt like this is a turning point in this investigation that could
accelerate the pace of impeachment. But the second piece is that what you
did here which was Republicans did not really come out and offer a full-
throated defense or refutation of what Taylor said as we heard from other
witnesses and other moments in this investigation.
HAYES: That`s a really interesting point. There`s a moment, Anne, to your
point about this sort of scrupulous collection of detail here, and we know
this is someone who was trying to kind of paper this as one says you know
when he was writing in text, that in his testimony, he says that John
Bolton is one of the people who basically at certain point when you`re
raising concerns, tells him to put into writing and send a personal cable
to the Secretary of State.
GEARAN: Yes. And Taylor also says that, you know, Bolton couldn`t get on
the right people`s schedules to complain about what was going on along with
officials from other department agencies. He definitely was – he, Taylor,
was trying to paper this as you say, after he became very alarmed about
what Rudy Giuliani and Gordon Sondland were doing. That`s what he says in
But his note-taking and his very careful kind of description of what led up
to that is also going to be something that House Democrats can use as they
go forward. Because he describes how when he took the job under some
duress, he said, he wanted to take it but he was concerned about what had
happened to the previous ambassador. He was concerned about what he saw as
political machinations around her. And he told Mike Pompeo that he – that
he had some reservations.
But nonetheless he went to Ukraine in June, and that at first what he
wanted to do in Ukraine with sort of regular foreign policy seemed to be
aligned with what the others we`ve heard so much about Gordon Sondland,
Rick Perry, and Kurt Volker were up to, and then how those things started
GEARAN: So before he papers it, he lays out exactly what they were doing
and where his concerns began to be raised in July.
HAYES: One of the things that`s most striking here, Kyle, is like other
State Department employees, he was ordered to not testify by the State
Department. He was then subpoenaed. He did it. He is also the current
Chief of Mission appointed by the Trump administration to run the embassy
in Kiev at this moment even as the White House puts out a statement calling
him a radical bureaucrat.
CHENEY: That`s one of the most remarkable things here is these are – some
of these witnesses are actively serving in the – in the roles if they`re
testifying about over the objections of the Secretary of State. And
actually the existence of this cable that we`ve talked about is it points
to the fact that the State Department itself has actually blocked a lot of
documents and primary source evidence from the committee, from the
impeachment investigators that these witnesses actually want – Gordon
Sondland himself wants some of his notes and documents to get to Congress
and he can`t get them there. So it shows you the sort of split that`s
happening in real-time within the State Department.
HAYES: That`s a great point. Anne Gearan and Kyle Chaney, thank you both
very much. Next, a requiem for a talking point, the prime defense of
Trump-supporting Republicans “no quid pro quo” has just been decimated.
The massive political ramifications in two minutes.
HAYES: You know, maybe Donald Trump and his fellow Republicans should have
followed Mick Mulvaney lead. Five days ago, Trump`s acting chief of staff
admitted in front of everyone a quid pro quo, saying the White House had
withheld military aid to Ukraine in an effort to get Ukraine to investigate
debunked conspiracy theories about the DNC in the 2016 election.
He even added infamously the quote, get over it. The White House and
Trump`s Republican allies quickly disavow those comments and Mulvaney has
spent the past five days desperately, humiliatingly trying to walk them
back and tell us we didn`t hear what we saw him say because the line has
always been no quid pro quo.
Trump even had literally those words scrawled on his notes at a cabinet
meeting yesterday so he didn`t forget to repeat them. You can see it there
in sharpie, no quid pro quo. With impeachment looming, this is the final
place they have all retreated to. The place they`ve been holed up inside
but the tanks out front, the no quid pro quo fortress.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get us up to date on what`s going on.
REP. MATT GAETZ (R-FL): No quid pro quo.
MCCARTHY: No one believes there`s any quick pro quo.
SEN. MARK MEADOWS (R-NC): And what we do know is there was definitely no
quid pro quo.
HOGAN GIDLEY, WHITE HOUSE PRINCIPAL DEPUTY PRESS SECRETARY: There was no
quid pro quo here whatsoever.
REP. LEE ZELDIN (R-NY): There was absolutely no quid pro quo.
REP. STEVE SCALISE (R-LA): There was absolutely no quid pro quo. The
transcript backs it up.
MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT, UNITED STATES: The transcript of the
President`s phone call with President Zelensky where there was no quid pro
quo, there was no pressure.
LARRY KUDLOW, DIRECTOR, UNITED STATES NATIONAL ECONOMIC COUNCIL: There was
no quid pro quo. There was no issue about finally getting the military
JORDAN: No quid pro quo as Mr. Mulvaney said. No linkage whatsoever
between any type of security assistance dollars for Ukraine and any type of
SEN. KEVIN KRAMER (R-ND): There was no quid pro quo in the – in the phone
conversation. So no doubt that the haters are going to hate.
STEVEN MNUCHIN, SECRETARY OF TREASURY, UNITED STATES: People who are
trying to imply that the President is asking for things or quid pro quo is
I think this is ridiculous.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you open-minded if more comes out that you could
GRAHAM: Sure. I mean – I mean, show me something that is a crime. If
you could show me that, you know, Trump actually was engaging a quid pro
quo outside the phone call, that would be very disturbing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Oh really. Well, then Senator Lindsey Graham must be very
disturbed because today Bill Taylor, the Chief of Mission of the U.S.
Embassy in Ukraine testified before Congress that there was an explicit
quid pro quo, that he was told by the U.S. Ambassador of the European Union
Gordon Sondland that “everything was dependent on announcing an
investigation into the Biden`s in the 2016 election including security
assistance which was the U.S. military aid that Trump had personally
withheld from the Ukrainians.”
I`m joined now by Natasha Bertrand National Security Correspondent for
Politico and MSNBC Contributor, also with me Matthew Miller former Chief
Spokesperson for the Department of Justice and an MSNBC Justice and
And Natasha, one wonders if they`re regretting now so clearly leaning on
the no quid pro quo talking point even when the call notes themselves
showed there was a fairly obvious one after today`s testimony of Bill
NATASHA BERTRAND, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Yes. It seems like they should have
gone with what Mulvaney said which is OK, there was a quid pro quo, get
over it, it happens all the time in U.S. foreign policy. But instead, they
were relying on what the President was putting out there which was the only
thing that was discussed within this realm was what the transcript showed
which was I didn`t explicitly say you`re not going to get military
assistance unless you investigate the Biden`s.
Well, I guess the Republicans weren`t banking on the State Department
employees and the career officials actually defying the State Department
and testifying to Congress and telling them everything that they knew and
found out over the last, you know, six to eight months about what Giuliani
And this is also different and more explosive because for the first time
Bill Taylor has testified to the President`s direct involvement in this.
BERTRAND: With a Russia investigation, it was very much people around the
President who were interacting with the Russians who were trying to get
Russian help on this campaign. And the President was always kind of one
step removed from it, you know, disregarding his public statements.
But in this instance, Trump was actually directing it. Trump was saying
explicitly according to Bill Taylor that unless Zelensky makes this public
commitment to investigate Burisma and the Biden`s, then then the Ukrainians
are not going to get a White House summit, and they`re not going to get
HAYES: Matt, to Natasha`s point, the public pronouncement here is so
telling to me because it also vitiates another talking point that like
there was any – which was always preposterous, there was like a genuine
concern with corruption, but it`s public but they`re actually seeking. I
don`t – I don`t even know if they care about the investigations.
MATT MILLER, MSNBC JUSTICE AND SECURITY ANALYST: No, I don`t think they
care about the investigations at all. They cared about the fact that Joe
Biden was under investigation not that – not that that the investigation
would ever produce anything. It`s a little bit similar I think to the Bill
Barr investigation into the origins of the 2016 thing. It doesn`t really
matter what that produces. It just matters that they have a talking point
that the President can use.
I think the Republicans are in a little bit of a bind now. Look, they can
attack Bill Taylor but there are a couple of problems with that. Number
one, it appears that he detailed all this meticulously. The direct quotes
in his statement today appear to be from notes he kept at the time.
Number two, I suspect we`re going to see him in a public hearing, and it`s
hard to see – it`s hard to imagine this based on the kind of gravity of
the case he presented that he`s not going to hold up well and be very
And number three, they are making mistake if they think he is the only
witness that`s going to coming forward, that`s a mistake they made from the
beginning is somehow just taking the president`s word for it when it was I
think fairly obvious all along that the president probably did everything
that he was accused of doing. Now they`re really stuck.
I mean, I would think if they were smart, they would stop trying to defend
the president`s behavior, and they have to decide – look, I am going to
cut the president loose on the propriety of his
behavior, but if I`m going to defend him I`m going to say it`s not
impeachable, because trying to defend all of this just seems to me too
much of a heavy lift to the American public.
HAYES: Well, and it`s also the – Matt brings up a great point, Natasha,
which is that this is the first round of fact gathering that`s happening
behind closed doors, we`re getting testimony from the depositions, there
will be public hearings that will be carried live on every network in which
the person saying this will be saying it in front of America, and they`re
going to have to figure out what their story is before that happens.
BERTRAND: Right, and they`ll be saying it under oath. And the Democrats
have already been moving very quickly on this investigation. There have
already been almost a dozen interviews in the last month. They`re going to
interview more people over the next two weeks. People at this point, State
Department and career officials seem much more comfortable at this point
the president and revealing things that had happened at the State
Department over the last two plus years because I think they see this
president in a weakened position, because so much has come out with proof
about what he asked Zelensky to do.
And with regard to other witnesses that Bill Taylor already has undercut
with his testimony today, that`s a whole other question, and that`s another
layer of information that congress has gotten. Gordon Sondland, the U.S.
ambassador to the EU, he might be facing perjury charges. There was a
Democrat on one of the committees who said that they may recommend that
just because he misled the committee about the extent to which he knew what
was going on behind the scenes.
HAYES: Quickly, Matt. Bill Barr again implicated here and mentioned, it
seems crazy he hasn`t recused himself in any fashion.
MILLER: There`s something going on at the Justice Department. I don`t
think we know the full story of their involvement there. They put out
another statement today. It was the fourth time they`ve
tried to distance themselves from the president`s actions with respect to
Ukraine or to Rudy Giuliani`s behavior.
I suspect that we don`t yet know the full story why they quashed the
criminal investigation and that that explains their nervousness and their
jumpiness for the last few weeks.
HAYES: Great point. Natasha Bertrand and Matthew Miller, thank you both
for being with me.
Republicans are quick to say that impeaching Trump will tear the country
apart, so then why aren`t any of them advising him to resign. Michelle
Goldberg and Ned Price join me next.
HAYES: The day before President Richard Nixon resigned in August 1974,
three top Republican leaders in congress showed up at the White House. And
Senator Barry Goldwater of the Republican Party elder in the House and
Senate minority leaders. And that day, they made the case personally to
Richard Nixon that he had lost support in congress, that he was going to be
impeached and likely convicted and then removed from office. And all that
was left for Nixon to do, they told him, was resign.
The next day, August 8, 1974, Richard Nixon announced his resignation in a
prime-time address from the Oval Office.
Today, after revelations from Bill Taylor`s testimony began leaking out,
followed shortly by the entirety of his 15 page opening statement, New York
Times op-ed columnist Michelle Goldberg tweeted, quote, Republicans were
worried about impeachment tearing the country apart should be going to
Trump privately and telling him to resign.
Michelle Goldberg joins me now, along with Ned Price, a former spokesperson
for the National Security Council, a special assistant to President Obama.
They are both MSNBC contributors.
Michelle, why did you say that?
MICHELLE GOLDBERG, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Well, because we`ve been hearing
from them for, you know, since this process began, that the reason that
Democrats shouldn`t do this is because it was so divisive, it was so
inflammatory. And, you know, if you showed before, we`ve now sort of
crossed the Rubicon, or crossed what they all said was the red line. And
I don`t doubt that they are now going to pivot either to process questions
or to an argument that, you know, this was find, get over it, or maybe that
this wasn`t impeachable.
But there is no – but, you know, their whole case, the case that they`ve
made so far, has fallen apart. And so if they are serious, if they ever
were serious, about ever sort of preserving some shred of national unity,
that is what they would do. And I mean, to be clear I kind of don`t think
they were that serious.
And it`s obvious that Trump lacks the dignity and patriotism of a Richard
Nixon, but it is what they should be doing, because otherwise what we`re
facing, I think, is just a total – an admission of a total breakdown in
the rule of law, right, if he`s not going to be convicted in the Senate, if
these crimes that have been revealed, including Gordan Sondland`s perjury
are going to be referred to a Justice Department headed by Bill Barr who
kind of corruptly refuses to recuse and is quashing all of these
investigations, you know, the admission is just that we are kind of passed
any sort of democracy and in a situation of pure authoritarianism.
HAYES: You know, Ned, it strikes me to Michelle`s point about not kind of
getting out ahead in the expectation that people will act corruptly, that
we`ve already seen this play out a little bit in the way that these folks
have come forward to testify – not that they would be corrupt, because
they didn`t – but the fact that they have gone and testified even though
their employer, the United States government, told them not to, that
unexpected things can happen that you don`t have to just expect that
everyone will behave in the worst possible fashion.
NED PRICE, NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL FORMER SPOKESPERSON: Well, I think
You know, I had to laugh, Chris, because Secretary of State Pompeo has
bragged ever since he
went to Foggy Bottom to take on his current role that the State Department
finally had its swagger back. And, you know, Secretary Pompeo has had a
strange way of trying to give the State Department its swagger back by
failing to stand up for career professionals, by consistently siding with
the politicals, by siding with those who are outside the administration to
the detriment of his own people.
But I think we can finally say the State Department has its swagger back.
You know, you take a look at Ambassador Yovanovitch, when she was walking
into congress earlier this month, and that stare in her eyes and the
determination, you could tell that these are people who have a story to
tell and no amount of attempted stonewalling on the part of this
administration of a legal impeachment process can
get in the way of that.
HAYES: You know, Michelle, there`s also the question here about the scope
of the inquiry. I mean the story that`s told here is of an irregular
foreign policy and a regular foreign policy in the which irregular foreign
policy is being pursued to corrupt ends that personally benefit the
What we know from reporting there`s irregular foreign policy with Saudi
Arabia that`s headed up by Jared Kushner. And it seems there are other
irregular foreign policies out there that might be worth having at least an
audit into given what we`ve discovered here.
GOLDBERG: I think Democrats are going to have to make a decision whether
they actually want to kind of go for removal. And if you really wanted to
go for removal, I think you would sort of make the succinct case rather
than let it get bogged down and confused the way the Mueller investigation
did, because the more confusing it gets the more I think Republicans can
explain away the indefensible.
But, if you want a full public hearing and airing of the epic corruption of
this administration, of the total perversion of American foreign policy of,
you know, kind of a level of self-dealing that we`ve
never seen before in American history, then you basically make it broad and
have hearings almost up until the next election.
HAYES: What do you think, Ned?
PRICE: Yeah, I think that`s right. Look, I think the problem with the
Mueller report was that it was 458 pages long and it covered a matter of
Look, the beauty, the brutal corrupt beauty of the Ukraine saga is that it
is a small window that started on July 25. We are in mid-October now and
the amount of corruption, the amount of betrayal, the amount of lawlessness
and potential criminality that we have uncovered in this short amount of
time is just staggering.
And so, look, I think Republicans, their posture reminds me of that old
saying, when you owe a bank a hundred dollars, that`s your problem, when
you owe the bank $100 million, that`s the bank`s problem. The Republicans
have invested a lot in this president.
And I think they made a bargain with themselves, when they stood pie him
after Charlottesville that was the $100 million investment. They cannot
step back at this point without making – without underscoring the
hollowness of the past three years. And I think that`s something that
would stick with them for quite a few more years.
HAYES: Michelle Goldberg and Ned Price, thank you both.
Ahead, believe it or not, some Democratic donors are complaining that out
of the nearly 20 Democratic presidential contenders still in the race, they
can`t find the one they want. Stay with us.
HAYES: Thanks to President Trump, we have a story like this today. The
strong man from Russia and strong man from Turkey meeting today in Sochi,
Russia, for around six hours. And between them, decided how to carve up
Russian and Turkish troops will take joint control over a vast swath of
territory in Northern Syria, and Kurdish forces have six days to retreat.
We got here because Donald Trump out of nowhere decided to get on the phone
with Turkish President Recep Erdogan two weeks ago to completely change
policy overnight and shocked everyone, paving the way for Turkish invasion
for northern Syria.
So now Turkey gets what it wants, a cleaning out of the Kurds, as President
put it. Russia also gets what it wants, they become the new power player
in the region or further
entrench their power player status. The Kurds get misery.
What does the United States get? Really hard to say. Absolutely nothing
other than the cementing of our status as an unreliable actor who doesn`t
keep their word, betrays their allies, just like when we pulled out of the
Iran deal and the Paris Climate Accords.
And the fig leaf the president continues to hide behind, nonsensically,
that he`s finally bringing the troops home from combat to a grateful war
weary nation, is simply a lie. The U.S. service members have been
relocated to Iraq while he`s sending thousands more to Saudi Arabia.
This is not about ending wars, it`s about Donald Trump`s subverting
American interests, the interests of the strong men that he so admires.
HAYES: In 2016, the Gallup polling firm regularly asked voters to describe
what they had read, heard or seen about the two presidential candidates.
Researchers took those descriptions and they made them into word clouds.
It`s a kind of infographic. The more frequently a word is used the bigger
This was the word cloud for Donald Trump, a collection of the words and
themes that were driving his campaign.
And this was Hillary Clinton, a cloud with one massive word in the middle,
email. It was the most frequent answer to the question and about the best
depiction of the collective failure of press coverage of tho2016 election
you`re going to find.
The email controversy was born of a totally, thoroughly and obviously bad
faith effort by
the right wing, facilitated by main stream coverage decisions that lost all
sense of proportion. According to the Columbia Journalism Review, in just
six days the The New York Times ran as many cover stories about Hillary
Clinton`s emails as they did about all policy issues combined in the 69
days leading up to the election.
And after all that, quietly on a Friday night after more than three years
Donald Trump`s own State Department released a nine-page report on those
infamous Clinton emails, the conclusion reading, quote, “there was no
persuasive evidence of systemic, deliberate mishandling of classified
The thing that we all said, us, the Trump administration, the Trump
campaign that we banged on about forever, not really anything to see here.
Of course, that was clear at the time. It`s not that the emails and the
investigation into the emails wasn`t a story – it was a story in the same
way that Ivanka Trump using a personal email account is a story, was a
story. We did a story on it.
Is it the only thing that`s covered about Ivanka Trump?
The fact that Donald Trump has been using an unsecured phone that`s been
freaking people out, including a security team. There was a story about
that. Is that the only story about Donald Trump?
Or the guy who is at the center of the Ukraine scandal, Gordan Sondland,
using a private texting app for official business, in violation of the
policies and procedures of the State Department?
It just seems insane when you think of those three examples to think that
those would be the most important thing to cover. And yet that was how
Hillary Clinton was treated in 2016, a ghastly, collective madness that
deserves some accounting and introspection, and most importantly a
commitment on the part of the media not to fall for the exact same play
again in 2020.
HAYES: Despite a large and diverse field that started with nearly 30
amounts of fundraising, and voter interest, some Democratic donors are
grumbling that they don`t like
the toys they`ve been playing with and they want a new one.
The New York Times, quote, “with doubts rising about former Vice President
Joseph R. Biden`s ability to finance a multi-state primary campaign,
persistent questions about Senator Elizabeth Warren`s
viability in the general election, and skepticism that Mayor Pete Buttigieg
of South Bend, Indiana could broaden his appeal beyond white voters,
Democratic leaders are engaging in a familiar right, fretting about who is
in the race and longing for a white knight to enter the contest at the last
To talk about the sudden angst, I`m joined by Neera Tanden, president of
the Center for American Progress, and Christine Greer, associate professor
at Fordham University.
You know, Neera, I like the fact that this was framed as a kind of
perennial right, because
NEERA TANDEN, CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS: Because it is?
HAYES: It is. And I remember – I remember in 2004 there was the Wesley
Clark boom. Everyone looked around and said, no, no, we need the NATO
general, Wesley Clark. I love Wesley Clark. And I was like, he`s not a
There was Fred Thompson on the Republican side who was going to be a
What is the psychology here?
TANDEN: I think the psychology is that Democrats, you know, it`s sort of a
congenital condition to worry and to have agita (ph). And I think that is
exacerbated by Donald Trump who, you know, I mean Democrats have carnal
fears about his ability to destroy, you know, people in his path,
Republican, Democrat, frail humans, you know, anyone in his path he has
kind of an ability to destroy.
So I think there is – those things combine to create a lot of agitation.
I don`t think it`s not just Democrats, I think Democratic donors, it`s
around a lot of people. But I would say just like in past election cycles,
the nominee is likely, almost I`d say 100 percent likely, but likely, to be
one of the candidates running. And whoever emerges from this contest will
seem strengthened because they`ve defeated – that person will have
defeated so many other people.
HAYES: That`s the point, Christina. Like to me, it`s always about the
fact that campaigning exposes the candidates` weaknesses. That`s the
process of campaigning, because people attack them on stuff. They hold
them to account. There is no like shrink-wrapped perfect off the shelf
candidate in American politics.
CHRISTINA GREER, FORDHAM UNIVERSITY: You`re right. You`re right. And we
saw in 2007-2008 Barack Obama became a much better candidate because of his
long battle with Hillary
Clinton. But, you know, I think what we really need to focus on, besides
the fundraising, is the fact that, you know, the Democrats tend to focus on
the peopled we don`t have instead of the people that we have at the dance,
And so we have the fact that Hillary Clinton did win the popular vote. And
so we have the fact that we now have Democratic governors and lieutenant
governors who are young and inspiring in Michigan and Wisconsin. We have
the fact that we have black women who have been mobilizing folks and we
shouldn`t wait until November 1 to ask them to come out.
And we should also look at mayors in the south and black mayors who put
together winning coalitions all across in 2018 and sort of see what they
did and what issues really motivated their citizens to come out and support
So, if we put that together, then we can choose a candidate that we can
help get across the finish line on November 3 in 2020 instead of thinking
about, you know, Bloomberg or all these people who are just sort of
flirting with the idea of the presidency each year.
HAYES: Partly too, I think, like, Neera, to your point about the kind of
congenital aspect of this, a sort of perpetual worrying, part of it is that
like people were shell-shocked by Donald Trump winning.
But if the situation were reversed, if it was a Democratic incumbent who
was polling at 40 percent and getting impeached and had all these scandals,
Democrats would be losing their mind. They would be convincing themselves
that that Democratic incumbent was headed for certain defeat, that they
were going to lose by 15 points and there would be op-eds about you have to
resign and you have to get out of the way. If you put the shoe on the
TANDEN: It`s not clear exactly which is better for democracy, frankly.
You have a Republican Party impervious to facts – absolutely, you`re
100,000 percent right that Republicans look at terrible facts and just, you
know, beat their which he says and say they`ll win no matter what. And
Democrats look at a winning hand and worry about every ability to lose
And, you know, I mean, this is just what sort of makes what Democrats are,
and Republicans like the Yankees. But, I mean, it`s sort of like – I
think the thing to focus on here is that you`re that absolutely right.
Donald Trump is the most unpopular incumbent in American history in polling
that we`ve had. And he faces a very difficult election. And I`d say that
the lesson of 2018
is that Democrats were able to put together broad coalitions. They were
able to actually attract moderate voters and bring out Millennials and
their base – people of color, students, young people.
You can actually do that in the face of Trump. And we should think of a
way to do that. And I think a lot of these candidates – I mean, our
primary is really long – but a lot of these candidates to Democratic
voters, 70 percent of Democratic voters think that one of these candidates
can beat Trump, so it`s not everybody who thinks this way.
HAYES: Quickly, Christina, a lot of that work can happen independent of
GREER: Yes, indeed. And we have grassroots organizations who are doing
it. We have, you know, elected officials on the local level who are doing
And just to remind Neera, you know, the Yankees lost.
HAYES: That`s right.
TANDEN: Exactly. Exactly.
HAYES: That`s exactly right.
TANDEN: Just because they say that they`re going to win doesn`t mean they
HAYES: That`s exactly right, the Yankees lost.
Neera Tanden, Christina Greer, thank you both for joining us.
That is ALL IN for this evening. “THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW” starts right
now. Good evening, Rachel.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
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Copyright 2019 ASC Services II Media, LLC. All materials herein are
protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced,
distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the
prior written permission of ASC Services II Media, LLC. You may not alter
or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the