Musician PJ Morton and Rick Stengel on The Beat. TRANSCRIPT: 11/15/19, The Beat w/ Ari Melber.
CHUCK TODD, MSNBC HOST: I will talk to two senators who met with Ukraine
President Zelensky while the military assistance was being withheld,
Democratic Chris Murphy and Republican Ron Johnson comes back to “MEET THE
PRESS,” and the new Democratic presidential candidate, Deval Patrick.
“THE BEAT” though with Ari Melber starts right now.
Good evening, Ari.
ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Chuck. Thank you very much. Tonight
we have breaking coverage of a momentous impeachment hearing today. This
diplomat recounting the entire Ukraine plot, the President hitting back
with an attack that some say adds to the impeachment evidence against him.
And Donald Trump`s longtime adviser Roger Stone convicted of the very
obstruction Trump stands accused of.
I wish you a good evening on this Friday night. We are capping a week,
which has certainly been one of the objectively worst of President Trump`s
entire time in office. Washington on edge all day for the second day of
impeachment hearings as the former Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch
added new details to the broad outline of the alleged Ukraine bribery plot.
Rudy Giuliani trying to oust her so that he could have his agenda move
forward. And then as she testified about that, and about Donald Trump`s
smear campaign against her, the President literally attacked her today
during the proceeding, leading to this truly surreal moment.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): And now the President in real-time is attacking
you. What affect do you think that has on other witnesses` willingness to
come forward and expose wrong doing?
MARIE YOVANOVITCH, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO UKRAINE: Well, it`s very
SCHIFF: It`s designed to intimidate, is it not?
YOVANOVITCH: I mean, I can`t speak to what the President is trying to do,
but I think the effect is to be intimidating.
SCHIFF: Well, I want to let you know, Ambassador, that some of us here take
witness intimidation very, very seriously.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Witness intimidation is very serious. It is literally a felony. It
often also can reveal the corrupt intent of a cover up, that is to say you
intimidate, because you don`t want the truth to come out. Now for citizens,
it is something that can land you in jail. That is what Roger Stone is
actually facing today after being found guilty of all seven counts, a story
we`ll bring you in this hour.
Now for a President, witness tampering, obstruction, it can get you
impeached. Now that is a point so clearly established that in addition to
the obvious and expected rebuke of Donald Trump today by legal experts for
what you just saw for what he did, by obviously the Democratic officials -
we just showed you Chairman Schiff.
He was also rebuked in the normally friendly confines of Fox News, where
voices immediately put Donald Trump on blast, decrying his blatant effort
of witness intimidation, including criticism by conservative prosecutor
today Ken Starr.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KEN STARR, FORMER UNITED STATES SOLICITOR GENERAL: The President was not
advised by counsel in deciding to do this tweet, extraordinarily poor
judgment. Obviously, this was, I think, quite injurious.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: –adding essentially an article of impeachment real
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Donald Trump adding to the case against Donald Trump by doing more
of the same. Because he was, of course, caught going after this same
diplomat in the infamous phone call with the Ukrainian President, which is
under investigation in the impeachment probe, infamously saying, she`s
going to go through some things.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
YOVANOVITCH: President Trump said that I was bad news to another world
leader and that I would be going through some things. So, I was - it was a
terrible moment. A person who saw me actually reading a transcript said
that the color drained from my face.
DANIEL GOLDMAN, DEMOCRATIC COUNSEL: What were you concerned about?
YOVANOVITCH: She`s going to go through some things. It didn`t sound good.
It sounded like a threat.
GOLDMAN: Did you feel threatened?
YOVANOVITCH: I did.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: She felt threatened. She says she was threatened. This was just a
part of a day of a lot of momentous pieces of information coming out. And I
can tell you one more thing before I bring in our experts. You`re watching
this story unfold. It is really something else.
You`ve probably noticed that very little about the impeachment process to-
date in the House has been bipartisan. But that`s the other notable thing
in today`s hearing is what you didn`t hear, because house Republicans
largely did not echo Donald Trump`s tactics today. Several even hailed this
diplomat`s record of independent non-partisan service. And that basic
courtesy, it`s not that big a deal to note that someone this long served
such a record.
But it adds fuel to the case against Donald Trump, because democrats are
arguing that is exactly why Giuliani and Donald Trump targeted her. They
needed to get rid of people like her, because they thought she would be
more likely to stop an international bribery plot than to join one.
Now we turn to our experts on this momentous day, Pulitzer Prize winning
author and historian Jon Meacham; David Corn, Mother Jones` Washington
Bureau Chief, who was inside that hearing room today; and former Counsel to
the Mayor of New York and former SDNY Civil Prosecutor, Maya Wiley. Good
David what was important that jumped out to both you from your perspective
inside the room and the way this is all being understood across the nation?
DAVID CORN, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, MOTHER JONES: I think what was
important was she came across really well as what we know her to be, a
career public servant. She wasn`t representing the deep state. She wasn`t
putting forward any conspiracy theories designed to get Trump. She was
there telling her story.
And in a lot of ways she does not still - she still does not know what
happened to her. We still don`t have good answers about why Rudy Giuliani
and his two business associates who now have been indicted and a bunch of
corrupt current and past prosecutors in Ukraine felt that she was such a
target that they had to mount an international smear campaign,
So, she`s a bit befuddled about what happened to her. She just went there
to do her job and focus on corruption and other matters and somehow she ran
afoul of these people. So, it raises a very big question. Why were they
scared of her? And that`s something that, obviously, the two indicted
people could talk about, Rudy Giuliani could, and it`s also something that
the Republicans didn`t even get close to asking her about. They simply
MELBER: Maya, take a look at this exchange from today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JIM HIMES (D-CT): Would you have recommended to the President of the
United States that he asked the new Ukrainian President to investigate -
and I`m quoting from the transcript here - “crowd strike or the server?”
HIMES: Would you have supported a three-month delay in congressionally
mandated military aid to Ukraine?
HIMES: Would you have recommended to the President that he ask a new
President of Ukraine to, quote, “find out about Biden`s son?”
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Maya, it seems there very clearly they`re laying out the case that
she would get in the way of this plot that Donald Trump thought would help
him get reelected.
MAYA WILEY, FORMER COUNSEL TO MAYOR OF NEW YORK: That is certainly the way
it came off. Obviously, the former ambassador could not say what was in
Trump`s mind. But that was why it was so important to lay that foundation.
I mean, she`s really the foundation of the house upon which impeachment is
Because fundamentally it`s about Donald Trump abusing his power with a
foreign nation, trying to get them involved in domestic affairs. There was
a point later in the hearing where she really eloquently talked about the
importance of being non-partisan in the context of dealing with foreign
governments, because when we`re abroad, our only interests are national
interests, not personal interests.
And what was being laid out in this hearing is that there`s simply no other
explanation. And Republicans could not come up and haven`t in the days of
public hearings that we`ve had so far any evidence that provides any
And really importantly, the one we thought was - at least one we were
hearing was, well, Donald Trump`s primary interest was overall corruption.
And I think one of the things that was laid out very clearly today is, this
is the person, this is the career public servant who`s served six
Presidents, who was standing in the way of corruption.
And it was the very people she was blocking who were bad mouthing her to
the president and getting her moved out of the way. And that included his
personal attorney who publicly stated he was there to defend Donald Trump.
MELBER: Jon, what are Americans learning this week after these first two
JON MEACHAM, PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: Well, they`re learning anew that we
have a President who attacks those who intimidate him by their own example,
whether it`s the Khan (ph) family, whether it`s John McCain, whether it`s
this ambassador who seems very clearly to be working in a tradition.
Our first three diplomats in this country were Benjamin Franklin, John
Adams, and Thomas Jefferson. So, we started pretty high on the chart, and
we`ve done very, very well ever since then. My sense is that we have a
President who is congenitally incapable of seeing beyond his own self-
And what these witnesses have done is proven that while he wants to build a
wall at the border, he has no interest in building a wall around our
elections. My hope is - I`ve looked this up the other day. 13% of self-
identified Republicans voted for Barack Obama in 2008. It`s all exit polls,
so it`s a solid number, why would you say it if it weren`t true.
If you could get half those folks, if you could get 7%, 8% of those
republicans to say this is not what we want and whatever we may think about
Hillary Clinton, that election already happened, I would ask those
Republicans tonight do they think, Mike Pence - a President Mike Pence
would intimidate an American career diplomat?
Do they think a President Mike Pence would attack John McCain? Do they
think a President Mike Pence would say he didn`t understand what George
H.W. Bush meant when he said a thousand points of light?
Why can`t they make this choice? Why can`t they admit we took a flier and
we were wrong? That would be true of the American tradition of actually
responding to changing data?
MELBER: Well, and Jon, you think about the old phrase of defining deviancy
down. The Watergate burglary was not ultimately considered the most
successful crime operation. It was famously decried as a third rate
burglary. But few people on the Republican side then were saying, well, the
fact that it wasn`t effective - that it wasn`t a good burglary, whatever
that mean if you`re into crime, was not a very good defense.
And so I put to you with the historical context briefly here`s the remarks
from Congressman Schiff on that today as we heard some Republicans say,
well, the entire plot didn`t get pulled off. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SCHIFF: The fact that they failed in this solicitation of bribery doesn`t
make it any less bribery, doesn`t make it any less immoral or corrupt. It
just means it was unsuccessful.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MEACHAM: The test of the Nixon impeachment was not the efficacy of either
the break in or the cover up, both of which were disasters, because here we
are talking about them. I remember hearing Clifton White, a Barry Goldwater
strategist say in the 1980s, “one of the more insane things about Watergate
was, if you have to break into the party Chairman`s office, you should
already know what they`re saying in the party Chairman`s office.”
So, arguing that somehow or another the crime was not commensurate with the
punishment here is not an argument. This is a President who has a pattern
of abusing his power. And the fact that he can`t do it very well is not a
reason to leave someone at the pinnacle of power as the steward of a
fragile, fragile, fragile 242-year constitutional order.
There`s something prophylactic about impeachment too. George Mason at the
Constitutional Convention said shall, Any man be above justice, know
particularly the man who can commit the most extensive injustice. And I
think we should focus on that. This is also about committing even more
MELBER: Right. And what is the - nothing is neutral. You can`t be neutral
on a moving train. There`s nothing neutral about being complicit in some of
this alleged conduct including what just happened today. I want to give
David Corn one more - excuse me, Maya Wiley one losing. David Corn comes
back later this hour.
Maya, Jon Meacham, coming through with the George Mason bars quote we could
all consider. What do you see going on from here as Americans do see some
bipartisanship, I`m calling it, or at least some refusal by some House
Republicans and the Ken Starr of the world to say just anything goes?
WILEY: Yes, I mean I think what we`re looking at is the argument that we
are either going to have a constitutional order with a congress that has
the authority to provide balanced oversight over the executive branch or
we`re going to have a President who continuously tries to violate the law
of the land for personal gain and just not worry as long as he`s not able
to be successful at it.
But one of the things we heard from Yovanovitch today was, he`s been very
successful at undermining our national security, and that is an abuse of
authority that`s impeachable. It`s impeachable. It`s impeachable. And I
think we have to remember that. Our national security does not come after
the personal interests of one man.
MELBER: Right. Right. And that is something these hearings are doing more,
I think, than some other probes into Donald Trump is really putting the
stakes there. As mentioned David Corn comes back. Maya and Jon, thank you
so much for being part of our coverage tonight.
We have a jam packed show. Coming up Trump advisor, Roger Stone guilty on
all counts, this was the last known Mueller related case. I have an
exclusive comment from a key witness and our special reporting.
Also new heat on Rudy Giuliani, the federal probe in New York is expanding.
We`re going to break down why all of it adds to new dangers for Donald
Trump with two close associates looking at things that might make them
Also new testimony from the official who reportedly overheard the bombshell
phone call. I`m Ari Melber. You`re watching THE BEAT on MSNBC.
MELBER: Breaking news, another Trump advisor convicted in a case from the
Mueller probe. Roger Stone found guilty on all seven counts today,
convicted of witness tampering, obstruction of justice, and lying to
Congress. Convection that show this jury accepted the prosecution`s
argument that Stone deliberately obstructed investigations into Russian
Stone guilty of lying to Congress about his conversations with Trump
concerning WikiLeaks, which occurred in the crucial period, months before
the hacked e-mails went public. Today`s suggestions suggest that DONALD
TRUMP misled Robert Mueller about it, all of this capping a long road for
He was first arrested back in January and fought this case to the bitter
end, denying everything.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: Roger, did anyone tell you to contact, in the Trump campaign, to
ROGER STONE, POLITICAL CONSULTANT: No, I`ve addressed that before. That is
KERRY SANDERS, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: My question is, did you in any way
work with the Russians to help President Trump?
STONE: Categorically no, absolutely not.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Yet after all of the remarks and noise and defenses that Roger
Stone made, all the social media memes, all of the time out in the public
eye, he did go quiet in the one room where it mattered most. Declined to
take the stand in his own defense in this trial and didn`t address
reporters as we left court today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: Do you have any comments at all?
STONE: None whatsoever.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Stone could technically face up to 20 years in prison. He`ll be
sentenced in February. Now, if this were a movie, it would be too much to
have Mr. Stone convicted of witness tampering on the very same day his old
boss, Donald Trump, was doing the tampering in public.
In fact, Roger Stone`s former prot‚g‚ Sam Nunberg who ultimately cooperated
with the Mueller probe, he told us before stone was even indicted that
unlike Donald Trump, Roger Stone was not going to get away with witness
tampering. Today that assessment proved true.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SAM NUNBERG, FORMER TRUMP AIDE: –fact of the matter is the reason us three
are essentially in there is because of Stone. One–
MICHAEL CAPUTO, FORMER TRUMP AIDE: CAPUTO: I get that. I get that, but I
NUNBERG: Number two, Roger–
MELBER: Let Sam finish.
NUNBERG: Number two, Roger is not Donald Trump, OK? He`s not going to get
away with witness tampering. He should shut up. When he goes around and
lies and says that he was - I was the only person he told as a joke that he
met with Julian Assange. Give me a break. Give me a break. That was wrong
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: I`m joined now by that also former Trump aide, Sam Nunberg, who was
also a Mueller witness and David Corn, Washington Bureau Chief for Mother
Jones. Sam, you said Roger Stone would not get away with witness tampering.
That is true today. Your reaction?
NUNBERG: Well, I was actually surprised in light of Credico who gave
testimony to the defense when he - saying that he didn`t actually believe
that Roger was really going to thread in this thought (ph).
But regardless, Roger, as I said before, really made himself a target and
he made himself a target the entire time of the election and without, Ari,
as we know, coordinating with the Russians themselves. So this is really
something where, as you said earlier, this is something where is Donald
Trump going to pardon him. I happen to believe no.
But had let`s go back, had Roger testified at Congress in 2017 that he had
talked to the President directly about WikiLeaks, the President would have
had a lot of problems and a lot of difficulties.
MELBER: And so what do you think accounts - well hold on one second. What
do you think accounts, Sam, for Roger`s poor choices then.
NUNBERG: Roger`s undying loyalty to Donald Trump and I also think to the
office of the presidency as well. I think that Roger is someone who has a
long relationship with the President. He knew, when I was talking with him
in 2017, it was obvious to us that the President was on the precipice, we
thought, of getting removed from office.
Steve Bannon, one of the witnesses used to tell me frequently that Trump
should be - know he`s going to be kicked out by the end of 2017. Then it
was 2018, then it was 2019. He`s there telling - testifying against Roger
as well about WikiLeaks coordination dealing with Roger.
But the longer short of it is that he has a loyalty toward Donald that he
should not have had. That I warned him about, that I said in the grand jury
CORN: And I would just say that Roger Stone in the summer of 2016 did try
to help and work with the Russians. He reached out to Guccifer 2.0. He had
private messages. Those were - that was the online persona of the Russian
And while everybody was out there saying this is a Russian attack, Rogers
is out there saying no, no, no, no, it`s certain lone Romanian hacker. He
was presenting, amplifying, boosting Russian disinformation to cover up the
attack. And then he ends up lying about it to Congress in the worst
possible way saying that he had no e-mails related to his interactions with
WikiLeaks when he had hundreds of e-mails related to this material.
So he was a scoundrel. He helped the Russians pull this off where he was in
direct cahoots with them. He helped get the cover story across throughout
the summer of 2016 and he was in touch with Trump.
And I think in they didn`t get into this, because it wasn`t part of the
case. I think that Trump worried that right that Roger was indeed the
conduit who would make it look as if the campaign had indeed colluded with
WikiLeaks. They`re trying to get in some information–
MELBER: Right, which would be a huge deal. David what do you think of the
oddity that it was Republicans kids who summoned Mr. Stone to go testify
and it was the Republican house that he`s convicted of lying to today.
CORN: Well, I think, Sam could tell them, a lot of you could tell them that
Roger is not a guy who you would call truthful from the very start. It`s an
agenda. He`s been out there for years doing whatever he thinks is necessary
to get him an advantage of that moment in time. He was working hand in
glove with Alex Jones, a foul conspiracy theorists, throughout the 2016
I had no idea why they thought he could help them except he did come in and
lie and basically said and basically put up a firewall between the campaign
and WikiLeaks when he indeed was - least he was trying to be the go-between
and gave Donald that impression.
MELBER: Well he was - as you say, he was declaring himself to go between
publicly when it suited him.
Sam, finally, it is important to note that the jury`s acceptance of this
evidence is a judicial finding today. This is true today, it wasn`t true
yesterday that in the American court of law there is now a finding that
suggests Donald Trump lied to Bob Mueller or misled Bob Mueller which could
be a separate crime.
Do you think that Donald Trump, your old boss, lied here in contrast to
what Stone ultimately was proven to have done in court?
NUNBERG: I think he gave a lot of caveat, Ari, I was responding to Mueller
report when he answered that question. What I would say is I don`t know his
state of mind. But I do think and I do think that he did discuss this with
Roger and I do think–
MELBER: Well, you`ve been–
NUNBERG: Hold on - excuse me–
MELBER: –you`ve been in the grand jury room. Sam, you`ve been in the room,
you`ve been under the heat, do you think Donald Trump was truthful or not
NUNBERG: Ultimately no. And I also - would also note here that as opposed
to Manafort, as opposed to Flynn, as opposed to Bannon, but as opposed to
Manafort, Flynn and Gates, Roger`s indictment, Roger`s charges he was found
guilty of solely relate to this investigation. It`s analogous to Scooter
And if the President has already pardoned Scooter Libby, I don`t understand
why he won`t pardon Roger. We shall see. But I doubt he will.
MELBER: Yes. Look, obstruction is no all matter. But you do make an
accurate legal point which is this was a crime of obstruction without any
other underlying offense. The Libby pardon was by many seen as a signal. We
will see what happens.
Sam Nunberg, always appreciate you coming on with your experience. David
Corn in more than one block. Thanks to both of you.
MELBER: We will be back in 30 seconds. There`s breaking news on new
testimony coming from a diplomat about the phone call when we come back.
MELBER: Breaking news. New testimony from the diplomat who says he
overheard the phone call between President Trump and EU Ambassador
Sondland, of course, who is a crucial witness next week. So this is brand
David Holmes has testified, basically behind closed doors. As we speak it`s
ongoing. But according to “The New York Times” the information that`s
already coming out about this, Holmes telling lawmakers right out the gate
that he heard Sondland tell Trump, Ukraine`s President loves your - and an
Sondland also telling Trump Ukraine`s President will do anything you ask
him to do about these investigations. Holmes also saying after the call, he
asked Sondland if it was true. That he didn`t give another expletive about
Ukraine. Sondland responding, Trump only cares about big stuff that helps
the President personally like the probe Biden probe that Giuliani was
That is a damning admission in this new testimony. Holmes also says
something that will be tantalizing according to “The New York Times” for
this probe, two other witnesses also could corroborate this very, very
damning phone call. This is all brand-new and its ongoing and it`s
unfolding. We were thrilled to have someone with experience in
congressional investigations, former federal prosecutor John Flannery.
Good evening you, sir. This is one of those nights, a lot going on. “The
New York Times” is literally doing real-time - earlier in the day there was
real-time alleged witness tampering now there`s real-time readouts of
what`s happening in these private depositions.
Your response to the headline here which is another official independently
confirming that after Trump did the infamous Ukraine presidential call, he
was back on the phone trying to get this plot executed and get Biden
JOHN FLANNERY, FORMAL FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Well, I think it`s dynamite. I
mean, they keep talking about we only hearsay. Well a statement that is
against your own interest, a confession is the strongest kind of hearsay.
And here you have the President basically saying, I don`t care about
Ukraine, I`m only cared about getting out this investigation. And this guy
loves my blank and that`s all I need and I`m going forward with it.
And we have three witnesses who overheard it, because the phone call was so
loud in the restaurant, they could all hear what was said. And immediately
afterwards David Holmes told someone else, so we have a contemporaneous
And you know what, this is really dangerous for Sondland. What is he going
to say when he testifies under oath? Is he going to forget this? Is he
going to have to be refreshed?
FLANNERY: he`s in a difficult position, I think.
MELBER: Well, exactly. And, again, I`m working here off the reports we`re
getting out. We`ve had our reporters, NBC and MSNBC, obviously all over the
hearing rooms. But this was initially reported by CNN and its now “New York
Reading from “The New York Times,” to your point John it says, Sondland
didn`t mention this incident to investigators when he answered their
questions in private. He will almost certainly be asked about it next week
in his blockbuster hearing. He`s already revised his initial testimony
What does it say to you that Sondland appears under pressure to be coughing
up more and more incriminating details about Donald Trump? How does that go
into the available evidence in the bribery case?
FLANNERY: It`s because Sondland is on the side of the irregular channel.
You may remember Jared wanted a channel to go with Russia. Well, they had
this a regular channel and they wanted to move Yovanovitch out of the way
and Sondland for a whole month was free to do what he needed to do.
And I`m suspicious after the testimony today that what your Yovanovitch was
saying very carefully was, the two associates of Rudy Giuliani who were
interested in this liquid natural gas project, they weren`t going to get
past her front door. And that may be an additional reason why she was moved
But they never counted on Taylor coming up to speed as quickly as he did
and finding out what was going on in that irregular channel. And it`s sort
of like the cops that - the Keystone Cops, they don`t know what they`re
doing. And Sondland opened the door and said ridiculous things that allowed
Taylor to know the full story.
So these guys were caught with their hand in the cookie jar committing the
crime, a bribery and extortion and probably for a monetary basis having to
do with a secret deal involving liquid natural gas, and that`s why Bill
Perry was in this mess from the Energy Department.
MELBER: Rick Perry.
FLANNERY: I`m sorry, Rick Perry - excuse me.
MELBER: What you`re laying out also goes back to what was elucidated in
this morning`s impeachment hearing, which is, they didn`t want this to
happen. Right now “The New York Times” reporting that there are official
additional witnesses to the call. This diplomat who testified this morning
would be one of those.
This is exactly why they were trying to clear out, according to at least to
the impeachment of investigators on the Democratic side, why they were
trying to clear people out, so you can get at the plot.
John stay with me. I want to bring back in Maya Wiley, a colleague of both
of ours here. And Maya when you look at this account and you have - again
I`m reading from “The Times” on the breaking story.
The official David Holmes testifying privately he was also in the Ukrainian
restaurant. Heard the call, if Ukraine`s President had agreed to conduct
investigations, Sondland replied yes to the President. Sondland then tells
the President that Zelensky of Ukraine loves you effectively and would do
these investigations along with “anything you ask him to.”
Does that look to you like additional evidence of a bribery conspiracy?
WILEY: Yes, I`m call that a bombshell. It`s literally a bombshell, because
the only, only, only very weak and unsubstantiated defense that we`ve heard
that might if there was any evidence to support it, might get Donald Trump
out of this is, that he actually was concerned about real corruption. This
takes that completely off the table and go straight to personal gain.
You know, whether it`s bribery, whether it`s extortion or any other abuse
of power at the center of every single one of those, every single one being
impeachable is personal gain. So really–
MELBER: Let me read to your point, Maya. I want to add evidence to your
point and you could continue the analysis again from “The Times” - brand
new story. This is according to this new witness what was happening on the
call with Sondland saying, look, “the Ambassador replied Mr. Trump only
cared about the investigations Giuliani was pushing for.” - again, quoting
from “The Times,” “because they affected him personally.”
I mean, it`s literally Sondland who`s the Trump person providing the
element of that crime. And you could see up on the screen a little more
from this that he didn`t give a - and you have a swear word there. I`m not
going to say on TV about Ukraine. Trump only cared about the big stuff, the
investigations the Giuliani was pushing for because they affect him
WILEY: Yes. So this was - and I think John is absolutely right when he
says, look, now the problem is Sondland is now named as an additional
witness to this bombshell that removes any defense - any credible defense
anyone might mount on Donald Trump`s behalf on the fact that he was using
the levers of government and undermining national security for his own
So one of the things that we heard from Bill Taylor early this week, which
goes to the Zelensky state of mind, right, in the - he loves Trump so much.
Of course, he doesn`t love Trump so much.
What Taylor told us was on July 10th - July 10th the Ukrainians were
already alarmed is the word that Taylor used - alarmed because they already
learned that the meeting that they had thought that they were going to get
with Donald Trump was in jeopardy. So they knew that there were issues
But now the whole point about - of this that puts it squarely in Donald
Trump`s state of mind is clear intent for personal gain. It`s intentional.
WILEY: There`s nothing left them to defend.
MELBER: And that`s why they`re having these witnesses in, it`s so
significant. Both of you stay with me on our breaking coverage, I want to
bring in another reporter who has been along for a lot of these rides, the
Daily Beast`s Margaret Carlson joins our coverage.
And Margaret I actually want to play you some sound from the Republicans in
the Wednesday hearing, which is so relevant tonight. I think, we don`t have
the - I think we can get it. Republican hearing - from I`m talking to my
control room, Margaret it`s D5, no one else needs to know what that means.
But it`s a quote from the Wednesday hearing, Margaret, because a lot of the
Republicans have said well if it`s all secondhand if it`s all hearsay, what
good is it? Do we have that? We`re going to pull that up. And Margaret the
reason why I want to play that is, we`re looking at an account right now of
someone who was not hearsay, but was literally listening to the President`s
voice. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I know nothing about that.
First time I`ve heard it. In any event, it`s more secondhand information,
but I`ve never heard it.
REPORTER: Do you recall having a conversation?
TRUMP: I don`t recall. No, not at all. Not even a little bit.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Margaret your view?
MARGARET CARLSON, COLUMNIST, THE DAILY BEAST: The details of this call, I
think for about five people at the table, it wasn`t hearsay, because
Ambassador Sondland held the phone away from his ear because Trump was
speaking so loudly. That violates so many security rules. But aside from
that, it means that everyone heard it at the table. So there are a number
of other people that can be called.
And the hearsay objection, there are more exceptions to the hearsay rule
then there are rules to follow. So it`s not a good argument and he`s of
course depriving Democrats of any of the firsthand witnesses.
WILEY: Yes, absolutely. Donald Trump one of the articles of impeachment
he`s facing is obstruction and obstruction of Congress is exactly why on
one hand Republicans and Donald Trump are saying hearsay, hearsay - all you
have is hearsay. At the same time they are the ones blocking witnesses with
But, fortunately, because we have public servants who see their obligations
to be accountable to Congress when they receive a subpoena coming forward
and telling what they know. You know, they`re going to be - if all they can
do at this point is say hearsay, that`s tantamount to what we have no
evidence to counter this.
Because all we can do is try to keep people with knowledge from Congress,
from sharing information, that`s exactly when you`re sitting on the other
side of the fence as a lawyer saying that looks guilty.
MELBER: Yes. And so John, the one I mentioned a bit earlier, I want to go
ahead and tee that up for everyone. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. DEVIN NUNES (R-CA): Officials alarm if the President`s actions was
typically based on secondhand, third hand and even fourth hand rumors, and
REP. JIM JORDAN (R-OH): We got six people having four conversations in one
sentence and you just told me this is where you got your clear
REP. MIKE TURNER (R-OH): Well, we`re not in a court gentlemen, and if we
were, the Sixth Amendment would apply and so would rules on hearsay and
opinion and most of your testimonies would not be admissible whatsoever–
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: And so, John, I almost wonder whether some of these individuals
just didn`t look ahead to who the other scheduled witnesses were going to
be. Because, I think, the panel has spoken about the limits of that on
But there`s also the fact that if your main complaint is hey who heard the
President directly, well, now there`s a lot of that too tonight with this
with this “Time” story.
FLANNERY: Well there`s a short perimeter that they seem to need. These guys
supposedly pass laws that have to do with what we do with evidence. And if
I make - if I admit to a crime and you hear it, that`s hearsay. But it`s
considered reliable, because I`m saying something against my own interest
and that`s why it`s the strongest kind of evidence, even though the
president`s statement you hear it said.
There`s another exception that`s critical here, and I don`t think
impeachment can handle all it, we have all these people involved in a
conspiracy and there`s an exception to the hearsay rule for people who are
in a criminal agreement and they all are making statements and furtherance
of that agreement - conspiratorial statements, they`re hearsay and they`re
And most of the evidence we`ve heard when they`re saying you said, here`s
said hearsay it shows two things. One, they don`t have any idea what
hearsay is and what`s admissible, although that`s what they write the laws
about. And maybe they`re just trying to be ignorant to the public, so
they`d say, “oh, that`s just hearsay. I don`t know what that means.”
What it means is we have the strongest possible case against any President
who`s ever had to face an impeachment effort with real time evidence of the
crime and admissions being given to our attention, even as they try to
prevent us from knowing the evidence they have. And it`s ironic that they
say, well, you have you that you have this hearsay, when there concealing
the other witnesses who have direct testimony.
Bolton should be ashamed. If he has evidence, he should come forward or
forever be banned from any public office in this country. And there`s a
whole bunch of these people. The reason impeachment is not enough is
because we have a conspiracy of people.
And if we remove this President, we still have all these people. We have a
corrupt person heading the Department of Justice. We have somebody heading
the State Department we can`t rely on. That is not a government that`s in
That`s a government at risk, that`s a constitutional violation. This is a
crisis of the first and historic order. If Jon M Jon Meacham is still
around I`m sure you`d say exactly that.
MELBER: Well, John, I mean, I know it`s interesting - no, it`s interesting
hearing your emphatic constitutional passion. I want to bring in not Jon
Meacham, but the Root`s Jason Johnson who joins our special coverage as
well. We`re in rolling coverage given this breaking story. Good to see you
JASON JOHNSON, THEROOT.COM POLITICS EDITOR: Good to see you.
MELBER: The detail I`m about to mention from the New York Times story is
one we haven`t reached yet, and I don`t just mention it. Although, I am
admittedly a fan of the musician, but that`s not why I bring it up. I bring
it up because of the evidentiary specificity of it.
Near the end of the “The Times” article they note that in addition other
items mentioned, the President asked Mr. Sondland “about ASAP Rocky,” an
American rapper, imprisoned in Sweden at the time. And I mentioned that Mr.
Rocky`s case is one that we covered on this show, in fact.
But Jason I mention it because it speaks to the very detailed account we
have here. It`s not just people who were in the State Department saying, oh
I heard one big thing or I heard a bad thing about Donald Trump or maybe
some of them are disagreement with Donald Trump about policy.
This seems to be the kind of accounting that is provable, that can be
corroborated, where multiple witnesses are saying the President and
Sondland talked about these seven things and these five were about Ukraine
and these three were about bribery, and here`s other things that may or may
not be as important today.
I am really struck by the details in here. I wonder what you think that
does to the evidence in a rapidly accelerating impeachment probe?
JOHNSON: Well it shows, Ari, that a whole bunch of people were taking
notes. Right? They were taking time, taking place and taking notes. They
wanted to know where he been at, where he dresses at, everything about what
Donald Trump does has become very important to many of the men and women
involved in the State Department.
And why is that? It`s not because they were part of the deep State, it`s
not because they were out to get him. It`s because he has created a culture
of paranoia. He`s created a culture of corruption.
And so these people who have spent their entire lives trying to protect
nations, trying to protect the United States and U.S. interest, have made
it their life`s mission, I`ve got to write this down, I`ve got to remember
every phone call. I`ve got to remember who`s walked in this room to that
room, because if they don`t, they might get caught up in the whirlwind of
So I`m not surprised by this. And I know that Donald Trump was very
concerned about ASAP Rocky because he thought it`s going to be beneficial
for him in the elections in 2020. But it speaks to the fact that every
single person around this President and the people connected him, they have
to have their head on a swivel.
MELBER: Yes, and it speaks to the credibility - go-ahead Margret. I was
just going to say it speaks to the credibility of these individuals. These
are longtime public servants. They seem to have, Margaret, attention to
CARLSON: That`s what I wanted to mention, which is, you could juxtapose
Roger Stone today walking out of the courtroom, having been found guilty
and Marie Yovanovitch. Just look at the two of them and who do you trust?
You know, what we`ve seen the last two days - for the last three days is
the deep state. You know, your check is in the mail, is a punch line about
bureaucrats. But we should stop for a moment. They don`t ask for us to
thank them, and it`s good, because we don`t. We make jokes about them.
But these are the people that make the government we live under work. And
at the end of today, there was a spontaneous outburst of applause for
ambassador - former Ambassador Yovanovitch, so well deserved.
I mean, if I get one call from the police station, I want it to be to her,
because I know she would do the right thing. And I don`t see those people
around Donald Trump. When Donald Trump sees a person like that he smears
them and gets rid of them.
MELBER: Right. Well and that`s - that I think what you just said is what
ties together all of it. The idea that while even in her careful testimony
she didn`t say or speculate on exactly the workings of the plot of why they
wanted to get rid of her, it`s all implied.
Because she would be the person who would act like the adult or like the
honest person or the police officer whatever you want to call it, the
person who says stop we can`t do this. And Ambassador Taylor, Jason, was
also that person.
Which goes to the other thing I wanted to get to that we haven`t even had
time to hit yet, which is while Ken Starr and others on Fox News today
we`re critical of the President`s attacks.
The other defense we`re seeing and I`m about to play for you from Laura
Ingraham on Fox News in defense the President was, well, because people
like Bill Taylor and others objected and then because of the whistleblower
- because Congress got involved and stopped this - because of all that,
well, it was only attempted and thus it`s not really impeachable. Take a
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LAURA INGRAHAM, FOX NEWS HOST: Attempted bribery isn`t in the Constitution.
Remember, Ukraine got its military aid. It was 14 days delayed - big deal.
Democrats think they`re cats.
They have nine political lives when it comes to impeachment. None of these
people should be taken seriously, because they know they do not have a
legitimate case for impeachment and they`re going forward with it anyway.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JOHNSON: –would never go into court and say I tried to assault you, but
you beat me off for you, so I guess I`m good, right? Like that`s
essentially the argument that the right has at this point.
That we were attempting to bribe someone, we were attempting to manipulate
foreign policy to put money in the pockets of Rudy Giuliani. But since we
weren`t successful, you can`t hold us accountable for. I don`t know how
that works in the court of law.
I don`t know how that works in the court of public opinion, and it
certainly doesn`t work to have a functional democracy operate with an
entire political party and an entire media outlet saying that incompetence
is the reason that we can`t be held responsible for attempts to break the
law and violate sovereignty.
MELBER: 30 seconds Flannery, bribery in the Constitution?
FLANNERY: Well bribery and the Constitution, I mean, to say that you could
defy our American policy toward Ukraine - withhold funds at a time of war
in Ukraine, make man to get help in a presidential contest and say that`s
not a high crime and misdemeanor, that`s not a bribery, that`s not
extortion, is to suspend all belief in a way that the Republicans would
like us to do.
But I think the Americans are a lot smarter than that. We`ll find out in
the holiday ahead when they all have to go home and talk in their
MELBER: WELL quite a set of stories we`ve been following. My thanks to
John, Maya, Margaret and Jason to each of you. I`m going to fit in a quick
break, but coming up one thing on Rudy Giuliani`s actions that are the
center of the plot.
MELBER: It`s now time for a special edition of “Fallback.” And joining me
is Grammy Award winning musician, PJ Morton, a singer, songwriter and
record producers - quite busy. Six albums, solo, keyboardest for a band you
may have heard of, Maroon 5. Three other Grammies there and hit #1 on the
Billboard charts four different times. His brand new album is Paul and he
is hitting the road, kicking off an international tour, which we will get
We4`re also joined by a friend of THE BEAT, Rick Stengel, a former senior
diplomat for Barack Obama. He`s also worked with Nelson Mandela on the
autobiography “Long Walk to Freedom” and was “TIME Magazine`s” Managing
Editor, the 16th of that venerable institution. Thanks for being here both
of you know.
RICHARD STENGEL, FORMER UNDERSECRETARY OF STATE: No Grammies?
MELBER: Not yet.
STENGEL: OK. Thank you.
PJ MORTON, AMERICAN MUSICIAN: It does great to be here with you.
MELBER: It`s fantastic. There`s a lot to get to. I`m wondering what`s on
your list PJ to fallback.
MORTON: To fallback, well, I want to start is all this stuff that`s going
on. But I want Rudy Giuliani or the idea of Rudy Giuliani to fallback. I`m
not a New Yorker, from the outside looking in, seemed like this great
figure in New York in bringing people together. And I don`t know what
happened exactly, but it just seems like something flipped and I don`t
recognize - I don`t recognize.
MELBER: Well, you are mentioning something that a lot of Americans feel,
which is at a distance, there was a time when Giuliani was associating
himself with everything that could be unity or how to respond to 9/11. And
now people look up and this this guy`s literally under investigation.
MORTON: Yes, right in the middle of all of it. Yes, so it seems like a
different Giuliani than the one I remember.
MELBER: What else is on your list?
STENGEL: So what`s on my list is this is Rand Paul calling for - exposing
of the identity of the whistleblower. Now that the Whistleblower Act is
designed to protect the identity of federal employees who want to expose
wrongdoing, to protect them from retaliation.
And Rand Paul is up there next to President Trump saying we need to expose
the identity of the whistleblower. To me that is a violation of the law.
Just to even do that.
MELBER: PJ when we were getting ready for this segment, I heard you have a
fallback that`s right in the intersection of culture and politics and it
relates to something that Barack Obama just weighed in on. Let`s take a
look at that and hear your thoughts. Here`s Barack Obama.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, 44TH U.S. PRESIDENT: There is this sense sometimes of the way
of me making change is to be as judgmental as possible about other people
and that`s enough. Like if I tweet or hashtag about how you didn`t do
something right or used the word wrong verb or - then I can sit back and
feel pretty good about myself, because man you see how woke I was, I called
you out. That`s not activism. That`s not bringing about change.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MORTON: Yes, cancel culture. I want that to fall back. I - it`s so easy to
sit back. And I think even my generation - we spend so much time on social
media and online that I think we`ve start to fight our battles there as
well instead of actually doing real work to make things move.
MELBER: And you said cancel culture.
MELBER: What does that mean to you?
MORTON: We`ll cancel culture is, if you do one bad thing or if you make a
mistake there`s no conversation has had, there`s no trying to understand
what you did or give you a chance to change that. It`s like no you did some
wrong. That`s it.
MELBER: And Rick I wonder what you think about this in terms of ideas.
Because I`m betting in your tenure at “TIME Magazine” you published
articles and ideas and people that you might have disagreed with, because
you thought it was worth discussing.
STENGEL: Yes. I mean, I always thought that that`s what this marketplace of
ideas is. We need to hear everybody`s argument. In fact, I was looking at
that tape of President Obama, I think it was in that same interview where
he also had to say that kindness is a virtue for a man. That kindness is
not a weakness.
That we have a president who, now I`m calling him out, who is unkind and
exploits other people`s weaknesses. And Obama was - who was always saying I
always want to praise people and bring them up. I don`t want to bring them
MELBER: Before I let you go, I want to talk about your music a little bit.
MORTON: All right.
MELBER: It`s varied. So you have songs in rock that`s just fun and
interesting and love, party. Then you also have stuff that`s much more
social, civic, political. That seems where you`re going on Paul can I read
a little bit, can you tell us what it means? We do that around here
MELBER: You have a song called MAGA.
MORTON: Had to.
MELBER: And you say, “It can`t last forever, seasons changes as does the
weather. Make America Great Again, I think they mean it was great for them,
because it wasn`t so great for everyone back then.”
MELBER: Tell us about this.
MORTON: Yes. I mean, it`s very simplistic to me and it comes down to
dialogue again. My only question was when do you mean and for who when
America was great. Because if you talk about the glaring, 50s, right, when
people had their white picket fences and perfect houses, I don`t know that
all of my people had that.
So if you want to go back there I`m not a fan of that. I`d rather start
here and keep trying to make America better.
MELBER: And how do your fans respond, because some of them might know you
from Maroon 5 and not be as hip to this.
MORTON: Yes, I mean, I think the fans - even Maroon fans who become fans of
mine, understand that I`m just honest and I`m trying to get across truth
and create conversation. So I don`t think much past that. I hope they don`t
understand about me–
MELBER: — to your truth.
MORTON: –then then that`s OK for them to not be my fan. But people who
know me and buy into what I do, understand that I`m about honesty and
honest conversation and that was a genuine question for me, so I thought
I`d pose it in song.
MELBER: Yes. I appreciate that.
MELBER: PJ Morton.
MORTON: Yes sir, thank you for having me on.
MELBER: Rick Stengel.
MELBER: Great to have you both here together.
A conversation worth having. But we want to turn back to the breaking news
in this big “New York Times” story which reveals brand new testimony from a
diplomat saying they overheard a phone call between Donald Trump and Gordon
David Holmes telling lawmakers he heard Sondland tell Trump Ukraine`s
President “loves you” and what you`re doing, Sondland also telling Trump,
Ukraine`s President would do anything you asked him to, including those
investigations for personal interest. And that Donald Trump wanted them for
his personal political benefit.
Damning evidence as far as impeachment is concerned. We`re going to dig in
to that and a lot more with a new Sunday night special 9:00 p.m. Eastern
this Sunday, “Impeachment: White House in Crisis.”
I have some great guests which will make sense of everything and some deep
reporting, some of which we did even have time to get through this week.
And we`re going to answer some of your questions. So, Sunday 9:00 p.m.
Eastern, I hope you`ll join me for a brand new “Impeachment: White House in
Crisis” right here on MSNBC.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
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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