Millions of young people urge action. TRANSCRIPT: 9/20/19, The Rachel Maddow Show.

Transcript:

CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST:  “THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW” starts now with Joy

Reid, in for Rachel. 

 

Good evening, Joy.

 

JOY REID, MSNBC HOST:  Chris, I don`t know you can hear me with all those

applause behind you, but that was cool.  That was a cool show. 

 

HAYES:  Thank you. 

 

REID:  Thank you for doing that. 

 

HAYES:  I learned a lot from it.  Thank you very much. 

 

REID:  I texted my kids about it because this is their issue, climate.  So,

thank you very much.  Appreciate you.

 

HAYES:  You bet.

 

REID:  All right.  Thank you. 

 

And thanks to all of you at home for joining us this hour. 

 

If you follow the news in the current political era, then you know by now

that every day is like a kind of a treadmill of breaking stories that just

continues to accelerate in speed throughout the day.  And by this time

every evening, we`re more or less sprinting just to keep up.  It`s like –

it`s like a stress test that`s out of control, like, doc, please turn it

off, now. 

 

And today is no different.  Just in the last few hours, we`ve gotten brand

new, frankly astonishing reporting about a phone call between the president

of the United States, Donald Trump, and the president of Ukraine.  A phone

call that is reportedly at the center of a whistleblower complaint filed by

a member of the Intelligence Community. 

 

This all started a week ago when the chair of the House Intelligence

Committee, Adam Schiff, revealed that the inspector general for the

intelligence community had received some kind of a whistleblower complaint. 

An inspector general had deemed the complaint both credible and urgent. 

But apparently, Donald Trump`s director of national intelligence was

refusing to share it with Congress as required by law, something

Congressman Schiff said had never ever happened before. 

 

It was a couple of days ago that we got the first inkling of why the Trump

administration might be trying to keep the whistleblower complaint from

Congress. 

 

“The Washington Post” was the first to report that the complaint concerned

Trump`s communications with a foreign leader, including, quote, a promise

that was regarded as something so troubling that it prompted an official in

the U.S. intelligence community to file the complaint.  Yesterday, it was

reported that the complaint had something to do with Trump and Ukraine. 

 

The intersection of Donald Trump and Ukraine raises a whole bunch of

troubling implications what we`ll get to a little later in the show.

 

But most immediately, people`s attention turned to a phone call Trump had

with the president of the Ukraine a couple of weeks before the

whistleblower complaint was filed. 

 

Quote: That call is already under investigation by House Democrats who are

examining whether or not Trump and his attorney, Rudy Giuliani, sought to

manipulate the Ukrainian government into helping Trump`s reelection

campaign by digging up dirt on Democratic presidential frontrunner Joe

Biden, all while Trump was holding up $250 million in military aide to

Ukraine. 

 

After that news broke last night, Rudy Giuliani made a – shall we say –

colorful appearance on CNN.  He denied asking Ukrainian officials to

investigate Joe Biden, then like thirty seconds later. he admitted that he

did.  Giuliani claimed that if Trump himself had pressured Ukraine to

investigate Joe Biden, that would have been totally fine, or certainly no

worse than terrible things that Joe Biden has done anyway, right?  It`s all

just a giant deep state media conspiracy.

 

But, today, Giuliani had apparently recovered enough from his shouting

session with a coffee date with one of the Ukrainian businessmen who has

been helping him dig for dirt on Joe Biden in Ukraine.  “Reuter” spotted

them, where else, at the Trump Hotel in Washington.

 

Anyway, sure enough, the scenario so heavily, heavily foreshadowed by

Giuliani last night begin breaking across one news outlet after another

after another today.  “The Wall Street Journal” had the first report. 

Quote: President Trump in a July phone call repeatedly pressured the

president of Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden`s son, urging Ukraine`s

leader about eight times to work with Rudy Giuliani on a probe that could

hamper Mr. Trump`s potential 2020 opponent.

 

“The Washington Post” then reported that that phone call is indeed at the

center of the whistleblower complaint that the Trump administration is now

withholding, in violation of the law from Congress.  “The New York Times”

quickly matched that reporting bill going only so far as to describe that

phone call as part of the whistleblower complaint.

 

Now, for the record, NBC News has confirmed only that the whistleblower

complaint concerns a call that Trump had with a foreign leader.  It`s also

important to note that all the reports today from “The Journal”, from “The

Post” , from “The Times”, they all said in that call, the president did not

discuss the military aid to Ukraine that was being held up around that

time.

 

So, here`s how “The Times” put it today, quote: Questions have emerged

about whether Mr. Trump`s push for inquiry into the Bidens was behind a

week`s long White House hold on military aid for Ukraine.  The United

States suspended the military aid to Ukraine in early July.  Mr. Trump did

not discuss the aid in the July 25 call with the president of Ukraine and

Kiev did not learn of the suspension until August, according to people

familiar with the call.

 

And so, yes, as “The Times” says, questions have emerged.  We know the

White House held up military aid for Ukraine which was intended by Congress

to help Ukraine stand up to Russia.  We now have multiple reports today

that the U.S. president pressured Ukraine to investigate a leading

political arrival. 

 

On its own, either one of those two factors would be a huge story about an

American president.  The question now, the question reporters are furiously

digging into is whether anything connects those two ideas.  Now, that said,

whether there is an explicit connection or not, the effect in Ukraine may

be the same. 

 

That`s what Democratic Senator Chris Murphy who met with the Ukrainian

president a few weeks ago told NBC`s Andrea Mitchell today.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

SEN. CHRIS MURPHY (D-CT):  Giuliani on behalf of the president has been

very clear that he`s trying to get the Ukrainians to meddle in the

election.  Now, Zelensky told me that he had no intention to do that, but

he was also very concerned about why the security aid was being cut off. 

And even if there wasn`t this explicit promise made that if you investigate

Biden, we`ll give you your aid, that certainly was the impression amongst

many in Ukraine, who couldn`t help but connect these demands they were

getting from the president`s political representatives to investigate his

opponents and the sudden, surprising cut off of security aid.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

REID:  That scenario is scary and repugnant on its own terms, no matter who

the president is and no matter which foreign country he`s allegedly putting

the screws on.

 

But Ukraine is not just any country.  It is at the center of the political

and geographical events that have defined the Trump presidency – the

events that gave this presidency in the first place, really.  And it feels

like we can`t understand the full potential scope of this story without

acknowledging the context here.

 

So, go back for a moment to 2014.  Ukraine was in chaos.  Protests designed

to force out Ukraine`s Russia-friendly autocratic leader, Viktor

Yanukovych, who had gotten elected in the first place with the help of one

Paul Manafort, and perhaps with a bit of shady dealing.  Those protests

turned into a full-on revolution. 

 

Yanukovych who happened to be quite the autocrat and who was pushing the

country closer to Russia and further from NATO was forced to flee the

country into the safety of Vladimir Putin`s arms.  Yanukovych`s ouster

freaked Russia out so much, Putin decided to actually invade Ukraine.

 

Ukraine is the largest country in Europe after Russia.  It has more than a

thousand mile border with Russia and it sits right between Russia and

Western Europe.  And right after protesters tossed out their Putin-allied

president, Putin seized part of Ukraine.  He seized Crimea on the Black

Sea. 

 

It was the first time since World War II that the borders of a country in

Europe were changed by outside military force.  In response to Russia

invading and seizing Crimea and waging a low-grade war in Eastern Ukraine

ever since, Western nations led by the United States under President Barack

Obama took steps to punish Russia.  There were strict new sanctions against

the Russian oil and gas industry, for example, that really hurt the

country`s fragile economy eventually scuttling what would have been a very,

very lucrative deal with ExxonMobil, Trump`s first Secretary of State Rex

Tillerson`s old company. 

 

The G8 countries decided that they would become the G7 instead, kicking

Russia and Putin out.  The U.S. Congress passed a military aid package for

Ukraine to help them resist Russian military aggression.  All of that

happened after Russia invaded Ukraine in 2014 under President Obama.

 

And Vladimir Putin really, really, really wanted those sanctions lifted. 

They were really painful, really hurting him politically at home, which is

a problem because even if you prevent anyone else from actually running

against you, you can still only hold on to power for so long if your

economy is in the tank and your people blame you for it.

 

Now, one of the things that we learn from open source reporting and then

from the Mueller report is that just about every notable contact that the

Russians made with the Trump campaign and the Trump transition was about

sanctions.  The Trump Tower meeting between Donald Trump Jr. and the

Kremlin-connected Russian lawyer, that was about sanctions.  National

security advisor Mike Flynn`s phone calls with the Russian ambassador which

he pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about, those were about sanctions.  A

secret so-called Ukrainian peace plan cooked up by Trump lawyer Michael

Cohen and his partner in planning Trump Tower in Moscow – in planning

Trump Tower Moscow, a guy named Felix Sater, which they reportedly hand-

delivered to Michael Flynn at the White House, that peace plan was also

basically just a plan to lift sanctions on Russia.

 

The mysterious meeting that happened between Erik Prince and the head of a

Russian sovereign wealth fund in the Seychelles islands during the

transition, that was a meeting about Russian sanctions.  Mike Flynn`s

cockamamie plan that he tried to push through the White House to try to

build nuclear power plants all over the Mideast, it was also a plan – wait

for it – to get rid of sanctions.  Oh, who should pop up again the Paul

Manafort now running Donald Trump`s campaign after a year`s long career

working for the Ukrainian political party that wanted to bring Ukraine

closer to Russia? 

 

And bringing Ukraine closer to Russia is the key here.  It is the flip side

of the sanctions coin.  The sanctions on Russia are about Ukraine.  If

Ukraine stops fighting with Russia or if the United States decides that it

no longer cares if Russia invaded Ukraine, well, that is the path that

leads to the sanctions being dropped.

 

Now, just generally, America`s posture toward Ukraine is all about Russia

and Putin – a strong, independent, well-supported, well-funded Ukrainian

is a good partner in standing up to Putin.  A Ukraine that does not have

good relations with the United States is what Putin would prefer. 

 

And all of that, that is the necessary context for understanding what it

means that this whistleblower complaint scandal that has engulfed the White

House may center on Trump`s communications with Ukraine, because this

pressure that Donald Trump is reportedly putting on Ukraine to dig up dirt

on his political rivals, it comes at the same time that he has appeared to

be trying to reverse all of the measures that the United States took

starting in 2014 to punish Russia for invading Ukraine. 

 

We have seen Trump repeatedly and insistently argue that Russia should be

let back into the G7, even though the reason they were kicked out in the

first place was Ukraine, and what Russia`s doing to Ukraine hasn`t changed

at all.  We saw Trump block the delivery of that military aid that`s meant

to help Russia to stand up to Russia, and only release the aid under

bipartisan congressional pressure. 

 

We`ve also seen Trump cut funding for projects to shore up European

defenses against Russia, an initiative that started by the Obama

administration after the Crimea invasion.  Trump is using that money for

his border wall instead.

 

Now, to the extent that Vladimir Putin wants things from Donald Trump,

those things almost all in some way or another connect to Ukraine –

dropping sanctions, getting back into the G8, blocking money or weapons

going to support Ukraine and its fight against Russia.  And so, yes, the

whistleblower complaint in the intelligence community, the Trump – Trump

trying to get a foreign leader to do his domestic policy dirty work for him

that is upsetting on its own terms. 

 

But it can`t be separated from the foundational scandal of this presidency,

Donald Trump`s relationship to Russia.

 

Joining us now is Michael McFaul, former U.S. ambassador to Russia under

President Obama.

 

And, Mr. Ambassador, always great to talk with you.

 

MICHAEL MCFAUL, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO RUSSIA:  Thanks for having me,

Joy.

 

REID:  So can we just go back because this Ukraine part like people think a

lot about Russia and Donald Trump seeming fealty to or a strange

relationship with Russia, but can you talk a little bit about Russia`s sort

of obsession with undoing what President Obama did with Europe together to

sanction them for invading Crimea?

 

MCFAUL:  Well, I thought you just did an excellent job.  That was a great

contextual – big paragraphs to put this in a bigger context, and I think

it`s really important to understand that. 

 

Absolutely, the things that President Obama and Angela Merkel and our

allies did are things that Vladimir Putin`s been trying to roll back ever

since it happened.  So it`s sanctions, a support for NATO, and support for

Ukraine.   Those are the three. 

 

We know that they`ve been trying to lift sanctions through various ways,

it`s part of the reasons that he supported candidate Trump in 2016.  We

know that they want to push back on that assistance to NATO, and you

rightly pointed out that President Trump himself has now done that. 

 

And then this third piece of support for Ukraine – and I want to say I was

one of the people that gave credit to the Trump administration for not only

sustaining a military support for Ukraine, but they even went further than

our administration, the administration I worked in.  They provided lethal

assistance and I gave them credit for that.  And so, that`s why this is

such an ironic tragic twist that the one thing that I think President Trump

did right vis-a-vis Russia, he is now using to trade for something for his

personal gain.

 

But the bigger context is important.  All of these things are designed to

punish and deter Russia, and on every single front, President Trump has

been pulling back.

 

REID:  And can you draw a line?  I mean, I still recall that during the

campaign, during the convention in Cleveland, the one change that was made

to the Republican platform, we didn`t even add, that is where – that was

also about Ukraine, right?  And pulling back on the United States

commitment to defend Ukraine. 

 

You add that to Donald Trump`s seeming disdain and distaste for you

mentioned Angela Merkel and the other members of NATO, is this all one big

Rubik`s cube that all you know fits together in some way in your view?

 

MCFAUL:  Yes, yes, I`m glad you brought that up because I allegedly Paul

Manafort was behind that change.  It was then that they take out giving

lethal assistance to Ukraine.  The policy that overrode the president.  I

want to point that out, that his policy team back in the very beginning,

they said, no, we got to go forward with this.  But there has been a

tension from the very beginning between President Trump and his national

security team with respect to Ukraine and with respect to Russia.

 

So, here, I see the president using one of those things as a chip to try to

help him for something very personal and this is not – I want to

underscore – not in America`s national interest to have the president of

the United States to be trading things for his own personal gain.

 

REID:  And tell us a little bit about it.  We know other than the fact that

he`s a former stand-up comedian, this new leader in Ukraine, which way does

he fall on this meter of being closer at trying to cleave closer to Russia

or trying to cleave closer to Europe.  I mean, how much leverage other than

the money that was being held back for so long could Donald Trump have to

actually get him if he were amenable to interfere in the election and hurt

one of Donald Trump`s opponents?

 

MCFAUL:  Well, without question, President Zelensky leans towards Europe,

leans towards democracy, leans towards free markets.  By the way, the

things that Republicans used to always also support, that is another

paradox here.  He also has a brand new parliament that was just elected. 

 

And this is a moment, a pivotal moment in Ukrainian history where they

actually might breakthrough to move this way.  And that`s why when the

president of the United States, instead of embracing that, instead of

saying we support you a hundred percent, we support your sovereignty, says

instead I want to do this little trade with you.

 

By the way, the little kinds of trades that we`ve been telling the

Ukrainians to stop doing for years if not decades, it sends a very bad

signal and even if it the military assistance was not directly connected as

a quid pro quo to investigate the vice president`s son, remember, the

United States is the biggest most important country in the free world and

that in and of itself creates leverage vis-a-vis President Zelensky.  He

can`t just dismiss a request from the president of the United States.

 

And I just think it`s a terrible tragedy for American national interest

leaving out the legality and criminality I`ll leave that to people are more

expert than I but this is not the way to conduct U.S. foreign policy.

 

REID:  Former U.S. ambassador to Russia, Michael McFaul – I can`t think of

anybody I would prefer to talk to about this to talk about this topic. 

Thank you so much.  I really appreciate your time tonight.

 

MCFAUL:  Sure.  Thanks for having me.

 

REID:  Thank you.

 

More on this next, including what all the intrigue means for the

whistleblower who came forward.  Stay right there.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

REID:  If you had any doubt how high the stakes are for the whistleblower

who sounded the alarm over the president and reportedly his dealings with

Ukraine – well, last night, right here, Rachel put a super fine, frankly

chilling point on it.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST, “TRMS”:  Somewhere out there right now in

America is a whistleblower from the intelligence community who has gone

through channels and done things by the book and sought whistleblower

protection under law to alert Congress in good faith about a serious and

urgent matter that reportedly involves the president, his communications

with foreign leaders, some sort of promised that he has made to foreign

leaders and potentially some shenanigans involve in the nation of Ukraine. 

Bit by bit, the substance of the complaint seems to be coming to the

surface, while hour-by-hour, the Trump administration appears to be fixing

its crosshairs on the whistleblower.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

REID:  Now, we still do not know anything about the identity of the

whistleblower in this case.  But we do know that retaliation is a real

concern for whistleblowers.  The Intelligence Committee Whistleblower

Protection Act is supposed to protect them from that.  And the acting

director of national intelligence had his general counsel point out how

seriously they take the obligation to protect lawful whistleblowers from

retaliation, promising that the intelligence chief, quote, will not permit

the complainant to be subject to any retaliation or adverse consequence.

 

So, basically, hey, trust us.  Nothing will happen to the whistleblower. 

Everything is fine, which the intelligence community Inspector General

Michael Atkinson basically said, yes, but hey trust us is not the usual way

this goes.  The I.G. saying, quote: such personal assurance is not the

legally enforceable statutory protection previously available to

whistleblowers in the complaints situation.

 

Now, reportedly, the White House was consulted.  The White House was

consulted on how to handle this whistleblower complaint, which is about the

highest ranking executive in the White House. 

 

The president today said that even though he pinky swears, he doesn`t know

the whistleblower is.  He, quote, hears that it`s a, quote, highly partisan

person.  So, how much jeopardy is this whistleblower taking on?  Can

another branch of government like Congress offer any protection?  And in

terms of the president reportedly leaning on Ukraine to investigate a

political rival, does anything stand in his way?

 

Joining us now is Matt Miller, former Justice Department spokesperson.

 

And, Matt, great to have you with us tonight.

 

MATT MILLER, FORMER JUSTICE DEPARTMENT SPOKESPERSON:  Good to see you, Joy.

 

MADDOW:  So that is the question.  As I`ve been watching Adam Schiff on

RACHEL MADDOW SHOW and talking about it with other reporters, that`s the

question I keep having, is can`t Congress protect this person?  There is a

law in place that is supposed to protect them, but that is not being

followed right now, the law that supposed to take this complaints during

straight to Congress.

 

So is there anyone in your view that actually can protect this person?

 

MILLER:  No, not really.  I mean, look, if the president decides to

retaliate against this whistleblower, it`s very tough for Congress to do

anything.  Now, look, you can`t just fire someone without cause in the

federal government, in the civil service, and presumably, this is a civil

service member, although I suppose it could be a political appointee.  So,

you know, the intelligence agency for whom this person works would have to

have some reason to fire someone. 

 

But that`s not the only way in which a whistleblower can be retaliated. 

They can be investigated.  They can be demoted.  They can be denied

promotions.  They can see their job prospects dry up. 

 

So, I think when you have the president attacked the whistleblower publicly

the way he did today with his attack that the whistleblower is highly

partisan, it sends a signal throughout the bureaucracy of what he thinks

about this person.  And you don`t have to look far into – too far into the

past to see how the bureaucracy has behaved when the president has attacked

a member inside. 

 

Look at the Justice Department, where he attacked, you know, Andy McCabe

and Pete Strzok, and Lisa Page, and all those people are gone from the FBI

now.  One of them is potentially going to be prosecuted in the coming

weeks.

 

So, I think if I were the whistleblower, I would be very concerned and I

would hope that the DNI would protect me if possible.  I hope that Congress

would look out for me.  But ultimately, that`s a very tough thing to ask of

them.

 

REID:  Yes, I seem to remember someone losing their pension over Donald

Trump`s displeasure.

 

Donald Trump did, of course, attack this whistleblower, calling of a highly

partisan, et cetera, claim he doesn`t know who the person is.  Also on cue

attacked Congressman Adam Schiff. 

 

Number one, do you have confidence that, you know, first of all, this whole

situation should not have been taken to the White House at least that`s the

protocol as I understand it, but it was.  Do you trust that no one has

given Donald Trump access to information about this whistleblower given up

this person`s identity?  And do you quite frankly trust William Barr not to

be the instrument of retaliation and prosecute this person if their

identity becomes known?

 

MILLER:  No, I don`t have any confidence in any of those questions or any

of those issues being handled appropriately.

 

Look, the DNI was not supposed to take this to the Justice Department or

not supposed to take this to the White House.  Or if he did, he at the end

of the day, he should have followed this statute and transmitted the

complaint to Congress within the seven days as the statute called for him

to do.  He hasn`t done that. 

 

And I think you have to have real concerns about the fact that according to

“The Washington Post”, the president`s counsel is involved in this, is

looking at.  There`s no reason that the White House counsel should be

involved in this.  You have the Justice Department giving forth advice, I

think we all know, you know, what Bill Barr`s first orders, first priority,

as we`ve seen the way he handled the Mueller investigation.  He`s there to

protect the president, first and foremost.  I think that`s what we – how

we should expect him to handle this.

 

You know, look, if everything were being handled by the normal – you know,

the way things were normally handled, then you wouldn`t have these

concerns.  But when you start to see the process messed up, when you see

the process not being followed the way it`s supposed to be and the way it`s

always been followed in the past, then you have to look at the people

involved. 

 

And when you look at the people involved in this, they are the same people,

Bill Barr and the White House counsel who are obstructing Congress`s

investigations in other areas.  So, you see a pattern here where they`ve

obstructed Congress and Congress`s investigations over and over about the

Mueller report and other reports of misconduct by the president and the you

see I`m doing it here, and you stand there`s a good reason why you should

have no faith either in – why they are making the decisions that they are

or that ultimately they will prevent any kind of retaliation by the

president against the whistleblower.

 

REID:  And if you – a couple of tweets I want to point out to you today

from yourself.  You said that if Donald Trump was promising U.S. government

action in exchange for foreign government targeting a political opponent,

that is about as high a crime and misdemeanors you can imagine on the

impeachment front.  And you also wrote that he`s telling the world that he

will abuse the levers of government in every possible way to get reelected,

looking the other way just encourages him to keep at it.

 

Is it doubly troubling for you that he isn`t being stopped, that he seems

to have so undermined or perhaps some might say corrupted the elements of

government within the executive branch that no one is willing to stop him

and the judicial branch is sort of stalled in a kind of pre-impeachment

period?

 

MILLER:  It`s deeply concerning – 

 

REID:  I mean, legislative, sorry.

 

MILLER:  Yes, it`s deeply concerning.  I think, look, any normal person

would look at the experience of the last few years, the Mueller

investigation, and the outcome of that, and one takeaway you would have

would be, I should not be seeking assistance from a foreign government. 

 

Donald Trump seems to have taken the opposite lesson.  He`s lesson he took

is – I took – I took assist – I sought and received assistance from a

foreign government in the last election, I tried to obstruct the

investigation into it, and I got away with that.  So why shouldn`t I do it

again?

 

And I think there`s a pattern here.  It`s not – you know, if you think

about the next fourteen months until Donald Trump is up for re-election,

you know, we see him trying to you know abuse the levers of government here

to benefit his campaign, to help himself get reelected.  But it`s not just

here.

 

Look at the reporting that “The Washington Post” has done over the last

month or so about the border wall, where he`s diverted money as we all know

from the military to fund the border wall, and then he`s reached down into

the process and told people to ignore eminent domain laws and seize land. 

He`s told people to ignore the federal contracting rules, and he says,

look, if you break the law, I`ll pardon you.

 

And I think what you see is a pattern of a president who is willing to –

you know, use every lever of government, feels completely unconstrained by

rules, by norms and law, and doesn`t think there`s anyone can stop him. 

And so for that – you know, if you think we still have over a year to go

to the until the election, it is a very, very dangerous time.

 

And there`s really no oversight that can fix it. There`s no judicial you

know judicial means to stop him.  The only way is through impeachment.

 

I think this report just puts, you know, it puts the onus really front and

center in front of the house of representatives to take those articles up.

 

MADDOW:  Yes, he`s even said that – his lawyers even said he can`t be

investigated.  There`s a type of government in the world that operates that

way.  It`s generally called an autocracy.  It`s generally not what happens

in United States.

 

Matt Miller, former Justice Department spokesperson, thank you very much. 

Really appreciate your time.

 

MILLER:  Thank you.

 

REID:  Thank you.

 

And coming up, we are warming up the poof machine because the 2020

Democratic field just got smaller.  That`s next.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

REID:  For a lot of Democrats in 2020, there`s been a growing frustration

with the party establishment, specifically with the back and forth and

seeming reluctance of party leadership to outright back the impeachment of

Donald Trump.  And at the same time, there`s a frustration that polls

continue to show that the most establishment candidate for the Democratic

nomination, former Vice President Joe Biden remains firmly in the lead.

 

Well, today, those two stories sort of merged.  The leadership in the House

has made it clear in so many words that what`s standing between them and

impeaching this president are conservative Democrats who won midterm

elections in Trump districts who are against impeaching Donald Trump.  And

if you can imagine a sale that could be made to those conservative

Democrats, something that might actually move them on impeachment, you`d

think the obvious pick is national security.

 

And now, we have a national security story that involves the potential next

Democratic nominee, Joe Biden.  “The Wall Street Journal” is reporting that

a Trump pushed the Ukrainian president to investigate Biden`s son eight

times in just one July phone call. 

 

Meanwhile, Biden is also the source of anxiety among younger Democrats,

young black Democrats and progressives across the board who feel that even

when there`s nothing to be found in the Trump-Giuliani dumpster-dive for

Ukraine-based dirt on the former vice president and his family, Biden just

might be the most target-rich environment for Trump in 2020, given his long

history in politics.  And that Democrats might not know how to prevent a

repeat of 2016, with Biden playing the role of Hillary Clinton and her

emails.

 

Well, all of that unfolded today.  We also got the news that there is one

less person in the race for president.  New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio

launched his campaign in May, saying then – saying that he has had trouble

getting enough traction to pick up speed in the race.  He did not manage to

meet the polling or fundraising threshold to get into the last debate and

he was not going to make it into the October debate either, something he

acknowledged today when he officially ended his run for president.

 

Out of the more than 20 candidates who initially threw their hat to the

ring, five had already left the race before him.  And today, he became the

sixth to go.  So, ready?  You know how we do it here. 

 

Three, two, one – poof.  Mayor Bill de Blasio, thanks for playing.

 

Joining us now is Karine Jean-Pierre, chief public affairs officer at

moveon.org and MSNBC contributor.

 

Poof!

 

KARINE JEAN-PIERRE, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR:  Now, you get me started, poof!

 

REID:  The way that they get me to come in and fill in is both I love

Rachel and because I get to do a poof.

 

JEAN-PIERRE:  Right, it`s so awesome.

 

REID:  It`s a huge incentive.  It`s like a bonus. 

 

JEAN-PIERRE:  It really is a bonus.

 

REID:  It`s like a bonus.

 

So, let`s talk about both of these two. 

 

JEAN-PIERRE:  Oh, boy.  Yes.

 

REID:  The first is that the impeachment fight is in a sense at least one -

- I don`t know if you get the same feedback, that it`s kind of stalling

momentum for Democrats in 2020 because a lot of the base of the party just

frustrated that isn`t happening.  But if you just think about Nancy Pelosi,

she`s got to count the votes and she just may not have the votes, national

security feels like the thing that can maybe get her closer.

 

JEAN-PIERRE:  Yes, I don`t know how any lawmaker regardless of which side

of the aisle that you sit in that you don`t look at what happened this week

with Donald Trump, clearly, it seems to me as the stories of “Wall Street

Journal”, “Washington Post”, “New York Times” continue to reveal every time

where every hour we`re learning something new, that he called the Ukraine

president to ask that president to eight times, right, according to “The

Wall Street Journal”, to please help him investigate or investigate Biden -

 

REID:  Yes.

 

JEAN-PIERRE:  – Hunter Biden to help him with his election, right? 

Reelection basically a political opponent, and I don`t know how you don`t

hear that or look at that, and I think we need to move forward with

impeachment, not even impeachment inquiry at this point.  We`re beyond

that, impeachment period, impeachment hearings, and that`s where we should

be.

 

But they`re so stuck on procedure and the procedure is not doing a thing if

anything.  And I`m being very kind here, they`re muddling the strategy and

the message, and it`s just not making sense, and they`re not acting – and

it`s going to be – it`s infuriating for many people and they heard from

their constituency back during the summer recess. 

 

And so, they are losing the argument and what they`re doing is ineffective,

and we also have to put the blame on Republicans because Republicans are

silent and they are enabling him. 

 

Why do you think he continues to do this, Donald Trump?  He continues to do

this because that what Democrats are doing oh not effective and Republicans

are being silent.

 

REID:  I mean, you are from a grassroots organization, moveon.org, one of

the oh, gee, really great grassroots organizations.  At some point, would

it make sense for Democrats to start turning to the conservative and

moderate Democrats who are refusing to move on impeachment and say to them,

you`re a national security Democrat, you`re the one who claims that

national security is a top thing for you because that`s your sort of right

leading positioning, where are you on the president of the United States

asking for us a help out from a foreign country?

 

JEAN-PIERRE:  Right, and I think that`s – I think that`s what a lot of

these candidates in these – you know, in these red districts that are

running for a reelection that might have a problem – a general election,

right, from the other side or these senators and in these are vulnerable

Democratic senators that are running, or going after the vulnerable

Republicans, like that`s the thing that they`re going to – if you`re

thinking about Colorado and North Carolina and Maine, those are the

questions those candidates should be asking I think they are making that

contrast. 

 

Where is the party of patriotism?  Where`s your patriotism?  I thought you

cared about national security.

 

And because they`re being silent, those Republicans, then that means

they`re not – they`re not caring about the things that Republicans care

about.  So, I think that`s right.  I think that`s one way to go, but also,

it`s like we have to make sure Democrats act.  There`s a reason they were

given – at least in the House, the majority, is to act – in part is to

hold this president accountable, and they`re just not doing that.

 

REID:  Well, look, on the other part of this, both of us read, and we were

talking about and praising this Astead Wesley`s piece in “The New York

Times”. 

 

JEAN-PIERRE:  Yes.

 

REID:  But that`s the other thing that I hear out in the world, and I don`t

know if you do as well, that people are concerned that yes, people like Joe

Biden.  He`s one of the most likable sort of candidates on the Democratic

side.  But there`s a lot there that could be real or not even real,

because, you know, we learned with Senator Clinton – with Secretary

Clinton, it doesn`t matter if it isn`t true.

 

JEAN-PIERRE:  Right.

 

REID:  As long as Donald Trump can paint his opponent as being just as bad

and just as corrupt as him, he levels out with them, he can use that to win

again.

 

JEAN-PIERRE:  So one thing that we are learning very quickly and this is

very much a repeat of 2016, is Donald Trump is going to do anything to win,

right?  He`s going to not follow the rules.  He`s doesn`t care about the

rule of law.  Clearly, he`s calling the president of Ukraine to help him

out with his race.

 

And that`s incredibly dangerous because he`s going to do that with any

candidate.  It doesn`t matter if it`s Biden.

 

REID:  Right.

 

JEAN-PIERRE:  Whoever is the nominee, this is what Donald Trump is going to

do.  He`s going to do what he did in 2016, which was raised the negatives

of his opponent.  So it is going to be a gutter, lowest of the lows type of

election that Donald Trump is going to run.  So, what Democrats have to

figure out is how do we – like how do they really compete against Donald

Trump.  What is it?  Is it the contrast? 

 

You don`t want to get down in the gutter with him –  

 

REID:  Right.

 

JEAN-PIERRE:  But you have to make the contrast and show that this is a

president that doesn`t care about our democracy.  Look what he`s doing,

he`s abusing his power, he`s obstructing justice, he`s obstructing

Congress, and that`s kind of the message that they`re going to have to

hammer.

 

REID:  Yes, we`ll see if they`ve learned anything in 2016, and had a

respond back.  We`ll see what happens.

 

Karine Jean-Pierre, nice talking to you, chief public affair officer of

moveon.org, and MSNBC contributor, thank your time.

 

JEAN-PIERRE:  Thanks.

 

REID:  Appreciate it.

 

And much more ahead, including Trump`s plan to get yet more billions for

his border wall.  Hooray.

 

Stay with us.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

REID:  Tonight, the Trump administration says it will soon be sending an

undetermined number of U.S. troops to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab

Emirates, following cruise missile attacks last week on Saudi oil

facilities that the administration has blamed on Iran.  Tonight`s

announcement was made at a joint press conference by Secretary of Defense

Mark Esper and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Mark Dunford. 

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

MARK ESPER, SECRETARY OF DEFENSE:  In response to the kingdom`s request,

the president has approved the deployment of U.S. forces which will be

defensive in nature and primarily focused on air and missile defense.  We

will also work to accelerate the delivery of military equipment to the

Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the UAE to enhance their ability to defend

themselves. 

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

REID:  As for how many troops will be sent to the region, the chairman of

the Joint Chiefs of Staff called it a moderate deployment.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

JOSEPH DUNFORD, CHAIRMAN, JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF:  I`ll talk to CentCom over

the weekend.  We`ll talk with our Saudi partners, and we`ll work the

details of the deployment.  We`ll be able to share that with you next week.

 

REPORTER:  So, there`s been no decision on specific numbers?

 

DUNFORD:  We haven`t decided on specific units broadly capable – as the

secretary said, will be capabilities to enhance their air and missile

defense.

 

REPORTER:  And on troop numbers?

 

DUNFORD:  I would say, at this point, the moderate deployment, Phil.  And

we`ll have more details for you next week.  But not ready to share the

details.

 

REPORTER:  But not thousands, thousands would be not moderate? 

 

DUNFORD:  That`s fair to say, not thousands.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

REID:  Not thousands, but some unspecified number of American troops will

now be going to Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

 

Tonight`s news about troop deployments follows other news that we`ve gotten

from the Department of Defense, recently, about the money the Trump

administration cut from the Pentagon budget in order to pay for the

president`s border wall with Mexico.  Earlier this month, the Trump

administration raided $3.6 billion from the Pentagon`s 2019 military

construction budget in order to pay for a wall, you know, the one that

Mexico was supposed to pay for.

 

A full half of the $3.6 billion in Pentagon money that the administration

has taken to pay for Trump`s wall is being diverted from military projects,

ranging from upgrading military training facilities, to improving schools

on military bases.  The Pentagon has already warned of the dire

consequences of this decision, including the potentially hazardous living

conditions for U.S. troops and their families as a result of this

reallocated funding.

 

But now, it turns out the president is not done taking money from the

military for his wall, because as “The Washington Post” reports today,

Trump officials are considering a plan to divert billions of dollars in

additional funds for Trump`s border wall.  According planning documents

obtained by “The Washington Post”, Trump`s wall will require over $18

billion in funding through 2020, far more than the administration has

publicly disclosed.

 

So, how does the Trump administration plan to make up for this new funding

shortfall?

 

As “The Post” reports, the lawmakers refused to allocate more funding,

quote, the administration plans to dip into the Pentagon`s construction

budget for the second consecutive year to get another $3.6 billion.  “The

Post” reports, this plan was discussed at a White House meeting last week

chaired by Trump`s son-in-law Jared Kushner. 

 

Quote: If the administration carries out the plan, the White House will

have defied Congress to divert a total of $7.2 billion of Defense

Department funds over two years, money that would otherwise pay to repair

or upgrade U.S. military installations. 

 

The White House is proposing to double the funding cuts to U.S. military

bases, both overseas and right here in the U.S.  But, hey, no one supports

the military like Donald Trump.

 

Watch this space.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

REID:  In August 2018, Great Thunberg decided she was not going to go to

school.  Instead, she was going to sit outside the Swedish parliament and

demand action on climate change.  So, Greta hand-painted a sign on a piece

of old wood.  It said: school strike for climate, off she went. 

 

And at first, Greta did not have a lot of support in this endeavor.  Her

parents tried to dissuade her.  None of her classmates wanted to join her. 

Even members of parliament who passed by and saw her sign said they agreed

that her protest had merit but she really should not be playing hooky.

 

And to be honest, Greta was fairly used to being alone.  She was a

painfully introverted fifteen-year-old.  At the time, she says nothing

really was happening in my life.  I have always been that girl in the back

who doesn`t say anything.  I thought I couldn`t make a difference because I

was too small.

 

Despite feeling that way, Greta kept showing up at the Swedish parliament

with her sign.  She showed up every school day for three weeks in order to

raise awareness about climate change.

 

And eventually, she was not alone.  People started joining her.  The

movement spread so far and wide, student staged mass demonstrations in

Germany, in Switzerland, in Belgium. 

 

By January of this year, Greta was invited to speak at the World Economic

Forum in Davos, Switzerland.  She arrived at Davos with her sign and this

message.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

GRETA THUNBERG, CLIMATE ACTIVIST:  Adults keep saying we owe it to the

young people to give them hope.  But I don`t want your hope.  I don`t want

you to be hopeful.  I want you to panic.

 

I want you to feel the fear I feel everyday, and then I want you to act.  I

want you to act as if you would in a crisis.  I want you to act as if the

house was on fire, because it is.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

REID:  I want you to act as of the house is on fire, because it is. 

 

That speech is part of what has catapulted Greta Thunberg onto the national

stage.  Ahead of the upcoming U.N. Climate Summit being held in New York,

Thunberg decided to bring her message to this country.  A few weeks ago,

she set sail from Europe on a solar-powered boat, preferring to come here

that way in order to lessen her carbon footprint. 

 

In the last week, she`s joined protests outside of the White House, has

testified before Congress and has met with former President Barack Obama. 

 

It turns out, that was just a warm-up for the main event.  Today, millions

of kids and teens in more than 150 countries joined Greta`s call and

skipped school to demand action on climate change. 

 

In Germany, more than 1.4 million took to the streets with 100,000

demonstrating before the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin.  Hundreds of thousands

marched in Australia, making it one of the largest in that country`s

history. 

 

In Mumbai, children stood in the rain, chanting, oxygen is free because of

trees.  In Tanzania, marching bands cleared the way for school kids as they

carried signs through the streets.  In Warsaw, in Rio, in Athens, and in

L.A., the message was there is no planet B. 

 

There were protests in tiny islands in the South Pacific, as well as

scientific outposts in Antarctica.  In this country, kids took part in

protests in all 50 states, including in New York City, where it`s estimated

that over a quarter of a million turned up.

 

Greta Thunberg was right there at the center of it all, the young woman who

once thought she was too small to change anything is changing the entire

conversation. 

 

More ahead tonight.  Stay with us. 

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

MADDOW:  The western meadow lark is a medium size, stocky kind of bird. 

You can recognize it by its bright yellow tummy and a little bib thing

that`s going on in a shape of a black “V.”  They`re striking not only for

their look but also for their sound. 

 

The Audubon Society described it as a kind of rich, flute-like jumble of

gurgling notes, usually descending the scale. 

 

The western meadow lark, if you`re not familiar with these little fellows,

if you`ve never seen one in the wild, well, it might be because a lot of

them have gone missing.  Not just like the western, not just the western

meadow lark, also the warblers, and the thrushes, and swallows and

blackbirds, according to a brand-new study from bird experts this week. 

 

Three billion birds have essentially disappeared from North America in the

last five decades.  Since 1970, the numbers of birds in the United States

and Canada has declined by 29 percent, which is a huge problem.  Birds just

don`t look pretty and fly, and I know not all of them fly, but the point is

they can actually be the lynchpin for the entire ecosystem. 

 

Common birds control pests.  They pollinate flowers.  They spread seeds,

and help forests grow.  When these birds disappear, the habitats they

helped build start to fall apart. 

 

Researchers think the habitat loss and the wider use of pesticides are at

least partly to blame for the 3 billion birds that have disappeared from

our corner of the globe, because of the scale of this problem, 3 billion

birds going poof and not fun MADDOW SHOW election poof, like actual poof. 

 

Researchers say stopping this apocalyptic decline would take a huge amount

of effort.  So, yes, there`s a new thing to worry about.  This is for the

birds. 

 

That does it for us tonight.  I`ll see you here tomorrow, 10:00 a.m. for

“A.M. JOY.”

 

And now, it`s time for “THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL”.

 

Good evening, Lawrence.

 

                                                                                                               

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