The process of impeachment. TRANSCRIPT: 9/24/19, The Rachel Maddow Show.

Guests:
Maxine Waters, Andrew Yang
Transcript:

CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST:  That is ALL IN for this evening. 

 

“THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW” starts right now. 

 

Good evening, Rachel.

 

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST:  Good evening, Chris. 

 

Enough news for you today?

 

HAYES:  Busy, busy day.  A lot going on.

 

MADDOW:  I decided to take a nap most of the day.  Just woke up five

minutes ago.  I`ve learned everything I know from the last five minutes of

your show.  Thank you.

 

HAYES:  Ukraine, hmm.

 

MADDOW:  Hmm, where is that again?  Thank you, my friend.  Much

appreciated. 

 

Thanks to you at home for joining us this hour. 

 

So, there are only two instances in American history in which a U.S.

president has been impeached. 

 

When Andrew Johnson was impeached in 1868, that was the first time it had

ever happened in U.S. history.  It actually took them a couple of tries. 

They first voted on an impeachment resolution against Johnson in 1867. 

That failed. 

 

They came back the next year and tried to impeach him again in 1868.  That

one stuck.  But when those articles of impeachment that passed in the

House, when those articles were conveyed over to the Senate for President

Johnson to face trial, they couldn`t get a two-thirds vote in the Senate to

convict him and remove him from office. 

 

And so, the effort to remove President Andrew Johnson from office failed,

even though he was impeached in the House.  

 

Basically the same dynamic at work in 1998.  Just before Christmas, 1998,

when the House of Representatives voted for only the second time in U.S.

history to impeach the sitting U.S. president, who then was Bill Clinton. 

And again, in that instance, the House voted to impeach the president but

then they had to convey the articles of impeachment over to the Senate and,

once again, they could not persuade two-thirds of the Senate to vote to

convict Bill Clinton and remove him from office.  And so, again, that

effort to remove him from office via the impeachment process, it failed

even though Clinton was impeached in the House. 

 

And those are our only two experiences in this country with a U.S.

president being impeached.  Both presidents Johnson and Clinton were

convicted in the House, neither was convicted in the Senate.  Neither was

removed from office. 

 

The one president who did leave office in the context of impeachment

proceedings, of course, was Richard Nixon, but he left office of his own

volition.  He quit rather than face an impeachment vote that he was sure he

would lose. 

 

So, it is this kind of irony of our constitutional history that the one

process the constitution gives Congress to remove a president from office

for high crimes and misdemeanors, that process has been used twice to

impeach a president.  Neither of those guys got removed from office,

though.  The one guy who did basically get removed from office because of

the threat of that process, he technically was never impeached. 

 

So, anybody who tells you there`s a clear bright line in American history

about how these things go and how the Constitution dictates these things

go, it`s – that`s sort of a civic fantasy.  The way it works in real life

is much more like a civic thriller.  It`s got way more suspense to it.  You

can definitely count on a cliff hanger or two. 

 

When the process starts, I`m not sure anybody who`s being honest can tell

you how ultimately it`s going to end. 

 

Today, when Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi announced in an address to

the nation that the House of Representatives is opening impeachment

proceedings against president Donald J. Trump, she did make U.S. history. 

This is just something that hasn`t happened very many times in the course

of our country.  Because of that, I think we`re kidding ourselves if we

think there`s some typical way this is supposed to go now. 

 

There isn`t a typical impeachment process.  There`s no way to say how

history suggests this will unfold or how this thing would typically be

handled, or what`s a departure from consistent previous precedent.  There

is constitutional guidance for what happens here, but there is very little

historical precedent from which we can extrapolate. 

 

And on top of that, on top of the fact that days like this have only ever

happened a few other times in the history of our country, there are also

specific peculiarities about this time, about this instance, but really

interesting as factual matters, but they make it all the more suspenseful

and all the more unpredictable in terms of how this is going to work out in

the end and how this is going to unfold just from here on out. 

 

I mean, let`s just start with the thing that was announced today by Speaker

Pelosi.  What exactly is the House going to do now, now that she has

proclaimed that this impeachment process has started? 

 

Despite earlier reports that today that Speaker Pelosi might be considering

forming a special committee in the House, specifically for the purpose of

drawing up impeachment articles against the president, at 5:00 Eastern

today, when Speaker Pelosi made her announcement, she made clear that she

isn`t forming any special new impeachment committee.  Instead, she name-

checked the chairman of these six committees, which apparently will each

have their own role to play in this impeachment process going forward. –

the Judiciary Committee, the Intelligence Committee, the Foreign Affairs

Committee, Oversight Committee, the Ways and Means Committee, the Financial

Services Committee, we`re going to get some expert help over the course of

this hour, including speaking with one of these committee chairs, to

understand exactly what Pelosi has proclaimed here. 

 

But as best as we can tell right now, the plan, I think, is for each of

these six committees to pursue their own inquiries into potentially

impeachable offenses by President Trump and then each of these committees

is expected to present what they believe is their best case for articles of

impeachment against President Trump on the subject matter that they have

been investigating.  So, all these committees will all give their potential

articles of impeachment to the Judiciary Committee, to Jerry Nadler, who`s

the chair of the Judiciary Committee. 

 

If warranted, Nadler and the Judiciary Committee will then sort of formally

compile these articles of impeachment that they will ask the House to vote

on.  And then the House will proceed toward an impeachment vote.  So, that,

we think, is the process, and in theory that all makes sense, right? 

 

But how does that work in practice?  What`s the timing on that?  And what`s

different now going forward from what`s already been happening in these

committees?  I mean, what is Nancy Pelosi`s specific expectation in terms

of what those committees are going to do now? 

 

And I ask that because all of those six committees right now, they`re all

already pursuing various investigations of President Trump for a broad

range of alleged bad behavior by him – a lot of different things which

could conceivably be construed as impeachable high crimes and misdemeanors

when it comes to this president. 

 

I mean, everything from whatever is going on with the president`s tax

audit.  The audit of his taxes is being investigated by the Ways and Means

Committee under Chairman Richie Neal.  Chairman Neal says a whistleblower

has come forward to suggest that there`s been some sort of improper effort

by someone inside the administration to interfere with the IRS` audit of

the president`s taxes.  Ways and Means Committee is already looking at

that. 

 

Over at the Financial Services Committee under Chair Maxine Waters, they

are reportedly looking among other things at potential bank fraud and

insurance fraud by this president, by his family, by his businesses. 

 

In the Oversight Committee under Congressman Cummings, they`re

investigating a whole bunch of different alleged behaviors by the

president, any number of which could be impeachable, including whether he

may have endangered national security by mishandling security clearance

applications, including those for his children. 

 

In the Intelligence Committee, they are also investigating a number of

different allegations against the president, including continuing questions

about the president`s involvement in the Russian election interference of

2016. 

 

At the Judiciary Committee under Chairman Nadler, they are already actively

investigating the president`s alleged efforts to obstruct the law

enforcement and counterintelligence investigation into the Russia scandal. 

I mean, those things are all under way already in all of these six

committees.  They all implicate potentially impeachable behavior by the

president, depending on what these ongoing investigations turn up. 

 

Well, now, today, that Speaker Pelosi has made this historical announcement

that impeachment proceedings are beginning against this president, and

she`s made that announcement specifically in the context and with reference

to these new allegations about the president and Ukraine.  The president

basically admitting that he solicited foreign help for his re-election

effort from the country of Ukraine. 

 

Well, are these six committees just supposed to look at matters related to

the president`s interactions with Ukraine?  Or are these six committees

supposed to forward to the judiciary committee evidence of any potentially

impeachable conduct by the president that they have been investigating,

including on the subject of all those other topics that I just mentioned,

things that they`re already looking at, right?  If they`re supposed to do

that, like let`s say the Oversight Committee turns up behavior by the

president with regard to the security clearances for Jared Kushner and

Ivanka Trump that actually rises to the level of high crimes and

misdemeanors in the view of that committee, if they turn that up, are they

supposed to forward that to the Judiciary Committee, too, for that also to

be folded into these impeachment proceedings? 

 

I mean, as interesting as I find say, for example, the Financial Services

Committee investigating whether the president committed insurance fraud

when he misstated his financial assets in order to get better deals on his

insurance policies, I find that very interesting.  I don`t have any reason

to expect that that investigation is wrapping up imminently. 

 

So as I said, we will try to get some clarity on this as to what changes in

the investigating committees in Congress now that what they`re doing is

part of an investigation proceeding that has been proclaimed today by the

speaker of the House and that was proclaimed with specific reference to the

president going to Ukraine to try to get help from them for his re-election

effort. 

 

What did become obvious over the course of today, I think, is that the

story is moving very fast.  I have written and torn up a lot of drafts of

this show already today. 

 

But just today, it`s been – well, this whole thing has been going fast.  I

mean, you look at it even in the biggest, widest possible lens, it`s only

been a week since it first came to light that the president and his

personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, made these overtures to Ukraine, seeking

dirt on President Trump`s potential Democratic opponent in the 2020

election.  We have known about that literally for only a week.  We only

even knew that there was some sort of whistleblower complaint about

something related to Trump for a few days longer than that. 

 

While support for starting impeachment proceedings against Trump has been

at a sort of low simmer among house Democrats for quite some time, there

was a sort of relatively steady increase in the number of House Democrats

who supported impeachment proceedings against the president since the

Mueller report was published a few months ago.  In the last 48 hours, the

number of Democrats supporting impeachment proceedings has gone through the

roof. 

 

Now with Nancy Pelosi`s endorsement and her announcement today, the number

of House Democrats supporting impeachment proceedings against President

Trump is starting to look like it won`t – it may not necessarily end up

being unanimous, but it may be close.  It`s already close to 200 at this

point, 218 is a majority of the House which is all you need to actually

impeach someone. 

 

So this thing is developing fast.  We clearly have an incomplete

understanding as of tonight as to how the Democrats are going to proceed

here and on what kind of a timetable.  We`re going to be speaking, as I

mentioned, with one of the chairs of one of the six committees that has

been named as key to this process coming up live in just a moment. 

 

We also, of course, have an incomplete understanding of the facts and the

behavior by the president that has led very quickly to this moment.  “The

Washington Post” was first to report a week ago that an anonymous

whistleblower from inside the intelligence community had come forward and

filed a complaint with the inspector general of the intelligence community. 

 

The inspector general reviewed that complaint, found it to be both credible

and urgent.  That should have set in motion a process by which that

complaint was forwarded to Congress.  The administration, the Justice

Department and reportedly the White House apparently stepped in to stop the

complaint from being conveyed to Congress. 

 

Since then, we have learned through open source reporting that the

whistleblower`s complaint not only had something to do with the president`s

behavior specifically, it had something to do with the president making

some kind of troubling promise to a foreign leader.  Since that story first

broke, the president has confirmed that in fact he did raise the issue of

wanting some sort of investigation into Joe Biden when he was in

communication with the president of Ukraine.  The president initially

denied that but then later confirmed that at basically the same time, he

was also withholding U.S. military aid to Ukraine. 

 

So the White House and the administration have come up with a million

different explanations for why that military aid was being withheld from

Ukraine.  They denied that it was being withheld at first.  Then they

admitted, OK, yes, we were withholding that aid.  They said it was delayed

by some sort of interagency process, whatever that means.  Then they told

some lawmakers that the aid was being withheld so the White House could try

to gauge the effectiveness of the aid in Ukraine, a claim that reportedly

struck some lawmakers as, quote, odd. 

 

The president and Vice President Mike Pence then both claimed that the aid

was being withheld because they wanted to make sure that Ukraine wasn`t too

corrupt as a country, because you shouldn`t sent any money to a country

that`s corrupt.  Within 24 hours, that explanation from the president

changed to what appeared to be a total non-sequitur from him, in which he

said he was upset that Germany and France were also to give money to

Ukraine alongside us.  If you think about it, that`s a weird thing to be

worried about, right? 

 

Five minutes ago, your big worry was that nobody should be giving money to

Ukraine because they`re corrupt.  Now, you want to make sure that the

French and the Germans are giving money to Ukraine too alongside us because

we`re giving them money?  I mean, these shifting and nonsensical

explanations for why Ukraine was denied that military aid that had been

approved by the Pentagon, that had been appropriated by congress, that

presumably is fertile ground for Congress to investigate if they do want

more information about what happened here and whatever it is that this

whistleblower has laid out in his or her complaint that the administration

is blocking from coming to Congress. 

 

But honestly, one of the strange things about this moment in history, this

rare day in history in which impeachment proceedings have been announced,

one of the weird things about the way it`s happening now and the way it has

broken open over the last few days is that Congress might not actually need

to do an investigation here.  I mean, they might not really need to figure

out much more about whatever has gone wrong here simply because the

admitted facts, the facts that are not in dispute anymore, are the basis

for what you`d impeach him on, right? 

 

I mean, it`s sort of an undisputed and admitted fact now that President

Trump asked a foreign country to help him in his re-election bid by giving

him dirt on Joe Biden.  And the president personally intervened to withhold

military aid from that country at the same time that he was making that

request about Biden.  In so doing, the president, according to the laws of

common sense, created the impression in that foreign country that they

wouldn`t get that life-saving military aid from our country unless they

coughed up the help that Trump wanted for his campaign. 

 

I mean, even if you know nothing else about this, you know that.  That`s

what`s known.  That`s what`s the starting point.  That`s what they`re

conceding to. 

 

Now, investigating all the circumstances around that would certainly turn

up more interesting information, but the president`s behavior here is not

in dispute.  He went to a foreign country, asked them for help with his re-

election effort.  At the same time, he was personally intervening to deny

military aid to that country, creating the impression in that country that

they couldn`t get their military aid unless they helped him out with his

re-election effort.  That`s the starting point. 

 

Now, are they going to investigate to flesh out more than that?  Maybe.  Do

they need to?  I don`t know.  And so, the Democrats are now moving forward

in a way that we don`t quite understand the contours of yet. 

 

This historic announcement from Nancy Pelosi today has nevertheless already

shaken loose a whole bunch of stuff already.  When it was becoming apparent

today that she was going to announce that there is now an impeachment

proceeding under way into the president, the president announced that he

would release the transcript of his July 25th phone call with the Ukrainian

president, and that`s all fine and good.  It should be noted that there`s

no recording of that call.  The supposed transcript of the call is just

Trump White House notes on what happened in that call, so I`m not sure

anybody has real high hopes for what might be in those notes from the call. 

If anything super incriminating did happen in that call, whether the White

House would include that in the notes and then release them publicly.  

 

Also today, the intelligence committee in the House and in the Senate, both

of those committees announced today that they had been in touch with

counsel for this unnamed whistleblower who had come forward with this

troubling report about the president`s behavior.  Both committees report

that the whistleblower is seeking to make contact with the intelligence

committees to presumably convey the substance of his or her complaint, even

as the Trump administration has been trying to block that complaint from

being handed over to Congress directly. 

 

Well, the bipartisan leadership of the Intelligence Committee in the Senate

and the Democratic chairman of the Intelligence Committee in the House have

both said in writing today that they would like to hear testimony from the

whistleblower by the end of this week.  By the end of this week, and it is

already Tuesday. 

 

We then got this release of documents from the whistleblower.  It`s a

letter to the director of national intelligence from the whistleblower`s

lawyer. 

 

Quote: Dear Acting Director Maguire: My firm represents a member of the

intelligence community who has reported an urgent concern to the

intelligence community`s inspector general.  My client submitted a

disclosure on August 12th through established procedures promulgated by

law.  Within the statutorily mandated period, the inspector general

concluded that my client`s disclosure was both credible and urgent, as the

underlying information disclosed meets the standards set forth under law. 

 

In accordance with U.S. whistleblower law, I am providing you formal notice

of our intent to contact the congressional intelligence committees

directly.  Accordingly, I request direction on doing so in accordance with

appropriate security practices.  I thank you in advance for your time and

attention to this matter and I look forward to your forthcoming guidance. 

 

So that`s dated today, a letter from the whistleblower`s lawyer to the DNI,

to the director of national intelligence.  The director of national

intelligence has now written back in a letter that`s dated today.  It

starts off by saying that as far as the Office of the Director of National

Intelligence is concerned, this whistleblower complaint, quote, does not

fall within the statutory definition of an urgent concern, meaning you`re

not going to be protected by this process. 

 

But then it gets really interesting.  The DNI`s letter says, quote:

Notwithstanding the inapplicability of the statute, it actually says the

inapplicability of the statue, but I think he means statute. 

Notwithstanding the inapplicability of the statute to the present

situation, we understand that your client seeks guidance on how to contact

and directly share information with the congressional intelligence

committees in a manner consistent with appropriate security practices. 

 

Because your client`s complaint involves confidential and potentially

privileged communications by persons outside the intelligence community,

the president, we are consulting with other executive branch stakeholders

before transmitting to you the guidance sought.  We understand the time-

sensitive nature of your request and expect that we will be able to provide

actionable guidance soon. 

 

In other words, this letter tonight from the director of national

intelligence, from the general counsel in his office, says basically, we`re

listening to the White House when it comes to the proper handling of this

whistleblower complaint about the White House, which is not the way it`s

supposed to go.  You`re not supposed to go to the subject of the complaint

to ask them for guidance in dealing with the complaint about them. 

 

But with the director of national intelligence and the inspector general of

the intelligence community both set to testify in open session before the

intelligence community on Thursday morning on these matters, and with the

speaker of the house having announced a formal impeachment proceeding

against President Trump on this subject today, that has a way of calling on

– I don`t know – I don`t feel like I`m qualified to say conscience in

this matter.  Maybe it calls on people`s better angels, maybe it calls on

people`s worries about their own place in history on a day like today. 

 

But here is how this letter ends from the Office of the Director of

National Intelligence.  Quote: Please know that the DNI`s highest priority

is ensuring that the women and men of the intelligence community have

everything they need to carry out their mission in support of our nation`s

security.  This includes supporting the rights of whistleblowers to provide

information to Congress.  I commend your client`s willingness to come

forward to the inspector general and the director of national intelligence

is committed to protecting your client from retaliation for that

disclosure. 

 

I also want to take this opportunity to state that we have every reason to

believe that your client, our intelligence community colleague, has acted

in good faith and fully complied with the law.  Furthermore, we understand

that your client has respected the confidential and privileged nature of

the information while awaiting the guidance that your letter references. 

 

Then it closes.  Again, we will report back to you soon. 

 

It`s quite a difference in tone there from what the president has been

saying on Twitter and in other venues, questioning the patriotism of this

whistleblower and suggesting that this is a person who`s just out to hurt

the United States and is an enemy of this country.  That said, unless the

director of national intelligence is personally offering to be the

bodyguard and defense lawyer for this whistleblower, this sort of personal

assurance that I`ll make sure you`re not retaliated against, even though

I`m declaring you to be outside the protection of the whistleblower law

here, it may ring a little hollow to the whistleblower, him or herself. 

But you can see the change in tone there from the director of national

intelligence.  You can see maybe what counts as nervousness there, I don`t

know. 

 

You can see in any case that this question is being called.  You can see

now that this is not just spinning out as some other Trump – norm-breaking

Trump scandal that never goes anywhere.  You can see now that this is the

place where at least someone is finally trying to draw a line. 

 

Tonight, as we were getting ready to go on the air, “Politico” and “The New

York Times” broke the news that the White House is no longer just planning

on releasing White House notes on the president`s call with the president

of Ukraine, which is what they had said earlier today.  Now they are

reportedly preparing to release the whistleblower`s complaint to Congress,

at least some iteration of it. 

 

Joining us now is one of the reporters who broke that story, Washington

correspondent for “The New York Times”, Michael Schmidt. 

 

Mr. Schmidt, thank you for being here.  It`s nice to see you.  Thanks for

coming in.

 

MICHAEL SCHMIDT, WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT, THE NEW YORK TIMES:  Thanks for

having me. 

 

MADDOW:  So, I know that since I printed out this version of your article

and highlighted it and made plans to ask you about it, you have updated

your story with more detail.  What`s the latest? 

 

SCHMIDT:  The latest is that the White House realizes they`re in an

untenable position and they have to disclose this stuff because

stonewalling looks worse than what they think is in the complaint. 

 

The other thing is that the president himself thinks that the Democrats

have overplayed their hand here.  And if this is disclosed, then it will

take some of the heat off of him. 

 

MADDOW:  What do we expect them or what are they working on potentially

releasing?  Obviously, the president had said earlier in the day today that

he wanted the transcript of the call, which means notes on the call

released.  That led to a lot of Democrats saying, no, we need to see the

whistleblower complaint because we think it`s not just about the call, it`s

about other matters and also because we want to see what the whistleblower

believed about that call. 

 

Now, the whistleblower`s complaint or some redacted iteration of it is

going to be potentially released? 

 

SCHMIDT:  And the whistleblower himself would be able to go up to the

committees that are now considering impeachment and speak with them.  And

if you think about it, and you think about – you were pointing out before

about sort of how these scandals get momentum or don`t get momentum,

they`re at sort of the beginning here and trying to get momentum.  And if

they could get a fresh stream of evidence at the beginning, maybe they

would be more successful than they have been in the past.  We`ve seen them

really struggle to get off the ground on a lot of different fronts. 

 

MADDOW:  What kind of risk is the whistleblower at?  How much does room to

maneuver does the whistleblower himself or herself have in terms of

conveying this information to Congress?  Obviously, that letter from the

whistleblower`s counsel is interesting.  We want to convey information

directly to the committees and let you know we`re doing it.  We want to do

it in accordance with the law. 

 

How much room to maneuver does this person have? 

 

SCHMIDT:  Well, there are some guidelines here where the director of

national intelligence sort of has to OK the movement of this classified

information to Congress.  It just can`t be done without the sign-off there. 

That`s a technical thing. 

 

I think a broader perspective, this whistleblower is exposed in a lot of

different ways.  The president could fire this whistleblower.  The

president is the head of the executive branch.  That`s the whole issue at

the center of this. 

 

And when a whistleblower comes forward, who knows what happens.  Sometimes,

they can become heroes.  Sometimes, they can see their credibility

undermined.  Sometimes, they can be attacked, doxed, anything.  And there`s

great risk there. 

 

(CROSSTALK)

 

SCHMIDT:  There`s a real personality in the type of person who`s a

whistleblower.

 

MADDOW:  Well, the – but the whistleblower law if this complaint were

being treated within the four corners of the whistleblower law, that would

protect this whistleblower from being fired in retaliation from coming

forward for something like it, wouldn`t it? 

 

SCHMIDT:  I guess it would.  But I guess with Donald Trump, I just feel to

consider al – have feel like I have to consider all the possibilities

here. 

 

MADDOW:  Because of that, though, if there`s an expectation that the

president would defy even the whistleblower law to do something like that,

I guess what I start thinking about is if the director of national

intelligence says, no, I don`t give you the authority to bring this

classified information to Congress and the whistleblower says, this is so

important, this is so important that I knowingly put my job on the line,

put my career on the line, stuck my neck out there to report it, and I`m

going to defy those orders and show up and tell you anyway.  I mean,

clearly they would be risking criminal prosecution for exposing this

information but –

 

SCHMIDT:  But the public would certainly – a certain portion of the public

would rally around that whistleblower. 

 

MADDOW:  Yes. 

 

SCHMIDT:  And it would become a political issue in many ways. 

 

MADDOW:  Mike, how much – how settled is this at this point?  Obviously,

this is happening very quickly.  We expect the inspector general and the

DNI to be sitting next to each other at an open session in the House

Intelligence Committee on Thursday morning and a closed session with the

Senate Intelligence on Thursday afternoon.  We saw a rapid evolution in

terms of what the White House is willing to disclose or at least talk about

disclosing today. 

 

How settled is this? 

 

SCHMIDT:  That they`re going to put this information out? 

 

MADDOW:  Yes. 

 

SCHMIDT:   Look, like anything in the Trump administration, I don`t think

it`s settled until it`s done.  When it`s done, it can change after the

fact.  So, yes, sure, he wants it to be out there.  That`s what they want

to do right now.  But he could wake up tomorrow morning and realize that

this transcript may look bad in other ways and, you know, Giuliani says

maybe we shouldn`t do it and they don`t do it. 

 

So it`s very fluid, but very similar to a lot of other things we`ve seen

with them.  You kind of have to sit back and cover it through the minutes. 

 

MADDOW:  Last question for you.  I was struck, as you might have noted, by

the tone of this letter from the director of national intelligence to the

counsel of the whistleblower, essentially praising the whistleblower and

acknowledging that person, our intelligence community colleague.  So

different from the tone the president has already taken attacking this

person, describing them as a partisan, questioning their patriotism,

questioning whether they`re even an American and all this stuff. 

 

Is there a fight here between the president and the acting director of

national intelligence who he just recently appointed? 

 

SCHMIDT:  Not that we know of, but it is true.  There is a difference of

body posture on this issue.

 

MADDOW:  Yes.

 

SCHMIDT:  Even if you – as you read between the lines there.  And I think

that they have seen the reaction to this.  The reaction has been stronger

than anything else that we`ve seen, certainly more significant than the

Mueller report.  More significant than pick your other thing that the

president has done. 

 

And my guess is that that woke up some folks in the city or at least in the

administration to the severity of this issue. 

 

MADDOW:  Michael Schmidt, Washington correspondent for “The New York Times”

– playing an important role in breaking this continuing to break story. 

 

Thanks for being here.  It`s really good to have you here. 

 

All right.  I want to bring into the conversation now one of the chairs of

one of the six committees that was mentioned today by speaker Pelosi when

she made this announcement.  When she announced a formal impeachment

inquiry into the president today, she listed off the six committees that

have been investigating the president already.  She said those half dozen

committees will continue investigating him, but now under the umbrella of

an impeachment inquiry. 

 

I have a lot of questions about how this is going to work and what we

should expect to see next. 

 

I`m very pleased to say that joining us now live is Congresswoman Maxine

Waters, who is the chair of the Financial Services Committee. 

 

Chairwoman Waters, thank you so much for making time to be with us tonight. 

 

REP. MAXINE WATERS (D-CA):  You`re welcome.  Delighted to be with you. 

 

MADDOW:  So, this has been a very fast-moving day.  I want to start just by

getting your top line reaction to the events of this day and to this

announcement by the speaker. 

 

WATERS:  Well, I`m absolutely supportive of the way in which the speaker

has provided the leadership to get into this formal impeachment inquiry. 

I`ve known for some time that the president of the United States had been

in violation of what is expected of a president, and I could count any

number of reasons why I think he should have been impeached.

 

And it seemed as if this latest revelation by the whistleblower has caused

others to join me in saying that there should be an impeachment inquiry. 

This has kind of – he went over the line.  It`s like a thousand nicks, and

he`s finally stepped into a situation with the whistleblower where people

are tending to believe that there`s a lot to this. 

 

And so, the speaker has moved very decisively.  She now knows that she has

the support of most of the caucus, and she has formalized the impeachment

inquiry.  And I support that. 

 

MADDOW:  In terms of that formalization of the inquiry, I wonder if you

could share with us some of how this is going to work.  Obviously, your

committee is key here.  Your committee has already been investigating a

number of allegations about the president related to the remit of your

committee, financial services. 

 

When the speaker said today that your committee and five others are going

to pursue these matters and then essentially forward potential articles of

impeachment to the Judiciary Committee for them to collate and make a

decision on, do you expect that that means that everything that you`ve been

investigating the president for already will be wound up in this

impeachment proceeding –

 

WATERS:  No. 

 

MADDOW:  – or are you specifically focusing on this Ukraine issue? 

 

WATERS:  Well, no, here`s what I understand.  I understand that all of the

chairs of the six committees will be involved in basically coming up with

what should be articles of impeachment based on the work that we have been

doing.  Some will have more to say about what those articles should be

based on the work that they have been doing, some will say less.  And we

will agree basically what those articles should be based on our experiences

that we`ve had with our investigations and that will be what the Judiciary

Committee will be working with. 

 

MADDOW:  Can you tell us anything about the expected timeline there, either

in terms of when you and your fellow chairs are expected to meet to talk

together about these matters or when this overall is something that we

should expect to come to fruition? 

 

WATERS:  Well, it`s going to move very quickly.  We met today and we will

be meeting perhaps tomorrow, programs the next day.  But it`s going to move

quickly. 

 

MADDOW:  When do you expect the Judiciary Committee might be considering

potential articles of impeachment?  

 

WATERS:  I don`t have that information, but I do expect that the Judiciary

Committee is prepared to move very quickly. 

 

MADDOW:  Madam Chair, one last question for you.  In terms of the

investigations that you have been pursuing thus far, and I know some of

that has brought you into court.  You`ve been involved in litigation to try

to shake loose documents that your committee has been seeking. 

 

Do you feel that you have the support you need to – and the resources that

you need to get answers to the questions that you have been pursuing?  Do

you feel that you have the support and the resources that you need to

follow this new process that you`re describing with regard to this new

impeachment proceeding? 

 

WATERS:  Well, let me just say that we have been seeking documents relative

to Deutsche Bank and his involvement with the president of the United

States, but we`ve also been seeking documents from several other banks.  We

are getting information in.  The information that we`re seeking that

directly speaks to the relationship between Deutsche Bank and Trump, we

don`t have yet.  It is still under litigation. 

 

Now, remember – if you remember, we sought subpoenas, we got subpoenas, we

got support for that.  That has been absolutely opposed by the Trump

lawyers, and so now we`re still in court.  And we have to follow the court

processes. 

 

No, I don`t have all of the information that I need in order to move

forward with specific language that would go into the impeachment inquiry. 

 

MADDOW:  Given what you`re describing about how fast this is moving, this

specific new proceeding announced today by the speaker.  As far as I

remember from looking at the congressional calendar, a new recess for

Congress I think is supposed to start on Friday of this week. 

 

Do you know if there`s any consideration to potentially cancelling that

recess in order to keep this proceeding going rather than taking a break so

soon after it starts? 

 

WATERS:  I know that a discussion has started on that.  I don`t know that

it will happen, that we will not be in recess.  But I know that that is

under discussion. 

 

MADDOW:  Congresswoman Maxine Waters, the chair of the Financial Services

Committee in the House – Madam Chair, thank you so much for taking time to

be with us tonight. 

 

WATERS:  You`re so welcome.  Thank you. 

 

MADDOW:  I appreciate it. 

 

All right.  In terms of very next steps, I said at the top this is a still

developing story.  It`s been such a remarkable news day to see this story

just break open from the first inklings that the Democrats might be taking

this big step to some understanding of what the contours of that step might

be, to see this blossoming number of Democrats in the House start to

proclaim themselves as in favor of these types of impeachment proceedings

and then to see these developments as this announcement from Speaker Pelosi

has led to so many new marginal advancements in terms of what we`re allowed

to know and what is supposedly being released to Congress and the public. 

 

The story continues to develop even since we`ve been on the air tonight. 

NBC News is now reporting that the White House does intend to give Congress

the whistleblower complaint, at least a version of the whistleblower`s

complaint by Thursday.  The complaint will reportedly go through a

classification review and then Congress will get it. 

 

I mean, bottom line here, we haven`t known about this whistleblower`s

existence or about this complaint for very long.  The complaint was

reportedly filed on August 12th.  It`s a member of the intelligence

community who was reportedly disturbed by something he or she observed when

it came to President Trump and his contact with foreign leaders.  That

whistleblower conveyed that information by the process that he or she was

supposed to under law in a way that should protect him or her from

retaliation up to and including losing his or her job or being prosecuted. 

 

The White House then apparently intervened to stop that complaint from

being conveyed to Congress.  That has led to these two twin stories.  The

stymieing of the congressional oversight process, including what is

supposed to be a sacrosanct legal whistleblower regime and whatever it is

that so upset that whistleblower in the first place. 

 

If the whistleblower`s complaint is conveyed to Congress because of this

announcement from Nancy Pelosi today, both of those matters will make

serious progress both in terms of the obstruction and in terms of the

content here.  It`s amazing what a little focus will do to what had

previously seemed like a real impasse on a story this big. 

 

All right.  Lots to get to tonight.  Stay with us. 

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

MADDOW:  We`re continuing to follow the fallout over the president`s

handling of Ukraine, this allegation that he leaned on Ukraine to dig up

dirt on his political opponent in advance of his re-election effort. 

 

The story keeps unfolding not in dribs and drabs over the course of today

but sort of in buckets, because there is on top of everything else a

presidential campaign going on in the middle of all of this, and not just

the president`s campaign. 

 

There was a chorus of reaction from 2020 Democratic candidates after Nancy

Pelosi today formally launched this impeachment investigation against

President Trump.  It was also a good illustration of just how fast this

thing is moving. 

 

For example, just last week, candidate Andrew Yang, former tech executive

and entrepreneur in the 2020 primary, Andrew Yang just a week ago said he

was for impeachment but he called it impractical to try to do it without

the votes in the Senate to successfully remove the president from office. 

 

Now after a week of fresh reporting on this president and his involvement

in the Ukraine scandal, Mr. Yang as of today has a fresh take.  Quote:

Given the president`s latest actions, I think impeachment is the right path

forward.  Asking foreign leaders for political help in return for aid and

then suppressing your own agency`s inquiry is egregious.  There have to be

limits and Congress is right to act. 

 

I have spoken to a lot of the 2020 presidential candidates.  I have never

before had a conversation with Andrew Yang, but I`m very happy that he is

here in studio tonight. 

 

Mr. Yang, thank you so much for being here. 

 

ANDREW YANG (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  Oh, it`s great to be here.  I

wish that we had a busy news day to talk about. 

 

MADDOW:  I know.  Unfortunately, we can just chitchat for 20 minutes or so

because there`s nothing happening. 

 

(LAUGHTER)

 

MADDOW:  I will – actually, let me just say this out loud, even though I

said this to you off camera.  Because we haven`t spoken before, I would

love to do a long format interview with you where you`re here for most of

the show, mostly because I have lots of questions to ask you.  In this

case, you got squoze a little bit by this breaking news, but I promise

you`ll come back for a longer discussion. 

 

YANG:  Thank you.  And, obviously, I mean, it is a historic occasion.  So,

I just feel fortunate to have this conversation with you. 

 

MADDOW:  Good.

 

Well, let me get your reaction to what`s happened today.  Obviously, this -

- what happened over the last few days and today shifted you a little bit

on this question of the president`s liability and whether he should be

pursued with an impeachment proceeding. 

 

How have you evolved on this issue?  What do you think about this latest

news? 

 

YANG:  You know, I`m – I`m in lock-step with Nancy Pelosi.  Where I think

she was reluctant earlier to pursue impeachment because she thought it

would run aground in the Senate, and then there would end up being this –

this motivating or galvanizing force for Donald Trump supporters, how he`s

being persecuted unfairly.  And then after you impeach him if it doesn`t

work, then it`s hard to impeach him again. 

 

And so, I think these were some of the things that were going through Nancy

Pelosi`s head.  They were going through my head.  But then this past week

when we saw just how far he`s willing to go even now after we had already

investigated his collusion with foreign powers, I feel like Nancy Pelosi

felt she had no choice but to move forward and I agree with her. 

 

MADDOW:  In terms of – I have been thinking of this as collusion 2,

Electric Boogaloo, that this is the president turning around – I mean,

literally, the day after Mueller testified, to say that he`s willing to try

– he didn`t get nailed for it, for what happened with Russia, he`s willing

to try it with Ukraine. 

 

I guess the part of the strategic calculation the Democrats have to make

here is whether or not this is something that they should investigate,

spell out everything that happened behind it, get to the bottom of

everything, or should they just consider this the president has admitted

to, publicly admitted behavior.  Is that enough to just move forward with

impeachment proceedings regardless of what else happened around this? 

 

YANG:  Well, I think this is a great catalyst, but I believe one of the

benefits of impeachment is that we can unearth new details about any of the

myriad avenues of investigation that maybe individually might not have led

to impeachment. 

 

MADDOW:  Uh-huh.

 

YANG:  But I think this is in many ways an opportunity for us to see just

what`s been going on after you turn over the rocks. 

 

MADDOW:  In terms of the president`s behavior here, your initial reaction

about this.  That if he`s not removed from office by this process, that it

might politically bolster him, might make him more effective in the 2020

campaign, might make him be able to turn sort of a persecution complex into

more support from his base – do you just feel more relaxed about those

concerns or do you feel like they can`t be operative given the seriousness

of what – the thing he`s accused of? 

 

YANG:  I think it`s the latter, where at some point, you have to exercise

your constitutional authority and utilize the checks and balances system to

say, look, this is a country that has the rule of law and that you can`t

have your president colluding with foreign powers and putting pressure on

them in return for aid against political rivals. 

 

At some point, you have to do the right thing, even if the political

calculation isn`t necessarily in your favor. 

 

MADDOW:  Uh-huh.  In terms of the Democratic field – obviously, you`ve had

a slow and steady rise in the polls.  You got – in a national poll, you

came in at 8 percent today. 

 

YANG:  Yes, I like that one. 

 

MADDOW:  Yes.  So, I was going to say, it`s the highest standing that

you`ve had in a national poll, put – leaving in the dust a lot of your

fellow candidates who have held elective office before when you haven`t. 

 

Obviously, you have to be really happy with where your campaign is right

now.  And I feel like it`s been sort of an important stylistic difference

in the campaign that some candidates have talked about Donald Trump as

being a really singularly bad thing for the country, somebody who sort of

hit the country like a lightning strike.  Whereas other candidates have

talked about the country as being sort of sick enough to elect Donald Trump

in the first place and that he should be seen as a symptom rather than a

singularly bad thing. 

 

Where do you come down on that? 

 

YANG:  I`m very much in the camp that Donald Trump is a symptom but he`s

not the cause of all of our root problems. 

 

MADDOW:  Uh-huh.

 

YANG:  If you dig in, you see that 78 percent of Americans are living

paycheck to paycheck.  We automated away 4 million manufacturing jobs in

the swing states, and now, 30 percent of America`s stores and malls are

closing because of Amazon.  And being a retail clerk is the most common job

in most of the country. 

 

Even if we were to get rid of Donald Trump in 2020, and I frankly expect

him to be there and to beat him at the ballot box, then we have to do the

hard work of reversing many of the problems that got him elected in 2016. 

 

MADDOW:  If you had the choice between running against Donald Trump or

running against Mike Pence because Donald Trump just got removed –

 

(CROSSTALK)

 

YANG:  Oh, no (ph), you just said that, President Pence. 

 

MADDOW:  President Pence.  I mean, I doubt that Donald Trump is going to

get removed by the impeachment process, but today has been a weird day. 

 

If you, Andrew Yang, had the choice of running against Donald Trump,

president, or Mike Pence, president, who do you think you`d have an easier

time beating? 

 

YANG:  I would be thrilled to be running against Mike Pence because that

means that Donald Trump has been out of office for some period of time. 

That would require 20 Republican senators to have a change of heart, which

as you suggest, you know, I don`t see happening.  But if that were to

happen, I`d be there celebrating alongside many other Americans. 

 

MADDOW:  Andrew Yang, thank you for being here on this very, very busy day. 

I look forward to having another opportunity to talk to you in this exact

same place and I look forward to seeing you at the debate next month. 

 

YANG:  Thanks.  I`ll see you soon, Rachel.  Thank you.

 

MADDOW:  Thanks a lot.  Really appreciate it.  Thanks.

 

We`ll be right back.  Stay with us. 

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

MADDOW:  So, on the one hand, Democrats launched impeachment proceedings

against President Trump today, a historic day.  And as we have been

covering, this story is still evolving right now as I speak. 

 

The basics are these: a whistleblower who works on the U.S. intelligence

community came forward with information about something related to

President Trump, we don`t know, because we don`t know who the whistleblower

is, and we haven`t seen the complaint.

 

But the whistleblower went through legal channels in a way that should have

protected him or her from retaliation or from prosecution, and that should

have resulted in their complaint, that information being conveyed to the

Congress.  That didn`t happen, because the White House, with an assist from

the Justice Department, nevertheless despite the law, tried to block this

whistleblower`s complaint from being conveyed to Congress. 

 

Well, tonight with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi proclaiming that impeachment

proceedings are now underway against the president on this matter, that

seems to be shaking loose. 

 

We have news that the whistleblower has tried to make contact with the

intelligence committees him or herself, that the intelligence committees

both want to hear testimony from that whistleblower by the end of the week. 

We have information from open source reporting tonight, from “Politico”,

“New York Times,” NBC News and others, that the White House is starting to

cave on whether or not at least some version of the whistleblower`s

complaint will finally be conveyed to Congress. 

 

There is also word from the president himself that some White House notes

on a call between the president of the United States and the president of

Ukraine may be released tomorrow.  Whether or not people are going to trust

White House notes on that call or whether or not that`s going to be seen as

a primary document remains to be seen, but all of this stuff is shaking

loose, and this story continues to develop.  And while all of that has been

happening today, a whole bunch of other stuff has happened with regard to

presidential scandals and indictments adjacent to and related to the

president in the Russia scandal. 

 

Today, for example, a judge in the eastern district of Virginia vacated the

conviction, basically tossed out the conviction of Mike Flynn`s former

business partner, a man named Bijan Kian.  Bijan Kian was convicted in July

by a jury, convicted on charges of conspiracy and acting as a foreign agent

when he and Trump national security adviser Mike Flynn took on the project

for Turkey.  Well, despite the jury`s ruling today, the judge in this case

today threw out the indictment, citing insufficient evidence.  And so, the

Bijan Kian conviction today has been essentially wiped off the books. 

Fascinating. 

 

We also learned today that the U.S. Justice Department has dropped what was

reported to be an ongoing investigation of Tony Podesta and Vim Weber after

two years of running that investigation.  These were essentially lobbyist

and PR guys who were potentially going to be charged along the same lines

as Greg Craig for having participated in a scheme in Ukraine involving the

president`s campaign chairman Paul Manafort.

 

Paul Manafort is in jail.  Greg Craig was tried before a jury.  His was the

first jury trial to end in an acquittal from anything derived from the

Mueller investigation.  Now in the wake of Greg Craig being acquitted

before a jury, Podesta and Weber say the Justice Department has also told

them that they are not going to be charged at all. 

 

We also tonight have some indication, although we haven`t been able to

confirm it with any court filings or documents yet, but we`re getting

reports from conservative media tonight that Trump national security

adviser Mike Flynn might have told the House Intelligence Committee that

he`s taking the Fifth.  He`s invoking his Fifth Amendment rights and

refusing to testify to the House Intelligence Committee despite them

demanding that he do so. 

 

It is remarkable for any witness to take the Fifth before Congress.  It`s

remarkable in its own right.  It is particularly remarkable when that same

witness is right now awaiting sentencing on federal felony charges before a

federal judge. 

 

And tonight, we have also been covering over the last few days this

remarkable sort of under the radar story in which President Trump himself

has been ordered by a New York judge to testify, to give testimony in a

trial.  It`s a personal injury case involving President Trump`s bodyguard

who was involved in a physical altercations outside Trump Tower in 2015

during the presidential campaign.  President Trump is named as a defendant

in that case.

 

As of last night, as we reported here, President Trump has been ordered to

testify in that trial.  The president had been ordered to give videotaped

testimony.  Well, today, there was a court hearing in that case.  The judge

decided to delay that trial until the first week in October.  As of right

now, though, President Trump`s testimony looks like it is still expected,

even if it is not expected literally tomorrow, which is what could have

happened had the judge not made that delay today. 

 

So, all this happening on the same day that the House proclaims impeachment

proceedings.  I have a feeling I`m not going to sleep tonight. 

 

We`ll be right back. 

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

MADDOW:  I`m officially standing in Lawrence O`Donnell`s real estate.  I

apologize. 

 

That does it for us tonight.  We`ll see you again tomorrow. 

 

Now, it is time for Lawrence`s show, “THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE

O`DONNELL”.

 

Good evening, Mr. O`Donnell.

 

                                                                                                               

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