Interview with David Plouffe. TRANSCRIPT: 9/30/19, The Last Word w/ Lawrence O’Donnell.
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Rachel.
And tickets are still available for Friday night at 10:00 on this show when
you`re talking about your book.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST, “TRMS”: That`s true.
O`DONNELL: And I got my Amazon notice today that the book is on the way to
MADDOW: That`s very nice.
O`DONNELL: And I tweeted it to alert THE LAST WORD book club. So, it`s
going to arrive tomorrow and I told everyone, you know, “Blowout” is on the
way and you`ll discuss it on this program, on my show Friday night.
And so, THE LAST WORD book club assignment for the week is get the book
tomorrow. Read it by 10:00 p.m. Friday night, and then participate in the
chat with Rachel.
MADDOW: You are very kind. You know what? It`s a long book, but it has a
good index. So, if people want to cheat, you can just read it via the
index to the good parts you want to get to about why Trump is being
O`DONNELL: No cheating in THE LAST WORD book club.
MADDOW: Well done. Thank you for having me, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: OK, Rachel.
O`DONNELL: Well, Mitch McConnell said today with certainty that Donald
Trump will be put on trial in the United States Senate if he`s impeached by
the House of Representatives, which is becoming more certain by the day.
Donald Trump`s jury in that trial will be the 100 members of the United
States Senate. The trial will begin with all 100 jurors raising their
right hand and taking an oath as jurors that has not been administered in
the U.S. Senate since the last presidential impeachment trial in 1999.
Six of the jurors in the Trump impeachment trial will be candidates for
president. What will they do? Will they suspend their campaigns? Will
they be able to fairly consider the evidence against the person they`re
running against for president?
We have never seen anything like this. No United States senator has ever
taken office anticipating this. No candidate for president has ever had to
think about this. Until now.
One of those candidates for president who will be a juror in the Trump
impeachment trial will join us at the end of this hour, Senator Cory Booker
will tell us how he will handle his duties if he is sworn in as a juror in
the impeachment trial of Donald J. Trump in the United States Senate.
Also tonight, David Plouffe who managed Senator Barack Obama`s successful
2008 campaign will join us tonight with his look at the intersection of
impeachment and the presidential campaign. A new polling now shows that a
solid majority of Americans support the impeachment investigation of
On the day when two of his cabinet members became deeply implicated in the
presidential impeachment investigation by the House of Representatives,
Donald Trump tweeted that one of the chairmen conducting the impeachment
investigation, Congressman Adam Schiff, should be arrested for treason.
But the president did that in his typically cowardly way of putting a
question mark at the end of the Trump thought, arrest for treason, question
The one thing in this life that we are now guaranteed is that for as long
as Twitter exists and Donald Trump exists, Donald Trump will be tweeting a
treason accusation at someone. And it is time for America to take a deep
breath about treason, OK? Get ready.
No one has committed treason. Donald Trump has not committed treason, and
no one Donald Trump has accused of committing treason has committed treason
because they cannot commit treason. The law defines treason as making war
on the United States or giving aid and comfort to the enemies of the United
Enemies is a legal word. The courts have interpreted the word enemies to
legally mean only the countries that are declared enemies in a
congressional declaration of war. Since the United States has not had a
congressional declaration of war since World War II, we also have not had a
successful treason prosecution since World War II.
So, it is in effect legally impossible to commit treason these days
involving Russia or any other country, but there are other laws you can
violate as President Trump appears to in his phone call with the president
of Ukraine where he`s asking for help in his re-election campaign. It is a
crime to solicit campaign help from a foreign country. In a tweet today,
President Trump who does not understand the law said, again, the president
of Ukraine said there was no, zero, pressure put on him by me, case closed,
As I`m sure I will have to repeat for the rest of the year, the law does
not use the word pressure. The law uses the word “solicit.” It is a crime
just to ask for the help, even if you ask very politely.
Much of the news media has fallen into the trap of using the concept of
pressure as being legally relevant, but it is not. So, as you follow the
coverage of the impeachment of Donald J. Trump, for the rest of this year,
just remember, no one involved is ever going to be charged with treason by
Congress or prosecutors. So you can get the word treason out of our head
and you can get the word pressure out of your head because it`s irrelevant
to the presidential phone call in which Donald Trump solicited help from
Ukraine for his re-election campaign. And pressure is irrelevant to the
new case revealed today of Donald Trump soliciting help from Australia in
his re-election campaign.
But the most important news of the night remains centered on what we can
now be sure will be Article One in the articles of impeachment against
President Trump, the phone call with the president of Ukraine. Donald
Trump is never going to stop telling the lie that the whistleblower`s
report of that phone call is not accurate, even though it has proved
accurate in every detail so far. And new information gathered about the
case since the whistleblower`s report has been released has only been more
damning to Donald Trump and his cabinet than the whistleblower`s report is.
The one huge new fact we learned today that is not specifically referenced
in the whistleblower`s report is that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was
listening in on the phone call that Donald Trump had with the president of
Ukraine. The whistleblower did not know that. The whistleblower`s report
says that approximately a dozen White House officials listened to the call.
The whistleblower listed one State Department official by name who also
listened in on the call, Ulrich Brechbuhl.
But – and now we know Mike Pompeo was listening in on the call, which
means that the reality of the call is even worse than what the whistle-
blower described with the evidence that the whistleblower was able to
“The Wall Street Journal” broke the news today that Mike Pompeo is now a
direct witness to the most important evidence in the impeachment
investigation. “The Journal” reported that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo
was among administration officials who listened in on the July 25th phone
call between President Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, a
senior State Department official said Monday. NBC News has also confirmed
that Mike Pompeo was listening to that phone call according to a senior
State Department official.
So whistles are being blown everywhere now. A senior State Department
official exposed the secretary of state today as a direct witness to the
presidential phone call, which means a senior State Department official has
exposed the full dimensions of the deceit in Mike Pompeo`s answer about the
whistleblower complaint and the phone call last week after the official
record of the phone call had been made public and after the whistleblower`s
complaint had been made public.
Here is what Mike Pompeo said last Thursday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: The whistle-blower complaint does not appear to suggest any
allegation of impropriety from people in the State Department, is that
correct? Are you confident that none of your staff – that you or your
staff did anything improper in this whole situation? Thank you.
MIKE POMPEO, SECRETARY OF STATE: So, Matt, I haven`t had a chance to
actually read the whistleblower complaint yet. I read the first couple of
paragraphs and then got busy today. But I`ll ultimately get a chance to
see it. If I understand it right, it`s from someone who had second-hand
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: He got busy today. Second-hand knowledge.
Mike Pompeo standing there had first-hand knowledge. Mike Pompeo heard
that presidential phone call. If he had any intention of ever revealing
that he was on that phone call, Mike Pompeo could have said right then and
there, I have first-hand knowledge of the phone call. I listened to that
phone call and Donald Trump did not say or do anything wrong in that phone
call, but Mike Pompeo did not defend the phone call that he listened to.
Was Mike Pompeo still hoping as of Thursday of last week that he could get
away with pretending he wasn`t on the phone call? When Mike Pompeo was hit
the next day, on Friday, with subpoenas from the House committees for all
of the State Department documents about that phone call, did Mike Pompeo
still think that he was going to be able to get away with pretending he was
not on that phone call? Was Mike Pompeo planning to defy those subpoenas?
Did the State Department official who blew the whistle on Mike Pompeo today
know that Mike Pompeo was planning to defy those subpoenas?
Mike Pompeo was part of what Nancy Pelosi has called the cover-up about
that phone call. Mike Pompeo didn`t blow the whistle on that phone call
after listening to it, but today, a senior State Department official blew
the whistle on Mike Pompeo. The whistles are not going to stop in the
Trump administration. Every Trump enabler should fear the sound of the
When President Nixon was forced to resign the presidency, when a Democratic
Congress was still investigating his criminality, President Nixon wasn`t
the only one destroyed by that impeachment investigation. President
Nixon`s attorney general went to prison. President Nixon`s White House
chief of staff went to prison, 48 Nixon administration officials were found
guilty of crimes.
Tonight, Mike Pompeo needs a criminal defense lawyer. The secretary of
state needs his own privately paid for criminal defense lawyer to advise
him on how to handle his response to the impeachment investigation. Mike
Pompeo has no attorney/client privilege with State Department lawyers or
Trump administration lawyers.
The same goes for Attorney General William Barr. Like Richard Nixon`s
attorney general, William Barr needs to hire his own personal privately
paid for criminal defense lawyer because William Barr does not have
attorney/client privilege with anyone in the Trump administration.
And now, William Barr could be as deeply implicated in what Nancy Pelosi
has called the Trump cover-up as Nixon`s attorney general was in the Nixon
cover-up. “The New York Times” broke the story today that William Barr
convinced President Trump to call the prime minister of Australia to get
Australia`s help in the Trump re-election campaign by asking him to help
William Barr undermine the Mueller investigation.
“The New York Times” reports, in making the request, one of many at Mr.
Barr`s behest, Mr. Trump was in effect asking the Australian government to
investigate itself. FBI counterintelligence investigators began examining
any Trump ties to Russia`s 2016 election interference after Australian
officials told the bureau that Russian intermediaries had made overtures to
Trump advisers about releasing political damaging information about Hillary
Clinton. Australia`s top diplomat in Britain had met in London in May 2016
with George Papadopoulos, a Trump campaign foreign policy adviser, who
revealed the Russian offer of dirt on Mrs. Clinton.
“The New York Times`” sources for this story are, quote, two American
officials. So, two American officials are blowing the whistle on William
Barr and Donald Trump. The whistleblowers are everywhere now. The same
“Times” story also reports that William Barr flew to Italy last week and
met with Italian government officials on Friday, the Justice Department
refuses to say whether the attorney general discussed the Mueller
investigation with Italian officials.
No attorney general of the United States has been implicated in an
impeachment investigation since Richard Nixon`s attorneys general, two of
whom were actually convicted of crimes in that investigation. Tonight, the
attorney general of the United States once again needs his own personally
paid for criminal defense lawyer who might soon become the only person
William Barr can safely talk to in Washington.
Leading off our discussion tonight are Democratic Congressman Andre Carson
of Indiana. He`s a member of the House Intelligence Committee. Matt
Miller, former spokesperson for Attorney General Eric Holder, is with us.
He`s an MSNBC contributor. And Nicholas Kristof, Pulitzer Prize-winning
columnist for “The New York Times”, who has written extensively on foreign
affairs, is also with us.
Congressman Carson, I want to start with you and the new revelations today
about the Trump administration`s reach to Australia now in addition to
Ukraine, looking for help in rehabilitating Donald Trump`s campaign image
in relation to the Mueller investigation.
REP. ANDRE CARSON (D-IN): Well, thank you for having me, Lawrence. I
think it`s very unfortunate. Australia is one of our critical Five Eye
partners and I think the Australian government is wiser than other
governments and they don`t have the same needs as other governments.
Again, we have a phenomenal intelligence-sharing partnership, and we`ve had
a great partnership throughout the decades. I think what`s important to
note is that the global community understands that Donald Trump is out of
He`s a tyrant. He presents himself as a mobster. He`s certainly a toxic
leader. And I think what he is doing is more than an embarrassment to our
O`DONNELL: Will you be subpoenaing Mike Pompeo now as a witness in the
impeachment investigation? You already subpoenaed documents from him, but
now that you know he heard the phone call, does he become a material
CARSON: With respect to my chairman, Andrew Schiff, and my friend Adam
Schiff, that`s the question best directed toward Adam.
O`DONNELL: Matt Miller, I want your reaction to the attorney general`s
conduct having worked for an attorney general yourself.
MATT MILLER, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: You know, I think everything about this
probe he`s launched is deeply troubling. The revelations just add to it.
I think you have to go back to the beginning of this investigation and
realize, you know, this investigation looks nothing like a normal DOJ
probe. It is not a criminal investigation because there`s no credible
evidence of criminal wrongdoing. You can`t just start investigations for
no reason. It`s not an I.G. investigation.
It appears that it`s just – the attorney general operating outside the
normal DOJ channels, to kind of, you know, roam around the world, roam
around the intelligence community looking for ways to smear the people the
president sees as his political opponents, the intelligence community and
When you add to that, the way the attorney general is spending so much time
personally involved in this, I attended dozens of meetings with Attorney
General Holder with multiple countries. He never once flew to a country
just to pressure them on one specific investigation as it appears Attorney
General Barr did here last week.
And you got on top that, him enlisting the president to pressure foreign
countries, when the underlying investigation relates to the president`s
conduct itself, the president shouldn`t be anywhere near this
investigation. You add all these up and I think there are reasons to be
deeply concerned about the independence of the Justice Department when you
see an investigation not operating the way investigations are usually
operated at DOJ, that usually means that there`s something wrong at the
O`DONNELL: Nick, we saw Republican senators last week days after the
record of the phone call came out, and then also days after the whistle-
blower`s report came out, running down the hallways in Washington saying,
oh, I haven`t read it. I haven`t read it.
There`s Mike Pompeo pretending he doesn`t know anything about this, and we
now know he was listening to the call.
NICHOLAS KRISTOF, PULITZER PRIZE-WINNING COLUMNIST, THE NEW YORK TIMES: I
found this staggering because it wasn`t only in that one interview that he
said that. This was his line repeatedly.
And, look, what`s important is not only that he was dissembling, but it
underscores the impression that Mike Pompeo was complicit in this larger
pattern for months in essentially the privatizing of our policy toward
Ukraine, to make it a Trump personal policy of extortion toward President
Zelensky, really overlapping with the Russian aim, both of cooling American
policy toward Ukraine and also cutting off military aid which also benefits
But I think also the importance of Pompeo participating in the call is it
underscores this wasn`t just some routine phone call. Look, a secretary of
state not normally a party to a call like that. That suggests this phone
call was really something the administration regarded as very important
effort by the Trump administration to, I think, you know, to twist
And so, in both dimensions, I think it`s an incredibly important milestone
and it does sort of reflects a sense that this is growing and growing. You
know, Bill Barr and Mike Pompeo today and, Lawrence, my guess is it`s going
to drag in Mike Pence as well. Mike Pence was so involved in Ukraine
policy from May on. He, as you know –
O`DONNELL: Canceled a trip there.
KRISTOF: Exactly. So, he`s – he was supposed to attend the Zelensky
inauguration. That was canceled as a way of putting pressure on Ukraine.
Well, I mean, he must have known that this trip was canceled. He must have
known the reason why.
Then on September 1st, he met with President Zelensky. Surely, Zelensky
raised the question of why military aid had been suspended. What did he
say in response to that? Then, again, he spoke by phone with Zelensky on
Clearly, there must have been some discussion of that military assistance.
I would really like to know what Pompeo told him.
O`DONNELL: Congressman Carson, the question of what Pompeo knew, when did
he know it, who did he tell, as Nick just mentioned, that seems to be
coming an increasingly important question.
You might get a lot of information in these depositions that you now have
scheduled with members of the State Department who`ve been involved in
this. Former ambassador to Ukraine, for example, and those are coming up
CARSON: Absolutely. We have a very capable staff of former prosecutors
and members of the intelligence community who will be a part of that line
of questioning. There are those of us who are representatives who are
scheduled to have our own hearing on Friday and many more to come, in fact.
But during this recess, Lawrence, I think it`s very important to note that
the American people are looking to Congress to do the right thing.
The Founding Fathers were complicated, as we know, but they were very
brilliant in setting up three separate but equal branches of government.
And I think Congress has a duty – and I`ve been urging Republicans,
Democrats, independents, libertarians to urge their representatives to do
the right thing and hold this administration accountable.
O`DONNELL: And, Matt Miller, we also have reports at “The Washington Post”
of saying Barr had already made overtures to the British intelligence
officials. Last week, the attorney general traveled to Italy. So, now, we
have trying to get help from Britain, trying to get help from Italy, trying
to get help from Australia.
And, of course, the inevitable report that the Trump phone call with
Australia`s prime minister was also, the record of that – the rough
transcript of that was also put in the highly restricted locked-up spot in
the White House for what they did with the Ukrainian call.
MILLER: Yes, you see the president trying to conceal what he was doing
here, the president`s staff trying to conceal what the president was doing.
And you also saw the attorney general`s staff trying to conceal his trip to
You know, every time the attorney general leaves the country, the Justice
Department traditionally announces it to the press. We did that in the
Obama administration. It`s been the practice for years.
And up until now, until last week, it was the practice of this
administration. Something about this trip made them decide that they
wanted to keep it secret and not tell the press. And we now find out it
was because he was on this campaign with the Italians, with the English,
with the Australians to convince them to help, to smear the intelligence
community and the FBI.
And I think you have to – when you worry about the damage that can be done
here, you know, intelligence officials know what the president wants to
hear. They know what the attorney general wants to hear. And when you see
the way the president has retaliated against the Ukrainian government when
they didn`t initially launch the investigation he wanted, you have to
wonder if these officials are going to produce something to make the
president happy or if they see interference whether they`re going to hold
it back and not come forward, and that`s deeply concerning.
O`DONNELL: Nick, one thing I`m stunned. I`m stunned by the behavior of
Mike Pompeo and William Barr, especially where it is in the calendar.
We`re possibly 18 months away from a new Justice Department run by a
Democratic attorney general who`s empowered to investigate everything
they`ve been doing.
And for anyone who lived through the Nixon experience, the idea that an
attorney general would go near to the edges of this kind of behavior or a
secretary of state is just stunning.
KRISTOF: I mean, I have the same sensation. You know, I remember in high
school, you know, being glued to the Watergate hearings. And it`s the same
sense of an administration that is just – has no sense of accountability,
has no sense there`s ever going to be scrutiny.
The Zelensky call, I mean, Trump made from the private living – not from
the Oval Office, but from the private living quarters. And I think what is
finally happening is, indeed, that things are catching up. And so, we`re
seeing that with Barr and with Pompeo, and as I said, I think Pence may be
– may be next.
O`DONNELL: The next whistle might be aimed at Mike Pence. We will see.
Congressman Andre Carson, Nicholas Kristof, Matt Miller – thank you all
for starting us off tonight. I really appreciate it.
CARSON: Thank you, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: And when we come back, what is Mitch McConnell up to? First,
he agrees last week with Chuck Schumer`s unanimous consent request to
release the whistleblower`s complaint. And now, he decides today is a good
day to promise the country an impeachment trial in the Senate if Donald
Trump is impeached just as impeachment is looking ever more likely.
He didn`t have to say that today. He could have been evasive. He knows
how to be evasive. But he was very clear about that.
Does Mitch McConnell think that maybe, just maybe he`s going to need a
different nominee for president next year?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: Mr. President, do you now know who the whistleblower is, sir?
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, we`re trying to find
out about a whistleblower. When you have a whistle-blower that reports
things that were incorrect.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: He`s lying, of course.
Joining us now is E.J. Dionne, an opinion writer for “The Washington Post”
and visiting professor at Harvard University. And Rick Stengel, the former
undersecretary of state in the Obama administration. He`s MSNBC political
And, Rick, the whistleblower so far has not been incorrect about anything,
except the whistleblower did not know that Mike Pompeo was listening in on
the phone call.
RICHARD STENGEL, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, first of all, the
whistleblower law is designed to protect the identity of the whistleblower.
The president of the United States saying we`re looking into who it is is
on its face an abuse of power just like that.
It is amazing, though, as you mentioned that the whistleblower did not
realize that Mike Pompeo was listening into that call. It`s unusual to
have a secretary of state listen into a phone call between a president of
the United States and another head of state.
With Trump, it`s a little bit like he`s a mafia don and he wants to
incriminate everybody and said, come on, come here with me because you`ll
then be incriminated when you listen to this call.
And Mike Pompeo, he`s certainly understood there was a quid pro quo going
on when Trump was talking to the president of Ukraine.
O`DONNELL: And, E.J., it`s entirely possible that no one new at the time
that Mike Pompeo was on that phone call. So the whistleblower who we know
was gathering information from people who were troubled by the call, those
people seem to be giving the whistleblower everything they can find, but
they might not have known that.
E.J. DIONNE, THE WASHINGTON POST: No. I think that`s very possible. And
I think just on Rick`s point about Trump trying to get everybody soiled by
this, he`s also made comments about Mike Pence, suggesting that Mike Pence
was involved in this. Why might he do that? He might do that because he
doesn`t want Republicans thinking that Mike Pence would be a great
alternative. He`s actually tried to sell the idea that, well, if he and
Pence both went down, then Nancy Pelosi would become president, which is
So I think that what we`re seeing here is that once a dam breaks,
information comes out. You did it in terms of whistles being blown
everywhere. And what we`re learning about Pompeo and what we`re learning
about Barr is feeding a story that has moved the country, according to the
polls, toward impeachment to a degree they have never been at before.
O`DONNELL: E.J., let me go to this question of what Mitch McConnell might
be up to because it`s fascinating the way you`re isolating Donald Trump`s
willingness to deflect some of this attention toward Mike Pence, of course,
because he does want to communicate to Republicans, not just Democrats,
switching over the Pence might not be that easy.
It may be that Mitch McConnell`s cooperation with Chuck Schumer last week,
Mitch McConnell`s unnecessary statement today that absolutely he will have
an impeachment trial in the Senate if the House sends him a bill of
impeachment. That could all be part of Mitch McConnell thinking right now
that they might need a different nominee who is not Donald Trump or Mike
Pence by the time they get to next summer.
DIONNE: It does seem that McConnell has gone out of his way to distance
himself a little bit. I mean McConnell loves Trumps judges. He likes Trumps
tax cuts. He doesn`t really like Donald Trump that much but he also has
Senate rules to deal with.
And McConnell will ride roughshod over all kinds of norms but it`s very
hard to get around Senate rules that say he absolutely has to have an
impeachment trial but he did leave himself away out he noted that there`s
nothing in the rules that tells him how long impeachment has to be on the
So I think McConnell is keeping all his options open.
O`DONNELL: And Rick to no one`s surprise John Bolton is letting it be
known. NBC news reporting that John Bolton argued against Trump even making
the phone call to the Ukrainian President and certainly would have argued
against the contents of that phone call. He is reportedly was not someone
who heard the phone call because he was at that point on the outs enough
that he wasn`t probably even allowed to.
Yes. The situation we have is that as people leave the administration,
they`re never replaced by a better actor. They`re not replaced by people
who even have the beginning of understanding. I mean Bolton is now
distinguishing himself for basically being a kind of normative you know
political science figure saying Sir, you can`t do that.
O`DONNELL: At least procedurally.
RICH STENGEL, FMR EDITOR, TIMES MAGAZINE: Procedurally, yes, you can`t do
that. This is supporting a foreign power. This is interfering in the
election and I hope that Bolton doesn`t wait until he does his book to
speak out and that he speaks out right now and all along this process like
some people haven`t done. That would be really important.
O`DONNELL: I mean in your experience in the State Department doesn`t it
indicate now that if you were allowed on the call with Donald Trump, you
are the kind of person in that administration who doesn`t argue with him
STENGEL: I guess that`s right. I mean he put both wants to include them to
incriminate them but he also wants to include them so that they pat him on
the back and that`s what Pompeo has been doing from the beginning.
O`DONNELL: Rich Stengel and E.J. Dionne, thank you both for joining us
tonight. And when we come back, former Republican Senator is now urging
fellow Republicans to save their souls and not go down with Donald Trump.
O`DONNELL: In an Op-ed in Washington Post today, former Republican Senator
Jeff Flake urged his colleagues to save their souls. He wrote, “My fellow
Republicans it is time to risk your careers in favor of your principles.
Whether you believe the President deserves impeachment, you know he does
not deserve re-election. For those who want to put America first, it is
critically important at this moment in the life of our country that we all
here and now do just that. Trust me when I say that you can go elsewhere
for a job but you cannot go elsewhere for a soul.”
The editorial board of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch issued a similar call to
Republicans. “How far must a President go in betraying his country before
Republicans finally declare that he no longer represents their values? How
much crisis chaos and scandal can Republicans exhausted from constantly
defending him, tolerate before they decide enough`s enough?
The time has come for Republicans to stand up for the constitution, stand
up for America and tell Trump to step down.”
And today Mitch McConnell left no doubt that there will be an impeachment
trial in the Senate if President Trump is impeached by the House of
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): The Senate impeachment rules are very clear.
The Senate would have to take up an impeachment resolution of it came over
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Democratic Senator Cory Booker would be one of the jurors in
that Senate impeachment trial of Donald Trump. Senator Booker joins us
O`DONNELL: At the beginning of the impeachment trial of Donald J. Trump,
all 100 United States senators will raise their right hands and take this
oath as jurors. I solemnly swear that in all things appertaining to the
trial of the impeachment of Donald J. Trump now pending, I will do
impartial justice according to the constitution and laws. So help me God.
Joining us now is one of the senators who will take that oath if the House
of Representatives impeach the President. New Jersey Democratic Senator
Cory Booker. He is a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee and the
Senate Foreign Relations Committees.
And he is now a candidate for President of the United States. So nobody saw
this coming as Presidential candidates but you could end up as a juror in
an impeachment trial of the person you`re running against. Could you take
that oath that I just read and then fairly play your role as a juror in the
SEN. CORY BOOKER (D-NJ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Absolutely. This is a
sobering thing and it should be separate and apart of. Look, I`m confident
about our ability to take down Donald Trump. I wouldn`t be running if I
didn`t think I could beat him but those are for all the political reasons.
This is something entirely separate. Did he or did he not betray his oath?
Did he or did he not create potential treason against his country and put
his own interest in front of our national security interests? So I think
those questions could be held independently. He still could be a very bad
person, a very - all the things that I think could be the reason why I`m
running but to be independent from this.
We have to in this time. All 535 people should be sober. 535 Congress
people should be sober, should be deliberative. This is not a gleeful time.
This is a time - a sad time that we should be putting patriotism before
partisanship. We should be putting our oath to defend the constitution
ahead of our political agendas for the future.
O`DONNELL: Have you talked to any other Presidential candidates, the five
others who are senators and may be potential jurors in this about how you
all approach this?
BOOKER: You know, I`ve got good friendships among the Senators who are
there and I`ve had a very brief conversations since it`s all been breaking
as are leading into this recess we`re in right now. But all of us, I think
had a similar feeling when we were down in Iowa for the Iowa Steak Fry
which is great thing for vegan to say.
But we all were saying sort of the same sentiment up, we thought he could
not shock us anymore but when this stuff was breaking, it was still pretty
O`DONNELL: Would you suspend your campaign and stay in the impeachment
BOOKER: I`ll - I think that the impeachment trial should go on. I have an
obligation to be there - one of the more I think solemn obligations of this
office should it ever come to impeachment to sit in that jury trial and do
what you have to do.
O`DONNELL: And this actually goes to the - in a in a certain kind of way
incentive of the jurors. Would you as a candidate, as the nominee of the
Democratic Party, would you prefer to be running against Donald Trump as
the nominee of the Republican Party than any other possible Republican
BOOKER: Let me - let me make this clear as much as I find what Donald Trump
does is deeply distasteful, deeply hurting and wounding to our nation, to
our character, he commits moral vandalism every day, I would prefer us not
to be where we are today.
I would prefer it not to be a point where we need impeachment proceedings
because this is a sad day for America, that we should have a President that
would engage in such behavior to necessitate an impeachment.
So I wish this was not going on. I wish we were going towards what would be
the show down about 13 months from now. I`ll be prepared to beat him. I`ll
take a lot of pleasure in going up against him but that`s a fight that I
will take one way or the other whether he`s there or not.
So this this is something, I`m hoping all of us who really want him gone
will step back and understand that our constitution is at stake here. There
are - there are principles that are far deeper than our partisans beliefs
or our political ambitions. This is a moment we should all look at this
with sober eyes and deal with the facts and the evidence.
O`DONNELL: You`re a member of Judiciary jurisdiction or the Justice
department. You`re a member of Foreign Relation Jurisdiction of the State
Department. You discovered something about the heads of both of those
departments today. The Secretary of State Pompeo was listening to the call.
Attorney General Barr is trying to get help for Donald Trump from other
countries in his re-election campaign.
BOOKER: They both are implicated now and they both have to answer a lot of
questions. Where were they, what did they know? What did they do with what
they knew? Obviously we`ve seen evidence of cover ups. Were they involved
in that because we know many times a cover up can be as bad or worse than
This is an administration that seems to be rotting from the core and
infecting a lot of people around. I`m happy to see that there are more than
one whistleblowers it seems. People that are willing to tell the truth or
talk about what`s going on.
So there`s a lot of investigation to do. I hope we do it quickly as
possible but this thing has yet to begun. I think we`re in the foothills of
understanding the mountains of challenges and potential violations that are
going to be coming out.
O`DONNELL: Senator Cory Booker, thank you very much.
BOOKER: Thank you very much.
O`DONNELL: I appreciate it.
BOOKER: Thank you.
O`DONNELL: And when we come back, our next guest is the most calmest
campaign genius I`ve ever seen in 2008 at the Democratic Convention in
Denver. David Plouffe joined a discussion with a small group of political
reporters who were there and he basically told us all in very sophisticated
campaign analytical language.
Just be calm. Barack Obama is going to win and he was fully convincing. I
never had another doubt after I listened to David Plouffe that day and I
can`t wait to listen to him again tonight after this break.
O`DONNELL: New Polls show increasing support for impeachment. CBS poll
shows 55 percent support an impeachment inquiry by the House of
Representatives. A Quinnipiac poll shows 47 percent support impeachment and
removal from office of President Trump.
47 percent oppose impeachment and removal from office. Just last week that
same poll showed only 37 percent support for impeachment and removal from
office. And joining us now a polling expert David Plouffe. He was the
Campaign Manager for Senator Barack Obama`s 2008 Presidential campaign.
And he was White House Senior Adviser for President Barack Obama. He is
also the host of the new podcast from Cadence13 called Campaign H. Q. which
takes you inside Presidential campaigns. No one knows more about that than
David, thank you very much for joining us tonight. I want to get your
reaction to this huge swing in the Quinnipiac poll on impeachment. It was
37 percent in favor just a week ago. Now that`s up to 47, just an
DAVID PLOUFFE, FMR CAMPAIGN MANAGER FOR BARACK OBAMA: Well Lawrence, thanks
for having me. I think that you know as citizens and voters learn more
about the goings on, we`ve learned today now, Australia is getting dragged
into the conspiracy. I think they believe an inquiry is appropriate.
I would caution everyone though, to understand that you know Donald Trump
and his campaign are going to try and leverage this for maximum impact too.
They`re running ads all over YouTube and Facebook. Very effective ads.
Trying to find new supporters, register new voters.
So I think that we don`t know yet what`s going to happen over the coming
weeks and maybe those numbers get worse and worse for the President and
maybe we stay basically where we are but make no mistake, that Trump on the
other side is going to try to leverage this for full impact.
Now of course, this wasn`t part of his playbook to the extent he has one,
heading into a re-election you don`t want the threat of impeachment but
they`re going to try to make the best of it.
O`DONNELL: So this is something you haven`t had to deal with as a campaign
strategist, the opposing candidate possibly being impeached. How do you
handle that in the Presidential campaign? How do the Democrats handle that
in a Presidential campaign?
PLOUFFE: Well, it`s important like Nixon and Clinton are two most recent
examples. They were both in their second term. So Andrew Johnson went
through this in his first term but that that was back in the 1860s so it`s
hard to draw lessons from.
I guess if - first of all we have a bunch of candidates out there trying to
win the nomination and my suspicion is that impeachment is not going to
drive our primary. I think folks are going to be looking for who can beat
Donald Trump because I don`t think we should expect that he`s going to be
removed by conviction or by resignation. By election.
So who can beat him? Who would be a good President? So obviously we do have
a bunch of senators who may be if this heads to trial obviously in the
spotlight and maybe they`ll have a great moment. But I think at the end of
the day when you get the Iowa and New Hampshire and South Carolina, I don`t
think it`s going to really drive who our voters pick to be our nominee. Of
course it could have a big effect on the general election, we just don`t
know that right now.
O`DONNELL: You know David, most interesting thing I heard about what you`re
just saying was on your podcast with Senator Warren`s Chief Strategist who
was talking about how her message on impeachment which was that she simply
read the Mueller report, made a decision and this is where she is was very
much a part of the total fabric of the way she approaches issues.
She takes in the information, she takes in the analytical information, the
best information, she makes her decision and he was arguing, it seemed to
me on your podcast that impeachment actually is part of the entire Warren
PLOUFFE: Well, I think in terms of the way she takes in information and
makes a decision so there`s a decisiveness that Joe Rose Pars, the Chief
Strategist was talking about but also she - and she`s not alone in this but
she has been talking quite a bit about corruption throughout the entire
campaign but is intensified that recently.
So and I think that is going to be something that Trump is vulnerable to,
whether it`s Ukraine but also the family corruption, the grifting, the
benefiting of the Trump family. Voters in Wisconsin and Iowa, in Ohio and
Pennsylvania and Florida and Arizona, they don`t like that, right?
So I think just as I think we have to make a better case about the job loss
under Trump. By the way the two states in the country with the biggest
manufacturing job loss over the last year, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania. This
is very important information so you don`t like the tweeting, you don`t
like the distractions but you`re losing jobs in your backyard, in your
hometown and you`re dealing with really unprecedented corruption.
So I`d imagine even before impeachment, corruption was going to be center
stage in terms of the argument against Donald Trump and his battleground
states and I think that`s only to intensify now.
O`DONNELL: David, I have to squeeze in a final commercial break. When we
come back, I want to ask you this difficult question. I certainly don`t
have any idea how to handle this about how Joe Biden as a Presidential
candidate should be handling the way he and his family have been dragged
into this Presidential phone call with the President of Ukraine.
That`s now the subject of an impeachment investigation. You got a minute to
think that one over. We will come back after the break.
O`DONNELL: Back with us, President Obama`s former campaign strategist David
Plouffe. David, how should Joe Biden and the Biden campaign handle Joe
Biden and his family being dragged into that phone call by President Trump,
the President of Ukraine?
A phone call that`s now the subject of an impeachment investigation.
PLOUFFE: Well, as outrageous as it is and you know Trump`s got Giuliani,
kind of who I think comes across more like a lunatic sort of figure these
days than the former Mayor of New York City and all his henchmen trying to
drag Joe Biden into this. I would use that obsession to your benefit. So
obviously Lawrence your show, any show, any podcast, local or national
would have Joe Biden on and I would use that obsession that Donald Trump
used to have of Joe Biden and be out there.
And I know you`re going to get tough questions but that`s what I would view
as the best alternative here is to really go out there and aggressively
fill the space and basically for a period of time anyway become Donald
Trump`s general election opponent you know here in September and October.
O`DONNELL: There`s been what we have seen our candidates like Beto O`Rourke
stepping up and defending Joe Biden very strongly, very decisively and
that`s kind of an interesting campaign dynamic if you`re the Biden
campaign, do we just let them do it?
PLOUFFE: Well, again and I think we`ll see more candidates do that but
again this is a very crowded field and you`re running against Donald Trump,
you know for all his faults, he`s a showman extraordinaire. He wants to
dominate the oxygen and so this is an opportunity I think to go face to
face with him.
But I think you know this is an example of what whoever is our nominee is
going to deal with this. I mean you know what we saw and 16 is going to be
gentle by comparison. This is going to be brutal. It is going to be
absolutely brutal and that`s why I think you know, we need to see how our
candidates deal with these tough situations through the rest of this year
or early part of this year.
How they deal with adversary? How they deal with challenge? Even unfair
things like this because we need someone who cannot just win debates on
policy points, raise more money than Donald Trump. We need somebody who
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Copyright 2019 ASC Services II Media, LLC. All materials herein are
protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced,
distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the
prior written permission of ASC Services II Media, LLC. You may not alter
or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the