Opening STMT from 1st WH Official to testify. TRANSCRIPT: 10/28/19, The Rachel Maddow Show.

Raja Krishnamoorthi

CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST:  This Friday, we`re back in Studio 6A.  Our

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That is ALL IN for this evening. 


“THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW” starts right now. 


Good evening, Rachel.


RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST:  Good evening, Chris.  Thank you, my friend. 

Much appreciated.


HAYES: You bet.


MADDOW:  Thanks to you at home for joining us this hour.  Happy Monday. 


So, it is a national education board, prestigious one.  It`s the Commission

on Presidential Scholars.  And because this is an actual presidential

commission, it needs presidential appointees.  And the Trump

administration, this month, needed a new one, needed a new presidential

appointee to this presidential commission. 


And they found the perfect guy.  He`s a big Trump donor.  He writes

articles for the conservative blog, “Newsmax”.  Like this one, “Trump`s new

tax code will save the economy.” 


He also runs a couple of private sort of pseudo-educational companies that

will allow you basically to buy certifications which appear to be academic

qualifications if you squint and maybe if you`ve had a few drinks. 


Here`s the “Denver Post”.  Quote: George Mentz owns the Global Academy of

Finance and Management.  He was previously the CEO of a similar company,

the American Academy of Financial Management.  Both companies award

certifications, allowing applicants to add an alphabet soup of titles after

their names. 


For a fee, for example, paid to this guy, he would send you something that

describes you as an accredited life coach or a certified political

scientist or a master Islamic financial specialist.  You can choose from

more than 100 other titles.  You just pay this guy and then he sends you a

piece of paper given you the title. 


According to George Mentz, this Trump donor, this new appointee to this

national prestigious education commission, buying one of these

certifications from his company, quote, makes you one of the next

generation of global leaders.  Oh, yes, because you pay him $378 and he

gives you a piece of paper calling you a certified political scientist,

clearly, you are ready for your turn on the global stage.  Clearly, you are

one of the next generation of global leaders. 


But this guy, Mr. Newsmax, blogger, fake certifications by mail – I mean,

as impressive as his record is in the field of education, I think the real

attraction for this presidential appointment for him getting a presidential

appointment to this prestigious federal education board must have been his

long list of books. 


Here`s one of the books that he has authored.  And this is not the whole

book.  This is just the title.  This is a book he wrote in 2013, but that

the whole title is here. 


It is, and I quote, “Success Magic: The Prosperity Secret to Win with

Magical Spiritual Power, How to Grow Rich, Influence People, Protect Your

Mindset and Love Yourself Like a Warrior Using Timeless Abundance Secrets.” 

That`s the title. 


Now, in the odd chance that that seems like that book might be confusing,

how do you love yourself like a warrior using timeless abundance secrets

while also using magical spiritual power to grow rich and influence people,

and what does that have to do with success, magic, and why isn`t there a

comma between them?  Don`t worry.  It sounds a little confusing but he has

a tick in his books which is he puts the really good parts, really

important parts, in all capital letters. 


So, “The Denver Post” was reviewing this guy`s literary output in the light

of his new presidential appointment and they were able to zoom right in on

the bottom line thesis of that book with the 29-word title, not including

the ampersand, and the bottom-line thesis of the book according to the

“Denver Post” is this.  Quote: When a person starts struggling and

initiates – all capital letters – alchemy or magic, something happens. 

Got it? 


“The Denver Post” profiled George Mentz as a homegrown Colorado

presidential employee.  They highlighted not only his awkward business

history of handing out fake academic titles for money, but also the quite

amazing list of books that he has to his name, because it`s not just that

one.  I mean, let me show you a little bit of a list.  These are all by the

same guy. 


Trump donor just appointed to a federal education board.  Yes, he is the

author of the big one, right?   “Success Magic: The Prosperity Secret to

Win With Magical Power, How to Grow Rich, Influence People, Protect Your

Mindset and Love Yourself Like a Warrior Using Timeless Abundance Secrets.” 

That`s one. 


But he`s also the author of “The Illuminati: Secret Laws of Money, the

Wealth Mindset Manifesto.”  Also, “The Illuminati Handbook: The Path of

Illumination and Ascension”.  Also, “The 50 Laws of Power of the

Illuminati.”  Also, “100 Secrets and Habits of the Illuminati for Life`s



And also, I don`t know how he finds the time, but the same year he wrote

the success magic book with the 29-word-long tight the about the alchemy

and something happening, that same year, he also wrote a whole other

different book that`s called “The Abundance Bible and the Secret Powers of

Manifesting Wealth, Health and Peace of Mind.”  Man, has this guy got it

all figured out. 


When he started donating money to the Donald Trump for president, the

company responded by naming him economic board that advised the campaign. 

Now that Donald Trump, surprise, is actually the president of the United

States, they`ve gone back to the well and so now the author of “The

Illuminati Secret Laws of Money” and all those other books, now he`s a

presidential appointee to the Federal Presidential Commission on

Presidential Scholars.  Because why not? 


And whether or not you were worried about the presidential commission, a

commission on presidential scholars, and what Donald Trump might be capable

of doing to such an education board, when it comes to him choosing his high

level appointees for various jobs in the administration, there would appear

to be some continuity in the selection process between how he has found

personnel for boards like that and how he has chosen, like, his top adviser

on China, which is an even more important job. 


I mean, it`s easy to forget now, but when Trump announced he was running

for president in the first place, kind of his whole argument for why he was

running was about China.  It was supposedly the most important thing to him

during the campaign.  The multimedia team at the “Huffington Post” website

cut together an epic sort of endless super cut of what Trump was talking

about every day on the campaign trail, every time he opened his mouth to

explain why he decided to run for president. 





China.  China.  China.  China.  China.  China.  China.




You go over to China.  China.  China.  China.  China.  China.  China.  You

take China. 




China.  I love them.  China.  China.  China.  I have to have my China. 




MADDOW:  That was from 2015.  That was the way he started to run for

president.  That was his stated for having to run for president.  I have to

have my China.  China, right?


Then he becomes president.  And, believe it or not„ he appoints a top

adviser to the president of the United States on the issue of China, China,

China, I have to have my China, and for that job which you think would be

very important for them to get the right person, he picks somebody who

reportedly had never been to China, who does not speak Chinese, has not

formally studied China.  How does he pick this guy on his supposedly top



Well, the guy did write some books with some amazing titles that you can

imagine, perhaps, maybe appealed to the president`s sense of branding on

this issue, if not his deep appreciation for actual expertise, because

Peter Navarro`s books on China are called things like “Death by China”,

“Confronting the Dragon.”  Also, “The Coming China Wars.” 


It`s good enough.  Look at that.  “Death by China.” get me that guy.  It

sounds awesome.  Please tell me that`s a movie already. 


That`s how we got our nation`s top presidential adviser on China.  Now, in

looking at his literary output on China, The Chronicle of Higher Education

recently reported that Peter Navarro invented a fake source, a fake, quote,

China muse, for his belligerent somewhat crazy books about China.  In Peter

Navarro`s books, he repeatedly cites somebody named Ron Vara who says very

quotable anti-China things in Mr. Navarro`s books, things like, you`ve got

to be nuts to eat Chinese food.


Well, the Chronicle of Higher Education was first to document it but this

repeatedly cited China expert for the president`s top adviser on China is a

figment of Peter Navarro`s own imagination, it`s his imagination friend. 

The name, Ron Vara, this guy who keeps citing as a China expert is actually

an anagram of his own last name, Navarro. 


Since he has been caught citing himself as a fake China expert in his own

books about China, Mr. Navarro has tried to pass this off as a hilarious

in-joke that everybody should just get over.  Who among us does not enjoy

made-up sources in books as a source of inherent plurality? 


The problem with this line, the people with whom he was co-authoring his

books apparently didn`t know that Peter Navarro`s source was made up. 

Quote: One of Mr. Navarro`s co-author was unaware of Ron Vara`s fictional

status.  Ron Vara is quoted in “Seeds of Destruction” which was written in

2010 by Navarro and Glenn Hubbard, a professor of finance and economics at

Columbia University. 


Asked via email whether he knew that Peter Navarro had inserted a fictional

character into their book and whether doing so was OK with him, Professor

Hubbard replied, “no and no.”  As in, no, I didn`t know he was making up

sources for our book, and no, I`m not OK with it. 


And that`s just bizarre.  I mean, it`s just funny and it`s weird and it`s -

- but in the Trump administration, with their hiring policies and their

excellent vetting, that is who you`re going to get as the top China adviser

to the president, right?  Get me the “Death by China” guy. 


And he has now become the actual architect of a real trade war that our

country is waging with China and as a result of that, U.S. manufacturing is

in an actual recession for the first time in years and the federal

government is giving direct bailout payments to U.S. farmers to compensate

them for the economic devastation the China trade war has caused U.S.

farms.  Those payments to U.S. farmers at this point are already more than

double what the U.S. government paid out during the great recession to save

the whole U.S. auto industry. 


But don`t worry, Peter Navarro has it all in hand.  He knows what he`s

doing.  Ron Vara told him not to eat the chow mein so, you know, “Death by

China,” we`re confronting the dragon. 


So, it`s all nut, but now, this particularly nutty and destructive area of

presidential policymaking and presidential personnel looks like it might

potentially be the next page in the Donald Trump impeachment inquiry.  The

impeachment proceedings as you know sparked by a whistle-blower complaint

from inside the intelligence community, and the intelligence professional

who reportedly been detailed at the White House, raising the alarm first

internally and through whistle-blower channels that the president had been,

quote, using the power of his office to solicit interference from a foreign

country in the 2020 U.S. election, including among other things pressing a

foreign country to investigate one of the president`s main political

rivals.  That was the whistle-blower complaint. 


There was a concerted effort within the White House and the Justice

Department, even it appears at the office of the director of national

intelligence, to try to kibosh this whistle-blower`s complaint, keep it

quiet, keep Congress from getting it.  Nevertheless, the complaint gets to

Congress.  The allegation is totally explosive. 


When it emerges that the whistle-blower`s complaint hinges on a July 25th

phone call between President Trump and the president of Ukraine, president

Trump initially asserts that the call was, in his words, perfect.  There

was nothing wrong with the call.  The White House to back that up then

released the official notes from that call.  The White House notes of that

call confirm everything the whistle-blower said and worse. 


I mean, there in black and white is President Trump demanding from Ukraine

an investigation into one of his domestic political rivals.  It was almost

like the president didn`t realize that was bad.  With all the things he`s

gotten away with, oh, this one is bad?  This is what I`m going to get in

trouble for? 


The president sort of had to pivot from the call was perfect.  The

president`s supporters, particularly members of Congress, initially tried

to kind of spin the White House notes on that call.  Tried to kind of

reimagine what happened there. 


Supporters were, like, OK, we know what it looks like, but you`re reading

it wrong, right?  You`re reading too much into it.  He`s not really

literally asking for Ukraine to investigate the Bidens.  That`s fake news. 

That`s Democratic spin. 


In response to that pushback, reporters naturally just asked the president,

you know, sir, are your supporters right?  Is that not what you meant? 

What did you want to happen there, sir?  Were you asking for an

investigation of the Bidens? 




REPORTER:  Mr. President, what exactly did you hope Zelensky would do about

the Bidens after your phone call? 


TRUMP:  Well, I would think that if they were honest about it, they`d start

a major investigation into the Bidens.  It`s a very simple answer. 




MADDOW:  Oh, there goes the initial defense that he was not asking for an

investigation into the Bidens. 


Mr. President, what did you hope Zelensky would do after your phone call? 

Well, if they were honest about it, I hope they`d start a major

investigation into the Bidens.


The president just admits it, yes, that`s what I was trying to get in that

call from an foreign country, an investigation into the Bidens.  Why, is

that bad? 


Then in the next breath, he compounds the problem in what is turning out to

potentially be a very important way. 




TRUMP:  It`s a very simple answer.  They should investigate the Bidens

because how does a company that`s newly formed and all these companies, you

look at – by the way, likewise, China should start an investigation into

the Bidens. 




MADDOW:  Oh, China should start an investigation into the Bidens, too. 

Yes, the thing you are impeaching me for, asking Ukraine for an

investigation of the Bidens, yes, I did that.  We`ve now provided you

written official White House evidence of that and I`m reiterating it here

on the White House lawn. 


Also, if you would like to impeach me for asking China to do the same

thing, I`m going to go ahead and commit that crime right here, right now,

in front of all of you.  Microphones all still on?  OK.  Ready? 


Here it goes.  I would also like China to investigate the Bidens.  Now,

where do I sign? 


The only defense at that point for the president`s supporters would have to

be a creative one.  Republican Senator Marco Rubio sort of took the lead on

that arguing that President Trump couldn`t possibly have just asked China

to investigate Joe Biden, too.  He cannot have done that. 


It must have been – he must – uh – he was kidding?  Let`s say he was





REPORTER:  You`re one of the loudest critics of China and its human rights

abuses.  I mean, is it OK for him to ask to say that? 


SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R-FL):  I don`t think it`s a real – I think, again, I

think he did it to gig you guys. 




MADDOW:  He didn`t mean that.  He was telling a hilarious joke to gig you

guys.  To make you giggle?  To gig you?  I don`t know. 


The White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney also got asked about it.  This

is the White House briefing where Mulvaney went ahead and confirmed that

there was a quid pro quo demand to Ukraine that they do these

investigations that President Trump was demanding if they wanted to get

their U.S. military aid.  And then, of course, after that, he pretended

that he hadn`t said that at all. 


Part of the reason he ended up dancing himself into that box at that press

conference, though, is because he wasn`t just asked about Ukraine, at that

press conference.  He got asked the unanswerable question about how he

could possibly explain that Trump was also asking for China to do it as





REPORTER:  Can you clarify, I`ve been trying to get an answer to this, was

the president serious when he said that he would also like to see China

investigate the Bidens?  And you were directly involved in the decision to

withhold funding from Ukraine.  Can you explain to us now, definitively,

why?  Why was funding –



the second one first. 




MADDOW:  Let`s – you know what, of those two, I`d rather deal with me

being directly involved in a quid pro quo arrangement of illegally

withholding congressionally appropriated money from a foreign ally in

exchange for domestic political help for the president.  I would actually

rather talk about that, than whether he really meant it when he committed

the same crime out loud on the lawn when it comes to China.  Can we deal

with that one after? 


The chief of staff, needless to say, never went back and specifically

answered the part of that question about China.  I mean, what would he say

if he had?  But CNN soon reported that the president`s behavior about the

China part of this really didn`t appear to have been a joke or an effort to

gig the press, whatever that means. 


CNN reporting that one of the call records that has been locked up inside

the White House in a standalone high-security server that`s usually

reserved for highly classified material like covert action, one of those

call records is from when President Trump called President Xi of China and,

in fact, talked to him about Joe Biden.  We still haven`t seen that call

record.  It is reportedly locked up in that high-security server.  Some

Democrats in Congress have now called for those call notes to be released. 


Within a week of the president standing on the South Lawn and calling for

China to investigate Joe Biden, we also have this intriguing reporting in

the “Financial Times”.  Quote: Trump adviser says China provided

information about Hunter Biden.  Quote: Michael Pillsbury, an informal

White House adviser on China, said he received information about the

business activities of Hunter Biden during a visit to Beijing in the same

week that Donald Trump urged China to probe Mr. Biden.  Quote: I got quite

a bit of background on Hunter Biden from the Chinese.  Mr. Pillsbury told

the “Financial Times.”


So, President Trump is being impeached for asking Ukraine to investigate

Joe Biden.  He then openly announces that he`s doing the same thing with

China and we learned that he has apparently raised this already not just on

the White House South Lawn in front of everybody but in a private call to

the Chinese president.  The records of which have now been hidden away. 

And now he has apparently dispatched one of his China advisers to go to

China to collect information on the Biden family, whatever you can get from

the Chinese government. 


I mean, that`s what this guy is saying.  Quote: I have got quite a bit of

background on Hunter Biden from the Chinese.  Very explosive claim in the

middle of this impeachment inquiry. 


Well, the same day that story appears in the “Financial Times,” that

gentleman, that adviser to Trump on China, his name is Michael Pillsbury,

he went on C-Span that day and he was asked about it and this is like

poetry.  This is like every once in a while the news gods hand down not

prose, but poetry. 


October 10th, same day the “Financial Times” has run the story, right? 

Trump adviser says China provided information about Hunter Biden.  That

story`s in the “Financial Times.” 


The guy this story is about goes on C-Span.  He gets asked about it. 





UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  The “Financial Times” is quoted as you saying, I quote,

I got quite a bit of background on Hunter Biden from the Chinese, Pillsbury

told the “Financial Times.”


MICHAEL PILLSBURY:  I wonder what, I haven`t spoken to the “Financial

Times” for a month. 




MADDOW:  I wonder, I haven`t spoken to the “Financial Times” – I haven`t

spoken to the “Financial Times” for at least a month.  That`s nutty.  The

“Financial Times” quoting me today saying I got background on hunter Biden

from China, that`s insane, I haven`t spoken to them for a month. 


Whereupon the reporter in question for the “Financial Times” instantly

posts online the email he got the previous day from Michael Pillsbury

saying exactly what he was going quote quoted as saying in the story. 

Quote: Mike Pillsbury denied on C-Span that he told me this, but here`s the

email exchange I had with him last night, and then he posts it from Mike

Pillsbury to reporter at the “Financial Times”.


And there`s the quote: actually I got quite a bit of background on Hunter

Biden from the Chinese.


You know, do not deny things that you have done in general.  God will know,

right?  So will your mother, wherever she is. 


But beyond that, definitely don`t deny things that you have not only done

but you`ve put in writing less than 24 hours previous to your denial,

especially if the thing that you`re denying is something that you put in

writing on the record to a reporter who then printed your words.  It`s not

like reporters get these things from you and then they burn all their

materials once they`ve published, right? 


Mr. Pillsbury later got quite cagy about his claims that the he had been

dispatched to China to go collect information on Hunter Biden there after

the president said out loud on the White House South Lawn that`s what he

wanted.  He told the “Washington Post” when they reported on this

development that, quote, White House officials had asked him not to

disclose his conversations with the president. 


So, now, right, impeachment proceedings against the president are well

along their way to fruition.  I mean, it was last week, we got Ambassador

Bill Taylor testifying that the White House withheld meetings and delayed

and threatened to withhold military aid unless Ukraine announced bogus

investigations to benefit the president domestically. 


Ambassador Taylor testifying that the president personally insisted on

that, just devastating testimony.  Shortly thereafter the “Washington Post”

reporting in addition to withholding meetings and military aid, it appears

the Trump administration also withheld trade assistance from Ukraine as

well.  Part of the same pressure campaign to get these investigations out

of Ukraine that the president thought would help him in his next election. 


Well, now, today, the House has announced that they will take a vote this

week establishing the format for how they`re going to move forward in the

impeachment proceedings.  There`s a fairly long list of depositions that

are still to go for the behind closed doors witness testimony that they`ve

been taking thus far.  That part of the investigation. 


But House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Intelligence Chair Adam Schiff are

saying as of today that there will be a full vote in the House this week to

establish the rules for the next phase of the impeachment proceedings which

will include not just closed-door depositions but also public hearings. 

Importantly, “The New York Times” is reporting that the rules that they`re

going to vote on will allow staff from the Intelligence Committee to

conduct some of the questioning of the witnesses in these public hearings,

which is a big deal because members of Congress, I love you, but doing the

questioning with this lily pad hopping around in five-minute chunks from

member to member to member where nobody can keep the line of questioning in

their head and everybody`s showboating and everybody keeps starting over

from the beginning, basically that`s a means of doing the questioning that

elicits no information and the public can`t follow. 


But if instead at these public hearings you going to have staff doing the

questioning with continuity, with subject matter expertise knowing what

they`re asking about and why, well, that helps you actually learn things

from witnesses.  That`s a large part of why the Watergate hearings were so

revelatory for the public, honestly, and that`s apparently what they are

going to do here for the Trump impeachment. 


So, it`s going to go up to a rules committee for a vote first which will

tee up a full house vote we believe on Thursday of this week.  But in the

middle of that, as the impeachment inquiry, which is like a month old now,

as it starts, you know, turning on the runway lights and planning its

approach, now we`ve got this one gigantic dangling thread in terms of what

exactly they`re investigating and what it`s going to make of the articles

of impeachment here because it really does appear like hiding in plain

sight that the president did this not just with Ukraine, he did this with

two countries. 


It is at least worth asking about that because here, I`ll show you, here`s

Peter Navarro, aka, Ron Vara, right, the author “Death by China.”  The

architect of the president`s China trade war being asked about this very

issue by CNN`s Jim Sciutto, and watch how Navarro answers. 




PETER NAVARRO, WHITE HOUSE TRADE ADVISER:  You don`t have a right to know

what happens behind closed doors in the administration, and the only way –


JIM SCIUTTO, CNN:  I think the American people have a right to know. 




SCIUTTO:  When politics entered trade negotiations. 


NAVARRO:  Let me answer this.  I mean, the problem that I`ve seen over the

last three years in Washington is that there`s just too many stories that

are reported based on anonymous sources. 


SCIUTTO:  Oh, let`s not go there. 


NAVARRO:  Inevitably get it wrong.  So –


SCIUTTO:  Well. 


NAVARRO:  Ii don`t know, do we want to spend this time doing that? 


SCIUTTO:  I`m asking you a direct question, did you bring up investigating

the Bidens as part of the negotiation? 


NAVARRO:  In my judgment –


SCIUTTO:  We`re not –


NAVARRO:  You`re asking me what happens in the White House behind closed



SCIUTTO:  I`m asking if politics have –


NAVARRO:  I`m not going to tell you –


SCIUTTO:  – the sphere of international relations here. 


NAVARRO:  Jim, asked and answered. 




MADDOW:  Asked, repeatedly, but not answered at all.  I`m not going to tell

you.  I`m not going to tell you.


And as the House starts to land these impeachment proceedings, as they

round at least first base and head toward second, it is starting to seem

like this really might be chapter two.  Country two, at least.  Article II



Stay tuned.  We`ll be right back. 




MADDOW:  I knew tonight was too quiet.  Here we go, right on schedule. 


Breaking news this hour from “The New York Times” about the impeachment

proceedings.  You see the headline here.  “Army officer on White House

staff reported concerns on Trump`s Ukraine dealings.”  This is from Danny

Hakim at “The New York Times.”


The subhead tonight sort of says a lot about what this new reporting is. 

Quote: The top Ukraine expert at the White House will tell impeachment

investigators he twice reported concerns about President Trump`s pressure

tactics on Ukraine acting out of a, quote, sense of duty. 


Here`s the lead.  Wow.  A White House national security official who`s a

decorated Iraq war veteran plans to tell House impeachment investigators

tomorrow that he heard President Trump appeal to Ukraine`s president to

investigate one of this leading political rivals, a request the aide

considered so damaging to American interests that he reported it to a



Lieutenant Colonel Alexander S. Vindman of the U.S. Army, the top Ukraine

expert on the National Security Council, twice registered internal

objections about how President Trump and his inner circle were treating

Ukraine.  Out of what he called a, quote, sense of duty, according to a

draft of his opening statement that`s been obtained by “The New York



Colonel Vindman will be the first White House official to testify who

listened in on the July 25th telephone call between President Trump and

President Zelensky of Ukraine.  The call that is at the center of the

impeachment inquiry.  Colonel Vindman says in his statement, quote, I did

not think it was proper to demand that a foreign government investigate a

U.S. citizen and I was worried about the implications for the U.S.

government`s support of Ukraine.


Again, this is just being reported in “The New York Times.”  I`ll just read

you one other little bit of this.  In his testimony, Colonel Vindman –

again, tomorrow, planned testimony tomorrow – plans to say that he is not

the whistle-blower who initially reported President Trump`s pressure

campaign on Ukraine but he will provide an account that corroborates and

fleshes out the crucial elements in that complaint. 


In terms of who Colonel Vindman is, he`s a Ukrainian-American immigrant. 

He received a Purple Heart after being wounded in Iraq by a roadside bomb. 

According to “The Times”, which, again, has seen his opening statement, his

statement is, quote, full of references to duty and patriotism.  He could

be a very difficult witness to dismiss than his civilian counterparts. 


Colonel Vindman plans to tell the investigators, quote, I am a patriot and

it is my secret duty and honor the advance and defend our country

irrespective of party or politics.


Joining us now is Democratic Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi from Illinois. 

He sits on the Intelligence and Oversight Committees.  Those committees are

set to hear Colonel Vindman`s deposition tomorrow. 


Congressman Krishnamoorthi, thank you so much for being with us tonight.  I

really appreciate you making time. 


REP. RAJA KRISHNAMOORTHI (D-IL):  Great to be here, Rachel. 


MADDOW:  So first thing I want to ask you about is this breaking news

tonight from “The Times.”  This is Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman. 

He`s the top Ukraine expert on the National Security Council.  “The Times”

has obtained his opening statement.  I assume that means you and your

fellow members of the committee do expect him to testify tomorrow. 


KRISHNAMOORTHI:  I certainly hope so.  And this would be the first White

House official who actually would be defying the White House`s orders not

to cooperate.  As you mentioned, he was also a party to the July 25th phone

call and he`s the top Ukraine expert on the national security council so

his testimony is very important. 


MADDOW:  In terms of the way that things are going to go forward now, it

sounds like Colonel Vindman`s testimony is going to be very important for

the core allegations at the center of the impeachment proceedings. 


With this announcement today by Speaker Pelosi and Chairman Schiff of the

Intelligence Committee, that the House is going to move toward a vote,

toward setting the rules, sort of setting the format for the next phase of

the inquiry, can you share anything with us about the expected timing there

about how many more closed-door depositions there will be, when you expect

the first public hearings to happen? 


KRISHNAMOORTHI:  I honestly don`t know.  No date has been set, to my

knowledge, and each time we think that we have kind of come across a

witness whose testimony is incredibly compelling, we then hear from another

witness whose testimony is equally, if not more, compelling.  And really I

think we just have to conclude this back-fact-gathering process thoroughly

but expeditiously. 


And as you said, now we are going to be voting on rules on how does the

public hearing process work and what are the rules for that going forward? 


MADDOW:  One of the things I have been watching since the beginning, since

it became apparent, just to the point where I`m desperate to know how it

fits into this sort of thing, is that obviously the president`s request to

Ukraine that they needed to give him these investigations that he thinks

would be helpful for him to domestically, holding up White House meetings,

holding up military aid, trying to leverage those things, that`s the core

that started this impeach pt men inquiry and seems to be the core of where

you guys are focusing. 


What about the president appearing to do exactly the same thing with China? 

Is that at all part of the in inquiry or handled or investigated in any

other way by Congress? 


KRISHNAMOORTHI:  It`s not something that`s a subject matter for this

particular inquiry.  It – I`m sure that folks on the Foreign Affairs

Committee might be looking at it or another equivalent committee, but right

now, we`re kind of focused on this because, quite frankly, the evidence

that has come out has been kind of gushing out at this point.  Not only the

call transcript but also statements like Mick Mulvaney`s the other day

where I think he blurted out in candor that the military aid was premised

on, you know, conducting these bogus investigation of domestic political

rivals of the president.  And, of course, this trade of witnesses – these

are career public servants. 


Many like Mr. Vindman, veterans, people who served the country honorably,

who are coming and testifying to us at their own expense.  They hire their

own attorneys.  And they`re putting their careers on the line.  So, I think

we`re really focused on the whistle-blower`s claims and what these

witnesses and the testimony can add in terms of fleshing out those



MADDOW:  Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi, thanks so much for being with us





MADDOW:  It sounds like tomorrow is going to be another important day. 


KRISHNAMOORTHI:  Another slow fake news day, I`m sure. 


MADDOW:  Exactly.  I remember what those were like, I think. 


Thank you, sir.  Much appreciate it. 


KRISHNAMOORTHI:  Thanks, Rachel. 


MADDOW:  I want to tell you while I was speaking with Congressman

Krishnamoorthi there, we actually got – or at least I have been given for

the first time the full opening statement that is expected from Lieutenant

Colonel Alexander Vindman.  This is the basis for this “New York Times”

reporting tonight, makes it seem like this deposition is going to be fairly

explosive, at least it`s going to be right on point in terms of what the

impeachment proceedings are about. 


Let me read you a little bit of what is – again, I`m just looking at this

for the first time.  Let me read you a little bit of what is here.  This

has just been handed to me. 


Mr. Chairman and ranking member, thank you for the opportunity to address

the committee`s concern, the activities relating to Ukraine and my role and

my events under investigation.  I have dedicated my entire professional

life to the United States of America. 


For more than two decades, it`s been my honor to serve as an officer in the

U.S. Army.  As an infantry officer, I served multiple overseas tours,

including South Korea and Germany and deployment to Iraq for combat

operations.  In Iraq, I was wounded in an IED attack and awarded a Purple



Since 2008, I`ve been a foreign area officer specializing in Eurasia.  In

this role, I served in the U.S. embassies in Kiev and in Moscow and

Washington, D.C.  I was a political military affairs officer for Russia for

the chairman of the joint chiefs where I offered the strategy for managing

competition with Russia.  He says, on July 2018, I was asked to serve with

the National Security Council.


He says, quote: My family fled the Soviet Union when I was 3 1/2 years old. 

Upon arriving in New York City in 1979, my father worked multiple jobs to

support us all the while learning English at night.  He stressed to us the

importance of us – “excuse me,” he stressed to us the importance of fully

integrating into our adopted country. 


For many years, life was quite difficult.  In spite of our challenging

beginnings, my family worked to build its own American dream.  I have a

deep appreciation for American values and ideals and the power of freedom. 

I am a patriot and it is my sacred duty and honor to advance and defend our

country irrespective of party or politics. 


For over 20 years as an active duty U.S. military officer and diplomat, I

have served this country in a nonpartisan manner and I have done so with

the utmost respect and professionalism for both Republican and Democratic



Again, Lieutenant Colonel Vindman goes on to suggest that the president`s

behavior in this call with President Zelensky was so alarming that he twice

raised this issue internally with his superiors out of a sense of duty that

what he was seeing was wrong.  On July 25th, 2019, the call occurred, I

listened in on the call in the Situation Room with colleagues from the

National Security Council and the Office of the Vice President. 


As the transcript is in the public record, we`re all well a aware of what

was said.  I was concerned by the call.  I do not think it was proper.  I

did think it was proper to demand that a foreign government investigate a

U.S. citizen and I was worried about the implications for the U.S.

government`s support of Ukraine. 


I realize that if Ukraine pursued an investigation into the Bidens and

Burisma, it would be interpreted as a partisan play which would undoubtedly

result in Ukraine losing the bipartisan support it has thus far maintained. 

This would all undermine U.S. national security.  Following the call I,

again, reported my concerns to the lead counsel for the National Security

Council.  And it goes on. 


Again, this just obtained this evening.  The opening statement from

Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman, the top Ukraine official on the

National Security Council who appears to validate the concerns of the

whistle-blower that led to these impeachment proceedings against the

president, and express his own alarm at what he saw on that call and of the

president`s behavior. 


More to come.  Stay with us. 




MADDOW:  Courtney Kube is NBC`s national security and military

correspondent.  She`s been on this show a lot of times.  You will recognize

her when we speak to her in just a moment. 


Almost always when we speak with Courtney, she is joining us from the

Pentagon or from the news bureau that we have in Washington, D.C.  But this

weekend, Courtney Kube was in Iraq when U.S. special operations forces

carried out a raid on the leader of ISIS at his compound in northwestern

Syria.  She was already in Iraq when that happened. 


Well, from that vantage point, she`s in a unique position from which to be

able to report on that raid and its consequences.  She`s got fascinating

new reporting out tonight along with reporter Carol Lee about both the

sensitive information and the untrue information that President Trump

shared during his press conference about the raid.  Courtney Kube`s going

to join us live from Iraq, next. 




MADDOW:  This is the new headline just posted on NBC News tonight by

Courtney Kube and Carol Lee.  The headline: Officials cringe as Trump

spills sensitive details of al-Baghdadi raid.  Some details the president

has revealed are inaccurate, they say, others are classified.  Officials

say they worry what to put in briefings for a man with no filter. 


Joining us now live from Iraq is Courtney Kube, NBC`s national security and

military correspondent. 


Courtney, thank you for being up at 5:00 in the morning for us.  I really

appreciate you staying up. 



Thanks for having me. 


MADDOW:  So let me talk to you about the aftermath of the Baghdadi raid and

this remarkable announcement and ongoing discussion that the president had

with reporters about what happened there.  You and Carol say that national

security officials are cringing at some of the things he said were

classified.  Some of the things he said were untrue. 


What are the national security worries about the president`s remarks after

this raid? 


KUBE:  So it was really a combination, two categories of information here. 

One was the classified information that he talked about and the other was

the tactical.  So on the classified side, he talked about things, it`s

getting a lot of attention today like the dog, the dog that was involved in

this raid.  Technically, that is a classified detail, both the existence,

the breed, everything.  The name of that dog is classified. 


But beyond that, he talked about things that they just don`t want out

because of – it might hurt their ability to – for further on raids or

further on gathering of information.  One is the fact that he acknowledged

that they actually took some people from the compound in as prisoners. 

That`s the kind of information that the military wouldn`t want out because

they would want to bring those people back in, question them and get some

kind of very quick, fresh, potentially actionable intelligence that they

might be able to act on very quickly. 


Then there was the tactical stuff.  So that was things like explaining how

they breached the wall, because they were worried that the front door could

be booby trapped.  He talked very specifically about how the helicopters

were coming in very, very low and very, very fast. 


You know, if you cover the military and spend time with them, especially in

a combat zone, those are the kind of things you might know, but not the

sort of detail that the military wants out, primarily because, look, ISIS,

al Qaeda, anyone could look at this and say, okay, next time we know, this

is how they`re going to approach and this is what they`re going to do, and

in particular because this mission involved the most elite Delta Forces. 

That`s a unit that the military doesn`t even technically – publicly

acknowledge exists, let alone talk about any of the tactics they might use

in a highly sensitive, highly visible raid like the one we saw over the



MADDOW:  And, Courtney, in terms of follow-on actions after this,

obviously, the death of Baghdadi is significant in itself whereby terms of

what that`s going to mean for ISIS, but the idea that it could be an

intelligence windfall, right?  That you could collect so much – not only

people, you cannot only take other people into custody, that could provide

you further information or that themselves would be valuable as prisoners,

but you could get a lot of documents or other material that might be

helpful in terms of follow-on raids and other things that you could

leverage against ISIS. 


The president disclosing both the existence of that kind of evidence and

the ongoing efforts to exploit that evidence is the sort of thing that

undercuts the value of that evidence and that intelligence? 


KUBE:  It undercuts the ability to act on it quickly.  So let`s say that

now ISIS, they know now that several people were taken into custody.  The

hope after something like this is, ISIS needs a little bit of time to

figure out exactly what happened.  Who might be dead, who might be alive. 


By saying that anyone was taken into custody, it might cut off some

potential line of communication or some sort of – something that was about

to happen, that they could have gotten out of those individuals and

exploited.  Beyond that, one of the things that President Trump also talked

about was the actual exploitation of the site after the raid.  We all know

that happens.  That happened after the bin Laden raid.  They brought in

trash bags and took them out with computers and discs and files and

anything that they could carry back to the helicopters. 


But in this case, he talks specifically about how they got highly sensitive

information that included information about ISIS`s origins.  Well, that not

only gives an idea to ISIS the kind of information that they might have

gotten, but it also talks about the location itself.  If there was

information about ISIS` origins, it would stand to reason that that might

be the sort of safe house where Baghdadi frequented often. 


It`s just the kind of information that the military doesn`t necessarily

want out, because it might provide a pathway to ISIS, to find out how they

might go about future raids.  You know, we`ve seen a number of raids

against ISIS and strikes in the immediate aftermath of 48 hours or so since

this actually occurred.  And you generally, right after something like

this, you will see those sorts of high-viz, high-value raids and targeting. 

And generally, we don`t yet know in the cases of the ones like ISIS`

spokesperson, who was kill Sunday, I think it was, I`m sorry, I`m losing

track of my days here, but ISIS` spokesperson who was killed. 


But generally, those kinds of things are because they`ve been able to

gather and gain very valuable information from this raid, and then they

exploit it very quickly.  So anything that lets on that that was happening,

it just hurts the military.  And also, it can generally increase the risk

to the military members who are trying to carry out these raids. 


MADDOW:  Courtney Kube, NBC News national security and military

correspondent – Courtney, I wish you safety, continued luck in your

reporting, and a lot more sleep than you are expecting.  Thank you so much

for being us tonight. 


All right.  We`ve got more news ahead.  Stay with us. 




MADDOW:  I want to return to the news that has broken over the course of

this hour, first reported by “The New York Times,” but it`s based on the

opening statement that is due to be delivered tomorrow morning by

Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman.  He`s the top national security

expert on Ukraine at the White House.  He is planning to testify to the

impeachment proceedings tomorrow, in defiance of this White House edict

that says that White House officials are not allowed to testify. 


Now, we also have a copy of the – of Colonel Vindman`s opening statement

and I want to tell you another couple of things that are in here that are

going to make tomorrow a very big news day.  Colonel Vindman says, quote: I

want the committees to know I am not the whistle-blower who brought this

issue to the CIA and the committee`s attention.  I do not know who the

whistle-blower is and I would not feel comfortable to speculate to the

identity of the whistle-blower. 


But as I will detail herein, I did convey certain concerns internally to

national security officials, in accordance my decades of experience and

training, my sense of duty, and my obligation to operate within the chain

of command.  He says, quote, when I joined the National Security Council on

July 2018, I began implementing the policy on Ukraine.  In the spring of

2019, I became aware of outside influencers promoting a false narrative of

Ukraine inconsistent with the consensus views of the interagency.  This

narrative was harmful to U.S. government policy. 


And then he gets very specific about something that happened in July.  This

is July 10th.  It`s in advance, that means, about two weeks in advance of

the president`s call with the president of Ukraine.  He says, quote, on

July 10th, the secretary of the National Security and Defense Council for

Ukraine visited Washington for a meeting with national security adviser

John Bolton.  Ambassadors Kurt Volker and Gordon Sondland also attended

along with Energy Secretary, Rick Perry.  The three amigos, right? 


The meeting proceeded well until the Ukrainians broached the subject of a

meeting between the two presidents.  Ambassador Gordon Sondland started

speaking about Ukraine delivering specific – excuse me, started to speak

about Ukraine delivering specific investigations in order to secure the

meeting with President Trump, at which time Ambassador Bolton cut the

meeting short. 


Following this meeting, there was a scheduled debriefing, during which

Ambassador Gordon Sondland emphasized the importance that Ukraine deliver

the investigations into the 2016 election, the Bidens, and Burisma.  I

stated to Ambassador Gordon Sondland that his statements were

inappropriate.  That the requests to investigate Biden and his son had

nothing to do with national security and that such investigations were not

something the NSC was going to get involved in or push. 


Dr. Fiona hill, I believe to whom Colonel Vindman actually reported on the

National Security Council, Dr. Fiona Hill then entered the room and she too

asserted to Ambassador Gordon Sondland that his statements were

inappropriate.  Following the debriefing meeting, Colonel Vindman says, I

reported my concerns to the NSC`s lead counsel. 


We assume that league counsel would be John Eisenberg, the top lawyer at

the National Security Council.  But again, this is from the opening

statement due to be delivered tomorrow morning by Lieutenant Colonel

Alexander Vindman from the National Security Council, the first current

White House official to be testifying to the impeachment proceedings.  He

will be doing so in defiance of a White House that is telling him not to

show up. 


It`s going to be a big day tomorrow.  We`ll see you again tomorrow night. 




Good evening, Lawrence.







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