Opening STMT from 1st WH Official to testify. TRANSCRIPT: 10/28/19, The Rachel Maddow Show.
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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.
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
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.
“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
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.”
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.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, THEN-PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Let`s say China, China. China.
China. China. China. China. China. China. China.
You go over to China. China. China. China. China. China. China. You
China. I love them. China. China. China. I have to have my China.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
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
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
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?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
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.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
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
Then in the next breath, he compounds the problem in what is turning out to
potentially be a very important way.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
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
(END VIDEO CLIP)
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
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
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.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
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
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
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 –
MICK MULVANEY, ACTING WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: Sure, let`s deal with
the second one first.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
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.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
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.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
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
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.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
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.
NAVARRO: Hey –
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 –
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.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
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
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
KRISHNAMOORTHI: Thank you.
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
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
Courtney, thank you for being up at 5:00 in the morning for us. I really
appreciate you staying up.
COURTNEY KUBE, NBC NEWS NATIONAL SECURITY AND MILITARY CORRESPONDENT:
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
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
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
It`s going to be a big day tomorrow. We`ll see you again tomorrow night.
Now, it`s time for “THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL”.
Good evening, Lawrence.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
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protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced,
distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the
prior written permission of ASC Services II Media, LLC. You may not alter
or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the