One-on-one with Susan Rice. TRANSCRIPT: 11/14/19, The Rachel Maddow Show.

Guests:
Susan Rice, Michael Biesecker
Transcript:

CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST:  That is “All In” for this evening. 

 

THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW starts right now. 

 

Good evening, Rachel.

 

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST:  Good evening, Chris.  Thanks, my friend.  I

appreciate it. 

 

HAYES:  You bet.

 

MADDOW:  Now, thanks to you at home for joining us this hour.

 

First of all, let me clear something up right away.  The first of the

Donald J. Trump impeachment hearings yesterday, the one with Bill Taylor

and George Kent from the State Department as witnesses, that first hearing

yesterday started at 10:00 a.m. Eastern.  The second impeachment hearing is

tomorrow, but it does not start at 10:00 a.m. Eastern like the first one

did.  It starts an hour earlier at 9:00 a.m., not 10:00. 

 

So, you probably need to reset your alarm or re-plan your morning around

when you`re telling people you will not be available to answer the phone. 

Tomorrow 9:00 a.m. 

 

Tomorrow`s witness is going to be Marie Masha Yovanovitch.  She was a

casualty of President Trump`s scheme in Ukraine in that she was pulled out

of her job as U.S. ambassador in that country after a bizarre smear

campaign against her that was led by people like the president`s lawyer,

Rudy Giuliani, and the president`s eldest son.  Why was he involved in the

campaign against Masha Yovanovitch as Ukraine ambassador?  Why was he

involved? 

 

It also involved the president`s indicted little friends whom – who he

insists he has definitely never met, definitely never had anything to do

with, he definitely doesn`t know these guys, has never encountered them,

wouldn`t know them.  But these guys are now charged under our federal

indictment that among other things lays out their role in this weird smear

campaign to oust the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch.  So

we`ll have more on that coming up later on in the show this hour.  And, of

course, we`ll all get to hear from Marie Yovanovitch tomorrow at 9:00, at

9:00 a.m. Eastern. 

 

I have thought all week that tomorrow`s hearing was at 10:00.  It`s not. 

It`s at 9:00. 

 

If the reaction to the first day of the hearings is anything to go by, I

think we should expect tomorrow is going to be another big deal.  You know,

it`s a historic day when the headline about any one news event spreads

across all of the columns, right, the entire masthead of the national

papers. 

 

This is the headline from “The Washington Post” today, for the first day –

reporting on the first day of the Trump impeachment, testimony puts Trump

closer to scandal.  This was the all the way across the front page headline

in “The New York Times” today.  They put theirs in capital letters.  Envoy

reveals scope of Trump Ukraine push. 

 

This was “The L.A. Times”, testimony builds case against Trump.  Here`s

“The St. Louis Post Dispatch,” pressure campaign, testimony ties Trump more

directly to Ukraine efforts.  This is “The Philly Inquirer”: Historic

hearings begin.  This was the print edition of “Politico”: Democrats land

damning new evidence in testimony. 

 

This was one of my favorites actually, “The Providence Journal” in Rhode

Island.  They kept it simple this is the whole top half of the front page

all driven by that big photo and the supporting photos in the supporting

cast of characters, but that simple headline, impeachment begins.

 

If you still subscribe to the print edition of the paper, number one, God

bless you.  That`s how I learned how to read as a little kid was reading

the newspaper at the kitchen table.  Thank you, mom and dad, for always

having at least one newspaper around. 

 

If you do get the print edition of your paper, wherever you live today,

with whatever your local paper`s headline was on the front page with the

start of the impeachment, this is probably one of those issues of the

newspaper you want to tuck away and save.  This is history.  This doesn`t

happen very often in the United States of America. 

 

But we are now in the middle of it going forward.  The second impeachment

hearing is going to be tomorrow.  And there`s breaking news tonight on the

scope of the inquiry.  Super interesting to me. 

 

“The Washington Post” is first to report tonight that an official named

Mark Sandy is expected to testify to the impeachment committees.  Now, this

is name we have not previously heard in conjunction with the impeachment. 

 

Who is Mark Sandy?  Why is this important?  Excellent question, super

interesting answer.  I think this is fascinating. 

 

All right, you go back to the original whistle-blower`s complaint, and

you`ll remember right at the top of the whistle-blower`s complaint, we got

the core allegation that has led to the impeachment and will likely

ultimately lead to the first article of impeachment against the president. 

The whistle-blower said right at the top: In the course of my official

duties, I have received information from multiple U.S. officials that the

president of the United States is using the power of his office to solicit

interference from a foreign country in the 2020 U.S. election.  This

interference includes among other things pressuring a foreign country to

investigate one of the president`s main domestic political rivals. 

 

So that was, like, the opening gambit.  That was the thesis state of the

whistle-blower`s complaint, right?  And that`s the main thing the president

is being impeached for.  You can`t ask a foreign government, you can`t ask

a foreign entity even a foreign person for help in a U.S. election. 

 

The president doing so with a foreign government trying to get that foreign

government to announce an investigation into his potential opponent in his

re-election effort, I mean, you just – you just can`t do that.  That`s not

legal. 

 

And so, we get this whistle-blower from the intelligence community who

blows the whistle on the fact the president was doing this, and then in

fact the whistle-blower cites multiple U.S. officials as the source for his

whistle-blower claim.  I`ve received information from multiple U.S.

government officials and in fact multiple U.S. officials confirmed that it

happened. 

 

And then the president confessed that he did it, and so now we`re having a

big impeachment.  Everybody`s invited. 

 

But you might also remember that the whistle-blower had this complaint that

laid out that basic allegation that we saw in supporting information around

it, described what happened in the phone call to the Ukrainian president

and all that other stuff. 

 

But the whistle-blower also attached to his or her complaint a classified

addendum.  This was a page and a half.  It was described by the whistle-

blower as classified.  It was ultimately declassified, so it could be

released to the public.  That`s why we can see most of it, although there

are still some redactions. 

 

And it was in that part of the whistle-blower`s complaint, in the

classified addendum that the whistle-blower mentioned that in addition to

his or her other claims about the president`s behavior – holy Toledo – it

looks like in addition to the president soliciting Ukraine to give him help

against Joe Biden, it also looks like the president was holding up aid to

Ukraine while he applied that pressure on them. 

 

This is from the classified annex of the whistle-blower`s complaint. 

Quote, on 18 July, an office informed departments and agencies that the

president earlier that month had issued instructions to suspend all U.S.

security assistance to Ukraine.  Neither OMB nor National Security Council

staff knew why this instruction had been issued. 

 

Again, that`s from the whistle-blower`s complaint.  And that part of it,

too, has been borne out since by multiple witnesses in a position to know. 

 

(BEGIN VIDOE CLIP)

 

WILLIAM TAYLOR, ACTING U.S. AMBASSADOR TO UKRAINE:  In a regular NSC secure

videoconference call on July 18th, I heard a staff person from the Office

of Management and Budget say there was a hold on security assistance to

Ukraine but could not say why.  For the end of an otherwise normal meeting,

a voice on the call, the person was off-screen, said that she was from OMB

and her boss had instructed her not to approve any additional spending on

security assistance from Ukraine until further notice. 

 

I and others sat in astonishment.  Ukrainians were fighting Russians and

counted on not only the training and weapons but also the assurance of U.S.

support.  All that the OMB staff person said was that the directive had

come from the president. 

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

MADDOW:  So the president is being impeached for trying to get Ukraine to

investigate Democrats to help them in his election, you know, full stop, no

matter what else he did.  But the icing on that cake, right, is him using

the withholding of military aid to up the pressure on Ukraine to do that. 

And that is also all now coming out, too, over the course of this

impeachment inquiry.  It was in the initial whistle-blower`s complaint.  It

has been borne out by the inquiry since. 

 

And it was “The Wall Street Journal” that first reported in a really

important piece from October 10th – it was “The Wall Street Journal” that

first reported how this whole issue of withholding the military aid might

have played out inside the White House, and it laid out the circumstances

there in a way that sort of offered a road map for the investigators to

follow. 

 

“The Wall Street Journal” reported that after career budget staffers

questioned the legality of delaying military aid to Ukraine, the White

House instead gave a politically appointed official the authority to hold

those funds, citing people familiar with the matter.  “The Journal” said,

quote, career officials at the Office of Management and Budget became

worried they didn`t have the legal authority to hold up the funds.  And

while those career civil servants did put the initial hold on the aid per

the president`s orders, the White House ultimately gave an apolitical

appointee named Michael Duffey, the authority to continue to keep the aid

on hold after the career staff began raising their concerns. 

 

The political officials like Mr. Duffey signing off on apportionments is

unusual, according to several former OMB officials.  Career staff at OMB

with years and sometimes decades of technical knowledge of funding process

have historically overseeing this process.

 

So it`s weird for a political appointee to be shoved in there to do the job

instead, while what was his qualification, what was Michael Duffey`s

qualification for taking over this important process that usually people

with decades of technocratic experience are only allowed to run inside the

White House?  Right? 

 

Trained expert career staff raised concerns what the president has ordered

here is illegal.  So they take out those trained career expert staff, and

they instead put in this guy Michael Duffey, this political appointee. 

What about him made him qualified to do this job instead of the expert

career officials?  What was his background? 

 

Mr. Duffey had been, quote, the executive director of the Wisconsin

Republican Party.  Oh. 

 

So the president is pressuring Ukraine to give him a Joe Biden

investigation.  He orders military aid to Ukraine with hold while he`s

putting that pressure on them.  The career staff at the White House say,

well, OK, Mr. President, we`ll put a hold on this for now but we think it`s

illegal to do this in any sustained sort of way. 

 

I mean, the implication of this reporting in “The Wall Street Journal”

although they do not explicitly assert, is whether the career staff said

they weren`t going to keep signing off on this drug deal, on this

proverbial drug deal.  And so, the White House had to take those people out

of the mix, say fine you guys don`t have to sign anything.  We`ll instead

have the former executive director of the Wisconsin Republican Party, he`s

working around here somewhere, we`ll name him as the guy in charge of

signing off on the release or holding up of military aid.  And, of course,

naturally, he`ll be fine with it. 

 

That`s apparently how it worked.  And so at least through July and August

and well into September when this whole scheme ultimately got exposed and

the whistle-blower complaint got delivered to Congress and Congress went

nuts, right, through all that time Ukraine was not getting its military aid

on orders from the president.  And in order to carry that out the White

House had to install a guy to keep signing off on withholding that aid even

though career staffers thought that was a crime. 

 

Well, again, “The Wall Street Journal” reported that October 10th. 

Naturally, the impeachment committees thereafter subpoenaed the Wisconsin

Republican Party guy to get him to testify.  Now, you`ve been signing off

on what now, and how did you get put in charge of that, and how are you

qualified to do that?  They subpoenaed him to come testify.  He refused. 

He`s ignoring the subpoena. 

 

In fact, no one from the White House Office of Budget and Management is

responding subpoenas or agreeing to testify under any terms until tonight. 

Until now. 

 

Now, Mark Sandy, this guy you`ve never heard of in conjunction with the

impeachment or anything else, Mark Sandy is saying he`s going to testify. 

And he given his job would appear to be super important to the story

because he appears to be the nonpartisan technocratic expert career

official who did initially sign-off on holding up this aid to Ukraine on

the president`s orders, but upon realizing and we believe expressing what

the president orders was illegal, he appears to be the guy they had to push

out, who they had to replace with the former executive director of the

Wisconsin Republican Party, the guy who would be happy to sign-off on

keeping Ukraine from getting its military assistance even if the career

expert staff thought that was illegal to do so. 

 

Well, now, the career expert staff guy has agreed to testify.  His lawyer

telling “The Washington Post” tonight, quote, if he is subpoenaed he will

appear.  Quote, Mr. Sandy was among the career staffers who raised

questions about the hold up on the aid, and his role gave him

responsibility for signing the documents required to hold it up.  Sandy`s

signature appears on at least one of these so-called apportionment letters

in July that prevented the money from going to Ukraine.  But after that,

the process for approving or denying such funds was taken over by a

political appointee at OMB, Mike Duffey, who defied a congressional

subpoena to testify earlier this month. 

 

So, fascinating turn, right?  Really interesting new development.  I mean,

it`s one thing to commit a crime as president.  It`s another thing to not

just carry it out yourself but to order other people who work in the

government to commit that crime for you. 

 

When government workers who know better realize that you`re telling them to

commit a crime on your behalf and they balk at doing that and they say no -

- well, sure, maybe you can find a political appointee with just the right

type of moral compass to step in and take over that job from those career

officials.  Sure, that might work for a while.  That might work until the

story comes out about what you did and then the government workers who you

ordered to commit that crime, who said no to you, who you then replaced on

the judge with somebody who would commit that crime for you – yes, it`ll

all work until those people agree to testify about what they know and about

what you did.  And that`s where we are. 

 

So, Marie Yovanovitch who had to be pushed out as ambassador to Ukraine so

that Trump and Giuliani could pull off whatever they were trying to pull

off with the Ukrainian government, she`s going to testify tomorrow. 

 

And this career OMB official who will be testifying about Trump holding up

the military aid, that`s new.  That`s something we just learned tonight. 

 

Now, that testimony will be a closed door deposition on Saturday.  They`re

going to hold that over the weekend.  Maybe ultimately the official will be

called onto give public testimony as well.  We don`t yet know.  We`ll see. 

 

But as the story evolves in this way and ahead of tomorrow`s second

impeachment hearing, I think it`s also just worth articulating the

existence of the elephant in the room here, right?  Because I know this is

basic and I know you know it, but I feel like it`s easy to lose sight of as

we head into the second public impeachment hearing.  There`s a reason that

when the whistle-blower complaint was first filed, that bit about holding

up the military aid to Ukraine, that was filed separately in a classified

appendix. 

 

When the whistle-blower knew even that complaint was getting delivered to

Congress which is what he or she wanted, still, this bit about the military

aid to Ukraine being held up, the whistle-blower took steps to try to make

sure that was treated with special care.  That the president`s order to

hold up military aid to Ukraine would be handled tighter, restricted more,

fewer people would see that, right?  Why would the whistle-blower want to

make sure that part of what the whistle-blower is alleging, this incredibly

inflammatory allegation that the whistle-blower is making about the

president of the United States committing clearly impeachable and illegal

acts in office to benefit himself politically at the expense of U.S.

national security and our allies. 

 

I mean, the whistle-blower is willing to say a lot on page one of that

complaint.  But that bit about the president holding military aid to

Ukraine, keep that classified.  Why should that be kept more quiet? 

 

Well, we have since learned in this education we`ve all had as civilians

watching these impeachment hearings rollout, as we`ve learned from these

witnesses who are experts in this field, we have since learned from them

that the reason you`d want to keep something like that as quiet as possible

is because among other things, that becoming public knowledge, it becoming

known around the world that U.S. military aid to Ukraine was being held up,

that itself is a damaging thing to Ukraine.  Not just them losing the aid

which hurts them materially but everybody knowing their aid was in

jeopardy, it was being held up by the American president, that itself

incurs damage. 

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

TAYLOR:  Ukrainians would like to be able to negotiate from a position of

strength or at least more strength than they now have.  Part of that

strength, part of the ability of the Ukrainians to negotiate against the

Russians with the Russians for an end to the war in Donbass depends on the

United States and other international support.  If we withdraw or suspend

or threaten to withdraw or security assistance, that`s a message to the

Ukrainians, but it`s at least as important as your question indicates, Mr.

Chairman, to the Russians who are looking for any sign of weakness or any

sign that we are withdrawing our support for Ukraine. 

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

MADDOW:  The Russians are looking for any sign of weakness, any sign that

we are withdrawing our support for Ukraine.  So, if it becomes known that

that support is threatened, that itself hurts Ukraine.  That benefits

Russia, right? 

 

The president was holding up aid to Ukraine to try to pressure them to cook

up these investigations to help them against the Democrats in 2020.  But in

using Ukraine that way and in putting on ice hundreds of millions of

dollars of U.S. aid to them, he hurt them.  He hurt their national

security. 

 

He specifically as Bill Taylor just explained there yesterday, he hurt

their negotiating position vis-a-vis Russia, with whom they are in a war

right now, which means Russia benefits from Trump doing that.  From Trump

withholding that military aid, Russia benefits from that because it shows

that Ukraine doesn`t have the kind of American and international support

that Ukraine might have thought they had.  And so they`re weaker than

everybody thought they were.  They`re more at Russia`s mercy. 

 

Right, even with the military aid now being forced to be released because

of this scandal, that`s how this thing is shaking out now, in terms of who

benefits. 

 

Quote: In the past, American diplomats worked closely with Kiev in any

talks with Moscow.  They presented a united front with the Kremlin.  They

cajoled the European Union to maintain sanctions.  They tried to reassure a

nervous Ukrainian public. 

 

But now, the United States is largely absent from the political and

diplomatic process over resolving the war in the East.  The leader of one

pro-U.S. political party in Ukraine telling “The Washington Post” today,

quote, Ukraine is now kind of naked.  We are alone confronting Russia. 

 

David Ignatius – excuse me, that was in “The New York Times” not “The

Washington Post.”  David Ignatius in “The Washington Post” raising much the

same alarm today.  Trump`s Ukraine machinations have yielded the diminution

of U.S. power and a corresponding increase in Russia`s military and

diplomatic leverage.  The United States was an important backup for

Ukraine.  Losing that support puts Kiev in a weaker bargaining position

vis-a-vis Russia. 

 

How is the United States shaping events as Ukraine is rebalanced now? 

America isn`t really a player.  Trump said in September while meeting

Zelensky in New York, quote, I really hope that you and President Putin can

get together and solve your problem. 

 

 

Yes, we know we used to be your ally, your most important ally, we know we

used to stand shoulder to shoulder with you so you never felt like you had

to face Russia alone, but now, you`re alone.  Good luck against Putin now. 

See what you can work with him, then get back to me.  If it works out,

maybe you`ll get a White House visit.  Otherwise, maybe not. 

 

I mean, we are in the middle of this impeachment now, and it is still

unfolding, and there is still more to learn.  And tomorrow is going to be -

- tomorrow should be a big deal even just the news tonight is a big deal. 

But even after one day of public hearings so far, the elephant in the room

here feels like it`s rearing up and stomping its feet, because who benefits

with all these things Trump has done?  With all of them, with all this

stuff in the middle of the impeachment, but all the other stuff he`s doing

simultaneously? 

 

I mean, it wasn`t just pressure on Ukraine to cough up investigations

against Joe Biden, right?  It was withholding military aid, withholding the

military aid, letting it be known the military aid was in question, that

alone disadvantaged Ukraine in their hot war fight against Russia, benefit

to Russia.  The U.S. special envoy to Ukraine, which was specifically

tasked to help Ukraine in its war, in its negotiations against Russia, that

was this guy Kurt Volker who resigned when he was called in to testify in

the impeachment hearings. 

 

We just learned the Trump administration isn`t going to fill that job, now

that Volker resigned from it.  They`re getting rid of that job now.  No

more dedicated U.S. envoy for helping Ukraine with their war on Russia. 

I`m sure Russia is delighted by that, too. 

 

We learned from the testimony of foreign service officer, Christopher

Anderson, whose testimony has been released in transcript form, we learned

from him that when Russia attacked Ukrainian ships and took a whole bunch

of Ukrainian sailors prisoner this time last year, the Trump White House

blocked a statement of condemnation from being issued against Russia for

having done that.  Why did the Trump White House block a statement

condemning Russia seizing Ukrainian ships and stealing Ukrainian sailors? 

Trump White House blocked that.  Benefit to Russia.

 

We learned from Anderson as well when a CNN story ran last year about the

U.S. Navy doing an exercise in the Black Sea that was portrayed as the U.S.

military standing up to the Russia in the Black Sea, President Trump saw

that report and called national security advisor John Bolton at home to

tell Bolton how upset he was by that report.  And in response, the White

House ordered the Navy to not do that exercise in the Black Sea.  Wouldn`t

want to upset Russia. 

 

We learned from National Security Council staffer Catherine Croft whose

testimony has also been released in transcript form that even after the

administration set a new policy that Ukraine would get javelin missiles

from the U.S. and everybody signed off on that policy, and the State

Department, and the Defense Department, everybody else, National Security

Council, everybody`s onboard, the White House specifically intervened with

a late hold on those missiles.  Why?  What was the White House concerned

about?  According to Catherine Croft, quote, that Russia would react

negatively to the provision of javelins to Ukraine.  Yes, we can`t have

that. 

 

I mean, on the day that President Trump was promising that he definitely

wasn`t watching his first impeachment hearing, that day, President Erdogan

of Turkey is at the White House, yesterday.  And that relationship is weird

and inexplicable enough.  But when Trump does Erdogan this favor, right,

and precipitously pulls U.S. troops out of northeastern Syria, in a phone

call to Erdogan, he decides it`s going to be done, he does it, the

immediate result is that Turkey and Russia come in to take over that land

that our allies and U.S. special forces had been holding in northeastern

Syria. 

 

The U.S. base there – literally now has the American base there now has

the Russian flag flying over it.  And Russian soldiers are now using that

base.  And Russian soldiers are now patrolling that part of the country

where U.S. troops and U.S. allies were removed by President Trump`s

actions.  We`re out, here Putin you can have it. 

 

Turkey has also just bought Russian anti-aircraft weapons.  Turkey is a

member of NATO.  Having a NATO member buy advanced Russian weapon systems

is a huge military coup for Russian and it is a crisis for NATO.  I mean,

not to get into the technicalities of it, but giving – having a NATO

member operating a sophisticated Russian anti-aircraft missile system like

this potentially exposes the most secret U.S. fighter jet technology to the

Russians. 

 

Thanks, Turkey.  Thanks for doing that. 

 

Republican senators who were upset by that and who are upset by the Turkish

military attacking our allies in Syria, President Trump weighed in during

this White House visit to try to smooth that all over, to try to calm down

Republican senators about that, to try to make it OK for Turkey. 

 

So, it`s OK that they attacked our allies, and it`s OK that they`ve got to

keep those sophisticated Russian weapons.  Trump wants Turkey to keep those

sophisticated Russian weapons, regardless of what that means for U.S.

military superiority and for NATO.  Advantage Russia. 

 

I mean even the core weirdness at the heart of the impeachment.  Trump

didn`t just ask Ukraine to announce bogus investigations into Joe Biden,

right?  Remember what else he asked Ukraine to investigate, he asked them

to investigate 2016, specifically this weird conspiracy theory that it

wasn`t Russia that messed with our elections in 2016, it was Ukraine

messing with our elections. 

 

So, David Sanger of “The New York Times” calls one of the many odd twists

in the partisan noise around impeachment.  President Trump`s effort to

divert attention from suspicions about the 2016 hack away from Russia.  He

calls it a completely discredited theory that Ukrainian hackers, not

Russia`s military intelligence were responsible for the hack. 

 

Where did this completely discredited theory come from that it was Ukraine

that meddled in the 2016 election and not Russia?  I mean, all of the U.S.

intelligence and the bipartisan Senate Intelligence Committee concludes

without any equivocation it was Russia who messed with us.  The president

is advancing this theory instead it wasn`t Russia, it was Ukraine.  Ukraine

did it.

 

Where does that come from?  We actually now have an origin story from where

that came from?  The recently released – this is just recently released by

a court order.  Recently released FBI interview notes with Trump`s deputy

campaign chair Rick Gates gives us our earliest known appearance of that

weird conspiracy theory in the wild.

 

From the FBI interview notes with Rick Gates.  Quote, Gates recalled Paul

Manafort saying the hack was likely carried out by the Ukrainians, not the

Russians.  Why did Manafort say that, that, quote, parroted a narrative

that Kilimnik often supported. 

 

Kilimnik, Konstantin Kilimnik, that`s the person who was saying that it was

Ukraine, not Russia.  That`s where Paul Manafort got it from.  Who`s

Konstantin Kilimnik?  Konstantin Kilimnik is the guy who Manafort worked

for years in Ukraine, Konstantin Kilimnik who came out of Russian military

intelligence, who the FBI assesses is still linked to Russian military

intelligence. 

 

So, this whole thing that the president and the White House and Republicans

in Congress now are actively promoting, this conspiracy theory that Russia

didn`t intervene in the 2016 election, it was Ukraine who did that, that

theory appears to have originated with the GRU, with the Russian military

intelligence.  With a Russian military intelligence guy who delivered it to

the president`s campaign chair who was in prison for laundering with not

paying taxes for the millions of dollars he took from pro-Kremlin political

allies and political parties in Ukraine. 

 

I mean, the president is now promoting the conspiracy theory that Russia

didn`t intervene in the election at all, it was Ukraine.  That theory is

from Russian military intelligence. 

 

I mean, I know this impeachment inquiry is about one specific thing that

the president did about Ukraine, and it is about that for a reason.  I

mean, it`s proven that he did it.  He`s admitted he`s done it.  It`s

illegal and impeachable, and he`s going to get impeached for it.  I get it.

 

But literally, everything he`s doing here, including the core allegations

at the heart of the impeachment, all just happen to benefit Russia.  All

just happen to redound to the benefit of Russia, all of them.  And maybe

that is a huge coincidence, but I mean, what do we do with that? 

 

We`ll get some help with that, next. 

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

TAYLOR:  If we withdraw or suspend or threaten to withdraw our security

assistance, that`s a message to the Ukrainians, but it`s at least as your

important question indicates, Mr. Chairman, to the Russians who are looking

for any sign of weakness or any sign we are withdrawing our support for

Ukraine. 

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

MADDOW:  Joining us now for the interview tonight is Susan Rice, former

U.N. ambassador.  She`s national security advisor to President Obama. 

She`s also the author of the very, very good new book which is called

“Tough Love: My Story of the Things Worth Fighting For.”

 

Ambassador Rice, great to have you here.  Thanks so much for coming in. 

 

SUSAN RICE, FORMER NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR, OBAMA ADMINISTRATION:  Good

to be back.  Thank you.

 

MADDOW:  Basically wanted to get you in if I could because I wanted to get

your take on public impeachment hearing, the status about this case of the

president and the case being laid out by these professionals as we saw by

these witnesses yesterday about the stakes, about what was so wrong about

the president did.  I just immediately wanted to hear what you think of

that. 

 

RICE:  Well, as they said very plainly yesterday and with great

professionalism and patriotism, what the president of the United States

appears to have done is abuse his office in the most blatant and gross way,

taking security assistance desperately needed by an important American

partner which has Russian proxy troops on its soil, has lost 13,000 of its

own people in conflict and withheld that assistance in a White House

meeting in order to extort information that is evidently completely false

information against a political rival. 

 

So rather than pursuing anything vis-a-vis the national interests with

respect to his relationship with the new Ukrainian president, he was trying

to export information that he could use against Joe Biden.  And the stakes

are extraordinary. 

 

People are still dying in Ukraine.  Lives have been lost while this aid was

withheld.  And frankly, the notion he somehow would have released it had he

not come under the pressure of the whistle-blower report and the pressure

under Congress is a joke. 

 

But the other part of this is the message we are sending to the Ukrainians

is, you know, we`re fair weather friends if friends at all.  And when we

get tired of, you know, of being your partner and providing you the

security assistance you need, then we`re gone.  And meanwhile, Russia is

winning.  And Russia is reassured that we have really not made a lasting

commitment to Ukraine`s security or economic development. 

 

MADDOW:  The thing I felt I learned in watching those witnesses yesterday

and I guess I must have known it somewhere because it resonated with me is

that the damage is done.  That even though the aid was ultimately released

because of pressure from Congress, because of the whistle-blower complaint,

because it`s turned into a gigantic scandal for which the president is now

being impeached, the fact it was withheld and everybody now knows that the

president was holding it back to get this petty favor for himself or to

help him politically has already broken the perception of a principled or

permanent alliance with our countries that nobody can interfere with. 

 

And without that sense of Americans abiding support, Ukraine is indelibly

weakened. 

 

RICE:  Absolutely, there`s no question. 

 

MADDOW:  How do we fix that? 

 

RICE:  I`m not sure it can be fixed, certainly not while Donald Trump is

president, because what we had previously before Trump was a clearly and

unequivocal bipartisan policy of supporting Ukraine and recognizing that

Russia`s aggression not only grievous blow to Ukraine, but unchecked would

give Russia the signal it can do it elsewhere.  And we`ve seen first

Georgia and then Ukraine.  What`s next? 

 

And now what we`ve said under President Trump is never mind.  You know,

we`re not there for you in any sustained way as Trump himself said on live

television to Zelensky, good luck on your negotiation with Vladimir Putin. 

Hope you guys can work it out.  Where are we?

 

MADDOW:  And then right after – and then right after that, he said maybe

Zelensky can come to White House, that`s when he can get his White House

meeting if he pleases Putin. 

 

RICE:  Yes.

 

MADDOW:  I have a lot of other things to ask you. 

 

Our guest is Susan Rice.  We`ll be right back. 

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

MADDOW:  Joining us once again is Ambassador Susan Rice, who was President

Obama`s national security advisor, former U.S. ambassador to the U.N.

 

Let me ask you – looking at the way the first impeachment hearing went,

looking ahead tomorrow to Marie Yovanovitch who`s going to be testifying in

the second public hearing, I wonder as someone who`s been in the crosshairs

of not only partisan attacks but real conservative media concerted attacks

on you over the course of your career, that`s one the things you write

eloquently about in your book, I wonder how you feel about these career

civil servant officers, foreign service officers, nonpartisan officials,

people who are not as high profile as you, people who are not super high

level political appointees, people who are doing their job, having the

spotlight on them the way they do right now. 

 

I mean, in one sense, it`s heartening because they`re telling the truth and

they are being brave, and they`re showing America what it is to do that

kind of work.  On the other hand, the spotlight and crosshairs on them has

got to be scary. 

 

RICE:  It`s got to be scary.  It is scary and it is outrageous, and it`s

despicable.  These are civil servants, career foreign service officers,

career intelligence officers, career military officers who have signed up

to serve their country for modest pay because they care about the national

interests.  They`ve sworn an oath to the Constitution.  They`re committed

to defending it. 

 

And, you know, all things be equal, none of them would ever want to be a

household name.  And here they are being publicly and consistently targeted

by the president of the United States.  They have bulls-eyes on their back

because the commander-in-chief put them there. 

 

It`s absolutely outrageous.  These are not political appointees.  And even

when it happens to political appointees as it happened to me, it`s often

dishonest and extremely unfair.  In this case, these are career civil

servants who faithfully served Democratic and Republican administrations

for years and done it with professionalism and patriotism, and now, their

integrity is being impugned, their whole careers are being maligned, and

they continue to come forward and tell the truth.

 

What I hope comes out of this, Rachel, is that the American people

understand how incredibly committed and intelligent and talented and

professional the people who work in the U.S. government are.  Whether

you`re a Democrat or Republican, these are the people who keep our country

humming on a daily basis. 

 

MADDOW:  When you see – I mean, we saw the public smear campaign against

Ambassador Yovanovitch who`s going to testify tomorrow.  We`re seeing the

ongoing smear campaigns against Colonel Vindman, Colonel Alexander Vindman

– 

 

RICE:  Purple Heart.

 

MADDOW:  A Purple Heart veteran, a combat veteran. 

 

And I`ll tell you – when you talk about their bravery and their

commitment, I hear you.  I also wonder as a structural matter, having had

all the different kinds of job you`ve had in government, if you feel there

is something we can do to avoid the kind of chilling effect that these

attacks on these kind of people is going to have on the civil service, on

military officers, on anybody in public service to know you might have to

walk through this kind of fire just to do your job and just to tell the

truth?  Can we – can we make up any of that ground again? 

 

RICE:  Well, first of all, it`s never been the case before and hopefully it

won`t be the case in the future.  I do think and want to believe that in

this regard, what we`ve seen out of Trump and this administration is an

aberration.  We`ve never seen civil servants and career officials

personally targeted in this way. 

 

But the other thing that gives me hope is the fact that they do continue to

be honest, to tell the truth, to take great risks, and they`re being

rewarded in the sense that I think many Americans understand now just how

committed and dedicated these people are.  And so, they`ve earned our

gratitude and respect.  In some ways, I think that may empower people who

are continuing to try to serve despite these extraordinary difficult

conditions. 

 

MADDOW:  They`re certainly creating a sense of sort of civic role models in

a way that we didn`t know we needed to have.  But –

 

RICE:  Look, public service is extraordinarily rewarding, even if like me,

you`ve had a few knives in your back along the way.  There`s no greater

honor than serving your country and working with smart people.  And now, we

have a president making it difficult. 

 

But these people have served long enough to know this is not the way it`s

supposed to be and hopefully not the way it will long be. 

 

MADDOW:  Susan Rice, former national security adviser and U.S. ambassador

to the United Nations, and you`re book is “Tough Love: My Story of the

Things Worth Fighting For”.  Great to have you here.  Thanks a lot.

 

RICE:  Good to see you.  Thanks so much.

 

MADDOW:  All right.  We`ll be right back.  Stay with us.  

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

MADDOW:  Yesterday`s impeachment hearing, we got the news that the day

after the phone call with the Ukrainian president that led to these

impeachment proceedings against President Trump, U.S. diplomat Gordon

Sondland allegedly called President Trump on his cellphone from a

restaurant in Ukraine.  An embassy staffer who was with Sondland when he

placed the call apparently overheard that conversation, including

overhearing President Trump asking Sondland about the investigations that

he was pressing Ukraine for.  That was yesterday`s revelation at the first

impeachment hearing. 

 

Now, today, the “Associated Press” was first to report that a second

individual can corroborate that account.  The “A.P.” saying it has learned

that, quote, a second U.S. embassy staffer in Kiev overheard a cellphone

call between President Trump and his ambassador to the E.U. discussing a

need for Ukrainian officials to pursue investigations. 

 

According to the “A.P.”, the second diplomatic staffer also at the table

was a Foreign Service officer based in Kiev.  A person briefed on what that

officer overheard spoke to the “A.P.” on condition of anonymity to discuss

a sensitive matter currently under investigation. 

 

Now, it is important to note this “A.P.” report as they say is based on

what appears to be a single anonymous source.  NBC News has not spoken to

anyone who has confirmed this account at this time. 

 

In terms of the second person overhearing President Trump on the call, but

NBC has confirmed that the second Foreign Service officer was accompanying

Sondland during that July visit to Ukraine.  She was what the state

department refers to as his control officer during that trip.  So that

means she was definitely with him. 

 

But this additional “A.P.” reporting tonight, again single source is

intriguing because if this bears out, this could be at least a path to

another witness who could corroborate this big new development in the

impeachment story about the president`s personal involvement in the core

allegations at the heart of the matter. 

 

The reporter who broke that story from the “A.P.” joins us next. 

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

MADDOW:  A few days ago, “The Associated Press” broke this bananas story

about Trump Energy Secretary Rick Perry going to Ukraine for the

inauguration of their new president and while he was there putting in a

word for two of his new campaign donors who would soon apply for a gigantic

contract for drilling rights on Ukraine owned land.  Wouldn`t you know it,

they got a 50-year contract from the Ukrainian government after Rick Perry

put in a word for them at the inauguration with their president.  Remember

how much the Trump administration is trying to fight corruption over there? 

 

That same reporting team now has just broken the story that it wasn`t just

one embassy staffer who overheard Ambassador Gordon Sondland talking with

President Trump on a cellphone in a public restaurant about the

investigations that Trump was seeking in Ukraine, it may have been an

additional source as well who heard that call. 

 

Michael Biesecker broke that story today along with his team at the

“Associated Press”. 

 

You guys are on quite a roll, Michael.  Thanks very much for being here

tonight. 

 

MICHAEL BIESECKER, NATIONAL INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER, “ASSOCIATED PRESS”: 

Thanks for having me again, Rachel. 

 

MADDOW:  So, I mentioned before the break the sourcing on this story we`ve

been back and forth with NBC today trying to corroborate it.  I know “The

Washington Post” has sort of matched your reporting on this.  It does

appear that you guys have reported on this based on a single source. 

 

I have to ask you how confident you are in that sourcing and in the story? 

 

BIESECKER:  We wouldn`t have gone with a single source if we didn`t feel

the information was very reliable. 

 

MADDOW:  And specifically, this second person is also able to corroborate

what we learned in yesterday`s first impeachment hearing that president

Trump could be overheard on the call asking about these investigations? 

 

BIESECKER:  That`s our understanding, is that she was sitting at the table

during the lunch with Ambassador Sondland and was able to hear the

president.  Apparently, Ambassador Sondland had his cellphone up pretty

loud. 

 

MADDOW:  And I don`t mean to be too, like, specific or weedy about this,

but I`ve been trying to figure out how this happened.  I mean, unless it`s

a drop dead silent restaurant, is it possible that Sondland actually had

the president on speakerphone so that he could show-off that he was

speaking with the president and so other people at the table deliberately

could hear him? 

 

BIESECKER:  You know, like you, we`ve been trying to figure out how this

occurred.  I can just say our information is that Suriya Jayanti was able

to hear part of the call just as the other witness David Holmes as

testified to by Ambassador Taylor was able to hear parts of the call,

including the president talking about the need for Ukrainian

investigations. 

 

MADDOW:  And, Michael, we know that she had been earlier been invited to

testify and perhaps had been scheduled to testify and that was rescheduled

around the time of Congressman Elijah Cummings` funeral.  Do we know if

she`s still planning to testify either as a closed door deposition or in

public? 

 

BIESECKER:  Our understanding is that she was in Washington from Kiev and

scheduled to testify, and then of course with the death of Representative

Cummings, everybody was at his funeral, things sort of shutdown for a

couple of days.  She went back to Kiev.  So at this time we`re not aware if

she`s scheduled to testify. 

 

MADDOW:  “A.P.” reporter Michael Biesecker, congratulations to you and your

reporting team, that really have had a number of remarkable scoops on the

story just in the past few weeks.  Keep going.  I don`t want to keep you

away from your work, sir. 

 

BIESECKER:  Thank you, Rachel. 

 

MADDOW:  Thanks for being here. 

 

All right, we`ll be right back. 

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

MADDOW:  Tomorrow will be a big day.  Not only is tomorrow a Friday in the

year 2019, tomorrow`s going to be day two of the impeachment hearings. 

Marie Yovanovitch, ousted as Ukraine ambassador, her testimony and that

second impeachment hearing will start at 9:00 a.m. Eastern. 

 

Also tomorrow, a closed door deposition from somebody named David Holmes. 

He`s the first of potentially two staffers from Kiev who heard President

Trump on a phone call to Ambassador Gordon Sondland in a restaurant in

Ukraine asking Sondland about the investigations into the Bidens that he

wanted Ukraine to do. 

 

I should also tell you that tomorrow.  We will be awaiting a jury verdict

in the Roger Stone trial.  The jury is already out deliberating in that

case. 

 

It`s going to be a big day tomorrow.  We`ll see you then.  That does it for

us tonight.

 

Now, it`s time for “THE LAST WORD” where Joy Reid is in for Lawrence

tonight. 

 

Good evening, Joy.

 

 

                                                                                                               

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