Tom Brokaw on The Rachel Maddow Show. TRANSCRIPT: 11/15/19, The Rachel Maddow Show.

Guests:
Jim Himes
Transcript:

CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST, “ALL IN”:  I wanted to keep the conversation

going, and then I came to you early, and thought I screwed it up, but

you`re there. 

 

So, good evening, Rachel.

 

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST:  It`s a tightrope every night, baby. 

 

HAYES:  Exactly.

 

MADDOW:  Well done.  Thanks you guys.  Much appreciated.  That was

excellent. 

 

And thanks to you at home for joining us here this hour on this fine Friday

night.  I will you – there are a bunch of moving parts in the news right

now.  And we`re just going to take it one piece at a time, one step at a

time with the full and full-hearted expectation that more news will break

over the course of this hour.  You know it will, right? 

 

I mean, that has generally been our experience on Friday nights over the

course of the Trump administration.  But today and tonight already, it has

just been relentless.  So, let`s just jump in. 

 

We`ve got a whole show prepared.  I`m sure it`s all about to go out the

window.  Obviously, today was the second public hearing of the impeachment

proceedings against President Trump.  We`re going to talk about that in

detail tonight. 

 

In terms of the latest news, though, I do need to mention that as soon as

the public hearing wrapped up today with U.S. Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch,

immediately thereafter, the impeachment committees started taking a closed

door deposition from another new witness.  The public hearings like the

ones we saw with Ambassador Yovanovitch today, those are supposed to be the

sort of second phase of the impeachment proceedings. 

 

But apparently, as more of this story is becoming known to the public and

to the investigators, and as more witnesses are coming forward, you know,

the impeachment committees are having to sort of figure out what to do with

new folks who are relevant to the investigation that they`re still

proceeding with.  So they`re discovering new witnesses, they`re then

arranging testimony from these new witnesses.  And in order to do that,

they`re basically going back behind closed doors to take initial closed

door depositions from these new witnesses before deciding whether they too

will go onto be part of any public proceedings. 

 

So, Yovanovitch wrapped today at this public hearing.  But then immediately

after that, the impeachment committees, not just the Intelligence Committee

but also Foreign Affairs and Oversight, they went behind closed doors at

the secure conference room at the Capitol to take a closed door deposition

from David Holmes. 

 

Now, David Holmes is a career foreign service officer.  We heard about him

for the first time though not by name at the first public impeachment

hearing that happened this week when Ambassador Bill Taylor broke this

surprise news. 

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

WILLIAM TAYLOR, ACTING U.S. AMBASSADOR TO UKRAINE:  Last Friday, a member

of my staff told me of events that occurred on July 26th.  In the presence

of my staff at a restaurant, Ambassador Sondland called President Trump and

told him of his meetings in Kiev.  The member of my staff could hear

President Trump on the phone asking Ambassador Sondland about the

investigations.  Ambassador Sondland told President Trump that Ukrainians

were ready to move forward. 

 

Following the call with President Trump, the member of my staff asked

Ambassador Sondland what President Trump thought about Ukraine.  Ambassador

Sondland responded that President Trump cares more about the investigations

of Biden, which Giuliani was pressing for.  At the time I gave my

deposition on October 22nd, I was not aware of this information.  I`m

including it here for completeness. 

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

MADDOW:  So we learn of that story just a couple of days ago, in Ambassador

Bill Taylor`s testimony at the first impeachment hearing, right?  It`s kind

of dramatic reveal.  A member of his staff coming forward to tell him of

something that the ambassador didn`t know about before, which is that there

had been a phone call between President Trump personally and Ambassador

Gordon Sondland who called the president from a restaurant in Ukraine on

his cellphone on July 26th, the day after President Trump had that call

with the Ukrainian president.  That`s the call that has basically led to

these impeachment proceedings. 

 

In that call on July 26th, Taylor`s staff member says he was able to hear

the president on that phone inquiring personally about those investigations

that he was pressing Ukraine for.  Well, there`s been a quick turn around

in terms of running that story to ground.  And so, now today, that staffer

that was referenced in Bill Taylor`s testimony two days ago, that staffer

has now been brought to Capitol Hill and today, he gave his closed door

deposition. 

 

And credit to CNN`s excellent congressional correspondent Manu Raju who was

first to obtain a copy of the opening statement that David Holmes gave in

that closed door deposition today.  You can see it here.  It`s obviously a

photo copy of a folded sheet that contained his opening statement. 

 

Manu Raju obtained it.  CNN posted it.  And it`s a doozy. 

 

I will warn you.  There`s a couple of swear here.  Eventually, I`m not

going to say the swear words, but if you`re disturbed by knowing where they

are, you should know they`re coming. 

 

First let me read you what David Holmes says is basically his explanation

as to why he`s coming forward at this late point in the process. 

 

He says, quote: As the current impeachment inquiry has progressed, I`ve

followed press reports and reviewed statements of Ambassador Taylor and

Ambassador Yovanovitch.  Based on my experience in Ukraine, my recollection

is generally consistent with their testimony and I believe the relevant

facts were therefore being laid out for the American people.  However, in

the last week or so I read press reports expressing for the first time that

certain senior officials may have been acting without the president`s

knowledge in their dealing and suggesting that the only evidence being

elicited at the hearings was hearsay. 

 

I came to realize, Holmes says, that I had first-hand knowledge regarding

certain events on July 26th that had otherwise not been reported and that

those events potentially bore on the question of whether the president in

fact had knowledge that those officials were using the levers of our

diplomatic power to induce the new Ukrainian president to announce the

opening of a particular criminal investigation.  It is at that point I made

the observation to Ambassador Taylor that the incident I had witnessed had

acquired greater significance, which is what he reported in his testimony

earlier this week.

 

So that`s why Holmes is saying, this is why I`m coming forward.  I realized

that, you know, what I know I thought was just consistent with what you`ve

already heard but then I realized I actually know something that other

people don`t and that other people are saying isn`t the way this all went

down.  You need to know about this thing that I know. 

 

You know, as for this July 26th call, the way Bill Taylor described it in

his testimony a few days ago I think underplays it compared to what David

Holmes described to the impeachment committee as far as his opening

statement.  We`ve got that now. 

 

And again what he`s describing here in time, this is late July.  July 25th,

President Trump makes that call to the Ukrainian president, right?  We`ve

all seen the call notes from that.  It led to the impeachment inquiry. 

 

The day after that a delegation of U.S. officials, including Ambassador

Gordon Sondland, the Trump donor guy who was assigned to be ambassador to

the E.U. and then the president inexplicably reassigned him to go work on

Ukraine instead.  Ambassador Gordon Sondland and this witness who testified

today, David Holmes, they went into a high level meeting with the Ukrainian

government, including a meeting with President Zelensky just one day after

President Zelensky had had that call with President Trump.

 

And at that point, David Holmes said he hadn`t himself had a readout as to

what happened during the call the previous day, between Trump and Zelensky,

but he says Zelensky, the following day at this meeting, said that, quote,

President Trump had three times raised some very sensitive issues and he`d

have to follow up on those issues when they met in person. 

 

Holmes says, quote: Not having received a readout of the July 25th call, I

did not know what those sensitive issues were.  Holmes says, quote: As I

was leaving the meeting with President Zelensky, I was told to join another

meeting with Ambassador Sondland.  When that meeting ended, the two

staffers and I accompanied him out of the administration building and into

the embassy vehicle. 

 

Ambassador Sondland said he wanted to go to lunch.  I told Ambassador

Sondland I`d be happy to join if he wanted to brief me on his meetings or

discuss other issues.  Ambassador Sondland said that I should join.  The

two staffers joined for lunch as well. 

 

The four of us went to a nearby restaurant and sat on an outdoor terrace. 

I sat directly across from Ambassador Sondland and the two staffers sat off

to our sides.  At first, the lunch was largely social.  Ambassador Sondland

selected a bottle of wine that he shared among the four of us and we

discussed topics such as marketing strategies for his hotel business,

right? 

 

At which point I interject with narrator voice, your taxpayer dollars at

work, right?  This ambassador talking about marketing strategies for his

hotel business with all these Foreign Service officers and embassy

staffers. 

 

But then here`s the part that Bill Taylor brought to the attention of the

impeachment committees.  Quote, during the lunch, Ambassador Sondland said

that he was going to call president Trump to give him an update. 

Ambassador Sondland placed the call on his mobile phone, and I heard him

announce himself several times along the lines of Gordon Sondland holding

for the president. 

 

It appeared he was being transferred through several layers of switch

boards and assistants.  I then noticed Ambassador Sondland`s demeanor

change and I understood that he had been connected to President Trump. 

While Ambassador Sondland`s phone was not on speakerphone, I could hear the

president`s voice through the earpiece of the phone. 

 

The president`s voice was very loud and recognizable, and Ambassador

Sondland held the phone away from his ear for a period of time presumably

because of the loud volume.  I heard Ambassador Sondland greet the

president and explain he was calling from Kiev.  I heard president Trump

then clarify that Ambassador Sondland was in Ukraine.  Ambassador Sondland

replied, yes, he was in Ukraine and went on to state that President

Zelensky – forgive me here – went on to state President Zelensky, quote,

loves your ass. 

 

I said I wasn`t going to say the swearword and then I just did, I`m sorry. 

 

Holmes continues, I then heard President Trump ask, so he`s going to do the

investigation?  Ambassador Sondland replied that he`s going to do it,

adding that President Zelensky, quote, will do anything you ask him to. 

Even though I did not take notes on these statements I have a clear

recollection that these statements were made, I believe that my colleagues

who were sitting at the table also knew that Ambassador Sondland was

speaking with the president, which would mean there are two more witnesses

who can attest to the fact that this happened. 

 

David Holmes then describes some of the other things that happened on that

conversation he could overhear between Gordon Sondland and President Trump

including naturally a reference to the Kardashians.  Long story.  We`ll

talk about that some other time. 

 

But then there`s this.  He says, quote, after the call ended, Ambassador

Sondland remarked that the president was in a bad mood as Ambassador

Sondland stated is often the case early in the morning.  I then took the

opportunity to ask Ambassador Sondland for his candid impression of the

president`s views on Ukraine.  In particular, I asked ambassador Sondland

if it was true the president did not give a – that the president did not -

- that the president did not give a shoot about Ukraine.  He didn`t say

shoot. 

 

Ambassador Sondland agreed that the president did not give a shoot about

Ukraine.  I asked why not, and Ambassador Sondland stated that the

president only cares about, quote, big stuff. 

 

I noted that there was big stuff going on in Ukraine like a war with

Russia.  Ambassador Sondland replied that he meant big stuff that benefits

the president like the Biden investigation that Mr. Giuliani was pushing. 

The conversation then moved onto other topics. 

 

Again, that`s from the opening statement from Foreign Service officer David

Holmes which was obtained and first published tonight by CNN.  That witness

both corroborating the testimony we`ve heard thus far from witnesses like

Ambassadors Bill Taylor and Marie Yovanovitch, but also directly quoting

the president in a conversation in which the president appears to have been

checking up on his man in Ukraine to inquire as to the progress of these

investigations into the Bidens, that he was leaning on that foreign

government to provide him. 

 

The president pressuring that foreign government to do those

investigations, of course, because of the domestic political benefit he

thought they would provide him here at home.  And that, of course, is the

core issue for which the president is now being impeached.  David Holmes`

testimony and presumably any further corroborating testimony on this matter

we may get from those other two alleged witnesses who were sitting there

listening to that call as well or maybe even from Ambassador Gordon

Sondland himself scheduled to testify next week, that testimony – I mean,

it all puts the president squarely and personally in the role of not only

running this operation for which he`s being impeached but personally

checking in on its progress as the pressure campaign was at its apex. 

 

So, I mean, that`s all happened.  That`s all come out tonight since the

Yovanovitch testimony at this dramatic hours long hearing today. 

 

I should also tell you that tomorrow there`s going to be another closed

door deposition.  For the first time, an official from the office of

management and budget is going to be testifying.  From good reporting first

from “The Wall Street Journal” and also “the Washington Post,” we believe

the official testifying tomorrow from OMB will be able to tribe what

appears to have been a strange process inside the White House in which

somebody decided that the career expert officials in charge of tracking

something like military aid to Ukraine, those career officials were taken

out of the process of taking or withholding the aid to Ukraine. 

 

Those career officials were replaced instead with a Trump political

appointee who had been the executive director of the Wisconsin Republican

Party.  Until now there has been no public reporting – excuse me, until

now there has been public reporting but no testimony to the impeachment

inquiry that the reason the White House may have had to do that, the reason

they may have had to take those career technocratic officials out of that

process and instead install their appointee is because of the belief by the

career officials that the president putting this hold on the military aid

was something that was actually illegal.  That is why the White House

apparently had to take out of the loop these career officials because those

career officials knew and expressed the view that that would be illegal, so

they had to take those people out of the mix and instead stick a political

appointee in there who apparently would be happy to do it. 

 

So that career OMB staffer is going to testify in a closed door deposition

tomorrow.  I don`t know if we`re going to get an opening statement from

that official the way we did from David Holmes tonight, but stay tuned. 

Impeachment is not stopping for the weekend.  It`s not even stopping for

tonight. 

 

But we`re starting to recognize consistent sort of dynamics at work in the

way the president tried to pull off this scheme, the way public officials,

public servants who would have – who wouldn`t go along with it had to be

taken off the job or had to be otherwise sidelined so this scheme to

pressure Ukraine for the president`s benefit could go ahead. 

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA):  I don`t know if you had a chance to watch George

Kent`s testimony yesterday, but would you agree with his rather frank

assessment that if you fight corruption you`re going to piss off some

corrupt people? 

 

MARIE YOVANOVITCH, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO UKRAINE:  Yes. 

 

SCHIFF:  And in your efforts fighting corruption to advance U.S. policy

interests, did you anger some of the corrupt leaders in Ukraine? 

 

YOVANOVITCH:  Yes. 

 

SCHIFF:  Was one of those corrupt people Prosecutor General Yuriy Lutsenko? 

 

YOVANOVITCH:  Yes, I believe so. 

 

SCHIFF:  And wasn`t Mr. Lutsenko among others who coordinated with Mr.

Giuliani to peddle false accusations against you as well as the Bidens? 

 

YOVANOVITCH:  Yes, that is my understanding. 

 

SCHIFF:  And were these smears also amplified by the president`s son as

well as hosts on Fox? 

 

YOVANOVITCH:  Yes.  Yes, that is the case. 

 

SCHIFF:  In the face of this smear campaign, did colleagues at the State

Department try to get a statement of support for you from Secretary Pompeo? 

 

YOVANOVITCH:  Yes. 

 

SCHIFF:  Were they successful? 

 

YOVANOVITCH:  No. 

 

SCHIFF:  Did you come to learn they couldn`t issue such a statement because

they feared it would be undercut by the president? 

 

YOVANOVITCH:  Yes. 

 

SCHIFF:  And then were you told that though you did nothing wrong you did

not enjoy the confidence of the president and could no longer serve as

ambassador? 

 

YOVANOVITCH:  Yes, that is correct. 

 

SCHIFF:  And in fact, you flew home from Kiev on the same day as the

inauguration of Ukraine`s new president? 

 

YOVANOVITCH:  That`s true. 

 

SCHIFF:  That inauguration was attended by three who have become known as

the “three amigos”, Ambassador Sondland, Volker and Perry, was it? 

 

YOVANOVITCH:  Yes. 

 

SCHIFF:  And three days after that inauguration in a meeting with President

Trump, are you aware that the president designated these “three amigos” to

coordinate Ukraine policy with Rudy Giuliani? 

 

YOVANOVITCH:  Since then, I have become aware of that. 

 

SCHIFF:  This is the same Rudy Giuliani who orchestrated the smear campaign

against you? 

 

YOVANOVITCH:  Yes. 

 

SCHIFF:  And the same Rudy Giuliani who now during the infamous July 25th

phone call the president recommended to Zelensky in the context of the two

investigations the president wanted into the 2016 election and the Bidens? 

 

YOVANOVITCH:  Yes. 

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

MADDOW:  Yes.  So, yes, they needed the career official at the White House

budget office who realizes they`re going to do – they`re trying to do an

illegal hold on military aid to Ukraine.  Yes, they need that official out

of there, instead put in a political appointee.  He`ll do it. 

 

Similarly, they need Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch, 33-year foreign service

veteran, serious person, right?  They need Marie Yovanovitch, patriot, out

of there, so they pull together this kind of cabal of slime merchants to

cook up wild, false allegations against Marie Yovanovitch, and they used

that as a way to get her out of there.

 

And then once she`s out of there, they instead installed the president`s

guys to move in and make sure that Ukraine gets the full brunt of the

pressure campaign, right?  That they`ve got to get Trump those

investigations to help him for 2020.  And there`s the president on the

phone to one of those guys, am I getting my investigations, yes, sir, Mr.

President, they`re going to give you anything you want.  All right. 

 

That`s what he wants to know because that`s the big stuff.  That`s the big

stuff that benefits him, and that`s what he`s using Ukraine for. 

 

So, yes, of course, you`ve got to get somebody like Marie Yovanovitch out

of there.  She`s not going to play these reindeer games.  You`ve got get

the real ambassador out of there.  You`ve got to get her out of the way so

you guys can take that situation – and that take that situation over in

order to pull off the scheme to upend everything the United States is doing

in accordance with U.S. policy and U.S. interests in that country to

instead turn it all to the president`s domestic political benefit. 

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

REP. RAJA KRISHNAMOORTHI (D-IL):  The last time you were in Ukraine was May

20th of this year, right? 

 

YOVANOVITCH:  Yes. 

 

KRISHNAMOORTHI:  In his opening statement, Ambassador Taylor said he took

charge in Ukraine on June 17th. 

 

YOVANOVITCH:  Yes. 

 

KRISHNAMOORTHI:  Therefore, there was almost a one-month gap between the

time you departed and when Taylor took over, right? 

 

YOVANOVITCH:  Yes.  Yes. 

 

KRISHNAMOORTHI:  During that time on May 20th, Ambassador Sondland, Rick

Perry, and others came to the inauguration of President Zelensky, right? 

 

YOVANOVITCH:  Yes. 

 

KRISHNAMOORTHI:  And during that gap in time, Ambassador Sondland visited

the White House along with others and got directions from President Trump

to talk to Rudy.  Those were his words, talk to Rudy about what to do in

Ukraine, right? 

 

YOVANOVITCH:  That`s my understanding. 

 

KRISHNAMOORTHI:  In other words, isn`t it the case that your departure and

the one month gap between the time you left and when Ambassador Taylor

arrived provided the perfect opportunity for another group of people to

basically take over Ukraine policy, isn`t that right? 

 

YOVANOVITCH:  Yes. 

 

KRISHNAMOORTHI:  Ambassador, you`re going to have speak a little louder

into the mike. 

 

YOVANOVITCH:  Yes, yes. 

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

MADDOW:  Yes.  Yes, they had to get her out of there.  They had to run this

smear campaign against her, get her yanked out of there so that the Trump

guys who are willing to take direction from Rudy Giuliani and take

direction from the president about getting those investigations and in the

case of Gordon Sondland by his own admission, the guys willing to tell

Ukraine that they weren`t going to get their military aid unless they cough

that stuff up, those guys had to get in there which meant Ambassador Marie

Yovanovitch had to get out. 

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

REP. JIM HIMES (D-CT):  If you had remained ambassador to Ukraine, would

you have recommended to the president of the United States that he asked

the new Ukrainian president to investigate – and I`m quoting from the

transcript here – CrowdStrike or the server? 

 

YOVANOVITCH:  No.  I would repeat once again that the U.S. intelligence

community has concluded that it was the Russians who interfered. 

 

HIMES:  OK, so, Ambassador, if you had remained as ambassador and not been

summarily dismissed, would you have supported a three-month delay in

congressionally mandated military aid to Ukraine? 

 

YOVANOVITCH:  No. 

 

HIMES:  Ambassador, if you had remained as ambassador of Ukraine, would you

have recommended to the president that he ask a new president of Ukraine

to, quote, find out about Biden`s son? 

 

YOVANOVITCH:  No. 

 

HIMES:  I have no more questions.  I yield back the balance of my time. 

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

MADDOW:  Yes, she wouldn`t have done any of those things.  She wouldn`t

have stood for any of those things, so they had to get her out of there. 

 

Which would have worked perfectly except for the fact that people like

that, people who have been run roughshod like that, people who have had to

be ejected from the normal course so that the president`s men could come in

and do what needed to be done regardless of whether it was illegal, the

people who got ejected from that process, whether they`re the career

staffers or the career ambassador at the embassy, those people are real

people who are alive and who will respond to subpoenas when lawfully

subjected to compulsory process by an impeachment proceeding. 

 

There were a couple of other things either brand new at this hearing today

or that intruded on the hearing from outside.  They were both big

surprises.  In one of these cases, it made me get off my couch and jump up

and down and call everybody I know.  Both of those instances coming up. 

 

Stay with us.  Lots to come tonight.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

MADDOW:  About an hour into today`s dramatic impeachment hearing, an

external event intruded upon the hearing.  It was about 10:00 a.m. this

morning Eastern Time when the president himself made a statement online

attacking Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch even as she testified.  And that, of

course, is sort of the president`s M.O., right? 

 

This is one of his favorite ways to derail the news when things are not

going his way.  He just grabs the nearest third rail and says something so

outrageous, deliberately outrageous people in good faith and good

conscience can`t ignore it.  And people stop talking about whatever was

going on in the news he was trying to distract from and instead they turn

to the president`s latest outrageous statement to talk about that. 

 

If this president was a pony and he had to be reduced to one trick, that

would be his one pony trick.  Like that`s the closest thing he has to a

super power. 

 

But when President Trump tried that standard one trick pony trick today in

the middle of Marie Yovanovitch`s testimony, it went wrong for him in a

couple of important ways. 

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

SCHIFF:  Ambassador, you`ve shown the courage to come forward today and

testify.  Notwithstanding the fact you were urged by the White House or

state department not to, notwithstanding the fact that as you testified

earlier, the president implicitly threatened you in that call record.  And

now, the president in real time is attacking you. 

 

What effect do you think that has on other witness` willingness to come

forward and expose wrongdoing? 

 

YOVANOVITCH:  Well, it`s very intimidating. 

 

SCHIFF:  It`s designed to intimidate, is it not? 

 

YOVANOVITCH:  I mean, I can`t speak to what the president is trying to do,

but I think the effect is to be intimidating. 

 

SCHIFF:  Well, I want to let you know, ambassador, that some of us here

take witness intimidation very, very seriously. 

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

MADDOW:  Part of the reason this standard Trump attention trick of saying

something outrageous and diverting everybody`s attention from what was

going on to instead pay attention to whatever latest or outrageous thing he

has said or done, part of the reason I think this went a little pear-shaped

for the president today is number one because an impeachment hearing is not

a news cycle.  It`s a real thing. 

 

And the president may have just earned himself a new stand alone article of

impeachment today for witness intimidation by having the gall to do this in

the middle of public testimony that was in part about the way the president

has mistreated and used this distinguished career Foreign Service officer

who had never done anything wrong.  That`s one of – I think the

president`s not used to like, you know, accountability.  So that was hard. 

 

The other reason it went wrong for the president today, though, is just

karmic bad timing.  Because within the hour of that happening in that jury

room, a jury sitting in the federal court in Washington, D.C. finished up

their deliberations, filed back into the courtroom, and handed to the judge

this verdict, this verdict sheet.  These two pages are the verdict sheet

they handed over to the judge today.  This verdict against the president`s

longstanding political adviser Roger Stone. 

 

And as you can see on the verdict sheet, the jury was asked to consider

seven felony counts against Mr. Stone.  Their decision on those counts was

guilty, guilty, guilty, guilty, guilty, guilty, guilty. 

 

And in some ways, this verdict, it`s sort of tempting to see it as yet

another Trump campaign figure going to prison or at least another one of

them awaiting sentencing after being convicted or pleading guilty to felony

charges.  There`s a lot of them now, right?  They`re going to name a wing

after them at some point. 

 

I mean, everybody from his national security adviser, to his campaign

chairman, to his deputy campaign chairman, to his foreign policy adviser,

to his lawyer and now to this guy too – I mean, it is tempting to just add

this new seven-count felony conviction today to the pile.  But it was also

impossible to avoid the fact today that the felony from which Roger Stone

is now facing the most jail time, of these seven felony the one he`s

looking at a potential 20-year maximum prison sentence is the crime of

witness tampering.  It was count seven today against Roger Stone, a

violation of 18 U.S. Code Section 1512(b)(1), we the members of the jury

unanimously find Mr. Stone guilty, count seven, witness tampering.

 

I mean, among the most damning evidence in the Mueller report, in volume

two of the Mueller report was the evidence that the president had tried to

tamper with witnesses in the Russia case, including Michael Cohen and Paul

Manafort and others.  And the special counsel said he couldn`t bring

criminal charges against the president for that behavior or anything else. 

 

But the impeachment inquiry is not constrained in the same way.  So within

the hour that the president is hearing from the head of the impeachment

inquiry about how seriously, how very, very seriously those committees take

the crime of witness intimidation, here`s his long-standing political

advisor being convicted in a criminal court of witness intimidation.  So

that all being spat out of the volcano by the news gods at the same time

today was a dramatic thing. 

 

But immediately after that happened in the hearing, while the hearing was

still buzzing with what had just happened there in front of their eyes,

with then got a brand-new piece of information about the president`s

behavior here and the president`s motivation here that had never been

voiced before.  This is thing that made me get up off the couch and start

calling everybody I know. 

 

That`s next.  We`ve got a lot to come tonight.  Stay with us. 

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

MADDOW:  So this was new today, new today and fascinating to me. 

 

Last night on the show, you might remember, we talked about how this

pressure campaign against Ukraine for which President Trump is being

impeached, this campaign was designed to get the government in Ukraine to

announce some kind of investigation into Democratic presidential front-

runner Joe Biden.  And because you can`t put too fine a point on it with

these guys even if you try, the specific demand was that Ukraine needed to

announce this biden investigation publicly.  They didn`t need to just start

an investigation, they needed to announce they were doing so, so of course

it would have maximum damaging or embarrassing political effect. 

 

But actually put that quote back up there on the screen again from Bill

Taylor`s testimony because it wasn`t just an investigation of Joe Biden

that he – that the president wanted announced by Ukraine, right?  It was

also that he wanted an announced investigation from Ukraine of 2016

election interference, 2016 election interference by Ukraine.  He wanted an

investigation announced into that, too. 

 

2016 election interference by Ukraine is not a thing.  It did not happen. 

It was Russia that interfered in the 2016 election to benefit Donald Trump. 

It wasn`t Ukraine. 

 

So last night on the show we tried to find in the wild, some trace, some

explanation for where that weird sort of backwards theory about the 2016

election might have come from.  I mean, the whole U.S. intelligence

community says it was Russia.  Bipartisan intelligence committee just a few

weeks ago said it was Russia.  More than a dozen Russian intelligence

officers are currently indicted by the Justice Department because it was

Russia.  It was Russia. 

 

So where`s this weird thing coming from that Trump is pursuing in this

pressure campaign in Ukraine, this insistence by him it wasn`t Russia that

interfered in 2016, it was Ukraine that did it?  Well, as of last night as

I mentioned on the show last night, the incidents we know of in the wild

where that strange thing might have come from was documented in this FBI

report from Trump`s deputy campaign chair Rick Gates. 

 

Rick Gates explaining to the FBI under penalty of perjury that it wasn`t

Russia, it was Ukraine, that argument was spread in the first instance in

this country by Donald Trump`s now imprisoned campaign chairman Paul

Manafort.  And where did he get that theory he started spreading in this

country?  Well, what Gates told the FBI is that he was parroting it from a

guy named Kilimnik, Konstantin Kilimnik, who Manafort had worked with in

Ukraine for years.  Kilimnik is somebody who the FBI says is affiliated

with Russian intelligence agencies. 

 

So this theory that Trump was demanding that Ukraine needed to provide him

an announced investigation about, right, he wanted the Biden investigation

announced.  But he wanted this other investigation announced, too.  Best as

we can tell, this other thing he wanted an announced Ukrainian

investigation into this weird claim that it wasn`t Russia, it was Ukraine

that interfered in our last election, that claim appears to have originated

with Russian intelligence. 

 

Russian intelligence gets fed to Trump`s former campaign chairs, had lots

of dealings with pro-Putin elements in the world, right?  He`s now in

prison, right?  It goes from Russian intelligence to Manafort, Manafort is

the one who spreads it.  Giuliani admits he`s been talking to Manafort on

strategy on this whole campaign he`s been running for the president in

Ukraine. 

 

But that chain of command sort of makes sense, right?  Russia wants to

muddy the waters.  Russia doesn`t want to be held to account what they did. 

Well, that`s what we knew as of last night.  Then knock me over with a

feather, this happened today. 

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

DANIEL GOLDMAN, DEMOCRATIC COUNSEL:  Now, are you familiar with these

allegations of Ukrainian interference in the 2016 election? 

 

YOVANOVITCH:  I mean, there have been rumors out there about things like

that.  But, you know, there was nothing hard, at least nothing that I was

aware of. 

 

GOLDMAN:  There`s nothing based in fact to support these allegations? 

 

YOVANOVITCH:  Yes. 

 

GOLDMAN:  And, in fact, who was responsible for interfering and meddling in

the 2016 election? 

 

YOVANOVITCH:  Well, the U.S. intelligence community has concluded that it

was Russia. 

 

GOLDMAN:  Ambassador Yovanovitch, are you aware that in February of 2017,

Vladimir Putin himself promoted this theory of Ukrainian interference in

the 2016 election? 

 

YOVANOVITCH:  You know, maybe I knew that once and have forgotten, but I`m

not familiar with it now. 

 

GOLDMAN:  Well, let me show you a press statement that President Putin made

in a joint press conference with Viktor Orban of Hungary on February 2nd,

2017, where he says, second, as we all know, during the presidential

campaign in the United States, the Ukrainian government adopted a

unilateral position in favor of one candidate.  More than that, certain

oligarchs certainly with the approval of the political leadership funded

this candidate or female candidate to be more precise. 

 

Now, how would this theory of Ukraine interference in the 2016 election be

in Vladimir Putin`s interest? 

 

YOVANOVITCH:  Well, I mean, President Putin must have been aware that there

were concerns in the U.S. about Russian meddling in the 2016 elections and

what the potential was for Russian meddling in the future.  So, you know,

classic for an intelligence officer to try to throw off the scent and

create an alternative narrative that maybe might get picked up and get some

credence. 

 

GOLDMAN:  An alternative narrative that would absolve his own wrongdoing? 

 

YOVANOVITCH:  Yes. 

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

MADDOW:  Yes.  Turns out this thing that Trump has been spinning, this

weird thing about Ukraine interfering in the election, I want you to

announce an investigation into that, he`s spinning that exactly the way

Vladimir Putin has been spinning it and the way that Russian intelligence

was feeding it to his now imprisoned campaign chairman who was talking to

Rudy Giuliani about strategy in this campaign. 

 

I mean, and that was just like an interstitial thing that came up at a

quiet moment today.  But, man, what`s next? 

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

MADDOW:  Joining us now here on set is Congressman Jim Himes.  He`s a

member of the Intelligence Committee. 

 

Sir, I know it`s been a big, long, exhausting day.  Thank you for being

here.

 

HIMES:  Happy to be here.

 

MADDOW:  I`m just talking about working at 30 Rock today, not what you`ve

been doing. 

 

Let me ask you about your impressions today at this second hearing with

Ambassador Yovanovitch? 

 

HIMES:  Well, it`s sort of hard to summarize in ten seconds, right?  It was

just a stunning hearing, because, first and foremost, the ambassador, what

a startling profile in courage.  And it was amazing.  So, this leads to the

second thing that was pretty amazing is that just as the Republicans were

falling all over themselves not to attack her, you know, to thank her for

her service, boom out comes the presidential tweet where he says everywhere

she went things screwed up, blame Somalia – you just can`t make this stuff

up. 

 

But really the story told today is the story of this isn`t just a bad phone

call.  This is a three, four-month effort with a very clear goal to get an

investigation into the Bidens going.  It started with her – before her

firing, right?  Because these second rate gangsters in Ukraine and Rudy

Giuliani were spreading these rumors in Ukraine well before she ultimately

was told to come home. 

 

MADDOW:  In terms of what we learned that was new and new perspectives that

we got today that we the public couldn`t get without hearing from these

witnesses, I was really struck today when she said basically I understand

why they wanted me out of there now.  I didn`t understand at the time, but

I could now see the larger scheme at work. 

 

What I don`t understand is why they didn`t just remove me for no reason. 

Why they had to try to destroy me, why they had to smear me and use all –

and levy all these false accusations against me.  And her even to this day

sort of bewilderment and sadness over that is something I found very

effecting.  But I also, I don`t know if you have the answer or if the

committee has an answer as to why she had to be humiliated and destroyed

instead of just taken out of the way? 

 

HIMES:  Well, I don`t think it`s anymore complicated than the inside of

Donald Trump`s brain.  I mean, today, really put into relief that line and

Chairman Schiff brought it out that line about in the transcript where the

president says Lutsenko, who`s very dirty guy, right?  This is the guy who

started the whole lie. 

 

And, by the way, admitted it was a lie that there was a do not prosecute

list, a very dirty guy. 

 

He`s talking him up the transcript saying – and then of course about the

Ambassador Yovanovitch says she`s a bad woman and things are going to

happen her.  I mean, it`s just a complete inversion of any recognizable

moral code, and that`s the inside of Donald Trump`s head. 

 

MADDOW:  In terms of what happens next here, obviously the inquiry appears

to still be expanding.  The closed door deposition that happened today with

David Holmes, a person who overheard this conversation in which the

president was inquiring about these investigations, tomorrow, there`s going

to be another investigation, office of career management, career staffer,

who we think we know from open source reporting was sort of taken out of

the loop on military aid once OMB staffers decided it might be illegal to

do that hold. 

 

I mean, it seems however fast you want to go you`re getting more witnesses

as the story comes out. 

 

HIMES:  Yes, that`s right.  And I mean, today was important with this new

witness and the new deposition because the facts here aren`t in dispute. 

The long campaign to get an investigation of the Bidens done that involved

withholding military aid, that involved dangling, we`ve known – no one`s

denying it.  The Republicans aren`t denying it.  They`re just saying it`s

OK. 

 

But the piece that was missing that began to fall into place today to sort

of riff on the Watergate thing, what did the president say and when did he

say it?  We haven`t actually known who the president talked to other than

Zelensky, right?  So, today we learn about this phone call where Donald

Trump is inquiring about his investigation and Sondland is saying going

great, it`s going to happen, and by the way, they`ll do anything you want. 

 

And remember, Ambassador Sondland is coming before the committee next week,

so that direct connection to the president, that`s what`s developing now. 

 

MADDOW:  Can you tell us about any time on the horizon in terms of how long

public hearings will go on for? 

 

HIMES:  Well, you know, our hope was we might begin to wind them up towards

the end of next week or around there. 

 

MADDOW:  Wow. 

 

HIMES:  Because if you think about it, I`m pretty sure the speaker is

committed to getting this process done hopefully by the end of year-ish. 

If you sort of work through the end of testimony and what judiciary needs

to do, you`re already struggling to make that timetable.  But again, you

just don`t know what`s going to happen. 

 

The other big piece here of course is Rudy Giuliani.  Now, Rudy Giuliani is

the other half of this thing.  He`s running around Ukraine, you know,

smearing an ambassador.  God only knows what sort of business deals he was

pursuing.  And because he won`t appear in contempt of Congress, and we`ll

deal with that down the road, it`s going to take some time to know that

other half of the story here. 

 

MADDOW:  Congressman Jim Himes of House Intelligence Committee, sir, it`s

great to have you here.  Thank you very much.

 

HIMES:  Thank you, Rachel.  Yes.

 

MADDOW:  Thanks.

 

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

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

MADDOW:  Joining us now is somebody who I am honored to have here on set,

somebody who I should mention has deep knowledge of presidents and

impeachment.  Tom Brokaw covered Richard Nixon`s final year in the White

House, as he tried to outrun Watergate.  He later anchored “NBC Nightly

News” during the impeachment of President Clinton. 

 

Tom is now a senior correspondent for NBC News.  He`s also author of a new

book called “The Fall of Richard Nixon: A Reporter Remembers Watergate.” 

 

Talk about good timing.  Sir, it`s great to have you here. 

 

TOM BROKAW, NBC NEWS SENIOR CORRESPONDENT:  I would like to say that I was

so prescient, I saw this coming.  In fact, it was not due to come out later

in November but we thought maybe we ought to get it out right now because

there are things in here that has applications to now.  But there`s been a

lot of change as well. 

 

MADDOW:  Do you feel like we over-extrapolate from the Watergate example to

understand the current impeachment or do you feel like it does have –

 

BROKAW:  Well, there`s separate and unequal in so many ways.  Richard Nixon

was in office for a full year, when most of his staff was going to prison. 

We have the tapes, we`re looking at it, and yet, they couldn`t quite get

the apparatus going. 

 

But they were very meticulous about it.  And when they finally got around

to the Supreme Court saying you`ve got to give up the tapes, by then a

bilateral position was on the Hill and ready to initiate impeachment.  But

he, in fact, resigned before all of that happened. 

 

The other thing is different then.  We`re on the air two or three times a

day.  We`re not now 24/7.

 

MADDOW:  Yes. 

 

BROKAW:  It wasn`t that kind of constant thing going on.  Watching today

for what it`s worth I thought the most dramatic moment was that cheap shot

that the president made about her and her experience in Somalia. 

 

I`ve been in Somalia.  It`s one of the most dangerous places in the world. 

It was the home of Black Hawk Down. 

 

And for him to kind of throw that off, here`s a guy who goes home to Mar-a-

Lago at night, and she was out there in really tough places.  But at the

same time you have to remember that impeachment is a procedure that the

rest of the country also has a voice in.  And I think that this situation

now, it`s hard for a lot of people to kind of parse it, you know, what was

going on there, isn`t that how they always do business? 

 

So my own judgment is I think there has to be one more hand in the cookie

jar coming out with a whole kind of – something or visible to everyone

else, and they know that he`s done something just dramatically wrong but

something against the best interest of this country. 

 

MADDOW:  And in terms of the way it`s playing out, obviously it`s early in

the process although we don`t know how early.  We just heard Congressman

Himes saying that the aim to is to try to finish this entirely by the end

of this year.  We`re already pretty deep in November.  So, we don`t know

how long this process is going to go on for. 

 

But we at least on this point have the Republicans not really defending the

president on the substance of what he did but instead complaining about

Adam Schiff, complaining about the means by which the inquiry is being

conducted.  Are their parallels there in terms of Watergate, or is this a

new approach that the Republicans are taking in defense of the president? 

 

BROKAW:  Well, I think every time you have impeachment, it`s a new approach

because situations are different, circumstances are different.  You look at

the Bill Clinton case, for example, President Nixon was going to be found

guilty, there`s no question about it, but it lasted a full year which is a

reminder that I keep making to people that he was able to hang in there

because a country doesn`t give up their presidents easily. 

 

And this guy for whatever we think about him still has a loyal core out

there that will show up for these rallies.  And the big, big change is what

we`re doing right here. 

 

MADDOW:  In terms of the frequency –

 

BROKAW:  Twenty-four-seven, everybody`s got something to say and everybody

however inconsequential they may be has a place on that big, big billboard

and people kind of have to listen to it.

 

So, there`s always a lot of sorting out to do here.  But I always believe

in the UFO theory, the unforeseeable will occur.  And I don`t know quite

what that`s going to be, but we`re in for a long tumultuous time that`s

going to be a test of this country, quite honestly, about what they have in

mind for our future and for our system of governing.  And I think everybody

has to think about that first. 

 

MADDOW:  Tom Brokaw is the author most recently of “The Fall of Richard

Nixon: A Reporter Remembers Watergate”, Tom, it`s honor to have you here. 

 

BROKAW:  It`s a pleasure.

 

MADDOW:  Thanks, my friend.

 

BROKAW:  Thanks.

 

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

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

MADDOW:  Whoo, how was your day? 

 

That`s going to do it for us tonight.  We will see you again on Monday when

I`m sure I`ll be just as overwhelmed. 

 

But now, it`s time for “The Last Word with Lawrence O`Donnell”.

 

Good evening, Lawrence. 

 

 

                                                                                                               

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