Bolton TRANSCRIPT: 6/17/20, The Rachel Maddow Show
SEN. CORY BOOKER (D-NJ): There are good people on both sides of the aisle
in America, we demonize each other way too much, but this is a man that is
now changing the Republican Party forever, putting a stain upon it, that
this party is allowing itself to be dragged down because it`s refusing to -
- in fact, the quotes of some of these folks, before Donald Trump was
elected are powerful.
In fact, I heard Lindsey Graham`s words being used in a Republicans against
Trump ad, because they`re so damning. And so now this is the –
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: Yes, they were right before they had to be wrong.
Senator Cory Booker, thank you as always for making time, Senator.
That is ALL IN for this evening.
“THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW” starts right now with Ali Velshi, in for Rachel.
Good evening, Ali.
ALI VELSHI, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Chris. Good to see you again. We`ll
see you tomorrow.
Thanks to you at home, by the way, for joining us at this hour, Rachel has
the night off. But she`s going to be back tomorrow.
And there is a lot going on tonight.
John Bolton`s new tell-all book from his days as Donald Trump`s national
security adviser has leaked, and it is a doozy. Bolton describes the Trump
administration is following a pattern of, quote, obstruction of justice as
a way of life. He says there`s a ton of stuff that the impeachment inquiry
missed, and that Trump tried to get China to help him get reelected this
We know this all, and more, because a handful of reporters have managed to
get hold of a copy of Bolton`s book ahead of its publication and amid a
desperate attempt by President Trump to stop the publication that have
book, including a brand-new effort tonight, just within the last hour. The
Justice Department filed an emergency application for a restraining order
against Bolton and is asking the judge to block him from publishing his
book next week. They`re asking for a hearing on Friday.
Now, we`re going to talk to one of the first reporters who got a look at
the book, as well as the house intelligence chair and impeachment manager,
Congressman Adam Schiff, a little later in the show.
Meanwhile, as the country continues to open back up, coronavirus cases
continue to rise in the Western and Southern United States. With nine
states hitting record high numbers of new cases this week, including the
state of Oklahoma, where the president is still set to hold a massive
indoor campaign rally this weekend. We`re going to talk to an emergency
room doctor from one of the hardest-hit areas of the country about what`s
happening on the ground and what needs to be done to stop the spread of
That and more as well ahead.
But first, we begin with the charges handed down today in the death of
Rayshard Brooks, the 27-year-old black man who shot in the back by an
Atlanta police officer five days ago. This afternoon the district
attorney`s office in Atlanta announced 11 charges against former Officer
Garrett Rolfe including felony murder and aggravated assault.
If convicted, Rolfe could face life in prison or the death penalty. Three
charges were also announced against Devin Brosnan, the second officer at
During today`s remarkable press conference, Fulton County District Attorney
Paul Howard called Brooks` killing unjustified, saying he posed no threat
to the officers. The D.A. repeatedly noted that Brooks was cordial and
cooperative for more than 40 minutes before the incident became violent.
Video of that final deadly altercation shows Mr. Brooks scuffling with
police before grabbing one of the officers` Tasers and running away. He`s
seen firing the stun gun in the direction of the officers. And moments
later, Officer Rolfe shoots him twice in the back.
Today, the D.A. noted that officers were aware that the Taser brooks was
holding had already been discharged twice, meaning that it no longer posed
a threat, it could not be discharged a third time. He also revealed that
after firing those deadly shots, the first words out of Officer Rolfe`s
mouth were “I got him.”
But one of the most striking moments in today`s news conference came when
the district attorney explained what happened in the moments after the
shooting as Rayshard Brooks lay dying on the ground.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PAUL HOWARD JR., FULTON COUNTY, GEORGIA DISTRICT ATTORNEY: Now, this is
another important consideration that we discovered as we evaluated this
case. Once Mr. Brooks was shot, there is an Atlanta policy that requires
that the officers have to provide timely medical attention to Mr. Brooks or
to anyone who is injured. But after Mr. Brooks was shot, for some period of
two minutes and 12 seconds, there was no medical attention applied to Mr.
But when we examined the videotape, and in our discussions with witnesses,
what we discovered is, during the two minutes and 12 seconds that Officer
Rolfe actually kicked Mr. Brooks while he laid on the ground, while he was
there fighting for his life. Secondly, from the videotape, we were able to
see that the other officer, Officer Brosnan, actually stood on Mr. Brooks`
shoulders while he was there struggling for his life.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELSHI: Today, the district attorney announced that the second officer,
Devin Brosnan, is now cooperating with prosecutors. The district attorney
says he will testify on behalf of the state, making him one of the first
Atlanta police officers to do so in a case like this. Mr. Brosnan`s
attorney, however, late this evening disputed that claim, saying his client
has not agreed to testify or to serve as a witness. Both officers are
expected to turn themselves in to authorities by 6:00 p.m. tomorrow
Despite the swift action by the prosecutors, by the district attorney, in
bringing the charges, it could actually be some time before an actual
indictment is handed down. According to Georgia`s state law, a grand jury
must now convene to determine whether or not the two officers should be
indicted. But because of the pandemic, no grand juries will meet until at
The district attorney has said he would sign an indictment today if he were
legally able to do so. But despite the delay, it is worth taking note of
the unbelievable amount of change that this tragedy has brought about,
especially in Atlanta itself. Less than 24 hours after the shooting of
Rayshard Brooks, the Atlanta police chief, Erika Shields, resigned.
Days later, the mayor of Atlanta, Keisha Lance Bottoms, issued a series of
executive orders aimed at dramatically overhauling her city`s police
department. Now, those orders require that officers now employ de-
escalation techniques before using deadly force. In addition, they demand
that officers intercede when they witness another officer using
This follows similar reforms that are being enacted all across the country
right now as local leaders react to the wave of protests sparked by the
death of George Floyd just last month. In Minneapolis, the city where
employed was killed, the city council has already voted to disband its
police department completely, rethinking the way they go about law
enforcement in their community.
In New York, lawmakers took the hugely consequential step of repealing a
decades-old law that has been used to shield police officers` disciplinary
records from the public. In city after city after city, departments have
banned the use of chokeholds, reconsidering the way they approach the use
of force. And now national police reform, something that would have been
unthinkable one month ago, is being considered and debated by lawmakers in
Today, Republicans, led by Senator Tim Scott, unveiled their proposal for
Now, it is significantly narrower than what Democrats are proposing, but it
would incentivize police departments to use body cameras and ban chokeholds
by withholding federal grant money from them. Senator Mitch McConnell said
today the bill would be taken up for a vote as early as next week, and that
sets up a clash with Democrats both in the House and the Senate who claim
that now is the time to go big and pass far-reaching legislation that would
place strict limits on excessive force and make it easier to hold officers
legally accountable for misconduct.
Now, at this moment, members of the House Judiciary Committee are debating
police reform legislation, they`ve been doing so all day. We`re expecting a
committee vote on that bill later this hour. And so maybe, maybe this time
real change will come. As the attorney for the family of Rayshard Brooks
said earlier today, now is not the time for politics. It`s time to fix the
policing situation so that the same thing doesn`t keep happening again and
again and again.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
L. CHRIS STEWART, BROOKS FAMILY ATTORNEY: So, we`re watching all these
policies that directly affect families like this, all these arguments,
Democrats versus Republicans, all of this ridiculousness, and they`re not
starting from step one. How do we actually fix this and not what`s best for
your political party? Because the things I saw today, we`re going to be
back here next year.
Was this justice today? Not yet. We still don`t have a definition for it.
With more heartache that families have to go through this and fight the
public to try and get justice for a man that was shot in the back twice.
But we do thank everybody in this country for the outpouring of support,
the people that are marching for change peacefully, keeping his name alive
positively. And maybe one day, this country will get it right with
policing. And we`ll all come together.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELSHI: And maybe one day this country will get it right with policing.
Joining us now, Chris Stewart, attorney for the Brooks family.
Chris, I`m sad that you and I are on a first name basis now because we talk
every couple of days. I want to start by asking you what you and the family
make today of the charges brought against the two police officers and
whether the family feels those charges are appropriate and sufficient.
STEWART: Yeah, we`re just going with the investigation done by the district
attorney, the evidence you showed today we weren`t even aware of. We
weren`t aware that Mr. Brooks was kicked after he was shot, laying on the
ground. We weren`t aware that he was shot from it was 18 feet away, running
away after attempting to use the Taser.
We weren`t aware of a lot of things. But they`re trying to hold strong. But
it`s not a day of celebration. This is a day of disappointment that we`re
VELSHI: Chris, we`re – the country has become familiar with eight minutes
and 46 seconds, the length of time a police officer knelt on the neck of
George Floyd. You`re representing George Floyd`s family as well. And now,
we got two minutes and 12 seconds to think about.
It shouldn`t have to be police policy that someone has aid rendered to them
after they are shot and pose no threat to anybody. In fact, the district
attorney said Mr. Floyd didn`t pose a threat to them, the police officers,
in any case. But regardless, for two minutes and 12 seconds they did not
render aid and it appears, according to the evidence or at least what the
statement of the district attorney put forward, that one of the officers
kicked him, the other one stood on his shoulder or stepped on his shoulder.
Again, you and I have talked about this. There are policies that can be
brought to bear, but that kind of stuff is not policy stuff. That`s
behavior. That`s cultural. That is a way you look at a victim that
STEWART: Yeah, like I said, you know, I`m watching all these policies and
listening to these different things, and having actually been in the
trenches involved in a lot of these cases and reading the records and
seeing the loopholes, it`s not going to fix it because it`s a mentality
thing. You know, it just came out today that Officer Rolfe was involved in
that 2015 shooting of another African-American where they didn`t even
report that they shot him, and he wasn`t disciplined at all.
That`s what we`re trying to face, that type of behavior leads someone until
we`re here. But not every officer does that. But when it occurs, it has to
be nipped in the bud right then.
So I`m just heartbroken from everything that my clients have to go through
and then hearing the news tonight that officers are walking away from
protecting the community here in Atlanta today.
VELSHI: Tell me what you make of that, because you and the other lawyers in
this case have gone out of your way to point out that there are a lot of
good cops out there, there are a lot of police who leave their homes every
day and put their lives at risk for the safety of the communities they
serve, and now we have reports, we haven`t confirmed that here at NBC, but
reports that there were sick-outs today, there were call-outs by police in
support of the officers who have been charged.
STEWART: I don`t – I mean, I don`t understand it, because if you love your
job and protecting the community, yes, there`s going to be hard times,
there`s going to be people that disagree. You may see a situation where
maybe you don`t think that officers should have been charged.
But look at the situation that African-Americans have been put in where we
didn`t think that young man should have been shot, we didn`t think that
individual should have been arrested or harassed or me stopped and searched
for no reason and I didn`t pull a lawyer card. Look at both sides of the
situation. Just because fairness is coming around, that doesn`t mean that
you are part of the problem. But if you are part of the problem –
STEWART: – then maybe you truly don`t get it. But, you know, like I said,
I talk to my friends who are police officers today, and they`re still out
there doing their job.
VELSHI: Yeah, Atlanta police is confirming they`ve got a higher than usual
number of sick-outs on the new shift coming in. They do say they have
enough police to maintain necessary response in Atlanta.
And, Chris, I guess while this is going on, and your efforts are
concentrated on this particular case, and the Brooks family, there is this
parallel thing that`s going on, and police forces around the country,
including in Atlanta, in Congress, there are moves for change. This took
five days for these charges to come out. In the case of George Floyd`s
killers, it took three days.
Do you think these protests are having an impact? Do you think they are
making authorities look at these things seriously and say, we have got to
take action for change now, not later?
STEWART: Of course it is, because that`s what this country is, is the voice
of the people – white, black, whatever you may be. The people, not
politicians, control what happens. It`s just when we demand change.
And so people are waking up. People are not worried about their lives or
careers. They want change on this issue. Crowds that go to protests are
People want change. Why is it so hard to listen to people that actually put
you in office that want real change not (INAUDIBLE)? But they`ll listen,
because the people have to vote at the end of the day.
VELSHI: Chris Stewart, thank you for joining me again. Chris Stewart is the
attorney for the family of Rayshard Brooks. We`ll speak again soon, Chris.
Congressional Black Caucus chair, Congresswoman Karen Bass, is working late
on Capitol Hill where tonight the judiciary committee is getting ready to
vote on the House Democrats` police reform bill. She joins us from there
Congresswoman, good to see you again. Thank you for being with me.
I wanted to get your reaction to the charges brought today in Atlanta
against the officers responsible for Rayshard Brooks` death. Do you think
this charging decision represents a hopeful sign in this moment to get
justice for victims of police violence?
REP. KAREN BASS (D-CA), CONGRESSIONAL BLACK CAUCUS CHAIR: Well, I do think
it represents a hopeful sign. But, you know, as I sat here and watched Mr.
Stewart, and I`ve seen him several times before, I feel a tremendous
responsibility to deliver. We have to deliver for all of the tens of
thousands of people that are on the street demanding change. And I just
hope they keep it up.
But I also have to deliver for those families. And the thing about Mr.
Stewart, you could see the pain on his face –
BASS: – representing those families after this time and time again. I
think we`re going to be able to make a difference this time. We have to.
VELSHI: So, let`s talk about what that difference looks like, because you
are leading a charge to pass a slate of police reforms through Congress.
The last time we spoke, you felt very good about it. Now we`ve got a
different effort led by Senator Tim Scott in the Senate that a lot of
Democrats don`t feel is as thorough as the one that you`re working on.
So, tell me how you see this coming together, if at all?
BASS: Sure. I`ll tell what you I feel good about, is that in the past, when
we`ve had legislation like this – and I don`t mean about policing, it
could have been about health care, there`s been a wholesale rejection from
the Republicans. What the Republicans are doing this time is they`re
mimicking our legislation, almost every category that we have, we are
suggesting policy changes, they copy it, but they take the teeth out. And
so, we obviously have to put the teeth back in.
And let me give you a couple of examples – saying that we`re going to
study chokeholds, saying that we`re going to collect data on no-knock
warrants that killed Breonna Taylor. We don`t need data for that. We don`t
need to study chokeholds. We need to ban those.
And so, the fact that they are mimicking our language tells me that there`s
a place that we could land. And what I`m seeing now, you know, it`s
partisan right now, but you know that`s part of the process. We will pass
it out of committee. We have more than enough votes to pass it off the
floor. The same thing will happen in the Senate. And then we`ll go to
I will tell you, in the Senate, there is also the Booker/Harris bill, and
hopefully, they`ll be able to have a hearing –
BASS: – and pass that as well. But I am hopeful that we`re going to get a
bill on the president`s desk. And it absolutely has to be substantive. It
cannot be smoke and mirrors.
VELSHI: And Senator Booker was just on with Chris Hayes, and one of the
conversations they were having is that whatever you come to, even the bill
you`re working on, there are some people out there who are calling for some
version of abolish the police or defund the police, redirect funds that are
going to police to things that communities need like mental health care and
better health care and better homeless care.
What do you – how do you feel this, what you are proposing or what you
might get, lines up with a broader call that seems to want responses that
are even more far-reaching than what you`re suggesting?
BASS: Well, let me just tell you, make no mistake, there is much, much more
for us to do. This bill is narrowly tailored to police. But the
Congressional Black Caucus, in just a couple of weeks, as soon as we get
past this hurdle, is going to introduce a massive bill called Jobs and
Justice, because we have to get at some of the problems in the community,
some of the root causes.
But you know what has happened over time is that we have divested from
cities. We`ve divested from communities. In Los Angeles, we have a jail
called the Twin Towers, and it`s filled with hundreds of mentally ill
And you hear police all the time saying, I didn`t come here to be a police
officer – to be a social worker, I`m a police officer.
We need (AUDIO GAP). We need to address community issues. We need to
address social, health, and economic issues, and stop leaving it to the
police to pick up the pieces when we refuse to fund the type of community
services and supports that people need.
So, in the bill, there is funding for communities to apply, to create
projects, pilot projects, et cetera, to re-envision what public safety
looks like in a particular community.
VELSHI: Re-envisioning what public safety look like is where we have to go.
We`ve got to re-imagine it. We`ve got to look at it.
And we thank you for the work that you`re doing. Congresswoman Karen Bass -
BASS: We have to put the resources in the right place.
VELSHI: That`s right. Thank you for joining me, again. We`ll talk again in
the next few days. I appreciate it, as always, when you take time for our
BASS: Thank you.
VELSHI: Well, it`s been a weird time in the news for a while now. But this
is the first time I`ve seen the Elton John discography collide with the
national security news. Just what he has to do with John Bolton and Donald
Trump, coming up next.
VELSHI: OK, I`m not making the claim that this is the most important
revelation in former Trump national security adviser John Bolton`s new
book. There are a lot of head-spinning anecdotes to choose from, now that
reporters have gotten their hands on copies of Bolton`s tell-all ahead of
its release and they`ve been chronicling its revelations all day.
But for whatever reason, this is the story from the book that I cannot get
out of my head. Do you remember how Donald Trump liked to call North Korean
dictator Kim Jong-un “rocket man”, sometimes “little rocket man” for good
measure? He even called him that in his first presidential speech to the
But then he did a sudden U-turn. He held this big fawning photo-op summit
with the dictator and started lavishing him with praise, talking about the
two of them falling in love. And apparently, according to John Bolton`s new
book, Trump at this point became concerned that maybe Kim Jong-un might
hold a grudge because of all that rocket man stuff.
As “The Washington Post” reported today, quote: In the months following the
summit, Bolton described Trump`s inordinate interest in Secretary of State
Mike Pompeo delivering a Trump-autographed copy of Elton John`s “Rocket
Man” on CD to Kim during Pompeo`s follow-on visit to North Korea. Trump had
used the term “little rocket man” to criticize the North Korean leader but
subsequently tried to convince Kim that it was a term of affection.
Trump didn`t seem to realize Pompeo hadn`t actually seen Kim Jong-un during
the trip, asking if Pompeo had handed over the CD, wrote Bolton. Quote,
Pompeo had not. Getting the CD to Kim remained a high priority for several
Now, if you had get an autographed Elton John CD to North Korean dictator
on your bingo card of Donald Trump`s priorities, you`re in luck. Like I
said, maybe not the most important thing today, but when it comes to
foreign autocrats, and Donald Trump, John Bolton has a lot of frightening
stories to tell you, like the time last summer, when Bolton says Trump
directly asked China`s president to help him win the 2020 election. Bolton
writes that Trump, quote, stunningly turned the conversation with Chinese
President Xi to the coming U.S. presidential election, alluding to China`s
economic capability to affect the ongoing campaigns, pleading with Xi to
ensure that he`d win.
He stressed the importance of farmers and increased Chinese purchases of
soybeans and wheat in the electoral outcome. I would print Trump`s exact
words but the government`s prepublication review process has decided
otherwise, end quote.
That means the White House removed Trump`s exact words from the book
because it claims those words are classified.
The White House just tonight has filed an emergency motion with a judge
trying to block the publication of the book next week. And the Justice
Department is reportedly considering criminal charges against Bolton.
Bolton also argues in his book that the House impeachment inquiry should
have investigated President Trump for many more offences than it did even
though John Bolton refused to testify and tell impeachment investigators
about those things.
We`re going to talk with lead impeachment manager Adam Schiff, chair of the
House Intel Committee, about that in just a moment.
But first, joining us now, Peter Baker, “New York Times” chief White House
correspondent and one of the first people to get a peek at this book.
Peter, thank you for your time. I know you`re still going through it.
Here is my question for you. Bolton has so much to say about what Trump did
wrong, what Trump did that could have been impeachable or maybe illegal.
Why didn`t he testify? Does he write about that?
PETER BAKER, CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Well, he
does write about that, and his explanation is kind of complicated and
probably not satisfying to a lot of people. But what he says is that during
the House process, he wanted to wait and see whether a judge would
determine whether aides like him should testify over the objections of the
The White House did not want John Bolton to testify. His aide Charles
Kupperman had gone to court, asking the court to decide, do I listen to the
House, do I listen to the White House? Who do I listen to?
John Bolton said, I`ll follow basically the results of this legal action,
so the judge can decide whether I should testify or not. Once it got to the
Senate, once the House voted for impeachment, Bolton shifted gears a little
bit and said, OK, this is now on trial, I will testify if subpoenaed.
But, of course, if you remember, the Senate Republicans voted against
calling him or anyone else to testify during the trial, even after our
paper reported some of the details from this book including that he
confirmed a direct linkage by the president between the security aid he was
suspending from Ukraine and his assistance that Ukraine help him against
his political rivals.
The Senate Republicans said, no, we don`t want to hear from John Bolton,
even if he said what apparently he says in this book, it doesn`t make any
difference to us.
So, it`s a complicated story here. But you`re right, why didn`t he come up
and volunteer all this sooner.
VELSHI: In your piece today, you say that Bolton describes President Trump
expressing willingness to halt criminal investigations, quote, to in effect
give personal favors to dictators he liked. Walk me through that and why
Bolton thought that that should have been part of the impeachment inquiry.
BAKER: Right, exactly. He describes conversations with – between the
president and strongmen like President Erdogan in Turkey and President Xi
of China, in which issues like the Justice Department investigations of
companies like Halkbank, which a Turkish institution, and ZTE, which is a
Chinese firm, were basically on the table. He saw them as basically
bargaining chips, maybe he would call a halt to the investigations in order
to curry favor with Erdogan or with Xi Jinping.
What Bolton is arguing here is he was effectively putting his personal
politics, his own desire to curry favor with these dictators above the
national interest in terms of interfering with these law enforcement
He says that`s something the House should have looked at. They didn`t. He`s
not saying it was impeachable but he`s saying they should have investigated
to learn more about it to decide whether or not it was impeachable.
VELSHI: We were talking about China. There`s a lengthy excerpt from the
book in which he talks about the deal that President Trump was trying to
make. I don`t know what it was, he was going to get Xi to help him in some
way. This of course was a trade war that was started by President Trump.
Do we have some sense of what he was trying to achieve with Xi Jinping?
BAKER: Sure. What he was talking about was getting Xi Jinping to commit to
buying more American agricultural products, specifically to help President
Trump win favor in farm states and therefore to actually win the election
this year in 2020. He was very blunt and open, according to Mr. Bolton, and
saying help me win the election, if you buy these agricultural products,
that will help me in these farm states.
Now, we should note that Robert Lighthizer, who is U.S. trade
representative, testified on the hill today. He was asked about this, he
said I was at that meeting and it didn`t happen. But it`s a pretty stark
picture that Mr. Bolton is painting here where the president of the United
States is asking China for help to win an election. It parallels, in
effect, what the Ukraine case was all about, the idea of bringing in a
foreign power, in that case Ukraine, to interfere in domestic politics, in
that case to investigate Democrats.
What it shows, according to Mr. Bolton, is a desire by the president or
sort of a predilection by the president to mix his interests with those of
the nation, basically to sort of see the government as a tool to advance
his own personal political interests rather than, you know, a larger duty
to the country that a president is traditionally expected to maintain.
VELSHI: Peter, good to see you as always. Thank you for joining us tonight
with your reporting. Peter Baker is “The New York Times” chief White House
All right. We`ve got much more to unpack on this topic tonight. We`re going
to be speaking with House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff who
led the impeachment of Donald Trump. That`s coming up. Stay with us.
VELSHI: John Bolton, of course, refused to testify as part of the House
impeachment`s investigation. It was left to other witnesses, including some
who worked directly for him, to describe what they said he knew.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FIONA HILL, FORMER WHITE HOUSE ADVISOR ON RUSSIA: You tell Eisenberg,
Ambassador Bolton told me, that I am not part of the – this, whatever drug
deal that Mulvaney and Sondland are cooking up.
WILLIAM TAYLOR, ACTING U.S. AMBASSADOR TO UKRAINE: Ambassador Bolton ceased
the meeting, closed the meeting, finished the meeting, and told his staff
to report this meeting to the lawyers.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you tell Ambassador Bolton about this conversation
TIM MORRISON, FORMER NSC OFFICIAL: I did. I did, yes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And what did he say to you?
MORRISON: He said to tell the lawyers.
HILL: He then in the course of that discussion said that Rudy Giuliani was
a hand grenade that was going to blow everyone up.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELSHI: John Bolton clearly knew some things. But just how much he knew
would not be revealed until the middle of President Trump`s impeachment
trial in the Senate, when we got a smoking gun, as Peter Baker just talked
about, courtesy of “The New York Times.” The paper reported that in new
draft manuscript, John Bolton confirmed that President Trump had told him
directly that he would continue to withhold military aid from Ukraine until
that country announced investigations into Joe Biden.
Each day, the lead impeachment manager Adam Schiff continued to make the
case for why Bolton`s testimony was so crucial. And yet despite those daily
entreaties and that explosive new allegation, the report from “The New York
Times,” Senate Republicans refused to call John Bolton as a witness.
Today, we learned that Bolton`s book does in fact resolve the key question
behind the whole impeachment saga, confirming that Trump explicitly linked
the security aid to Ukraine to investigations involving Joe Biden. In his
book, Bolton writes, quote, the next morning, August 20th, I took Trump`s
temperature on the Ukraine security assistance and he said he wasn`t in
favor of sending Ukraine anything until all the Russia investigation
materials related to Clinton and Biden had been turned over. Until they had
been turned over.
Of course, this belated admission is just one of many new revelations in
Bolton`s new book that we`re learning now, four months after the Senate
voted to acquit the president.
Adam Schiff reacted today, tweeting, quote: Bolton may be an author, but
he`s no patriot.
Joining us now, the chairman of the Intelligence Committee, California
Congressman Adam Schiff.
Congressman Schiff, thank you for joining us this evening.
I want to just start off with some reporting from “The New York Times” that
federal prosecutors are weighing whether to criminally charge John Bolton
with disclosing classified information in his upcoming White House memoir.
The internal discussions about whether to charge Bolton are occurring at
the highest levels of the Justice Department and involve Attorney General
I know you`re no fan of John Bolton`s. I know you believe that if John
Bolton had testified, there may have been a different outcome to the Senate
But what do you make of this reporting that Bill Barr, who we know very
effectively carries Donald Trump`s water, is looking at whether or not to
charge John Bolton?
REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA), INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE CHAIR: Well, the reporting
doesn`t surprise me. But it`s enormously distressing that Bill Barr would
once again at Trump`s insistence contemplate using the Justice Department
as a political tool to punish the president`s enemies.
I have no doubt that Bolton, much as I have a low regard for him and what
he did, sought to get clearance from the review process, and that review
process was politicized. The president insisting that he was not going to
allow anything to be included in this book.
That`s not how that process is supposed to work. It`s supposed to be
apolitical, based on just what`s classified or not classified.
So I think this investigation is, you know, likely to be completely bogus.
But it`s a way of trying to chill people from speaking out about what
they`ve seen. And it`s a way for Bill Barr to do more dirty work for the
president by threatening to prosecute the president`s political enemies.
VELSHI: So John Bolton implies in the book that there is something that he
wants to write about or wanted to write about regarding the conversation
between Donald Trump and Xi Jinping in which he implies that he asked Xi
Jinping for assistance in buying agricultural stuff from America, to help
him in the election.
Classified means classified. It means there`s a danger to people having
that information. Not unseemly or not something that the White House wants
to be put out there. But it does seem that once again the White House might
be confusing those two issues.
SCHIFF: Without a doubt. And we`ve seen this before. I think the White
House views the classification process as a means of censoring information
that is not classified, but would be highly embarrassing to the president.
And the president`s own words, what he told Xi in terms of trying to
solicit foreign intervention to help his reelection campaign, it`s such a
profound similarity to his attempt to get Ukraine to help, his plea to
Russia to hack Hillary`s emails, that I`m sure he doesn`t want his own
words used not because there`s any classification risk, we already know the
fact of what he communicated, but rather to avoid the embarrassment and the
further incriminating nature of his specific comments.
VELSHI: Whether or not one likes John Bolton, he spent a lot of years
dealing with American policy and foreign policy. And he told Martha Raddatz
of ABC that when you`re dealing with somebody like Putin who has made his
life understanding Russia`s strategic position in the world against Donald
Trump who doesn`t enjoy reading about these issues or learning about them,
it`s a very difficult position for America to be in.
John Bolton suggesting that President Trump`s ignorance is a security
danger to America.
SCHIFF: There`s no question that that`s true. His ignorance – but also
just the self-serving quality of this president.
Really I think the harshest indictment that I`ve seen reported about
Bolton`s book, and it was very consistent with what we presented during the
impeachment trial, is that the president consistently puts his own personal
interests, his political interests, above that of the interests of the
We said he would do it again. Clearly, he did do it again repeatedly, as
part of a pattern. And that`s the most serious indictment, and that`s what
really jeopardizes our country, when you have a president who has so little
regard for the best interests of the country, and who constantly puts
VELSHI: Congressman, good to see you again. Thank you for joining me.
Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee Adam Schiff, thanks for your
time tonight, sir.
Ahead tonight, an alarm bell from a doctor on the front lines of the
coronavirus pandemic, that`s next. Stay with us.
VELSHI: I`m going to show you a map. These ten states set new coronavirus
records. The contours of the crisis are a little bit different in each of
the states. Some set new case records for a single day. Some are
overtopping their seven-day averages.
But the end result is the same. When the number of sick people goes up, so
does the number of people in the hospital, which means eventually the
hospitals struggle just to keep up.
This is the headline out of North Carolina today. Reported coronavirus
hospitalizations soar to another new high.
Same thing in Texas. This headline today is a particular gut is a
particular gut punch. Officials say many more people will get sick and die
if increases in hospitalizations continue.
The situation in Arizona, that one is particularly dire right now. At the
start of this week, E.R. visits, ICU bed usage, ventilators in use, all of
those measures hit a record high.
The governor of Arizona has said not to worry, that hospitals are plenty
equip to handle the coronavirus epidemic that is spreading unimpeded in his
state. And so, the doctors in Arizona are sounding the alarm for him
One E.R. doctor alarmed by the surge of sick patients in his hospital
telling “The Arizona Republic”, quote, I`m taken aback. I walked into the
hospital and I was like, oh, my God. He says what he was seeing in his E.R.
tells him the situation in Arizona is not as bad as the numbers are
showing. He says he thinks it could actually be worse.
Joining us now is that Arizona E.R. doctor, Dr. Murtaza Akhter. He`s a
clinical assistant professor at the University of Arizona College of
Medicine in Phoenix. He works in two different Arizona hospitals.
Doctor Akhter, thank you for joining us.
Please tell us what you have been seeing in the E.R.s in Arizona and what
has you so concerned about the course of the outbreak in that state right
DR. MURTAZA AKHTER, EMERGENCY MEDICINE PROFESSOR AT UNIVERSITY OF ARIZONA
COLLEGE OF MEDICINE, PHOENIX: Ali, thank you so much for having me.
Basically, what I have been seeing in the E.R. is sort of like you would
have expected based on the data, except to me it looked even worse. I knew
going into my shift just a couple days ago that the numbers in Arizona were
surging. We were making national headlines, which is never a good thing to
make national headlines for.
And yet, as you quoted, I was taken aback by both the patient volume we had
in the emergency department as well as how sick they were. A lot of them
had significant respiratory complaints, what we call influenza-like
illness. And as you can guess, almost all of them that we tested and have
results for tested positive for COVID. It was crazy to see how many of them
were sick and how many of them were COVID positive.
VELSHI: And in our world today, in 2020, we`re used to real-time data. But
one of the things we struggled with since the beginning of the outbreak is
the delay. You told “The Arizona Republic” that what you`re seeing makes
you think that the data hasn`t caught up with the reality. What do you mean
AKHTER: Yeah. When I was a researcher, I always liked to focus on the data
rather than anecdotal experience. But that being said, to have that many
people in the hospital come back positive told me something was off. I have
been working in the emergency department years, right, and we have been
doing COVID testing for many months. And so, we have noticed that before at
the early onset stages, only some people were COVID positive and then more
I literally asked my colleague on shift who was the other attending
physician, hey, have you had any negative tests, and he told me we have
AKHTER: So, that gives you an idea of how bad it is if we`re talking about
one case that is negative out of all the ones we tested.
VELSHI: A couple of days ago, the president said if we just stop testing,
we`d see a drop in the number of cases. And I suppose we`d see a drop in
the number of reported cases, but in fact that wouldn`t result in a drop of
the number of people that are actually getting the infection.
AKHTER: That`s exactly right. I mean, I guess I can`t disagree with the
statement. If you don`t test anybody, I suppose nobody will be positive. So
that`s a sort of topological (ph) arguments.
But our job as physicians is to find the disease. And in the case of
coronavirus, we do it not just by how they look clinically but how they
test for COVID. And the number of cases is skyrocketing.
There are some people making this (INAUDIBLE) we`re testing more, of
course, there will be more positive. That`s fine. You are going to get more
cases if we have more tests, but the positivity rate is also increasing.
So, not only are we testing more, which in theory should drop the
positivity rate as you are doing more widespread testing, including
AKHTER: Quite the opposite. Our positivity rate is going up and by a lot.
It`s honestly, it`s almost shocking. Maybe I shouldn`t be surprised, but
I`m kind of shocked.
VELSHI: Dr. Akhter, thank you for joining us. Dr. Murtaza Akhter is a
clinical assistant professor at the University of Arizona College of
Medicine in Phoenix. We appreciate not just your time but the work you are
doing to get us through this crisis. Thank you, sir.
Still ahead, a chain reaction of sorts put into motion five years ago to
the day. That`s next. Stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT: There were laws banning all black church
gatherings. Services happened here anyway, in defiance of unjust laws. When
there was a righteous movement to dismantle Jim Crow, Dr. Martin Luther
King Jr. preached from his pulpit and marches began from its steps.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELSHI: It has been five years since the event President Barack Obama was
eulogizing there, the racially motivated massacre at the Emanuel AME
Church, Mother Emanuel in Charleston, South Carolina. The hope for the
Emanuel Nine as they are known in Charleston now, and they are remember
there tonight is that their lives would not be lost in vain.
Momentum for change started building almost immediately after the massacre
when South Carolina decided that after 54 years, the Confederate battle
flag would finally be removed from the statehouse grounds.
But that work continues to this day throughout the country. We`re seeing
cities like Virginia Beach, Virginia, working to get Confederate statues
off of government property. The work continued this afternoon in Charleston
with the mayor announcing a plan to remove a monument to the city to John
Calhoun, a staunch defender of slavery.
So, as people in Charleston are marking the night five years ago when nine
people were lost inside a local church, they are also marking the start of
a national movement that remains with us today.
That does it for us tonight. Rachel will be back tomorrow. Now, it`s time
for “THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL”.
Good evening, Lawrence.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
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Copyright 2020 ASC Services II Media, LLC. All materials herein are
protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced,
distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the
prior written permission of ASC Services II Media, LLC. You may not alter
or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the