Millions of protestors around the world. TRANSCRIPT: 9/20/19, The Last Word w/ Lawrence O’Donnell.
JOY REID, MSNBC HOST: Researchers say stopping this apocalyptic decline
would take a huge amount of effort.
So yes, there`s a new thing to worry about. This is for the birds. That
does it for us tonight. I`ll see you here tomorrow 10:00 a.m. for “A.M.
JOY.” And now it`s time for the “LAST WORD” with Lawrence O`Donnell.
Good evening Lawrence. Fifteen seconds, 0.15 over.
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Perfect. Perfect time. It`s much sooner
than I`m used to. Joy, thank you very much. Get some rest, 10 – 12 hours
from now, we`re going to see you.
REID: Yes, ha ha, rest. I laugh. I`m going to watch your show.
O`DONNELL: We will see you 12 hours from now right here on MSNBC.
REID: Thank you.
O`DONNELL: Thank you, Joy. With each passing hour today we learned more
about the conversation that President Trump is now calling a beautiful
conversation. It might also have been a criminal conversation according to
some Democrats. Many of whom are now saying it might have been an
It is the conversation President Trump had with Ukrainian president, and it
is the subject of a suppressed whistleblower report, suppressed by
President Trump`s acting director of National Intelligence.
We will once again be devoting much of the hour to what is still breaking
news coverage of the latest Trump crisis. We`ll be joined once again by
Ellen Nakashima of the “Washington Post” who has been doing extraordinary
work, repeatedly breaking news on this story this week.
And we`ll be joined by former Undersecretary of State Wendy Sherman who
will share her unique diplomatic and political perspective on all of this
and we`ll discuss the sound of silence from Republicans who once claimed to
be concerned with intelligence issues.
And at the end of the hour, we will talk about this historic day around the
world, a global strike on climate change – estimates of 4 million people
participating worldwide, making it possibly the largest environmental
protest day in the world history.
We will show you what 16-year-old Greta Thunberg, global leader of this
movement had to say at the strike here in New York City today. And we are
lucky to be joined tonight by Varshini Prakash. She is one of the founders
of the movement here in the United States.
And she was also instrumental in making these events occur today. She spoke
today at the event in New York. She is one of the prime movers behind
forcing the green new deal onto the Democratic agenda in Congress.
But we begin tonight with a Washington that is reeling once again from new
accusations about President Trump that have inspired renewed calls for
impeachment among Democrats and Democratic presidential campaigns.
The breaking news was first delivered by the “Wall Street Journal” today
this way, “President Trump in a July phone call repeatedly pressured the
president of Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden`s son according to people
familiar with the matter, urging Volodymyr Zelensky about eight times to
work with Rudy Giuliani on a probe that could hamper Mr. Trump`s potential
President Trump`s phone call with the President Zelensky occurred two weeks
before the whistleblower complaint from someone in the intelligence
community, a complaint that the acting director of National Intelligence
Joseph Maguire, has not passed along to Congress as the law requires.
The “Washington Post” reports President Trump`s interaction with the
Ukraine president troubled the member of the intelligence community who
filed the whistleblower report. In an interview with the “Wall Street
Journal,” Rudy Giuliani said that he did meet with top Ukrainian officials
about the prospect of an investigation in June and in August.
The “Journal” reports, “he said he met with an official from the Ukrainian
prosecutor general`s office in June in Paris and met with Andriy Yermak, a
top aide to Mr. Zelensky, in Madrid in August. Mr. Giuliani said in an
interview this month that Mr. Yermak he assured him the Ukrainian
government would get to the bottom of the Biden matter. He said his meeting
with Mr. Yermal was set up by the State Department and said he briefed the
department on their conversation later.”
The “Washington Post,” which has confirmed parts of the “Wall Street
Journal`s” reporting adds this. “The call is part of a broader set of facts
included in the whistleblower complaint that is at the center of a showdown
between the executive branch and Congress.”
And the “New York Times” reports, “Mr. Trump`s desire for a Ukrainian
investigation of Mr. Biden is part of secret whistleblower complaint that
is said to be about Mr. Trump and at least in part about his dealings with
Ukraine, according to two people familiar with the matter.”
One unnamed source told the “Wall Street Journal” that the president did
not mention foreign aid to Ukraine on the phone call with President
The “Washington Post” has new details tonight about the Trump White House`s
role in preventing the acting director of National Intelligence from
following the law that requires him to deliver the whistleblower complaint
to the House and Senate intelligence committees.
The “Washington Post” reports, “White House counsel Pat Cipollone has been
engaged in the matter since shortly after whistleblower action surfaced,
officials said, helping identity legal obstacles to the sharing of the
information that could be politically damaging to Trump. Cipollone`s
involvement reveals a more direct White House role in the dispute than has
previously been reported.”
President Zelensky is one of the people President Trump is scheduled to
meet next week at the U.N. General Assembly in New York. Tonight, House
Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff issued a statement on twitter
saying, “Any effort by Trump to pressure a foreign government to dig up
dirt on his political opponent while holding up vital military aid to that
country is both corrupt and a grave threat to American interests. No
explicit quid pro quo is necessary to betray your country.”
This morning while speaking to reporters, President Trump said, “It`s
ridiculous. It`s a partisan whistleblower.” How did he know it`s a partisan
whistleblower? NBC`s Kristen Welker asked the president do you know the
identity, to which the president said, I don`t know the identity of the
whistleblower, I just hear it`s a partisan person.
And then the president described his now-controversial phone call with
President Zelensky this way.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I can say that it was a
totally appropriate conversation. It was actually a beautiful conversation.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Leading off our discussion tonight is Ellen Nakashima, national
security reporter for the “Washington Post.” Ellen is one of the reporters
who broke today`s news about the president`s phone call with the president
Also joining us, Jeremy Bash, former chief of staff at the CIA and Defense
Department, and Ned Price, former CIA analyst and former senior director
and spokesperson for the National Security Counsel in the Obama
Both Jeremy and Ned are MSNBC national security contributors. And Ellen, I
want to go to the reporting of the White House involvement in the acting
director of National Intelligence refusal to follow the law as we know it.
Do we know how it came to the White House attention that a whistleblower
ELLEN NAKASHIMA, NATIONAL SECURITY REPORTER, WASHINGTON POST: We don`t
know for sure exactly who brought it to the White House counsel`s
attention, but presumably it would have been either the director of
National Intelligence, Joseph Maguire, or his general counsel, Jason
Klitenic, who might have brought it to the White House.
O`DONNELL: And they also consulted with – let me just ask you if we know
how the sequence here. The Justice Department was also consulted at some
NAKASHIMA: That`s right.
O`DONNELL: Do we know where it began? Was the first consultation with the
Justice Department then might the Justice Department have included the
White House or do we have any understanding of that sequence?
NAKASHIMA: No, we don`t know for sure whether it was the DOJ or the White
House that was consulted first, but what we do know is Chairman Adam
Schiff, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, has said that the
– behind this refusal to hand over the whistleblower complaint to Congress
is a higher authority.
It was a higher authority holding the DNI, Joseph Maguire, back from
transmitting that complaint to Congress. And who else is higher up than
Joseph Maguire but the president. He`s really the only person higher than
DNI in the chain of command. So, that`s sort of a hint that it`s possibly
the White House that was calling the shots here or doing the directing.
O`DONNELL: And Ellen, I want to go to one point in the reporting that
we`ve been watching this week. Some reports indicate that there was a
promise, the word promise being used in some reports in some news
organizations that in the phone call, the president of the United States
made some kind of promise.
That word does not consistently appear in all of the reporting. Does that
mean there`s some inconsistency or something about the sourcing of that
word process that is an issue?
NAKASHIMA: You know, journalism is the first rough draft of history and
each day we have a new rough draft and so our reporting evolves. What we
were able to, you know, what we reported today was according to one source.
The subject of military aid to Ukraine did not arise on the phone call.
But we have other sources, two other sources in particular, who did tell us
that according to the whistleblower complaint, there was an allegation that
Trump made some quid pro quo offer with Zelenskiy perhaps, you know, at
some other point.
But we do believe according to our sources that there was a form of a
promise or a quid pro quo in form of military aid in exchange for the
Ukrainians opening or reopening this probe of Hunter Biden.
O`DONNELL: And Jeremy Bash, I just want to not and I just want to open the
field to you in this subject because it is so vast and there`s so many
things to comment on and your expertise is so vast. I don`t want to narrow
But it is possible that a quid pro quo could involve something other than
the military aid to Ukraine. That is one thing that is on the table between
the two countries, but there could be other things that could be promised
that we don`t know about.
JEREMY BASH, MSNBC NATIONAL SECURITY CONTRIBUTOR: That`s a very important
point, Lawrence, because, of course, when the head of Ukraine calls the
president of the United States, it`s not just to catch up like old friends.
There`s actually an agenda.
And the agenda is what support will the United States provide to Ukraine, a
smallish and vulnerable country given its proximity and given its current
tensions with the Russian federation. So the entirety of the agenda is not
just military systems to the tune of a quarter billion dollars.
It`s also training that the United States conducts in western Ukraine. It`s
also other military equipment. It`s also IMF loans. It`s also where the
United States will participate in the Minsk and Normandy diplomatic
processes about the Crimea.
So there is a lot on the table that if the president of the United States
is saying we are holding this over your head like a sort of Damocles unless
you give me information on my opponent, and effect, the whole conversation
is a quid pro quo. It`s implied.
O`DONNELL: And Ned, I just want to pull back one step here. Let`s assume
no promise, no quid pro quo, just the president of the United States saying
to the president of a foreign country, I need you to investigate the person
who I think I will be running against for re-election.
Let`s just say it`s nothing but that without any promise that if you do
that investigation, I will then do something positive for your country.
What does that mean?
NED PRICE, MSNBC NATIONAL SECUITY CONTRIBUTOR: Well, Lawrence, let`s
suspend disbelief for just a moment and conjure a country somewhere in this
world that doesn`t need something from the United States of America. I say
you have to suspend (ph) disbelief because every country needs something
from the United States of America.
But let`s just play devil`s advocate here. It would still be a massive
betrayal of the president`s oath of office if he were in a conversation
with a foreign counterpart to ask that counterpart not only eight times but
to ask him once to dig up dirt, to create dirt, I think in this case where
none really exist, for the purposes of his electoral prospects in 2020.
What President Trump would be doing in that case would be opening the door
to continued foreign interference in our elections. But to Jeremy`s point,
every country needs something from the United States and especially the
Ukraine. When that call took place on July 25th of this year, Ukraine
wanted three things specifically from us.
They needed that $250 million in aid that had been suspended under review
the week before. For months they had been seeking an Oval Office meeting
between the Ukrainian president who was elected in April, months before
July, and who had yet to get it.
Even though President Trump`s top advisers were advocating for an Oval
Office meeting, President Trump for some reason pushed back on that. And
third, they needed the show of solidarity. The Ukrainians need us more than
most countries need us because they are vulnerable.
Their territorial sovereignty has been violated for years now by the
Russians. They need the show of alliance. They need the show of a united
force. So, there isn`t a country that doesn`t need something from us, and
Ukraine needs more than most countries do from us.
O`DONNELL: I want to read a quote from a former senior administration
official in the “Washington Post.” And whenever I see former senior
administration official these days, I think John Bolton, but the truth of
it is, John Bolton just represents a pyramid of people who fit the
description of former senior administration official.
But this is a particularly negative quote. It`s the kind of smack back at
the president that you could expect at some point from John Bolton if he
did witness this and if it was true.
It says, “A former senior administration official who repeatedly discussed
the issue with Trump said that the president thought what we were doing in
Ukraine was pointless and just aggravating the Russians. The president`s
position basically is we should recognize the fact that the Russians should
be our friends and who cares about the Ukrainians, said the official who
spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe private conversations.”
And Ellen, everyday and now multiple times a day, there are new stunning
statements like that that are coming out in your reporting and the “New
York Times” reporting and other reporting. It seems like there`s an
eagerness among sources to get this story out.
NAKASHIMA: Well, I don`t know that I would say there`s an eagerness among
sources to get the story out, but we are finding people who are trying to
help us understand and put in context the things we are learning and care
enough about the issue to try to help people understand the stakes, what`s
at stake here.
O`DONNELL: Jeremy, knowing the institutions involved as you do and the
range of people still working inside the intelligence community who could
help reporters like Ellen and others, what do you think is going on inside
the intelligence community as they watch this story? What are they hoping
BASH: Actually, I think they`re hoping for the rule of law to be followed.
They`re hoping for the whistleblower process to be maintained, its
integrity maintained. They actually are not looking to talk to the
“Washington Post” with all respect to Ellen or to come on television.
That`s not the way they do business.
They`re pretty much nose down doing the job of collecting and analyzing
information for the national security. They`re not partisan people. They`re
not out to get anyone, political party or president. But they are really
resolute in their integrity and their honor.
And if they see something that is clear wrongdoing in our government, an
abuse of power, an abuse of authority, you know they`re going to speak out
against it and they better be protected and not retaliated against. That`s
what the law requires.
O`DONNELL: Ned Price, you`ve been brilliant in your coverage on this
program since this story began and I`m just wondering as we come to an end
of what is week one of it because there will be more, do you have a feeling
for where we will be next week in this story?
PRICE: Lawrence, what I can`t help but consider as I think about what
we`ve learned vis-a-vis the president`s conversations with the Ukrainian
president is what the inspector general of the intelligence community
reportedly told the House (inaudible) like Committee on Intelligence on
Wednesday of this week.
It seems like an eternity ago, but he told Congress then that there were
multiple acts involved. This was a pattern, multiple acts at the heart of
this whistleblower complaint. Now, you could – one interpretation of that
could be President Trump asked President Zelensky eight times in a single
phone conversation to cooperate with Rudy Giuliani.
Giuliani then went to Madrid just a few days later and that`s sort of a
pattern of behavior. But I can`t escape the idea that this may just be the
tip of the iceberg. That it may involve other foreign leaders. It may
involve other acts (ph) on behalf of President Trump.
Whether it`s to his Ukrainian counterpart or even to other foreign leaders
that they do the sort of business that our intelligence community is there
to protect, and that is to ensure our elections are free from foreign
interference, to ensure the sanctity of our Democratic processes. That I
think this episode suggest President Trump is so desperately trying to
O`DONNELL: And Ellen, before you go, I just want to check something with
you that I know the audience has been wondering about because I have read
the law on this program repeatedly, including the law that allows for the
whistleblower to go directly to the House and Senate intelligence
And yet at the same time, people are saying the whistleblower could be in
trouble and in jeopardy if the whistleblower attempts to do that. And my
understanding of it is based on that part of the law that says if the
whistleblower is going directly to the committees, the whistleblower can
only do that at the direction of the director.
The director has to allow the whistleblower to go directly to the
committees. And if the director doesn`t allow it, then the whistleblower
would be in violation of the law. Is that your understanding of it?
NAKASHIMA: Well, Lawrence, my understanding is that the whistleblower can
go to the committee only after and if and after the inspector general – or
if the inspector general has not found his or her complaint to be credible.
In that case, my understanding is, in that case alone, the whistleblower
can seek guidance from the director of National Intelligence to go to the
And if the whistleblower does not seek that guidance or if the
whistleblower goes to the Hill where the inspector general has actually
found the complaint to be credible, then the whistleblower risks not having
the protections afforded him or her in the law against say reprisal such as
losing their job or getting fired.
O`DONNELL: Yes, there`s some trip wires here in the law between the
whistleblower and getting to the committees and I think we`re all going to
be studying that over the weekend and next week. Ellen Nakashima, Jeremy
Bash, Ned Price, thank you very much for starting us off tonight. Really
We have much more still ahead on this breaking news story that continues to
develop. We have one house member who is not a Democrat and was recently a
Republican who says this whistleblower complaint is very, very important.
But from the rest of the Republicans in Congress, you get the sound of
cowardice in politics, which is the sound of silence.
And later, one Republican who`s not silent is Rudy Giuliani who is
constantly making statements now to news organizations, including the
“WASHINGTON POST,” “New York Times,” and others. And some of those
statements are startlingly incriminating of what Rudy Giuliani is admitting
that he did.
O`DONNELL: Now, independent Congressman Justin Amash was a Republican 78
days ago. Today he tweeted, “Congress must have access to the whistleblower
complaint allegedly involving Ukraine. Reports suggest the president abused
his position by engaging in conduct that violates the public trust. Let`s
hear from the whistleblower so we can clear the president or hold him
That is the closest we have to a Republican calling for accountability
today about the allegations that the president of the United States
pressured the government of Ukraine to dig up dirt on his political
opponent, Joe Biden and Joe Biden`s family.
Over the last 24 hours, some allies of the president have been appearing on
Fox to defend the president. But no congressional Republican has managed to
come up with even a word of criticism of the president`s alleged actions.
A word of discomfort about it that has led Trump`s conservative critics
outside the administration to start asking some very sharp questions, and
we will get some of those now. We are joined now by Bill Kristol, he`s the
director of Defending Democracy Together, editor-at-large of “Bulwark” and
founder of Republicans for the Rule of Law.
Also with us is Evan McMullin, former CIA operative and a former
independent presidential candidate. He`s the co-founder of Stand Up
Republic. And Bill, I know you tweeted today that this would be a very good
day to hear from – publicly from some of the former Trump administration
officials who would be in a position to either enlighten us about this or
show us how we should be thinking about it in some ways.
BILL KRISTOL, DIRECTOR, DEFENDING DEMOCRACY TOGETHER: Yes, Dan Coates was
the director of the National Intelligence. I think did a pretty good job, I
must account, still trying to keep Trump in check and trying to prevent
this kind of thing. I suppose he failed to prevent this. I think he quit
very shortly after this phone conversation apparently happened who doesn`t
know if there is causality there.
He doesn`t have to reveal private conversations with the president. He
shouldn`t reveal classified information. As you say, though very well
Lawrence, he could help us think about this. He could explain what is
really the problem here.
He could explain how unbelievable it is for me that a president of the
United States talking to the president of another country in effect who
asks for help in damaging a political opponent and in effect suggests that
aid won`t be forthcoming unless that help is given.
So in other words, the national interest is working to the president`s
personal political interest. And think about. That`s the key thing. All the
details of the IC, the IG of the intelligence community and who knew what,
when, where is interesting.
But at the end of the day, it`s sort of like focusing on, I don`t know, you
know, how exactly did the Watergate burglar discover that the burglars were
there. Well, that`s not the important thing. The important thing is what
the president said, what the president did.
And it really is – it`s worse in a way that a straightforward criminal
send me $10 million to my bank account and I will release the aid to you,
right. That`s just graft in a sense.
This is really making our national foreign policy contingent on a foreign
government interfering in our election, doing a favor for this president
against his likely possible political opponent. I mean, it really is
Congress has to get to the bottom of it, but as you say, Republicans have
either been silent or some of them amazingly rushing to defend the
O`DONNELL: Yes. And Evan, much has been said today about the possibility
of the president of the United States demanding – asking a foreign
government to do him a political favor. It`s being referred to most of the
time as a political favor in trying to help out throw some dirt at the
Biden family and therefore hurt Joe Biden who he expects he`ll be running
But there`s something very, very important in Donald Trump`s re-election
campaign. It`s not just political, it`s personal. His lawyers are saying he
cannot be charged with a crime as long as he`s president of the United
And so this is a re-election campaign to, among other things, avoid
criminal charges that could happen the afternoon after the next
inauguration if it`s an inauguration of someone not named Trump.
EVAN MCMULLIN, FORMER CIA OPERATIVE: Yes, that`s right. And Lawrence, I
think this is something I got used to seeing overseas where you have a
dictator come to power and commit a bunch of crimes in the process or
commit them while in power.
And then as a result of that, become vulnerable to political or legal
consequences should they ever lose power. And so it becomes all the more
important that they hold on to power and they`re willing to take even
bigger risks or make even more egregious or illegal or unethical or just
downright evil moves in order to stay in power because, for them, their
freedom, their lives in some cases depend on it.
Of course here in the United States, the president`s life isn`t at risk as
it might be in a third-world country. We still have a legal system that
generally works. And because of that, he has concerns I`m sure, about that
And so he`s going to fight harder and harder and harder, and he`s going to
be willing to break all kinds of laws and ethical norms in order to stay in
power. And especially now, Lawrence, I have to say I think it`s just clear
to me that the president is now emboldened after 2016 where he received
foreign help, where he encouraged that publicly to happen.
After the Mueller investigation which has been turned over the results, to
the American people and to Congress, he`s not really being held accountable
yet, at least by Congress. That doesn`t seem in the near term likely. And I
think he looks at that situation and says Congress isn`t going to hold me
accountable, so my real concern here is simple being re-elected by hook or
And so, he`s going to be willing to do I think almost anything including
using the powers of his office of the American presidency to not only
welcome foreign assistance but to compel it, to coerce it and that`s what
we see him doing with Ukraine.
And I think we`re just - we`re going to see more of that but it`s all the
more reason that I think efforts in Congress need to be stepped up and we
need to hear of course from Republicans who are just incredibly absent
cowardly in this moment and we can talk about the politics of that but we
need to hear from them and if they`re worried about their constituents not
understanding or supporting them, well, guess what?
That`s what leadership is and there needs to be more of that from them if
they start talking to their constituents about why this is important, why
this is a true threat to the Republic, then they can bring some of their
constituents along and it may cost them their jobs in Congress some of them
but dammit, it`s worth it and they need to take that action.
O`DONNELL: He actually said - President actually said a few weeks before
the phone call in question that he would do the kind of thing that people
are now suspecting that he did do. George Stephanopoulos asked him if he
would accept kind interference in our elections, help from a foreign
He said he said, it`s not interference. They have information, I think I`d
take it. Those are the words of the President. Bill Krystal, Evan McMullin,
thank you both very much for joining us tonight. Really appreciate it.
MCMULLIN: Thank you.
O`DONNELL: And when we come back, Rudy Giuliani has been saying some very
strange things including that his meetings with Ukrainian officials were
set up by the Trump state department even though he had no government
He also says he was meeting with those officials strictly as the
President`s personal lawyer for the President`s personal benefit, not the
benefit of the country and there`s really Giuliani at the state dinner
tonight at the White House.
Former Undersecretary of state, Wendy Sherman will join us in a moment with
what Rudy Giuliani has been up to.
O`DONNELL: According to Washington Post reporting tonight, Rudy Giuliani
said he was operating in his personal capacity as Trump`s lawyer although
he said the state department helped put him in touch with Yermak. Andriy
Yermak is an aide to Ukrainian President Zelensky.
The Wall Street journal reports Giuliani said his meetings with Mr. Yermak
was set up by the state department and said he briefed the department on
their conversation later. The state department had no immediate comment.
This raises the question what did Secretary of State know about Rudy
Giuliani`s Ukrainian negotiations and when did he know it.
Joining us now is Ambassador Wendy Sherman, a former Undersecretary of
State for political affairs during the Obama administration. She`s also on
MSNBC global affairs contributor and Ambassador Sherman, what should - what
should the Secretary of State have known and done about what Rudy Giuliani
was up to?
AMBASSADOR WENDY SHERMAN, FMR UNDERSECRETARY OF STATE FOR POLITICAL AFFAIRS
& MSNBC GLOBAL AFFAIRS CONTRIBUTOR: If Rudy Giuliani was going to Ukraine
and meeting in other countries with aides to the head of Ukraine, the state
department as the President`s political lawyer, the state department really
should have had nothing to do with it.
To put senior foreign service officers, to put ambassadors, to put working
people, civil servants in the cross hairs of a political controversy is
completely inappropriate. What we`re seeing here is Giuliani acting as the
President set up guy, I think his interview last night on another network
was really to get the story out there that this was all about going after
investigating Joe Biden.
When in fact Glenn Kessler of The Washington Post has long said that the
facts do not support that there is any wrongdoing here whatsoever. It`s
been cleared by Ukrainians regarding Vice President Biden`s son. There`s no
there - there and yet to keep Trump`s group supporting him and trying to
ensure his re-election in part.
So he can insure that he will not be indicted, he will not be taken to
court. Rudy Giuliani is - it`s almost like a mob family, Lawrence where
you`ve got the guy who goes in and says now you know, you really don`t want
the godfather of the big guns to come in here.
You want to make sure you do the right thing here so there doesn`t have to
be even an explicit comment, it can be understood as your earlier guests
said, there may never have been an explicit quid pro quo here by Giuliani
or anyone else but it`s all well understood.
We all know how to have such conversations but they don`t belong in the
purview of the state department and Giuliani is really along with the
President debasing themselves when it comes to protecting our national
O`DONNELL: Does Rudy Giuliani have criminal liability here and what he is
just outlined for reporters already that he`s dealing with Ukraine on the
behalf of Donald Trump on a on a personal basis, not on a governing basis,
trying to get Ukraine to basically cause problems for Joe Biden`s family.
SHERMAN: I`m not a lawyer so I don`t know whether there`s criminal
liability here but it`s certainly inappropriate and it is certainly not
anything that when I was at the state department, I would have allowed
anybody to be involved with.
It would be completely inappropriate. You know what we all should be
focused on here is that we protect whistleblowers because they are a
critical part of our system of checks and balances that we protect our
national security and this appears to be an abuse of power by the President
of the United States by an Attorney General who believes in the expansion
of Presidential powers, by a former mayor who was once thought of as
America`s mayor who is now just I guess, having a ball doing very screwy
kinds of things on behalf of the President.
And we have a President who serves his own personal interest every day and
not the interests of our country. We`re at a really tough place and
Lawrence, when I was discussing this with my husband this evening, he said
to me to me something that was very true. The President expects that we
will all be exhausted by all of this and we will turn away.
But for the sake of our democracy, I say we cannot turn away. We have to
stay with this story. It`s really about the survival of our national
security and the survival of the values of our country and our
O`DONNELL: Ambassador Sherman, can you please stay with us. I want to stay
with exactly that when we come back after a break. We`ll be right back.
O`DONNELL: And we`re back with former undersecretary of state Wendy Sherman
and Ambassador Sherman, I just want to read you some of Nancy Pelosi`s
statement today. She issued a statement saying that we will continue to
follow the facts and explore every possible option, ensure the American
people get the truth.
And she said we must be sure that the President and his administration are
conducting our national security and foreign policy in the best interest of
the American people, not the President`s personal interest and when you see
those words today, they seem to have been written for another era.
The Trump era, the idea of the Trump presidency serving anything other than
the President`s personal interest seems like just a kind of accidental by
product of what the Trump presidency can feel to some people to be like and
I`m wondering when I look at the statute, the whistle blower statute, it
looks like one of those things written by honorable members of Congress who
presumed that everyone dealing with that statute or living under that
statute would also be behaving in an honorable way.
And if you were trying to write that stature for a criminal administration
or an administration that will violate laws willfully, you`d have to write
a very different statute and it seems like everything that surrounds this
issue, it turns out to be weaker than we thought it was because the Trump
approach to this has no concern whatsoever, no concern at all for how the
manipulation of these processes looks publicly.
SHERMAN: Indeed. The President has no respect for the institutions of our
government. He works every day in so many ways to undermine those
institutions, everything from making sure everybody is enacting this or
enacting that so there isn`t sufficient oversight from the Congress so that
he keeps some all on their toes, having to please the king in many ways to
the use of the military of his - one of his resorts in Europe because the
military is not a fool.
They know they want to stay in good stead with the President. So there is
no explicit statement by the President that the military has to go use
Turnberry. There is no explicit statement about how the President is going
to govern though he does say he likes actings because he keeps them off
balance, he gets to decide.
So everything he does, starting with undermining the intelligence
committees and the intelligence institutions of saying that in fact Russia,
not some 400 pound guy, not some other country but Russia was behind the
interference of the election in 2016 that wanted to help Donald Trump at
every level in every way.
He has said, I don`t care. I`m going to take care of myself and he`s very
good at branding. He`s very good at marketing. He`s very good at getting
his rally crowds to agree with him in their own sense of being left out and
left behind that he is for them.
And the real danger here is when people feel uncertainty, they go for
leaders who tell them I will take care of everything, I will be your king,
I will take care of you and that`s exactly why the United States of America
was founded not to have a king.
O`DONNELL: Ambassador Wendy Sherman, thank you very much for joining us on
another important news night. I really appreciate it.
SHERMAN: Thank you.
O`DONNELL: And when we come back, these are the astonishing photos today of
an estimated 4 million people, video and photo imagery across the globe,
millions of people turning out for the global climate strike. We will show
you more including what happened here in New York. Next.
O`DONNELL: Today millions of people took to the streets in over 150
countries around the world to protest the climate change situation and what
might be the largest environmental protest in history in the global climate
strike. As it was called today, students and adults walked out of their
classrooms and offices and jobs to demand their leaders to do more to fight
Now in New York City hundreds of thousands protested the Trump
administration`s inaction on climate change. 16 year old Swedish climate
activists Greta Thunberg who led the protest in New York City is scheduled
to address the United Nations on Monday. Here is some of what she had to
say today in New York.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GRETA THUNBERG, SWEDISH CLIMATE ACTIVIST: We will not just stand aside and
watch. We are United behind the science and we will do everything in our
power to stop this crisis from getting worse. We are doing this to wake the
leaders up. We are doing this to get them to act. We demand a safe future,
is that really too much to ask?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: What an extraordinary speaker she is. Varshini Prakash is the
co-founder of the youth led environmental activist group called Sunrise
movement who helped organize protests around the country for the global
climate strike. She spoke at the global climate strike today and will join
us after just one more break.
O`DONNELL: Here is more today from the extraordinary 16-year old Greta
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
THUNBERG: This is an emergency. Our house is on fire. Why should we study
for a future that is being taken away from us? That is being stolen for
profit. And some people say we should study to become climate scientists or
politicians so that we can in the future, solve the climate crisis.
But by then it will be too late. We need to do this now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Joining the discussion now is Varshini Prakash, she`s the co-
founder and Executive Director of the Sunrise Movement, a group of young
environmental activist group that joined Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio
Cortez and Senator Ed Markey to launch the green new deal earlier this
What was it like out there today?
VARSHINI PRAKASH, CO-FOUNDER & EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, SUNRISE MOVEMENT: It was
describable. There were just throngs of people. I was in a crowd of 100 -
250,000 people of predominantly middle school children, high schoolers, 20
somethings. It was both exhilarating and heart-breaking at once when you
think that all these children are asking for is a shot at a livable future.
O`DONNELL: I mean and you know in the imagery that I saw Greta is sort of
the median age, there were so many elementary school kids -
PRAKASH: That`s right.
O`DONNELL: - younger than her. 10 years younger than her, so many older
college kids and it was just an extraordinary group of people to see.
PRAKASH: That`s absolutely right and I think the reason why we`re seeing
this outpouring of support, not just in York city but from Mumbai to Berlin
to South Bend, Indiana is because young people are fed up with - we are fed
up with the political establishment that appears to be asleep at the wheel
when the planet is on fire.
We are fed up with seeing our politicians pad their pockets with big oil
dollars when our very futurists feel like they`re on the line.
O`DONNELL: It seems like the key word in this is global and we`ve know this
forever now. Environmental issues like climate, the temperature of the
earth knows no boundaries. So the activism within one country is not
enough. This was - this was clear today.
PRAKASH: That`s right and that`s why we have got to continue to keep the
pressure up so there`s already another climate strike on the calendar. It
will be in November so for those who weren`t able to join today, I fully
recommend you join us then. We have to continue mounting this external
social pressure but on top of that we also need to be electoralizing this.
We need to be getting hundreds of thousands of young people in November
registered to vote, ahead of the 2020 elections. We need to be insuring
that come 2020 politicians win or lose based off of their position already
on this issue.
O`DONNELL: Was today what you expected? Was it bigger than you expected?
PRAKASH: It was much, much more than I expected. I think I was - I was
blown away and there were multiple moments when you just see fifth and
sixth graders walking around and asking for politicians save our futures
and it really makes you take a moment and think about the world that we are
creating for the generations that come after us.
O`DONNELL: Varshini Prakash, thank you very much for joining us.
PRAKASH: Thank you for having me.
O`DONNELL: I`m glad you were out there today. That is tonight`s LAST WORD.
“THE 11TH HOUR” with Brian Williams starts now.
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protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced,
distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the
prior written permission of ASC Services II Media, LLC. You may not alter
or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the