Kurt Volker, resigns. TRANSCRIPT: 9/27/19, The Last Word w/ Lawrence O’Donnell.

Guests:
Tess Bridgeman, Jonathan Alter, Julian Barnes, Neera Tanden, Rick Wilson, Evelyn Farkas, Jason Crow
Transcript:

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Now it`s time for the “Last Word” with Lawrence

O`Donnell. Good evening, Lawrence.

 

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST:  Good evening, Rachel. And it turns out the

whistleblower is right again. There`s that passage in the whistleblower

report that people that the whistleblower spoke to said this was not the

first time under this administration that a presidential transcript was

placed into the code word level system solely for the purpose of protecting

politically sensitive rather than national security sensitive information.

 

Every day that goes by, now every hour almost, the whistleblower report

just bears more and more fruit.

 

MADDOW:  And, yes. And the fact that we`re still getting new information

about what happened between Trump and Lavrov and Kislyak in the Oval Office

the day after he fired James Comey.

 

I mean after the special counsel`s investigation there`s apparently a

memorandum of that conversation that exists somewhere that includes the

president saying basically to Russia it`s okay that you interfered with the

election.

 

I mean, that is – that`s what the – you would think that would have

turned up in the Mueller report, right?

 

O`DONNELL:  That`s what the Mueller report was looking for, but, of course,

they didn`t have access to any of this material.

 

MADDOW:  Yes.

 

O`DONNELL:  And it`s fascinating to see that the whistleblower has in

effect created a momentum here because these people who are the sources for

“The Washington Post,” they`ve known this since the meeting, the way the

article is presented.

 

They`ve known it every day since then and they didn`t say a word. They were

never moved before to say a word to the “Washington Post” about it until

now.

 

MADDOW:  Yes. Well that, you know, I mean, the impeachment of the president

obviously focuses things for the president. But for everybody else who was

involved in either the scheme itself, who was a witness to the scheme and

didn`t say anything about it or who was a witness to the scheme and helped

cover it up, they all know they are liable now and they`re in trouble.

 

And those people are going to have to meet their maker one day. Those

people also have to look at themselves in the mirror and those people also

have to think about their own legal and career futures.

 

All of those people who are liable with having enabled or covered up this

scheme now have their own skin in the game here and their own reasons to

think about telling the people of this country what they know.

 

O`DONNELL:  It looks like the “Washington Post” has written a rough draft

of an article of impeachment tonight, another one.

 

MADDOW:  Yes.

 

O`DONNELL:  Thank you, Rachel.

 

MADDOW:  Thanks Lawrence.

 

O`DONNELL:  Well, day three of the officially sanctioned impeachment

investigation of President Trump has ended with a bang from “The Washington

Post.”

 

According to the “Washington Post” reporting tonight, as Rachel and I were

just discussing, about President Trump`s meeting with Russians in the Oval

Office in the fourth month of his presidency, what the president said in

that meeting, forgiving the Russian attack on our election will surely be

the subject of an article of impeachment.

 

The president is going to be impeached by the House of Representatives.

Donald Trump might never give another state of the union address because in

January, Donald Trump is now tonight more likely by that time to be in the

middle of a trial in the United States Senate.

 

And the Speaker of the House is not going to invite an impeached president

to deliver a state of the union address in the House of Representatives in

the middle of his impeachment trial in the Senate.

 

Donald Trump is going to be impeached by the House of Representatives on at

least one article of impeachment because, as of tonight, everything in the

whistleblower`s report has so far proved to be true and more is proving to

be true each day, including the most damning aspects of that

whistleblower`s report.

 

But the smoking gun evidence that will force the impeachment of Donald

Trump are the words that Donald Trump spoke in the White House record of

his conversation with the president of Ukraine and nothing is going to

change those words, nothing is going to make those words any better.

 

And so for the majority of the members of the House of Representatives who

have said those words are worthy of an impeachment investigation, nothing

is going to happen to make those words sound any better to them.

 

There will not come a moment when any of them say, oh, I thought those

words looked suspicious when I first saw them, but now two months later, I

get it. They were completely innocent.

 

I`m going to vote not to impeach the president. I don`t want to send him to

trial in the United States Senate because now I see those words are

innocent. That`s not going to happen. No one is going to make that speech.

 

Donald Trump should be very worried tonight about what Mitch McConnell has

said and has not said about holding an impeachment trial of Donald Trump in

the United States Senate. And Mitch McConnell should be even more worried

about what other betrayals of national security and betrayals of his oath

of office might be revealed about Donald Trump.

 

Like the revelations in tonight`s breaking news report in the “Washington

Post” of Donald Trump telling Russian officials he did not care about

Russia`s attack on our election, comments that witnesses interpreted as

encouraging, actually encouraging the Russians to interfere in elections

again.

 

We will cover Mitch McConnell`s role in the impeachment process, which

should be very worrying to Donald Trump tonight later in this hour. And we

will report the latest crack in the wall, the Republican defense wall in

the House of Representatives.

 

One Republican member of the House Intelligence Committee said yesterday

that he now supports an impeachment investigation of the president and

another Republican said today that he supports an impeachment investigation

of the president, and neither one of them have been attacked by Donald

Trump.

 

And that is a clear sign that Donald Trump is already drowning in an ocean

of impeachment worries that have dulled his attack reflexes. We will report

on those Republican defections in the House later in this hour and what it

might mean to the final vote on impeachment in the House. Will that be a

bipartisan vote?

 

And at the end of the hour we`ll be joined by one of the freshman

Democratic members of the House of Representatives who co-wrote an op-ed

piece this week about the danger of Donald Trump that he represents to

national security.

 

Congressman Jason Crow is a former Army Ranger. He knows more about

national security and national defense than Donald Trump does. He will tell

us what he will be looking for in the impeachment investigation of the

president at the end of this hour.

 

As the certainty of the Trump impeachment sets in on Washington and the

Trump White House, the pattern of the Nixon impeachment process is re-

emerging when damning information about the president is revealed, that

only provokes the revelation of similarly damning information about the

president.

 

And so now, two days after the whistleblower`s report revealed that the

record of the Trump conversation with the president of Ukraine was moved

into high-security storage so that it would not be accessible in the way

that such conversations are normally accessible, we are now learning

tonight that the very same thing happened to Donald Trump`s conversation

with Russians in the Oval Office.

 

And other reports indicate the same thing happened to Donald Trump`s

conversations with Vladimir Putin and the murderous dictator of Saudi

Arabia.

 

Tonight, the “Washington Post” is reporting, “President Trump told two

senior Russian officials in 2017 Oval Office meeting that he was

unconcerned about Moscow`s interference in the U.S. election because the

United States did the same in other countries, an assertion that prompted

alarmed White House officials to limit access to the remarks to an

unusually small number of people, according to three former officials with

knowledge of the matter.”

 

Leading off our discussion tonight Evelyn Farkas, a former deputy assistant

secretary of defense for Russia and Ukraine. She is an MSNBC national

security analyst.

 

And Tess Bridgeman is with us. She`s a former special assistant to the

president, deputy legal adviser to the National Security Council and

associate White House counsel in President Obama`s White House. Evelyn and

Tess were part of a letter today signed by more than 300 former officials

voicing national security concerns about President Trump.

 

And also joining us, Jonathan Alter, comes from “The Daily Beast” and an

MSNBC political analyst who will now be reporting on the third impeachment

process he has witnessed –

 

JONATHAN ALTER, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:  That`s true.

 

O`DONNELL:  – in his adulthood. Tess, let me start with you because you

are an expert on the internal White House processes for these records

and/or transcripts of these kinds of presidential conversations. Let me get

your reaction to what the “Washington Post” is reporting tonight.

 

TESS BRIDGEMAN, FORMER DEPUTY LEGAL ADVISOR, NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL: 

Sure. Well, it`s obviously another instance of something that`s highly

unusual and deeply troubling if these records are being restricted beyond

even those with the need to know.

 

So normally these would be handled in a classified manner, and even beyond

that, only those that truly have a need to know the information would have

access within the security White House system.

 

But putting these records of phone calls that the president has with other

foreign leaders into this stand-alone system for especially classified

compartmented code word information is deeply troubling because it seems to

indicate an apparent attempt to hide that information either because there

is misconduct on the part of the president or even potential criminal

wrongdoing.

 

That`s obviously deeply concerning from a national security perspective as

well because it could indicate that there is even a counterintelligence

concern at the highest level in the office of the president.

 

O`DONNELL:  I want to go to the role of the national security lawyers. This

is a reporting from the “New York Times” today where the Trump

administration acknowledged how this happened.

 

“The Trump administration said on Friday that National Security Council

lawyers made the decision about how to handle the record of President

Trump`s July 25th phone call with the president of Ukraine which a

whistleblower says was placed into a highly classified computer system

accessible to only a small number of officials.”

 

Tess, what about the lawyers making that decision?

 

BRIDGEWATER:  Sure, Lawrence. Well, from my perspective, this is very odd

and again, deeply troubling. First, I would just say that lawyers from the

White House council`s office or the National Security Council legal office

are not usually who make the call about the level of classification of a

document or what system that document needs to be stored in.

 

So, that`s the first thing I would note is amiss here. But second

obviously, if they were involved in directing that this be put into a

different system for the purpose of hiding information that is politically

damaging to the president, not because it`s national security sensitive

information.

 

That represents an abuse of that system and potentially an attempt to

actually cover up wrongdoing or criminality. So, it`s not at all unusual

that the lawyers would be involved in providing advice to National Security

Council staff for example or coordinating legal views among the inner

agency. That`s their job.

 

But directing either a level of classification or the storage of that

information in this special system particularly if the intent was to hide

information that`s damaging to the president, that`s highly unusual and

deeply concerning.

 

O`DONNELL:  Evelyn Farkas, according to tonight`s “Washington Post”

reporting, what we`re seeing in President Trump is a flawless consistency

here about these kinds of conversations. At the beginning of his

presidency, he was treating these conversations the same way.

 

He`s treating them now with the president of Ukraine, the conversation with

the Russians one day in the Oval Office and the conversation with the

president of Ukraine could have just been a day apart instead of a couple

of years apart.

 

EVELYN FARKAS, MSNBC NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST:  Yes, unfortunately. And

there are a lot of conversations now, Lawrence, where I would really like

to see the transcript because three days, I think it was threes days after

that President Trump spoke with the Ukrainian president in the latest call

that is causing all this consternation and probably will get him impeached.

 

He spoke with Vladimir Putin and we still don`t know what he talked about

for about an hour or so giving, you know, interpretation time there,

subtracting it, in Helsinki at that summit where it was just the two of

them and the interpreter who I don`t understand why no one has actually

subpoenaed to my knowledge.

 

Nobody has actually tried to get them to recollect if they don`t have any

notes what Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin talked about. So yes, he says

these things. He seems to have this dug-in idea that Russia is not our

adversary because Russia`s not his adversary.

 

But Russia is very much the United States` adversary. Locking up these

transcripts, it creates a counterintelligence weakness so, he can be black-

mailed. And then imagine all those diplomats who have no idea that these

conversations are going on. They are then conducting diplomacy almost

blindfolded.

 

O`DONNELL:  Jonathan Alter, we now are deeply into the echo chamber with

the Nixon impeachment investigation because this pattern on one day we

learn from the whistleblower about the treatment of this phone record, and

then days later you discover from these are other whistleblowers, they are

unofficial whistleblowers to the “Washington Post,” oh, that`s exactly what

they did with the transcript of the conversation with the Russians.

 

ALTER:  So there`s a pattern here. But just to go back to something that

Tess said. She said, you know, they might be covering up possible illegal

activity. It`s not possible. There`s a lot that`s out there now. We know

that this president was running an extortion racket, a shakedown operation.

That`s what we`re learning.

 

And so it`s very important that when the shock of all of this wears off in

a couple weeks that people not just say, oh, there was something kind of

sketchy about that phone call or, you know, the Democrats are saying the

president might have done something wrong.

 

No, they need to understand the Democratic messaging has to make them

understand this was extortion. He was violating federal statutes that

prohibit this behavior. Not to mention that it`s clear abuse of power and a

violation of his oath of office.

 

So, it`s good that this is coming out now because it contributes to the

obstruction of justice article of impeachment, which is an important one,

one of the ones that Nixon was impeached for. But it`s not like the cover-

up was worse than the crime in this case. There was a serious crime that

took place.

 

O`DONNELL:  Yes. And Tess, what do we know about other conversations? The

whistleblower refers to possible other cases. This is obviously one, but it

seems like the place to look are – what we publicly know to be the most

sensitive conversations, the Vladimir Putin conversations, conversations

with the Saudis, that seems to be the place where people should be going to

look.

 

BRIDGEMAN:  Right. There`s obviously a lot more that we need to learn here

and that`s why it`s important that Congress keep doing its work diligently.

The Saudi conversations, the Russians conversations come to mind, but it`s

not clear that this president doesn`t treat his relationships with almost

all foreign leaders as though there is something for sale.

 

If you do me a favor, that will influence the foreign policy of the United

States, right? I do though just want to go back to that previous point that

was made because I think it is exactly right, that we shouldn`t lose sight

of the fact that we do already have a smoking gun right here in front of

us.

 

That the American people already know that the president of the United

States used the power of his office to try to exert influence over a

foreign leader to get him to intervene in our elections and that`s

something that has of course implications in campaign finance law, perhaps

on a services bribery.

 

So there`s a lot that we already know that we need to keep the focus on

even while we continue to investigate where else this might be happening.

 

O`DONNELL:  Another passage from the “Washington Post” tonight, “White

House officials were particularly distressed by Trump`s election remarks

because it appeared the president was forgiving Russia for an attack that

had been designed to help elect him, the three former officials said. Trump

also seemed to invite Russia to interfere in other countries` elections,

they said.”

 

And Evelyn, it sure sounds like the president was inviting them to continue

to interfere to help him get elected.

 

FARKAS:  Right, to continue to interfere in U.S. elections. I mean, the

president cannot understand what the national interest is and he can`t even

– he doesn`t even have enough imagination, it appears, to even consider

that the Russians might actually use the same tactics they used to get him

elected to get him out of office. So, I mean, it`s a real lack of

understanding of what it means to be an American president.

 

O`DONNELL:  Go ahead, Jonathan.

 

ALTER:  I`m just going to say, like, we need to take a step back and think

about this. We`re so used to the Russian interference. This was a cyber

Pearl Harbor, a cyber attack at the heart of our democracy.

 

So the equivalence of this would be if Franklin Roosevelt had Emperor

Hirohito and Tojo into the Oval Office and he said, look, I know you

attacked us, it`s okay. And if you want to attack us again, it might help

me in the 1944 election. So yeah, come at us again, go ahead.

 

You know, this is selling out our country. And it just – we have to

continue to maintain a sense of understanding about what has really gone on

here and why it`s about time that he`s impeached.

 

O`DONNELL:  We`ll just squeeze in a break here. Tess Bridgeman, thank you

for starting us off tonight with your expertise. Really appreciate that.

When we come back –

 

BRIDGEMAN:  Thank you.

 

O`DONNELL:  – we will get to all of the other day three developments in

the official impeachment investigation of President Donald J. Trump. That`s

next.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

O`DONNELL:  On day three and it is just day three of the official

impeachment investigation of President Trump, the House of Representatives

sent deposition notices to five State Department officials.

 

And immediately one of those officials resigned from the State Department,

creating an even more dangerous situation for the Trump administration

because they can no longer attempt to control access to that witness – the

State Department`s former special envoy for Ukraine, Kurt Volker.

 

And three House committees joined in sending a subpoena for State

Department records and documents to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. The

House Intelligence Committee, the House Foreign Affairs Committee and the

House Oversight Committee are demanding records of all communications

involving President Trump`s soliciting help from the president of Ukraine

in his re-election campaign, including all communications involving Rudy

Giuliani`s discussions with Ukrainian officials.

 

And back with us are Evelyn Farkas and Jonathan Alter. Evelyn, what do you

make about this round of investigative developments today in the

impeachment investigation?

 

FARKAS:  Yes. So Lawrence, I`m cheering because they`re taking quick

action. They`re trying to make sure they get as much information as

possible from the relevant people before somehow they scurry away. In the

case of Kurt Volker, he`s a friend, he`s a consummate professional. I truly

believe he was trying to do the right thing, and I think it`s good that he

resigned.

 

I understand from my sources that he realized he wasn`t going to be

effective anymore in that role anyway, so hopefully he`ll be able to tell

Congress everything that he knows. Same goes for all of those other

individuals.

 

Certainly, the former ambassador has a story to tell as does her deputy, a

man who hasn`t been mentioned yet, again, another person that I know and

respect. All these people have long-standing allegiance to America and have

taken oath to the constitution, so I fully expect that they will be

cooperative and Congress will learn a lot.

 

O`DONNELL:  Jonathan, Donald Trump and Mike Pompeo just lost control of

Kurt Volker. That resignation makes him a completely free agent in dealing

with Congress.

 

ALTER:  So we`re going to learn everything about what Rudy Giuliani did

when he got on the ground and what his contacts were, but I`m not sure that

Volker was there for all those contacts so it might be a little

underwhelming and we should understand that these are all sideshows.

 

That Trump has already confessed. He confessed last Sunday. So, it`s not

like we have a lot of, you know, evidence-gathering to be done in this

case, and that`s why Democrats rightly think that this can be done this

year. He can be impeached before the end of the year. And it`s possible

they could even have the trial as soon as December.

 

So, it`s very important that they stay on this fast track and that there`s

a lot of worry in Washington because politicians like to grand stand.

They`re going to be sort of – they should be striking witnesses, actually,

not adding too many witnesses, although it will be good to hear from

Volker.

 

O`DONNELL:  Yes. And Evelyn, on Volker and these other witnesses, it would

be uncharacteristic for Pompeo and the Trump administration to not try to

block their depositions, and so this will give us an early read on what the

procedural resistance will be to these investigation.

 

FARKAS:  I think you`re absolutely right, Lawrence. This will be very

interesting. But again, I think this feels, you know, I worked for almost a

decade in the legislative branch. This feels very different. The resolve is

there and as you and others have pointed out, the Republicans are very

quiet.

 

So, I think that you will get a lot more cooperation. We will see less

stonewalling. And they know, they all know that regardless of what they

say, they`re going to be coming before the Congress, many of them, and

there will be a vote this year.

 

O`DONNELL:  And Jonathan, one of the issues that for all these people in

the Trump White House is how big a legal bill do you want? How much do you

want to owe lawyers? Because the quicker you cooperate with these

committees, the lower your legal bill is going to be.

 

ALTER:  Yes. That`s always a big issue in these cases and you do sometimes

want to follow the money a little bit. You know, Rudy Giuliani just

canceled his trip to this conference that Vladimir Putin is putting on,

which tells you a little bit about how Russia is behind a lot of these

efforts.

 

And, you know, he has big alimony payments. He likes $12,000 fountain pens

and he`s just losing a big payday because the optics are terrible. And I

think some of these other possible witnesses are going to go, do I really

want to stonewall? Do I really want to appeal this case? Keep it going?

 

And also there`s no love lost for Donald Trump either in the White House or

in the administration or on the Hill. People say horrible things about him

privately on the Republican side. I think you`re going to see more people

breaking free from his hold.

 

O`DONNELL:  Yes, that`s what former Senator Jeff Flake said today. Evely

Farkas and Jonathan Alter, thank you both for joining us tonight.

 

And when we come back, why Donald Trump should be very worried about Mitch

McConnell tonight because every minute that Mitch McConnell does not say

anything about impeachment, Mitch McConnell is saying something. That`s

next.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

O`DONNELL:  The “New York Times” is now reporting breaking news that the

Trump administration restricted access to records of Trump phone calls with

Vladimir Putin and members of the Saudi royal family.

 

And we know tonight that we`re having trouble keeping up with the

impeachment action and President Trump absolutely cannot keep up with the

impeachment action that is overwhelming his Presidency, because the first

Republican member of the House of Representatives to clearly come out in

direct support of the impeachment inquiry today has not yet been attacked

by Donald Trump.

 

Nevada Republican Congressman Mark Amodei told Nevada reporters, let`s put

it through the process and see what happens. He then got very scared that

some Nevada Republicans would interpret that as supporting the actual final

impeachment of the President, not just supporting the impeachment inquiry,

and so Congressman Amodei put out a written statement saying in no way

shape or form did I indicate support for impeachment.

 

But that is true of most House Democrats and Senate Democrats who at this

point support an impeachment inquiry, but not the final impeachment vote,

not yet. If like me you expected the first Republican supporter of the

impeachment inquiry to be bombarded with Trump attack tweets, you were

wrong, and that`s because Donald Trump is being bombarded with breaking

impeachment bad news that he just can`t keep up with.

 

That means Donald Trump probably hasn`t noticed how unhelpful Mitch

McConnell has been so far. Mitch McConnell has not defended Donald Trump`s

phone call to the President of Ukraine. Mitch McConnell, who was willing to

make history by not even allowing a confirmation hearing for President

Obama`s last nominee to the United States Supreme Court, is not willing to

make history by announcing that he will not allow an impeachment trial of

Donald Trump in the United States Senate.

 

And so, everything is now at risk for Donald Trump. And as more reports

come out of more betrayals of his oath of office, at the end of day three

of the official impeachment investigation of Donald Trump, it is no longer

an absolute certainty that the United States Senate will not convict and

remove Donald Trump from office. It remains unlikely, but it is not

certain.

 

After this break, we will discuss the rapidly changing political and

evidentiary dynamics of the impeachment investigation and what that means

for Republicans in the House and Senate, and what it could mean at the end

of this road for the 4th President in history to be the subject of an

official impeachment investigation.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

O`DONNELL: And we are back with a breaking news at this minute from The New

York Times. The New York Times reporting the White House put some

reconstructed transcripts of delicate calls between President Trump and

foreign officials, including President Vladimir Putin and the Saudi royal

family, into a highly classified computer system, after embarrassing leaks

of his conversations, according to current and former officials.

 

Jonathan Alter is back with us. Jonathan, here we go, the expanding of this

story of the special treatment of Trump phone calls.

 

JONATHAN ALTER, THE DAILY BEAST COLUMNIST: Look, Presidents deserve a

certain amount of privacy on their calls. I think we can all agree on that,

we don`t want to handcuff them too much.

 

But it`s quite interesting that the only people, the only tyrants that he

puts in these special systems are ones that he`s up to no good with. And

why is it that it`s just the tyrants who get the high classification?

 

In other words, he`s okay with a wider circulation of the summary of the

calls when it`s with allies or other countries that are - the U.S. does

business with. But when it`s with thugs and killers, then he doesn`t want

anybody else in the government to know about it; raises a lot of

suspicions.

 

O`DONNELL: We are joined now by phone by New York Times reporter Julian

Barnes, who was one of the co-authors of this breaking news report in The

New York Times tonight. Julian, what else can you tell us about the way the

White House has been treating these phone call reconstructed transcripts?

 

JULIAN BARNES, NEW YORK TIMES REPORTER: Well, this goes back to that famous

meeting in the White House between Trump and Russian Foreign Minister

Lavrov, where Mr. Trump said some explosive thing, as he may have leaked

information about another country`s intelligence - Israeli intelligence.

There are allegations in the press.

 

After that, White House officials started walking down these transcripts,

they shoved it into this very classified system. And we know they did it

for the leaders you were discussing, for the Saudi royal family, both for

the conversations with the King, with the Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman,

and the then Saudi Ambassador to Washington, another member of the royal

family.

 

So these calls, then some of them may have been sensitive, but they weren`t

necessarily classified. They`re not what you usually put in this classified

system. Now, the White House has defended it, but it wasn`t past practice.

 

O`DONNELL: And what about the calls with Vladimir Putin?

 

BARNES: So this is very interesting. I mean I think a lot of people want to

know exactly what was said in there. Now, Trump has been very sensitive

about his conversations with Putin`s famously in his meeting in Germany, he

sees the translators notes afterwards to prevent information about that

meeting leaking out.

 

We know he`s been very careful about this. So that`s why they got put in

the system. But I think as we are learning about what was in the Ukraine

call and what was discussed, there`s going to be more and more pressure to

learn more about those calls with Vladimir Putin and what was said.

 

O`DONNELL: And the earlier reporting tonight about the President`s

conversations with Lavrov and the Oval Office indicate that he was

basically forgiving Russia or saying, look I understand why you attacked

our election, we do the same thing. It was interpreted according to earlier

reports to be basically okaying, saying - in effect saying to Russia, I

understand that this is just something you have to do and seemingly okaying

attacking future elections.

 

BARNES: Now, I personally have not been able to replicate The Washington

Post reporting on that, but that is a very interesting report by some very

talented journalists, and I think it will add to questions.

 

Trump has come back to this theme about interference before and sometimes

he believes it, sometimes he doesn`t believe it. He says very divisive

things about that. And so, if the Post report turns out to be true, I know

he`s going to doubt it. I think we`re going to have more and more questions

here about what he said to the Russians.

 

O`DONNELL: Julian Barnes, thank you very much for joining us with your

important reporting for The New York Times tonight, really appreciate it.

 

BARNES: Thank you.

 

O`DONNELL: And we`re joined now in our discussion by Rick Wilson,

Republican strategist and a contributor to The Daily Beast. Also, with us

is Neera Tanden, former senior adviser for President Obama and Hillary

Clinton. She`s the President and CEO of the Center for American Progress.

And back with us is Evelyn Farkas.

 

And Neera Tanden, I want to get your reaction to this round of reporting

tonight of the special treatment of the Presidential phone call records.

 

NEERA TANDEN, PRESIDENT AND CEO, CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS: Yes, I think

we should be really clear about what`s happening here, which is just

remember about this information about the Russia call The Washington Post

is now breaking, the Russian meeting.

 

Remember, when you look at that photo that you showed on MSNBC just a

second ago, it says Russian Foreign Ministry on the top of that. Why,

because it was the Russians that showed the picture. Why is that important?

Because Trump didn`t want to tell us that he even had the meeting.

 

And I think the time for giving the most charitable interpretation to

Trump`s actions are over. Particularly after the Ukrainian call, the idea

that he would say in the months after the 2016 election to the Russians,

it`s basically okay what you did in our election because we do things like

that in other elections.

 

He`s going to be a candidate again. It`s a green light to do the same thing

again. We have now a pattern of practice of not just saying weird things to

other countries, we have a pattern of the President Donald Trump asking

other countries to intervene.

 

Remember, we now know he basically tried to extort the Ukrainians into

digging up dirt on Biden. And in a few short months, he`s telling the

Russians it`s okay what you did in the past, and I`m also the best friend

you could possibly have, wink wink, nod nod, maybe you could do it again.

 

O`DONNELL: Rick Wilson, one of the missed points by a lot of people

covering what happened in the Intelligence Committee hearing this week is

one of the things that didn`t happen is no Republican on that Committee

defended what Donald Trump said on the telephone to the President of

Ukraine, which is what that hearing was about.

 

Now, those Republicans did make familiar-sounding noises attacking

Democrats. They defended the witness, they sounded like Republicans, they

sounded different from the Democratic side. But on the evidentiary elements

of the hearing, they did not disagree about anything involving that phone

call.

 

So Donald Trump so far has no defenders in the Congressional record on his

phone call with the President of Ukraine. Anyone who`s thinking about

defending the President is now reading tonight in The New York Times,

reading tonight in The Washington Post, oh they`re hiding the conversations

with Putin, they`re hiding the conversations with the Saudi royal family,

they are hiding the conversation that Donald Trump was never even going to

tell us happened with the Russians in the Oval Office in the fourth month

of his Presidency.

 

As of tonight, if you were thinking as a member of Congress about getting

out there and defending Donald Trump, you`re going to have to think again.

 

RICK WILSON, AUTHOR, EVERYTHING TRUMP TOUCHES DIES: We`ve moved from `73 to

`74, where in `73 Republicans were screaming all day, it`s a conspiracy by

the liberal news media. And now - and in `74, all of a sudden they hit the

brakes because they realized–

 

O`DONNELL: Rick, for the kids, I have to explain he means 1973-

 

(LAUGHTER)

 

(CROSSTALK)

 

–the investigation of Richard Nixon, 1974 the impeachment investigation of

Richard Nixon, in which he eventually resigns. Go ahead.

 

WILSON: Sorry, correct. And the sense in Republican circles right now, as

you pointed out earlier, the deadly silence of Mitch McConnell is a very

telling moment. And the fact that you don`t have the usual conspiracy boots

out there running around, Jim Jordan and Mark Meadows and Matt Gates and

Fredo Nunez (ph), all these kooks out there screaming with their hair on

fire, it also tells you something is that they recognize this isn`t echoes

of a report of rumors from the Steele dossier, this is the President

admitting that he made this ask.

 

Giving the transcript out, and it has opened up the gates of hell for this

administration, because right now, what are they doing? Right now, all

these people from inside the White House are now leaking these things that

he has been hiding these talk - these transcripts that are damning to him.

 

This Russian story that has broken tonight is utterly damning, because he

had representatives from the Home Office in Moscow there. And what did he

do, he acted like a whipped dog. He acted like, oh it`s fine don`t worry,

we do the same thing. That`s not how a President acts, that`s how a traitor

acts.

 

O`DONNELL: Evelyn Farkas, it seems like this week of coverage feels like

that first week of covering the collapse of the Berlin Wall, the Berlin

Wall coming down, it was that moment, that moment that we all saw, we were

startled by - wait a minute, there are people actually climbing up on the

Berlin Wall, for which you used to get shocked.

 

And they`re climbing up, and then suddenly they`re dancing on the Berlin

Wall, and then suddenly they`re pulling it apart brick by brick, stone by

stone, and eventually taking it all the way down to nothing.

 

This seems like the beginning of that week, where every day, and now today

every hour of today, there is a new crack in this wall.

 

EVELYN FARKAS, FORMER DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: I agree, and I

love your analogy, your example, as the child of the Hungarian Revolution.

My parents both left after the Hungarian Revolution failed. That was a

fight for democracy. And when the wall fell, they were essentially saying,

we want democracy.

 

Inside the U.S. government right now, you have one by one patriotic

government officials saying we want to defend our democracy, and they`re

finding strength in numbers. And yes it`s snowballing as you said.

 

O`DONNELL: And Jonathan, let me just extend this Berlin Wall comparison a

bit. Because a year earlier, those people who were dancing on the Berlin

Wall were terrified of going near the Berlin Wall.

 

A year ago, the people who were leaking to The New York Times, leaking to

The Washington Post tonight about the President`s conversations were

terrified of doing that, or certainly were extremely reluctant to do it. It

took until now, it took the cracks in the wall.

 

ALTER: Yes, I mean I think the death throes are going to go on for a while.

I`m not sure that the whole thing`s going to collapse on Trump right now,

because he does still have an entire cable network, although there`s

dissension at Fox, but he still has a lot of people that are willing to

carry water for him.

 

So it`s going to get very ugly this fall. But the order of battle is

changing. And also, the Ukraine story and the Russia story are kind of

converging. They`re coming together. So one of the things that didn`t get

very much attention this week is when Trump said to Zelensky at the UN, I

want you to make a deal with Vladimir Putin.

 

I mean this was a truly nutty thing. This would be like FDR saying to

Belgium after the blitzkrieg, like I want you to make a deal with Hitler,

after he just overran. So what was their endgame? I think for Trump, it`s

to lift sanctions, which is what the Russians want. So he and the Russians

are on the same page. Why does he want to lift sanctions and do that favor?

 

To pay them back for winning the 2016 election for them. That was the

original quid pro quo at Trump Tower in 2016. He still owes Putin on that,

right, because Putin did him a favor and he hasn`t repaid the favor yet. So

that`s also going on here.

 

O`DONNELL: Yes, Neera, it`s a point. On the all one story piece here, it

has always been about Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin and the phone call

with Zalensky, with the President of the Ukraine is also about Donald Trump

and Vladimir Putin.

 

TANDEN: I mean the first, second and third order of business is to do what

we should have done a long time ago, which is to get the Putin call, to get

the transcript of the call. His public behavior was basically insane, he

was basically kowtowing to Putin in front of the cameras. I can only

imagine what he did behind the cameras.

 

And the one thing I would say just about Republicans very briefly, they

don`t know where the bottom is. That is the problem for Donald Trump.

Because when they don`t know where the floor is, they don`t know where the

ground is, it will freeze them into continuing the investigation. The

longer they allow the investigation continue, stay silent, the longer - the

greater his opposition will grow in the party.

 

O`DONNELL: Republican Senators still telling reporters that they haven`t

read the whistleblower report yet, they haven`t read the phone call

transcripts yet. Neera Tanden, Rick Wilson, Evelyn Farkas and Jonathan

Alter, thank you all for joining us tonight.

 

And when we come back, a freshman House Democrat with far more national

security experience than Donald Trump will join us on tonight`s breaking

news.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

O`DONNELL: We have been in breaking news mode for most of this hour. We

started the hour with breaking news from The Washington Post, the news that

President Trump told two senior Russian officials in that photograph, in

that meeting in Oval Office in 2017 that he didn`t care at all about

Moscow`s attack on the U.S. election, the election in which the Russians

helped Donald Trump win the Presidency.

 

White House officials were worried about the President`s message to the

Russians, according to The Washington Post. And just in the last few

minutes, we have been discussing The New York Times` breaking news story

tonight, that the White House used a highly classified system to hold the

phone records of Donald Trump`s calls with Vladimir Putin and the Saudi

royal family.

 

On Monday, seven freshmen House Democrats co-wrote an op-ed piece in The

Washington Post about why they support an impeachment inquiry from a

national security perspective. The piece was entitled “these allegations

are a threat to all we have sworn to protect.

 

Joining us is one of the co-authors of that piece, freshman Democratic

Congressman Jason Crow from Colorado. He`s a former Army Ranger, who won a

Congressional district last year that a Democrat has never won before.

Congressman Crow was one of those seven Democrats who published that op-ed

piece in “The Washington Post.”

 

Congressman Crow, I want to get your reaction to the breaking news tonight,

which is a confirmation of the whistleblower`s report about the treatment

of Presidential phone call records. It indicates that the records of the

President`s conversation in the Oval Office with those high ranking Russian

officials in the first few months of his Presidency were treated the same

way as his phone call with the President of Ukraine, and it turns out now

phone calls with Vladimir Putin are treated that way, phone calls with

Saudi royal family are treated that way, and that is a break with the way

previous Presidents have treated these phone records.

 

REP. JASON CROW (D-CO): Yes, that`s right. So much of this is troubling on

so many levels. I`ve spent the last couple of days trying to wrap my brain

around all these allegations as more and more comes to light.

 

There is a couple of common themes to all of this. Number one, it all seems

to be related to helping Donald Trump win re-election. Everything that he

does seems to be geared towards how can he help his election and better his

prospects in 2020.

 

And I think it is important that number two, if you think about the

national security aspect of this, and just the complete disregard for our

national security professionals, our troops, people who have taken the

oath, who are putting their lives on the line to defend this nation.

 

And context is really important. When President Trump was talking about

Javelin missile systems with President Zalensky, these are weapon systems

that are needed to prevent T-72, Russian T-72 tanks from moving forward and

invading Ukraine.

 

And we have tens of thousands of U.S. troops in Europe that are in harm`s

way, if that would happen. So, I take this very personally.

 

O`DONNELL: Yes, and you go to the transcript of the phone call, and

President Zalensky brings up the Javelin missiles, that`s the last sentence

he speaks before Donald Trump says, but we want a favor, I want a favor.

 

And Donald Trump stays on the favor for the rest of the phone call and

never ever returns to the defense of Ukraine.

 

CROW: Right, that`s right. And what that tells me is that it is not

obviously what he`s concerned about. And somebody who has taken oaths all

of my adult life to defend the constitution, to defend this country,

dedicate a lot of my life to the security of this country in Iraq and

Afghanistan as an Army Ranger, everything that I do, I`m always thinking

about those soldiers who are in Afghanistan and Iraq and around the world

right now carrying weapons to defend us, and how can we keep faith with

them and make sure we are protecting them and their families, and for these

allegations to go really to the core of that is shocking to me.

 

O`DONNELL: I want to get your reaction Congressman to something the

President said when he was visiting with the diplomatic corps at the United

Nations Mission. And a lot of those people had brought their kids in for

the day to see the President and he said that whistleblowers should be

treated the way we used to treat people convicted of treason, which of

course means execution. What was your reaction when you heard the President

saying that?

 

CROW: I was really mad. This is something that again goes to the core of my

oath. These are men and women who have taken the same oath that I`ve taken

many times over in my adult life, who`s given up their lives in some cases,

put their lives in the line every day, our diplomatic corps, our

intelligence officers, our military professionals. They`ve dedicated their

life to this country.

 

And for the President to say something like that and to threaten those

folks either explicitly or passively, cannot stand. And my message to them

is very simple. This Congress will do everything in its power to make sure

we are protecting you and keeping faith with that sacrifice.

 

O`DONNELL: Congressman Jason Crow, thank you very much for joining us, and

really appreciate your perspective on this tonight.

 

CROW: Thank you for having me.

 

O`DONNELL: Jason Crow gets tonight`s last word. The 11th Hour with Brian

Williams starts now.

 

END   

 

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