Interview with Sen. Harris. TRANSCRIPT: 10/9/19, The Last Word w/ Lawrence O’Donnell.

Guests:
Tess Bridgeman, Kamala Harris, Evelyn Farkas, Ben Rhodes, Mimi Rocah
Transcript:

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST:  Good evening, Rachel.

 

And there is some reason to believe she might want to show up.  She didn`t

necessarily leave on the best of terms with the Trump White House and it is

– I don`t like to use the short-hand terms, but she`s considered a Russia

hawk. 

 

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST:  Yes.

 

O`DONNELL:  In Trump world, that means you disagree with Donald Trump on

just about everything involving Russia. 

 

MADDOW:  And, you know, the relationship of her sort of purview under the

Trump administration and what`s happened with this Ukraine proceeding, I

mean, it`s an interesting ask, right, to ask the Russia advisor to come in

and talk about this Ukraine scandal.  I would love to hear what Fiona Hill

has to say about this.  I don`t know what sort of leverage that will have

to block her but we`ll see. 

 

O`DONNELL:  Legally, they don`t have any but we`ll see what they do. 

 

MADDOW:  Yes.  Thanks, Lawrence. 

 

O`DONNELL:  Thanks, Rachel. 

 

Well, Donald Trump has crossed a line in polling that no president running

for reelection has ever crossed.  No president running for reelection has

ever had a majority of the American people say in a poll that that

president should be impeached and removed from office. 

 

Donald Trump achieved that today in a stunning new Fox News poll which

shows that 51 percent of registered voters now believe Donald Trump should

not just be impeached but he should also be removed from office by the

United States Senate.  Another 4 percent support impeachment by the House

but not removal by the Senate and that brings the total supporting the

impeachment of the president to 55 percent in a Fox News poll. 

 

And now, Joe Biden is officially and clearly one of the people in that 51

percent of registered voters who believe Donald Trump should be impeached

and removed from office. 

 

Here is Joe Biden today in New Hampshire. 

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  President Trump has indicted

himself by obstructing justice, refusing to compile with the congressional

inquiry.  He`s already convicted himself.  In full view of the world and

the American people, Donald Trump is violated his oath of office, betrayed

this nation and committed impeachable acts.  You know – 

(APPLAUSE)

 

BIDEN:  To preserve our Constitution, our democracy, our basic integrity,

he should be impeached. 

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

O`DONNELL:  Should be impeached and is convictable. 

 

Joe Biden kept going.  Joe Biden has clearly seen enough evidence to know

how he would vote on removal from office if he still was a member of the

United States Senate sitting as a juror in the Trump impeachment trial. 

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

BIDEN:  But we have to remember that impeachment isn`t only – isn`t only

about what the president has done.  It`s about the threat the president

posed to the nation if allowed to remain in office. 

 

We all laughed when he said he could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue

and shoot someone and get away with it.  It`s no joke.  He`s shooting holes

in the Constitution.  And we cannot let him get away with it. 

 

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

 

BIDEN:  He has another year in office.  No, I`m serious.  Think about that. 

Think about that. 

 

He`ll stop at nothing to save himself.  No individual, no institution. 

Nothing.  Nothing that we`ve held sacred in the nation more than 200 years

will be safe. 

 

The United States cannot afford to have a president who will abuse whatever

power is available to get reelected. 

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

O`DONNELL:  Fifty-one percent of registered voters agree with every word of

what Joe Biden said right there, every word.  And the worst news in that

Fox News poll for Donald Trump is that support for impeachment is

increasing substantially among the people who have been Donald Trump`s most

reliable supporters.  In the Fox News poll, support for impeachment is up

11 points among Democrats and there is no surprise there, but it is up

virtually the same amount among rural white voters. 

 

Support for impeachment has gone up 10 percent among rural white voters. 

And it`s also gone up 8 percent among white men without a college degree,

another important Trump constituency, and it has gone up a full 5 percent

among white evangelical Christians.  Donald Trump cannot afford to lose any

white evangelical Christians in his reelection campaign.  He can`t afford

to lose any white men without a college degree.  He cannot afford to lose

any rural voters in his reelection campaign.  And now, he`s already lost

them, lost many of them to impeachment. 

 

The poll numbers in support of impeachment have been going up every day. 

The poll numbers in support of impeachment move in only one direction now

and those poll numbers now apparently have Donald Trump worried enough that

he`s reportedly calling Mitch McConnell multiple times a day to check on

the unity of the members of the Senate jury for his impeachment trial. 

 

Senator Kamala Harris will be a member of that jury.  She will join us

later in this hour with her reaction to Lindsey Graham, who was the

chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, inviting Rudy Giuliani to

testify to that committee.  Senator Harris is a member of that committee

and she says that she`s got a few questions for Rudy Giuliani if he dares

to show up to that committee. 

 

Senator Harris is also a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee which

released a bipartisan report showing how Russia attacked our election in

2016 and how so much of Russia`s disinformation campaign in America was

aimed at black voters. 

 

Also tonight, Bloomberg is reporting that as the Manhattan district

attorney closes in on Donald Trump`s personal tax returns and business tax

returns, a key witness in the district attorney`s investigation is Donald

Trump`s former lawyer, fixer Michael Cohen who has reportedly been

cooperating with the Manhattan district attorney.  Former federal

prosecutor Mimi Rocah will guide us through that story later in this hour. 

 

And the biggest conflict Donald Trump has ever had with Republican members

of Congress, Republican members of the Senate especially, is not over his

possibly impeachment conduct but over his very sudden shift on Syria policy

at the request of the president of Turkey in one of those very peculiar

Trump phone calls with the president of a foreign country.  We will

consider Donald Trump`s sudden switch in Syria and how it affects his grip

on Republican senators and Republican voters when he needs their support

the most to survive the impeachment process.  Ben Rhodes and Evelyn Farkas

will bring their foreign policy expertise to that question at the end of

this hour. 

 

President Trump`s desire to please Turkey`s President Erdogan has been a

consistent phenomenon throughout the Trump presidency.  Donald Trump does

business in Turkey at Trump Tower in Istanbul and that certainly seems to

be enough incentive for Donald Trump to put President Erdogan`s interest

ahead of the United States` interest. 

 

Bloomberg is reporting tonight that Donald Trump did that in 2017 when he

asked then Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to do something that Tillerson

believed was a crime.  What Donald Trump wanted then was a favor to both

the president of Turkey and a favor to Rudy Giuliani at the same time. 

 

Bloomberg reports, President Donald Trump pressed then Secretary of State

Rex Tillerson to help persuade the Justice Department to drop a criminal

case against an Iranian Turkish gold trader who`s a client to Rudy

Giuliani, according to three people familiar with the 2017 meeting in the

Oval Office.  Tillerson refused, arguing it would constitute interference

in an ongoing investigation of the trader, Reza Zarrab, according to the

people.  They said other participants in the Oval Office were shocked by

the request. 

 

Tillerson immediately repeated his objections to then chief of staff John

Kelly in a hallway conversation just outside the Oval Office emphasizing

the request would be illegal.  Rudy Giuliani was part of the legal team

defending a federal prosecution in New York City on charges of violating

U.S. sanctions against Iran`s new clear program.  Now, these are the

sanctions that Donald Trump has always said are necessary to crush Iran. 

These are the sanctions that Donald Trump is always wanting to increase and

here was Donald Trump trying to help someone who was accused of violating

those sanctions because that person was close to the president of Turkey

who very much wanted Mr. Zarrab not to be prosecuted. 

 

When “Bloomberg” reporters interviewed Rudy Giuliani for this story, they

got classic Giuliani.  Giuliani said, suppose I did to Trump about it.  So

what?  Giuliani refused to say if he ever spoke directly to Rex Tillerson

about the case.  Rudy Giuliani, quote, declined to say if he ever spoke

directly to Tillerson about the case, saying, you have no right to know

that. 

 

There is also big news tonight about the whistleblower and it is news that

you can completely ignore because the whistleblower no longer matters. 

What matters is that every relevant fact that the whistleblower wrote in

his whistleblower report has proven true, and everything the whistleblower

wrote in a two-page memo to himself in which he quickly wrote down the very

first things that he heard about the president`s phone call with the

president of Ukraine, those things have also proven true.  And we know that

because CBS news has obtained and published today the full two-page

whistleblower memo, the first thing the whistleblower wrote down, notes

about what he first heard from a White House official about the president`s

phone call. 

 

Everything in that two-page memo has proved to be true and none of it

matters in the memo because we have the rough transcript of the president`s

phone call which is what the House of Representatives is going to use in an

article of impeachment.  They are going to use not the whistleblower`s

words.  They are going to use the president`s own words as they appear in

that White House record of that phone call. 

 

Leading off our discussion tonight are Ben Rhodes, former deputy national

security adviser to President Obama.  He`s an MSNBC political analyst. 

 

Tess Bridgman is with us.  She`s a former special assistance to the

president and deputy legal advisor to the national security counsel and

associate White House counsel of President Obama. 

 

And Jonathan Alter is joining us, he`s a columnist for “The Daily Beast”

and MSNBC political analyst.

 

And, Ben, I want to begin with you on what we learned today about Rex

Tillerson`s meeting in which Rex Tillerson basically refused to do what the

president wanted him to do for the president of Turkey and for Rudy

Giuliani because Rex Tillerson apparently told the president in the Oval

Office it`s not legal. 

 

BEN RHODES, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:  Yes, well, Lawrence, first of all,

Tess may remember this as well.  President Erdogan was raising this case

with President Obama and the U.S. towards the end of our administration and

we`re saying, no, no, we don`t get involved in these kinds of

investigations. 

 

What we`re learning here, right, is if you pick up a rock in this

administration, you find corruption under it.  And, you know, just as we`ve

seen corruption in our foreign policy in this effort to pressure Ukraine

and to leverage U.S. assistance to pressure Ukraine to investigate Trump`s

political opponents, we see clearly in the story the president of the

United States interfering in an ongoing investigation and doing a violation

of Iran sanctions which he claims to have supported on behalf of this

authoritarian leader Tayyip Erdogan and Rudy Giuliani, a private U.S.

citizen.

 

And those two relationships are really important here because we also know

that Erdogan was able to call up Trump, one authoritarian leader to another

and get him to abandon the Kurds who fought with the United States to

defeat ISIS in Syria and we also know that he`s granted this kind of

extraordinary role to Rudy Giuliani, where he operates internationally, he

engages foreign governments, as if he`s a U.S. official when he`s not. 

 

And all of Rudy Giuliani`s comments, including the one that you quoted, he

seems to presents himself as above the law.  And that`s what this is all

about, this impeachment inquiry is, you have a president and people around

him who think they are above the laws of the nation. 

 

O`DONNELL:  Let`s listen to what Rex Tillerson said in a public interview

last year about Donald Trump asking him to do illegal things and it sounds

like it happened way more than just once. 

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

REX TILLERSON, FORMER SECRETAR OF STATE:  When the president would say,

here`s what I want to do and here`s how I want to do it, and I`d have to

say to him, well, Mr. President, I understand what you want to do but you

can`t do it that way.  Now, it violates the law.  It violates treaty. 

 

You know, he got really frustrated.  I didn`t know how to conduct my

affairs with him any other way than in a very straightforward fashion.  And

I think he grew tired of me being the guy every day that told him you can`t

do that.  And let`s talked about what we can do. 

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

O`DONNELL:  Tess Bridgeman, when you look at the rough record of that phone

call with the president of Ukraine, it looks like there are no more Rex

Tillerson`s in the room telling him what he cannot do. 

 

TESS BRIDGEMAN, FORMER ASSOCIATE WHITE HOUSE COUNSEL:  Yes, no, that`s

exactly right, and it`s comforting to hear that Tillerson did stand up to

the president on this among other issues.  I mean, if there is one thing

that I think we need to keep in mind about this most recent episode, it`s

that we know that if we`re going to remain a society that`s governed by the

rule of law, there is some fundamental principles we have to adhere to and

one of them is that the administration of justice has to be impartial, it

has to be free of political interference.  And if you are a friend of the

president`s, if you are politically or financially entangled with the

president, that should not put you above the law.  It`s that simple. 

 

I think the July 26th memo, what it tells us is that the national security

context is something that we need to keep in mind as we`re looking at the

grave abuses of president`s office and trying to advance his political

interests through this call with Ukraine.  The striking thing in that July

26th memo to me is the White House staffer saying there was no national

security content to that call. 

 

And that means that the president using it to advance his personal

interests had an opportunity cost for our national interest that it wasn`t

advanced on that call.  We didn`t even get there, and that`s something I

think is important to keep in focus, as well, as we look at this. 

 

O`DONNELL:  Jonathan Alter, I want to take a look at a couple more numbers

in the Fox News poll.  I want to stress that it is a Fox News poll.  I`m

sure the president will be attacking it now that it shows majority support

for his removal from office.  But one question is, did the president – is

the president getting what he deserves?  Forty-eight percent in the Fox

News poll say Trump is getting what he deserves in an impeachment

investigation.  Only 37 percent say people are out to get Trump.

 

And another number in here, the basic question, is it appropriate for Trump

to ask foreign leaders to investigate rivals?  Sixty-six percent say no. 

 

JONATHAN ALTER, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:  See, this is like a mafia

shakedown.  It`s easy for people to understand.  They see movies about the

mafia.  It`s not the Mueller report with a lot of complexity they don`t get

into.

 

And in terms of these documents that they are not going to cough up now,

I`m not really worried about that because the problem is not that there is

not a smoking gun.  There is not just a smoking gun.  There is a smoking

artillery range.  You know, there is a tremendous amount of evidence that

is already in the public record, and so this idea that something more has

to be uncovered, he could be with justification impeached tomorrow and

what`s fascinating is that the American people understand it. 

 

So, support for Richard Nixon`s impeachment did not go above 50 percent

until two weeks before he was forced from office and resigned.  So that

arguably is kind of where we are.  It`s not going to be that soon before

the House impeaches Trump, but we are moving into at warp speed the end

phase of this in terms of understanding he`s committed impeachable

offenses.  That is now established fact. 

 

O`DONNELL:  Ben, I want to go back to what Rachel and I were talking about

just at the top of the hour here, which is this breaking news report from

“Axios” saying the House Democrats now are seeking testimony from former

Russia advisor Fiona Hill.  They`re saying they want her at a deposition on

October 14th.  They want her to turnover documents dating back to January

of 2017, dating back to virtually Inauguration Day. 

 

And so, she`s a long-time policy expert.  She`s a critic of Vladimir Putin. 

She`s someone who is known not to agree with President Trump on Russia. 

 

What do you think she might be able to add to the committee`s

understanding? 

 

RHODES:  She could add a tremendous amount, Lawrence.  I mean, everybody

who works in kind of the national security community also wondered why she

was working there in the first place, because she`s not the kind of person

you would expect to go along with this relationship where Trump kind of

makes himself the junior partner to Vladimir Putin. 

 

Presumably, she`s been at the nexus of the contacts she had.  She may not

have been in the room but she had access to call transcripts.  And keep in

mind that this Ukraine story is very much intertwined with the Russia

story, in part because Russia has invaded Ukraine. 

 

But also remember, it`s not just that Trump was asking Ukraine to

investigate the Biden family, he was also asking Ukraine to investigate

this kind of crazy right wing conspiracy theory that Russia did not

intervene in the 2016 election, that it was actually Ukraine.  And so,

Fiona Hill would know a lot about what Donald Trump said to Vladimir Putin,

about whether he`s advanced these conspiracy theories, about whether he

sought to absolve Russia for responsibility in interfering our election,

about whether or not Donald Trump has done anything to protect the 2020

presidential election from ongoing Russian interference. 

 

She in documents in her testimony, I think, could provide an initial road

map to how Donald Trump is faced this curious relationship with Vladimir

Putin where he seemed to do everything that Vladimir Putin would want to

discredit the United States, to make Ukraine more vulnerable and frankly,

to engage in conspiracy theorizing that lets Putin off the hook for what he

did in the 2016 election and what he`s likely to try to do again in the

2020 election. 

 

O`DONNELL:  Tess, what I find striking about the Rex Tillerson story

tonight is that it`s a new story and there`s been a lot of pressure on this

White House journalistically, especially, to get these kinds of stories. 

Michael Wolff had these stories in his first book exposing the inside of

the Trump White House.  Bob Woodward had stories like this in here. 

 

And yet, here is a new one in an area where Rex Tillerson has already

publicly expressed himself saying that the president asked him to do things

that weren`t legal and it – and these three sources for this story and it

just is another indication of how many people are out there with

information that they can release whenever they so choose, either to the

committees or to the press. 

 

BRIDGEMAN:  That`s absolutely right.  And from the clip that you just

showed, Lawrence, it`s clear there are additional instances that former

Secretary Tillerson was referring to when he was talking about, for

example, conduct that would violate treaties, there is no treaty violation

at issue in this most recent episode that`s been revealed just now.  So,

that`s something completely different.  You know, other violations of laws,

as well.  It`s not clear that what happened just now or what is being

revealed just now is a violation of law.

 

So, clearly there is a lot more even in Secretary Tillerson`s experience. 

But I think you`re right that it does also just underscore that really

almost any of the officials who dealt personally with President Trump may

have further information about improper conduct, as Ben was saying.  It

just sort of goes to show this pattern of the president putting his

personal interest over the national interest really at every turn, and

anyone who was within the president`s inner circle within his orbit may

well have been subjected to that, and had to make a choice about whether or

not they were going to stand up to it or whether they were going to abide

by it or become complicit in it. 

 

O`DONNELL:  Jonathan, back to the whistleblower and why I give such short

riff to what was the big, exciting breaking news of the afternoon, here`s

the two pages.  And, you know, I get the excitement that everybody else

does, look at them, OK, it doesn`t matter. 

 

It`s completely proven to be accurate by the phone call itself.  But we

have the phone call.

 

ALTER:  Right.

 

O`DONNELL:  You care about a document like that when you don`t have the

phone call. 

 

ALTER:  Right.  This – I think you`re absolutely right.  So, think about

hen a guy robs a bank, right, and there is videotape of him putting a gun

to the teller and then, you know, a couple of weeks later, you hear that

there`s a witness in the bank who is sworn out a statement, you know, that

supplements – it`s nice that you have the witness`s testimony but he`s

been caught red-handed.

 

O`DONNELL:  Yes.

 

ALTER:  You don`t need really it.  All of this is supplemental. 

 

Having said that, if Rex Tillerson testified that the president wanted him

to break the law, that could be a game changer in that you then could maybe

see support for the president collapsing in the Senate.  We`re not at that

point yet but others hope.  You know, if you talk to Bob Schieffer (ph),

maybe he would be willing to talk to a congressional committee. 

 

O`DONNELL:  We will see. 

 

Tess Bridgeman, Ben Rhodes, Jonathan Alter, thank you all for starting us

off tonight.  I really appreciate it. 

 

And when we come back, our guest is presidential candidate, Senator Kamala

Harris.  She will be a juror in the impeachment of Donald J. Trump in the

United States if the president is impeached in the House of

Representatives.  Senator Harris took action today to preserve evidence in

the impeachment investigation. 

 

Senator Kamala Harris joins us next. 

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

O`DONNELL:  I`ve seen hundreds of letters from senators to other government

officials, and I have never seen a letter like this.  This letter is from

two senators addressed to every member of the Trump cabinet.  Those two

senators are former attorneys general in their states – Senator Kamala

Harris of California and Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut.  And in

their letter, they are demanding every member of the Trump cabinet, quote,

take immediate action to identify and preserve all relevant evidence and

cooperate with ongoing future investigations. 

 

Both senators are members of the Senate Judiciary Committee and yesterday,

the chairman of that committee indicated there is an investigation he would

like the committee to pursue.  Chairman Graham said that he would be

inviting Rudy Giuliani to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee

about, quote, corruption in Ukraine. 

 

Senator Harris responded to that on Twitter saying: Good.  I have

questions. 

 

Joining us now is Senator Kamala Harris, Democrat from California.  She`s a

member of the Judiciary Committee and Intelligence Committees and she is

now a Democratic candidate for president of the United States. 

 

Senator, thank you very much for joining us tonight. 

 

I want to begin with what reads like a prosecutor`s notice letter, saying

preserve all your documents.

 

SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D-CA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  Yes.

 

O`DONNELL:  This comes from you and Senator Blumenthal, two former state

attorneys general.  You actually referenced that in your letter. 

 

HARRIS:  Yes.

 

O`DONNELL:  I think the recipients of this letter today know that very well

about both of you. 

 

What are you hoping to accomplish with this? 

 

HARRIS:  Well, to put everyone on notice, Lawrence, that this is – this is

a process that is about pursuit of justice and truth, and that we are not

going to tolerate in our role of oversight any conduct that interferes with

that process.  And so, we are putting members of the cabinet on notice that

they have a duty and a responsibility to preserve evidence to protect

whistleblowers, to protect the inspectors general of the various agencies

and to cooperate with this process.

 

And frankly, to your point, the letter perhaps is unique because I don`t

think in recent history we`ve seen the need for those kinds of obvious

points to be made but with this administration, we can`t take anything for

granted, especially when we`ve seen the highest elected official in our

government, Donald Trump, actively engaged in the suppress of evidence and

the intimidation of witnesses. 

 

So I applaud my colleague and friend, Senator Blumenthal, for all the work

that he has done for so many years in the United States Senate. And he and

I together and have many shared experiences that tell us that, as former

prosecutors, this kind of letter and instruction is necessary with this

administration.

 

O`DONNELL: I saw one comment on Twitter today actually by Rick Stengel, a

frequent guest on this program saying that, the White House Counsel`s

letter yesterday to the House - to the Committees about the impeachment

process basically said that the Constitution is unconstitutional, which I

think is the shorthand for it.

 

I want to get your reaction to it as a lawyer. I want to get a legal

professional reaction to that letter.

 

HARRIS: Lawrence, there is - everything that is - it should be up is down

and down is up with this administration, including that statement. It is

ridiculous on its face, and this is a moment that highlights the

magnificent brilliance of the framers of our Constitution and the founders

of our nation, who imagined such a moment where there would be an outright

and obvious at this point abuse of power by one branch of government, in

this case, the Executive Branch and the need therefore for these kinds of

checks and balances.

 

So the letter today from Senator Blumenthal and myself and so many others

who have stood up to stand for accountability and for our democracy is

about living what our founders imagined might be necessary, which is to

have these checks and balances.

 

But that statement is ridiculous and it`s clearly just another example of

members of this administration who frankly are violating their oath,

Lawrence, and I say that purposely. It`s not like they`re ignoring it or

overlooking it, they`re violating it.

 

They took an oath to defend the Constitution of the United States against

all enemies, foreign and domestic, and I think it is clear that there are

enemies who are American citizens, enemies to our democracy.

 

And this is a moment where everyone should have the courage to stand up and

speak to the values of our Constitution and our democracy and our system of

justice.

 

O`DONNELL: Senator, I for one believe that friends do not allow Rudy

Giuliani to testify under oath.

 

(LAUGHTER)

 

So you may never get your day in the Senate Judiciary Committee to ask him

questions. I have a feeling that that Lindsey Graham invitation won`t ever

really be delivered. But if it is and if he delivers to cable news the gift

of Rudy Giuliani testifying to your Committee, what questions would you

have for Rudy Giuliani?

 

HARRIS: Oh there are many. I would ask and really the public has a right to

know whether and what the President directed him to do, and what exactly -

under what conditions those that those directions took place.

 

There are questions about who gave Rudy Giuliani the authority to pretend

to be a diplomat working on behalf of the United States government, when in

fact he was the private attorney of the President, doing his personal

bidding for the President`s political benefit.

 

I also have questions, Lawrence, about whether there was any bribery at

place here. Because that is a question in my mind, where any officials

foreign or domestic bribed in any way to carry out what clearly was an act

against the best interest of our national security.

 

So I have a lot of questions and I look forward to Rudy Giuliani testifying

before the Senate under oath. I think it will be very revealing of the

President, his administration, and the folks that he chooses to serve as

his advisors.

 

O`DONNELL: Senator, please stay with us across the break. And when we come

back, I want to ask you about the Senate Intelligence Committee bipartisan

report, and I think a lot of people don`t realize how bipartisan Senate

Intelligence Committee still is–

 

HARRIS: That`s right.

 

O`DONNELL: –that you all released yesterday specifics about the Russian

interference in the election, new specifics, including the way the Russians

specifically targeted black voters in their disinformation. We`ll do that

across this commercial break. But please stay with us Senator, thank you.

 

HARRIS: Will do, thank you.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

O`DONNELL: Donald Trump re-wrote America`s commitment to allies today. The

new rule is, no matter what promises we have made to your country, no

matter what alliances we have formed, if you weren`t with us on Normandy

Beach, forget about it.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: The Kurds are fighting

for their land, just so you understand, they`re fighting for their land.

And as somebody wrote in a very, very powerful article today, they didn`t

help us in the Second World War, they didn`t help us with Normandy, as an

example. They mentioned names of different battles, they were there, but

they`re there to help us with their land, and that`s a different thing.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

O`DONNELL: Presidential candidate Senator Kamala Harris is back with us.

And so, Senator Harris, the new rule, if you are not Great Britain or

Canada, which are the only two countries that helped us on Normandy Beach,

we have no responsibilities.

 

HARRIS: Lawrence, the issue presented here is obviously a very serious

matter. The Kurds stood with us. When we were in a time of need, meaning we

needed allies and friends to stand with us in one of the most important

battles that in modern history we have fought in the name of our national

security.

 

And yet again, Donald Trump makes unilateral decisions based on his fragile

ego or other alliances that are about his personal benefit and not in the

best interest of our national security. And in this case, potentially

leaving friends to be slaughtered, and all the while also while they are

then moving toward the border to defend themselves, they are also

abandoning their posts in guarding prisons, where there are ISIS fighters

and their families.

 

So across the board, including the tweet, which suggests that he also

doesn`t have a sense of loyalty to friends, this is a very serious matter,

and people will die because of what he has done.

 

O`DONNELL: Senator, the bipartisan report issued by your Committee, the

Senate Intelligence Committee yesterday, we reported on it last night, but

we didn`t get to this detail, which is that the Russian disinformation was

aimed so heavily at black voters in America.

 

HARRIS: Yes. So you`re exactly right, so I`ve been talking about this for

well over a year, I brought it up at one of our first public hearings back

in August of last year. Essentially what happened we all know, the trust

the American intelligence community, unlike Donald Trump, trust them.

 

They work hard at great sacrifice and they have shared with us what we

know, which is that Russia interfered in the election in 2016. How did they

do it? Well, Russia a long-standing adversary, they`re not - they don`t

have the economic ability to build armies to defeat us. So they decided

another way and they decided to interfere with what is one of the most

significant and strongest pillars of our democracy, and our democracy being

a strength of ours.

 

And when we walk into any room around the globe, we as Americans carry a

certain level of strength, because people respect that we have a democracy,

imperfect though it may be. And one of the most important pillars of that

democracy are free and open elections, and fair elections.

 

So they decided to attack that. And then to do it, they decided, let`s get

Americans point fingers at each other, going at each other in a way that

they will distrust each other, that they will fight against each other.

 

They tested out various topics to see what would get us going at each

other. And in so doing, they exposed America`s Achilles Heel, race. And it

was race then that they used to create misinformation, but also as a way to

target folks to create distrust and to turn people off on the election.

 

And so, what you see is what I call now the 21st century version of voter

suppression, right. We still have classic voter suppression, where you have

almost two dozen states who have put laws in place since Shelby v. Holder

and the Voting Rights Act then being gutted that have been about

suppressing the black vote.

 

And on top of that, you have Russian interference. The Wall Street Journal

recently wrote an article that outlined that my campaign is one of the top

campaigns that have been targeted by Russian bots.

 

And it is real, it is voter suppression, it is targeted at our democracy by

a foreign government, who is hostile to our best interests. And as it turns

out, they figured out what is one of the greatest weaknesses of our

country, which is the issue of race, and they manipulated that weakness in

a way that one can argue had effect.

 

O`DONNELL: Presidential candidate Senator Kamala Harris, thank you very

much for joining us tonight, really appreciate it.

 

HARRIS: Thank you Lawrence, take care.

 

O`DONNELL: Thank you.

 

And when we come back, we have an update to that breaking news that Rachel

and I were discussing at the top of the show, we have more about that

Russia expert in the Trump administration, confirmation that she will be

testifying to Congress.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

O`DONNELL: We have more breaking news in the impeachment investigation.

Now, NBC News has now confirmed that President Trump`s former Russia

advisor Fiona Hill is now expected to voluntarily attend a closed-door

deposition of the impeachment investigating committees on Monday of next

week.

 

Joining us now to discuss this is Evelyn Farkas, she`s a former Deputy

Assistant Secretary of Defense. She`s an MSNBC National Security Analyst.

And Ben Rhodes is back with us. And Evelyn we now have a cooperating

witness, she no longer works in the administration, the administration has

no control over her, and Fiona Hill is going to show up.

 

EVELYN FARKAS, FORMER DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF DEFENSE FOR

RUSSIA/UKRAINE/EURASIA, AND MSNBC NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Right, and I

think that`s actually good news. She`s seen a lot in her time as the Senior

Director for Russia and the whole chunk of Europe, working for President

Trump. We do know, though, that she wasn`t there when the phone call was

made to the Ukrainian President, but it doesn`t matter, she was there when

every other phone call was made between President Trump and President

Putin; those are important calls.

 

We also have reason to believe that some of those calls, perhaps with other

officials like Turkey, which she may, may or may not have been privy to,

she may have been privy to not because she had direct responsibility for

Turkey, although I think she did, but touched upon Russia, Syria.

 

So it will be interesting, I think, for folks on the Hill to hear what she

has to say about whether she was concerned about some of President Trump`s

comments, practices, et cetera.

 

O`DONNELL: And Ben, one of the things she could testify to as a general

matter is the Trump White House`s treatment of records of Presidential

phone calls, the accuracy of those records as she has noticed them during

her time there.

 

BEN RHODES, CO-CHAIR OF NATIONAL SECURITY ACTION, AND MSNBC POLITICAL

COMMENTATOR: Yes, Lawrence, I mean, I think there are two things that are

really important here. We know from reporting that apparently some of the

phone calls with Vladimir Putin were moved into this kind of secret server,

extra layer of security, limited distribution.

 

Fiona Hill would know about that, right, so she could help give the roadmap

to what other documents are out there, in addition to again talking about

this bizarre relationship between President Trump and President Putin.

 

Here`s another important thing though. By all accounts, Fiona Hill was

someone who probably wasn`t the most natural fit at that White House. It is

obvious that President Trump has not treated people particularly well

around him, famously firing Rex Tillerson on the phone, obviously famously

trashing former National Security Advisor John Bolton on the way out.

 

Who knows what his relationship was with Fiona Hill. But there are a lot of

people who are outside of the White House now, who know things that are

going to be very valuable to that Committee.

 

So if I`m the Democrats on that Committee, the people I`m looking to talk

to are the people who`ve left and who might feel compelled to come forward

and have more freedom to share information than people who are still at the

White House.

 

Similarly, I`d be interested in talking to career Foreign Service people,

who know that they want to be there after the Trump administration. They

don`t want to go down with this ship. So we`ve seen in this extraordinary

letter yesterday them trying to stonewall the whole inquiry, but there are

pockets of people that Democrats can get to like Fiona Hill.

 

O`DONNELL: And Evelyn, what might Fiona Hill know about what Donald Trump

has said to Vladimir Putin about Syria and how that might be relevant to

where we are tonight?

 

FARKAS: She might know - I mean of course even Fiona doesn`t know a lot,

because she wasn`t there in Helsinki in the room when President Trump had

his conversation with the President Putin, although she may have spoken to

the interpreter.

 

She also - I believe she speaks Russian fluently, so she could have been

privy to a little bit more information on that. But certainly on Syria,

again I wonder what did let Vladimir Putin ask President Trump to do with

regard to Syria.

 

Because, if you - you might not have noticed this Lawrence, but on the day

our President announced that we were going to withdraw from Syria, it was

actually Vladimir Putin`s birthday. So it was in a weird way kind of a gift

to Vladimir Putin, and I think it was making good on some kind of

conversation they had about Syria.

 

Because Trump always said, right from the beginning - President Trump said

we`re getting out of Syria. And clearly Russia stands to benefit from that

as does Assad, Syria, and Iran.

 

O`DONNELL: Make a note of that future historians, it was Vladimir Putin`s

birthday. Evelyn Farkas, Ben Rhodes, thank you very much for joining us

tonight and enlightening us, really appreciate it.

 

And when we come back, Michael Cohen, yes that Michael Cohen, the fixture

of a former Trump lawyer is reportedly cooperating now with the Manhattan

District Attorney, and he is a central figure in an investigation that is

closing in on Donald Trump`s personal tax returns, his corporate tax

returns, and possibly other business practices.

 

Former federal prosecutor Mimi Rocah will join us next.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

O`DONNELL: Michael Cohen is reportedly playing a central role in the

Manhattan District Attorney`s investigation into whether Donald Trump and

his company violated state laws by falsifying records, involving the hush

money payments to two women before the 2016 Presidential election, in what

federal prosecutors called a conspiracy against the United States that was

directed by Donald Trump.

 

Bloomberg is now reporting that investigators who interviewed Michael Cohen

asked a broad set of questions about the President`s business that went

beyond the payments made to silence Stormy Daniels, according to two people

familiar with the matter.

 

The extent of the inquiry is unclear but the questions that the District

Attorney`s team already asked indicate an interest in the Trump

organizations inner workings. And joining us now is Mimi Rocah, she`s a

former Assistant US attorney in the Southern District of New York. She`s

now on MSNBC legal contributor.

 

And Mimi, the local District Attorney has different interests in this same

information that was used by federal prosecutors to prosecute Michael

Cohen.

 

MIMI ROCAH, FORMER ASSISTANT US ATTORNEY IN THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF NEW

YORK AND MSNBC LEGAL CONTRIBUTOR: Yes, Lawrence. Well a couple of things,

first of all, the Southern District of New York is very strict in sort of

the requirements for signing up cooperating witnesses. And we know that

that`s basically why Michael Cohen didn`t get a cooperation agreement with

them, because - not because necessarily he was lying to them about what he

told them, but he wouldn`t go into certain areas, and they won`t allow

that.

 

Manhattan DA`s office does not have strict requirements like that. So

they`re going to have much more flexibility in being able to use what

undoubtedly is valuable information about how the Trump organization

worked, more details about the hush money payments and in ways that the

Southern District may have learned, but couldn`t use, putting aside the

whole issue about President - whether our President can be indicted or not

federally.

 

There`s also not that limitation with the DA`s office. So there`s a lot

more flexibility for them to work with what the information that Michael

Cohen is giving to them.

 

O`DONNELL: And the law that strikes me right away in terms of New York

State is New York State income taxes, and if the payoffs to Stormy Daniels

were in any way deducted anywhere along the way, in a tax return for the

company or a tax return for Donald Trump, you would have a tax evasion

crime there.

 

ROCAH: Yes, exactly. And remember, Michael Cohen paid Stormy Daniels

$130,000 money. Donald Trump paid Michael Cohen back and called it a legal

expense. It was not a legal expense. So how he declared that on his taxes

will be - is clearly one of the things that the DA`s office wants to see.

 

And it`s sort of going to be - it`s the story of putting on a magnifying

glass with trained investigators on to something like the Trump

organization, like Donald Trump`s tax returns. I mean there`s a reason he

doesn`t want them to get their hands on this.

 

I think once they start, are able to look at it with a few already

seemingly clear predicate crimes, they`re going to find a lot more. And I

think this is a real threat to Trump.

 

O`DONNELL: And the Manhattan District Attorney`s Economic Crimes Bureau has

dealt with some pretty big economic crimes.

 

ROCAH: Yes I mean - and remember, they can use - there`s a whole range of

statutes they can use. There`s also all of the information we`ve already

learned a bit about from the New York Attorney General about his misuse of

the Trump Foundation charitable funds and how is that reported on taxes,

how are those funds used.

 

And these are all things, they have so many tools at their disposal, when

you`re talking about economic crimes. There`s so many different state

statutes that they can use, tax fraud being one of them, but also insurance

fraud, wire fraud, mail fraud, and you know, again, I think it`s a matter

of having the magnifying glass now trained on these entities in a way that

the Southern District either couldn`t or wouldn`t go to.

 

O`DONNELL:  Mimi Rocah gets tonight`s LAST WORD.  Thanks for joining us

Mimi, really appreciate it.  And that is tonight`s LAST WORD.  “THE 11TH

HOUR” with Brian Williams starts right now.

 

 

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY

BE UPDATED.

END

 

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