Interview with Sen. Harris. TRANSCRIPT: 10/9/19, The Last Word w/ Lawrence O’Donnell.
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
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 –
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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.
O`DONNELL: You care about a document like that when you don`t have the
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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
O`DONNELL: Senator, I for one believe that friends do not allow Rudy
Giuliani to testify under oath.
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
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.
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
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.
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced,
distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the
prior written permission of ASC Services II Media, LLC. You may not alter
or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the