Remembering Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD). TRANSCRIPT: 10/17/19, The Rachel Maddow Show.
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: And look, Rachel, it`s the picture of the
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: I know.
O`DONNELL: The 10:00 p.m. dude right here.
Rachel, I`m glad you`re going to stay in the building and watch TV for the
next hour, before you go on with Brian Williams hour to talk about
“Blowout”, your bestselling new book that is fantastic, because here`s
what`s going to happen in the next hour. I`m going to do a Rachel thing.
You know that thing you do when you have – you have basically outlined a
case, a situation and you bring on the guest who is the expert on this, who
has been living with this subject much longer than you have and your first
question is always –
MADDOW: Did I get anything wrong?
O`DONNELL: Yes. OK. So, I`m going to take your tweet today, which
summarized this week in Syria, more economically than anyone and I`m going
to present that to my guest and say –
MADDOW: You know, that`s nerve racking because what if – because you`re
not saying did I get anything wrong, you`re saying did Rachel get anything
O`DONNELL: Yes, I don`t want the heat. So, it`s going to be –
MADDOW: I will lurk in the back of your studio. So if your guest is
totally off base, I can take it right there.
MADDOW: Thanks, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: Stick and watch, Rachel.
MADDOW: Thank you.
O`DONNELL: Well, we woke up to this tragic news this morning that the
honorable Elijah Cummings passed away last night at the age of 68. At the
end of this hour, you will hear the very first speech that Congressman
Cummings delivered on the floor of the House of Representatives.
He will be missed every day in the House, but he was especially missed
today when Washington was reacting to what White House chief of staff Mick
Mulvaney said in the White House press briefing room. Neal Katyal will
join us with what he thinks are the high crimes and misdemeanors that he
thinks he heard Mick Mulvaney confessed to today in the White House.
And later in the hour, we will discuss the high crimes and misdemeanors
Mulvaney announced Donald Trump intends to commit next year, the ones he`s
planning to commit on a date certain. Rick Wilson and Bill Kristol will
join us with their reaction to that.
And why Donald Trump could then become the first president who faces an
article of impeachment for what he plans to do in the future in addition to
what he has already done.
What we have entered that stage in the spiraling decline of the Trump
presidency when every day now, something happens in the public rooms of the
White House that we have never seen before. Yesterday in the cabinet room,
it was Nancy Pelosi standing up to Donald Trump as no one has ever stood up
to him before. Nancy Pelosi was doing what Donald Trump`s parents
apparently failed to do. She was teaching a spoiled brat a lesson.
Nancy Pelosi stood up to Donald Trump in a way in a no one who has ever
worked for Donald Trump has ever done. She did something Donald Trump`s
wives are not allowed to do and his children do not know how to do.
And 24 hours later, it was Mick Mulvaney`s turn in the White House press
briefing room to do something we have never seen before and say things we
have never heard in that room from a White House chief of staff.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICK MULVANEY, ACTING WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: The president wants to
fire me today and hire somebody else, he can.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: The president must be thinking about that right now, tonight,
as he watches this show and other cable news shows and sees the
overwhelmingly negative news coverage and commentary about Mick Mulvaney`s
soiling of the White House press briefing room today.
“The Washington Post” reported this afternoon that one person who spoke to
Trump said that he was pleased with Mulvaney`s performance. But that was
before Mick Mulvaney was forced to release a written statement in which he
attempted to rewrite what he did today in the White House press briefing
room and what he did at that microphone in the briefing room was implicate
the president, impossible crimes, and while he was at it, implicate
There is already a federal criminal investigation about what Rudy Giuliani
was doing in Ukraine and what Donald Trump was telling him to do in Ukraine
that could involve criminal violations of campaign finance law that makes
it a crime to solicit help in a political campaign from a foreign country.
Donald Trump clearly did that in the rough transcript of his phone call
with the president of Ukraine where we see him soliciting help from Ukraine
by asking the president of Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden by name. Joe
Biden. But today, Mick Mulvaney identified another law that he and the
president may have broken.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MULVANEY: The Budget Control Act impound – Budget Control Impoundment Act
of 1974 says if Congress appropriates money, you have to spend it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: OK. Thanks for reminding us.
In the same press conference where Mick Mulvaney reminded us it`s against
the law for the president to block spending that Congress has authorized
and appropriated, Mick Mulvaney said this about the $400 million in aid
Congress appropriated for Ukraine.
Quote: We cut the money off. We held up the money. We were holding up
Mick Mulvaney is one of those Trump world characters who speaks as if he
has not heard what he himself has just said. And so, here is what Mick
Mulvaney said about why he and the president held up the money.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MULVANEY: Did he also mention to me in the past that the corruption
related to the DNC server? Absolutely, no question about that. But that`s
it. That`s why we held up the money.
Now, there was a report –
REPORTER: So the demand for the investigation into the Democrats was part
of the reason that he ordered to withhold funding to Ukraine?
MULVANEY: The look back to what happened in 2016 certainly was part of the
thing that he was worried about in corruption with that nation. That is
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Absolutely appropriate. The same guy who at the same
microphone told you it is against the law to hold up the money tells you
it`s absolutely appropriate. And then he tells you how you should feel
about all this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MULVANEY: I have news for everybody. Get over it. There`s going to be
political influence in foreign policy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: And much to Mick Mulvaney`s surprise, that didn`t help anyone
get over it. Republicans did not rush to the microphones to say, thanks,
Mick, that clears that up. Thanks for helping us get over it.
Adam Schiff, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, actually
left the deposition that he was conducting today with one of the self-
labeled three amigos of the Trump Ukraine conspiracy to say this –
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): With his acknowledgement now that military aid to
a vital ally, an ally battling Russia as we speak was withheld in part out
of a desire by the president to have Ukraine investigate the DNC server or
Democrats of 2016 – things have gone from very, very bad to much, much
worse. The idea that vital military assistance would be withheld for such
a patently political reason, for the reason of serving the presidential
reelection campaign, is a phenomenal breach of the president`s duty to
defend our national security, and I hope that every member Democrat and
Republican will speak out and condemn this illicit action by the president
and his chief of staff. Thank you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: “The Washington Post” reports officials close to Trump were
infuriated by Mulvaney`s comments during his new conference that
essentially acknowledged a quid pro quo, under which Ukraine would receive
aid in exchange for helping what a Justice Department investigation that
might benefit Trump`s campaign.
One Trump adviser called it totally inexplicable. He literally said the
thing that the president and everyone else said did not happen, the adviser
As Democrats and Republicans in Washington were reeling from what they just
saw Mick Mulvaney do, even Attorney General William Barr apparently decided
he wanted no part of what Mick Mulvaney was selling today. And so, an
unnamed Justice Department official began telling news organizations the
Justice Department doesn`t know what Mulvaney was talking about. A senior
Justice Department official told NBC news, quote, if the White House was
withholding aid from Ukraine with regard to any investigation by the
Justice Department, that`s news to us.
Mick Mulvaney is going to be fired. That`s what happens to all Trump White
House chiefs of staff. It`s going to happen. Mick Mulvaney`s firing is
now simply a question of timing.
Will the impeachment process leave Donald Trump in the White House long
enough to fire and replace Mick Mulvaney?
Leading off our discussion, Democratic Congressman Denny Heck of
Washington. He`s a member of the House Intelligence Committee and the
House Financial Services Committee. He was present today for Gordon
Also joining us, Ambassador Wendy Sherman, a former undersecretary of state
in the Obama administration. She is an MSNBC global affairs contributor.
And Neal Katyal, former acting U.S. solicitor general, is with us. He is
an MSNBC legal contributor.
And, Congressman Heck, let me start with you, and I don`t want to go
directly to what happened in the Sondland deposition. I hope you can tell
us what you will about that. But when you were in that deposition and you
heard about what Mick Mulvaney was saying at the White House, first of all,
how did you hear about it, how did that word come into the members who were
in that room and what was your reaction to it when you heard it?
REP. DENNY HECK (D-WA): It was right when we were returning from a break
and somebody brought in a memo which actually distilled what the chief of
staff – acting chief of staff Mulvaney said.
My reaction was we`ve seen this act before. First, they go through a long
pattern of denial and then they acknowledge that they did it and say, but
it`s OK and then they seek to normalize it. Of course, it`s not OK and
it`s not normal.
And as you pointed out earlier, it`s a clear violation of federal law to
solicit assistance from a foreign government. But, Lawrence, here`s what I
did immediately. I pulled out the transcript or the record of the call
between President Trump and President Zelensky and I read it, again, word
And, you know, I asked myself where here is there a single instance of the
president asking President Zelensky to combat efforts of general corruption
in Ukraine? There weren`t any. As a matter of fact, in the entire
transcript, Lawrence, the word corrupt or corruption never appears.
He didn`t ask him to do that. He didn`t ask him to reduce corruption in
the energy sector about which there had been problems in the past. He did
not even ask him to reduce corruption or examine Burisma, the company.
He only mentioned his potential rival in 2020. This is clear violation of
federal lawyer, period, full stop.
O`DONNELL: Congressman, did you get any sense of what Republican members
of the committee or other Republican members of the House, what their
private reaction was to Mulvaney?
HECK: They`re so busy defending him at any cost, I don`t know if they`ve
lost all objectivity or they`re just frankly scared to their core of what
he might do to them in a primary election.
O`DONNELL: Let`s listen to what Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski said
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. LISA MURKOWSKI (R-AK): You don`t hold up foreign aid that we had
previously appropriated for a political initiative. Period.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: And, Neal Katyal, the law is pretty clear on that. Mick
Mulvaney was right about that when he was reciting it today. But what did
you hear when you listened to Mick Mulvaney today?
NEAL KATYAL, MSNBC LEGAL CONTRIBUTOR: I think the most striking thing I
heard, Lawrence, was that this was the White House`s defense. This wasn`t
the prosecution talking. This was the defense.
And their defense was, hey, I did it. You know, the president did it.
That`s the defense.
And, you know, I disagree a little bit with the congressman, because he
said this kind of stuff, we`ve heard this before. We`ve never heard this
before. We`ve never heard the White House confess to a high crimes and
misdemeanor because that`s what this is. Make no mistake about it. You go
back to the finding and you ask you what`s the quintessential definition of
an impeachable offense? It`s going and asking a government to muck around
in your election. That`s what the founders Madison and others were so
That`s exactly what Mulvaney confessed to today. So, now, it`s like, you
know, in the criminal law, you kind of – you have the guilt and innocence
phase that the person do it. And then you have the sentencing phase.
Well, the guilt and innocence phase is done here. They`ve just admitted
it. I think the congressman was right to say the transcript already
basically admitted it in the July 25 call, but not in so many words.
Here you`ve had a – we have a very repeated stark language. And this
isn`t like some casual slip of the tongue. It was a 39-minute press
conference that the White House chief of staff gave and after a month in
which the White House has been consumed by this. So, this wasn`t like he
got some question – gotcha question that he never thought about before, he
confessed, he confessed plain and simple to an impeachable offense by the
president of the United States, the definition of an impeachable offense.
O`DONNELL: Wendy Sherman, when Mick Mulvaney was telling you to get over
it today, Mick Mulvaney who has absolutely no experience in foreign policy
was saying that this is the way it works, this is the way presidents and
especially this president conducts foreign policy, so there`s nothing to
see here, get over it, this is the way it works. Is it the way it works?
WENDY SHERMAN, MSNBC GLOBAL AFFAIRS CONTRIBUTOR: It is absolutely not the
way it works. And, you know, a lot of people have been calling what
Giuliani and Sondland and maybe Rick Perry and others did, a shadow foreign
policy. This isn`t foreign policy.
I`m not a lawyer but to me this looks like corrupt operations for financial
and political gain. This is absolutely nothing to do with real foreign
policy. And yes, it`s true that presidents have different policies because
they get elected and we have really tremendous patriots in our Foreign
Service officers. Many of whom we`ve seen gone up and testify to Congress,
even though the administration has not wanted them to, who stay and serve
presidents, even when they may not fully disagree with the policy.
But they have not been asked before to affect a U.S. political election
through their actions. That`s an operation that`s corrupt, that`s criminal
probably, that is certainly not a shadow foreign policy. It`s no foreign
policy at all.
O`DONNELL: And, Congressman Heck, as you were in the deposition, that`s
when Mick Mulvaney was doing all of this.
But in the deposition of Gordon Sondland, the big suspense question for all
of us is – what happened in those five hours between Acting Ambassador
Bill Taylor texting Gordon Sondland saying it crazy to hold up funding
based on political favors that they want for their reelection campaign and
Sondland eventually replies with this very legalistic replay saying, oh,
no, that`s not what we`re doing, that`s not what the president is doing.
Was that penetrated in this deposition today, what happened in that time
HECK: Lawrence, we`re obviously not talking about specific questions or
answers in the deposition. But let me say this – each and every witness
brings new information and new insights to the table. And I like it to the
use of one of those old 35 millimeter cameras where you adjust the lens
until you get it into the highest possible focus, every witness has brought
into higher focus. In fact, I`d say we`re already in the higher resolution
than basic cable.
And the question is rapidly going to become, frankly, where do we just draw
the line and say, it`s time to proceed because we have enough?
O`DONNELL: Congressman, what – could you characterize his credibility,
HECK: No. We`re not commenting on any of the specifics, nor for that
matter of the witness.
But I would say each and every one, every one, has added to our insights on
this one way or another. And again, we`re making significant progress. We
have an incredibly aggressive schedule over the next two weeks, as has been
I think we`re going to proceed without haste but expeditiously. I think
the American people would like to bring this to a close. I know all the
members would like to bring it to a close. Day in, day out of 9 to 12-hour
depositions isn`t a lot of fun but it`s important, and we`re going to stay
O`DONNELL: Neal Katyal, I have a feeling that if the Republican members of
the committee thought they were helping helpful things from these witnesses
for Donald Trump, they would be out there at the microphones delivering
KATYAL: Well, I hope they`d maintain the confidentiality that`s supposed
to be maintained in these things. But I think the bottom line is, the
defense has fallen completely apart. I mean, the first defense was, oh,
the president didn`t do it, the whistle-blower is lying, it`s hearsay.
Well, then they release the transcript which showed everything the whistle-
blower said was correct.
Then the next defense was, well, there`s no quid pro quo. Well, that has
been blown to smithereens by Mulvaney today, as well as by Ambassador
Sondland`s testimony. And now, the defense is, oh, it`s cool, very legal,
very cool, everyone does this kind of thing. Nobody – no president has
I mean, “The New York Times” did a write-up in interviewing the last ten
chiefs of staff to ask them did anyone ever contemplate anything like this,
and the answer is no.
And I think Ambassador Sherman had it exactly correct. This is not shadow
foreign policy. This is something to just personally benefit Donald Trump
and others around him. And that is the gravest crime against America.
It`s not just criminal but it is impeachable.
O`DONNELL: Congressman Denny Heck, Neal Katyal, thank you both for joining
us and starting us off tonight.
Ambassador Sherman, please stay with us for more as we continue with our
coverage of what`s going on in Turkey this week. President Trump says that
he`s reached some kind of deal with Turkey. We`ll evaluate that deal.
O`DONNELL: Today in Turkey, after meeting with Turkish President Erdogan,
Vice President Mike Pence announced that he and Secretary of State Mike
Pompeo negotiated a temporary cease-fire between Kurdish and Turkish forces
in northern Syria near the Turkish border.
The Turkish foreign minister immediately issued a statement saying this is
not a cease-fire. The Turkish foreign minister said that Turkey was
suspending its attacks so that the Kurds could completely retreat from the
area in dispute. You could read thousands of words about this in “The New
York Times” and other carefully reported journals that examine every
detail, but what happened was economically summarized by Rachel in this
She wrote: One, Turkey wants to push the Kurds out of that part of Syria.
Two, Trump gives them the OK to invade. Three, Pence brokers a deal in
which the Kurds must get out of the that part of Syria. Four, the U.S.
agrees to unsanction Turkey, that`s a deal like being mugged is a deal.
Joining us now is Brett McGurk who served in national security positions
under President Bush, Obama and Trump, most recently as the envoy leading
the global campaign to defeat ISIS. He is a senior foreign affairs analyst
And Ambassador Wendy Sherman is back with us.
So, Brett McGurk, you get the question of the night. How did Rachel Maddow
do in that tweet where she described so economically what happened in Syria
BRETT MCGURK, MSNBC SENIOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS ANALYST: I think she has it
just about right.
O`DONNELL: Ah, there you go. Go ahead.
MCGURK: In a chain reaction crisis, a cascading crisis like we`ve been in,
you want to try to buy some time. So, I hand it to the administration to
scramble and try to buy sometime. But in exchange for buying time, to
completely capitulate in a 13-point statement which is basically written by
the Turks, what it shows to me is the extreme duress under which the
American side is negotiating.
We`re evacuating our facilities, we`re bombing them as we leave and
President Trump gave away all of our leverage. He did that last December
when he announced he wanted to leave Syria and that we were leaving Syria,
so Putin knows we`re leaving, Erdogan knows we`re leaving, Assad knows
we`re leaving, the Iranians know we`re leaving. And he compounded that by
what he did on the night of October 6th after the call with Erdogan, and
then we`re now evacuating our positions.
So, we have no leverage, we have very little influence, we`re bystanders
and the final deal will be cut in five days when Erdogan visits Putin in
O`DONNELL: Let`s listen to what Senator Mitt Romney said about this today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MITT ROMNEY (R-UT): The announcement is being portrayed as a victory.
It is far from a victory. The decision to abandon the Kurds violates one
of our most sacred duties, it strikes at American honor. What we have done
to the Kurds will stand as a bloodstain in the annals of American history.
Was there no chance for diplomacy? Are we so weak and so inept
diplomatically that Turkey forced the hand of the United States of America?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: And, Wendy Sherman, you have now pretty much seen just about
everything Senate Republicans had to say on the floor today about Turkey.
SHERMAN: Well, I`m glad that Senator Romney made that statement and indeed
we`ve heard from lots of our terrific military saying they`re actually
ashamed of what has gone on here and having to leave the Kurds behind. And
as Brett pointed out, nobody knows the area as well as Brett McGurk does,
we have totally capitulated. We have given Turkey everything they`ve
wanted. And most importantly, we`ve given Putin everything he`s wanted.
When Nancy Pelosi stood up in the photograph that you discussed at the
beginning of tonight`s show, he was ostensibly saying to the president, all
roads lead to Putin. And on a day when you memorialize Elijah Cummings,
who`s from Baltimore, who stands up with moral courage, and Nancy Pelosi,
who`s from Baltimore, my hometown as well, these are two people who stand
up for what is right and President Trump has no idea who either of those
people are because he doesn`t understand the values of standing with the
people who are there for you.
The Kurds were there for us. We`re going to see the resurgence of ISIS.
We`re going to see Putin control Syria with Assad in many ways as his
puppet. We are going to see Iran`s more malign behavior in the
neighborhood. We`re going to see Israel more insecure.
This deal that the president ostensibly got and said today, he even as
quoted as saying that, you know, Turkey had to clean out the border. That
is genocidal language. That is ethnic cleansing language. For the
president of the United States to stand up for genocide? That`s not the
America that we really are.
O`DONNELL: Here`s the way the president put it tonight in his campaign
rally to his rally audience he said: sometimes you have to let them fight.
Like two kids in a lot, you have to let them fight and then you pull them
Brett McGurk, your reaction to that?
MCGURK: You know, Lawrence, it`s difficult to me because it`s just
obscene. I served for two years in the Trump administration. I know the
diplomats were trying to work through this crisis that was precipitated by
an impulsive decision by President Trump. That is a totally obscene thing
Over the last ten days after the president`s phone call with Erdogan, we
had about 200,000, civilians displaced from their homes. We had about
hundreds of people killed. We`ve had innocent women pulled out of their
car and murdered in cold blood by Turkish-backed opposition forces. So for
the president of the United States to say that, you know, everybody is
I`ve been to Syria so many times, and particularly in these war zone
environments, everybody listens to the words of the president of the United
States, and for him to say that is truly obscene. We`re not just letting
they will fight. We are evacuating Syria and blowing up our bases as we
leave and handing over facilities to the Russians.
So for the president to suggest that this is just kind of no big deal and
this was all going according to plan is a joke, and I think Senator Romney
has it right and I fear that this is going to go worse. I think it`s good
that we bought some time, but Erdogan is on his way to Moscow and we are
not bystanders as we work to get out of Syria.
So, I think it`s a pretty serious situation and it not likely to get
O`DONNELL: Brett McGurk, Wendy Sherman, thank you very much for joining us
tonight. Really appreciate it.
SHERMAN: Thank you.
O`DONNELL: And when we come back, Rick Wilson and Bill Kristol join us to
discuss the need to impeach Donald Trump not just for what he has already
done but for what he plans to do. That`s next.
O`DONNELL: In his disastrous press conference today, the current White
House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney announced that Donald Trump plans to
commit two major violations of law next year on a date certain, two
The next meeting of the G7 is scheduled for June 10 next year and Mick
Mulvaney announced today that Donald Trump is going to give himself and one
of his failing businesses a big federal contract for that event, and Donald
Trump is going to directly accept payments from foreign governments for the
use of his failing property for the G7.
The President plans to violate both the domestic and foreign emoluments
bans at the same time. The federal government will be pouring money
directly into Donald Trump`s pockets at the same time that foreign
governments will be paying money directly into Donald Trump`s pockets
during the G7.
The Washington Post reports that Trump`s Doral Resort has been in sharp
decline in recent years, according to the Trump organization`s own records.
Its net operating income fell 69% from 2015 to 2017.
The G7 summit will draw hundreds of diplomats, journalists, and security
personnel to the resort during one of its slowest months of the year, when
the hotel is often less than 40 percent full.
The top Democrat in the Senate Finance Committee Ron Wyden said foreign
governments should not be forced to line Donald Trump`s pockets and urged
them to seek outside accommodation, adding that Congress should work to
defund this effort to force the G7 to be held elsewhere.
Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski said she did not think it was appropriate
to hold the summit there. Today, former Republican strategist Bill Kristol
tweeted that Donald Trump`s corruption can only be stopped by impeachment.
If Trump is not impeached and removed, the corruption will get even worse,
the White House even more lawless, the violations of norms even more
All previous articles of impeachment against Presidents have been about
what the President has already done. This Congress might find it necessary
to be the first to impeach a President for his past conduct and for what
this President plans to do.
Bill Kristol and Rick Wilson will join us next.
O`DONNELL: Here is Pulitzer Prize winning Washington Post reporter David
Fahrenthold discussing the location where Donald Trump wants to have the G7
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAVID FAHRENTHOLD, WASHINGTON POST REPORTER: It is basically the keystone
of Donald Trump`s entire hospitality golf hotel business. It produces more
revenue for him every year than any hotel or golf course and he has one of
its biggest loans on it.
If you were to pick one property that Donald Trump`s financial health
depended on, this would be it. June is the second slowest month for Doral,
only August is worse. Their occupancy rate is under 40 percent.
So even if Trump just charged the cost, which we have no idea if he`s going
to, but even if didn`t try to make a profit off each individual room, he`s
filling the resort at a time it would be mostly empty.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Joining our discussion now is Bill Kristol, editor-at-large of
The Bulwark and the Director of Defending Democracy Together. He served in
senior positions in the Reagan and Bush administrations, and Rick Wilson as
well he`s a former Republican strategist and contributor to The Daily
Beast. He`s the author of Everything Trump Touches Dies.
Bill Kristol, your reaction to the announcement today that the President
plans to commit these two violations of the emoluments clause, both the
domestic and foreign.
BILL KRISTOL, EDITOR-AT-LARGE OF THE BULWARK AND DIRECTOR OF DEFENDING
DEMOCRACY TOGETHER: Yes, and God knows what other laws are being violated.
There are laws for federal contracting. Obviously, you can`t just give
contracts to yourself or to your best friend. I mean it`s taxpayer money
And Congress really needs to - I think it`s very good since where Congress
needs to demand the documents, who made the decision, where we know Trump
made the decision, but who - what documents were provided, or were
competitive bids were gotten from the private - from different hotel
chains, did - where`s the Secret Service report saying that Doral would be
easier to handle than some other place?
I mean the idea that this is Trump cheats the government as his own little
private business. He can just choose to put things one place rather than
another, and that`s the law. Doral is not important obviously, the amount
of money isn`t huge, it`s not like serious - not like Ukraine. But the sort
of just the routinization of corruption turning us into a kind of third
world country, where the President treats the federal government as his own
plaything to use as he chooses is very dangerous.
And I think the Congress has every right to demand these documents. If you
think of it for a minute, Lawrence, you`ve been in Washington a lot, I mean
you worked on The Hill. That`s announced from the White House, there is
some part of the State Department or Treasury that`s in charge of going
around and taking bids and figuring out what the most logistically
convenient places for foreign leaders, and they make a decision or a
And occasionally it might go up the chain and someone would say, well you
know maybe it would be more appropriate to have a here rather than there.
But the President just decides to spend federal money wherever he wants and
in this case at his own resort, it`s really - it is lawless.
O`DONNELL: And Rick Wilson, when Mick Mulvaney announced it today, he threw
in - while he was at it - don`t even think about getting any documents that
would show how this decision was made.
RICK WILSON, FORMER REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST AND CONTRIBUTOR TO THE DAILY
BEAST: Right, that was like the icing on the cake of Mick Mulvaney`s super
horrible bad day that he threw out there, basically casually saying, oh by
the way the President is just not going to let you know how he personally
decided to benefit himself with a several million dollar contract for his
South Florida house of bedbugs Hotel.
O`DONNELL: And Bill, the urgency - you sense more urgency about impeachment
now, when you throw in the future factor and you use this example as one.
But there`s also when you see what happened in Syria, which was not
something you could have predicted two weeks ago, three weeks ago that the
President will do something like this. There are other places on the map
where he could do similar things.
KRISTOL: Yes, just two things, I mean two years ago when I would make the
argument that this man shouldn`t be President, he was unfit for the office,
people would say, look he says a lot of stupid things, he made me want to
try to do a lot of stupid and even illegal things. But McGahn stops him
from firing Mueller, and Mattis stops him from doing this, McMaster stops
him from doing that.
And there was some truth to that. He was a little ineffectual in his
lawlessness. Now, he`s doing it and we`re seeing the consequences in the
real world in Syria in a truly disastrous and depressing way.
And with Ukraine, are we confident that he is now going to ensure that we
have free and fair election here in 2020, without foreign interference,
with a strong government reaction to disinformation, with a strong effort
to make sure election security is maintained and strengthened?
I mean, after watching that he - what he - after watching him invite or
pressure a foreign government to get involved in our elections, I mean are
we confident that we have a President who`s going to stand up for the
integrity of our election?
So I do feel a sense of urgency here. It`s not just about holding Trump
accountable for what he has done, it`s about what could happen in the world
and at home over the next year.
O`DONNELL: And Rick Wilson, I think we know that Mick Mulvaney doesn`t just
decide to walk out to that microphone today on his own and the mastermind
of the impeachment defense Donald Trump sent him out there. And by now,
even though Mick Mulvaney might have - Trump might have thought what
Mulvaney was doing was fine when he was watching it. By now Donald Trump
has seen enough reaction to know how badly that went.
WILSON: I don`t think even Sean Hannity holding Donald close and rocking
him to sleep is going to make him feel any better about the fact that Mick
Mulvaney went out there and essentially set himself on fire on national
He brought down - thinking he was going to deflate the bubble of this idea
of a quid pro quo was not a good idea on Trump`s part, because Mulvaney
went out there and on live television said, oh all those denials we were
making for two weeks now, they`re all inoperative because I came out and I
said there was a quid pro quo, we deliberately withheld the money.
And Mick Mulvaney by the way, from his other half as OMB director, his one
head is OMB Director, his other head is acting temporary provisional deputy
whatever chief of staff. As OMB Director, he`s the guy who says those
checks don`t move, those numbers don`t happen.
So he put himself in a terrible spot and the President a terrible spot, and
that`s why the President`s lawyers are so furious tonight.
O`DONNELL: Rick Wilson, Bill Kristol, thank you both for joining us, really
KRISTOL: Thanks Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: And when we come back, we`ll be joined by Congressman Ro Khanna
who was in that 10 hour deposition today of the Trump European Union
Ambassador Gordon Sondland and who - that Gordon Sondland - it is Gordon
Sondland who actually calls himself a member of the three amigos who were
doing the President`s bidding in Ukraine.
Ro Khanna is a member of the House Oversight Committee, which lost its
Chairman Elijah Cummings today. Congressman Khanna will offer his thoughts
on the passing of Chairman Cummings. That`s next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. ELIJAH CUMMINGS (D-MD): This is a critical moment in our country`s
history. Don`t be fooled. And it is a moment which people will be talking
about and reading about 300, 400, 500 hundred years from now.
And they`re going to ask the question, what did you do when we had a
President who knew the rules and knew that our founding fathers had done a
great job of creating a constitution and had put in all the guardrails, but
never anticipate that we would have a President that would just throw away
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: That was Congressman Elijah Cummings just a couple of months ago
on July this summer.
Congressman`s family announced this morning that he died last night from
medical complications that he had been struggling with, while serving as
the Chairman of the House Oversight Committee.
We`re joined now by a member of that Committee, Congressman Ro Khanna.
Congressman Ro Khanna has been joining us before. But tonight Congressman,
I want to give you a chance to share your thoughts on the passing of
REP. RO KHANNA (D-CA): Well, it`s a very personal loss for many members of
Congress. There wasn`t a dry eye when Speaker Pelosi took to the floor to
talk about Elijah Cummings, the person. And there were two things that I
One actually right before the Michael Cohen hearing, Elijah Cummings took
all of us into a room and he said that the weight of history is on us and
that we ought to conduct ourselves in a civil way, in a respectful way, and
worthy of our constitutional oath. So he had a sense of profoundness in
someone who people respected.
And the second, on a more lighter note, I remember one of my Committee
hearings, I was on my phone texting and I started hearing this booming
voice saying Ro, Ro, Ro, and I looked up and it was almost he was like a
schoolteacher sort of saying get in line, what are you doing, you are in
the United States Congress on my Committee, pay more attention. So he`s
just someone who was a funny, respected, wise and touched a lot of people.
O`DONNELL: What is the plan for the Committee now to continue working
without Chairman Cummings?
KHANNA: Well the work continues. One of the things Chairman Cummings was so
passionate about and proud of is he assembled the best staff. And you talk
to a lot of people in Congress, they will tell you the Oversight Committee
has one of the best staffs in Congress.
And so, they will continue the work and all of us will continue the work
and do it in the spirit that Chairman Cummings wanted. I mean one thing he
was so gracious and fair to Mark Meadows or Jim Jordan, even when he
disagreed, it always bend over backwards to try to respect the process, and
I think we just have to follow his footsteps, a commitment to the
Constitution and values, but also a commitment to civility and to the
O`DONNELL: I want to get your reaction to the deposition of Mr. Sondland
today that you were in. Debbie Wasserman Schultz came out of that
deposition saying - telling NBC News, I`m concerned that he has been less
than truthful throughout the day. Would you agree with that?
KHANNA: Well I don`t want to characterize anything in the hearing or
deposition itself. But let me just say based on the public reports that the
concern I have is why was Rudy Giuliani involved in the foreign policy
And the public testimony suggests - the public reports of his testimony
suggest that he shared the same concern, and it`s a concern that`s
widespread now among Foreign Service officers. What is a President`s
personal lawyer doing conducting foreign policy?
O`DONNELL: And the - were there any moments in this hearing today where you
would say, ah I did discover some things that were helpful to the
KHANNA: I don`t see that. I mean I can`t see how the President has
exonerating facts in this case. I mean the President and his Chief of Staff
have basically admitted to the whole case. I mean the President has gone on
national television and bragged that China and Ukraine should dig up dirt
on Joe Biden.
And Mick Mulvaney, I mean it was staggering - I mean Mick Mulvaney
basically says, yes there was a quid pro quo, move on, get over it, and
that`s really the position of this administration. I mean they are saying
it`s okay to dig up dirt on their rival from a foreign leader, let`s move
on as a country.
And if you believe that it`s not a slap in the face of the Constitution,
then I guess you can take the President`s side. But this is really not a
factual dispute Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: Congressman Ro Khanna, thank you very much for joining us
tonight, really appreciate it.
KHANNA: Thank you for having me.
O`DONNELL: And in tonight`s Last Word, we will show you the very first
words that newly elected Congressman Elijah Cummings spoke on the House
floor in 1996, freshman Congressman Elijah Cummings is next.
O`DONNELL: One of the biggest shocks that new members the House of
Representatives experienced when they arrived in Washington is the sudden
discovery that if they`re one of the lucky ones that day, who are allowed
to speak on the House floor, they will rarely be allowed to speak for more
than one minute.
To make that even harder to bear, members of the House have to watch
freshmen Senators drone on for as long as they want in their Senate floor
speeches. What can you say in one minute on the House floor that will get
anyone`s attention? Freshman Elijah Cummings in 1996 knew exactly what he
wanted to say in his first speech on the House floor.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CUMMINGS: And there`s a point that Parren Mitchell said many, many years
ago that I say sometimes 20 times a day and it`s a very simple point, but
it`s one that I live by. He says, I only have a minute, 60 seconds in it,
forced upon me, I did not choose it, but I know that I must use it, give
account if I abuse it, suffer if I lose it, only a tiny little minute, but
eternity isn`t it.
And so I join you as we move forward to uplift not only the nation, but the
world. May God bless you all and may God bless America.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: The Honorable Elijah Cummings gets tonight`s LAST WORD. “THE
11TH HOUR” with Brian Williams starts now.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
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Copyright 2019 ASC Services II Media, LLC. All materials herein are
protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced,
distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the
prior written permission of ASC Services II Media, LLC. You may not alter
or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the