Bill Taylor contradicts Trump’s claim. TRANSCRIPT: 10/22/19, The Last Word w/ Lawrence O’Donnell.

Guests:
Andy Levin, Peter Welch, Mark Thompson, Marcy Kaptur
Transcript:

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

 

And that`s exactly why we`re doing another hour of coverage right now

because I couldn`t possibly cover everything that you covered in the last

hour.  I`m going to have some things that were not in your hour.  And it

feels like we`re still just trying to catch up to it. 

 

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST:  Yes.  I mean, I could do – I could have

written the whole show like by noon, and then by 5:00, a whole different

show, and then between 5:00 and 8:00, a new show, and now, just what`s

happened this hour is already blown all that out of the water.  I can`t

keep up. 

 

O`DONNELL:  It`s the present tense with Rachel Maddow.  That`s the name of

the show. 

 

MADDOW:  Thank you, Lawrence.

 

O`DONNELL:  Thank you, Rachel. 

 

Well, Ambassador William Taylor sealed Donald Trump`s fate today as the

next impeached president of the United States.  Ambassador Taylor may have

changed the lives of other members of the Trump team who could be charged

with participating in an illegal conspiracy involving aid to Ukraine and at

least one who might be charged with perjury after Ambassador Taylor`s

testimony today in an under oath deposition to the House of Representatives

which was, most definitely, not a lynching. 

 

Strom Thurmond would be very, very proud of Lindsey Graham today.  Strom

Thurmond was the racist who held Lindsey Graham`s Senate seat for almost 50

years before Lindsey Graham succeeded him in 2003.  All 31 of Lindsey

Graham`s predecessors in that Senate seat would be proud of him today. 

They were all racists. 

 

Many of them were slaveholders.  Some of them were supporters of the 156

lynchings of black people that South Carolina recorded in the worst of

times in America.  When Donald Trump tweeted this morning that the

impeachment process is, quote, a lynching, no one actually took Donald

Trump literally except Lindsey Graham. 

 

There was a rush to object to the president`s appropriating the word,

lynching, to describe his suffering in the impeachment process, even Mitch

McConnell whose state lynched 142 black people said it was an unfortunate

choice of words, but Lindsey Graham, Lindsey Graham offered his most

perverse defense of Donald Trump yet today by saying that the impeachment

investigation is, quote, this is what Lindsey Graham said, a lynching in

every sense.

 

Every sense means not just figuratively but literally, literally someone is

putting a rope on Donald Trump`s neck with his hands tied behind his back

and he`s being strung up on a tree.  That`s what Lindsey Graham said today. 

Lindsey Graham is so far gone that he does not know where he is and he does

not know what is happening in Washington.  What is happening is people who

have devoted their lives to service without any interest in ever getting

rich like Donald Trump are bringing their devotion to service and to duty

to an impeachment process that shines more light every day on the

impeachable conduct of Donald Trump, impeachable under the Constitution of

the United States. 

 

Ambassador William B. Taylor was born the year after Donald Trump was born

and they grew up in very different worlds.  Donald Trump, the son of a

father who had been arrested at a Ku Klux Klan rally and then went on to be

accused by the Justice Department of racist discrimination as a New York

City landlord.  William Taylor`s father graduated at West Point, spent his

life in service, mostly with the Army Corps of engineers. 

 

Donald Trump and William Taylor followed in their father`s footsteps. 

Donald Trump, too, was accused by the Justice Department, along with his

father, of racist practices as a landlord.  Like his father before him,

William Taylor graduated from West Point and spent most of his career in

government service, first in the infantry in the Vietnam War then in

civilian positions in the Department of Energy, as a member of Senator Bill

Bradley`s Senate staff, and then with the State Department serving in

Afghanistan, Iraq, Israel, and Ukraine. 

 

William Taylor is an expert on Ukraine.  He served as George W. Bush`s

ambassador to Ukraine.  And after Donald Trump forced out Marie Yovanovitch

as ambassador, William Taylor is now serving as acting ambassador to

Ukraine.  He testified for ten hours today under oath about what Donald

Trump and Rudy Giuliani have been doing with Ukraine.  And, yes, William

Taylor delivered testimony devastating to President Trump. 

 

One freshman member of the committee hearing his testimony today said after

the first couple hours of William Taylor`s testimony that it was, quote, my

most disturbing day in Congress so far.  That congressman will join us in a

moment. 

 

William Taylor`s testimony could make the impeachment of Donald Trump

bipartisan.  His testimony could turn some Republican votes in the House of

Representatives and it might be the testimony that convinces Republican

Senator Mitt Romney to vote to convict and remove Donald Trump from office. 

 

Donald Trump`s very rich and totally incompetent and unqualified ambassador

to the European Union, Gordon Sondland, could face perjury charges after

William Taylor`s testimony today.  We will consider later in this hour how

William Taylor`s testimony increases Rudy Giuliani`s risk of being charged

in federal crimes, along with Giuliani`s friends and associates who have

already been charged with federal crimes because of their dealings

involving Ukraine. 

 

Even though over 90 percent of William Taylor`s opening statement today was

about possible impeachable offenses by Donald Trump and the possible

criminal conduct of Rudy Giuliani and Gordon Sondland, the message that was

clearly closest to William Taylor`s heart in his opening statement today

what was he had to tell Congress about Ukraine and its people, unlike

Donald Trump, William Taylor cares about Ukraine.  He cares about the

people of Ukraine deeply. 

 

He set the stage for his testimony by saying: Ukraine is right at this

moment, while we sit in this room, and for the last five years under armed

attack from Russia.  Across the responsibilities I have had in public

service, Ukraine is special for me.  If Ukraine succeeds in breaking free

of Russian influence, it is possible for Europe to be whole, free,

democratic, and at peace.  In contrast, if Russia dominates Ukraine, Russia

will, again, become an empire, oppressing its people, and threatening its

neighbors and the rest of the world.

 

Ambassador Taylor then laid out in painstaking detail what he described as

an irregular informal channel of U.S. policymaking with respect to Ukraine,

one which included then-special envoy Kurt Volker, Ambassador Sondland,

Secretary of Energy Rick Perry, and as I subsequently learned, Mr.

Giuliani.

 

Ambassador Taylor described a video conference call on July 18th when he

heard a staff person at the Office of Management and Budget say there was a

hold on security assistance to Ukraine, and that that order came from the

president to Mick Mulvaney and from Mick Mulvaney to OMB.  Mick Mulvaney is

in even more need of a criminal defense lawyer tonight than he was before

William Taylor`s testimony. 

 

William Taylor`s testimony differs sharply with Gordon Sondland`s under-

oath testimony to the same committees.  Gordon Sondland said under oath in

his opening statement, I do not recall any discussions with the White House

on withholding U.S. security assistance from Ukraine in return for

assistance with the president`s 2020 re-election campaign, and William

Taylor`s opening statement, he said, Ambassador Sondland also told me that

he now recognized that he had made a mistake by earlier telling the

Ukrainian officials to whom he spoke that a White House meeting with

President Zelensky was dependent on a public announcement of

investigations. 

 

In fact, Sondland said everything was dependent on such an announcement,

including security assistance.  He said that President Trump wanted

President Zelensky in a public box by making a public statement about

ordering such investigations.  Ambassador Taylor did not know at that time

that Donald Trump in his phone call with the president of Ukraine had

already told him that he wanted an investigation of, quote, Biden.  And

Biden`s son. 

 

Gordon Sondland`s very expensive criminal defense lawyers had exactly one

mission during his testimony to the committees which was to get him through

his testimony without committing perjury, and it appears tonight that they

may have failed in that mission.  William Taylor`s testimony today is a

story of incompetent and dangerous fools named Trump and Giuliani and

Sondland betraying America`s multi-decade commitment to Ukraine and the

Ukrainian people.  The day after Donald Trump`s impeachable phone call with

the president of Ukraine, William Taylor traveled to the front line of the

battle with Russia. 

 

He said today, I could see the armed and hostile Russian-led forces on the

other side of the damaged bridge across the line of contact.  Over 13,000

Ukrainians had been killed in the war, one or two a week.  More Ukrainians

would undoubtedly die without the U.S. assistance.

 

That`s what it was about for William Taylor.  Saving Ukrainian lives while

Donald Trump and William Taylor`s view undoubtedly condemned more

Ukrainians to die as he illegally withheld aid that had been mandated by an

act of Congress. 

 

After William Taylor`s testimony today, Donald Trump`s impeachment by the

House of Representatives is even more of a certainty than it was yesterday. 

And when members of the House are voting to impeach Donald Trump, followed

by the senators who will vote to convict and remove Donald Trump, many of

them will be quoting the elements of the impeachable offenses outlined by

William Taylor today, including the very clear quid pro quo that some

Republicans until today have claimed was not in evidence and surely as many

House members and member senators announce their vote, they will be quoting

William Taylor saying, more Ukrainians would undoubtedly die, because of

Donald Trump. 

 

Leading off our discussion tonight are Democratic Congressman Peter Welch

of Vermont.  He`s a member of the House Intelligence Committee.  He was in

the room today during William Taylor`s deposition. 

 

Also with us, Democratic Congressman Andy Levin of Michigan.  He`s a member

of the House Foreign affairs committee.  He was also in the room today

during William Taylor`s deposition. 

 

And with us is Evelyn Farkas.  She`s a former deputy assistant secretary of

defense in the Obama administration.  She served on the staff of the Senate

Armed Services Committee for seven years and she also served on the staff

of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.  She`s an MSNBC national security

analyst. 

 

And we are going to break with protocol tonight because as in congressional

hearings, we usually go by congressional seniority here, but I want to

start with the freshman.  I want to start with Representative Andy Levin

because you said today when we were just a couple hours into this testimony

that this was your – how did you put it?  Your worst day so far in service

in the House? 

 

REP. ANDY LEVIN (D-MI):  I think the most disturbing day, Lawrence, I think

is what I said. 

 

O`DONNELL:  And what was it that you were hearing that left you with that? 

 

LEVIN:  Well, I am really intent on honoring our process, and I think it`s

a process that respects the dignity of our witnesses and so I`m not going

to talk a lot about a lot of detail about what was said. 

 

But you have a president of the United States who said in front of the

nation, now, with the phone call notes, that he muscled a foreign leader to

do favors for him about his own political life here in the United States. 

It`s not the past, but the future.  Not when he was a candidate, but he`s a

sitting president of the United States trying to get favors about his re-

election campaign, and you`ve got his acting chief of staff saying that aid

was held up, vital military assistance, to an ally under attack by Russia

was held up for these political reasons. 

 

Of course, he tried to walk it back, but today, many bricks were added to

the edifice of the case of – for the impeachment of Donald Trump.  And

it`s – I mean, if you`re a patriotic American, Lawrence, it`s got to be a

sad day.  I mean, I personally take no joy in this, but it was an

overwhelming day, and why? 

 

Because somebody like Bill Taylor, an infantry officer in Vietnam, 101st

Airborne, who went on to serve the country from his days at West Point for

a total of 50 years and counting, Lawrence, he doesn`t care about

Democrats.  He doesn`t care about Republicans.  He cares about the national

security interests of the United States and he reluctantly came back to

serve in the country, as you mentioned, that he loved so much, Ukraine, and

he`s watching right in front of his eyes a president undermine the national

security of the United States for his own political end. 

 

So that`s a really sad day.  And it just confirms what the president,

himself, has said. 

 

O`DONNELL:  Congressman Welch, did this testimony give in the clearest

possible terms yet the quid pro quo that some Republicans have been

claiming was not present? 

 

REP. PETER WELCH (D-VT):  Well, it did.  I mean, you nailed it, really, in

your opening.  Essentially, what ambassador Taylor saw was that the policy

that we`ve had in Ukraine since 1991 – by the way, he was appointed as

ambassador by President Bush, where we had as a goal to help Ukraine fight

internal corruption and resist external aggression.

 

You know, it was a bipartisan policy with strong support from Republicans

and Democrats and Republican and Democratic presidents.  He saw that

unraveling is what that report says. 

 

Now, this is a sordid mess, but I want to go back to something Andy said

because this is really a moment of grace.  I mean, this man, Ambassador

Taylor, he started his public service on the planes of West Point when he

was a teenager and went to Vietnam and he never stopped.  And he was

dedicated to a career of competence and professionalism and the

Constitution. 

 

And his requirement to serve in this job was assurance that he would be

able to promote that policy of bringing Ukraine into the Western family of

democracies.  And as the testimony evolved, as you saw that in the

statement that is reported, he came to see that there was actually a rogue

policy that was completely outside of the State Department channels and was

intent on accomplishing one thing, and that was getting dirt on Joe Biden,

and getting involved in domestic politics.  Something that was obviously

bad for us but it`s also very bad for the Ukraine because the point that

the ambassador made was the linchpin, the strategic significance of

Ukraine, was that they did have bipartisan support and he feared that would

jeopardize that bipartisan support. 

 

O`DONNELL:  And, Evelyn, there`s a very personal, briefly told but personal

story in his opening statement today that I think everyone in government

service recognized.  He talks about being asked to go and do this job in

Ukraine for what would now be the Trump administration and he was very

reluctant because of what he had seen of the chaos of President Trump.  He

was very reluctant of serving a president who he had really no reason to

have confidence in.  And there`s a friend, unnamed friend, who says to him

 

EVELYN FARKAS, FORMER DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF DEFENSE:  Right, he

said a former mentor. 

 

O`DONNELL:  – when you`re asked to serve the country, it doesn`t matter

who the president is in a situation like this, and we are so lucky that

that friend gave him that advice in the moment when he needed it and in a

moment where he says that his wife was opposed to him doing this. 

 

FARKAS:  Yes, there are a lot of good people, Lawrence, I know them, who

are serving, some even in political positions in this administration

because they think they can make a difference.  I mean, Fiona Hill is

another example.  I talked to her before she went in.  She is not a

political person, but she felt she could make a difference.  She could do

good. 

 

And, Bill Taylor, he knew the background.  I mean, you can tell from the

testimony, he knew what happened to Masha Yovanovitch, Marie Yovanovitch,

the ambassador, proceeding him.  All these people are interconnected.  You

know, they`ve know each other for decades and worked on these problems. 

So, he went in despite that probably thinking he could help, again. 

 

O`DONNELL:  Congressman Levin, I want to read a piece from the opening

statement about John Bolton, in which Ambassador Taylor said, Ambassador

Bolton opposed the call between President Zelensky and President Trump out

of concern that it would be a disaster.  So there you have John Bolton

doesn`t want President Trump to even get on the phone with the president of

Ukraine, apparently, because he was afraid of exactly what did happen on

that call. 

 

LEVIN:  You know, Lawrence, I just want to stress here the importance of

bipartisanship in foreign policy and the broad consensus we`ve had in our

country about the importance of Ukraine in this neighbor of Russia, and I

have to say, personally on my part, I am from – I`m a kid from Berkeley,

Michigan.  I grew up with Ukrainian-American kids.  Places like Warren and

Sterling Heights in my district are a big center of the Ukrainian-American

community. 

 

So this is really important to me personally and to my constituents.  And I

think what those comments you referenced reflect is that any normal

Republican or Democratic foreign policy professional would say that it`s

tremendously in our interests to support the development of Ukraine as a

democratic society, try to nurture this very delicate flower that`s had a

lot of trouble growing.  A lot of corruption there. 

 

Could we help this new administration in Ukraine become a flourishing

democracy?  That`s why Bill Taylor signed up for duty again.  And then he

went in and found this sort of cancer growing there.

 

And that`s what we`re all seeing, not just from Bill Taylor`s testimony,

but from all of this growing body of evidence that the president had a

whole rogue foreign policy going on run by his personal attorney and that,

sadly, too many of our people within the foreign service may have been

participating in, and other parties of the government. 

 

O`DONNELL:  Bill Taylor described the dynamics of the quid pro quo in

several different ways.  This is one of them.  He said, during our call on

September 8th, Ambassador Sondland tried to explain to me that President

Trump is a businessman, when a businessman is about to sign a check do

someone who owes him something, he said, the businessman asks that person

to pay up before signing the check.

 

Congressman Welch, as you know, Ambassador Taylor then said, of course,

Ukraine owes Donald Trump nothing.  Is Gordon Sondland in danger of perjury

charges for his testimony to your committee? 

 

WELCH:  I think he is.  You know, when he presented himself, he was kind of

a rich guy who bought an ambassadorship.  And he pretended it was a good

day for him, he got a job he wanted but he was pretty naive that he didn`t

know the real meeting was going on in the room next door.  But, of course,

the evidence is now coming out that, in fact, he was a very active

instrument to try to essentially assist Giuliani in the effort to have this

rogue foreign policy. 

 

So, yes, I think Ambassador Sondland has some reason to be worried about

how his testimony`s going to be evaluated when reviewed by potential

prosecutors. 

 

O`DONNELL:  And, Congressman, let me stay with that because that`s breaking

news for you as a member of the committee who`s heard this testimony to say

that ambassador Sondland is now in danger of perjury charges.  How would

that work – does that work the way it has in the past where the committee

basically refers the case to what is now the William Barr Justice

Department and hopes for the best with them? 

 

WELCH:  Well, the William Barr Justice Department is obviously not paying

much attention to this.  And by the way, let`s go back here because

whatever Sondland did, he`s a side player here.  The heart of this case is

what President Trump said, according to the readout, in his conversation

with President Zelensky.  And that`s where the president asked for a favor. 

And the favor was to do an investigation and dig up dirt on the Bidens. 

 

And the president explicitly said he`d have Rudy Giuliani and Bill Barr

call him, and that`s the heart of this.  So what Mr. Taylor did, or

Ambassador Taylor did, he kind of elaborated on how extensive those efforts

were, but the heart of this is really very simple. 

 

The president in a phone call with his own voice, his own words, requested

a foreign power to provide assistance in a domestic political campaign. 

That`s against the law.  And by the way, he did that the day after Director

Mueller testified that the new normal may be Russian interference or

foreign interference. 

 

O`DONNELL:  Congressman Peter Welch and Congressman Andy Levin, thank you

both for joining us tonight, starting us off.  We really appreciate that. 

 

WELCH:  Thank you.

 

LEVIN:  Thanks, Lawrence.  Have a great evening. 

 

O`DONNELL:  Thank you.

 

And we`re joined by under secretary – former ambassador secretary of

state, Ambassador Wendy Sherman, and Jeremy Bash, a former chief of staff

to CIA and Defense Department.  Evelyn Farkas is still with us.  All are

MSNBC analysts. 

 

And, Ambassador Sherman, I want to start with you.  We just heard

Congressman Peter Welch creates some breaking news here.  He`s a member of

the committee who`s heard the testimony of Ambassador Sondland, now

Ambassador Taylor.  He believes that Gordon Sondland now is very close to

or in danger of perjury charges for his testimony. 

 

AMBASSADOR WENDY SHERMAN, FORMER UNDER SECRETARY OF STATE FOR POLITICAL

AFFAIRS:  Lawrence, I`ll leave that to the lawyer in the trio here this

evening, Jeremy.  But I will say that there is absolutely no reason not to

believe everything that Bill Taylor has said.  I first served with Bill

Taylor when I was the assistant secretary for legislative affairs in the

first Clinton administration after the fall of the Soviet Union, I got help

to get the first $1.2 billion for the newly independent states and Bill was

in charge of what was called the Freedom Fund to try to give that money to

states and it was very bipartisan. 

 

I remember quite clearly Senator McConnell pressing us very hard for $300

million to go to Ukraine.  He was terribly, terribly concerned about

Ukraine and its future and its destiny and separating it from Russia.  So

what your colleagues on the camera said before us, what the members of

Congress said, is quite true. 

 

And Bill Taylor has been committed to a free and open Europe ever since,

and so I think, yes, this puts Gordon Sondland in great jeopardy because I

think that listening to the detailed accounting that Bill Taylor gave, it`s

very hard to not believe him and very easy to question Sondland. 

 

O`DONNELL:  And, Jeremy Bash, that`s what the perjury case would come down

to, at least as we know it at this stage, it would be the credibility of

William Taylor versus the credibility of Gordon Sondland. 

 

JEREMY BASH, FORMER CIA CHIEF OF STAFF:  Yes, I think the important point

here, Lawrence, is that President Trump`s own handpicked special envoy, or

ambassador to the European Union, Gordon Sondland, acknowledged as we now

see from this witness testimony, that there was a demand for a quid pro

quo, and specifically what Ambassador Taylor, the well-respected career

diplomat who has served Democrats and Republicans in every administration

since 1985 as referenced earlier, served in the 101st Air Force in Vietnam,

started his career at West Point. 

 

What he said today, when he was talking to the National Security Council,

the National Security Council was expressing concern because Gordon

Sondland had said to Zelensky`s team explicitly, here it is on the page,

that there was no money that would be given for security assistance until

the Ukrainians pursued an investigation of Joe Biden and Burisma.  That`s

clear.  It`s on the page.  It`s Bill Taylor`s absolutely 100 percent

crystal clear testimony. 

 

O`DONNELL:  And, Evelyn, the testimony as he continues, he talks about

Fiona Hill and Mr. Vinman (ph) trying to reassure him that they were not

aware of any official change in U.S. policy.  Let me just read that. 

 

He says: Despite OMB`s announcement that they were holding back the

funding, he said, but they did confirm that the hold on security assistance

for Ukraine came from Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney and that the chief of

staff maintained a skeptical view of Ukraine. 

 

And so, now, Ukraine policy is turning on what Mick Mulvaney thinks after

the Congress has ordered this aid. 

 

FARKAS:  Right.  I mean, Lawrence, the U.S. government`s position is that

we must support Ukraine.  Why?  Because if we let Ukraine become basically

a vessel of Russia, then essentially we will have allowed Russia`s sphere

of influence and runs counter to everything we now believe in post-World

War II – Borders, the right for peoples to determine their own future,

democracy. 

 

I mean, the young people in Ukraine as he`s – as the ambassador pointed

out in his testimony, they very clearly said we want a new future, we want

a Democratic future, we don`t want corruption.  So, now, these two

individuals, Mick Mulvaney and the president, are trying to turn the entire

policy around, it looks like.  I mean, they`re throwing it into question

and that`s really problematic because, again, Congress has spoken.  The

executive branch has spoken writ large. 

 

The cabinet still thinks that this is our policy, so this is a renegade

policy that somehow the president has tried to convince his chief of staff

and others to implement. 

 

O`DONNELL:  We have to squeeze in a break here.  Former Ambassador Wendy

Sherman, Jeremy Bash, Evelyn Farkas, thank you all for joining this

discussion tonight. 

 

And when we come back, Republican Senator Mitt Romney said on HBO this

weekend that exactly what he would be looking for as a jury in the Senate

impeachment trial of Donald Trump and Ambassador William Taylor is now the

one witness who can give Mitt Romney everything that he says he is looking

for in this case.  That`s next. 

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

O`DONNELL: Here`s what Republican Senator Mitt Romney said on Sunday night

on Axios on HBO about what he will be looking for when he is a juror in the

Senate impeachment trial of Donald Trump.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

SEN. MITT ROMNEY (R-UT): I`d like to learn the full background of who all

was involved in communications with Ukraine, what was said to them, what

the intent was on the part of the President to the administration with

regards to Ukraine.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

O`DONNELL: That`s what Ambassador Taylor testified to today. Ambassador

William Taylor could be the witness who answers all those questions for

Mitt Romney.

 

Joining us now John Heilemann, national affairs analyst for NBC News and

MSNBC, he is the co-host and executive producer of SHOWTIME`s The Circus.

Also with us is Mark Thompson host of Make It Plain, his daily podcast.

 

Mark, the day began with Donald Trump calling this process a lynching, with

only Lindsey Graham agreeing with him. What we saw in what William Taylor

delivered in his opening statement was anything but a lynching.

 

MARK THOMPSON, HOST OF MAKE IT PLAIN: No, it wasn`t a lynching at all. It`s

a despicable term for him to use. It`s like he`s channeling Clarence Thomas

somehow.

 

Aside though is I don`t - we don`t need to explain the racial

insensitivity, but let`s be specific, he is about to undergo a trial.

Lynchings were not trials, people were executed summarily based upon

allegations, which he wanted to do to the Central Park Five, now the

exonerated five.

 

So for him to say he`s a victim of a lynching, when he is in the process of

a trial, witnesses in his administration testify against him. It`s patently

absurd. Look, you have been more outspoken than anyone about how ridiculous

he is and frankly how stupid he is.

 

So it just doesn`t work. He is being given a fair and due process, and he

needs to go ahead and participate in it. And if there`s any vindication,

put it on a table. But I think we all know we doubt there`s any indication

whatsoever.

 

John Heilemann, when I was hearing Donald Trump lead his crowds and

encourage them in their Lock Her Up chants, I never heard them chanting

about her having a trial before they locked her up.

 

(LAUGHTER)

 

JOHN HEILEMANN, NATIONAL AFFAIRS ANALYST FOR NBC NEWS AND MSNBC: Yes,

Lawrence, the recourse to a process argument is always the recourse of

scoundrels.

 

O`DONNELL: Yes.

 

HEILEMANN: When the facts are against you, you argue the law and in this

case obviously you can`t argue the law, because this isn`t really strictly

speaking a legal proceeding. It`s a political proceeding that has various

kinds of protections in it.

 

We have heard people on this show and other shows point out that the way

that impeachment works is that the House side is basically designed to be

like a grand jury process. It`s about the collection of facts in the same

way that a grand jury operates largely in secret.

 

It deduces all the facts and then it makes a charge, and the charge are the

articles of impeachment. If they are passed, you then end up at the United

States Senate, where you have a genuine trial and you have all of the kind

of due process that someone would normally get in a criminal trial, and

that`s what Donald Trump is surely headed now.

 

I think there`s not been a question for a while that Donald Trump was going

to get impeached in the House of Representatives. Obviously conviction is

still a large question. But if there was any question in anyone`s mind

before today about whether Donald Trump is going to be impeached in the

House of Representatives. That question has now been fully obliterated by

the testimony that we learned about today.

 

O`DONNELL: Mark, there are two key witnesses now against Donald Trump, are

so far Donald Trump in his own rough transcript released by the White House

of his phone call, those words of Donald Trump on that phone call, and

Ambassador Taylor today.

 

THOMPSON: Yes, Ambassador Tyler, that`s a compelling witness and I`m

grateful that there are some people, witnesses and obviously those

witnesses, advisers and attorneys with the good sense to go down there and

tell the truth.

 

Everybody doesn`t have to go down with the ship and I`m glad. And it`s

chilling, because when you get that on a phone call what Taylor said that

there needed to be a public announcement of this. Now, we could infer that

from the phone call.

 

But for him to actually know that it had been told and if it`s had been

documented, that makes it even worse.

 

O`DONNELL: Yes, and John, Taylor`s testimony said that there was actually a

plan that the President had and others involved or someone to get the

President of Ukraine to go on television in an interview and in a public

interview, as Trump put it, put him in a public box where he would say that

they are investigating the Bidens.

 

HEILEMANN: Right. And I mean, Taylor of course in his conversations with

the Ukrainians thought that was a bad idea and kind of counseled them not

to want to do it. I think it is extraordinary, I mean Lawrence, that the

key elements of this testimony that we learned today on both sides, the

notion that it was explicit, that everything meaning the military aid was

contingent on everything on the other side meaning you had to investigate

the Bidens, you had to investigate 2016 corruption, and that not only you

had to do it, but you had to do it publicly.

 

That all of that stuff was that explicit in the conversation with Sondland

is a really devastating piece of evidence, and I do think that although the

White House right now is fighting back and try to portray Taylor as a left-

wing member of the Deep State, the notion that this man who`s resume says

that he was made Ambassador to Ukraine by George W. Bush and was

reappointed as Ambassador - effectively Ambassador to Ukraine by Mike

Pompeo is going to be very hard I think for the President`s political

operatives to paint this person as some kind of a

Clinton/Obama/Sanders/Warren left wing Trotskyite member of some kind of

coup attempting Deep State. It just doesn`t work with the man`s resume.

 

O`DONNELL: Let me get a quick exit question as we go to this break. Mark

Thompson, can William Taylor`s testimony flip some Republican votes in the

House of Representatives?

 

THOMPSON: Yes, I think so and including with everything else what`s going

on in Syria, let`s not forget about Fiona Hill`s testimony, I think all of

that is damning, this is pretty bad.

 

O`DONNELL: And John Heilemann, to the Senate - for example Senator Romney,

did he get in William Taylor`s testimony what he said he needs to see to

make a decision here?

 

HEILEMANN: I think it`s hard to imagine Mitt Romney does not already have

what he needs to see. I think he`s going to want to see that trial proceed.

I think the question Lawrence continues to be, where on the day after

Thanksgiving, if this trial does begin the day after Thanksgiving as Mitch

McConnell has suggested or the week after Thanksgiving, what is Donald

Trump`s approval rating with the general public and what is his approval

rating with the Republican Party, that will tell you what the Senate trial

is going to look like politically and whether they`re going to be a few

Senate votes to remove him or maybe more.

 

O`DONNELL: Yes exactly.

 

HEILEMANN: Republican votes.

 

O`DONNELL: At that point exactly, who does Mitch McConnell really want to

have as a nominee for President in his party in the following year. Mark

Thompson, John Heilemann, thank you for guiding us through this.

 

And when we come back, a member of Congress who has known Ambassador

William Taylor for 20 years will join us. She`ll give us her view of the

credibility contest now between William Taylor and Gordon Sondland.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

O`DONNELL: Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur has known Ambassador William Taylor

for over 20 years. NBC`s Garrett Haake caught up to her today and asked her

about her reaction to his reported testimony, including some of his text

messages about what Donald Trump and Rudy Giuliani were trying to do to

Ukraine.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

GARRETT HAAKE, NBC NEWS: What do you make of these incredulous text

messages that have come out from him, questioning the administration policy

on Ukraine from after he got back into the country?

 

REP. MARCY KAPTUR (D-OH): Well, he walked into a rat`s nest, and I think

that the rats there are very big.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

O`DONNELL: Representative Marcy Kaptur is Co-Chair of the Ukraine Caucus.

Now as Representative, she serves as Chairwoman of the House Appropriations

Subcommittee on Energy, which has jurisdiction over the Department of

Energy, which was of course led by and is led by Secretary Rick Perry.

 

Congresswoman, thank you very much for joining us tonight. I want to get

your reaction to what we`re learning today about Rick Perry`s role in this.

It was not very prominent in William Taylor`s testimony, but he definitely

had a hand in some of this communication about this.

 

Is that something he should be testifying to your Committee about?

 

KAPTUR: He should. He should actually go before the Intelligence Committee,

because I can affirm that Secretary Perry led the delegation to President

Zelensky, the new President of Ukraine, to his inaugural, when President

Trump refused to go, and in addition to that, has traveled to Ukraine

probably more than any of the top administration officials in the Trump

administration.

 

The Secretary often would tell me that he was going, but quite frankly, he

never reported back formally in his testimony before our Committee as to

what he had actually accomplished. Now that I`ve heard his announcement

that he`s leaving, I`m saying to myself, oh no, no, no, not so fast.

 

I think that we need to debrief him to find out exactly where he went, who

was meeting with him, whether it was just in Ukraine or an adjacent country

such as Poland. Some of the other names that are being mentioned, Mr.

Sondland, Mr. Volker. To what extent was Secretary Perry a very important

member of that triumvirate?

 

O`DONNELL: So William Taylor now and Gordon Sondland are in a very direct

credibility clash. William Taylor saying Gordon Sondland repeatedly laid

out the very explicit exchange that Donald Trump had in mind, that an

investigation of the Bidens was what was necessary to get the aid delivered

to Ukraine, and/or to get a meeting with Donald Trump.

 

Gordon Sondland said, absolutely, and said out under oath that no such

understanding existed, there was no quid pro quo. What can we bring to our

understanding of these two people, as we evaluate their credibility?

 

KAPTUR: Well I have known Ambassador William Taylor, I calculated at 27

years from the fall of the Soviet Union, a system of governance completely

antithetical to our own, all the way up to the present day when he came out

of retirement to serve our country in an embattled country called Ukraine,

where - which really is the scrimmage line for liberty on the vast European

continent, the largest landmass nation in all of Europe, and the doorstep

to liberty in Russia someday I hope.

 

And I have watched him work as an Ambassador, but also as a military

genius. He was in Afghanistan, Iraq, he had fought for our country in the

82nd Airborne and 101st in Vietnam. He`s a West Point graduate, he`s a

scholar, he was an Assistant Director at the Institute of Peace here in

Washington, and he came out of retirement.

 

This man has given a half century of his life to this country. He is a true

patriot. And I don`t want to be too critical here, but I think I must - I

cannot find a single veteran in the Trump family. And indeed, the President

himself chose not to enter the military when he was asked during the war in

Vietnam.

 

So you have two very different individuals here. Someone who has selflessly

served his country and someone who appears to be using his position to

advantage some of his own personal interests and frankly jeopardizing

liberty in a most tender part of the world where Russia has invaded

Ukraine.

 

O`DONNELL: Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur, thank you very much for joining us

and I really appreciate it.

 

KAPTUR: Thank you.

 

O`DONNELL: And when we come back, did William Taylor`s testimony today move

Rudy Giuliani closer to being indicted along with his friends and

associates Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, who are already indicted and will

actually be arraigned tomorrow. That`s next.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

O`DONNELL: From the start, Donald Trump and his teammates have been looking

for back channels. Before Donald Trump was inaugurated, Jared Kushner

trying to set up a secret back channel to communicate with Russia.

 

One of the Trump team members involved in trying to set up that back

channel to Russia is now a convicted felon, Donald Trump`s first National

Security Adviser Michael Flynn. Is Rudy Giuliani next?

 

Before Ambassador William Taylor testified today, Rudy Giuliani was already

under federal criminal investigation for his back-channel dealings with

Ukraine, along with two of his associates, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman.

 

Lev and Igor will be arraigned in Federal Court tomorrow on charges tied to

their dealings with Ukraine. Federal prosecutors in New York City in charge

of that investigation will surely be studying the transcript of today`s

deposition with Ambassador William Taylor for more evidence of what Rudy

Giuliani has been up to.

 

We have access only to Ambassador Taylor`s opening statement in what became

10 hours of testimony. In that opening statement, Ambassador Taylor said

the push to make President Zelensky publicly commit to investigations of

Burisma and alleged interference in the 2016 election showed how the

official foreign policy of the United States was undercut by the irregular

efforts led by Mr. Giuliani.

 

Former federal prosecutor Barbara McQuade is here to evaluate what the

testimony of William Taylor could mean in the criminal investigation of

Rudy Giuliani, an investigation being conducted by the same U.S. Attorney`s

Office that Rudy Giuliani used to be in charge of when he was U.S. attorney

for the Southern District of New York. That`s next.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

REP. ERIC SWALWELL (D-CA): This is not just rogue Rudy Giuliani self-

dealing in Ukraine. He`s an agent of the President. The President is his

client. Anything Rudy Giuliani does is on behalf of the President, so Rudy

Giuliani is President Trump, President Trump is Rudy.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

O`DONNELL: Joining our discussion now is Barbara McQuade, the former U.S.

attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan and an MSNBC legal

contributor. And John Heilemann is back with us. Barbara, what happened to

the criminal investigation of Rudy Giuliani today?

 

BARBARA MCQUADE, THE FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF

MICHIGAN AND MSNBC LEGAL CONTRIBUTOR: Well, I think it likely got stronger.

I think that, as you said, if I was a prosecutor in the Southern District

of New York, I`d want to get my hands on that transcript of what Bill

Taylor had to say today.

 

We got his opening statement, 15 pages where we talked about Rudy Giuliani

being the leader of this alternative world of foreign policy that was going

on at the same time, leading the foreign policy in a very dark place to put

together this quid pro quo, this idea that in exchange for an investigation

on Biden and the 2016 election, President Trump would release this aid.

 

That could very well be a bribery scheme. And although we know a sitting

President can`t be charged with a crime, there`s no rule that says a

sitting President`s lawyer can`t be charged with a crime. And so, I think a

conspiracy to commit bribery is something that is very much on the table

and something they would be looking at today. I think they would be

scouring the many hours of deposition testimony for other leads and other

witnesses they can talk to about this.

 

O`DONNELL: Let`s take a look at Rudy Giuliani`s televised confession, when

asked the question, did you ask Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden?

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you ask the Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden?

 

RUDY GIULIANI, ATTORNEY TO PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: No. Actually, I didn`t.

I asked the Ukraine to investigate the allegations that there was

interference in the election of 2016 by the Ukrainians for the benefit of

Hillary Clinton.

 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So you did ask Ukraine to look into Joe Biden?

 

GIULIANI: Of course I did.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

O`DONNELL: John Heilemann, of course I did.

 

HEILEMANN: Of course I did. Yes, Lawrence, to the point of what Barbara was

saying, and actually to the point what Eric Swalwell was saying before, I

had been joking for a while that Rudy Giuliani is like Donald Trump`s

criminal lawyer, except without the lawyer part.

 

And increasingly it seems to me that that`s not just a joke, but it`s true.

We`re going to see two of his associates hauled into court tomorrow, our

friends Lev and Igor, who we met a couple weeks ago. You`ve got connections

increasingly to Ukrainian oligarchs, including this gentleman, Mr. Firtash.

 

They are looking at it - it is increasingly looking like a very cloudy

scheme that involves an effort to both profiteer and profiteer off of

election interference, with Rudy Giuliani at the center of it.

 

And I think everything that has happened, this testimony today obviously

the most damning, but what we`ve seen over the course of the last week and

a half, and I think going forward, we`re going to find out more and more

details of the extent to which Rudy Giuliani is at the center of what looks

like a criminal conspiratorial enterprise on behalf of the President.

 

And the point that Swalwell made that`s super important, you will remember

like Iran-Contra, whence you had the President basically saying, all these

guys around me were freelancing, I didn`t know anything about this. That

was Reagan`s defense.

 

In this case, it`s impossible for Rudy Giuliani to freelance on Donald

Trump`s behalf. He`s not in the government. The only connection he has to

this is directly through the one principal who`s in the government that he

is serving and that`s Donald Trump. And so that, I think, puts a lot of

onus on Giuliani and also puts a lot of onus on the connection between the

President of the United States and this particular gentleman.

 

O`DONNELL: Barbara, Eric Swalwell was actually echoing a concept advanced

in the Nixon impeachment, which was that the staff was acting on behalf of

the President, so the President was in effect guilty of all the things that

the staff was also accused of. But what do you make of the way Eric

Swalwell just phrased it, it basically comes down to Trump is Giuliani, and

Giuliani is Trump.

 

MCQUADE: Yes, I don`t think the law or the House is going to be quite so

aligned in saying that, even if President Trump didn`t know what Rudy

Giuliani was doing, that they would hold him accountable.

 

But nonetheless, the sole reason that Rudy Giuliani is engaging in these

transactions is for the benefit of President Trump. And if you look at what

Bill Taylor said today, he puts President Trump squarely in the middle of

some of those conversations of asking President Zelensky of Ukraine to put

him in a box, to make an announcement about investigations.

 

And so, yes, Rudy Giuliani is acting as his agent in traveling, but

President Trump is very much involved according to Bill Taylor.

 

O`DONNELL: Barbara McQuade gets tonight`s LAST WORD. Barbara McQuade, John

Heilemann, thank you both for joining our discussions tonight. Really

appreciate it. That is 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

BE UPDATED.

END      

 

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