Trump declares victory in Syria. TRANSCRIPT: 10/23/19, The Last Word w/ Lawrence O’Donnell.

Guests:
Ro Khanna, Mieke Eoyang, Bill Bradley, Samantha Power, Rick Wilson
Transcript:

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

 

You know, when I was working in the Senate, when I would look at a senator,

I`d see more than a senator, I would see the senator`s staff.  That`s the

way staffs look at it in Washington.  And some of the senators had better

staffs than others to put it mildly. 

 

Bill Bradley was one of those senators who had a great staff.  We were all

in awe of Bill Bradley`s stuff.  We frequently learned things from him the

hard way, meaning they knew stuff that we should have known.  Bill Bradley

was a member of the Finance Committee.  I was working for Senator Moynihan,

the chairman of the committee, so we had an awful lot of interaction. 

 

And so, I look at Bill Bradley with a duality of admiration, one for him in

particular as a senator and then for his staff.  Bill Bradley is going to

join us tonight. 

 

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST, “TRMS”:  Oh. 

 

O`DONNELL:  Because when he was in his first term in the United States

Senate, one of the people he hired for his staff was William Taylor, who

became yesterday, possibly, the star witness in the case against Donald

Trump. 

 

MADDOW:  Wow! 

 

O`DONNELL:  We will get Bill Bradley`s view of the young William Taylor who

came to work for him in the United States.

 

MADDOW:  That is, A, that`s a fascinating backstory, and B, I am already

riveted. 

 

O`DONNELL:  Stay with us Rachel. 

 

MADDOW:  I will. 

 

O`DONNELL:  Thank you.

 

Well, never Trump Republican Rick Wilson will be joining us at the end of

this hour.  It`s going to take him that long to compose his thoughts to

respond the way only a phrase maker like Rick Wilson can to Donald Trump

accusing him and other never Trump Republicans today of being – these are

Donald Trump`s words here, these two words – human scum. 

 

The rest of this hour`s discussion will take place on a decidedly higher

plain, with President Obama`s ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha

Power, joining us to consider Nancy Pelosi`s line that all roads lead to

Putin with Donald Trump on a day when Donald Trump once again gave Vladimir

Putin everything he wants in Syria. 

 

Matt Gaetz is one of the relatively few members of Congress who has a mug

shot.  There it is.  That picture was taken by Florida police on the night

Matt Gaetz was pulled over while driving his father`s BMW.  He was a recent

law school graduate then and so he had the presence of mind to refuse the

breathalyzer test and for everyone else who refuses a breathalyzer test in

Florida and most other states, they automatically get their license

suspended for one year. 

 

But not if you`re Matt Gaetz and you`re very white and very rich, thanks to

your very rich father, who was a very powerful state senator at the time. 

Arrested for drunk driving.  Refuses the breathalyzer test.  Gets his case

dismissed and doesn`t lose his license. 

 

And now, Matt Gaetz is one of Donald Trump`s favorite members of the House

of Representatives and he seems to think he can still get away with

anything, because what Matt Gaetz did today is the congressional equivalent

of drunk driving in the hallowed hallways of the House of Representatives. 

Matt Gaetz is still a junior member of the House of Representatives, but he

was the leader today of a group of about two dozen Republican members of

the House who violated House rules and pushed their way into the secure

room where the House impeachment investigating committees were scheduled to

take the deposition of Laura Cooper, a Defense Department official who is

an expert on delivering American military aid to Ukraine. 

 

The Republican House of Representatives is now such a disorganized gang of

rebel rousers that the number two member of Republican House leadership,

Steve Scalise, was actually one of the followers of the very junior member,

Matt Gaetz.  They shouldered their way into the room, even though they had

no right to be there because they were not members of the committees

conducting the deposition.  When Republicans controlled the house, Trey

Gowdy politely explained that to another Republican, Darrell Issa,

explained why Congressman Issa could not be allowed in that room because he

was a not member of the committee. 

 

Trey Gowdy told Darrell Issa then, quote, those are the rules.  And we have

to follow them, no exceptions made.  Everyone knows that.  Everyone on the

House knows that.  Matt Gaetz and his group didn`t just violate the rules

by barging into that room, they violated the security of the room by

bringing in their cell phones, which are not allowed in that room. 

 

Mieke Eoyang who has spent time in that room as a committee staffer will

explain to us tonight the danger of cell phones in that room, the intrusion

managed to delay the deposition for a few hours but it did not do what

Donald Trump and Matt Gaetz hoped it would do when they reportedly

discussed this stunt at the White House earlier this week.  The stunt did

not take the heat off Donald Trump.  The stunt did not produce any helpful

evidence for Donald Trump whose day began with a tweet that Donald Trump

apparently did not realize was his confession. 

 

Congressman John Ratcliffe is a member of the House Intelligence Committee

and is one of the many Republicans who has a right to be in the secure room

and participate in all of the closed door depositions.  Congressman

Ratcliffe was on “Fox & Friends” this morning and Donald Trump took what

Congressman Ratcliffe said and turned it into a Trump tweet.  Quoting

Ratcliffe saying in effect: No witness has provided testimony that the

Ukrainians were aware that military aid was being when would. 

 

So, there`s Donald Trump confessing that military aid was withheld by

Donald Trump and, of course, William Taylor did, in fact, testify in his

opening statement that Ukrainians were very much aware that military aid

was being withheld. 

 

And we now have additional reporting on that points tonight from “The New

York Times,” saying that word of the aid freeze had gotten to high-level

Ukrainian officials by the first week in August, according to interviews

and documents obtained by “The New York Times.”  The problem was not

bureaucratic, the Ukrainians were told.  To address it, they were advised,

they should reach out to Mick Mulvaney, the acting White House chief of

staff, according to the interviews and records. 

 

“The Associated Press” is reporting two months before President Trump`s

phone call with the president of Ukraine, when President Trump asked the

president of Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden, the president of Ukraine was

already worried about that issue.  “The Associated Press” reports that on

May 7th, President Zelensky, in a meeting with a small group of his

advisers, spent most of the three-hour discussion talking about how to

navigate the insistence from Trump and his personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani,

for a probe and how to avoid becoming entangled in the American elections,

according to three people familiar with the details of the meeting. 

 

Donald Trump`s defense this morning was, Ukraine didn`t know that military

aid was being withheld.  But Ukraine did know and Donald Trump`s defense

really amounted to a guilty plea.  And that`s the person – that`s the

person Matt Gaetz tried to help, tried to save by breaking house rules and

barging into a room to try to stop what cannot be stopped, the continued

collection of damning impeachment evidence against the president of the

United States, evidence that virtually guarantees Donald Trump`s position

in history as the third president to be impeached by the House of

Representatives and sent to trial in the United States Senate. 

 

Donald Trump knows the names of every one of those Republican members of

the House who broke the House rules today and violated security procedures

of that room.  And he was capable of human feeling, Donald Trump would

actually be grateful to them, all 24 of them.

 

But the names he should pay much more attention to are the 173 Republican

members of the House of Representatives today who did not storm the

barricades for Donald Trump, did not violate the rules of the House of

Representatives today in a hopeless attempt to block the collection of more

damning evidence against Donald Trump, 173 didn`t do it.  They knew Donald

Trump was watching and taking attendance at Matt Gaetz version of drunk

driving in the halls of the House.  And they wanted nothing to do with

Donald Trump and Matt Gaetz`s stunt. 

 

As the evidence pours in against him, Donald Trump should be wondering how

many Republicans in the House might eventually vote for impeachment?  Every

day, it becomes more likely that impeachment will have at least some

Republican votes in the House of Representatives, and Donald Trump`s

firewall in the United States Senate that`s supposed to save him from being

removed from office seems to have a new crack in it every day. 

 

Today, it was Senator John Thune of South Dakota who is Mitch McConnell`s

number two in the Senate leadership.  John Thune said this about what is

emerging from the impeachment investigation.  Quote: The picture coming out

of it, based on the reporting we`ve seen is, yeah, I would say, is not a

good one. 

 

As Donald Trump`s desperation deepens, he chose to put the Trumpian word

perfect in Mitch McConnell`s mouth, which provoked Mitch McConnell to, in

his polite Senate way, call Donald Trump a liar. 

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

REPORTER:  The president has said that you told him that his phone call

with the Ukrainian was perfect and innocent.  Do you believe that the

president has handled the Ukrainian situation perfectly?

 

SEN. MITCH MCCONELL (R-KY):  I have not had any conversations on that

subject. 

 

REPORTER:  So he was lying about that? 

 

MCCONNELL:  You would have to ask him. 

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

O`DONNELL:  Leading off our discussion tonight, Democratic Congressman Ro

Khanna.  He`s a member of the House Oversight Committee and he was in the

room today when the Republicans barged in and tried to stop the deposition. 

 

Also joining us, Mieke Eoyang, former staff member of the House

Intelligence Committee, who has been in that room many, many times but has

never seen anything like what happened there today. 

 

Also with us, Ned Price, he`s a former CIA analyst and former senior

director and spokesperson for the National Security Council in the Obama

administration.  He`s an MSNBC national security contributor.

 

And, Congressman Khanna, let me begin with you on what happened when they

came in there, trying to stop this deposition. 

 

REP. RO KHANNA (D-CA):  Well, it was a scene not in the United States

Congress but at a fraternity.  I mean, you had about 20 Republicans come

in.  They were yelling.  They were basically disrupting the entire

proceedings.  They brought their phones into the SCIF, which everyone knows

is against the law. 

 

And then they started ordering pizza and pizza boxes were strewn all over

the SCIF.  I mean, they didn`t even clean up.  It was really just an

embarrassment.  It`s almost out of the “Animal House” movie. 

 

O`DONNELL:  And this reporting tonight that Laura Cooper, in her

deposition, talked about a lot of the technical aspects of delivering

military aid to Ukraine through the pentagon where she works, how that can

be paused or stopped, or how funding for that can be blocked, and that the

only real ways to do that legally is Congress can put a hold on the

funding, but there was no description in the testimony of any legal way

that that funding was being held up? 

 

KHANNA:  And the reporting suggests that what happened here is that the

president told people that under – unless Zelensky doesn`t go on

television and say that he is going to investigate Biden, that there`s

going to be a stalemate.  And what has taken place is the military aid was

withheld in a way that was a violation of the law and it was clear to

everyone involved that the only way they were going to get that aid is not

only Zelensky investigated but if Zelensky told the world he was going to

investigate Joe Biden. 

 

O`DONNELL:  Mieke, you issued a very educational tweet, flow of tweets

today.  I hope to get your Twitter handle up there on the screen so people

can follow you.  It was very instructive to me.  I didn`t know anything

about what you were saying today about the danger of bringing phones into

that room and what they did by barging in the room that way. 

 

MIEKE EOYANG, FORMER STAFF MEMBER, HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE:  Yes. 

This is a very sensitive facility.  The kind of information they handle in

the facility is electronic surveillance to covert action.  It`s not just

this testimony.  So we know foreign adversaries are desperate to try to

find out what happens in this room.  This is a room specifically designed

to keep out electronic eavesdropping, to try to prevent signals from

leaking, to try and prevent our adversaries from knowing what goes on

inside. 

 

One of the big ways we get concerned is by taking electronic devices like

cell phones into the room, which can be compromised in ways that can be

turned into listening devices.  We also know that members of Congress are

very high priority targets for our foreign adversaries.  They`re interested

in knowing what they`re doing, what they`re thinking, can they compromise

them?  These are people who don`t typically have very good security

procedures. 

 

So, they took these devices into this very secure facility, marching right

past the armed guards and cabinets set aside for people to lock their

electronic devices in before they go into the room and started, from what I

understand, recording while even in the room.  The committee is still

trying to conduct other business, oversight of classified programs and

these are members wandering around, recording inside the secure facility. 

 

It`s stunning.  The members of the committee are very concerned about

maintaining the security of this facility.  And I think were likely

appalled at what was happening. 

 

O`DONNELL:  Ned, I`ve never seen a weaker demonstration of an attempted

defense of the president.  You would want to hear a defense of the

president on the evidence and not one of those people shouting in that room

could find one piece of evidence to defend Donald Trump on today. 

 

NED PRICE, FORMER CIA ANALYST:  No.  They sure couldn`t.  And I think when

they can`t defend him on the evidence.  They go towards these clownish

tactics. 

 

Look, I think what we saw today, yes, it was clownish but it was also

startling in a number of ways.  Mieke just discussed the security

implications which aren`t insignificant.  If hypocrisy counted for anything

these days, it should mean something that one of the people, one of the

congressmen who was captured on camera filming himself, the facility as he

walked into the SCIF, just last year co-sponsored a House resolution

calling for the appointment of a special counsel to investigate why it was

that Hillary Clinton was not criminally charged for her handling of

classified information.

 

But to my mind, Lawrence, the most jarring element of all of this is really

the fact that it`s a microcosm of the larger scandal that we`re witnessing

around us.  You have to remember at the end of the day why Donald Trump is

in trouble is because he decided to betray his oath of office, to betray

the American people and to betray our national security by putting his own

narrow political interests ahead of our national interests, putting his own

narrow political interests ahead of our national security. 

 

And that`s precisely what we saw today from these members of the House of

Representatives.  They subordinated our national security by walking into

this SCIF, this secure facility in order to score a cheap political point. 

I`m not even sure they scored those points, but they sure degraded our

national security. 

 

O`DONNELL:  Congressman Khanna, I am much more struck by the 170 or so

Republicans that refused to have anything to do with it, knowing that

Donald Trump was watching and taking attendance at it.  But it also is part

of the lie, that demonstration is part of the lie that Donald Trump is

telling on FOX News, people like Matt Gaetz and others telling Fox News

that Republican members are being locked out of the room. 

 

In fact, you have Republican members on the committees in the rooms with

you at all times. 

 

What was their reaction to their fellow Republicans invading their jobs

there? 

 

KHANNA:  Well, Lawrence, first, you make a very important point. 

Republicans are in that room.  They get to ask questions.  They get equal

time as the Democrats. 

 

And, by the way, in the whole Benghazi hearing, they had the same

depositions in the SCIF that were not public.  It`s the hype of height of

hypocrisy for Republicans to complain. 

 

But, I`ll tell you, I don`t want to reveal the person`s name but I went up

to the one of the individuals, and I said, oh, were you there in the

protest?  He said absolutely not.  I follow the rules. 

 

So, there are a lot of Republicans who don`t want to be affiliated with

those 23 members.  And privately, you do have Republicans saying that some

of the things are indefensible.  They may not be at the point of coming for

impeachment, but they don`t want to hang their reputations in the public

definition of some things that are indefensible. 

 

O`DONNELL:  And, Mieke, that room does have Republican members of the

committees in it.  It has a lot of Republican staff members in it.  They

would be in a position to make public from that room, leak, any way they

wanted to, any information coming in in these depositions that is helpful

to Donald Trump. 

 

And they have not found one piece of information in those depositions that

they`ve wanted to, in any way, make public. 

 

EOYANG:  That`s right.  If there was exculpatory evidence for the president

they would be trumpeting that, they would be talking about it on the news,

they would be saying, look, this is not really what you think or see.  This

person said that was, in fact, the right thing to do. 

 

But what we see over and over again, and they cannot deny, is that this was

not the right thing to do, that it was not right to set up a secondary

channel.  It was not right to withhold the aid.  It was not right to fire

the ambassador to Ukraine.  It was not right to demand a quid pro quo. 

 

It was not right to condition all of these things on the Ukrainians and

that the Ukrainians themselves did not want to do.  They have been unable

to find any exculpatory evidence for the president and are stuck pulling

these stunts that even though they seem juvenile are really actually

undermining our national security. 

 

O`DONNELL:  And, Ned, we`ve had more than 24 hours for them to find

something in William Taylor`s deposition that Republicans want to emphasize

or make public and William Taylor, at this point, based on what we`ve been

able to glean from what`s happened in these depositions, seems to be, by

far, the most valuable, most important witness to have testified so far. 

 

PRICE:  It sure seems that way from what we know so far, Lawrence.  Look, I

don`t think William Taylor`s testimony yesterday really changed the

contours of this scandal but he did add to the scope and to the scale of

this scandal.  And I think most importantly connected it directly to the

president.  There were a lot of damning elements of his testimony and that

we read in his prepared remarks.  But I think none more so than the fact

that President Trump himself directed Gordon Sondland, his ambassador to

the European Union, to relay these demands to the Ukrainians. 

 

And there was no subtly in doing this.  This was not sort of a, you know,

cloak and dagger operation where subtly whisper into the Ukrainian ear that

maybe they should think about this investigation if maybe they wanted their

aid.  No.  Gordon Sondland then went to the Ukrainian president and said

here is the deal.  You undertake these investigations or else, we`re going

to have, as he put it, a stalemate. 

 

He didn`t say the words quid pro quo, but he said there would be a

stalemate and intimated the Ukrainians would not be receiving their aid. 

That is the heart of this scandal.  There`s no getting around that.  I

think that`s precisely why you`ve not heard anything from the Republicans

from what they`ve heard yesterday. 

 

O`DONNELL:  Ned Price, Mieke Eoyang, and Congressman Ro Khanna, thank you

all for starting us off tonight.  Really appreciate it.  Thank you. 

 

KHANNA:  Thank you.

 

O`DONNELL:  Rudy Giuliani is looking for new criminal defense lawyer

tonight after his friends were arraigned in federal court today.  That`s

coming up later in the hour. 

 

And President Obama`s ambassador to the United Nation, Samantha Power will

join us later. 

 

And next, we`ll be joined by former Senator Bill Bradley who, in his first

term in the Senate, hired Bill Taylor on his Senate staff.  Bill Taylor may

now become the star witness in the impeachment trial of Donald J. Trump in

the United States Senate. 

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

O`DONNELL:  William Warren Bradley grew up in Crystal City, Missouri.  He

went to college in New Jersey and made a life there.  He was a basketball

star at Princeton and delayed his career in the NBA by taking a Rhodes

scholarship. 

 

After Princeton, after his graduate studies in England, he finally did what

America was rating for him to do and began in the NBA with the New York

Knicks during the glory days of the Nixon.  Bill Bradley`s third season,

Knicks won their first-ever championship. 

 

When his playing days were over, Bill Bradley surprised no one by

announcing his candidacy for United States Senate for New Jersey because he

was always seen as a serious and thoughtful man throughout his athletic

career and he was seen as a winner, so no one was surprised when he won his

first political campaign and was sworn in as United States senator in 1979. 

And in his first term as a senator, Bill Bradley hired a Vietnam combat

veteran, who`s a graduate of West Point, William V. Taylor who testified

under oath to the impeachment investigating committees yesterday and who

delivered the most devastating testimony yet against Donald Trump that the

committees have heard. 

 

Bill Taylor detailed the various ways President Trump, Rudy Giuliani and

others in the Trump administration were trying to pressure the president of

Ukraine to conduct an investigation of Joe Biden.  When the impeachment

proceedings move into the public testimony phase, Bill Taylor might be the

star witness in the case against Donald Trump. 

 

We`re joined now by the man who helped to guide Bill Taylor`s transition

from military to civilian service in government, former Democratic senator

from the state of New Jersey, Bill Bradley. 

 

Really an honor to have you here, Senator. 

 

FORMER SENATOR BILL BRADLEY, WORKED WITH SPECIAL ENOVY TO UKRAINE:  

Lawrence, it`s great to be with you, as always. 

 

O`DONNELL:  So, Donald Trump today tweeted an attack, one of – for Trump,

it`s a weak attack on Bill Taylor, like calling him never Trumper diplomat

Bill Taylor, who I don`t know.

 

How do you expect Donald Trump`s character assassination of Bill Taylor to

work?  Is that going to be an avenue that can work for Trump?

 

BRADLEY:  Absolutely not.  Bill Taylor is a patriot.  He`s led a life of

service, courage, honor.  He is someone, like the vast majority of public

servants, who Trump regularly ridicules and attacks. 

 

And West Point, worked for me five years, handling the energy and defense

portfolios, 40 years in the State Department taking assignments that were

dangerous and complicated, like Iraq and Afghanistan and Ukraine and the

Soviet Union.  So, I think the way I would summarize it is that if I had a

son, I would want him to have the integrity of Bill Taylor.  And so, I

think Trump is going down the wrong road here. 

 

But Bill Taylor`s testimony made me realize there`s an untold story here. 

And the untold story is how afraid Donald Trump is of Joe Biden. 

 

O`DONNELL:  Yes. 

 

BRADLEY:  I mean, really afraid.  I mean, he knows that Biden will beat

him.  He`s already ahead of him in the Upper Midwest States.  I mean, how

else do you explain this vast effort to smear Joe Biden?  Because he`s

afraid of him. 

 

And I think that that`s the untold story.  I started thinking about being

afraid, Trump being afraid.  And I realized this is kind of a theme in his

life.  I mean, he was afraid to go in the military during Vietnam, right? 

 

He goes all the way up to today where he`s afraid to reveal his income tax

returns.  I don`t know.  What are they going to show?  Russian payments?  I

don`t know.  What is he afraid of? 

 

So I think this is a real fact.  So, that`s one of the things that I

thought as I heard Bill Taylor`s testimony. 

 

O`DONNELL:  So we haven`t heard him testify.  It`s very clear when they go

to public testimony, Bill Taylor is going to be one of the witnesses.  What

do you – who do you expect America to see when they`re watching Bill

Taylor on television that day? 

 

BRADLEY:  I think they`re going to find a man of honor and of courage, and

someone who is very clear, someone who is a true professional, somebody who

is the best of the public servant lay out what the facts were, that he saw,

witnessed in that position. 

 

And I think that, you know, the other thing that strikes me is President

Trump really ran a rather small business, right?  And he never really ran a

big organization.  And now, he`s running the biggest organization in the

world and he`s failing, right? 

 

I mean, how else do you explain this Rudy and the thugs routine and

diplomacy?  He`s basically failing and Bill Taylor`s testimony kind of laid

out how ludicrous some of the actions taken were.  And I think that`s

something that will last over time.  People will start to think about.  A,

he`s afraid and he`s truly failing in the job of running the biggest

organization in the world. 

 

O`DONNELL:  Bill Taylor closed his testimony with something I know is very

important to you as it is to him, when he went to the front line with

Ukraine and Russia`s conflict.  And he`s looking across that bridge and

watching what Russia has amassed there and he`s worried for the lives that

can be lost if Donald Trump gets his way and blocks this aid to Ukraine. 

 

What is at stake for us in the future of Ukraine? 

 

BRADLEY:  Well, I think it`s our steadfastness as someone who supports them

in a difficult world.  They`re not all angels, but the reality is that

we`ve made a commitment to them.  And I think what this testimony did was

to actually give you a sense – this isn`t like Watergate break in, or sex

with Clinton.  This is life and death for a people that Bill Taylor happens

to be very, very loyal to and supportive.  Not as loyal as he is to the

United States of America, but he loves Ukrainian people. 

 

I visited when he was the ambassador in Ukraine.  I could see when he had

people around the table from different political parties how much they

trusted and respected him.  And so, I think he made that come to life when

he talked about that visit to the front lines in Donbass.

 

O`DONNELL:  Senator Bill Bradley, great to be with you again.  Usually when

we were working together at 10:00 p.m., it would be on the Senate floor

trying to get one of those bills passed at the last minute. 

 

Thank you very much for joining us.  Really appreciate it. 

 

BRADLEY:  Thank you. 

 

O`DONNELL:  And when we come back, Rudy Giuliani`s pals, Lev and Igor, went

to court today.  That`s it.  That`s all I have to say. Lev and Igor went to

court today. Just - after this break, you`ll find out what happened.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

O`DONNELL: Breaking news. We have reporting tonight that`s saying Rudy

Giuliani is now looking for a new criminal defense lawyer. That`s after two

of Rudy Giuliani`s associates and friends, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman,

appeared in federal court Manhattan today where they pleaded not guilty to

four counts of campaign finance violations.

 

Lev and Igor played a role in helping Rudy Giuliani`s efforts in obtaining

damaging evidence on Joe Biden from Ukrainian officials. Lev`s attorney

Edward McMahon raised concerns to the judge that some evidence gathered in

the case already by the federal government may be protected by attorney

client privilege and more interestingly possibly executive privilege.

 

He said there is a lot of attorney client and maybe even some executive

privilege issues that are raised by the information that has already been

ceased and then of course we have the issue of Mr. Giuliani acting as the

attorney for the President of the United States and in that capacity, and I

don`t speak for anyone but Mr. Parnas, working for him.

 

Assistant U.S. Attorney Rebecca Donaleski told the court, “So to the extent

he is concerned about privilege, we are attuned to those concerns. We have

a filter team in place.” Joining us now to translate all of that Glenn

Kirschner, former federal prosecutor and an MSNBC legal analyst.

 

And Glenn, executive privilege - they`re talking about the executive

privilege that only President Trump can invoke to protect what could be

communications involving him.

 

GLENN KIRSCHNER, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR AND MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST:

Lawrence, I`m going to try to talk about this topic without sounding like a

crazy person because I don`t quite know what to make of it. It`s not every

day that we have a defendant in federal court stand up and through his

lawyer tell a judge, “You know what judge, my client might have some

privileged communications with the President of the United States such that

they would be protected by executive privilege.”

 

And, you know, I have the transcript here and I know you just put a clip of

it up and let me just read two lines, because the first one on page nine,

Ed McMahon, you can`t make the name up either that is Lev`s lawyer, says to

the judge, “There have already been issues of executive privilege raised in

the congressional subpoena to Mr. Parnas.” And then he goes on, on page 10

and this is sort of the money line, he says “In response to a congressional

subpoena, Mr. Parnas` prior attorney invoked and said he had been

instructed to invoke executive privilege as to some of the discussions.”

 

So if we kind of parse that out, somebody presumably in the White House

instructed Lev Parnas` prior lawyer to have Parnas invoke executive

privilege when he was hauled before Congress to testify. Now, the judge

goes through questions like, “Well, wait a minute. Is Mr. Parnas part of

the administration, a cabinet member, a government employee?” No, no, no.

So how could it be that Mr. Parnas, a federal defendant, might enjoy

privileged communications with the President of the United States that

would give rise to a claim of executive privilege?

 

The only thing I can surmise, Lawrence, is that the White House seemed to

be in the habit of telling people to invoke executive privilege even when

they didn`t have it as a way to really just employ a delay tactic. Recall

Corey Lewandowski when he testified, it was something of a clownish

performance, but he would frequently invoke executive privilege even though

he couldn`t lawfully do it because he was never a member of the

administration or the cabinet or the federal government.

 

So, I`m just guessing here. It`s very curious that somebody instructed Mr.

Parnas to invoke executive privilege.

 

O`DONNELL: Yes, in the transcript, you see that his own lawyer when he

raises this is - he confesses that he himself is confused about what to do

about this and he recognizes that it`s Donald Trump`s right to invoke it.

It`s not his client`s right to invoke it. He just kind of throws it out

there for the court as something to keep an eye on, which we will be doing.

Glenn Kirschner, thank you very much for joining us tonight, really

appreciate it.

 

KIRSCHNER: Thank you, Lawrence.

 

O`DONNELL: And when we come back, today`s episode of all roads lead to

Putin as Nancy Pelosi would it, Vladimir Putin got exactly what he wants in

Syria after Donald Trump`s official abandonment of the Kurds today.

President Obama`s ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power will

join us next.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

O`DONNELL: Today, Donald Trump declared victory for his policy of

abandonment of the Kurds in Syria and said “Let someone else fight over

this long blood-stained sand.” The President also announced the removal of

all sanctions against Turkey after saying Turkey has agreed to what

President Trump is calling a permanent ceasefire in the region.

 

Joining us now is Samantha Power, President Obama`s ambassador to the

United Nations and the author of the new New York Times bestseller “The

Education of an Idealist.” Samantha Power, your reaction to Donald Trump`s

description of the long blood-stained sand and what`s happening there

today.

 

SAMANTHA POWER, PRESIDENT OBAMA`S AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS: Well,

it is blood-stained sand in fact because the Kurds took more than 10,000

casualties in being the ground force against ISIS which posed a threat to

Americans all over the world. So, there`s a grain of truth for once in what

he said, but the notion that this is a place of sand is something he keeps

coming back to, it`s a place of people, of families who relied on the

United States and who lost loved ones again in service of this cause on

reliance on a promise.

 

O`DONNELL: What happens next in that region?

 

POWER: Well, that`s the really scary thing. I mean this triumphalism about

the deal; it`s an ethnic cleansing deal. I mean the Russians came out

today, they said - they`re - as Trump is boasting about what he has done,

the Russians are pointing to what Trump has done and said, “This is the

American - the official American betrayal of the Kurds.”

 

So for once, you`re actually better off reading it our tasks (ph) and the

Russian Foreign Ministry`s statements to have a sense of what`s actually

happening here. But they`re saying if any Kurdish fighters remain, we`re

going to roll them over. So in other words, this is an ultimatum to the

Kurds to leave which is what Turkey has been saying all along.

 

It`s not a change to the status quo, except insofar as it has been

legitimated now by the President of the United States and the cost for

Turkey`s offensive and its killings and its sponsorship of this campaign,

those costs have been lifted - very, very modest costs mind you, but those

costs now have been taken away, at least for now.

 

O`DONNELL: I want to ask you about something I asked Senator Bradley about

which is Bill Taylor, since you know him and there`s so many things in

today`s news for us to be discussing with you, and so I apologize for

racing through them. But, when Bill Taylor does publicly emerge as a public

witness in this case as he surely will in both the public house impeachment

hearings and what may be the Senate trial, what will the public see when

they see Bill Taylor testify?

 

POWER: A pro`s pro, somebody with no axe to grind. I mean I think one of

the things in reading his statement that was so striking was every person

who read that statement could imagine themselves in his shoes, sort of

thinking in an old-fashioned way that you`re there to pursue U.S.

interests, thinking that when Russia invades a country and the United

States has made a set of commitments to the country that has been invaded

that those commitments are going to be maintained and his kind of dawning

confusion about what`s going on, as these people keep popping up and

talking about investigations and things that he`s in the dark on.

 

I`m - when I served in the Obama Administration, Bill Taylor was not all

that happy with our policy because we weren`t going far enough in defense

of the Ukrainian government from his perspective. He wanted us to move into

providing lethal assistance much more quickly. And so, his view of Ukraine

and the importance of Ukraine`s security and that security`s centrality to

Europe`s stability and the world`s need to stand up to Russian aggression,

that`s a through-line for him.

 

That`s not something that started when Donald Trump became President. He`s

not some deep state guy who`s out to get this President. He was looking at

a set of enduring national interests as he understood them.

 

O`DONNELL: I want to squeeze in a commercial break. When we come back, I

want to talk about some of the things that are in your book that struck me

in Bill Taylor`s testimony where he was describing the difficulty of making

the choice to accept the job. And anyone who has accepted these kind of

jobs, as you have, are very familiar with those kind of person elements

that he was talking about. We will talk about that when we come back up

after this break. We`ll be right back.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

O`DONNELL: And we are back with Ambassador Samantha Power, who is the

author of `The Education of an Idealist`, which is Ambassador Power in my

reading the single best memoir of a UN Ambassador since Daniel Patrick

Moynihan`s which was - which he entitled `A Dangerous Place` and you both

have similar backgrounds as professors who end up in government. What about

that Moynihan title of A Dangerous Place, is that the way he was referring

to both the world at the time in the Cold War and the UN itself?

 

POWER: Yes, I mean I think he felt as one did in the Cold War, kind of

outnumbered–

 

O`DONNELL: Yes.

 

POWER: –by all the sort of Soviet proxies were voting one way, all the

newly independent countries that were voting and just the absence of enough

democracies to really be able to build coalitions. By the time I got there,

we had a fighting chance on just about every issue. Israel, the issue in

which Moynihan also made his name being the exception, where there was

overwhelming sort of I think votes and really bias in one direction, in the

sense that there`d be 18 resolutions on Israel and one on North Korea, and

it just wasn`t - there wasn`t parity.

 

But on every other issue, even on LGBT rights, where 78 countries

criminalized being LGBT around the world, we could get LGBT rights

recognized as human rights for the first time. We could mobilize an Ebola -

an anti-Ebola coalition, gathering democracies and non-democratic countries

at once to go and deal with the threat. So, there are a lot of examples of

the cacophony that drove Moynihan crazy, actually being harnessed for good,

including the Paris agreement on climate change, but it is frustrating to

see so many undemocratic countries trying to gum up the works and that

still is the case but it`s a much more even fight now.

 

O`DONNELL: And I think of both of you actually as entering as both - both

idealists and by the time you enter that job though, you have enough

practical real world experience to be entering with the knowledge of the

limitations of what`s possible. What do you do with that struggle against

the limitations?

 

POWER: Well, I mean again–

 

O`DONNELL: For an idealist.

 

POWER: Yes.

 

O`DONNELL: –struggling dashed expectations (ph).

 

POWER: Yes, exactly. I mean my story is not one of dashed expectations.

You`re right. It was kind of, “Oh, okay. They are the constraints. Now, who

am I going to get to be my ally so we can circumvent them.” And a lot of it

entailed building coalitions within the government, finding allies within

the Pentagon for example where people would be like, “Oh, that`s

interesting. I wouldn`t have expected the human rights voice to be so

aligned with the Chairman of the Joint Staff on this issue or that issue.”

 

Some of it was about being able to prove internally that you think you have

the support you need from other countries in the world to get the job done

because people might start to say, “No, we can`t do that.” and you say

“Well, actually, I`ve talked to the British, the French, the Germans, the

Swiss, among the democracies and I even think I can get Russia to abstain

on this. Let`s go forth.” And so, it`s about maneuvering within a messy

world.

 

O`DONNELL: I`m sure when you read Bill Taylor`s statement - opening

statement yesterday, you read that passage about him deciding to take the

job and how that was not easy for him to decide to take the job to go back

to Ukraine. Talk about your own choices that you have to make when a

position like this is offered to you.

 

POWER: Well, for me, to be offered the chance to be President Obama`s

Ambassador to the UN, I didn`t hesitate. I did flashback to bad

relationships I had had and questions about whether confirmation was going

to be terrible, and I completely exaggerated my past foibles and thought,

Oh my God, this is going to be terrible getting to the job. But, I was

incredibly gratified to work with somebody that - with whom I had felt I

had a mind meld on how we use the international system to benefit the

American people.

 

I think the real challenge now is that Bill Taylor has - even though he`s

been out of government for a while, he has worked under Republican

presidents and Democratic presidents who operate very differently than

President Trump, who believe in diplomacy, who believe in global

cooperation, who believe in human rights as if - you know, even if we`re

not perfect in observing them as a foundation to our leadership in the

world.

 

So, he`s looking and he`s thinking what am I getting into here and then

like many of the people that I worked with when I was ambassador, he`s

trying to decide will I be able even to have my voice heard given that the

deep state is being attacked at all times and I`m a career diplomat. Am I

going to be marginalized? Am I going to be just in a sense mailing it in?

And so, he made the call that he could do - hopefully do more good than

harm and maybe seek to put a break on some of the bad habits and seek to

advance our enduring interests.

 

O`DONNELL: Ambassador Power, thank you very much for joining us tonight.

 

POWER: Thanks, Lawrence.

 

O`DONNELL: And thank you very much for writing this book. This is a

beautifully written thoughtful look into the complex life of a UN

Ambassador. Thank you very much for that.

 

POWER: Thank you.

 

O`DONNELL: Really appreciate it. And when we come back, Rick Wilson is owed

tonight`s LAST WORD after Donald Trump called him a very bad name today.

That`s next.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

O`DONNELL: Donald Trump hates Never-Trump Republicans even more than he

hates me. This morning, he tweeted “The Never-Trump Republicans though on

respirators with not many left are in certain ways worse and more dangerous

for our country than the do-nothing Democrats. Watch out for them. They are

human scum!”

 

Joining us now is Never-Trump Republican, Rick Wilson, Daily Beast

contributor and the author of `Everything Trump Touches Dies.` And Rick,

there`s the laugh reaction and then there`s this. That`s what Donald Trump

calls the most honorable Republicans of our time.

 

RICK WILSON, DAILY BEAST CONTRIBUTOR: Donald Trump is a man without honor,

so I take his insult as a sort of backhanded compliment. And a lot of

Republicans who are out there, who sort of breathe a sigh of relief, I

recall I`m not on that list, they`re - that prickly feeling they experience

sometimes of their souls trying to get back into their bodies.

 

But look, Donald Trump - the insults from this guy are par for the course

right now because he is desperate, he is terrified, he wakes up in a pool

of his own sweat every night. He is in a very unpleasant situation every

day. He recognizes his world is turning to a very bad place very quickly

and nothing is going to change that because he`s the cause of all these

things. He`s a weak, sick, sad little man.

 

O`DONNELL: Yes, and he uses language that only the most extreme rabid Trump

worshipers could possibly embrace.

 

WILSON: Right, right. And the form of that language, it reduces it so far

that you know - one of the things Donald Trump wants to do is break down

the traditional American tension between the parties and between the

movements where there`s a dynamic back-and-forth and we argue things

through. He doesn`t want to argue; he just wants to hammer away his

opposition.

 

And the thing he hates the most is that people who still hold on for some

of those old-fashioned principles like the rule of law and individual

liberty and the obedience to the Constitution that he hates. Those are

things he loathes and despises in a fundamental way.

 

Those people reminding Republicans out there are a huge danger to him,

which while on the one hand, it`s always like “Oh, they`re on respirators,”

then it`s “They`re scum, we have to get them.” It`s kind of a - I guess

that it`s kind of a telling moment of how desperate the guy is and how sad

and how sick and how humiliated he is by his own failures.

 

O`DONNELL:  Sad, sick and humiliated, those are the LAST WORDS, and Rick

Wilson gets those LAST WORDS tonight.  Thank you for joining us, Rick. 

Really appreciate it.

 

WILSON:  Thanks, Lawrence.

 

O`DONNELL:  “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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