Trump declares victory in Syria. TRANSCRIPT: 10/23/19, The Last Word w/ Lawrence O’Donnell.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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
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
POWER: Well, I mean again–
O`DONNELL: For an idealist.
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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.
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Copyright 2019 ASC Services II Media, LLC. All materials herein are
protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced,
distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the
prior written permission of ASC Services II Media, LLC. You may not alter
or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the