Rep. Ocasio-Cortez on impeachment invest. TRANSCRIPT: 10/24/19, The Last Word w/ Lawrence O’Donnell.
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Rachel.
And we`re going to have former federal prosecutor Joyce Vance joining us in
this hour to consider what this breaking news means tonight. As you`ve
been covering it for the hour, it broke minutes before you went on. And I
studied that “New York Times” article. None of the reporting, none of it,
gives the slightest hint of what the crime might be –
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Yes.
O`DONNELL: – that would be investigated in this criminal investigation,
which makes it so very peculiar, because, in fact, it`s extremely difficult
for an FBI agent to commit a crime in the course of his or her
investigative duties. It is extremely difficult for a prosecutor to commit
a crime and very difficult for CIA officer to commit a crime in the kind of
investigation we`re talking about, other than some form of perjury, some
form of untruth delivered in an under oath environment. And there actually
isn`t very much of that environment controlling what they do most of the
O`DONNELL: And so this could be kind of a shell of a criminal
investigation, one of the many, many, many legitimate criminal
investigations that the Justice Department has conducted in its history
that produce no charges.
But the Republicans and the president get now to say, get to deflect, Fox
News gets to say the most important investigation in the world right now is
not the impeachment investigation of the president of the United States.
It`s this other thing that no matter how long we stare at it tonight, we
can`t quite figure out what it is, what`s the crime they`re investigating.
MADDOW: Right. And what we`re left with is the president and his
supporters having alleged that the law enforcement and intelligence
professionals who investigated what Russia did, who investigated this
crime, they`ve been denounced as traitors, right? They`ve been denounced
as people who should be subject to capital punishment as traitors in this
country for having engaged in that investigation.
The president has been saying that for two years, chanting it at rallies
and they`ve been echoing it on conservative media and he finally got
himself an attorney general who watches enough Fox News and echo the stuff
enough that he is willing to put these things into legalese as well. And
now, you`ve got him leading an empowered criminal inquiry that could lead
to criminal charges against the investigators who looked into this thing
for the country, who they really have been saying are worst – are guilty
of the worst things that you can charge an American with. It`s – I mean,
I don`t know the depths of what Bill Barr is planning to do here, but this
is – this is a big deal.
O`DONNELL: We`re going to get into it with Joyce Vance later in the hour.
Thank you, Rachel. We really appreciate it.
Well, we`ll have coverage of all the breaking news of the hour, especially
coverage of impeachment at this hour, including a corroborating witness for
Ambassador William Taylor who is scheduled to testify next week in that
investigation. The impeachment investigation of Donald Trump was suspended
today in honor of Elijah Cummings who, only 30 days ago – just 30 days ago
when he was named as one of the leaders of the impeachment investigation,
his role then as chairman of the Oversight Committee. Congressman Cummings
died last week from medical complications.
And today, he became the first African-American member of Congress, first
African-American elected official in history brought to lie in state in the
Eugene Robinson will join us at the end of the hour to share his memories
of and perspective on the life and times of the honorable Elijah Cummings.
Our first guest tonight is the youngest member of Elijah Cummings`
committee, Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who will share what it
was like to take her place in the House of Representatives this year, and
win a valuable seat on the House Oversight Committee, with Chairman
Cummings as her guide, welcoming her to that committee.
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has changed the definition of the possible for
freshmen members of the House of Representatives. She has captured more
public attention than any freshmen member of the House of Representatives
And in politics, attention is power. Without the attention Congresswoman
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has brought to the Green New Deal, it would not be
one of the leading agenda items of the Democratic Party and one of most
prominent issues debated in the presidential campaign and without the
professionalism that she has brought to her legislative agenda in the
House, she would not have a Senate partner on the Green New Deal, which is
absolutely mandatory for any realistic legislative enterprise.
But like an old pro at legislating, the freshman congresswoman found a
partner in Senator Ed Markey of Massachusetts, who has pushed the Green New
Deal on the Democratic agenda in the United States Senate. There`s no
reason to expect leadership like that from a freshman member in the House
because we have never seen leadership from a freshman member of the House.
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is one of the freshman members of the House who
have changed what is possible in committee hearings by the sharpness and
inescapable logic of their questions in the five minutes that they are
allowed to ask them.
Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez did that yesterday in what became five of the
worst minutes of Mark Zuckerberg`s very rich life as the CEO of Facebook,
who has gotten through most of the years of his life without ever having to
answer difficult questions. We`ll show you some of that video of what Mark
Zuckerberg ran into yesterday when Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez got her five
But we begin with impeachment. And as luck of history would have it,
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is one of the members of Congress who is
participating in the impeachment investigation as a member of the House
Contrary to Republican Congressman Matt Gaetz`s lies as he was leading his
congressional drunk driving collision with the investigating committees
yesterday, there are, in fact, dozens of Republican members of the House
who are also allowed to participate in and ask questions in the
investigation, including in the closed door depositions, because they are
members of the investigating committees.
Republican Senator Lindsey Graham is introducing a resolution in the Senate
to object to the procedures being used by the House of Representatives. We
will consider Lindsey Graham`s objections later in this hour when we will
be joined by former federal prosecutor Joyce Vance and former Under
Secretary of State Wendy Sherman.
Most Republicans are supporting Lindsey Graham`s resolution objecting to
the House procedures, but in what could be an ominous sign for Donald
Trump, as of tonight, eight, eight Republican senators have chosen not to
support Lindsey Graham`s resolution, including Senator Mitt Romney, Senator
Susan Collins, Senator Lisa Murkowski. If just half of those eight
senators were to join with Democrats in the Senate and vote against Donald
Trump in his impeachment trial, then a majority of the Senate would be
voting against the president, which would be an important note for history,
even though the president could remain in power because it takes 67 votes
to convict and remove a president in an impeachment trial in the Senate.
And joining us now is Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who
represents the state of New York`s 14th congressional district, which
covers portions of the Bronx and Queens in New York City.
Congresswoman, thank you very for joining us tonight on this very important
And I want to get your reaction to what is happening in the impeachment
investigation, beginning quickly with that very strange car crash of a
scene we saw of Matt Gaetz leading a physical attack into the committee to
REP. ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ (D-NY): Yes, Lawrence. Well, first and
foremost, I remember seeing, you know, that sea of men banging outside of
House Intelligence, thinking that it was quite funny, because many of them
are my colleagues on the House Oversight Committee and have access to those
depositions. So, they were pretending that they weren`t able to be in
these depositions, like many members of Congress, Republican and Democrat
alike, in order to create a spectacle.
But the truth of the matter is, is not that – the reason they were doing
that, because they knew exactly what was going on inside. They know
exactly what this testimony and what these depositions are adding up to and
that, frankly, it is revealing a very disturbing sequence of events and
very likely abuse of power and breaking of our oath to the Constitution of
the United States.
O`DONNELL: Now, I know you were in Ambassador Gordon Sondland`s closed
door deposition there. We had Congressman Peter Welch with us the other
night. And after William Taylor testified in direct contradiction of
Ambassador Sondland, let`s listen to what Congressman Welch said about the
possibilities of perjury charges there. Let`s listen to that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Is Gordon Sondland in danger of perjury charges of his
testimony to your committee?
REP. PETER WELCH (D-VT): I think he is. The evidence is coming out now
that he, in fact, 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
is going to be evaluated when reviewed by potential prosecutors.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: And today, Ambassador Sondland`s criminal defense lawyers
relied on the “do not recall” defense to cover the conflict in his
testimony with Ambassador Taylor`s testimony.
What is your sense of how much possible perjury charge danger Ambassador
Sondland is in?
OCASIO-CORTEZ: Well, I think a lot of what we`re seeing here does reveal a
decent amount of testimony that, frankly, just isn`t lining up. This is
exactly why, in the House of Representatives, we separate all of our
witnesses and depose them individually and in private, so that we can get
these stories down and see what adds up and what doesn`t.
That is also a major reason why these Republicans are fighting to perhaps
make all of this public. You know, it is known that this is done with the
blessing of the president. And perhaps one of the reason they`re fighting
for all of this testimony to be public is so that folks could potentially
line up their depositions. We don`t know.
But with respect to Ambassador Sondland – well, you know, the fact that
they`re relying on this do not recall, let`s see what comes out, I do not
think bodes very well for him. But once again, we still have more
depositions left to go and we have to really get all of the facts.
O`DONNELL: It has been a very sad week for you and the members of the
House, and the committee in particular, with the loss of Chairman Cummings.
What`s it like for you to be, first of all, win a seat on his committee and
then be welcomed on to that committee by Elijah Cummings?
OCASIO-CORTEZ: It was the complete honor of a lifetime. When I first
asked to be assigned to the House Oversight Committee, he brought me into
his office personally and really wanted to know not just why I wanted to be
on this committee, but he wanted to know who I was. And it was a real
testimony to who Elijah Cummings was as a leader. He cared about serving
the most vulnerable Americans, about bringing truth to light, about
speaking truth to power.
And unlike the – and contrary to the culture of Congress, which is so
focused on the power of seniority, he, as Speaker Pelosi mentioned today
earlier this year said, I want all the freshmen on my committee.
He was a relentless coach. He was an inspired mentor, and he believed and
invested time in each and every one of us. And I feel profoundly blessed
to have spent the last ten months with our chairman.
O`DONNELL: The – it seems at this point certain that the House of
Representatives is going to deliver articles of impeachment, at least one,
to the United States Senate for trial, which leaves the senators in the
posture of jurors. Some of them are actually refraining from comment on
the basis of being jurors. We`ve seen this before, when the Clinton Senate
jury was assembled.
Some of them – it`s unlike a court jury where you`re not allowed to make
any comment. They can. They can decide ahead of time how they`re going to
vote. Some of them announce that, some of them don`t.
What is your sense of how the presidential candidates who are going to be
jurors – there`s about five of them now – from Senator Sanders, the
candidate you endorsed, through Elizabeth Warren, Cory Booker, Amy
Klobuchar, how they should handle themselves now as the prospect of being
potential jurors in the Senate trial becomes more and more serious?
OCASIO-CORTEZ: Well, first and foremost, I think what`s important to
acknowledge is that the president has committed crimes in public, and that
– this is something that we know. This is something that all people know
from the – from, you know, from the green of the White House, he solicited
election interference and discussed election interference with respect to
China. He released public notes of his calls where he solicited and
engaged in using the power of his office to create a politically motivated
investigation against a political opponent.
So, this is all out in the public. We know that he has committed a crime.
The question is, how many other people are implicated in this? The
question is, how often did he do it? Did he do it in other circumstances?
How big does this get?
And so, with respect to the number of articles, I think that it`s fair to
say, let`s look at what rolls in. But with respect to Ukraine and several
other instances it`s a very open and shut case. So, I think it`s important
that we discuss the fact that he has committed impeachable crimes. It`s
just a question of how many and how many people were involved and who knew.
O`DONNELL: In addition to your work in the committees and investigative
committees, you`re also become very active now in the political campaign,
actively campaigning for Bernie Sanders, endorsing Ed Markey for Senate in
Massachusetts, endorsing a new candidate, Attorney Cisneros in Texas,
running for the House in Texas. You`re spreading your endorsements around
the electoral map.
How much of that is something that is distracting from your daily work in
OCASIO-CORTEZ: Well, I put my work in the House front and center. But
what I do believe is that these endorsements are part of the work that we
have to do in the House.
Very frequently, someone will say, oh, we can`t pass a Green New Deal. We
don`t have support for that.
Oh, Medicare-for-All is, quote/unquote, unfeasible, because we may not have
support in certain areas of the House.
Well, if we want to change that, then we need to be changing – we need to
be changing the map of the House. And we need to be protecting those folks
who are leading and are taking political risks in order to serve the people
of the United States of America.
And so, my work, first and foremost, informs the other work that I do to
organize the electorate. But it`s – it is important to acknowledge that
in order to pass a transformative agenda for working class Americans, we`ve
got to have the numbers and we`ve got to have the leadership in place.
And so, we have to play in both if we`re really going to change this
country and if we`re serious about that.
O`DONNELL: I want to take a look at what your five minutes with Mark
Zuckerberg was like yesterday. We do have squeeze in a commercial break
here. We can do it on the other side if you can stay with us.
OCASIO-CORTEZ: Sure, of course.
O`DONNELL: Thank you. We`ll be right back with Congresswoman Ocasio-
O`DONNELL: Some of the freshman Democrats in the House of Representatives
have decided to concentrate on an aspect of their jobs that many members of
Congress frequently ignore – asking sharp questions in hearings.
Here is freshman Congresswoman Katie Porter questioning Mark Zuckerberg
yesterday about how he runs Facebook.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. KATIE PORTER (D-CA): You`ve got about 15,000 contractors watching
murders, stabbings, suicides, other gruesome, disgusting videos for content
MARK ZUCKERBERG, FACEBOOK CEO: Congresswoman, yes, I believe that that`s
PORTER: You pay many of those workers under $30,000 a year and you`ve cut
them off from mental health care when they leave the company, even if they
have PTSD because of their work for your company?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Then came freshman Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez
pressing Mark Zuckerberg on why he refuses to fact-check political
advertising on Facebook.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OCASIO-CORTEZ: You`ve announced recently that the official policy of
Facebook now allows politicians to pay to spread disinformation in 2020
elections and in the future. So I just want to know how far I can push
this in the next year.
Under your policy, you know, using census data as well, could I pay to
target predominantly black zip codes and advertise them the incorrect
ZUCKERBERG: No, Congresswoman, you couldn`t. We have – even for these
policies around the newsworthiness of content that politicians say and the
general principle that I believe that –
OCASIO-CORTEZ: But you said you`re not going to fact check my ads.
ZUCKERBERG: We have – if anyone, including a politician, is saying things
that can cause – that is calling for violence or could risk imminent
physical harm or voter or census suppression, and we roll out census
suppression policy, we will take the content down.
OCASIO-CORTEZ: So, you will – there is some threshold where you will fact
check political advertisements? Is that what you`re telling me?
ZUCKERBERG: Well, Congresswoman, yes, and for specific things like that,
where there`s imminent risk of harm.
OCASIO-CORTEZ: Could I run ads targeting Republicans in primaries saying
that they voted for the Green New Deal?
ZUCKERBERG: Sorry, could you repeat that?
OCASIO-CORTEZ: Would I be able to run advertisements on Facebook targeting
Republicans in primaries saying that they voted for the Green New Deal? I
mean, if you`re not fact-checking political advertisements, I`m just trying
to understand the bounds here, what`s fair game.
ZUCKERBERG: Congresswoman, I don`t know the answer to that off the top of
my head. I think –
OCASIO-CORTEZ: So you don`t know if I`ll be able to do that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is back with us.
And, Congresswoman, what I was fascinated by was, I think the simplest
question you asked him was the one he needed you to repeat, and one of the
things I`m wondering is, does he even understand that all Republicans
oppose the Green New Deal and, therefore, your ad would be a lie? It`s not
clear to me that he actually understood that underlying element of your
OCASIO-CORTEZ: Yes, yes. You know, and the key is that if he didn`t
understand that, he should have asked and clarified. But instead, he just
immediately went for the probably, yes.
And when you pair that with the fact that Facebook has officially made its
policy that it will not fact-check paid political advertisement, that they
will take money in order to publish and spread disinformation is
And, by the way, this is also why I asked, in addition, to this line of
questioning about what mark Zuckerberg knew about Cambridge Analytica, when
and what did he about it? This is extremely concerning, because we`re not
just talking about rehashing the 2016 election and the disinformation
campaign. We`re talking about whether Facebook is going to play a role in
affirmatively allowing the disinformation campaigns into the 2020 U.S.
And if that is the case, we need to take action. I believe we need to take
preemptive action and we need to take action right now.
O`DONNELL: And when you were closing in on him on Cambridge Analytica,
there were reporters who cover Mark Zuckerberg very closely, have been for
years, who were kind of tweeting on their edge of their seats that they`ve
never been able to get these questions in front of him. But he did kind of
just slither away from those questions.
OCASIO-CORTEZ: Yes. And as a matter of fact, what we decided to do after
he answered in very frankly strange and bizarre ways to those questions is
that we are actually going to send follow-up questions, pen them to the
record of the hearing and send them to Facebook for an official answer to
these questions. We need to get it on the record.
We need to know whether Mark Zuckerberg knew. We need to know who in
Facebook`s leadership knew about Cambridge Analytica, and we need to know
whether they decided to do nothing while the 2016 were being manipulated
and if they`re deciding to do nothing again.
Because if that`s the case, they are not the innocent bystanders that they
like to say that they are. They may be active participants. We don`t
And so, for that, we have to get to the bottom of this. We need to
understand what role they are deciding to play, especially given the light
of the fact that they are going to take money to public disinformation ads
from political campaigns.
Broadcasters are held to a much higher standard. While they cannot
discriminate on what kind of advertisements they run, there is a base level
of fact checking that must go on.
And so for this, in order for him to go far below that standard raises very
serious questions about the integrity of the information that people are
O`DONNELL: I mean, there is a simple solution for Facebook, and that is
simply to take no paid political advertising.
Does Facebook make enough money to survive if they don`t have that income?
OCASIO-CORTEZ: That`s a – you know, that`s an excellent question. Full
disclosure, I am a candidate that runs Facebook ads. But even given that,
that was a very common question.
You know, some folks have noted that the night before my hearing, I took to
Twitter, ironically enough. And I asked the public, what would you want to
know from Mark Zuckerberg?
And one of the most common questions that I got from people here in the
United States and around the world is why don`t you just ban political ads
if you`re not even going to put in the resources to fact-check them?
And I think it`s a very legitimate question. If Facebook doesn`t want to
put in the very basic investments of fact-checking on a very essential
level, then why should they take the money to run these ads at all? They
didn`t always run them. And I think it`s a natural question of should you
run them if you`re not going to fact-check them?
O`DONNELL: Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, thank you very much for
starting us off tonight. Really appreciate it.
OCASIO-CORTEZ: Of course. Thank you.
O`DONNELL: Thank you.
And when we come back, we have breaking news, there is new reporting
tonight that a witness being deposed next week will corroborate Ambassador
William Taylor`s damning testimony against Donald Trump in the impeachment
investigation. That`s next.
O`DONNELL: Breaking news, there is new reporting tonight that another
witness who will testify next week to the impeachment investigating
committees will confirm key elements of Ambassador William Taylor`s
testimony about President Trump pressuring the President of Ukraine to
publicly announce an investigation of Joe Biden in exchange for security
assistance that was already authorized by Congress, and that the President
had no legal right to block or to use as a bargaining chip for his
That witness next week will be Tim Morrison, a top ranking Europe and
Russia advisor on the National Security Council in the Trump White House.
And tonight, The Washington Post is reporting that the White House`s Trade
Representative Robert Lighthizer in late August withdrew a recommendation
to restore some of Ukraine`s trade privileges, after John Bolton then
National Security Adviser warned him that President Trump probably would
oppose any action that benefited the government in Kiev.
House Democrats are now preparing to go public with the evidence against
the President, possibly in mid-November, according to The Washington Post.
Potential public witnesses include Ambassador Bill Taylor, former
Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch and former National Security Advisor John
Joining our discussion now, Ambassador Wendy Sherman, she`s the former
Undersecretary of State in the Obama administration; Evelyn Farkas is with
us, a former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State in the Obama
administration; and Joyce Vance, former US attorney; and Matt Miller a
former spokesperson for Attorney General Eric Holder, all our MSNBC
And I want to start with the story, Rachel spent her hour with, and Rachel
and I began discussing. Matt Miller, I`d like to begin with you on this,
the idea that the Barr Justice Department has now officially launched a
criminal investigation of the beginnings of the investigation of Russian
interference in the 2016 election.
MATT MILLER, FORMER DIRECTOR OF PUBLIC AFFAIRS, JUSTICE DEPARTMENT AND
MSNBC ANALYST: I think it`s incredibly concerning, Lawrence. I think it`s
the most concerning development we`ve seen out of Justice Department since
Donald Trump became President.
Look, if there was a crime committed, obviously it ought to be
investigated. But we know more about the Russia probe and the origins of
the Russia probe than probably any investigation in the Justice
Bob Mueller wrote a 450 page report that became public, the department
released a FISA application from that investigation, something it`s never
before done in its history, there`s been extensive reporting, and through
all of that, we`ve never seen a single evidence of a crime, not even an
allegation of a crime something that would give a predicate to an
And I think it`s notable that in this story tonight, it doesn`t say what
the allegation of a crime is that the department is now investigating. If I
- I know John Durham, I worked with him when Eric Holder appointed him to
investigate alleged torture by officers at the CIA. And if I thought he
were running this investigation alone, I would have some confidence in it.
But I don`t think that`s what`s happening.
Bill Barr has been micromanaging this, he`s been flying around the world to
interrogate foreign officials about what happened, and I don`t think it`s a
coincidence that the day after an Ambassador goes up to The Hill and gives
incredibly damning testimony about the President extorting a foreign
government that we see this leak from the Department of Justice. And I
think it`s incredibly concerning about the administration of justice and
the rule of law in this country.
O`DONNELL: Joyce Vance, if Mr. Durham is an honorable straight shooting
prosecutor, nothing for anyone to worry about.
JOYCE VANCE, FORMER U.S. AND MSNBC ANALYST: Well that`s true and it`s not
unheard of for prosecutors to use a grand jury investigation to close out
allegations that aren`t warranted.
After all, if you want to leave folks with the conclusion that you left no
stone unturned before you close an investigation without any indictment,
this is a pretty good way to do it. And Durham has that sort of reputation.
Nonetheless, as Matt says, this is deeply concerning. The Inspector General
was already running an administrative investigation to see whether there
had been any misconduct by anyone involved in the origins of the
So it`s always been troubling to have these parallel investigations,
particularly one where the Attorney General of the United States, a person
with a pretty full plate and a lot of work to do, seemed so involved that
he was investing the time to fly all around the world, always been very
O`DONNELL: Joyce, let me just get one more question on this, before we turn
to the story that a - maybe this story is intended to divert, which is of
course the story of the investigation of the President, and that is I spent
an hour trying to figure out, OK what crime can you possibly be
investigating here, because it is not easy for FBI agents to commit crimes
in the course of their duties, it`s not easy for prosecutors to do that,
it`s not easy for CIA officials to do that.
There has to be some kind of crime, it seems the most likely thing would be
something involving at least some kind of charge of perjury or a cousin of
perjury somewhere in the law, some kind of false statement being made.
But procedural irregularities are corrected by defendants that the
investigators use procedural irregularities against, they`re corrected by
the appeals process in trials and all of that sort of thing. It just - I
can`t figure out what they could possibly be seriously investigating as a
VANCE: So what you`re saying I think is extremely important and that point
is that, if there are prosecutors or investigators who do things that are
wrong in the course of an investigation that comes to light during a
prosecution and defendants have the opportunity to move to dismiss the
indictment or judges exclude evidence or in extreme cases a conviction can
And so, you`re exactly right about that. Chuck Rosenberg and I had this
conversation earlier tonight, and the cousin of perjury that we came up
with was 18 U.S.C. 1001, making false statements to the government or
perhaps some sort of a leak involved with something to do with this
It`s very difficult to contemplate what the federal crime that
investigators would be looking at so hard could possibly be.
O`DONNELL: Evelyn Farkas, I want to turn to what`s going to happen next
week, Tim Morrison testifying. You know Tim Morrison, what do you expect
will happen in that testimony?
EVELYN FARKAS, FORMER DEPARTMENT ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF DEFENSE AND MSNBC
ANALYST: I think it will be different from Bill Taylor`s testimony, because
Bill Taylor was a voluntary super-friendly witness. He was a guy who wanted
to go and give the 9/11 report on everything he knew, give the narrative,
the full story, all the details.
Tim is a different story, he`s a political appointee. However, he`s worked
a long time on Congress on The Hill in the House Foreign Affairs Committee
staff and also in the Senate. He knows the Constitution, he will not - I do
not believe that he will lie, but I don`t believe that he will offer
voluntary fulsome information necessarily.
So it remains to be seen. He may surprise us and be more forthcoming, but
he may also just play it more safe as it relates to the President.
O`DONNELL: And Wendy Sherman, as the evidence close in - closes in on the
President, we are not hearing from any Republican in the House or the
Senate a single comment on the evidence. You have Matt Gaetz leading this
kind of Congressional drunk driving rampage through the halls of the House
to try to crash into the room.
You have Lindsey Graham introducing a Senate resolution taking issue with
how the House is doing business, which is most meaningless document you
could possibly raise. The idea of the House ever criticizing the Senate or
the Senate ever criticizing the House is the most meaningless thing you can
do. But no one is on the Republican side talking about the evidence.
AMBASSADOR WENDY SHERMAN, FORMER UNDERSECRETARY OF STATE FOR POLITICAL
AFFAIRS AND MSNBC ANALYST: I think we`re seeing two things. One, because
there is no substance they can attack, they are doing all process and
they`re actually acting in pretty silly and ridiculous and absurd kinds of
ways, as well as putting our national security at risk by bringing their
cell phones into the SCIF, into the secured area in the House that really
is against the law what they did, but also makes us vulnerable to Russian
and Chinese hacking, getting into the phones and knowing what`s going on
They`re going to have to clean out the SCIF all over again and reseal it.
But we`re also seeing the intimidation tactics that you were just
discussing with Joyce and Matt, where you`re really saying to witnesses who
are going to come forward be careful what you do, because we may come after
And indeed all of these people who are coming forward are patriots because
they know they`re going to get attacked. But they think that their
commitment to the Constitution is so deep that they`re going to do it. And
I quite agree with Evelyn, I think we have to be very careful.
I think Tim Morrison`s going to be under tremendous pressure. Unless he
gets his statement out quickly, he`s going to be under tremendous pressure
to be pretty nuanced in what he says.
O`DONNELL: And Evelyn, as Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez pointed out, some of
the people who raided the room, Republicans pretending that they were being
locked out, were actually members of the Committee and had reserved seats
in the room that they could have been sitting in, which bring us to the
fact that there`s about 48 Republican members of the House who have the
right to be in every one of these depositions, listening to every word.
We don`t know how many of them are exercising that right and how many of
them are spending their time doing something else. But they are certainly
in a position to reveal any evidence that they hear in that room that`s
helpful to Donald Trump and we have silence from all 48 of them.
FARKAS: Right. I mean look, I`ve actually been in that room, I actually
testified. Part of the intimidation is not just being in the face of the
witness, which was pretty much what they did to Laura Cooper, my successor
once removed from the Defense Department. But they also - it`s also
intimidating when you have to hire a private lawyer, right.
It costs a lot of money when you are a government official. That`s not in
your household budget. So there are levels of intimidation and yes they`re
not going to - if they had something they could reveal, you better believe
they would have leaked it, if it was helpful to them. But there`s nothing.
I mean there`s nothing exonerating Donald Trump thus far.
O`DONNELL: And Matt Miller, Ambassador Sondland who one member of the
Committee told me the other night is in danger of perjury charges, because
William Taylor completely disagrees with Ambassador Sondland on key
discussions that those two had. Ambassador Sondland is one of those rich
guys who can afford the best criminal defense lawyers and his very good
criminal defense lawyers today came up with the, he does not recall,
They are attributing to their client that he does not recall the
conversation in which William Taylor now is essentially saying Gordon
Sondland lied under oath to Congress.
MILLER: Yes, he does have a very good criminal defense attorney, the same
attorney that got Karl Rove out of being indicted when it appeared he had
lied to the grand jury during the Bush administration.
I think Gordon Sondland has a lot of problems. Look, he can`t - if you just
read his opening statement, even before Bill Taylor testified, he wanted
you to believe that, in all the time that he was pushing for an
investigation into Burisma and that he was talking to the President about
this investigation, talking to others in the administration and outside
people like Rudy Giuliani.
He had no idea that meant an investigation into Joe and Hunter Biden. He
just thought it was a Ukrainian company apparently that had no connection
to the President`s political opponents. That was hard to believe on its
And if I were him, I would have been worried about going and giving that
kind of answer, if there`s another witness that can come forward and say,
well Gordon Sondland said to me that this was all about Joe Biden, he knew
everything that there was about.
You then add on top of it the contradictions that appear between his
testimony and Taylor`s, and you have to look at which one of them would
have a motive to lie. Bill Taylor has no reason to come up and lie to the
Committee. Gordon Sondland very much does and I think I would be very
concerned, if I were him at the end of this, that there`s a referral to the
Department of Justice not under this administration, Bill Barr`s not going
to do anything, but if there`s a new government in a year and a half,
there`s a new administration, they might not take so kindly to members that
go up and lie to Congress to protect the President of the United States.
O`DONNELL: Now the President tried to hire Trey Gowdy as a possible
impeachment defense lawyer. That didn`t work out. Let`s listen to Trey
Gowdy defending exactly the way this investigation is being conducted
behind closed doors. He actually offered this defense in 2015. Let`s listen
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TREY GOWDY, FORMER U.S. REPRESENTATIVE: I can just tell you that, of the 50
some odd interviews we have done thus far, the vast majority of them have
been private, and you don`t see the bickering among the members of Congress
in private interviews. You don`t see any of that. The private ones always
produce better results.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Wendy Sherman, the Republicans seem to have no memory of their
SHERMAN: Indeed, not only during the Benghazi hearings, but during the
Clinton impeachment hearings, much of it was done behind closed doors.
These are House rules under which Adam Schiff and the rest of the House
committees are operating. And as you pointed out at the beginning, 48
members that includes Kevin McCarthy in his role as the Minority Leader get
to sit in those hearings and there`s equal time for questions, and they
have been following that rule.
So the Republicans get as much time as the Democrats to ask questions.
Nothing has come out that doesn`t corroborate what we heard particularly
from Bill Taylor.
O`DONNELL: And the Republican staff is filled in the chairs in the
background of that room. There are so many Republican opportunities to
reveal helpful information that comes out in those depositions to the
President. They`re not doing it - we have a right to believe that no
helpful information is coming out there. We`re going to have to break it
here, former Ambassador Wendy Sherman, Evelyn Farkas, Joyce Vance, Matt
Miller, thank you all for joining us in this important discussion.
And when we come back, the Presidential debates haven`t been fun to watch,
but the debate we really want to see is Senator Lindsey Graham debating
against Congressman Lindsey Graham of 21 years ago. We will show you what
that very intense heated debate would look like in a moment, when you`ll
see Lindsey Graham contradicting Lindsey Graham about closed-door
depositions in the impeachment investigation of a President.
O`DONNELL: Here is Lindsey Graham explaining why closed-door depositions in
an impeachment investigation of the President are the very best way for the
House of Representatives to discover impeachment evidence.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): The depositions I think will determine whether
or not we go forward with hearings, I think it`s a very smart thing to do
is to depose these people and find out what they`ve got to say and not drag
this thing out unnecessarily.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: That was 21 years ago, and since then, Lindsey Graham has
learned to tie a necktie and today he is saying exactly the opposite and
lying, while he`s at it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GRAHAM: They`ve created a process in the Intel community committee that`s
behind closed doors doesn`t provide access to the President`s accuser,
shuts Republicans out for all practical purposes, and is an unworthy
substitute for the way you need to do it, is that it`s core un-American.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Lindsey Graham continued to push the Republican lie that
Republicans are, as he put it, shut out of the closed-door depositions in
the House of Representatives. Every Republican member of the committees
conducting those depositions is allowed to attend those depositions and ask
questions in those depositions.
48 Republican members of the House of Representatives - remember that
number, 48 are allowed to attend all of the closed-door depositions and ask
as many questions as they want, and not one of those 48 Republicans has
attempted in any way to contradict any of the testimony that they have
heard against President Trump in those depositions.
Eight Republican Senators have so far refused to co-sponsor Lindsey
Graham`s Senate resolution criticizing the impeachment procedures of the
House of Representatives. Every one of those Republican Senators knows that
Donald Trump wants their names on that resolution immediately, and as of
tonight, they are defying Donald Trump.
And so Lindsey Graham`s resolution as of now is showing you that Donald
Trump`s Republican line of defense in the United States Senate is not as
solid as some people thought it appeared to be, until Lindsey Graham made
the mistake of asking all Republican Senators to put their names on a
frivolous resolution that has no meaning and will have no impact on the
Joining our discussion now is Eugene Robinson, Associate Editor and
Pulitzer Prize winning columnist for The Washington Post; and Sam Stein,
the Politics Editor of The Daily Beast is with us. They are both MSNBC
And Sam, the Lindsey Graham versus Lindsey Graham debate is the one I want
SAM STEIN, THE DAILY BEAST POLITICS EDITOR AND MSNBC ANALYST: Yes, I mean
we both know and I think everyone knows that Lindsey knows better than
this. Certainly having been involved in 20 years ago, he knows the
particulars about the process.
And what he`s essentially saying is that he wants the Senate trial to be
the House impeachment process. That`s what he`s saying. So the question is
why is he doing this. And that`s sort of been the question throughout
Lindsey Graham`s conduct during the Trump administration, why do this to a
degree it`s sacrificing of his reputation, to a degree it`s a sacrificing
of his dignity.
And I`m not sure how far it gets him. I`ve talked to a bunch of people in
and around the President`s political orbit over the past couple of days
about how they feel this process is going. And to a person, they think
Lindsey Graham is letting them down. They don`t care for pointless
resolutions like the one that he introduced today. They think they`re
largely immaterial and superficial.
What they really want him to do is they want him to use his perch as the
Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee and call people up to testify to
his Committee that might be involved in this allegation against Hunter
Biden or John Brennan type.
And so far, Lindsey Graham has refused to do that saying that, well if he
had to do that, the minority party would be able to call their witnesses as
well, and he`s right about that. But to the point of Lindsey Graham`s
reputation, it`s interesting to see him go to this length to try to cover
for Donald Trump and still piss off people who are close to Donald Trump.
O`DONNELL: And Eugene Robinson, my explanation for Lindsey Graham is there
is absolutely nothing he will not do to get reelected in South Carolina,
and it doesn`t matter that much to him what the White House thinks about
what he`s doing. What he cares about is what do South Carolina Republican
voters think about what he`s doing to protect Donald Trump. And if it looks
good to them, that`ll work for Lindsey Graham.
EUGENE ROBINSON, THE WASHINGTON POST ASSOCIATE EDITOR MSNBC ANALYST: Well
that`s certainly is his prime objective is to ensure his re-election. I
think he`s been clear over the years, he just wants to get reelected in
perpetuity. I don`t think there`s any point to not getting reelected. And
so he`s going to do what he has to do, and what he has to do in the context
of South Carolina`s Republican Party is at least for now stick close to
So that`s what he does. But Sam is right, I mean this ineffectual
resolution that has no impact whatsoever is not what Donald Trump would
really like to get out of Lindsey Graham. He`s in a very powerful position
in the Senate, and Trump believes he could be carrying his water in a more
meaningful way. And he`s not prepared to do that, and he`s kind of in the
O`DONNELL: And Sam, so far what Lindsey Graham`s accomplished is to
identify for us eight Republican Senators who are leaning against the
Republican talking points certainly on the impeachment investigation of
STEIN: That`s remarkable to me because this resolution is ceremonial at
best. It will have no bearing on the House impeachment process. It`s merely
a way to get through a new cycle without the President berating you.
And yet, eight members of the President`s own party are not putting their
names on this resolution. I expect some of them eventually will, but it`s
an embarrassment. This was done strictly to make the President feel good
about himself and it will have the opposite impact.
Trump will have to look at this and say, OK if a trial comes to the Senate,
I know at least eight members are not willing to buy into my process
arguments that I`ve been using to demean the entire impeachment proceeding.
O`DONNELL: We`re going to have to leave it there. Sam Stein, thank you very
much for joining us tonight, and Eugene Robinson, please stay with us. When
we come back, we will reflect on the Congressional career of the Honorable
Elijah Cummings, that`s next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. ELIJAH CUMMINGS (D-MD): This is a critical moment in our country`s
history. Don`t be fooled, and it is a moment which people will be talking
about and reading about 300, 400, 500 years from now. And they`re going to
ask the question, what did you do when we had a President who knew the
rules and knew that our founding fathers had done a great job of creating a
Constitution and they put in all the guardrails, but never anticipate that
we would have a President that would just throw away the guardrails.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Congressman Elijah Cummings. Eugene Robinson is back with us.
And Eugene, it was just 23 years ago that Elijah Cummings made that 25-
minute trip down from Baltimore to Washington.
And I got to say he seemed like a senior member about, I don`t know, 90
ROBINSON: Exactly. He sort of lapped up the seniority chart in a
preternatural natural way. He was - I have a good friend who went to Howard
University with him, and he always told me that the Elijah Cummings you see
now is the Elijah Cummings that you saw then.
I mean he was destined even at that point to have this sort of impact on
people`s lives and determined to make people`s lives better. He was that
rare person who walked the talk in every aspect of his life. He was
passionate, he was sincere, brilliant, a fierce defender of the city of
Baltimore and the people of Baltimore, and he meant what he said.
And that`s really why people listen to him and why you saw that really
heartfelt outpouring in his memory today at the Capitol, it was quite
O`DONNELL: Eugene Robinson, thank you very much for joining us tonight,
really appreciate it.
ROBINSON: Good to be here.
O`DONNELL: And now, for tonight`s LAST WORD.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CUMMINGS: I`m hoping that all of us can get back to this democracy that we
want and that we should be passing on to our children, so that they can do
better than what we did. When we`re dancing with the angels, the question
will be asked, in 2019 what do we do to make sure we kept our democracy
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: The Honorable Elijah Cummings gets tonight`s LAST WORD. “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