House to vote this week on resolution. TRANSCRIPT: 10/28/19, The Last Word w/ Lawrence O’Donnell.

Guests:
Eric Swalwell, Brett McGurk, Malcolm Nance
Transcript:

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

 

And I have the same opening statement in my hands we`ve been studying while

you`ve been on the air.  And this – it reads like tip of the iceberg, when

you consider how much this colonel was exposed to in the White House.  It`s

a remarkably short and effective opening statement, but there`s a lot

between the lines here. 

 

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST:  Yes, I mean, and it`s five or six pages, from

the colonel, but he`s listening in on the call, he`s the subject matter

expert, he`s a military veteran and a national security lifer.  He`s

interacting not directly with the president on this, but interacting

directly with everybody who the president has tasked with doing this thing. 

And it sounds like he couldn`t stomach it. 

 

O`DONNELL:  It will be fascinating to see what the Republicans have to say

about this witness tomorrow. 

 

MADDOW:  Yes, this Purple Heart, wounded, lifelong military veteran –

exactly. 

 

Thanks, Lawrence. 

 

O`DONNELL:  Thank you, Rachel. 

 

MADDOW:  All right.

 

O`DONNELL:  Well, what is the difference between “lock her up” and “lock

him up”?  I will give you my answer to that question that has been burning

up Twitter for the last 24 hours, after baseball fans at last night`s world

series fans chanted “lock him up” when President Trump appeared at the

game, apparently thinking everyone there would be thrilled to see him. 

 

At the end of this hour, we will show you that video and answer that

question, what is the difference?  And that video will probably be the last

time that Donald Trump ever appears before a crowd that he cannot control. 

 

We begin tonight, of course, with the breaking news about the testimony of

Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman, who will testify in a closed-door

deposition tomorrow, in the impeachment investigation of Donald Trump.  NBC

News has obtained a copy of Colonel Vindman`s opening statement tomorrow,

in which he explains that he was listening to Donald Trump`s phone call

with the president of Ukraine. 

 

He says, I was concerned by the call.  I did not think it was proper to

demand that a foreign government investigate a U.S. citizen and I was

worried about the implications for the U.S. government`s support of

Ukraine. 

 

Following the call, I again reported membership concerns to NSC`s lead

counsel, that would be John Eisenberg.  Colonel Vindman stresses that he

personally has had no direct contact or communication with President Trump. 

And he also says he is not the whistle-blower. 

 

He says, I want the committees to know I am not the whistle-blower who

brought this issue to the CIA and the committees` attention.  I do not know

who the whistle-blower is and I would not feel comfortable to speculate as

to the identity of the whistle-blower.

 

Colonel Vindman begins his opening statement with some basic biographical

information.  He says, I have dedicated my entire professional life to the

United States of America.  For more than two decades, it has been my honor

to serve as an officer in the United States army.  As an infantry officer,

I served multiple overseas tours, including South Korea and Germany, and a

deployment to Iraq for combat operations. 

 

In Iraq, I was wounded in an IED attack and awarded a Purple Heart.  Since

2008, I have been a foreign area officer, specializing in Eurasia.  In this

role, I have served in the United States` embassies in Kiev, Ukraine, and

Moscow, Russia.  In July 2018, I was asked to serve at the National

Security Council. 

 

I sit here as a lieutenant colonel in the United States army, an immigrant. 

My family fled the Soviet Union when I was 3 1/2 years old.  Upon arriving

in New York City in 1979, my father worked multiple jobs to support us, all

the while learning English at night.  He stressed to us the importance of

fully integrating into our adopted country. 

 

I have a deep appreciation for American values and ideals and the power of

freedom.  I am a patriot and it is my sacred duty and honor to advance and

defend our country, irrespective of party or politics.

 

And leading out of our breaking news discussion tonight from Kiev, Ukraine,

is NBC News reporter, Josh Lederman, national reporter for NBC News.  Also

joining us, former ambassador to Russia, Michael McFaul, who knows

Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman; Evelyn Farkas, former deputy

assistant secretary in defense in Obama administration.  And Jonathan Alter

is with us.  He`s a columnist for “The Daily Beast”. 

 

And, Ambassador McFaul, let me start with you.  What should we know about

Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman? 

 

FMR. AMB. MICHAEL MCFAUL, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO RUSSIA:  Well, we

served together in Moscow.  When I was the ambassador, he was part of the

military attache there.  You read a lot of it already. 

 

And I was always struck, as I always am, the people that go to serve

overseas in those embassies, especially the military attaches – actually,

not especially – all of them.  They`re the best and the brightest, the

people that are the most committed to the cause.  Alexander – Colonel

Vindman had another piece of his biography, as you read, he is an emigrant

from that part of the world. 

 

And from my experience, working in the government, there`s something about

the emigrants that join the U.S. government and serve – and serve in the

military.  They are even more committed to the cause.  You know, he`s a

loyal patriot.  I have no idea if he`s a Democrat or a Republican.  And

there would be no reason that that would ever come up. 

 

And another thing.  I also worked at the White House, I want to underscore. 

I was senior director there for three years.  And I had people like Colonel

Vindman that worked for me. 

 

Remember, they`re also the best and the brightest that get detailed to work

at the National Security Council.  He is definitely one of those people. 

 

O`DONNELL:  And, Josh Lederman, in Ukraine tonight, we were going to lead

this hour with your reporting from Ukraine, which reveals that the White

House – people in the White House, in Josh Bolton`s arena of the White

House, knew about the pressure that Rudy Giuliani was putting on Ukraine

earlier than we thought, in May. 

 

How is Colonel Vindman`s statement tonight linking up with your reporting? 

 

JOSH LEDERMAN, NBC NEWS NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER:  I got to tell you

something that really jumped out to me in reading that statement tonight,

Lawrence, was the fact that he says that he began to understand as early as

the spring that what he described as outside influencers were getting

involved in Ukraine policy in a way that was contrary to U.S. national

security interests.  That links up very well with what we are reporting at

NBC News tonight, which is that as early as mid-May, long before had

previously been known, Fiona Hill, a top official at the White House had

been notified that President Zelensky just barely taking office as the new

president here in Ukraine, was concerned and rattled by this pressure

campaign from Rudy Giuliani and Ambassador Sondland. 

 

So we`re getting a much bigger and broader picture, consistent from

multiple people who are coming forward, describing a pressure campaign that

started early and that was clear to the Ukrainians that they were going to

have to do what Rudy Giuliani wanted if they were going to have the type of

relationship with the United States that they were to be seeking. 

 

O`DONNELL:  Evelyn Farkas, Colonel Vindman says he`s not the whistle-

blower, doesn`t know who the whistle-blower is, but it is possible that

Colonel Vindman might be one of the people who shared his concerns about

the situation with the person who turned out that decided to become the

whistle-blower. 

 

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

sounds highly likely, Lawrence, because he is describing exactly what

happened – he describes that he heard the phone call, he was alarmed, he

spoke to people about his alarm, he likely spoke to the whistle-blower.  He

probably has a sense of who the whistle-blower is, but doesn`t want to put

that person in jeopardy by revealing anything about them.  But he expressed

his consternation. 

 

It`s a small group of people.  You know, these are all experts who work

very hard, you know, as Ambassador McFaul just said.  They work very hard

to help the relationship between the United States and Ukraine. 

 

And in the case of Ukraine, because it`s so pivotal to standing up against

Russia, we focus really and put a lot of heart in it, even if you`re not

Ukrainian-American, but, of course, that was a special element that he had. 

You know, the other thing about him, I think, as a military officer, he

stresses over and over again, this duty that he has to speak out and report

up the chain, if he sees something awry. 

 

And it`s something that we don`t drill into civilians regularly.  But in

the military, you`re not really required or you`re not expected to resign,

you`re expected to follow orders, but you`re also expected to speak out and

elevate concerns up the chain. 

 

O`DONNELL:  Jonathan Alter, it seems like every other day, there is a new

name, a new name who suddenly becomes the most important name so far.  And

Colonel Vindman is the first person to testify, who heard the phone call. 

 

JONATHAN ALTER, “THE DAILY BEAST” COLUMNIST:  Absolutely.  And you know,

history is going to look back on this as part of what I call the patriotic

surge.  It`s now no longer, you know, just one or two ambassadors.  You now

have more than half a dozen patriotic Americans coming forward, doing their

constitutional duty.  These are our heroes now and I think they will be

seen as such, when the history of impeachment is written. 

 

And in this case, you have somebody who was not only on the call, but was

in the military, you know.  Ambassador Taylor was in Vietnam.  He was in

Iraq and he got a Purple Heart, Vindman did, after being wounded in Iraq. 

 

It`s going to be very hard for Donald Trump to rip him apart, when he

testifies in public, which is coming, if not next week, then the week

after. 

 

O`DONNELL:  And Ambassador Taylor did testify to some things that were

direct evidence, conversation that he participated in.  But a certain

amount of his testimony was hearsay.  A certain amount of most of the

whistle-blower`s complaint is what you would call hearsay.  Many

Republicans like Lindsey Graham have been dismissing that kind of evidence

as hearsay. 

 

But Colonel Vindman is not a hearsay witness.  He literally was on the

phone call and he also had his own direct conversations with Gordon

Sondland.  Now, I just want to emphasize, this passage of his opening

statement, because Gordon Sondland is now the person in most jeopardy in

terms of what`s happened in the investigation, in the committee so far.  He

is the one person who may be close to a perjury charge. 

 

And Colonel Vindman`s opening statement says, Ambassador Sondland started

to speak about Ukraine, delivering specific investigations in order to

secure the meeting with the president, at which time Ambassador Bolton cut

the meeting short.  That was a meeting with Ukrainian officials. 

 

Following this meeting, there was a scheduled debriefing during which

Ambassador Sondland emphasized the importance that Ukraine deliver the

investigations into the 2016 election, the Bidens and Burisma.  I stated to

Ambassador Sondland that his statements were inappropriate, that the

request to investigate Biden and his son had nothing to do with national

security, and that such investigations were not something the NSC was going

to get involved in or pushed. 

 

Dr. Fiona Hill then entered the room and asserted to Ambassador Sondland

that his statements were inappropriate.  Following the debriefing meeting,

I reported my concerns to the NSC`s lead counsel.  Dr. Hill also reported

the incident to the NSC`s lead counsel. 

 

And, Ambassador McFaul, this is the kind of scene that I`m sure does not

surprise you at all, except for the Sondland part.  But the part where the

professionals stand up to this, in effect, tourist ambassador, this rich

guy who bought his ambassadorship based on no experience whatsoever, that`s

what you would expect them to do with an amateur like that. 

 

MCFAUL:  Yes, well, normally, professionals like Colonel Vindman would

never even interact with those kind of ambassadors.  Remember, Sondland had

nothing to do with Ukraine policy.  He bought his position to be the

ambassador to the European Union. 

 

And remember, at the time, when he`s working at the NSC, his job is to be

the point person for the entire government at his level for Ukraine, right? 

So he is reporting to Fiona – Fiona Hill, who`s the senior director. 

 

He`s the director for Ukraine.  So he has primary responsibility for

coordinating the entire policy.  And that`s why he`s so upset when he sees

this, as his boss called it, drug deal happening in parallel. 

 

And what you read, Lawrence, that sounds like a patriot to me.  I challenge

anyone to go after Colonel Vindman, the way they did with Ambassador

Taylor, when they called him some radical, unelected bureaucrat.  This

sounds like a patriot to me, as was and as is Ambassador Taylor, somebody I

also know.

 

O`DONNELL:  Well, because he`s also an immigrant, we can expect Donald

Trump to accuse him of being bias, in favor of Ukraine. 

 

And, Josh Lederman, Colonel Vindman is very well known in Ukraine.  He

speaks the language.  He is someone who has his own real experience there. 

And I assume he`s someone who I assume the government and Ukraine has dealt

with extensively. 

 

LEDERMAN:  That`s right.  So he was a foreign area expert, which means that

even though he served in some different capacities, he`s currently detailed

to the National Security Council.  He`s been focused on this region for

quite a while.  He had served here in Kiev as well as other parts of the

broader region. 

 

So, he was well known to people here, had a level of trust.  They knew who

he was and what he stood for, the fact that he was someone who also had

ancestry here.  And he is someone who has had added credibility as a result

of the fact that he`s a real expert in his area.  Not someone as you

mentioned like Ambassador Sondland who kind of came in and seemed to be

acting out of political purposes, instead of a well-verse knowledge of U.S.

national security interests when it comes to Ukraine and the broader Europe

region. 

 

O`DONNELL:  Evelyn Farkas, the national security counsel`s lawyer is now is

a very sharp focus of this investigation.  Whenever something like this

happens, the professionals immediately report it to the NSC`s counsel. 

 

FARKAS:  Right.  And so, now, the question is, what did that counsel do

with the information and what was the conversation like between Ambassador

Bolton, the national security adviser, and the lawyer for the National

Security Council? 

 

There are a lot of questions about what the lawyer`s involvement was in

basically taking phone transcripts and putting them on to the very secret

computers, which you`ve talked about in other programs.  This lawyer is

also potentially, I would say, in some jeopardy.  So he can join Ambassador

Sondland in that arena.  But certainly, Sondland, of course, is in a bit of

trouble, because it looks like he may have misled Congress when he went up

to testify. 

 

O`DONNELL:  And, Jonathan Alter, to stress to the audience, since the

Republicans have been lying about this, tomorrow`s deposition is – there`s

48 Republican members of the House who have a right to be in that

deposition, listen to ever word, and ask every question they might want to

ask of Colonel Vindman.  There are Republican staff members in that room. 

And so this is their chance to talk – their first chance, to talk to

someone who actually listened to the Trump phone call. 

 

ALTER:  Yes, and I don`t think they`re going to do anything to knock him

down.  There`s no indication that the Republicans have laid a glove on any

of these other people being deposed.  They know that their president is in

a pickle.  And what eventually a lot of them are going to do is just say,

well, this doesn`t rise to the level of impeachment.  They`re not even

going to try to contest the facts, which are now very clear. 

 

The problem with the argument that is emerging, that this doesn`t rise to

the level of impeachment, is that it has now become a national security

issue.  And this is one of the things that Colonel Vindman does, is he

links up why this is related to our national security.  And the reason is,

the reason that Ukraine did not want to be put in this position is that if

their aid was politicized, if it became a Democrat versus Republican thing,

because, say, the Democrats thought, well, you know, Ukraine is

investigating Joe Biden on a bogus charge, then it would be less likely

that they would get aid in the future, less likely that they would be able

to defend themselves against Russia. 

 

That is very much in our national security interests.  That`s why we`re

giving them $400 million, is that this is a national security issue for us,

and this has now become enmeshed in this case. 

 

O`DONNELL:  We`re joined now by a member of the House Intelligence

Committee and House Judiciary Committee, Democratic Congressman Eric

Swalwell. 

 

Congressman Swalwell, I want to get your reaction to Colonel Vindman`s

opening statement.  It has been made public and I know it`s going to be

something he delivers in the closed-door deposition tomorrow.  But it is

now a public statement.  And this will be the first witness who you will

have, who actually listened to the president`s phone call. 

 

REP. ERIC SWALWELL (D-CA):  Good evening, Lawrence.  I very much look

forward tomorrow morning to thanking Lieutenant Colonel Vindman for his

service to our country.  This Soviet-born immigrant, this wounded warrior,

this patriot who I have not seen officially the opening statement.  But

from what I have read, which has been released, of course, based on his

service to our country, he would be concerned about what he heard. 

 

And of course he would follow the proper chain of command.  He did not leak

out to the press.  He went through the chain of command, through the

national security lawyers, expressing his concern. 

 

And it really will be people like him who have come forward, who have

followed lawful subpoenas, done their duty, that will aid our

investigation, people like Ambassador Yovanovitch, people like Ambassador

McKinley and Ambassador Taylor, who provided so much color to this

investigation.

 

And to my Republican colleagues who have heard this testimony, if they have

sat through it, I ask, can you hear them now and will you hear them now? 

 

O`DONNELL:  And, Congressman, this is your first opportunity to question

someone who actually listened to the phone call.  This means it`s the first

opportunity to check the voracity of the rough transcript of that phone

call released by the White House.  That so-called transcript has ellipses

in it of a few times. 

 

Is that something that someone will zero in on and ask him, does he recall

if there were any additional words spoken, especially in those spaces that

are just represented by a dot, dot, dot? 

 

SWALWELL:  Of course, Lawrence.  That will be a mart of our investigation,

as well as understanding who else was on the call.  Did anyone else express

concern?

 

But, Lawrence, frankly, if there was nothing else, you know, to the dot,

dot, dots, as you referenced, it`s a gross abuse of power.  And if all

President Trump did was ask the Ukrainian president to help him investigate

the Bidens, that would be a gross abuse of power. 

 

But he didn`t just do that, he leveraged a White House meeting and he

didn`t just do that, he also leveraged $391 million of your taxpayer

dollars.  That is what we`re investigating and I very much look forward to

hearing from the lieutenant colonel tomorrow. 

 

O`DONNELL:  There seems to be a conflict in Colonel Vindman`s testimony and

Ambassador Sondland`s testimony.  There seems to be a very sharp conflict

between Ambassador Bill Taylor`s testimony and Gordon Sondland`s.  One

member of the committee who listened to these testimonies said that he

believes that Gordon Sondland could easily face perjury charges the way

this investigation is going. 

 

Is Gordon Sondland in more trouble tonight as a result of Colonel Vindman`s

testimony? 

 

SWALWELL:  I`m going to reserve judgment on that and wait until I hear from

all of the witnesses.  But I will say, Ambassador Taylor, whose testimony

was in sharp conflict, at least the opening statement that was released

with Ambassador Sondland, he had a deep recall that was backed up by

meticulous notes that he took.  And that is in sharp conflict with

Ambassador Sondland. 

 

Now, Ambassador Sondland was at the committee today, reviewing his

testimony with his lawyer, and of course, has an opportunity, you know, to

review that testimony.  I`ll wait to see what he does with it. 

 

But people like Fiona Hill, also as you saw in your testimony, have

corroborated what Ambassador Taylor and others have said.  And it seems to

be that the arrows continue to point toward a shakedown ordered by this

president, two sharp lines to Rudy Giuliani and Ambassador Sondland, to

have the Ukrainians, at the president`s direction, investigate his

political opponents in exchange for a White House meeting and security

assistance.

 

O`DONNELL:  Congressman Swalwell, let me just go over that review of

testimony from Ambassador Sondland.  That is an offer that`s made to

witnesses when they testify under oath in depositions like this by your

committees, that they can have an opportunity to review their testimony. 

What is the point of that review and is that a situation in which someone

like Gordon Sondland can look over his answers and say, having thought it

over, I would actually – I actually think the correct answer is something

else. 

 

And is that a moment you want to think very seriously about possible

perjury if you`re Gordon Sondland? 

 

SWALWELL:  Well, I hope he thought about that before he testified,

Lawrence.  But it`s not an opportunity to change the answer.  It`s really

to make sure that the court reporter, the stenographer, accurately, you

know, was able to capture your words.  It`s for technical changes or to

clarify where something may be unintelligible. 

 

There`s other ways for him to clear up his testimony if he wanted to do

that, but it`s not to change what the stenographer has taken down.  And I

just want your viewers to know, Lawrence, that it`s not just the ambassador

who`s able to review those transcripts.  Every member on the Republican

side, up to about 50 of them, are able to also review those transcripts and

participate in these hearings, despite all of the attacks they`ve made on

their lack of access. 

 

O`DONNELL:  Ambassador McFaul, if you could suggest a question to Colonel

Vindman tomorrow, what would you suggest the committee, knowing what his

job is and knowing the types of information he has access to, what would

you suggest the committee should zero in on with Colonel Vindman tomorrow? 

 

MCFAUL:  Well, on the small part, again, I don`t know how the Trump

national security works, but when I work at the National Security Council,

it would be somebody like a director, the level that he was at, that would

review those transcripts that you are talking about, right?  So he would

know if that was the transcript or not. 

 

But the big question, and I think that`s really revealing about what he

said so far is the timeline here.  As you were talking about earlier, that

I think what this testimony suggests is that the phone call was just one

act, was just one play, if you will, in a long, multiple month, many, many

different iterations with the Ukrainians.  And I want to know when he knew,

the other things that happened before that phone call. 

 

And secondly, I would ask him about the first phone call.  We haven`t

talked much about that phone call, but there was a congratulatory phone

call to President Zelensky earlier in the year.  Was he on that call and

could he talk about what will happen in that call as well?

 

O`DONNELL:  And, Josh Lederman, that takes you back to your reporting,

which is the timeline.  You`ve done important work on the timeline

reporting today.  And it seems that Colonel Vindman`s testimony is

lightning with your timeline. 

 

LEDERMAN:  That`s right.  And we`re learning more from this new reporting

about how early the alarm bells were going off inside the National Security

Council, with John Bolton, the former national security adviser, being

briefed by Fiona Hill after a visit from a former U.S. diplomat, who had

just met here in Kiev with Zelensky and his advisers, as they were

preparing to take office.  This is the period in between when Zelensky was

elected and he was inaugurated. 

 

And he was already feeling the pressure from Giuliani, to change up the

board of Naftogaz.  Fiona Hill was told about the involvement of Fruman and

Parnas, those two Florida businessmen who were also trying to dig up dirt

on the vice president`s son and have also now been indicted for alleged

campaign finance violations.  And Fiona Hill at the White House was also

told in may about Gordon Sondland making unsolicited overtures to President

Zelensky about who he should put into key influential positions in his new

administration with the Ukrainians feeling before he`d even been sworn in

that that was inappropriate, and making sure that that message got to the

White House. 

 

O`DONNELL:  Evelyn Farkas, one thing that happens, we`ve discovered, in

these depositions is that new names come up and new people get discovered

in this story.  Corporal Vindman was mentioned in some of the earlier

depositions and that`s where we learned about him.  So that`s one of the

possibilities that could emerge in Colonel Vindman`s testimony tomorrow. 

 

But what would you focus on, if you could be in that room tomorrow with

Colonel Vindman`s testimony? 

 

FARKAS:  I would be interested whether he knows anything about how all of

this started, because the strands of these stories.  There`s, first of all,

the president trying to get the dirt on Biden and his son, and basically to

use it for his own political purposes.  And then there are these guys

trying to make business deals and basically trying to take the reformed

Ukrainian natural gas industry. 

 

It was like the one place where we had success.  And it wasn`t corrupt

anymore.  And they`re trying to dirty it up again. 

 

Who actually directed Giuliani and these guys?  Who put the idea in their

heads to start with Ukraine?  I mean, they could have tried to get dirt on

Vice President Biden and his son elsewhere.  And again, I believe that as

Nancy Pelosi put it, Speaker Pelosi put it, all roads lead back to the

Kremlin. 

 

I think there were people who were whispering in the ears of these

affiliates of Giuliani`s or others.  Certainly, we know Firtash, the guy

who`s in jail, and we`re trying to get him extradited to the United States,

who was providing funding.  He`s a pro-Russian guy.  All the Ukrainians

that were dealing with back in Ukrainian, Josh is probably tracking them

all down now.

 

But these guys had an axe to grind with the United States.  They were pro-

Russian.  So, there`s a game being played here that unfortunately I think

Moscow is a little too heavily involved in.  So, again, all roads go back

to the Kremlin and this is not good for Ukraine or the United States. 

 

O`DONNELL:  We`re going to have to squeeze in a break here.  Congressman

Swalwell, please stay with us, so we can talk about that impeachment

resolution that the House will be voting on this week.

 

Josh Lederman from Ukraine, thank you for joining us tonight.  Ambassador

Michael McFaul, Evelyn Farkas, Jonathan Alter, thank you all for starting

us off tonight. 

 

We will be right back. 

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

O`DONNELL: We will get our first look at the resolution Nancy Pelosi told

the House of Representatives that will be introduced this week. We`ll get

the first look at that on Wednesday when the Chairman of the Rules

Committee, Jim McGovern, brings it to a vote in the Rules Committee before

a full vote on the House floor on Thursday.

 

In a letter to Democratic members of the House, Speaker Pelosi said this

about the resolution. She said, “This resolution establishes the procedure

for hearings that are open to the American people, authorizes the

disclosure of deposition transcripts, outlines procedures to transfer

evidence to the Judiciary Committee, as it considers potential articles of

impeachment and sets forth due process rights for the President and his

Counsel. We are taking this step to eliminate any doubt as to whether the

Trump administration may withhold documents, prevent witness testimony,

disregard duly authorized subpoenas, or continue obstructing the House of

Representatives.”

 

Congressman Eric Swalwell is back with us. And Congressman, this is a -

this resolution will be very clear set of guidelines about how the

impeachment investigation proceeds from here. But is it also a political

response to Republicans trying to delegitimize what`s been happening in the

House because there has not been a vote of the full House on impeachment?

 

REP. ERIC SWALWELL (D-CA): Yes. It`s not, Lawrence. It just so happens that

it also is that. But I think the Speaker is giving the President the due

process that he would never give anyone himself. And it would have been

premature to have done this last month when we just launched this

investigation. At that point, we weren`t quite sure if it would be

necessary to proceed to full public hearings.

 

If there was nothing there, if we saw evidence that would exonerate the

President, we would be able to just wrap up this investigation and say it

doesn`t warrant going further. We have seen evidence that is quite

alarming. And this will move to a public phase.

 

And as it moves to a public phase, we will want to make sure that the

investigative depositions are released, that there`s a process for the

minority to be a part of the public hearings, that there`s a process for

the President and his Counsel to have some role in the public hearings, and

for staff, as well, to play a role in the questioning.

 

To do that, you have to have the vote that we`ll be having on Thursday.

But, yes, you`re right. It also answers the question that the President

poses. “Why haven`t you formalized this with a vote?” We`re going to

formalize it with a vote and we`ll see what he does next.

 

O`DONNELL: And you did have a federal judge rule that you don`t have to

have any kind of vote by the House of Representatives. Judge Howell ruled,

“Even in cases of presidential impeachment, a House resolution has never,

in fact, been required to begin an impeachment inquiry.” And so you

actually managed to have that legally established in court.

 

Was the Speaker waiting for that formal adjudication in court as, in

effect, proof that this is not necessary so that going forward with the

resolution now does not appear to be a necessary step?

 

SWALWELL: I don`t want to speak for her. I know that she wants to make this

process as fair as possible, but to also move expeditiously. And as I said,

the fact that we`re starting to lay up what the procedures would be for an

open hearing signals that we`re going to be moving toward that phase so

that we can illuminate for the public just what the President did in this

shakedown and give the Republicans an opportunity to question the

witnesses.

 

Now, I will say, Lawrence, I hope that they finally come to grips with what

is alleged here, bring seriousness that they have not yet brought to this

investigation, but also realize that unlike in our court system where

defendants are often assigned a public defender and that the public

defenders play an important role, the Republicans are not the President`s

public defender. They don`t have to just defend him at all costs. They can

actually play a constructive role in finding out just what happened.

 

O`DONNELL: It seems a bit optimistic for the Speaker to say that this will

eliminate any doubt that the White House has to comply with your subpoenas.

Of course, the White House will continue to play the game the way they`ve

been playing it. The incentive for the White House has not changed because

of this resolution, in terms of complying with subpoenas.

 

SWALWELL: As we get ready for the Charlie Brown Halloween and Thanksgiving

and Christmas specials, Lawrence, we expect this to be Lucy with a

football, that we don`t truly expect President Trump to comply and

cooperate. We expect he`ll continue to just lift up the football and have

some new terms. But we`re not going to chase him into court.

 

We have his confession co-signed by Mick Mulvaney and a lot of

corroborating evidence. If they want to participate, because they have

evidence that will exonerate him, we expect that they will. If they don`t

have that, we expect they will obstruct only because they have a

consciousness of guilt. And we`ll consider that as an article of

obstruction of Congress.

 

O`DONNELL: Congressman Eric Swalwell, thank you for joining us tonight.

Really appreciate it.

 

SWALWELL: Of course. My pleasure, Lawrence.

 

O`DONNELL: Thank you.

 

And when we come back, why some Pentagon officials have been reporting that

the death of al-Baghdadi occurred, their terms, “largely in spite of, and

not because of, Donald Trump.”

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

O`DONNELL: “The New York Times” is reporting that President Trump`s abrupt

decision to withdraw troops from Syria affected the already-existing plans

for the raid on ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

 

According to intelligence, military and counterterrorism officials, “Mr.

Trump`s abrupt withdrawal order three weeks ago disrupted the meticulous

planning underway and forced Pentagon officials to speed up the plan for

the risky night raid before their ability to control troops, spies and

reconnaissance aircraft disappeared with the pullout,” the official said.

Mr. al-Baghdadi`s death in the raid on Saturday, they said, occurred

largely in spite of, and not because of, Mr. Trump`s actions.

 

Joining our discussion now, Brett McGurk, served in the national security

positions under presidents Bush, Obama and Trump; most recently, as the

envoy leading the global campaign to defeat ISIS. He is a Senior Foreign

Affairs Analyst for MSNBC. Also joining us, Malcolm Nance, MSNBC

Counterterrorism and Intelligence Analyst.

 

And Brett McGurk, your reaction to “The Times`” reporting about this?

 

BRETT MCGURK, FORMER SPECIAL PRESIDENTIAL ENVOY, NBC NEWS SENIOR FOREIGN

AFFAIRS ANALYST & MSNBC SENIOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS ANALYST: Well, it`s quite an

extraordinary report. And what strikes me is the fact that when President

Trump had this call with President Erdogan, this fateful call on October 6,

I think quite clearly there was no process to really staff that call, to

brief the President. So he fully understood the consequences if Erdogan had

a green light to cross the border, because nobody was providing more

intelligence on Baghdadi. And this isn`t new. This has been going on for

years now.

 

The majority of the intelligence, frankly, has come from the Syrian Kurdish

led forces. And without those forces, our ability to really finish off the

leadership of ISIS, in particular, Baghdadi, who Trump said was his number-

one priority, apparently he said that, we couldn`t do that without these

guys.

 

And what`s happened since then is all the Kurdish areas of Syria along the

border, the vast majority of them, we`ve basically abandoned those areas.

And they`re now under the control of Russia and the Assad regime.

 

So our ability to continue to prosecute this campaign, to follow up on the

intelligence collected from the Baghdadi compound, which must be an

extraordinary amount of information, is extremely limited. It`s just a

total breakdown in process, and it speaks to issues going on now really

across the board around the world.

 

O`DONNELL: So, Brett McGurk, what is the overall impact do you think at

this point of stopping al-Baghdadi?

 

MCGURK: Well, again, I want to say it is a landmark day. The men and women

who pulled this off, the civil servants in the intelligence community, our

men and women in the Special Forces, I spent a lot of time with them in

Iraq and Syria, truly extraordinary. And Baghdadi is not easily replaced.

So we should not understate the achievement here.

 

And President Trump, at the end of the day, he did order this very gutsy

raid. You could have obliterated the compound from the air, from - with

jets and things. He ordered a raid across hundreds of miles of territory.

That`s risky. But now we`ve collected all of this intelligence. It`s a

treasure trove.

 

I worked on the ISIS account for many years. I can`t - it`s just

unimaginable what we now have in our possession. And we want to follow up

on that quickly and rapidly. But because of the chaos in Northeast Syria

over the last month due to the decision that the President made on October

6, this total unraveling of what was a very secure and stable situation, it

will be very difficult for us to follow through on this information. The

guys working on it will do the best they can, but it is a deeply

unfortunate situation and an unforced error.

 

O`DONNELL: And Malcolm Nance, the President, when he was giving his thanks

yesterday, the first country he thanked in this collaboration was Russia.

 

MALCOLM NANCE, FORMER COUNTERTERRORISM INTELLIGENCE OFFICER & MSNBC

COUNTERTERRORISM AND INTELLIGENCE ANALYST: Well, that`s one of those

aspects of the Trump administration that is still a mystery to everyone.

But as Brett McGurk said, it`s the men and women of the armed forces who

carried out this absolutely amazing piece of special operations activity

and intelligence tradecraft that brought us to the point where we could

take out Baghdadi.

 

But for the most part, the fact that we actually were drawing down or had

to plan the drawdown, all of these resources, and there`s this elaborate

ballet of intelligence resources on the ground with our allies, the Kurds,

in the air, which any one of which had they come out of sequence, would

have tipped these - tipped this activity off, not just to the Russians, but

to the Syrians and the Turks and people that we didn`t want to have happen,

didn`t want to see and know that we were actually going to carry off this

mission.

 

But that - the President of the United States would have to de-conflict

this mission anyway with the Russians in that immediate air space because

of the resources we put there. But to praise them first is extraordinary. I

mean, that is just something that is going to have to be left for the

history books or for the impeachment process to vet out because it

certainly is not something that I think that the men and women who carried

out this mission would have expected to be at the top of their checklist.

 

O`DONNELL: Brett, what is the strength level of ISIS today?

 

MCGURK: In Iraq and Syria, there`s probably above 10,000 fighters or so.

They`re dispersed. They`re trying to regenerate an insurgency. And again,

this is the risk of withdrawing the bulk of our force in Northeast Syria.

And yet we built this campaign to be very cost-effective, very low numbers

of U.S. forces, really no more than 2,000 at any given time. We`re not

fighting. We`re not taking casualties. We`re not spending that much money

at all.

 

And President Trump justifies the withdrawal of these forces by saying he

ran on the promise to bring the troops home. But he`s actually sent 14,000

more U.S. forces to the Middle East since May. So there`s so much

incoherence here.

 

And again, the ability to follow up on this operation has been

significantly diminished. And without the Syrian Kurdish led forces, we

would not have gotten Baghdadi. Without the Syrian Kurdish led forces, we

would not have defeated the ISIS physical caliphate that Trump praises

repeatedly.

 

And again, the Kurdish areas in Syria are now under the control of Russia

and the Assad regime because President Putin and President Erdogan last

week sat in a room in Sochi with a map of Syria and carved up all the

territory that we had left. So that`s what happened.

 

And the situation is really not a good one, not to mention 180,000 people

who have been displaced since October 6th, many of whom are heading to an

already very unstable, very fragile Iraq and Iraqi Kurdistan region. So

this is why you need a serious national security team, a very serious

National Security Council to advise the President and make good decisions.

And that`s really not happening.

 

O`DONNELL: And Malcolm, in the President`s statement yesterday, which was

supposed to be 900 words and he rambled it into 8,000, there was no

evidence whatsoever that Donald Trump has any idea what happens next.

 

NANCE: No. And that`s the problem with the Trump administration.

Incoherence is just the start of how you could describe this lack of

policy. What`s happening here is a series of decisions which are occurring

in Donald Trump`s mind. And from those immediate decisions, which get put

out in a tweet, then some policy has to be immediately drafted up on the

back of a notebook and some note paper, and then as that`s being executed,

Trump changes his mind again.

 

What we have here is incompetence. There is no policy in the Middle East.

There are deals that are occurring that it appears that are happening that

we don`t know about, but we`re seeing the parameters of them, and then we

find out later on that one of them betrays the number-one ally of the most

successful asymmetric warfare operation since the Jedburghs in World War

II.

 

So - whatever Donald Trump is doing here, we can only expect to see

absolutely more - more mayhem. That`s just about all I can say.

 

O`DONNELL: Brett McGurk and Malcolm Nance, thank you both for joining our

discussion tonight. Really appreciate it.

 

MCGURK: Thank you.

 

NANCE: Okay.

 

O`DONNELL: And Donald Trump has a long history of hating dogs. But all of

that changed for one brief moment yesterday. And in tonight`s “Last Word,”

what is the difference between “lock her up” and “lock him up”? It`s a big

difference.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

O`DONNELL: There were a couple of big reversals in Trump world yesterday,

beginning with Donald Trump praising a dog.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: A canine, as they call,

I call it a dog, a beautiful dog, a talented dog, was injured and brought

back.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

O`DONNELL: Donald Trump has been a lifelong virulent dog hater. There is

nothing worse than a dog in Donald Trump`s world.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

TRUMP: He was run out of office like a dog.

 

They throw you the hell out like a dog.

 

Boy, does he jump like a dog.

 

I`m watching Marco sweating like a dog.

 

He choked. It`s just like a dog.

 

A lot of people choke. They choke like dogs.

 

And he was fired like a dog.

 

She lied like a dog. She cheated like a dog.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

O`DONNELL: Donald Trump reserves the “like a dog” insult for the people he

hates the most. And so it was a big reversal for Donald Trump yesterday to

use the phrase “beautiful dog” for the first time in his life.

 

And it was a big reversal for him last night when he appeared before a

crowd of 41,000 people who spontaneously started booing Donald Trump while

some of them chanted, “lock him up.” There is a big difference between

“lock him up” and “lock her up.” That`s next.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

O`DONNELL: When Donald Trump made the mistake of presenting himself last

night to the 41,000 baseball fans gathered in Washington to watch the World

Series game, he discovered the hard way that they had not forgotten this.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

MICHAEL FLYNN, FORMER NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR: We do not need a reckless

President who believes she is above the law.

 

(APPLAUSE)

 

CROWD: Lock her up. Lock her up. Lock her up. Lock her up.

 

FLYNN: Lock her up. That`s right.

 

CROWD: Lock her up–

 

FLYNN: Yes, that`s right. Lock her up.

 

TRUMP: Lock her up is right. She should be locked up, tell you right now.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

O`DONNELL: When Donald Trump was introduced to the crowd at the World

Series last night, not only did he get booed, but for the first time in his

life and what surely will not be the last time, he heard the chant “lock

him up” directed at him.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

CROWD: Lock him up. Lock him up. Lock him up. Lock him up. Lock him up.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

O`DONNELL: Some observers equated the crowd`s use of “lock him up” with

Donald Trump`s use of “lock her up.” But there`s a big difference. None of

the people chanting “lock him up” last night are running for president. No

Democratic candidate for president has ever let a chant of lock him up.

 

No Democratic candidate for president is ever going to lead a chant of

“lock him up.” No one on the Democratic convention stage is going to lead a

chant of “lock him up.” That`s never going to happen. That was not the

Democratic convention last night. That was a baseball game.

 

Most sports fans are cheering for things that they know won`t happen most

of the time. Most baseball teams don`t come close to getting into the

playoffs, but their fans cheer them all the way to the end of their failed

seasons because sports fans are at the core, unrealistic, always dreaming

the impossible dream for their team.

 

And so most of those Washington baseball fans last night probably have

enough Washington experience to know that it`s very unlikely Donald Trump

will ever be locked up, even though federal prosecutors have already

accused him of participating in and directing the crimes that Michael Cohen

has pleaded guilty to and has now been locked up for.

 

Donald Trump will surely issue himself a blanket pardon for that crime and

other possible crimes when leaving the White House, and so he will probably

never be locked up. But that doesn`t mean that sports fans have to stop

dreaming the impossible dream or giving voice to that dream if Donald Trump

ever makes the mistake of showing up at a game again.

 

For the rest of his life, if Donald Trump ever steps out of his protected

bubble again, he will hear what people really think of him for the rest of

his life. People will use their First Amendment rights to tell Donald Trump

what they think of him if they ever get the chance and that is the life

sentence that Donald Trump can never escape.  That is tonight`s LAST WORD. 

“THE 11TH HOUR” with Brian Williams starts now.

 

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY

BE UPDATED.

END   

 

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