Democrats win big off-year elections. TRANSCRIPT: 11/6/19, The Last Word w/ Lawrence O’Donnell.
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Rachel.
And you have to wonder about Jennifer Williams testifying. One reason to
do it could be that what she believes she has to say would be helpful to
Mike Pence. That`s one possibility.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Sure.
O`DONNELL: Other possibilities include she just doesn`t want to deal with
the kind of legal fees that she might be incurring by trying to steer her
way around testifying and running up billable hours with an expensive
Washington law firm. I think one of the most fascinating stories we`re
going to get, when, I don`t know a year from now, whenever is this
decision, a decision by people who got with these requests and these
subpoenas, that decision of do we fight it, do we go to court, what do we
do? Or we do just go and testify, and why do we go and testify?
MADDOW: And the White House clearly believed and Mike Pompeo and the State
Department clearly believed, oh, we`ll just tell people they`re not going,
and that will be enough. And faced with you`re not going versus a lawful
congressional subpoena that you need to go, a lot of people particularly
people who are not hyper-partisans who were just doing their job, are
deciding this assertion from the White House is bullpucky, and ultimately,
that will be material in how the courts adjudicate whether not that
instruction from the White House means anything in the face of a subpoena.
But watching David Hale turn up today, watching Colonel Vindman, turned up
a couple of weeks ago, watching Taylor turned up, watching Yovanovitch and
now watching Williams tomorrow, it`s a – it`s a fascinating cast.
O`DONNELL: So, there`s an interesting passage in Taylor`s deposition
transcripts about exactly this, and it`s one of those things that the
Republicans really – I focused on the Republican testimony, Rachel, the
Republican question because there isn`t any. It`s like there`s just
nothing there. Republicans don`t release highlights of the depositions
because there are no Republican highlights of the deposition which I think
is hugely important, that there`s no defense there.
One of the things that the committee, the Republican committee council
spent a great deal of time on was the question of a subpoena to Ambassador
Taylor. And he clarified in there – by the way, totally irrelevant,
right? Why use your time on that?
But for our purposes right now, he clarified in there when Ambassador
Taylor did get a subpoena, the state department did not say to him defy the
subpoena. At that point the State Department pulled back and said – just
sort of pulled away from that. But before that, they were saying, don`t
go. But then when they got the subpoena, the State Department just – goes
hands-off. So that`s one process that was revealed pretty clearly in that
MADDOW: But it`s – you know, this is White House officials, DOD
officials, state department officials. Tomorrow we`re going to have
somebody a State Department veteran detail today, the vice president`s
office for the first time. I mean, every – you know, everybody has their
equities here but ultimately everyone`s going to have to answer to their
O`DONNELL: Yes, thank you, Rachel.
MADDOW: Thanks. Appreciate it.
O`DONNELL: Well, we have breaking news with the headline: Trump wanted
Barr to hold a news conference saying the president broke no laws in call
with Ukrainian leader. Attorney General William Barr decided not to hold
that press conference.
Also tonight, today was the first day of Roger Stone`s trial where
prosecutors from Robert Mueller`s team accused Roger Stone of committing
crimes to protect Donald Trump. We`ll have more on both of those important
stories later in this hour.
But, first tonight, we are now one week away from the first public hearing
in the impeachment investigation of President Donald J. Trump. The acting
ambassador to Ukraine, William Taylor, will make history next Wednesday as
the first witness to testify publicly in what will become the fourth
impeachment investigation of a president in American history.
A transcript of Ambassador Taylor`s deposition to the impeachment inquiry
was released today. It shows Ambassador Taylor testified that he
threatened to quit if President Trump continued to withhold military aid to
Ukraine. Ambassador Taylor said that the Trump position was that the
president of Ukraine would be granted a White House meeting with the
president of the United States, and Ukraine would receive military
assistance mandated by Congress only if Ukraine helped the Trump re-
election campaign by investigating Joe Biden.
Chairman Adam Schiff pointed out that the Trump position fit the literal
definition of quid pro quo. Chairman Schiff said, if they didn`t do this,
the investigations, they weren`t going to get that, the meeting and the
military assistance. Ambassador Taylor, that was my clear understanding.
Security assistance money would not come until the president committed to
pursue the investigation.
Schiff, so if they don`t do this, they are not going to get it, that was
your understanding? Taylor, yes, sir. Schiff, are you aware quid pro quo
literally means this for that? Taylor, I am.
Congressman Tom Malinowski of New Jersey asked, who is responsible for
setting all this into motion? Was it Mr. Sondland? Was it Ambassador
Taylor, I don`t think so. I think the origin of the idea to get President
Zelensky to say out loud he`s going to investigate Burisma in the 2016
election, I think the originator who came up with that is Mr. Giuliani.
Malinowski, and he was representing whose interests? Taylor, President
Ambassador Taylor testified that four cabinet level officials tried to get
a meeting with President Trump to undue his blocking of aid Ukraine, but
the secretary of defense, the secretary of state, the CIA director and the
national security advisor were never granted that meeting.
Donald Trump`s resistance might not have been the only reason that that
meeting was never scheduled. There`s also the general hectic pace of
activity within the White House. Ambassador Taylor suggested that one
reason was another Trump created distraction that was diverting White House
attention from Ukraine.
Taylor, I think this was also about the time of the Greenland question,
about purchasing Greenland, which took up a lot of energy in the National
Security Council. Schiff, OK, that`s disturbing for a whole different
It was Ambassador Taylor`s testimony that first provoked questions of
possible perjury in the testimony of Donald Trump`s ambassador to the
European Union, Gordon Sondland who testified before Ambassador Taylor and
claimed that he didn`t recall any discussions with the White House on
withholding security assistance from Ukraine. Ambassador Taylor quoted
Gordon Sondland telling him exactly the opposite. Gordon Sondland was then
forced to change his under oath testimony by adding a written statement
that was attached to the end of his deposition that was released yesterday.
In that written statement, Gordon Sondland said that reading accounts of
Ambassador Taylor`s testimony and other witnesses testimony, public
accounts of them had refreshed his memory. The William Taylor deposition
transcript like all the other deposition transcripts released before it
show that the Republicans have nothing, no defense of Donald Trump. The
Republican council to the oversight committee asked most of the Republican
questions and William Taylor`s deposition, and he spent most of his time
asking about a 2-year-old “Politico” article that Ambassador Taylor had
Congressman Jim Jordan chimed in a couple of times, no more than two
minutes at a time. There was nothing aggressive in Jim Jordan`s
questioning. It was not the Jim Jordan that you see on TV. It was not the
Jim Jordan that we will see if he participates in the televised hearings
where his mission will be to create as much of a distracting spectacle as
Jim Jordan asked about a phone call. And the thing he wanted to know was
whether Ambassador Taylor placed the phone call or received the phone call.
That was a phone call of members of the National Security Council. That
was what Jim Jordan tried to accomplish in there.
Ambassador Taylor said that he thinks he initiated the phone call, but he
couldn`t be absolutely sure. That was all Jim Jordan had. That`s all he
tried to do in that deposition was ask about who placed the call, who
received the call.
No Republican in that room tried even the slightest attack on the
ambassador Taylor who`s a West Point graduate and served in every
administration Republican and Democrat since Ronald Reagan`s.
In next week`s televised hearing, Republicans will not be fighting with
Ambassador Taylor. His deposition transcript shows it`s impossible for
Republicans to try to do that. But they will need to create a diversion in
the hearing room to try to shift the attention from the devastating
testimony about what Donald Trump had Rudy Giuliani and Gordon Sondland
were doing with Ukraine.
And so, you can expect Jim Jordan if he`s there will be yelling at
Democrats in that hearing, yelling about the procedures being followed by
the impeachment inquiry and complaining that they are somehow unfair.
Republicans will be yelling, but the Republicans will not be yelling at
Ambassador William Taylor. They will be trying to distract from the power
of his testimony as the impeachment process goes live on television for the
first time on Wednesday of next week.
Leading off our discussion tonight, Democratic Congressman Gregory Meeks of
New York. He`s a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. He
attended Bill Taylor`s deposition.
Also joining us, Mieke Eoyang, a former staff member of the House
Intelligence Committee, and Ned Price, former CIA analyst and former senior
director and spokesperson for the National Security Council in the Obama
administration. He`s an MSNBC national security contributor.
And, Congressman Meeks, you were in the deposition, so none of this is news
to you, but for us to finally see exactly what transpires in these
depositions and I have to say for me, and correct me if I`m wrong about
this, but the striking thing about it is what I don`t hear from
Republicans. I`m reading– this is the Republicans` chance, they`ve got
William Taylor who`s got devastating evidence against Donald Trump and they
Did I miss something?
REP. GREGORY MEEKS (D-NY): You didn`t miss anything. What they saw and
what the American people will see when they testify is a dedicated public
servant who all he cares about is the love of this country and because of
his special connection to Ukraine and the hope they will have a better
tomorrow, he was committed. He was hesitant to even take this job, but it
was because of his loyalty, he said a friend asked him, you know, who he
respected. He said if your president calls you and you think you can make
a difference, you`ve got to do it, and that`s why he was there.
And so, we – none of us in the room had any clue of what he was going to
testify to until he testified. It`s not like there was something – we had
no idea, but then listening to him, and you can see the shock on my face
and I think Democrats as well as the Republicans. And that`s why they had
no real – for an hour because it`s equal amount of time in that room.
MEEKS: Democrats would have an hour to question, and Republicans had an
hour to question. They could not come up with anything subsistent, and I
think they were scared because it was the whole thing if you ask a question
and the way you come back, they would have been more confirming the outlook
and the statement that was made by the whistle-blower in the first place.
It was shocking, and I think that the American people to get to see his
demeanor, to get to feel his character because one of the things
Republicans had been trying to do when these testimonies were finished to
go in front of the camera to say something that might question the
integrity of the person that testified.
Oh, wait until the American people see, and that`s why I`m so glad we`re
going to have public hearings shortly. And that`s why I`m so glad that the
transcripts are being released because they speak for themselves.
O`DONNELL: Mieke Eoyang, you`ve been in that room as a staffer for the
Intelligence Committee. What stood out for you in the Taylor transcript?
MIEKE EOYANG, FORMER STAFF MEMBER, HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: You know,
in the Taylor transcript, we`d seen his opening testimony before, so it was
really interesting to see him recount the detail, to be very clear that
Sondland was so explicit about saying the president is conditioning the
release of the aid in these meetings on this deal. You know, for all the
Republican denials of quid pro quo, what we see here is very clear that
pressure is being brought to bear.
And it`s really important to understand the context on this and what was
going on in Ukraine, because it`s not just a quid pro quo. It`s not like
they were trying to get to a contract on this. Ukraine is suffering under
a civil war with Russian aggression where there are people literally dying,
and Donald Trump is holding back the means they have to protect themselves.
So when you think about this they are under threat of force or fear. They
are not just trying to make a deal free and clear. This is extortion.
This is where people are feeling under pressure to do something they don`t
want to do.
O`DONNELL: Gerry Connolly actually made that point. Let`s listen to what
he had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. GERRY CONNOLLY (D-VA): Look, we keep on using this euphemistic
expression quid pro quo. The actual term for what occurred is extortion,
and extortion is a crime. The president extorted the president of Ukraine
for political dirt in a prospective political opponent and dangled military
aid in and presidential visit in exchange. That`s called extortion. It`s
an abuse of power, and it`s also illegal.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Ned Price, you could study these transcripts all day and look
for a Republican angle on the evidence that somehow moves it in any way in
Donald Trump`s favor. And not only is there not one, there`s not even an
attempt at it, there isn`t not one person, one Republican member, not Jim
Jordan, not the Republican counsel, none of them attempt to actually move
this witness`s testimony in a way that is helpful to the president.
NED PRICE, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: You`re never going to find one, Lawrence,
and that`s precisely for the reason there is not one. Look, I think we
have seen in ambassador Taylor`s testimony and Alex Vindman`s testimony and
Ambassador Yovanovitch`s testimony, they have one by one obliterated and
eviscerated the substantive defenses that the White House and President
Trump`s defenders have put forward, the idea this was about corruption
generally and not the Bidens specifically.
The idea that, you know what, Europe needed to do its fair share, and so,
we had to hold this back – one by one all of those have fallen apart.
That`s why I think it`s notable, Lawrence, that we`re now seeing President
Trump rely on one defense that is non-substantive but it`s actually
And this is what he calls the perfect transcript defense. It`s two words,
very Trumpian in sort of it becomes a catchphrase. And it is again not
substantive and you know as well as I do President Trump could be lying
through his teeth when he tells his supporters, when he tells his adoring
crowds that he believes it`s a perfect transcript.
But even the prospect, even the possibility that President Trump actually
buys into this explanation that nothing wrong, illegal, there was no
betrayal on that transcript, that should be chilling for all of us because
when you couple that with what Mick Mulvaney said in his infamous press
conference when he said we do this kind of thing all the time, and when you
marry that with what`s been reported about Donald Trump using his personal
cellphone, potentially even to call foreign counterparts away from
transcribers, away from stenographers, away from aides, it paints the
picture, at least the possibility of a picture where Ukraine is one in a
series of scandals, one in a series of attempted extortions on the part of
the president, using the trappings of his office, using everything to
include in the case of Ukraine we know American taxpayer resources.
I think it`s incredibly dangerous that the president has put this forward,
and it should be a frightening thought that this is actually in his mind
O`DONNELL: Congressman Meeks, this was a unique experience today reading
this particular transcript, because it`s released – Ambassador Taylor`s
transcript is released on the same day we discover Ambassador Taylor is
going to be the first public witness in the first televised hearing. And
so, as I`m reading it and I`m reading the emptiness of the Republican part
of the transcript, I`m thinking what are they going to do? These aren`t
the TV Republicans that are in this transcript. This is not the TV Jim
What are they going to do, one week from now with this very same testimony,
this very same witness? It occurred to me toward the end of it, they`re
going to attack Gregory Meeks, they`re going to attack Chairman Schiff,
they`re going to attack what they`re going to call your unfair, democratic
process that has got us to this point. They will attack the fact that the
deposition was private. They`ll attack the fact the hearing was public.
They`ll just attack, attack, attack because I can`t think of anything else
they can do on TV for Donald Trump, to impress Donald Trump which is the
audience of one they`ll be playing to.
MEEKS: They can`t do anything. And it`s the old saying, you know, if you
have the facts on your side, you argue the facts. If you have the law on
your side, you argue the law. If you have neither, then you just throw up
Just do – and they are going to be so compelled to be backed up. Because
when you look at what the president did, he did not care about the
relationship with the United States and Ukraine at all. The only focus he
had was himself and to get dirt, abusing his power, extortion as indicated
and putting our national security at risk because who benefitted from this
and who was laughing was Russia. And they had no way, no back door out of
And so, that`s why you see people like Lindsey Graham now saying, I`m not
even going to read the transcripts and try to make it as if it doesn`t
exist. Well, you can run but you can`t hide, and, you know, there`s an old
expression, who do you believe, me or your lying eyes, and that`s what`s
going to take place. You`re going to see – the American people will be
able to see Mr. Taylor, Ambassador Taylor speak. And you`ll see and hear
with your own eyes, and all they`re going to try to see is don`t believe
them or come up with something they want to just make up out of the clear
They have no way out. The doors are closing in, and as you saw with
Sondland coming back to change his testimony, others will be stepping up to
make their testimony because one of the things I`ve always said, you know,
if you even go back to the Nixon days, those that lie went to jail. And so
people got to start thinking about their own interests. They know that the
president`s not going to stand up behind them, so you`re going to see more
of the truth coming out as to what the president has done and how he
continues to do it.
O`DONNELL: Congressman Gregory Meeks, one of the front row witnesses to
history in this impeachment inquiry, thank you very much for coming in and
joining us tonight.
Ned Price, thank you. Mieke Eoyang is going to stay with us for more.
When we come back, Gordon Sondland who apparently brought his Trump
ambassadorship with $1 million donation to Donald Trump`s inauguration
after actually being an opponent of Donald Trump`s candidacy took a
stunning step yesterday that Congressman Meeks just referred to when he
changed his testimony in the deposition after the fact by adding some
written material to it. Does that save him from possible perjury charges?
Is it that easy?
We will ask a former federal prosecutor next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Is Gordon Sondland in danger of perjury charges for his
testimony to your committee?
REP. PETER WELCH (D-VT): I think he is.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: That was Congressman Peter Welch after Ambassador William
Gordon Sondland obviously considered himself in so much danger of perjury
charges that he changed his testimony of the House impeachment inquiry by
adding four written pages to his deposition transcript after news reports
of other witness testimony according to Sondland, quote, refreshed my
recollection about conversations involving the suspension of U.S. aid.
But today, another witness to the impeachment inquiry says that Gordon
Sondland still isn`t telling the truth about conversations he said he had
over coffee with Fiona Hill, a former top Russia advisor of the National
Security Council. Fiona Hill`s lawyer said in a tweet today, quote,
Sondland has fabricated communications with Dr. Hill, none of which are
over coffee. Dr. Hill told Sondland what she told lawmakers, the lack of
coordination on Ukraine was disastrous and the circumstances of the
dismissal of ambassador Yovanovitch, shameful.
Joining our discussion now is Barbara McQuade, a former U.S. attorney and
an MSNBC legal contributor and Mieke Eoyang is back with us.
And, Barbara, is it that easy, I testify under oath falsely as another
witness comes in some days after I do and testifies very credibly in an
opposite fashion, indicating that I wasn`t telling the truth either
willfully or not? Is it that easy for me to avoid perjury charges I just
go in and I say here, I`d like to just tag these written pages on that
correct all the things that aren`t true in my deposition?
BARBARA MCQUADE, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: The answer is maybe. You know, this
is a somewhat unusual circumstance. Ordinarily, you know, perjury is when
you testify falsely under oath, when you then and there know what you`re
saying is false and it`s about a material matter. There is a defense if
you recant, but the law says you have to recant in the same proceeding, and
you have to recant before it became obvious that your lie would otherwise
And so I think in this instance, Gordon Sondland had some problems. One is
that the same proceeding if it happens more than two weeks later, and even
more importantly I think is it seems quite clear from the other pieces of
transcripts that we`ve seen so far that the reason that he recanted wasn`t
that he had a change of heart or he wanted to fulfill his duty to provide
truthful information to the committee, but his lie was going to be exposed
because it contradicted the testimony of other witnesses.
O`DONNELL: And, Mieke, you`ve been depositions like this before,
situations like this before. How does the committee regard that? I mean,
in courtrooms, as Barb was saying, they`re view of it is you can correct
that testimony while you`re still on the witness stand but don`t try to
come back to us after the fact like this.
How does the committee regard that?
EOYANG: Yes, traditionally, Congress doesn`t take a very favorable view of
these things but their remedies for punishing it have been somewhat
limited. We`ve seen this for example of past DNI who was mistaken about
testimony and then we went back to the office and much later tried to
correct it. I think there were senators who felt like that testimony was a
lie when it was about a surveillance program.
I think the question for Sondland is whether or not people consider this
material or given the pace that the House is on, are they going to stop and
actually seek punishment of Sondland now, or are they moving forward with
charges against the president given how the calendar is working out this
year? It may be that Sondland will get a breather on this for a while, and
there`s some question about when they`ll come back to it.
O`DONNELL: Barbara, what do you make of the preparation that Sondland and
his criminal lawyers went through for his testimony? This could have been
avoided. I mean, his lawyers could have gotten the full story from him and
said, look, do not try to shave off this corner of the testimony here, just
get it straight.
MCQUADE: Yes, I think that – I don`t know what his lawyers advised him,
but whatever it was, he either disregarder their good advice or got bad
advice. He claimed not to recall certain things, and, you know, in our
common knowledge, there are things people don`t recall. I probably can`t
recall right now what I had for breakfast, but it seems certain that people
would recall whether they participated in negotiations to withhold $400
million in military aid in exchange for a political investigation with a
head of state.
That is such a significant thing that it just really strains believability
to think that`s something that would have slipped someone`s mind, and only
after other witnesses come forward with that information to suddenly recall
that that`s true. In fact, I worry that providing this information after
the fact might just make it look even worse for Gordon Sondland to say I
suddenly recall, now I remember that these other people have brought it up,
now I remember. Sometimes it`s a good idea to correct the record, and it
seems like he believed his hand was really forced here, that he had no
other choice but to admit he knew these facts in light of the other
transcripts being produced.
O`DONNELL: And this, by the way, is obviously why the depositions were
private, so witnesses could not coordinate their testimony by getting full
reporting of what the other witnesses have said, a practice that Congress
has moved many times before.
Barbara McQuade, Mieke Eoyang, thank you both for joining us tonight.
Really appreciate it.
And when we come back, “The Washington Post” is reporting tonight the
breaking news that President Trump didn`t just ask the President of Ukraine
for a favor, he asked Attorney General William Barr for a big favor about
Ukraine. That`s next.
O`DONNELL: We have breaking news tonight from “The Washington Post.”
According to “The Washington Post,” Donald Trump wanted Attorney General
William Barr to hold a press conference, declaring that President Trump had
broken no laws in his phone call with the President of Ukraine. William
Barr didn`t do it.
And “The Washington Post” reports that Donald Trump has privately
complained that “He wished Barr would have held the news conference.”
Joining us now is Matt Miller, former Spokesperson for the Attorney General
Eric Holder and an MSNBC Contributor.
Matt, not surprising it`s one of those Trump stories where it is it is both
shocking and not surprising at the same time? Of course, of course, he
asked William Barr to hold a press conference when the transcript of the
phone call with the President of Ukraine came out and have him simply
absolve Donald Trump of any wrongdoing.
MATTHEW MILLER, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Yes. That`s exactly right, Lawrence. It
is a completely inappropriate thing for a President to ask an Attorney
General to do. But you can see why Trump would do it, you would see why he
would think that Barr would actually follow through and grant that request.
Given that this is basically what Barr did around the release of the
Mueller report, where he held a press conference and cleared the President
despite the underlying findings of the report doing no such thing.
So you start with that, you start - and then you take his action since then
where he has opened this investigation into the origins of the Mueller
report that the President wanted. He`s talked to the President about that
report, kind of obliterating the line that`s supposed to exist between the
Department and the White House.
And you can understand why the President would think, well, look, this is
just the kind of favor that Bill Barr regularly does for me, so I`m going
to ask and I expect that that he`ll do it.
And I think the fact that he said no, that that Bill Barr has been so
willing to kind of sacrifice his own reputation for Trump in the past, that
he wouldn`t do it here, shows just how heavy - how big a lift this would
have been. Barr, I think, was more than willing to intervene on the
President`s behalf on the Ukraine scandal when it was private.
He`s squelched a full criminal investigation into this phone call. He and
the Department blocked the whistleblower complaint for several weeks from
being sent to Congress. I think they were happy to do it while it was
public - it was private. But the minute it became public - it seems a
little bit like John Bolton where this is someone very smart, very
seasoned, who said “I don`t want any part of this drug deal.”
O`DONNELL: And Matt is it possible that William Barr already knew that the
Southern District of New York was investigating the activities of Rudy
Giuliani and his friends, his associates involving Ukraine and this this
could just be an area that gets out of control.
MILLER: I think so they said they were briefed - he was briefed to some
extent. We don`t know to what extent about those investigations. And I
think your questioning gets at something that I`ve suspected for a while,
which is there. It`s something underlying at the department that we don`t
There`s a reason why they`ve put out three statements distancing themselves
from the Ukraine scandal. I don`t know why. But there`s something there
they`re worried about us finding out.
O`DONNELL: Matt Miller, thank you very much for joining us tonight. Really
MILLER: Thank you.
O`DONNELL: And when we come back William Barr`s confirmation hearing. At
his confirmation here Senator Amy Klobuchar asked him if the Attorney
General is the President`s lawyer or the people`s lawyer. We`ll see that
answer and Senator Klobuchar will join us next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: There have been times
throughout our history, including during Watergate, when the personal
interests of the President do not align with the interests of the country.
In those critical moments, is the attorney general the people`s lawyer or
the president`s lawyer?
WILLIAM BARR, UNITED STATES ATTORNEY GENERAL: I–if the President directs
an attorney general to do something that is contrary to law, then I think
the attorney general has to step down.
BARR: It`s that simple.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Joining us now is Senator Amy Klobuchar, Democrat from Minnesota
and a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee. She is a candidate now for
President of the United States. Thank you very much for joining us tonight.
Senator, where are you now tonight, is this new Hampshire?
KLOBUCHAR: Thanks Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: Are you in New Hampshire tonight?
KLOBUCHAR: I am in Manchester.
O`DONNELL: OK. They you are.
KLOBUCHAR: I am in New Hampshire, in Manchester, yes.
KLOBUCHAR: And I was thinking of those words that kind of hit the nail on
the head there with that question. You anticipated where we are tonight and
“The Washington Post” reporting, their headline that Trump wanted Barr to
hold a news conference saying that the President broke no laws in the call
with the President of Ukraine. And at least apparently William Barr has
found a favor that he will not do for Donald Trump.
KLOBUCHAR: That`s correct. It doesn`t surprise me given how outrageous this
is, given how the evidence is mounting. But remember there`s a reason that
the President thought that Barr would give in to his request.
And that is that literally when Barr applied for this job, he put out a 19
page memo to all of Trump`s friends showing how he believed in a broad
concept of executive power. And we`ve seen a number of actions, as Mr.
Miller pointed out, since that time.
But I think what happened here was for anyone enough is enough. And when
you look at the evidence that comes out from the diplomats that we`ve heard
- seasoned diplomat, who are not affiliated with local parties, who are
O`DONNELL: I think we just lost Senator Klobuchar in New Hampshire. The
control room, what do we know about it - can someone tell me what`s going
on up there. Can we hang on or should we go?
I guess, we`re going to have to go to commercial. See if we can restore
this connection to New Hampshire or if I can just keep talking until we
restore this connection to New Hampshire. And we`re going to go to a break.
O`DONNELL: We are still working on trying to re-establish our connection to
Senator Amy Klobuchar in New Hampshire. We will do it one way or the other,
either in that satellite truck or by telephone.
But first, we - today was the criminal trial of President Trump`s longtime
confidant and 2016 campaign adviser Roger Stone. That trial officially got
underway. Stone`s trial is the last case filed by Special Counsel Robert
Mueller in his investigation of Russian interference in the 2016
One of Mueller`s prosecutors in his opening statement today directly tied
President Trump to the charges that Roger Stone lied under oath to the
House Intelligence Committee - the same committee now leading the
Prosecutors argued that Roger Stone lied to Congress quote “because the
truth looked bad for the Trump campaign and the truth looked bad for Donald
Trump.” Prosecutors say, “hundreds of text messages, calls and e-mails show
Roger Stone repeatedly tried to contact the founder of WikiLeaks and that
he discussed those efforts with senior members of the Trump campaign.”
Joining us now is NBC News Intelligence and National Security Reporter, Ken
Dilanian who was one of the lucky ones in the courtroom today. Ken, it was
really - Rachel read much of the transcript, including just the very
beginning of the prosecutor`s opening statement. And it seems like a very
dramatic presentation in that courtroom today.
KEN DILANIAN, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: It was Lawrence. In some ways I felt
like I was listening to the unwritten final chapter of the Mueller report,
because here you had this prosecutor Aaron Zelinsky who worked for Robert
Mueller, who is a part of that investigation.
And it almost seemed like he`d been waiting for months to get on the public
record that Roger Stone called Donald Trump on the very day that the
Democratic National Committee announced that they had been hacked by the
Russians and that their e-mails have been compromised.
And Zelinsky was very careful to note that the government didn`t have the
content of that call, which we can all agree is probably a shame. They were
not listening to Roger Stone`s phone calls at that moment. So we don`t know
what Donald Trump said. But the implication that Zelinsky was creating was
that Donald Trump was in on the discussions about what to do about these e-
Because right after that phone call, Roger Stone set off in motion to try
to find out what was - what WikiLeaks had and how Stone could use that
information to benefit the Trump campaign and to hurt Hillary Clinton.
He went to his pal Jerome Corsi and there were there were months and months
of back-and-forth. And there were other phone calls with Donald Trump. And
Stone also reached out to Paul Manafort who was the Chairman of the
Campaign, according to the prosecutor, and he send the e-mail to Steve
Bannon where he said. “Look we can salvage this candidacy.”
At that point people thought Trump was doomed. But it ain`t going to be pre
or Stone`s locution. And so Bannon actually is going to be a witness. He`s
going to be called by the prosecution in this trial.
So the bottom line here is that. This trial and this evidence is making
very clear that senior levels of the Trump campaign, and perhaps Trump
himself, were keenly interested in trying to obtain these hacked emails
that everyone knew at the time were hacked by Russian intelligence.
So there are parallels to the impeachment inquiry playing out today. It`s -
again it`s the use of intelligence from a foreign power for political
O`DONNELL: And there is a linchpin of collusion in here if the government
proves its case.
DILANIAN: Yes. And it really to me raises a couple of questions. One is,
why Robert Mueller didn`t try harder to interview Donald Trump? Because
Trump told Mueller in those written answers that he didn`t remember ever
talking to Roger Stone in the six months before the election.
And Stone told “The Washington Post” that he talked to Trump quite
frequently, but he never discussed WikiLeaks and the e-mails, which is
incredibly hard to believe given the mountain of evidence we see.
Stone was working on almost nothing else and the prosecutor said he lied
about it and it was a silly lie, because he claimed that he had a back-
channel - he wasn`t trying to hide that. He just lied about which person he
used as a back channel and whether he had e-mails.
And the prosecutors - as you said, said he did that because he thought that
the whole truth - his enlistment of Jerome Corsi and the other things that
he did, would be embarrassing and bad for Donald Trump and so he lied to
Congress according to prosecutors. And now he`s on trial and he`s looking
at several years in prison if convicted.
O`DONNELL: It is going to be fascinating to see what the defense has in
this case and you will come back to us with that when they start presenting
DILANIAN: I sure will.
O`DONNELL: Ken Dilanian thank you very much for joining us tonight. Really
DILANIAN: Thanks Lawrence, you bet.
O`DONNELL: And when we come back, we will go back to Presidential Candidate
Senator Amy Klobuchar in New Hampshire. We will establish a connection one
way the other and we`ll talk about what Kentucky voters did last night when
they turned down Donald Trump.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If you lose, they`re going to
say Trump suffered the greatest defeat in the history of the world. This
was the greatest. You can`t let that happen to me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANDY BESHEAR, KY GOVERNOR ELECT: Voters in Kentucky sent a message loud and
clear for everyone to hear that what`s unites us as Kentuckians is still
stronger than any national divisions.
KLOBUCHAR: This is a country of democracy and that the President is not
King and our citizens last night made their voices known loud and clear.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: And now we are joined by phone by Presidential Candidate,
Senator Amy Klobuchar who`s in Manchester New Hampshire tonight. Senator,
we`re going back to 20th century communication levels here to make–
KLOBUCHAR: We`ll pretend we`re in a major snowstorm.
O`DONNELL: We going to make sure this works. I want to get your reaction to
what you saw in Kentucky last night. That was a flip of - clearly Trump
voters had to flip to vote for the Democrat for governor.
KLOBUCHAR (via telephone): They did and that is exactly what I`ve been
talking about nationally Lawrence. And that is that if we want to win, and
win big, so that we can take back the Senate and actually get all of these
things done, from climate change legislation, to finally doing something
about pharmaceuticals and health care. We`ve got to bring people with us
and not shut them out. And that is exactly what happened in Kentucky.
A lot of this had to do with mean-spirited policies, and I hope some of our
Republican colleagues are doing some soul-searching when they think about
the fact that the Affordable Care Act is now nearly or over 10 points more
popular than the President of the United States.
And so people voted for their health care, but they also voted all over the
country, including Virginia, for a values check, for a check on patriotism
on this President, and that`s what I`ve heard in New Hampshire today.
O`DONNELL: And then when you look at the Governor`s campaign there. It was
a campaign against what Matt Bevin did. So in Presidential terms, it would
be the equivalent of campaigning against what Donald Trump has done, what
he has tried to do, what he has wanted to do.
And I think in the Democratic campaign so far when we see the debates with
candidates kind of debating - arguing with each other. It isn`t so clear
that the real argument is against what Donald Trump has done.
KLOBUCHAR (via telephone): Well that`s why I`m at debate stage I`ve
repeatedly taken it to Donald Trump, because we have to remember that it`s
not just Democrats watching those debates, as important as that is. There`s
also independents and moderate Republicans and people that are showing up
everywhere that want to see something different. And so we really can`t
screw this up.
I think it is on us. It is our obligation to lead a ticket that doesn`t
just win at the top, but brings people with us, including legislative races
like you saw in Virginia and Governor`s races like you just saw in
And most importantly, it will allow a new President, herself to govern in a
big way and get things done, and that`s why I want to be the President not
for half of America, but all of America you.
O`DONNELL: And the other senators running for Presidents have a unique
challenge possibly coming up in your campaign scheduling. Normally a
senator simply has to figure out how to manage attendance at Senate votes
as well as being out in Iowa and New Hampshire and other places.
You may have to be a juror in an impeachment trial. Have you begun to think
about what that does to your Presidential campaign schedule?
KLOBUCHAR (via telephone): Of course, but my big job here is to do my duty,
and that duty will be an impeachment trial if that comes over to the U.S.
Senate. But that doesn`t mean I can`t do two things at once.
I don`t need a lot of sleep. I`ve got endorsements all over the country and
people that are willing to go out there for me, including of course, in my
own family, and that`s going to be really important.
And in in Iowa actually, Lawrence, I have more endorsements of elected and
former electives than any other candidate in the race. And we just made
today the December debate I did and already had made the November debates
quite a while ago and so I`m just going to keep moving.
But that doesn`t in any way mean that I don`t have a duty to do my job. And
that is, if that case comes over from the House of Representatives, we have
a solemn obligation to hear that evidence and make a decision.
O`DONNELL: Senator Amy Klobuchar thank you very much for joining us
tonight. And next time we`re going to make sure we get a camera system that
KLOBUCHAR (via telephone): That`s OK.
O`DONNELL: In New Hampshire or Iowa or wherever you are–
KLOBUCHAR (via telephone): Always good to - Lawrence you have a great crew
here working hard. So everything is fine.
O`DONNELL: I know, I know. And I don`t - they did everything they possibly
could, and it`s just one of those nights that happens.
KLOBUCHAR (via telephone): I can`t help. We`re in the middle of a big
O`DONNELL: That`s right. Yes, there you go. Amy Klobuchar gets tonight`s
LAST WORD. Thank you very much for joining us, Senator. “THE 11TH HOUR”
with Brian Williams starts now.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
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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