GOP struggles with impeachment strategy. TRANSCRIPT: 11/8/19, The Last Word w/ Lawrence O’Donnell.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: You don`t want to oversell them. But they may
call the question a little bit of what Republicans are going to do in
Washington in the House and especially in the Senate.
Because deciding how much you are willing to stand by this president while
he`s being impeached is honestly going to be a decision both of conscience
and of political calculation for Republicans.
Do the election results that we saw this week change the calculation at all
for Republicans? We`ll have to think about their conscience and they have
to think about their futures.
Do they change their mental math at all when they think about it? Thinking
about how this next year is going to go and their own seats being at risk.
Open hearings in the impeachment inquiry start Wednesday morning. That does
it for us tonight. We will see you again Monday. Now it`s time for the
“Last Word” where Ali Velshi is in for Lawrence tonight. Good evening, Ali.
ALI VELSHI, MSNBC HOST: Rachel, some good words for us to think about. You
have yourself an excellent weekend. We`ll see you next week.
MADDOW: I will do. Thanks my friend.
VELSHI: It is a very busy night of news to get to. Ahead in this hour, all
of the legal problems swirling around Trump world today – Steve Bannon
under oath at the Roger Stone trial. We`ll talk to someone who heard how
Bannon tied the Trump campaign to WikiLeaks.
And Trump defender Jim Jordan is facing new accusations of doing nothing to
stop sexual abuse when he worked at Ohio University. These as Republicans
move to put him on the House Intelligence Committee so he can be part of
the televised impeachment hearings.
And at the end of the show, the moods inside the White House now that the
first excerpts of the new anonymous book are out.
But we begin with the newly released transcripts from two more key
witnesses in the impeachment inquiry, ended an explosive week of damning
revelations for President Trump.
They detail the blatant and explicit push by the Trump administration to
pressure Ukraine to investigate the president`s political rivals in
exchange for military aid and a coveted White House meeting.
And for the first time, White House officials testified the quid pro quo
was orchestrated by acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney. This
as another potential witness, former National Security Advisor John Bolton
signals he knows key new details that House investigators do not.
Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman, the top Ukraine expert on the
National Security Council was listening in on the July 25th phone call when
he heard what he called obvious demands by President Trump for Ukraine`s
president to investigate the Bidens and the 2016 election.
He was asked, quote, “Was there any doubt in your mind as to what the
president, our president, was asking for as a deliverable?” Vindman
answered, “There was no doubt.”
Lieutenant Colonel Vindman was also present when Ambassador Gordon Sondland
told Ukrainian officials that a face-to-face meeting with President Trump
was dependent on Ukraine making a public announcement of these
He described the quid pro quo, “It was explicit. There was no ambiguity.”
The hold on Ukraine`s military aid came directly from the president`s chief
of staff, according to Vindman`s testimony, “Sondland had a conversation
with Mr. Mulvaney, and this is what was required in order to get a meeting.
In order to get the White House meeting, they had to deliver an
Fiona Hill who served under John Bolton also pointed to Mulvaney as
coordinating the extortion plot testifying, “Ambassador Sondland in front
of the Ukrainians as I came in was talking about how he had an agreement
with Chief of Staff Mulvaney for a meeting with the Ukrainians if they were
going to go forward with investigations.”
These revelations shed new light on the comments that Mulvaney made last
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICK MULVANEY, WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: Did he also mention to me in
the past the corruption related to the DNC server? Absolutely. No question
about that. But that`s it. That`s why we held up the money.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You have to be clear. What you just described is a quid
MULVANEY: We do that all the time with foreign policy. Get over it. There
is going to be a political influence in foreign policy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELSHI: We do that all the time in foreign policy. Get over it. Not
surprisingly, Mulvaney refused to comply with the subpoena to testify in
the House impeachment committee hearings today before the hearings go
public next week.
Fiona Hill also testified that Bolton objected to what he called the, “drug
deal” that Mulvaney and Sondland were cooking up. “Bolton believed that
they were making an improper arrangement predicating the meeting in the
White House on the Ukrainians agreeing to restart investigations that had
Hill testified that Bolton repeatedly told his staff that no one – no one
should be meeting with Rudy Giuliani, the president`s lawyer. After former
Ukraine ambassador Marie Yovanovitch was ousted as a direct result of the
campaign that Giuliani set in motion, according to Hill, “Bolton directly
said Rudy Giuliani is a hand grenade that is going to blow everybody up.”
As House Republicans prepare for their list of witnesses for the Trump
impeachment inquiry, Trump`s allies are employing a new tactic to try to
defend the president. The “Washington Post” reports that Republicans are,
“sowing doubts about whether Sondland, Giuliani and Mulvaney were actually
representing the president or freelancing to pursue their own agendas. The
GOP is effectively offering up the three to be fall guys.”
That might explain why Donald Trump tried to distance himself today from
his multi-million dollar donor turned ambassador.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Gordon Sondland said at the beginning of September, he
presumed there was a quid pro quo. Then there was a telephone call to you
on September 9th. Had he ever talked to you prior to that telephone call –
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Let me just tell you, I
hardly know the gentleman, but this is the man who said there was no quid
pro quo, and he still says that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELSHI: I hardly knew the gentleman. That`s a far cry from his tweet just
last month calling Sondland, “A really good man and great American.” But I
hardly knew the gentleman. Gordon Sondland revised his testimony this week
and admitted that he told Ukrainian officials the White House meeting was
conditioned on Ukraine launching the investigations.
Still unclear whether John Bolton will testify, but in a letter to the
House General Council today, Bolton`s lawyers said that John Bolton, “was
personally involved in many of the events, meetings and conversations about
which you already have received testimony as well as many relevant meetings
and conversations that have not yet been discussed in the testimonies thus
Leading off our discussion tonight is freshman Democratic Congressman
Harley Rouda from California. He is a member of the Oversight Committee.
He`s attended both Fiona Hill and Lieutenant Colonel Vindman`s depositions.
Natasha Bertrand is a national security correspondent for “Politico.” She`s
an MSNBC contributor. And Neera Tanden is a former senior advisor to
President Obama and Hillary Clinton. She is president and CEO of the Center
for American Progress. Welcome to all three of you. Thank you for being
Congressman, I want to ask you because you had a chance to listen in to
some of this testimony. There`s an interesting pattern to it. There is a
lot of similarity.
If you`re not familiar with these names, there will be a sameness to the
testimony because they`re testifying or they have been – given in their
depositions, they`ve given details that largely support each other with one
And that was Gordon Sondland who gave a deposition, he gave statements and
then he went back and fixed them to be more in line with the testimony of
REP. HARLEY ROUDA (D-CA): That`s absolutely correct. Every single one of
these witnesses has come through, have provided very consistent stories
that that line up exactly with what the whistleblower`s report said with
the exception of Ambassador Sondland.
Ambassador Sondland had an acute case of selective amnesia when he
testified. And many would probably suggest it was borderline perjury at
times. And obviously, him coming back and supplementing his testimony was
to basically try and fill in holes after he saw how others testified.
VELSHI: And Fiona Hill has subsequently said even after his repaired
testimony that he is still not fully telling the truth. Fiona Hill said
about Sondland today, “I had a blow up with Sondland when he told me that
he was in charge of Ukraine because initially I said to him, you`re not.
And I said who said you`re in charge of Ukraine, Gordon? And he said the
president. Well, that shut me up because you can`t really argue with that.”
Gordon Sondland is the American ambassador to the European Union. A lot of
people might really want Ukraine to be in the European Union, but it`s not.
And we had an ambassador there. And then we had charges d`affaires there.
So Gordon Sondland really didn`t have business leading Ukraine policy at
the White House.
ROUDA: Yes, that`s exactly correct. And we have to keep in mind, every one
of these witnesses, again, with the exception of Ambassador Sondland, are
Foreign Service officers, people who have dedicated their life to be an
apolitical serving presidents both Republican and Democrat through multiple
administrations. They take very copious notes of every single meeting and
On the other hand, Ambassador Sondland is a political appointee of Trump`s
who got the job basically for giving a million dollars to his inauguration.
So unfortunately we`ve got almost the keystone cops with him and Giuliani
and Secretary Perry and others trying to run this back channel of
VELSHI: Natasha, you`re a national security expert, and there is a massive
national security component to this. So while there are some people who
will be frustrated, horrified, disgusted with what it is alleged that
President Trump has done because he may have done something for personal
The more important part of the testimony from Vindman and Fiona Hill was
the risk at which the United States in holding back this $391 million was
putting Ukraine at in the midst of a remarkably important confrontation
that Ukraine is having with Russia.
NATASHA BERTRAND, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Absolutely, Ali. And one of the most
striking things I think going back to the deposition that was released
yesterday of top State Department official George Kent was when he said
that the Ukraine aid that the U.S. gives to Ukraine in order to fend off
Russian aggression is actually more in the national security interest of
the United States than it even is in the national interest of Ukraine.
And he said I can`t get into that in an opening setting, I can only really
get into the details of that in a classified setting wit my counterparts
from the Pentagon and the State Department. But he emphasized this point,
that this was not just the president trying to get personal political
It`s not just about that. It`s also about the president toying with U.S.
national security and I think once you start to think about it in those
terms, in terms of fending off Russian aggression of the kind that, you
know, we weren`t really helping with before Russia invaded eastern Ukraine
in 2014 and then annexed Crimea and look what happened.
Then you start to get a fuller picture of the real risk that the president
put the United States out here just in order to get dirt on his political
VELSHI: So that`s – the issue is as this becomes public and as we are
seeing these transcripts of the depositions, there are many Americans
possibly even conservative Americans to whom that may be the bigger
problem, the national security risk that we put our allies in as well as
the national security risk to America.
This is not charitable food donations to Ukraine because of a famine. This
is actually in the national interest of the United States that this policy
was approved by Congress and that funding was approved by Congress. A guy
like Mick Mulvaney back in his days as a member of Congress would have had
a massive problem with that.
NEERA TANDEN, PRESIDENT, CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS: Yes, this is –
what I would say about this is that Ambassador Taylor also in his opening
letter really makes clear how much the Ukrainians relied on it. He
testifies vividly or speaks vividly of going to the front lines and seeing
And his concern is that soldiers would die without the aid or more people
would die without the aid. So I think that is an issue of national security
for the Ukrainians, but obviously as Natasha points out, it`s also a
national security issue for us.
I think the issue with the public testimony is we will see a series of
public servants really spell out, not really just the quid pro quo, but
really what a quid pro quo is which is the president of the United States
and his extortion tactics.
And the idea that Republicans are putting up a notion that Mick Mulvaney,
the president`s chief of staff came up with this on his own when we, again,
let`s just remind everyone, have the transcript or the memo released by the
White House saying that it`s in the president`s own words, you know, I have
a favor here, though.
It`s the president`s own words that connect him back and it`s not going to
be possible, I think, for Americans to see Mick Mulvaney, the president`s
chief of staff, as a lone wolf on this issue.
VELSHI: Congressman Rouda, this is a fascinating line that the “Washington
Post” repeating that that is a – reporting – that that this is a part of
the GOP strategy that Neera was just talking about, painting one or two or
three of Sondland, Mulvaney and Giuliani as the real masterminds behind
this and he well have been executing it and delivering the messages.
It becomes hard to understand, maybe with the exception of Giuliani who
seemed to be running a side hustle in Ukraine, why they would hold back
this military aid in exchange for an investigation for their personal gain
because it`s not obvious what the personal gain the three of them would be.
ROUDA: You`re exactly right. And we`ve seen this movie before. We saw with
ROUDA: The president turned on MICHAEL COHEN. Michael Cohen even
admonished everyone in the hearing in front of my committee on oversight
that, beware, Trump will turn on you too.
So, I fully expect President Trump to start distancing himself from
Giuliani and the rest of them and arguably throwing them under the bus.
VELSHI: Congressman, good to see you. Thank you for joining us Congressman
Harley Rouda. Natasha Bertrand and Neera Tanden, please stay with us.
Coming up, Roger Stone is on trial for lying and obstructing the
congressional investigation into Russia`s attack into our elections. And
there`s a big headline tonight from today`s star witness, Steve Bannon.
According to the “Washington Post,” Bannon`s testimony was, “the first time
anyone affiliated with the Trump campaign acknowledged in court that they
had actively sought material from WikiLeaks. We`re going to talk to a
reporter who was at the courthouse today. That`s next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: WikiLeaks, I love WikiLeaks. This WikiLeaks stuff is unbelievable.
It tells you the inner heart. You got to read it.
It`s been amazing what`s coming out on WikiLeaks.
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
VELSHI: Then candidate Donald Trump loved that WikiLeaks as he called it,
released e-mails stolen by Russian government hackers that were damaging to
And what Donald Trump was repeatedly praising WikiLeaks, Steve Bannon was
working for him as his campaign chief executive and Roger Stone was Trump`s
Today, Steve Bannon testified under oath that Donald Trump`s 2016 campaign
considered Trump`s long time confidant Roger Stone as the, “access point”
Bannon delivered that explosive testimony in the ongoing trial of Roger
Stone on charges that Stone lied to Congress while it was investigating
Russia`s attack on our election.
Bannon told the jury, “The campaign had no official access to WikiLeaks or
to Julian assignee. But Roger would be considered if we needed an access
point because he had implied or told me he had a relationship with
WikiLeaks and Julian Assange. It was something I think he would frequently
mention or talk about.”
That goes to one of the most crucial unanswered questions about then
candidate Donald Trump. Did he rely on Roger Stone, his longest serving
advisor, to get dirt on Hillary Clinton?
Joining us now Mother Jones reporter Dan Friedman who was inside the
courthouse today, and back with us, Natasha Bertrand, national security
correspondent for “Politico” and an MSNBC contributor.
Dan, I just want a quote from your own reporting here, you wrote an article
in which you say Trump`s campaign apparently thought it was colluding with
Steve Bannon says Trump team saw Roger Stone as access point to Assange.
The Trump campaign apparently thought it was colluding with WikiLeaks. In
Bannon`s cross-examination today, Stone`s defense attorney asked him, “You
and the Trump campaign didn`t view Stone as the access point to WikiLeaks?
And Bannon says, “I think we did, yes.” That`s remarkable.
DAN FREEDMAN, REPORTER, MOTHER JONES: Yes, that`s pretty striking. And,
you know, Bannon didn`t only say that the Trump campaign was receiving what
it thought was inside information on WikiLeaks from Roger Stone. He also
suggested that they believed that Stone was sort of orchestrating the
release of the stolen Democratic e-mails.
Bannon said that when WikiLeaks released the e-mails from Clinton campaign
chairman, John Podesta, on October 7, 2016, he said he heard that Stone had
been involved in making that happen. And then Bannon`s assistant on the
same day sent Stone an e-mail that said, well-done, just two words, so they
kind of thought that Stone was actually helping them actively, which is
VELSHI: What`s the implication of that, Natasha? What is the implication
of them thinking they were working through Stone with WikiLeaks and
ostensibly with the Russians who had done the hacking that WikiLeaks – the
information that WikiLeaks had? What`s the implication of that on those who
believe that there was some kind of coordination between the Trump campaign
and the Russians or the Trump campaign and Julian Assange?
BERTRAND: Well, the implication I think would be that they tried to cheat,
right? I mean, one of the biggest questions is whether – when after the
“Access Hollywood” tape dropped about 20 minutes later WikiLeaks started
releasing the e-mails from John Podesta`s inbox.
And the biggest question has always been did someone coordinate that? Did
someone close to the campaign or on the campaign directly coordinate that
with WikiLeaks? And I think it was touched upon a bit but Bannon did
testify to the fact that they believed that Roger Stone had this power and
And he also said that he really felt like at the moment when they needed
WikiLeaks the most and when they felt like they needed more e-mails to come
out that were damaging to the Democrats and to Hillary Clinton, they felt
like they could rely on Stone as that access point.
So I think that obviously raises a whole bunch of questions about whether
they were waiting for a pivotal moment in the campaign when Trump was
literally at his lowest point.
Republicans and allies abandoning him left and right after the “Access
Hollywood” tape came out, when they actually went to Stone and said, hey,
please help us out and do this because the timing of that release after the
“Access Hollywood” tape was extremely to put it generously, coincidental.
VELSHI: So, Dan, is there anything in that trial in which we are
establishing whether someone did coordinated that because as Natasha said,
observers of this, you know, concurrently while it was happening or in
hindsight can conclude that it was either coincidental or lucky or
And yet people who know Stone say the guy is a big talker. He wanted every
body to think he was tied in with Julian Assange and WikiLeaks, but that he
– the evidence isn`t clear that he was.
FRIEDMAN: They have not presented evidence they definitely coordinated the
release of the e-mails, but there`s a lot of what I would say is
circumstantial evidence that he was involved both on the WikiLeaks and at
least through Jerome Corsi the right wing conspiracy theorist, and on the
And he talked directly to then candidate Trump on June 14, 2016. That`s the
day the DNC announced that they had been hacked by the Russians. Stone
talked to Trump that day – and then on July 31st, Stone also talked to
And just an hour later, Stone directed Corsi to go to London and see what
he could find out from Assange about the e-mails. So that`s a pretty strong
circumstantial suggestion that the president was perhaps putting Stone up
to this effort to find out what WikiLeaks – what kind of e-mails WikiLeaks
had and when they were going to release them.
VELSHI: Natasha, I don`t know if you had a chance to review what Bannon
was doing inside the court and outside. But in both cases, he was going out
of his way to indicate that he was not participating in this proceeding
He would not have shown up, he would not have spoken to a grand jury
without a subpoena. He seemed to be sending some sort of message that he
doesn`t want to be here, he would not be doing this willingly?
BERTRAND: Yes. And that probably has to do with the people that he`s
trying to appeal to now, right. I mean, he`s still trying to be on the
administration`s good side.
But this completely belied by the fact that he cooperated voluntarily with
Mueller`s investigation and he also participated in voluntary interviews
with prosecutors before this trial even began.
So, I think there`s a lot of evidence here that, you know, Steve Bannon is
putting on a show about not wanting to be throwing Roger Stone under the
bus here, and that he is being forced essentially to testify in this trial.
But the facts don`t support that. And one other thing that, you know,
obviously wasn`t mentioned today during the hearing was an e-mail that was
released in a court case last week as part of a FOIA case against the
Releasing materials from the Mueller investigation, an e-mail in which
Steve Bannon wrote to Jared Kushner and said we need to make sure that it`s
not perceived that we have been getting help from Russia and WikiLeaks.
And in that sense, we need to kind of distance ourselves from, you know,
the fired campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, who at that time was still
advising the Trump campaign well into the November of 2016.
So clearly there was an awareness on Steve Bannon`s part of at least the
perception that the Russians were – that had hacked the DNC, had hacked
John Podesta`s e-mail inbox, had fed the information to WikiLeaks and that
the campaign was now benefitting from those releases. It seems like Steve
Bannon was very much aware of that perception.
VELSHI: Natasha, thank you, Dan Friedman as well. Thanks for joining us
Coming up, Ohio Congressman Jim Jordan has a key role in the impeachment
hearings starting next week, but it comes as Jordan continues to be
ensnared in a sex abuse scandal at the Ohio State University.
A second person has now said in a court filing that he told Jordan directly
about sexual misconduct by a wrestling team doctor when Jordan was working
as an assistant coach. That`s next.
VELSHI: It is official, House Republican leader Kevin McCarty announced
that Ohio Congressman Jim Jordan has been appointed to the House
Intelligence Committee which McCarthy characterized as the impeachment
Now, Jordan`s already been able to participate in the close door
depositions because he`s the ranking member of the Oversight Committee and
he`s a member of the Judiciary Committee.
And it`s been clear from the deposition transcripts that he`s playing a
lead role in the Republican side of this investigation. But Congressman
Jordan is in the news for another reason today. Here is the Cleveland Plain
Dealer headline. U.S. representative Jim Jordan was told about sexual
misconduct by ex-Ohio state Dr. Richard Strauss, a former referee claims.
Here`s NBC`S Geoff Bennett with the story.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEOFF BENNETT, NBC NEWS, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Republican
Congressman Jim Jordan tonight facing a new accusation that he ignored
warnings about an Ohio State University doctor accused of sexually abusing
nearly 200 men over two decades.
In a lawsuit filed Thursday, a college wrestling referee named, as John Doe
42 says, “In the mid-90s he told Jordan, then Ohio State`s Assistant
Wrestling Coach, that the team`s physician Richard Strauss, performed a sex
act in front of him in a shower.
The referee says Jordan and the teams then head coach shrugged it off
responding, “Yes, that`s Strauss.” The referee and his attorney declined to
be interviewed on camera.
DUNYASHA YETTS, OHIO STATE WRESTLER: Everybody talked about Strauss–
BENNETT (voice over): Former Ohio State Wrestler Dunyasha Yetts also says
he complained directly to Jim Jordan after he says Strauss once tried to
pull his pants down.
YETTS: I had told him, “hey, this is this is not right.”
BENNETT (voice over): Yetts who`s not part of the latest lawsuit says
Jordan failed to address it. Jordan has previously denied having any
knowledge of the abuse, saying the allegations that he was told about it
are politically motivated. His office did not respond to our request for
The lawsuit comes as House Republican leaders today named Jordan to the
House Intelligence Committee. Giving Jordan known as President Trump`s most
aggressive defender, a more prominent role committees public impeachment
Tonight, OSU called Strauss` actions reprehensible. Adding, it “has
implemented multiple additional safeguards in the 20 years since Strauss
left the university.” Strauss died by suicide in 2005. His horrifying
legacy raising new questions about what should have been done to stop him.
Geoff Bennett, NBC News, The Capitol.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELSHI: And coming up Tim Alberta, a reporter who literally wrote the book
on the Republican Party and Donald Trump writes today in POLITICO that
“There is a sizable number of Republican Senators and Representatives who
believe Trump`s removal from office is not an altogether radical idea.”
VELSHI: Republicans are scrambling to prepare their defense of President
Trump with televised impeachment hearings less than a week away. But ever
since House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced the formal impeachment inquiry,
Republicans have spent the past month providing various, and at times,
contradictory defenses of President Trump, aimed at causing chaos.
In a new piece for POLITICO Magazine titled “Who will betray Trump?” Tim
Alberta examines Donald Trump`s obsession with possible Republican
defectors and whether any of them would actually turn against their own
party and President on an impeachment vote.
Tim Alberta writes, “Venting privately about the President has become a
hallowed pastime in Republican-controlled Washington, a sort of ritualistic
release for those lawmakers tasked with routinely defending the
indefensible. But it`s also evident that barring a plane admission of guilt
by the President himself - think Jack Nicholson in A Few Good Men, the
Republican Party will not be forsaking Trump.”
Joining us now Jennifer Rubin an opinion writer at “The Washington Post”
and an MSNBC Contributor and Tim Miller, the former Communications Director
for Jeb Bush`s 2016 campaign and spokesman for the Republican National
Committee, is now a contributor to “The Bulwark.”
Jennifer, look, you are an optimistic former Republican who believes that
they will do this. Earlier today i spoke to former Governor Bill Weld who`s
running against Donald Trump in the primaries. He`s written a letter to
Senators to say, the party will be destroyed and your careers will
ultimately be destroyed. And the Senate hold - the Republican hold on the
Senate will disappear if you don`t do the thing. Do you agree with all of
JENNIFER RUBIN, OPINION WRITER, “THE WASHINGTON POST”: Well, I agree with
Bill Weld. I share, I think, the pessimism of Tim Alberta that Republicans
are going to do the right thing.
I had a conversation this week with former defense secretary Bill Cohen.
And he says, listen, these people are intimidated by Trump. They`re fearful
of Trump and to some extent their complicit. They like some of the things
he`s doing. And they don`t have the fortitude. They don`t have the moral
backbone to stand up to him.
They will risk, I think, looking ridiculous. They will risk their seats.
And I think you`ll maybe have a handful of people who will do the right
thing. I think Mitt Romney will come around, perhaps Susan Collins, perhaps
a handful of others.
But it was interesting, the piece said - and barring an admission of guilt,
Trump has admitted guilt and he keeps admitting guilt, and they still don`t
change. So I think it`s unfortunately unlikely that these people will rise
to the occasion, which is why it`s important for the American people to
vote them out next November.
VELSHI: Tim, talk to me about who we`re talking about, because these are
senators from across the nation. You worked for Jeb Bush, a man who was a
principled Republican, not a guy who was ideologically inflexible. But held
to his conservative roots, while at the same time managing to have
discussions with and enact legislation with people across party lines.
Why are these United States Senators so different? Some of them are served
in statehouses. Some of them have had occasion to have debates with people
who don`t share their views. Why is this the hill they want to die on?
TIM MILLER, COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR, JEB BUSH 2016 PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN:
Ali, I wish I had the answer to that. I`ve just been disappointed -
experienced disappointment after disappointment with a lot of folks I used
to admire who are in the Senate and House in my party.
And I just want to give a warning to your viewers that the Alberta article
just drove me into a blind range when I was reading it on my way over here
today. So I wouldn`t recommend reading it before bed tonight.
But, look, here is the thing. There are a handful of folks either retiring
or who have maintained their integrity who we are talking about. Jennifer
mentioned Mitt Romney, and the House`s Adam Kinzinger.
The main thing that upset me about this article is there`s a Congressman
from Florida who is actually a Jeb supporter named Francis Rooney. Now he`s
the Ambassador to the Vatican. So he`s familiar how diplomacy somebody
work. Right? He`s been a loyal ally of Trump - too loyal for my taste. All
the way up until this Ukraine incident And basically what he said - he came
out and just said “look, the facts do not look good.” All he did was speak
And the Alberta article, what do you can see there`s been a lot of his
colleagues agree with him privately and yet still have targeted him, and
still basically pressured him into retirement out of loyalty to the
These people have decided that they`re going to make lay their bet on short
term political gain, because that`s what their voters wanted to do. None of
them have the courage or the integrity or the willingness to step out
against the President and take their chance with the voters next year.
And I agree with Jennifer, I`ll actually outflank her on pessimism. I don`t
really see that changing no matter what the circumstances.
VELSHI: I`m just going to read from Tim`s article what Representative
Francis Rooney of Florida said. He said, “So the question is, is that
enough of an abuse of power to remove the President from office? I don`t
know. I need to think about that a lot more. I haven`t made up my mind.
I`ve got to be able to look at myself in the mirror and I`ve got to be able
to look at my kids and my friends and family and know that what I did was
So he`s being thoughtful about it. But you know what, and maybe I made a
mistake, Jennifer a moment ago, when I said why is this the hill they want
to die on. Clearly, many of these Republican Senators and other members of
the House of Representatives don`t think they`re dying on any hill.
RUBIN: Right. They think this is the only way they survive. They are
afraid, on one hand, from a primary challenge, if they break with the
President. Even if they don`t have a primary challenge they`re afraid that
the Republicans won`t turn out and they`ll be beaten in the general
And the thing of it is, is that these people do not have, I guess, the
imagination or perhaps the ambition to do something else in life. For them
being in the United States Senate apparently is anything and everything
they`ve always wanted. So they will do anything to keep these seats. You
think these people will want to–
MILLER: It`s not that kind of a job Jennifer.
MILLER: It`s not that kind of a job. Well, I don`t get that, particular
given the House.
MILLER: You are a backbencher in the House. You`re in the minority.
MILLER: Why not - I mean, mean why not be the person that you know maybe
has a historic separation from this President? You know, I think that there
is a huge opportunity for somebody.
VELSHI: OK. Let`s–
MILLER: Its mystery. Let`s go down that road for a second. I think I`ve got
a chance to just ask you this question, Jennifer. What does it look like?
What if you are that group of people? We`ve got a couple of them running
for President. Two of the three people running against Donald Trump have
never really found much need to separate from them. Bill Weld is sort of a
bit of a stand out on that front.
But what does it look like? Do you build another Republican Party? Do you
call it something else? Do you peel off or do you just hope that enough of
the remnants of the Republican Party survive so that conservatives in this
country can have a political home after Donald Trump.
RUBIN: Well, I actually hope none of this party survives. I hope all of
them lose badly. I think if you have a devastation, if you have a complete
wipe out, there is a hope that the Tim Millers of the world will take
We`ll have a party or at least a shell of a party to operate and they can
bring in new blood, new people who have not gone along with this absolute
farce and try to create something that looks like a responsible center
We need two parties in this country. But right now we only have a one
that`s functional and perhaps a little too self-destructive. And the other
is completely amoral and anti-American. So it`s not a good position for a
democracy like ours to be in.
VELSHI: Jennifer Rubin and Tim Miller thanks for joining me tonight. I
appreciate it. Coming up the White House has slammed the forthcoming
anonymous book dealing detailing Trump administration chaos, because the
purported senior Trump official who wrote it, has chosen to remain
But next week several senior officials will be describing chaos inside the
administration live on television in the impeachment hearings. That`s next.
VELSHI: A midnight self-massacre, that`s what could have happened if senior
Trump administration officials went along with their plan to resign as a
group last year to sound a public alarm about President Trump`s conduct.
That`s according to the new book “A Warning”.
Excerpts of the book are already out ahead of its November 19th release. As
you saw on Rachel`s show last night. Written by the author of last year`s
anonymous New York Times op ed piece. The writer described only as a senior
official in the Trump administration, claims that the plan never came to
fruition for fear of destabilizing the government.
Now according to excerpts reviewed by “The Washington Post,” the book also
describes senior officials reaction to the President`s tweets. “It`s like
showing up at the nursing home at daybreak to find your elderly uncle
running pants less across the courtyard and cursing loudly about the
cafeteria food as worried attendants tried to catch him.
You`re stunned, amused and embarrassed all at the same time, only your
uncle probably wouldn`t do it every single day. His words aren`t broadcast
to the public and he doesn`t have to lead the U.S. government once he puts
his pants on.”
“The Post” reports, the book describing the President railing against
federal judges, ruling against his policies like the 2017 travel ban. He
asked White House lawyers “Can we just get rid of the judges? Let`s get rid
of the expletive judges. There shouldn`t be any at all, really.”
This is just the beginning. There will surely be more excerpts, reviews,
leaks of the book in the run up to its release and that will all be playing
out in the background as the public hearings in the impeachment
investigation of President Trump begin next week.
The under oath depositions are already providing their own window into the
chaos of the Trump administration as experienced by senior officials.
Acting Ukraine Ambassador Bill Taylor will be the first witness in the
public impeachment hearing on Wednesday.
Here`s one thing Ambassador Taylor mentioned when asked about the
difficulty in scheduling a meeting with President Trump about military aid
to Ukraine. He said I think this was also about the time of the Greenland
question, about purchasing Greenland, which took up a lot of energy at the
National Security Council.
Chairman Adam Schiff replied, “OK, that`s disturbing for a whole different
reason.” We`ll talk about all that and how Donald Trump is reportedly
reacting in the White House next with Gabe Sherman and Neera Tanden.
VELSHI: The White House has its response to the anonymous book “A Warning”.
Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham said “The coward who wrote this book
didn`t put their name on it, because it is nothing but lies. Real authors
reach out to their subjects to get things fact checked. But this person is
in hiding, making that very basic part of being a real writer impossible.
Reporters who choose to write about this farce should have the journalistic
integrity to cover the book as what it is, a work of fiction.”
That may well work, by the way, with the anonymous author. But the American
people are going to be hearing some unflattering anecdotes of what`s been
going on behind the scenes of the Trump administration in the impeachment
hearings starting next week from people under oath whose names you will
know, whose careers you will understand and it`s not from anonymous
The senior career officials who have given depositions, and who in some
cases will testify in public, are putting their names and faces to their
accounts like this one from Dr. Fiona Hill describing a rogue effort to get
a White House meeting for the President of Ukraine in exchange for opening
a political investigation. The so-called drug deal that John Bolton said he
wanted no part of.
Dr. Hill told the House Intelligence Committee she was concerned not just
about the content, but also the location of this July meeting between
Gordon Sondland and Ukrainians right by the White House Situation Room.
Hill said, it`s completely inappropriate to have the Ambassador to the EU,
Gordon Sondland take the Ukrainians down to the Ward Room, which is near
the Situation Room, to have a huddle on the next steps about getting a
meeting with the President of the United States.
I don`t even know whether the Ukrainians had left their cell phones in
boxes at this particular point. You can be sure that they`re being targeted
by the Russians. Joining me now Gabe Sherman Vanity Fair Special
Correspondent and an MSNBC Contributor, and back with us is Neera Tanden
who has spent a good deal of time inside the White House.
Neera you`ve had some access to some of the people who have read this book,
Phil Rucker from “The Washington Post” has read it and spoken about it. The
New York Times Book Review is written about it. Is there anything described
in this book so far that resembles anything that you experienced in the
NEERA TANDEN, PRESIDENT AND CEO, CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS: Zero. When I
worked in the White House we had good controls over security. People
understood that the - that we basically had foreign governments that were
trying to get information from us.
And actually there was a process. There was always a process there ran
everything. We didn`t have - I mean I was privileged to serve for President
- with President Obama and President Clinton, neither one of them tweeted
out attacks on political opponents or just attacked them through the press
or did any one of these things.
I mean what`s amazing about this book, and obviously we all have to read it
in detail, is that just from the excerpts it doesn`t seem unimaginable,
because it is exactly what we`ve seen day to day.
VELSHI: This is an interesting point.
TANDEN: –real time events. We see a President out of control all the time.
So it`s not surprising that he`s out of control behind the scenes. It`s
just remarkably unassuring that he is equally out of control behind the
cameras as well.
VELSHI: Gabe let me read to you from the New York Times Book Review.
“Anonymous has seen disturbing things. Anonymous has heard disturbing
things. You the reader will already recognize most of what Anonymous has
seen and heard as revealed in this book if you`ve been paying attention to
Did you know that the President isn`t much of a reader? That he`s
inordinately fond of autocrats? That he stumbles slurs, gets confused, is
easily irritated and has trouble synthesizing information.” Those who have
read the book already say it`s a lot of anecdotes. It sort of reinforces
what people know. What do you make of it?
GABRIEL SHERMAN, VANITY FAIR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. I mean I think
that`s the problem that we`re seeing with the rollout of this book is that
fundamentally it`s not advancing and filling in more detailed picture we
know of this President.
I mean, me as a reporter have covered both his campaign and the White
House. I hear these anecdotes every day from people who work inside the
White House, that are reported in New York Times and The Washington Post
So the problem is this book doesn`t actually advance the ball and people
are waiting for that, especially on top of the fact that the author is
anonymous. I mean usually journalists extend confidentiality to sources
when the only reason they can get that information to the public is
protecting their identity.
And now this author has done that and he says he doesn`t want to make this
story about himself. But then you`ve got to deliver the goods. And
unfortunately this - and I say this as someone who wants to know the full
inner workings of this White House. I wish that there was more so far, I
mean perhaps the book itself will have more.But what we what we have read
does not fill in that picture.
VELSHI: Advantageous Neera or disadvantageous to the author and the
publisher. There is this side track that will be going on next week and
will be the main track really. It`ll be the impeachment hearings in which
there will be people who were in the White House who will describe things
perhaps not as juicy a fashion as Anonymous does in the warning, but in a
in a way that reinforces exactly that message that the book contains that
people like Gabe and others have been reporting on for the last three
TANDEN: Absolutely. I do you think that is a part of this book which is
that we will - I`m sure this is inadvertent, but the timing is such that we
will see in real time public servants essentially - people - career
diplomats, career public servants who actually in real - in their
experience we`re trying to fight against the President`s instincts just as
anonymous described. So we`ll be real confirmation for the buck in the
public at the time.
VELSHI: But interesting, Gabe, that Stephanie Grisham at the White House
pushes back on this, because the ideas - the person`s anonymously must be
gutless and cowardly and so hence you mustn`t believe it, when in fact
we`ve got a whole bunch of people who are coming out there showing their
faces and testifying.
SHERMAN: Yes. I mean my reporting today is that the President has been very
unhappy with his communications and the fact that he feels the White House
is not doing enough to defend him. And Stephanie Grisham, from what my
reporting has indicated, basically takes dictation from Trump. These
statements are things that he has dictated to her.
VELSHI: Well, they sound very Trumpian.
SHERMAN: Very Trumpian. And so he is launching a full scale assault on this
book. Clearly this is just another front in the multi front war against
this White House. But I think as you teed up at the top of this segment.
We`re going to see all of these people under oath, on the record, talking
about what happened that is more powerful than an anonymous book.
VELSHI: Gabe good to see you. Neera Tanden, thank you for sticking around.
Thanks both for your time tonight. Tonight`s last word concludes now. “The
11th hour with Brian Williams” begins.
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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