Amb. Yovanovitch to testify tomorrow. TRANSCRIPT: 11/14/19, The Last Word w/ Lawrence O’Donnell.

Guests:
David Cicilline, Neera Tanden, Denny Heck, Larry Pfeiffer, Richard Blumenthal, Neera Tanden, Joyce Vance
Transcript:

JOY REID, MSNBC HOST:  Good evening, Rachel.

 

So, I can tell you that as of tomorrow, you can officially class me as a

shut-in.  I will not leave my home.  No one is to call me.  Do not text me. 

I will not answer. 

 

I am so ready for this.  I`m so fascinated by it.  I don`t know if you`ve

responded to it the same way.  I cannot stop watching it.

 

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST:  I have to tell you I`m already nervous now

about how fast I need to sleep so I can be awake and done all my business

like have breakfast and have a shower and have a shower and walk the dog

and do all the things I need to do so that I`m seated and paying attention

by 9:00 because 9:00 a.m. is not my key time of day. 

 

REID:  I`m with you.

 

MADDOW:  We stressed about it.

 

REID:  It`s hard because I have insomnia, really bad insomnia. 

 

MADDOW:  I know you do.

 

REID:  So I`ve been trying to trick myself to fall asleep at 11:00, so I

can be up at 8:00.  So, I`m like trying tricks, I`ve got like the calm app

going because I`m like – my poor husband, I`m like I`ve got to be asleep. 

I need to sleep in like 10 minutes.  I`ve got to get up at 8:00. 

 

You know, it`s really bad.  At least with me, it`s really not been easy

this week. 

 

(LAUGHTER)

 

MADDOW:  Also I love how you and I have the same approach to sleeping. 

Like must sleep now, focus, sleep past.

 

REID:  Turn on Matthew McConaughey app where he reads me a story now.  Like

it`s really bad.

 

MADDOW:  Yes, and then you scream at it and it`s weird, it doesn`t relax

you but you just sleep.  I know.  We`re terrible people.  But at least you

and I are in the same boat.  Thank you, my friend.

 

REID:  There are at least two of us.  There are two of us.  So, I don`t

feel alone.

 

MADDOW:  I think there`s more.  You and I will both be awake all night and

sleep on Saturday.  Fair? 

 

REID:  There you go.  Sounds good.

 

MADDOW:  Fair, thanks, my friend.  All right.

 

REID:  All right, have a good night.  Bye.

 

All right, coming up ahead as Rachel – as we just discussed as Turkey`s

brutal president, Tayyip Erdogan, was welcomed to the White House, the

Trump Organization refused to answer questions from senators about Donald

Trump`s business interests in Turkey.  And I`ll talk with one of those

senators about Trump`s possible conflicts of interests. 

 

And leaked e-mails from senior White House official Stephen Miller show

that, surprise, Trump`s point man on rejecting and detaining non-European

immigrants, promoted white nationalism. 

 

All that is coming up.

 

But first tonight, debunking the latest Republican talking point on

impeachment.  New damning information is coming out all the time about the

Trump-Ukraine scandal at the center the impeachment investigation. 

Republicans have field tested a dozen different arguments in an attempt to

defend the president at all costs.  But each one has been flimsier or

weirder than the last. 

 

And their latest attempt to defend is no exception.  During the first

public impeachment hearing featuring Ambassador Bill Taylor and Assistant

Deputy Secretary George Kent, Republicans complained that neither of the

officials were first-hand witness to the events under scrutiny. 

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

REP. DEVIN NUNES (R-CA):  Officials alarmed at the president`s actions was

typically based on secondhand, third-hand and even fourth-hand rumors and

innuendo. 

 

REP. JIM JORDAN (R-OH):  We`ve got six people having four conversations in

one sentence and you just told me this is where you got your clear

understanding. 

 

REP. MIKE TURNER (R-OH):  We`re not in court, gentlemen.  And if we were,

the Sixth Amendment would apply and so would rules on hearsay and opinion,

and most of your two testimonies would not be admissible whatsoever. 

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

REID:  Well, here`s the thing, Republicans are only telling half of the

story.  First-hand witness, the people who have met Trump or worked

directly with him aren`t being allowed to testify.  The White House is

stopping them from doing so. 

 

Former federal prosecutor and MSNBC legal analyst Glenn Kirschner argues

every single time a Republican complains of hearsay, secondhand information

being introduced at the impeachment hearings, that statement should be

viewed as powerful proof Trump is obstructing the hearing by prohibiting

the witnesses with first-hand info from testifying. 

 

There are certainly witnesses who have more firsthand knowledge than Taylor

and Kent, but many of the witnesses the Democrats want to call such as

acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney and Acting Office of Budget

and Management Director Russell Vought, and former National Security

Advisor John Bolton have refused to come on White House orders or are being

blocked outright from testifying by the Trump administration. 

 

Now, in particular interest, John Bolton`s lawyer says his client has

personal knowledge of relevant meetings and conversations that have not yet

been discussed in testimonies thus far, all of which are being held up by

the White House. 

 

Here`s House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. 

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA):  We are not here to be manipulated by the

obstruction of justice of the administration.  On the one hand, they say

that it is secondhand, or the other hand, they obstruct all of the people

who they would consider to have first-hand knowledge from testifying. 

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

REID:  At least one Republican member of Congress believes officials like

Mulvaney should testify.  Republican Congressman Francis Rooney of Florida

who has not yet ruled out supporting impeachment told CNN he thinks

Mulvaney should appear before the impeachment committee saying, quote, I

think everyone should come to testify. 

 

And breaking tonight, one critical official is expected to defy the White

House and testify in the impeachment investigation.  “The Washington Post”

is reporting that Mark Sandy, a long time career employee at the White

House Office of Management and Budget, is expected to break ranks and

testify Saturday in the House Democrats impeachment inquiry, potentially

filling in important details on the hold up of military aid to Ukraine. 

Sandy would be the first OMB employee to testify in the inquiry.

 

Mark Sandy could provide insight into the process by which almost $400

million in military and security aid to Ukraine was held up over the

summer.  “The Post” reports that Mark Sandy was among the career staffers

who raised questions about the hold up on the aid.  And Speaker Pelosi

kicked her rhetoric up a notch today using the word “bribery” to describe

Trump`s actions towards Ukraine, going further than she ever has before. 

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

PELOSI:  The devastating testimony corroborated evidence of bribery

uncovered in the inquiry and that the president abused power and violated

his oath by threatening to withhold military aid in a White House meeting

in exchange for an investigation into his political rival.  The bribe is to

grant or withhold military assistance in return for a public statement of a

fake investigation into the elections.  That`s bribery. 

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

REID:  That`s bribery. 

 

Pelosi`s remarks come just days after House Intelligence Committee Chairman

Adam Schiff told NPR that Trump`s potentially impeachable offenses include

bribery.  And notably, the U.S. Constitution explicitly names two

impeachable offenses, treason and bribery.  And as “The New York Times”

writes, Pelosi`s use of the word bribery is significant because it`s

suggested that Democrats are increasingly working to put a name to the

president`s alleged wrongdoing and moving toward a more specific set of

charges that could be codified in articles of impeachment in the coming

weeks. 

 

Leading off our discussion tonight, Democratic Congressman David Cicilline

of Rhode Island.  He`s a member of the House Judiciary Committee and House

Foreign Affairs Committee. 

 

Joyce Vance, former U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Alabama. 

And she`s an MSNBC legal analyst. 

 

And Neera Tanden, former senior advisor to President Obama and Hillary

Clinton.  And she`s president and CEO of the Center for American Progress.

 

Thank you all for being here.

 

And, Congressman, I want to go to you on this first.  The White House`s

argument or the Republicans` argument on their behalf has been that all of

the witnesses who have come forward thus far are secondhand – they hold

secondhand information.  They didn`t talk to Donald Trump directly.  They

didn`t participate in the events or testify about it directly.  And yet

they`re holding up all the direct participants and not letting them

testify. 

 

Does it surprise you that the response of the House committee has not been

to simply subpoena and order the direct participants to testify, or do you

think it`s smarter to say they`re their not testifying just becomes another

article of impeachment? 

 

REP. DAVID CICILLINE (D-RI):  Well, first off, they`re wrong about the

absence of direct evidence.  We have, of course, the president`s own

admission of wrongdoing.  We have the telephone transcript in the

president`s own words.  We have the whistle-blower report that details the

elaborate scheme.  All of that has been corroborated by witnesses. 

 

We`re going to hear additional witnesses who have direct knowledge of

conversations.  Lieutenant Colonel Vindman who listened in on the call, a

number of people who wrote text messages and e-mails.  So, there`s

overwhelming evidence, that factually uncontroverted.  And I think we`re

making the right decision. 

 

Look, we`ve asked witnesses to appear, we`ve subpoenaed witnesses.  But

we`re not going to be dragged into a protracted period of litigation so the

president can drag this out. 

 

We`ve put the witnesses on notice.  If you fail to appear because the

president has told you not to appear as you`re required to, or produce

documents, we`re going to consider that evidence as obstruction of Congress

and use that was an adverse inference and that was a separate article of

impeachment against President Nixon.  We`re not going to simply allow the

administration to obstruct this process and benefit by engaging us in

protracted litigation that could take months and months. 

 

We`ve put them on notice.  If they have something exculpatory to the

president, we ought to let them come forward.  I think we can draw an

adverse inference by his direction to them not to appear. 

 

REID:  Yes, it`s certainly incriminating if he won`t allow the people, if

the people closest to him in this whole situation had information

exculpatory, you think he`d be rushing them to Congress to give that

information.  But instead he`s withholding it. 

 

Neal Katyal in “The New York Times” wrote about this obstruction in the way

that they behaved toward this inquiry.  While the Ukraine allegations

rightly captured the attention of Congress and much of the public, Mr.

Trump`s effort to hinder the investigation of him is at least as great a

threat to the rule of law.  It strikes at the heart of American democracy

and is itself the essence of an impeachable offense. 

 

What we have here is sort of the Andrew Johnson case for impeaching,

meaning that Congress appropriated money and Trump is not giving it to you

unless you do me a favor, and you`ve got the Nixon case for impeachment

which is obstructing the investigation itself.  So, it feels like there`s

so much already on the table. 

 

In you`re mind as somebody who`s on judiciary, do you think the Congress

will be in very short order ready to go ahead and write articles? 

 

CICILLINE:  Well, I think there`s no question, and I`ve had the opportunity

to sit through the depositions as a member of the Foreign Affairs

Committee.  I think the American people will see over the next several days

and next several weeks overwhelming evidence of the president`s wrongdoing,

that he abused the power of his office, that he undermined our national

security.  He undermined the integrity of our elections by withholding

military aid in a White House meeting until he got Ukrainians to gin up a

phony investigation against his chief political rival. 

 

This is damning and shocking conduct on the part of the president. 

Obviously, we`ve approved proceedings that will give the president a chance

to come forward and present evidence and cross-examine witnesses and try to

explain this.  But I think there`s overwhelming evidence of wrongdoing,

certainly sufficient for us to move forward before the Judiciary Committee

and consider articles of impeachment. 

 

And I expect that will happen – that we`ll have the responsibility to

consider that in short order and the president will have an opportunity to

respond to it.  And then, if we do file articles of impeachment, the House

will have the opportunity to take them up.

 

But the evidence is overwhelming.  The facts are uncontested and we`ve

heard a number of different defenses from Republicans, but none of them

have challenged the actual facts that have been alleged. 

 

REID:  Right.

 

And, Joyce Vance, I think what a lot of people don`t understand, if you get

a jury summons, you have to show up.  If you get ordered by court, you have

to do it.  How can it be permissible for these witnesses to say I`m simply

not showing up?  I think a lot of people are confused how they can get away

with it and not wind up in jail. 

 

JOYCE VANCE, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST:  So, I think the short answer is it`s not

permissible.  And if we had a criminal justice system that was functioning

the way that it should be and does under other administrations, there would

be accountability.  But unfortunately, for Congress, it doesn`t have the

ability or at least it doesn`t have an easy path forward to directly

enforce its subpoenas.  Its real enforcement mechanism is to ask the U.S.

attorney in the District of Columbia to enforce the subpoena on its behalf,

and, of course, given this administration and this attorney general, that`s

not an easy path forward. 

 

So I think Congress has taken a really smart approach here which is that

they`re calling the witnesses and they`ve put the witnesses on notice that

their failure to appear whether it`s pursuant to a subpoena or lawful

request for someone in government to show up for what`s essentially an

oversight hearing, that those failures are active obstruction that can

ultimately be charged by Congress against this president in articles of

impeachment.  That`s where the accountability comes in.  It`s slow, it`s

frustrating but we`re moving in the right direction now. 

 

REID:  And, you Know, Neera, you know, Donald Trump today, of course, is

attacking Taylor and George Kent.  And you laugh but if that is what people

fear, those who are not cooperating, if that`s the worse you`re going to

get, Donald Trump is going to tweet nasty things at you, it does confuse me

why people are so afraid to follow the law. 

 

NEERA TANDEN, CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS PRESIDENT & CEO:  I think we`re

actually seeing more and more of career officials speaking out.  So I think

the fact we now have a career official in the OMB, the Office of Management

and Budget offices are within the executive complex, so it`s much closer to

the White House.  The fact we have a career official who`s planning to

testify and defy the White House I think is an important facts. 

 

And that career official is going to give us lots of information and will

tie this much more closely.  Remember Mick Mulvaney was the former director

of the OMB. 

 

REID:  Right.

 

TANDEN:  He is the chief of staff.  It`s very likely he communicated

directly to Russell Vought and to possibly career OMB officials like Mark

Sandy. 

 

I think we`re seeing many more people coming out.  It`s interesting that we

have two other career officials who are in the embassy of Ukraine who are

now speaking out about overhearing this conversation between Gordon

Sondland. 

 

And I think the really most important part that we see is that, House

Democrats are very smartly, in my view, making the case about the crime

here.  There`s absolutely an abuse of power.  But the abuse of power has a

definition.

 

REID:  Yes.

 

TANDEN:  And it is bribery.  And I think most importantly for the American

people, they saw a clear case yesterday, the evidence being laid out.  And

now, they`re understanding what it is, a crime. 

 

REID:  Yes.

 

TANDEN:  And if this crime is not impeachable and punishable, nothing

really is.  As you said, it`s laid out in the Constitution. 

 

So I think this is a very important step that the speaker has taken by

defining it.  And I think what will be really important is tomorrow, you`re

going to see some of the victims of this crime, an ambassador who was

smeared in order to move her out because she was trying to do the right

thing for the country.  She was victimized for being a patriot. 

 

REID:  Yes, and I think now it is very specific, Congressman, do you have a

sense just being on Judiciary of what the timeline looks like for how long

you think this process is going to go? 

 

CICILLINE:  I think we should expect a couple of weeks, maybe another week

at least of hearings before the Intelligence Committee.  I think the

intelligence committee shortly after that will conclude its work, hopefully

prepare a final report and a referral to the Judiciary Committee, which the

resolution we passed authorizes. 

 

I think there are a number of other committees who have been engaged in

oversight who will similarly make a referral for any appropriate

consideration by judiciary.  And then my hope is shortly after that, the

Judiciary Committee will meet and consider whether or not articles of

impeachment ought to be prepared and filed with the full house. 

 

REID: And very quickly before I let you, Congressman Peter Welch, your

fellow congressman, has said that based on what he`s heard right now, he`d

be comfortable voting articles of impeachment against Donald Trump based on

what he`s heard so far.  Do you agree? 

 

CICILLINE:  Well, I think, as I`ve said, I think there`s prima facie

evidence of a crime and of serious wrongdoing.  I think we owe it to the

president during the Judiciary hearings to give him an opportunity to

present evidence, to have his lawyers cross-examine, see if he can explain

what seems very obviously serious misconduct. 

 

So I think we ought to go through that process.  But this is very serious,

and I think the Judiciary Committee will have ample information to move

forward if the committee members consider it appropriate. 

 

REID:  All right.  Congressman David Cicilline, thank you very much.  Joyce

Vance and Neera Tanden, thank you all very much as well. 

 

And coming up next, tomorrow is expected to be a blockbuster day in the

House Intelligence Committee.  Former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie

Yovanovitch who was recalled from her position after a Rudy Giuliani-led

smear campaign against her will testify publicly. 

 

But behind closed doors tomorrow, investigators will be getting details

from the staffer who overheard Donald Trump talking to his E.U. Ambassador

Gordon Sondland about investigations the day after Trump`s call with the

Ukrainian president.  That`s next. 

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

REID:  Tomorrow is the next big day of witness testimony for the

impeachment inquiry.  At 9:00 a.m., Marie Yovanovitch will testify publicly

about the smear campaign orchestrated by Rudy Giuliani to toss her out of

her job as the ambassador to Ukraine.  And another witness will appear

behind closed doors to reveal what he knows about a previously unknown

cellphone call that E.U. Ambassador Gordon Sondland made from a restaurant

in Kiev to Donald Trump the day after the president`s infamous phone call

with Ukraine`s president. 

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

AMBASSADOR WILLIAM TAYLOR, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO UKRAINE:  A member of my

staff could hear President Trump on the phone asking Ambassador Sondland

about the investigations.  Ambassador Sondland told President Trump the

Ukrainians were ready to move forward. 

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

REID:  That staffer is David Holmes, an official at the U.S. embassy in

Ukraine whose testimony tomorrow could further point the finger directly at

Trump in the harebrained plot to extort Ukraine into investigating the

Bidens to help Trump in 2020 and boosting a conspiracy theory to clear

Russia of meddling in the 2016 election. 

 

And today, the “Associated Press” and “The Washington Post” report a second

official was sitting at the table and overheard Sondland and Trump

discussing the need for Ukraine to pursue those investigations, each citing

a single anonymous source. 

 

NBC News has confirmed that the official was accompanying Sondland during

his visit but has not confirmed whether she overheard the call. 

 

And joining us now is Democratic Congressman Danny Heck from Washington. 

He`s a member of the House Intelligence Committee who will be attending the

Yovanovitch hearing and the Holmes deposition tomorrow. 

 

And Larry Pfeiffer, former director of the White House Situation Room where

he managed President Obama`s phone calls with other heads of state.  He`s

the former chief of staff to the director of the CIA. 

 

Gentlemen, thank you both for being here.

 

Congressman, I want to start with you first.  I want to play you a little

bit of yourself questioning Mr. Kent about Ambassador Yovanovitch during

the hearing this week.  Take a listen. 

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

REP. DENNY HECK (D-WA):  Is it not true that rather than fighting

corruption in general in Ukraine that what President Trump actually did was

unceremoniously recall and remove Ambassador Yovanovitch from her post in

Ukraine? 

 

GEORGE KENT, DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF STATE:  Much of what we`ve been

discussing today which involved an irregular channel was a request that

went against U.S. policy that would have undermined the rule of law and our

long-standing policy goals in Ukraine as in other countries in the post-

Soviet Space. 

 

HECK:  Those policies which were indeed championed by Ambassador

Yovanovitch. 

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

REID:  So what we have here is an ambassador trying to do her job being

ousted, at one point being even told by Ambassador Sondland that she ought

to tweet praise of Donald Trump to save her job rather than doing the job

he was there to do.  What are you expecting Ms. Yovanovitch to add to the

fact that we already know? 

 

HECK:  Well, what America is going to see tomorrow is the best of the best. 

America`s finest that has ably saved our country for 33 years in increasing

responsibility.  She is the cream of the crop when it comes to Foreign

Service diplomats. 

 

And actually what Ambassador Sondland said to her I think is way, way less

offensive than what President Trump said about her, that she was a bad

woman and then ominously threatening she`s going to go through some things. 

 

REID:  Yes, let me read a bit of that.  This is the fact Ms. Yovanovitch

saying she felt threatened what he said about her in a July 25th call. 

Trump said the former ambassador for the United States, the woman was bad

news and the people she was dealing with in the Ukraine were bad news, so I

just want to let you know that, and she said what was the reaction and she

said I was shocked, I was very surprised Trump would speak about me or any

ambassador in that way to a foreign counterpart. 

 

And Trump says, well, she`s going to go through some things.  The question

is what did you think about that, and she said she was very concerned and

felt threatened. 

 

So – 

 

HECK:  She felt threatened because she was threatened, Joy. 

 

REID:  Yes.

 

HECK:  That`s thinly veiled.  We all understand what that meant, and it`s

consistent and completely in character with the other kinds of things he

said throughout the time he was candidate and served as president. 

 

REID:  Let me bring you in there, Larry Pfeiffer, because, you know, this

has been called dumb Watergate.  You know, it`s been called sort of Donald

Trump behaving sort of almost in a mafioso way, but not like the smartest

mafioso way.

 

The idea that he would be on the phone, on a cellphone talking with his

ambassador about the very thing he`s going to be impeach said for, how

unusual – this is almost a rhetorical question – would it be for the

president of the United States to pick up a common cellphone and get on –

to speak by cellphone with his ambassador about foreign policy issues? 

 

LARRY PFEIFFER, FORMER DIRECTOR, WHITE HOUSE SITUATION ROOM:  Very unusual,

Joy.  Normally – number one, normally an ambassador doesn`t talk to the

president of the United States on any kind of telephone call on a routine

basis.  Number two, you have this being done over a non-secured device that

could be readily intercepted by a number of foreign governments, but in

this case, particularly Russia given how wired the country of Ukraine is by

Russian intelligence. 

 

REID:  Now, you did write in – you said to “The Washington Post” – you

quoted by saying the security ramifications are insane.  Using an open

cellphone to communicate with the president of the United States in a

country you can almost take it to bank that the Russians were listening in

on the call.

 

Would you presume that the Russians have a recording of the call, a

transcript of the call?  Basically information they now hold over the head

of the president of the United States? 

 

PFEIFFER:  That`s absolutely a clear possibility.  And I`d be almost

embarrassed for them if they weren`t targeting Ambassador Sondland, the

people at the embassy either through electronic means, through some kind of

sensitive means or just having people walking around in the restaurant or

sitting near them in the restaurant to listen and overhear the

conversations. 

 

REID:  The kind of lack of understanding of sort of basic security protocol

by the president and by the people that he had around him is surprising. 

 

Will this wind up, do you think, becoming a part of sort of the hearing?  I

mean, do you think it`s a possibility that this – a recording of the call

could come out? 

 

HECK:  I don`t know if a recording will come out, but I`m fairly confident,

as Larry suggests, that there were people listening in.  I think that`s

probably a given, given the location in a public place where they were. 

 

I`m not sure, however, that a recording by the Russians would be something

they would hold over his head, when you stop to think about they were doing

was their bidding. 

 

REID:  Right.

 

HECK:  When he was trying to withhold security assistance to the

Ukrainians, it was to the benefit of the Russians. 

 

So I`m not sure they would blackmail him with doing their job. 

 

REID:  What do you make of that?  Because it does feel like as Speaker

Pelosi said, everything does seem to come back to Russia for him and doing

things that benefit them. 

 

What do you make of that as a member of Congress, as an American? 

 

HECK:  All roads lead to Russia so it seems.  Well, we don`t know.  And I

can`t help but feel that if more of the documents that we had subpoenaed

had been presented to us or if for example his tax returns had been

revealed, we might have more information what it is – what is his

obsession with Vladimir Putin and assisting it Russians despite their

maligned intent and their aggression in eastern Ukraine? 

 

REID:  Yes, it is a puzzle.  Congressman Denny Heck, Larry Pfeiffer, thank

you both.  We really appreciate joining us tonight.

 

And coming up, why the Trump administration is trying to avoid questions

from the Senate about the president`s conflict of interest in Turkey. 

That`s next. 

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

REID: We all know by now how fond Donald Trump is of dictators and strong

men from Vladimir Putin to Kim Jong-un to brutal Saudi prince Mohammad bin

Salman, but for most Americans, the idea that an American President would

host in our White House a man who executed the killing of American allies

and rang up at the Russian cash register for arms to conduct more military

adventures would have been unthinkable.

 

Well, with Donald Trump, that`s exactly what happened. Donald Trump invited

Turkish President Erdogan to the White House despite Turkey`s recent

military incursion into Northern Syria, its attack on America`s allies, the

Kurds, and Turkey`s purchase of a missile defense system from Russia. Trump

welcomed Erdogan as his `very good friend` and stood there with nothing to

say, as the Turkish autocrat characterized our Kurdish allies as

terrorists.

 

But, of course, why wouldn`t he? Trump`s embrace of Erdogan is just another

example of him putting his own financial interests ahead of the interests

of the United States. Here is how then candidate Donald Trump said that he

would approach Turkey if elected president during an interview in 2015.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I have a little conflict of

interest because I have a major, major building in Istanbul, and it`s a

tremendously successful job. It`s called Trump Towers, two towers instead

of one; not the usual one, it`s two.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

 

REID: That conflict of interest has not gone away now the Trump is

President. According to NBC News, Trump`s former national security advisor

John Bolton indicated in a private speech that he was concerned by the

President`s unwillingness to impose sanctions on Turkey. Bolton said, “He

believes there is a personal or business relationship dictating Trump`s

position on Turkey because none of his advisors are aligned with him on the

issue.”

 

And as President Erdogan visited the White House, the Trump Organization

refused to provide answers to questions from Senators about the President`s

business interests in Turkey. And joining us now is Democratic Senator

Richard Blumenthal from Connecticut and he`s one of the Senators who

requested information from the Trump Organization on the President`s

business dealings in Turkey. He`s also a member of the Judiciary Committee.

And Senator, thank you so much for being here.

 

I want to get right to the questions that you want answered regarding

Donald Trump. Is it as sort of straightforward as whether or not Trump`s

policies toward Turkey are dictated by the fact that Turkey has his

businesses in their purview?

 

SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL (D-CT): The fundamental point here is in fact

whether Donald Trump has been so influenced and in fact corrupted by his

personal financial dealings that he is putting his personal interests ahead

of the Nation`s interests. And our questions are pretty straightforward;

how much is he making from this deal with the two Trump Towers and what

kind of leverage does the Turkish government have over that deal if Erdogan

sought to end it as he threatened to do in fact just a few years ago?

 

And finally, what kind of dealings or conversations have there been between

the Trump Organization and Turkish officials regarding U.S.-Turkish

relations? These kinds of questions demand disclosure, so people know in

fact whether he is putting his own interests ahead of our national

interest. And this situation is only one of a fair number of payments and

benefits that he`s receiving from foreign governments in violation of the

Constitution`s monuments clause, which is the principal anti-corruption

provision of the Constitution, and that is the reason that 200 of us,

members of Congress, have sued the President.

 

I`ve helped to lead it; it`s called Blumenthal versus Trump, and it will be

argued in fact on December 9 in the Court of Appeals.

 

REID: And we know the New York Times wrote a piece about the sort of trio

of sons-in-law creating a back-channel between Trump and Erdogan that

include Jared Kushner, the son-in-law of Turkey`s finance minister, and the

son-in-law of a Turkish tycoon with ties to Trump Organization. It`s a

little bit of that piece behind President Trump`s accommodating attitude

toward Turkey is this unusual back-channel and the ties between those three

men show how informal and often unseen connections between the two

presidents have helped shaped American policy in a volatile part of the

world.

 

Do you think it would be important for Congress to hear from Jared Kushner

just what businesses are taking place behind the scenes out of American

eyesight between himself potentially and these other sons-in-law?

 

BLUMENTHAL: Jared Kushner has relevant evidence and information, so do Eric

and Donald Trump, Jr. and other members of the Trump Organization, who are

in fact working still for the President in his private capacity because he

continues to own the Trump Organization. Remember how absolutely

extraordinary this situation is; past presidents have divested their

similar private interests. They sold them and they bought bonds which

raised no conflicts of interest, and Donald Trump is the extraordinary

exception to that rule and his conflict of interest is more than a little

one, as he put it very boastfully.

 

REID: And we know that Donald Trump denied the President of Ukraine, which

is our ally, some - a country that we have long been in support of in their

attempts to free themselves from Russia, he denied that president a White

House meeting. He gave one to President Erdogan despite the brutality that

Turkey has inflicted on the Kurds who are our allies. What did you make of

that, sir, for him to invite Erdogan to the White House?

 

BLUMENTHAL: The invitation to Erdogan, the avoidance of any sanctions for

Erdogan buying Russian missiles, the green light to Erdogan to invade

Northern Syria and slaughter our allies, the Kurds, as you mentioned

earlier, all of these actions in effect raised the specter of a payoff to

Erdogan. But, it`s part of a pattern and that`s why - the dealings with the

Ukrainian president are part of that pattern as well.

 

Bribery is certainly a very plausible and powerful charge supported by very

convincing evidence in the case of the Ukraine and all around the world,

Donald Trump is profiting from the presidency by putting his personal

financial interests potentially at the priority compared to the Nation`s.

 

REID: The Trump Administration has claimed that they were attempting to

fight corruption in Ukraine. Do you believe that Donald Trump and his

administration are corrupt, or that he himself is corrupt?

 

BLUMENTHAL: This administration is the most corrupt in my lifetime, maybe

the most corrupt in American history and certainly in recent history, and

all of the evidence that has been disclosed by the Mueller Report, by the

very powerful evidence of the President abusing his office, betraying his

trust, committing bribery in the Ukrainian president`s dealings, in effect

demanding that the Ukrainian president do his bidding, and using his power

and the presidency to his personal benefit, I think are part of that

corrupt pattern.

 

And unfortunately, the more we know, the more we see it and the more

powerfully is the case for the removal of this President.

 

REID: Senator Richard Blumenthal, thank you so much for joining us tonight,

really appreciate you. Thank you.

 

BLUMENTHAL: Thank you.

 

REID: Thank you. Coming up, newly revealed emails from White House Stephen

Miller, one of the architects of Trump`s kids in cages policy, show him

promoting White nationalism; the details next.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

REID: There has been a lot of news about the impeachment inquiry into

Donald Trump over the last 48 hours, which is why you may have missed a

completely different scandal brewing in the Trump White House. Earlier this

week, the Southern Poverty Law Center released a trove of over 900 emails

from White House advisor Stephen Miller to the right-wing news outlet

Breitbart.

 

The emails were sent between 2015 and 2016 before Miller entered the White

House, but overlapping with the period when he worked for the Trump

presidential campaign. They show that Miller, who was one of Trump`s top

advisors on immigration policy, frequently shared links from white

nationalist websites and encouraged a reporter at home of the alt-right

website Breitbart to source stories to those sites.

 

Among the websites linked to by Miller was VDare, a site named after

Virginia Dare, the first white child reported to have been seen - to have

been born on American soil in the 1600s. The White House responded to

questions about the emails by claiming that it was anti-Semitic to raise

the issue of a top senior advisor sharing articles from white supremacist

websites because Stephen Miller is Jewish.

 

At least seven Democratic members of Congress have called on Miller to

resign over the emails, including Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who said

Stephen Miller has been `exposed as a bonafide white nationalist.` When we

come back, I`ll talk with Maria Teresa Kumar and Neera Tanden about what

Miller`s continued presence in the White House means and about how

Democrats respond to stories like this amid the current impeachment

investigations.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Statute of Liberty says, “Give me your tired, your

poor, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free. It doesn`t

say anything about speaking English or being able to be a computer

programmer.

 

STEPHEN MILLER, WHITE HOUSE SENIOR ADVISOR: The Statue of Liberty is a

symbol of Liberty enlightening the world; it is a symbol of American

Liberty lighting the world. The poem that you`re referring to was added

later, is not actually part of the original Statue of Liberty-

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

REID: That was White House senior advisor Stephen Miller in his first

appearance before the White House press corps. New emails show Miller

regularly emailed a reporter at the right-wing news site Breitbart with

links to articles from white supremacist website. Joining us now is Maria

Teresa Kumar, President and CEO of Voto Latino and an MSNBC contributor,

and Neera Tanden is also back with us.

 

And I`ll start with you, Maria Teresa; this is part of the story,

apparently according to - in August of this year actually, this is earlier,

a Justice Department newsletter that`s distributed to federal immigration

judges and other employees contained a blog post of this week from an

extremist group that included anti-Semitic references, a national union for

the judges said the newsletter summarized and linked to a post from VDare,

which is a website that regularly publishes white nationalists.

 

We now are finding out that Stephen Miller was sending VDare articles and

articles from other white nationalist haunts to this Breitbart editor and

suggesting that she source articles from them. This is not surprising I

think to most people who`ve paid attention to Stephen Miller, but what do

you make of it?

 

MARIA TERESA KUMAR, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: The challenge with having Stephen

Miller and the ear of the President in the White House in the highest

capacities to dictate not only his hate to translate into policy and that`s

basically what he`s been doing. When you find out the AP broke yesterday

that 69,000 migrant children have been held in detention for-profit

industry camps under his direction; that`s what it`s - that`s the

consequence.

 

REID: Yes.

 

KUMAR: And we have to have a come-to-Jesus moment when people say sometimes

words that`s all it means, words have consequences. When under this

administration, we have had and we have the receipts that demonstrate that

the reason they wanted to add the citizenship question was to gerrymander

white Republican districts that were non-Hispanic, it speaks volumes.

 

His words have consequences because they translate literally into policies

that harm a majority of Americans. And what I mean by that is, oftentimes,

we have these conversations about, well, these are minorities. Well,

minorities represent 40% of the people of who we are. It is 135 million

Americans and they are disproportionately impacting everyday - people`s

everyday lives where people are feeling less safe, and unless we address

and make sure that somehow he has - he`s held accountable for the policies

that he`s dictating that are making Americans less safe, all of a sudden

people are going to feel like they`re absolved (ph).

 

REID: Yes, I mean the thing is is that the history so far, Neera, has been

that Steve Bannon who said he was making Breitbart the home of the alt-

right - alt-right is a term invented by white nationalist Richard Spencer,

that simply means white nationalism.

 

NEERA TANDEN, PRESIDENT AND CEO, CENTER FOR AMERICAN: Yes, white

nationalism, right.

 

REID: But, if you were to - if you dare to say, wait a minute, why is Steve

Bannon just sort of an ordinary figure in the Trump Administration, you

were looked at as if you were insane. He`s just a figure; he`s a senior

advisor to the President; how dare you sort of besmirch - he said that

that`s what Breitbart was going to be. So, it`s not surprising that an ally

of his also made Breitbart the home of the alt-right by suggesting that

they read white nationalist material.

 

TANDEN: Right, I mean alt-right is whitewashing white nationalism; that is

what it is.

 

REID: Yes.

 

TANDEN: And what I think is - I hope people don`t go to these websites but

just to report on what they talk about, they talk about white genocide,

they talk about cleansing people of color from this country. These are not

just disagreements we have; these are policies that promote America as only

a place for white people.

 

And as Maria Teresa said, this administration has policies that talk about

immigration which is really essentially about immigration for white people.

But, I would like to know that it is something that we should just not feel

as normal–

 

REID: Right.

 

TANDEN: –to have a white nationalist or a person espousing white

nationalist views in the corners of the White House, the Domestic Policy

Council, the normal policy structures of the White House. This is not

normal.

 

I`ve worked in a White House before; I`ve worked in two different White

Houses. These views have been abhorrent and I should say, they`ve been

abhorrent in Republican and Democratic White Houses, and they should not be

accepted by any American.

 

REID: And so, you`ve now had five members of Congress who`ve called on

Stephen Miller to resign or be dismissed from his job; Judy Chu, Joaquin

Castro, Karen Bass, Pramila Jayapal, Mark Pocan have all signed on to that

letter.

 

Bannon was never dismissed for it. Donald Trump relies on Stephen Miller to

help him make policy, particularly toward immigrants. He worked for Jeff

Sessions who has praised the 1920s era immigration laws that would have

excluded all three of us, the ones on this table, from coming into this

country.

 

KUMAR: Right.

 

REID: It doesn`t appear that the White House is going to have any high

morality on this. Is there a way for him to be removed?

 

KUMAR: I think what Donald Trump doesn`t like is for someone to get more

credit for the work that is getting done at the White House. And what Steve

Bannon was able to do was get on the front page of Time Magazine and that

riled up the President`s feathers like there`s no end.

 

What`s interesting is that there have been these concerted efforts to

profile Steve Miller and he will bring in someone else. So at the time in

June, when people were trying to say, look, disclose who Steve Miller was,

all of a sudden Lou Dobbs was actually in the ear of the President.

 

REID: Yes.

 

KUMAR: That`s not the case. It`s still Steve Miller.

 

REID: Yes.

 

KUMAR: So the more we could actually cover Steve Miller and undress him and

actually expose him to the American public–

 

REID: Yes.

 

KUMAR: And say, look, he is the one that actually is the puppeteer.

 

REID: Yes.

 

KUMAR: That`s when we actually have an opportunity.

 

REID: Yes.

 

(CROSSTALK)

 

REID: That`s interesting. Maria Teresa Kumar and Neera Tanden, thank you

both for joining us tonight, really appreciate it. Coming up, breaking

news, federal investigation of Rudy Giuliani is wider than previously

known; that`s next.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

REID: There is new reporting tonight about the federal investigation into

Donald Trump`s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, who`s at the heart of the

impeachment inquiry. Three U.S. officials tell Bloomberg that Giuliani is

under investigation for possible campaign finance violations and failure to

register as a foreign agent.

 

Giuliani could also face bribery charges. The U.S. Attorney`s Office for

the Southern District of New York began scrutinizing Giuliani as

prosecutors investigated two of his associates, known in shorthand as Lev

and Igor, both of whom have been charged. Joyce Vance is back with us.

 

So, Joyce, okay, so Rudolph Giuliani was asked by the Guardian about his

potential legal jeopardy and the response to a question about whether he

was nervous that Donald Trump might throw him under a bus, Giuliani said,

“I`m not, but I do have very, very good insurance. So if he does, all my

hospital bills will be paid.” Presumably means health insurance, but could

he also have the insurance that he`s in the middle of the impeachment

inquiry and any crime Donald Trump committed, could Giuliani simply give up

Donald Trump to save himself? Wouldn`t that be what he would naturally want

to do?

 

JOYCE VANCE, FORMER UNITED STATES ATTORNEY: You know, Joy, his lawyer was

very quick to step in on that call and to caution the reporter that

Giuliani was just joking, but this really does come off as more of an

implied threat than an actual joke. Maybe he didn`t mean it that way but

certainly, as you point out, Giuliani has to be one of the biggest threats

to this President.

 

As long as the President keeps Giuliani close, he`s safe. But if Giuliani

for whatever reason feels threatened, decides to cooperate with

investigators and tell them about his conversations with the President,

their goals in Ukraine, he could be the ultimate and direct evidence. We

started this hour by saying that Congressmen on the Republican side of the

House were complaining about the lack of direct testimony that Democrats

were bringing–

 

REID: Right, yes.

 

VANCE: Giuliani would be the ultimate direct witness.

 

REID: He certainly would. Joyce Vance, thank you for joining us tonight and

that is tonight`s Last Word. I`m Joy Reid. The 11th Hour with Brian

Williams starts now.

 

 

END   

 

 

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