Amb. Yovanovitch to testify tomorrow. TRANSCRIPT: 11/14/19, The Last Word w/ Lawrence O’Donnell.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
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
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
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
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.
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.
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
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-
HECK: Those policies which were indeed championed by Ambassador
(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
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
HECK: She felt threatened because she was threatened, Joy.
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
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
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
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.
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.
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
(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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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.
KUMAR: That`s not the case. It`s still Steve Miller.
KUMAR: So the more we could actually cover Steve Miller and undress him and
actually expose him to the American public–
KUMAR: And say, look, he is the one that actually is the puppeteer.
KUMAR: That`s when we actually have an opportunity.
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.
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
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
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.
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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