Impeachment crimes grow. TRANSCRIPT: 11/19/19, The Last Word w/ Lawrence O’Donnell.
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Rachel.
I think you should quiz all the candidates about transcript entries in the
hearings of the depositions, because – so here you are, you`re in Atlanta,
you`re memorizing everything every Democratic candidate has said about
every thing and issue, right, for Wednesday night?
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Uh-huh.
O`DONNELL: And you get hit about – a little bit – around 8:00 with 403
pages of deposition transcript. I don`t – easy week, Rachel, right? Nice
MADDOW: And the Paul Erickson plea stuff all came in today, and there`s
the Roger Stone stuff to digest, and there`s the stuff that came in over
the weekend, right? We got the Williams and Morrison stuff over the
weekend, plus we got new public witnesses. I mean, it`s just – this is
drink from a fire hose time in American news, and it`s our jobs to do it,
and it`s fine.
O`DONNELL: And we have cardiologists on TV wondering why we haven`t seen
the president since Saturday afternoon. But this is where we are.
Rachel, go back to your homework, get some rest. We`re going to be
watching Wednesday night, and, of course, we`ll be watching you tomorrow
MADDOW: Thanks, dear.
O`DONNELL: Thank you, Rachel.
I remember it vividly. I`ve never seen anything like this. That`s what
David Holmes said under oath on page 54 of his deposition transcript
released tonight as the breaking news story of the night. It is about the
incident that made David Holmes an important witness in the impeachment
investigation of Donald Trump.
David Holmes is an important witness who we did not even know existed at
this time last week. The first public reference made to David Holmes was
in Wednesday`s hearing when Ambassador William Taylor shocked the hearing
room and millions of viewers when he described a phone call from a
restaurant in Ukraine to president Trump that David Holmes had overheard.
But Ambassador Taylor did not reveal then David Holmes` name. He simply
said it was a member of his staff who overheard the call. Two days after
Ambassador Taylor`s testimony, David Holmes was describing that phone call
under oath in a closed door deposition on Friday.
And on Friday night, that became our breaking news, because we were able to
report David Holmes` version of the phone call from his written opening
statement, which NBC News had obtained on Friday.
And now, tonight, we have the full transcript. The now famous phone call
was made on a cell phone at a restaurant in Kiev by the Trump ambassador to
the European Union, Gordon Sondland, after Ambassador Sondland met with
Ukraine`s President Zelensky. Chairman Adam Schiff took David Holmes
through that phone call step by step.
The chairman: Now, you said the president`s voice was loud and
recognizable, and Ambassador Sondland held the phone away from his head, is
that right? Mr. Holmes: Yes, sir. He was sort of waiting for him to come
on, and when he came on, he sort of winced and went like that the first
couple exchanges. He sort of winced.
The chairman: He moved his way from the phone? Winced and then moved the
phone away from his ear, because the volume was loud.
The Chairman: And you heard Ambassador Sondland greet the president and say
he was calling from Kyiv, and then you could hear President Trump wanting
to clarify the Ambassador Sondland was, in fact, in Ukraine? Mr. Holmes:
Yes. Yes. You mean Ukraine? Yes, Ukraine.
The chairman: And then you said President Zelensky on Ambassador Sondland
went on to say that President Zelensky loves your ass, meaning that he
loves the president? Mr. Holmes: Yes, sir.
Mr. Chairman: And Sondland replied, he`s going to do it? Mr. Holmes: Yes.
He said, oh, yes, he`s going to do it. The Chairman: And then he went on
to say, President Zelensky will do anything you ask him to? Mr. Holmes:
The chairman: And those were the words you heard to the best of your
recollection? Mr. Holmes: Yes.
The Chairman: And, you know, I think you said you have quite a clear
recollection of that. It left an impression on you, did it? Mr. Holmes:
This was an extremely distinctive experience in my Foreign Service career.
I`ve never seen anything like this, someone calling the president from a
mobile phone at a restaurant, and then having a conversation of this level
of candor, colorful language. There`s just so much about the call that was
so remarkable that I remember it vividly.
David Holmes will be testifying to all of this in a public hearing on
Thursday morning, in a weekend which the House Intelligence Committee will
hear from nine witnesses and morning and afternoon hearings. Gordon
Sondland will testify the day before David Holmes, on Wednesday morning.
Leading off our discussion tonight is Democratic Congressman Denny Heck of
Washington. He is a member of Intelligence House Committee. He attended
David Holmes` under oath deposition.
Also joining us, Jonathan Alter, columnist for “The Daily Beast” and an
MSNBC political analyst covering his third – covering his second
impeachment. He was a younger man for that first one in the 1970s.
JONATHAN ALTER, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: That is correct.
O`DONNELL: And Norm Ornstein, congressional historian and resident scholar
at the American Enterprise Institute is with us. And Norm has watched all
three of these impeachments that we`ve had from Nixon forward.
Congressman Heck, let me ask you about this deposition we`re getting. It
was dramatic enough on Friday night when we read the opening statement in
which he describes this phone call so clearly. But seeing the testimony
that Chairman Schiff took him through and hearing his explanation of why he
remembers it so vividly is all the more powerful.
And I couldn`t find in the transcript, and correct me if I`m wrong, I could
not find any Republican members in any way shaking David Holmes on anything
about that phone call.
REP. DENNY HECK (D-WA): Not for one nanosecond, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: And what do you make of David Holmes` general credibility about
the range of his testimony?
HECK: I thought he was an excellent witness. Frankly, his revelation was
jaw-dropping, namely that the president said words to the effect: so there
is going to be an investigation.
But there were a couple other things there that were pretty stunning, too,
as we`ve talked about some, the fact we were having a conversation between
Ambassador Sondland and President Trump on a terrace of a restaurant out in
the open in Kyiv, Ukraine, with no doubt Russian giants everywhere.
But what I think was – is offensive as anything was the callous disregard
in which Mr. Holmes represented Ambassador Sondland`s characterization of
President Trump`s regard for the Ukraine. He said he didn`t give an
“expletive deleted” about it, that he cared about the big stuff. And Mr.
Holmes said, well, there is big stuff going on in Ukraine, like a war with
Russia. And Ambassador Sondland said, no, big stuff like getting his
investigations in effect.
He didn`t care, he doesn`t care about Ukraine, a strategic ally, this
vulnerable ally that is struggling to get on his feet as a thriving
democracy and push back on maligning intent and Russian aggression.
O`DONNELL: Well, it is – it`s certainly – it`s a fair impression to have
to watch Donald Trump from a distance to just assert that he doesn`t care
about Ukraine or he doesn`t care about a whole host of things that we all
seem to think he doesn`t care about. It`s something else that I imagine,
Congressman, to actually hear from someone who is quoting someone, who was
just on the phone with Donald Trump, who is saying, no, he doesn`t give a
crap about Ukraine.
HECK: Not his exact words, as you well know, Lawrence. You could have
heard a pin drop during the deposition during that passage.
O`DONNELL: I`m going to read that passage now for our audience as it
emerges in the actual deposition testimony and the questioning with the
chairman. On Friday night, we had a version of this from the opening
statement but there`s more here.
The Chairman: Now, what led you to believe that the president didn`t give a
crap – and I`m cleaning that up – a crap about Ukraine? That`s an
interesting way to start a question asking for feedback. Mr. Holmes: Yes,
I`m not proud of my language, but the informal tone of the language I had
heard him, meaning, Gordon Sondland, using in his call to the president, we
were just sort of, you know, two guys over lunch talking about stuff, and
it seemed to me that was the kind of language that he used, so I was – I -
- at that point, believed that it had been very difficult for us to get the
president interested in what we were trying to do in Ukraine. Those are
the words I chose.
Meaning that David Holmes asked Gordon Sondland that question, does he give
a crap. The chairman, and Sondland – the Chairman: And Sondland agreed
with you that the president did not give a crap about Ukraine, so his
answer was to you, the president doesn`t give a crap about Ukraine. Mr.
Holmes: My recollection, he said, nope, not at all, doesn`t give a crap
about Ukraine. He said he only cares about big things.
The chairman: Big things or big stuff? Mr. Holmes: Big stuff, big things.
The chairman: And you noted things were going on in Ukraine like in Russia?
Mr. Holmes: Yes. The Chairman: And what did Ambassador Sondland say in
reply? Mr. Homes, he said, no, big stuff that matters to him, like this
Biden investigation that Giuliani is pushing.
The Chairman: So, Ambassador Sondland conveyed that the big stuff the
president cared about was stuff that benefited the president, like the
investigation into the Bidens? Mr. Holmes: That was my understanding, yes.
Norm Ornstein, that is under oath testimony by someone who was speaking to
someone who just hung up the phone from the president of the United States.
NORM ORNSTEIN, CONGRESSIONAL HISTORIAN: Lawrence, with this and some of
the other depositions that we`ve heard, there are more smoking guns here
than there are at Wayne LaPierre`s shooting range.
You know, if we put this into a larger context, we know that there was a
complete orchestrated smear campaign to get Ambassador Yovanovitch out of
there because she was fighting corruption in Ukraine. We know that as soon
as she left, the so-called three amigos, Sondland, Ambassador Volker and
Rick Perry, stepped in to say they were in charge of the policy and that
Rudy Giuliani, who had helped the smear campaign, was deeply involved, and
we know that there was enormous pressure put on President Zelensky,
including two things he wanted, a meeting with the president to reaffirm
America`s commitment to Ukraine and the aid package.
And that it was held up and it was held up despite the fact that every
agency in the executive branch except for Mick Mulvaney and OMB wanted it
released. This is so corrupt and so bad for America`s national interest
that it`s just breathtaking.
O`DONNELL: And I want to read one more passage from the testimony, and
this is about the security of this phone call which I think, Congressman
Heck, I`m sure, had shocked you to know this was an ambassador making a
cell phone call from anywhere, but from Ukraine, of all places. Let me
just read how the details of that unfolded in the testimony.
The Chairman: Did that cause you any concern about the security of that
phone call? Mr. Holmes: It was surprising to me that he – yes, in my
experience generally, phone calls with the president are very sensitive and
The Chairman: And making a cell phone call from Ukraine? Is there a risk
of Russians listening in? Mr. Holmes: I believe at least two of the three,
if not all three, of the mobile networks are owned by Russian companies or
have significant stakes in those. We generally assume that mobile
communications in Ukraine are being monitored. The chairman:
And, in fact, Ambassador Nuland`s communications at one point had been
monitored and released for political effect. Mr. Holmes: Yes, sir. The
Chairman: So there was not only the concern with the ownership of the
telecommunications companies but past practice? Mr. Holmes: Yes, sir.
Congressman Heck, at that point when you were hearing about this ambassador
who was just whipping out a cell phone in Ukraine, calling the president –
and there`s two ends of this. The White House lets that phone call go
through. What did the Republicans have to say in that room about the
security of that phone call?
HECK: OK, Lawrence, we`re not talking specifically about what other
Republicans said except for that which you can find in your deposition.
But the fact of the matter is they have actually tortured themselves,
turned themselves into a pretzel defending the president and trying to
explain away in each and every regard what went on here. And it`s no
different here, and it`s not going to be any different, I predict, when Mr.
Holmes comes before the committee on Thursday.
But at the end of the day, facts matter, and the facts are the facts, and
America is going to have an opportunity to hear them firsthand. I want to
put this a little bit into context, if I May, Lawrence. We are two
hearings out of seven to go.
So for those of you who are Harry Potter fans, we`re only at the end of
book 2. We`ve got five books to go and everybody understands there is a
lot of plot ahead. There is going to be a lot of revealing of information
that bears upon this very important subject for America.
O`DONNELL: Congressman Heck, what can you tell us about what we should
HECK: Hmm, well, I think most importantly, America is going to get an
opportunity to see a decorated war hero, Colonel Vindman, who, of course,
is a colonel – Lieutenant Colonel in the United States army serving in the
National Security Council. He`s the individual who immediately went to the
council, the National Security Council`s counsel because he was concerned
about both the meetings on July 10th and the phone call on July 25th
between President Trump and President Zelensky.
He is, in fact, a decorated soldier. He was awarded the Purple Heart for
injuries sustained in the Iraqi war, as I recall, and I think they`re going
to see the best – the best of our country on display.
O`DONNELL: Jonathan Alter, to get to this phone call, I just want to
double the line that the president of the United States ran a campaign on
the security of communications, of government officials, specifically
Hillary Clinton`s, in his view, lack of security and the way she handled
her emails. I am one of the people who believed that at least some of the
Republicans in the Senate and the House who were concerned about that were
genuinely concerned about that. There is no reason to believe that any of
them were concerned about that since none of them are now concerned about
the security of this phone call.
ALTER: It`s just a hypocrisy fest. Remember, what was “lock her up”?
What was she supposed to be locked up for?
O`DONNELL: Security of the communications.
ALTER: The server, right, that it wasn`t secure.
ALTER: That`s why all those folks at the Republican convention said she
should go to jail.
O`DONNELL: Lock her up.
ALTER: Now, the level of insecurity in that server pales next to making a
phone call that is being listened to by phone companies that are owned by
Russians. And on top of that, you know, I think there is some question why
this obsession by Trump in, quote, investigations, investigating Biden.
Why is he dropping everything else, dropping his golf game to call Sondland
Think back again to Hillary`s emails. That`s how he got elected. He just
said emails, emails, emails. She did something sleazy. And many people
were coming back, I can`t vote for her because of emails.
What he wanted to do against Biden was to say, open-ended, Ukrainian
investigation of Biden`s corruption and he was going to say that until blue
in the face, all the way until the 2020 election. That was his ticket to
And this is why this was so central to Donald Trump`s efforts, and
everything was about smearing Biden. Because once an investigation is
opened, it can stay open for at least a year, right? And he could say my
opponent is under an ethical cloud. That`s what he wanted to do in this
O`DONNELL: Congressman Denny Heck, thank you very much for joining us on
this eve of week two of the hearing schedule, very thick hearing schedule
you have this week, and the committee really appreciates it.
Jonathan Alter, thank you. Norm Ornstein, thank you for starting us off.
And when we come back, the impeachment news of Donald Trump and his
Republican defenders in the House got a little more complicated today, to
put it mildly, when Senator Ron Johnson unwittingly revealed that he will
not actually be a helpful witness for the defense of Donald J. Trump, even
though he was trying to be.
O`DONNELL: Ron Johnson is sort of a Senate version of Gordon Sondland. He
is a very rich man who decided to enter politics after becoming rich enough
to afford it. Senator Johnson wrote a letter today to the Republicans on
the House Intelligence Committee trying to help them defend the president
of the United States.
Senator Johnson unwittingly exposes his own complete lack of credibility in
his letter with passages like this about a meeting that he had with
President Trump that included Gordon Sondland: I am aware that Sondland has
testified that President Trump also directed the delegation to work with
Rudy Giuliani. I have no recollection of the president saying that during
the meeting. It is entirely possible he did, but because I do not work for
the president, if made, that comment simply did not register with me.
That letter also contains wild flights of imagination like this: I believe
that a significant number of bureaucrats and staff members within it the
executive branch have never accepted President Trump as legitimate and
resent his unorthodox style and his intrusion onto their turf. They react
by leaking to the press and participating in the ongoing effort to sabotage
his policies and if possible remove him from office. It is entirely
possible that Vindman fits this profile.
Senator Johnson was referring to, of course, Lieutenant Colonel Alexander
Vindman who will testify to the impeachment inquiry tomorrow morning at
Joining our discussion now, Evan McMullin, a former CIA operative and
former independent presidential candidate. He is the co-founder of Stand
Up Republic. And Norm Ornstein is back with us.
Evan McMullin, Ron Johnson just assumes there are a bunch of people inside
this government who are trying to sabotage Donald Trump and specifically
then, accuses from his imagination, there`s no evidence off of this, that
Lieutenant Colonel Vindman is one of them.
EVAN MCMULLIN, FORMER CIA OPERATIVE: Right, well, he starts out by going
through a litany of conspiracy theories we`ve all heard before. I mean,
it`s everything from Hillary Clinton stuff to Chris Steele`s stuff, to the
origins of the FBI investigation into the president, to deep state ideas
about an effort to, quote, sabotage the president that began shortly after
There`s a lot of conspiracy theories, and it`s – I have to say, I mean,
even in this day and age, it startles me a bit. It`s still strange to me
to hear a senator speak that way in these conspiratorial tones. I mean,
you hear it more coming from the House but to hear it from a senator, of
course, Ron Johnson has done it in the past, but it`s still reading that
whole 11-page letter or how long it was, I think it was startling.
But, look, he goes on – he says that Vindman, he sort of suggests that
Vindman is part of this group of people in the government who won`t accept
that the president is president, and that it`s his responsibility to make
foreign policy. But then he goes on to say that he acknowledges that
everyone, whether in Congress or in the executive branch who worked on
Ukraine policy, disagreed with the president`s approach and what he was
doing with this military aid. So even he sort of undercut his own argument
there as he did in other places. But it`s a wild letter for viewers to
O`DONNELL: Yes, and, Norm, the reason he`s writing it, of course, is he
had his own meeting with President Zelensky who was there with Senator
Chris Murphy, and so, he`s been involved in this, he`s been involved in
discussions about Ukraine policy with Sondland and Rick Perry and others,
but trying to make sense of that letter, trying to look at it as here`s how
it helps Donald Trump, I couldn`t do it, I couldn`t find the passage where
you say, this is what helps Donald Trump.
ORNSTEIN: You know, when you watch Ron Johnson and you read the letter and
realize that he`s the chairman of the Senate Homeland Committee, you get a
little chill that this is what the Senate has come to.
But, of course, this letter which is ten pages of thick, single-spaced
verbiage starts with Hillary Clinton and the server, moves to the Strzok-
Page and FBI-presumed infamy, and then goes on with a bunch of things that
have been basically contradicted by things we saw in David Holmes`
deposition and what we`re likely to see tomorrow with Colonel Vindman, and
the sliming of these government officials, including the whistleblower, the
claims that they`re undermining policy by going outside of official
channels, when both Vindman and all the others that we`re talking about
were meticulous, including the whistleblower, at following those
procedures, that the president can make whatever policy he wants, even if
it undermines American national security, I think by the time we get done
with his testimony, Ron Johnson is going to say, you know that letter?
And, Evan McMullin, the letter comes out on the eve of Colonel Vindman`s
testimony, and the passage in there trying to take on Colonel Vindman is
nothing but imagination.
MCMULLIN: Right. Well, that`s what – I mean, you point out, Lawrence,
that there is nothing in there that really helps the president. I think
Ron Johnson is trying to do one thing first and foremost, and that`s help
himself. I mean, it`s incredible he has pretty good recall of all these
events in this story, but when it comes to his conversations with the
president and Sondland about the quid pro quo issue, all of a sudden he
says, I just can`t remember that stuff. It`s very strange.
But I do think there`s one thing in there that Ron Johnson is trying to do
to support the president. What he`s trying to do is undermine the
legitimacy of two key witnesses. Vindman is one of them, attacking him as
sort of a deep state guy, I don`t think he uses that term, but suggesting
that he`s refusing to acknowledge the president`s authority to conduct
foreign policy, as though that`s all this is.
But the other thing is he, in sort of a weasely way suggests that maybe
Sondland was freelancing. He cites a question that he received Ron Johnson
from Siobhan Hughes, a reporter that suggested that maybe Sondland was
freelancing. And Johnson says that he responded to her saying, well, maybe
that was the case. But that suggestion, I think, is telling of what Trump
and his allies may try to do to Sondland, blaming it on him and moving as
far away as they can.
O`DONNELL: I just want to note for the audience that when I worked in the
senate, I`ve been in many meetings with the president, with senators. I`ve
heard from senators who had meetings with presidents, more than one
president. They remember every word that get said by the president in
those kinds of discussions. In fact, the senator that I used to work for,
Senator Moynihan, would immediately go back to his typewriter and type a
memo of exactly what he said, what the president said.
And so, the idea that when it comes down to it in this letter, that Senator
Johnson, in trying to defend President Trump, cannot even remember what
president Trump said to him on the crucial points, is very hard to believe,
to put it mildly.
Sorry for that little speech, Norm Ornstein. I just need to squeeze that
in, as a viewer guidance.
Norm Ornstein, Evan McMullin, thank you both for joining us tonight. I
really appreciate it.
MCMULLIN: Thanks, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: And when come back, once again, President Trump begs, and I
mean begs, for a big win in a Republican state and once again the
Republican campaigned for loses this time in Louisiana. But this time,
Donald Trump actually did something after that loss that we`ve never seen
him do before.
O`DONNELL: When President Trump was mysteriously rushed to Walter Reed
Military Hospital on Saturday afternoon, Louisiana was voting for their
next governor. Donald Trump went to Louisiana three times in the last month
to campaign for the Republican candidate for Governor, and in his final
argument to Louisiana voters, Donald Trump was reduced to begging.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: In Kentucky, we elected
everybody. And the headlines the next day, Trump took a loss. I lift him up
a lot. So Trump took a loss, so you got to give me a big win, please. OK?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Louisiana did not give him a big win. When the votes were
counted on Saturday night, Louisiana voted to reelect their Democratic
Governor, John Bel Edwards.
We had no idea Saturday night whether Donald Trump even knew this, whether
he knew he suffered another election defeat, another governor`s election in
another otherwise Republican state. And we have no idea whether he knew it
the next day because Donald Trump has been seen by no one since he was
taken to the hospital for a few hours on Saturday.
The White House Press Secretary, who has never held a White House press
briefing and has been caught not telling the truth about many things, says
the President is just fine. And today, although the President remained
invisible, he did make a proof-of-life phone call to Louisiana Governor
John Bel Edwards and uncharacteristically offered his congratulations to
the latest Democrat to run against Trump-ism and win.
Joining our discussion now is Jim Messina, CEO of Messina Group. He was the
Deputy Chief of Staff for President Obama from 2009 to 2011 and Campaign
Manager for President Obama`s reelection campaign in 2012.
Jim, thank you very much for joining us tonight. Really eager since
Saturday night to get your read of what happened in Louisiana for Donald
Trump on Saturday.
JIM MESSINA, FORMER WHITE HOUSE DEPUTY CHIEF OF STAFF 2009-2011 & CEO, THE
MESSINA GROUP: Well, a couple of really interesting things. First of all,
Democratic turnout was through the roof in New Orleans of 29 percent over
the primary. And second, in the two Congressional districts that Donald
Trump visited, the Democrats actually did better from the primary to the
Governor Edwards did better in those two places that Donald Trump visited,
meaning a couple things, Lawrence. One, Donald Trump continued to drive
Democratic turnout. Two, he probably did help his candidate with her
turnout. But the swing voters that are actually deciding these elections
are moving away from Donald Trump in record numbers.
I mean, Louisiana is a state that Donald Trump carried by 20 points.
Kentucky is a state where Democrats - where President Trump carried by
almost 30 points. And yet you`re seeing big Democratic turnout and then
swing voters moved to the Democrats in ways that we haven`t seen in a very
long time, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: So, Jim, there`s an interesting phenomenon here in what you`re
identifying with these Trump visits. And it reminds me of when I was
working in the Senate for a northeastern liberal senator, he would say to
other Democratic senators in more conservative states, “I`ll come and
campaign for you or I`ll stay away, whichever will help you the most.”
Donald Trump doesn`t seem to understand that it`s possible that staying
away could be the best thing he could do for a Republican candidate.
MESSINA: Because, Lawrence, it`s always about Donald Trump, right? This has
never been about anyone but him, and he loves his rallies, he loves seeing
his people, and he has a great time. But over and over again, he is driving
independents and Democrats to the polls to send him a very loud message,
and his candidates are getting slaughtered.
You remember in 2008 when the Obama campaign announced we were going to
compete in Virginia, and everyone said, you can`t carry Virginia, you`ll
never win. We now won it twice. You look at the turnout numbers in Virginia
for Republicans, and they are the worst we have seen in a generation.
And then on the other side, Democratic turnout is huge. Young voters, 18 to
29, turnout in Virginia in the most recent election was up 300 percent. And
it`s not all because we have amazing Democratic candidates. It is in part
because the country wants to get rid of Donald Trump, and they`re sending
that message over and over again in local elections across this country.
O`DONNELL: Jim Messina, please stay with us across this commercial break
because we`ve just been handed a statement - a new statement from the White
House from the President`s doctor. And as a White House veteran, I just
want to get your interpretation of what might be going on with the
President and the President`s doctor. We`ll be right back.
O`DONNELL: The White House has just released a note from the President`s
doctor. And it says - from Dr. Sean Conley, and it says that the President
was treated on Saturday for a routine planned interim checkup as part of
the regular primary preventive care he receives throughout the year.
He - and after apparently watching CNN Tonight where they had Dr. David
Scheiner on, who was Barack Obama`s physician in Chicago before Barack
Obama became President, David Scheiner referred to the possibility that the
President had a cardiac issue or even a neurological issue. This is a
direct response to that.
This letter says - this note says, “The President has not had any chest
pain nor was he evaluated or treated for any urgent or acute issues.
Specifically, he did not undergo any specialized cardiac or neurologic
Jim Messina is back with us. He is a Former Deputy Chief of Staff in the
Obama White House.
Jim, you know how presidents deal with doctors and deal with physical
exams. How does this all read to you?
MESSINA: Not great, Lawrence. One of the reasons why I love your show is
you`re very careful about words. And if you look at the statement, they
said, “routine planned visit,” and then one sentence later, said, because
of scheduling irregularities, we did this; we wanted it all to be off the
record. You can`t have both of those things be true.
And if it was a routine planned thing, you`d never do it at Walter Reed.
You would have done all that stuff at the White House facilities, which are
state-of-the-art and amazing. If it was routine stuff, you never would have
taken him out. And if you were going to take him for a routine visit to
Walter Reed, you would have announced it, you would have had a bunch of -
you would have had a photo op with the troops, you would have done a bunch
of things that are regular to do.
The second problem, Lawrence, is this is the problem when you have a White
House that lies about everything, as you can`t believe about anything. I
mean, as you know, during the campaign, they trotted out his personal
doctor to issue a statement, which we later know was written by Trump
himself and was completely garbage. And then we had the famous Ronny
Jackson press conferencing he was the healthiest President of all time,
when clearly that`s true.
So you just have an absolute sense that all of this is lying. And when you
trot out a 10 p.m. memo from a doctor, you know that they`re likely worried
about something. And the problem is the truth is probably that there is
something nefarious going on.
O`DONNELL: And Jim, quickly before you go, this is the additional element
of “we have not seen the President.” And when this kind of controversy
erupts, one of the very first things I would think you would do is say,
let`s get the President on camera. Let`s show him - let`s show that he is
doing just fine. And that`s something - Donald Trump inviting in the
cameras is something they do all the time, but not since he`s gone to the
MESSINA: Yes, it`s his favorite thing in the world. Him being on TV is what
he loves more than breathing. So the easiest thing would be to trot him out
at the White House and do a quick photo op. Anything would be easy. And why
didn`t they do that?
And when you start having unnamed doctors trying to cover something up, you
start to wonder what`s going on in the White House, again.
O`DONNELL: Jim Messina, thank you very much for joining us with your expert
opinion on this and other matters. Appreciate it.
And when we come back, Donald Trump could be facing punishment for
apparently lying to special prosecutor Robert Mueller. That may become an
article of impeachment.
O`DONNELL: The House of Representatives is investigating whether President
Trump lied in his sworn written testimony to Robert Mueller`s investigation
into Russian interference in the 2016 election. That was revealed today in
a Federal Appeals Court hearing.
The House General Counsel argued impeachment investigators need to get
access to the Special Counsel`s secret grand jury evidence to determine
whether President Trump committed perjury in his written responses to
Robert Mueller`s questions.
Evidence revealed last week in the trial of Donald Trump`s longest-serving
adviser Roger Stone contradicts the President`s response to Robert Mueller
that, quote, “I do not recall discussing WikiLeaks with Stone, nor do I
recall being aware of Mr. Stone having discussed WikiLeaks with individuals
associated with my campaign.”
Rick Gates testified at the Roger Stone hearing - Roger Stone trial that he
heard Donald Trump on the phone with Roger Stone discussing WikiLeaks.
Before submitting his written testimony, President Trump insisted that he
wrote all those answers himself.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: My lawyers are working on that. I`m working on that. I write the
answers. My lawyers don`t write answers. I write answers. I was asked a
series of questions. I`ve answered them very easily. The questions were
very routinely answered by me. By me. OK?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Joining us now, former federal prosecutor and MSNBC Legal
Analyst, Glenn Kirschner, who was at the Roger Stone trial last week.
Glenn, what do you make of the President`s conflict with the testimony at
the Roger Stone trial?
GLENN KIRSCHNER, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR & MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST: Lawrence,
as I watched the testimony unfold in the Stone trial, it became pretty
obvious that the President`s answer in his written questions to Bob
Mueller, at least with respect to his conversations with Roger Stone, were
just flat-out false.
Now, what are the implications of that? Well, we all know that it`s not
likely the President could be charged with perjury for, really, a few
reasons. One, perjury is difficult to prove in a court of law. Not
impossible, but challenging. Two, there is that ill-advised Office of Legal
Counsel memo saying you can`t indict a criminal President. And then, three,
even if you could overcome both of those hurdles, we`ve got Bill Barr.
And the last thing Bill Barr is going to do is support a criminal charge
against anybody if it might work to the detriment of the President. But
that kind of lie that has now been exposed through the testimony of Rick
Gates who said, under oath, at trial, subject to cross examination, I was
there when the President spoke with - or then candidate spoke with Roger
Stone. And after the conversation, Donald Trump turned to me and said, hey,
good news. More WikiLeaks dumps are coming.
So, for the president to maintain that “I have no recollection of that” is
just not credible. What that is now tailor-made for, Lawrence, is to become
an article of impeachment, and I suspect, given the evidence that we`ve now
learned, Congress will probably roll that into the articles of impeachment.
O`DONNELL: Glenn Kirschner, thank you very much for joining us. Appreciate
KIRSCHNER: Thanks, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: And when we come back, the person I have been reading and
listening to about impeachment longer than anyone else will get tonight`s
O`DONNELL: It is now Donald Trump versus the honest people. That`s
according to esteemed Washington journalist, Elizabeth Drew. Over the next
three days, nine more impeachment witnesses will testify publicly in the
impeachment inquiry of Donald Trump. Many of them will be career civil
servants who are testifying out of a sense of duty to the Constitution and
the rule of law. These are “the honest people Donald Trump cannot fathom.”
That is according to Elizabeth Drew who writes in a New York Times op-ed
that these career diplomats, quote, “will endure only so much abuse or see
only so much scandal around them before rising up in some way. Mr. Trump
made a big mistake by demeaning civil servants from the outset and then
setting about trying to make them irrelevant.”
But Elizabeth Drew also argues that it would be a mistake for Democrats to
focus articles of impeachment against Donald Trump narrowly on only his
misconduct toward Ukraine, writing, quote, “The great danger is that the
legacy of this period will be that Mr. Trump got caught doing one bad thing
rather than that he abused power across the board and wantonly violated the
I`m pleased to say we are joined now by Elizabeth Drew, a political
journalist who covered the impeachments of both Richard Nixon and Bill
Clinton. She is the author of “Washington Journal: Reporting Watergate and
Richard Nixon`s Downfall.”
Liz Drew, it`s just an honor to have you here. I began reading you on
impeachment when I was in college on the Nixon impeachment, and here we are
To your point about the narrowness of the possible articles of impeachment,
we do have this development tonight that we were just discussing that a
lawyer in court today representing the House of Representatives said that
they are considering a possible article of impeachment involving this
possible perjury in the written answer that President Trump gave Robert
Mueller about never discussing WikiLeaks with anyone.
And we just had that testimony in the Roger Stone case of, yes, he
discussed WikiLeaks with Roger Stone. So that could be an expanded set of
impeachment articles, if that`s added.
ELIZABETH DREW, COVERED WATERGATE SCANDAL, POLITICAL JOURNALIST & AUTHOR,
WASHINGTON JOURNAL: Well, yes. And so could obstruction of his trying to
keep anybody from testifying and blocking documents from being produced.
But it`s still all around just the one subject, Lawrence, the one subject
And there are so many other things that he did. He - abuse of power across
the board, wanton neglect of Constitutional duties or restrictions. So it`s
still one subject. And the problem is we`re dealing with the day-to-day
history - day-to-day events of now and the politics of now. But this is
going to be history. This is going to be precedent.
And so what`s going to go down is, he did this one bad thing, and those
other things that you suggest are going to be separate articles or not are
still only on that one subject. I think it`s too narrow.
O`DONNELL: There`s also this thing that I - that we`ve seen in both of the
impeachment votes that we`ve seen. The Nixon votes in the committee,
Judiciary Committee, is just as far as he got before he resigned.
And then the Clinton votes in the Senate, for example. And that is that
there were some people, some Republicans especially, who voted for some
articles of impeachment against Richard Nixon or voted for one, but they
didn`t vote for all three. I think there was only one Republican who voted
for all three. And with Bill Clinton, there were people who voted in favor
of one article and against another article.
And so that`s always left the impression that just strategically you might
want to lay out a menu of options so that, for example, a Republican could
say, well, I voted against two articles of impeachment against the
President, but this one I just couldn`t take.
DREW: That could be - I`m not sure that would work now. We had a different
Republican Party, especially during the Nixon period. Do you remember
Republican moderates, Lawrence? Or you`re old enough to know about moderate
And in that Judiciary Committee, it was a strategy from the outset that it
had to be bipartisan or the country would never accept it. That`s a big
difference from now. But there are moderate Republicans who were ready to
vote independently of the President.
Now, you have such loyalty and such fear of both the President and his
tweets and of his base that I`m not sure that people would - that isn`t my
reason for wanting it to be - for thinking it should be broader. I think
that there`s a sort of dumbing down of the public and thinking, well, this
is the only thing they can understand. I don`t think that`s true.
I think that - for example, I wouldn`t do it - I wouldn`t have 10 articles.
Maybe three or four. But they could understand the President and his family
kind of looting the federal government to their own enrichment, him in
particular. That`s easy to understand. And there are lots of examples of
it. So I just think it should be - there should be a broader picture of the
abuse of power that characterizes this Presidency.
O`DONNELL: Liz, I want to get a final word from you tonight about these
people who you wrote about in “The New York Times,” these people who Donald
Trump thinks of negatively as bureaucrats. Basically - he thinks of them of
rising up against him when in fact they`re simply coming forward to testify
under oath and tell the truth as they know it.
DREW: Well, they didn`t have to come and testify. That`s really the point.
In fact, they were told not to. So they`ve showed a lot of courage. And
these are people that the general public has never heard of, never would
have heard of.
And Donald Trump can`t begin to fathom these people because, among other
things, they don`t care how much money they make. They could go in the
private sector and do much better, but they want to serve the government.
And that`s (inaudible) probably he can`t understand them.
O`DONNELL: If you`re not reading Elizabeth Drew about impeachment, you`re
not understanding it as well as you can. Elizabeth Drew gets tonight`s LAST
An honor to have you with us tonight, Liz. Thank you very much for joining
DREW: Thank you, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: That is tonight`s LAST WORD.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
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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