Lt. Col. Vindman receives applause. TRANSCRIPT: 11/19/19, The Last Word w/ Lawrence O’Donnell.

Sean Patrick Maloney, Tess Bridgeman, Tom Nichols, Mimi Rocah

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST:  Good evening, Rachel. 


You know, I saw the hearing cut into the first half hour of Chris Hayes`

excellent show, and it occurred to me if they had some House votes that

dragged this out even longer it could have – it could have theoretically

cut into “THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW”.  So I want you –


RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST:  Yes, and I wouldn`t have put in contact lenses

at all. 


O`DONNELL:  No, no, here`s what would have happened.  I want you and your

viewers to know that if and when that happens in the impeachment hearing

scandal, you get all the time you want on this side of 10:00 p.m.  You just

let it roll just like the hearing let it roll into over time past 10:00



Don`t even think about it.  Use up all your material.  Don`t lose anything

if they go into your time. 


MADDOW:  Only if you and I are in the same city so we can sit at the same

desk and juggle that together. 


O`DONNELL:  That`s the plan. 


MADDOW:  Because that is the only way I would do that.


O`DONNELL:  That is the plan.  We`re going to be watching tomorrow night,



MADDOW:  Thanks, Lawrence.  Appreciate it, my friend. 


O`DONNELL:  Thank you.


Well, in the first impeachment hearing of the day this morning, the

Republican complaint about hearsay finally disappeared. 




REP. SEAN PATRICK MALONEY (D-NY):  Ms. Williams, you heard the call with

your own ears, right? 



RUSSIA:  Yes, sir. 


MALONEY:  Not secondhand, not hearsay.  You heard the president speak, you

heard his voice on the call? 


WILLIAMS:  Correct. 


MALONEY:  And your conclusion was, what he said about investigating the

Bidens was in your words unusual and inappropriate, I believe.  Am I right?


WILLIAMS:  That was my testimony. 


MALONEY:  You heard it with your own ears.





MALONEY:  Not secondhand, not from somebody else, not hearsay, right? 


VINDMAN:  Correct. 


MALONEY:  You heard the president`s voice on the call. 


VINDMAN:  I did. 


MALONEY:  And you heard him raise that subject again that Ambassador

Sondland had raised before about investigating the Bidens, right? 


VINDMAN:  I did. 


MALONEY:  And I want to ask you, when you heard him say that, what was the

first thought that went through your mind? 


VINDMAN:  Frankly, I couldn`t believe what I was hearing.  It was probably

an element of shock that may be in certain regards my worst fear of how

Ukrainian policy could play out was playing out.  How this could have

implications for U.S. national security. 


MALONEY:  And you went immediately and reported it, didn`t you? 


VINDMAN:  I did. 




VINDMAN:  Because that was my duty. 




O`DONNELL:  Because that was my duty.


That was Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney.  He will join us in just a



The first two witnesses of the day were Jennifer Williams, a career foreign

officer in the State Department, who is currently detailed to the staff of

Vice President Mike Pence and Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman who is

currently detailed to the staff of the White House National Security

Council.  They both listened to President Trump`s phone call with President

Zelensky of Ukraine in which President Trump asked President Zelensky to do

him a favor, the favor of investigating Joe Biden. 


In other words, a favor for the president`s re-election campaign.  In this

afternoon`s hearing, a long time Republican congressional staff, Tim

Morrison, who served in the Trump White House as the senior director for

European affairs at the National Security Council, explained what was at

stake for Ukraine in the president`s request for an investigation of Joe






IN THE NSC:  President Zelensky left the room, Vice President Pence left

the room and then in sort of an anteroom, Ambassador Sondland and

presidential advisor Yermak had this discussion, yes. 



Ambassador Sondland say to tell you that he told Mr. Yermak? 


MORRISON:  That the Ukrainians would have to have the prosecutor general

make a statement with respect to the investigations as a condition of

having the aid lifted. 




O`DONNELL:  In that testimony, Tim Morrison delivered the essence of what

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is now calling the bribery case against Donald

Trump.  Trump was trying to pay a bribe to the president of Ukraine so that

the president of Ukraine would publicly announce an investigation of Joe

Biden.  And because this is Donald Trump we`re talking about, he was using

other people`s money for his bribe.  He was using $400 million of American

taxpayer money authorized by Congress. 


Today`s testimony established that Donald Trump was not going to hand over

that money to Ukraine without getting something back for himself.  The

former special envoy to Ukraine, Ambassador Kurt Volker, testified that the

investigation Donald Trump was asking for, the investigation of Joe Biden

was ludicrous. 





raised and I rejected the conspiracy theory that Vice President Biden would

have been influenced in his duties as vice president by money paid to his

son.  As I`ve previously testified, I`ve known Vice President Biden for 24

years.  He is an honorable man and I hold him in the highest regard.  At no

time was I aware of or knowingly took part in an effort to urge Ukraine to

investigate former Vice President Biden. 




O`DONNELL:  Republicans kept insisting the hold up in the funding for

Ukraine was perfectly normal. 




REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA):  My colleagues asked about, well, doesn`t aid get

held up for all kinds of reasons? 


Ambassador Volker, have you ever seen military aid held up because a

president wanted his rival investigated? 


VOLKER:  No, I`ve not seen that. 


SCHIFF:  Have you ever seen that, Mr. Williams?  Mr. Morrison, I`m sorry. 


MORRISON:  No, Chairman. 




O`DONNELL:  And not a single Republican on the committee was willing to

admit that the president finally dropped his hold on the Ukraine aid

because the president got caught, because a whistle-blower filed a

complaint about what the president was doing in the house of

representatives immediately started to investigate.  And only after that

did President Trump finally stop blocking the funding for Ukraine. 




SCHIFF:  Now, my Republican colleagues, all they seem to be upset about

with this is not that the president sought an investigation of his

political rival, not that he withheld a White House meeting and $400

million in aid we all passed on a bipartisan basis to pressure Ukraine to

do those investigations, their objection is he got caught.  Their objection

is that someone blew the whistle.  And they would like this whistle-blower

identified.  And the president wants this whistle-blower punished. 


That`s their objection.  Not that the president engaged in this conduct but

that he got caught.  Their defense is, well, he ended up releasing the aid. 

Yes, after he got caught.  That doesn`t make this any less odious. 




O`DONNELL:  Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman came to this country at

age 3, fleeing the oppression of the Soviet Union with his family.  He and

his two brothers have all served in the American military.  Lieutenant

Colonel Vindman ended his opening statement this morning on a personal





VINDMAN:  I`m grateful for my father`s brave act of hope 40 years ago and

for the privilege of being an American citizen and public servant where I

can live free – free of fear for mine and my family`s safety. 


Dad, I`m sitting here today in the U.S. Capitol talking to our elected

professionals, talking to our elected professional is proof that you made

the right decision 40 years ago to leave the Soviet Union, come here to the

United States of America in search of a better life for our family.  Do not

worry.  I will be fine for telling the truth. 


Thank you again for your consideration.  I will be happy to answer your





O`DONNELL:  Leading off our discussion tonight are: Ambassador Wendy

Sherman, former under-secretary of state in the Obama administration. 

She`s an MSNBC global affairs contributor. 


Ned Price is a former CIA analyst and a former senior director and

spokesperson for the National Security Council in the Obama administration. 

He is an MSNBC national security contributor. 


And John Heilemann is with us. He`s national affairs analyst for NBC News

and MSNBC.  He`s editor-in-chief of “The Recount”. 


And, John, I want to go to you to begin with your overview of the day of




also a powerful day, I think.  There`s been – in terms of these – these

are public hearings, they`re in the public persuasion and the human drama

around Lieutenant Colonel Vindman was I think maybe the most striking of

the public witnesses in this period so far. 


And I think you can`t help but be struck by the fact that the evidence

continues to pileup in a clear and consistent way, telling the same story

over and over again as you see Volker walking back parts of his prior

testimony to now conquer with the unanimity of the other witnesses like

there being quid pro quo, and you also see the second half of the day, the

witnesses Republicans wanted to have up there doing Donald Trump more

damage than good. 


O`DONNELL:  And, Ned Price, so much of this goes right into your area of

expertise, National Security Council procedures.  I just want to give you a

wide open field for all the testimony you heard today looked out through

your expert prism. 



know, I think it was a really stark contrast between this morning`s hearing

and afternoon hearing.  This morning`s hearing, you heard from two

patriots.  People who had skewed politics for much of their careers, who

had their positions not because therapy loyal to a president or loyal to a

party but because they worked their way up, and through talent and

determination and grit had both established themselves in the White House. 

In the case of Lieutenant Colonel Vindman in the West Wing, in the case of

the other through the vice president. 


This afternoon, you saw a different story.  And I think you saw two men

who, to use Kurt Volker`s term, were still trying to thread a needle.  And

when Kurt Volker used that term, he sort of described that as the challenge

he had to satisfy President Trump but also to do what was in the national

interest of the United States.  But it seems like he`s still doing that and

along with Tim Morrison, it`s not that they`re still trying to satisfy

President Trump and trying to represent the United States, and neither of

them are in still government.  What they`re trying to do now is salvage

their credibility without perjuring themselves, and they`ve made that very



And I think you saw this on the part of Kurt Volker today when he made some

comments that really strain credulity, claiming that he didn`t understand

the connection between Bidens and Burisma, for example, something that Tim

Morrison he testified that he Googled within ten days of taking his

position and it was clear as day.  On Tim Morrison`s part, you heard him

say you didn`t find the call on July 25 inappropriate, and yet he went

right to the lawyers.


And it`s these things that really don`t square and I think paints a really

unflattering portrait of individuals like these who were in plain society

in D.C. and want to stay there regardless of the cost.


O`DONNELL:  Wendy Sherman, with your range of expertise, I want to give you

that same opening to review whatever it is that strikes you the most in

today`s hearings. 



Well, certainly everyone was moved by Lieutenant Colonel Vindman`s close to

opening statement really invoking his father, invoking we do right here as

he said in his testimony.  And it was really quite scurrilous that while he

was testifying use the White House`s Twitter account, the White House was

tweeting out vicious things about Lieutenant Colonel Vindman.  He`s now

under protection of the U.S. Army, he and his family. 


That`s really outrageous in this day and age.  They`re treating him as if

he`s a disloyal American when he`s in fact a true patriot.  They talked

about whether, in fact, by being offered to be the defense minister for

Ukraine, he was disloyal to America. 


I`d remind our viewers that Madeleine Albright when she was secretary of

state afterwards was urge by the Czech Republic, her native land, though

she`s been an American for a very, very long time now, to become president,

and she like Vindman thought it was quite amusing.  And I don`t think

Republicans believe that Madeleine Albright is disloyal to America and

neither is Lieutenant Colonel Vindman. 


The other thing in terms of this afternoon that I really want people to

understand is the Republicans keep saying that Zelensky never said that he

was under pressure.  Of course he didn`t.  He needs the United States.  He

needs Donald Trump no matter how awful the president is.  No matter how

corrupt or how much of a bribe this is. 


And if he admitted he was under pressure, he weakens himself as a

president.  So we`re never going to hear him say he was pressured.  It was

a misunderstanding of the bargain that leaders around the world feel they

have to make with this president because they have their national interests

at stake even if our president doesn`t have our national interests in his



O`DONNELL:  Let`s listen to what Colonel Vindman said in his opening

statement about some of the other witnesses who have come forward. 




VINDMAN:  I want to take a moment to recognize the courage of my colleagues

who appeared and are scheduled to appear before this committee.  I want to

say that the character attacks on these distinguished and honorable public

servants is reprehensible.  It is natural to disagree and engage in

spirited debate and this has been the custom of our country since the time

of our founding fathers, but we are better than personal attacks. 




O`DONNELL:  And, John Heilemann, the personal attack was coming to him from

the White House, from the White House Twitter account while he was



HEILEMANN:  Indeed.  And, you know, I mean, at this point unsurprisingly

given the way the president behaved last Friday even though the attacks he

engaged in on Ambassador Yovanovitch were seen widely as backfiring, as

undercutting the Republican cause, made Republican congressmen as vicious

and vitriolic as they`ve been, made them uncomfortable, recognized their

strategy was being undercut by the president. 


And yet, here we come around again two days later and the same attacks

being launched against Lieutenant Colonel Vindman, I just don`t think we

should expect anything other than that now, but this is going to be the –

it`s an appalling state of affairs this become conventional.  But the

president has no shame when it comes to who he determines to be his

targets, and I think we should assume for as long as this process plays

out, if the president can attack Lieutenant Colonel Vindman, (INAUDIBLE) a

Purple Heart, he can attack anyone, and he will. 


O`DONNELL:  And, Ned, this can be said of all the witnesses today.  No

matter what you think of their particular credibility points you might want

to challenge, they all have stepped up where John Bolton has refused.  I

mean, when you look at Tim Morrison, he`s in exactly the same status.  I

mean, precisely the same status as John Bolton. 


He no longer works in the government, no longer works in the White House. 

He had a job right under Bolton`s jurisdiction and there he is in the

witness chair.  There he is.  He`s not sitting there with his $2 million

book deal in New York the way John Bolton is. 


PRICE:  John Bolton, which you alluded to, has stepped up in a couple of

ways.  He gave a talk before Morgan Stanley in recent weeks, presumably

highly paid, and we also understand that during that talk, he talked about

President Trump`s affinity for the Turks not because he favors U.S. foreign

policy towards Turkey and thinks we need closer ties, but he looks to

Turkey as a lucrative market. 


And this is precisely what we`re talking about in this Ukraine scandal. 

It`s President Trump consistently placing his other than personal and

political interests ahead of the national interests.  John Bolton was

willing to chat about that to Morgan Stanley in the context of Turkey.  It

is surprising and it is shameful that he`s not willing to talk about that

to the United States Congress. 


You know, I think the other point, Lawrence, and I think it became clear

today why Republicans are turning to these attacks, these shameful attacks

of dual loyalty and latching onto ancillary issues.  You have to remember

that the witnesses today, Tim Morrison, being one of them, these were

minority witnesses. 


O`DONNELL:  Yes, just to make it clear to the audience, the two witnesses

called in the afternoon were called by the Republicans.  They were

Republican witnesses. 


PRICE:   They were supposed to present the best case that Republicans have

against this impeachment and just look what we learned.  Tim Morrison made

very clear that he raised concerns with the lawyers three times during this

period.  He made very clear it was Donald Trump himself who put a hold on

this security assistance for Ukraine.  He confirmed his understanding that

Gordon Sondland made the extortive scheme very clear to the Ukrainians. 


And Kurt Volker for his part, praised Vice President Biden and Marie

Yovanovitch.  And these are the people who are supposed to make the case

against impeachment.  They made the case against Trump and these outlandish

conspiracy theories. 


O`DONNELL:  Ambassador Sherman, what do you make of Ambassador Volker`s

testimony today and what he admits being willing to do, which is to say

actually write the words that he wanted the president of Ukraine to say

into the microphone as Donald Trump wanted him to do specifying the

investigation of Burisma, specifying the investigation of 2016 election. 


Kurt Volker admitted to being willing to go pretty far with what Rudy

Giuliani was demanding. 


SHERMAN:  It`s quite extraordinary.  I`ve known Kurt Volker for a very long

time.  I`ve admired him.  I`ve talked to him when he got this position,

thought it was a good thing. 


But quite frankly, I was terribly disappointed today.  He was not only

threading a needle, he was splitting hairs right and left all along the

way.  And indeed, he helped to draft a statement for Zelensky while at the

same time telling the members incredulously that he really never made the

connection between Burisma and Biden. 


So what was he doing?  He said he was really helping to make a statement

that was anti-corruption when in fact the only corruption that was going on

here was by the president of the United States. 


And as others have pointed out today and certainly pointed out in the

hearing today, the president has not gone after corruption in Turkey.  He`s

not gone after corruption in Russia.  Heaven only knows he hasn`t gone

after corruption and murder in Saudi Arabia.  He hasn`t gone against

corruption with his bromance with Kim Jong-un. 


So the president got a long way to go, and wouldn`t even include corruption

in his phone script that had been prepared by Lieutenant Colonel Vindman

and the NSC staff. 


O`DONNELL:  And Ambassador Volker testified today under oath that he had

breakfast with Rudy Giuliani at the Trump Hotel in Washington, D.C. to talk

about Rudy Giuliani wanted from Ukraine and Ambassador Volker wants us to

believe that the word Biden never came up, that Rudy Giuliani got through

the entire breakfast and never said the word Biden.  That is very difficult

strain on credibility. 


We`re going to have to take a break here. 


Wendy Sherman, Ned Price, John Heilemann, thank you all for starting us off



And when we come, Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney of the House

Intelligence Committee will join us next. 




O`DONNELL:  Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney of New York`s 18th

congressional district asked Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman about his

opening statement when Colonel Vindman told his father not to worry about

him because he`s telling the truth. 




MALONEY:  He would worry if you were putting yourself up against the

president of the United States, is that right?


VINDMAN:  He deeply worried because in his contacts, there was – there was

the ultimate risk. 


MALONEY:  And why do you have confidence you can do that and tell your dad

not to worry? 


VINDMAN:  Congressman, because this is America.  This is the country I`ve

served and defended, that all my brothers have served, and here, right



MALONEY:  Thank you, sir.  I yield back. 




O`DONNELL:  Joining us now is Representative Sean Patrick Maloney, Democrat

from New York.  He`s a member of the House Intelligence Committee and was

obviously at today`s hearing. 


Congressman Maloney, that was a very powerful section of the testimony. 

It`s actually got a much longer burst of applause there than we showed on

the video. 


What made you want to bring Colonel Vindman`s attention back to that

statement he made directly to his father in the opening statement? 


MALONEY:  Well, I just thought it was moving.  You know, I think all of us

who read it were struck by it.  And, you know, in the hurried moments early

in the hearing, I just didn`t – I didn`t feel it got the attention it

deserved, and I just really wanted to ask him about it, and boy, you know,

I got more than I bargained for. 


I mean, what he said at the end, I mean I get emotional thinking about it. 

When he said this is America, you know, I`ve fought for it, my brothers

fought for it, and here, right matters.  Boy, that`s our challenge it seems

to me.  You know, because I – I think that`s up in the air, frankly,

whether it`s going to matter, whether this is going to get through. 


And I just feel we owe it to guys like Lieutenant Colonel Vindman to make

sure he`s right about that. 


O`DONNELL:  I just want to show a passage where Jim Jordan was trying to go

after the colonel`s judgment and qualifications.  Let`s take a look how

that played up.




REP. JIM JORDAN (R-OH):  So your boss had concerns about your judgment,

your former boss, Dr. Hill, had concerns about your judgment.  Your

colleagues had concerns about your judgment and your colleagues felt there

were times when you leaked information. 


Any idea why they have those impressions, Colonel Vindman? 


VINDMAN:  Yes, Representative Jordan, I guess I`ll start by reading Dr.

Hill`s own words as she – she attested to in my last evaluation that was

dated middle of July right before she left.  Alex is a top 1 percent

military officer, and the best Army officer I had worked with in my 15

years of government service.  He is brilliant, unflappable and exercises

excellent judgment. 




O`DONNELL:  And, Congressman, as you know, there`s more to it that he was

too modest to continue reading.  But best army officer I`ve worked with in

15 years of government service is about as high praise as you can get. 


MALONEY:  Right.  And you`re not selected to work on the National Security

Council unless you`re one of the very best.  Everything about Lieutenant

Colonel Vindman screams excellence, and not just excellence but real duty. 

And he used that word. 


You know, why did you report it when you knew it was wrong?  Because it`s

my duty, he said. 


Remember Mr. Morrison is reporting it, too, but he`s reporting it so that

they restrict access and cover it up.  Vindman went out there because he

knew it was wrong.  And thank God, there`s still guys like Lieutenant

Colonel Vindman who know right from wrong, and it`s these foreign service

officers and these military officers who right now are going to save our



O`DONNELL:  Congressman, what was your assessment of the most important

points of evidence in today`s hearings? 


MALONEY:  Well, you have now direct witnesses saying we heard the president

with our own ears, Jennifer Williams said it, who`s worked for Vice

President Pence, who`s worked for a bunch of Republicans, and you`ve got

Lieutenant Colonel Vindman saying we heard it and we knew it was wrong, in

some in substance.  She said it was inappropriate and unusual, he said it

was improper and reported it. 


And then, of course, you`ve got Ambassador Volker who says, oh, if I`d only

known that Burisma meant the Bidens, I would have raised my own objections,

I would have considered it to be wrong.  That`s a big shift from when he

came in to testify the first time.  And I`m glad he`s cleaning that up, but

it aligns his testimony with the other witnesses. 


And, of course, Mr. Morrison who also heard the call, who confirms all the

key events in question and who then by his actions demonstrated how serious

he knew it was.  These were all witnesses who were in the room, who were

directly listening to the president, who were responsible for the policy. 


You know, they detonate the Republican talking point that this is only

second or third hand or hearsay.  This is powerful testimony. 


O`DONNELL:  And Tim Morrison established the Sondland principle I guess we

can call it at this point where Sondland told him that the only way Ukraine

is going to get the aid is if they publicly announce the investigations. 


MALONEY:  Yes, no, that`s right.  We know Ambassador Sondland who will

testify tomorrow delivered the, you know, unvarnished quid pro quo to the

Ukrainians in Warsaw on September 1st.  You don`t get the aid, you don`t

get the White House meeting unless we get the specific language in a

statement by the president to CNN.  They literally said that in the calls

for the investigations of the Bidens. 


Ambassador Sondland now is going to come in and testify to that.  He`s, of

course, going to have to remember now the conversation he had that David

Holmes overheard that he – that he so famously characterized as the

president not giving an expletive about Ukraine, only about the

investigation of the Bidens.  Mr. Sondland is a very important witness

because he`s, again, directly speaking to the president. 


O`DONNELL:  Quickly before you go, Congressman, Ambassador Sondland

tomorrow is going to have to change his testimony again.  He`s changed his

under oath testimony for your committee once before.  He`s obviously going

to have to change it in relation to David Holmes overhearing the now

infamous cellphone call. 


Is Gordon Sondland`s legal future on the line in how he testifies under

oath tomorrow morning? 


MALONEY:  Of course, it is.  But then it is for every witness who testifies

under oath.  That`s to be expected. 


I think if Ambassador Sondland resolves to tell the whole truth, then he

can come in and he won`t have anything to worry about.  You know, none of

us are out to get ambassador Sondland, and none of us even want him to say

any particular thing.  We just want the truth.  We want him to come in and

tell us what he knows. 


It should not be this hard, to get someone to talk about events that

happened just a few weeks before his first testimony.  And we are getting

there because of the way we approached this investigation which was not to

not let him coordinate this testimony with other witnesses, to do it behind

closed doors at first, like any good investigator would.  And then to

surround him with other testimony that he cannot evade, and so he has to

tell the truth. 


I think you`re going to see him come with the whole truth tomorrow. 


O`DONNELL:  Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney and I`m sure I speak for

everyone in our audience including by the way Republicans on the committee

are all very impressed with the way you used your five minutes in these

hearings and we really appreciate your joining us tonight.  Thank you very

much, Congressman.


MALONEY:  Well, that`s very kind but the real thanks goes to these

witnesses.  They`ve done the hard thing.


O`DONNELL:  Thank you, Congressman.


O`DONNELL:  And when we come back, NSC advisor Tim Morrison had some

trouble today explaining why he immediately went to White House lawyer

after hearing President Trump`s phone call with the President of Ukraine?




O`DONNELL: One strange aspect of today`s testimony is why Tim Morrison

immediately reported President Trump`s phone call with President Zelensky

of Ukraine to White House lawyer John Eisenberg? What`s strange about that

is that Tim Morrison testified in his opening statement that he didn`t

think that the President did anything wrong in the phone call.


But Tim Morrison also testified that he has never rushed to a White House

lawyer`s office after listening to any other presidential phone call. He

said that his big worry after the phone call was that the memo of the phone

call might leak.




REP. ADAM SCHIFF, (D-CA): If it was a perfect call would you have had a

concern of it leaking?



I would still have a concern about it leaking.


SCHIFF: And would you have thought it was appropriate if President Trump

had asked Zelensky to investigate John Kasich or to investigate Nancy

Pelosi or to investigate Ambassador Volker? Would that be appropriate?


MORRISON: In those hypothetical cases, no. Not appropriate.


SCHIFF: But you`re not sure about Joe Biden?


MORRISON: Sir, again, I can only speak to what I understood at the time and

why I acted the way I did at the time.




O`DONNELL: Joining our discussion now Tess Bridgeman, Former Deputy Legal

Advisor to the National Security Counsil and Associate White House Council

in the Obama Administration also joining us National Security Expert and

Former Republican Senate Staff Member Tom Nichols.


And Tess, whenever they`re running to the White House lawyers in this

testimony I`m always thinking of you, because you used to be in that office

that they were running to in this testimony today. What did you make of Tim

Morrison`s rush to the lawyers - and the lawyer he`s rushing to that

position was your boss when you were working in the White House, is that




Yes, that`s exactly right, and it`s an odd answer that Morrison gives that

he rushed straight to the office of John Eisenberg and he also does mention

his deputy Michael Ellis to make them aware generally of the call and

because of concerns about a potential leak.


But when pressed what was it that you specifically wanted the NSC`s lawyers

to be aware of, he`s not able to give a direct answer to that question. And

when asked why is it that you`re concerned this call might leak, it doesn`t

really make much sense that`s the kind of concern you`d go to the NSC Legal

Office about. So both aspects of his answer to this question, why did you

run straight to NSC Legal don`t seem to quite add up.


O`DONNELL: Tom Nichols, did it make any sense to you?


TOM NICHOLS, NATIONAL SECURITY EXPERT: I couldn`t figure it out. It seemed

like he knew something was wrong, he sort of blurted that out for a moment.

And then at one point he was asked why did you go to lawyer and he said he

wasn`t in the room, he wasn`t at the meeting. And of course the immediate

question is would that be normal?


So he wasn`t in the room. And then again he was asked, and he said well I

just wanted to let them know what happened. And what did you think happen?

Well, nothing happened. Everything was fine. As one does I just ran off to

a lawyer after a phone call. The whole thing was really strange.


O`DONNELL: Yes, and he`d never done that before. Let`s listen to what he

said about how the memo of the phone call ended up getting filed in a high

security file? Let`s listen to this.





reason did Mr. Eisenberg give you for why the call record was put in the

highly classified system?


MORRISON: It was a mistake.


GOLDMAN: He said it was just a mistake?


MORRISON: It was an administrative error.




O`DONNELL: Tess, your reaction to that one?


BRIDGEMAN: Yes, you cannot move a document to that system by mistake. He

may be trying to indicate that it was a miscommunication but others have

testified that no, indeed, it was clear that the direction was to move the

transcript to this highly classified code word server.


The other thing that was clear today in Morrison`s testimony he was asked

couldn`t you have just restricted access in the normal system to this

transcript if you were so concerned about it, and he answered truthfully

yes he could have done so. So that once again begs the question if really

the only concern was that only those with a need to know would have access

to this then random conversation why not use the normal controls to make

sure that wasn`t the case, and once again he wasn`t able to answer that



O`DONNELL: And Republicans on the committee had no problem with Tim

Morrison speaking to White House Counsil after the President`s phone call.

They did seem bothered the Republicans that Colonel Vindman did the same

thing. Let`s listen to Colonel Vindman explaining that it was his sense of

duty that was guiding him in his choices.


What Vindman said - we don`t have the video, but what he said is he wanted

to emphasize to the committee when he reported his concerns, I did so out

of a sense of duty. I privately reported my concerns in official channels

to the property authority in the chain of command. Tom, what was your

reaction to the way Colonel Vindman handled his explanation how he

conducted himself after the President`s phone call with President of



NICHOLS: It seems to be Lieutenant Colonel Vindman did the thing that

normal people would. I was in a meeting, something very wrong happened, I

decided that I had to take this to, you know, the legal folks that exist

for moments like this, for a person on the NSC staff to go and talk to.

What was really interesting is that when Morrison was asked the same

question, you know, why didn`t you go to your immediate reporting superior,

Morrison suddenly didn`t have an answer, I went right to the lawyer because

he`s kind of my peer and not my superior.


So basically the Republican narrative is that everything Vindman did was

wrong, everything Morrison did was right even though what they did was

pretty closely the same. It seems that the big difference between them is

that they were mad at Vindman because he didn`t just keep it in the family,

he didn`t keep it under wraps the way Morrison did apparently.


And that Vindman pursued this to make sure that his complaint or his

concerns were aired. Morrison`s answers on this just didn`t make any sense

to me.


O`DONNELL: Tom Nichols and Tess Bridgeman thank you both for your insights

on today`s testimony. Really appreciate it.


And when we come back, today the House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam

Schiff had to teach a class, a little mini quick class, law school class on

bribery because his Republican colleagues apparently don`t know what it is.

That`s next.






REP. JOHN RATCLIFFE, (R-TX): Ms. Williams, you never used the word bribery

or bribe to explain President Trump`s conduct, correct?




RATCLIFFE: Colonel Vindman you haven`t either?



That is correct.


RATCLIFFE: The problem is in an impeachment inquiry that the Speaker of the

House says is all about bribery where bribery is the impeachable offense,

no witness has used the word bribery to describe President Trump`s conduct,

none of them.




O`DONNELL: So case closed on bribery, I guess.




SCHIFF: Bribery for those watching at home is the conditioning of official

acts in exchange for something of personal value.




O`DONNELL: Boy, if John Heilemann knew law school could be that easy.

Joining us now Mimi Rocah, Former Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Southern

District of New York she is an MSNBC Legal Contributor and John Heilemann

is back with us. Mimi, how are they doing on the bribery case?



mean apparently since no witness said it, no one said on the phone call

this was happening this was bribery, there is no bribery. Obviously it is

laughable that the idea that, you know, somebody involved in the crime has

to call out what it is or that fact witnesses or victims like you

Yovanovitch, you know, that they would be the ones to call it what it is.


The Democrats have been consistent. There was this whole theory out there

that oh, it was quid pro quo and now its bribery. Quid pro quo is bribery.

It`s part of the crime. And witness after witness has established and even

their own witnesses, the ones who are the supposed witnesses Republican

witnesses today have established that the aid and the meeting were

conditioned on getting Trump what he wanted which was the announcement of

the investigations. That is bribery plain and simple whether or not someone

involved in the crime called it that.


O`DONNELL: Yes, and then Ari Melber wrote a great op-ed piece in “The

Washington Post” defining this case in the framework of bribery a couple of

weeks ago. If the Democrats had been saying bribery from the start on this

before developing the evidence and developing it publicly the Republicans

would be saying how dare you say bribery and now they`re trying to claim

oh, you`re changing your story to bribery?



enough to remember the history of the Republican Party and its work

shopping focus grouping of language terms, the frank ones for yes, or no

the Republican Party, how torture became enhanced interrogation techniques.


How the party`s history in deploying language for political effect find it

laughable and hypocritical for Republicans to be seizing on this particular

point. But of course the relevant points is the point that Mimi acts as a

lawyer, the one lawyer I believe at the table in which is that the way it

works in court is fact witnesses say what they saw and then lawyers can

determine what the crime is that is painted by the picture of all the facts

that are presented in the case.


I just - yes, it is the case that there are a number of different names you

can call what Donald Trump has done here. Some of them are legal terms.

Some are political terms. They`re all bad.


O`DONNELL: All right, we`re going to squeeze in a break here. John and

Mimi, stay with us please. When we come back, no one has had a bigger

struggle with the truth under oath in the impeachment inquiry than Gordon

Sondland and at 9.00 am tomorrow Gordon Sondland will get just one more

chance to tell the whole truth. That`s next.




O`DONNELL: No witness is in more trouble in the impeachment inquiry than

Gordon Sondland who is now less than 11 hours away from testifying tomorrow

morning at 9.00 am. Gordon Sondland will be under more pressure tomorrow

morning than any other witness who has yet testified in the impeachment

investigation because Gordon Sondland has to work his way out of a perjury

trap that he set for himself.


Donald Trump`s million-dollar donor turned first time Ambassador, Gordon

Sondland, has already changed his under oath testimony once. Tomorrow, he`s

going to have to change it again. Now that we know about his famous cell

phone call from a restaurant in Ukraine to the President of the United

States in which he told President Trump that President Zelensky was ready

to do the investigations that Donald Trump wants and that President

Zelensky would do anything that Donald Trump wants.


And I cleaned that up the transcript of that phone call. And Gordon

Sondland`s previous under oath testimony, when he was asked to reveal all

of his conversations with President Trump about Ukraine, he never mentioned

the most memorable phone call of them all, the most memorable phone call of

this entire investigation.


That cell phone call from the restaurant in Kyiv when Gordon Sondland sits

down at the witness table tomorrow morning at 9:00, his future is at stake.

Will he be the next Trump associate charged with a crime or will he be able

to save himself by finally telling the whole truth? That`s next.






GOLDMAN: So just we`re clear, you reported two concerning conversations

that you had with Ambassador Sondland to the lawyers in early September. In

which you understood from him that the President was withholding security

assistance as additional leverage to get Ukraine to publicly announce this

specific political investigations that President Trump had discussed on the

July 25th call. Is that accurate?


VOLKER: I was concerned about what Ambassador Sondland was saying were

requirements, yes.




O`DONNELL: Mimi Rocah and Heilemann are back with us and Mimi today`s

hearings certainly teed things up for the Sondland hearing tomorrow. You`re

Sondland`s lawyer tonight. You`ve watched the testimony today. How do you

prepare Gordon Sondland tomorrow to go in there and add to his testimony?

Especially about the new cell phone call we all know about?


ROCAH: I don`t think he has a choice and here`s why. He has been thrown

under the bus by everyone.


O`DONNELL: Did not he lie his way under the bus by leaving out these phone



ROCAH: Well, a different bus. That`s the perjury bus. I`m talking about the

Republicans and their witnesses are trying to say, look, to the extent

there was anything untoward here, we were just looking at public

corruption. There was nothing untoward here. To the extent that anyone was

conditioning anything that was the rogue actors, Rudy Giuliani and Gordon



Not, and maybe Mick Mulvaney but not the president. They`re able to keep

him a little bit out of it with these counter sensical arguments but they

do it. Sondland is the one who can say, no, no, I was talking to Trump. We

already know that if you take all the evidence together. We know it from

the phone call we know that from Trump being on the front lawn saying it.


But Gordon Sondland is the one witness who can actually sit in that chair

and say these are the conversations I had with Trump about this. And right

now I think they`re trying to put it all on Sondland and Giuliani and that

is going to happen and he is going to face potential exposure for more than

just perjury but potential bribery himself if he doesn`t say here what`s

going on.


It is the classic mob boss trying to blame it on the under links. And I

think, if I`m his lawyer, I tell him come clean and don`t let that happen.


O`DONNELL: But, I mean what I look at John is what was the conversations

done with the lawyer already because I mean, all of this stuff that he is -

having to revise his lawyer should have known about in the first instance

they shouldn`t have to go through it this night.


HEILEMANN: Sure. And obviously he`s made a bunch of mistakes, along the way

tactical errors that are pretty significant. I think the nature of the

conversation now and again not being lawyer I speak to this in somewhat

speculatively but the conversation has to be that you face a choice

tomorrow either you`re going to tell truth and you`re going to directly

implicate the President in all of this and save yourself in the way that

Mimi has just suggested or you`re going to plead the fifth.


And of course that is now all the talk in Washington, D.C., is about the

possibility that Gordon Sondland might walk in to the hearing room tomorrow

and plead the fifth. Again, wild speculation but there is no topic right

now in Washington, D.C. that is more feverishly being discussed. Could this

be the first time we see someone do that.


O`DONNELL: So the people who could be in more trouble with Gordon

Sondland`s testimony tomorrow would include President Trump and Gordon

Sondland but also possibly Kurt Volker. Let`s take a look at this exchange

with Congressman Maloney and Kurt Volker. Let`s watch this.




REP. PATRICK MALONEY, (D-NY): When you have objected to the President,

asking for an investigation of the Bidens as you sit here now, you said I

would have raised my own objections.




MALONEY: If you knew it was the Bidens.


VOLKER: If I knew we were talking about investigating Vice President Biden

and asking the Ukrainians that would be inappropriate and I would have

objected to that.




O`DONNELL: Meaning what happens if Gordon Sondland goes in there tomorrow

and says, oh, yes, I told Kurt Volker it was about the Bidens we were

investigating the Bidens. What happens to that under oath testimony that we

just saw?


ROCAH: Well, then he`s possibly facing perjury charges. He didn`t

equivocate. He didn`t say I don`t remember. He was pretty clear. I still

think that Sondland, he has to look at what`s happened here. He`s really

painted as the fall guy here so yes, he is boxed himself into a possible

perjury corner and that is his doing. But he is also looking, I think, at

potential bribery charges down the road because everyone has implicated him

in this. If he doesn`t come clean, then all those statements get used

against him.


O`DONNELL: And we of course, going to have a line by line analysis of the

famous cell phone call from the restaurant in Ukraine with Russia

listening, with every intelligence agency possibly in Europe listening to

that. Mimi Rocah and John Heilemann, thank you very much for joining us.

That is tonight`s LAST WORD.







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