Pelosi request Article of Impeachment. TRANSCRIPT: 12/5/19, The Last Word w/ Lawrence O’Donnell.
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Rachel.
We are going to begin tonight with yet another amazing thing that Nancy
Pelosi has done. And I`m not someone who`s been tracking amazing things
done by Nancy Pelosi over the years, but this year she has had a year. She
has really had some moments, and this is one that you didn`t have room to
include in your hour in that press conference, you know, when she was
leaving the room.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Oh, yes.
O`DONNELL: And she did that turn around on a reporter who yelled out
something that he should not have yelled out at Nancy Pelosi when she was
leaving that room. We`re going to full that drama as it plays out. And
I`m once again just stunned by how she handled it.
It`s an unscripted moment, so she had no idea it was coming. It`s like
that moment in the White House when she stood up to President Trump in the
cabinet room. Unscripted moment. It was provoked by the situation.
And it – it`s just something that it feels like only she can do this.
MADDOW: Yes, and it was sort of an indelible moment. And I will say as a
Catholic, seeing her invoke her Catholic faith in that moment at the apex
of that confrontation was sort of a heart-stopping thing.
O`DONNELL: Yes, and it`s – it`s all there. I mean you really – she
delivers those moments like no one I`ve ever seen in Washington.
MADDOW: Well done. Can`t wait. Thanks, my friend.
O`DONNELL: Thank you, Rachel.
Well, today in New Hampshire, Pete Buttigieg said something that many
people including me criticized as soon as it was reported on Twitter by a
“Boston Globe” reporter. And hours later, reporters asked Pete Buttigieg
about it again. And he changed what he had to say, but he did not correct
what was wrong – what was very, very wrong in his first statement today.
We`re going to take some time at the end of this hour to show you all of
that because at the heart of that story is a very important political lie,
a political lie that has been told by Republicans for generations.
Well, as I was just saying to Rachel, Nancy Pelosi did it again today. It
was like that electrifying moment where she literally stood up to Donald
Trump in the cabinet room. It was unscripted. It was provoked by someone
else, but she seized the moment, as dramatically as any fiction writer
could have provided for any fictional politician in a movie scene.
And I am sure that she got a silent cheer from some people working at Fox
News today when she did that. And she did that after making history first
thing this morning. And we begin tonight with that history.
We begin tonight with an historic statement by the speaker of the House
without any warning the night before the speaker scheduled an announcement
for 9:00 a.m. with a hint that it would be something momentous because it
was not scheduled for the press briefing room where she and other House
members usually make announcements and take questions from reporters.
About 5:30 a.m. this morning, reporters first got the word that Speaker
Pelosi would be making an announcement in a majestic location in the House
of Representatives near the speaker`s office. Not a place she usually does
this. And when the speaker made her entrance and stepped up to the
microphone, she began at the beginning.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): Good morning.
Let us begin where our Founders began in 1776. When in the course of human
events, it becomes necessary for people to dissolve the political bonds
which have connected them with another. With those words our Founders
courageously began our Declaration of Independence from an oppressive
monarch for among other grievances the king`s refusal to follow rightfully
In the course of today`s events, it becomes necessary for us to address
among other grievances the president`s failure to faithfully execute the
law. Our democracy is what is at stake. The president leaves us no choice
but to act because he is trying to corrupt once again the election for his
own benefit. The president has engaged in abuse of power undermining our
national security and jeopardizing the integrity of our elections.
His actions are in defiance of the vision of our Founders and the oath of
office that he takes to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of
the United States. Sadly, but with confidence and humility, with
allegiance to our Founders and a heart full of love for America, today I am
asking our chairman to proceed with articles of impeachment. I commend our
committee chairs and our members for their somber approach to actions by
which the president have made necessary.
In signing the Declaration of Independence, our founders invoked a firm
reliance on Divine Providence. Democrats too are prayerful, and we will
proceed in a manner worthy of our oath of office to support and defend the
Constitution of the United States from all enemies foreign and domestic.
So help us God. Thank you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: And with that, Nancy Pelosi guaranteed that Donald Trump will
be the third president of the United States impeached by the House of
Representatives. The House Judiciary Committee will write and vote on
articles of impeachment. Those articles of impeachment will pass in the
committee and then be voted on by the full House of Representatives and
some or all of the articles of impeachment will pass the House of
Representatives, and Donald J. Trump will take his place in history as an
We don`t yet know the exact timetable for all of that, but it could happen
before Christmas. The House Judiciary committee has its next impeachment
hearing scheduled for Monday when they will consider the evidence in the
House Intelligence Committee`s written report of its impeachment
investigation of the president`s solicitation of help in his re-election
campaign from the president of Ukraine by asking the president of Ukraine
to investigate Joe Biden.
After making her historic announcement this morning, the speaker of the
House went about her regular duties including conducting, later, her
regularly scheduled press conference about House of Representatives
business in which she discussed the 275 bills that she has passed through
the House of Representatives with bipartisan votes that are all now on
Mitch McConnell`s desk in the United States Senate where he is ignoring
them and refusing to allow them to come to a vote.
And then when the speaker was leaving that press conference, a reporter
decided to shout out a question. The reporter is James Rosen who spent
almost as much time working at a Fox News as disgraced sexual predator Bill
O`Reilly and who left Fox News, according to “The New York Times,” quote,
after the network began scrutinizing sexual misconduct allegations against
James Rosen now works for a much less prominent right wing so-called news
organization. And he asked Nancy Pelosi the kind of question that would
have made his former Fox boss, sexual predator Roger Ailes, very, very
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAMES ROSEN, REPORTER: Do you hate the president, Madam Speaker?
PELOSI: I don`t hate anybody. We don`t hate anybody, not anybody in the
world. So don`t be accusing me –
ROSEN: I did not accuse you.
PELOSI: You did.
ROSEN: I asked a question. Representative Collins yesterday suggested
Democrats are doing this simply because they don`t like the guy.
PELOSI: I have nothing to do with it.
Let me just say this – I think the president is a coward when it comes to
helping our kids who are afraid of gun violence. I think he is cruel when
he doesn`t deal with helping our Dreamers of which we`re very proud. I
think he`s in denial about the climate crisis.
However, that`s about the election. This is about the – take it up in the
election. This is about the Constitution of the United States and the
facts that lead to the president`s violation of his oath of office.
And as a Catholic, I resent your using the word hate in a sentence that
addresses me. I don`t hate anyone. I was raised in a way that is full –
a heart full of love and always pray for the president, and I still pray
for the president. I pray for the president all the time.
So don`t mess with me when it comes to words like that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: I wanted to let you see her walk away from that microphone and
walk out of that room so that you could feel – you could feel the power of
the silence that she created in that room.
Rooms full of reporters in Washington are never silent. I`ve never seen
anything like that. I`ve never seen any member of Congress ever leave a
room full of tough Capitol Hill reporters in stunned silence. James Rosen
cowered in that stunned silence and did not dare throw the word hate at
Nancy Pelosi again after she crushed him in front of every other Capitol
Hill reporter. And now the millions of people who have watched James Rosen
get crushed in that video.
Like so much Nancy Pelosi does in her unscripted bursts of eloquent moral
indignation, this one was multi-dimensional. There she was standing up
against hatred as her Catholic religion has taught her to do since she was
a little girl. And there she was standing up for the Constitution as she
has sworn an oath to do, and surely, surely there were some women still
working at Fox News today who silently let out a cheer for Nancy Pelosi for
standing up to one of the men who thrived at Fox News during the Roger
Ailes, Bill O`Reilly predatory reign of terror.
The most powerful elected woman in the history of American government once
again today did something that only she could do.
Leading off our discussion tonight are Democratic Congressman Peter Welch
of Vermont. He`s a member of the House of Intelligence Committee.
Ambassador Wendy Sherman, former undersecretary of state for political
affairs in the Obama administration. She is an MSNBC global affairs
And Mieke Eoyang is with us. She`s a former staff member of the House
Intelligence Committee and an MSNBC contributor.
And, Congressman Welch, I want to begin with you and, first of all, get
your reaction to not just how Nancy Pelosi made this historic announcement
this morning, but how she handled that challenge from the propaganda side
of the news media about what you in the House of Representatives are doing
in this impeachment proceeding which over there on the right-wing side of
the world, they want to claim is all about hate.
REP. PETER WELCH (D-VT): Right. You know, I found what she did and how
she did it both moving and reassuring. In her announcement, she really
laid out what the question is. It`s the debate we`re going to have about
the preservation of the presidency of Donald Trump, or is it about the
preservation of the constitutional principle of the rule of law?
And that question from Mr. Rosen demeaned the significance of the question
that Congress is going to face. And when he used the term hate, it was
stunning to me. Nancy Pelosi has an immense amount of energy, but I`ve
never seen her have energy – waste an ounce of energy on hating anyone.
And actually that`s what makes her I think so intimidating to some of the
folks who are her adversaries. She is totally focused straight ahead and
this is a debate on the preservation of the constitutional principle that
no person is above the law.
O`DONNELL: Wendy Sherman, I`m so glad you`re with us tonight because on
historic nights like this, to have people who think – we get to think
we`ve seen it all in Washington, and then days like this happen and
realize, well, we haven`t seen it all. And that`s partially because Nancy
Pelosi hasn`t done it yet. This was one of those days. Your feelings
about what you saw today both in her announcement for what`s to happen in
the impeachment proceeding and, again, how she handled that challenge.
AMBASSADOR WENDY SHERMAN. FORMER UNDERSECRETARY OF STATE FOR POLITICAL
AFFAIRS: Well, I`m a Baltimore girl, Lawrence, and I`ve known Nancy Pelosi
for a very long time and known her family and her dear brother who just
recently passed away. And my heart is completely filled with pride.
How can we not be as the congressman said, she moves with such dignity,
with such grace, with such moral authority. And I think as to her
responding to Rosen who is really no reporter at all as you point out, I
think her daughter Christine Pelosi, one of her five children and she has
multiple grandchildren, she knows how to multitask, God knows. Christine
said, don`t mess with mama, and I think she`s got it just right.
Over all the Twitter sphere tonight, there are many, many, many women who
are speaking out and saying, you go, girl. You tell it like it is, and you
do it with such dignity, such incredible dignity.
O`DONNELL: Mieke Eoyang, I think one of the important things about her
answer to that challenge was it gave her the opportunity to make this very
clear distinction about what the election is about, which is about Trump
policies that she sharply disagrees with and what the impeachment is about
which is Trump violations of the Constitution which can only be addressed
MIEKE EOYANG, HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE FORMER STAFF MEMBER: Yes, and
she`s been very clear about this. There`s been members of the caucus eager
to impeach the president over family separations, over some of the policy
things he`s doing. And she`s very clear here that`s what an election is
for to deal with the policy differences.
But what she and Adam Schiff have so eloquently laid out is that the danger
the president poses to the 2020 election, that even though you may not have
every single last jot of evidence you might want to take to trial, the
evidence is clear enough. And the risk the president poses that he might
do it again, his lawyer in Ukraine today means that they feel like they
need to move right now. This is about preserving our system of government.
O`DONNELL: And, Congressman Welch, Donald Trump tweeted something today I
think he actually firmly believes about this. He says she says she prays
for the president, I don`t believe her, not even close.
Now, Donald Trump, I – there`s reason to suspect has never prayed in his
life. And there`s reason to suspect he does not believe anyone really does
actually pray. And so, he may very well mean every world of that honestly,
that he doesn`t believe she prays.
But it`s one of those moments where Donald Trump is actually seeing
something happen that there`s no level of it that he understands.
WELCH: You know, I think that`s exactly right. I think he`s bewildered by
Nancy Pelosi. She`s centered. She`s grounded. She`s truthful, and she`s
And he`s erratic. He`s all over the place. And he doesn`t understand that
she means what she says.
And the fact that she`s totally committed to this constitutional principle
of the rule of law, that no person is above the law, and she`s absolutely
committed to this concept we have three branches of government that have to
be a check and balance on each other bewilders him. He`s not accustomed to
dealing with a person who`s as centered and grounded as she is.
And that`s what`s giving us I think some moral authority and confidence
going forward. This is not about Donald Trump. It`s about the
preservation of the rule of law and foreswearing the crumbling of our
system of checks and balances.
O`DONNELL: And, Wendy Sherman, as we see this case move into the Judiciary
Committee, we`re going to see something again procedurally that we`ve never
seen before. Here`s the House Intelligence Committee supplying basically
the first draft material of articles of impeachment that will be written by
judiciary. This is an intersection we`ve never seen before.
SHERMAN: Indeed, it`s quite unusual. The first time as you said and it
will be very interesting to see who the speaker chooses as the managers to
present the case to the Senate. I think I`ve heard the speaker say more
than once that when Benjamin Franklin came out after the signing of the
Constitution, he was asked do we have a monarchy or do we have a republic,
and he said a republic, if we can keep it.
And what Speaker Pelosi is all about is keeping that republic. Those are
the stakes that are in front of us.
O`DONNELL: Mieke, what do you expect in terms of what ware going to hear
in the testimony next week when its the Intelligence Committee findings
being brought to the judiciary committee? How will they present that?
EOYANG: Yes, we`re expecting to hear the committee counsel, Mr. Goldman
who we heard before during the question present that House Intelligence
Committee report released this week and go through step by step all the
different stages that the president took to try and put this investigation
forward that would benefit him politically, the pressure that he brought to
bear against Ukraine, all these different steps in setting up this channel,
and then how he has tried to stymie this investigation by withholding key
witnesses and refusing 71 different document requests that the
investigators asked for.
I would expect a fairly compelling case to be laid out by the counsels. As
you know, the staff less likely showboat than the members. So, I would
expect a fairly factual recitation but the facts themselves are really
O`DONNELL: Congressman Peter Welch, who never showboats, Wendy Sherman,
Mieke Eoyang, thank you all very much for starting us off tonight. Really
SHERMAN: Thank you.
O`DONNELL: And when we come back, Neal Katyal says there really is only
one piece of evidence the Democrats need, really need in drafting articles
of impeachment against President Trump. It`s the smoking gun. Neal Katyal
has it. He`ll join us next.
O`DONNELL: With the House of Representatives now ready to begin drafting
articles of impeachment after Speaker Pelosi`s announcement this morning,
former Obama administration acting solicitor general, Neal Katyal, offered
some help this morning.
In an op-ed this morning in “The Washington Post” in which he suggests that
they begin with the smoking gun. The White House transcript of President
Trump`s phone call with Ukraine`s President Zelensky in which Neal Katyal
says there are two acts of bribery clearly specified in what President
Trump says to President Zelensky.
Neal Katyal reminds us that President Trump`s language in the phone call is
so blatant that at first, Republicans had no idea how to defend it.
We do have some video here. I guess we don`t have it.
Neal, I was going to show this video that you remind said us of. It`s 60
minutes video in which Kevin McCarthy is asked about the, you know, we need
you to do us a favor, though, and Kevin McCarthy says he didn`t say though,
he didn`t say though. He understood immediately how important that word
was, and Scott Pelley had to tell him oh, no, that`s what`s in the
transcript, that`s what he actually said.
NEAL KATYAL, MSNBC LEGAL CONTRIBUTOR: Exactly, Lawrence. I wrote that
“The Washington Post” and indeed my book “Impeached” that came out last
week because of the central point, which is all you need to understand
whether Donald Trump should be impeached and removed is to read the
transcript of the July 25th call, because in that call you see not one but
two different quid pro quos. The withholding of aid and the holding of a -
- the prevention of a White House meeting all until that favor is done for
the president so that he can get dirt on his political rival.
And, you know, the essence of impeachment has always been as was said by a
congressman in 2008, when a president puts his personal interests above
those of the American people, and that congressman was Mike Pence then
sitting in Congress now the vice president. That`s always been the
standard of this July 25th phone call transcript – we don`t even have the
full transcript but just what the president himself has released is so
damning. And this president and his allies throw up chaff and distraction.
This witness yesterday all the stuff happening at the hearing and this and
that. There`s only one thing you have to look at. It`s the transcript,
and it`s a core impeachable offense.
O`DONNELL: And, Neal, it`s rhythmically strange for people who grew up on
the architecture of the Watergate investigation as the classic Washington
investigation or on all TV drama throughout history. The smoking gun is
never revealed in the first act. It always comes – you always build to
it. This is one of those cases where we got the smoking gun very early in
the investigation, at a point where someone in the White House apparently
convinced the president that putting out this transcript could actually
KATYAL: Exactly. And, you know, that was obviously a huge miscalculation.
And the Republicans have been trying mightily ever since then to come up
with any defense. I mean yesterday, Lawrence, the hearing the Republicans
had one witness a guy named Jonathan Turley and I`m certainly not going to
attack his motivations or anything like that, but I will attack his
consistency, because this was their one witness. And this witness is the
same guy who said there was a low standard for high crimes and misdemeanors
when Clinton was being considered, a really low standard.
And indeed when President Obama was in office he said, oh, you don`t need
to commit a crime in order for an impeachable offense. And then he goes
and turns around and takes all of that back in yesterday`s testimony and
then says a whole bunch of outlandish things. Like for example he says
this is an unprecedented investigation in terms of the speed of this
impeachment. It`s never happened before.
You know, it`s been 75 days for this investigation. The Andrew Johnson
impeachment, three days between act and impeachment. You know, and the
Clinton one which he himself, this guy Turley worked on that impeachment,
that was 75 days.
So, you know, there was a lot of stuff there that was really problematic.
And you just asked about the Watergate analogy. I think the most telling
thing in yesterday`s testimony was Jonathan Turley was asked has any
president ever stone walled a congressional impeachment inquiry like this
and prevented every witness and every document from coming forth, and he
said I don`t know I haven`t studied that.
Well, the answer to that is obvious. It`s no, no president has ever done
this. And that`s why not just as there`s this smoking gun about the July
25th transcript, but the way the president has reacted to this is itself
impeachable. You know, the Watergate phrase it`s not the crime, it`s the
cover-up, boy, that applies here in spades.
We have never had, Lawrence, a cover-up like this in which every single
executive branch employee has been gagged.
O`DONNELL: And, Neal, are you arguing there`s one article of impeachment
that is about the phone call?
KATYAL: No, I think that – I think the phone call actually sets up two
different articles of impeachment itself. One just interest abuse of power
and the second for bribery which is an impeachable offense in the
Constitution itself. But then Article 3 must be obstruction of justice
because if this president is allowed to say on his own, oh, I think this
impeachment inquiry is illegitimate, and I`m just not going to turn over
anything and prevent the entire executive branch from turning over
anything, any president could do that. President Obama could have done
that. A President Elizabeth Warren or Bernie Sanders could do that.
That is the complete destruction of our separation of powers. And the
stakes here are immense. And so, even for those Americans who can`t really
figure out what`s going on with Ukraine or this or that, I think the simple
question they have to ask is, do you really want a world in which a
president on his own can say when the solemn – when there`s something as
solemn as impeachment, I don`t have to play, I don`t have to participate,
I`m above all of that?
And the answer to that from James Madison and Ben Franklin and all those
founders you were just talking about earlier on your show is absolutely
not. That`s not the American way. It may be the Russian way. It`s not
the way we do things in America.
O`DONNELL: Neal Katyal, the author of the new, bestselling book must read
book, “Impeached: The Case Against Donald Trump.” Thank you very much for
joining us tonight, Neal. Really appreciate it.
KATYAL: Thank you.
O`DONNELL: And when we come back, Donald Trump is the most dangerous
president in American history but only because Mitch McConnell allows him
to be. So what does that make Mitch McConnell? That`s next.
O`DONNELL: Donald Trump is a problem like Washington has never seen before
but so is Mitch McConnell. There has never been a Senate Majority Leader
like Mitch McConnell who prides himself on doing nothing.
Here`s what the Speaker of the House said about that today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): We have 275 bills that are bipartisan on Mitch
McConnell`s desk. The grim reaper says all we do is impeachment, no. We
have 275 partisan bills on your desk.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Donald Trump is the worst, most dangerous President in history
because Mitch McConnell allows him to be. Donald Trump has illegally seized
the House and Senate`s power to control terrorist by citing non-existent
national security issues in raising tariffs on countries around the world,
including our closest allies.
Mitch McConnell and the Senate could stop that in a day. Trumpism thrives
in Washington only because Mitch McConnell allows it to thrive and now
comes Mitch McConnell`s most important moment in the Trump spotlight and
what has now become the Trump-controlled United States Senate.
And that is of course the impeachment trial of Donald Trump which will
probably be conducted in the United States Senate chamber in January. Mitch
McConnell can now establish the rules for the Senate impeachment trial
which might or might not be similar to the previous impeachment trial
And based on Mitch McConnell`s service to Donald Trump so far, Mitch
McConnell writing the rules for the Trump impeachment trial is the same as
Donald Trump writing the rules for the Trump impeachment trial.
This is the subject of a new article by Robert Reich, whose latest piece
asks and answers the question, “Who is worse? Donald Trump or Mitch
And joining us now is Robert Reich, former Labor Secretary under President
Bill Clinton and currently a professor of public policy at the University
of California at Berkeley.
He is the author of `The Common Good.` Professor Reich, your case about
Mitch McConnell and who is worse, Donald Trump or Mitch McConnell?
ROBERT REICH, FMR. CLINTON LABOR SECRETARY: Oh well Lawrence, I think it`s
a toss-up. It`s very close. Donald Trump is worse but I`ll tell you and you
already indicated. Donald Trump would not be nearly as bad if there were
not an enabler.
The Enabler-in-chief, somebody who is right there, allowing him to do
whatever he wants to do, putting up no fuss at all, acting as if there is
not a separate branch of government called the Congress and that is Mitch
And Mitch McConnell, it`s not just that Mitch McConnell as Nancy Pelosi
said today, has made a graveyard at a bipartisan legislation coming from
the House. It`s also that Mitch McConnell has given Donald Trump everything
the Donald Trump wants and what Donald Trump is going to want with regard
to this Senate trial, well, it`s probably going to be a showcase for Donald
O`DONNELL: And the rules about these trials are established for each trial
which is needless to say unusual and Mitch McConnell`s been there when
perfectly reasonable rules have been used in the for example, the Clinton
impeachment trial. Those rules were agreed to by the Senate, the Republican
leader and the Democratic leader of the Senate.
The chances of Chuck Schumer being able to agree with Mitch McConnell
procedurally here just - just seem unimaginable.
REICH: It`s totally unimaginable. And in 1999, you may recall, those rules
for handling Bill Clinton`s impeachment were agreed to by Democrats and
I mean they came to an agreement behind closed doors and they understood
that the interest of the country would be best served if there was
The chances are and I hope I`m wrong about this Lawrence, but the chances
that Mitch McConnell is actually going to seek any kind of democratic input
is about zero.
I mean he`s got 53 Republican votes and he can do any rules that he wants
and I wouldn`t be surprised if he had a rule - if he came up with a rule
that said, sure, we`re - we`re going to subpoena Hunter Biden or we`re
going to have Mike Pompeo tell Donald Trump side of the story or maybe
we`re going to have a rule that says, only Republicans can interview and
ask witnesses and one of our witnesses is going to be Donald Trump.
I mean it`s anything goes and that is the attitude of Mitch McConnell and
that`s been the attitude of Mitch McConnell all along.
O`DONNELL: And on the confirmation process which Mitch McConnell is so
proud of, confirming all these judges, Mitch McConnell could have done that
and at the same time said to the Trump administration, they have to be
Send me more qualified judges. I`ll run them through just as fast if not
faster, the better the qualifications but he hasn`t done that. He`s taken
whatever Donald Trump has sent down there for confirmation.
REICH: Remember, this is the man who even before Donald Trump was in the
White House said no to Merrick Garland that said - said essentially to
Barack Obama, I`m not going to even have a vote on your nominee to the
Supreme Court. This is unheard of.
He changed the Senate rules so that instead of 60 senators having to agree
to a Supreme Court nomination, once Donald Trump was there, no, it could be
done simply by 51 votes, which is - which gave Trump two Supreme Court
Again, there`s no principle there, absolutely no principle. This is where
Mitch McConnell and Donald Trump are bedfellows. They basically don`t care
about the constitution. They don`t care about the rule of law all they care
about is getting what they want and that - what they want is power and they
want their party to be of paramount and they want to entrench their power
for the future.
O`DONNELL: Professor Robert Reich, thank you very much for joining us and I
really appreciate it.
REICH: Thanks Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: And coming up what was Rudy Giuliani doing in Ukraine today?
O`DONNELL: Rudy Giuliani is back in Ukraine tonight. Our next guest
recently returned from Ukraine, where he was reporting on Rudy Giuliani`s
earlier attempts to interfere with Ukrainian government affairs.
Rudy Giuliani`s presence confounded the newly elected Ukrainian President
and his team. Franklin Foer is a staff writer at The Atlantic and he joins
us now. What did you find about - because we`ve all imagined what it be
like for this newly elected administration to suddenly be dealing with one
of the craziest people in America, who`s not the President of the United
FRANKLIN FOER, STAFF WRITER, THE ATLANTIC: Right and everybody who saw Rudy
Giuliani coming to Ukraine knew that it would be bad for Ukraine. That
Ukraine has managed to have bipartisan support in the face of Russian, the
Russian invasion of the country.
And they just knew that Rudy was coming to interfere - to interfere in the
election and to stoke a partisan narrative and they knew that his presence
would be bad news so they all advised Zelensky to stay away from Rudy
Giuliani and by a stroke of almost dumb luck, he avoided having to meet
with him last May.
But - but here is Rudy Giuliani returning it to Kiev again. He`s been there
many times over the years and when you look at his schedule, you can see
why he`s so confounding to Ukrainians because he`s confounding to Americans
Nominally he`s representing the President of the United States and he`s
going there to collect reporting for this counter-narrative that they`ve
tried to spread about Joe Biden, about Ukrainian influence in the election
but the people that he`s meeting with in Ukraine on the ground are
representatives of oligarchs.
They`re some of the more shady politicians in the country and it begs the
question, what is - who is Rudy Giuliani working for as he descends in
Ukraine and who is he working for as he spreads some of these narratives.
We know he`s working for the President but we also know that he`s getting
paid by other people and he just doesn`t disclose his client list. We have
no idea, how much money Rudy Giuliani is making off the the Donald Trump
O`DONNELL: Now is this an instance where it`s sort of the Trump playbook,
when you are suspected are accused of wrongdoing, you then be publicly do
more of the wrong doing like the moment, Trump was up the driveway and
asked China to also investigate Joe Biden because if I`m doing it publicly,
it can`t possibly be wrong.
Has Giuliani adopted that theory?
FOER: Yes, I think it`s something like that. It`s also, they`ve been fairly
successful in holding the Republican line during impeachment proceedings by
muddying the waters while - when we know that it was Russia who interfered
in the election.
They`re adamant that it was actually Ukraine that did it. They cling to
these - these false narratives and they won`t let go off them because
they`re actually serving exactly the purposes that they were spread in the
And you know it`s a very Putinisk tactic that they`ve been using, which is
to sow as much confusion, to muddy the waters as much as possible.
O`DONNELL: Do the officials in Ukraine what - get American television input
on this? Do they get the American news media take on this so that they can
see the perspectives that we have on it?
FOER: You know, I think that at the elite level they`re actually relatively
confused. It`s you know - it`s - it`s - you know, they see Rudy Giuliani go
on Fox news and they see him talk about Ukraine.
They hear Donald Trump talk about Ukraine in an incredibly disparaging way.
They know they`ve - they`ve heard Gordon Sondland quote him as saying that
Ukraine is a country filled with terrible people and you know right now,
Zelensky is on the brink of meeting with Vladimir Putin for the first time.
He`s having to negotiate the terms of peace in eastern Ukraine and
normally, the Ukrainian President would feel like he had - he had the
United States at his back. He knew that there was a major power in the
world that would support Ukraine.
But in this instance, as he travels to meet with Putin, I think he`s
incredibly anxious. He sees that his ally is potentially abandoning him and
so I think, he`s going to feel like he`s going to be in a very soft
position as he negotiates with Vladimir Putin and he`s probably going to
give more than he would in normal circumstances if Donald Trump was a
normal American President.
O`DONNELL: Franklin Foer, thank you for joining us. Really, really
appreciate your invaluable perspectives on what`s going on in Ukraine, I
really appreciate it. Thank you.
FOER: Thank you.
O`DONNELL: And when we come back, the Pete Buttigieg rapid response team
has been rapidly responding to what I said about Pete Buttigieg at the
beginning of this hour and they`ve sent me a statement that they really
hope, I read when we come back after this break. I`ll read it during the
break, then we`ll decide whether I`ll read it when we come back.
O`DONNELL: The Pete Buttigieg rapid response team has rapidly responded to
what I said at the top of the show tonight that sounded critical of Pete
Buttigieg because it is. I`m going to talk about in the next segment, what
Pete Buttigieg said today in New Hampshire about Democrats and deficits and
a history of Democrats not worrying about deficits which isn`t true to put
Here is the statement, they want me to read which I`ve decided to read for
them. It`s a very strange statement, I`ll tell you why after I read it.
“Pete has spoken about how in his lifetime, Democratic Presidents Barack
Obama and Clinton have reduced the deficit while Republican Presidents
The point he was making today is that despite this history, it is
remarkable another candidates haven`t spoken about deficit reduction very
much in this election. People leaves we should feel confident in speaking
about achieving progress of goals in doing so reasonably, responsibly
because Democrats have proven we can do it.”
That`s a Sean Sabbat rapid response team. I`m going to show you after the
break everything, everything Pete Buttigieg had to say about Democrats and
deficits in New Hampshire today. Guess what he doesn`t say.
President Obama or President Clinton so this statement is not true, we`ll
be right back.
O`DONNELL: In New Hampshire today, Pete Buttigieg said something very
strange about Democrats and deficits.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAYOR PETE BUTTIGIEG (D-IN) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: My party is not known
for worrying about deficits and the debt too much but it`s time for us to
start getting into that business because what we`ve seen in Washington is
that the party that talked a lot about the deficit, when they were trying
to kill off programs, when it came time for this corporate tax cut, turns
out they don`t care.
There is $1 trillion deficit now and created under Republican
administration, which means that if my party doesn`t start getting
interested in deficits and debt, nobody will.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: In the middle of that, he attributed just the current $1
trillion deficit to the Republicans but twice - twice he criticize
Democrats about the deficit, saying Democrats are “not known for worrying
And he said, “if my party doesn`t start getting interested in deficits.”
Both of those lines our lies. They are Republican lies, that for some
reason Pete Buttigieg decided to tell today.
During Pete Buttigieg`s entire lifetime, Republicans have increased the
deficit and Democrats have worked hard to decrease the deficit and taken
grave political risk in doing that.
Pete Buttigieg was 11 years old when Bernie Sanders in the House of
Representatives and Joe Biden in the United States Senate cast politically
brave votes on the deficit reduction bill that no Republicans voted for
because it included tax increases as well as spending cuts.
Bernie Sanders lost a lot of Democratic colleagues in the House of
Representatives who cast that vote because they were defeated in their re-
election because of that vote and the Democrats lost the House of
Representatives because of that vote for the first time in 40 years.
The Democrats lost United States Senate after that vote. Those were tough
votes for Democrats but they cast out of their sense of responsibility
about the deficit. They cast those votes because they were worried about
the deficit. Pete Buttigieg sure wasn`t interested in the deficit then.
When the Republicans got the White House back under President George W.
Bush, the deficit and the debt skyrocketed again because Republicans and
their reckless tax cuts and then when President Obama took office finally,
the President was worried about deficits again because the President was a
Democrat and President Obama managed to force a vote in the Congress
controlled by Republicans.
President Obama managed to force a vote in the Congress to raise taxes even
with the grim reaper, Mitch McConnell in control of the United States
Senate because President Obama was worried about the deficit. Two current
presidential candidates voted for that deficit reduction.
Bernie Sanders voted for it. Senator Amy Klobuchar voted for it because she
was worried about the deficit and she stands on that debate stage beside
Pete Buttigieg who has never done one thing in his life about the federal
budget deficit or the national debt, not one thing and he blithely
criticized Democrats today who have made tough political choices to control
Three hours later, three hours after you just - what you just - what you
just saw him say, reporters caught up with Pete Buttigieg again and they
asked him about his earlier statements about Democrats and deficits and
this time surely after some consultation with his rapid response team, he
put the Republicans first.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BUTTIGIEG: Yes, so there are two things to think about. The first is
Republican hypocrisy because I believe every presidency of my lifetime has
been example of deficits growing under Republican government and shrinking
under Democratic government.
But the second is that my party`s going to get more comfortable talking
about this issue.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: He couldn`t stop at the part he got right, the Republican
hypocrisy. He had to go on to criticize his party and to tell Democrats,
they`ve got to get more comfortable talking about this issue. Pete
Buttigieg literally doesn`t know what he`s talking about when he talks
about Democrats and the deficit or he`s deliberately lying and I`m sorry,
but those are the only choices.
I`ll give him the benefit of the doubt at this point and let him plead
ignorance now but as someone who stood on the Senate floor in the middle of
the night in 1993 as a Democratic Senate staffer and watched with pride as
only Democratic senators cast that brave vote on a deficit reduction bill,
which later cost some of them their re-elections, I will always fight the
Republican lie about Democrats and deficits.
There are plenty of things to criticize Democrats about. This isn`t one of
them and every informed Democrat knows that. Pete Buttigieg, like all the
presidential candidates is invited to join us on this program at any time
convenient for him to discuss this and the other issues in the presidential
That is “Tonight`s Last Word.” “The 11th Hour” with Brian Williams starts
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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