Interview with Debbie Dingell (D-MI). TRANSCRIPT: 12/13/19, The Last Word w/ Lawrence O’Donnell.

Guests:
Joyce Vance, Clyde Haberman, Dave Levinthal, Debbie Dingell, Karen Bass, David Corn, Maria Teresa Kumar, Norman Ornstein
Transcript:

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: By midnight Sunday night, the House Judiciary

Committee is expected to release its full report on the impeachment of

President Trump.

 

Now, technically that`s supposed to guide the floor vote that`s going to

happen on Wednesday, but we also expect that to be a really substantive

report including potentially this might be the place where the House ties

the Ukraine scandal to things in the Mueller report and other patterns of

the president`s behavior.

 

Then on Tuesday, the Rules Committee is going to establish the rules for

the floor debate on impeachment. That night we also expected to see

hundreds of marches and rallies and vigils all across the country in

support of impeachment, Tuesday night, impeachment eve.

 

Because on Wednesday the full House is expected to debate and vote on

whether to impeach President Trump, which would make him only the third

impeached president in U.S. history.

 

That`s the plan. But anything could happen. That`s it for us tonight. We

will see you again on Monday. Now it`s time for the “Last Word” where Ari

is filling in for Lawrence tonight. Good evening, Ari.

 

ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST:  Good evening, Rachel. I hope you have a great

well-earned weekend.

 

MADDOW:  Thank you very much, my friend. You too.

 

MELBER:  We`ll be seeing you. Good evening to you. I am Ari Melbe. I am in

for Lawrence O`Donnell and I`m joining you on a night that is worth

watching the news, a night that completes a day that will forever be if

past precedent is any guide, written into the history books.

 

Rachel was just talking about it. There`s a lot of ways to put it. It would

put it like this. Now, Donald Trump is on the verge of being the first

elected president ever impeached in his first term.

 

I want to get into that with a member of Congress shortly. We`re also going

to keep an eye on all of the other developments that Rachel mentioned.

 

Now, also ahead in the broadcast, in our coverage tonight, what is the

Trump administration hiding? Well, we have a special guest who`s actually

digging into that and forcing results in court. Watchdog groups which have

stood (ph) the administration for Ukraine related records and documents.

 

They are also going to go back to court and it all relates to the Senate

impeachment trial. Later, Rudy Giuliani still at it – Donald Trump and

Giuliani in the Ukraine scheme of this impeachment nest. But that`s not

stopping them from coordinating on continued efforts to affect the

presidential election.

 

But we begin tonight with House Resolution 755, a measure impeaching Donald

Trump for high crimes and misdemeanors. It took less than 10 minutes for

the House Judiciary Committee to make history this morning. Unlike the

emotion and the chaos that you may have seen in the last two days, this

vote to impeach President Trump ended on a quick and formal routine

measure.

 

Republicans offering no`s, Democrats voting aye and they did so without

noticeable joy or fanfare. Democratic Congresswoman Jayapal holding up a

pocket-sized copy of the constitution while she voted. Here`s some of the

historic 10 minutes.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

REP. JERRY NADLER (D-NY):  The question now is on Article I of the

resolution, impeaching President Donald J. Trump for abusing his powers.

The clerk will call the roll. The clerk will report.

 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Mr. Chairman there are 23 ayes and 17 no`s.

 

NADLER:  The article is agreed to. The question now is on Article II of the

resolution, impeaching President Donald J. Trump for obstructing Congress.

The clerk will call the roll. Is every member of the committee who wishes

to vote voted? The clerk will report.

 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Mr. Chairman, there are 23 ayes and 17 no`s.

 

NADLER:  The article is agreed to. The resolution is amended as ordered

reportedly favorably to the House.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

MELBER:  And there you have it. President Trump and the company of only

presidents Johnson, Nixon and Bill Clinton. As Judiciary Committee voting

to impeach this 45th president on abuse of power and obstruction of

Congress.

 

As you heard the chairman say there, the vote 23 to 17 party line. All

Republicans voting against, all Democrats voting for. Shortly after the

vote, House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler made a brief and pretty much

somber statement.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

NADLER:  Today is a solemn and sad day. For the third time in a little over

a century and a half, the House Judiciary Committee has voted articles of

impeachment against the president for abuse of power and obstruction of

Congress. The House will act expeditiously. Thank you.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

MELBER:  And they are acting expeditiously. Everyone is expecting another

party line vote on the floor of the House of Representatives. That is next

week. And then the president will have at least an asterisk on the

presidency which says basically this first-term president impeached for

abusing his office to pressure a foreign country to try to help him cheat

in the election.

 

That is where we begin, leading off our discussion is Democratic

Congresswoman Karen Bass of California, a member of that House Judiciary

Committee. Good evening to you.

 

REP. KAREN BASS (D-CA):  Thank you. Good evening.

 

MELBER:  We saw a lot and Americans really all over the place were watching

what happened in the House Judiciary hearings. The late night, the

adjournment, come back. When you take it all together, what do you think

people should focus on and understand just happened?

 

BASS:  Well, I hope that people focus on the gravity of this. I mean, this

was just an incredibly important day in our history, but understanding how

serious it was that the president abused the power of the office for his

own personal gain.

 

And to make it worse, he did it in order to fix or put a weight on the next

election in his favor. And if you go back and look at the history of when

the Constitution was being put together, impeachment was inserted in.

 

This is exactly what the framers were concerned about. They were concerned

about foreign intervention especially in an election and a president who

would take his authority to beyond – to an extreme and use it in an

abusive manner. And that`s exactly what has happened here and why we had to

resort to impeaching him.

 

MELBER:  What was it like other than what we saw in the room sort of going

in and going out with your colleagues given all the rancor with

Republicans?

 

BASS:  Well, I would tell you that there was no joy amongst the Democrats.

There was no joy at all. I think all of us feel the weight of history, feel

the seriousness of this decisions that we made.

 

But the other reason why it was so important for us to do this and why it

was so urgent is because we also feel as though we`re watching a crime

while it`s being committed. And so there was no reason in the world to

think that the president was going to stop.

 

You know that that infamous phone call was literally the day after Mueller

testified before the Judiciary Committee where clearly the president felt

emboldened that he could take it a step further and interfere in the next

election.

 

And that is just something that is unacceptable. So, if we had done nothing

I think it really would have been a tragedy to our democracy and we just

could not sit on your hands.

 

MELBER:  When you look towards the Senate trial assuming that the House

does vote on this next week, what are Americans to take from it apart from

the predictions or expectations about the ultimate outcome? What is the

point, as you say, of catching a crime as you put it in progress? What`s

the point of having a public trial and accountability for it?

 

BASS:  Well, as you know, the impeachment process is two-step process. So

what we did was essentially indict the president, and then we hand him over

to the Senate for trial. Now, here`s what I`m concerned about. The leader

of the Senate has basically said he is in lock step and he is going to

coordinate with the defendant.

 

And so if you can imagine going into a courtroom in a trial and the foreman

of the jury says, well, I`m working with the person that`s, you know, being

accused of the crime. And so it`s completely inappropriate. McConnell

should recuse himself.

 

But I really think it speaks to the way that Trump`s – the whole way he

has gone about his presidency, he`s kind of infected and contaminated the

culture where the Senate president could feel emboldened enough that he

could say yes, I`m going to put my foot on the scale.

 

I mean, boldly said that he is coordinating with the White House. How can a

juror coordinate with the defendant? That is corrupt.

 

MELBER:  You find it – you think he infects people. Is that why you don`t

hang out with him much, congresswoman?

 

BASS:  I don`t think we have much in common.

 

MELBER:  Well, as you say, there`s much to keep track of here and it`s

certainly true as we`re going to be covering tonight. The Senate appears

ready to dispense with traditions that it`s held for a long time,

apparently bowing to Trump, at least some Republican senators. We`re going

to get into that. Congresswoman Karen Bass, staying up late with us. Thank

you so much.

 

BASS:  Thanks for having me on.

 

MELBER:  We turn now to David Corn, Washington bureau chief for “Mother

Jones” and the author of “Russian Roulette” and Maria Teresa Kumar,

president and CEO of Voto Latino, both analysts here. David, what do you

think?

 

DAVID CORN, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, MOTHER JONES:  I think it was a

historic day. As you noted, the only president who`s ever been impeached or

almost impeached that will go to the House floor in his first term. And I

think, you know, a lot of the screaming at least for the moment is over.

 

I assume there`ll be more when we get to the House floor, but having sat

through those hearings for several weeks, having been in the hearing room

for many of the days it was very disparaging to see Republicans just come

out and flat out deny reality.

 

You can argue whether this was impeachable, whether it gets to the level of

the ultimate political punishment, but they would just come out and say it

didn`t happen, there wasn`t a quid pro quo, there was nothing wrong. He

didn`t even ask Zelensky to investigate anyone or Biden.

 

All of those things are untrue. So now this sort of reality or distortion

campaign, a disinformation campaign on the part of Republicans at least has

a pause and I think the public – I don`t think there`s going to be a lot

of persuasion one way or the other.

 

But at least can reflect upon the fact that things have gotten to the point

where the Democrats felt they had no choice. As you know, House Democratic

leaders were not happy to rush into impeachment throughout this year. But

they felt they had no choice on the basis of the facts and the evidence

that they brought to bear on this.

 

MELBER:  Maria?

 

MARIA TERESA KUMAR, PRESIDENT AND CEO, VOTO LATINO:  I think the fact they

brought this to bear was because they recognized that if they do not

impeach the president, if they do not sound the alarm, our election

integrity is still vulnerable to foreign interference.

 

And what the Democrats are trying to do is make sure that the public

recognizes that this is an ongoing criminal investigation, that if the

president does not feel that he is going to be repudiated, he will continue

welcoming foreign interference.

 

What I do every day, Ari, is try and get people to register to participate

and to vote. And if they feel that their vote is not being recognized and

not being respected. That undermines the underpinnings of our democracy of

participation.

 

Their choice to go forward is not small and every single person should be

watching what the Republicans decide to do on the Senate side. The

Republican`s job, according to the Constitution on the Senate side is to

hear a trial, to be impartial and to listen to the facts. That is their

job.

 

The fact that Mitch McConnell right now is saying that he`s going to do a

dotted line of whatever the White House says, shame on him because he`s

abdicating his duty, he`s abdicating what the voters are expecting of a

true public servant to this country.

 

 

MELBER:  Yes. And David, I`m curious as we watched those hearings, you

know, Washington is a place where you can`t take a lot at face value. So

you had a lot of Republicans in those hearings wanting the country to think

that this was some sort of farce that they`re uniformly opposed to because

that`s their political incentive.

 

And yet there may be some who privately resent that the president brought

them into this mess and that they have to do this type of defense of the

party. There may be some who secretly think maybe it`s good that Donald

Trump is getting a hard time of it, although they can`t obviously admit

that to their conservative base.

 

And then there`s the president and his aides themselves, David, who you

know very recently were claiming and it would appear to be lying and saying

that impeachment would be good. It would be good for them politically,

bring it on, that sort of, you know, fake bravado.

 

And now you have this reporting and is backed up by Donald Trump breaking

his own record of most tweets ever in a day as he lashes out angrily. I

mean he`s not –

 

KUMAR:  You can`t make it up.

 

MELBER:  He`s no longer holding back and pretending he`s not angry. Let me

read you from this interesting “Times” account that says, “Donald Trump is

nursing this resentment over the red mark about to be tat tattooed in the

history books as only the third president in American history to be

impeached. No matter what some of his critics say, advisers said he

genuinely does not want to be impeached, viewing it as a personal

humiliation.” You think?

 

Even in private, the article continues, “he accepts no blame, expresses no

regrets, but he rails against the enemies he sees all around him. I don`t

know if you finished succession, David, on HBO.

 

CORN: Yes. Yes.

 

MELBER:  No spoilers, but there is a scene where you see someone who`s a

hardball person hurt by someone else`s hardball and they at least take some

pride in the fact that the other person could finally stand up. And you

have to wonder if deep down Donald Trump who takes no blame whatsoever is

looking at his political opponents and understanding, oh, wow, they`re

actually standing up to him and he says he feels humiliated.

 

CORN:  Listen, we`ve talked about this in the past. Donald Trump is a

pathological narcissist. He does care – in fact, the only thing he

probably cares about is how he is seen, that is how he believes he is seen.

 

So one reason he is in this impeachment imbroglio now is because of the

Russia scandal. He tried to get Zelensky not just to look at Biden but to

investigate a debunked conspiracy theory that said Russia did not hack the

election to help Donald Trump.

 

And it was Ukraine and it was all craziness. Because he knows his

presidency is tainted and it has a partial degree of illegitimacy because

of the Russian intervention that he refuses to acknowledge. He can`t even

talk about protecting this country from another possible attack in 2020

(INAUDIBLE) anybody else (INAUDIBLE) that issue.

 

MELBER:  A partial degree of illegitimacy. I`ve never heard you be so

restrained, David.

 

CORN:  It`s a historic day. I`m trying to be somber, but my point is that

he does care about these things and this mark is serious. He can trivialize

it as petty partisanship, but it is serious and, you know, the historic

record – the current record which will become the historical record is

clear for anybody to study for what he did and what the people around him

did.

 

And it`s rather damning already and that`s even before we find out what the

SNDY (ph) in New York has on Rudy Giuliani and all those other people who

were working on Trump`s behalf.

 

MELBER:  Yes, Maria, I wonder if you can speak to the way David brings it

all together, which is that history now will have an inflection point of

oh, what did people do to stand up to X, Y, Z and how did the system work

and when and how was this president who did so many things that defied

norms and literally has multiple advisers incarcerated right now, some for

things they did for him, Michael Cohen, some for things they did for the

Ukrainians and Russians while working for him, Paul Manafort, others who

lied and may or may not have been for the president, it would seem today of

all days as along with the House vote next week, is an inflection point

where history will take stock of what exactly happen and who stood up to

this president.

 

KUMAR:  This is a challenge, right. Our last impeachment was a tabloid

impeachment. It was President Clinton being impeached for sexual relations

with a consenting adult.

 

This is completely different. This actually has the vulnerability of the

republic on its hands. And for Republicans to sit idly by and basically

trying to wash their hands as Pontius Pilate pretending that it`s business

as usual, that is not the case.

 

And when we start talking about the real Russian interference to dismantle

our democracy, we should all have not only our hair on fire, but also be

incredibly saddened.

 

When Fiona Hill spoke to Congress and she said that she was both angry and

sad, I think she was talking about so many Americans right now. There

cannot (INAUDIBLE) are staring in disbelief, regardless of party, to see a

president and to see like a whole party not standing up for our values.

 

And it is the Democrats that are doing it despite not wanting to because

they know that there`s an election in the horizon. They know that it seems

incredibly partisan, but if they don`t do it, then they are not standing up

to the rule of law as determined by the Constitution. This is not small.

 

MELBER:  Not small at all. Maria Teresa Kumar and David Corn, my thanks to

both of you. Coming up, we have a deeper dive into what we`ve been

discussing. What are the actual standards from Mitch McConnell? Is he

breaching his oath of office when he says he`s going to do the defense work

of this president?

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

MELBER:  In the impeachment trial which is expected if the House passes

this impeachment of President Trump this next week, the senators serve as

jurors. And they take an oath to be impartial. That`s important context for

what you`re about to see. Senate Majority Mitch McConnell on Sean Hannity

last night.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY):  Everything I do during this, I`m coordinating

with White House counsel. There will be no difference between the

president`s position and our position as to how to handle this.

 

There is no chance the president is going to be removed from office. My

hope is that there won`t be a single Republican who votes for either of

these articles of impeachment.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

MELBER:  There you have essentially the jury foreman in this very serious

constitutional process announcing he`s going to have the defendant dictate

the trial, and thus obviously if you control the rules you may control the

verdict.

 

Norm Ornstein, a long time measured voice in Washington responding thus,

“McConnell`s stunning and outrageous admission that he`s in the tank

already for Trump on the trial rules is a flat violation of the oath he

will take as a juror. If a jury foreman in a murder trial was found to have

worked closely with the defense he would be prosecuted.”

 

Strong words. McConnell though, and this is important, knows what he`s

doing. In fact, he`s taken this very oath administered by the chief justice

on the Senate floor to be impartial before. So he has every reason to know

what he`s saying today is public announcement that guts or even violates

the oath he is about to take. Here it was in the impeachment trial of

Clinton.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

WILLIAM REHNQUIST, CHIEF JUSTICE, UNITED STATES SUPREME COURT:  Will all

senators now stand and raise your right hand. You will do impartial justice

according to the Constitution and laws so help you God.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

MELBER:  Joining us now is that historian, Norman Ornstein, a contributor

to the Atlantic and a resident scholar at the right leaning American

Enterprise Institute, as well as Joyce Vance, former U.S. attorney and an

MSNBC legal analyst. Tell me your thinking, Norm.

 

NORMAN ORNSTEIN, CONGRESSIONAL HISTORIAN:  You know I was gob smacked by

this. Not that I expected McConnell was going to follow the facts and where

they would lead, which would be to remove Donald Trump from office. This is

a partisan process. It`s going to be a partisan process.

 

But to basically admit before you even start the trial that it`s rigged is

just quite astonishing. And in a way it reminds me of Donald Trump in the

campaign saying, Russia, if you`re listening get the e-mails followed by

just a few weeks ago, China, if you are listening get me dirt on Biden.

 

It`s – I`m going to say it right out in the open and what are you going to

do about it? And I would add just one thing to this, Ari, which is I`m not

sure that every Republican in the Senate is going to rejoice when they see

this clip because they`re still going to have to vote on the rules, and

they`re going to have to vote if there`s going to be any witnesses.

 

Whether if the chief justice says for example that the House managers can

call in Mick Mulvaney or Rudy Giuliani, they can vote by simple majority to

block that, which wouldn`t look too good for them. And you`ve got a half-

dozen Republicans in the senate up in 2020 who may not want to be put in

that position.

 

MELBER:  Joyce, I want to play something from Senator Byron Dorgen who was

also around during that Clinton impeachment, talking about the different

approach that even the Democratic leaders took there. They were in some

touch at times obviously with the White House and their party, but they

didn`t do what McConnell is doing. They had a different approach. Take a

look.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

BYRON DORGAN (D-ND), FORMER UNITED STATES SENATOR:  We developed a template

for how to go to this trial and how to conduct the trial, and we had two

leaders, Senator Daschle and Senator Lott, respected each other. And they

wanted to make sure this was done the right way and done in a way that was

bipartisan. And that`s exactly the way it happened. Now, obviously the

senate is very different place.

 

MELBER:  Sure. But just to hit the point, did the then Democratic leader,

Senator Daschle, did he say publicly or did he privately intimate to your

caucus that he was coordinating everything with the White House?

 

DORGAN:  No, not at all. I mean, nothing like this.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

MELBER:  Joyce? Joyce?

 

JOYCE VANCE, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY:  I`m sorry.  I couldn`t hear you, Ari.

Say again?

 

MELBER:  I just called on you for your response to the whole issue the we

were playing if you could hear it, Senator Dorgan`s response.

 

VANCE:  Yes. I did and, you know, like Norm, I was gob smacked last night

when I first saw this tape. It was very difficult to process that the

leader of the Senate went on national television and vowed to violate the

oath of office that he was going to take when impeachment proceedings

started.

 

And as I have watched it over and over today I`m even more disbelieving

than I was the first time that I saw it. Of course, we know that`s not how

the Clinton process worked. It is of course inherently a political process.

 

But what happened during Clinton was much more in line with our

expectations. The problem going into impeachment after having McConnell

take this sort of a vow is there`s no way that Trump can truly be

exonerated. Even if the Senate votes to acquit him, it`s a rigged jury.

It`s not an acquittal.

 

MELBER:  Yes. It`s such a great point because it is instructive to the fact

that all of this, Norm, appears to be a blatant power play. You go on

Hannity to assure everyone, don`t worry, there`s not even a pretense or a

head fake at this being a real process.

 

Now, again, whether every Republican senator or other senators goes along

is a different question, but this is the tone McConnell is setting. And I

just want to read because it does matter particularly not only does it

matter under the law, but people who say they are originalists or

conservative about the text or they care about their duties under the

Constitution.

 

I want to read this oath for Senate trials which says, “I solemnly swear or

affirm in all things appertaining to the trial in this impeachment now

pending I will do impartial justice according to the Constitution and laws,

so help me God.”

 

Norm, do you see it as important for people to actually dig into this point

which is about process separate from what you think Trump did and really

raise the fact that you have a senator – one senator, maybe more appearing

to be planning to stand up and swear to something they don`t believe?

 

ORNSTEIN:  And not just any senator, Ari. He`s the majority leader of the

Senate. And when you go on Hannity`s show which is critical place for the

followers of Donald Trump and in effect say I`m rigging this process and

I`m going to try and make sure that every other Republican goes along, it`s

putting pressure on them as well.

 

You know, how this plays out is going to be a curious thing, but, boy, if I

were the Democrats in the Senate I would be raising holy hell every minute

about this. As Joyce said, the Clinton impeachment was inherently

political, but the members tried to follow the facts, they had votes and in

some cases disagreed on what witnesses to call, but they set a fair process

in place.

 

And we had Republicans who decided after hearing the facts that it didn`t

rise to the level of impeachment, and Democrats who decided that it did.

We`re not going to see any of that at this point, and it`s just further

poisoning of a process and one that Mitch McConnell has basically blown up

over the last decade or more in the Senate. There isn`t a norm remaining in

the body that he hasn`t taken on.

 

MELBER:  Well, and you got to wonder where`s Chuck Schumer on all this. I

mean, Mitch McConnell`s out doing his T.V. laps and making himself clear.

Speaker Pelosi obviously got her caucus together in a process. Does Chuck

Schumer get out front? Does he lead on this? Does he take on this person?

And, you know, it`s not a hard argument to make.

 

You say would Mitch McConnell want to be judged this way by a judge, you

know, if it was rigged? Would anyone trust a process like this? And if the

answer`s no, then obviously they`re falling down. Norm Ornstein, thank you

very much. Joyce, I`m going to come back to you. I have one other story to

get to with you so hang tight.

 

Rudy Giuliani back at the White House today, meeting with Donald Trump as

the impeachment march moved forward and promising even more on Ukraine.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): This is not just about prior conduct. It`s not

just about although it would be more than enough, the President inviting

Russia to interfere, then trying to coax Ukraine to interfere.

 

It is about what is going on today as the President and his allies continue

to try to invite foreign interference in our election. It never stopped. It

never will stop unless we put an end to it. And so this is a continuing

risk to our democracy.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: And you can apply that standard right now. What was

Donald Trump doing today? Well, the answer is, meeting with his lawyer

slash Ukrainian fixer who is brazenly continuing to seek this investigation

or dirt on Trump`s opponents which is of course, what got Donald Trump so

close to impeachment in the first place.

 

This morning Giuliani meeting with the President at the White House while

the House Judiciary Committee approved those two articles of impeachment.

Giuliani also fresh off a trip back to Ukraine where he pushed debunked

conspiracy theories.

 

The Wall Street Journal reported when Giuliani returned to New York last

Saturday the President called him as his plane was still taxiing down the

runway, and Giuliani - according to Giuliani and then the question was,

what did you get, Mr. Trump asked, “more than you can imagine,” Mr.

Giuliani replied.

 

The same day President Trump spoke highly about Giuliani`s efforts in

Ukraine.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

REPORTER: Did Rudy Giuliani tell you he was going to be in Europe this

week?

 

DONALD J. TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, I just know he came

back from someplace that he`s going to make a report, I think to the

Attorney General and the Congress. He says he has a lot of good

information. I have not spoken to him about that information.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

MELBER: And despite being on a federal investigation of whether he failed

to register as a foreign agent among other enquiries, the Journal also

reports, Giuliani`s expanded his search for information about Burisma

beyond Ukraine to Latvia, where the gas company had bank accounts and

Cyprus, where it`s formally registered.

 

We turn now to someone who`s covered Rudy Giuliani closely. Clyde Haberman,

long-time columnist for The New York Times. He`s got a new piece out in

BuzzFeed, `Ask any New Yorker: Rudy Giuliani was always this Bad.`

 

Clarity an important thing in headlines. Also back with us for a federal

prosecutor Joyce Vance. Before I get to New York history, I go right to you

Joyce on the legality. Obviously Mr. Giuliani is unbowed by this

investigation as he continues.

 

Do you see legal problems here?

 

JOYCE VANCE, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY: Yes, you know this is incredible for so

many reasons. Giuliani is not a federal employee. He doesn`t operate under

any of the federal ethics laws. He`s just off freelancing for the President

in a foreign country, doing work that we would normally expect maybe the

Justice Department to be doing or some other legitimate government agency.

 

So that I think is problematic. The source of Giuliani`s payment always has

remained a mystery. We know from a New York Times story today, that the

government didn`t disclose any sort of free legal work and yet he`s not

paying Giuliani. So the question is who is.

 

We know that he was working with Lev Parnas who received at least $1

million payment from Russian sources so there`s a lot of murkiness there.

The real question though Ari is would this Justice Department hold Giuliani

accountable for wrongdoing if in fact that evidence came to light in course

of their investigation.

 

MELBER: Yes and that is a big question. I turn now here in New York to

Clyde. Nice to see you this evening.

 

CLYDE HABERMAN, FORMER COLUMNIST, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Nice to be here.

 

MELBER: I, as I watched Giuliani go back to Ukraine in Kiev, I`m reminded

of another New York poet, the late great, Notorious B. I. G. You remember

him?

 

HABERMAN: Yes. I do.

 

MELBER: Who said going, going back, back to Kiev, Kiev in this instance. I

want to read from your article which looks at Giuliani as a New York

figure. You say this is how he`s always been. The reality as clear-eyed New

Yorkers can tell you. This is the same tower of truculence Giuliani has

always been, a kiss-up, kick-down kind of guy fittingly described by Jimmy

Breslin as “a small man in search of a balcony.”

 

HABERMAN: Yes, well, that`s basically it. Nothing is really changed. You

know, he enjoyed a good period right after the 9/11/2001 terror attack but

insurance, his MO has always been to throw dirt on opponents, to cast them

as morally deficient somehow if not outright corrupt and evil.

 

And can I say, this business where he`s saying to the President you know,

we`re finding more than you can imagine, it`s very, very Trumpy and you may

remember that when Trump was going after Obama and this nonsense about a

Obama not having been born in the United States, he supposedly had

investigators out all over the world to find Obama`s true origins and he

said, you know they`re - they can`t believe what they`re finding.

 

A classic Trump line, can`t believe what they`re finding. Nobody sensibly

believes that they found anything even if these investigations existed and

so now suddenly we`re hearing almost exact same language, more than you can

imagine. I don`t believe it.

 

And as far as you know the history, there`s some terrible things that he

did to people. In that article, I recall one in particular. There was a

fellow named Patrick Dorismond who was coming out of the bar in Midtown

Manhattan and a team of New York City undercover cops looking to make

arrests approached him and asked him if he knew where they could buy - they

could buy marijuana.

 

I guess Dorismond may have been a bit of a hot-head. He took offense. One

thing led to another, there was a scuffle, the next you know the cop had a

gun out, which is undercover cops and Dorismond was lying dead on the

pavement. What Rudy Giuliani did almost immediately with his then Police

Commission, I would say for, ethnically - ethically suspect if not

technically illegal was that Dorismond did have a juvenile delinquency

record.

 

They open up this juvie record to show that he was not in Giuliani`s word

an altar boy when in fact Dorismond had been an altar boy. In fact even

attended the same Catholic school that Giuliani was in - done.

 

But this is the modus operandi of this guy for his entire career. It`s -

it`s be smirch where you have to and just let the dirt fall where it may.

 

MELBER: And you think briefly that he and Trump, in your view are kindred

spirit in that ugliness?

 

HABERMAN: Absolutely. I mean it`s - it`s - it`s always combative, it is

always the world - the world`s against us, it`s taking credit for things

that you never did. Again, in that article, in 1994, his first year in

office, he gave a speech in Washington in which he claimed credit for

having rid the city of graffiti scarred subway cars.

 

The last graffiti scarred cubs subway car was taken out of service nearly

five full years before he even became Mayor and this goes on–

 

MELBER: Right, you`re talking about the combination of being fact-free,

having a mean streak, abusing power and you combine that all together,

working for Donald Trump and you say, it`s a dangerous brew.

 

Whether or not it`s going to be held accountable in the very office used to

run is one of the big questions hanging over not over New York these days

as you know but probably the nation. Clyde Haberman, a long time New York

Times legend, nice to have here in our studio.

 

HABERMAN: Nice to be here. Thank you.

 

MELBER: Appreciate it. My thanks to Joyce Vance as well in the segment.

We`re going to fit in a break but when we come back articles of impeachment

drafted passed by the committee but the investigation of the President`s

actions and its administration including these Ukraine issues is actually

ongoing.

 

We have news tonight on how new evidence is just hit into the Judiciary

Committee record. We`ll explain.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

MELBER: Today, the Judiciary Committee formally recommended impeaching

Donald Trump for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress but the

investigation into the freezing of that military aid to Ukraine continues

in the investigating committees as well as in and this is interesting, in

the courts.

 

Tonight we have an update on some evidence entered into the record, last

night.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The center for public integrity student federal court

for documents related to the Ukraine scandal and this is what they`ve got.

They won in court but what they got were heavily redacted documents. Why?

 

Because the President doesn`t want these documents to see the light of day.

I ask for unanimous consent Chairman to enter these documents into the

record.

 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Without objection.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

MELBER: And now we`re joined by Dave Levinthal, the editor-at-large for the

Center for Public Integrity which did sue the administration as mentioned.

What did you get? What more do you need?

 

DAVE LEVINTHAL, EDITOR-AT-LARGE, THE CENTER FOR PUBLIC INTEGRITY: We didn`t

get much in the sense that as you saw right there, from the clip that the

documents that we did get about 146 pages worth of them were heavily

redacted and many of the conversations that were happening between members

of the department of defense and the White House`s office of management and

budget conversations that could have been that tantamount of some very

interesting stuff directly related to the Ukraine situation.

 

We just don`t have access to. We went back to court today, filed a motion

to effectively tell the judge, hey look, we got to keep working on this and

come Tuesday, we`re going to have another bite at the apple.

 

MELBER: Are the Democrats also using their congressional subpoenas to try

to get the same stuff?

 

LEVINTHAL: Yes indeed. In fact, I had these documents been released without

the redactions, we may have had more information than even congressional

investigators have had and this really speaks to–

 

MELBER: And then - Yes, let me get your one other point here because folks

may have heard, the White House finally put out an alternative explanation

to why the money was frozen and said it wasn`t to get the Bidens. It was

for legitimate foreign policy, yada yada.

 

It would seem that if these redactions were removed, the underlying

material, if it`s valid could show whether that`s an after the fact sort of

lie or whether if it were true, there was contemporaneously letters like

this that supported it from the time. I mean is that part of your argument?

 

LEVINTHAL: Well, Donald Trump earlier this year Ari said that he is the

most transparent President in the history of the United States. It seems

like this would be an opportune time for him if in fact that is the case

and that is true for him to compel his own administration to release this

information that we`re trying to great deal of light and provide a great

deal of transparency into an issue that`s at the heart of the impeachment

inquiry.

 

And the ultimate impeachment that`s going to likely happen next week of the

President. He hasn`t done that at this point and we`re going to continue to

fight in court in order for the public to have the right to know what this

information in fact entails.

 

MELBER: Dave Levinthal, thank you so much for joining. Six months ago

before Donald Trump even call the President of Ukraine to ask for a favor,

a member of Congress from a swing state said on the Last Word, a fight had

broken out at a bagel shop over the very issue of impeaching Trump over the

Mueller report.

 

Well, lots changed in six months. What about in Michigan, instead of

Washington? I`m going to ask that lawmaker coming up. But I want to show

you something else very important around here especially to Lawrence

O`Donnell.

 

Take a look at Lawrence with a quick holiday reminder.

 

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Thanks Ari. With just eleven days of

Christmas shopping left, we want to remind you about Kids in Need of Desks,

the partnership that I created with UNICEF and MSNBC to deliver desks to

schools in Malawi where the kids have never seen desks.

 

You can go to lastworddesks.msnbc.com and give a desk in name of anyone on

your holiday gift list and UNICEF will send that person, a notification of

the gift that you have given in their name.

 

You can choose to contribute any amount toward the purchase of the desk or

to a scholarship fund for girls to attend high school in Malawi where

public high school is not free. No contribution is too small. Thank you for

your kindness.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

MELBER: Members of Congress including those representing Trump districts

will spend this weekend deciding whether they vote to impeach the

President, formally. Already, several frontline freshman Democrats have

announced, they are backing impeachment.

 

Now in June, this was months before the Ukraine scheme broke open to the

public, right here in the Last Word we spoke with Michigan Congresswoman

Debbie Dingell about these divided politics of impeachment, including how

people felt about consequences for the Mueller probe and then she told us a

story about what happened in her bagel shop.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

REP. DEBBIE DINGELL (D-MI): I went to a bagel place with a group of men

that I`ve had breakfast with for 20 years. By the time I left the bagel

restaurant today, the entire bagel place had somehow become involved and

either side of where they stood on people.

 

I had got yelled at by somebody. Other people came and defended me. Someone

screamed at me about we need to impeach, somebody else started screaming

and I thought what are we coming to. When you can`t go to get your bagel

and not have people actually yelling at each other inside a bagel place.

That`s how divided this country is.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

MELBER: I mean if you like bagels, it`s an especially disturbing story,

isn`t it? Well, why are we showing you this tonight? A very good reason.

When we come back Congresswoman Dingle is here and we`re going to check

back in on the mood in the bagel shop.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

MELBER: On Tuesday, the House will vote on the rules of debate ahead of

this vote to impeach Donald Trump that could come as early as Wednesday.

Where will Donald Trump be? He will be back in Michigan holding a rally

that`s a state he won in 2016 by 3 percent that had previously been blue by

point 0. 3 percent, I mean.

 

According to latest Michigan poll which was conducted last month at the

height of the impeachment testimony, 55 percent of registered voters there

were disapproving of the job Donald Trump was doing.

 

As promised we now turn back to Congresswoman Debbie Dingell, Democrat from

Michigan, senior Democratic Whip and someone who knows a good bagel when

she sees one. How you doing?

 

DINGELL: I`m doing OK. How are you doing?

 

MELBER: I`m all right. We showed you talking to us here on the Last Word

about the impeachment fight that broke out in a bagel shop. Give us an

update on that. What`s going on in Michigan? How the entire perhaps sad

state of having to impeach the President, some of your colleagues have put

it is how it`s playing out?

 

DINGELL: So this is a group of men that I had practiced with as often as I

can for 20 years and a couple of more similar incidences to the ones that I

described to you that June. I haven`t been able to go in because it was

getting so contentious and people were screaming at each other so loudly.

 

And I miss them but they don`t agree with me on impeachment and you know, I

live in a district, Michigan`s divided, anything could happen here in the

state in next November.

 

The one observation I`ll make is that nobody`s afraid to tell you what they

think but even today in Target, I had at least 20 people come up to me this

morning to give me their opinion. Some were violently against, some were

saying get rid of them and a lot of people just thanked me for my service

and expressed a concern about what was happening to our country.

 

MELBER: First of all, not an endorsement but love Target.

 

DINGELL: Me too.

 

MELBER: Because I find they have reasonable prices, scented candles, the

decor, you know, there`s a lot, you end up getting more than you thought

you`re going to get when you go in there.

 

DINGELL: Yes, you do.

 

MELBER: But that`s neither here nor there is it?

 

DINGELL: No.

 

MELBER: The people coming up to you, did you find anyone who seems to have

changed - genuinely changed their mind. We were preparing for the segment

and looking back at your evolution and you didn`t start out demanding

impeachment no matter what.

 

You didn`t demand in the middle of Mueller probe. In September though, you

said look, the country is divided but we cannot be divided anymore on the

rule of law and as elected official your oath on national security and the

constitution you cite, you say given “the recent revelations you now

support an impeachment inquiry.”

 

It seems that you did something that is so rare that you said was maybe

happening less - less often these days which is you didn`t oppose Donald

Trump to the degree that you would just do anything to get rid of him but

then you responded to new facts specifically on Ukraine.

 

DINGELL: So I would say that I`ve seen some people expressed concern about

national security but I am concerned about - I`m more concerned now today

than I was even about the division, six months ago. I still haven`t - this

weekend I`m going to sit down, read the Intelligence Committee report

again, read what`s come out of Judiciary and I have not told people what

I`m going to do though I am deeply disturbed by what I have seen at

watching the hearings and reading the report.

 

So you can probably guess where I`m going to go because nobody is above the

rule of law and I do believe that Russia is trying to divide us. I wish

more of us were talking about how people are trying to pit us against each

other and how successful they are being.

 

And it`s not just our country. Intelligence agencies and other democracies

are reporting however Russia is trying to destabilize democracies around

the world and we`re just playing into those camps. So in some ways, I can`t

wait for this to be over.

 

MELBER: Right and–

 

DINGELL: And we`ve got to come together and both of us, Republicans who are

feeling they don`t want to touch this, Democrats, we got to find a way to

come together and work on the issue like prescription drug prices.

 

MELBER: We`ve got - we`ve got just 30 seconds. That`s the last thing I want

to ask you about jobs in Michigan and the trade deal, your view on where

all that`s headed.

 

DINGELL: Well, I think people are waiting to see the written which I

actually understand is come out. UAW is not is happy the progress is been

made. I think it`s even contributing to the continued division, what`s

better, what are we compromised on?

 

For me, I guess the last thing I`ll say tonight is compromised isn`t a

dirty word if we`re making progress. I think we got to work together to

remember we`re Americans as we go into 2020 and Americans first not party

members.

 

MELBER: Very interesting and goes the point that you and others have argued

about whether this Congress under Speaker Pelosi`s leadership can hold the

President accountable and also do deals, it`s a big issue I know in

Michigan and in a lot of parts of the country.

 

So we`ll be watching as you say what the deal is and how you all vote.

Congresswoman DINGELL, always good to have you. Thanks for joining us this

Friday night.

 

DINGELL: Thank you.

 

MELBER: Appreciate it. There is a lot happening and I want to let everyone

know we`re going to have a new Impeachment Special this Sunday night. I`m

anchoring at 9 P. M. Eastern on MSNBC so I hope you mark your calendars.

 

There`s a lot going on but by Sunday night, we`re going to have a lot to

show you. Also you can always catch me Ari, weeknights, 6 P.M. Eastern on

The Beat. This week I have Maya Wiley, Thomas Friedman and a very special

interview with the legendary musician Yaseen Bay.

 

That`s later this week if you keep your eye on The Beat. Thanks as always

for watching the Last Word. Lawrence will be back and don`t go anywhere

because The Eleventh Hour with Brian Williams starts now.

 

 

END   

 

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