House votes to impeach President Trump. TRANSCRIPT: 12/18/19, The Last Word w/ Lawrence O’Donnell.
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Rachel.
And, of course, we`re going to hang on every word the chairman had to say
about what is happening with the naming of managers for the Senate trial.
And does Nancy Pelosi have a way of negotiating with Mitch McConnell to get
a fair trial?
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST, “TRMS”: The issue of McConnell`s strategic
thinking on this is a little bit of a black box. Lots of leaks, lots of,
you know, competing arguments between the White House and McConnell`s camp
supposedly. We do know that McConnell is going to speak tomorrow about
what he`s calling an unprecedented impeachment, which I think is him trying
to unlock the door that says he should follow previous precedent for the
way the Senate trial is conducted for President Clinton.
But this is – I mean, Nancy Pelosi is good at this game as is Mitch
McConnell. She does hold some cards here. Nobody has ever tried to
leverage the conveying of articles of impeachment between two houses.
I mean, we saw history and drama tonight, but now, there is a whole new
drama that is going to be fascinating to watch.
O`DONNELL: Yes, and we saw it at that brief news conference Speaker Pelosi
had with Chairman Schiff and other chairman where she was asked very
clearly about are you sending the articles over, and she would not commit
to even sending the articles over. And that fits with what Harvard Law
professor Laurence Tribe, the case he`s been making. He made it in a
“Washington Post” op-ed piece.
We know that he`s conferred with other House Judiciary Committee members
and other House members about this possibility of holding the articles in
the house until Mitch McConnell agrees to a form of trial that the House
thinks is fair. And so, that`s – we`re in middle of that drama right now.
That drama is under way.
MADDOW: That`s under way as of right now. And if you think about the
president right now, I mean the president as a man, he`s never had very
many accountability moments in his life. He`s never really gotten in
trouble for very many things.
He`s gotten into scrapes, but he`s always gotten way of them. I mean,
declaring bankruptcy is not exactly getting in trouble. But he`s in
trouble, and this is a place that he`s sort of never been. We don`t
exactly now how he`s going to react.
But the way it stands right now, he`s been impeached as only the third U.S.
president to ever have that happen to, he`s not mounted a defense and he`s
articulated a desire to mount a robust defense in the Senate. That cannot
happen, that cannot start until the Senate trial starts, and the Senate
trial can`t start without the articles.
So if the president really wants to mount this defense because he can`t
stand twisting in the wind as an impeached undefended president, then,
Nancy Pelosi and Donald Trump may be pulling in the same direction here.
O`DONNELL: Yes, and inside the House, Congressman Blumenauer has been the
one who`s been pushing this idea about hold the articles until McConnell
agrees with what is basically now the Schumer request, about how to conduct
the trial. Congressman Blumenauer actually said this on the House floor
today when he was making his speech in favor of the articles of
impeachment. He`s going to join us in this hour and tell us exactly what
he can tell us at this stage about the momentum for this idea.
Something`s happening, Rachel, because Nancy Pelosi could very simply have
answered of course the articles prepared. We will be delivering them
tomorrow. It is absolutely routine when the House of Representatives
passes something that virtually immediately gets delivered to the House.
There have been instances where it`s physically been run over to the Senate
after it passes the House and sometimes the other way from the Senate to
For her to just leave that and not answer the question about when, when do
the articles get to the Senate tonight means this is drama is absolutely on
the Earl Blumenauer idea – has life. Something is happening with it
tonight. We`re going to find out what he can tell us about it, and we`ll
know more tomorrow.
MADDOW: And – I mean, just moments ago more fuel for that thesis of
yours, which is me asking Congressman Schiff of what`s going on with that
and him saying, I`m not going to speak to the speaker`s timing and I am not
going to talk about what happens next with the Senate trial. We are
focused on what happened tonight.
I mean, he`s the one who`s raised the most pointed questions in leadership
for from the podium tonight, standing next to Nancy Pelosi about the Senate
is going to do. And for him to refuse to engage on that at all, leaving
those questions more pointed than ever, I mean, you – I think you are onto
something. I think what you`re talking about is what`s going on.
O`DONNELL: And there was another big clue today with Steny Hoyer actually
telling reporters on “Politico”, yes, that`s something we`ve been
discussing. And Steny Hoyer is the dead center of the establishment
leadership thinking in the House. For him to admit that it was under
discussion was surprising to me.
Twenty-four hours ago, Rachel, I would have said to you, oh, impossible.
There`s just – it can`t be done, it won`t happen, and we`re watching it
MADDOW: We`re watching it happen. And it`s going to happen overnight and
it`s going to happen tomorrow morning. It`s going to happen over the
course of the day. This is – I mean, there was unexpected drama today for
what seemed like it should have been just a forgone conclusion. There was
a lot of drama today, but it continues.
O`DONNELL: Thank you, Rachel.
MADDOW: Thanks, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: Well, this is the most important day in the Trump presidency
because this is the day that Donald Trump officially became a marked man
forever. Donald Trump is now a marked man in history. He will wear the
scarlet letter “I” forever in history, the impeached Donald Trump.
And I`ll have much more to say about that and what that means for our
history, for our democracy and how we got to this hugely important historic
moment in a special last word at the end of this hour.
We begin tonight with some of the people who cast votes to impeach the
president of the United States. Donald Trump is now the third president in
history to be impeached. Donald Trump is the first Republican president to
be impeached by the House of Representatives. Donald Trump is the first
president to be impeached in his first term.
All but three Democrats voted to impeach the president. No Republicans
voted to impeach the president. The only independent in the House, Justin
Amash, who left the Republican Party after he announced his support for
impeachment based on the Mueller report voted in favor of both articles of
Leading off our discussion tonight is Democratic Congressman Sean Patrick
Maloney of New York who cast his votes in favor of both articles of
impeachment tonight. He is a member of the House Intelligence Committee.
We`re also joined by Ambassador Wendy Sherman, former undersecretary of
state. She`s an MSNBC global affairs contributor.
And John Heilemann is with us. He`s a national affairs analyst for NBC
News and MSNBC. He`s the editor-in-chief of “The Recount”.
Congressman Maloney, what was it like today to go through that marathon
session on the house floor ending with those two votes?
REP. SEAN PATRICK MALONEY (D-NY): Well, it was a day of history on the
House floor, but not one of celebration. I think most of us are crystal
clear that it`s not good for the country that this president or any
president would engage in this misconduct resulting in impeachment. So
it`s a somber day but one I think that we feel – we feel proud about
because we`ve done something important. We`ve made a contribution to
preserving what`s best about the United States and our institutions and our
traditions, and we are going to hold the president accountable.
O`DONNELL: Eighty-five days, we are only 85 days away from Nancy Pelosi
announcing the official impeachment inquiry. I for one have never seen
something like this move through the House of Representatives with such
precision and such speed and such clear coordination between committees,
members of the leadership, chairmen, members of the committee like
Tonight, when we got to that point that would seem to be routine, that
question in the press conference with Nancy Pelosi about sending the
articles to the Senate, which seems like the next high-speed move, we don`t
quite know where we are. Can you enlighten us what`s going on inside the
House of Representatives and with the Democrats about sending to the Senate
and naming managers and negotiating with Mitch McConnell in the process?
MALONEY: Well, I think what you`re seeing the speakers say is that the
American people have a right to expect a fair process in the Senate and
that she cannot exercise her responsibilities in terms of appointing
managers and the other things she must now do without some sense of what
the Senate is going to do. The sent has to do its work. It`s bad enough
that the sent has sat on hundreds of bills the House has passed and that
Mitch McConnell brags about the Grim Reaper.
But here, he needs to lay out a procedure so that the speaker can take the
step she needs to move forward. And all she`s saying is this should be a
fair process. The American public has a right to expect that. I don`t
think anyone seriously contemplating not transmitting articles to the
Senate. We take our responsibilities seriously, but we have a right to
O`DONNELL: But, Congressman, are you contemplating holding back those
articles until there`s an agreement with Mitch McConnell?
MALONEY: I am not going to get ahead on the speaker on this. That is her
decision to make. Anybody who`s watched Nancy Pelosi throughout this
process has seen her strength and the resolution with which she has
discharged her duties. She`s kept her caucus together. She`s passing
major pieces of legislation, lowering prescription drug costs, a budget, a
defense bill, an intelligence bill, a major trade deal.
Tomorrow will do more to protect state and local property tax deductions
and she`s upholding the Constitution.
Nancy Pelosi doesn`t need any help from me. But what she`s saying is Mitch
McConnell has to be fair.
O`DONNELL: Wendy Sherman, as a former under secretary of state, in your
youth, you watched the Nixon impeachment investigation by the House
Judiciary Committee. You then saw President Clinton`s impeachment by the
House of Representatives. In all of that, I imagine that you never
expected to see both another impeachment of a president ever but an
impeachment of a president that is based on his conduct with another
country, with an ally in which he was trying to get a foreign country to do
him a favor though for his presidential campaign.
WENDY SHERMAN, MSNBC GLOBAL AFFAIRS CONTRIBUTOR: Indeed, Lawrence. I
think we all know that president Trump likes to have the most of
everything. Well, he got the most tonight. He got more votes for an
article of impeachment than any of the two presidents who had articles of
impeachment brought against them. And he got the first to really be based
on concerns about national security.
We heard in Chairman Schiff`s final comments right before the vote on the
first article what this is all about. It is about interference in our
election by another country, not because that country wanted to but because
the president asked them to put pressure on them to get an order to win an
I think we also saw in this one of the real winners out of this is Vladimir
Putin. He likes the fact our country is divided. He likes every American
on whatever side you`re on is just so scared about what the it future will
be, and I am so proud of all of the members, and, Congressman Maloney,
thank you since I`m here on this set with you remotely for the courage to
stand up today and particularly those moderate Democrats who really had the
courage of their convictions.
I worked with Elissa Slotkin when she was in the Defense Department and I
was in the State Department. She is a precise analytical thinker. We saw
that. We saw her courage and that of so many other members. It was really
a democracy at work tonight.
And in that way, Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump were not the winners.
They didn`t come in first. They lost.
O`DONNELL: John Heilemann, a hundred days ago or so before we knew about
this phone call the president had with the president of Ukraine,
impeachment was not going to happen. There was nothing that was going to
make impeachment happen in the House of Representatives. And any talk of
impeachment always seemed to run for a variety of things including the
Michael Cohen case where Donald Trump was accused by federal prosecutors by
participating in crimes and other issues.
It always came up against the so-called moderate Democrats who wouldn`t
want to be part of this. Turns out they all wanted to be part of it except
for three. There are three Democrats who did not vote for impeachment
JOHN HEILEMANN, MSNBC NATIONAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Yes, certainly, it`s a
striking thing, Lawrence, and I think the obvious point and you`re aware of
this I think they were – those Democrats gauging the politics in their
districts did not want to be part of the previous possibilities for
impeachment, some of which are related as you say to the Michael Cohen case
where Donald Trump is effectively still an unindicted co-conspirator
related to a potential for obstruction of justice, the various incidences
that were laid out in the Mueller report.
I think the big difference here obviously was twofold, one was the
legibility of this crime, the fact there was this document, this not
transcript that at least a semi, hemi, demi transcript that seemed to put
Donald Trump in a middle of a crime that anyone, any normal can understand,
and then the level of policy – the fact that it was connect today a
national security concern, that this was something that cut to the core of
what the obligations of these members are.
And a lot of those moderate Democrats were national security Democrats.
They were part of what – you could see the movement on this was
crystallized the moment when that House freshmen who were national security
freshmen who wrote that op-ed in October or September, I can`t remember
which one that was, but it really gave the sense of the politics of this
were different, and we`ll now see what happens as we head to the Senate.
I think, you know, one of the things taken the air of this for a lot of
people is the sense that the outcome is a forgone conclusion. Now that
there`s some question about what Nancy Pelosi, together with Chuck Schumer,
are going to do, I think that there`s a little bit more drama that`s crept
back into this because we don`t really know where this is headed.
O`DONNELL: Congressman Maloney, I think one of the things most difficult
for people out there to believe is that there was no political pressure put
on Democrats in the House to vote for impeachment. Speaker Pelosi said it
again tonight at the press conference. I know for people who have worked
in the House and Senate know every once in a while, the vote comes along
where the leadership in fact does not pressure the members and the members
are able to vote their conscience, vote their own choice on this.
What can you tell us about how this vote was approached especially by those
members, the so-called moderate members, the freshmen who represent
districts that were previously represented by a Republican? As you watched
them get in line to vote for these articles of impeachment in the last few
days, last couple of weeks, what can you tell us about what you saw in
MALONEY: Well, you know, it`s not them, it`s us. You`re talking to
someone who won a district that Donald Trump won, who beat a Republican. I
understand exactly what was going on with those members, I`m one of them.
And let me tell you, there was absolutely no pressure. To a person those
members, many of those new members believed so strongly in the right and
the wrong of this.
And just to pick up on what Wendy said and what John said, let me tell you
something right now the Republicans are getting ready to go to war. I
don`t want Democrats getting ready to go to sleep. This is not over. This
is just beginning.
And those members you`re talking about, they need all of the people who
watch this show who have been hopeful that the House Democrats would live
up to our responsibilities. We need your help. It is now time for
everyone to get in the game, and there`s a role to play.
Make your voices heard, get involved, be active because the Republicans are
going to war against those members you just spoke about. And they are not
getting tired, believe me. They are just getting started.
Right now, there are ads running, they`re in the mail and online and I`m
really hoping that Democrats understand now is the time to get active. And
all Americans of good faith who believe in the rule of law and
Constitution, you need to stand up right now.
O`DONNELL: Congressman, you know, one of the points I`m going to make at
the end of this hour is that, yes, there were 230 votes cast on that floor
today, but none of those votes would have been cast – there would not have
been an impeachment proceeding at all if the Republicans had held onto
control of the House of Representatives. So, yes, you`re one of the people
who got to vote today but it is only because the voters turned out last
year to deliver a Democratic majority to the House of Representatives.
What you`re saying to those voters who did that is that their work isn`t
over, that this is just a beginning.
MALONEY: Absolutely. And may I say this is about speaking to people who
don`t already agree with us. I think part of the dynamic we`ve gotten into
America is that we watch our own shows and we have our own algorithms and
we`re not used to speaking across lines of difference. But now is the time
to do that. Now is the time to engage with people of goodwill and good
faith and listen but also to an engage and say doesn`t it matter that an
American president follow the law? Is it OK that this president, any
president can solicit foreign help in an election, smear an opponent,
undermine our system of government?
But we need everyone involved. This is just getting started, and believe
me, the Republicans are getting ready to go to war, and we must not go to
O`DONNELL: Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney, thank you very much for
starting us off on this most historic night so far of the Trump presidency.
Really appreciate it.
MALONEY: My pleasure.
O`DONNELL: As Rachel and I were talking about at the beginning of the
show, Congressman Earl Blumenauer on the House floor today said this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. EARL BLUMENAUER (D-OR): I vote proudly for these two articles of
impeachment, and then I hope the House retains control of the articles
until the speaker and Leader Schumer can negotiate agreement on process and
witnesses from McConnell so that the next stage will be open and fair, so
that Donald Trump will ultimately be held accountable.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: And joining us now is Congressman Earl Blumenauer, Democrat of
Congressman, what you can tell us about what is an idea you have been
pushing with the Democrats in the House of Representatives and you spoke
about on the House floor today, that holding back the articles until Mitch
McConnell agrees to what you see is a fair trial?
BLUMENAUER: I can tell you, I`ve talked to over 40 members including the
speaker, people in leadership, committee chairs, rank and file, all are
deeply concerned about rushing ahead and giving Mitch McConnell control of
I said on the floor and I strongly believe we should be in no hurry. We
should have guarantees about access to witnesses. Remember, they were
talking about all of the hearsay. Well, Donald Trump and the Republicans
have refused to allow key people to testify. Having a schedule that makes
sense and is fair, understanding the rules of engagement.
These articles of impeachment that we passed don`t expire next week, next
month, next year. They don`t even expire next Congress. It`s not self-
This is under control of the House of Representatives and, of course, our
speaker. Nancy Pelosi has demonstrated she is a maser of the legislative
process. You`ve seen this in terms of the things going forward, the
historic trade agreement that she helped move forward, the impeachment in
record time, so she understands the game. She has played Donald Trump like
I think she`s going to be focused on the best way to ensure a reasonable
outcome and is not likely to surrender advantage any time soon.
O`DONNELL: Harvard Law Professor Laurence Tribe wrote an op-ed piece about
this in “The Washington Post” this week a couple of days ago, advocating,
holding off delivering, transmitting the articles to the Senate until you
can get that fair trial negotiated. Did that have an impact on the – did
that help you in your argument with the other Democrats?
BLUMENAUER: Oh, absolutely. Professor Tribe is deeply respected in
Congress. He is a renowned expert, and he has a way of framing these
issues in a way that even members of Congress can understand. And having
him add the weight of his opinion, his scholarship makes a big difference.
This is something, however, that I think most members of Congress
understand. Mitch McConnell is not making a pretense of fairness and
objectivity. He`s working hand in glove with the Trump White House. He`s
got his opinions firm, what he wants to do.
I don`t even see how he can take the oath that is required before you go
into impeachment session. There`s no reason for us to move forward to
empower him until we get a sense of what`s going on. And I think this tool
can be extremely useful, and the weeks ahead also give us an opportunity to
get more information. There are court cases that deal with access to tax
Remember, Bolton wanted to have a court ruling about whether or not he
should appear. So, there are many shoes that could fall, the record
continue to be built. We give nothing up.
O`DONNELL: And John Heilemann, Mitch McConnell seems to have stepped into
this with his public comments about I do not intend to be an impartial
juror. And he specifically used the word impartial, which is the word that
appears in the oath he has to take as a Senate juror in an impeachment
trial. And with the public now massively supporting a fair trial in the
Senate including Republicans support – Republican voters supporting a fair
trial in the Senate with witnesses, Mitch McConnell at least in the
external politics of this maybe not outside of Kentucky but in the country
is on the wrong side of the politics at this point.
Let me go to John Heilemann on that, Congressman. I come right back to you.
HEILEMANN: Lawrence, I think you would agree that you have in Mitch
McConnell and Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer, these are all three masters
of procedure. They are all tactical and strategically savvy.
I think that is the case as you just indicated, there is a more fundamental
thing going on here. You wouldn`t want to fight McConnell on tactics. You
wouldn`t want to fight him on Senate procedure.
But, occasionally, we know Mitch McConnell gets the politics wrong. He got
it wrong on the repeal of Obamacare and he looks as though he`s gotten it
badly wrong here. He`s learned over time he can do things procedurally
that are untoward and not pay a political price. The denying Merrick
Garland a confirmation hearing may be the most egregious example.
But over his career, he`s learned that generally, process fouls don`t come
with political penalty. In this case, because impeachment is such a high
profile thing and because in this case process for a lot of voters equates
with fairness, I think it`s right to say he`s misread the politics of this
pretty badly and the polls show as you indicated a second ago that the
country, not just the country. writ large, not just overall majorities of
Democrats, but also strong majorities of Republicans who want to see a fair
trial and want to see witnesses called forward, witnesses of fact, that is
a – these are not small majorities, these are large majorities.
Mitch McConnell very much as I said, misplayed the politics on this and it
gives Nancy Pelosi on what would normally be a fair fight strategically,
procedurally, it gives her the whip hand I think right now, her and Chuck
O`DONNELL: And, Wendy Sherman, you have Lindsey Graham also saying he`s
not impartial, literally saying I don`t intend to be a fair juror. Lindsey
Graham, of course, was one of the House prosecutors of Bill Clinton in his
Senate impeachment trial, speaking passionately for those articles of
impeachment. Mitch McConnell voted for those articles of impeachment, he
voted to remove Bill Clinton from office in the Senate impeachment trial,
which did include witnesses as Chuck Schumer has pointed out.
And here they are going to an extreme that no Democrat went to at that time
during the Clinton trial. There was no Democrat saying I absolutely do not
intend to be an impartial juror, I do not intend to be fair, and they do
this as if we don`t have the video of what they said about this.
SHERMAN: Not only do we have the video, but we have people saying
decidedly from Mick Mulvaney to the president of the United States exactly
what they did and why they did it which was to extract a favor, though,
from Ukraine to interfere in our election and to pressure Joe Biden in that
But I think even more important here, Lawrence, is the facts – where the
facts in the Clinton impeachment. I was in the administration at the time,
and we all understood what happened once the facts came out.
Here, the Republicans aren`t so much disputing the facts as saying that the
process is wrong. They`re not defending Donald Trump. They`re not
defending his character. He is off on a two-hour tirade right now at his
rally, more than that I think at this point.
And we haven`t seen the impact of those headlines that were shown tonight
as “The Washington Post,” “The New York Times,” “USA Today” comes out,
impeached. It`s a powerful word.
O`DONNELL: Congressman Blumenauer, I think we know at least one piece of
what Mitch McConnell is going to say at 9:30 on the Senate floor. We`re
going to hear him say some version of the House of Representatives cannot
dictate the terms of any procedure to the United States Senate.
BLUMENAUER: And we don`t have to, but we don`t have to empower Mitch
McConnell. Now, I think he`s stirred up a potential hornet nest because
there`s a reason Mitch McConnell is the least popular senator in the United
States in his home state. Lindsey Graham is getting a little pressure.
This changes the equation for many people who are running for the United
States Senate. Getting people involved, the American public does not
support kangaroo courts and blatant expression of tilting the playing
field. I think this changes the politics, the public per session. And I
think time is on our side to be able to at least get fairness and maybe
O`DONNELL: Congressman Earl Blumenauer, who is pushing the idea of the
hour in the House of Representatives, thank you very much for joining us
tonight. I really appreciate it.
Wendy Sherman, John Heilemann, thank you for joining our discussion,
getting us started.
And when we come back, Senator Cory Booker joins us to react to this
historic news tonight. The president of the United States is impeached.
Senator Cory Booker will be a juror in an impeachment trial of President
Donald John Trump.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): We have legislation approved by the Rules
Committee that will enable us to decide how we will send over the articles
of the impeachment. We cannot name managers until we see what the process
is on the Senate side.
So far we haven`t seen anything that looks fair to us so hopefully it will
fair. We`ll decide what that dynamic is.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Joining our discussion now is Senator Cory
Booker, Democrat from New Jersey. He is now a candidate for President of
the United States and he will be a juror in the impeachment trial of
Senator, thank you very much for joining us tonight and we just want to get
your reaction to this history made on the House floor tonight. Donald trump
impeached by the House of Representatives on two articles of impeachment.
230 votes for the first article of impeachment.
SEN. CORY BOOKER (D-NJ): I think there`s a sadness that has to hang over
the heart of America right now. This is a sitting President who has just
been impeached based upon conduct that is playing on its face, that
violates our collective values.
And it`s not a time for happiness, it`s not a time for joy, this is a
somber and truly a time of great gravity for this country, for democracy
and for the principles upon which is stands and so I just - this is just a
very unfortunate moment in our - in our history that we`re at right now.
O`DONNELL: It was a very dramatic day watching this ritual unfold in the
House of Representatives, passion on both sides, some real eloquence, I
think on the Democratic side and then even with all of that, Nancy Pelosi
managed to make more news in that short press conference after the vote
with Chairman Nadler there, with Chairman Schiff, Chairman Neil, where she
did not commit to sending the articles of impeachment immediately to the
United States Senate.
She made it very clear that as of tonight, she`s holding on to those
articles in the hope it seems of negotiating something that resembles the
fair trial that Chuck Schumer is asking for in the United States Senate.
Do you think it`s possible for a Speaker of the House to negotiate that
kind of process with the Republican leader of the Senate?
BOOKER: Well, first of all, I just want to compliment and thank Nancy
Pelosi. I think the way she`s handled this, she`s handled it with the
decorum and the dignity that it deserves. She`s not been engaging in the
kind of parts and theatrics that have often marked Washington proceedings
and I`m grateful to her and she really points out something that my parents
About this that whenever times of darkness arise, look for the light
workers, I think that`s what she`s been and now, I think, she`s rightfully
questioning in this constitutional process, laid out by our founders, where
senators literally take another oath that they`re going to be objective.
I think that she`s clearly has concerns when you have people like Mitch
McConnell talking about them being in lock step in working with the
President of United States. That`s not how this process was supposed to be
imagined. The Congress is an independent branch of government and has a
responsibility to govern this process with objectivity.
That will be an oath we swear so I think her skepticism that she`s
mentioned is understandable but I have every confidence that we will find a
way forward to have what we need to have now in the United States Senate is
erring of the truth and the facts.
And hopefully a trial that brings forth the evidence as well as first-hand
witnesses like Mulvaney and others that can really give us questionable
first-hand knowledge on what this President`s conduct and behavior was.
O`DONNELL: Sen. Booker, we can all hear that your voice has been strained
by the campaign trail and we appreciate your joining us tonight. I just
want to get one more question here about Mitch McConnell. Are you surprised
that he went so far in his public comments as to say that he has no
intention of being impartial.
When the word impartial actually appears in your old as jurors in the
United States Senate?
BOOKER: Yes, surprise is a small - doesn`t even fully cover it. You know,
there was a great speech by Judge Learned Hand, where he talked about the
documents. Lots of countries have had a really well written constitutional
documents and they were worth nothing because the spirit of the people was
not resonant with the principles of their documents.
This is one of those moments where folks 20 years from now, 50 years from
now, 100 years from now are going to look back and see what the actors did
when they had a test of history and I think it is truly disappointing and
discouraging and damaging to our republic when Mitch McConnell who is the
head of the Senate right now, does not deal with this in an objective way
with gravity for what a process is going to have to be.
For him to speak in a way that is a spit in the eye of the constitutional
intent is ugly, frankly and it is worrisome and troublesome. We have had
traditions in this country and we have had process that have helped us to
sustain and this isn`t a front to those traditions.
O`DONNELL: Senator Cory Booker, thank you very much for joining us from the
Presidential campaign trail tonight on this important night. We really
appreciate it, thank you, Senator.
BOOKER: Thank you very, very much.
O`DONNELL: And when we come back in tonight`s Last Word, I will look at how
we got to do is hugely important moment in our history and in our
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. STENY HOYER (D-MD): With our votes today we convey true faith and
allegiance to the vision of our founders and we can show future generation
what it truly means to be Americans first. Vote yes.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Gentleman yields back. Gentleman from Georgia.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: And joining our discussion that we have Tom Coleman, a former
Republican Congressman from Missouri. Also with us, former Republican
congressman David Jolly from Florida and Jonathan Alter, columnist for the
Daily Beast. They are both MSNBC analysts.
And Congressman Coleman, I want to go to you. Donald Trump said at his
rally tonight after he got impeached that he`s the first President to be
impeached who has not committed a crime, not charged with a crime. What is
your reaction to that?
FMR. REP. TOM COLEMAN (R-MO): Well, first of all thank you for having me on
the show and I`ve looked at the declaration of independence and actually
the precursor to our constitution, the constitution says nothing about
having to have a crime to be impeached.
It`s very clear. The President doesn`t understand the constitution. I doubt
if he`s ever looked at the constitution so when he says these things some
people will be believing but there`s no basis to it. You can be impeached
for what he was impeached for tonight.
You can be removed from office and the Senate for abuse of power and
obstruction of justice or obstructing Congress.
O`DONNELL: Well, what was your feeling tonight watching the Republicans on
the House floor, some of whom were there when you served. Can you explain
what has come over the Republicans in the House of Representatives?
COLEMAN: Lawrence, I do not know. It is sad. I know a lot of them, I know
some of the leadership. It`s beyond me to explain. I think it has something
to do with the psychological feeling of a cult. I mean that`s about the
only thing I can think the Republican Party has become and that is the
It`s the Trump party, it`s not the Republican Party, the day when I served
in. It`s different and we`ve got to recognize that and the people who
identify themselves who are not office holders as Republicans, they`re
thinking that this is the old Republican Party.
It`s not, it`s the Trump party and you can leave it. I have left it, David
has left it and you know, it`s OK because just because you were at one time
a Republican, doesn`t mean that this is a party for you today.
O`DONNELL: David Jolly, we have this breaking news of the night. The House
of Representatives goes up there and makes history. Nancy Pelosi makes
history by in 85 days leading them to an impeachment vote on two articles
of impeachment and then after that creates breaking news by saying I`m not
answering the question about when and how we are sending these articles to
the Senate, leaving open what is clearly some kind of an attempt to speak
with the House to negotiate terms of a Senate trial with the Senate
FMR. REP. DAVID JOLLY (R-FL), MSNBC ANALYST: And I think that`s a very wise
and prudent decision that Nancy Pelosi is contemplating based on what Mitch
McConnell and Lindsey Graham and others have already said, that there would
not be a fair trial in the Senate and I think what we`re seeing in Nancy
Pelosi is somebody who understands that today was - reflected the strength
of the republic, the greatness of the republic in some ways, that we have a
an independent legislative body that`s able to hold the executive
But also recognizing the weakness of the moment that in many ways our
national spirit is a little damaged and torn tonight. Republicans don`t
trust the Democrats. They think this is a witch hunt, they truly believe
that. Democrats don`t understand why Republicans continue to overlook
Republicans quoting Alexander Hamilton, saying the founders didn`t want a
partisan impeachment. Democrats coding Hamilton saying, he said that
impeachment was to address the misconduct of public men.
The two sides are speaking past each other but what they know is they don`t
trust each other. Nancy Pelosi recognizes in this moment that the articles
that were passed today says the President betrayed the nation, that`s a
quote from the article.
He subverted constitutional government and so if you have a Majority Leader
Mitch McConnell who has said, I don`t want to hear anything of it. I`m
already in the back for the President, the Senate is not going to recognize
the gravity of the moment then why give him the opportunity to behave in a
way that offends the constitution?
Hold it back until you can get some assurances from the Senate that they
intend to do their job and honor the special impeachment oath that the
constitution requires, that each senator including Mitch McConnell must do
impartial justice. He arguably has already violated that oath that he has
yet to take.
O`DONNELL: And Jonathan, he`s going to take that oath on television. The
same guy who on television has said I have no intention of being impartial
actually used the word from the oath, is going to raise his right hand on
television and taken an oath saying, I will do impartial justice according
to the constitution and the laws so help me God.
JONATHAN ALTER, COLUMNIST, THE DAILY BEAST & MSNBC ANALYST: Shamelessness
is contagious. You know the problem with Trump is that when you`re in his
orbit, you`re tainted and you start acting worse than you would otherwise
and Mitch McConnell is. That`s saying something. McConnell is in a tough
We tend to think of him as this ace you know, legislator who always gets
his way and understands power better than everybody else around him but
he`s caught between three forces right now. Nancy Pelosi is holding cards.
The Committee Chairs in the Senate, his colleagues, they do not want a
situation where a precedent is established of the executive not turning
over any documents or witnesses.
13 months from now there could be no President Warren or President Biden
and these Republican chairman of these committees don`t want to get
stonewalled by them so they have certain institutional interests in seeing
witnesses and documents and then you have the vulnerable Republican
candidates who are up this year and they are clearly going to want to see
some witnesses because they don`t want to explain to their constituents,
their independence that they need to win general elections you know, why
this was a fake trial.
They needed it to be a real trial so I think by the time this is over
Lawrence, there will be a genuine trial in the U.S. senate.
O`DONNELL: Tom Coleman, how do you see the politics of this for Republicans
especially some of those vulnerable Senate Republicans?
COLEMAN: Well, first of all I think that it somebody cited the polls that
showed two-thirds of the Republicans believe there should be witnesses and
a regular trial. This is an issue of fairness and I think if the Democrats
can sell this as an issue of fairness, everybody thinks we ought to have a
fair trial and so that`s - that`s my recommendation tonight.
We have in the Senate probably four, maybe five vulnerable Republican
senators. They are going to be very closely watching this. They cannot go
back to their states and say I want an unfair trial. What have you done to
make this a fair trial? What have you talked to the Majority Leader about
People are going to be asking these questions. They know they`re going to
be asked the questions and that`s why I think this thing is going to open
up and we`re going to have witnesses. There`s probably some stuff out here
right now that we don`t even know is going to be introduced into evidence
and so that`s why I said, a month or two ago that we`re going to have
impeachment which I was the first Republican former or current to call for
the impeachment back in May if you recall.
And then also, by the time that this gets to the Senate and into a vote for
the Senate, there will be overwhelming support for removal of Donald Trump.
O`DONNELL: David, quickly do you see the politics of this as clearly as
JOLLY: I`m not sure because I think Mitch McConnell is showing us that he
has a way of doing away with these very consequential matters in a way that
minimizes the damage to the Republican Party.
I think if we had an expanded trial, the American people will be tuned in
more but I honestly don`t trust Mitch McConnell. I think Nancy Pelosi would
be wise to keep the impeachment articles back until next spring.
O`DONNELL: Tom Coleman, David Jolly, Jonathan Alter, thank you all for
joining our discussion tonight. We really appreciate it and tonight`s Last
Word on impeachment is next.
O`DONNELL: And on the 1063rd day of his presidency, Donald Trump was
impeached. That now becomes the single most important fact about the Trump
presidency. He was impeached. This is the single most important day in the
Trump presidency but because we`ve seen it coming for a couple of months
now because there was no surprise in the way this historic day unfolded
today, some people might not feel the enormity of this moment.
Much of that is because the classic dramatic structure of Washington
scandal investigation was violated in this story when the smoking gun
appeared at the beginning of the story. It was almost 90 days ago when we
first saw the White House written record of President Trump`s phone call to
the President of Ukraine and we read Donald Trump asking for a favor
We read the words of that phone call, identifying Joe Biden by name as the
target of the investigation of President Trump was pressuring the President
of Ukraine to announce. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi announced the
beginning of an official impeachment enquiring and here we are 85 days
later, with the President of the United States impeached.
It was virtually certain at the beginning of those 85 days that the
President would be impeached because the evidence of what became of the
abuse of power, article of impeachment was right there in the phone call.
Right there in the smoking gun.
In all previous political dramas of this sort, the investigations began
with suspicions. Then the investigators slowly collected evidence and
testimony and then toward the end of the investigation, they found the
smoking gun. In Richard Nixon`s case tapes of his White House conversations
and that was the end of President Nixon.
In that classic unfolding of an impeachment investigation, we don`t know
what was going to happen next. We don`t know what the evidence will lead to
in that classic version but this time we knew 85 days ago when Nancy Pelosi
announced the beginning of the impeachment inquiry, we had every reason to
believe then that would come to this because we have seen the smoking gun
We had read the words that the President spoke to the President of Ukraine
and because we had the smoking gun, some people who support impeachment
quickly shifted past impeachment in the House of Representatives to the
problem of the impeachment trial in the United States Senate and instead of
living in the suspense of the impeachment investigation, those people went
all the way to the disappointment that the President would not be convicted
and removed from office by the Republican Senate.
And that has left some people, perhaps some of you less able to feel the
enormity of what the House of Representatives has done in the last 85 days,
what Nancy Pelosi has led them to do. For only the third time in history,
the House of Representatives impeached the President of the United States
But none of this was going to happen if the people of the United States of
America did not take the power into their own hands and elect a new House
of Representatives last year. A Democratic House of Representatives led by
speaker Nancy Pelosi.
The American people did that the American people put the Speaker`s gavel in
Nancy Pelosi`s hand. The American people rushed to the polls in the last
election and gave Democratic congressional candidates 9 million more votes
than Republicans. Tonight`s lesson in your vote matters is that Donald
Trump is now impeached because of that overwhelming vote for Democrats to
control the House of Representatives.
If Republicans had kept control of the House of Representatives in the last
election then Michael Cohen never would have been called to testify to
Congress and explain how Donald Trump directed him to commit federal crimes
in paying off a porn star during the Presidential campaign and what
prosecutors called a conspiracy against the United States of America.
If Republicans kept control of the House, Robert Mueller never would have
been called to testify before the House of Representatives and most
important, if Republicans had kept control of the House, we would not know
anything about President Trump`s phone call with the President of Ukraine.
Republicans could have and would have pulled off the greatest cover up in
the history of the presidency. They would have covered it up now and they
would have covered up for history and the President of Ukraine would have -
would have given that interview on American television in which he would
have announced an investigation of Joe Biden, that President Trump was
And we would have no idea why the President of Ukraine did that. But now we
do know. We know it all because American voters rose up last year and said
no to Republic control of the House of Representatives.
The United States Senate is not a Democratic institution, it was not
designed to be. The United States Senate represents land not people and so
in the United States Senate, Republicans are over represented compared to
the number of Republican voters in this country.
The House of Representatives is called the People`s House because it
represents people not land. The House of Representatives was designed to be
more faithful to democracy than the United States Senate and so tonight
what you saw in the House of Representatives was democracy in action.
What you saw was the power of your vote, the vote that you cast last year
in your congressional district for your member of the House of
Representatives. That was your vote in action tonight on the floor of the
House of Representatives.
Technically, there were 230 votes to impeach President Trump tonight in the
House of Representatives and those 230 votes were empowered by your votes.
Your votes made history tonight. That is tonight`s Last Word. The 11th hour
with Brian Williams starts now.
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Copyright 2019 ASC Services II Media, LLC. All materials herein are
protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced,
distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the
prior written permission of ASC Services II Media, LLC. You may not alter
or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the