House votes to impeach President Trump. TRANSCRIPT: 12/18/19, The Last Word w/ Lawrence O’Donnell.

Guests:
Sean Patrick Maloney, Earl Blumenauer, Tom Coleman, Cory Booker
Transcript:

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

the House. 

 

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

happen. 

 

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

impeachment. 

 

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

yourself. 

 

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

expect fairness. 

 

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

election. 

 

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

tonight. 

 

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

their decision-making? 

 

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

sleep. 

 

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

Oregon. 

 

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

this. 

 

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-

executing. 

 

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

a fiddle. 

 

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

returns. 

 

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

Schumer together. 

 

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

election routine. 

 

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

beyond. 

 

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. 

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

(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

President Trump.

 

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

taught me.

 

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

democracy, tonight.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

(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

Trump cult.

 

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

Majority Leader.

 

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

accountable.

 

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

facts.

 

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

spot.

 

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

this?

 

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

that?

 

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.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

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

though.

 

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

already.

 

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

tonight.

 

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

secretly demanding.

 

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.

 

END   

 

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