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Volker resigns as US Envoy for Ukraine. TRANSCRIPT: 9/27/19, The 11th Hour w/ Brian Williams.

Guests: Greg Miller, Frank Figliuzzi, Mieke Eoyang, Christopher Shays, MimiRocah, Jon Meacham

ALI VELSHI, MSNBC HOST: Ten days in September, we wrap up a blockbuster week in American politics, including some of the most faithful hours in the turbulent life of the Trump administration. And the news keeps coming.

A bomb shell in the wake of the whistleblower complaint. The White House reportedly buried the record of an explosive conversation, where President Trump bad mouths the United States to the Russians inside the Oval Office. The House focuses in on the President`s pressure on Ukraine to official means and back channels, the speaker says impeachment is on a time frame of weeks, not months.  This, as subpoenas go out to the State Department while a diplomat in the middle o f the scandal resigns.  "The 11th Hour" on a Friday night begins now.

Good evening once again, I`m Ali Velshi, in for Brian William.

Tonight, we come to you from San Diego, but all the action is in the nation`s Capitol.  We`re on day 981 of the Trump administration.  There is yet another bombshell report from "The Washington Post."  It`s about what Trump told two Russian officials, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on the left of your screen and Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak on the right in that now infamous meeting in the Oval Office in May of 2017, the day after he fired former FBI Director James Comey.

Tonight, "The Washington Post" reports Donald Trump told the Russians that, "he was unconcerned about Moscow`s interference in the U.S. election because the United States did the same in other country and assertion that prompted alarmed White House officials to limit access to the remarks to unusually small number of people, that`s according to three former officials who have knowledge of the matter."

But, in an interview with Lester Holt just one day later, he treated Russian interference more seriously.


DONALD TRUMP, (R) PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  If Russia hacked, if Russia did anything having to do with our election, I want to know about it.

LESTER HOLT, NBC NEWS ANCHOR:  Well, it is already intelligence for -- virtually every intelligence agencies that yes that happen.

TRUMP:  I tell you this, if Russia or anybody else is trying to interfere with our elections, I think it`s a horrible thing and I want to get to the bottom of it.  And I want to make sure it will never ever happen.


VELSHI:  Now, you may recall there was no U.S. news media at that May 2017 meeting in the Oval Office.  Only Russian outlets were involved.  And "The New York Times" later report that Trump told the Russians, firing the "nut job" Comey eased the pressure on him from the Russia investigation.

Tonight`s piece in "The Washington Post" points out that Trump`s comment about not being concerned about Russian interference have not previously reported.  It also reminds us that in the same meeting Trump, "revealed highly classified information that exposed a source of intelligence on the Islamic state."  The piece continuos, "A memorandum summarizing the meeting was limited to all but a few officials with the highest security clearances in an attempt to keep the President`s comment from being disclosed publicly, according to the former officials, who requested anonymity to discuss sensitive matter."

The administrations method of dealing with records of Trump`s conversations with foreign officials is now a main part of the Democrats` impeachment inquiry.  And the White House is confirmed a related allegation in the whistleblower complaint that launched that inquiry.

A senior administration official tell NBC News that Trump`s conversation with the Ukrainian President was sealed away in a highly secure code word required computer server maintained by the National Security Council.

Earlier on this network, former CIA John Brennan voiced his concerns about that move.


JOHN BRENNAN, FORMER CIA DIRECTOR:  If it was moved into that and it was not classified, it clearly is being done for another purpose which was to try to prevent it being discovered or seeing by other individuals.  So I think that is a very, very worrisome development.  And I think that`s also something that the Intelligence Community and the -- Joe Maguire, the Acting DNI has been very  concerned about that that was a misused and abuse of a system designed to protect this country`s most precious secrets.


VELSHI:  And within the past hour, "The New York Times" reported current and former officials say the White House used a highly classified computer system accessible to only a select few officials to store transcripts of calls from President Vladimir Putin and the Saudi royal family.  House democrats are now moving with all deliberate speed in their impeachment investigation into the President wielding subpoenas and scheduling hearings as they try to capitalize on the momentum unleashed by the release of the whistleblower`s complaint yesterday.

Today, House Democrats issued their first subpoena to a member of Trump`s Cabinet, one of his closest adviser, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.  The chairman of the House Intelligence, Oversight and Foreign Affairs Committee sent a letter to Pompeo demanding that he produce documents related to Trump`s dealing with Ukraine by October 4th, that`s a week from today.  The letter also instructs him to make five State Department officials available for depositions in the coming two weeks.

"The New York Times" reports and NBC News confirms that one of those officials, Kurt Volker, Trump`s envoy for Ukraine resign tonight.  The State Department has acknowledged Volker put Trump`s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani in touch with Ukrainian officials around the same time as Trump`s July phone call with the President of Ukraine.

The House Intelligence Committee says the Intelligence Community`s Inspector General Michael Atkinson will testify in a close session next Friday.  Atkinson received the whistleblower`s complaint back in August deemed it credible and of urgent concerned and informed Congress.

Also, the chairs of the House Appropriations and Budget Committees are now requesting all documents related to the White House Office of Management and Budget involvement in holding back hundreds of millions of foreign aid funds for Ukraine.

All right, our panelists are standing by.  But first, I`m joined by one of the reporters on this incredible "Washington Post" report, Pulitzer Prize- winning National Security Correspondent Greg Miller.  He`s also the author of "The Apprentice, Trump, Russia and the Subversion of American Democracy."  Greg, thank you for joining us.

I want you to remind us about this conversation of May 2017 between Donald Trump, Sergey Lavrov who was the dean of the diplomatic core really, one the world`s most senior diplomats, a Russian ambassador -- the Russian foreign minister and Kislyak, the Russian ambassador to the United States meeting in the Oval Office.  And now your reporting that is that Donald Trump told them he`s not all that concern about Russian interference in the election.  What`s the context?

GREG MILLER, WASHINGTON POST (via telephone):  The context is incredible really, because it`s not only is a day, that meeting happens one day after Trump fired Comey, he`s FBI director.  He`s meeting in the Oval Office with two Russian officials, U.S. media are excluded.  One of those two officials, Sergey Kislyak, the Russian ambassador is already a very toxic figure in a Trump presidency by that point.  Because it is Kislyak`s conversation with Michael Flynn in December of 2016 that leads in many ways to the explosion of the Russia story and Flynn`s firing, his national secure advisor, just weeks into the job.

So here, Trump is inviting the two Russian officials into the Oval Office, and as my colleagues and I report tonight proceeds to tell them that he is not troubled by whatever Russia did in 2016 because the United States, he asserts, does the same thing all of the time.  It`s an astonishing thing for a president to say in any content, let alone in the Oval Office with two Russian officials representing the government that just interfered in an historic way in the U.S. election.

VELSHI:  Do we know what the reaction was from White House officials or officials who knew about that conversation to the fact that Donald Trump said that to Russian diplomats?

MILLER:  Well, we know -- yes, that this one of the early conversations in his presidency that was a source of significant dismay to the professionals who work in the White House.  But in this conversation, it was for several reasons, you already articulated a couple of them.

In this conversation, you know there are three huge things that happens, one he reveals highly classified information to his Russian guests about counter intelligence -- counter terrorism operations in Syria at that time.  He bad mouthed James Comey and basically says that he got him out of the way to lift his clouds of Russia that`s been getting interfering in the relationship.

And now for the first time tonight, we`re hearing about the third aspect of that conversation.  The third troubling development where he is equivalent -- he is drawing an equivalent between what United States does overseas and what Russia does.

VELSHI:  Greg, thank you for you reporting, that of you and your colleagues at "The Washington Post," Greg Miller.

Here for our leadoff discussion on a Friday night, former U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade, Mieke Eoyang, attorney and former staffer for both House Intelligence and Arm Services Committees, Jonathan Allen, NBC News National Political Reporter.  And joining us on the phone, former Assistant Director of the FBI for Counterintelligence, Frank Figliuzzi.

And Frank, I`m going to start with you, because I want to remind our viewers of the proximity of that conversation that we are reporting on tonight, "The Washington Post" just saying Donald Trump told Russians that he was not concerned with Russian interference in the election and the firing of James Comey just before that.  And the references that Donald Trump is alleged to have made to that firing.  Put this in context for us in terms of the events that set off, really, the Mueller rep -- the investigation.

FRANK FIGLIUZZI, FMR. FBI ASSIST. DIRECTOR FOR COUNTERINTELLIGENCE [via telephone]:  Well, Ali, it is also reported that in the same report that this was just after -- the meeting with the Russians was just after the President had been briefed by the Intelligence Community confirming that Russia interfered on the President`s behalf with the election.  So when you put that together with the firing of Comey and now his language with the Russians, there`s very little other way to interpret this but a green light for the Russians.  And essentially a forgiveness, as it is reported in this article that three former officials actually interpret this as forgiveness of the Russian interference and a green light for possible future interference.

You know, Ali, many of us were -- have been wondering ever since the in inception of the special counsel inquiry, what it was that the Russians might have on the President?  How could they have compromised him?  But, Ali, it`s becoming clear tonight that he actually compromised himself.  And what they have on him is his very own conversations with them where he tells them, I`m okay with this.  I am not concerned about this interference.  And he does it knowingly.

And then when you combine with the secreting of this in ultra secrete databases where people who need the read out to do their jobs can`t even get access to it?  That is the essence of a cover up.

VELSHI:  Mieke, what`s your sense of -- what does new information to the point that Frank Figliuzzi just made that there is this movement of transcripts and information about Donald Trump`s conversation with world leaders or whoever it might be into the super secret server that you have to have code word access.  You have to know the code in order to get access to it.  What`s the relationship between this new revelation in "The Washington Post" and the impeachment inquiry that`s now underway?

MIEKE EOYANG FMR. HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE STAFFER:  Yes.  What this shows is that this is a pattern of covering up things that are embarrassing to the President, conversations that he has with foreign leaders.  It`s problematic as Frank says that the foreign leaders know what it said.  Foreign governments can react to that, but American policymakers don`t know and they can`t advice on what America should be doing in response to this.

But, what it is, it`s not so much about the substance of these allegations themselves which are covered in Mueller.  It shows that the people around the President understood that what he was doing was wrong and they did not want it going out.

VELSHI:  Barbara McQuade, to Mieke`s point about a pattern of behavior, from a legal perspective or at least from a procedural perspective with the House pursuing this in impeachment inquiry, does this become relevant to that inquiry?

BARBARA MCQUADE, FMR. U.S. ATTORNEY:  I think it does.  You know, this idea of -- first, you know, there is a substantive issue and then there is the procedural issue.  The procedural issue is this idea of secreting the documents in a place where only a select few can find them.

You know, when prosecutors find that kind of behavior, they often think of it as what`s known as consciousness of guilt.  That is, I don`t want people to see this because I know it will reveal something that is very damaging.  And I think not just President Trump but the people who are participating in this could themselves have some very significant legal exposure here.  If they are obstructing any sort of investigation or failing to comply with the Presidential Record Act.  So, the process here is very troubling.

And then with regard to the pattern and the substance, absolutely, you know, we all knew based on the Mueller report all the things that had come before that cause people to question whether President Trump was conspiring with Russia to interfere with the election.  But now, is to then give the green light afterwards, as Frank said, suggest a pattern of behavior that even if it is not criminal, it does suggests an abuse of power and undermining of the democratic process that I think could arise for the level of an impeachable offense.

VELSHI:  Frank, let me ask you something, we didn`t know about this from the Mueller report.  So it makes me wonder.  How secret is this system?  Clearly, it`s all a secret from us because we don`t have access to these things.  But obviously, the transcripts would be held on one server and if there is a national security reason for them to have been moved to a more secure server, that`s usually the reason for doing it, limiting the number of people who have access to it.  Do we think Robert Mueller knew about this?

FIGLIUZZI:  That`s a great question.  I`ve been asking myself that question this evening, Ali, and I don`t know the answer to this.  But I know enough that these databases are so incredibly limited and the number of people that would have access to them is so incredibly small.  That it`s impossible that Mueller actually did not come into contact with these very same officials who did this.  It`s quite possible that this would not have surfaced at all.

And in fact, if it was covered up and Mueller asked these questions and people lied, they are facing additional exposure.  But I can tell you this, there`s someone like myself who has classified documents or the authority to classify and declassify documents, this doesn`t pass the smell test.  These documents are not ultra secret.  They are not top secret compartmented information that would cause great damage to national security.  So, these officials are going to have a hard time explaining how these conversations met that criteria for that database.

VELSHI:  Jonathan Allen, the only way I know this week is coming to an end because it`s actually Friday.  This has been a week beyond measure and really it`s been 10 days in case anyone is keeping track since the public first became aware of this whole situation with respect to the President of the United States having a conversation with the President of Ukrain.  There is a possibility that when we look back at this era, this may be the formative 10 days.  What`s your sense of how the administration has been fairing in the midst of all of this revelations and the remarkable speed with which members of Congress decided that they wanted to begin impeachment hearings for the President?

JONATHAN ALLEN, NBC NEWS NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER:  Well, first Ali, don`t jinx us, there`s probably about 45 minutes left in this week.  And I`m not sure the world can take anymore news.  But the answer is not well as far as how the administration is taking it, not well as far Republicans on Capitol Hill were taking it.

What you don`t see right now is broad defense from the President from his own party.  You saw Republicans in the Senate unanimously and then the House vote on releasing the complaint.  You were not seeing huge tweets in favor of him from Republicans.  You saw Congressman Mark Amodei from Nevada in support of the impeachment inquiry or at least allowing the process to go forward today.  You`ve seen some tough questioning from Republicans in the inquiry at the Intelligence Committee the other day, Will Hurd, the congressman from Texas who`s a Republican.

So from that perspective, I think there`s a lot of concern within the Republican Party.  On the Democratic side, you did see this incredible snowballing.  There were some thoughts on Monday afternoon.  I published a piece that said the impeachment dam could break as early as Thursday thinking that hearing was going to be pivotal.  And even by the time that published Monday afternoon the dam was breaking.

VELSHI:  That`s right.

ALLEN:  Democrats basically were finding out essentially what was to break in the coming days with regards to that White House transcript that was released and eventually the complaint and what they saw there was enough to convince them certainly that an inquiry should go forward and for some of them, that impeachable offenses had already occurred.

VELSHI:  All right, Jonathan, now that you pointed out that there are 43 more minutes left in this week.  I think we need to take a quick break for our viewers so everybody can just freshen up because anything could happen.  This panel is sticking with us.

Coming up more from tonight`s bombshell report from "The Washington Post" and a look back at what else Donald Trump have said in public about Russian meddling.

Later, as I just said, you will not believe just how much news has taken place in the past 10 days.  We`re going to take you through this wild week and a half that brought us towards impeachment.  "The 11th Hour," believe it or not just getting started on a Friday night.


VELSHI:  The explosive new report tonight, three former officials tell "The Washington Post" that President Trump told two senior Russian officials in a 2017 Oval Office meeting that he was unconcerned about Moscow`s interference in the 2016 presidential election because the United States did the same thing in other countries.

The White House has so far declined the comment.  But here is how the President treated the matter in public despite what American officials were saying.


TRUMP:  I don`t think anybody knows it was Russia that broke into the DNC.  She`s saying Russia, Russia, Russia, but I don`t -- maybe it was, I mean, it could be Russia but it could also China, it could also be lots of other people.  It also could be somebody sitting on their bed that weighs 400 pounds, OK?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  You don`t think it`s phony that they, the Russians try to meddle in the election?  You believe that?

TRUMP:  That, I don`t know.

My people came to me, Dan Coats came to me and some others they said they think it`s Russia.  I have President Putin, he just said it`s not Russia.  I will say this, I don`t see any reason why it would be.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Mr. President, will you tell Russia not to meddle in the 2020 election?

TRUMP:  Yes, of course I will.  Don`t meddle in the election, president.  Don`t meddle in the election.


VELSHI:  All right, still with us, Barbara McQuade, Mieke Eoyang, Jon Allen, and joining us by phone Frank Figliuzzi.

Jon, piece of information that almost gets ;lost in this whole thing is the U.S. special envoy, Donald Trump`s special envoy to Ukraine has resign tonight.  And he is said to be the one who introduced Rudy Giuliani to the Ukrainian officials in the wake of this whole situation.  That doesn`t look good.  That doesn`t feel like good optics that he has stepped down.  Do we know anything about this?

ALLEN:  I don`t know a whole lot about the background here, Ali, but I think you are getting to the point where people with a lot at stake are going to have to tell the truth to the House Intelligence Committee about what they know about all of these activities and what you`ve seen in terms of the transcripts that we saw released by the White House earlier this week and what you`ve seen in "The Washington Post" reporting is this incredible parallel of situations where the President has put his own priorities, his own election ahead of what are the stated interests of the United States.  And that`s something that people are going to have to talk about the details of.

And you know obviously the envoy to Ukraine has a lot of information that is going to be valuable I think to the inquiry in terms of finding out just what happened and what didn`t happen.  And I think all of us we`re going to have to wait to see what that information is to see, you know, just how far that gets taken.  But I think it`s been a really shocking week in terms of revelations about just how far the President will go to win elections.

And you know President George Washington is very well addressed and warned to that foreign entanglements, and that`s something that`s talked about on the Senate floor every year, his farewell address is red.  And all the members of Congress are going to have to judge what they hear in evidence from folks like the envoy to Ukraine.

VELSHI:  Barbara, John talks about the fact that there are people who are going to have to tell the truth and they`re going to have to get into detail.  From your perspective, when you hear these people from the State Department including Kurt Volker who has resigned tonight, but the other four who had been called to testify, what are you listening for?  What is it that Congress wants to get out of these witnesses from the State Department?

MCQUADE:  Well, I think they want to know all the facts and also their perspective, were they enabling or were they trying to contain the damage?  The reporting on Kurt Volker is that he was trying to contain the damage and that he is leaving his position because he didn`t think he could serve effectively anymore.  I think it`s a really significant development, you know, someone has sort of left the President`s team, he would be somebody I would absolutely want to focus on because I think his resignation signals that he wants to tell the truth and do the right thing.  And that he believes that telling the truth is contrary to his ability to serve in this administration.

It will be -- one thing that I`ll be looking for in the coming days is, are there more resignations.  I think that will be very interesting thing.  The President lacks the ability to direct him about who he can talk to or not talk to if he`s no longer working for the government, if he`s a private citizen.  And so, I think this is a very significant development.  And I think that with depositions of the State Department officials, they are going to learn the facts about what exactly Rudy Giuliani is doing.  How it was being conducted and how those conversations with Ukraine were brokered.

VELSHI:  Two of the people were named in the whistleblower`s complaint`s -- in the whistleblower`s complaint.  Mieke, you know, I don`t know what it was.  Two weeks ago or something we started with hearings with Corey Lewandowski in the House Judiciary Committee.

And you know, while there were some good questioning later in the day, generally speaking conducted by lawyers for the committee, some of the members of Congress had some good questions in there.  A lot of people looked to that and said, this doesn`t make sense to me.  I`m not quite sure where this is going.  Now, this looks a little more real.  What is that -- what are these House committees got to do in order to move with some pace and figure out what the -- you know, get to the bottom of this whole issue?

EOYANG:  So, what you see is a very different pace of investigation and seriousness with which this is being undertaken, right?  These subpoenas that went out today from the three different committees shows that the members are interested in hearing from people who are named.  They have a focus to this investigation that they didn`t have before.

And I just want to mention about Kurt Volker, something that is really significant, he`s not a Trump guy, right?  He heads the McCain Institute.  And one of the things significance about his decision to resign is that it makes it much harder for the administration to try and use executive privilege as a gag to try and prevent his testimony.  He could choose to share information that where he was still an employee of the State Department they might try and stop him from saying by claiming executive privilege like you saw with director -- with DNI Maguire the other day, right.

If Kurt Volker chooses to tell the committee everything that he knows about how he`s trying to fix what Giuliani was doing, what the President was directing hi, his concerns about what this whistleblower had raised.  He can freely say that to the committee without fear of the administration interfering with that.

VELSHI:  Frank Figliuzzi, I want to talk about this server business, this moving of information in the case of the whistleblower complaint.  The transcript of the call between President Trump and the President of Ukraine on to this code word enabled server that far fewer people have.

According to reporting from "The New York Times" tonight, other things were also moved to that server, generally speaking conversations between the President and Vladimir Putin, and here`s an interesting line, calls to the Saudis.  In the case to the calls with the Saudi royal family, the restrictions were set beforehand and the number of people allowed to listen were sharply restricted.  The Saudi calls placed in the restricted system were with King Salman, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Prince Khalid Bin Salman, who at the time was the Saudi ambassador to the United States.

This is interesting, Frank, that this may not have been things sequestered because of their national security vulnerability but because the President just didn`t want people to know he was having these conversations or what those conversations were.

FIGLIUZZI:  Well, as Barb earlier, this is clearly evidence of consciousness of guilt when you`re trying to hide and cover-up.  And I think couple of things are not worthy, Ali.  First, there`s always electronic trail.  Try as you might to cover up to erase, to delete.  There is going to be a capability to actually uncover that you tried to delete on this day, you try to make this go away on that date.  So, the trail is there.

My question is, how do investigators get to that?  We got an attorney general who we know has already told the FBI with regards to the whistleblower complaint there is no crime there.  So the FBI did not investigate what was referred to them because they were not allowed to. Congress needs the kind of investigative tools that for forensic cyber capabilities that the intelligence committee and the FBI had.

The other thing that I am actually encouraged by is the Speaker of the House wanting the House Intel Committee to take a lead role in all of this.  And I`m encouraged by that because evidence is out there.  What do I mean by that?  I mean that even humans resist subpoenas or pull Lewandowski and not answer questions and play games, within the intelligence committee, there is electronic intercepts, there is other ultra sensitive evidence that will tell us how the Russians or how the Saudis reacted to the conversations they had with Trump.  And that end of the conversation is likely captured, and the House Intel Committee needs access to that because that evidence will not lie.

VELSHI:  Frank, thank you for your analysis tonight.  Frank Figliuzzi, Barbara McQuade, Mieke Eoyang, and Jonathan Allen, we appreciate you guys helping us kick off this hour.  Jonathan, just if you`re keeping tract of this thing, there are in fact 29 more minutes and then we can all call it quits for the weekend.


VELSHI:  All right.  Coming up, we got more real today on the impeachment front when the Secretary of State was subpoenaed for documents pertaining to UKRAINE.  "The 11th Hour" is back after this.



REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA), CHAIRMAN, INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE:  We`re going to do everything we can, to see methodically but swiftly.  But we will expect that the administration is going to do everything they can to shut us down.  When they do that, as they try to do that, every effort by the administration to slow us down will only add to the case against them for obstruction of Congress.


VELSHI:  Democrats are moving full speed ahead with their impeachment inquiry tonight.  As we mentioned, House Democrats issued the inquiry`s first subpoena to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

The chairs of the House Intelligence Oversight and Foreign Affairs Committees are demanding Pompeo`s documents related to Trump`s dealings with Ukraine by October 4th, a week from tonight.  They write, "Your failure or refusal to comply with this subpoena shall constitute evidence of obstruction of the House`s impeachment inquiry."

Back with us tonight Mimi Rocah, former Assistant US Attorney for the Southern District of New York, now a distinguish fellow in criminal justice at the Pace University School of Law, and former 11 term Republican Congressman Christopher Shays of Connecticut who served on the House Oversight Committee.  Welcome to both of you.

Chris, let me start with you.  You were a member of Congress.  Give me your analysis of the pace of what it is happening now in the United States Congress.

CHRISTOPHER SHAYS (R-CT), FORMER CONGRESSMAN:  Well, first let me say, for the record, I had profound unhappiness that Republicans have been so silent for 2.5 years.  They needed to raise the President up to a higher standard and there is no standard.  He speaks to the dark side of us.

Having said that, the President has given Congress no choice but to move forward, Nancy Pelosi is correct.  They have to move forward.  The good news is you have three exceptional chairman and Adam Schiff and Jerry Nadler and Elijah Cummings.  I mean, they are just top notch.

I have the deepest respect for Adam Schiff and how he has proceeded.  That`s the good news.  The bad news is that, Jerry Nadler is going to have a difficult time with 41 members getting them to focus, and the five minute rule, the five minute rule is absurd.

VELSHI:  One of the things we saw, Mimi, in the prior testimony in front of Nadler`s committee with Corey Lewandowski is that, it is difficult.  Not only five-minute rule difficult but a lot of these members of Congress sometimes gets more political than it gets focus on getting answers.  And that took hours to get anything of note out of Corey Lewandowski.  What are you looking for as these hearings move forward?

MIMI ROCAH, FORMER ASSISTANT US ATTORNEY, SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK:  Well, I mean, first of all, Ali, I think hopefully they will make use of what they did in the Corey Lewandowski here, which is, you know, this excellent council that they, and Barry Berke, and perhaps others if they need to hire others.  But Barry Berke, you know, in 30 minutes as we know accomplished what hours of other questioning did not.

I think it will be different here.  I mean, I think, first of all, and this is what is frankly pretty brilliant about subpoenaing Pompeo first.  You`re starting to see people turn on each other.  I mean, I had trials like this as a prosecutor, you know, multi-defendant trials, where all of a sudden, when trial started, you know, fingers started pointing at the other defendant one another.

And I think that`s going to happen here.  I mean, Pompeo and Giuliani already, you know, they can`t both be telling the truth and not implicate the other one.  I mean, their stories just don`t match up.  So it`s going to be ---

VELSHI:  And Giuliani, by the way, sorry to interrupt you, Mimi, but has said, in response to that, I don`t care what Mike Pompeo thinks.  He`s got his agenda and his version of the story, so we`re setting up for some sort of a disagreement between these two guys who must have been key to what was happening in Ukraine because Giuliani said, Pompeo sent him.

ROCAH:  Yes.  I mean, it`s going to be Giuliani trying to say Pompeo, you know, gave me approval and Pompeo is going to be saying, no, no, that`s not what I approved for him to do.  And it`s going to get ugly for them very quickly.

And I think, frankly, it`s going to make the job of the people doing the questioning a lot easier if they, you know, stay focus.  I mean, you`re right.  They still have to stay focus but it`s a more narrow subject matter here than it was with the Mueller investigation, which was more sprawling.

VELSHI:  Chris, Adam Schiff says -- go ahead.

SHAYS:  Go on.  I`m just going to say, the ugliness though is the problem, because the American people are going to be watching this.  And they got to feel good about what is happening and the outcome.

When you overthrow the election of the American people, it`s huge and never been done before.  And there going to be people that are so resentful no matter how these hearings are conducted.  This is a dangerous time for America and it`s a dangerous time for all of the members of Congress.  Some Democrats are going to lose the election over impeachment.

VELSHI:  Right, so this is interesting because as Mimi pointed out, when Barry Berke staff counsel took over the questioning much later in the day, he did achieve much more in a short amount of time than listening to people with a political agenda all day.  And, look, there maybe really good reasons to have a political agenda but if you were still in Congress, and you were in these hearings, how would you handle yourself?

SHAYS:  Oh, I would ask questions and I would make sure that the person following me would follow up on the questions.  I would sit with other members to make sure that if the witness didn`t respond to the questions that their previous person ask, that you just repeat it.

And, frankly, the chairman should allow Republicans or Democratic members, if their questions are not answered respectfully to just say the gentleman from Connecticut has more time, sir, until you show them the respect and answer his questions.  But it needs to be questions, not statements.

VELSHI:  Right.  Chris Shays, thank you for your time, former congressman from Connecticut, Chris Shays, Mimi Rocah as well, thank you both.

Coming up, 10 days in September, we may look back at this.  This is most consequential period that this nation has witnessed in this administration, we`ll show you why.  "The 11th Hour" is back after this.



DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF UNITED STATES:  If you take a look at that call, it was perfect.  I didn`t do it.  There was no quid pro quo.


VELSHI:  When historians look back on the Donald Trump`s presidency, these past 10 days in September may prove pivotal.  As the fast moving developments fly by, some of critical moments may have been missed.  So we`re going to look back at how quickly we got to where we are tonight.


BRIAN WILLIAMS, MSNBC HOST:  We have a big story in the Washington Post tonight.  It involves a whistleblower complaint from inside the administration, Trump`s interaction with the foreign leader included a promise.

SCHIFF:  I believe that there is an effort to prevent this information, getting to Congress.

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST:  The Washington Post just moments ago saying that the whistleblower`s complaint about President Trump involves the nation of Ukraine.

CHRIS CUOMO, MSNBC HOST:  Did you ask the Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden?


CUOMO:  So you did ask Ukraine to look into Joe Biden.

GIULIANI:  Of course, I did.

CUOMO:  You just said you didn`t.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did you discuss Joe Biden, his son or his family with the leader of Ukraine?

TRUMP:  It doesn`t matter what I discuss.

JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  Not one single credible outlet has given any credibility to his assertion, not one single one.  And so, I have no comment except the President should start to be president.

TRUMP:  The conversation I had was largely congratulatory, was largely corruption, all of the corruption taking place, it was largely the fact that we don`t want our people like Vice President Biden and his son creating to the corrupting already in the Ukraine.

SCHIFF:  He may have very well have crossed the Rubicon here.

NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE:  I`m announcing the House of Representatives moving forward as an official impeachment inquiry.

TRUMP:  She`s talking impeachment, and by the way she hasn`t even seen the phone call.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  The Trump administration is releasing what the President describes as the transcript of that phone call that launched the Democratic impeachment investigation.

SCHIFF:  What those notes reflect is a classic mafia-like shake down of a foreign leader.

TRUMP:  Impeachment for that?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  That word now what we, the whistleblower`s complaint.  If you read through the appendix it says this.  According to White House officials, I spoke with, this was not the first time under this administration of a presidential transcript was placed into this code word level system.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Solely for the purpose of protecting politically sensitive rather than national security sensitive information.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Not the first time.


PELOSI:  This is a cover up.  This is a cover up.

JOSEPH MAGUIRE, ACTING DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE:  I think the whistleblower did the right thing.  I think he followed the law in every step of the way.

GIULIANI:  I actually think they should all congratulate me.  In fact, I`m a legitimate whistleblower.

SCHIFF:  We expect more subpoenas to go out first thing next week as well, so we`re moving with all the speed.


VELSHI:  Coming up, the New York Times did something you don`t often see a newspaper do this week.  And I think you`re going to see it happen again.  That`s next when "The 11th Hour" continues.


VELSHI:  Today marked the third straight day where the New York Times had a banner headline to deliver the shocking events that had just taken place.  A banner goes right across the top of the paper.  It`s been nothing short of an astonishing past ten days, making what comes next even harder to predict.

Here with us tonight to help make sense of it all is Jon Meacham, Pulitzer Prize winning Author and Presidential Historian.  Among his books, "Impeachment: An American history."

Jon, I want to ask you about this Washington Post reporting tonight about the conversation that the President had in May of 2017 with two senior Russian officials, the foreign minister of Russia and the Russian ambassador to the United States.

Now, in it he says, he is sort of -- he said, I`m not that worried about Russian interference allegedly, according to the reporting in the election, because America does it too.  That`s an interesting thing to explore.  There is truth in the fact that America has done things to influence others` elections.  There seem to have been concern among people heard this that there`s an equivalency here that the President doesn`t seem to be recognizing that he`s undertaking.

JON MEACHAM, PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN:  Are you suggesting that the President saying something that may not be nuanced and or true?  That`s an unusual assertion at this point in American history, unquestionably.  He was suggesting an equivalence.

And I that think, what -- I think there are two significant things out of this Washington Post reporting.  One is, I think this is the first of many, if I were betting.  I would say that the events of the last ten days, if anything, will add -- be seeing more and more examples of conversations, of attempts to enlist agents of agency, foreign governments into the political process here.  I think that the initial whistleblower arguably has made it easier for other people to come forward.

And if past is prologue, I suspect this is part of a pattern for the president.  And this is the first example of another instance of the president trying to basically trade our sovereign elections for influence that would help him.  And, though, he was talking about 2016 there, I don`t think it`s much of a leap to say that if he says I don`t have a problem with what you did in 2016, presumably then he wouldn`t have a problem with what they might do in 2018, or 2020, or 2022, or 2024.

And I think that`s part of the larger narrative here is -- and I think what Republicans have to decide is, are they comfortable with a president who is trading American sovereignty, or do they believe that someone else should be president who would do that.  It`s a pretty straightforward question.

VELSHI:  Let`s talk about this computer system, the revelations that this conversation, the transcripts of the conversations with the Ukrainian president as well as now, according to the New York Times, transcripts of conversation with Vladimir Putin, with the Saudis, were moved to this yet more selective system.

I don`t know if that`s akin to Alexander Butterfield disclosing that there is a recording, you know, that Nixon had recordings in the White House.  I don`t know what it is.

But let`s -- give me some historical context into this sort of thing, presidents keeping information from those who might want or need it for political purposes, as opposed to national security purposes.  Is there an analogue somewhere?

MEACHAM:  Well, presidents have their secrets.  We all do.

VELSHI:  Right.

MEACHAM:  And so, I think that I wouldn`t overreact to the fact that they were trying to keep certain things out of the broader flow.  But what we`ve learned with the whistleblower and arguably with what the Post is reporting is that, if one or two folks know about it, you know, there`s enough, perhaps, for people to stand up within the system somehow and say this is not right.  This is -- this needs to stop.

And if it`s troubling enough, for the white house to take extraordinary steps to conceal it, as you say, then it raises an enormous number of questions about what the content of the calls would be.

Is it Alexander Butterfield in 1973 who revealed the, in a meeting with Fred Thompson, in a Watergate staff meeting that there was a White House taping system?  I don`t think it`s quite that scale because we had no sense at that point that there was a taping system for Nixon.

VELSHI:  We didn`t know in this case.

MEACHAM:  Right.  And what it does say, in this case, is that the president of the United States has had a lot of freewheeling and arguably inappropriate conversations.  And that people around him recognized that it was inappropriate, so much so that they wanted to move it to a special place.

VELSHI:  Jon Meacham, I cannot think of a clearer way to end this remarkable week than to have you bring your remarkable perspective to this discussion.  Thank you, sir, and may you have a quiet weekend, Jon Meacham.

Meacham:  Thanks, Ali.

VELSHI:  More "11th Hour" in just a moment.


VELSHI:  Be sure to tune in tomorrow for the Global Citizen Festival here on MSNBC.  It begins at 4:00 pm Eastern live from Central Park.

That is our broadcast for tonight and for this week.  Brian will be back on Monday.  Thank you for being with us and goodnight from San Diego.

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.                                                                                                     END