ALI VELSHI, MSNBC HOST: Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, thank you for joining us. Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz gets tonight`s last word.
REP. DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ (D-FL): Thank you.
VELSHI: That is tonight`s last word. This Sunday night, please watch "Impeachment: White House in Crisis" with Ari Melber. It airs at 9:00 p.m. And "The 11th Hour with Brian Williams" begins now.
STEVEN KORNACKI, MSNBC HOST: Tonight, as the President ends another difficult week on the road and rallying his base, there are new details on extraordinary steps to keep that so-called perfect phone call under wraps.
Plus, as Trump and his allies consider an impeachment defense, we talk with a Watergate prosecutor about what may and may not work.
And the big political headlines out of Iowa tonight. Beto is done and a frontrunner has put a healthy price tag on her health care plan. THE 11TH HOUR on a Friday night starts now.
Good evening, once again, from our NBC News headquarters here in New York. I`m Steve Kornacki in for Brian Williams. Day 1,016 of the Trump administration. And there is plenty of news on this Friday night including Democratic presidential candidate Beto O`Rourke abruptly dropping out of the presidential race. We will have more on that ahead.
The current occupant of the White House, meanwhile, tonight is ramping up his reelection bid in the midst of a snowballing impeachment inquiry. Tonight, just a day after the House voted to formalize that inquiry and one year away from the general election, Donald Trump went on the attack while speaking in Tupelo, Mississippi.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Corrupt politicians Nancy Pelosi and shifty Adam Schiff, shifty, and the media, are continuing with the deranged impeachment witch hunt. This is one I never thought I would be involved in, the word impeachment to me it`s a dirty word.
Yesterday the Democrats voted to potentially nullify the votes of 63 million Americans, disgracing themselves and bringing shame upon the House of Representatives. But I`ll tell you, the Republicans are really strong, the strongest I`ve ever seen them, the most unified I`ve ever seen them, the most unified I`ve ever seen them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: Over the past five weeks there have been 23 subpoenas issued and lawmakers have heard about a hundred hours of testimony from 13 different witnesses. Those witnesses a combination of career officials and political appointees who have provided testimony that may prove quite damaging to the President that includes testimony that there was indeed a quid pro quo with Ukraine, linking military aid to a meeting with Trump and investigations into political rivals. Witnesses have also testified about a shadow foreign policy being run by Trump`s attorney -- personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani.
And tonight we are learning even more about what one witness, Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman, told House investigators this week. Vindman is the National Security Council Ukraine expert who was listening in on that July 25th phone call between President Trump and the President of Ukraine. Politico and "The Washington Post" are both reporting that several days after that phone call, John Eisenberg, the top legal adviser for the National Security Council, told Vindman not to discuss his concerns about the leader`s conversation with anyone.
NBC News has also confirmed this report. "The Washington Post" adds, quote, "The interaction between Eisenberg and Vindman suggests there was a sense among some in the White House that Trump`s call with Zelinsky was not, as the President has repeatedly claimed, perfect, and it threatens to undercut Trump`s arguments that the expanding impeachment inquiry is politically driven.
Nearly a dozen more officials are scheduled to testify next week. That includes John Eisenberg on Monday along with Energy Secretary Rick Perry and Acting Office of Management and Budget Director Russell Vought. Tonight an Energy Department spokeswoman now says that Secretary Perry will refuse to appear in a closed-door session with lawmakers issue when a statement it says, he -- quote, "Will not partake in a secret star chamber inquisition where agency counsel is forbidden to be present. If the committee is interested in conducting a serious proceeding, they are welcome to send for the secretary`s consideration an invitation to participate in an open hearing where the Department`s counsel can be present and the American people can witness."
Perry could be a key witness. He met with the President of Ukraine earlier this year. Speaker Pelosi told Bloomberg News, she expects the hearing to go public, sometime this month. She says, any case to impeach the President, quote, "Has to be ironclad." She also added that the case to impeach could go beyond the Ukraine phone call.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): There were 11 obstruction of justice provisions in the Mueller report. Perhaps some of them will be part of this. But again, that will be part of the inquiry, to see where we go.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: Senator Lindsey Graham, a staunch Trump ally, was also speaking out again today. He was slamming House Democrats and casting doubt on their motives.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): I don`t trust this process in the House. It`s motivated by sore losers. If you`re going to impeach the President based on those phone calls, you`re wasting your time. This is motivated by Democrats to try to get advantage in 2020.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: Now, as for what the public thinks about all of this. There is a new Washington Post/ABC News poll. Shows that 49 percent say the President should be impeached and removed from office. 47 percent say he should not.
Here for our lead off discussion on a Friday night. Susan Page, Washington bureau chief for "USA Today." Franco Ordonez, White House correspondent for NPR and Josh Gerstein, senior leader affairs contributor for Politico.
Thanks to all of you for being with us.
Susan, let me start with you. We heard from the President tonight in Mississippi, staunchly red state, staunchly pro-Trump state. They`ve got an election coming up there next Tuesday, that`s ostensibly the reason he`s there. But I have to ask you, those clips we played where he addressed the impeachment question there head-on, he demeaned the process, went after Democrats, all the things he`d been hearing from him Twitter. He said in front of that audience. Was his real audience in part there Republican members of Congress, was this an attempt to remind them that in his view, the base of the party is with him and essentially to deliver the message, you don`t want that base turning on you, do you?
SUSAN PAGE, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, "USA TODAY": And, you know, this has been a very successful argument for President Trump. You look at the impeachment vote we saw in the House and there were zero Republican defections, even among some Republicans who have been critical about Trump`s behavior in this matter, have raised questions about it, and who are not running for reelection, chose not to break with the President on this vote. That is a sign of the strength the President continues to command with base Republican voters who continue to see this process as political, or described his behavior as maybe it was the wrong thing to do, but doesn`t rise to the level of impeachment.
We don`t have an argument that he didn`t do these things, that he didn`t have a conversation with the Ukrainian President, that he didn`t raise the issue of investigations as a quid pro quo for meeting or for the release of military aid. Instead we hear this argument that the President made tonight, it doesn`t rise to impeachment. The Democrats are politically motivated.
KORNACKI: And Josh, again, this question of whether Republicans are going to continue to stick with the President through this process, not just in the House but ultimately in a Senate trial if it comes to that, the question is will they stick with him through all the different revelations that continue to come out? It might be a good moment, late at night here at the end of what has been a very busy week even by the very busy standards that Washington has been held to lately, what were the major pieces of testimony that were presented this week that moved the ball on the question of evidence that the Democrats are going to use against the President here?
JOSH GERSTEIN, CONTRIBUTOR, "POLITICO": Well, I mean one you pointed to earlier, Steve, which was this thing that`s just come out today about Lieutenant Colonel Vindman being told by a White House lawyer not -- that he should not discuss the contents of the phone call that the President had, the fact that the phone call was moved onto this NICE system, which is this sort of ultra-top-secret system at the White House in order to perhaps prevent other people from learning about it.
And then there`s also some disagreement, I think, between some of the witnesses, you know, Ambassador Sondland had sort of downplayed the significance of some of these interactions, and other witnesses who came in were in direct conflict with him. And then he started to back off from some of his testimony. So that raises the possibility that if we do have open hearings, you might hear differing stories from different witnesses and at least the possibility of some drama or some revelations. Whether that`s going to be enough to cause any Republicans in the House or in the Senate to change their views, I don`t know. But it is worth noting that some Republicans in the Senate are signaling that they`re already breaking to a degree with the White House line and saying that this was not a perfect phone call, but it still doesn`t amount to an impeachable offense.
KORNACKI: Yes, let`s take a look at that, what you`re mentioning there Josh, this in the "Washington Post" tonight on what may end up being what they`re saying is, is there`s an emerging line of thought among some Republican senators growing numbers of Senate Republicans they said already to acknowledge that President Trump used U.S. military aid as leverage to force Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his family, as the President repeatedly denies a quid pro quo in the shifting strategy to defend Trump, these Republicans are insisting that the President`s action was not illegal and does not rise to the level of an impeachable offense. The President has frustrated Senate Republicans by seeming to change his messaging strategy every day rather than present a coherent defense of his actions.
Franco, it`s interesting because I have got to the sense from some Republicans, the ones who are not offering the full-throated defense of Trump, that they are trying to find a middle ground where they can take issue with the call and some of these actions that have come to light with regard to Ukraine without reaching the point where they say, OK, he should be impeached, he should be removed from office. Reading this article in "The Washington Post," though what strikes me is if they take this approach, what`s being outline here, it still puts them directly at odds with the President whose official line is this call was perfect.
FRANCO ORDONEZ, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, "NPR": I -- it`s a very difficult position for the Republicans to be in. I mean, you know, the Republicans and President Trump keep talking about the July 25th call. But as Josh stated, you know, there have been so many people come forward, so much testimony, but the charges go back way before the July 25th call. You have Ambassador Taylor, you have Vindman talking about concerns about this shadow foreign policy, starting well before then, this year Fiona Hill talking about last year, concerns that Giuliani, the President`s private attorney, kind of leading this charge to put more pressure on the Ukraine to do this investigation of Joe Biden and his son.
Republicans can no longer -- at least it`s making it much, much harder for them to just talk about this phone call. And it`s also becoming, as you point out, harder to not say that the President put this pressure on the Ukraine government. So they need to find a different way to say it. And now they`re putting out this, that it`s not an impeachable offense.
KORNACKI: Susan, back to the politics and the public opinion on this. We mentioned there is a new poll ABC News/"Washington Post" today, 49 percent say, yes impeach him, removed the president, 47 percent, they`re no. Look at the party split there. Just mirror images of each other and you, you look at that 49-47 split, and it really -- it resembles the 2016 election result. And it sort of raises the question of our -- is this thing just reverting to where the country has been for three years?
PAGE: You know, isn`t it exactly where we are on election night in 2016? Where the President was likely was about 47 percent of the vote and Hillary Clinton got about 49 percent of the vote, although the Electoral College put President Trump in the White House. That is one remarkable thing about this. But this has been the most turbulent presidency in modern times with the steadiest approval ratings we`ve ever seen. Those two things would seem to be in conflict. That said, for a President to have 49 percent of Americans say he ought to be removed from office is quite an extraordinary thing.
An incredible challenge to this President, a sign of hard times ahead, because we have these witnesses coming forward with pretty consistent stories about what happened even if they put different interpretations on how seriously we should take it.
KORNACKI: Josh, I want to ask you about what`s coming next week, what might be coming next week, I should say. We mentioned NSC lawyer John Eisenberg in the news tonight, scheduled to appear Democrats, hoping he`ll appear next week. We mentioned Rick Perry, the Energy Department tonight saying, he`s not showing up for a closed door hearing. Democrats are hoping to hear from John Bolton who apparently won`t go voluntarily next week. What is your expectation on who will appear in the coming days?
GERSTEIN: Well, I mean we`ve seen an incredible amount of defiance, remember that really caustic letter the White House put out a couple of weeks ago saying there would be no cooperation from this administration. So, I think the top headline on that is that it was widely ignored by officials from the State Department and even these NSC officials. The NSC is part of the White House, Steve. It`s on the White House website. It`s on the White House grounds. So to have somebody in the NSC defy the White House counsel and go and testify on the Hill is really an extraordinary event.
That said, I think for folks like John Eisenberg, who is an attorney in the White House and works pretty much directly for the White House counsel, I would be extraordinarily surprised if someone like that showed up, you know, except in the circumstances where they had a direct court order to do so. So I think for him, possibly for John Bolton, it would be quite surprising to see them. Bolton`s lawyer has already suggested he might join a pending lawsuit seeking to, you know obtain some ruling from the courts about whether the House subpoenas are valid in the face of this Presidential direction not to appear.
KORNACKI: Yes, and Franco, Josh mentions there is that pending litigation now, as Charles Kupperman, I believe his lawyer is also Bolton`s lawyer, he -- Bolton is a former deputy there, that is going to slow this process down obviously to some degree. Democrats, Nancy Pelosi, the House speaker, talking about beginning hearings this month. You know, what is the timeline that`s emerging here, is there one in terms of hearings, in terms of articles of impeachment potentially being introduced, in terms of the House actually having debate and vote on articles of impeachment? Is there a sense of a timeline for that process now?
ORDONEZ: Well, they`re moving as fast as they can. They want to move it forward. I mean, Adam Schiff talking about not wanting -- not going to allow these court hearings to delay their process. He said he`s not going to get into or they`re not going to get into a rope-a-dope with the White House by allowing these court hearings to move forward. I mean they`re moving forward. They just had a vote on a resolution which will lay out new ground rules for open hearings. They have not said who yet specifically they want to talk to but they say that the American people will hear who they need to hear from.
Eventually they have talked about someone about possibly someone like William Taylor -- Ambassador William Taylor coming back and testifying. But they certainly feel a deadline and they want to get it done as quick as possible.
KORNACKI: All right, Franco Ordonez, Josh Gerstein, Susan Page, thank you all for joining us, really appreciate it.
ORDONEZ: Thank you.
KORNACKI: All right, thanks, coming up, the President and his allies are starting to argue you can`t be impeached if you`ve done nothing illegal. We`ll ask one of three Watergate prosecutors if that`s accurate.
And later, it is a big weekend for politics in Iowa. Tonight, there is one fewer Democrat out there running for President. THE 11TH HOUR just getting started on a Friday night.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN CHANCELLOR, JOURNALIST: The House of Representatives today voted almost unanimously, 410-4, to grant broad subpoena powers to the House Judiciary Committee in its inquiry into the impeachment of the President. Only once before has the House taken such a vote, in the matter of the impeachment of President Andrew Johnson and 99 percent of the members voted for the unqualified subpoena powers.
No one argued against the impeachment investigation. The only disagreement was whether to put a time limit on the resolution.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: John Chancellor there back in 1974, the "NBC Nightly News" 1974. That was the year when Republicans ultimately abandoned Richard Nixon and forced him to resign as president. Thus far that has not been the case when it comes to Trump and today`s Republicans. The House vote to formalize the impeachment inquiry was split mostly along party lines. There were no GOP defections this week, a fact that has not gone unnoticed by the President.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: With all of this that`s happening, I think the Republicans have been amazing. We had 195 or 196 to nothing. We had tremendous support from the Senate. We had tremendous support from the House. We even had Democrats go over to the Republican side yesterday in the House.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: Thursday`s vote essentially directed the chairs of six House committees to continue their impeachment inquiries. That means the scope is not limited to Trump`s dealings with Ukraine. "The Washington Post" reporting tonight, quote, "The centerpiece of House Democrats` eventual impeachment charges is widely expected to be Trump`s alleged abuse of power over Ukraine, but obstruction of Congress is now all but certain to be introduced as well, according to multiple Democratic lawmakers and aides, just as it was five decades ago when the House Judiciary Committee voted for articles of impeachment against then-President Richard Nixon.
With us now, Jill Wine-Banks, attorney, former assistant prosecutor Watergate special counsel and a MSNBC legal analyst. She`s also author of the forthcoming book, "The Watergate Girl: My Fight for Truth and Justice against a Criminal President," it is due out in February.
Jill, thanks for being here tonight, I appreciate it. Well we just put the clip up. So the closest thing to a comparable vote in 1974 with Nixon and what happened this week was the vote we just showed the clip up. 410-4, it was basically unanimous in the House, Democrats and Republicans. I don`t need to tell you, there were very divided feelings about Nixon.
JILL WINE-BANKS, FMR ASSISTANT PROSECUTOR, WATERGATE SPECIAL COUNSEL: Yes.
KORNACKI: But there was unity on the question of the investigation. And this week, near absolute total partisan division. What`s the difference?
WINE-BANKS: The media. The fact that we had NBC, ABC, CBS, and all of them had the same facts. There was no argument about the facts. That was clear. John Chancellor had the same story as Huntley, Brinkley, et cetera. And now we have total bubbles of information so that people believe totally different things, even though only one can be true. And I believe that what we`re hearing here on MSNBC are the facts. They represent what`s really going on.
And we have to remember, although it was 410-4, it also ended up at the end where there was a unanimous -- not unanimous, but there was clearly going to be a conviction in the Senate and that it was the Republicans who went to Nixon and said, if you do not resign, you will be convicted. He said, well, I still have a lot of support in the Senate. Barry Goldwater allegedly said to him, you don`t even have my vote. And that`s when he resigned.
KORNACKI: And that was it. And obviously, the President, we saw at that rally tonight, talked about trying to keep Republicans together. Listen to what he said, let`s play this clip from the rally tonight.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: The Republicans have great policy. In many ways they`re better politicians. But they`re not as vicious. Thank you, darling, I appreciate it. They`re not as vicious. But they have a tendency to split apart. The Democrats don`t seem to have any Mitt Romney. We do.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: So is it Romney on his mind, the Romney been one of the most outspoken Trump critics in tis too who has emerged so far. How do you see the House vote this week, every single Republican voted against the resolution? Do you read that as, if it comes to articles of impeachment, that means they`re dug in, they`ll vote against articles of impeachment, or do you see wiggle room that that vote doesn`t necessarily indicate?
WINE-BANKS: I think right now they are unanimous in their support because they`re afraid of Donald Trump and he is obviously bribing them with money, saying if you want money to support your campaign and if you don`t want to have an opponent in the primary, you better support me. And he has raised an enormous amount of money. But I think in the end, once they go back home and start hearing from their constituents who are starting to believe and understand, and we now have almost 50 percent of the American people, 49 percent, say that he should not only be impeached, he should be removed. That`s a very dramatic thing.
And also, if you follow the statistics from Watergate, it`s not dissimilar in Watergate. You had a very popular President, someone who won 49 states, who won the overwhelming popular vote. And yet at the end, as the facts started coming out, those numbers switched. So he went from having over 64 percent approval rating to having a 20 percent approval rating. And support for impeachment went from 20 percent to over 50 percent. It was really correlated to the facts. The issue now is, will people who watch Fox News get the same facts? Will they see the full hearings? Will they see the live witnesses? It was very dramatic when John Dean raised his hand and testified. There were three times more people watching than watched Michael Cohen.
And so we need to get the people to watch. The public hearings are extremely important. And people are starting to understand Ukraine in a way they never understood the Mueller- Russia investigation. they seem to really somehow inherently just get that what he did was an abuse of power, that he was basically shaking down a foreign government, and even though he, during the Mueller report, said well maybe he didn`t know that it was wrong to take money from a foreign government, after the Mueller report, there`s no question that Donald Trump and his entire family know that you cannot ask for or accept anything from a foreign government.
And asking for help with your campaign is clearly something of value that is illegal. So -- and we don`t need illegal. I don`t want to focus on crimes because high crimes and misdemeanors does not mean a violation of the federal code.
KORNACKI: Let me ask you this. February 1974, the House launches the impeachment inquiry formally. End of July, the Judiciary Committee votes out, I think it was 27-11, articles of impeachment within two weeks, Nixon is done, he resigns, it`s over. That was about 5 1/2, six month process there. How fast do you think things will move right now?
WINE-BANKS: Well, the obstruction here, the stonewalling, is much greater. And actually the count -- the article of impeachment that I really think is significant is the contempt of Congress, which is just as bad as the obstruction, just as bad as the abuse, maybe even more so because it`s destroying democracy which is built on having checks and balances and having oversight. And if you say I won`t have any witnesses come in from the White House for anything, he`s not letting them to come in and talk about immigration. We`re not just talking about criminal investigations. It`s the entire oversight process being challenged. Everything happened really quickly during Watergate and they`re doing a much better job of dragging their feet. The courts acted -- they expedited cases and things went fast.
And the one thing you left out on what happened in that period was, we had subpoenaed in the prosecution office 64 additional tapes, one of which was the smoking gun tape. And the minute that got heard, it was like the final straw. It was one where you could hear the President and his chief of staff talking about using the CIA to stop the FBI from following the money trail because the money came from the committee to reelect the President, to pay for the burglary at the DNC. And once people heard that, that was the end, people said, this is real. We have to get rid of him.
KORNACKI: And that was the -- that was who broke everything. Jill Wine- Banks, thank you for joining us. Appreciate it.
WINE-BANKS: Thank you.
KORNACKI: And coming up, there are big political headlines out of Iowa this week. We go over the big board, new numbers, brand new numbers from the state that gets the first say and who is going to be the Democratic candidate for president next year when THE 11TH HOUR continues.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PETE BUTTIGIEG (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I don`t get helicoptered into a golf course with my name on it while pretending to care about the working class. I don`t even golf.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: That was just a couple of hours ago. That`s Pete Buttigieg, of course, one of the Democratic candidates for president. And where was he? He was in the Hawkeye State, Iowa.
He`s not the only Democrat who`s out there tonight, not the only Democratic out there this week, and all eyes on Iowa, as one of those big candidate cattle calls tonight. Iowa, of course, they get the first say. February 3rd, next year, the first votes that are going to cast and counted, the first meaningful contest, when the primary season begins, the Iowa caucuses, Monday, February 3rd, next year.
Remember, it is four standalone contests that will define that first month, Iowa, then eight days later, the New Hampshire primary, then the end of the next week, Nevada, then a week later, South Carolina. And then you`re into March, then you`re into Super Tuesday.
These early contests, these are the winnowing contests. They are the ones who decide who are real contenders, the folks who can`t compete, who can`t win, who can`t come close in those early states that usually fade out very quickly. So with that in mind, with all the candidates out there in Iowa, what does it look like in these early states right now?
Here you go. Here is where they are right now. Here is Iowa, brand-new poll out today, New York Times/Siena College, Warren leading right now. It`s close but Warren leading in their Iowa polls today, 22 percent. Look at this, by the way, Bernie Sanders, second place, 19 percent, just three points off Warren.
Remember, about a month ago, we were all talking about Bernie Sanders, his health scare, oldest candidate in the field, was he going to start to fade out in the polling? This is proof, right now, at least, to his campaign. This would strongly suggest he`s very much in contention in Iowa. And if you`re in contention in Iowa, you`re in contention for the Democratic nomination.
By the way, Pete Buttigieg, right behind Sanders, 18 percent, Buttigieg doing much better in Iowa than he`s doing in the national polls, than he`s doing in some of the other early state polls. He is in contention in Iowa. So as fourth place here, technically, Joe Biden is only five points behind Warren, but it is fourth place in this packing order.
Joe Biden sitting there at 17 percent, think about that if you`re Joe Biden. If you can`t win Iowa, if you were to finish third, fourth place, something like that in Iowa, and you`re running on the idea of electability, you`re running on the idea that you`re a winner. What does do to that image? What does that do -- what happens then?
So, we got four candidates tightly clustered there. They could all point to a scenario where they win Iowa. And remember, I always say, reshuffles the deck.
Look at this. This is where New Hampshire stands right now. It`s also cluttered. By the way, Sanders, newest poll this week, in first place In New Hampshire. What happens if Sanders sneaks up and wins Iowa? Does he roll it in New Hampshire and then win New Hampshire? What`s the track record of candidates winning both Iowa and New Hampshire?
On the Democratic side, in the modern era, candidates who`ve done that are undefeated when it comes to winning the Democratic nomination. Sanders could put -- what about Warren? If Warren won Iowa, would she turn around and win New Hampshire based on the momentum, based on how close she is.
You could point to a scenario. Buttigieg, Biden, Warren, Sanders, if you win Iowa, it`s not hard to see any of them rolling into New Hampshire. And if you win Iowa and New Hampshire, history says your campaign is going to look very strong coming out of that.
So this is a very unsettled race right now. There`s an opportunity for any of those four candidates to win either of those first couple of states. And, by the way, history says in Iowa, at this point, you don`t have to be at the top right now.
Candidates have come from the very back of the pack, late in Iowa. Won Iowa, and then gone on from there. Long way of saying, Klobuchar may be at 4 percent right now, doesn`t mean she`s out of it in Iowa. It doesn`t mean other candidates are out of it in Iowa either. We have seen candidates get hot very late in Iowa, win Iowa, and then the world changes.
So everybody is there right now, going to be an interesting weekend, going to be an interesting few months.
Coming up, the candidate who once said he was born to run, he`s out. And another candidate shuts down offices in a vital early primary state. Two of our veteran political reporters join us next to dissect it all when "The 11th Hour" continues.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BETO O`ROURKE (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And I urge everyone who was part of this campaign or supported me in my bid for the nomination to do everything they can to support whoever the nominee is.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: Beto O`Rourke is out of the 2020 presidential race. The former Texas congressman has been struggling in the polls and with fundraising in recent months. And at this point, he hadn`t even qualified for the November 20th debate that`s going to be here on MSNBC.
O`Rourke`s campaign said in a statement he will not run for Senate in Texas next year. And meanwhile, Politico is reporting that Kamala Harris` campaign has almost completely shuttered its New Hampshire operation, "The campaign confirmed it is largely abandoning New Hampshire keeping only a skeleton crew and canceling an upcoming visit.
Harris also will not file in-person to be on the ballot, a tradition that garners local media attention.
Earlier this week, Harris announced she plans to restructure her campaign, laying off dozens of aides at her Baltimore headquarters to "go all in on Iowa."
Here to talk about all of it, Jonathan Allen, NBC News National Political Reporter, and Beth Fouhy, NBC News Senior Politics Editor who is in Iowa, covering tonight`s liberty and justice event. That`s where all those Democratic candidates are speaking. Thanks to both of you for being with us.
Jon Allen, let me start with you. I guess in the, what is a micro or macro. The big one is macro I think. In the big picture sense, it is not a surprise that Beto O`Rourke is dropping out of this presidential race, didn`t even look like he was going to make the next debate.
And yet, this was a very sudden departure, it sounds like. What`s going on there?
JONATHAN ALLEN, NBC NEWS NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER: So sudden, in fact, Steve, I spoke to one of his supporters, a big supporter from the west coast who had flown into Iowa today for this liberty and justice dinner, didn`t find out that O`Rourke was exiting the race until she landed. Was not upset, I mean, was upset, obviously, that he was ending the campaign, was not upset that she didn`t find out before she got to Iowa, understood that this was something that was probably coming, certainly understood that O`Rourke was, you know, going to speak to his supporters and everything.
But it certainly was sudden for a lot of people who, you know, made plans to be there for the dinner tonight.
KORNACKI: So, Beth, on the one hand, there`s the Beto O`Rourke who`s on the other hand, this -- Kamala Harris -- two stories this week with Harris. Number one, restructuring the campaign, that looked like discouraging enough news for her, now essentially pulling out of New Hampshire.
I`ve got to say, I`ve seen the move where the candidates say I`m going to skip Iowa, try to jump-start it in New Hampshire, jumpstart it later. She`s putting everything in Iowa but simultaneously pulling out from New Hampshire. This seems like an unusual move.
BETH FOUHY, NBC NEWS SENIOR POLITICS EDITOR: Yes. Well, a lot of it is driven by budget, of course. But she really didn`t have a whole lot of really well-thought-out strategy here in terms of thinking that she could sort of like just play a little bit in Iowa, play a little bit in New Hampshire, and then somehow come up and do very well in South Carolina. That`s what her advisers had sort of projected she could do, to sort of do that hat trick.
But you know, Steve, that`s really not very feasible. You have to show some strength right out of the gate. You have to show strength in Iowa, have to show strength in New Hampshire, one or the other, preferably both, or else you don`t get that lift that you need to go on into South Carolina and to the Super Tuesday states. So they had to really restructure their whole plan.
But I have to tell you, Steve, Kamala Harris looked very strong tonight. She had one of those moments, you know, we`ve seen her throughout the campaign have certain moments. She had that moment with Joe Biden on the first debate in June. She had the moment when she kicked off her campaign in Oakland in front of that big crowd. This, I would say, is another one of those moments.
She was strong. She had sort of a new message in her stump speech. She said justice is on the ballot. She ticked through the many ways in which she could say justice is on the ballot. She got a really rousing response, and not just from the people who have been brought in by her campaign to be there for her. It was one of her better performances that I`ve seen.
KORNACKI: So that`s interesting, because this event tonight, I think it used to be the Jefferson/Jackson event. They`ve renamed it. But the lore holds that this is where, in the fall of 2007, Barack Obama gave a speech that sort of relaunched his campaign, gave him the momentum for the final push to win the Iowa caucuses. And then obviously everything else that came with it.
And you`re saying Harris had a good night there, what have you been hearing from the other candidates there tonight?
FOUHY: Well, Pete Buttigieg was really trying to model on that 2007 Obama performance that you mentioned, Steve. He came in with a huge, huge, huge cadre of supporters, a lot of whom had came in from out of state. I saw a hundred Buttigieg supporters in -- at a coffee shop today in Iowa who came in from California.
And the first thing that Buttigieg said when he came out on the stage was, I`m here. The last time I -- the first time I came to Iowa was to campaign for a young man with a funny name, and we all knew who that he was talking about. He was talking about Barack Obama. He too is the young man with the funny name, trying to draw that link.
And he gave a really, really rip roaring speech. It was effective, and he did have a really strong organization here. But I guess my point is that Kamala surprised people by how well she did, given that she was really on this kind of fadeout for so long.
KORNACKI: Jon, Beto O`Rourke was up against the reality of potentially not making this debate. There`s the November debate. Then, in December, they`re raising the DNC as the criteria again. Do you expect to see more dropouts in the next few weeks?
ALLEN: I think we may see some of that, Steve. This is getting harder and harder for a lot of the candidates. I think there`s frustration among some of their supporters in particular because we haven`t seen any contests. We haven`t seen any voting yet. But the DNC rules are what they are in terms of the number of donors you have and the polling numbers they expect these candidates to get.
I`m hearing from some of my sources that they`re upset that what this does is essentially, in some cases, require these candidates to spend a lot of time raising money rather than spending time in Iowa or at some of these other states, canvassing and trying to get support. So we will see how it shakes out.
But I do expect we`ll see a little bit more of a winnowing. Usually candidates drop out when the plane stops flying because they don`t have enough money to keep fueling it.
KORNACKI: All right. We`ll take a quick break here, but coming up, Elizabeth Warren, her long-awaited health care plan. She finally came out with that today. And the fighting words that she offered about one of her chief rivals, when "The 11th Hour" continues.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: 2020 is our time to win this fight for Medicare for all and save our people. 2020 is our time in history, our time to dream big, fight hard, and win.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: Today, Elizabeth Warren released details of her Medicare for all proposal. "The New York Times" sums it up this way "Warren of Friday proposing $20.5 trillion in new spending through huge tax increases on businesses and wealthy Americans to pay for Medicare for all, laying out details for a landmark government expansion that will post political risk for her presidential candidacy, while also allowing her to say she is not raising taxes on the middle class to pay for her health care plan."
Earlier today during an interview on PBS, Joe Biden was asked about Warren`s plan.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JUDY WOODRUFF, PBS ANCHOR: Elizabeth Warren today put out an estimate for the cost of her Medicare for all plan. She put it at around 20 trillion over a number of years. In the past, the estimates have been $34 trillion. She`s talking about making it up with the difference with targeted defense spending cuts, a wealth tax, cracking down on tax evaders.
JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: She`s making it up. Look, nobody thinks it is $20 trillion. It is between $30 and $40 trillion.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: And still with us, Jonathan Allen and Beth Fouhy.
Beth, Warren is making obviously a big bet that the Democratic electorate is looking for something more than just beating Trump. They`re looking for something very big in terms of policy. Biden, you can see there and you`ve seen other Democrats do this as well, is trying to tell people that just way too expensive. What do you think the politics of that are on the Democratic side right now?
FOUHY: Well, Warren, as she said, has really gone in, sort of all in on Medicare for all. She doesn`t appear to be backing off, you know, we`ve seen other candidate sort of try their hand at it. You know, maybe Medicare for all who want it or, you know, sort of Medicare, sort of gradual transition. She`s really going right for the heart of this and saying, you know, this is where she`s going to put herself on the line.
So you can look at the plan that she laid out today. And intellectually, it does, you know, the numbers add up and she talks about where she would get the money, and that middle class taxpayer would not see their taxes go up. So she did check some important boxes there.
The problem is, politically nobody believes that any of this is something she could accomplish. With the Senate needing 60 votes to pass anything, even if Democrats were to regain the majority, the expectation is they`re not going to get the majority of 60 votes in the Senate, you know, any time soon, and perhaps in the next decade. And even if they did, to even tell - - even have Democrats sign on to something of this magnitude, would be a very big lift. So that`s the part she has not answered yet.
Today, she answered the intellectual sort of question about how did the numbers add up. She hasn`t answered the political question yet.
KORNACKI: And we showed Joe Biden`s reaction to it. And if Warren was asked about that, she gave an interview to Bloomberg today. Here`s what she said.
According to Bloomberg, she swatted back at Biden`s criticism. She accused him of "running in the wrong presidential primary." "Democrats," she said, "are not going to win by repeating Republican talking points. So if Biden doesn`t like that, I`m just not sure where he`s going."
Jon Allen, that response from Warren, essentially, saying that the Biden criticism we just showed, that is giving aid and comfort to the enemy tribe. Will that resonate with Democrats?
ALLEN: You know, I don`t think that`s exactly a fair criticism of what Vice President Biden said. What Vice President Biden is saying is that Elizabeth Warren can`t do what she wants to do. And I think what Republicans are saying, she shouldn`t do what she wants to do.
The case that she has to make to the public is, that this plan is not only the right plan but also the one that she can get done. And I think she started to make that case. And by the way, I don`t think this is just a plan for Democrats. I actually think that there are certainly some independents out there that will be attracted to this. And maybe there are some Republicans out there who will find this to be something that is appealing.
The $52 trillion she`s talking about over a decade sounds like a lot of money but it is actually what Americans are going to spend on health care over the next decade. Without her plan, the only difference is the 27 million or so who would be insured under her plan versus not under her plan. And of course, the big changes in who -- in how all of that works, basically whether it`s a government system or a private system.
But this is the big test for her. She says she wants big structural change. If she can sell that to the public in the Democratic primary, she could sell it to the public in a general election, she`ll have a lot better chance to have it mandate as president to get it done. And if she cannot sell it, she`s not going to be the Democratic nominee or the president, and it won`t matter.
KORNACKI: Beth, just very quickly every debate so far today, it seems like she`s been hit with that question, will middle class taxes go up. It`s been notable her refusal to grapple with that question directly. Now, in this plan today, she`s offering a direct answer. Her answer in this plan, at least according to her, is no. Why wasn`t her -- why wasn`t she ready to give an answer like that until now?
FOUHY: Well, you know, she`s a walk and I`m sure she really did want to sort green eye shade the whole thing and make sure that all her numbers could add up without any sort of a middle class tax hike. The question is whether any of this really comes off as believable, Steve, to not only members of Congress, but to the public.
As Jon said, she would really have to bring along a huge public wave of support for this type of plan, for it to have any chance at all of getting anywhere if she were elected president. And it`s just -- people are going to have a lot of skepticism about this. They are just not going to believe that something of this magnitude could be accomplished without sort of, you know, higher costs borne by everybody.
She made an effort today to say that that wasn`t the case, but it depends whether people are going to believe that.
KORNACKI: All right. Beth Fouhy out there in Iowa where all the action is right now, and Jonathan Allen, thank you for joining us, appreciate it.
We`ll have more of "The 11th Hour" after the break.
KORNACKI: And before we go some reminders for you. You can watch us any time you`d like by downloading the MSNBC app on mobile device. If you`re on the move, you can listen live each night on SiriusXM satellite radio. We`re also available as a free podcast.
And speaking of podcast, you can download and subscribe to my brand new podcast. It is called "Article II." It`s all about impeachment, all the latest news, headlines, analysis, everything you need to know about the impeachment inquiry. Please give it a shot.
That`s our broadcast for tonight and for this week, Brian will be back on Monday. Thank you for being with us. Goodnight from MSNBC News headquarters in New York.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END