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Sondland, changes testimony. TRANSCRIPT: 11/5/19, The 11th Hour w/ Brian Williams.

Guests: Tim O`Brien

BRIAN WILLIAMS, MSNBC HOST:  Now indicates military aid for Ukraine was indeed hang up in an effort to harm the Bidens.

Other testimony just out today paints an unmistakable picture of Rudy Giuliani conducting foreign policy and deepen the Ukrainian politics in his effort to get Ukraine to say publicly they were looking into the Bidens.

And Republicans roll out a new defense along the lines of if it happened, it`s not impeachable as the Democrats call forward a big name in the White House who probably won`t show.

And what we`ve learned this election night, especially in places where the President had a lot on the line.  All of it as "The 11th Hour" gets under way on this Tuesday night.

Well, good evening, once again from our NBC News headquarters here in New York.  Day 1,020 of the Trump administration.  And we are watching tonight`s election results including the big upset for the Democrat in Mitch McConnell`s home state, the race Donald Trump campaigned for just last night in Kentucky.  Our report on the late results in just a moment.

Today`s other big headline is a striking reversal of testimony from an important impeachment witness.  Let us first tell the story through tonight`s headlines.  "New York Times," "Sondland updates impeachment testimony describing Ukraine quid pro quo."  There is that phrase again.

And the New York post -- I`m sorry, "Washington Post," it`s early yet, "Sondland adds to testimony linking aid to Ukraine probes sought by Trump."

Gordon Sondland raised a lot of money for Donald Trump and was richly rewarded with the job title U.S. Ambassador to the European Union.  That made him a big witness on Ukraine.  And today he remembered the story differently from the last time he testified before so many other witnesses came forward to tell the story the other way.

There`s been a three-page update issued to amend his initial closed-door testimony to those House investigators last month.  He originally told lawmakers he didn`t know if military aid for Ukraine was linked to the President`s desire for investigations into the Bidens.

In today`s updated testimony, Sondland says discussions described by other witnesses have, "refreshed my recollection about conversations involving the suspension of U.S. aid."  Sondland says he now recalls that on September 1st he told a top aide to President Zelensky and Ukraine that, "resumption of U.S. aid would likely not occur until Ukraine provided the public anti-corruption statement that we have been discussing for many weeks."

And this, the ambassador becomes the fourth witness to affirm an effort to hold up that aid from Ukraine in their fight with the Russians, remember, in exchange for political damage to the Bidens. 

House Democrats also released Sondland`s full testimony from just last month in which he said the President repeatedly ordered him to, "Talk to Rudy Giuliani, "last May saying, "Ukraine is a problem."  He described dealings with Ukraine as an escalating set of demand, which became conditions for American support.  Adding those demands, "kept getting more insidious as the timeline went on."

Sondland testifies after reading what was happening.  He believed the demands on Ukraine were improper, if not illegal.  He said he`s not a lawyer.

House Democrats also released closed door testimony from this guy, Kurt Volker, the former special envoy to Ukraine, he has since resigned.  He said at the time he didn`t know why aid was being blocked and that, "The negative narrative about Ukraine that Mr. Giuliani was furthering was the problem.  It was, in my view, it was impeding our ability to build the relationship."

And he added interestingly, "hanging over everyone`s head in the expert community is, is there some grand bargain with Russia where we throw Ukraine under the bus?"

Here was the reaction from the White House Press Secretary.


STEPHANIE GRISHAM, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY:  The transcripts that were released today show exactly what the President has been saying all along, and that is that he did nothing wrong and that there was no quid pro quo.  So these transcripts are actually, they`re good for the President.  They`re showing again that this entire time he`s been telling the truth.


WILLIAMS:  On Capitol Hill Republicans seem to be honing their strategy to attack the impeachment inquiry.  There are now discussions under way to replace Ohio Congressman Jim Jordan, a Trump defender at all costs on the Intelligence Committee ahead of public televised hearings, but today Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell tried to toss cold water on the whole thing with this prediction.


SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL, (R) KENTUCKY MAJORITY LEADER:  If it were today, I don`t think there`s any question.  It would not lead to a removal.  I`d be surprised if it didn`t end the way the two previous ones did with the President not being removed from office.


WILLIAMS:  NBC News reporting that a source says Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman will testify publicly in the impeachment inquiry, if asked.  The source says he`s not yet been approached but that Vindman is expected back on the Hill Thursday to review the testimony of his own -- the transcript of his own testimony.

We`re also learning that David Hale, one of the State Department`s most senior diplomats is expected to testify on his own on Wednesday.  Jennifer Williams, special adviser for the Vice President for Europe and Russia is expected to testify Thursday.

House Democrats were aiming even higher today, they summoned White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney to testify.  You may recall it was Mulvaney who confirmed a quid pro quo on Ukraine out loud right there on camera before he took it back later.  The White House is blocking him from showing up.

So far this week half a dozen Trump administration officials asked to give their testimony in the impeachment inquiry have been no-shows on the Hill.

On that, time to bring in our lead off discussion group on a Tuesday night, Philip Rucker, Pulitzer Prize-winning White House Bureau Chief for "The Washington Post" here with us in the studio, Robert Costa, National Political Reporter for "The Washington Post" and moderator of "Washington Week" on PBS, and veteran federal prosecutor, former U.S. attorney Barbara McQuade.  Good evening and welcome to you all.  My apologies to our two friends from "The Washington Post" for instead making you employees of the New York post, however briefly.

Mr. Costa, you have, I note on social media tonight then making the rounds of the various profiles encourage otherwise known as members of the U.S. Senate with tonight`s election results in mind, start with our lead story and tell us what you`ve learned.

ROBERT COSTA, THE WASHINGTON POST NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER:  A significant day here on Capitol Hill.  I spent the whole day at the Capitol walking around the Senate, talking to Senate Republicans.  Just got off the phone with Scott Reed, the chief strategist for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, one of the most influential financial groups for the Republican Party in the country.  Real alarm in the Republican Party tonight about losing a red state.

Yes, Governor Bevin, the incumbent was unpopular, everyone acknowledges that.  But the President rallied for him on Monday.  And this is a tense time for the Republican Party.  So many senators today, nearly a dozen, did not want to go on the record.  But talked about their unease about the outlook for 2020 and the President`s political capital.

WILLIAMS:  Phil Rucker, always magnanimous, the Trump campaign has put out a statement tonight that I`m just now reading.  The President just about dragged Governor Matt Bevin across the finish line.  The President did say in front of the crowd last night in Kentucky, if you lose it sends a really bad message.  You can`t let that happen to me.  Do you think the President will take this personally?

PHILIP RUCKER, WASHINGTON POST WHITE HOUSE BUREAU CHIEF:  He will take it personally but he`s not going to accept any blame personally.  And I assume when he speaks about this tomorrow, he`ll echo that statement from the campaign.  But we should underscore what a significant loss this is politically for the President.  Kentucky is not one of those swing states, it`s a state that he won handily in 2016 that he`s expected to carry with a significant margin in 2020.

He flew there last night because he thought he could get Bevin over the finish line.  That was a rally that get out the vote to turn out all those Trump supporters to vote for the Republican incumbent governor and it was not enough.  And so that`s an indication that Trump`s supporters are not necessarily going to follow his lead there and vote for his candidate.

That being said, McConnell aligned Republican nominee for attorney general did prevail --


RUCKER:  -- down ballot in that state.  And Bevin as Bob was just saying is uniquely unpopular there, but it is still a political defeat for the President.

WILLIAMS:  Hey, Bob, did we get it about right at the top of the broadcast that the Republicans` latest reaction to Sondland and impeachment is kind of morphing (ph) day by day into, if it did happen, it`s not impeachable still?

COSTA:  It`s not even there, Brian.  Let me put it this way, when I bring up the impeachment inquiry and all the substance of the facts, so many Republican senators do not want to engage on the substance.  Instead they want to talk about the upcoming I.G. report from Attorney General Barr.  The Attorney General`s own report on the Russia probe.  That`s where they are right now on the Republican Party, trying to build a counternarrative rather than dealing with the own narrative in front of their face.

WILLIAMS:  Barb, when you hear about a high-profile witness, revising their testimony after refreshing their memory, does it bring back fond memories of being a fed?

BARBARA MCQUADE, FMR. U.S. ATTORNEY:  It does, although, I`ll tell you he`s wait an awfully long time to revise his statement.  One of the things that typically happens when you have a witness in the grand jury is you give an opportunity to recant, you give them a warning and tell them if there`s anything they said that was false, this is their opportunity to change their testimony and correct it.  And sometimes they do on the spot.

For him to delay a number of weeks between the time he gave that statement and the time he changed it because his recollection has been refreshed by the testimony of others I think strain credulity a little bit.  He suggests that he forgot and didn`t remember that he had this conversation with an aid to President Zelensky about withholding almost $400 million in military aid in exchanges for these investigations that President Trump wanted.  It just doesn`t strike me as the kind of thing that slips ones mind.

WILLIAMS:  Phil Rucker, part of the problem with the Republican argument that this is a kind of deep state pact, is that it would have had to have been a pact from all these big names, including career public servants, including members of the military with no motivation or reason to lie.  They all seem to be telling pieces of the same story.

RUCKER:  That`s right, Brian.  And what`s so significant, I think today about the testimony of Ambassador Sondland is he`s not one of these career --

WILLIAMS:  That`s right.

RUCKER:  -- patriots.  He`s not somebody that Trump can say was from the deep state or a never Trumper to use the President`s phrase.  But he`s a political appointee.  He gave a ton of money to the Trump campaign in 2016.  He`s been supporting the President.  He wanted a job in the administration, and he rewarded with this ambassadorship.

And in his testimony, his initial testimony a week or two ago, he actually spoke in a way that help the President.  He was defending the President`s integrity and motivations and so forth.  And for him to make this correction to point out the quid pro quo, to acknowledge the quid pro quo that the President and his aides have been denying all this time is really extraordinary because of his political identity and his appointee status.

WILLIAMS:  And while I have you, let`s talk about Mike Pompeo for a hot second.  It had been said he had shifted his ambition to go run back home in Kansas for political office.  His name, however, just keeps coming up in this case.  It would certainly indicate he gave Rudolph Giuliani`s involvement in foreign policy at least tacit approval.  People were trolling him on social media today by repeating the honor code at West Point.  Things have turned dark for the Secretary of State.

RUCKER:  They have.  Mike Pompeo is relatively young in politics.  He was a congressman from Kansas and he aspires to great things.  He wants to maybe someday run for president.

So he -- this means secretary of state in the Trump administration is not the last stop in Pompeo`s tour of public service.  And his been eyeing that Senate seat in Kansas, but he decided over the summer not to leave the administration and run for Senate but to continue on as a secretary of state.

And, you know, talking over the last few weeks to some of his confidantes there`s concern that that could really damage him politically in the future because he is so intwined now in this Ukraine scandal.  His name keeps coming up.  It`s his own advisers and subordinates who are testifying, who are a part of this.  And he, as you just noted, allowed for Rudy Giuliani, the President`s personal attorney to be so integral in the shaping of American foreign policy.

WILLIAMS:  And Robert Costa, that`s part of the cost of this, the dynamic you just spoke of, distractions looking down, other holes for an argument, for evidence.  The names can pile up.  People with established career or so they thought who had been caught up tangentially in this and keep getting mentioned by this list of credible witnesses who are coming forward.

COSTA:  I remember being in Poland with Vice President Pence while he was sitting there with President Zelensky of Ukraine and his delivering this message about corruption to the Ukrainian President.  Even the Vice President, the Secretary of State find themselves entangled in this controversy, this impeachment inquiry at different levels.

And the answer to all this is, so many people who succeed in President Trump`s inner circle, they accept the culture, the transactional nature, the way of accepting his behavior and conduct.  But once you do that, some things faster on the size like Rudy Giuliani`s rouge foreign policy conduct.  And because of that acceptance in that culture, so many people like the Secretary of State and the Vice President find themselves facing really tough question and what they knew and what they did.

WILLIAMS:  Barb, remember the Republican flash mob in the hearing room where these depositions were being taken behind closed doors.  They demanded the proceedings be opened, even tough they were part of the proceedings all the while.  They demanded transparency. This is what transparency looks like.  Now we`re able to read the testimony gathered behind those doors all the while.

Do you think in a weird reverse kind of way, this has made a case for close door depositions and orderly process in the gathering of facts?

MCQUADE:  I think it has worked really quite well.  You know, one of the disadvantages that the House had in this inquiry different from what we`ve seen in the past is the absence of a special counsel or independent counsel to do the early log work.

And so, the first step that has to be taken is the initial interviews, which can take eight or 10 hours as we saw.  And then putting just the highlight before the American people in a hearing room really is an efficient way to go about it.  It also forces people into what`s known as the prisoner`s dilemma.  When witnesses don`t know what the other witnesses are saying, they have to -- they have a hard time keeping their stories straight.  And I think that is the situation that Gordon Sondland found himself in.

He didn`t know whether everybody else was going to stay on the same page of music or tell the truth.  And once he realized that the other people were telling the truth, he had to scurry and do the same.  And so, I think it has been kind of a lesson in in effective way to conduct these kinds of investigations.

WILLIAMS:  Greatly appreciate with the big three rolling with us through some breaking news tonight and starting us off in fashion.  Philip Rucker, Robert Costa, Barbara McQuade, thank you all.

Coming up, as promised more on this upset victory tonight in Kentucky.

And then later, their t-shirts just last night at that Kentucky rally said, "read the transcript," even though of course we can`t.  It hasn`t been released.  Is any of this shaking Trump`s base of support?

And later new signs that Donald Trump`s presidency may be taking a financial toll (ph) on Donald Trump the brand name.  "The 11 Hour" is just getting started on this consequential Tuesday night overlooking the West Wing.



SEN. RAND PAUL, (R) KENTUCKY:  There`s no law that prevents me from mentioning the name of who`s been said to be the whistleblower.  But there`s also --


PAUL:  Yes.

BAIER:  I don`t understand what prevents you from getting on the Senate floor where you`re protected on the whole kind of things and just giving a speech and saying what the guy`s name is if you`re convinced you know who that is.

PAUL:  No, I can and I may.  But I can do it right now if I want.  Nothing stops me.  There is no law that stops me from doing it.  Other than, I don`t want to make it about the one individual.


WILLIAMS:  Rand Paul doubling down on the President`s demand that the whistleblower be publicly identified.  Trump has launched this withering criticism of the whistleblower whose account checks out, by the way with the summary of the call that we`ve been allowed to see, importantly, still no transcript.

Not all Republicans are on board with the effort to unmask an official government whistle-blower.


SEN. MITT ROMNEY, (R) UTAH:  My own view is that whistleblowers, particularly those blowing whistles on actions with in the government should be allowed to remain confidential, that they have a right to be private.  And a determination is made is what the whistleblower spoken about something which is confirmed by the facts or not.  So, going after the whistleblower, I think, is misdirected.


WILLIAMS:  As our colleague Nicole Wallace always, that`s what Republicans used to sound like.

The whistleblower`s attorney had this warning today on social media and we quote, "If Congress and others do not protect my client`s anonymity, which my client is afforded to by law, not only does it jeopardize their safety but it jeopardizes an entire system that took decades to build.  It will destroy effective congressional oversight for years to come."

With us tonight, Jonathan Lemire, White House Reporter for the Associated Press.  I`ll ask you two blunt questions.  Is this whistleblower thing just a giant distraction?  And does Senator Rand Paul know better?

JONATHAN LEMIRE, ASSOCIATED PRESS WHITE HOUSE REPORTER:  On the first part, the whistleblower thing is an effort to sort of revive a portion of the Mueller play book.  You might recall part of the strategy employed by the President and his allies were to sort of question the integrity of the investigators, believing that if they undermined their credibility that would undermine the facts that they found.

If you undermine the credibility of the investigators, you undermine the credibility of the investigation.  So what they`ve been trying to do here according to our reporting is sort of make the whistleblower the face of this.  Or in this case, the anonymous face still and suggest that this person, who is -- whose name as Senator Paul has said has circulated in some right wing circles, you know, but is not been publicize widely is -- or corroborating to be correct, you know, is someone who had bias against the President.  And therefore he was bias, therefore the investigation is bias, which is they tried to do with the Russia probe as well with Lisa Page and Peter Strzok and so on.

As far as Senator Paul go, I was in Kentucky last night when the senator appear with the President at the rally for the gubernatorial candidate and it does in the side looks like the President was not as successful dragging that candidate over the finish line to victory as he has been so far with Sean Spicer in each round of "Dancing with the Stars."

And Paul kind of -- instead of touting the candidate went here on the whistleblower thing.  And it seems like he`s fixating on it, doing the President`s bidding.  But to this point, by the way, doesn`t want to be the person to out him himself.

And I`ll say as the last point, the West Wing staff has been saying the same thing to the President, who they are fearful at some point just might blurt it out or take the Twitter and say it.  But Republicans on the Hill have also cautioned him.  That would be a good spark of political firestorm.

WILLIAMS:  I want to show you something our friend Morgan Radford talk to some Trump supporters in West Palm Beach Florida, see if this checks against your experience.


MORGAN RADFORD, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT:  Would you say you support the President now more or less than you did when he was first put into office?




RADFORD:  All of you say more?



RADFORD:  Has the impeachment inquiry affected your support of the President?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  It made it stronger.

RADFORD:  It made it stronger?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  His opponents have made it their mission to fight him at every turn.  And we can`t have that.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  It still makes me support him even more.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I say that Trump`s supporters dig their heels out of this.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  It`s something -- we`re all 100 percent behind the President, no doubt about it.


WILLIAMS:  So as you know, there are really two jury pools during an impeachment process, the American people, but more importantly the U.S. Senate, 100 members who each get a vote.  You were at the Trump rally last night in Kentucky.  Does that jibe with your experience?

LEMIRE:  Oh, his hard core supporters are still with him, much like with the Mueller probe.  They do believe the party line, if you will, that this is a biased investigation, it`s a witch hunt, it`s a Democrat`s effort to undo the 2016 election, even though of course Mueller brought charges against dozens of people.  Of course, so far everything the whistleblower has said has been corroborated by testimony and including documents released by the White House.

But their faith is not shaken.  They are supporting their president now.  As the Republican senators, that might be a little different.  To this point most have absolutely stayed in lock step with a few voices like Mitt Romney saying that they want to be cautious, they`ve been disapproving of what the President has said.

WILLIAMS:  That`s one.

LEMIRE:  That`s one.  And maybe on occasional, you know, occasional (ph) from Ben Sasse.  Well, there`s not much else so far.  But this -- we`re still early enough in the process where things could change.  But let`s remember, this is a party that the President enjoys 85 percent, 90 percent approval rating among Republicans.  These senators, especially those up for reelection soon, you know that if they were to cast a fight about a vote to remove him, the very next day there would be mag (ph) endorsed candidate ready to primary them.

And we had Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell today say that if that was held, there`d be no chance of removal.

WILLIAMS:  You get the last word on that topic.  Jonathan Lemire of the Associated Press, always appreciate you coming by, thank you.

Coming up, the results of tonight`s election.  Especially interesting places where the President campaigned hard.  Steve Kornacki at the big board for us when we come back.



ANDY BESHEAR, (D) APPARENT GOVERNOR ELECT, KENTUCKY: As your next governor, I will listen more than I talk.  I will work with anyone who has a good idea that we can deliver for Kentuckians.  With all the partisan bickering in nastiness that we`re seeing in politics, we have an opportunity to do better right here in Kentucky.


WILLIAMS:  He lived in the governor`s mansion as a young man and NBC News has declared Democrat Andy Beshear, the apparent winner of tonight`s governor`s race in Kentucky.  He defeated the incumbent Governor Matt Bevin.

In an upset for more, we are joined by Vaughn Hillyard who was covering the race from Beshear`s campaign headquarters.  Emptying out, let`s be honest, in Louisville.  And Vaughn, interesting story.  Among the most unpopular incumbents in the country tried to weaponized impeachment against his opponent, didn`t work.  His opponent, part of the political aristocracy in Kentucky, tried to run a local governor`s race on issues, including health care.  Turns out that did work.

VAUGHN HILLYARD, CORRESPONDENT, NBC NEWS:  Health care, education, jobs, pension reform.  Essentially Andy Beshear, the Democrat in this race ran a campaign that was separate from national politics, separate from the national party.  There were 2020 candidates that came into the state.  It was Andy Beshear running as a Beshear.

Of course, Matt Bevin, the Republican who lost this evening took over for his father, Steve Beshear, who was a popular governor in the state.  When you look at Matt Bevin, essentially, it was 24 hours ago that President Trump came to this state for a campaign rally in Lexington for Matt Bevin.  Matt Bevin, if you watch the airwaves, the commercials that he was running as well as the Republican Governors Association, it was essentially Donald Trump front and center.  Donald Trump was narrating the pieces.  He show a pictures of Bevin and Trump together.

In this morning I even asked Matt Bevin why nationalize this race to this extent?  And he said, look, voters here in the state care about Donald Trump and they want somebody that is going to defend Donald Trump.  And I said, I mean, you`re not running for the Senate, you`re not running for the House of Representatives.  You have to no vote on impeachment yet it was very clear that he believed that his way to shore up support in the state and get a surge of support especially out in these rural counties was in order to ultimately get the backing of Donald Trump.  I mean, Donald Trump in 2016, Brian, won this place by 30 percentage points.


HILLYARD:  Thirty percentage points.  So when you look at these, and I`ll let Steve talk about these numbers, but there`s kind of those three blocks that not only do you see a surge in turnout in the Lexington and Louisville areas, but it`s also then the suburbs and northern Kentucky and then really that eastern part of Kentucky, which is sort of the cold country, the Appalachian region.  I think that`s another area that we`ll be looking at in the days ahead.  This is an area where Matt Bevin still pulled out victories in several of those counties.  But the Democrat in this race, Andy Beshear was able to narrow those margins.

WILLIAMS:  Vaughn Hillyard, our thanks.  As Don Meredith used to say, turn out the lights, the party is over.  NBC News we want to let you know has also declared Republican Tate Reeves the winner of tonight`s governor`s race in Mississippi over Democrat Jim Hood.

Back at the big board to break it all down and look behind the numbers, Steve Kornacki.  Hey, Steve?

STEVE KORNACKI, NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT:  Hey Brian.  Yes, I mean, interesting night to put it mildly here in Kentucky.  So, yes, Vaughn just said, a 30-point win in this state for Donald Trump in 2016.  How does the Republican governor end up losing?  You see losing very narrowly, 0.04 %.  Well basically there are three things to key in on here in terms of why did Beshear win.  Number one was just monster turnout and monster performance in the Democratic areas of Kentucky.

There aren`t a lot of big Democratic areas in Kentucky, but I`ll give you one of them right here.  That was supposed to click open.  Let`s see if that works.  Here you go.  Jefferson County, biggest county in the state, home of the city of Louisville.

You could see here, Andy Beshear won this thing by nearly 100,000 votes.  He won this country by nearly 100,000 votes.  To put that in some perspective, in the last gubernatorial election in Kentucky in 2015 when Matt Bevin won, the Democratic margin in this country was just 37,000.  So it went up from 37,000 to basically 100,000 tonight.

You saw something similar here in Fayette County.  This is, you know, home of Lexington, University of Kentucky.  Again, look at this.  The Beshear margin here sitting at about 36,000 in change, it was 10,000 for the Democrat in the last gubernatorial election.  So really drove up big numbers in those areas.

Then the other key here is eastern Kentucky, I think Vaughn mentioned this as well, cold country in eastern portion of the state.  You`re seeing blue counties here, counties in the eastern part of the state, rural eastern part of the state that Beshear won.  You didn`t see that when Donald Trump won this state.

Let me give you a couple of examples because they`re dramatic.  Check out this country right here for instance.  Beshear wins it by 19 points.  What are these county?  It look like in 2016 presidential election complete opposite.  Trump won it by 22, tonight Bevin lost it by 19.

They get even more dramatic in some of the other counties.  In Bath County, Trump won it by 37, Bevin couldn`t even by six-point deficit there.  Basically the story here is rural, cold country, eastern Kentucky, this is an ancestrally Democratic area.

You still have a lot of registered Democrats here.  They were born into Democratic families, they kept the Democratic registration, they still often elect Democrats at the local level.  But they are more conservative culturally.  Blue-collar, rural, conservative, culturally and they swung hard towards Trump in 2016.

And one of the reasons for that last minute visit from Donald Trump to the state of Kentucky for that rally last night, it was to take voters in counties like this, who are traditionally Democratic but swung hard to Trump to try to get them to do the same for Bevin.  He did not get that effect that he was looking for in those counties there, particularly in the eastern part of Kentucky.  So that`s the second reason.

The third reason is, it`s the national story we`ve been telling brought to the state of Kentucky.  The suburbs, we talked all about the suburbs nationally in 2018.  The reason Democrats were able to get their blue wave, pick up the House last year.  The suburbs in Kentucky particularly these three countries right here in far northern Kentucky, these are the Cincinnati suburbs.

Right on the other side of the Ohio River, 10 percent of the state population is just in these three counties and typically these are Republican suburbs but not tonight.  I give you an example.  Take a look right here, Kenton County.  Cincinnati suburbs Beshear wins it.  Bevin actually lose this.  Bevin got nearly 60 percent of the vote here when he ran for governor last time around.

Same story over here next door Campbell County, Bevin got about 55 percent of the vote here when he ran for governor last time way under perform that.  Same thing in Boone County, Bevin got 46 -- excuse me, got 66 last time, got 56 tonight.  So, huge defections from the Republicans.  In the population Dent suburbs, strong turnout overwhelming support for Democrats in their core areas.

And then culturally conservative rural voters who we have been talking about nationally really kind of flocking to Donald Trump.  He was not able with that visit to get them to make the complete conversion and go with Bevin over Beshear.  You add all three of those things up, and you get a 0.04 of 1 percent victory for Matt Bevin in Kentucky.

WILLIAMS:  And, Steve, real quick, Virginia results tonight.

KORNACKI:  Yes, I think we have a graphic.  Here we go.  The House of Delegates -- Democrats were trying to flip the House of Delegates and trying to flip the state Senate.  Effectively, there was a vacancy here, so effectively it was 51-49 for the Republicans coming in to tonight.  The Associated Press right now has a five segue (ph) and that`s a little darker if we can see it, but that`s in number five.

Right now, according to The Associated Press, the Democrats have a net gain of five and The Associated Press has called the House of Delegates for the Democrats.  Control for the Democrats of the state Senate side.  Again, there was an open seed (ph), it was effectively 21-19 for the Republicans.  And The Associated Press right now has called two seats flipped for the Democrats, so again they`ve also called the state Senate in Virginia going to the Democrats.  What does that mean?  It means Democrats will have the state Senate.  They`ll have the state House of Delegates and they already have the governor.

Democrats get what they were looking for, complete control, executive and legislative.  Also Democrats won that state in 2016.  This is the story of Virginia really making that transformation from red state once to swing state a couple years ago.  It`s a blue state looks like now.

WILLIAMS:  Steve Kornacki at the big board for us.  Thank you.  It turned out to be a consequential election night.  There`s also this that we notice tonight on Twitter.  Remember Juli Briskman, the Virginia woman who was fired for flipping off Trump.  She was waving at the motorcade but didn`t use four of her fingers.  She just won an election to her local county board of supervisors.  One of the results from the Commonwealth of Virginia tonight.

Coming up for us, Donald Trump`s old friend and personal lawyer proven to be at the center of U.S. foreign policy in Ukraine.  And now part of the impeachment controversy when we come back.



SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  Do you know if Mr. Giuliani holds any security clearance of any kind?

CHRISTOPHER WRAY, FBI DIRECTOR:  I don`t know the answer to that.

HARRIS:  And has Mr. Giuliani made any formal representations at least to the Justice Department or the FBI regarding his foreign relationships, business dealings or conflicts of interest?

WRAY:  I`m not sure there`s anything I could say on that here.

HARRIS:  Given the close relationship between the President and Mr. Giuliani, has the FBI told the President whether his counsel has -- is a potential counterintelligence threat?

WRAY:  I don`t think there`s anything that I can say on that subject.


WILLIAMS:  It`s probably interesting to be Trump`s FBI Director on an average day.  And Senator Harris was just trying to make an extra interesting for the FBI Director today.

It has now been established that Rudy Giuliani has been conducting foreign policy for Donald Trump with at least the tacit approval of the man our founders imagined would be in charge of foreign policy, the U.S. Secretary of State.  We now know that Trump fund-raiser turned E.U. Ambassador Gordon Sondland, testify that when he raised Rudy`s adventures in Ukraine with Mike Pompeo, "Pompeo rolled his eyes and said, yes, it`s something we have to deal with".

Just yesterday, we found out Rudy associate Lev Parnas is willing to provide documents and testimony to impeachment investigators.  As to why the change in hard toward cooperation, well, The New York Times reports, "The turn about occurred after Mr. Trump denied knowing Mr. Parnas when he was arrested.  Mr. Parnas was very upset by President Trump`s plainly false statement that he did not know him, said his lawyer, whose client has maintained that he has had extensive dealings with the President.

With us tonight to talk about all of it, Eugene Robinson, Pulitzer Prize Winning Columnist for The Washington Post, and Tim O`Brien, Executive Editor of Bloomberg Opinion and the Author of, "TrumpNation: The Art of Being the Donald".  Both gentlemen, long time friends of this broadcast.

Tim, first of all, talk about the jeopardy Rudy Giuliani is in.  How much mindfulness do you think he has on his own situation and the kind of water cooler topic would he ever flip?

TIM O`BRIEN, EXECUTIVE EDITOR, BLOOMBERG OPINION:  I can`t imagine him ever flipping.  And I have to imagine also that he and Trump have had discussions at some point that if he gets in trouble, Trump will pardon him.  I imagine that happened early on but probably before all of these stuff unraveled.

He`s got two things coming at him.  There`s an investigation in the Southern District of New York of his associates for campaign finance violations.  That`s independent of everything that`s going on in Congress.  Meanwhile, Congress is unraveling this other scheme to essentially tilt Ukraine against Biden in Trump`s favor for the 2020 election.

Both of those things are hugely problematic for him, legally, reputationally and operationally because at some point, most of these people around Trump aren`t going to be loyal to him.  We`ve seen this already with Lev Parnas.  He was someone who they assumed wouldn`t cooperate with the impeachment inquiry.  He now is how many other people are going to start cooperating, how many people are going to change their stories, like Gordon Sondland did today.

You know, when there`s just a couple of people involved in a conspiracy, or a couple of people involved in wrongdoing, it`s easy for them to keep their stories straight.  When you have an entire group of people who are in there largely because of self interest, and they all start to get picked off by prosecutors or congressional investigators, things unravel and that`s what Giuliani is looking at right now.

WILLIAMS:  Eugene, I don`t know if you`re the right guy to take complaints about the Democratic Party, but several Democrats complained to me they are incensed.  Let`s note the Democratic Party motto never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity.


WILLIAMS:  Let`s note that culturally they are mostly former student council presidents just to establish the arguments.

ROBINSON:  That`s the -- you know --

WILLIAMS:  They can either do messaging or diligence.  Right now, they`re in deep diligence mode.  And these incensed Democrats I heard from today are crazy over the missed opportunity on messaging.  Donald Trump speaks Latin quid pro quo, three words of it.  The Democrats are using that term and not the terms of the mob extortion--

ROBINSON:  Extortion, bribery.

WILLIAMS:  -- and bribery.

ROBINSON:  Yes, bribery.  You know, what we have in the rough transcript to say nothing of the full transcript if we ever get it is the President of United States soliciting a bribe from the President of Ukraine.  Bribery is one of the high crimes and misdemeanors listed in the constitution is grounds for impeachment.


ROBINSON:  I mean, that`s a very simple message.  And one would imagine that some Democrats somewhere, would deliver it and deliver it in those plain words, forget the Latin.  You know, nobody wants to hear the Latin, just use the plain English of the constitution.

WILLIAMS:  And as someone said today, say about the Republicans that they know better.  That`s going to start to be a talking point as these senators near momentous decisions that as everyone is fond of saying, the vote they may cast if it comes to that --


WILLIAMS:  -- will be for their grandchildren.

ROBINSON:  It will be for their grandchildren and how they comport themselves in this process.  Should tell voters a lot.  You know, Lindsey Graham, who a couple of weeks ago was demanding, demanding that the House investigators released the transcripts of these interviews.  Now says he will never read them.  He will not even read them.  He won`t even enter the -- won`t let them pollute his, you know, his mind because his mind is made up.

That is something that, again, if one or two advice messengers of the Democratic Party, I would think you`d want to jump on that`s a dereliction of duty to the constitution.

O`BRIEN:  And, you know, the other thing that`s going on and all this, you know, these machinations involve Rudy Giuliani and Donald Trump blowing up a diplomatic Foreign Service structure that is meant to be nonpartisan.  Both Republicans and Democrats need people in the field that know what they`re doing to bring information back to the U.S. about how to operate globally.  And they`re smearing people who`ve been lifelong civil servants.


O`BRIEN:  And there`s going to be long term damage because of that that people should think about in a nonpartisan fashion.

WILLIAMS:  Including one or two decorated military --

O`BRIEN:  Yes.

WILLIAMS:  -- veterans.  Tim, about the President`s business over jeans (ph) newspaper David Fahrenthold, co-authored a piece today, that the sum total is that profit margins are down.  We know that that hotel in Washington he is so proud of has been going on the soft market for somebody to take over the lease.  It seems that while political trouble was kind of elemental in this administration, trouble with the brand, the trademark, the name Donald Trump is something else entirely.

O`BRIEN:  Well, you know, I think when he entered the White House he saw the ability to keep his relationship with his businesses as a plus.  So he and his children decided not to divorce themselves.

WILLIAMS:  What could go wrong.

O`BRIEN:  What could go wrong, they could only enhance things.  What they`ve discovered is this broad public reaction against Trump has hurt their brand in places like Chicago and Washington and New York, which is Laurel (ph) and Florida.  Those are largely where the bulk of his domestic businesses are based and people aren`t patronizing his businesses.  They`re actively not visiting those.  So I think that`s one thing he`s dealing with.

He`s also dealing with the fact that I think Trump and his children probably don`t want to relocate to New York whenever he ends his tenure in the White House.  They`re not probably going to be welcomed by New Yorkers.  So they`re looking forward to that as well.

I think the third factor in this is Trump has always taken on more debt than his businesses can actually finance and support.  And so when you start to see Trump sell off properties that historically he`s had his name on, like the woman skating rink in New York, or a hotel in Washington, that it`s been profitable, one of the few things --


O`BRIEN:  -- you know, it`s grown, its revenue, and he`s selling those off, that`s a warning signal and multiple funds.

ROBINSON:  He wants a claim to -- you`re the expert, but I think didn`t he wants claim that the Trump brand itself was worth something like $3 billion or something like that?

O`BRIEN:  Well, there was a truism in New York and that Trump ran condominiums, he`s got a 20 percent premium.

ROBINSON:  Right.  Yes, I mean, so this is an existential threat in that sense to the business model of the Trump organization.

WILLIAMS:  Speaking of existential threats, Gene, what do you think Republicans are thinking about the election results we just saw tonight?

ROBINSON:  I think there`s some nervous conversation and --

WILLIAMS:  I think we`ll see (INAUDIBLE) House retirement as a result.

ROBINSON:  One more.  Some more probably.  You know, this is -- look, you know, Democrat winning in Kentucky, Democrats taking over control of the Virginia state legislature --


ROBINSON:  -- already having taken the governorship.  The numbers that Steve Kornacki gave about those Cincinnati suburbs across the river, and how they voted.  That is all extremely bad news.  If one Republican and particularly we were talking earlier, who`s paying attention, that`s Mitch McConnell, who has to run for reelection.

WILLIAMS:  Though it`s complicated.  He`s kind of protege.


WILLIAMS:  One beat that A.G. raised tonight.

ROBINSON:  Exactly.  So we can take some comfort in that.  But if you look at those suburban vote totals with an eagle eye I think tonight and tomorrow.

WILLIAMS:  I am told Donald Trump has tweeted tonight about the results.

ROBINSON:  All right, we`re shocked.

WILLIAMS:  One-five out of six elections in Kentucky, including five great candidates that I spoke for and introduced last night.  Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.  Matt Bevin picked up at least 15 points in the last days but perhaps not enough.  Fake news will blame Trump.

What was you, Gene, just saying?  Winning and Mississippi governor race.  Tim, that sounds like it was his phone indeed.

O`BRIEN:  It sounds like it was absolutely his phone.  And the fact is he`s trying to distance himself from the losers and associate himself with the winners.  But this has got to unnerve him.  And I think even if Mitch McConnell had a little bit of distance from the real politic elements of what happened in Kentucky, he has to be scrambling his political advocates a little bit tonight.  And I think that`s going to play into some of the impeachment proceedings.  Whether or not the Republican Party how long they want to stay tethered to Donald Trump, if elections in places like Kentucky and Virginia turning against them.

WILLIAMS:  Notice on (ph).

ROBINSON:  I can here it now.  I don`t know Matt Bevin.  I don`t know that man.  I might have a picture with him.  I have a picture with everybody.

WILLIAMS:  All the campaign set might drag him across to finish.

O`BRIEN:  Yes.

WILLIAMS:  Noticed how I threw down some Latin.  He brushed me back with a little real politic right there, so give me track of all of it.

Two friends of this broadcast, Eugene Robinson, Tim O`Brien, always a pleasure.  Gentlemen, thank you both.

Coming up, it was an unlikely love story from the start, but it has turned out to be a love story all the same.  We`ll talk about the gentleman who belonged to those two hands when we come back.


WILLIAMS:  Last thing before we go tonight, it`s a variation of the old phrase, but here it is.  May you be fortunate enough in life to find someone who looks at you the way Lindsey Graham looks at Donald Trump.

Old School Republicans meaning Republicans from just a few years ago do not recognize the Lindsey Graham of today.  The guy they remember was a national security Republican.  Back when he was a so called part of the Three Amigos in the Senate.  Lieberman, McCain, Graham.

The Republicans from back then call the Lindsey Graham of today, a Trump supplicant.  The way they tell it, it says if the coolest kid from school has allowed him to be his friend.  And remember Graham`s love for Trump required a little getting used to.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  I watch this idiot Lindsey Graham on television today, and he calls me a jackass.  He`s a jackass.  And he gave me his number.  And I found the card.  I wrote the number down.  I don`t know if it`s the right number.  Let`s try it.  Lindsey Graham is a disgrace.  And I think you have one of the worst representatives of any representative in the United States.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA:  He`s a race baiting, xenophobic, religious bigot.  He doesn`t represent my party.  He doesn`t represent the values that the men and women who wear the uniform are fighting for.


WILLIAMS:  Despite all of that, Lindsey Graham found a way to look through it.  And at every turn and the Ukraine story, for starters, he has found a way to have his friends back.  Here he is starting in September.


GRAHAM:  If you`re looking for a circumstance where the President United States was threatening the Ukraine with cutting off aid unless they investigate his political opponent, you would be very disappointed that does not exist.


WILLIAMS:  Now, here he is in October.


GRAHAM:  Show me something that that is a crime.  If you could show me that, you know, Trump actually was engaging a quid pro quo outside the phone call, that would be very disturbing.


WILLIAMS:  And so even today, in the face of new transcripts that the Democrats say confirm and extortion plot, here was Lindsey Graham.


GRAHAM:  I`m not going to entertaining pitch in the present over this matter, period, done.


WILLIAMS:  From just today, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, one of the 53 Republicans in the Senate who support this President can count on unless until proven otherwise.

That`s our broadcast for this Tuesday night.  Thank you so much for being here with us.  Good night from our NBC News headquarters here in New York.

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