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Trump Admin loses appeal on taxes. TRANSCRIPT: 11/13/19, The 11th Hour w/ Brian Williams.

Guests: Michael Crowley, Mike McFaul, Andrea Bernstein, Andrew Desiderio,Malcolm Nance

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC ANCHOR:  tonight`s LAST Word.  "THE 11TH HOUR" with Brian Williams starts now.

BRIAN WILLIAMS, MSNBC HOST:  Tonight we`ll cover the first impeachment hearings in a generation.  And day one, while just getting under way, breaks some news.  It`s about a different phone call with the President.  Another witness has been called as a result.  And Republicans on the committee today were hitting back with all they`ve got.

Plus the two career public servants who were sworn in today to tell the truth, both saying they would not be taking a side.  While across town late in the day the President again poured water on the whole case.

Tonight, we have the takeaway moments from the long day on the Hill, the first of many in the march toward possible impeachment, all of it as THE 11TH HOUR gets under way on this Wednesday night.

Well, good evening once again from our NBC News headquarters here in New York.  Day 1,028 of the Trump administration, we`ll go down as day one of the first public impeachment hearings in a generation.  Today`s testimony featured two veteran senior diplomats called upon to lay out the case, part of the overall case, against the President.  Today`s testimony brought forth some new revelations that tied Trump closer to the Ukraine pressure campaign.

Ambassador George Kent, the State Department`s top expert on Ukraine, and William Taylor, the current Acting Ambassador to Ukraine, appeared together before the House Intel Committee.  Both are top diplomats who`ve served under both Republican and Democratic presidents.


GEORGE KENT, DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF STATE:  I represent the third generation of my family who have chosen a career in public service and sworn the oath of office that all U.S. public servants do in defense of our Constitution.

Indeed, there has been a George Kent sworn to defend the Constitution continuously for nearly 60 years.

AMB. WILLIAM TAYLOR, TOP U.S. DIPLOMAT INTERVIEWER UKRAINE:  It has been a privilege for me to serve our country and the American people for more than 50 years.  Starting as a cadet at West Point, as you have mentioned, Mr. Chairman, then as an infantry officer for six years including with the 101st Airborne Division in Vietnam, then at the Department of Energy, then as a member of a Senate staff, then at NATO, then with the State Department here and abroad, in Afghanistan, Iraq, Jerusalem, and Ukraine.


WILLIAMS:  Much of the hearing focused on the July 25th phone call in which President Trump asked Ukraine`s President Zelensky for investigations into the Bidens and our 2016 election.  The witnesses also described an effort by Trump and his deputies to leverage that country into delivering those investigations if they wanted the promised U.S. military aid to be used in their fight with the Russians.

By the way, it was against that backdrop that Ambassador Taylor eventually revealed another pivotal conversation involving Trump that took place July 26th, a day after the phone call in question.  Taylor said a staffer of his recently told him about this conversation involving the President and the Trump donor turned ambassador to the E.U. Gordon Sondland.


TAYLOR:  The member of my staff could hear President Trump on the phone asking Ambassador Sondland about the investigations.  Ambassador Sondland told President Trump the Ukrainians were ready to move forward.  Following the call with President Trump the member of my staff asked Ambassador Sondland what President Trump thought about Ukraine.  Ambassador Sondland responded that President Trump cares more about the investigations of Biden, which Giuliani was pressing for.


WILLIAMS:  Two sources familiar with this matter told NBC News that David Holmes, currently the political counselor at the U.S. embassy in Ukraine, is the staff member that Taylor was referring to there.  Taylor`s story about Holmes earned Holmes an invitation to testify, which he will do behind closed doors on Friday.

Complicating matters for the Republicans and making him a less easy target, NBC News also reports that in 2014 Mr. Holmes won a State Department award for speaking out internally about the Obama administration policy in Afghanistan.  Gordon Sondland never mentioned this particular call with Trump and his closed-door testimony before impeachment investigators.

Trump, who spent the day hosting Turkey`s President Erdogan at the White House, says he was too busy to watch the hearing.  Late today Trump responded to this new information, however, from Ambassador Taylor.


DONALD TRUMP, (R) PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  I know nothing about that.  First time I`ve heard it.  The one thing I`ve seen that Sondland said was that he did speak to me for a brief moment and I said no quid pro quo under any circumstances.  And that`s true.

In any event, it`s more second-hand information but I`ve never heard it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Do you recall a conversation --

TRUMP:  I don`t recall.  No, not at all.  Not even a little bit.


WILLIAMS:  Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff had a very different take on this matter.


REP. ADAM SCHIFF, (D) CALIFORNIA, INTELLIGENCE CMTE. CHAIRMAN:  What this call indicates as other testimony has likewise indicated is that the instructions are coming from the President on down.


WILLIAMS:  During the hearing Republicans slammed Taylor and Kent for relying on second-hand accounts, trying to establish that hearsay is at the heart of the Democrats` case while being reminded by Democrats that the White House`s refusal to cooperate means there`s no chance to get direct evidence.


REP. JOHN RATCLIFFE, (R) TEXAS INTELLIGENCE CMTE.:  President Zelensky went on to confirm a number of things.  That`s not second-hand information.  It`s not hearsay.  It`s not what someone overheard Ambassador Sondland say.

REP. JIM JORDAN, (R) OHIO:  So and so said such and such to so and so.

REP. DEVIN NUNES, (R) CALIFORNIA INTELLIGENCE CMTE. RANKING MEMBER:  Second-hand, third-hand, and even fourth-hand rumors and innuendo.

REP. MIKE QUIGLEY, (D) ILLINOIS INTELLIGENCE CMTE.:  We are not able to hear testimony by Chief of Staff Mulvaney, John Eisenberg, Michael Ellis, John Bolton, more than a dozen witnesses.  So I suspect if you have a problem with hearsay you`d have a lot more direct testimony and direct evidence if you weren`t blocking that ability.


WILLIAMS:  Democrats also went after one of the main Republican defenses of the President`s behavior, that he was somehow duty-bound to investigate corruption in Ukraine and thus was within his rights to ask the government to look into the Bidens and the 2016 election.


REP. JIM HIMES, (D) CONNECTICUTS INTELLIGENCE CMTE.:  In your opinion, was this a comprehensive and whole of government effort to end corruption in Ukraine?

KENT:  Referring to the request in July?

HIMES:  Exactly.

KENT:  I would not say so.  No, sir.

HIMES:  Yes, I don`t.  I don`t think President Trump was trying to end corruption in Ukraine.  I think he was trying to aim corruption in Ukraine at Vice President Biden and at the 2020 election.


WILLIAMS:  With us tonight for our lead-off discussion on this consequential Wednesday evening, Michael Crowley, White House Correspondent for covering foreign policy at "The New York Times," Mimi Rocah, former Assistant U.S. Attorney for the southern district of New York, now a Distinguished Fellow in Criminal Justice at the Pace University School of Law, and Frank Figliuzzi, former FBI Assistant Director for Counterintelligence.  Good evening and welcome to you all.

Mimi, I have a couple questions for you, one of which occurs to me I did hear one of the analysts say today the President made a mistake there by saying this is the first he`s heard of the phone call, only because this is going to come up again and again and again.

MIMI ROCAH, FMR. ASSISTANT U.S. ATTY. SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF NY:  Right.  Well, he`s boxed himself in now to a certain defense.  He can`t say I remember the conversation and that`s not what I said.  He`s boxed himself in now to it didn`t happen.  He has to make it look like not just one person but numerous people are either lying or mistaken about it.

Sondland, you know, on down, right, because it`s a conversation that is, you know, and this will get into some other issues.  But it`s a conversation involves multiple people.


ROCAH:  And so he`s now boxed himself in to I don`t remember and the only defense he has is it didn`t happen as opposed to giving it a more it happened and here`s an innocent defense of it.

WILLIAMS:  Republicans it seems to me hit back on two major areas today.  Number one, it can`t be a crime because the aid went through to Ukraine.  Neal Katyal sat where you`re sitting now for a good portion of the day and compared it to just because you`re involved in a bank robbery yet you never see the payout doesn`t make it less of a crime.

The second part was the graphic I looked up and saw on Fox News in the past hour.  Democrats say hearsay is an acceptable form of evidence.  We heard it again and again today.  Illuminate us.

ROCAH:  So, first of all, I mean, obviously hearsay is a rule of evidence that applies in a courtroom, which this isn`t.  What we`re really talking about, what they`re trying to say is, you know, this isn`t people testifying or saying what they heard from Donald Trump`s mouth.  OK.  Well, first of all, as many people made the point today, as you just showed, well, they`re blocking all those people.  So it`s absolutely, you know, wrong and absurd for them to be saying, well, you don`t have those first- hand witnesses because they have literally stopped those witnesses from testifying.

But more importantly, people don`t commit crimes alone.  OK?  Forget, you know, this criminal code.  People don`t do bad acts like this, extorting other countries for, you know, information to help their campaign alone.  They have to carry it out through other people.

So the statements of Giuliani, Sondland, Mulvaney, people like that, it`s not just their statements.  Their statements are part of their agreement.  They`re carrying something out for Donald Trump.

And so those statements are not only reliable but imperative to understanding the scope of what happened here.  So for them to try and dismiss those as second-hand statements, you know, Sondland telling Ambassador Taylor something is incredibly relevant.  Sondland was the guy, you know, on the ground carrying this out and telling people what they could and couldn`t do.

So -- and that`s a tool that we use when we`re prosecuting organized crime cases, which is a parallel we`ve made very often here.  But it`s important. And it`s admissible even in a court of law where the rules of evidence do apply.

WILLIAMS:  Frank, of course everyone will view and hear what happened today from the comfort or echo chamber of their own silos.  But for you watching what happened today, do you think it moved the chains?

FRANK FIGLIUZZI, FMR. FBI ASSIST. DIRECTOR FOR COUNTERINTELLIGENCE:  So, I view this as day one of what I compare to a grand jury proceeding.  This was the first day.  This was laying a foundation, showing us the direction of where this was going, and I don`t think today changed any hearts and minds.

But I do think as this moves forward and as the Republican strategy of saying hey, this is hearsay, when are we going to hear people who talked directly with the President?  And we do hear from people who were on the call or talked directly with the President.  Their strategy is going to start to crumble.  And I think some people are going to start to doubt what they`re putting out.

There`s a lot of nonsense put out today.  There was confusion, deliberate distraction and deflection between -- and the line between the President intending and desiring to engage in a bribe and the fact that the bribe never came to fruition and therefore they think, well, nothing happened that`s impeachable.  Huge mistake here.

So, did the ball move today?  Probably not.  Could it easily move in the weeks ahead?  You bet.

WILLIAMS:  Mr. Crowley, you`re the only one of the four of us who can tell the folks watching tonight what was it like to cover the White House on a day like today?

MICHAEL CROWLEY, THE NEW YORK TIMES WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT:  Right, Brian, I was at the White House today.  I was the pool reporter.  So I was in the room with the President on a few occasions, a couple times in the Oval Office and at the press conference he had, all of them with the Turkish President Erdogan who was visiting today.

And, you know, the White House did very much have a kind of business as usual attitude.  President Trump seemed to be, you know, in a pretty normal mood and did not raise the impeachment proceedings himself.  On a couple of different occasions when he was asked about them he did answer.  But you know, unlike some other occasions he didn`t kind of go into this sort of, you know, rambling almost rant that we`ve seen about this and particularly the Mueller investigation where he sort of goes on and on and on.  He was by his own standards fairly disciplined.

To me it was showing an awareness that, you know, he didn`t -- he was trying to limit his commentary.  Maybe he realizes that when he really blows his stack it kind of fuels the fire and heightens the sense of crisis.

Meanwhile, the Turkish President is visiting and that in and of itself was a pretty strange situation.  You know, here`s Erdogan, who essentially defied American policy, defied the President`s protestations, invaded northeastern Syria, infuriated top U.S. military and diplomatic officials, leading members of Congress.  President Trump had him to the White House.  Several members of Congress said that he should rescind the invitation.

And Trump called himself a big fan of the Turkish leader, who also is an authoritarian who has imprisoned journalists.  And basically spent the day it appeared trying to find ways to increase trade with Turkey and to get Turkey to avoid sanctions that Congress wants to slap on the country for buying an advanced Russian missile defense system.

So, you know, that was a very strange subplot today, Brian, that kind of got buried.  But we still have to ask ourselves what is it about this authoritarian Turkish leader that President Trump seems to admire so much.

WILLIAMS:  Mimi Rocah, let me play for you a bit of the attorney general, who was asked today whether he in fact turned down a request from the President to publicly clear him of wrongdoing in Ukraine.


WILLIAM BARR, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL:  If you`re talking about, you know, press reports that he asked me to have a news conference, the fact is I don`t remember any such request.  In fact, my recollection is that I told the White House that we would do what we normally do and that is issue a press statement, which we did, and that was not an issue.  There was no pushback on that.


WILLIAMS:  As a former fed yourself, do you get the impression that they are trying to do the right thing and steer the ship correctly on impeachment?

ROCAH:  I think that Barr has been distancing himself and the Department of Justice from this whole Ukraine matter in a way that he has never done before with anything, right?  He`s always so far fully embraced whatever Trump`s essentially political talking points have been with respect to the Russia investigation, et cetera.

On Ukraine, you know, yes, he did put out a statement that was both maddening and wrong, saying that there was no crime to investigate.  I mean, that is obviously nonsense.  But they also have put out a statement, remember, saying, hey, if, you know, if the phone call with Ukraine was about conditioning something on them helping us with a Department of Justice investigation, we didn`t know anything about that.

That`s remarkable because that actually is a good piece of proof that this was not a legitimate request for an investigation, you know, for Ukraine to investigate something legitimate, right?  Here you have our own Department of Justice saying no.  And Ukraine was looking for that.  They were saying, wait, is this a formal request from the Department of Justice or is this just the President asking us to do something?  And nobody could say it was a formal request.

So it shows how sort of, you know, not legitimate that investigation was.  So, I think it`s interesting that Barr has -- I won`t go so far to say he`s trying to right the ship, but he has on this particular issue of Ukraine distanced himself and said things that would aggravate the President in ways that he hasn`t before.

WILLIAMS:  Interesting to hear your answer on that as well.

Hey, Frank, if going to one of the major defenses of the President today, if you`re serious about investigating corruption, don`t you then investigate corruption?

FIGLIUZZI:  Yes.  I`m getting a little tired of hearing the defense that this President is really, really trying to pursue corruption around the world and in Ukraine.  Look, it`s been clear now from what we`ve learned that what he was seeking was the President of Ukraine to get to a microphone and publicly announce that he was investigating the Bidens in order to take down the Bidens and mess with our election.

And so if you really want to investigate corruption, what you do is you do it quietly.  You don`t announce the start of a corruption case.  You announce the end of the corruption case.  You don`t go on television and say I`m investigating these people for corruption because the only reason you do that is because you want to destroy someone`s reputation.  And it appears that`s what the President was intending to do.

WILLIAMS:  Three returning veterans starting us off tonight.  To Michael Crowley, to Mimi Rocah, to Frank Figliuzzi, our thanks for coming on at the end of a long day.

And coming up for us, a former ambassador weighs in on day one, gives us insight and reaction from within the diplomatic community.

And then later a look at the moment one of our guests calls one of the most powerful of the day.  As THE 11TH HOUR is just getting started on a Wednesday night in view of the West Wing.



REP. SEAN PATRICK MALONEY, (D) NEW YORK:  You go to the front, you go to Donbass with Ambassador Volker, I believe, and you`re on the bridge and you`re looking over on the front line of the Russian at the soldiers.  Is that what you recall?

TAYLOR:  Yes, sir.

MALONEY:  And you said the commander there, the Ukrainian commander thanked you for the American military assistance that you knew was being withheld at that moment?

TAYLOR:  That`s correct.

MALONEY:  How that make you feel, sir?

TAYLOR:  Badly.


TAYLOR:  Because it was clear that that commander counted on us.  It was clear that that commander had confidence in us.  It was clear that that commander had -- was appreciative of the capabilities that he was given by that assistance but also the reassurance that we were supporting him.


WILLIAMS:  So that right there is a career U.S. diplomat who was on Ukraine`s front lines while he was aware of Trump`s decision to hold back military aid from them.

Back with us tonight a former diplomat who watched every word of today`s impeachment hearing.  Mike McFaul served as U.S. ambassador to Russia in the Obama administration.

Ambassador, there you have Bill Taylor, West Point class of `69.  And by the way, you graduate from West Point in `69.  You know you are headed into a meat grinder.  He chooses infantry.  He further chooses to go to Ranger School.  101st Airborne.  Bronze star.  Comes home from the war and spends virtually every day of his life in service to the public.  Could it be that today was about more to him than defending a phone call?

AMB. MIKE MCFAUL, FMR, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO RUSSIA:  Absolutely.  That was very eloquently stated.  It`s his whole life`s service to this country and to the relationships and partnerships we have with very important countries like Ukraine.  And I thought that that particular segment that you just played was very moving.  I did watch the whole thing with you, by the way.  You must be very tired too.

And I just think it was important for Americans to understand that it`s always wrong to ask -- to use your public office for private gain.  It`s especially wrong to ask a foreign government to help you win re-election.  But it makes it even triply wrong to withhold military assistance to a country that is at war with Russia.

And I want to underscore something.  When Ambassador Taylor was describing the U.S. policy, that was Trump administration policy.  It`s not Bill Taylor`s policy.  That was -- they decided that.  They sat in the situation room and decided we`re going to provide this military assistance to this country for American national security interests.  And Trump and his associates decided to go around their own policy and -- to subvert it.

And I thought it was just very important that Ambassador Taylor explain the geopolitical and geostrategic consequences of that decision.

WILLIAMS:  Here`s an intentionally leading question to get you to react to what else we heard today.  How many times did you call Obama from a cell phone from a European restaurant?

MCFAUL:  Zero.  But I want to put a little more meat on that bones.  Unlike Ambassador Sondland, I actually worked for Barack Obama, President Obama, for three years at the White House.  Saw him frequently, even played football and basketball with him from time to time.

I worked on his campaign for two years.  He`s somebody I knew pretty well.  When he would travel to see Putin or Medvedev in a third country, I would go and meet them.  And yet with all of that intimacy never once did I call the president one on one ever.  That -- it`s just -- I want to just underscore how extraordinary that would be in any situation.

Add to it the E.U. ambassador sitting in Kiev.  Why is the E.U. ambassador in Kiev?  Add to it it`s on a cell phone, which of course that means Vladimir Putin heard every word.

And what to me -- what`s so striking about that is not necessarily Sondland but President Trump.  President Trump, if this is all true, and we need to get it all verified, but it means that he was intimately involved with what Ambassador Sondland was trying to do, this so-called, you know, drug deal as National Security Adviser Bolton called it.

And he just talked to Zelensky yesterday.  Why does he need a readout from Ambassador Sondland about his meeting with presidential aide Yermak just 12 hours later?  It`s because he wants this thing to happen.  He wants the investigations to happen.  And I think that is very damning for the President.

WILLIAMS:  The President woke up this morning and tweeted out "never Trumpers" about these two gentlemen presumably.  What was your reaction to hearing them have to defend the fact that as career guys they`ve worked for presidents of both parties and know no particular party themselves?

MCFAUL:  I thought they were terrific today.  They didn`t he go ahead of the facts.  They stayed within that.  They did not give any opinions.  They made it clear they were not there as impeachment witnesses.

But there`s another nuance here.  I just want people to understand.  It`s actually not correct to call Ambassador Taylor a career foreign service officer.  He was a political appointee by President Bush in 2006.  We then kept him on for a while as a political appointee.  And when he was sent out to Kiev on this trip, let`s all remember, folks, he was appointed by President Trump because the President appoints all the chief of missions.

So, you can`t -- I mean, you can, but be reminded this is not one of those, you know, the deep state.  This is somebody hand-picked by Secretary Pompeo and appointed by President Trump.

WILLIAMS:  Ambassador Michael McFaul, who we learned just tonight never did call President Obama on a cell phone from a European restaurant.  Thank you very much for being part of our coverage all day, Mike.  We appreciate it.

And coming up for us --

MCFAUL:  Honored to be with you.

WILLIAMS:  -- the title of former New York mayor does not traditionally lend itself to a foreign policy role.  But today`s witnesses both agreed Rudy Giuliani was in Ukraine to dig up political dirt against a political rival.  More on the unusual forces driving this administration`s Ukraine policy when we come back.



GEORGE KENT, DEPUTY ASSISTANT, SECRETARY OF STATE:  Over the course of 2018 and 2019, I became increasingly aware of an effort by Rudy Giuliani and others including his associates Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman to run a campaign to smear Ambassador Yovanovitch and other officials at the U.S. Embassy in Kiev.  During the late spring and summer of 2019, I became alarmed as those efforts bore fruit.  They led to the ouster of Ambassador Yovanovitch and hampered U.S. efforts to establish rapport with the new Zelensky administration in Ukraine.


WILLIAMS:  First of all, we`re calling Kyiv Kiev now.  We learned that today.  Rudy Giuliani`s role in Ukraine policy was on full display on just this day one of these hearings.  We also heard from Ambassador Bill Taylor about that irregular policy-making channel on Ukraine that involved a number of players including Rudy Giuliani.


AMB. WILLIAM TAYLOR, TO U.S. DIPLOMAT IN UKRAINE:  I encountered an irregular, informal channel of U.S. policy-making with respect to Ukraine.  Unaccountable to Congress.  A channel that included then Special Envoy Kurt Volker, U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland, Secretary of Energy Rick Perry, White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, and as I subsequently learned, Mr. Giuliani.


WILLIAMS:  On that note, we welcome Andrea Bernstein back to the broadcast.  Veteran Journalist, Co-host of the podcast, Trump, Inc. at WNYC public radio here in New York.  She`s been following the Giuliani role in this story carefully having covered him for years.  She`s also the Author of the forthcoming book "American Oligarchs: The Kushners, the Trumps, and the Marriage of Money and Power."

Welcome back.  Perhaps you can start us off by telling us what we`ve learned from this triumvirate, Rudy, Lev, and Igor.  What is with this relationship?

ANDREA BERNSTEIN, SR. EDITOR FOR POLITICS & POLICY, WNYC:  Well, I think it`s still a bit of a mystery.  It`s worth mentioning that these two gentlemen have now been indicted in the Southern District of New York, which is Rudy Giuliani`s former stomping grounds.  His picture still hangs in the Southern District.  And they were all working together in Ukraine for reasons we don`t exactly understand.  They all had, in addition to President Trump, their own business dealings.  It`s worth stepping back for a moment.

So what happens in Ukraine is that prosecutors typically serve the oligarchs, they serve the businessmen, and they can be bought off.  And this is something that has been a bipartisan U.S. policy to fight this, to try to bring in the rule of law, not prosecutors who are going to do whatever the highest bidder wants them to do.  Into this system walks Rudy Giuliani and his two associates, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, and they start talking to these corrupt prosecutors as described today in the testimony and elsewhere.  And among other things they start to undermine the former U.S. Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch, who`s testifying Friday.  She doesn`t know why, but she suspects that there is some business interest at play.  And then of course we find out that they have also been gathering this discredited information about Joe and Hunter Biden for Rudy Giuliani to use to bring back to President Trump to try to help him in his 2020 campaign.

WILLIAMS: So remind us what kind of story Yovanovitch can tell on Friday.  She was rather blindsided by this development.

BERNSTEIN:  She was completely blindsided.  And it`s worth remembering -- so she`s worked for three presidents.


BERNSTEIN:  Bush, Obama, and Trump.  And she was in Ukraine and she was a very vocal critic of this corrupt system in Ukraine.  She was trying to change it.  She was trying to bring the rule of law and Ukrainian officials came up to her and they said you should watch your back.  And she didn`t know what was going on.

Then there began to be this campaign against her, which the President`s son, Donald Trump Jr., joined by tweeting that she should be fired.  She kept speaking out about corruption.  And then one day she gets a call at 1:00 a.m. from U.S. officials that say you need to come back to the U.S. immediately, it`s a matter of security.  They were worried, they explained to her, that the President might be tweeting about her and that this might be threatening her.

And she felt that she had this project in Ukraine of bringing the rule of law, bringing a prosecutorial system that wouldn`t be subject to business interests and that that whole thing had been undermined by allies of President Trump.  And as we`ve learned the President himself to try to replace her with someone who`d be more friendly to him.  Now, the irony is the person who replaced her is Bill Taylor, who testified today, who was not, I would venture to say, a particularly helpful witness to President Trump`s cause.

WILLIAMS:  That would be fair.  Parting question, when can people buy your book, and will you come back to talk about your book?

BERNSTEIN:  I absolutely will.  It will be available in January, and there is a website,

WILLIAMS:  See what we did there?

BERNSTEIN:  People can go.

WILLIAMS:  Thank you very much.  Thanks for returning to our broadcast.

BERNSTEIN:  Thank you.

WILLIAMS:  We appreciate it very much.

Coming up, our next guest will talk about one of the more powerful moments from today`s live coverage, when we come back.



REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D), CHAIRMAN, INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE:  So your staff member overhears the President asking about the investigations, meaning Burisma and the Bidens in 2016, and Ambassador Sondland told President Trump that the Ukrainians were ready to move forward?


SCHIFF:  And I think you said that after the call when your staff asked Ambassador Sondland what President Trump thought of Ukraine, his response was that President Trump cares more about the investigations of Biden.  Is that right?

TAYLOR:  And Burisma.  Yes, sir.

SCHIFF:  And I take it the import of that is he cares more about that than he does about Ukraine.

TAYLOR:  Yes, sir.


WILLIAMS:  We`re going to hear a lot more about this phone call, revealed just today between President Trump and E.U. Ambassador Gordon Sondland.  President said today it`s the first he`s hearing about it.

Our next guest, Andrew Desiderio of POLITICO, writes this about Chairman Schiff and his questioning of Taylor about the call.  "The exchange was among the hearing`s most powerful moments, in part because it was a brand new development, and it punctuated Democrats` efforts to keep the camera on Trump."

With us for more, the aforementioned, Andrew Desiderio, Congressional Reporter for POLITICO.  And if you get that familiar feeling you might have seen him somewhere before, that is due to his shameless attempt to secure television air time by situating himself right over the shoulder of Ambassador William Taylor.  Andrew, I hope --


WILLIAMS:  -- I hope your friends and immediate family were happy to see you as we looked at you --

DESIDERIO:  They were.

WILLIAMS:  -- all day long.  Help me out on this first question and that was, after a long day, what`s your big picture takeaway and did this move closer to the President today as the Democrats intended it to?

DESIDERIO:  It absolutely did move things closer to the President.  It gave us, by my count, a fourth data point that more directly connects the President to this Ukraine scheme.  The first, of course, was the call memorandum from the July 25th phone call between President Trump and President Zelensky.  The second is essentially Rudy Giuliani`s declaration that everything he was doing in Ukraine was on behalf of his client, the President of the United States.

The third data point that Democrats would point to is Mick Mulvaney`s press conference last month during which he essentially admitted to a quid pro quo.  And this becomes the fourth one because it is further evidence that the President was kind of dictating this behind the scenes.  And Democrats are trying to learn the full extent of it.  And, you know, instead of focusing on the diplomats, focus in a more concerted way putting the President`s words and actions on trial.

And even though today`s revelation about that phone call between President Trump and Ambassador Sondland was secondhand by Bill Taylor`s recollection, investigators will get firsthand information about it presumably on Friday when Mr. Holmes testifies behind closed doors.  Mr. Holmes is of course that aide that William Taylor was referring to.  And then next Wednesday when Gordon Sondland himself testifies before investigators in public.

WILLIAMS:  The very shirt sleevy Jim Jordan today spoke at a speed that was compared to an auctioneer.  Between him and Nunes raising topics like nude pictures and the Steele dossier and domestic spying, was that in fact a technique?  Were they going for tossing out multiple subjects and hoping for confusion among other tools in their toolbox?

DESIDERIO:  Well, I viewed it as them essentially playing to their base, right?  If you are on the right, if you are a Trump supporter and you watch these primetime programs on Fox News and you pay attention to what the President is pushing out on Twitter, all of this was familiar to you.  If you`re just a member of the general public who doesn`t necessarily pay attention to these things as often as you and I do, Brian, you`re tuning in and you`re kind of scratching your head a little bit.  And I think that`s where Republicans might have taken a misstep today in focusing on all these sort of exterior issues that are not directly related to the allegations that Democrats are trying to prove with these hearings.  And it`s a missed opportunity for Republicans too because they`re not really trying to substantively push back in that respect against what Democrats are pushing in these public hearings.

WILLIAMS:  Final question, will anything about today, do you think, change the format or the look of Friday when it`s former Ambassador Yovanovitch testifying?

DESIDERIO:  You know, I don`t think it will.  But I think Ambassador Yovanovitch will be a different type of witness in that she`s a more sympathetic figure.  Democrats want to bring her before the committee not to necessarily prove any impeachable offenses by the President but to bring in, to draw in a sympathetic figure who they could point to.  As we discussed last week, Brian, the collateral damage from what Rudy Giuliani was doing in Ukraine in pushing a shadow foreign policy that was inconsistent with what the U.S. government was pushing in Ukraine both now and when Ambassador Yovanovitch was the top American diplomat there in Kiev.

WILLIAMS:  There are cable anchors who had less air time today than our guest tonight.  Andrew Desiderio of POLITICO, thank you very much for joining us this evening.

DESIDERIO:  Thanks, Brian.

WILLIAMS:  Coming up for us, the national security implications and the country just waiting to exploit any open vulnerability both here and in Ukraine, for that matter around the world.  We`ll have that when we come back.



TAYLOR:  The assistance -- if the assistance had been cut off, he would have been much weaker in his negotiations with the Russians.

REP. JOAQUIN CASTRO (D), TEXAS:  The Russians may have taken it as an invitation to actually take military action against Ukraine, is that right?

TAYLOR:  The Russians always look for vulnerabilities, and they know that the United States has supported Ukraine.

CASTRO:  They could have pounced?

TAYLOR:  They could have taken advantage.


WILLIAMS:  A reminder there from a 50-year public servant about Russia`s general attitude toward the U.S. and its allies.  At the heart of the impeachment hearing, the President asked a foreign country to interfere in a U.S. election.  And intelligence officials have repeatedly warned that Russia is already at work on our 2020 race.

Our next guest writes in his new book, "There remain many, many vulnerabilities that the Russians can exploit in the future".  And with us for more, Malcolm Nance, Veteran of Naval Intelligence, Special Ops, Homeland Security, 35 years working in the field of counterterrorism and intelligence.  He`s our analyst in this area for good reason.

The title of his new book, fair warning is pretty direct.  "The Plot to Betray America: How Team Trump Embraced Our Enemies, Compromised Our Security, And How We Can Fix It."  Welcome.  It`s good to see you.  I have to ask you how you react when you hear of the President on a cell phone from a restaurant in Ukraine.  What goes on in your mind?

MALCOLM NANCE, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, TERROR ASYMMETRICS PROJECT:  We predicted that at some point this would actually happen.  And President Trump, who uses an unsecure cell phone, is communicating with his personal representative on a shady deal in a foreign capital which we already know in the intercepted Victoria Nuland communications that happened in Ukraine, that the Russians intercept everything.  When you are a high value target, they will put what we call full spectrum collection around you.  They will go after your cell phone.  They will go after your text message.  They`ll go after your laptop.

Vladimir Putin knew Donald Trump`s intentions in the Ukraine before anyone outside of Trump, and Sondland knew himself.

WILLIAMS:  And what does that mean?  What`s the practical impact?

NANCE:  The practical impact is, he is now one step ahead of what every player in this game is doing.  And he can actually, through his on intermediaries, through spies that he has in the Ukraine, through his allies in the Russian oligarchy, in the Ukrainian oligarchy, they can actually now steer Donald Trump, or even through phone calls to Donald Trump that we know he gets from Vladimir Putin, they can steer him in the direction that Russia wants him to go.  And can actually craft his counter negotiations with Zelensky through hints, tips, tricks or even direct communications to him, saying that he wants the United States to take a harder line on certain things like Javelin missiles.

WILLIAMS:  I mention the classic frog boiling experiment so often.  I`ve toyed with the idea of airing it, but the video on YouTube is so sad, we won`t dare do that on behalf of frog advocates everywhere, but how did it come to pass that Russian involvement, per se, has been baked into the cake, has been boiled into the frog, in our society in 2019?

NANCE:  You have to understand something.  Russia is not a benign player in this world.  They are not, as some people see them, you know, a natural ally of the United States in a war on Islam, and there`s a lot of people who think that, you know, that they are great Christian nation that we should be aligned with.  They are a malignant strategic adversary who have been led and are being led by an ex-KGB officer, who is just as villainous as any bond villain in his way of still murdering his opponents, murdering journalists, crafting these asymmetric warfare operations to influence national populations to go against their own national interest.

They may not be a rich country, they`ve got all the gross domestic product of Italy and we have more trade with Chile, but they have atomic bombs, they have weapons, they have a strategic reach around the world.  And Putin is smart enough to use his strengths and do asymmetric judo against the United States, and certainly, by leading Donald Trump around by a nose ring, and to a certain extent, doing Russia`s bidding above America`s bidding.  And he knows that will hurt the Ukraine and that Ukraine will have to negotiate on Moscow`s terms via Donald Trump.

WILLIAMS:  The last words of the subtitle are how to fix it.  Promise me your next visit, we take on how to fix it.

NANCE:  We can do it.

WILLIAMS:  Thank you, sir.

NANCE:  My pleasure.

WILLIAMS:  Great to see you.  Malcolm Nance, our guest tonight.

Coming up, the stories that were competing for air time and our attention today, including this one, the Democratic race expanding by one more Democrat, when we come back.


WILLIAMS:  Last thing before we go here tonight.  A quick chance to bring you up to speed on some of the other stories, for starters, another step today in the case of the President`s tax returns.  This was competing for our attention today.  The case may now go to the Supreme Court.  The President lost a ruling before a full federal appeals court today.  That`s the headline.  They agreed with the lower court, which ruled that Trump`s accounting firm must turn over eight years worth of returns to Congress.

Another story, the prosecution has rested in the trial of Roger Stone.  And they saved a unique argument for the very end.  The U.S. attorney argued to the jury that because Stone wasn`t truthful with Congress originally, the House Intelligence Committee wrote an incorrect report about Russian election middling in our country, and the Mueller investigation may have been led astray, as well.  The jury may get the case as early as tomorrow.

And it appears likely, as we first reported here last night, that another Democrat is going to get into this race.  Friday, you see, happens to be the filing deadline for New Hampshire, and we note Deval Patrick has a date to appear on CBS tomorrow morning at 8:00.  We further note this New York Times headline which makes it fairly plain, Deval Patrick will enter 2020 presidential race on Thursday.  That would be tomorrow, or, a few minutes from now.

Patrick is 63.  He`s a Harvard-educated lawyer, former DOJ Section Chief, former two-term Governor of Massachusetts.  Currently a Managing Director over at Bain Capital, which happens to be Mitt Romney`s old shop.  And while the election is a year off, the first primaries, remember, are in about three months, so, it`s considered late in the race already and there already are a few other Democrats in the running, so, watch this space.

Speaking of which, just like tonight, join us each night during these hearings to get caught up on the testimony of the day and the analysis from our journalists and contributors, as always, we will bring you up to speed at the end of the day, which, look at the clock, has arrived.  That is our broadcast for tonight.  Thank you so much for being here with us all day long.  Good night from our NBC News headquarters here in New York.


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