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Senate won't subpoena Schiff phone records. TRANSCRIPT: 12/5/19, The 11th Hour w/ Brian Williams.

Guests: Peter Baker, Jill Colvin, Ron Klain, Mara Gay

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC ANCHOR:  Pete Buttigieg, like all the presidential candidates is invited to join us on this program at any time convenient for him to discuss this and the other issues in the presidential campaign.  That is tonight`s "Last Word."  "The 11th Hour" with Brian Williams starts now.

BRIAN WILLIAMS, MSNBC HOST:  Tonight, the Speaker has spoken.  Nancy Pelosi instructs her committee chairman to move forward on articles of impeachment and knocks down a question about her motives while invoking her Catholic upbringing.

Meanwhile, Donald Trump tells the Democrats, if you`re going to do this, let`s get on with it including a Senate trial as he prepares to enter the history books as the third impeached president.

Plus, while the feds are watching, investigating what Rudy did in Ukraine, Rudy is in Ukraine doing what one does, investigating the Bidens.  Speaking of whom, the former vice president vents his anger today while correcting an Iowa voter about his son.  All of it as "The 11th Hour" gets underway on this Thursday night.

Well, good evening once again from our NBC News headquarters here in New York.  Day 1,050 of the Trump administration.  And this was the day the Speaker of the House made the call and alerted her committee chairs to begin drawing up articles of impeachment against Donald Trump.  She announced the decision in a brief televised address this morning invoking the powers of the Congress and the rule of law.


REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA):  If we allow a president to be above the law, we do so surely at the peril of our republic.  In America, no one is above the law.

The President abused his power for his own personal political benefit at the expense of our national security by withholding military aid and crucial Oval Office meeting in exchange for an announcement of an investigation into his political rival.

Our democracy is what is at stake.  The President leaves us no choice but to act because he is trying to corrupt once again the election for his own benefit.

Sadly, but with confidence and humility, with allegiance to our Founders and a heart full of love for America, today I am asking our chairman to proceed with articles of impeachment.


WILLIAMS:  This moves us into some rarefied history.  The order from the Speaker sets up a constitutional show down between the Legislative and Executive branches of government.  And about an hour before she spoke, there was this from the President.  "If you are going to impeach me, do it now, fast, so we can have a fair trial in the Senate, and so that our country can get back to business.  We will have Schiff, the Bidens, Pelosi and many more testify, and will reveal, for the first time, how corrupt our system really is."

The move to this crucial stage of the impeachment process comes against the backdrop of Pelosi`s rather tortured history with this President.  And on that subject, this morning after she made her remarks, she heard a question from a reporter that she decided to answer on the spot fully and personally.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Do you hate the President, Madam Speaker?  Because --

PELOSI:  I don`t hate anybody.  I don`t -- I was raised in a Catholic house.  We don`t hate anybody.  Not anybody in the world.  So don`t accuse me.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I did not accuse you.

PELOSI:  You did.  You did.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I asked a question.

PELOSI:  You did.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Representative Collins yesterday suggested that the Democrats are doing it simply because they don`t like the guy.

PELOSI:  Let me just say this.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I think it`s important point.

PELOSI:  I think the President is a coward when it comes to helping our kids who are afraid of gun violence.  I think he is cruel when he doesn`t deal with helping our Dreamers, of which we`re very proud.  I think he`s in denial about the climate crisis.  However, that`s about the election. This is about the election.  Take it up in the election.

This is about the Constitution of the United States and the facts that lead to the President`s violation of his oath of office.  And as a Catholic, I resent your using a word hate in a sentence that addresses me.  I don`t hate anyone.  I was raised in a way that is full -- a heart full of love and always prayed for the President.  And I still pray for the President.  I pray for the President all the time.  So don`t mess with me when it comes to words like that.


WILLIAMS:  That brought this from across town, "Nancy Pelosi just had a nervous fit.  She says she prays for the President.  I don`t believe her, not even close."

Tonight on a CNN town hall broadcast, the Speaker was asked about Trump`s response.


PELOSI:  The President is a master at projecting.  When you call somebody else nervous, he`s the nervous one.  When he suspects that somebody is not praying, he`s probably not praying.


WILLIAMS:  At a White House lunch-in earlier today, President Trump was asked about impeachment and how history will now remember his presidency.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Are you worried, sir, about the stain that impeachment might have on your legacy?

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  No, not at all.  Not at all.  It`s a hoax.  It`s a hoax.  It`s a big, fat hoax.


WILLIAMS:  No schedule announced by the Speaker who today met with the six House Committee Chairs who`ve been investigating the President for a wide array of potential misconduct.  House Judiciary Committee has already told the White House, it`s got to tell Congress by tomorrow if they plan to be involved in impeachment proceedings.

Judiciary has also announced a hearing for next Monday, December 9, to hear evidence from House Intel.  That`s the same day the Justice Department Inspector General`s report on FBI Russia inquiry is expected to be released.  That hearing could potentially clear the way for articles to be drafted and voted on next week with a vote by the full House the week after.

Friday, December 20th, by the way is the last scheduled day of the House session before the holiday break.  That means Trump might face a potential Senate trial sometime in January.  "POLITICO" is reporting Republican senators intend to mount a vigorous defense of Trump, no surprise there, but it does say they are leaning against a lesser penalty-like censure.  They`ve also ruled out a request from House Republicans to subpoena the phone records of House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff.


SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC):  No, I`m not going to do that.  I wouldn`t want my phone records subpoenaed.  Now, if someone investigative body outside the Senate Oversight wants to do it, that`s up to them.  But when House members and senators start subpoenaing each other as part of oversight, really the whole system breaks down.


WILLIAMS:  As the House works on the specific charges against Trump, there is growing speculation about the role the Mueller report could have in all of this, how far back, how deep the Democrats want to go in deciding their charges?  Earlier today, our colleague, Garrett Haake, asked the Speaker what she wants included in the articles of impeachment.


GARRETT HAAKE, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT:  Do you want to see elements of the Mueller report or these other investigations --

PELOSI:  I`m not going to be talking about that.  OK.

HAAKE:  -- or to this article?

PELOSI:  I`m not going to -- my chairmen will be making recommendations --

HAAKE:  Do you have a personal view on that?

PELOSI:  -- as to what the -- our counsel, our lawyers, our chair, the staffs of the committees have been sensational.  And we`ll look to them for their judgment about what the articles of impeachment.


WILLIAMS:  On that, here with us for our lead-off discussion on this Thursday night, Peter Baker, Chief White House Correspondent for "The New York Times," co-author of the new book, "Impeachment, An American History," Jill Colvin, White House reporter for the Associated Press, and our own Garrett Haake, who covers Capitol Hill and beyond.  Good evening and welcome to all of you.

Peter Baker, now this president takes his place alongside both others, in history, the I word is impossible to expunge from your record.  It usually makes its way certainly into the first paragraph of your obituary, often into the first sentence.  In your view, where does today put us?

PETER BAKER, CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, "THE NEW YORK TIMES":  Well, I think we`re seeing a process play out that we knew was coming.  We know basically that the Democrats are more or less aligned behind the idea of impeachment.  We know the Republicans are more or less aligned against it or expecting is by the end of the year we`ll have a vote on the House floor and in fact Donald Trump will become the third president impeached in the American history.

Now, the President feels somewhat comfortable in that.  He knows that at the moment, absent new information or absent some sort of dynamic political change that we don`t -- that I see at the moment that he will almost certainly be acquitted or in some way not convicted by the Senate, so that will not end his presidency as a result of this process.  But then you`re right, it doesn`t take the I word away from the history book.  That is still a stinging indictment, if you will, a stinging judgment, even if it is a partisan one.  Bill Clinton would just so not be remembered as the second impeached president even though he says that was a partisan effort by Republicans 21 years ago.

And that the question is different this time, different than next and different in Clinton, different really even under Johnson.  If you have an elected president heading into a second election and campaign after the impeachment trial will be over.  Assuming he`s not thrown out of office, he will take this case, and so will the Democrats, to the voters who will be the ultimate appeals court.  And they will make a judgment that we didn`t have in Clinton or Nixon about whether in fact the President is fit for office or whether in fact the impeachment was a justified thing or in fact a hoax as the President says it is.

WILLIAMS:  Jill Colvin, across America, this was a Thursday in the lives of busy people in the run-up to the holidays inside the beltway of something quite different.  And I`m told White House official tonight told you they are ready.

JILL COLVIN, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, "THE ASSOCIATED PRESS":  Yes.  I mean that was the message from the President himself even before Nancy Pelosi stood up there and announced to move forward with writing the articles of impeachment.

Look, even though the President today said publicly that he is not concerned about what impact this might have on his legacy according to sources I`ve spoken to, that my colleagues have spoken to, the reporters has spoken, you know, across news organizations, this is something the President did not want to happen.  He recognizes, he understands what this means for his legacy.

But what you had today was a White House and also the President`s campaign basically coming out there and publicly saying what we`ve been hearing privately and what we`ve all expected now for weeks that this President is going to be impeached by the House.  They`re out there saying they understand that`s what`s going to happen.  And now focus turns to this Senate Trial.

And at the moment the President and other folks in the White House believe that they can use this trial to their advantage.  You saw the President tweeting today about wanting to bring Joe Biden to testify, Adam Schiff to testify, Nancy Pelosi to testify and really describing this as sort of this made for T.V. moment, made for court T.V. moment that this President particularly is drawn to, believing that this could be used as an opportunity for his allies and the obviously Republican-controlled Senate to defend him, to try to take down Democrats and be able to use this as an argument to voters heading into 2020.

WILLIAMS:  Hey, Garrett, we`re happy to be able to talk to you.  Normally your 21-hour workday prevents appearing on our shift, but we`ll let`s make this exception for just tonight.  Let`s expand on the question you asked the Speaker and where you put the effort to either let it go or to avoid mission creek.  Call it what you will, kitchen sink, Christmas tree, going back to the Mueller report to find additional potential articles of impeachment.

HAAKE:  The part of the Mueller report that`s most likely to show up in articles of impeachment is the second half, the stuff that deals with obstruction.  There are a lot of Democrats, especially on the Judiciary Committee who feel like the obstruction laid out in the Mueller report is part of a pattern, it`s part of the same obstructive behavior that you`re seeing from the President even now refusing to comply with subpoenas, refusing send his aides to the Hill to come and testify.  So there are some Democrats who would like to see that included in whatever the House committees produce.  It doesn`t have to be a separate article, but they think it`s instructive and they think is all part of the same issue here.

I think frankly there are probably some House Democrats on Judiciary who have been dealing with this issue for so long on the Mueller report, they want to see it included just to get it all wrapped up.  What Nancy Pelosi wants is still a mystery.  You saw her not answer my question there.  She dodged a similar question during that CNN Town Hall tonight.  So she will be part of this process.

She has made it very clear while it`s the chairman who are drafting, she is not going to be caught by surprise by what they do.  She is going to be involved.  And we`ll see how much of that obstruction portion of the Mueller report ultimately finds its way into the texts of whatever this committee chairman produce.

WILLIAMS:  Peter Baker, you involved the Clinton impeachment which you and I both live through.  Sara Sanders says the President reads more than anyone else she knows.  If he picked up this book that you co-authored and read the chapter on the Clinton impeachment, what lessons perhaps might he come away with that might be helpful to him in the coming weeks and months?

BAKER:  Well, one lesson he clearly he has not taken from that experience is how to -- how President Clinton reacted to the impeachment effort.  He tried to de-legitimize it just like President Trump tries to do but he did it so by ignoring it more or less.  He left it to his staff, he left it to his allies, he left it to his advisers to be the ones to publicly at least focused on the fight while he at least gave the presentation of being concerned more about issues that matter to the voters, that he was going to focus on policy and not politics.  He was above it all in effect.  He did not weigh in day in and day out.

President Trump obviously doesn`t feel that way.  He doesn`t approach it that way.  He gets into the muck.  He gets into the fight.  He gets into the ring.  He wants to punch back.  It is almost impossible to imagine him constitutionally doing what President Clinton did.

It worked for President Clinton in part because he came with an advantage that President Trump doesn`t have, which is to say his popularity numbers are always high.  His job approval numbers were always in the 60s throughout the impeachment process.  In fact, two days after he was actually impeached by the House, it went up, not down, up to 73 percent.  President Trump, of course, has always been at best in the mid-40s.  So he had the advantage that President Trump does not have.

One thing President Trump does have that President Clinton had is a pretty good economy.  And that help President Clinton a lot.  President Trump is counting on that to be important in this process as well.

WILLIAMS:  Indeed.  Jill, I want to share with you and our audience and we`ll talk about this on the other side.  How the Speaker`s position has migrated over these past nine months?


PELOSI:  They wanted me to impeach President Bush for the Iraq War.  I didn`t believe it then, I don`t believe it now.

Trump is goating us to impeach him.  That`s what he`s doing.

The President is almost self-impeaching because he is every day demonstrating more obstruction of justice and disrespect for Congress.

Impeachment is s very divisive place to go in our country.

I feel no pressure from my members to do anything.

The facts of the Ukraine situation just changed everything.

That is about Russia who benefitted by our withholding, withholding that military assistance.

All roads lead to Putin.  Understand that.  And so, that was the ah-ha moment.


WILLIAMS:  So Jill that has been as close as we can approximate of the -- at least the electronic migration of the speaker.  How do they view their political opponent of that White House right about now?

COLVIN:  Well, you can see there, you know, Nancy Pelosi acting extremely methodically, you know, very much over the last number of months trying to avoid the impression that Democrat`s number one goals since the President was elected has been to impeach him.  This is of course the argument out of the White House settled on making here, saying, look there`s nothing to these charges.  Democrats have been looking for any excuse to impeach him and we knew this was going to happen.

Nancy Pelosi wanted to try to prevent that argument.  She talked again and again about how important it was for this to be a bipartisan effort for the American public to be onboard with this.  Describing this as a political process that you needed to have the country behind it or else it wasn`t going to be effective.  And at this point clearly Pelosi, you know, has come to the point where she has just realized that this is sort of untenable situation that she has to move forward.  American public opinion has moved to somewhat, but not entirely supportive of this effort.

And so now, you`re going to have this, this kind of ongoing showdown between this White House trying to paint this as nothing but a politically motivated witch hunt just the President describes it.  And it will be interesting to see how extensive those articles of impeachment actually are.  You know the public has heard a lot about the specifics of the Ukraine situation, really been walked through it in a series of very focussed hearings that laid out the case.  But if Democrats start including things like the Mueller hearing, various other, you know, charges and allegations against the President, it will be interesting to see how that winds up playing with the public.

WILLIAMS:  Hey Garrett, I want to get you on record for the one surprise that was in the Schiff committee report, and that was these phone logs.  I swear between reporters and lawmakers, most of the surprise was because that hadn`t leak.  We haven`t known of their existence before now.  I notice Judge Jeanine went on Fox News tonight fully in favor of looking at Adam Schiff`s phone records.  Something even the President`s most steadfast supporter in the Senate were denied say, it would not be a good idea.

HAAKE:  Yes, there were lot of grasping at pearls by Republicans when these records first came out under the idea that perhaps that was Devin Nunes`s phone records who were subpoenaed.  His name appears here several times or the former Columnist from "The Hill," John Solomon whose name also appears here that his records were subpoenaed.  The House Intel Committee spokesperson came out today and said that it was neither one of those gentleman.  No journalist, no member of Congress was intentionally had their phone records sought, but rather these were people who are communicating with folks whose records they were after, likely, namely Rudy Giuliani and Lev Parnas, his associate currently under criminal indictment here.

We don`t know exactly how or even when the committee got a hold of these.  We know how they didn`t.  It`s likely they simply subpoenaed the phone company which is far more likely to comply with a lawful subpoena than the White House has turned out to be.  But look, this is investigation that`s going to go on, on parallel tracks while the Judiciary Committee and these other committees move forward to get these articles done and ready to be voted on.

Adam Schiff has made it clear that the Intelligence Committee is going to continue investigating and going to continue to pursue a lot of these records that they have been denied thus far and see how deep the rabbit hole goes.

WILLIAMS:  Much obliged to our big three tonight.  Peter Baker, Jill Colvin, Garrett Haake, thank you all three of you for coming on.

And coming up for say former federal prosecutor on Rudy`s perilous and puzzling travels to Ukraine right now.

And later, the moment between these two men, Joe Biden and the Iowa voter he called a damn liar as "The 11th Hour" is just getting started in front of the national Christmas tree on a Thursday night.


WILLIAMS:  Rudolph Giuliani, under investigation for his role in Ukraine is in Ukraine tonight where naturally he`s conducting interviews as part of his investigation into the Bidens.  Earlier today, The Associated Press obtained photos of Giuliani meeting with Ukrainian Lawmaker Andriy Derkach in Kyiv.

The AP reports that Derkach has promoted unsubstantiated claims against the Bidens.  "Washington Post" reports that he`s a key figure working to build a corruption case against Hunter Biden adding, "Derkach said he pressed Giuliani on the need to set up a joint U.S.-Ukraine investigation into corruption in Ukraine at the meeting in Kyiv.  Derkach also vowed to set up an anti-corruption group in the Ukraine parliament."

Earlier today, Giuliani posted this on Twitter, "The American people will learn that Biden and other Obama administration officials contributed to the increased level of corruption in Ukraine between 2014 and 2016.  This evidence will all be released very soon."  We should note there is no evidence of wrongdoing by either Joe Biden or his son Hunter.

Back with us in our studio tonight, Berit Berger, former Assistant U.S. Attorney with both the Eastern District of New York and the Southern District of New York.

Counselor, what is the possible upside of a trip by Rudolph Giuliani to Ukraine right now?

BERIT BERGER, FMR. ASSISTANT U.S. ATTY. SOUTHERN DISTRICT NEW YORK:  It`s very hard to see how there is any possible upside to this trip.  I mean it`s really hard to imagine how somebody who is being investigated by the Southern District of New York for his involvement in this Ukrainian corruption scandal then goes right back into the mix.

One would think somebody in that situation would leave well enough alone, but we would be wrong.  What this shows me is that Giuliani has really been undeterred by at least the reports of the investigation of the Southern District and certainly by the impeachment inquiry so far.

WILLIAMS:  I know you don`t speak for Southern District.  It is your old shop, your old employer.  When we say that someone is under investigation by the Southern District, for lay folks watching, what does that mean to your life?  And if it includes electronic surveillance, does that travel with you overseas?

BERGER:  Well, so the answer is the subject of an investigation doesn`t know what the prosecutors are actually investigating.  You only know that when you actually get charged.  So he may have read the same reports that you and I have that he is under investigation, but he doesn`t know the full scope of the Southern District investigation any more than we do.  So he doesn`t know what crimes they`re looking at.  He doesn`t know who else they have cooperated, what other witnesses they have spoken to.

So to try to play with the edges of what you think somebody is investigating you for, not as a pretty dangerous game.

WILLIAMS:  In our out of left field segments tonight, I`m going to read for you a piece of "The New York Times," a clip in "The New York Times."  I think we have it to put it up on the screen.  "A former Playboy model who has said she had an affair with Donald J. Trump before he was president sued Fox News on Thursday, saying that Tucker Carlson, one of the network`s hosts, had intentionally defamed her on his television show."

We have a clip.  We`ll play it right now.


TUCKER CARLSON, FOX NEWS HOST:  Two women approached Donald Trump and threatened to ruin his career and humiliate his family if he doesn`t give them money.  Now, that sounds like a classic case of extortion.


WILLIAMS:  Berit Berger, what do you make of this as presented?

BERGER:  Defamation suits like this are notoriously difficult to prove, especially for somebody like Ms. McDougal who would probably be classified as a public figure.  So the difference is, if you`re a private citizen and you want to prove that somebody defamed you, right, that a statement that that person made irreparably harmed your reputation, you`d have to show some sort of a negligence.

If you`re a public figure, you have to show that the person who made that statement was acting with malice, which just means that they knew or that they should have known what they said was wrong.  So these are tricky cases to prove.  My guess is this may end up settling or not going all the way, but in any case, I hope it gets to the discovery stage because that can certainly be interesting.

WILLIAMS:  Berit Berger, formerly of the Eastern District and Southern District of New York, always a pleasure.

BERGER:  Thank you, Brian.

WILLIAMS:  Thank you very much for coming in.

Coming up for us, the White House wants him to testify if there is a Senate trial.  But this potential witness is already saying he`ll decline.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Nancy Pelosi said when she was announcing the crafting of articles of impeachment said that in essence the Russia 2016 scandal and the Ukraine scandal are the same -- are different pieces of the same story, that all roads lead to Putin.  Do you see it that way yourself?

JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  I do in Europe, absolutely, positively.


WILLIAMS:  White House declined to participate as we`ve said in this week`s impeachment hearing, but they are preparing for this possible full trial in the Senate.  This is "The Washington Post".  The White House director of legislative affairs told reporters that President Trump wants his case made fully in the Senate, previewing a strategy that will include live witnesses on the Senate floor rather than videotaped deposition that were entered into evidence during former President Clinton`s impeachment trial in `99.

Just yesterday during a campaign stop in Iowa, Joe Biden was asked if he would voluntarily appear in a possible Senate trial as a witness.


BIDEN:  No, I`m not going to let them take their eye off the ball.  The President is the one who has committed impeachment crimes.  And I`m not going to let him divert from that.  I`m not going to let anybody diver from that.


WILLIAMS:  Sorry about that audio.  With us for more, Ron Klain, among his many titles, former chief counsel, Senate judiciary, former chief of staff to Al Gore during Clinton impeachment, former chief of staff to Joe Biden who these days, he is informally advising along the way on the campaign.

Ron, if the President is really talking about a witness list that includes Pelosi, Schiff, Joe and Hunter Biden, can they say no?  Can they be compelled to appear?

RON KLAIN, FORMER CHIEF COUNSEL SENATE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE:  Well, I think if a majority of the Senate were to vote to compel to appear, then they could.  But we`re talking about a trial, Brian, not a reality TV show produced by Donald Trump.  And the people who I think if there are going to be witnesses at the trial will be witnesses who were part of the events.  Joe Biden, Nancy Pelosi, Adam Schiff, they weren`t on that call on July 25th.  They weren`t the ones who took the transcript and put it on a secret server.  They weren`t the ones who threaten Ukraine with holding it.  They weren`t the ones who stonewalled Congress.  They`re not witnesses in any sense of the word to the President`s conduct.

So if the President is interested in having a trial with witnesses, then let`s see Bolton, let`s see Mulvaney, let`s see McGahn, let`s see the people who were involved in all of these events and have them come and have them testify.  My guess is that Donald Trump is going to back off this witness thing pretty quickly when he realizes the kind of witnesses who would be called are witnesses to his conduct, not witnesses to his fantasies and his conspiracy theories.

WILLIAMS:  Will that be the first test of cooler heads in the Senate, do you think if we see that movement to call all these boldface names kind of quashed?

KLAIN:  I think so, Brian.  I think -- I don`t know about cooler heads in the Senate.  But in the end the Senate I think will have to conduct a trial that is -- that does kind of pass the smell test in some way, shape or form and asking people who are not witnesses to the events to come talk about the events I think wouldn`t pass the smell test.

And I think when that becomes clearer to the White House, I think their enthusiasm for all this is going to diminish considerably.  We see this time and again in the administration.  First, the President was going to, you know, put on a big testimony for Mueller and then backed down.  And he was going to participate in the House hearings and backed down.  He was going to participate in the Judiciary Committee hearings and backed down.

So I think time and again the White House blusters and claims they`re going to be active participants.  And then when it`s show time, they actually kind of go and hide in the back room.

WILLIAMS:  Well, you have unknowingly just walked right into my TV trap.  I`m glad you invoked all those times he was going to testify.  I`m glad you invoked reality television because now I`m going to play for you Andrew Napolitano from Fox News.  We`ll play the clip, discuss it on the other side.


BILL HEMMER, FOX NEWS ANCHOR:  If you go to a Senate trial, who testifies on behalf of the President?


HEMMER:  You believe that could happen?

NAPOLITANO:  I do.  I think it will be the most dramatic legal-political event in the history of our era with the president of the United States testifying under oath in front of the chief justice in the Senate and 200 million people watching on television.


WILLIAMS:  Ron, let me just remind you he`s our first ever president who came from a reality TV show, 14 seasons of which aired from the building I`m sitting in.  What do you make of Mr. Napolitano`s claim?

KLAIN:  Well, so here is the difference between President Trump`s highly rated TV show and a Senate impeachment trial.  Testimony impeachment trial is under oath.  And a president who is like 14,000 times in three years is more allergic to testifying under oath than he is likely to win an Emmy for "The Apprentice."

So, I do not think there is any chance at all that Donald Trump raises his right hand and answers questions in that impeachment trial.

WILLIAMS:  Thank you.  I had to ask.  And finally if, I can get you on the record, what do you think of the debate within the Democratic Party in the House?  And that is how far back to reach for articles of impeachment?  How much of Mueller do you unseal and open up and try to include because after all you only get one go-around at this?

KLAIN:  Yes.  And, look, I think that impeachment is in this way a small p, political process.  Speaker Pelosi has to count the votes.  And my guess is that where the Democratic caucus is a whole will be will be for including the obstruction of justice elements that are similar in the Mueller investigation and this investigation, but probably not reaching back to the substantive conduct of the 2016 campaign and that first volume of the Mueller report.  That`s my guess as to where this comes out.

WILLIAMS:  Ron Klain, thank you for coming on our broadcast.  We always appreciate having you here.

Coming up for us --

KLAIN:  Thanks for having me.

WILLIAMS:  -- it happened on this network in response to what Speaker Pelosi said today.  We`ll play the moment for you when we continue.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Do you hate the President, Madam Speaker?  Because --

PELOSI:  I don`t hate anybody.  I was raised in a Catholic house.  We don`t hate anybody, not anybody in the world.


WILLIAMS:  Speaker Pelosi`s sudden rather stark words today drew an especially poignant response from one of our contributors on this network today.  Here is how it happened on the air.  Here is former Republican strategist Steve Schmidt.


STEVE SCHMIDT, FORMER REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST:  And it was an important moment because grievance in the shared sense of victimhood is the high I can`t fuel of Trump of it.  What makes the Trump bar go?


SCHMIDT:  One of the things that`s true in this country is that authoritarian movements historically have never caught on.  If you want to look historically, say the high watermark in our country`s history for authoritarianism might be the night where Madison Square Garden was packed in 1938 to the rafters for a meeting of the German American boot.

There`s a new poll out that says 43 percent of Republicans would like to see the checks and balances inherit in our system.  The courts and the Congress is gone.  So the president would be unobstructed in the implementation of his will.  That type of leader, there`s a word for it in the English language, is what we would call a dictator.  And, so, when you have 43 percent of a political party in a two-party system that has taken on for the first time in American history an authoritarian bent that will smear any person, any decorated combat veteran, career foreign service officers, people that have spent their entire service, their entire lives in service to the American nation and to the American people, when they will burn it all down in the name of Trump, we are in a crisis as a country.

And what you saw from Nancy Pelosi was an articulation, and we don`t see it very much, but of duty.  The sense of duty that should be top of mind for every elected official, every person who has taken an oath, has assumed power as stewards and fiduciaries of the American republic to shepherd for our time on earth a stronger union for the next generation.  It is completely absent from our politics and that`s why that was such remarkable moment today.


WILLIAMS:  Well, with us to talk more about that moment and about the news of today is a woman you saw at that table today at 4:00 p.m. Mara Gay, member of the "New York Times" editorial board.

Was that as much of a moment as it appeared as a TV viewer?

MARA GAY, EDITORIAL BOARD MEMBER, "THE NEW YORK TIMES":  Oh, absolutely.  It`s undeniable.  Steve was right on and really cut to the heart of the matter.  It also has me thinking about what a public servant really is.

Nancy Pelosi as Speaker of the House was not somebody who was excited about impeachment.  She was put -- pushed there by a sense of duty, and frankly, by the President`s wrongdoing.

It`s time for Republicans and others to stand up and do their job.  And I think it`s really important that the American people understand that they are not just there -- members of Congress aren`t just there as, you know, sports fighters.  They`re not MMA fighters.


GAY:  They are public servants who are elected to support the public good as well as the constitution of the United States.

And there are worse things than losing an election.  There is so much at stake right now.  And one of the mysteries to me and frankly tragedies I think about this time when we look back is going to be the number of people in Congress.

Right now, they tend to be Republicans.  Let`s be honest about what the look of it is.  Who are unwilling to stand up and do what`s right because they`re worried about their seat.  They`re worried about a challenge.  Well, it`s time to stand up and do the right thing.

And if you have to sacrifice yourself for that then that`s a sense of duty.  And we are missing that from, actually not just Donald Trump but from an entire Republican Party.  And that is what Steve Schmidt is talking about.  And it`s very scary because it`s really important to have different views in democracy.  But with-- if one party has abdicated its responsibility and its interests in democracy, then what do you do?  And I think Steve is right about so much.

The one thing I would say.  I would say, I would just take it a step further and the authoritarian strain that runs through this moment does have a corollary in our history.  And if you think about the civil rights movement as actually not a civil rights movement, but indeed democratization.  You really don`t have to go that far back to see that what`s underlying anti-Democratic movements in United States has always been directly linked with race, with racism, with white supremacy and with nationalism.

And I think in order for us to move beyond that, we need to confront it and understand it.  And I think that Nancy Pelosi went a long way today to just call the problem out for what it is.  And she wasn`t acting as a partisan official.  She was acting as somebody who served the American people.  And I just hope that others will follow.

WILLIAMS:  You concur with Steve`s central holding that she is preeminent among politicians right now, not names Trump, that she holds a unique position in American politics?

GAY:  She does.  And there are Democrats who could take a lesson from her as well.  Let`s be clear.  But Democrats aren`t the ones who have abdicated their responsibility to the constitution of the American people.  So, you know, people need to -- Republican members of Congress need to look beyond Fox News.  They need to look beyond the next two years, the next political cycle.  And they need to be able to look their children in the eye.  And I don`t know how any of them can do that tonight.

WILLIAMS:  Mara Gay has agreed to stick around over the break.

Coming up, things got intense on the trail today as we will show you for Joe Biden.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Two in the other hand, sent your son over there to get a job and work for a gas company that he had no experience with gas or nothing in order to get access for the -- to -- for the President.  So you`re selling access to the President just like he was.  And so you got--

BIDEN:  You`re a damn liar, man.  That`s not true and no one has ever said that.  No one see that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Yes, I saw it on the TV.

BIDEN:  You`ve seen it on a TV.


BIDEN:  No, I know you do.  By the way, that`s why I`m not center.  I don`t like it happening too.  And no, let him go.



WILLIAMS:  Joe Biden had largely avoided talking about his son Hunter during this No Malarkey bus tour across Iowa as it`s called.  But in that exchange today with the man who said he was retired Iowa farmer, the former Vice President engaged and then some.


BIDEN:  If you want to check my shape on, let`s do push-ups together, man.  Let`s run.  Let`s do whatever you want to do.  Let`s take an I.Q. test.

No one has said my son has done anything wrong, and I did not on any occasion and no one has ever said it.  Not anyone.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I didn`t say you were doing anything wrong.

BIDEN:  You said I set up my son to work in an oil company.  Isn`t that what you said?  Get your words straight, Jack.


WILLIAMS:  Mara Gay remains here with us.  You could argue that that man was telling the story as he`s heard it as told by others and not the Biden team.

GAY:  Absolutely.  I mean, Joe Biden has yet to directly clear up in a consistent way that is intelligible to most voters quickly what exactly happened and what didn`t happen.  His team really needs to help him come up with a way to address this directly.

  And part of the problem is that there is a kernel of truth at the heart of this accusation, which is that, you know, it`s not a good look to have family members of the president of the United States or the Vice president of the United States or anyone in public office who may have a conflict of interest.

And I don`t think that there is any evidence here.  There is no evidence that actually Burisma got access or got special favors from the Obama White House.  There is none, and Joe Biden can say that.

He can also stand tall, I think, and talk about his own conduct.  But he may have to be a little bit clearer when he addresses this.  And frankly being angry with voters and arguing with voters, it just looks like he`s lost control.

WILLIAMS:  This is an out of nowhere question, but it`s absolutely right there and germane to everything we see every day.  Can you tell me how the Democrats are going to end up with an all-white stage at the next debate?  How did that happen?

GAY:  Well, you know, there`s not much of a pipeline, so that`s one thing to consider.  I also think that black voters interestingly enough in supporting Joe Biden, for example, have really proven to be conservative not in the way we might think about it but in the sense they are extremely concerned, maybe more than any other voter about who is theoretically electable.

And so far they`ve gone with Joe Biden.  I think it`ll be interesting to see what happens after Iowa, though.  Because, you know, if Joe Biden doesn`t win Iowa, black voters might see that as they did in 2008, when Barrack Obama won Iowa.

And they might say, well, wait a second let me rethink this.  So I think their vote is up for grabs.  But I do think it`s disappointing that we don`t have a more diverse array of candidates.  We will have a woman or two on the stage, so that`s a good thing.

We have a gay man.  That`s a good thing.  But hopefully the concerns of all voters will be addressed.

WILLIAMS:  Mara Gay, it`s always a pleasure to have you.  Thank you for always taking our questions.

GAY:  Thanks for having me.

WILLIAMS:  We appreciate it.

Coming up for us, our latest installment of elections have consequences when we come back.


WILLIAMS:  Last thing before we go tonight is our occasional reminder to those especially in the opposition, to those on the left side of the political ledger that elections have consequences.  The new count, the number of federal judges approved and appointed under Donald Trump appears to be 172.  The goal by the end of this year is 10, more, 182.  The number is back in the news tonight because Mitch McConnell just worked another one through the Senate.

And like so many of the other Trump nominees this one is controversial.  Her name is Sarah Pitlyk and she will become the newest U.S. district court judge in St. Louis.  The vote was party line with one exception.  Senator Susan Collins of Maine actually crossed over to vote with the Democrats on this one.

While the Trump administration  now dismisses the American Bar Association as a liberal group, for what it`s worth the ABA rated this nominee not  qualified.  From their own report we quote, Ms. Pitlyk has never tried a case as lead or co-counsel, whether civil or criminal.  She has never examined a witness.  She has not taken a deposition.  She has never participated at any stage of a criminal matter.

Pitlyk did have a big thing going for her.  She was a clerk for Judge Brett Kavanaugh.  Her fellow Kavanaugh clerk Justin Walker also rated  unqualified by the ABA.  He was just appointed to the federal bench as well.

Now we quote from "The Washington Post."  They quote from a court filing where Pitlyk herself wrote, "The practice of surrogacy has grave effects on society, such as diminished respect for motherhood."  She argued that surrogacy is harmful to mothers and children.

One more thing here, Sarah Pitlyk is 42 years old, like all federal judges she has now been appointed to the federal bench for life.  Meaning with good health she can shape American jurisprudence for upwards of half a century.

That is our broadcast for this Thursday night.  Thank you so very much for being here with us.  And 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