House Judi Commi. stands in recess. TRANSCRIPT: 12/12/19, The 11th Hour w/ Brian Williams.

Guests: Tamara Keith, Maya Wiley, Peter Baker, Rick Wilson

REP. HAKEEM JEFFRIES (D-NY): So there won`t be any difference between us on how to do this.  In other words, the jury, Senate Republicans are going to coordinate with the defendant Donald Trump on how exactly the kangaroo court is going to be run.  I submit to you respectfully that is a process concern, that the American people should be worried about.

Now, America is a resilient nation, and we`ve been through moments of turmoil before.  And we`ve always come through.  We`re a resilient nation.

Lincoln said during the height of the Civil War, America is the last best hope on earth.  FDR said on the eve of the Second World War, democracy is not dying.  Reagan said in the midst of the Cold War, America is a shining city on a hill.

What exactly will history say about us?  Will we put principle over party?  Will we put the Constitution above corruption?  Will we put democracy over demagoguery?  What exactly will history say about us?

I yield now to my distinguished colleague from the great state of Texas, Mrs. Escobar.

REP. VERONICA ESCOBAR (D-TX):  Thank you, Mr. Chairman.  I`m going to speak directly to the American people once again.

BRIAN WILLIAMS, MSNBC HOST:  Brian Williams here with you.  We`re watching in New York our live coverage continues.

ESCOBAR:  -- the Republican talking points that they`ve heard over and over and over again, especially for those Americans who`ve been listening and watching all day.  And instead go directly to the evidence yourself.

Over 100 hours of testimony, testimony by some of America`s greatest patriots.  Over 250 text messages.  Mick Mulvaney`s own words.  Mr. Mulvaney is the President`s Chief of Staff.  And finally, the President`s own words, his own words inviting Russia, Ukraine, and China into our election.

The republican colleagues that we have on this committee claim there is not enough evidence.  Review it for yourself.

And as to obstruction, we have given a number of examples about obstruction, but we have a living example that was released just tonight.

And actually, before I talk about that example, if my colleagues, my Republican colleagues think the President is so free from wrongdoing, I would ask them to join us in calling on President Trump to release it all.  Release the witnesses.  Release the documents.

Let the American public make up their own minds.  Let them see it all.  Call on transparency.  Join us.  But they won`t, because the obstruction is convenient.

Tonight there was a victory. The Center for Public integrity sued in federal court for documents related to the Ukraine scandal, and this is what they`ve got.  They won in court, but what they got were heavily redacted documents.  Why?  Because the President doesn`t want these documents to see the light of day.

I ask for unanimous consent, Chairman, to enter these documents into the record.

REP. JERROLD NADLER (D-NY):  Without objection.

ESCOBAR:  Along with the article Trump administration resists Ukraine disclosures ordered by court.

NADLER:  Without objection.

ESCOBAR:  Yield back.  Thank you, Chairman.

NADLER:  The time of the gentlelady has expired.  What purpose does the Ranking Member, Mr. Collins seek recognition?

REP. DOUG COLLINS (R-GA):  move to strike the last word.

Nadler:  Gentleman is recognized.

COLLINS:  Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

As we`re coming to the end here, it is amazing to me, especially from hearing from one of the -- frankly either side of the aisle are my closest friends on this dais, Mr. Jeffries make a statement that said the only thing we had to offer was a process argument all day.  He may have had to come in and out.  I`m not sure.

But for the most part, for over 12 hours, we have ordered the fact and argue the facts that there is over and over and over again that they call -- the aid was released.  There was nothing done.  And that has been argument.  We have a process argument because the process argument has a lot to do with where we`re at right now.  But the facts have been taken on and rebuffed every single hour of this day since 9:00.

It is amazing to me also, though, that the one thing that my friend said, though, is we look forward to this and going forward.  It has to be said.  This is -- basically this concerning part for many of us is the focus group impeachment.  When he couldn`t make, as one of my colleagues Mr. Richmond said, quid pro quo is not something we all use, but bribery is something somebody understands.  Extortion is what somebody understands.  You know, doing something illegal is something understanding.

What we`ve heard today from my colleagues is a lot of discussion about crimes they couldn`t charge.  Crimes that they wouldn`t put in the articles of impeachment.  If they were so set that he did all of these crimes that were always mentioned, then put them in the articles.  But you can`t.  That`s the biggest flaw and struggle you`re having right now.

And I know we still have just a little bit of debate left, but that is just the issue that we`re dealing with.  You can`t put him in there.

And for those who have said, we will -- that you will not defend the actions of this President, we are defending the President`s action.  We defend them that there`s nothing wrong.  And I will do that right now for someone to say we have it.  Again, who is not listening.

The problem we`re having is there`s a clock in calendar impeachment.  It never got -- so one of the things that just disturbed me the most is I`ve worked with this chairman now in the minority and majority on both ways, and it is amazing to me how little we have gotten in this.  I wrote six letters to this chairman about issues of how we`re to actually conduct what has now become the real short rubber stamp version of impeachment, which we have tonight in the Judiciary Committee.  I received an answer to none of those letters except one, just the other night when it was rejected of any of our witnesses.  Not a chance that we have any of our witnesses.

So in some ways I turn it back on the Democrats.  What were you scared of?  What were you afraid of that they might actually say?  Because we didn`t get it.  We just summarily rejected them.  So my question would be honest is, what are you afraid of from the witnesses, some of which had already been called that we wanted to call?

What we`re understanding is the fact that we have now become a committee that unfortunately had merit what the chairman said over 20 years ago.  We have accepted the facts from other places and not checked them out ourselves.  We`ve regurgitated, thrown out, talked about other people`s work, but yet not having a chance to look at it ourselves, we are the rubber stamp.

This is no longer the Judiciary Committee that actually is a trier of fact or a witness interrogator.  It is a rubber stamp to where someone else, Mr. Schiff in particular, has told us.  And that is sad, because that`s not what this committee is about.

I`ve watched last Congress as my friends who are now in the majority win the minority make passionate arguments for hours at a time on very little nothing including the rules of the committee.  We went almost, I think, it was seven or eight hours on the rules of the committee.  Passion, I understand that.  That`s what this committee is about.  But can you tell me honestly from the majority`s perspective that we`ve almost spent less hours percentage-wise on impeachment of actually doing anything remotely related to a hearing as you did in the minority when you were arguing about the rules of the committee in the Oversight?

That should tell you a lot about what this is about.  Because we`re spending more time in the minority arguing about things that really in the end of the day we`re not moving the needle, and we`re spending less time percentage-wise arguing about what you have called the highest of all calls that you`re doing and honoring the Constitution and honoring the call that you`ve had as a commitment to have served in this body.  I think it`s just not congruent with what you`re doing.

The other problem I have is it`s going to be never ending.  It doesn`t matter.  In just a matter of a few week, whenever the Senate finishes up whatever they do, then we`re back to this again.  And I know that because Adam Schiff has told me again.  I know this because Al Green told me.  They`ll impeach him over and over and over again, investigate him over and over again.  I guess I`m waiting for the committee hearing schedule in February to see what we`re investigating next.  I guess that will dominate us, but it`s it has there.

But the two most -- one most disturbing thing of all today is, at the end of the day, if you can`t make that President Zelensky felt threatened, then you attack President Zelensky.  I cannot believe in the last little bit here he was actually called a battered wife.  President Zelensky called a battered wife.  The absolute destruction in compared to a battered wife is just amazing that this is where we stooped in this committee at this time during this important moment.

Vote no on this impeachment debacle.  I yield back.

REP. VAL DEMINGS (D-FL):  Move to strike the last word.  Thank you so much, Mr. Chairman.

Just a couple of things I want to clear up right off the bat.  I feel compelled to say that Lieutenant Alexander Vindman is a hero because he received the Purple Heart for sustaining injuries in Iraq.  And I am extremely proud of him for his courage on and off the battlefield.

Secondly, we can say this one more time.  The Intelligence Committee did not subpoena the phone records of any member of Congress or any member of the press.  Abuse of power has been defined as official misconduct, commission of an unlawful act done in an official capacity which affects the performance of official duties.

President Trump sought an announcement of political investigations in return for performing two official acts. Number one, he conditioned release of vital military assistance in Ukraine on President Zelensky`s public announcement of the investigations.  Now imagine if there was a mayor who withheld critical dollars from a police chief to fight terrorism until that chief went to a microphone and simply announced an investigation of the mayor`s political opponent.  I do not believe any community anywhere would allow that.

Number two, the President conditioned a head of state meeting at the White House on Ukraine publicly announcing the investigations.

And finally, President Trump acted corruptly throughout this course of conduct because he offered to perform these official acts in exchange for a private political benefit rather than because it was in the country`s interests.  This last element, the President acting corruptly is perhaps the most important act, and it bears repeating, because it explains why this article is structured as an abuse of power.  It has been suggested that it`s as simple as we hate the President.  I don`t hate the president.

I attended President Trump`s inauguration.  I wanted to be there to watch the peaceful transfer of power.  I felt it was my duty before coming to Congress I have provided dignitary protection for a Republican and Democratic presidents.  I always considered it an honor.

But President Trump with all that has been said, with all of the excuses that we have heard today, President Trump used his office to serve himself, to serve his private benefit.  And by doing so, he jeopardized America`s national security interests and the integrity of our precious elections.  Every vote should count.  And when all-out to completely obstruct any investigation into his wrongdoing.

Yes, we`ve heard it many times.  Yes, the President was duly elected by the American people.  We know that.  And we take it very seriously.

I want my vote to count.  And everybody, I believe, who pressed their way to the polls want their vote to count.  But are you suggesting that the American people will allow the President to do anything that he wants to do any time, any place, anywhere?  To my Republican colleagues, I reject what you are willing to settle for.  We have a responsibility to hold the President accountable, and I plan on doing my constitutional duty.  He shall be held accountable.

And with that, Mr. Chairman, I yield back.

NADLER:  Gentlelady yields back.  There being no further amendments, we have concluded debate in the amendment in the nature of a substitute. The question occurs on the amendment in the nature of a substitute.  All those in favor respond by saying aye.  Aye.  Opposed no.

UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER (in unison):  No.

NADLER:  In the opinion, the ayes have it.  The amendment and nature of the substitute is agreed to.

To be clear, the ayes have it.  The amendment and nature of the substitute is agreed to.

To be clear, the vote this committee just took was not a vote on final passage of the article.  It was a procedural vote which precedes final passage of each of the articles. It has been a long two days of consideration of these articles.

There`s been a long two days in consideration of these articles and that is now very late at night.  I want the members on both sides of the aisle to think about what has happened over these last two days and to search their consciences before we cast our final votes.  Therefore, the Committee will now stand in recess until tomorrow morning at 10:00 a.m.  At which point, I will move to divide the question so that each of us may have the opportunity to cast up or down votes on each of the articles of impeachment and to let history be our judge.  The Committee is in recess.

COLLINS:  Chairman -- Mr. Chairman, there was no consulting from the minority -- Ranking Member on your schedule for tomorrow which you just blown up schedules for everyone?  You chose not to consult the Ranking Member on a schedule issue of this magnitude?

NADLER:  So typical.

COLLINS:  This is the kangaroo court that we`re talking about.

NADLER:  This is outrageous.

(CROSSTALK)

COLLINS:  Not even consult?

REP. LOUIE GOHNMERT (R-TX):  Your Stalinesque.  Let`s have a dictator.  It`s good to hear about that.

COLLINS:  Unbelievable.

WILLIAMS:  Well, good evening.  We`ll continue to monitor this.  We are together on witnessing this for the first time.  Jerry Nadler has thrown a surprise into the proceedings.  Let`s listen to what`s still going on inside the hearing room, shall we?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  We didn`t have any fact witnesses, but we had a three-day trial.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Unbelievable.

(INAUDIBLE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  This is really sticky poop on their part, really.

(INAUDIBLE)

WILLIAMS:  I think in part, we are genuinely surprised, all of us, that anything happened in the course of this hearing that was a genuine surprise, but this is it.  You hear Collins -- let`s listen to Collins.  We`ll continue to talk about what we just witnessed.

COLLINS:  -- with one side and the other doing our final comments like we did.  And then to do that right there shows that Chairman Nadler`s integrity is zero.  His staff is zero.  They have nothing that they can offer anymore except the kangaroo court that we`ve seen the last three days.  The giant rubber stamp that you`ve just seen in this Committee has made this Committee irrelevant.

This chairman has made himself irrelevant.  That was the most bush league play I have seen in my life because they want to simply get it back on the cameras, because it`s after 11:00 tonight and they don`t think enough people is watching.  I have never seen anybody want to get in front of these cameras more than this group right here because they don`t have anything to impeach this President.  They don`t have anything to move on except for bush league stuff like this.

Anybody in America, this just show the American people why this right here is wrong.  They should show this right now why this President has been attacked for three years and tonight they showed it completely.  Hearing by ambush.

WILLIAMS:  You heard the man.  So Nadler did not consult with the other side.  Chairman Nadler, it was kind of released earlier tonight.  It was very important to him that all of the Republican debate on amendments to these articles get heard.  And so all day and all night, we have heard various members in order as they went around the horn.  There were votes.  They all were up and down party line votes.  Nadler suddenly came on and said we`ll get back at this at 10:00 a.m.

Our correspondent Garrett Haake is standing by.

Garrett, first of all, as a matter of scheduling, how many of these members thought they were going to be on an airplane tonight out of Andrews going to the commemoration, the 75th anniversary of the Battle of the Bulge in Europe?  Or did anyone on the committee count on going on that congressional delegation trip?

GARRETT HAAKE, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT:  There`s only one Democrat on that trip that I`m aware of, Brian.  And look, a beat reporter like myself hates to admit this, but this is a genuine surprise.  This was not expected.  We`ve got -- I think we can actually show you.  Doug Collins is speaking right over here.

WILLIAMS:  OK.  Yes, let`s take him.

HAAKE:  Let`s try to listen to that.

COLLINS:  But in the midst of this impeachment, the Chairman just ambushed the entire committee, did not have any consultation with the Ranking Member.  We`re going have votes at 10:00 a.m. in the morning.  I guess they didn`t think enough today of spreading their very paper-thin impeachment process for over 12 to 14 hours was enough.

So tonight without consulting the Ranking Member, without consulting anyone, schedules of anybody be put out there.  We`re scheduling this at 10:00 a.m. in the morning.  I don`t know.  The integrity level of this Committee has been -- the Chairman`s integrity is gone, his staff is gone.  This was is most bush league thing I have seen for ever.

And if the American people wondered about this impeachment anymore, they don`t have to wonder anymore.  They saw what happened right here tonight.  Because this Committee is more concerned about getting on T.V. in the morning than it was finishing its job tonight and letting the members go home.  I can -- words cannot describe how inappropriate this was, how I had been saying for the whole year how this Committee is just simply rim shooting the rules of this House and this proves it tonight.

They do not care about rules.  They have one thing, their hatred of Donald Trump.  And this showed it tonight because they want to shine into these cameras, get prettied up, and then vote and make it all happen.  This was the -- I`m just beyond words at this point.  But it shows their lack of integrity in this process and the lack of case that they have.  For them to actually come out here to defend this is the most ludicrous thing I`ve ever seen in my life.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Why does it really matter if you vote tonight or tomorrow?  I mean Jim Sensenbrenner, the former chair of this committee complimented Chairman Nadler for how he conducted this mark up?

COLLINS:  I don`t think Jim Sensenbrenner would complement him right now.  Jim Sensenbrenner left pretty frustrated tonight.

The reason we have this tonight, we have work this out tonight to finish up tonight, so we have members who have flights.  We have members who are going home trains.  We have members who are going home because this was going to finish up tonight.  But to not even consult the Ranking Member, to not even give us a heads up, this was all we heard.  And we have been consulting back and forth on that last few minutes about who was going to speak and how we were going to end the speaking tonight so that we didn`t -- we had plenty of more amendments and others things we could have offered tonight and been here all night.

But we chose to say we said all we need to say.  They said all they need to say and we`re finishing this up.  That was the most lack of integrity thing I`ve ever seen by a member of Congress, especially a chairman.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Do you have members who are supposed to be on this codel?

COLLINS:  I have no idea.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Mr. Collins, just to clarify, before Mr. Nadler announced that you had gotten nowhere in any way about this.

COLLINS:  I think that my expression right now would confirm that.  That was the most shock.  And then to see them and then the staff and the Chairman have no comment and just sort of go huh.  This is the problem.

This is why people don`t like us.  This crap like this is why people are having such a terrible opinion of Congress.  What Chairman Nadler just did and his staff and the rest of the majority who sat there quietly and said nothing, this is why they don`t like us, because they know it`s all about games.  They know it`s all about these T.V. screens.  It`s all about getting in the present because they want the prime time hit.

This is Speaker Pelosi and Adam Schiff and others directing this committee.  I don`t have a chairman anymore.  I guess I just need to go straight to Ms. Pelosi and say what T.V. hit does this committee need to do because this committee has lost all relevance?  I`ll see you all tomorrow.

WILLIAMS:  So that was the Ranking Member.  For viewers just joining us, Nadler just gaveled the thing into recess, says we`ll be back at this 10:00 a.m. tomorrow morning.

Technically, this has nothing to do with impeachment, everything to do with courtesy between the parties.  So Garrett, that`s where we stand.  And we were correct in assuming that it is about flights and planes and trains and automobiles.

HAAKE:  Yes, absolutely.  Congressional logistics.

Look, you see a lot of performative anger in hearings like this.  That was the real thing.  I mean that was the Ranking Member who felt completely broadsided.  Remember we had a recess about 9:00.  They were supposed to break up for half an hour.  It went on a little longer than that.  That usually tells us that there is some kind of negotiations taking place.

And in fact, when they came back from that recess around 9:45, you saw that this was clearly wrapping up.  You had -- even some members praising the way that Jerry Nadler, the chairman, had handled things up till that point allowing this free-flowing debate, there was no guidance given whatsoever to the minority.

And it`s not even clear to me whether Democrats knew about this.  We`ve not seen them come out to the stakeout cameras to speak on their own behalf here, whether this was something that even Democrats knew was coming or whether this was closely held by the Chairman.

You know, look, there are few norms left in American politics and in Congress, you know, so much bad faith deals that happen.  But generally speaking, the basics of how hearings are negotiated time and place is pretty much done in an aboveboard way.  And I think you saw a ranking member there furious that this was not done in that manner.

WILLIAMS:  Yes.  He was and I conquer that was genuine anger.  The problem with the argument is 10:00 a.m. is hardly prime-time for hearing viewership.

HAAKE:  No, I would agree with that, although what are we coming up now, 11:30 tonight here on the East Coast.  I suppose they want -- you know, the argument would be that this would be an all-day story one way or the other.  You know, it seems to me like six of one half and dozen on another whether you vote tonight and have this go tomorrow morning, I suppose you could imagine that Democrats don`t want to have the talking point that it was, you know, a midnight vote in the dark of night and so forth.

But, yes, I mean this is a weird move.  You were so close to the end here, you would have thought that this hearing would have been wrapped up in maybe the next half hour or so to reset and generate another day of this.  It`s not as if articles of impeachment voted out of the Judiciary Committee wouldn`t have been the political story on the planet tomorrow whether they`d done it at any hour tonight.  But I guess we`ll start fresh again tomorrow.

WILLIAMS:  And one more question before I let you go.  Did the Democrats scatter or are they in a caucus room listening to the coach perhaps?

HAAKE:  As best I could tell, they were scattering, Brian.  But as soon as I`m off camera with you, we`re going to go try to track them down.

WILLIAMS:  Garrett Haake, thank you very much for some seat of the pant reporting as we were thrown a curve tonight in the hearing we thought was going to go on much further.

This is a substitute for what is normally our broadcast, "The 11th Hour."  Let`s talk about what we just witnessed and what we`ve been covering all day.  And here with us for our lead-off discussion on a busy Thursday night, Tamara Keith, White House correspondent for NPR, Shannon Pettypiece, veteran journalist, senior White House reporter for us at NBC News Digital.  And here on the set with us in New York, Maya Wiley, former assistant U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, now with the New School here in New York.  Well, good evening and welcome to you all.

Tamara, what does this do as a practical matter to the schedule to the thread of this, to the story of this, and how much of this will be forgotten when we`re back at it at 10:00 a.m. and networks like this one are back in live coverage all over again?

TAMARA KEITH, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, "NPR":  You know, I think Garrett was probably right on about Democrats wanting to avoid, you know, complaints from the President and others that they voted in committee in the dark of night to impeach the President.  Now, it looks like they will vote in the light of day and in the morning when everybody is awake and their 5:00 shadows are shaved off.

You know, it was a very long hearing, and, you know, one thing that it does is that President Trump already today has set some kind of record for tweets and retweets.  It`s well over 100 tweets and retweets today.  And so I guess we get it again tomorrow.

WILLIAMS:  Yes.  Shannon, Tamara`s right.  Earlier this evening, the President indeed broke his own record for Twitter activity as a sitting president.  What on earth could that tell us?

SHANNON PETTYPIECE, NBC NEWS SENIOR WHITE HOUSE REPORTER:  Well, I mean, it tells you that he has gone to Twitter as his main method of rebuttal.  I had tallied earlier in the day 109, but they have kept going into the evening.  And I think we can anticipate a similar pattern tomorrow, Sunday, you know, was another one of these days where there was more than 100 tweets from the President on this topic.

I mean you can tell he is, you know, struggling and eager, I would say, to get his message out.  You now, you can almost see him trying to tweak a message and put out different lines of defense to try and make his case here, this argument that in the call it wasn`t him asking for a personal favor, it was asking for a favor for "us."  I`m talking about, you know, this idea that the, you know, money for Ukraine, he wanted to see the Europeans put in more.

So he`s sort of throwing out these different arguments against the wall on Twitter, trying to see which ones can stick, because it`s really the only line of argument he has -- or, you know, to make his case at this point.  A lot of this is in the hands of the House now.  There`s only so many times he can go out to the helicopter and talk to reporters.  Only so many times he can bring us into the Oval Office, only so many rallies he can have.  So, in between, he is turning to Twitter.

And, you know, I was crunching some of the numbers today, and there is a real marked increase in the number of tweets we have seen from this President in September.  It`s not just your imagination, if you`re like the rest of us reporters who follow every one of the tweets that these are now coming at a really remarkable level on some days.

WILLIAMS:  And, Tamara, one more thing, and that is that in a short time here, he is going to have that asterisk next to his name that so few presidents have.  Impeachment is going to become real.  Not the stuff of a late night committee hearing.  This is going to get real, real soon.

KEITH:  Yes, by the end of next week by all accounts, President Trump will join a club that he doesn`t want to join of presidents who have been impeached.  Removal is another thing, and he is unlikely to be removed.  And he`ll be able to claim exoneration if the Senate stays and lockstep as Mitch McConnell is implying that they will.  But President Trump, this is not something he wants, even if he says that there is political benefit and his campaign has talked about there being political benefit and massive fundraising as a result of this.

You know, I interviewed his daughter today, President Trump`s daughter Ivanka Trump today, and asked her if this was weighing on the President, and she went straight to the White House talking points that, you know, they`re just continuing to do hard work for America and make progress and have these victories.  And, you know, the White House has this talking point that they keep pushing out.  But it comes in contrast to what we`re seeing on Twitter, which is not a President focused on just getting victories on policy.

BRIAN WILLIAMS, MSNBC HOST:  Maya Wiley, you were watching along with us tonight.  I think the term "hit a wall" is appropriate.  This debate had hit a wall.  It was clear and transparent to even those of us who are not lawyers, hardly parliamentarians, that they were filling time slots to go in order to let the Republicans air their grievances, the Democrats would hit back.  Not a mind was changed, and all the party line votes continued.

MAYA WILEY, FMR. ASSISTANT U.S. ATTY., SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK:  Yes, Brian.  Not a mind was changed and over and over and over again we heard the same arguments.

WILLIAMS:  Yes.

WILEY:  So it`s not like we were suddenly hearing something new or different.  It would have been a little disturbing perhaps if we did --

WILLIAMS:  YES.

WILEY:  -- right?  To the extent that --

WILLIAMS:  This late in the game.

WILEY:  -- this late in the game.  But I think what that suggests is what purpose is it serving?  I mean, I certainly think the -- there`s an importance to having a public debate in the sense of the, you know, ritual of the chamber, right?

WILLIAMS:  Right.

WILEY:  And to help the American public catch up.  Not everybody can follow all of the hearings the way we have, and so sort of getting that picture.  But we really have -- this horse has been killed over and over and over again.  It`s dead.  And I think actually the bigger concern have I about it is, we were hearing the same arguments over and over again, but we weren`t necessarily hearing facts from the Republicans.  And that I think is kind of devastating for a country that should be having a very serious discussion about what the evidence is and what it means.

And I think we saw that from Mr. Collins may have had every right to feel blindsided by a calling of the hearing tomorrow morning, but that`s very different than to say the same things over and over again about thinness of evidence and kangaroo court.  Those are the talking points he has been using for the entire debate that don`t have anything to do with the scheduling issue.

WILLIAMS:  That`s right.

WILEY:  And so, the absence of an important discussion about whatever you think about what the evidence means, that`s what we`re talking about is what does it mean, and what`s at risk for our constitution, and how do we balance that.  Because we didn`t hear from the Republicans, what`s left of the impeachment clause for the constitution if none of these articles are demonstrating impeachable offenses to them, particularly obstruction of justice.  We really heard very little from them on that one, I think.

WILLIAMS:  To repeat for folks watching at home, this is 40 committee members we`re talking about, and exponentially that ring gets larger if you include all their staff, all the folks on the Hill who attended this committee.  I think Garrett Haake was a bit surprised and so were we that no Democrats came out to the microphones, so far that we know of.  Not the chairman and none of the members, that that was it.  Their exit followed the announcement.  But we`re back at it at 10:00 a.m.

Our guests are going to stick around as long as they can.  We`re just getting started on a Thursday night.  We`ll take our first break in coverage, come back on the other side.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. JOHN RATCLIFFE (R), TEXAS:  Democrats have built this entire fake impeachment scheme around an alleged demand.  Guess what word is not anywhere in the transcript.  Demand.  Nowhere in that transcript is the President make a demand. 

REP. VAL DEMINGS (D), FLORIDA:  There have been so many things that have been said, like the President never used the word "demand."  Well, I can tell you this.  When a robber points a gun at you to take your money, they usually don`t walk up and say I`m robbing you right now.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WILLIAMS:  Another sampling from the marathon debate.  A long day`s journey into tonight as House members consider the impeachment articles against Donald Trump.

With us tonight for more, Rick Wilson, Republican Strategist, author of the forthcoming book, "Running Against the Devil" which is due out in mid-January.  And Peter Baker, Chief White House Correspondent for "The New York Times."  Peter, we don`t get to add asterisks as we go, things like we never got a transcript of the call with the President of Ukraine.  We got a summary.  We really don`t know exactly what was said on the phone call.  There is room to say that about every five minutes during this hearing today and then tonight as our resident expert on impeachment, Peter, what have we learned today?

PETER BAKER, CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, THE NEW YORK TIMES:  Well, I think we have learned that there is a full employment act for fact checkers if they were going to spend their day watching all 14, 15 hours of this.  They could have filled a volume that`s for sure, for both sides, but particularly, you know, on the side of the Republicans trying to defend President Trump there.  They`re presenting their version of reality.  Obviously Democrats are presenting their version of reality too.

I don`t know that we learned anything new except that we`re going have a party line vote, which I think we probably knew at the beginning of the day.  It`s a little different than the 21 years ago, because there actually was sort of some movement at the House Judiciary Committee level when they were considering impeaching President Clinton.  There was some discussion.  I remember Asa Hutchinson, I remember Lindsey Graham, they were talking about was there some alternative out and there were some sort of censure resolution, for instance, that could have brought people together.

In fact, on the day of the committee vote, people forget this, President Clinton agreed to go out and make an apology, a public apology before the cameras.  He did it and it was unsatisfying to the Republicans because they felt he didn`t really admit to what they had done wrong.  Six or seven or eight minutes later, they voted on those articles of impeachment.  It was a dramatic kind of closing to the day.

I don`t think we had that same kind of drama today.  The suspense is long gone, but the arguments are important.  And they are important to lay out for the American public to see what`s being discussed here.

WILLIAMS:  Rick Wilson, I know for a fact we`ve had viewers who have been with us all day and all night, watching this as a televised event.  What do you think?  Because the arguments have gone largely past each other, because no minds or votes have been changed through the course of today and tonight, what do you think the takeaway is?  What do you think people have learned?

RICK WILSON, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST:  Well, I think what people have learned is that the Republican Party is fully committed to defending Donald Trump in this alternative reality bubble, and that they -- and I will say for the Republicans, they have been very disciplined in their crazy.  They have kept up this stream of delaying tactics and dilatory procedural moves and show votes and going back over the same talking points over and over again, in the course of this.

But I think what we learned most of all today was that the President is damn nervous.  The 100 and some odd tweets today, that was not coming from a place of a guy who`s happy about this.  I think there may have been some part of Trump that thought he could get the Republicans to derail this somehow, or that somehow Doug Collins would pull this -- pull something out that ended up with the committee not doing this.  And I think he`s probably pretty unhappy right now.  The degree to which he`s been responding to this by having a, you know, tweet rage all day I think is one of the most telling points of the 14 or 16 hours it`s been.

WILLIAMS:  Rick, I got to say, I read a very powerful piece by you in the Daily Beast tonight where you take the Democrats to task and try speaking truth to power on that side of the aisle.  What is your central message?  What do you see that the Democrats are in the midst of doing wrong, in your view?

WILSON:  They are, right now, they`d tried to focus the nation`s attention on impeachment, and rightly so.  I was an impeachment skeptic until Ukraine which is an overt, unbelievably simple open and shut case of corruption and now obstruction on top of it.  But what they`ve done and said, we`re going to work with the President on a trade bill, on pharma, on all these other infrastructure, cat and dog issues.  So on the one hand, the message is, this is a man who is so far outside the bounds, we must impeach him and seek his removal from office.  On the other hand is, let`s make a deal.

And I think that is a really distant (ph) message I think that does not help them in terms of the focus they need on Donald Trump because 2020 is a referendum on the incumbent.  If the message is he`s got to go, the message shouldn`t be polluted by, we`ve got to do a trade deal for him, we`ve got to do a pharma deal with him, we`ve got to do an infrastructure deal with him.  Those things are not coherent if you`re predicate of the case is that Donald Trump has to be removed from office one way or the other.

WILLIAMS:  Rick Wilson, Peter Baker and Maya Wiley are going to stay with us here.  We`re going to take a break.  And to the audience, we`ll tell you that Garrett Haake is going to rejoin us.  He`s got some new reporting on just what went into the Democrats` decision tonight, what the explanation is, all of it to come.

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WILLIAMS:  Welcome back.  Last we heard from the committee Chairman Jerry Nadler, he spoke with his gavel.  There were audible reactions to it within the hearing room.  Garrett Haake has been fact gathering in the last few minutes.  Garrett, what went into the Democrats` decision to call a halt to tonight and reconvene at 10:00 a.m.?

GARRETT HAAKE, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT:  Well, Brian, the bottom line is as we suspected Democrats say they want to have this vote in the light of day.  They simply think it`s too important to be characterized as a vote to impeach the President, you know, in the dark of night at midnight.  They wanted this to be something that the American people can see in the light of day, rejecting a late end of primetime vote, instead wanting to do this first thing tomorrow morning.

Republicans are still furious about this.  I can tell you from talking to some of the folks leaving, in part because there is a little procedural wrinkle in here because they took that one procedural vote before they wrapped things up for tonight.  That means Republicans can`t offer any more amendments tomorrow.  They effectively wrapped up the debate with a bow on it and bring it into tomorrow just for the votes.

Now, Doug Collins is something of a master of parliamentary procedure.  If there is way to cause some consternation, some trouble for Jerry Nadler tomorrow morning, you can bet that he will find it to try to draw this out tomorrow because Republicans are so furious about this.  But again, the argument from Democrats here is, this is something they feel like is so important, it needs to be done in the light of day when the American people are watching.

And I`ll just add that because we`ve talked about it a couple of times, Brian, I talked to a source tomorrow that CODEL tomorrow, that trip to Europe for the battle of the bulge anniversary will leave late enough in the day that the members who might be trying to go to that should not be affected by the vote tomorrow.  I say should not be affected, and that all depends on a schedule that, as we just learned, can be fluid.

WILLIAMS:  Well, that`s right.  Two questions here coming out at your reporting.  Why didn`t Democrats say what you just reported?  And why didn`t they send even one member out to the microphones to make their case and just leave themselves as vulnerable as they were tonight to incoming Republican fire?

HAAKE:  Yes, it`s a good question, Brian.  Well, the strategy here might be a good one, the tactics are lacking, right?  I mean, generally speaking, you would want somebody, anybody to come out and make that point just for balance when you`ve got such an angry reaction from Republicans here.  The short answer is I don`t know.  It seems like an error to not be out defending that statement, more than Jerry Nadler did from the podium.

WILLIAMS:  All right, Garrett Haake in the halls of Congress, reporting late into the night.  Garrett, thank you for that.

Another break for our coverage.  We`re back at it right after this.

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REP. ERIC SWALWELL (D-CA):  There are no crimes here?  That is the defense my colleagues across the aisle are putting forward.  How about the highest crime that one who holds public office could commit?  A crime against our constitution.

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WILLIAMS:  Eric Swalwell from California.  Interesting note there and throughout the coverage, there`s no witness at the witness table.  Members were advised to look across the hearing room at the television cameras as their focal point all day and all night.  They took thorough advantage of that advice.

Peter baker and Maya Wiley remain with us to talk about all of these.  Peter, this is a question I opened up with at the top of our coverage.  What`s the difference between pre-impeachment Donald Trump and his behavior, and what you think may happen once he enters that kind of rarefied category of a president under official impeachment.

BAKER:  Yes, it`s a great question.  You know, you had Tamara on earlier and I think she`s right.  I think the President has decided that this is going to happen.  It`s inevitable at this point and he can make some political advantage of it once he`s acquitted if he is in the Senate.

But at the same time I don`t think he really wants to be impeached.  I think, in fact, he tells his advisers that he considers it a humiliation.  It is a mark on his page in the history books, no matter how it comes out in the trial in the Senate.  Even President Clinton as much as he said he wore of this impeachment as a badge of honor because he defended the constitution against Republicans, still remember for the fact that he was impeached.  And I think that`s something that does weigh on President Trump.

He`s kind of toggled back and forth we`re told by his advisers between sort of bouts of self-pity and sort of more energetic kind of combativeness.  I think this tweet storm we saw today and we saw on Sunday and in the last few days indicate sort of his willingness, desire to kind of fight back.  He`s not doing it in the process.  He didn`t send any lawyers to represent him, but he retweeting again and again and again every Republican who says something defending him.

He`s glad to see Republicans standing up for him.  He was kind of in the dumps, kind of in a funk a few weeks ago when he felt like Republicans weren`t defending him.  He felt isolated.  He`s been a little bit in a better mood, his aides say, because he feels he`d now has his allies at his side.  But you`re right, once impeachment happens, once he is, you know, marked in history that way, we`ll see what happens.  I think he`s going to be fighting this out for the next 11 months all the way to the election.

WILLIAMS:  And Maya Wiley, I need a good lawyer for this question.  I think I heard it raised by Sensenbrenner on the Republican side tonight.  While this is going to the House floor and then eventually to the Senate, what happens to all the legal challenges, the fight to get Don McGahn to come forward?  Does that all continue to boil?

WILEY:  Absolutely.  Those court cases are not tied to any of the decision-making in Congress on impeachment.  Remember that Congress has the constitutional oversight authority on all kinds of questions.  The articles of impeachment, first of all, are not related directly to the Mueller probe and the obstruction of justice issues that Mueller raised.

The tax returns, remember, because we`ve got that case percolating --

WILLIAMS:  Yes, I remember those.

WILEY:  Remember those?  That, once again, although that is not a case about Congress, right, that was a district attorney here in Manhattan trying to get them for a criminal investigation.  But all those become really relevant precedence where we`re getting more courts reinforcing what we, as lawyers, believe, which was there`s not a lot of strong legal argument here for the President essentially saying I`m above the law in these instances.  I can prevent people who no longer work for me from complying with a congressional subpoena.  That does matter moving forward.

WILLIAMS:  To Maya Wiley, to Peter Baker, thank you for helping us out on our coverage and helping us to understand what it is we`ve witnessed just tonight.

Coming up, more coverage of this history-making debate on impeachment as tonight turns into tomorrow.  Really, in just a couple hours on this special expanded edition of "The 11th Hour" as we bridge the top of the next hour.

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