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Pelosi Signs Impeachment Resolution. TRANSCRIPT: 1/15/20, The 11th Hour w/ Brian Williams.

Guests: Anita Kumar, Jon Meacham, Michael McFaul, Nicholas Kristof, SherylWuDunn

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: That is tonight`s LAST WORD. "THE 11TH HOUR" with Brian Williams starts now.

BRIAN WILLIAMS, MSNBC HOST: The breaking news tonight, we get to hear from Lev of Lev and Igor. And he goes there. He says the President is lying. He says the President new exactly what was going on and what Lev was doing overseas. Lev goes on to talk about people like Mike Pence and Bill Barr for good measure.

Plus, the House Speaker signs the articles of impeachment with a mix of pomp and circumstance and a bit of end zone celebration with big smiles and handing out souvenir pens for everybody. Tonight the case belongs to the U.S. Senate. Tomorrow the chief justice swears them all in, just in time to preserve their long weekend, of course. All of it as THE 11TH HOUR gets under way on a consequential Wednesday night.

Well, good evening once again from our NBC News headquarters here in New York. Day 1,091 of the Trump administration, 293 days away from the 2020 presidential election.

And another history-making day in Washington. This was, however, a bad night for Donald Trump. As the Speaker of the House put it earlier today, this is as serious as it gets. The House has now turned over the two articles of impeachment against Donald Trump to the U.S. Senate. House Democrats also released even more material collected from an indicted fixer for Trump`s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani.

And to be fair, this explosive material from Lev Parnas, mountains of potential evidence, has been dribbled out without fanfare or explanation from the House Democrats on the Intel Committee. And tonight the source of that new evidence, Mr. Parnas, spoke exclusively with Rachel Maddow to tell his story for the first time in what we learn was only part one of their interview.


RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: What do you think is the main inaccuracy or the main lie that`s being told you that feel like you can correct?

LEV PARNAS, INDICTED RUDY GIULIANI ASSOCIATE: That the President didn`t know what was going on. President Trump knew exactly what was going on. He was aware of all of my movements. I wouldn`t do anything without the consent of Rudy Giuliani or the President.

I have no intent, I have no reason to speak to any of these officials. I mean, they have no reason to speak to me.

Why would President Zelensky`s inner circle or Minister Avakov, or all of these people or President Poroshenko meet with me? Who am i? They were told to meet with me. And that`s the secret that they`re trying to keep. I was on the ground doing their work.

MADDOW: In terms of the President and what he has said about you, he said about you and Mr. Fruman, Igor Fruman, I don`t know those gentlemen. I don`t know about them. I don`t know what they do. You`re saying that was not a true statement from the President?

PARNAS: He lied. He knew exactly who we were. He knew exactly who I was especially because I interacted with him at a lot of events.


WILLIAMS: Parnas has turned over a trove of documents and phone records and text messages and photos to the House related to the work he and Rudy were doing in Ukraine, apparently in the name of and at the direction of the White House.

Last night investigators released some of that evidence including a note about the Ukraine President and investigations into the Bidens. A letter from Giuliani to the same president requesting a meeting and texts that our former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine was being surveilled, monitored.

Hundreds of new pages of documents from Parnas were released just tonight. They include documents that seem to refer to efforts by Parnas and Giuliani to pressure Ukrainian President Zelensky. There`s a July 3rd text in there from Parnas that reads, "trying to get us Mr. Z on July 26th." Giuliani responds, saying "good news on Zelensky." We note that is one day after that July 25th phone call with Trump.

A few months earlier, February of last year, Giuliani texts about talking to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, apparently about then Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch.

Conservative lawyer Victoria Toensing asks him, "is there absolute commitment for her to be gone this week?" Giuliani replies, "Yes. Not sure how absolute. We`ll get a reading in the morning and call you. Pompeo," misspelled, "is now aware of it. Talk to him on Friday."

Well, tonight Rachel Maddow asked Parnas directly about the push to investigate Biden and what he was asked to tell Ukrainian officials.


PARNAS: His message was it wasn`t just military aid, it was all aid. Basically, the relationships would be soured, that we would stop giving them any kind of aid. That --

MADDOW: Unless --

PARNAS: Unless that there was an announcement made -- several demands at that point. A, the most important one is the announcement of the Biden investigation.

I told him that if he doesn`t -- the announcement was the key at that time because of the inauguration.

MADDOW: Unless he announced an investigation into Joe Biden, no U.S. officials, particularly Vice President Mike Pence would not come --

PARNAS: Particularly Vice President Mike Pence

 Zelensky was supposed to make another announcement. And that didn`t happen. And that`s when Bolton, Secretary Bolton, went over there. And I think he has a lot to say. I`m not going to talk on his -- but I think he`s a key witness to his conversation with Zelensky when he came back and why left or got fired, or however you want to look at that.

MADDOW: But you believe he knows what the administration was pressuring Ukraine to do?

PARNAS: Bolton?


PARNAS: A hundred percent.


WILLIAMS: Today "The New York Times" reports that the former National Security Adviser intends to reveal some of what he knows about Trump and Ukraine in his upcoming book.

As all this is surfacing, the Senate now has the articles of impeachment and is about to begin the trial of Donald Trump for high crimes and misdemeanors. Speaker Pelosi formally signed the resolution to officially transmit the documents late this afternoon. That was followed by the formal ritual of the impeachment managers walking the charges against Trump over to the Senate side of the capitol.

Pelosi named those seven managers this morning. They are, again, Congressman Adam Schiff, Representative Jerry Nadler, Zoe Lofgren, Hakeem Jeffries, Jason Crow, Val Demings, and Sylvia Garcia.

Senators will be sworn in as jurors tomorrow by the chief justice. Proceedings are expected to get under way in earnest next Tuesday, January 21. Same day the President is scheduled to attend the economic forum in Davos, Switzerland.

And the fight over whether there will be witnesses is far from over. This morning Republican lawmakers were once again criticizing Speaker Pelosi`s decision to hold on to these articles of impeachment for almost four weeks now. She offered up this response to those who have questioned that move.


REP. NANCY PELOSI, (D) CALIFORNIA, HOUSE SPEAKER: Time has revealed many things. Time has been our friend in all of this, because as we`ve yielded incriminating evidence, more truth into the public domain.


WILLIAMS: Which brings us to our lead-off conversation on this Wednesday night where we start out by covering the Hill, the White House, and the law. Robert Costa, National Political Reporter for "The Washington Post," moderator of "Washington Week" on PBS, Anita Kumar, White House Correspondent and Associate Editor at POLITICO, and here in New York Joyce Vance, a U.S. attorney who spent 25 years as a federal prosecutor. Good evening and welcome to you all. I beg your patience as I hit our favorite in-House counsel here with a couple right off the top.

Joyce, in normal times, would we have seen a special prosecutor appointed this afternoon? This is a mountain of potential evidence.

JOYCE VANCE, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY: Yes, absolutely. If not earlier. We need to have a special counsel. Why is that? Because it`s clear that Bill Barr can`t conduct a criminal investigation about a matter that he is perhaps involved in, certainly would be a witness in.

Impeachment is only about the President. There are criminal charges here. Only a special counsel can get to the bottom of that.

WILLIAMS: Is there a chance that this interview tonight was so shocking that combined with how numb we have grown, mentions of the attorney general, the Vice President, and the mountains of evidence against the President and Giuliani if Mr. Parnas is telling the truth and can back it up, this is monumental stuff?

VANCE: You know, it is. On the one hand, we have to be cautious. Everything that Mr. Parnas, who is someone who is under indictment, everything --


VANCE: -- that he says has to be corroborated. But at the same time it is very consistent with testimony that we have heard from other witnesses. In some cases it seems to fill in blanks.

And something that impressed me was when it came to these allegations -- or rather the text messages from Robert Hyde about the surveillance and perhaps threat to Ambassador Yovanovitch, Parnas would not go there. And he said no, I knew he wasn`t for real. That I think builds his credibility. If he was making everything up, he would have agreed to that as well. But he put the brakes on.

WILLIAMS: He used a double negative in fact when describing Mr. Hyde. He said I`ve never seen him when he wasn`t drunk. And that was notable.

Additionally, to say who am I? Why would these people meet with me?


WILLIAMS: That`s the opposite of a claim of grandiosity that you sometimes get with big-level witnesses.

VANCE: There are these little moments with witnesses that help juries decide whether or not to believe them. And it`s an informal moment like that where, you know, he sort of puts out his hands and say why else would they meet with me and that`s very credible.

WILLIAMS: Robert Costa, covering the Hill, this relentless search for dirt on the Bidens and now this witness tonight, Joyce is right, if corroborated the evidence he reeled off against the President, Rudolph Giuliani, mentions of the Vice President, the attorney general, there`s more tomorrow night. Devin Nunes came in for mentions tonight. How many Republicans have texted you back tonight and what are they saying?

ROBERT COSTA, THE WASHINGTON POST NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER: My paper -- my story in the newspaper today, in "The Washington Post" and my whole day was spent at the Senate talking to Senate Republicans and their advisers and allies. And this is a significant development.

Hours after the articles of impeachment are formally moved from one chamber to the other you now have Senate Republicans looking ahead to a negotiation over a rules package and a witness agreement with Senate Democrats. We`ve always heard so far about Hunter Biden in exchange perhaps for Ambassador Bolton, that`s what Senator Cruz has been articulating behind the scenes. Now you have Lev Parnas and Democrats and perhaps some Republicans could be interested in the coming days as the rules are negotiated for a Senate trial to have Mr. Parnas come forward and be a witness in this Senate trial.

WILLIAMS: Anita, is the White House in your talks with sources there, speaking realistically, adjusting their thinking realistically to the very real possibility of witnesses?

ANITA KUMAR, POLITICO WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, they`re still saying to us that they believe in the end this will be a short trial and they think they have the upper hand because they don`t want to go down this road, if Democrats have witnesses then Republicans have witnesses and they just -- nobody wants all these witnesses to come forward. So they`re still feeling pretty good.

But you know the President has been frustrated now for weeks as the Speaker has held up the articles and as she says she`s gained some leverage as some of this information is coming out. It`s frustrating to the President because, you know, he wants to get this over with. And precisely for the reason the Speaker said, more information is coming out. And every piece that comes out drags it out further.

There`s a possibility of witness. There`s a possibility that some of the Republicans could turn on him. So every day that this is delayed and hasn`t gone forward is not a good day for him.

And so you, you know, talking to people close to the President or people that the President has talked to. There is that frustration and has been now for weeks.

WILLIAMS: Joyce Vance noting that you teach law school, give us a lesson and procedure here in how this works. Mr. Parnas has been indicted and is being investigated by the Justice Department`s New York office, the Southern District of New York. How then does this material from his phone and files, a mountain of it, make its way down to the Intel Committee of the House? How then without fanfare or press conference, never missing an opportunity to miss an opportunity, does this kind of in a controlled leak find its way to us? We`re still knee deep in documents going through what we have here.

VANCE: So this was actually not a leak. This was an official sanctioned process where Parnas` attorney asked for permission to turn material over, received permission to turn it over. And you know, so when the FBI does an image, say, of a cell phone, that`s just a big raw piece of data you that get back. Some work has to be done to make it usable. And that is then what we saw Parnas and his attorney work very quickly as we heard Rachel say to turn that over so that it would be part of the record that the House transmitted to the Senate.

Once the House transmitted the articles of impeachment that record was closed. So there was apparently a rush at the end to include this material in the record that the Senate can consider if it chooses to look at the evidence.

WILLIAMS: ;And I heard it put tonight that it`s further of benefit to Mr. Parnas that he has not had these devices in his possession for weeks, if not months. There`s been no ability on his part to go back and correct or delete things.

VANCE: That`s right. At least that`s technically correct. There`s no reason to believe that those devices would not have been secured to prevent, say, some alteration using the Cloud. That would have been detected. They were probably turned off and images were taken immediately. And it`s those images that were taken at the time that they were seized that would be used to generate evidence.

So, this works in Parnas` favor. The fact that he`s turning information over while he`s still under indictment. And that could conceivably be used against him. Certainly his statements tonight. These are factors that tend to build credibility for him.

WILLIAMS: Robert Costa, let me show you a moment as we recorded it tonight on Fox News.


SEN. TED CRUZ, (R) TEXAS: If the prosecution brings a witness, if they bring John Bolton, then President Trump can bring a witness. He can bring in Hunter Biden.


WILLIAMS: Robert, what`s the real chance we`ll see a kind of tit for tat calling of witnesses? What`s the chance that could blow up in the faces of the faces of the Republicans in the Senate? And in plain English what do you do if you`re Susan Collins, you`re at home tonight watching the interview we saw on the air? Do you say Lev Parnas raises no questions in my mind, I`m good, I have no further questions?

COSTA: It`s going to be a test for these senators because you`re going to have at first a phase one of the trial and then a couple weeks in the negotiations of the witnesses and the potential witnesses has to be finalized.

And at this moment based on my reporting there could be a possibility in this trial that there are no witnesses, that there will not be a consensus because of the way Senator Cruz, working along with Senator McConnell, who hasn`t made a firm decision on anything, may decide to take that line from Sean Hannity, we`re only going to get Ambassador Bolton or Lev Parnas up under oath if we get something in exchange.

For some Democrats they say this strays from the mission of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, it doesn`t really relate to the case, and they may resist. But they also could try to call the Republicans` bluff. A Senate Democrat I spoke with today said we may say to the Republicans, OK, we`ll bring up Hunter Biden but we`re going to have Ambassador Bolton and Lev Parnas. So it`s a negotiation that`s really riven with political dynamics. All as the presidential race sun folding.

WILLIAMS: Hey, Anita Kumar, this is not about us as much as it will sound but about our ability to transmit a story to the folks at home. Let`s talk about press restrictions, under McConnell and the Senate side. One camera allowed today to record the transmittal of the articles of impeachment. On the upside, that`s one more than the Kremlin. The down side is there are restrictions in how we can cover this trial going forward, even some Republicans have criticized them. Do you think they`ll hold?

KUMAR: It does sound like they`re going to hold. But you are interestingly seeing these Republicans criticize, not all of them, but some of them. And some of them saying that they want a vote on some of these restrictions. You`re seeing pushback from C-Span, who likes to be in the chamber and broadcasting.

And just from the rank and file of reporters on the Hill as Bob knows, as you know, as I know when I was over on Capitol Hill, part of what reporters do there is walk and talk with senators. That`s how they get information.

Senators are very well versed on how not to talk to reporters, right? They can pretend they`re on the phone. They can slip into an elevator. But part of just being over there is being able to wander the halls and talk to people. That`s not going to be able to happen under these rules.

And so there`s a lot of pushback about that. There`s a lot of things we`re not going to see and not going to hear. And I think that`s going to be a problem. And you`re seeing our colleagues over there really push back. Doesn`t sound like it`s going to change, though.

WILLIAMS: Sincere thanks.

COSTA: Brian, real quick.


COSTA: It must be understood that when we talk about these rules in terms of press access these aren`t some rules that have been made centuries ago about how the Senate is run. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is in control of how the Senate is run. In terms of media coverage he is the majority leader. He makes the decisions. It`s not some old rule book that`s being followed here. It`s his decision.

WILLIAMS: Thank you for adding that. And sincere thanks to our big three in a big night, Anita Kumar, Joyce Vance, Robert Costa.

Coming up for us, what to watch for next now that the Senate has this case. Is there any guide as to what we`re about to see?

And later the growing evidence showing a campaign to get a career foreign service officer, our ambassador to Ukraine, fired and sent home. As THE 11TH HOUR is just getting started on this Wednesday night.


WILLIAMS: The ceremonial delivery of the articles of impeachment from the House to Senate begins the next phase in the third impeachment in our history. Pelosi used the aforementioned souvenir pens to sign the articles which were walked over with much solemnity from the House to the Senate, where with much solemnity they will be officially received at noon Eastern Time tomorrow.

Two hours later Chief Justice John Roberts is sworn in and then in turn swears in the 100 senators who will then take a new oath as jurors. The trial formally begins on Tuesday.

While all this is happening, a man named Lev, previously described as a bag man for Rudy, is describing himself, nothing less than a criminal enterprise acting on orders from the White House.


MADDOW: Did you ever meet with or speak with or have any interactions with Attorney General William Barr?

PARNAS: I personally did not speak to him, but I was involved in lots of conversations that Joe diGenova had with him in front of me, Rudy had with him in front of me and setting up meetings with Demitri Firtash. I was involved in that.

MADDOW: Do you know if Mr. Giuliani was ever in contact with Mr. Barr specifically about the fact that he was trying to get Ukraine to announce these investigations into Joe Biden?

PARNAS: Oh, absolutely.

MADDOW: Mr. Barr knew about that?

PARNAS: Mr. Barr absolutely know everything.


WILLIAMS: Importantly, Bill Barr`s office denies the allegation.

With us to talk about it, Jon Meacham, Pulitzer Prize-winning author and historian. Also happens to be co-author of the new book "Impeachment: An American History." The timeliest of Jon`s many works.

Jon I`m puzzled as to where to begin. Let`s begin here. The people that presidents attract. Kennedy brought the Camelot crowd, which was demeaned by LBJ as the Harvards. He ended up bringing in the Texas Mafia. We had Texans and old money, New Englanders during the Bush years. We had the Arkansas Mafia during the Clinton years. This crowd may be the most random of any we`ve seen at the White House where the bar scene from the Trump hotel resembles the bar scene from the Trump hotel. I`m curious to get your response.

JON MEACHAM, PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: It is. It`s, you know, and Reagan had the California kitchen cabinet. And FDR had the brain trust. President Trump has given us now kind of a drunk Watergate.

You know, these folks, if it weren`t so serious it would be funny. But it is incredibly serious because they were running around dealing with foreign policy, dealing with lives on the line in Ukraine, our security interests. The truth will out.

And what`s remarkable is usually we have to wait a number of years before documents emerge, before people tell the truth. Everything is so sped up now that I suspect we`re going to know if not the whole story, we`re going to continue to learn more and more as this remarkable and incredibly complicated era unfolds.

WILLIAMS: The Democrats were instantly nicked today for mixing solemnity with celebrating in the end zone holding souvenir pens aloft as if they had won them in a contest. Is decorum, do you think, going to be in short supply or is there something about the chief justice in the well of the Senate that will serious us up?

MEACHAM: I suspect so. If that`s the biggest mistake the Democrats make in this drama, then we`re in pretty good shape. I suspect having these sort of trophies of the impeachment was not the best optical moment you can think of. But given what Speaker Pelosi`s done, given what the House has done, I think we can live with that.

WILLIAMS: What really gets us into new territory, Jon, I think you`ll agree, is this open question over potentially colossal witnesses and a mountain of colossal evidence coming in right now tonight on the eve of this thing getting under way.

MEACHAM: It`s, you know, the Republicans have made a big deal about this being mocking -- Congressman Collins today was mocking the Democrats for saying this was an unfolding crime, this was an unfolding drama. But it is.

And one of the reasons it`s unfolding, this is the Alice in wonderland part of it, is the White House and the Republicans will be claiming going forward that it`s too late, if you`d really -- if this had really been serious you would have found it already. But they were blocking all of that testimony. One of the articles of impeachment is a remarkable executive overreach.

And so I think the central insight in many ways of the whole American experiment is that ideally we are able to use our brains and not simply react from our guts, right? The whole point here was that we would allow reason to take its stand against passion in the arena.

And if I were a United States senator I would want to hear everything I possibly could, because this isn`t a reality show. You know, the President may treat it that way sometimes. But we`re not an audience. We`re a country. We`re a nation. And it`s remarkable. I mean, let`s not miss what happened today.

We`ve only seen this happen three times since Thursday April 30, 1789 when George Washington took the first oath as president in New York City. Think about the partisanship. Think about the rancor. There used to be violence on the floor of the Congress. People have died in duels. People -- the idea that somehow there was this golden era of bipartisanship and powdered wigs that led into Eisenhower presiding over a calm era, that whole drama that somehow know the past was easier, is wrong.

The past was incredibly complicated. And it was their present.

Here`s the thing that I think is just -- act (ph) as Joe Biden. Here`s the thing. The thing to remember today is only three times in those 240 years or so has the House of Representatives taken this serious step. We need to take a deep breath and actually hear the evidence.

WILLIAMS: That`s why we wanted to hear you out tonight. Jon Meacham, our thanks as always. We`ll talk to you along the way.

Coming up for us tonight, more from Lev Parnas and the damning implications of his words and the mountain of evidence he has unleashed when we come back.


WILLIAMS: Two months ago today, former Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch testified before the House impeachment hearings. Thanks to Lev Parnas we now know more about the effort to get her out, out of her job, out of Ukraine, and generally out of the way.


RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Do you believe that part of the motivation to get rid of Ambassador Yovanovitch, to get her out of post, was because she was in the way of this effort to get the government of Ukraine to announce investigations of Joe Biden?


MADDOW: That was the only motivation.

PARNAS: There was no other motivation.


WILLIAMS: With us tonight for more on this, Michael McFaul, former U.S. Ambassador to Russia who has known former Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch for decades. His book is called, "From Cold War to Hot Peace: An American Ambassador In Putin`s Russia."  Mike, I just want to hear you out on the evidence that came out tonight. The evidence that`s coming out hourly in document form on the effort to oust the friend you have called Masha for many years.

AMB. MICHAEL MCFAUL, FMR. U.S. AMBASSADOR TO RUSSIA: Well, full disclosure, I also have known Yuriy Lutsenko for 25 years or so. I followed his career and knew him in earlier times. And I think it`s important to understand the historical context here because it all gets garbled up. Lots of Ukrainian names, the timetables hard to follow.

Go back before Zelensky, right, before he`s elected. Yuriy Lutsenko is the prosecutor general. He is not being tough on corruption. The U.S. government including Ambassador Yovanovitch is beating him up about it and they do not get along. He made it very clear.

I go to Ukraine many times. I`ve been in the room with him when he made it clear that he did not appreciate what she was saying. He is holding on, allegedly, to this investigation about Burisma and the Bidens, Hunter Biden, and he, now we know very explicitly, there`s a quid pro quo. You get rid of her and I`ll open up this investigation.

And I got to tell you honestly, Brian, I never quite understood why there was such a focus on getting rid of Ambassador Yovanovitch before. Today, Mr. Parnas has made it crystal clear. That was the first quid pro quo.

But everyone needs to remember, then Zelensky gets elected. And that`s when they have to double down on a new strategy, another quid pro quo. That`s where the visit to the Oval Office comes in. That`s where the discussions about Mr. -- Vice President Pence going to the inauguration and most dramatically that`s when they begin to say no more military assistance until you open this investigation. So that`s how that earlier story played out. It failed. And so they had to go to plan B.

WILLIAMS: You`re a veteran of the State Department. In normal times, what would our Secretary of State have said or done starting today?

MCFAUL: Well, starting months ago he would have defended the Ambassador. I faced harassment in Moscow. We`ve talked about it before on your show, Brian. I have a whole chapter in my book called "Getting Physical" Chapter 14, about the harassment I experienced. But that was from Russians.

And when it happened, the U.S. government, Secretary Kerry, Secretary Clinton, President Obama pushed back. What is striking about this moment for months now, but now it has to -- Secretary Pompeo, I plead with you, show some leadership, defend Ambassador Yovanovitch. Because if he doesn`t today after all that has broken, he`s already lost the building. He`ll lose the building for the rest of his time in office. He needs to stand up.

And it`s very simple. We will not allow this kind of harassment, this kind of people taking his job -- and that`s the other thing that`s so quite striking to me. Giuliani and his sidekick here, Mr. Parnas, is playing the role of the Secretary of State. He`s supposed to be in charge of diplomacy. If I was Secretary Pompeo, I would be very upset with Mr. Giuliani and I would have reason for my own personal reasons to stand up for ambassador today but especially tonight after all these revelations.

WILLIAMS: You often invoke your privilege to scare us, those of us in the audience, usually because we need it and usually measuring upon your experience. You`ve done that again. Authoring an op-ed piece to warn us about a misinformation campaign you see coming, that you fear coming, during the impeachment trial. Tell us about it. Why you fear this. Who`s it going to be from?

And these three bullet points you`ve included. For all of us to remember and listen to. Don`t confuse denials with facts. Avoid whataboutism. Reject falsehoods. Your turn.

MCFAUL: Well, Brian, I`ve been studying soviet propaganda. I`ve been a target of Russian propaganda and disinformation to Vladimir Putin. He accused me of all kinds of falsehoods. So I`m kind of experienced at disinformation going back years.

And these three, right? Deny, didn`t happen. Whataboutism and then making up facts, we`re already seeing it today in the news, right? They`re denying that -- what Mr. Parnas has said is true. Whataboutism. If we`re going to have Mr. Bolton testify, if we`re going to have Mr. Pompeo testify, what about Hunter Biden? We`ve just heard that just a few hours ago. And then you know, just blatant making up facts.

We heard during the House impeachment proceedings that happened. And tragically, some Americans just repeated them as if they were facts. And don`t believe me. Believe a senior Trump administration official. Her name is Fiona Hill. And she warned everybody, do not propagate misinformation. You`re doing the work of Vladimir Putin.

And I hope as we roll into this very serious moment in American history that we won`t deal with deniability. I hope that especially after today we`ll have those that know the facts testify about the facts, we won`t play this whataboutism game, what about Hunter Biden, what about this, what about that. No, let`s focus on what just transferred today to the U.S. Senate. And third, let`s not play this invention of facts.

And by the way, Brian, you and me, let`s not report on the invention of facts because sometimes when we do that, and I`m guilty as anybody else, we`re indirectly amplifying them. We`ve got to be very careful at this most solemn moment in the history of our democracy.

WILLIAMS: What a time to be a Russia expert and a veteran of the State Department. Michael McFaul, that`s why we invited you on. Thank you as always very much for being here with us.

MCFAUL: Thanks for having me.

WILLIAMS: Another break for us. When we come back, a bit more of what Lev Parnas had to say tonight.



MADDOW: So Vice President Mike Pence has his planned trip to the inauguration canceled after you were unable to get the Ukrainian government to commit to announcing investigations of Vice President Biden. Do you know if Vice President Pence was aware that that was the quid pro quo, that that was the trade and that that, in fact, is why his inaugural visit was called off?

PARNAS: I`m going to use a famous quote by Mr. Sondland. Everybody was in the loop.


WILLIAMS: For that reason, this was not a good night to be Mike Pence, Devin Nunes, Bill Barr, for that matter Donald Trump. We just wanted to air another bit of the extraordinary conversation conducted today by Rachel Maddow with Lev Parnas. A reminder, part two airs tomorrow night.

Another break for us. And coming up, our next two guests are Pulitzer Prize-Winning Journalists who have covered stories all over the world. But in their latest work, they set their sights on our country. We will tell you what they found out after this.


WILLIAMS: A gripping new book from veteran reporters Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn offers an inside look at the still-growing crisis facing working-class America. In "Tightrope: Americans Reaching for Hope" the two authors describe devastating stories of violence, poverty, and addiction impacting the country from Kristof`s home town in Oregon all the way east to Baltimore.

They write, and we quote, "It has been wrenching to see old friends suffering and the dysfunction cascading down to their children and grandchildren. In our reporting over the decades abroad, we were pained to see talented Chinese, Bangladeshis, Syrians, Sudanese suffering unnecessarily in wars or refugee camps. It is even more harrowing to see unnecessary suffering among old friends who are capable of achieving much more for themselves and for the country."

Joining us now, the aforementioned Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn, the first married couple, by the way, to win a Pulitzer Prize together for journalism. Again, their book is "Tightrope: Americans Reaching for Hope." Thank you both for coming in. Apologies for the late hour.

Nick, tell us about your hometown, what compelled you to tell that story, for starters.

NICHOLAS KRISTOF, CO-AUTHOR, "TIGHTROPE": Well, Sheryl and I were traveling around the world covering global humanitarian crises. And then we`d come back regularly to my beloved hometown of Yamhill where my mom still lives on the family farm and we saw a humanitarian crisis unfolding there. And still close to many of the families that were on my old school bus.

Brian, about a quarter of the kids on my old school bus have passed away from suicide, drugs, alcohol, these deaths of despair. And Sheryl and I realized that this isn`t just one town`s crisis, this is an American crisis, that there is a great social depression. That in many ways is an echo of the great depression except a -- I mean, this time life expectancy across the U.S. is actually declining, which didn`t even happen in the Great Depression, but also much of America -- you know, in the Great Depression there was a real policy response. This time not only is there not a policy response but most of America isn`t really even noticing that much.

WILLIAMS: Sheryl, talk about -- I often look into the camera and say to those of you living in America, and I mean away from the immediate coastlines. Tell us about what it is like to see in America a different brand of suffering than what you`ve seen overseas but no less suffering.

SHERYL WUDUNN, CO-AUTHOR, "TIGHTROPE": So we were overseas covering, you know, humanitarian crises in the developing world. I used to think that the degree of pain and suffering that has taken place over there is far greater than anything here in America that we could even imagine because we`re such a rich country. But as we began to sort of unpack this, we started talking to people. And, you know, you really have to go behind closed doors.

Look, people in Yamhill and other places around America, they`ve got plumbing, they`ve got electricity. And they have flat-screen TVs. But they actually have a lot less hope now and confidence in their children`s future. And so the paradox is that we have so many people from poor countries desperately trying to get to America because they believe in the American dream. But for so many homegrown Americans, they are floundering and that dream for them is broken.

WILLIAMS: Nick, I often complain that we`re a country of Campbell Soup and F-150s and that even our politicians speak in terms of whole foods and Teslas too often. The lives of our politicians have in a way become way fancier than they were decades ago. We are a country of income disparity and such class and language disparity. The way Americans talk to each other.

KRISTOF: And I think that that is actually part of the problem now that, you know, one of the things that puzzled us is we know how to address these problems, we know we can -- I mean, it`s a scandal that only one in 10 Americans who needs drug treatment actually gets it. So why don`t we use these toolboxes? And I think the problem is this insulation that you describe from those in need and the social narrative has emerged that is all about personal responsibility and blaming people for their problems.

And, you know, look, self-destructive behaviors are real, personal responsibility is real, there`s no doubt about that. But it emerges from a context. I mean, you know, when a newborn baby in Shannon County, South Dakota has a shorter life expectancy than a newborn baby in Cambodia or Bangladesh, that`s not because the child in Shannon County is making bad choices. It`s about the choices we as a country are making. And so, I think that insulation leads us in a wrong direction to remove empathy to make it harder to address these problems and we`re going to have the conversation about personal responsibility, let`s have one about our collective social responsibility.

WILLIAMS: I think you`re absolutely right. Sheryl, is there a parallel to another nation on earth with such great wealth and riches and possibilities and such great struggles, such great poverty and income disparity and how we`ve chosen to live with both those polar extremes?

WUDUNN: There were actually a number of examples and role models. If you take Great Britain, take the U.K. even just 20 years ago, they had enormous child poverty that was even greater than in the U.S. They had, you know, more than one in four kids was born in poverty. That was slightly more than in the U.S. at the time.

But they said we want to reduce child poverty. Tony Blair said we want to reduce it. So they embarked on this just comprehensive program and they actually within less than a decade they reduced child poverty in a number - - the number of children in poverty by half. They had child allowances. They increased child literacy programs. They increased paid maternity leave. They had child allowance -- credits.

They had a number of things on all fronts, early childhood education. It was comprehensive and they were very successful. So it can be done. And what was the cost? For them it was about 1% percent of their GDP at the time, about $130 billion. We can do that here in the U.S.

WILLIAMS: And I hope your book tour will include places where Americans live and rural library meeting rooms and things like that.

KRISTOF: And if we`re going back actually to Yamhill county, to my hometown to talk about it there as well.

WILLIAMS: Great pleasure having you both. Good luck with this. This is the book, "Tightrope: Americans Reaching for Hope." Our thanks for both authors for being with us tonight.

Coming up, you know it looked to us like two candidates had words last night on the stage. Turns out they were wearing microphones. Turns out CNN heard those words and has now shared it with the wider world as we will do with you.



ABBY PHILLIP, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: You`re saying that you never told Senator Warren that a woman could not win the election?


PHILLIP: Senator Warren, what did you think when Senator Sanders told you a woman could not win the election?



WILLIAMS: Last thing before we go tonight, some adept moderating last evening, getting at what was after all the plotline going into last night`s debate, a private dinner we were told a little over a year ago between Sanders and Warren. They ate lasagna, we were told. They talked politics. When Warren says Bernie made the comment about a woman being unelectable even though Hillary got more votes than him.

Then at the end of the debate last night, we watched as they had, let`s call it words. And what looked like a briefly spirited, animated conversation. Well, Tom Steyer, playing the part of the referee in the plaid tie, dodged when he was asked what he heard just then. But now we know what Tom Steyer heard and what Elizabeth said to Bernie because 24 hours later CNN decided to release the crystal clear audio of the exchange, and here it is.


WARREN: I think you called me a liar on national TV.


WARREN: I think you called me a liar on national TV.

SANDERS: Let`s not do it right now. You want to have that discussion, we`ll have that discussion. You called me a liar, you told me -- all right, lets not do it now.

SEN. TOM STEYER (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I don`t want to get in the middle of it, I just want to say hi, Bernie.

SANDERS: Yes, good. OK.


WILLIAMS: Nice to see everybody getting along. Audio courtesy of CNN. Last night`s tension convention on the stage post-debate in Des Moines.

And that is our broadcast for this Wednesday. Nicolle Wallace and I will be coming on the air 1:00 p.m. Eastern time tomorrow. Prior to Chief Justice Roberts getting sworn in to preside and judge over the Senate. He will then swear in all 100 U.S. senators. For now, thank you for being here with us. Good night from our NBC News headquarters here in New York.

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