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Whistleblower alleg Trump abused "Power Of Office." TRANSCRIPT: 9/26/19, All In w/ Chris Hayes.

Guests: Terri Sewell, Denny Heck, Jamie Raskin, Ian Bassin, Donna Edwards,Jim Manley, Eli Stokols, Carol Leonnig, Walter Dellinger

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST:  And that`s HARDBALL for now.  Thanks for being with us.  "ALL IN" with Chris Hayes starts right now.



JOSEPH MAGUIRE, ACTING DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE:  No person in this country is beyond the reach of the law.

REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA):  Well, that`s the way it should be but I`m trying to figure out whether that`s the way it is as a practical fact.

HAYES:  The full whistleblower report is out.

SCHIFF:  It`s hard to imagine the more serious set of allegations than those contained in the complaint.

HAYES:  Tonight, new bombshell allegations against the president.

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA):  This is a cover-up.  This is a cover-up.

HAYES:  New details alleging that the White House, the State Department, and the Department of Justice were covering up for the president, and the brand-new roadmap for impeachment hearings laid out in the whistleblower`s complaint.  Plus --

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  I want to know who`s the person who`s gave the whistleblower.

HAYES:  The President caught on tape mulling revenge.

TRUMP:  You know, what we used to do in the old days when we were smart, right?  The spies and treason, we used to handle it a little differently than we do now.

HAYES:  And new data tonight suggesting America is getting ready to impeach Donald J. Trump.

TRUMP:  Impeachment for that?

HAYES:  When ALL IN starts right now.


HAYES:  Good evening from New York, I`m Chris Hayes.  We are only three days into this rapidly exploding scandal but here`s what is already clear.  The White House knew what President Trump did on his phone call with Ukrainian President was wrong.  They desperately tried to cover it up and then they got caught.

That`s it.  That`s the key sequence of events captured both in the whistleblower complaint released today, in the notes of the call released yesterday, and all the reporting we have seen on this point.  On the first point that they knew it was wrong, the lead of the whistleblower complaint puts in very clear terms what is at issue here.

"In the course eye official duties, I have received information from multiple U.S. government officials that the President of the United States is using the power of his office to solicit interference from a foreign country in the 2020 U.S. election.  This interference includes among other things pressuring a foreign country to investigate one of the president`s main domestic political rivals.

I am deeply concerned that the actions described below constitute a serious or flagrant problem abuse or violation of law or executive order.  I`m also concerned that these actions pose risks to U.S. national security, undermine the U.S. government`s efforts to deter and counter foreign inference in U.S. elections."

All that by the way is written by a whistleblower who had not seen the notes from the call that was just released in the White House.  So if you want to know how credible, how informed, how in the know this whistleblower is, just compare the notes from the call released yesterday to the characterization of the call on the complaint.  It`s basically a hundred percent on the money.

The complaint shows more than that.  Something that in my mind in some ways is as important, it`s this.  The White House knew at the time when the phone call ended just how bad it was.  Even degraded moral compass of the people who Serve Donald Trump, who has a price of their jobs has to get rid of their conscience, they understood the gravity of what he had done.

Quoting again, the White House officials who told me this information were deeply disturbed by what -- by what had transpired in the phone call.  They told me that there was already a discussion ongoing with White House lawyers about how to treat the call because the likelihood and the officials retelling that they had witnessed the president abused his office for personal gain.

That`s right.  They knew.  They knew that he had done something wrong -- that they had done something wrong and then they tried to cover it up.  And that is yet another reason that this is such an enormous scandal.  The extensive cover-up is evidence of a guilty conscience.

But the whistleblower complaint described as a frenetic widespread effort to cover up and hide that phone call, the evidence of the wrongdoing.  Officials deciding to put the transcript of the call in a separate computer system, not the normal one, pretending that it was classified at a higher level and it actually was.

"White House officials told me that they were directed by White House lawyers to remove the electronic transcript from the computer system in which such transcripts are typically stored.  Instead, the transcript was loaded into a separate electronic system that is otherwise used to store and handle classified information of an, especially sensitive nature.  One White House official described this act as an abuse of this electronic system because the call did not contain anything remotely sensitive from a national security perspective."

The reason that Trump and his enablers are now in so much trouble because they got caught red-handed.  But there`s also more because this was not just contained in the White House.  According to the whistleblower, a State Department official listened in on the call and "multiple State Department Intelligence Community officials were also briefed on the contents the calls outlined above.

And then it gets even worse from there because after the whistleblower is talking to all these people who are all pretty torn up about this, they think they have watched the president violated his oath, abuse his power.

And after he gets that together and he makes the complaint, takes the risk to make the complaint, then the Acting Director of Intelligence sends it over to the Department of Justice for advice about what to do with an explosive complaint like this.  The Department of Justice tells DNI that the document should not be passed along Congress.  The DOJ basically reaches in and kills it to make sure that Congress never sees it.

The White House, the Trump administration, the classification system, the State Department, the DOJ, the Office of Legal Counsel within the DOJ all teaming up together to cover-up wrongdoing by the president that they knew was wrong.

That is what the whistleblower complaint lays bare.  They all went to work to cover up for the president doing a thing they knew was wrong, that they knew was an egregious abuse of his power.  And this is just the beginning.  The who knew what when questions hang over everyone in the White House counsel`s office, everyone in the OLC, everyone at the top the Justice Department, everyone in the high levels of State, everyone in the National Security Council, they knew what they were doing was wrong and that in and of itself is devastating.

But perhaps the most explosive new detail in this complaint comes at the very end.  It`s in the classified appendix.  And the whistleblower writes this.  According to White House officials I spoke with, this was not the first time under this administration that a presidential transcript was placed into the codeword-level system solely for the purpose of protecting politically sensitive rather than national security-sensitive information.

Not the first time, think about that for a second.  With Democrats in a full-on impeachment inquiry today, Democrats in the House Intelligence Committee grilled Acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire about why it was that he took a complaint about the White House to the White House.


SCHIFF:  But in this case, the White House, the President is the subject of the complaint, he`s the subject of the wrongdoing.  Were you aware when you went to the White House for advice about whether evidence of wrongdoing by the White House should be provided to the Congress?

REP. TERRI SEWELL (D-AL):  The fact that a whistleblower followed all of the proper procedures to report misconduct and then the Department of Justice and the White House seems to have weighed in to keep the complaint hidden is problematic, sir.

REP. DENNY HECK (D-WA):  Let me fast-forward.  This was referred to the FBI by the president who actually engaged in the conversation.

MAGUIRE:  The --

HECK:  No, it was not.


HAYES:  Joining me now to help explain what we learned about President Trump, his administration today up to the House Intelligence Committee members we just heard from, Democratic Congressman Denny Heck of Washington, Democratic Congresswoman Terri Sewell of Alabama.  Congresswoman Sewell, I`ll begin with you.  What did you learn from Maguire today?

SEWELL:  You know, I think that today was a sobering moment in American history.  I don`t think any of us come to Congress with the intent on starting an impeachment inquiry against the President of the United States.

But when you have the President of the United States on his own admission saying that he solicited information, an investigation from a foreign power to influence our elections, the 2020 elections, it`s really egregious.

I think that perhaps what was most important in my line of testimony was getting the ODNI, Director to assure us that the whistleblower can come before Congress and that he can come before Congress uninhibited with the full protections of the whistleblower statute.  That to me was the most important part of my legal -- my questioning today.

HAYES:  And do you anticipate that in closed session you will hear directly from the whistleblower?

SEWELL:  We hope so.  I think that we intend to follow the facts where they lead us and that also means trying to interview the folks that were -- that were detailed in the complaint.

HAYES:  Do you view -- Congressman Heck, do you view Maguire`s actions as part of a cover-up?

HECK:  Absolutely.  I mean, he torturously contorted himself -- contorted himself to rationalize his position.  But look, Chris, at the end of the day, when the book is written about what happened in this sordid chapter in American history, it`s going to be entitled shakedown and cover-up because that`s exactly what happened.

But I invite people not just to take my word for it, but to go ahead and read the whistleblower complaint which is available and go ahead and read the official record of the telephone conversation and then put it into context with all the other things we know like hiding that official record, like tasking private citizen Rudy Giuliani to go to Europe and ask the Ukrainians to manufacture dirt, and remembering that the Ukrainian ambassador from the U.S. was fired because she wouldn`t play ball with them, and remember that the president withheld the military aid until such time as president Zelensky gave him an indication that he would cooperate with him and interfere in our election.

HAYES:  Congresswoman Sewell, I want to ask you about this idea that they took this transcript out of -- and again that there exists a word-for-word transcript which I think -- is your understanding that there`s a word-for- word transcript at some point that`s different from what the White House released?

SEWELL:  Well, what -- I think that we -- what we have is a readout.  It says at the very bottom pretty clearly that it`s not a full transcript but it is a readout.  So I think that what`s most telling is the fact that everything that`s in this memo or this readout of the call was verified in the underlining complaint word for word almost and so I think that in and of itself shows how verifiable, how reliable.

After all, the I.G. said that it was credible and it was urgent.  And the fact that the ODNI, Acting ODNI Director sat on it and went straight to the White House which was the source of the complaint is mind-boggling to me.

I think it`s really important that we get to the bottom of this.  I think that it is a serious problem that the White House is stonewalling us, that they have done everything they can to try to obstruct this investigation.  And I think that it`s high time that we get to the bottom of it and I look forward to doing that.

HAYES:  Well, that might as well be my next question, Congressman Heck.  I mean, there seems to me -- there`s -- the President, Rudy Giuliani, and his defenders are saying this is hearsay.  This is hearsay.  And it seems to me there`s a fairly straightforward solution to that which is that we can just get everyone who directly experienced and witnessed this and participated under oath, right?

HECK:  Well, furthermore, Chris, let`s remember that the Inspector General was appointed by the Trump administration and confirmed by the Republican Senate, and he`s the one that reached the conclusion that there was an urgent need here, and that in fact there was credible evidence to support it.

So again, combined with the official record of the telephone conversation, people don`t have to take our word for it, it is right there.  I think our next step hopefully will be the opportunity to talk to the whistleblower.

But Chris, let us all be forewarned.  We know President Trump has exactly no more no less than four plays, deny, attack, and play the victim, and change the subject through the most outrageous means possible.  And he is going to go full-blown into the attack mode on this whistleblower already claiming that there is a political bias and he doesn`t even know who the person is.

HAYES:  So then, what is your solution to that?

HECK:  You mean after we`ve had the whistleblower in?

HAYES:  Yes.  I mean, like where does it go after that?  It just seems to me like there are literally dozens of people you should be talking to.

HECK:  We very much may do that as a second, third, fourth, and so on, step.  But the next step I believe is to talk with the whistleblower.  There`s nothing we`re going to do to deter the President to get off of his for basic play handbook he`s used it throughout his presidency and during his campaign.

Every word that comes out of his mouth is deny, attack, play the victim, or change the subject through outrageous means.

HAYES:  Final question.

HECK:  It`s always has been.

HAYES:  Final question Congresswoman Sewell.  They have been stonewalling you but they have released two extremely damning documents in two days.  Do you expect you`ll be able to get more?

SEWELL:  Well, you know, they only released it, Chris, because they were forced to release it.  It`s clear that there was this whole scheme has been going on for months by the Trump administration that Donald Trump wanted dirt on Biden.  And the fact that the State Department and White House officials knew about it and put -- chose to put the readout in a separate server just to me shows how complicitous they are.

So I think it`s really important that we got on the record that the office of ODNI thought first of all that the whistleblower was credible, that he did everything right and appropriate, that he totally said to us that he didn`t think that he was a political hacker.

I think it`s really important that we don`t get caught up in Trump`s fairy tale and that we don`t let him divert attention away from the real source of the problem and that is an extreme abuse of presidential power.

HAYES:  Congressman Denny Heck, Congresswoman Terri Sewell, thank you both.  Joining me for more on the implications of the whistleblower complaint, Democratic Congressman Jamie Raskin of Maryland, members of both the House Judiciary and Oversight Committee, and someone who has been thinking a lot about impeachment and the constitutional duty.

In the context of high crimes and misdemeanors, I want you to respond to people who say well, this was referred for criminal complaint to DOJ and they found nothing to prosecute here, and it`s not illegal for the president to do this, so why are you impeaching him?

REP. JAMIE RASKIN (D-MD):  Well, that`s an argument about the character of the Department of Justice.  But the amazing thing about this episode, Chris, is that the whole country understands precisely what happened.

And I`ll just try to improve a little bit on my friend Denny Heck`s formulation.  I think there was a shakedown of the president of Ukraine to get him to turn dirt over to Donald Trump about political opponents.

Then, there was a sellout of the American people, our Constitution, our 2020 election and his oath of office.  And then there was a cover-up of the whole thing as they decided to put the records in a lockdown mode where as you point out there apparently or some other interesting documents hiding in there.

And that kind of reminded me of the check off dictum that if a document or some kind of prop appears in act one of a play, you`re going to get to see what it`s all about that in act three of the play, it`s going to come live.  So we`re going to find out what`s in there.

HAYES:  Well, that -- yes, that`s my next question.  I mean, so there`s a lot.  Look, here`s what the frontier seemed to me.  There are many people implicated and documents implicated by the whistleblower complaint that seemed necessary to extract to get to the bottom of all this.  Are you going to get to talk to them and see the documents?  And if they try to block you, what will you do?

RASKIN:  Well, this is in the intelligence committee which has been doing a superb job this week ferreting out all of this information.  And it`s true as Congresswoman Sewell said that there was a statute which compelled the whistleblower`s complaint to be turned over within seven days.

But the politics of this situation have shifted dramatically from where it was say for example during the Mueller report.  For one thing, the president is the president, he`s not a candidate.  For another thing, he wasn`t using underlings, he was engaged in all of the attempts to shake down Ukraine himself.  And third of all, he`s not running around saying, no collusion.  He was bragging about it before he realized his mistake.

So the law students learn in their first year a Latin phrase, res ipsa loquitur, the thing speaks for itself.  I think the whole country understands the grievous damage that Trump is already inflicted on us.

Now, the Intelligence Committee will go forward to call in certain key other witnesses, I suppose, I imagine, in order to flesh out the story more.  They will try to get that complete word by word verbatim transcription of the phone call.

But there`s not much more that we need, Chris.  America needs action to impeach this most impeachable president.  He`s guilty of very serious high crimes and misdemeanors it looks like, and the people have seen enough.

When he today went after the whistleblower and called him a spy and is likened him to a traitor or someone betraying his country, it`s absolutely scandalous it and outrageous.  A whistleblower in America is someone who tells the truth about people who have power who are committing crimes against the people.

HAYES:  So final question.  You talked about the Intelligence Committee and the reporting indicates and I think Hakeem Jeffries has said this, the Intelligence Committee will be running point on this particularly on this line of inquiry.  You said that America wants to move quickly on this.  By which I mean, I understand you mean that you and your colleagues want to move quickly on this.

Does that mean that you view this the facts we have as enough to draft articles of impeachment and also the four corners of what the impeachment proceedings will be?

RASKIN:  Absolutely.  I mean, for the first time since we started talking about impeachment after the Mueller report, the polls are showing that a majority of Americans favor impeachment and have seen enough.  So I think we`re moving very dramatically in that direction.

We have a president who has converted his office into an instrument of private commercial gain, private political purposes, and the whole administration is at issue of corruption.  There`s no agenda there.  We`re trying to get real public policy done on a universal background check, we get nothing from the Republicans.  We`re trying to lower prescription drug prices for the American people, we got nothing from the Republicans.

They`re spending all of their time feathering their own nests, shaking down foreign dictators and despots who are their best friends, and ripping off the American taxpayer.  And so that`s why we have a constitution, and that`s why the Founders to make sure that it was Congress that could impeach the president, the President cannot impeach Congress.  Article one, the branch of the people is standing up and we`re not going to tolerate this anymore.

HAYES:  All right, Congressman Jamie Raskin, thank you very much.  Ahead, what we learned from today`s hearing in which the Acting Director of National Intelligence tried to explain why he let the Trump White House decide whether Congress would ever see the whistleblower`s credible and urgent warning about the president.  The anatomy of a cover-up in two minutes.


HAYES:  Today, for the very first time since the Ukraine whistleblower scandal broke, we got to hear sworn participant in it.  One of the people who is essentially part of the cover-up was on the Hill testifying before Congress.  The Acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire, a person tasked with protecting our elections and our nation`s secrets hemming and hawing in a pained and tortured way to explain that he was just trying his best.

But fundamentally what he did was allow the White House and the Justice Department to catch and hope to kill an extremely damning complaint against the president arguably in contravention of the law.  The acting DNI basically made himself a participant in the cover-up as Congressman Eric Swalwell laid out here.


REP. ERIC SWALWELL (D-CA):  And you read that allegation and the first people that you go to after you read that allegation are the White House lawyers who are telling the White House officials who see this transcript and move it into a secret compartmentalized system, that those are the first people you go to.

MAGUIRE:  Well, let`s say a couple of things.

SWALWELL:  Is that yes or no?

MAGUIRE:  Yes, but --

SWALWELL:  OK, I`m going to -- I`m going to keep going here.  So you get this complaint, the Inspector General says, urgent, credible, you have no wiggle room to not go to Congress, and instead, you send your concern to the subject of the complaint, the White House.


HAYES:  For more of the full implications of this, I`m joined by Joyce Vance, former U.S. Attorney and MSNBC Legal Analyst and Ian Bassin former Associate White House Counsel of President Barack Obama, Co-founder and Executive Director of the nonprofit organization Protect Democracy.

You know, Joyce, today, watching Maguire, there was something almost kind of tragic about it insofar as this seemed to me an individual who if embedded in a system that was not corrupt and not abusive would have been a perfectly good public servant but proved inadequate in the face of abuse and corruption.

JOYCE VANCE, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST:  I think that that`s absolutely right.  I disagree with the decision that the DNI ultimately reached, but I`ll tell you what I think his reasoning was.  There was an executive privilege issue at stake.  He felt like he had to take that to the White House.  The only problem as you point out is that it was a corrupt White House.

But even if he had been correct in making that decision, there was still another problem here.  Because what Bill Barr`s Justice Department ultimately did was they conflated the notion that prosecutors engage in criminal cases and make decisions about the whether the law has been -- has been violated, and they conflated that with Congress` oversight duties.

And somehow Bill Barr then says there won`t be a criminal case and he forecloses Congress from succeeding.  And that I think is the guts of what`s so wrong here is.  Somehow this Justice Department and Bill Barr who`s given us very little reason to trust his decision-making in this regard cuts off both avenues of review and they`re very different as we know prosecutorial and congressional.

HAYES:  Yes.  It`s an amazing sort of legal magic trick that DOJ pulls off and say, you know what, that`s probably in our preview.  It sounds like a crime might be committed.  Why don`t you let us see it?  And they got to be like, no crime.  I guess no one is going to see this.  I mean, that also seems like flatly corrupt itself, Ian, and not done in good faith.

IAN BASSIN, CO-FOUNDER AND EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, PROTECT DEMOCRACY:  Yes.  I mean, here`s the thing.  You know, when you`re a White House lawyer, you may look at a law that is not clear and look at possible different interpretations including one that is aggressively in favor of the executive branch.

But here`s one thing you can`t do that executive privilege doesn`t include, the ability to interpret something in order to cover up corrupt abuse of power.  And as you pointed out at the top of this show, the White House officials knew something wrong had been done, and a legal interpretation to cover that up is not a valid one, and they knew it when they did it.

HAYES:  So I want to follow up on that because it`s -- we`re going to -- we`re going to end up with some big fight on privilege here.  It`s just to me inevitable in the same way the Nixon tapes ended up in a big fight on privilege.  What you`re saying is privilege cannot be invoked as a legal matter as a means of covering up wrongdoing.

BASSIN:  We knew and we worked in the White House for the president that we represented the nation, the office of the presidency, the Constitution the law.  We didn`t represent the interests of the individual in the Oval Office.  And when you`re interpreting the law, you have to interpret in a way that protects those interests that is of the office.

What`s going on here is the attempt to protect the interests of Donald J. Trump personally and his political campaign.  That`s not a valid interpretation or application of the law.

HAYES:  You also have to wonder, Joyce, about Maguire who`s the acting now after Coats and then his deputy were both kicked, like is there some connection there.  And it seems to me as a sort of again, another matter of privilege and I`d be curious what you think, like can they be called?

They -- it seems like that -- those two individuals Dan Coats and Sue Gordon should be before this committee.

VANCE:  You know, it`s difficult to contemplate that there`s not a connection just because of the timeline.  I did hear the DNI testified today that Coates and Gordon, neither one were familiar with the facts of this whistleblower complaint but I think that there`s a lot more there that we need to understand.

Certainly, they can be subpoenaed.  They shouldn`t be subpoenaed.  One suspects the White House will try to claim the same privilege that they`ve claimed with other witnesses and it will be up to these former -- now- former employees to determine whether they wish to testify in the face of that or not.

One hopes that we`re finally getting to the point where some of the people who were around this president will do the right thing because that goes back to Ian`s comment about how White House counsel`s and their staff look at these privilege issues.

And the real problem here is that these privilege issues do float up to the White House on some level and in other White House`s decisions have been made to protect the White House as an institution, the presidency as an institution.  Here we apparently have a group of people who decided to protect this president personally.

And because there`s no other decision-making route, no judge that you can go to, no sort of you know, supervisor court type thing for executive privilege, we are stuck in many regards with whether or not employees in the White House act in good faith.

HAYES:  Yes, that is -- that`s the key thing.  Finally, Ian, yes.

BASSIN:  Yes.  I just want to say, you know, Joyce alludes to something else here which is impeachment is the antibiotic for the problem but new laws are the vaccine.  Congress has to act to prevent these sort of abuses from the future.  We know the President tried to abuse his power to interfere in next year`s election in one way.  What other ways is he going to do it?  Congress needs to pass some new laws.

HAYES:  Joyce Vance, Ian Bassin, thank you both very much.  Next, a vengeful president is caught on tape mulling retribution against the people trying to hold him accountable.  The reporter who obtained the audio of the president`s dissent coming up.


HAYES:  If you`re wondering what the president thinks about all this, if you`re wondering what he`s saying about all this behind closed doors, well it`s exactly what you would expect.  He wants to root out the rats.

Los Angeles Times obtained an audio recording of the president at a private event with staff from the U.S. mission to the UN and their families, including children, in New York City this morning, take a listen.


TRUMP:  Basically that person never saw the report, never saw the call, and he never saw the call, heard something and decided that he or she, who the hell it is -- they`re like almost a spy. 

I want to know who`s the person who gave the whistleblower -- who`s the person who gave the whistleblower the information?  Because that`s close to a spy.  You know what we used to do in the old when we were smart, right?  The spies and treason, we used to handle it a little different than we do now.



HAYES:  The spies and treason we used to handle a little differently than we do now.

To be clear, as clear as we can divine, the way we used to handle spies in the old days was by executing them, which is what the president seems to be implying should happen to the people who furnished information to this individual, that they should be hanged, killed, executed.

That`s the joke, I guess.

He said this at the same time his acting DNI was defending the whistleblower before congress, saying the whistleblower acted in, quote, good faith.

And what is very clear now is that the whistleblower is in danger of being outed and retaliated against, as is anyone who talked to the whistleblower, because the entire White House is being run by a person who, like a mob boss, hates nothing more than rats.

I`m joined now by the reporter who broke the story for the L.A. Times, White House reporter Eli Stokols.  Also with me tonight,  Washington Post national reporter and MSNBC contributor Carol Lennig, who has also been covering this story closely.

Eli, I read your report and then I listened to the sound.  It`s really quite something for the president of the United States to say.

ELI STOKOLS, LOS ANGELES TIMES:  And yet it feels somewhat familiar, Chris, because we`ve heard the president sort of joke about violence before, we`ve heard him almost incite violence at rallies saying, you know, back in the old days you could just punch somebody in the face.

And so in a sense this is not out of character, and yet, you know, when I heard it for the first time today, it just took me aback because he started talking about the whistleblower almost 30 seconds, or a minute, into his remarks about this group, this group of nonpartisan diplomatic officials there in New York, and I went back and listened to it a couple of times and it was clear what he was saying.  And as he often does when he says things like this, he does it in a joking manner and sort of casually menacing it seems like, and the reaction in the room, there were a couple of people who laughed.  Whether those were awkward  laughs or genuine laughs, impossible really to know from the recording we obtained, but for the most part the people in that room seemed stunned because most of the people in there were dead silent.

HAYES:  Carol, this is not just the idle thoughts of a person removed from it, or someone watching it on TV and saying, oh, they should -- like this is the person who runs the executive branch.  He`s the commander-in-chief.  He`s the person who sits at the top of the pyramid of the entire intelligence apparatus, which has statutory obligation to protect the whistleblower from retaliation. 

What does it mean for the people that work in the White House and throughout the intelligence community?

CAROL LENNIG, THE WASHINGTON POST:  Well, I`m really grateful to Eli for obtaining this recording, because it answers a question I asked the White House with my great colleague Josh Dossy (ph) when we were learning about the transcript, or summary of this call, we asked, you know, we`re hearing there`s an investigation, a hunt for the leakers inside the White House.  And the answer we received was, oh, no, we don`t know about any such hunt for the leakers. 

But in this secret, or private, conversation, the president basically said, oh, yeah, I want to know who gave the whistleblowers that information.  It couldn`t be more clear.  And it echoed what he`s done in previous episodes like this when he`s embarrassed or some politically damaging information is revealed by the press, he wants to get to the bottom of who shared what he said.

HAYES:  The striking thing as well, Eli, to me is -- and I keep coming back to this, the whistleblower complaint implicates many, many people, that were multiple officials on the call, that  there were multiple officials who expressed concern, that there were White House lawyers directing the cover-up by moving it into the most secret classified system despite the fact it didn`t need to be there.

It strikes me there are lots of people congress could talk to and the president must suspect of disloyalty currently reporting to the White House every day.

STOKOLS:  Right, he`s always been suspicious of leaks and that`s true.  The information that we got from the whistleblower`s report tells you that there are around a dozen people who had information on this call.  And while one of them, the whistleblower, came forward, the rest of them are alleged to have taken the transcript, the actual recording of that call and tried to hide it, which tells you that they knew that the president`s comments on that call were wrong.

They won`t admit it now, but it`s obvious that there are people in the White House who do know right from wrong, and the president is clearly nervous about more people talking to the press and potentially to congress as well.

HAYES:  Well, it strikes me, Carol, that none of those people have the same incentives right now.  I mean, we`re watching Rudy Giuliani is currently attempting to throw the State Department, which maybe he finds exculpates him, but of course implicates the Trump administration and the State Department, because the degree that the U.S. apparatus of foreign policy is being marshaled for this corrupt end, it`s a bigger scandal, all of which is to say the people involved in this don`t all have the same incentives, do they?

LENNIG:  Absolutely, not.  They don`t.  But I would just push back a little bit about this idea that Rudy thinks the State Department commissioned him.  The person that commissioned him was Donald Trump.  And you can see that in the whistleblower`s complaint.  I mean, there are a series of State Department officials who are  trying to gingerly, you know, help the Ukrainian officials, quote unquote, navigate the president`s demand in the July 25 phone call.  Hey, we help you out a lot, now can you investigate this Biden situation for me?

It`s clear that at the State Department there are ambassadors who whether they are in favor of this presidency or not are very concerned about the nature of the way Rudy is going about -- Mr. Giuliani is going about this sort of separate Secretary of State business.  And they`re very worried about  what they`re communicating to the Ukrainian officials, and really to a new regime that`s an anti-corruption regime, and how they are giving them conflicting information that conflicts with what Rudy is telling them.

I also am so intrigued, Chris, in just the idea that this whistle-blower, as it comes off the page to me, is a person who is channeling for others who are inside the White House and more vulnerable, channeling for them concerns that they have.  It`s almost like I`ll take the hit and all of you all, you know, duck and cover.

HAYES:  This is not just one sort of like real righteous person who was like you guys are getting it all wrong, this was someone who people were confiding in, because they were horrified by the actions that they had seen.  Eli Stokols and Carol Lennig, thank you both.

Next, a head spinning aspect of this entire story, the number of lawyers who we now know were complicit in a cover-up for the president of United States.  Who they are and what they did after this.


HAYES:  One of the most disturbing and remarkable aspects of the whistleblower complaint is the number of lawyers, people who should be playing the role of upholding the rule of law, of say no  to unlawful requests, of guarding behavior and conduct, who are complicit instead in embedding a cover-up.

Now two of those lawyers are named right at the top of the complaint, that would be the president`s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, a private citizen, who has been running his own U.S. foreign policy in an unofficial capacity, and the top law enforcement official in the country, Attorney General William Barr who Trump invoked by name in his effort to pressure the Ukrainian president, and whose own department then worked to suppress the whistleblower complaint about that.

And then there`s the people you probably haven`t heard of, but you should, because they`re going to get more famous.  The reason the complaint was suppressed was partly because of this guy.  His name is the Steven Engel.  He`s the assistant attorney general in charge of the office of legal counsel.  He is one who wrote the secret memo saying the complaint did not need to be turned over to congress even though the law pretty clearly states otherwise.

And then another person you should know, that`s Pat Cipollone.  That gentleman right there is the White House counsel.  And it`s his job to make sure the people in the White House follow the law.  And clearly whatever his direct involvement in this, he`s not doing a very good job of that.  In fact, according to The Washington Post he`s Cipollone has helping to identify legal obstacles to the sharing of information that could be politically damaging to Trump.

I`m joined now by a man who used to run the Office of Legal Counsel, former assistant attorney general Walter Dellinger, who also served as acting solicitor general.

Mr. Dellinger, first, your reaction to the Steven Engel memo, the rationale which was then released of OLC where the acting director says I`m not sure about this.  He goes to DOJ, Steven Engel is the judge essentially in this case and he rules, no, you don`t have to turn it over to congress.  What do you think of it?

WALTER DELLINGER, FORMER U.S. SOLICITER GENERAL:  Well, I thought it was a memorandum that read more like an advocacy document than I`ve seen from the Office of Legal Counsel of both parties in the past.  It seemed to be fighting to find the most narrow way to read every issue.

But I think actually it`s conceivable that it`s right in the most narrow, technical sense.  But I think that raises the much more fundamental problem, Chris, and the one you touched on which is what is their responsibility outside this particular narrow question they were asked about this particular provision of the whistleblowing statute, the technical issue being whether this was a matter within the intelligence community or not.  And they had I think a hyper-technical reading that it was not.

But why is everyone sitting around not taking steps to bring a stop to this?  What is their moral obligation? 

Now, on the legal side, I do think you`re right, I think  almost everybody around this president needs to have his or her own lawyer.  I`m quite serious about that.  They can`t depend on Bill Barr to protect them because the statute of limitations for any crimes that happen now like statute of limitations for any crimes that happen now like making false statements to congressional staff who are inquiring on that, that`s a five year felony and the statute doesn`t run until well in to the next presidential term.  So, I think the president has created a very difficult environment. 

But what is their larger obligation?  Keep in mind, this is essentially Watergate in the most profound sense.  W hat Watergate was about, and what this is about, is an attempt to corruptly distort the next presidential election by different corrupt means, but that`s what it`s about and that strikes at the absolute core of democracy.  And I think it is in every lawyer`s obligation to blow the whistle on that activity even inside this narrow technical statute or outside the statute.

HAYES:  That`s a really interesting -- I hadn`t thought of it that way, but that`s a really good way to think about it.

There`s also the fact that, you know, DOJ keeps creating this sort of -- almost feels like a magic trick with the law.  Like Brad Heath had this good tweet where he says OLC, because the intelligence whistle-blower reported wrongdoing by the president it shouldn`t go to the house but to federal prosecutors, right, like oh, maybe there`s something criminal here.

Also OLC, because the president is the president only the House has the authority to bring charges of criminal misconduct.  It`s like no, no, congress can`t see it, we need to see it.  But actually because it`s the president we can`t do anything so, whoop, I guess it disappears.

DELLINGER:  It`s a shell and in a pea game.  And the attempt is to protect the president.

Now, you know, my friend Marty Leaderman (ph) makes a very powerful point, what`s important here is not just that senators or House members are in favor of impeachment or not.  They`ve got to say this is wrong.

HAYES:  Yes.

DELLINGER:  Even if you chose not to impeach or remove the president, there`s a core principle: American presidential elections are to be decided by Americans.  I thought that went without saying.  And yet we have the House -- we have the majority leader -- minority leader and others taking up the defense of this as if you could defend it.

You know, the impeachment judgment is did this happen the way it`s alleged in an article of impeachment?  And if so, is it the kind of reprehensible conduct that is -- undercuts the basic political order that justifies removal from office?  So those are the two questions.

And I hate to see people stand up and defend and attempt to subvert a presidential election.

HAYES:  All right, Walter Dellinger, thank you so much for sharing your insights.

DELLINGER:  Thanks, Chris.

HAYES:  Still ahead, public opinion on impeachment is shifting rapidly right before our eyes.  What that could mean for the investigation coming up.


HAYES:  There`s some reporting back in the beginning of may from Russia`s state TV that the president`s personal lawyer canceled a trip to the new Ukrainian president`s inauguration.  It was pointed out by Julia Davis, she`s a journalist who speaks Russians, and she watches Russian TV and she tweets about what`s on it, quote, "Russia`s state TV shamelessly lies that Rudy Giuliani was going to travel to Ukraine for president-elect Vladimir Zelensky`s inauguration, but Trump personally directed him and any other official U.S. representatives not to attend the inauguration."  She adds, quote, "so many lies, so little time."

At the time it did seem like some weird Russian propaganda, Russia TV boasting about the fact that the poor new Ukrainian president was not going to have any high level U.S. officials at his inauguration.  That was reported on May 13.

Then less than a week later on May 18, two days before said inauguration, the White House  announces their delegation for the event, which will be led by Secretary of Energy Rick Perry.  Well, we now know that maybe Russia TV was onto something thanks to the whistleblower complaint.

Now, all the way on the very last page of the classified appendix, quote, on or around May 14, the president instructed Vice P resident Mike Pence to cancel his planned travel to Ukraine to attend the Zelensky`s inauguration on May 20. 

That was well before there was any official announcement about who is going to Zelensky`s inauguration.  That was around the same time as Julia Davis`s tweet about Russia TV reporting that Giuliani and other U.S. officials weren`t going.

Also according to the complaint it was, quote, made clear to them, Ukraine, I presume, the president did not want to meet with the Ukrainian president until he saw how he, quote, chose to act in office.

So, if this is true, what it looks like here is that somehow Russian state media knew before anyone else did that Donald Trump had given an order to not send the highest ranking officials to the inauguration, which is weird.



REP.  NANCY PELOSI, (D) CALIFORNIA:  Lincoln said public sentiment is everything.  How many times have I said that here?  With it we can accomplish anything, without it practically nothing.  Abraham Lincoln, public sentiment.


HAYES:  Speaker Pelosi`s original contention about impeachment was that it was unpopular, and she wasn`t wrong.  Whether it is the House`s decision to formally begin impeachment proceedings, or just the damning issue of the facts, or some combination of the two, the polling is shifting rapidly before our eyes.

Last week, a poll by Politico and Morning Consult found only 36 percent of people supported starting impeachment proceedings.  In an online poll after the speaker`s impeachment announcement, that support jumped to 43 percent.

After the Mueller report, it become public back in April, a poll by NPR, PBS NewsHour, and Marist, found that only 39 percent of respondents supported impeachment hearings.  And in a one day poll conducted yesterday 49 percent now approve the House starting impeachment proceedings.

Here with me now to talk about the ramifications of the changing political terrain, Jim Manley, former chief spokesperson for former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Donna Edwards, former Democratic congresswoman from Maryland who had an op-ed in The Washington Post yesterday entitled "Pelosi has finally taken ownership of impeachment.  Now she must own the process."

Let me begin with you, Donna, about what that means and what the politics of this moment, which are radically in flux mean for how Democrats proceed?

DONNA EDWARDS, (D-MD) FORMER CONGRESSWOMAN:  Well, I think it means that Democrats have to be very focused on what I believe is sort of the narrow constraints of the Ukraine investigation.  I think the Ukraine story tells the narrative of why it is that this president, and how it is, that he`s abused power.

And, in fact, it really is the Russia investigation in real-time that we can see that the president has done now as a president what he couldn`t do as a candidate in using that leverage over Ukraine.  And I think if Democrats do that, they have got to do it in a way that, you know, I said one committee, one lawyer, one investigation.  I think it has to be very, very focused. 

And the momentum is with Democrats right now, and you don`t want to lose that momentum at this important juncture.

HAYES:  On the Senate side, obviously, that is controlled right now by Mitch McConnell and the Republican majority.  Jim, you have some familiarity with the man.  And just to get a sense of taking the temperature of Republican senators, this is a tweet from journalist Matt Laslo today who said I just overhead a Republican senator tell a reporter on background that Trump discussing Joe Biden with a foreign leader was inappropriate.

Again, he would only say that on background.  I mean, they are manifestly terrified of criticizing the president, but also haven`t necessarily been circling the wagons to defend him.  How do you read it?

JHIM MANLEY, FORMER CHIEF SPOKESPERSON TO FRM. SEN. HARRY REID:  Oh, a couple of different things.  I can guarantee you that the Senate Republicans are awfully happy that they have gone on recess, because they have 18 days to figure out what the heck they are going to say when they get back.  And furthermore, the list of creative excuses is a mile long from Senate Republicans today. 

Look, the charitable description is that they`re waiting to see what happens in the House.  But until they have, as you and I have talked about before, none of these guys is a profile in courage and they are going to stick with the president because they think that`s best for them politically.

McConnell is going to have to make a decision what, if anything, to do when I believe the House votes to impeach him.  So buckle up because it`s about to get weird.

HAYES:  Well, let me ask you this -- I want to follow up.  There been is some speculation that McConnell would just refuse to hold a trial, basically he would do to impeachment what he did to Judge Garland like, it is my senate.  We don`t have to move on anything I don`t want, even though the constitution is quite clear about this.  Do you think that`s a thing he would entertain, would do?

MANLEY:  Yes.  I mean, to finesse it slightly, I mean, another alternative for him would be once the House sends the articles of impeachment over to the Senate he could quickly vote...

HAYES:  Vote that day.

MANLEY:  ...a motion to dismiss.  But that`s going to be -- and, again, for whatever reason, I`m a little optimistic tonight.  That`s going to be an awfully tough vote for Senators.

You know, the constitutional responsibilities, you know, et cetera, et cetera.  For them to vote on something like that without even going through a trial, you know, would be clear abdication of responsibility.

But we saw what he did with Merrick Garland.  We saw what he did when he executed the nuclear option at least once before.

Yes, it is definitely -- that is an option to go through the nuclear option again to try and undermine the current rules of the Senate when it comes to the impeachment process.  That`s definitely within his bailiwick.

HAYES:  Donna, to your point about the time line here, you`re talking about the time line in the Senate, right, moving rapidly, there`s reporting tonight that the speaker is looking for something quite quick.  Maybe a articles of impeachment and a vote by Thanksgiving, keeping it in what you said one committee, one sort of set of facts to do this on.

Do you risk rushing it if there is not a lot of hearings, if you don`t sort of do the work to sort of both investigate and also to show the American people what is really going on here?

EDWARDS:  Look, I think that there is actually time.  I mean, even in the next two months to do the kind of investigation that you need.

We already show that the inspector-general on Ukraine has talked to a number of people in the White House.

HAYES:  Right.

EDWARDS:  We need to -- we`ll get the inspector-general in, I think.  But there is time to do this.  And I think the speaker is right in insisting that this be expeditious.  And I think it is important to tell a very clear narrative to the American people to absorb this.  And those numbers for impeachment will go up.  And as they do, it will put more pressure on the United States Senate.

HAYES:  Jim Manley, Donna Edwards, thank you both for your time.

That is ALL IN for this evening.  "THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW" starts right now.  

Good evening, Rachel.