STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC HOST: The procedure went well but he`s taking a few days to get back into fighting shape. I know he`s looking forward to being back here very soon.
And that is HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us. "ALL IN" with Chris Hayes starts right now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: Tonight on ALL IN. The third witness of the impeachment era.
REP. ERIC SWALWELL (D-CA): The arrows continue to point in just one direction.
HAYES: Tonight, what we learned from Donald Trump`s former Russia adviser with one of the Democrats who was in the room. New reporting on a Rudy investigation.
RUDY GIULIANI, LAWYER OF DONALD TRUMP: I`m a pretty good lawyer.
HAYES: And another impeachment witness suddenly changing his tune. Plus, Senator Chris Murphy on why the new Trump sanctions for Turkey are "nonsense."
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Now I`m sort of an island of one again.
HAYES: And new polling suggests there may be a dark horse candidate in Iowa not named Warren, Sanders, or Biden, when ALL IN starts right now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Good evening from New York, I`m Chris Hayes. Even as more witnesses come before Congress and the cast of characters grow, the central core facts the Ukraine story do not change. We know from documents the White House itself released and through statements by the President himself that the President of the United States corruptly abused the power of his office to coerce an occupied country into manufacturing dirt on his political opponent.
The president of Ukraine told Trump he wanted to buy more American weapons, President Trump responded I want to ask you a favor though. That is what the whistleblower warned Congress about. That is what led House Democrats to open an impeachment investigation into the president. And what we`ve learned from that investigation hasn`t been any better for the president.
Today, the third current or former Trump administration official testified as part of that investigation, and it was another marathon session. After former U.S. Ambassador Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch testified before three House committees for nine hours on Friday, today Trump`s former top aide on Russia and Europe Fiona Hill testified for -- well, she`s still going.
Hill is a fascinating figure because she was one of the foremost Russia experts in the government. She was an intelligence officer with the National Intelligence Council under both President George W. Bush and President Barack Obama. She`s written several books on Russia including a critical biography of Vladimir Putin titled Mr. Putin: Operative in the Kremlin.
She has a master`s in Soviet Studies, a doctorate in history from Harvard, also a master`s in Russian and Modern History from St. Andrews University in Scotland. We don`t know exactly what Hill told Congress today. NBC News first reported she planned to say Rudy Giuliani and E.U. Ambassador Gordon Sondland circumvented the National Security Council and the normal White House process to pursue a shadow policy on Ukraine.
If that`s true, it shows again the scandal was not just an offhand comment Trump made and a phone call with Ukraine`s president. It was a systematic strategy to use the tools of the American state to gain foreign assistance for Donald Trump in the 2020 election.
Meanwhile, we now also have this whole other part of this unfolding scandal. So while Congress is turning ahead deposing witnesses, demanding documents, and there are big deadlines this week and big witnesses set to testify, the FBI arrested these two Soviet-born American citizen businessmen last week on federal campaign corruption charges just a few hours after those two men had lunch at a Trump hotel with Rudy Giuliani, a man who was essentially taken on the role the President`s fixer.
Now, Giuliani appears to be the subject of a criminal investigation by the Southern District of New York, the office he once ran. We`re learning more about Giuliani`s links to these two sketchy businessmen including bringing into President George H.W. Bush`s funeral last year, and their own insane complex of interest in mesh in a world of Ukrainian and Russian back corruption.
Now the other guy Fiona Hill was expected to discuss today was Trump`s ambassador to E.U. Gordon Sandlin the Sondland. Sondland had responded to concerns about Trump`s scheme in Ukraine with that legendary very normal text you might remember putting in writing, the president has been crystal clear no quid pro quos of any kind.
Trump even pointed to that text incorrectly calling it a tweet as proof that he was innocent. But now, the Washington Post reporting that when Sondland testifies before House committees Thursday, he will say the content of that text message was relayed to him directly by President Trump, directly by President Trump. The president dictated his own cover story in the midst of the scandal.
The big question for today is what happened behind those closed doors with Fiona Hill. And here now to help answer is one of the Congresspeople who attended her marathon testimony Democratic Congressman Denny Heck of Washington, a member of the House Intelligence Committee.
Congressman, I know you can`t get into the details of what you`ve heard today, but can you describe what the testimony was like?
REP. DENNY HECK (D-WA): So I would characterize Dr. Hill in three ways. First of all, in my seven years of Congress, I would -- I would candidly honestly tell you, Chris, she`s the most substantive witness I`ve observed before any committee, and that`s over a course of thousands of hours of testimony.
Secondly, I believe the woman has an eidetic memory. If she doesn`t have total recall, it`s very close to it. And thirdly, I can tell you that in the tenth hour, she had every bit as much energy as she had in the first hour.
HAYES: It sounds like she had a lot to say if she`s still there.
HECK: She did have an incredible amount to say. But in fact I would say about all three witnesses, Chris, that they`ve added very considerably to our efforts to get to the bottom of this to the entire truth of how this happened with the President ending up doing a shakedown and a cover-up of his blatant violation of federal law asking President Zelensky of Ukraine to interfere in our 2020 presidential elections.
Everyone has brought something new and different to the table that has helped bring into even clearer and more stark relief what went on here and it isn`t pretty.
HAYES: Well, so I`m curious about the trajectory here. You know, we had Kurt Volker who came and testified but he no longer works for the State Department. And then Gordon Sondland who is set to testify this week was stopped at the last minute, at the -- in the middle of the night the White House says no.
And since then, it seems to me like a dam is kind of broken. Marie Yovanovitch who still a State Department employee coming before you. Today, Fiona Hill coming before you. Gordon Sondland now is going to come this week, others as well. The former number two to Mike Pompeo, Mr. McKinley, is going to come. What has happened here?
This is striking to me that the White House as much as it`s trying to stop people from talking to you or turn over documents, it looks like you`re getting to actually talk to people and learn thing.
HECK: Yes, it feels like the dam is breaking right, Chris. I thought the fact that Mr. McKinley agreed to come before us I believe it is the day after tomorrow was very significant. He`s a distinguished career diplomat who has an incredible depth of understanding about how diplomacy should work. He`s had some of the most significant diplomatic postings within the State Department. And I think we`re going to learn a lot from him. But then again, I think we`re learning a lot from each and every one.
HAYES: What -- how would you describe what you`re learning? I mean -- and also explain to me why are these being done as closed-door depositions?
HECK: Because they`re depositions, right? We`re conducting this to the highest standards and the best practices of investigations. We`re not in the public hearing portion of this yet. We will get there. But that -- but we -- what we don`t want is for all of the witnesses, some of whom will be hostile, to coordinate with one another because that will impede us in our effort to get to the complete truth.
HAYES: I see.
HECK: And I think that`s what the American public wants. Obviously, they`re going to want to know all this information at some point. But for the time being, what they want us to do is get to the truth.
HAYES: And you feel like anything you have heard in this witness testimony has been exculpatory for the president or altered you`re thinking about this? You keep smiling but I`m asking because you`re in there and I`m not.
HECK: Right. We keep getting asked the question in 923 day -- 923 different ways, what did she say to you. And of course, again, we can`t answer. But I again, I`ll reiterate that I think every single person has come before us has added new information and given new depth to our understanding about what went on here.
Chris, I think that there`s enough information in the public domain that as one member I believe it`s clear that the president has committed impeachable offenses. But every member is different in how it is that they get to that point and whether or not they get to that point.
So we`re not yet at the truth, and as we know on an almost every 48 or 72- hour basis, something new happens or some new information comes forward, some of it in public and some of it during these depositions. And so we`re kind of trying to ask the question of ourselves, you know, at what point do you have everything because we keep learning more.
HAYES: Final question, there are some deadlines for document production this week including I believe from the White House itself which has said they will not cooperate. Do you have a plan in place for what to do if and when they do not turn over those documents?
HECK: Well, I think Chairman Schiff has said it well that if they refuse to turn over the documents, that in and of itself as an active obstruction to a legitimate Article One Congressional Impeachment Inquiry. And as we know, I think it was the third article of the Nixon impeachment was obstructing Congress` investigation.
And secondly, it would be a pretty clear be it tacit indication that they are guilty of something, that they`re hiding something. Again, this entire story is one of the shakedown and then the cover-up and that`s just part of the cover-up.
HAYES: All right, Congressman Denny Heck, thank you so much.
HECK: You`re welcome, sir.
HAYES: Joining me now, two people who have been following the President`s ongoing scandals from the beginning, Nick Akerman former assistant special Watergate prosecutor and former assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and Julia Ioffe Correspondent for GQ Magazine. Just last week she wrote a great piece titled Here`s why Ukraine pops up in so many U.S. scandals.
We have -- we got reports at the end of last week saying that Rudy Giuliani might be under investigation after Mr. Fruman and Mr. Parnas were arrested trying to leave the country hours after dining with him. We seem to be getting more and more confirmation of this. This is what The Wall Street Journal says today.
"Federal prosecutors in Manhattan are examining Rudy Giuliani`s business dealings in Ukraine including his finances, meetings, and work for a city mayor there." According to people familiar the matter, investigators also have examined Mr. Giuliani`s bank records. Is this as enormous a deal that seems to me --
NICK AKERMAN, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST: It`s huge, absolutely a huge deal. Rudy Giuliani was the U.S. attorney in the Southern District of New York. He was my boss for six months. He was running that office. I mean, don`t forget he was in every aspect of this Ukrainian scandal. This is not something that just happened in July. This goes back to April with the first conversation and prior to April.
And the one person who is right in the middle of this entire program is Rudy Giuliani. And you`ve got to ask yourself, you know, is he being investigated for a violation of the Hobbs Act for extortion? Is he being investigated for bribery? Is he being investigated for campaign violation?
HAYES: Or foreign registration --
AKERMAN: Foreign registration -- foreign registration is the least of his problems.
HAYES: I mean, this is -- this is the testimony that the Washington Post says that Gordon Sondland -- of course, he was this key ambassador, right? That he is going to intend to testify, that Trump told him in the Oval Office the Ukraine requests had to go through Giuliani and that Rudy wanted a written statement promising Biden probe.
Giuliani is apparently is going to say that Sondland -- or says that Sondland was actually the one in charge. Giuliani is very clearly to me -- and I want to hear your perspective on this, tied up in a world that he does not actually understand.
JULIA IOFFE, CORRESPONDENT, GQ MAGAZINE: Right. Well, I also think it`s ironic, right, that this was the mayor that was the law-and-order mayor of New York, right? And now he`s caught in all kinds of unlawful and disorderly things, let`s just say.
But yes, I think that, you know, you get an involvement in a place like Ukraine that is tremendously complicated, tremendously opaque. Even people who are experts in the region have a problem --
HAYES: I`m just going to just for one second just tell folks that is Fiona Hill they`re leaving her testimony right now in her deposition today. It`s 8:11. I think she was in there this morning about ten hours ago. So that`s ten hours that she stood in front of that or sat in front of that committee and gave her deposition. Sorry, go ahead, Julia.
IOFFE: Well, Fiona is a case in point. But even experts in the region have a hard time getting to the bottom of who stands behind who.
IOFFE: There`s -- everybody isn`t just what they appear to be. There`s a person behind -- a person behind and then there`s a like a shell companies behind that, and a shell company that owns that shell company. And by the time you figure it out, it`s you know often maybe not the person you thought you were dealing with. As a former ambassador Dan Fried who implemented or who designed the sanctions against Russia for their invasion of Ukraine and the illegal annexation of Crimea said, you always got to know who`s buying the drinks in Ukraine. And I`m not sure where did.
HAYES: No. And in fact, the picture here that emerges is Rudy Giuliani with a single -- with a mission. We know what the mission is, right? It`s to go get dirt on Hunter -- on the Biden`s from the Ukrainian government and also to look into the origin of the Mueller probe going around meeting with all sorts of people, advertising to them but the way that you can get close to the President of the United States is if you supplied that to him.
HAYES: Right. And that`s just -- I mean, when you think about the legal peril he`s in there, it`s not that that itself is illegal, it`s just that you fight -- it seems to me you put yourself in some very dangerous gray areas.
AKERMAN: Of course, you do. And then you`ve got these two guys Mutt and Jeff that were arrested the other day and one of them they got a million dollars from some Russian that we don`t know about.
HAYES: Not named in the indictment.
AKERMAN: Not named in the indictment. But what does that have to do with Vladimir Putin and what is Putin doing now in the 2020 election? I mean, this raises really serious question.
HAYES: We should say, and I don`t want to include a cast of characters that blow -- you know, makes people have a hard time following the story, but there are very clear links to a very Russian back to oligarch named Dmitry Firtash who`s like one degree removed from Rudy in all this.
IOFFE: Right. But then there`s also as you mentioned, there`s the unnamed Russian national who`s funneling money through, you know, Brick and Bragger -- Farnas and Fruman who is funneling money to Republican political candidates, to a Trump re-election PAC, you know, it`s -- that it`s all happening after basically the Mueller investigation wrapped up, and Trump believed that he was exonerated thanks to Attorney General Bill Barr who`s also by the way flying around the world also trying to gather similar dirt.
There`s a lot of really weird freelancing happening by people who are both inside the government and outside the government who are accountable to nobody.
AKERMAN: And doing things that are contrary to what the government does.
HAYES: Right, what the U.S. interest has defined --
AKERMAN: We have an indictment that`s charged against 12 Russians for breaking into the Democratic National Committee, and you`ve got the Attorney General and a former prosecutor going around trying to get Brady material, exculpatory information that, God forbid, if they ever arrest these guys are going to be able to use to try and get out of the crime.
HAYES: That`s a good point.
AKERMAN: I mean, it`s outrageous.
IOFFE: People wanted, you know, especially on the Republican side to have somebody come in and run the country like a business. We have somebody running the country like he ran his person business.
HAYES: Like he ran Trump Org, exactly. And even Sondland`s testimony that you go in the Oval and Trump is saying like you got to go through Rudy. This is the President of the United States. Rudy Giuliani does not work for the American people. He doesn`t work for the taxpayer. He has no position.
IOFFE: He`s not accountable to anyone.
HAYES: He`s not accountable to anyone.
AKERMAN: This is running like the Mafia.
HAYES: Nick Akerman and Julia Ioffe, thank you both. Ahead, the situation in Syria continues to spin out of control as the White House enters a brand new phase of damage control. The latest chaos after Donald Trump gave Turkey the green light to launch its offensive against Kurdish allies in two minutes.
HAYES: Before last Sunday, the U.S. policy in northern Syria has been to partner with the Kurds, an ethnic minority group that does not have its own state but controls much of that territory within Syria. The U.S. decided to work with the Kurds for a couple of reasons.
Primarily, they have an extraordinary fighting force that helped us push back and defeat ISIS territorially. And two, the Kurdish presence helped to limit Syria by extension Russian and Iran from getting too much influence in the region.
On the other side, we are NATO allies with Turkey which sees the Kurds as a major threat to their security. And so the U.S. has tried across multiple administrations to manage this very complicated situation between the Turks and the Kurds so that no one gets into a horrifying shooting war.
To be clear, all of this was fraught as hell and probably time-limited. No one knew the right way out but it was more or less at least for the time being working. And then came Trump`s phone call with Turkish strongman Recep Erdogan last Sunday after which Trump surprising just about everyone suddenly announces U.S. troops would clear the area, home to up to 2 million Kurds so that Turkey could enter an attack basically saying to Turkey, have at it, and announced a withdrawal of U.S. troops.
The decision was a shock to the State Department, the Department of Defense, U.S. allies, and pretty much everyone in the region including those Kurdish partners on the ground in the fight against ISIS who we had suddenly abandoned. And the news since that decision has been, well, it`s been horrifying.
Turkish forces moved into Syria, escalated their military operations, even launching artillery rounds near a U.S. commando outpost, prompting Secretary of Defense Mark Esper to announce this weekend the U.S. would withdraw all U.S. troops from northeastern Syria. That`s 1,000 U.S. troops being moved out of the area and over to Iraq.
And while it`s difficult to confirm all the reports coming out of the region, there are video and photographs circulating on social media that appear to show alleged atrocities carried out by Turkish backed fighters. Facing a looming massacre of both soldiers and civilians, the Kurds have now decided to cut a deal with Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad for protection extending Assad`s power throughout most of Syrian territory.
And then, of course, there is a situation with ISIS. The Kurds who had been holding ISIS terrorists and their allies in jails in the region said that close 800 members of a camp holding the families of ISIS fighters had escaped after Turkish shelling. The New York Times reported that "the United States had failed to transfer five dozen high-value Islamic state detainees out of the country."
Now, facing what is universally seen as a strategic and humanitarian disaster, Trump is making noise about how he`s going to get tough on Turkey. Facing pressure from Congress, he put out a statement ordering sanctions on Turkish officials. He sends Mike -- Vice President Mike Pence out to say that Trump had called Erdogan to ask him to stop the invasion with Pence adding that he planned to go to Turkey "as quickly as possible."
I`m joined now by someone who`s been following all this very closely Mike Giglio, he`s a Staff Writer at the Atlantic covering national security, and the author of a new book "Shatter the Nations: ISIS and the War for the Caliphate". Mike, great to have you here. You were actually -- you`ve been in this part of Northeastern Syria.
MIKE GIGLIO, STAFF WRITER, THE ATLANTIC: I have, right, with the Kurds.
HAYES: So I guess the first level is what does the -- what does this military push mean for the stability and balance of power in the region?
GIGLIO: I mean, these were some of the most stable places in Syria, and they were also the places where ISIS was the strongest. So when the U.S. came into Syria and start working with the Kurds, it was a disaster. I mean ISIS seemed unstoppable at the time. And through this partnership, and through more than 10,000 Kurdish soldiers killed, they were able to stabilize it, and the Kurds were able to control it, and able to bring some semblance of order.
I mean, and that`s really important because ISIS is not dead no matter what Trump says about how he defeated it. Their physical caliphate is gone but they are still a real threat in these areas. They`re just gone back to their roots as an insurgency.
And so the Kurds and American troops until eight days ago were working to roll up those networks and eliminate that threat, and now all that is gone.
HAYES: When you say all that is gone, do you mean -- I mean, first of all, it seems there`s reporting today that all anti-ISIS fighting from the coalition has essentially stopped, like we`re not doing surveillance anymore, but you mean like actually the fighters will just reconstitute again.
GIGLIO: That`s always been the rest. I mean, the New York Times had a report this summer that said there were still 18,000 active ISIS fighters across Iraq and Syria. And you know, these were the guys that were fighting America during the Iraq war, right? This was al-Qaeda. Their roots are an insurgency so they`ve just gone back to that.
So what was needed here and you mentioned really well I think the fact that this was always a sticky situation, it was always clear to everyone involved, acknowledging how sticky the situation was, that this partnership needs to continue because ISIS is still a major threat and they need to do counterinsurgency operations with the Kurds to roll that up, and it`s over now like you mentioned.
HAYES: There`s also the fact that out of desperation now, the Kurds who are again were part of the fighting forces against the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad have now turned to Assad essentially for protection against the Turks. Which means that after going down to about a quarter of the territory in Syria at the lowest point of the war with Russian and Iranian intervention and now this moment, Assad has essentially reconstituted control in Syria.
GIGLIO: Right. You know, the Kurds had a detente with Assad from the start of the war. I mean, they were really clear-eyed about what civil war means and they were careful not to get involved. So they had an agreement with regime from the beginning, you know, we`re going to control our areas but we won`t rebel against you. And because of that, ISIS attacked them.
You know, they control oil fields and in the Kurdish region, they control oil refineries and lots of valuable real estate, and so the war kind of came to them, and then the partnership with the U.S. began.
And now the same soldiers that the U.S. trained, armed, think about this way from a counterintelligence standpoint, soldiers who have worked with the most elite military units we have in the United States military are now going to work with Assad and Russia and bringing all that knowledge with them and sort of by force with no other choice saying hey, please protect us. And they don`t really have any leverage on you know what goes on after that.
HAYES: What do you think this -- what happens now? I mean --
GIGLIO: I mean, I think the easiest thing to say but only -- the only certain thing we can say is chaos, right, and just to sort of put the warning out there that ISIS thrives in chaos. So you know, it`s possible that the thousands of ISIS prisoners including European foreign fighters escaped, it`s possible that the Syrian regime takes them. It`s not trustworthy partner in counterterrorism. It`s possible that these Turkish- backed forces would take them, not trustworthy at all either.
HAYES: What about the argument that this was always an untenable situation, it was always -- it was like, you know, it`s like you can only the bombs defuse as long as like everyone`s hands are on it, and some point, it`s something like get up and leave the building, that that this is just accelerating what would have been a disaster either?
GIGLIO: Two things. First of all, I think there could have been a serious U.S. effort to make some sort of acceptable agreement here and bring stability long-term. So if the U.S. had any kind of diplomacy or strategy, they could have said hey, we control a force of 60,000 fighters in Syria. We can be part of negotiations with the regime, with the Russians, with Turkey to try to find some semblance of order and protection for them long term.
And the second part of that, we didn`t have to throw the bomb, you know, down right in front of ourselves. You know, if there was going to be a U.S. pullout, it could have been orderly. I mean, U.S. troops are retreating.
The news headline -- the news headlines say retreat. That some of the Turkish back forces according to New York Times have fired on U.S. troops as their retreating. There was absolutely no planning whatsoever. So that`s why I think all these worst-case scenarios were planning out -- playing out.
HAYES: Mike Giglio who`s got a new book out on ISIS, thank you so much for being with me.
GIGLIO: Thanks for having me.
HAYES: Next, as the situation continues to spiral, a reporting on new concerns about nuclear weapons the U.S. has in Turkey. Senator Chris Murphy is one of the best people to make sense of a fallout from the President`s decision, and he joins me after this.
HAYES: As U.S.-Turkish relations spiral downwards, there are dozens of American nuclear weapons sitting at a U.S. military base on Turkish soil. The government is apparently now trying to figure out how to get them out.
According to reporting at the New York Times, over the weekend, State and Energy Department officials were quietly reviewing plans for evacuating roughly 50 tactical nuclear weapons the U.S. had long stored under American control at Incirlik Air Base in Turkey about 250 miles from the Syrian border. Those weapons, one senior official said, were now essentially Erdogan`s hostages.
Here to talk about that and everything else involving this White House, I`m joined by Senator Chris Murphy, Democrat from Connecticut, a member of the Foreign Relations Committee. Well, Senator, I think you and I both share some healthy skepticism of foreign policy consensus particularly in the American era of endless war. But this does seem terrible with what`s going on. How bad is this from your point of view?
SEN. CHRIS MURPHY (D-CT): I thought the most important point that Mike Giglio just made in the prior segment was this was all avoidable. You and I do share this sense that there has never been a plan from the start as to how the United States was going to unwind its intervention in Syria.
Two thousand troops were never permanently going to be able to stop the Turks from moving in. But there absolutely was this opportunity, as Mike pointed out, for a political process in which a U.S.-led effort would eventually try to figure out which Kurds that the Turks could live with in northeastern Syria and which ones had to be moved somewhere else.
We never even attempted to work that out. We had, for long periods of time, only one diplomat in northeastern Syria. So, there was no chance to ultimately do anything than either fight the Turks ourselves or wave them through.
So this, to me, is so tragic, because all of it could have been avoidable, had Trump decided to actually do the diplomatic work ahead of the American pullout.
HAYES: On the nuclear weapons point. I mean, obviously the relationship with Turkey is fraught for a million different reasons and has been for a long time. Do you give credence to those reports? There was a David Sanger piece in the "New York Times." Does that worry you?
MURPHY: It does worry me. And listen, we do have to step back and assess what kind of security partnership we`re willing to have with the Turks. This is, you know, just the latest in what has been a long series of moves by the Turks that suggest they don`t really want to be in a long-term mutual defense relationship with the United States.
Remember, way back in the beginning of the Syria conflict, we were begging the Turks to shut down the border because they were actively waving through ISIS personnel and resources into Syria so that they could create problems for the Kurds and Syrian regime. They were buying Russian missile defense system that could ultimately compromise American fighter jets.
So, from the beginning of this conflict, there`s been real questions as to whether the Turks are serious about about being in business with us and whether it`s the nuclear weapons, arms sales or NATO membership. We do have to step back and have some wholesale conversation about our relationship.
HAYES: One of the weirdest thing that is happening here, the president -- we all saw that statement put up by the White House after the call with Erdogan took everyone by surprise, everyone. I mean, literally, I don`t think anyone saw that coming and it was very clear.
It basically said look, they have a green light. We`re going to move our troops out of the position so they can go in. There`s this weird kind of overcompensation happening now where the president is like he`s going to destroy their economy.
He`s hiking steel tariffs. He`s withdrawing the remaining United States servicemembers from northeast Syria. He`s also going to -- he also wants to sanction them.
HAYES: Lindsey Graham is working on sanctions. Like, I don`t know what sense to make of this very strange after effect anger being directed.
MURPHY: Yeah. I mean, it`s sort of the much more monstrous equivalent of telling your kid that he can stay out past curfew and then when he comes back after curfew, you ground him for three weeks.
I mean, Trump let this happen. He announced the Turkish invasion of Syria before Turkey had announced it last Sunday night. He clearly green lit this operation and now is panicking because he`s found out that he has absolutely no one in the Republican Party, Democratic Party or the foreign policy establishment who thinks what he did is a good idea.
And the Turkish operation is turning out to be just as horrible and horrific as what we said it was going to be and so he`s trying to over- correct. But now what you`re going to get, Chris, is the worst of all worlds.
MURPHY: Because you`re going to get the Kurds getting in bed with Assad, a humanitarian catastrophe on the ground. And then a series of ad hoc sanctions that are going to push the Turks closer to an access with Iran and Russia`s splintered NATO.
None of that is good for the United States and it all could have been avoided. So you`re getting the worst of all worlds now.
HAYES: I want to ask you a question about Ukraine because you have been, as a U.S. senator, quite invested in the U.S./Ukrainian relationship. You visited there with the late John McCain I remember. We talked to you after you came back from one of those trips.
As you`re watching the reporting unfold of the folks who are around the president`s shadow foreign policy with Rudy Giuliani, what did you learn and have you had moments where you go oh, now I understand things that were not -- that were weird to me at the time?
MURPHY: Yes. I mean, listen, I always, as you know, the first person to raise questions about this back in spring and we were worried from the very beginning that there was this quid pro quo relationship. And we now know that it indeed did exist.
You know, we`ve also wondered from the very beginning, you know, why the State Department or diplomatic corps had been basically left unstaffed. And I think part of the reason we`re figuring out is that, you know, the president wanted to do his own side deals.
MURPHY: His own side deals that had, at its foundation, either financial interest or political interests, and that`s a lot harder to do if you have really smart career public servants doing your diplomacy.
So, if you just get rid all of those folks and you have no acting ambassador for Ukraine, you have no assistant secretary for European affairs. That`s a lot easier for political hacks like Rudy Giuliani to be able to fill that void, and so that all makes a lot more sense to me now.
HAYES: Senator Chris Murphy as always, thanks for making time.
HAYES: Still ahead, why national polling may not be telling the whole story in the Democratic race. A dark horse candidate coming up.
Plus, tonight`s "Thing One, Thing Two" starts next.
HAYES: Thing One tonight, we talked a lot here on this show about Donald Trump`s cozy relationship with the Saudis. On his very first overseas trip as president, his first stop, you might remember, Saudi Arabia. And of course, I think everyone remembers from that visit is the orb.
And now Trump, King Salman and the Egyptian president all gathered around it and kept their hands on it for nearly two minutes, like they were summoning dark forces or something.
There is something else that happened on that trip that really didn`t get enough attention. And that is Saudi Arabia`s really not great military band.
HAYES: Vladimir Putin arrived in Riyadh today for a state visit. And let me tell you, the band has not improved. And that`s Thing Two in 60 seconds.
HAYES: Vladimir Putin kicked off a visit to Saudi Arabia today where he was greeted with a while lot of pomp and circumstance. Check out this dramatic entrance to meet King Salman. They made him walk down a mile of carpet at least.
Putin didn`t arrive empty handed. Of course, he brought along a Russian falcon as a gift for the king, a young female named Alpha, trained to hunt game birds. Oopsy daisy, that will happen with live animal animals.
And of course, there was a ceremonial playing of the Russian national anthem performed by the not at all improved Saudi military band whose motto apparently is we never practice.
HAYES: Over the last few weeks as impeachment has dominated both the news and this show, I`ve been watching with increasing horror and bafflement as the NBA has enforced a kind of silence and speech code on its players and management for fear of offending the Chinese government and Chinese basketball fans.
After a single tweet in support of the Hong Kong protesters by Houston Rockets executive, the NBA has scrambled to lock down any other signs of criticism of the Chinese government, hoping to preserve access to an extremely lucrative and growing market of the sport.
Now of course, this kind of shying away from confrontation, choosing the path of least resistance is quite familiar in the news because it`s what so many Republican members of Congress do every day when confronted with the bile, bigotry and (inaudible) corruption, abuse of power by the man who is the head of their party.
But it is important to know that it is not limited to them. In fact, the insidious destructive force of the path of least resistance is everywhere you look. Heck, I feel the tug of it myself as my own news organization is embroiled in a very public controversy over its conduct.
As you probably seen, in his new book "Catch and Kill," my former colleague, Ronan Farrow contends that MSNBC News slow walked and then ultimately killed his reporting on Harvey Weinstein`s sexual harassment and assault because it was intimidated by Weinstein and didn`t want to cross him.
Most distressingly, Farrow suggests NBC News was worried about the allegations of sexual assault and harassment against Matt Lauer coming out as a result to reporting on Weinstein and desperately wanted to avoid that.
In Farrow`s view, he was unable to break through what was effectively a conspiracy of silence from NBC News management. Now, NBC News vigorously denies this account. The president of NBC News, Noah Oppenheim, called Farrow`s book a conspiracy theory.
In a memo sent out today, citing an internal NBC investigation that concluded that extremely upsetting allegations against Lauer were not known internally at NBC. NBC has called any suggestion it did know false and offensive.
And Oppenheim and others have also maintained since Farrow`s departure two years ago, the Weinstein story was never broadcast because it lacked sufficient on the record sourcing even after NBC supported Farrow`s assignment for seven months.
One thing though is indisputable. Ronan Farrow walked out of NBC News after working on the Weinstein story and within two months published an incredible article at the "New Yorker" that not only won a Pulitzer but helped trigger a massive social and cultural reckoning that continues to this day.
It is the kind of journalism that you want to do as a journalist. That everyone who works in this business should want to facilitate. Of course, there`s a reason it took so long for the true story about Weinstein to be told, for the many allegations of him to stay locked in a vault.
And I think as time and again the path of least resistance for those of power was not to cross Weinstein or his army of friends and lawyers. Same goes for the many, many, many other powerful predators we`ve come to know about.
The path of least resistance is always there. Beckoning seductively with an entirely plausible cover story, you`ve got bigger fish to fry, this isn`t the hill to die on, the story isn`t ready. But of course, it`s the very ease of that path that makes it the enemy to the kind of work that we, as journalists, are supposed to do.
HAYES: Tomorrow night, a record 12 Democratic candidates running for president will appear on one stage in the fourth debate in this primary race.
The last debate was about a month ago, and over the course of that month, the race has changed in some fundamental ways, and in some fundamental ways it has not.
One fundamental way it has not changed is that Vice President Joe Biden hasn`t really lost support. He`s basically been more or less flat over the past month.
What has changed is that Senator Elizabeth Warren has gained support, and the two of them, indisputably in the polling average sense, are now basically tied. Now, everyone is wondering what their dynamic will be like meeting each other as essentially tied for the first time.
A better thing to keep in mind is that there is still a ton of room for movement, for changes beyond just national polling, particularly if you look at say, Iowa. In a CBS/YouGov poll this week, Iowa is a three-way dead heat with Mayor Pete Buttigieg putting up a solid number in fourth place.
It`s easy to forget how much an early victory can alter the trajectory of people`s perceptions of these races especially when you`re this many months out. We`ll talk about the dynamics going into tomorrow night`s debate.
I want to bring in Democratic pollster and strategist Margie Omero and Elena Schneider, national political reporter at "Politico." Margie, the polling seems to me to show one thing sort of indisputably, which is that Warren is growing.
She has picked up support. She has enlarged her coalition. She still has obstacles, but right now the question is can she essentially take some of those Biden voters away? Is that how you see it?
MARGIE OMERO, DEMOCRATIC POLSTER: Well, I mean, you`re right. There has been a trend where she has gained steam over the last few weeks and months. I think we should caution and I don`t know if you mentioned this, but I just want the caution again, is that you have a lot of Democratic primary voters who are still making up their mind.
O`MEARA: Even those who have -- who say they have a choice, about half of them say they could change their mind, and even that may change -- even that number may change as things evolve.
And whether we`re talking about Iowa polling and what`s happening in Iowa is different than what`s happening nationally. And you have a lot of voters who are still waiting to see and learn more from the candidates and see what happens once we start voting.
So, I just want the start with that, but yes, as I see it, certainly the trend where Warren on the move is something that we`ve seen now for a while, and we`ll see if that continues over the next few weeks.
HAYES: Elena, there has been an interesting dynamic with this race, and that Sanders and Elizabeth Warren I think are fairly close to each other ideologically. They represent sort of similar wings of the party, although their surrogates have been going at each other a little bit recently.
There is some wonder about the degree to which Warren`s rise is coming at Sander`s expense. I thought this -- you know, I also -- having interviewed both of them and knowing both of them fairly well, they do genuinely like each other as people. They have a good relationship.
I thought this quote from Bernie Sanders was fascinating. I want to play it and get your sort of sense of how you think these two campaigns are thinking about each other. This is what Sanders had to say on Sunday on ABC.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (D-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Elizabeth Warren has been a friend of mine for some 25 years, and I think she is a very, very good senator. But there are differences between Elizabeth and myself. Elizabeth I think, as you know, has said that she is a capitalist through her bones. I`m not.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: This -- what do you make of that comment?
ELENA SCHNEIDER, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, POLITICO: Well, what I make of it is even though we are still four months away from Iowa, we`re four months away from Iowa, and candidates are starting to run out of time.
And Bernie Sanders in particular has been through a really difficult couple of weeks. He suffered a heart attack. This debate is going to be the first time where he`ll be back on stage after a real serious health scare.
And I think that he is seeing his poll numbers continue to sort of slowly chip away, slowly fall heading in a direction he does not want to see them go both nationally and in Iowa, and somewhere where he feels he is leaking or bleeding some support is to Elizabeth Warren, as you noted at the top, has suddenly risen in the polls.
So, I think that even though they certainly do have a very cordial relationship that by and large those two have not actually gone up against each other, they`ve actually been sort of a tag team in defense of progressive policies that I think in this debate we might actually see them start to go after each other.
HAYES: See, that will be -- my hunch is that that won`t happen, at least not yet, although anything is possible. I think that what`s interesting about that quote from Sanders is like, oh, she is a capitalist, which I sort of imagine Elizabeth Warren saying oh, don`t throw me in that briar patch.
Like, oh, I`m a (inaudible) you`re going to call me a capitalist running for president in 2019. But there is also a fact, Marjorie, when you look at that Iowa polling which I thought was just a really good reminder of this race is.
There is a three-way tie in the latest Iowa polling for top and things in this narratives change so quickly. Like, I remember Howard Dean was going win Iowa and then John Kerry won it and he basically ran the table.
And I remember how Barack Obama after he won Iowa was going to win every other state and then Hillary Clinton won New Hampshire in 2008 and it was extended win.
So like, it does strike me that as we focus on the national polling for the dynamics of the race, the significance of Iowa being that close I think hasn`t quite set in with people about where the stand -- where the race actually stands.
OMERO: Right. I mean, the other thing is Iowa is a state where people have organizations on the ground.
OMERO: They`re out meeting voters. They`re on the air. I mean, that`s not the same as what`s happening nationally. You have more candidates making more connections in Iowa in some way than you do nationally.
So it`s important, you know, to remember that. And we`ve only had a couple of polls since Labor Day. That`s also different from the national polling outlet landscape.
OMERO: And the last thing, as we`re thinking about who`s second choice is we don`t have a lot of public tools that give us the ability to really look at which candidate polls from whomever, and people are looking at the overall trend-lines.
But when you a national poll and then a subsample of that that`s Democratic primary voters nationally, then you don`t have enough respondents for a lot of these candidates to see --
OMERO: -- who is second choice. And there are a couple of places you can see that publicly. But we just are not able to really have that kind of granular work from the public polling. Obviously, internal polls have different ways of doing that.
HAYES: There`s also -- Pete Buttigieg I think this week has been somewhat interesting. He had a line in an interview about fundraising where he said you can`t beat Republicans with chump change, sort of talking about, I think, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren who have raised huge amounts of money through small dollar donors.
It does seem to me that Buttigieg has his eyes on basically fashioning himself, I think, authentically to who he is as a sort of non-Sanders- Warren alternative who is also not Biden. Elena?
SCHNEIDER: Right. I think he is leaning hard into being sort of that middle ground.
SCHNEIDER: Somewhere between the spectrum of bidden and WARREn and Bernie. But look, I think an important point for Buttigieg is that not only has he really leaned into both, you know, he`s been the darling of high dollar fundraisers and donors -- certainly has leaned into that element of the Democratic Party that both Warren and Sanders have rejected.
But he also has a very robust small dollar donor network. I mean, he averaged $32 last quarter, and Elizabeth Warren averaged $26. That`s not a huge difference between the two of them. And he has been able to grow that grassroots network and sort of run sort of a dual high and low-dollar program.
So, certainly he maybe wants to draw some contrasts between himself and Sanders and Warren both on the money front and on health care policy of late. But look, he is sort of leaning into both in his own campaign.
HAYES: All right, Margie Omera and Elena Schneider, thank you both. Before we go, a reminder U.S. coast fans. You Los Angeles residents in particular, you folks looking for something fun to do on a Monday night this time next week?
I`ll be getting ready to take the stage of The Theater of the Ace Hotel in downtown L.A. with award winning director and screenwriter Adam McKay and the phenomenal author Omar El Akkad.
If you`re passionate about addressing climate change or making art or just love the podcast, maybe all three, I think you`re going to love this conversation. Tickets are available now, msnbc.com/withpodtour. Hope to see you there. That is all in for this evening. The Rachel Maddow Show starts right now. Good evening , Rachel.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Chris. Thanks you my friend. Much appreciated. And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END