(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOY REID, MSNBC HOST: Tonight on ALL IN.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think when all is said and done, we will find that Rudy Giuliani once the greatest mayor of this country is nothing more than a small-town crook.
REID: The man running Trump`s shadow foreign policy took a half a million from foreign interest.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I stand behind Rudy Giuliani, absolutely.
REID: Tonight, new trouble for Rudy Giuliani as yet more officials head to the Hill to testify.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. Kent, did anyone try to block you from speaking?
REID: Then, as new testimony brings Trump`s Chief of Staff into the scandal, what did John Bolton know?
TRUMP: John wasn`t in line with what we were doing.
REID: Plus, former National Security Adviser Susan Rice joins me to talk impeachment, Trump, and the situation in Syria.
SUSAN RICE, FORMER NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER, WHITE HOUSE: This is (BLEEP) crazy.
REID: And House Democrats return with a formal Impeachment Inquiry on the table.
TRUMP: Let`s impeach the president. Isn`t that a good idea?
REID: When ALL IN starts now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
REID: Good evening from New York, I`m Joy Reid. Chris Hayes is in Ohio covering tonight`s debate. Well, at this point, it`s not a question of if the President of the United States Donald Trump committed an impeachable offense. He`s already admitted to it in public statements and in documents that the White House itself released.
We know that when the President of Ukraine said that he wanted to buy more American weapons to protect his country from military aggression by Russia, Donald Trump immediately responded, I want you to do us a favor though. And then he proceeded to ask that Ukraine investigate former Vice President Joe Biden`s son and give life to a nutty right-wing conspiracy theory that would absolve Russia of meddling in the election that made Trump president.
We also know from the notes of that call that Trump told the Ukrainian president multiple times to talk to the man who has essentially become his personal fixer, Rudy Giuliani, about those investigative favors. "Mr. Giuliani is a highly respected man. He was the mayor of New York City, a great mayor and I would like him to call you." "Rudy very much knows what`s happening and he is a very capable guy. If you could speak to him, that would be great." "I will have Mr. Giuliani give you a call and we will get to the bottom of it."
Trump wanted to have his own personal foreign policy carried out in Ukraine by a man who is not the Secretary of State, a man who is not and has not been confirmed by Congress and whose salary is not being paid by American taxpayers.
Well, today, we learned that the man Trump tasked with carrying out his shadow foreign policy in Ukraine, Rudy Giuliani was being paid, and by whom, the same Ukrainian businessman who was just indicted this week.
Giuliani himself tells Reuters he was paid $500,000 for work that he did for a company called Fraud Guarantee, the company co-founded by Lev Parnas who is one of Giuliani`s Soviet-born associates arrested last week on campaign finance charges.
Now, one thing to note, hours before these two guys were arrested at the airport with one-way tickets out of the country, they had lunch with Giuliani at Trump`s emoluments central D.C. hotel. Reuters` bombshell report comes just days after another Reuters scoop that Lev Parnas, the indicted Ukrainian born businessman who paid Giuliani $500,000, worked for Ukrainian oligarch named Dmitry Firtash, a man who was previously indicted on federal bribery charges, a man who us prosecutors called an upper echelon associate of Russian organized crime.
Reuters reports both indicted Giuliani associates, the guys were arrested last week not only worked for the oligarch, but Firtash was also financing their activities. So a Ukrainian oligarch linked to Russian organized crime was financing two businessmen who were, in turn, paying the personal lawyer to the President of the United States, a man who was running a shadow foreign policy designed to manufacture dirt on the President`s political rival.
The New York Times reports that Trump`s former top Russia aide told Congress yesterday that former National Security Adviser John Bolton was so concerned about Giuliani`s pressure campaign in Ukraine, he told her "Giuliani`s a hand grenade who`s going to blow everybody up." And that shadow foreign policy included a smear campaign against the former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch.
Well, today Deputy Assistant Secretary of State George Kent reportedly told House impeachment investigators that he tried to warn colleagues about the smear campaign waged by Giuliani. And after raising the alarm, Kent was told by a supervisor to lay low according to Congressman Gary -- Gerry Connolly.
And The Washington Post is reporting Tonight that Kent told investigators today that acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, organized a meeting this past spring, in which officials decided to take Ukraine policy out of the traditional channels.
Joining me now by phone is Paul Kane, one of the Washington Post reporters who wrote that story. And Paul Kane, give us some of the details out of what it meant to take U.S.-Ukraine policy out of official channels.
PAUL KANE, SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT, WASHINGTON POST: Sure. Thanks, Joy. You know, George Kent is the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State responsible for roughly six countries, one of which is Ukraine.
And at this meeting, at this White House meeting that Mulvaney convened, according to Gerry Connolly, it was -- it was in the testimony today. At this meeting, they basically told him to lay low and that his views on foreign policy as it relates to Ukraine were no longer wanted.
He was essentially told to go deal with the other five countries that you really spend a lot of time on. And instead, it got turned into basically the three amigos as they call themselves Energy Secretary Rick Perry, Volker, and Sondland. The other two being much closer -- closely aligned with the sort of Trump Giuliani view of Ukraine policy.
He, the Deputy Secretary actually took the advice and he went to his daughter`s wedding and then went hiking in Maine. But he believed this was actually a terrible thing. He told the lawmakers and the staff today in the interview that it was undermining 28 years of U.S. policy as it related to Ukraine.
REID: And let me just play for you some sound of Mr. Sondland who I should remind folks was a big donor to Donald Trump`s inaugural. That`s how he got the job that he had. Here he is talking about referring to themselves as the three amigos. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GORDON SONDLAND, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO EUROPEAN UNION: We have what are called the Three Amigos. And the Three Amigos are Secretary Perry, again Ambassador Volker, and myself. And we`ve been tasked with sort of overseeing the Ukraine-U.S. relationship.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
REID: And let me ask you this question, sir. Are any of those three people, these three amigos, Mr. Volker, Mr. Sondland, and Mr. Perry experts in any way on Ukraine or on Russia or on the region?
KANE: I think Volker would be considered an expert on it coming from some traditional Republican channels on that. Sondland is the E.U. ambassador so it`s sort of close to the Ukraine. You know, it is -- it is another effort to just sort of pull things away from the career types of people who have been overseeing foreign policy for many years.
You know, Trump and his associates would say, that`s good, that`s we want to do. We want to get it out of the hands of those people. But most members of Congress, I would see them as the sort of the best experts on this issue. And by sidelining somebody with so much experience, you`re trying to basically make the decision making process a lot easier and smoother to get what you want done.
REID: Paul Kane of The Washington Post, thank you very much for scrambling to get on with us tonight. Thank you very much for your reporting.
KANE: Sure thing. Thank you, Joy.
REID: Thank you. All right, joining me now is one of the Reuters reporters who broke those big stories on who`s funding Rudolph Giuliani, that`s Aram Roston, a Reuters Foreign Policy Correspondent.
And Aram Roston, can you talk to us a little bit about this funding source for Rudy Giuliani. Because it appears that it was passed through this company Fraud Guarantee to Rudy Giuliani. Tell us a little bit about where the money originally came from.
ARAM ROSTON, FOREIGN POLICY CORRESPONDENT, REUTERS: We don`t know where the original -- where the money originally came from. It`s a key question. the mayor -- the former mayor himself, Giuliani, the President`s lawyer, he insists it came from what he calls a domestic source. He says it was legitimate. He says he vetted it. But so far he hasn`t shown what the source was.
And he`s saying -- when he says that, of course, the money would have come from somebody in the United States, but who -- but where did it come from before that? And that`s the question, of course. He`s saying he somehow believes it came from and knows it came from a domestic source. Originally, we don`t know that though.
REID: Right. And so to be clear, was this salary that was being paid to Mr. Giuliani for what he was doing for Donald Trump, or was this money being paid to him for something else?
ROSTON: No, as I understand it, it was more -- the way I understand it, it was more along the lines of a fee, consulting fee, retainer fee, that sort of thing.
REID: And is it in your reporting typical for an outside sort of ad hoc foreign policy official somebody who`s outside of officialdom in Washington being paid whether it`s by domestic or foreign source to conduct foreign policy?
ROSTON: I mean, clearly this isn`t a very routine thing, you know, but it`s a tough question to answer. It`s -- he was paid, he told us in 2018, or this deal with this company called Fraud Guarantee, which was run by Lev Parnas, one of those you -- those Ukrainian Americans. He was paid to work for that company as a consultant and advisor and the total was 500,000.
The issue is he says he`s pointing out that this was an extended period of work. He says it was 12 or 13 months, and he`s saying this would come up to about 40,000 a month rather than one lump sum of 50 -- of $500,000.
REID: And does he admitted any of the work that he was doing, whether paid in a lump sum or paid in installments, was specifically to alter U.S. foreign policy in Ukraine?
ROSTON: No, no, no, there is no indication that he was paid for that and he`s not saying that at all.
REID: All right, Aram Roston, thank you very much. I really appreciate you being here tonight.
ROSTON: Thank you.
REID: Thank you. And joining me now are two legal experts who`ve been following the impeachment investigation from the beginning. Glenn Kirschner, former federal prosecutor with the D.C. U.S. Attorney`s Office and Mimi Roca, former Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Southern District of New York and they`re both MSNBC Legal Analysts.
And Mimi, I`m going to start with you. The reason that I asked that question of Mr. Roston was that when I hear about an ad hoc foreign policy official doing foreign policy and receiving money from foreign countries, immediately what come to mind comes to my mind are Paul Manafort, who was caught in this little black book getting lots and lots of money from Ukraine for work that he did -- he, of course, is now sitting in federal prison, and Mike Flynn, General Mike Flynn who is to be sentenced because he was doing some things for which he was getting paid by foreign governments as well and maybe not admitting to it.
From what you`ve heard about Giuliani was doing, does he faced the same kind of legal jeopardy that Mr. Flynn and Mr. Manafort had faced?
MIMI ROCAH, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST: He certainly faces a possibility, the strong possibility of that kind of jeopardy. I mean, look, this is -- you know, we`ve talked about this before in context of Mueller. Criminal cases which require prosecutors to prove something beyond a reasonable doubt are built on bricks. And each different piece of evidence is a brick.
This $500,000 payment to Giuliani from these Ukrainian Americans is clearly a big piece of evidence. Evidence of what, we don`t know yet.
ROCAH: And he`s right, we shouldn`t speculate. But we`re starting to see some of the dots connecting. We know these men were being paid to influence American foreign policy. They were trying to get the Ukrainian Ambassador out who wanted her out besides just them, who in Ukraine wanted her out. And was Giuliani being paid in part or in whole to help with that? We don`t know yet. But you know who`s going to find out, the Southern District of New York and probably Congress?
REID: Yes, absolutely. And Glenn you want to talk about bricks. You have Sondland himself who Donald Trump hired to be his ambassador to the E.U. after giving $1 million the camp -- to the inaugural, calling himself one of the three amigos. The Three Amigos being himself, Mr. Volker who was the Ambassador to the E.U. and Rick Perry.
Rick Perry, who we`ve seen reports was also trying to encourage the state- run oil company -- oil and gas company in Ukraine to hire some of his pals to put them on the board. So you have a lot of people who have a lot of varied interests who admit that they`re running aside foreign policy, and then you`ve got the money. Are those enough bricks in your mind to start forming a case of some form of conspiracy between these folks who are operating outside the realms of normal foreign policy.
GLENN KIRSCHNER, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST: I`ll tell you, Joy, if I were the prosecutor and I were investigating it, I would -- I would feel pretty good at my prospects of obtaining an indictment from the grand jury based on what we`ve seen publicly reported. But you know, the Perry`s and the Sondland`s, and the Mulvaney`s, and the Giuliani`s, this is not a diplomatic corps.
The diplomatic corps or the George Kent`s and the Ambassador Yovanovitch`s, and the Fiona hills. And you know, when they got wind of what was going on, I really like -- I want to focus on the Bolton piece for one second joy, because I really like that when Fiona Hill a Russia expert, just trying to do the diplomatic work of the American people get wind of these shenanigans, she goes to Bolton. And what is Bolton say? You know what, he characterizes it as a drug deal and he recommends that she reported to the attorneys at the National Security Council.
What does that tell you about Bolton? You know, agree or disagree with his politics, he saw something wrong and he said this needs to be reported. And I couldn`t help to think back on the interview that George Stephanopoulos had with the President when he said, well, if you get wind of foreign interference in the U.S. election, aren`t you going to report that to the FBI. And what did the President say? Yes, right. That`s not the way the world works. I`m not going to the FBI. What a stark contrast in how the president handles wrongdoing and how Bolton decided to handle wrongdoing.
REID: Right. And you know, Mimi, just to correct, Mr. Volker is actually special envoy to the Ukraine -- to Ukraine. There, there seems to be a delineation between who was in and who was out in terms of who got to help make foreign policy for Ukraine. It was those who were Trump partisans who we`re willing to get involved and to play ball in this scheme, and the career people who said I want nothing to do with it.
And while, you know, John Bolton is certainly a guy with a lot of strong opinions about foreign policy, he`s also a lawyer, so he actually kind of understands when he sees something that should be related to other lawyers.
ROCAH: Yes. And clearly this you know, his -- you know, Spidey sense off. Even John Bolton said, wait, something is not right here. And I think one of the keys here is, you know, Trump is already trying to distance himself. You`ll have to ask, you know, Rudy about that the way he did with Michael Cohen. But Trump is the one who we are now -- we heard on the phone call with the Ukrainian president, and we`re hearing through the testimony, the depositions to Congress that he is the one who repeatedly said, ask Rudy, deal with Rudy, go to Rudy.
So he`s going to have a really hard time distancing himself from this. And why do you need to turn to Rudy Giuliani, you`re supposed lawyer who is not really acting as a lawyer, I want everyone to emphasize that.
ROCAH: Why do you need to turn to him to conduct your foreign policy when you have all of these other as you say trained, expert people? Because you`re doing something that the trained expert people won`t do.
REID: Yes. We`re out of time but very quickly, Glenn Kirschner. If Rudy Giuliani is in trouble, he doesn`t have a lot of people to give up other than Donald Trump because he seems to be being placed at the top of this pyramid.
KIRSCHNER: Yes, you got to give up somebody who is higher up on the food chain than you. And right above the food chain for Rudy Giuliani is his client, the president.
REID: Glenn Kirschner and Mimi Rocah, thank you guys, both very much. And joining me now is one of the members of Congress who are investigating the President`s actions toward Ukraine Democratic Congressman Ro Khanna of California. He`s a member of the House Oversight Committee.
And Congressman, with all that you`ve heard today, including testimony from yet another person who`s defying the White House and State Department demand that no one cooperate, people are cooperating, career people are cooperating, have you in your mind heard enough to vote through an impeachment inquiry or articles of impeachment against Donald Trump?
REP. RO KHANNA (D-CA): Yes, Joy, I have. The facts, in this case, are not in dispute. The President has threatened national security and abused his office by directing a rogue foreign policy operation to get dirt on his political rival. And Joy, I give you credit. You sounded the alarm about this President`s abuse and compromising our national security months ago. The evidence now is there.
REID: And we`ve had -- thank you for that compliment. And we`ve had a lot of people now drawn in. We have here former Representative Sessions who apparently received a campaign contribution in connection with all of this, has actually been subpoenaed over his interactions with Giuliani and Giuliani associates. Do you expect him to comply with that subpoena? And what if he doesn`t, what should be done?
KHANNA: Well, we need to pursue the law aggressively. I mean, if they do not comply with these subpoenas, they`re breaking the law and we`re going to aggressively pursue court actions where we have been winning. But let`s be clear, their strategy is just to delay, delay, delay.
But one thing, Joy, I think all of us should focus on is the President`s action. It`s not just Pete Sessions or Giuliani, this is the President that was at the center of this effort to try to get dirt on Joe Biden and he`s bragged about it on national television. So the facts are there, the House needs to move expeditiously.
REID: And the sort of thought going into these proceedings was that the way to do it would be to have public hearings so the public could also could all come to an understanding of what`s happening. Of course, the downside to that is that Republicans could then add their theatrical to the proceedings and make them more confusing.
In the end, do you find that has been more effective to do these behind- closed-door meetings where staff and attorneys are questioning these folks that are now actually coming forward?
KHANNA: I do. First of all, I think more people are willing to cooperate because it`s a behind closed doors. Many of them are true patriots. They are following the law. And this is helping us see the extent of the corruption and the wrongdoing.
We already have the facts about the President`s abuse of office. What now Adam Schiff and other committees are doing is really putting together the pieces of the puzzle. And you see that this was a very extensive effort, it involves a lot of people, and the full facts are going to come out.
REID: And I wonder today, there was this caucus meeting that I presume that you were in as well where the Speaker came out and said that she`s not going to allow and the caucus was not going to let Republicans to dictate how this plays out. But I wonder what you think might be a reason not to go ahead and hold the vote. It seems that there`s a lot of evidence on the table, including evidence being put forward by Donald Trump, weirdly enough. So why not go ahead and hold an impeachment inquiry formal vote?
KHANNA: It would be a delay. I mean, we would have debates and distractions. The President would use it to attack more Adam Schiff and the committees. We will have a vote in the House. That vote will be on the articles of impeachment. We certainly have no obligation to have a lengthy debate and more procrastination on something that Speaker is entitled to do under House rules and the Constitution which is begin an investigation.
REID: Congressman Ro Khanna, thank you very much for your time. I really appreciate it.
KHANNA: Thank you, Joy.
REID: Thank you. And up next, we are getting a better picture of just how many officials were involved in the Ukrainian scandal. And tonight, the Vice President is saying he will not comply with the impeachment inquiry. The latest next.
REID: We continue to follow the breaking news that Vice President Mike Pence is refusing to comply with the White House with the House Impeachment Inquiry`s requests for documents. And while the Trump loyalists are continue to hold the line for the boss, if Trump and his gang were counting on career civil servants to also remain silent and to give in to the president and his cabinets demands and keep Trump`s Ukraine secrets, well, that dam has broken starting with the initial whistleblower and the first civil servant to come forward to Congress, former Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch. Now, every day we get more names of Trump officials added to the scandal.
The whistleblower complaint alone implicated not just the President but also his T.V. lawyer Rudy Giuliani and Attorney General William Barr. It also introduced us to the now-former U.S. Special Representative for Ukraine Kurt Volker and the U.S. Ambassador to the E.U. Gordon Sondland. Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and Energy Secretary Rick Perry were all involved.
And today we learned more about the role of White House Acting Director -- Acting Chief of Staff Mulvaney who was a part of it all. Congressman Gerald Connolly tells reporters that the White House told George Kent to lay low on Ukraine.
Quoting the Washington Post, George Kent, the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State responsible for Ukraine told House investigators that he was instructed to lay low, focus on the five other countries in his portfolio, and to defer to Volker, Sondland, and Perry, who called themselves the Three Amigos on matters related to Ukraine.
This revelation comes one day after Fiona Hill an aide to former National Security Adviser John Bolton testified that Bolton was so alarmed by what he was seeing, he told her quoting the New York Times, to notify the chief lawyer for the National Security Council about a rogue effort by Mr. Sondland, Mr. Giuliani, and Mick Mulvaney, the acting White House Chief of Staff, according to the people familiar with the testimony. "I am not part of whatever drug deal Sondland and Mulvaney are cooking up." Mr. Bolton told his told Miss Hill to tell White House lawyers.
The dam has indeed broken leaving Trump`s partisan appointees and Associates very much exposed. Joining me now to discuss the ever- broadening scandal is New York Times White House Correspondent Annie Karni, also an MSNBC Contributor.
And Annie, there are so many names to keep up with at this point. It is a little bit confusing, I think for everyone. But I think what it boils down to is that there were Trump loyalists who were in when it came to Trump -- when it came to Ukraine policy, and they were career people, plus the national security adviser who were out and who raised lots of alarms. Is that a pretty fair way to lay it out?
ANNIE KARNI, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: That`s what it`s looking like with some crossover figures like Kurt Volker, the special envoy to Ukraine, who got caught in a bit of a pickle because he was -- he understood that he had to work with the outside people like Rudy Giuliani and George Sondland, a political appointee, to get to the -- to get the policy goals that he wanted to achieve in Ukraine. And he ended up being kind of enmeshed in this whole drama. He`s a career civil servant, a career diplomat.
So there are some crossover figures who tried to work with the people outside the system to get the policy goals they wanted, and it burned them in the end too.
REID: Yes. Let`s talk about Mick Mulvaney who`s the Budget Director and also the Acting Chief of Staff. What is his part in all of this?
KARNI: He is a critical figure in two really important moments in the Ukraine timeline. First of all, he`s the one that carried out the order from Trump to freeze hundreds of millions of aid that they needed, which is part of the entire quid pro quo here that we`re talking about whether or not there was one.
Second, what`s been revealed is that he was really at odds with John Bolton, the National Security Adviser, and he was involved in setting up and delaying the meeting that Trump wanted -- that the Ukrainians wanted, that Zelensky wanted with Trump, this face to face meeting that they really wanted.
Mick Mulvaney has played a role in not setting that up and -- because it wasn`t clear that the White House was getting what they wanted in return. So he`s a player in some critical moments in what we`re trying to figure out which is was where are these things linked together, did they need to get political dirt to get this meeting to get the aid. Mick Mulvaney is a player in these moments.
And we see, you know, in Fiona Hill`s testimony, we see that he really clash with John Bolton who took an opposite position that he did on what the policy should be.
REID: And let`s talk about Mike Pence because he figures now in this as well, now that he is joining others and refusing to comply with the impeachment inquiry, is there a lot of reporting or any reporting on what his exact role was?
We know that he had some communicative sort of role when it came to talking with leaders of Ukraine. He`s in a photo that is now circulating everywhere with the two men who were -- who have now been indicted with Donald Trump and with Rudy Giuliani so he was depicted with them. What was his role?
KARNI: This needs -- we need more information about it. He was not on the call -- on the July 25th call. And what came out today is that he -- today was the deadline to get back to house investigators about a kind of unusual request they made at the Vice President`s office to turn over a lot of documents to get more information about exactly this question, what was his role in terms of the Ukraine relationship.
And not surprising at all for the most loyal loyalist in this entire administration, he sent a letter back today that was like mimicking the Pat Cipollone`s hardline going to war against the House investigators saying we`re not turning over anything.
So, I mean, that`s hardly a shock that Mike Pence would be following the White House`s line on not cooperating about needing more information about his role for sure.
REID: Absolutely. Annie Karni, thank you very much. Really appreciate you being here.
And up next as we learn more about John Bolton`s objections to the shadowy Ukrainian dealings, I`ll talk to someone who held his job during the Obama administration about what he might know and what he could say. Former National Security Adviser Susan Rice joins me next.
REID: One of the responsibilities of the national security adviser is to advise the president about the intricacies and risks of foreign policy. Well, that`s how it works in most administrations, anyway. But in the case of the Trump administration, John Bolton`s job as National Security Adviser, at least in Trump`s mind, was the same as just about everyone else in Trump`s circle exposed to the Ukraine scandal: report to Rudolf Giuliani, the president`s personal lawyer, in order to pressure Ukraine to dig up dirt on Democrats.
Bolton, as we mentioned earlier in the show, had serious concerns about the campaign being run by Giuliani. He reportedly said, quote, Giuliani is a hand grenade who is going to blow everybody up. He then, according to his then aide, Fiona Hill, instructed her to notified the chief lawyer for the National Security Council about what Giuliani was doing.
Our next guest would know a thing or two about inner workings national security council, because she used to have Bolton`s job. Susan Rice is the former national security adviser to President Barack Obama, as well as the former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. She has a new memoir out entitled "Tough Love: My Story of the Things Worth Fighting For." And Ambassador Rice, it`s so great to talk with you, thanks so much for being here.
SUSAN RICE, FORMER NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER TO PRESIDENT OBAMA: It`s great to be with you, Joy.
REID: So, let`s first talk about your job that you held that Mr. Bolton also held.
National Security Advisor, we know that when a president makes a call to a foreign leader, there are lots and lots of people on the call. Typically would the national security advisor be one of those people?
RICE: Typically yes. And actually, Joy, there are not lots and lots, there are a handful of national security council staffers. Usually the national security advisor and/or the deputy national security advisor, somebody like Fiona Hill who was responsible for the office that was placing the call and one or two of her staffers and then a couple or three people who were note-taking in the Situation Room.
REID: And who then would have custody on the transcript of such a call? And I ask you that because we now know from the whistle-blower that this particular call to the president of Ukraine, the transcript of it wound up in this super secret classified system where normally highly classified material goes, but this transcript went there. Who would be in charge of putting stuff in that database -- in that server?
RICE: Well, normally a presidential call, even one that is classified up to the top secret level, would be stored in the normal National Security Council system that cleared staffers who have a need to know would have access to. To move it, as is apparently the case in this instance, to a highly classified super secret server, which frankly is used for things that we don`t talk about on television, is very unusual and arguably inappropriate.
The only rational responsible reason for moving a transcript to that system would be if in fact its content were that super classified, which clearly wasn`t the case in this instance, and rarely, if ever, is the case.
So this transcript was moved for some other reason, and it appears to be to hide it from scrutiny.
REID: And we`re being very generous and calling it a transcript. I have your book here. We know that it was a transcript sort of summary that was put out by the White House, because they thought it was exculpatory weirdly enough, and now it`s what`s leading toward his impeachment.
You write in your book about setting up calls between President Obama and Vladimir Putin, these sort of intricacies of kind of the dance that gets done diplomatically to make a call like that happen. From your standpoint as a former national security advisor, what might be the other party have taped that call or might the Russians who we know are in conflict with Ukraine and occupying part of Ukraine, is there a chance that there`s a real transcript of that call, a full transcript that either the Ukrainians have or the Russians have?
RICE: Well, it`s possible certainly that the Ukrainians have it. It`s possible certainly that there`s a more full verbatim transcript on the U.S. side. I would hope that it Russians wouldn`t have it.
REID: Well, I think that`s a good hope for everyone. But I want to just ask you very quickly before I turn, because I want to ask you about Turkey as well. What do you make of Donald Trump`s attitude toward the Kremlin, toward Vladimir Putin? It seems to be very solicitous. He seems to have lots of secret phone calls with him that aren`t detailed even to his national security staff that we find out later sometimes from the Russians. What do you make of his attitude toward Russia?
RICE: Donald Trump`s attitude towards Russia?
REID: Yeah, or his relationship with them.
RICE: Well, it`s bizarre to say the least. I mean, everything he seems to be doing is geared to benefit the Russians, whether it`s denying Ukraine $400 million in badly needed military assistance when the Russian are on their territory and denying the new leader a White House meetings to advance his own personal political interests, that benefits Donald Trump and that benefits Vladimir Putin.
In Syria, we`re seeing this in impulsive, you know, incredibly dangerous decision to pull our forces out, and again that benefits in this case ISIS, Turkey and of course Vladimir Putin.
And we could go through a whole range of policy choices that the president has made from denigrating our allies in NATO to trashing our intelligence community when, you know, standing next to Putin in Helsinki. All of these things make very, very little sense for any normal and patriotic American president.
REID: Do you think that Donald Trump is compromised by Vladimir Putin?
RICE: You know what, Joy, I can`t point to evidence that would validate that argument. I can only say that it is very strange, it doesn`t add up, and I am searching for, as we should all should be as Americans, a plausible explanation for Donald Trump`s deep affinity for Vladimir Putin to the detriment of our national interests.
REID: And you write in your book about the Russian attitude toward Ukraine and why it is so toxic, the fact that they are more concerned, have been concerned, that Ukraine would tilt toward the European Union, would tilt toward NATO and tilt away from them, and that that is sort of the crux of their problem, well, with Ukraine.
Does the fact that Trump, that one of his favors that he wanted from the president of Ukraine was to prove that Russia was essentially innocent, a conspiracy theory that they didn`t do it in 2016. What does that say to you? Does it say to you again that Donald Trump was attempting to compromise U.S. national security and to corrupt another country to benefit Putin?
RICE: Well, what it does say, Joy, is that he was prepared to sacrifice the U.S. national security and our national interests, which is in bolstering Ukraine against Russian aggression in order to extort out of the Ukrainian president assistance to attack his political adversary. False, bogus assistance. That is problematic. It`s not altogether clear why he would want to do that except for personal political gain.
The other thing that he was doing on that phone call where, by the way, he did nothing to advance U.S. policy, was try to illicit, again, false information from the Ukrainians that would suggest that it was Ukraine and the Democrats that interfered in the 2016 election rather than Russia on behalf of Donald Trump.
Again, sanitizes Russia, tars his political adversaries with a complete falsehood that has been repeatedly repudiated by our intelligence community, by bipartisan committees in congress, and by everybody who knows anything about what happened in 2016.
REID: Let`s talk about what`s happening now in Syria. What do you make of the fact that Donald Trump has a phone call with the autocrat from Turkey and suddenly yanks U.S. troops out?
He does have financial interests in Turkey. We know he has a personal interest there. What do you make of that decision? And how would that impact our national security? We know that ISIS was at least in some camps where they seemed to have disappeared.
RICE: Well, the implications for our national security are nothing short, Joy, than from a strategic catastrophe. I mean, it`s just incredible. This is the equivalent of Donald Trump Saigon.
We have American forces scrambling to get out of harms way now in Syria. We have ISIS, with no pressure on it, and tens of thousands of prisoners potentially, and family members, able to escape should they be able to. The Kurds, who fought and sacrificed and died for us and our partners in Syria in the fight against ISIS have been betrayed. They lost 11,000 men and women in combat, and we just threw them under the bus, sending a message to any potential ally around the world that our constancy is something they can`t count on from one day to the next.
And we have given a strategic victory to Assad, the Russians and Iran, who are now moving into that territory which they have been denied, because of our presence and the presence of the Kurds. So this could not be more of a screw up and more detrimental to our national security than it already is.
REID: Do you believe that what Donald Trump did vis a vis the Kurds and Turkey should be grounds -- additional grounds for his impeachment?
RICE: Well, Joy, I`m not a lawyer, and I`m not going to be part of drafting up the impeachment counts assuming they come forward, but I think when a president of the United States makes a rash, impetuous decision without consulting with his national security advisers that runs so directly counter to our direct national security interests, it`s dereliction of duty. And it`s dereliction of duty -- the most important duty that a president has is commander-in-chief. So I certainly think that bears scrutiny. And I certainly think that among the many horrible things that he has done, this is right up at the top.
REID: Very quickly before we let you go, you are U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, what`s it going to take to reset the lost prestige of the United States and our allies feeling like they can count on us after this president has realigned us with multiple autocracies around the world, whether it`s the Saudis or the Russians, or in this case the autocrat in Turkey?
RICE: Well, Joy, it`s going to take brand new leadership that values our allies and values international commitments and institutions. As I write in the book, "Tough Love," you know, my years with the United Nations we forged partnerships, we forged coalitions to deal with the threat of ISIS, to deal with the Ebola epidemic, to deal with Russian aggression, to deal with the Iran nuclear threat, to protect the planet from climate change. And I detail all these efforts in the book, in addition to what`s a very personal story. And we see none of that now. We`re undermining our allies, lifting up our adversaries.
And the repair work that will be necessary from a new president, and hopefully a new congress, is going to be critical. And if we don`t get it right in 2020, I really fear that it will be too late, that our leadership will be squandered, our security compromised irreparably and nobody will trust us, nobody will believe that we`re worth partnering with.
REID: Dire warnings. The new book from Susan Rice is called "Tough Love: My Story of the Things Worth Fighting For." Ambassador Susan Rice, thank you so much for your time this evening, really appreciated the chance to talk to you.
RICE: Thank you, Joy.
REID: Thank you very much.
And just ahead, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announces the House will not hold an official vote on the impeachment inquiry. Why? And what happens next after this.
REID: Congress is back in session today after two weeks of recess. Although House Democrats have been forging ahead over the break, holding closed-door hearings with key witnesses in the impeachment inquiry. The House -- but the White House is refusing to cooperate with Democrats` requests, demanding that they hold an official vote to open an impeachment inquiry first.
Well, tonight, for a meeting with our caucus, Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced that the Democrats will not let Trump and the GOP dictate how they move forward.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. NANCY PELOSI, (D) CALIFORNIA: We`re not here to call bluffs, we`re here to find the truth, to uphold the constitution of the United States. This is not a game for us, this is deadly serious. And we`re on a path that is -- is getting -- taking us to a path to truth and a timetable that respects our constitution.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
REID: And so with an official vote off the table, at least for now, what happens next? We`ll talk about that coming up.
(BEIGN VIDEO CLIP)
PELOSI: I`m not concerned about anything. You know, they can`t -- they can`t -- they have no substance. They can`t defend the president, so they`re going to process. We`re not going there.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
REID: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said today that she doesn`t need to call Republicans` bluff. The GOP has been making process arguments, calling the impeachment process a sham or illegitimate. And that probably sounds great to Trump fans on state TV, but if that`s all they`ve got for the rest of us, they`re already losing.
Jonathan Capehart in The Washington Post quoted what can be called the Michael Barone rule on process arguments, quote, "all process arguments are insincere, including this one."
As Democrats build their case even in the face of Republican obstruction, what becomes of the GOP defense? You know, they sure are having a hard time making the direct argument that what Trump did is a-okay.
Joining me now to talk about that is associate professor of political science at Fordham University, Christina Greer, and Timothy O`Brien, executive editor of Bloomberg opinion and an MSNBC contributor. And Christina, I`m going to come to you on this first, because by the speaker saying she won`t go ahead and take a vote, a lot of people are like why not? You`ve got the votes, about 225 people are on the record saying, yes, impeachment inquiry. But I put it to you that not taking a vote means that she doesn`t have to make her conservative members walk the plank but they still get the same exact effect. They`re having people come forward and listen to their subpoenas. Do they even need to take a vote?
CHRISTINA GREER, FORDHAM UNIVERSITY: I don`t think they need to take a vote on this inquiry, because it -- in the rules, that`s not the case. I mean, that`s the difference between the House and the Senate, the House has a rules committee where they come up with these things. And there is nothing that says the Democrats or the Republicans have to actually come and vote on even having an inquiry.
What`s so brilliant about Nancy Pelosi, and I`m a steadfast supporter of her strategy, is a few things. One, she is the daughter of the former mayor of Baltimore, and so she knows grassroots local politics. Two, don`t forget, she helped usher in the successful passage of the Affordable Care Act under President Obama. And so she would never bring this to any sort of situation where she doesn`t have all of the votes that she needs plus a little more.
And so she doesn`t want to damage some of the sort of weak-leaning Democrats in their respective home districts, especially when they go to the polls in 2020, especially some of the first-term Democrats.
So she is playing the long game as we have seen her do time and time again, even though certain Democrats are a little restless.
GREER: And frustrated with her. I think she is essentially saying be steadfast. I actually know what I`m doing. I`ve done something similar before, and I`ve also held off the dam before.
GREER: When we`re thinking about sort of the Clinton era in the `90s. So I think that she would never put the Democrats in harm`s way.
GREER: And she`s been in D.C. quite a long time, unlike the president and his friends.
REID: Absolutely. And, I mean, she`s not the O.J. prosecutors that are going to try the glove on not knowing if it was going to fit. Like, she isn`t going to do that, because the bottom line is she`s now getting compliance. The people who are career officials are, like, ignoring the State Department. They are complying with subpoenas. And she is building up a record now where without the theatrics of Devin Nuneses of the world they`re just getting the information.
TIMOTHY O`BRIEN, EXECUTIVE EDITOR, BLOOMBERG OPINION: Well, I think the conversation, or the process, that matters to me right now that I`d be very curious about, are what kind of conversations is she having with Mitch McConnell? And is Mitch McConnell talking to her about whether or not she would tolerate Mike Pence? And if she would tolerate Mike Pence, will they come to a point where they agree that there is some way they both can be comfortable with Mitch McConnell maneuvering in the Senate to remove Donald Trump?
And I think when Trump made this disastrous move in -- in Syria, it set him up as a national security disaster to even his most stalwart supporters in the Republican Party. Can she take an argument like that to Mitch McConnell and say it`s only going to get worse. And by the way, we`ve been doing all these interviews and there`s more damning information coming out and more damning information coming out, how can we orchestrate this?
REID: But in order to do that -- I`m going to stay with you for just a moment, because in order to cut such a deal, you know that the minute he is from the presidency, he`s also free to be prosecuted, not just federally, but also in the state of New York. So, a free Donald Trump is a Donald Trump who is in a lot of jeopardy legally. And it`s hard for me to imagine the attorney general of New York making any sort of a deal for Donald Trump?
So, how does that deal go down? Is -- are we looking at a Gerald Ford situation, where if it were to get that far there would have to be some sort of a promise of at least a federal pardon.
O`BRIEN: I think that would have to between Pence and Trump. I don`t know that anybody in that party really likes Donald Trump and would care whether or not he got prosecuted once he was out of Washington.
I think what they`re trying to weigh right now is the political calculus of standing by him as the news gets worse. And what more they could get out of him in a second term from a policy standpoint.
REID: Judges. I mean, Mitch McConnell is still taking judges.
O`BRIEN: But they`ll get that with Pence.
REID: They`ll get that either way.
O`BRIEN: They`ll get that with Pence.
GREER: We`re also making the assumption that Pence will not go down with this Titanic with the president.
REID: He`s in that photo, too -- all the photos.
GREER: He`s on the phone calls as well. So, I mean, we can make a deal with McConnell about Pence.
O`BRIEN: And that`s -- and I think that`s where Pelosi starts to cash in chips. Will they lay off Pence in order to get a transition in place?
REID: Well -- let`s talk about Republicans really quickly before we run out of time. They`re in an awkward position. You know, we`ve had Cory Gardner`s agony as he`s trying to maneuver out of saying it`s wrong to take money -- or to take help from a foreign government. They can`t answer the question. They can`t.
GREER: It`s something that they have said and they`ve been ringing the alarm for years and years, there is no way that we can ever have foreign entities, the constitution says it, the framers talked about it all the time, and up until Donald Trump became president they were against it, and now they`re not.
REID: What happens to Donald Trump in this impeachment inquiry? Because there used to be this theory that he wants to be impeached. It`s going to be his finest hour. It doesn`t look like it.
O`BRIEN: It`s early stages and there`s money is involved. You know, Susan Rice was very smart earlier when she mentioned we still are trying to explain why he`s always beholden to Putin. In most of these questions, in most of these cases, it comes down to money.
REID: And it comes down to money. And then will people find out about the money?
O`BRIEN: Well, look at Ukraine. Part of the Ukraine probe, these guys were all maneuvering to get control of the biggest natural gas company in Ukraine.
GREER: Money is always the answer.
REID: It`s always the answer. And it`s getting hard to get people to stay is in line. They`re doing what they want to do now, telling the truth. Christina Greer, Tim O`Brien, thank you for joining me.
That is ALL IN for this evening. "THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW" starts right now with Ari Melber in for Rachel.
Good evening, Ari.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END