CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: John Brennan join me to talk about the latest on the impeachment inquiry. And that`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us. I`m back. It`s great to be back. "ALL IN with Chris Hayes starts right now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: Tonight on ALL IN.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There was no, with pro quo.
There is no pro quo.
There was no quid pro quo.
HAYES: Explosive testimony from the top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine completely undercutting the primary defense of team Trump.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There was no quid pro quo.
REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): There was no quid pro quo.
REP. JIM JORDAN (R-OH): No quid pro quo.
HAYES: There was a quid pro quo. And tonight we have new detail about exactly how much the President was squeezing Ukraine in return for an investigation into his political rival.
REP. ANDY LEVIN (D-MI): It`s not even noon, right? And this is my most disturbing day in Congress so far.
HAYES: What we learned today and what it means for the case against Donald Trump.
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): If you could show me that, you know, Trump actually was engaging quid pro quo outside the phone call, that would be very disturbing.
HAYES: Then the infuriating quota to the most ridiculous story of 2016.
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (D-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The American people are sick and tired of hearing about your damn e-mails. And the anxiety of some Democratic donors as 2020 campaigning hits full swing when ALL IN starts right now.
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HAYES: Good evening from Los Angeles, I`m Chris Hayes. There was absolutely explosive testimony on Capitol Hill today, the most damning testimony so far against the President of the United States in the House impeachment investigation.
Bill Taylor, the U.S. Chief of Mission to Ukraine currently, wrote the famous smoking gun text "I think it`s crazy to withhold security assistance for help with a political campaign." That man showed up before Congress today with a 15-page opening statement that Democrat says was backed up by lengthy notes and documentation.
I should note, Bill Taylor went in to testify at 9:30 this morning and got out less than an hour ago. He testified under oath for nearly ten hours. And thanks to his testimony, there is no longer any question whatsoever that President Trump`s Ukraine policy was a corrupt abuse of power that did center around a quid pro quo.
Before I get into all that, a quick introduction to Bill Taylor. As he says in his opening statement, he was a West Point cadet before becoming an infantry officer with the 101st Airborne Division in Vietnam. Then, a career State Department official who served under both Democratic and Republican administrations in important locations through the decades including Afghanistan, Iraq, Jerusalem, and Ukraine.
In his opening statement, Taylor explains it did not take long to figure out that things were not right in Ukraine when he arrived in June to his new job. "Once I arrived in Kiev, I discovered a weird combination of encouraging, confusing, and ultimately alarming circumstances. There was an irregular informal channel of U.S. policymaking with respect to Ukraine. One which included then special envoy Kurt Volker, U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland, Secretary of Energy Rick Perry, and as I subsequently learned Mr. Giuliani."
Taylor then describes meeting a month later when a staffer from the Office of Management and Budget made him realize that this irregular channel of U.S. policymaking as he put it was up to no good. This is the staffer from OMB -- "she was from the OMB and her boss had instructed her not to approve any additional spending of security assistance for Ukraine until further notice."
"All the OMB staff person said was that the directive had come from the President, to the chief of staff, to OMB. In an instant, I realized that one of the key pillars of our strong support for Ukraine was threatened. The irregular policy Channel was running contrary to the goals of long- standing U.S. policy."
Again, the threat to U.S. support for Ukraine was coming from a shadow foreign policy that was being directed personally by the President of the United States and implemented by his acting chief of staff who also happens to be the head of OMB.
Now, it is worth stopping to remember that we first learned about Bill Taylor`s role in this entire affair from his text messages previously shared with Congress. And in one of those messages, he bluntly asks the Trump appointee, an inaugural donor U.S. Ambassador to the E.U. Gordon Sondland "Are we now saying that security assistance -- that`s the money that was appropriated by Congress -- and a White House meeting are conditioned on investigations?" In other words, is there a quid pro quo at the heart of this?
And Sondland infamously responds, call me, or rather let`s not make a written record of this conversation. But now, thanks to Bill Taylor`s testimony, we know what they talked about on that phone call. And what they talked about undermines the core of Trump`s argument that there was no quid pro quo.
Taylor says this. "During that phone call, this is after the call me instruction, Ambassador Sondland told me that President Trump had told him he wants Presidents Zelensky to state publicly that Ukraine will investigate Burisma, the company Hunter Biden was involved with, and alleged Ukrainian interference in the 2016 U.S. election."
"Ambassador Sondland also told me, he now recognized he had made a mistake by earlier telling the Ukrainian officials, to whom he spoke, that a White House meeting with President Zelensky was dependent on a public announcement of investigations."
"In fact, ambassador Sondland said everything was dependent on such an announcement including security assistance. He said that President Trump wanted President Zelensky in a public box by making a public statement about ordering such investigation."
Sondland said that everything including the U.S. security assistance to Ukraine was dependent on Ukraine`s president publicly announcing investigations into Trump`s political rival and a debunked conspiracy theory to clear Russia meddling in the 2016 election and perhaps nonsensically implicate the DNC in hacking itself.
That is a quid pro quo. Trump demanded a public announcement of an investigation, the quo. In return for a meeting and military assistance, the quid. Now, if that was the only instance of it happening, it would be very, very bad, indeed impeachable, but it was not the only instance.
Taylor describes talking to a National Security Council aide a week later who described a conversation with Trump appointee, again Gordon Sondland, "According to Mr. Morrison, President Trump told Ambassador Sondland he was not asking for a quid pro quo but President Trump did insist that President Zelensky go to a microphone and say he is opening investigations on Biden in 2016 election interference, and that President Zelensky should want to do this himself.
Trump was insisting the Ukrainian president publicly announced investigation into his political rival, an act which again isn`t of itself an impeachable offense. Taylor says that Sondland spoke to Trump and cleared things up saying, "President Trump said it was not a quid pro quo." They keep saying it like it`s a magical invocation.
"Ambassador Sondland said that he had talked to President Zelensky and his assistant Mr. Yermak and told them that although this was not a quid pro quo, if President Zelensky did not clear things up in public, we would be at a stalemate. I understood stalemate to mean that Ukraine would not receive the much-needed military assistance."
So again, it was not a quid pro quo, but if President Zelensky didn`t do exactly what President Trump wanted him to do, manufacture dirt in his opponent, announce it on American television, then Ukraine would not get the military aid passed by Congress and signed a law that it so desperately needed to defend itself from a Russian army occupying part of the country.
Actually, there is another way to describe that kind of arrangement. It`s extortion. Nice country. It would be a shame if something happened to it. Joining me now are two Congresspeople who attended Bill Taylor`s deposition today Democratic Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida, Democratic Congressman Jamie Raskin of Maryland. Both members of the House Oversight Committee.
Congresswoman, I`ll begin with you. And I understand the normal rules of engagement here that you will not talk about testimony, but the public statement is now public as a matter of record. Your reaction generally to what you heard today from Mr. Taylor.
REP. DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ (D-FL): Ambassador Taylor`s testimony was absolutely damning. It was the most significant testimony we`ve heard the date. In my opinion, it was like watching someone used one of those connect-the-dots workbooks and go from point A, to point B, to Point C, essentially really filling in so many of the blanks. Many of those blanks being completely you know, forgotten by Ambassador Sondland in his testimony last week, a very noncredible set of testimony.
A very noncredible deposition in which it was extremely hard to believe that he had as many lapses in memory over events that were significant in the last few months, when Ambassador Taylor had really in excruciating detail, the ability to lay out exactly the parallel and shadow foreign policy that clearly was taking place and that the President was appeared to be advocating to -- for a foreign government, to pressure the foreign government to open an investigation for his political benefit jeopardizing our national security interests.
HAYES: Congressman Raskin, I know -- is your position that the call notes which show the President saying famously after a question about military assistance, "I would like you to do us a favor though," that in and of itself is an impeachable offense. It`s an abuse of power. It`s corrupt and all those things. You don`t need a quid pro quo.
That said, based on the testimony that`s been offered particularly what Bill Taylor said today, do you think there`s sufficient evidence now that demonstrates there was a quid pro quo?
REP. JAMIE RASKIN (D-MD): Well, the cumulative effect of all the evidence we`ve seen is overwhelming and decisive, and we haven`t seen anything that contradicts any of it. One of my Republican colleagues today said to me, well, there was no quid pro quo because they never actually got the information on the Biden`s they were looking for.
But you know the evidence is just preclusive it seems like that there was this extraordinary effort for a shakedown of a foreign government for corroboration for a discredited conspiracy theory about the 2016 race and also for the dirt that they wanted on the Biden`s.
And if you think about what`s happened, if the President takes an appropriation from Congress that we send to a besieged ally resisting Russian aggression, and then he appends all of these restrictions to it, that is thwarting the will of Congress. He`s trying to usurp the legislative power, and that is an absolute violation of the separation of powers.
HAYES: Congresswoman, this stuck out to me and it`s one of the themes I`ve noted here is despite the fact that at times the President and his allies seemed to want to make the argument it`s perfectly fine to do this, the behavior of the people involved seemed to indicate they recognized something foul was afoot, that they were up to no good themselves.
And I want to read this from the opening statement from Taylor. "I sense something odd when Ambassador Sondland told me on June 28th he did not wish to include most of the regular interagency participants in a call plan with President Zelensky later that day. Sondland said he wanted to make sure no one was transcribing or monitoring as they added President Zelensky to the call." How significant do you think that is, Congresswoman?
SCHULTZ: Well, I think one has only to look at the text messages that were released where Ambassador Sondland, you know, indicates to Ambassador Taylor that he should call him like you said earlier, so that they would avoid a written record of their conversation.
There clearly was an effort to keep part of this process under the radar outside of the normal foreign policy process in order to really keep people from knowing that President Trump was trying to A, withhold foreign aid that Congress had previously approved, and that the Pentagon, by the way, had certified should be released. And B, that he was tying a meeting with Zelensky to his insistence that Zelensky open investigation both on Burisma and Biden as well as this wacky conspiracy theory about the 2016 election.
And what we need to know is how Republicans feel. Are Republican actually OK with the President pressuring a foreign government to -- you know, for his own political and personal gain to investigate his rivals, withholding foreign aid that, by the way, as an appropriator, Chris Hayes, I can tell you that we required the Pentagon to certify that corruption was reduced in the appropriations act before that funding could be released. And the Pentagon sent a letter to the Congress saying they should.
SCHULTZ: And it was not released. On the contrary, it was withheld for the President`s personal and political gain.
HAYES: Congressman, one thing that`s striking to me as well, and I wonder if this is what you make of it, the notion that the deliverable as the pressure escalates isn`t just the investigation itself, but a public announcement of the investigation. Perhaps even in an interview with an American news network. What do you make of that?
RASKIN: Well, that, of course, is what the President was looking for. He wanted to be able to go on T.V. and say President Zelensky announced that they`re investigating the Biden`s they found sufficient predicate to investigate corruption and so on. I think that`s one of the reasons that so many of these great State Department officials were scandalized by what was taking place.
Look, a quid pro quo in the sense of well, if this president gets a meeting in the White House, then the president would like to come to Ukraine to have a meeting. That kind of relationship is perfectly legit.
But here what happened was they said if you get the meeting in the White House and if you get the military assistance Congress voted for you, you give us all of the political information that we want and you give us the statements that we want to be able to circulate around the world about the corruption of the Biden`s. That`s a completely different thing.
The quid-pro-quo there is will give you something legitimate that`s been voted for by Congress in return for a bunch of political dirt that`s got nothing to do with the office of the presidency and nothing to do with the government. It`s all benefiting you personally.
And that`s been the cardinal sin of this administration from the beginning. The corruption of public office for private purposes whether it`s money- making or whether it`s turning the presidency into an instrument of re- election.
HAYES: Congresswoman, final question for you. There will be -- obviously, it will be the case and the White House`s statement is out today. There were people that attack Bill Taylor`s credibility, attack his character. What is your assessment of his credibility and character?
SCHULTZ: This is the most credible witness that I have heard in a long time, his impeccable credentials, his being an expert on Ukraine, his service in Vietnam, his service in the military before that. This is an individual who was unimpeachably to use the term in a different way.
At the end of the day, making sure that we get to the bottom through this impeachment inquiry of President Trump`s intentions is why we`re conducting these investigations. And so you have to compare the information you get from different witnesses.
And I will tell you that compared to Ambassador Sondland, Ambassador Taylor was extremely credible, was excruciatingly detailed about his recollections. And because of his expertise and his ironclad integrity, his testimony will be -- will be held up as a significant component of the pathway to how what we decide when it comes to articles of impeachment as it should be.
HAYES: Congressman Raskin, quickly, how close are you to moving to the next phase of this process?
RASKIN: Well, the fact investigation continues. It`s sort of like a car accident where you get all of the material witnesses to come in and to state exactly what they saw and what they understood. So you know, we still have an open mind about everything that took place. But it`s true that a lot of the facts are being filled in and we`re getting a very credible testimony from some very credible witnesses.
Ambassador Bill Taylor has been serving United States essentially since he was a cadet at West Point. He fought in the Vietnam War. He was the Vice Director of the U.S. Institute of Peace. He`s had an extraordinary career in public life. We can`t say specifically what he said today, but I think his testimony along with that of many other people is painting a much more detailed portrait of what took place.
HAYES: All right, Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Congressman Jamie Raskin, thank you both.
SCHULTZ: You`re welcome.
HAYES: Joining me now are two reporters who have been covering Taylor`s testimony all day, Anne Gearan White House Correspondent for The Washington Post. She was the first to get her hands on Taylor`s explosive opening statement today. And Kyle Cheney Congress Reporter for Politico, he`s been speaking to members of Congress throughout the day as the -- at the exit -- as they exit the deposition.
Anne, you got the sense that even though much of this was sort of known, or hinted at, or implied, there was a palpable "oh my word" reaction on Capitol Hill.
ANNE GEARAN, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, THE WASHINGTON POST: Yes, for sure, Chris. Some lawmakers today described gasps in the room and just, you know, people glancing one to another as Bill Taylor`s testimony unfolded. And one of the things that the lawmakers seemed most struck by is really clear in the -- in the opening statement that my colleagues and I obtained today which is it`s a roadmap.
He kept detailed meticulous notes by date of when he had conversations, what they were about, who said what, and what the -- what the next step was. And he lays it out in almost cinematic fashion in this opening statement. And then this happened, and then that happened, and then all of a sudden I became completely aware that this aide was being conditioned on not only a meeting but on the investigation of the Biden`s.
He`s very specific. And he contradicts not only the president`s denials of any quid pro quo, but he also very specifically contradicts the testimony last week of Gordon Sondland.
HAYES: Kyle, what have you been hearing?
KYLE CHENEY, CONGRESS REPORTER, POLITICO: Well, two things really struck me was that the people that were coming out of the room and speaking in almost hyperbolic tones about what they heard in there were not the people that were typically on the front lines of this investigation. These are members of the committees who have a role but haven`t necessarily been the people that are sort of the spokespeople for what`s going on.
So you saw in their -- in their eyes essentially of what -- that they had really felt like this is a turning point in this investigation that could accelerate the pace of impeachment. But the second piece is that what you did here which was Republicans did not really come out and offer a full- throated defense or refutation of what Taylor said as we heard from other witnesses and other moments in this investigation.
HAYES: That`s a really interesting point. There`s a moment, Anne, to your point about this sort of scrupulous collection of detail here, and we know this is someone who was trying to kind of paper this as one says you know when he was writing in text, that in his testimony, he says that John Bolton is one of the people who basically at certain point when you`re raising concerns, tells him to put into writing and send a personal cable to the Secretary of State.
GEARAN: Yes. And Taylor also says that, you know, Bolton couldn`t get on the right people`s schedules to complain about what was going on along with officials from other department agencies. He definitely was -- he, Taylor, was trying to paper this as you say, after he became very alarmed about what Rudy Giuliani and Gordon Sondland were doing. That`s what he says in his statement.
But his note-taking and his very careful kind of description of what led up to that is also going to be something that House Democrats can use as they go forward. Because he describes how when he took the job under some duress, he said, he wanted to take it but he was concerned about what had happened to the previous ambassador. He was concerned about what he saw as political machinations around her. And he told Mike Pompeo that he -- that he had some reservations.
But nonetheless he went to Ukraine in June, and that at first what he wanted to do in Ukraine with sort of regular foreign policy seemed to be aligned with what the others we`ve heard so much about Gordon Sondland, Rick Perry, and Kurt Volker were up to, and then how those things started to diverge.
GEARAN: So before he papers it, he lays out exactly what they were doing and where his concerns began to be raised in July.
HAYES: One of the things that`s most striking here, Kyle, is like other State Department employees, he was ordered to not testify by the State Department. He was then subpoenaed. He did it. He is also the current Chief of Mission appointed by the Trump administration to run the embassy in Kiev at this moment even as the White House puts out a statement calling him a radical bureaucrat.
CHENEY: That`s one of the most remarkable things here is these are -- some of these witnesses are actively serving in the -- in the roles if they`re testifying about over the objections of the Secretary of State. And actually the existence of this cable that we`ve talked about is it points to the fact that the State Department itself has actually blocked a lot of documents and primary source evidence from the committee, from the impeachment investigators that these witnesses actually want -- Gordon Sondland himself wants some of his notes and documents to get to Congress and he can`t get them there. So it shows you the sort of split that`s happening in real-time within the State Department.
HAYES: That`s a great point. Anne Gearan and Kyle Chaney, thank you both very much. Next, a requiem for a talking point, the prime defense of Trump-supporting Republicans "no quid pro quo" has just been decimated. The massive political ramifications in two minutes.
HAYES: You know, maybe Donald Trump and his fellow Republicans should have followed Mick Mulvaney lead. Five days ago, Trump`s acting chief of staff admitted in front of everyone a quid pro quo, saying the White House had withheld military aid to Ukraine in an effort to get Ukraine to investigate debunked conspiracy theories about the DNC in the 2016 election.
He even added infamously the quote, get over it. The White House and Trump`s Republican allies quickly disavow those comments and Mulvaney has spent the past five days desperately, humiliatingly trying to walk them back and tell us we didn`t hear what we saw him say because the line has always been no quid pro quo.
Trump even had literally those words scrawled on his notes at a cabinet meeting yesterday so he didn`t forget to repeat them. You can see it there in sharpie, no quid pro quo. With impeachment looming, this is the final place they have all retreated to. The place they`ve been holed up inside but the tanks out front, the no quid pro quo fortress.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get us up to date on what`s going on.
REP. MATT GAETZ (R-FL): No quid pro quo.
MCCARTHY: No one believes there`s any quick pro quo.
SEN. MARK MEADOWS (R-NC): And what we do know is there was definitely no quid pro quo.
HOGAN GIDLEY, WHITE HOUSE PRINCIPAL DEPUTY PRESS SECRETARY: There was no quid pro quo here whatsoever.
REP. LEE ZELDIN (R-NY): There was absolutely no quid pro quo.
REP. STEVE SCALISE (R-LA): There was absolutely no quid pro quo. The transcript backs it up.
MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT, UNITED STATES: The transcript of the President`s phone call with President Zelensky where there was no quid pro quo, there was no pressure.
LARRY KUDLOW, DIRECTOR, UNITED STATES NATIONAL ECONOMIC COUNCIL: There was no quid pro quo. There was no issue about finally getting the military assistance.
JORDAN: No quid pro quo as Mr. Mulvaney said. No linkage whatsoever between any type of security assistance dollars for Ukraine and any type of investigation.
SEN. KEVIN KRAMER (R-ND): There was no quid pro quo in the -- in the phone conversation. So no doubt that the haters are going to hate.
STEVEN MNUCHIN, SECRETARY OF TREASURY, UNITED STATES: People who are trying to imply that the President is asking for things or quid pro quo is I think this is ridiculous.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you open-minded if more comes out that you could support impeachment?
GRAHAM: Sure. I mean -- I mean, show me something that is a crime. If you could show me that, you know, Trump actually was engaging a quid pro quo outside the phone call, that would be very disturbing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Oh really. Well, then Senator Lindsey Graham must be very disturbed because today Bill Taylor, the Chief of Mission of the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine testified before Congress that there was an explicit quid pro quo, that he was told by the U.S. Ambassador of the European Union Gordon Sondland that "everything was dependent on announcing an investigation into the Biden`s in the 2016 election including security assistance which was the U.S. military aid that Trump had personally withheld from the Ukrainians."
I`m joined now by Natasha Bertrand National Security Correspondent for Politico and MSNBC Contributor, also with me Matthew Miller former Chief Spokesperson for the Department of Justice and an MSNBC Justice and Security Analyst.
And Natasha, one wonders if they`re regretting now so clearly leaning on the no quid pro quo talking point even when the call notes themselves showed there was a fairly obvious one after today`s testimony of Bill Taylor.
NATASHA BERTRAND, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Yes. It seems like they should have gone with what Mulvaney said which is OK, there was a quid pro quo, get over it, it happens all the time in U.S. foreign policy. But instead, they were relying on what the President was putting out there which was the only thing that was discussed within this realm was what the transcript showed which was I didn`t explicitly say you`re not going to get military assistance unless you investigate the Biden`s.
Well, I guess the Republicans weren`t banking on the State Department employees and the career officials actually defying the State Department and testifying to Congress and telling them everything that they knew and found out over the last, you know, six to eight months about what Giuliani was doing.
And this is also different and more explosive because for the first time Bill Taylor has testified to the President`s direct involvement in this.
BERTRAND: With a Russia investigation, it was very much people around the President who were interacting with the Russians who were trying to get Russian help on this campaign. And the President was always kind of one step removed from it, you know, disregarding his public statements.
But in this instance, Trump was actually directing it. Trump was saying explicitly according to Bill Taylor that unless Zelensky makes this public commitment to investigate Burisma and the Biden`s, then then the Ukrainians are not going to get a White House summit, and they`re not going to get aid.
HAYES: Matt, to Natasha`s point, the public pronouncement here is so telling to me because it also vitiates another talking point that like there was any -- which was always preposterous, there was like a genuine concern with corruption, but it`s public but they`re actually seeking. I don`t -- I don`t even know if they care about the investigations.
MATT MILLER, MSNBC JUSTICE AND SECURITY ANALYST: No, I don`t think they care about the investigations at all. They cared about the fact that Joe Biden was under investigation not that -- not that that the investigation would ever produce anything. It`s a little bit similar I think to the Bill Barr investigation into the origins of the 2016 thing. It doesn`t really matter what that produces. It just matters that they have a talking point that the President can use.
I think the Republicans are in a little bit of a bind now. Look, they can attack Bill Taylor but there are a couple of problems with that. Number one, it appears that he detailed all this meticulously. The direct quotes in his statement today appear to be from notes he kept at the time.
Number two, I suspect we`re going to see him in a public hearing, and it`s hard to see -- it`s hard to imagine this based on the kind of gravity of the case he presented that he`s not going to hold up well and be very convincing.
And number three, they are making mistake if they think he is the only witness that`s going to coming forward, that`s a mistake they made from the beginning is somehow just taking the president`s word for it when it was I think fairly obvious all along that the president probably did everything that he was accused of doing. Now they`re really stuck.
I mean, I would think if they were smart, they would stop trying to defend the president`s behavior, and they have to decide -- look, I am going to cut the president loose on the propriety of his behavior, but if I`m going to defend him I`m going to say it`s not impeachable, because trying to defend all of this just seems to me too much of a heavy lift to the American public.
HAYES: Well, and it`s also the -- Matt brings up a great point, Natasha, which is that this is the first round of fact gathering that`s happening behind closed doors, we`re getting testimony from the depositions, there will be public hearings that will be carried live on every network in which the person saying this will be saying it in front of America, and they`re going to have to figure out what their story is before that happens.
BERTRAND: Right, and they`ll be saying it under oath. And the Democrats have already been moving very quickly on this investigation. There have already been almost a dozen interviews in the last month. They`re going to interview more people over the next two weeks. People at this point, State Department and career officials seem much more comfortable at this point testifying against the president and revealing things that had happened at the State Department over the last two plus years because I think they see this president in a weakened position, because so much has come out with proof about what he asked Zelensky to do.
And with regard to other witnesses that Bill Taylor already has undercut with his testimony today, that`s a whole other question, and that`s another layer of information that congress has gotten. Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the EU, he might be facing perjury charges. There was a Democrat on one of the committees who said that they may recommend that just because he misled the committee about the extent to which he knew what was going on behind the scenes.
HAYES: Quickly, Matt. Bill Barr again implicated here and mentioned, it seems crazy he hasn`t recused himself in any fashion.
MILLER: There`s something going on at the Justice Department. I don`t think we know the full story of their involvement there. They put out another statement today. It was the fourth time they`ve tried to distance themselves from the president`s actions with respect to Ukraine or to Rudy Giuliani`s behavior.
I suspect that we don`t yet know the full story why they quashed the criminal investigation and that that explains their nervousness and their jumpiness for the last few weeks.
HAYES: Great point. Natasha Bertrand and Matthew Miller, thank you both for being with me.
Republicans are quick to say that impeaching Trump will tear the country apart, so then why aren`t any of them advising him to resign. Michelle Goldberg and Ned Price join me next.
HAYES: The day before President Richard Nixon resigned in August 1974, three top Republican leaders in congress showed up at the White House. And Senator Barry Goldwater of the Republican Party elder in the House and Senate minority leaders. And that day, they made the case personally to Richard Nixon that he had lost support in congress, that he was going to be impeached and likely convicted and then removed from office. And all that was left for Nixon to do, they told him, was resign.
The next day, August 8, 1974, Richard Nixon announced his resignation in a prime-time address from the Oval Office.
Today, after revelations from Bill Taylor`s testimony began leaking out, followed shortly by the entirety of his 15 page opening statement, New York Times op-ed columnist Michelle Goldberg tweeted, quote, Republicans were worried about impeachment tearing the country apart should be going to Trump privately and telling him to resign.
Michelle Goldberg joins me now, along with Ned Price, a former spokesperson for the National Security Council, a special assistant to President Obama. They are both MSNBC contributors.
Michelle, why did you say that?
MICHELLE GOLDBERG, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Well, because we`ve been hearing from them for, you know, since this process began, that the reason that Democrats shouldn`t do this is because it was so divisive, it was so inflammatory. And, you know, if you showed before, we`ve now sort of crossed the Rubicon, or crossed what they all said was the red line. And I don`t doubt that they are now going to pivot either to process questions or to an argument that, you know, this was find, get over it, or maybe that this wasn`t impeachable.
But there is no -- but, you know, their whole case, the case that they`ve made so far, has fallen apart. And so if they are serious, if they ever were serious, about ever sort of preserving some shred of national unity, that is what they would do. And I mean, to be clear I kind of don`t think they were that serious.
And it`s obvious that Trump lacks the dignity and patriotism of a Richard Nixon, but it is what they should be doing, because otherwise what we`re facing, I think, is just a total -- an admission of a total breakdown in the rule of law, right, if he`s not going to be convicted in the Senate, if these crimes that have been revealed, including Gordan Sondland`s perjury are going to be referred to a Justice Department headed by Bill Barr who kind of corruptly refuses to recuse and is quashing all of these investigations, you know, the admission is just that we are kind of passed any sort of democracy and in a situation of pure authoritarianism.
HAYES: You know, Ned, it strikes me to Michelle`s point about not kind of getting out ahead in the expectation that people will act corruptly, that we`ve already seen this play out a little bit in the way that these folks have come forward to testify -- not that they would be corrupt, because they didn`t -- but the fact that they have gone and testified even though their employer, the United States government, told them not to, that unexpected things can happen that you don`t have to just expect that everyone will behave in the worst possible fashion.
NED PRICE, NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL FORMER SPOKESPERSON: Well, I think that`s right.
You know, I had to laugh, Chris, because Secretary of State Pompeo has bragged ever since he went to Foggy Bottom to take on his current role that the State Department finally had its swagger back. And, you know, Secretary Pompeo has had a strange way of trying to give the State Department its swagger back by failing to stand up for career professionals, by consistently siding with the politicals, by siding with those who are outside the administration to the detriment of his own people.
But I think we can finally say the State Department has its swagger back. You know, you take a look at Ambassador Yovanovitch, when she was walking into congress earlier this month, and that stare in her eyes and the determination, you could tell that these are people who have a story to tell and no amount of attempted stonewalling on the part of this administration of a legal impeachment process can get in the way of that.
HAYES: You know, Michelle, there`s also the question here about the scope of the inquiry. I mean the story that`s told here is of an irregular foreign policy and a regular foreign policy in the which irregular foreign policy is being pursued to corrupt ends that personally benefit the president.
What we know from reporting there`s irregular foreign policy with Saudi Arabia that`s headed up by Jared Kushner. And it seems there are other irregular foreign policies out there that might be worth having at least an audit into given what we`ve discovered here.
GOLDBERG: I think Democrats are going to have to make a decision whether they actually want to kind of go for removal. And if you really wanted to go for removal, I think you would sort of make the succinct case rather than let it get bogged down and confused the way the Mueller investigation did, because the more confusing it gets the more I think Republicans can explain away the indefensible.
But, if you want a full public hearing and airing of the epic corruption of this administration, of the total perversion of American foreign policy of, you know, kind of a level of self-dealing that we`ve never seen before in American history, then you basically make it broad and have hearings almost up until the next election.
HAYES: What do you think, Ned?
PRICE: Yeah, I think that`s right. Look, I think the problem with the Mueller report was that it was 458 pages long and it covered a matter of years.
Look, the beauty, the brutal corrupt beauty of the Ukraine saga is that it is a small window that started on July 25. We are in mid-October now and the amount of corruption, the amount of betrayal, the amount of lawlessness and potential criminality that we have uncovered in this short amount of time is just staggering.
And so, look, I think Republicans, their posture reminds me of that old saying, when you owe a bank a hundred dollars, that`s your problem, when you owe the bank $100 million, that`s the bank`s problem. The Republicans have invested a lot in this president.
And I think they made a bargain with themselves, when they stood pie him after Charlottesville that was the $100 million investment. They cannot step back at this point without making -- without underscoring the hollowness of the past three years. And I think that`s something that would stick with them for quite a few more years.
HAYES: Michelle Goldberg and Ned Price, thank you both.
Ahead, believe it or not, some Democratic donors are complaining that out of the nearly 20 Democratic presidential contenders still in the race, they can`t find the one they want. Stay with us.
HAYES: Thanks to President Trump, we have a story like this today. The strong man from Russia and strong man from Turkey meeting today in Sochi, Russia, for around six hours. And between them, decided how to carve up Syria.
Russian and Turkish troops will take joint control over a vast swath of formerly Kurdish-held territory in Northern Syria, and Kurdish forces have six days to retreat.
We got here because Donald Trump out of nowhere decided to get on the phone with Turkish President Recep Erdogan two weeks ago to completely change policy overnight and shocked everyone, paving the way for Turkish invasion for northern Syria.
So now Turkey gets what it wants, a cleaning out of the Kurds, as President Trump himself put it. Russia also gets what it wants, they become the new power player in the region or further entrench their power player status. The Kurds get misery.
What does the United States get? Really hard to say. Absolutely nothing other than the cementing of our status as an unreliable actor who doesn`t keep their word, betrays their allies, just like when we pulled out of the Iran deal and the Paris Climate Accords.
And the fig leaf the president continues to hide behind, nonsensically, that he`s finally bringing the troops home from combat to a grateful war weary nation, is simply a lie. The U.S. service members have been relocated to Iraq while he`s sending thousands more to Saudi Arabia.
This is not about ending wars, it`s about Donald Trump`s subverting American interests, the interests of the strong men that he so admires.
HAYES: In 2016, the Gallup polling firm regularly asked voters to describe what they had read, heard or seen about the two presidential candidates. Researchers took those descriptions and they made them into word clouds. It`s a kind of infographic. The more frequently a word is used the bigger it appears.
This was the word cloud for Donald Trump, a collection of the words and themes that were driving his campaign.
And this was Hillary Clinton, a cloud with one massive word in the middle, email. It was the most frequent answer to the question and about the best depiction of the collective failure of press coverage of tho2016 election you`re going to find.
The email controversy was born of a totally, thoroughly and obviously bad faith effort by the right wing, facilitated by main stream coverage decisions that lost all sense of proportion. According to the Columbia Journalism Review, in just six days the The New York Times ran as many cover stories about Hillary Clinton`s emails as they did about all policy issues combined in the 69 days leading up to the election.
And after all that, quietly on a Friday night after more than three years Donald Trump`s own State Department released a nine-page report on those infamous Clinton emails, the conclusion reading, quote, "there was no persuasive evidence of systemic, deliberate mishandling of classified information."
The thing that we all said, us, the Trump administration, the Trump campaign that we banged on about forever, not really anything to see here.
Of course, that was clear at the time. It`s not that the emails and the investigation into the emails wasn`t a story -- it was a story in the same way that Ivanka Trump using a personal email account is a story, was a story. We did a story on it.
Is it the only thing that`s covered about Ivanka Trump?
The fact that Donald Trump has been using an unsecured phone that`s been freaking people out, including a security team. There was a story about that. Is that the only story about Donald Trump?
Or the guy who is at the center of the Ukraine scandal, Gordan Sondland, using a private texting app for official business, in violation of the policies and procedures of the State Department?
It just seems insane when you think of those three examples to think that those would be the most important thing to cover. And yet that was how Hillary Clinton was treated in 2016, a ghastly, collective madness that deserves some accounting and introspection, and most importantly a commitment on the part of the media not to fall for the exact same play again in 2020.
HAYES: Despite a large and diverse field that started with nearly 30 candidates, unprecedented amounts of fundraising, and voter interest, some Democratic donors are grumbling that they don`t like the toys they`ve been playing with and they want a new one.
The New York Times, quote, "with doubts rising about former Vice President Joseph R. Biden`s ability to finance a multi-state primary campaign, persistent questions about Senator Elizabeth Warren`s viability in the general election, and skepticism that Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Indiana could broaden his appeal beyond white voters, Democratic leaders are engaging in a familiar right, fretting about who is in the race and longing for a white knight to enter the contest at the last minute."
To talk about the sudden angst, I`m joined by Neera Tanden, president of the Center for American Progress, and Christine Greer, associate professor at Fordham University.
You know, Neera, I like the fact that this was framed as a kind of perennial right, because I remember...
NEERA TANDEN, CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS: Because it is?
HAYES: It is. And I remember -- I remember in 2004 there was the Wesley Clark boom. Everyone looked around and said, no, no, we need the NATO general, Wesley Clark. I love Wesley Clark. And I was like, he`s not a great candidate.
There was Fred Thompson on the Republican side who was going to be a savior.
What is the psychology here?
TANDEN: I think the psychology is that Democrats, you know, it`s sort of a congenital condition to worry and to have agita (ph). And I think that is exacerbated by Donald Trump who, you know, I mean Democrats have carnal fears about his ability to destroy, you know, people in his path, Republican, Democrat, frail humans, you know, anyone in his path he has kind of an ability to destroy.
So I think there is -- those things combine to create a lot of agitation. I don`t think it`s not just Democrats, I think Democratic donors, it`s around a lot of people. But I would say just like in past election cycles, the nominee is likely, almost I`d say 100 percent likely, but likely, to be one of the candidates running. And whoever emerges from this contest will seem strengthened because they`ve defeated -- that person will have defeated so many other people.
HAYES: That`s the point, Christina. Like to me, it`s always about the fact that campaigning exposes the candidates` weaknesses. That`s the process of campaigning, because people attack them on stuff. They hold them to account. There is no like shrink-wrapped perfect off the shelf candidate in American politics.
CHRISTINA GREER, FORDHAM UNIVERSITY: You`re right. You`re right. And we saw in 2007-2008 Barack Obama became a much better candidate because of his long battle with Hillary Clinton. But, you know, I think what we really need to focus on, besides the fundraising, is the fact that, you know, the Democrats tend to focus on the peopled we don`t have instead of the people that we have at the dance, right?
And so we have the fact that Hillary Clinton did win the popular vote. And so we have the fact that we now have Democratic governors and lieutenant governors who are young and inspiring in Michigan and Wisconsin. We have the fact that we have black women who have been mobilizing folks and we shouldn`t wait until November 1 to ask them to come out.
And we should also look at mayors in the south and black mayors who put together winning coalitions all across in 2018 and sort of see what they did and what issues really motivated their citizens to come out and support them.
So, if we put that together, then we can choose a candidate that we can help get across the finish line on November 3 in 2020 instead of thinking about, you know, Bloomberg or all these people who are just sort of flirting with the idea of the presidency each year.
HAYES: Partly too, I think, like, Neera, to your point about the kind of congenital aspect of this, a sort of perpetual worrying, part of it is that like people were shell-shocked by Donald Trump winning.
But if the situation were reversed, if it was a Democratic incumbent who was polling at 40 percent and getting impeached and had all these scandals, Democrats would be losing their mind. They would be convincing themselves that that Democratic incumbent was headed for certain defeat, that they were going to lose by 15 points and there would be op-eds about you have to resign and you have to get out of the way. If you put the shoe on the other foot...
TANDEN: It`s not clear exactly which is better for democracy, frankly. You have a Republican Party impervious to facts -- absolutely, you`re 100,000 percent right that Republicans look at terrible facts and just, you know, beat their which he says and say they`ll win no matter what. And Democrats look at a winning hand and worry about every ability to lose their hand.
And, you know, I mean, this is just what sort of makes what Democrats are, like, underdogs and Republicans like the Yankees. But, I mean, it`s sort of like -- I think the thing to focus on here is that you`re that absolutely right. Donald Trump is the most unpopular incumbent in American history in polling that we`ve had. And he faces a very difficult election. And I`d say that the lesson of 2018 is that Democrats were able to put together broad coalitions. They were able to actually attract moderate voters and bring out Millennials and their base -- people of color, students, young people.
You can actually do that in the face of Trump. And we should think of a way to do that. And I think a lot of these candidates -- I mean, our primary is really long -- but a lot of these candidates to Democratic voters, 70 percent of Democratic voters think that one of these candidates can beat Trump, so it`s not everybody who thinks this way.
HAYES: Quickly, Christina, a lot of that work can happen independent of the candidate.
GREER: Yes, indeed. And we have grassroots organizations who are doing it. We have, you know, elected officials on the local level who are doing it.
And just to remind Neera, you know, the Yankees lost.
HAYES: That`s right.
TANDEN: Exactly. Exactly.
HAYES: That`s exactly right.
TANDEN: Just because they say that they`re going to win doesn`t mean they can`t win.
HAYES: That`s exactly right, the Yankees lost.
Neera Tanden, Christina Greer, thank you both for joining us.
That is ALL IN for this evening. "THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW" starts right now. Good evening, Rachel.
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