CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: I don`t believe that. But I also don`t sense that the Democrats or the country can yet see who can beat the guy. And that is up still to the candidates because if you can`t beat Trump, all this is just a waste of our time.
And that`s HARDBALL for now. "ALL IN" with Chris Hayes starts right now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: Tonight on ALL IN.
REP. JIM MCGOVERN (D-MA): This will be only the fourth time in our nation`s history that Congress has considered the presidential impeachment process.
HAYES: The public impeachment process begins.
MCGOVERN: No one runs for Congress to impeach a president but we are here today because the facts compel us to be.
HAYES: Tonight, Democrats take the first public steps in the impeachment inquiry as more witnesses testify in private.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you concerned about Whitehouse retaliation?
HAYES: And John Bolton is formally asked to testify.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You know, John wasn`t in line with what we were doing.
HAYES: Plus, new reporting on the origins of Trump`s quid pro quo with Ukraine, and why even Republicans are raising alarms at the Trump scheme to install an anti-immigrant hardliner DHS.
REP. DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ (D-FL): You and Mr. Trump don`t want anyone who looks or talks differently than Caucasian Americans to be allowed into this country.
KEN CUCCINELLI, ACTING DIRECTOR, OF THE CITIZENSHIP AND IMMIGRATION SERVICES: That`s false.
SCHULTZ: I`m sorry. Please don`t interrupt me.
HAYES: When ALL IN starts right now.
CUCCINELLI: I`m not a white supremacist you alluded.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Good evening from New York, I`m Chris Hayes. The impeachment of President Donald J. Trump is taking another major step forward today. The House Rules Committee is preparing to vote on a resolution laying out the procedures for the next big steps in the inquiry including public hearings. They are literally convening right now to do that as we speak. The full House is then expected to vote on the resolution tomorrow.
Legislators have already heard dozens of hours of private testimony that continues to be more and more and more damning for the president. We already know from President Trump`s own words from the phone call notes released by the White House that the President corruptly attempted to coerce an occupied foreign country to manufacture dirt on an American citizen, indeed his possible political opponent.
When the Ukrainian president said he was ready to buy more American weapons, that is send the aid, we`re standing by, President Trump immediately responded, I would like you to do us a favor though, though. The bad news for Trump is that the phone call itself is incriminating but also the phone call provides just one small glimpse into a sprawling covert effort.
And there are two things that are true about all the people around Trump who have watched this happened. One group is attempting to cover it all up because at some level they seem to know this was an abuse of power and possibly illegal. And the other group who were not the President`s cronies recognized at the time it was an abuse of power, possibly illegal, and have been and were sounding every alarm bell possible.
Today, State Department officials Christopher Anderson and Catherine Croft appeared before the investigating House committees. Anderson served as special adviser for Ukraine negotiations until this July. He testified for nearly four hours this afternoon.
In his opening statement, Anderson said that when he pushed for increased White House support the new Ukrainian president, former National Security Advisor John Bolton warned that Rudy Giuliani "was a key voice with the president of Ukraine which could be an obstacle to increased White House engagement."
Catherine Croft then took over for Anderson in July after spending two years as a director covering Ukraine on the National Security Council. She testified for nearly five hours this morning. She described her earliest experience with a push to remove the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine. "During my time at the NSC, I received multiple calls from lobbyist Robert Livingston who told me that Ambassador Yovanovitch should be fired. It was not clear to me at the time or now at whose direction or whose expense Mr. Livingston was seeking removal of Ambassador Yovanovitch. I documented these calls and told my boss."
It`s probably worth noting here that a lobbyist Robert Livingston is one in the same as the former House speaker elect during Bill Clinton`s impeachment who had to leave because he admitted to extramarital affairs and then resigned, that Robert Livingston.
Now, today, also, we learned that the President`s last national security adviser, the infamous, the notorious, mustachioed John Bolton has been invited to testify before the investigating House committees next Friday, November 7th.
Now, remember, several witnesses have already testified that Bolton was concerned about Trump`s Ukraine pressure campaign. He told multiple witnesses to contact NSC lawyers, refer to the whole scheme perfectly as "a drug deal."
So every day, the scope of this entire thing and those who knew about, it just keeps getting bigger including the number-two guy at the State Department John Sullivan. Today, Mr. Sullivan had the misfortune of going before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee where he is seeking to be confirmed as the next U.S. Ambassador to Russia. Democratic Senator Bob Menendez as you might expect had some questions.
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SEN. BOB MENENDEZ (D-NJ): Do you think it`s ever appropriate for the president to use his office to solicit investigations into a domestic political opponent?
JOHN SULLIVAN, DEPUTY SECRETARY OF STATE, UNITED STATES: Soliciting investigations into a domestic political opponent, I don`t think that would be in accord with our values.
MENENDEZ: You were aware that there are individuals and forces outside of the State Department seeking to smear Ambassador Yovanovitch. Is that correct?
SULLIVAN: I was.
MENENDEZ: And they`re seeking to remove her.
SULLIVAN: I was.
MENENDEZ: And did you know Mr. Giuliani was one of those people? I believed he was, yes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Well, that`s something. I don`t think anybody was expecting that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo`s second-in-command to go as far as he did condemning Trump`s pressure campaign throwing Rudy Giuliani in the bus. Although Sullivan also admitted that he knew what was happening, at least as far as Rudy Giuliani goes, he knew and he did nothing. And that guy is very likely going to be the next Ambassador to Russia, the country that is, of course, occupying a large chunk of Ukraine and he apparently took no action.
Now, President Trump wants to pivot away from complaining about the process of Democrat`s impeachment investigation. He sent out a distress signal this morning imploring "Republicans -- yes he did spell it that way -- go with substance and close it out."
The problem for Trump is the substance is the bad part. We know the transcript was damning. Last night after we got off air, New York Times reported Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman who testified yesterday, the White House transcript of a July call between President Trump and Ukraine`s president omitted crucial words and phrases and that his attempts to include them failed.
You`ll remember, Trump said and says that the call was perfect and said it was a word-for-word transcript but that`s not true. And if it was true, why did the White House trying to hide the call by inappropriately putting it in a super classified server? And why did he release this incomplete version? And why did they prevent Lieutenant Colonel Vindman from including the information he found important.
Joining me now for more on the mounting evidence against President Trump, Ian Bassin, former Associate White House Counsel and now Founder and Executive Director of Protect Democracy, a non-partisan democracy watchdog group, an Ambassador Nancy Soderberg, she was the former White House Deputy National Security Adviser under President Bill Clinton, represented the United States at the U.N. Security Council.
Ambassador, let me start with you as someone who was on the National Security Council and also served as the ambassador to U.N. Security Council. What is -- what do you make of these sort of two groups of people that have merged here, the sort of President` cronies and flunkies, the three amigos who are pursuing the shadow policy Rudy Giuliani, and the amazing stream of people that come forward at the risk of their jobs still employed in the government to basically say this was wrong?
NANCY SODERBERG, FORMER DEPUTY NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER, WHITE HOUSE: Well, I think we have to pay tribute to the courageous public servants who are standing up at great personal risk to tell the truth. I worked in government for a couple of decades. I never had any clue what the political persuasion of the career foreign service officer. And no one even bothered to ask their careers as public servants who stand up and are telling truth to power. They deserve our strong support and applause.
What`s happening around the President is an effort to deflect, dissuade, create distractions here. And what they need to do is stop deflecting and frankly start planning a defense. And I think that`s what`s going to happen once this impeachment program begins officially really next -- tomorrow.
HAYES: Yes. The planning and defense, Ian, it strikes me, the president who sort of led the charge and all of them whining about the process now telling them enough of the process talk about the substance. Again, the substance is bad and there seems a disconnect between how the President understands what he did and almost everyone around him who were working hard to cover it up, keep it secret, and hide it which itself shows a consciousness of guilt.
IAN BASSIN, FORMER ASSOCIATE WHITE HOUSE COUNSEL: I mean, the president tried to offer a bribe to a foreign leader. The president tried to offer a bribe. Your colleague Ari Melber has talked about this, Protect Democracy wrote about this and Lawfare.
The Founders in the Constitution detailed two specific grounds for impeachment in addition to the catch-all high crimes and misdemeanors and those are treason and bribery. And bribery at the time of the founding was understood as offering a thing of value, I don`t know, say military aid or a White House visit, in an attempt to induce a government official to engage in a corrupt act. That`s what President Trump did. He induced a bribe and that`s going to be pretty hard to defend.
HAYES: It`s also the fact that I continue to be astounded, Nancy, by how wide the whole kind of operation was, the amount of people it touched, the amount of people had to go through as they were running this kind of shadow campaign.
SODERBERG: Well, it`s stunning. And what they`ve done is essentially take the Russian mob boss led by this guy`s on house arrest in Vienna, Firtash, and he has hired his goons. And Giuliani has got around and got in that circle that wants to get back into the corrupt trough in Ukraine, and that`s who`s behind this conspiracy theory. And I think they got Rick Perry unknowingly as part of this. I don`t really think he was aware of what was going on.
And all of this is going to become public. And what you`re seeing is a very methodical building the case that the President held up Ukrainian military aid that he rightly had increased, by the way, in order to dig up dirt on his opponent and try and deflect from the fact that everyone agrees the Russians did interfere in our campaign. It is not going to work.
And what`s going to happen is career public servants who all run the government -- when I was in government as a political appointee, I was thankful for them because they`re patriotic, they`re good, they know how things work. You need to rely on them. You can`t cut them out.
Now, tomorrow, you`re going to have a national security official Tim Morrison who`s a Bolton appointee, a very hard-line Republican career in the Congress who just quit tonight because he`s going to be testifying tomorrow.
There is no way that these supporters of the President can offend his patriotism. He`s not a partisan hack. And I think one of the things everyone needs to call out is the fact that the President`s supporters are impugning the patriotism of these fine hardworking American patriots, and that`s un-American, and we all need to call them out and stop that.
HAYES: Yes. The President`s defenders is sort of engineered a neat little bit of circular logic in which Democrats who attack the President are partisan and Republicans who attacks the President --
SODERBERG: Frankly Liz Cheney for her -- to her credit, has stood up and called them to task for it and I applaud her for doing that. We need to have more Republicans standing up and saying do not impugn these career public patriotic servants.
HAYES: Ian, one of the arguments that it seems on the table that I`ve started to see people make is that the President gets to set his foreign policy and he can set it however he wants. And it`s certainly not the place for career diplomats, foreign service -- civil service to set the President`s priorities. Basically, it amounts to, if you`re the president, they let you do it.
As someone who worked as a lawyer for President Barack Obama at the White House Counsel`s Office, what do you say about that?
BASSIN: Well, look, obviously, the President under our Constitution gets to set the foreign policy of the United States, but that has to be in service of American interests, in service of the public interest. And the problem here is that from Congress to the executive branch from Democrats to Republicans there`s broad agreement that the American interest is in a non-corrupt, pro-democratic Western aligned Ukraine, not a corrupt Russian controlled Ukraine.
The only person who`s pushing against that right now is Donald Trump. And if you were doing that for some legitimate public interest, he`d have the right to do that. But if he`s doing it for a corrupt interest, if he`s doing it to help his political campaign or help his personal interest, that`s not legitimate.
Now, Trump says I`m doing it for a legit interest. I`m doing it to fight corruption. Come on. Donald Trump cares as much about stopping corruption Ukraine as Marlboro cares about stopping cancer. That doesn`t pass the laugh test and that`s the problem. It`s not a legitimate interest. It`s a corrupt one.
HAYES: There`s one last aspect that I thought, Ambassador Soderberg, was interesting in Vindman`s testimony. He -- the way he phrased it, we`ve been talking about, you know, essentially meddling an election manufacturing dirt on a political opponent as the thing he`s coercing. But Vindman put it as opening investigations to an American citizen. It wasn`t in Vindman`s terms about meddling in the election. It was just that it`s improper to have a foreign government set its sights on an American citizen.
If an American citizen committed some infraction, that`s a matter for American law enforcement, but of course, there`s no predicate for investigation. What do you think about that framing?
SODERBERG: Well, I think, first of all, Vindman was an incredible -- incredibly credible individual who got up there and said that. And I think what you`re seeing in the big picture here is the President welcoming meddling of the Russians in here, bringing in outside people to try and impugn the reputation of the United States and shut aside their career, patriots of our country that our advice is not being listened to.
And in the end, it`s going to come out what happened and they need to stop this show like The Wizard of Oz, look over here, and start getting serious about what happened and recognize there`s going to be huge fall out of that.
The President may or may not get impeached. He may or may not get convicted in the Senate, but this is real and it starts tomorrow. And they need to start -- stop the obfuscation and start dealing with the facts. It will come out and that they are not -- the President is very powerful but not all-powerful and he will not be able to stop the truth from coming out.
HAYES: Ian Bassin and Nancy Soderberg, thank you both. Joining me now for more on what we learned today are Robert Costa Washington Post National Political Reporter and MSNBC Political Analyst, Michelle Goldberg Op-ed Columnist for the New York Times and an MSNBC Contributor.
And I`ve just gotten word that the House Rules Committee has passed out of the Rules Committee the resolution which will now go to the floor. Ezra Klein is describing an interview he once did with Nancy Pelosi where she was asking her theory of the speaker, and she said, you wait until you had the votes, and then she clenched her fist and then you take the vote. I think we`re basically seeing that theory in action.
MICHELLE GOLDBERG, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Right, yes. I mean, they certainly have it. And it`s amazing how many kind of things keep happening in their favor day by day, right? Just you know, very recently John Bolton`s lawyer said that he won`t testify without a subpoena which basically means he will testify. Because what they`ve been doing to all of these people who`ve been testifying is giving them a subpoena as you know, sort of justification for them defying the White House, right?
GOLDBERG: So that`s kind of an astonishing thing that John Bolton is willing to --
HAYES: It looks like, yes.
GOLDBERG: If John Bolton ends up breaking with this administration and testifying before, you know, Nancy Pelosi`s impeachment inquiry, that`s a - - that`s a huge blow.
HAYES: Robert, you`ve been doing great reporting up on the Hill with a great piece the other day about sort of Senate Republicans. I just get the sense the president -- the president hasn`t taken a particular line. I think if you gave him truth serum, his line would be: It`s fine, I could do whatever I want. Do House Republicans have clarity about what their argument is here?
ROBERT COSTA, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: They do have clarity but they have immense challenges in front of them, Chris. Talking to House Republicans tonight, they believe Speaker Pelosi has been so strategic and taking this away from the Judiciary Committee where Republicans were ready to defend the president, some of his top allies, and moving the process to the Intelligence Committee and bringing the investigation behind closed doors building the case, then bringing it eventually to the public with more testimony.
This has left many Republicans in the House and the Senate feeling like their hands are tied behind their back because they`re not intimately involved in the day-to-day deliberations and they`re not having a chance to challenge a lot of these witnesses. And they`re not even sure what`s coming out because the White House isn`t giving clear guidance.
HAYES: That`s -- that is really fascinating and it is I think from a strategic standpoint has been sort of a stroke of brilliance the way they have done this in terms of the depositions. There`s also the fact that one of the arguments always, and it`s clear from the Sondland, you know, text where he says the President has been very clear no quid pro quo after talking to the president, that Donald Trump seems to think that unless he said the words quid pro quo, unless there was ever explicitly a this for that that he`s in the clear.
But then you just have more and more people saying, yes, there was a quid pro quo. In fact Vindman yesterday testifying this. He said that the $400 million security military aid and the meeting was contingent -- apparently the words of Vindman -- on Ukrainian officials carrying out investigation into Burisma, the Bidens, the 2016 election, and CrowdStrike. There are multiple witnesses now saying there was a quid pro quo.
GOLDBERG: Right. And even Sondland now says that there was a quid pro quo, and that when he said there was no quid pro quo he was relaying Trump`s words but didn`t actually have any knowledge of whether there was or not.
The other -- I mean, I don`t want to get into Donald -- to kind of Donald Trump`s, you know, theory of mind right, because -- but I do think that he probably believes some of this stuff, right? Which does give him in his own mind a justification.
HAYES: Oh yes, the CrowdStrike, oh yes.
GOLDBERG: He still thinks that there is not only that there is a physical server but that it really is locked away somewhere in Kiev. And to me, the really interesting thing that`s come out you know, in the last couple of days is that Donald Trump in this is emerging as both, you know, the kind of criminal and the mark, and that he`s been -- you know, he`s obviously tried to corrupt this whole process but he also has people whispering in his ear.
And we don`t quite know where they come from, like we don`t know who Bob Livingston is working for. We don`t know that there was a story in Politico about a guy on the National Security Council that Trump thought was the head of Ukraine -- that Trump thought was his Ukraine expert, was really someone used to work for Devin Nunes. He was telling him all this stuff.
And so you know, I was in Ukraine recently. There`s a lot of, you know, kind of Russian aligned interests who have their own reasons for wanting --
HAYES: For manipulating.
HAYES: And that is part of the story here. It`s like who was manipulating whom in all this. There`s -- it strikes me, Robert, also that Republicans are going to be bound a little bit by the President himself in their defenses right like there are certain defenses Republicans can marshal that might be affected politically but will enrage the president.
One of them that essentially that he was too dumb to do a quid pro quo or was an incompetent quid pro quo. There`s a headline today that he wants you to know he`s smart and capable enough to do a quid pro quo, that he`s privately enraged by that. The other is that it was wrong but not impeachable. How do you think the President`s views on his own defenses will impact what arguments Republicans feel they can make?
COSTA: The more I talk to Republicans in the Senate and the House, the more it`s clear to me as a reporter that they`re preparing to be in survival mode in 2020, not necessarily in defend President Trump mode.
HAYES: That`s interesting.
COSTA: Because if you look at the facts, and they`re not ready to defend the President on the facts because they don`t even have a complete picture of what his conduct was in the summer of 2019 and even before that. And so now they`re talking about can they frame the process as partisan, talk about the process as something that`s a little bit too much, and then essentially retreated to bunker mode politically, argue against the process but avoid talking about the facts.
HAYES: That strikes me as -- that`s a great sort of elucidation of why they`ve been focused on the process because it means -- but at a certain point, I mean, we`re going to have this vote on the floor tomorrow and there`s going to be public hearings about the facts, and the facts are tough to defend.
I mean, the President could defend them because the president thinks that he`s essentially beyond good and evil, to coin a phrase, but we`ll find out. Robert Costa and Michelle Goldberg, thank you both. Still ahead, for only the fourth time in American history, Congress is preparing for an impeachment inquiry of a sitting United States President. What happened today in the Rules Committee which just voted minutes ago, and what we can expect going forward with a member of House leadership in two minutes.
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MCGOVERN: This is a sad day. When our Founders drafted the Constitution more than 230 years ago, they included a process that could lead to removing a president from office if he or she abused their power. That process, impeachment, is rarely used because of its seriousness. In fact, this will be only the fourth time in our nation`s history that Congress has considered the presidential impeachment process.
This Congress with our existing authority under the Constitution and the rules of the House, is in the midst of an impeachment inquiry right now. No one runs for Congress to impeach a president, but we are here today because the facts compel us to be.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: As you just heard for the fourth time in the country`s history, the House of Representatives is moving forward with impeachment proceedings into a sitting president. The House Rules Committee just wrapped up voting on the impeachment resolution. It was a nine to four party-line vote during which House Democrats rejected more than a dozen Republican amendments to the resolution. The resolution now moves to the House floor tomorrow.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MCGOVERN: I don`t know whether President Trump will be impeached. Only the facts and how we respond to them will dictate that. But I can tell you this. This process determining whether he should be impeached will be open to the public view just as it should be.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Joining me now and talk about that -- what that`s going to look like, Congressman David Cicilline, Democrat from Rhode Island, a member of the House Judiciary Committee which is in charge of advancing articles of impeachment. Congressman, the resolution is passed out the Rules Committee. What does that mean and what happens next?
REP. DAVID CICILLINE (D-RI): Well, what happens next is that resolution will be brought to the floor tomorrow. And assuming it is approved which I expect it will be, it sets forth the procedures for the next phase of the impeachment inquiry, the public hearing phase.
It authorizes the Intelligence Committee and the other committees of jurisdiction to complete their work. It allows them to transfer to the Judiciary Committee report and recommendations if they find evidence of high crimes and misdemeanors. And then it sets forth procedures in the Judiciary Committee for the consideration of articles of impeachment that are very expensive for the president.
HAYES: Public hearings, A, is there a timeline, and B, is there a committee of jurisdiction on those? Can we expect this all to flow through the Judiciary Committee vis-a-vis public hearings or can we imagine other committees like intelligence also having public hearings?
CICILLINE: Well, I think you should expect that the Intelligence Committee will continue to have the Intelligence focus of this inquiry that is the Ukraine scandal as has been underway by the Intelligence Committee in consultation with the Foreign Affairs and the Oversight Committee. I expect that the conclusion of those hearings.
HAYES: I see.
CICILLINE: They`ll then make a report and recommendation to the Judiciary Committee. And the Judiciary Committee then will have to consider whether or not to move forward on articles of impeachment.
And I would just say that Chairman McGovern`s remarks I think really do capture the sentiment of the caucus. This is a deadly serious moment. I think no one is delighting in doing this. The facts have required us to move forward in this fashion. And I think everyone is approaching it in a very serious way.
HAYES: Talk me through how you and your colleagues are thinking about minority rights in this process. Obviously, the House is a majoritarian institution, the speaker calls the shots, you guys make the rules. But it is also the case that you have colleagues and someday you`ll be on the other side of this, right. You`ve been in the minority, you will be again, probably. What do you view as their role and what they`re entitled to in this process?
CICILLINE: Well, I mean, I think everyone is committed to ensuring that this process is fair, that the minority and the President have an opportunity to make their case, to present evidence, to present arguments, to cross-examine witnesses. So if you look through the resolution, we`ve actually afforded the minority much greater rights than existed in the Clinton and the Nixon impeachments.
And we`re doing that because we want to be sure that the process is fair, that the President will have an opportunity to present evidence, to cross- examine witnesses through his counsel, to attend the hearings in the Judiciary Committee to make a closing argument.
And so there are substantial rights which don`t really have to be afforded at this stage. They were traditionally afforded at the trial stage in the Senate. But I think what we`re trying to do by this resolution is actually afford greater rights to the President because we want to be sure that the American people see this process is transparent and fair, and that the President and his Republican allies had an opportunity to make their case.
I think the evidence that is being collected in this inquiry is significant and we want the President to have an opportunity to respond to it.
HAYES: There`s a schedule for testimony behind closed doors in private depositions from the Intelligence Committee I think now from November 7th if I`m not mistaken. Do you have any sense of what that -- what the timeline is should this resolution be passed tomorrow which knowing Speaker Pelosi, I have to imagine, you have the votes?
CICILLINE: Well, we have a very robust schedule for a continuing to have a number of depositions for the next several weeks or at least next two weeks. Obviously, the chairman of the Intelligence Committee in consultation with the Foreign Affairs and Oversight Committee will make a final determination as to when that work is complete.
We learn new things every day so I think we want to be sure we are carefully collecting all of the evidence in this case so that we can present to the committee of jurisdiction a complete picture. But everyone recognizes that it`s important that we move forward expeditiously but we want to do in a very thorough way. We want to be sure that we are collecting all the evidence.
And I`ve been through in those depositions and you learn new things every day that seem to warn, bring in another witness, or seeking some additional documents. But you know, at some point, we`ll have to come to the conclusion that we have sufficient evidence to move forward and the committees will make their recommendations to the Judiciary Committee.
HAYES: All right, Congressman David Cicilline, thanks for making time tonight.
CICILLINE: My pleasure.
HAYES: Next, Congress finally calls a dangerous new witness for President Trump. New reporting on what former National Security Advisor John Bolton knows about Trump`s Ukraine scheme after this.
HAYES: John Bolton, Trump`s former national security advisor, is perhaps notoriously one of the most brutal and ruthless bureaucratic knife fighters in and around around government. His time as national security adviser was short and for Bolton typically contentious. And he ended up getting humiliatingly turfed out as generally happens to everyone that works for Trump.
But, as most Republicans in Bolton`s position have remained somewhat beholden to Trump, Bolton has not. In a new piece in The Washington Post Greg Miller points to a July 10 meeting with Bolton and Ukrainian officials as a moment of detonation of the Ukraine crisis inside the White House, quote, "two Ukrainian officials were ushered into a meeting in Bolton`s office in the West Wing along with Sondland, Volker, Hill, Vindman and others, according to witness accounts. Sondland turned the conversation away from ongoing corruption probes to reviving specific investigations that were important to Trump, according to testimony from Hill and Vindman. Bolton was so alarmed by the exchange, he ended the meeting abruptly and ordered those gathered out of his office."
Now he`s been asked to testify next week. Bolton could be a very dangerous witness against the president.
For more on those fateful White House meetings, I`m joined by Greg Miller, national security correspondent for The Washington Post.
The picture you described based on the testimony is really remarkable. What is your understanding of how important this meeting was in the progression of what is now an impeachment level scandal?
GREG MILLER, THE WASHINGTON POST: You know, I think it`s a really important moment, and that`s why we thought it was important to separate this out and write a whole story sort of reconstructing this day at this White House.
And it`s important to me for a couple of reasons, Chris, including that I this is the moment that you can -- we can establish so far that the quid pro quo of this scheme is articulated inside the White House. And not only that, but you have a very violent reaction to that articulation inside the White House, it`s not just Bolton who recoils at the mention of this by Sondland, but Fiona Hill and others who then proceed to go to White House lawyers to register their really deep concerns with this.
I mean, this is -- people have described this moment as a moment when Bolton goes ballistic. It`s when he uses that infamous line now comparing this whole endeavor to a drug deal.
HAYES: And Bolton -- and what`s key here, also, it`s not just what happens on the call, this is before the call by 15 days, that Sondland articulating inside the walls of the White House to Ukrainian officials, you don`t get this stuff unless you do the investigations, that that`s the first thing, the first tripwire for going to lawyers to say something is wrong here.
MILLER: Yeah, and these are White House officials, including Bolton, who have been really -- their anxiety has been growing for months because they`ve seen Rudy Giuliani on television shows and saying what he`s saying spinning conspiracy theories about Ukraine. They know that the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine was mysteriously removed, abruptly removed -- abruptly removed -- but this was the sort of moment of reckoning for them, when it all sort of is laid out explicitly in front of them.
HAYES: So, this all builds up to Bolton, right? Fiona Hill has come forward, and she gave testimony in defiance of the White House telling her not to, even though she`s a former -- she`s left.
I mean, Bolton seems like the most high profile, the most key, and in some ways probably the most dangerous witness for the president. His lawyer tonight saying that he is not willing to appear voluntarily, but he stands ready at all times to accept service of a subpoena on his behalf. Do you read that to say I will come if you subpoena me?
MILLER: I don`t quite get there with that language from his lawyer, "stands ready for the service of subpoena." I mean, Bolton and his deputy Charles Cupperman (ph) are engaged in an interesting side legal battle here that seems like it`s complicated, but seems like it`s designed to sort out which legal authority should prevail here and whether they should be compelled to go and testify before congress.
HAYES: What is your reporting to indicate about Bolton`s current relationship with President Trump?
MILLER: I mean, we know that it ended terribly. We know that Bolton is sort of forced out, deeply angry about the sort of things that he couldn`t accomplish policy-wise in the White House. He tries to establish that he`s not being fired even though Trump is asserting that he was. And you basically saw Mike Pompeo and others practically giddy at his departure on that day.
So I mean there can`t be warm feelings between John Bolton and that White House crew right now.
HAYES: Greg Miller, thank you very much for joining us tonight.
Ahead why even Senate Republicans are balking at the president`s scheme to install an immigration hard liner to run DHS. That story coming up.
Plus, tonight`s Thing One, Thing Two starts next.
HAYES: Thing One, tonight, the White House chief of staff is one of the most powerful jobs in the world. They may not have monuments built to them, but you`ve heard their names. They`ve been at the sides of presidents at crucial moments through history. Chief of Staff Andy Card was the person who informed George W. Bush that they were under at tack on 9/11. Here`s Ronald Reagan`s chief of staff Donald Regan watching with the president as the Space shuttle Challenger disaster unfolds.
Regan took over for James Baker who stood by Reagan`s side in China as he signed a nuclear agreement.
H.R. Halderman was there in Paris as Nixon met with Charles de Gaulle. He later went to jail for his boss.
Kenny O`Donnell never officially had the title, but was right there with JFK during the Cuban Missile Crisis. So, throughout the decades, the chief of staff has been the man closest to the president at all times. These days not so much.
Trump`s got Mick Mulvaney, the acting chief of staff with two full-time jobs and a pocket full of shamrocks. Mulvaney is basically just treated like a chump by the president.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: At some point I hope they get it because it`s a fantastic financial statement, it`s a fantastic financial statement. And let`s do that over. He`s coughing in the middle of my answer.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yeah, OK.
TRUMP: I don`t like that, you know?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Trump doesn`t like that, Mulvaney. No wonder he got snubbed for the big raid this weekend. That`s Thing Two in 60 seconds.
HAYES: Chief of staff, as we said, is right there with the biggest -- with the president at all the biggest moments of history. Who could forget the iconic photo of President Obama and his team in the Situation Room the night they took out bin Laden. You can see of course chief of staff Denis McDonough right there in the center.
This week we`ve been seeing this photo, compared a lot to a new one, also in the Situation Room as President Trump and his team monitored developments in the Baghdadi raid.
Now, Trump`s acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney can`t be seen in this photo unless you zoom out pretty significantly. No, keep going. Keep going. All right, a little more. A little more. And there he is. It looks like he`s in Myrtle Beach.
NBC News reporting today that the night of the raid Mick Mulvaney was in fact in South Carolina. He`d gone to his home state for the weekend and was not notified about the raid until it was already happening, left out of the whole thing.
Now I`m sure this has been very embarrassing for Mulvaney, but also I`m sure nobody wanted to jeopardize the mission with the guy in the room distracting everybody.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: They`re after my financial statement, the senate. They`d like to get my financial statement.
At some point, I hope they get it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you can turn it over?
TRUMP: No, at some point -- I might, but at some point I hope they get it because it`s a fantastic financial statement, it`s a fantastic financial statement.
And -- let`s do that over. He`s coughing in the middle of my answer.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yeah, OK.
TRUMP: I don`t like that, you know?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Your chief of staff.
TRUMP: If you`re going to cough, please leave the room.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We should get a shot of -- I`ll come over here.
TRUMP: You just can`t.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just to change the shot.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sorry, Mr. Trump.
MICK MULVANEY, ACTING WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: Yes, I`m supporting Donald Trump, doing so as enthusiastically as I can given the fact I think he`s a terrible human being.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Donald Trump is now in the market for his fifth secretary of Homeland Security. John Kelly was the first one, Elaine Duke served briefly as acting, then Kirstjen Nielsen was the third. Most recently, Kevin McAleenan, who was also an acting secretary, meaning not officially nominated and confirmed. Donald Trump announced his resignation late on a Friday night nearly three weeks ago.
And some reporting indicates the president did not think Kevin McAleenan was tough enough even though he did work to make it much, much harder for asylum seekers to enter the country.
And now the president is looking for a new, presumably crueler and even more lawless, homeland security secretary. The reported frontrunners, who both work at DHS in acting positions seem to be in trouble.
One of them is a guy named Ken Cuccinelli. You may remember him from over the summer as the guy who basically suggested a rewrite to the poem engraved on the bronze plaque inside a pedestal of the Statue of Liberty, quote, give me your tired and poor who can stand on their own two feet and it will not become a public charge. It doesn`t have quite the same ring.
And here he is just today at a House committee hearing.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KEN CUCCINELLI, DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY: Asylum laws where you see religious persecution.
REP. DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ, (D) FLORIDA: Don`t want anyone who looks or talks differently than Caucasian Americans to be allowed into this country.
CUCCINELLI: That`s false.
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: I`m sorry, please don`t interrupt me. And I`d like the time added back.
CUCCINELLI: That`s defamatory.
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Excuse me, there`s nothing defamatory about it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Gentle Lady controls the time and the witness will get a chance to respond.
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Thank you very much. You want to block all immigration and make life harder for immigrants. And you have demonstrated that you will pursue this heinous white supremacist ideology at all costs, even if it means making critically ill children your collateral damage in the process.
CUCCINELLI: After declaring that I am not a white supremacist, as alluded...
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: You have a white supremacist policies.
CUCCINELLI: ...nor is the president.
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: OK, facts matter.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Well, Ken Cuccinelli has even rubbed his own party the wrong way, so much so that even with Republicans in control of the Senate, reporting indicates he probably would not get confirmed. They`re bearing a grudge from some past political actions he took. So now the White House is trying to explore a loophole to let Donald Trump put whoever he pleases in that position. And the way they plan on doing it is in appointing that person to a completely unrelated position and then moving that person into the DHS job. That is how they plan on getting a Trump -- a crueler Homeland Security secretary.
It is unclear if it will work. Trump keeps going through DHS secretaries, though, because the real person pulling the strings on immigration policy is White House senior policy adviser Stephen Miller. And we`ll talk about him and what he has wrought next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHEN MILLER, WHITE HOUSE SENIOR POLICY ADVISER: The end result of this, though, is that our opponents, the media, and the whole world will soon see as we begin to take further actions that the powers of the president to protect our country are very substantial and will not be questioned.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: That was Stephen Miller, senior white house policy advisor, back in February 2017 making the case that Donald Trump`s immigration policy, specifically his Muslim ban, which they had to withdraw because it was unlawful, shall not be questioned. That is very much on brand for him, Stephen Miller`s is I guess you could politely say a hard-liner who has single-handedly worked to craft a draconian immigration policy, destroy the Department of Homeland Security as any kind of government institution with independent integrity. And we are seeing the damage of his ceaseless meddling firsthand in the policies being carried out.
CNN reporting we are on track to admit zero refugees in the month of October, not one, and that comes as the migration picture is ever more dire than ever.
The New York Times reporting the detention of children trying to cross the southwest border is at now a record high. Here with me now NBC National Security and justice reporter Julia Ainsley who has broken a number of immigration stories; Democratic Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal of Washington, herself an immigrant and former immigrant rights activist.
Julia, let me start with you just on that final note. My understanding is this uptick in unaccompanied minors who are being apprehended and then put into detention is because of the, quote, remain in Mexico policy. There`s tens of thousands of essentially stranded asylum seekers in Mexico getting so desperate they`re sending their kids. Is that what`s happening?
JULIA AINSLEY, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Yeah, that`s right. There are even some stories where the parents weren`t sure where their children had gone and they had left and kind of had to abandon ship in order to try to get into the United States.
And I`ll point things out, in Mexico an unaccompanied child is actually seen as a fast-track for deportation. Their laws there to protect children for being trafficked mean that any time they see an unaccompanied child they have a very small chance of getting asylum and a much larger chance of being deported back to their home country. So as soon as they leave their family, they have to try to get into the United States as quickly as possible. Things are very dangerous for them.
And we saw this happening at the same time last year in Tijuana when we started seeing what was called metering, that`s when they only allowed in a few people a day to claim asylum.
Now you have this a on a whole scale level, people in different parts along the border are being sent back into Mexico where they face what looks like refugee camps and incredibly unsafe conditions. A lot of times they`re targeted. These are not towns that were set up to really provide any kind of safe harbor.
In fact, the whole point of the policy, Chris, and this gets into Stephen Miller`s strategy, was to make it so arduous for anyone to claim asylum that they would give up on their cases while they were waiting there. So now you have children who are fleeing from their families just to try to get into the United States and have a chance at life.
HAYES: Congresswoman, one immigration lawyer told me that Stephen Miller and President Trump have effectively destroyed the statutory basis for asylum, that this is enshrined in American law and using the return to Mexico policy the way they`ve implemented metering, it essentially no longer exists at the southern border. Is that an accurate characterization?
REP. PRAMILA JAYAPAL, (D) WASHINGTON: Well, it`s true that`s what they`re trying to do. Some of those cases are still held up in court, because we do have statutory right to asylum both in our domestic laws, but also in our international human rights treaties that we are signatories to.
But Julia is right that what they`re doing is trying to discourage people over and over again in more and more draconian ways. So, first they tried it with family separation. They were actually separating children from their mothers and fathers. You covered that. A lot of people covered that. That is still going on, but in different ways.
Then they they tried saying we`re going to put a ban on asylum. The court said, no, you can`t do that. They have cut refugee admissions to 18,000, by the way, from 110,000. So, they`re effectively trying to eliminate every legal way that people have to seek refuge in the United States.
HAYES: I want to follow up on that and come back to you Julia, the refugees -- there`s two ways to come in, right, if you`re fleeing oppression or some tyranny, right, you can come and declare yourself an asylum seeker at the border. And they, no, that`s chaotic and that`s dangerous you can`t do that. And then you can do it through the refugee process, which is very well vetted, extremely orderly, you apply from abroad.
They have essentially squeezed that off, too. What does it tell you they`ve gone after both of those?
JAYAPAL: Well, I don`t know if you were -- sorry, were you directing that...
HAYES: Yes, please.
JAYAPAL: OK, so what they have literally have had in mind, and this is Stephen Miller`s long-time plan, is to cut legal immigration to zero. And so they have tried to take away family migration. They have obviously started deporting that are people in the United States using terrible programs like Secure Communities and other ways that you can increase enforcement of people across the country and kick them out. And then at the border, they`ve stopped in every way possible -- I was in those courts, those MPP courts, they`re called migrant protection protocol, which is a complete misnomer because there`s really no due process. There`s no protection. These people are being bussed over from Mexico. And then they`re ending refugees.
So their goal is to stop even legal immigration into the United States.
HAYES: Julia, quickly, DHS just seems completely dysfunctional at this moment. What happens to this agency next?
AINSLEY: That`s a good question. I mean, we`ve looked at who the president could possibly appoint, and Katy Tur and I reported last week that one of the people being looked at, even just as an interim, was a man named Chad Wolf who was one of the people who proposed all the logistical ways that they could separate families, but he`s not seen as hard enough, Chris.
So right now the president is not only looking at who aligns with Stephen Miller, but who will go on TV and to defend his policies, someone a lot like Ken Cuccinelli, but for all the reasons you laid out Ken Cuccinelli does not seem confirmable.
So, we`ll see now if the president wants to walk around all of the rules that are normally in place for federal vacancies to try to get who he wants in place. But I`ll tell you from people I speak to, it`s already been chaotic. They have policies that are enacted through a tweet before they actually get a memo how to implement it, and courts are holding things up. Every day they have to figure out how they`re going to carry out these policies.
Not having someone either confirmed or even in an acting position is hard for them.
HAYES: Julia Ainsley and Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal, thank you both.
That is ALL IN for this evening. "THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW" starts right now.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END