CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: Why do we even have a State Department?
If the United States invades Iraq, and I`m personally against it, I`ll make that clear.
If we still have to figure out why we`re going to war with Iraq, don`t we have a problem right there?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`m totally against this war.
MATTHEWS: But what would stop the president? You gave a blank check. I read the resolution. The provision is clear. He can do anything he wants under the provision you agree to, to protect the United States security of vis-a-vis Iraq. It`s an absolute blank check.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: "ALL IN" with Chris Hayes starts right now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: Tonight on ALL IN.
REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): We will begin our open hearings in the impeachment inquiry next week.
HAYES: The impeachment of Donald Trump will be televised.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You can`t let that happen to me.
HAYES: Tonight, damning new testimony about the Ukraine extortion plot. Ambassador Bill Taylor pointing the finger directly at the President`s lawyer. And what we know about the public hearing. Plus, what last night`s elections told us about the limited power of Trumpism.
TRUMP: You got to vote because if you lose it sends a really bad message.
HAYES: DNC Chair Tom Perez on a game-changing night for Democrats. And an explosive first day of the Roger Stone trial where prosecutors linked his alleged crimes right to Donald Trump.
TRUMP: I love Wikileaks.
HAYES: When ALL IN starts right now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Good evening from New York, I`m Chris Hayes. Well, it`s here. One week from today, the House impeachment committees will kick off public impeachment proceedings against the President of United States for just the fourth time in American history.
It`s not a niche story anymore. If people feel like they could not keep up with the inner workings of a complicated political drama, next week, these hearings will be broadcast into every American home. And if there`s one thing we know about the President, it is how utterly obsessed he is with his image on television.
Hearings are going to play out live in real-time. You`re all going to get to see the whole thing. So watch out for that next week. Today we also woke up in a world in which we got our first test of the politics of impeachment.
For months, the political questions for Democrats have been, is it too risky? Will it spark a backlash? Will it rally Trump voters? The only hard data we have is from last night`s elections. And the one thing you cannot say is that impeachment is somehow helping Republicans.
And keep in mind, the night before the election, the President went to Kentucky and said that Republican Governor Matt Bevin losing "sends a really bad message." Bevin himself ran ads basically saying that Democrats are trying to impeach your president and that conservatives of Kentucky, a state that Trump won by nearly 30 points need to come out and defend him.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: President Trump and Governor Bevin are making Kentucky great again. But socialists in Washington wants to impeach Trump and take us backwards. Andy Beshear is part of their radical resistance harassing Trump with lawsuits.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: It didn`t work. Despite the best efforts of President Trump, Democrat Andy Beshear beat Governor Bevin by 5,000 votes. We have more on all the other wins later on the show. But that`s the context you need, as we get yet more evidence of Trump`s corrupt coercion of the Ukrainian government today.
This time it was from acting U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Bill Taylor who will be the first witness of the public hearings one week from today. Taylor`s full deposition was released today and in the 300 -- and its 324 pages. And in it he leaves no doubt in his testimony the U.S. President was indeed extorting the Ukrainian president by withholding military aid in exchange for manufactured dirt on the Bidens.
Here is how Taylor describes that. "That was my clear understanding security assistance money would not come until the president of Ukraine committed to pursue the investigation. Question: So if they don`t do this, they are not going to get that, was that your understanding? Taylor responds, yes, sir. Question: Are you aware that quid pro quo literally means this for that? I am.
Now, to be clear here, quid pro quo really implies that both parties are seeking the illicit transaction. But the Ukrainians didn`t really want any part of this. That is what makes this particular example extortion. Taylor also describes two channels of U.S. policymaking with respect to Ukraine, a regular channel run by traditional U.S. diplomats like himself, and of course, that second back channel that included people like us ambassador, the E.U. Gordon Sondland, Energy Secretary Rick Perry, and the President`s Personal lawyer, a man who is not part of the U.S. government, Rudy Giuliani.
Taylor testified that while parts of Ukraine were occupied by the Russian military, "the security assistance got blocked by this second channel. The security assistance, the military aid to Ukraine that they needed to help defend themselves from Russian aggression and occupation got blocked by the non-traditional irregular channel that includes the President`s personal lawyer.
Taylor describes how members of the State Department learn to navigate the irregular channel. "In order to get the Ukrainian president and President Trump at a meeting in the Oval Office, they needed to work with Rudy Giuliani and so they did.
They had to work with Rudy to get anything done in Ukraine. And if there was any question as to who was pulling the strings and for what possible reason, I point you to this exchange between Taylor and Democratic Congressman Tom Malinowski.
"Malinowski: Who was responsible for setting all this in the motion? Was it Mr. Sondland? Was it Ambassador Sondland? Ambassador Taylor: I don`t think so. I think the origin of the idea to get the Ukrainian president to say out loud he`s going to investigate Burisma, the company Hunter Biden sat on the board of and the 2016 election, I think the originator, the person who came up with that was Mr. Giuliani. Malinowski: And he was representing whose interest in? Ambassador Taylor: President Trump."
Got that? President Trump`s personal lawyer set in motion a scheme to extort the Ukrainian government to benefit the interests of his client and only his client. Joining me now one of the members of the House Intelligence Committee that will be conducting the public impeachment hearings, Democratic Congressman Denny Heck of Washington.
Congressman, what can we expect a week from today when this all gets kicked off in public?
REP. DENNY HECK (D-WA): We`re going to expect, I think, some pretty considerable testimony from all three of the people who are scheduled at the present time. I expect more later. I would recommend to people that if somehow they don`t have time to watch all of them, and I hope they do that they will especially watch Ambassador Taylor, and here`s what they`re going to get, Chris, three things.
They`re going to get an American patriot on display, a West Point grad, a Vietnam veteran, and a career diplomat who had progressive increasing responsibility, broadly admired within the foreign service.
Secondly, they`re going to get somebody who ties it all together in a way that not all the other witnesses were. They all corroborated one another in their set of facts. But it was Ambassador Taylor who really tied it all together.
And by the way, we should remember, Chris. This isn`t being talked about much. He kept contemporaneous notes. Now we don`t have access to those because it is in the long list of things that the administration is stonewalling the Congress on. But when he wrote his testimony, his opening statement and gave his testimony, it was predicated on his contemporaneous notes, which he referred to.
And thirdly, we`re going to get somebody who`s going to place this all in perspective, the importance of the strategic partnership and alliance with Ukraine.
HAYES: In terms of the process of the hearings themselves, those rules were passed by the House to sort of formalize how the process was worked. My understanding is that we can expect that most of the questioning, the bulk of it at least, will be done by professional staff attorneys for both sides. Is that right?
HECK: Well, it certainly will be the case on the part of the majority, the Democratic side. I haven`t been consulted by the minority party as to how they`re going to approach it. But I suspect they will be. That was how we did it during the depositions. And so I would expect it to continue.
Members then would have an opportunity to kind of fill in the missing pieces if they perceive it there to be any. But it will be professionally performed by or conducted by staff attorneys.
HAYES: One bit of news I just wanted to get your reaction to which is Republicans are making noises about moving. Jim Jordan and Mark Meadows who are I believe on the Oversight Committee or Judiciary Committee, both to the Intelligence Committee. Can you -- can you do that mid-session? If so, do you welcome them now to the committee?
HECK: Well, Mr. Jordan has been in regular attendance as it happens. It`s a little hard -- as has Mr. Meadows. And to their credit, they`ve been present at least. But it`s a little hard to perceive that this move on the part of the minority is frankly, Chris, to put it bluntly, anything other than a vote of no confidence in Ranking Member Nunes. Otherwise, why would it be required, right?
They have a ranking member but they seek to bring in these other members because presumably, they have more confidence in them to play their role.
HAYES: That`s a good point. It`s called the bullpen. I want to read you something that Rudy Giuliani just tweeted which he`s now has some professional representation. He says, "The investigation I conducted concerning 2016 Ukrainian collusion corruption was done solely as a defense attorney to defend my client against false charges. That kept changing is one after another were disproven."
I can`t tell if that`s meant to be exculpatory for the president or incantatory for the president, or neither. How do you -- how do you read that?
HECK: Well, first of all, evidently, he`s gotten counsel. That had to tell you something. So I do think it`s important to remember that throughout American history, we have had back-channel diplomatic efforts. But what`s so distinguishes what happened this time from all the other instances are number one, those back channels were closely coordinated with the regular channels. And that wasn`t the case this time.
And number two, those back channels were in furtherance of American foreign policy. And in this case, what Mr. Giuliani was attempting to do was at odds with American foreign policy, namely standing with our Ukrainian allies who frankly are the first line of defense against malign intent and aggression on the part of the Russians?
HAYES: All right, Congressman Denny Heck, thank you so much. Joining me now for more on the implications of what we learned from the most recent transcript released today, Ian Bassin, former Associate White House Counsel, now Founder and Executive Director of Protect Democracy, a nonpartisan democracy watchdog group, and Melissa Murray, Professor of Constitutional Law here at NYU School of Law.
Melissa, I`ll start with you. I mean, it doesn`t seem at this point, like the facts are fairly established. I don`t want to get it out of the head of anything. I`m sure there could be other evidence that upsets the apple cart. But is that your read of this testimony in line with the other ones?
MELISSA MURRAY, PROFESSOR OF CONSTITUTIONAL LAW, NYU SCHOOL OF LAW: I think Ambassador Taylor made a pretty clear case that there was a kind of shakedown on the Ukrainian officials to get them to undertake this investigation of Burisma to excavate whatever ties the Biden`s might have had or might not have had to it, and to make it conditional on the receipt of the $390 million worth of foreign aid that had been appropriated. So it seems pretty straightforward.
Whether it`s a quid pro quo again, I think that depends on the fact that a quid pro quo generally means we are exchanging something for something. And it seems like the Ukrainians wanted no part of this.
HAYES: Right. I think that`s a good point, Ian. We -- the President`s line has been no quid pro quo and we`ve been sort of establishing there was this for that. But a this for that, I mean, I have covered Chicago politics, you know, you can have like consensual bribery, right, where the person comes in the Alderman`s office, and like, he wants to get the bribe, and the alderman wants to get the bribe. And it`s illegal for both of them, but no one`s being forced. That`s not the picture that is painted here by any of the witnesses particularly not Mr. Taylor.
IAN BASSIN, FOUNDER AND EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, PROTECT DEMOCRACY: No, and I think that another way of thinking about it is imagine if the President had gotten on the phone with President Zelensky and said, so yes, Congress has authorized me to provide you some military aid, but I`m going to need a favor though. I`m going to need you to wire -- I`m going to need you to wire me a check for $1 million, right?
That`s essentially what`s going on. Of course, it wasn`t a check for a million dollars, it was help on the President`s campaign. And the defense if there ever was one, would be, well, that million dollars was actually for the U.S. Treasury, and the President was going to put it in the Treasury and not in his pocket.
The problem with that defense is Rudy Giuliani has already rendered that defense not valid because Rudy Giuliani said in the tweet you read, I was doing this as the President`s Personal lawyer for his personal interest. Which means the equivalent of that million dollars which was the campaign help went into the President`s pocket.
HAYES: There`s -- we`re about to enter this new phase of this process, right, Melissa, which is a public hearing. And one thing that -- there`s been kind of a meta fight about what is the nature of an impeachment proceeding.
There`s been indications by Rand Paul, the Sixth Amendment and Criminal Procedure, and you have to face your accuser. And then other people on the other side, well, it`s not a judicial proceeding, it`s a political one. But even if it is a political proceeding, there`s some sense of due process and fair play. Like how do you conceive of this process?
MURRAY: Well, so it is -- it isn`t like a criminal proceeding in that, you know, it`s constitutionally required. It`s set out in the Constitution. It`s different, but it does have some criminal corollary. So you might have think of impeachment in the same way you might think of an indictment. And you might think of the trial in the Senate in the same way you would think of a criminal trial by a petty jury.
The difference, of course, is that usually we select jurors, we insist that they be unbiased, that they have no stake in the claim. That`s not the case with the senate at all. The senators all come to this having some predisposed idea about what they think. Some of them have been receiving aid from the president for their campaigns in hotly contested states. And so that`s incredibly different.
So it`s not quite like a criminal trial, but it does have some commonalities. Again, though, it`s a very different proceeding. And really, it`s meant to play out for the public. And I think that part can`t be understated.
HAYES: Yes, that`s a great point because the question here, I think, particularly in the House portion of this in which I think the votes are there probably to impeach the president and persuading Republican members of Congress is an uphill battle, as we`ve seen, Ian, is who is the object to persuasion here and how much persuasion is there to be done with an American public That is both so cordoned off in different news environments that sometimes don`t even touch each other and or polarized.
BASSIN: You know, there`s an interesting study that was posted today on the Web site of the Niskanen Center, where they interviewed Professor Irwin Morris about some research he did after the 1998 impeachment of Bill Clinton about the effect of those impeachment votes on the next House elections.
And what Morris found was that they didn`t really have much an effect at all. And that was true even when the House member voted in a manner that was inconsistent with the preferences of their constituency.
And so I think as Republicans, to carry Professor Murray`s analogy further, who would be the grand jury here in the House consider this, they should consider not just that study, but also this. In 2016, the conventional wisdom among Republicans was that it would be political suicide to back Donald Trump. That turned out to be wrong.
Today, the conventional wisdom is that it would be political suicide not to back Donald Trump. Well, what if that turns out to be wrong. And I think that`s the conversation that`s probably taking place in a lot of Republican offices after last night.
HAYES: Do you anticipate a shift from arguing the facts to arguing the law, because the -- because the facts here really do seem like they have a vice like grip?
MURRAY: I mean, you`ve seen this already. I mean, the Republicans are starting out with this whole line of you really have to examine his mental state. This whole idea like if he didn`t have this bad intent to shake them down, then it really can`t be extortion, it can`t be bribery. No one is talking about the Hobbs Act. The whole idea that it is a federal crime to obtain something of value in exchange for the performance of an official act, which would seem to be right in line here.
But the Republicans are now shifting away from the procedural arguments they had, the arguments that this never happened to now he didn`t have the requisite mental state to make this a crime, an impeachable crime.
HAYES: Yes. And I think, ultimately, the place that they can thread the needle between the facts and the law, and the President is basically that. The President didn`t understand what he was doing was wrong.
BASSIN: Yes. The other thing I think you`re seeing from some Republicans is his most -- the President`s fiercest defenders are out there saying somewhat absurd things like Lindsey Graham is saying, but a lot of other Republicans are biting their tongues right now because I think they`ve learned their lesson that they don`t know what shoe is going to drop next.
And so taking the view of a juror of saying, I think I`m just going to hold out and wait for the facts is probably the wisest course for a lot of Republicans right now.
HAYES: All right, Ian Bassin and Melissa Murray, thank you very much. We have some breaking news tonight from the Washington Post. On the phone is one of the reporters who broke the story Matt Zapotosky. Matt, it has to do with the President wanting the Attorney General to hold a press conference or public event about the Ukrainian call. What did you find out?
MATT ZAPOTOSKY, REPORTER, WASHINGTON POST: Yes, exactly. President Trump wanted Bill Barr, his attorney general, to have a televised news conference essentially saying that Barr had looked at the Ukraine call and determine that President Trump broke no laws.
Now, we know that the Justice Department did look at that call. In fact, in the name of their spokesman issued a statement saying they didn`t have a predicate essentially to investigate possible campaign finance violations. But this statement would have been a little broader.
And even more importantly, it would have been Bill Barr who`s been a pretty forceful advocate for the president and is sort of a good public speaker, but him going before T.V. cameras and kind of saying exactly what the President wanted.
HAYES: And how is this communicated? Do we know?
ZAPOTOSKY: We don`t know precisely. We know that it sort of flowed from Trump to other White House officials and then over to the Justice Department. We have not been able to substantiate that Trump talked about this directly with Bill Barr. That`s sort of a question we`re still working at. And we`re also still working at the sort of exact people involved in the path you know, to determine was this as a formal request press office.
The press office was Trump mentioning it to somebody and then it working its way over when you know, though, that in recent weeks, you know, after Bill Barr won`t do this, President Trump has complained as a soft way to put it to associates, hey, Bill Barr -- Bill Barr wouldn`t do this for me and I wanted him.
HAYES: So he`s mad that the attorney general wouldn`t entirely publicly stake his face and reputation to the lawfulness of the President`s phone call and a nationally televised press conference?
ZAPOTOSKY: Yes. So the White House press office now disputes the president is mad, that they know that even today he praised Bill Barr publicly. But we do know that the President wanted this to happen and it didn`t. So you know, we`ll let viewers decide how they think the President`s emotional state is.
HAYES: And we know that -- so the Department of Justice, one of the most interesting tributaries in this story is the fact that the general counsel for the CIA passed over a criminal -- possible criminal referral right, to the Department of Justice about the call asking the partner justice to look into it. The Department of Justice essentially declined to further that. But have they given public rationale or public accounting of that decision in any way, shape or form?
ZAPOTOSKY: Well, sort of. So we`ve talked to some Justice Department officials, and they issued a statement, if you remember, on the day that the transcripts came out. And they essentially said, look, we looked at the transcript of the phone call or the rough transcript of the phone call, but we only looked at that and we only looked for campaign finance violations.
And essentially, because they would need to determine that the President was getting a thing of value and put a specific value on it to, you know, substantiate a campaign finance case, they couldn`t do that here because an investigation by a foreign state, it would sort of impossible to quantify the value of that.
But I think, you know, a lot of legal analysts will know, look, that`s a very narrow charge they`re looking at a campaign finance violation. What about just straight up quid pro quo corruption, they didn`t even look at that. But that`s sort of the public rationale that they have -- that they have given.
HAYES: Final question for you, Matt. Do we know why Barr declined to do what the President wanted him to do?
ZAPOTOSKY: That`s a great question. And unfortunately, we don`t have a very specific answer to that. I mean, I think there are some obvious reasons, right? Like this is him staking his own reputation on the line and his own face. You know, it`s one thing to have your spokesperson just kind of put out a bland statement about what lower-level officials did, but this would be Barr hanging his neck out there.
And another important aspect of our reporting is that the Justice Department has really when it comes to Ukraine sought to distance itself from the White House. You see that with Barr here. And you`ve seen that kind of throughout the Ukraine scandal as the Impeachment Inquiry has intensified. You know, the Justice Department is kind of backed away from this thing.
HAYES: That`s really interesting. Matt Zapotosky, great reporting. Thank you for joining us in the last second. I still want to bring back to the conversation Ian Bassin former Associate White House Counsel and Melissa Murray Professor of Constitutional Law at NYU School of Law who are both still with me. Ian, as a former White House Counsel, what is your reaction to this news?
BASSIN: I mean, there`s three problems with this. Problem one is when I was in the White House Counsel`s Office, we had an extensive policy that had been honored not just by the Obama White House, but by the Bush White House on when it was appropriate for White House staff to call the Department of Justice and what sorts of communications were permissible.
And one that generally is not is coordinating about individual law enforcement matters, investigations, and prosecutions. And this sounds an awful lot like that. The second problem with it is the individual law enforcement matter at issue involve the president. So the conflict of interest is quite insane.
And then the third problem with it is it doesn`t matter whether the President broke a law or not. The Founders very clear that the impeachment clause does not require violations of a federal criminal statutes. So on all three fronts, this is deeply disturbing that it`s going on but it doesn`t absolve the president. In fact, it just makes him look more guilty.
HAYES: Well, and my big reaction to this news is like oh, there`s something Barr won`t do. I mean, Barr has been -- Barr has been willing to prostrate himself for the president and to perform for all the world a full MAGA concerto whenever he comes before Congress to talk about how great the president is, to take bullets for him, to spin the facts in his direction, to selectively leak parts of the Mueller report. I mean, he has done everything you could want essentially a personal attorney to do.
MURRAY: World`s best public defender.
HAYES: Yes, that`s right.
MURRAY: But I think the thing that this underscores for me is just how much this administration has run roughshod over institutions. I mean, not just the State Department, you can see this in Bill Taylor`s testimony. The State Department is a match, like all of these different channels. And it`s also the same way for the Department of Justice. Like there is no respect for existing protocols or boundaries between the different agencies in the presidency.
HAYES: Because everything is sublimated to the President`s will. There is no distinction between the President`s interest personally and the American interest or the national interest. And that`s --
MURRAY: It`s a unitary executive on steroids.
HAYES: Yes, right.
MURRAY: It`s the most perverse vision of the unitary executive theory, the idea that the entire executive branch runs through the president like this is it.
HAYES: It`s a great point. Matt Zapotosky, Ian Bassin, and Melissa Murray, thank you all. Up next, the fallout from the huge upset victories for Democrats last night with wins in Kentucky, Virginia, even Vice President Mike Pence`s hometown. DNC Chair Tom Perez on the lessons for 2020 in two minutes.
HAYES: Last night was a big, big election night for Democrats. The biggest headline that you probably saw was the stunning upset in Kentucky where the incumbent Republican governor was defeated by a Democrat. It was huge news. It was not just Kentucky. All across the country, it was good news for Democrats and bad news for Republicans.
In Virginia, Democrats flipped both the State House and the Senate, which means that along with the state`s Democratic governor, Democrats now have full control of the Virginia State Government for the first time since 1993.
Virginia also elected the first Muslim woman to the State Senate. They reelected the first trans person to the House of Delegates. And remember the woman back in Virginia back in 2017, who ran for the House of Delegates and ended up in a tie with her opponent, only to lose in a random drawing from a bowl? Well, last night she won that same seat by a nearly 20 point margin.
Quite notably, there`s also this woman Juli Briskman, who was elected to the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors in Virginia. She was fired by her employer two years ago after she notoriously flipped off President Trump`s motorcade.
And it was not just Kentucky and Virginia. In Pennsylvania, there were big red flags for the Republican Party. Former McConnell aide and Republican consultant Josh Holmes put it this way. "Taking a step back from Kentucky and looking at all the elections last night, GOP should be most concerned about what happened in local elections in Chester, Delaware, and Bucks County, Pennsylvania. That is genuinely alarming if you know the voting history."
These are all classic bedrock, upper-middle-class, white suburban areas, suburbs of Philly that had been the backbone of the Republican Party that now consistently electing Democrats in local elections. And just for good measure, Democrats appear to have taken the majority in the city council of Columbus, Indiana. That would be Vice President Mike Pence`s hometown for the first time in nearly four decades.
For more on all that, I`m joined by the Chairman of the Democratic National Committee, Tom Perez. Tom, you`re smiling and I understand why. What were you expecting going into last night and what did you see last night?
TOM PEREZ, CHAIRMAN, DNC: Well, Chris, we`ve become a 50 state party again. And what we saw last night was success in urban pockets, suburban, exurban pockets, and rural pockets. You look at Andy Beshear`s victory. He turned some coal counties blue. He did really well in Lexington and in Louisville.
And then in those suburbs that are basically Cincinnati suburbs in Northern Kentucky that are reliably red, he was able to hold his own and when a couple of those counties. Kenton County and counties in that area, that`s suburban Cincinnati. So when we talk about why did we have a debate in Ohio? We had a debate in Ohio because we can win in Ohio.
The folks in Kenton county watch Cincinnati television. Then, you know, you mentioned Pennsylvania, Delaware County has been in Republican control since I think the Civil War era quite literally.
PEREZ: And, you know, again, municipalities in Ohio went blue all over the place. And so what I learned from this is, we are a 50-state party. We have been winning. We`ve had three elections now Chris, 2017, 18, and 19, and every single election, we`ve been able to win whether it was Virginia two years ago and again last night, Doug Jones two years ago in December, and now we see the continued victories.
And we`ve got to organize everywhere. And we`re really in good partnership with so many of the other committees in the Democratic ecosystem that don`t get enough credit, frankly, like the Democratic Governors Association. They went in Major League in Kentucky and Mississippi.
The Democratic legislative Campaign Committee which helps elect Democrats and state off in the State Houses, big role in Virginia. And then the parties themselves in Virginia and Kentucky, everybody has been working together in ways that I think are going to enable us to continue the momentum.
HAYES: So two things that struck out to me. One, obviously, is the notion that the President has these coattails, that he can sort of super boost candidates in places that are generally favorable and joined him. And that`s clearly the case in the state of Kentucky who won by 30 points. What does it say -- what does it say to other Democrats in the way they think of things particularly think about the politics of impeachment that a rally and a big push by the President was not enough for that.
PEREZ: Well, I think it says that when you focus on the things that are right to focus on -- it`s always the right time to do the right thing.
Democrats can walk and chew gum. We have a constitutional obligation to focus on impeachment, and your entire show has again presented the compelling evidence of a gross abuse of power. At the same time, we need to continue reminding, as Andy Beshear did and so many other candidates did last night, we need to continue reminding voters that we`re the party that`s fighting to make sure you can keep your health care if you have a pre-existing condition. We`re the party that has passed laws in the U.S. House of Representative to do just that, to bring down the cost of prescription drugs, to take on the NRA.
I mean, Virginia flipped blue last night in no small measure, Chris, because a few months back when there was special session to address gun violence, Republicans were in charge. They gaveled it down in 90 minutes, because they`re in the pocket of the NRA.
So, when we lead with our values -- and candidate quality matters. I mean, Matt Bevin, I mean not an A-lister, and when we feel a candidate...
HAYES: It`s one way to put it. That`s pretty diplomatic, actually. I think members of the Republican Party of Kentucky would be less diplomatic.
PEREZ: And Mitch McConnell might be less diplomatic actually on that one.
HAYES: Let me -- there`s two issues here that have stuck out to me for Andy Beshear, also for John Bel Edwards, who`s up in a week or two I believe in that runoff in Louisiana, and I`ve seen red state Democrats run on them, one is Medicaid expansion? It is notable to me it`s one of the crispest, clearest points of distinction in the most conservative states that the Democrat is for Medicaid expansion and the Republicans is either against it or wants work requirements, and the other is teacher pay and supporting teachers, which we`ve seen these teacher strikes from Oklahoma to Kentucky to West Virginia.
How much do those two issues -- what do those two issues mean to you as you think about what the Democratic Party stands for in a place like Kentucky?
PEREZ: It`s about the basic issue of dignity. The dignity of work, our future. If you don`t have health care security, you don`t have economic security.
And everyone -- ask any parent what`s your biggest concern in life, it`s my children`s well-being. And he so attacked schoolteachers in Kentucky. And by the way, it`s not just Kentucky, you see in West Virginia, Oklahoma, Arizona, you see in so many places around the country teachers stepping up and communities stepping in to support those teachers.
And that is -- we`re on the right side of things. There`s been a poll that has been I think underreported, and it was a poll I think from The Financial Times, Chris, a few days ago, in which two thirds of Americans said that they`re no better off since Donald Trump came into office, and half of those folks said they`re worse off, and the other half said they`re no better off.
And I bring this up in response to your question because if you look at minimum wage ballot initiatives in red states over the last five years, and I did a lot of work on this when I was at the Labor Department, 100 percent of the ballot initiatives to raise the minimum wage in red states passed and most of them by double digit margins.
The problem Republicans are facing is they are radically off the rails on basic issues that matter to people, whether it`s health care, whether it`s quality public education, whether it`s making sure that you only need one good job to succeed. They are on the wrong side of every issue of importance to the American people. That`s why we need to be a 50-state party and I`m glad we`ve become one, and we`re going to continue to do it. And that`s why I feel optimistic running into this presidential cycle.
HAYES: All right, Tom Perez, thank you for making time tonight.
HAYES: Shortly after the polls closed last night, The Washington Post`s Robert Costa sent this tweet: "I spent the day in the Senate talking with Republicans. They`re all paying close attention to the Kentucky gubernatorial race. They are not just watching the returns but President Trump`s political capital as they make decisions about how to handle impeachment and their own future."
Joining me now to talk more about that Robert Costa, national political reporter for The Washington Post whose piece out now is entitled "Kentucky outcome embarrasses Trump and worries many, many Republicans ahead of 2020."
Robert, what did you hear?
ROBERT COSTA, THE WASHINGTON POST: At the Capitol on Tuesday many Republican senators are keeping a close eye on the House impeachment inquiry at the same time they`re watching Kentucky, they`re watching the Philadelphia suburbs, and they`re worried about their own political future in 2020. They know, Chris, they can`t distance themselves publicly too far from this president who carries such weight with their voters, but they`re trying to navigate should they distance themselves a bit politically in the coming months as all of this unfolds and suburban voters drift away.
HAYES: Yeah, the suburban vote is really interesting to me. It is true that the president has fairly reliably juiced both margins and turn out in a lot of rural parts of the country predominantly white. He is also either eaten into or flipped margins for Republicans in metro areas and suburbs, and net-net, the math looks like a net loss so far for Republicans. Do they see it that way?
COSTA: They believe if he`s on the ballot in 2020, and they`re on the ballot in 2020 they are in a better spot than many of these candidates running in off year elections and the mid-term elections. But they`re also worried that every day is a new day. They don`t understand where the facts are on a lot of this impeachment -- on this impeachment front. And so they`re trying to figure out should they really embrace Trump in the same way that Matt Bevin did, the incumbent governor in Kentucky, or should they figure out to run more on health care issues in addressing the Democratic attacks.
HAYES: There`s also a dilemma, it seems to to me, they faced that they wouldn`t in normal times which is -- you know, Barack Obama understood that there were certain members of his party who were going to have to distance themselves from him or even criticize him, and we have reporting and stories about him basically sending the message like do what you`ve got to do to get elected in your state or your district. I get it. I`m a big boy. This is politics.
The president doesn`t feel that way. I mean, if you`re Cory Gardener, you -- it might be smart to take a few things to criticize a president on to show some distance and independence to the voters of Colorado who are fairly independent, but he can`t get away with that, can he?
COSTA: And many Republicans feel like they can`t get away with moving to the center. Some of them want to move toward the center in 2020 as President Trump`s approval ratings dropped, but they worried the president`s own voters won`t turn out for them. And they don`t see a real coalition there to re-elect them in 2020, or any time in the future, unless they`re winning over Trump voters.
So many of these Republicans when you pull them aside they say they feel like they`re in an impossible position, cornered politically, because they need to break with President Trump to win over suburban voters, yet if they break publicly too much they`ll lose the Trump voter.
HAYES: I want to bring in Betsy Woodruff Swan. She`s a reporter for The Daily Beast.
One of the other aspects here, Betsy, to me are the limitations of the kind of combative model of Trumpism for people other than Donald Trump.
I mean, Bevin was combative. He created a lot of enemies. There have been other figures like him that have not gone very far -- Roy Moore as well. It does seem Trumpism as a political phenomenon seems quite limited to this individual Donald Trump and not necessarily transferable or extendable throughout the party.
BETSY WOODRUFF SWAN, THE DAILY BEAST: It`s so interesting. I had a conversation with a Republican lawmaker earlier today who made almost that identical point, what this person said is that Democrats get the benefits of having Trump be part of the political conversation because Trump energizes the Democratic base broadly. But for Republicans who aren`t Trump, if Trump`s not running, his base doesn`t necessarily transfer to them.
So people might show up by the tens of thousands in eastern Kentucky to see Trump, but those people won`t necessarily feel the same level of affection and affinity for someone like Matt Bevin who had all sorts of problems related practically to his personal demeanor. The Trump effect was not enough to lift him.
So that`s a challenge Republicans have moving into this new impeachment season. That said, from chatting with a number of Republican operatives and lawmakers over the last couple of hours, the sense that I`ve gotten is that they still don`t see last night in and of itself as a referendum on the impeachment project. And I spoke with several folks on the Hill on the Republican side who said that even though last night did not go as well as it could have gone, there`s no reason to believe it`s going to change their strategy on handling impeachment.
HAYES: I think that`s largely right in terms of referendum. What I do think, however, is that what last night did was put a stake in the idea this is bad idea for the Democrats. There were some people making the argument that there`s going to be a backlash, that you`re waking up the angry Trump base, that if you come after this president -- and I do think Bevin losing makes it much harder -- and Robert, I`m curious what you think -- it makes it much harder for Republicans to make that particular argument.
COSTA: And it`s also a message to the Democratic Party that Andy Beshear ran as someone who was wanting to expand Medicaid in this state. Many voters there thought that was popular. He aligned himself to the teachers union and focused on education. He was not running against President Trump. In fact whenever Andy Beshear asked about President Trump he said he was willing to work with him. So he ran a Kentucky focused campaign.
HAYES: Yeah, and I think that`s -- we`re going to see a lot of that in those front line districts, Betsy, and that`s going to be a question about how that impeachment vote complicates that approach for Democrats.
WOODRUFF SWAN: That`s right. And it`s going to vary wildly from district to district. And that`s part of the reason that Democrats finally taking control of the statehouse in Virginia is so consequential, because it means they`ll be canal to draw the maps in that state. And the dynamic at a district granular level is going to change in a way that`s likely to be potentially quite uncomfortable, especially for the remaining Republican members of the United States House of Representatives in Virginia, a state where currently Virginia Republicans benefit from maps the GOP has been drawing. They`re going to be a tough spot in the next couple of years.
HAYES: Yeah, the Republican Virginia Party, it`s like the WeWork of state parties. It is just in absolute collapse right now.
Robert Costa, Betsy Woodruff Swan, thanks for joining us.
Coming up today was the first day of Roger Stone`s trial. It did not disappoint. I`ll talk to a reporter who was in the court room about the connections prosecutors drew between Roger Stone`s alleged crimes and Donald Trump. That`s next.
HAYES: Today was day one of the actual Roger Stone trial, one of the questions that still hovers over the presidential election of 2016 in which was not ever really definitively established by the Mueller report is just what did Donald Trump and the Trump campaign know about what WikiLeaks was up to in advance of them doing it?
There have been hints. There have been implications. And Roger Stone has bragged about knowing something, but of course Roger Stone brags about a lot of things. What was the deal? Who knew about what when about what Julian Assange was going to do and how they were going to weaponize it to defeat Hillary Clinton?
Well, it took all of one day of the Roger Stone trial for an answer. Prosecutors say Roger Stone was aggressively trying to contact WikiLeaks, that Stone was calling the president directly, and in early August, stone e-mailed Manafort to say he had an idea, quote, "to save Trump`s ass."
Here with me now, Washington Post reporter Rachel Weiner, who was in that federal courthouse today covering the first day of the Roger Stone trial.
It was from what I can see more dramatic than I was anticipating. What did we learn today in the first day of the trial?
RACHEL WEINER, THE WASYINGTON POST: So we learned that Donald Trump had multiple phone calls with Roger Stone on days when important things were happening with WikiLeaks. What we don`t know is exactly what they said to each other. And I`m sure Roger Stone`s lawyers will emphasize the fact that we don`t know what was said on those phone calls.
But, Stone called Trump and Trump called back twice on the night that the DNC hack was revealed. Then they exchanged phone calls again after the Guccifer 2.0 persona, which people might recall was a front for Russian intelligence operatives put out a blog post claiming not to be Russian.
And then throughout the summer and early fall, they exchange messages while stone was simultaneously sending emails like that one to Paul Manafort and to Steve Bannon saying he had a way that Trump could still win, but it wouldn`t be pretty.
So, there was ongoing contact, including with the president himself.
HAYES: All right, so the things -- one of the things we learned -- I learned today -- and I don`t think this is in the Mueller report or anywhere else, are the phone calls, right. That Stone is calling the president and talking to the president and we don`t know about what, but talking to him on key moments in the time line of WikiLeaks leaks.
WEINER: That`s correct. And the prosecutors made a point of saying that Trump -- that Stone was lying because it wouldn`t look good for Trump if he told the truth.
So they`re directly tying those calls to WikiLeaks.
HAYES: OK. So the other part of it is the degree to which Stone knew in advance what was coming. This has been a murky area. There`s been kind of a different reporting and Stone has made different claims. What do we get from the prosecutors in terms of what they laid out about what Stone knew?
WEINER: We still don`t know exactly what Stone knew. Of course, Stone says he didn`t know anything and was guessing, because the people he was talking to it`s not clear if they were telling the truth.
But, he had communications with both the talk show host Jerome Corsi -- sorry, the writer Jerome Corsi -- and the talk show host Randy Credico, which they were telling him more is coming. Krytonite for Hillary Clinton is coming. New document dumps are coming. And of course in the end that did turn out to be true. What Stone will say is that was just lucky guessing on all of their parts.
HAYES: And he does say at one point that our -- he tells Bannon like our friend in the embassy is going to do more and the plan to save -- what is the plan to save Trump? Like what is the grand theory that Roger Stone is cooking up here?
WEINER: Again, it`s unclear. We don`t have all the details But it seems he`s looking for dirt on Hillary Clinton, dirt on Tony Podesta. At one point one of his intermediaries tells him that it will be information that will make Clinton look corrupt, make her look old and they should hammer on the Clinton Foundation, and they should hammer on her age.
And Stone himself was particularly interested in whether Clinton had had some involvement in scuttling a peace plan in Libya. That was what he was continually asking for more from WikiLeaks on. So that was part of his plan it seems.
HAYES: All right, that`s day one. Rachel Weiner who is in the courthouse, thank you so much for sharing that reporting.
WEINER: Thanks for having me.
HAYES: Still ahead, Republicans are getting creative in finding new ways to try to defend the indefensible behavior of Donald Trump. No one has been more innovative than Senator Lindsey Graham. His new line ahead.
HAYES: OK, we can finally announce all the details for the final stop of our fall WITH Pod tour, and I could not be more excited because I had the chance to interview one of my greatest intellectual heroes, one of the writers who has most influenced me, whose writing I have read just about every last sentence of. On Sunday, December 8, join me in New York City with Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Tony Kushner. He is, of course, the genius behind the classic Angels in America, part of the American canon. He wrote the screenplay for Lincoln. Those are just two tiny little parts of his resume, which extends for pages and pages.
One of his plays is back on stage right now. It`s called a Bright Room Called Day. It has a new twist: it was originally written in the Reagan era. The story follows German leftists who are wrestling with the rise of Hitler, and then cuts back and forth to then modern-day Reagan`s America.
Kushner revisited the show to incorporate current modern-day and Trump`s America. So, I want to talk about that, about theater and politics, about spectacle and storytelling at this particular fraught moment. Right now you can get a special pre-sale tickets to be part of that event. Go to our website, MSNBC.com/withpod. You`ll find the link to the tickets, and use the pre-sale code WITH Pod, that`s W-I-T-H-P-O-D. The pre-sale only goes until Thursday night at 10:00 p.m. eastern. Make sure you get them now. It`s going to be a blast.
HAYES: Every day brings two things in the impeachment saga: more evidence of the corrupt coercion by the president, Rudy Giuliani and his team, and ever more creative attempts to excuse, deny, lie and just what about away away the facts by Republicans.
Today`s latest entry in this comes from South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham who first stuck to his stance of hear no evil, see no evil.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I heard something yesterday I could not believe. Former impeachment manager Lindsey Graham says he`s not going to read the impeachment transcripts. Really?
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM, (R) SOUTH CAROLINA: I`m not going to read these transcripts. The whole process is a joke.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Graham then went onto basically argue that Trump is not guilty by virtue of, well, incompetence.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GRAHAM: What I can tell you about when Trump policy toward the Ukraine, it was incoherent. It depends on who you talk to. They seem to be incapable of forming a quid pro quo. So, no, I find the whole process to be a sham and I`m not going to legitimize it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: I`m joined now by Neera Tanden, president of the progressive group The Center for American Progress, and former Republican Congressman David Jolly of Florida and MSNBC political analyst, who`s called on Graham to resign if he can`t be bothered to read the impeachment transcripts.
Neera, what do you make of the shift -- Lindsey Graham is sort of -- he`s a kind of entrepreneur in this space. He`s kind of constantly trying out new ideas for this. What do you make of the ever shifting rationale and arguments?
NEERA TANDEN, THE CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS: You know, when my daughter was 3-years-old and she was confronted with some bad facts, she basically put her hands over her ears and would say lalalalalala.
I mean, essentially I think what we saw from Lindsey Graham is that he is incapable of defending at this point. He really cannot give an answer, and so he`s just going to take his marbles and go home.
But the problem for Lindsey Graham is he is a United States Senator, paid his salary by the American people to do a job. And part of that job is upholding the constitution. And upholding the constitution is going through an impeachment process. And he will be a juror. So my view is this a dereliction of duty, and if he`s unwilling to do his job, he should -- I would agree with others who said he should resign.
HAYES: David, you said he should resign for the same reason.
He also -- the incompetence argument he used today, I`ve seen it starting to bubble up. I think The Wall Street Journal made a version of it and Rush Limbaugh, and that was a Steve Bannon argument back around Russian collusion, right, that we were too -- it was the gang that couldn`t shoot straight, so what do want us to do, we couldn`t pull this off. What do you think of that?
DAVID JOLLY, (R) FORMER CONGRESSMAN, FLORIDA: Well, look in the eyes of the law and the constitution that argument does not work. What the president did is still impeachable behavior. And if that`s going to be the closing argument by Senator Graham, then it`s one more shameful moment from a shameless politician who is failing the nation right now in avoiding what is constitutionally consequential moment.
And what we`re seeing in Lindsey Graham, we`re seeing from other Republicans as well, which is in this embrace of Donald Trump they`re turning their back on the nation. And there`s no other way to look at this.
Look, Lindsey Graham could work hard to study the issues and say you know what I`ve studied it, there`s not the level of culpability that our founders envisioned for impeachment. Make that case to the American people, and you might persuade them, you truly might persuade the people this is not an impeachable moment. Republicans aren`t even trying, though.
HAYES: That is a great point, Neera, they`re not trying at this point to persuade, they`re trying to hold the base. They`re trying to hold -- they`re trying to hold a certain amount of people in the tent as opposed to persuading people who might be on the fence. And I think you see that in the arguments they`re making which are not very effective at persuasion.
TANDEN: I think the real problem for them is that they have waited too long for each of their arguments. A majority of the public now believes that the president should be removed. I mean, we`re at 50 percent, a strong majority support the inquiry.
If they had made arguments about this is not an impeachable offense at the beginning, much like Democrats did with Bill Clinton, then I think they would have created a lot more friction for public opinion. But they held to Trump like he demands, and now I think the facts are so difficult for them because, honestly, I think the American people have judged this. 66 percent of the American people think this kind of behavior is wrong. And I think it`s very close to say it should be punished.
HAYES: And now there`s going to get a public hearing, David, starting a week from today.
JOLLY: Yes, that`s right. And Republicans are still in disarray. They`re putting Meadows and Jordan on the committee, because right now Devin Nunes -- and I know my former colleague Heck said that`s vote of no confidence in Devin Nunes, that`s right.
Right now the lead Republican of what has become the quasi-impeachment committee, the House Intelligence Committee, is embroiled in suing a fake cow because he got his feelings hurt on Twitter. That is the lead Republican in the impeachment proceeding.
So, listen, Schiff has him -- has both Republicans where they want him and he`s got the president where he wants him. I think the American people are going to learn a lot starting next week about the president and about Republicans.
HAYES: Neera Tanden...
TANDEN: I would just say I would expect public opinion to move against the president after the public testimony.
HAYES: That is the big test. I`m really curious if that happens.
Neera Tanden, David Jolly, thank you both for being with me.
That is ALL IN for this evening. "THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW" starts right now.
Good evening, Rachel.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END