The 5th 2020 Democratic Debate. TRANSCRIPT: 11/21/19, All In w/ Chris Hayes.

Guests: Denny Heck, Julia Ioffe, Max Bergmann, John Hudson, ChristinaGreer, Sam Seder

SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  But I really don`t think that what -- is what people want.  They want a fair shake.  They want opportunity.

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CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST:  That`s HARDBALL for now.  "ALL IN" with Chris Hayes starts right now.

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HAYES:  Tonight on ALL IN.

REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA):  This president believes he is above the law, beyond accountability.

HAYES:  The fifth day of public impeachment hearings, bolstering the case against the President`s man.

FIONA HILL, FORMER SENIOR DIRECTOR, NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL:  He was being involved in a domestic political errant.

HAYES:  Implicating Trump himself.

DAVID HOLMES, COUNSELOR FOR POLITICAL AFFAIRS, U.S. EMBASSY IN UKRAINE:  The President`s voice was loud and recognizable.

HAYES:  Reprimanding House Republicans.

HILL:  I would ask that you to please not promote politically driven falsehoods to clearly advance Russian interests.

HAYES:  Tonight, the extraordinary testimony this week and the most damning for the President.

GORDON SONDLAND, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO EUROPEAN UNION:  Everyone was in the loop.

HAYES:  When Trump`s own guy threw him under the bus.

SONDLAND:  We followed the President`s orders.

HAYES:  Then, the Secretary of State in it up to his eyeballs and looking for an exit.

MIKE POMPEO, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE:  I know precisely what American policy was with respect to Ukraine.  I was working on it.

HAYES:  Plus, a big night in Georgia for 2020 democrats, and the birth of a meme on the White House lawn.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  This is the final word from the President of the United States.

HAYES:  When ALL IN starts right now.

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HAYES:  Good evening from New York, I`m Chris Hayes.  Today was the end of a packed week of testimony in the impeachment of President Donald J. Trump.  It is also likely the final day of televised hearings in this round of the inquiry.

Today we heard from the 10th and 11th witnesses.  One is a career diplomat a guy named David Holmes was currently the counselor for Political Affairs at the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine, and who by his own reckoning, did not imagine he would be testifying here, except that he directly heard the President asking the U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland about the hit job Trump wanted on his political rival.

Remember, this is when Ambassador Sondland called Donald Trump from the middle of a restaurant and Kiev.

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DANIEL GOLDMAN, COUNSEL TO HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE:  What did Ambassador Sondland say to you?

HOLMES:  He said, he doesn`t really care about Ukraine.

GOLDMAN:  Did he use slightly more colorful language than that?

HOLMES:  He did.

GOLDMAN:  What did he say that he does care about?

HOLMES:  He said he cares about big stuff.

GOLDMAN:  Did he explain what he meant by big stuff?

HOLMES:  Like, I asked him, what kind of big stuff.  We have big stuff going on here like the war with Russia.  And he said no, big stuff like the Biden investigation that Mr. Giuliani is pushing.

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HAYES:  Well, the Biden investigation.  That`s what he cares about.  Surprising.  The other witness was a renowned Russia expert named Fiona Hill.  Now, she served as the Senior Director for European and Russian affairs on President Trump`s National Security Council working for the President.  She`s a Trump White House official until the middle of July.

Her testimony was as reporter Alex Thomas put it, "At the risk of committing punditry, Fiona Hill is the most competent witness I`ve ever seen before this committee.  She might be the most competent witness I`ve ever seen before Congress in any point.  I`ve seen dozens of professors testify in areas where they are experts."

My colleague, Nicole Wallace wrote, "I spent much of my career in politics, I never seen anyone like Fiona Hill."  She brought a poise, expertise, and command to the facts and an absolute lack of tolerance for the charitably put childish behavior and ridiculous conspiracy theories that have been spewing from the Republican members of the day.

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HILL:  Some of you on this committee appear to believe that Russia and its security services did not conduct a campaign against our country, and that perhaps somehow for some reason Ukraine did.  This is a fictional narrative that has been perpetrated and propagated by the Russian security services themselves.

The unfortunate truth is that Russia was the foreign power that systematically attacked our democratic institutions in 2016.  This is the public conclusion of our intelligence agencies confirmed in bipartisan congressional report.  It is beyond dispute even if some of the underlying details must remain classified.

The impacts of the successful 2016 Russian campaign remains evident today.  Our nation is being torn apart, truth is questioned.  Our highly professional expert career foreign service is being undermined.  Right now Russia security services on their proxies have geared up to repeat their interference in the 2020 election.  We are running out of time to stop them.

And the cost of this investigation, I would ask that you please not promote politically driven falsehoods to clearly advance Russian interest.

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HAYES:  Fiona also delivered damning testimony about the reaction of former National Security Adviser John Bolton to demands for Ukraine to open those investigations.

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GOLDMAN:  What was that specific instruction?

HILL:  His specific instruction was that I had to go to the lawyers to John Eisenberg, our senior counsel for the National Security Council, to basically say you tell Eisenberg, Ambassador Bolton told me, that I am not passed of this whatever drug deal that Mulvaney and Sondland are cooking up.

GOLDMAN:  What did you understand to mean by the drug deal that Mulvaney and Sondland were cooking up?

HILL:  I took it to mean investigations for a meeting.

GOLDMAN:  Did you go speak to the lawyers?

HILL:  I certainly did.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAYES:  Republicans on the Intelligence Committee tried to tangle with Fiona Hill early on, but then, at a certain point, they got tired of getting owned over and over and just flat out gave up asking her questions, trying unsuccessfully to just limit her chances to talk at all.

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REP. BRAD WENSTRUP (R-OH):  Thank you for your service.  Thanks for being here.  And I yield back.

HILL:  Can I actually say something because we`ve had three --

SCHIFF:  Doctor, I was going to -- I was going to ask you if you`d like to respond.  There have been a number --

WENSTRUP:  I yielded back.  Go ask the question.

SCHIFF:  The gentleman has been -- Dr. Hill, you may respond.

HILL:  No, I think that what Dr. Wenstrup said was very powerful about the importance of overcoming hatred and certainly passes on division.  And it`s unfortunate that Congressman Turner and Ratcliffe have both left as well.  Because I think all of us who came here, under a legal obligation, and also felt we had a moral obligation to do so.

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HAES:  Fiona Hill`s ultimate moment of the day came when while being questioned by the Republican Council, she just simply boiled down the entire scandal to a very easy to understand phrase.  She started by explaining why she got so upset with one of the people running point on the President`s extortion scheme, Ambassador Gordon Sondland.

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HILL:  I was upset with him that he wasn`t fully telling us about all of the meetings that he was having.  And he said to me, but I`m briefing the president, I`m briefing Chief of Staff Mulvaney, I`m briefing Secretary Pompeo, and I`ve talked to Ambassador Bolton, who else do I have to deal with?

It struck me one yesterday when you put up on the screen, Ambassador Sondland`s e-mails and who was on these e-mails and he said these are the people that need to know that he was absolutely right.  Because he was being involved in a domestic political errand, and we were being involved in national security foreign policy, and those two things have just diverged.

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HAYES:  A domestic political errand.  It`s absolutely right.  Of course, it cheekily undersells the gravity of that errand.  But Gordon Sondland had been tasked to do by the President and Rudy Giuliani was to pull off a political hit job.  It did not have anything to do with the National Security of the United States.  It had nothing to do with the foreign policy of the United States or the national interest or interesting corruption or any of that.  We know that.

Sondland was just a bag man for the Trump campaign, but using the official powers of the presidency to carry it off.  Fiona Hill`s explanation distills all the drama that we`ve seen, the regular channel and the irregular channel, the fact that all these experts who come to testify are working on Ukraine policy and they`re all scratching their head thinking, what is going on, what is the roadblock, what`s the holdup, why is this happening, the mystery surrounding it all, the drug deal that is happening around the corner.

Because national security policy is not what Donald Trump was doing, certainly not what Gordon Sondland was doing.  It`s not what the three amigos were doing.  It`s not what Rudy Giuliani was doing.  No, they were not doing foreign policy, a lot of them.  They were not protecting national security.  They were not looking out for the national interest.  They were not representing the people who elected the president to be president, all of us that is American citizens.

What they were doing was carrying off a political hit job, an errand.  They were Trump`s version of Nixon`s plumbers.  This was their version of the Watergate break-in.  Joining me now is one of the members of Congress who`s been questioning witnesses all week, Democratic Congressman Denny Heck of Washington.  How would you sum up what you learned in this week of testimony, there was a lot of it?

REP. DENNY HECK (D-WA):  Well, I`d sum it all up in two ways.  First of all, I think in some regards, Americans can sleep better tonight because they were treated to witness after witness after witness from the diplomatic corps, and from federal service that put their love of country before all else.  People of integrity and character and courage, dare I say, given all that went on.

And secondly, Chris, he did it.  That`s it.  He did it.  The fact of the matter is the evidence is overwhelming.  and if this were a criminal justice proceeding, and it`s that kind of roughly analogous to that, the jury would have brought back a unanimous verdict, and it wouldn`t have taken them ten minutes to deliberate.  He did it. And the only question left is, what is Congress going to do about it now?

HAYES:  To that point, the summation I thought by the chair today, Mr. Schiff was really quite remarkable.  I want to just play a little sound because what he says, in the end, has a kind of direness to the warning and I want to get your reaction to it.  Take a listen.

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SCHIFF:  I will tell why I could resist no more.  And it came down to this.  It came down to -- actually, it came down to timing.  It came down to the fact that the day after Bob Mueller testified, the day after Bob Mueller testified that Donald Trump invited Russian interference, the day after that, Donald Trump is back on the phone asking another nation to involve itself in another U.S. election.

That says to me this president believes he is above the law, beyond accountability.  And in my view, there is nothing more dangerous than an unethical president who believes they are above the law.  And I would just say to people watching here at home and around the world, in the words of my great colleague, we are better than that.  Adjourned.

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HAYES:  Congressman, how dire Do you think the stakes are in terms of the message that is sent both to this president and future presidents if it is essentially deemed fine to do what the President did?

HECK:  If he normalizes this, Chris, absolutely.  We have an opportunity here to hold the president accountable.  And if we do not, pretty clearly he will have established the base that any future president can get away from that, can get away with the kinds of things that he did, and that there will be no way to hold them accountable.

I`ve always thought this was about the rule of law and whether or not the President was above it.  He`s not.

HAYES:  One of your colleagues today, Republican Will Hurd.  He`s retiring a member of Congress.  He was seen I think as sensible by Democrats, a moderate.  He`s retiring.  He has expressed his reservations about the President`s conduct.  He closed today by saying, there`s not evidence here to impeach.  Were you surprised by that?  What`s your reaction?

HECK:  So I think Will Hurd is an honorable person, and I think he`s been an honorable member of Congress.  And in fact, Chris, I cannot exaggerate to you how much I would like to have the debate that he set forth.  Namely, what happened here was wrongdoing, it simply didn`t rise to the level of an impeachment -- impeachable offense.

Now, I happen to disagree with Will on that score.  But the fact is, that would be a healthy debate.  That`s not the argument that all his colleagues are making.

HAYES:  Right.

HECK:  They`re all saying nothing wrong went on here, nothing whatsoever.  I don`t even know why we`re doing this, when in fact, the evidence is again, overwhelming.  The debate that Will would like to have would be a good debate for America.  What we`re having is not one.

HAYES:  Were you -- Fiona Hill today was a fairly striking witness in many ways.  She kept warning about the insidiousness of a variety of sort of false narratives about, you know, Ukraine meddling in the American elections and the conspiracy theory, of course, that made its way all the way to the President`s lips in the phone call of Zelensky which is almost too insane to describe, but essentially comes down to the DNC teaming with Ukraine to hack its own servers and leak its own emails in order to frame Russia for it.

What do you make of her saying that and then your Republican colleagues continue to truck in precisely what she had identified?

HECK:  Well, they`ve been oblivious to the facts seemingly from the very beginning.  But she`s absolutely right in pinpointing what the multiple levels of danger really are here.  First of all, if this argument is allowed to be propagated, it weakens Ukraine, right, because it calls into question our support for a country that would do this to us.

Russia delights in that because what makes Russia -- what makes Ukraine weaker makes Russia stronger.  They would like nothing better than to be able to march into Ukraine and make it a client state.  And of course, we`ve compromised the Ukraine`s national security by making this argument and we compromise our own national security by making the argument.

And all, by the way, in the process, we`ve undermined the very proud account of American democracy, which again, is the rule of law.

HAYES:  Right.  Congressman Denny Heck who was in those hearings all week, thanks so much.

HECK:  You`re welcome, Chris.

HAYES:  And joining me now, two people who have been following these hearings very closely Julia Ioffe Correspondent for GQ magazine, recently published a story titled "How Fiona Hill got tangled up in Trump land," and Max Bergmann who oversaw security assistance to Ukraine in the Obama State Department.  He`s now a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress.

Julia, you`ve done some reporting on Fiona Hill.  A lot of people were surprised when she left the Brookings Institution to join the Trump administration.  She talked about it today and I thought really interesting terms.  Basically, she went back in because she actually thinks she`s a Russia expert she thinks and American U.S.-Russia relationship, bilateral relationship is important, that we can`t be at sort of constant odds with them.  We can`t be in constant conflict.  And she wanted to do what she could just set it straight.  Julia?

JULIA IOFFE, CORRESPONDENT, GQ MAGAZINE:  Oh, sorry.  I thought you were playing a clip.  Yes, I think -- I think there was also a sense that, you know, the Russians had meddled in our elections, and she felt like she could bring her expertise to bear and, you know, set it --set it right.

And I don`t know if you recall, early on in the Trump administration, when there was a really a dearth of people who are willing to go in, the people who did go in kind of felt like they were going to be the adults in the room, that kind of sober hand on the wheel with this erratic driver behind the wheel who was you know, the leader of the free world.

They thought that they could mitigate the damage and make things -- keep things from getting worse.  And Kurt Volker was one of those people.  Jim Mattis was one of those people.  HR McMaster was one of those people.  Fiona Hill was one of those people.  And now, unfortunately, a lot of those people are witnesses in an impeachment inquiry.

HAYES:  Max, precisely the kind of narrative she talked about have been the through-line for not just Devin Nunes and other people on the committee, but obviously Rudy Giuliani who`s tweeting right now about how the U.S. Embassy won`t grant visas to some former prosecutors who want to come and tell us how corrupt I guess the Biden`s are.

You know, it does seem that this sort of counter-narrative that has been constructed has essentially colonized the minds of one of the two major parties.

MAX BERGMANN, SENIOR FELLOW, CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS:  Yes, look, Chris, I think we have to put this in some context.  I mean, part of what Rudy was doing as Trump`s personal lawyer who was hired as part of the Russia investigation was to try to develop a counter-narrative, a response that Trump could use to defend themselves from allegations that he colluded with Russia that they thought were coming because of the more investigation.  And then they saw this opportunity to connect it to Biden in the 2020 election.

And this has always been about Trump`s ability or willingness to use U.S. foreign policy to advance his own personal political interests.  And so it has never stopped.  And it`s been clear throughout 2019.  And so the idea that, that the grown-ups as Julia mentioned, that Kurt Volker and Ambassador Sondland didn`t know that this was connected -- that Burisma meant Biden is utterly farcical.

Because it was in the New York Times, an A-1 story on May 1st, where Rudy basically was pushing Biden in Burisma.  They knew what this was all about.  And Fiona Hill testified to that today.

HAYES:  Julia, do you think this will continue to be sort of a propped up theory?  I mean, Hill did her best today to kind of slay it.  I thought she was incredibly able at doing it.  But you`re already watching.  I mean, Lindsey Graham sent a letter today to Mike Pompeo saying we want all your communications from the Obama administration with Biden and Hunter Biden, and the former Ukrainian president, etcetera, etcetera.

IOFFE:  Well, you`re seeing this in the kind of right-wing media and in some ways this parallels what we saw happened in Russia is that two parts of the population live in parallel informational universes, only one of which is true.  And we have that happening here.

When this scandal started brewing and continuing through the hearings, people on the right -- on the right, were saying, oh, they never got over the Russia hoax.  They kept talking about the steel dossier.  Like those conspiracy theories never went away.  You had Devin Nunes basically, you know, and his counsel going through like, oh, hi, witness, have you heard of conspiracy theories 72-B?

HAYES:  Right.

IOFFE:  And those were all from kind of the Mueller era.  That stuff has not gone away.  It`s been baked in.  It`s been actually cemented in, I would say.  And I think that`s going to happen here too.  I looked at Fox, right, as you know, Fiona Hill wrapped up her testimony at their Web site, it`s like they watched a different hearing.  They were talking about how she was against the sale of javelins at the beginning.  It was all about Hunter Biden.  It`s like they didn`t watch the hearing at all.

HAYES:  Max, one of the other through lines here has been really pretty ugly attacks on some of the witnesses for dual loyalty, they`re foreigners.  Julia, you`ve written about this, Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman.

Today I saw a number of Conservatives tweeting about the accent of Fiona Hill and questioning why so many people in the American intelligence and Foreign Service are foreign-born?  There`s something pretty dark there that I think has been unearthed over the course of the last few weeks.

BERGMANN:  Oh, incredibly dark.  And I think what it reflects is that they had no -- they have no alternative arguments besides the -- besides the conspiracy theory that we just sort of outlined trying to blame Ukraine for Russian interference which is a Russian intelligence talking point.

So they have no arguments.  And so the other thing that you can do is try to attack the witnesses, and try to demean the witnesses, and try to say that they have these dual loyalties, a lot of it has anti-Semitic undertones, a lot of it is merely to try to sort of gin up this sort of national sentiment within the right-wing base.

And it`s -- and it`s incredibly demeaning to these people that serve the country and have taken an oath, and has served this country honorably, and especially with Lieutenant Colonel Vindman who`s fought, who`s been shot out, has been wounded in battle.  And to attack that guy`s patriotism is simply -- it`s simply beyond the pale.

But what we`re seeing is that there`s no bottom to this Republican Party.  And, you know, the Democrats are about to move forward on impeachment.  And really, I think what we`re seeing is that it`s the Republican Party that`s on trial here to see where they stand.

HAYES:  All right, Julie Ioffe and Max Bergmann, thank you both.

BERGMANN:  Thank you.

HAYES:  Next, a fresh look at the testimony of Ambassador Gordon Sondland, the man who said everyone was caught in the loop on the Ukraine scheme may have just gotten himself into more trouble.  That`s coming up in two minutes.

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HAYES:  It seems like another lifetime but it was just yesterday that the man at the center of the President`s extortion scheme testified before Congress.  U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland sat for more than six hours before the committee and he did in the end, make his plane back to Brussels.

Even more importantly, Sondland implicated seemingly just about everyone involved in this scheme, and his testimony produced headlines like this.  "We followed the President`s orders" and "Yes, there was a quid pro quo."  But Sondland also was squirrely.  He attempted to slice the salami very thin in his answers.

A great example came in an exchange in which the Republican council asked Sondland if he actually believed the President`s entirely non-credible denial of a quid pro quo during a phone call -- phone call between the two men.

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SONDLAND:  So rather than ask the president nine different questions, is it this, is it this, is it that, I just said, what do you want from Ukraine?  I may have used a four-letter word.  And he said I want nothing.  I want no quid pro quo.  I just wants Zelensky to do the right thing, to do what he ran on, or words to that effect.

STEVE CASTOR, MINORITY COUNSEL, IMPEACHMENT INQUIRY:  And you believe the President, correct?

SONDLAND:  You know what, I`m not going to characterize whether I believed or didn`t believe.  I was just trying to convey what he said on the phone.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAYES:  Believe, not believe, who knows.  Joining me now to talk about Sondland`s testimony and the fallout, former federal prosecutor Glenn Kirschner and who is an MSNBC Legal Analyst.  Glenn, what do you think of Sondland as a witness?

GLENN KIRSCHNER, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST:  You know, he wasn`t the most compelling witness I`ve ever seen.  Dr. Fiona Hill probably was the most compelling witness I`ve ever seen in my 30 years as a prosecutor.  You know, Sondland, I think brought some important facts to the table.  He brought some of that first-hand information out of Trump`s mouth, not just hearsay, which was an incessant complaint of the Republicans.

But I think, Chris, you know, Sondland, if we had an attorney general who was interested in enforcing the laws of the country, I actually think Sondland implicated himself in a conspiracy to commit bribery, in a conspiracy to commit extortion, in a conspiracy to defraud the United States by reaching out to a foreign country to defraud the United States by reaching out to a foreign country to undermine our U.S. elections.

Now, I don`t pretend that anybody`s going to necessarily want to bring charges against him.  But the fact that he incriminated himself makes him a little bit extra credible.  He didn`t completely try to keep himself out of the conspiratorial loop.  Instead, he included everybody in it, Trump, and Pompeo, and Mulvaney.  So, you know, I think he was at the end of the day, a mixed bag.

HAYES:  Well, the thing that he said about everyone was in the loop.  We were all -- I was letting everyone know, you know, I take that and I take Fiona Hill`s testimony, and it`s all sort of works as a unified theory.  It`s like they were running the foreign policy, Fiona Hill and her people, and Sondland was running the bag man operation to dirty up the President`s political rival and using this opportunistically foreign policy to do so.  And everyone was in the loop on that, it seems.

And I wonder what you think about the necessity of hearing from people like Mulvaney and Pompeo, Democrats appear to be moving forward without trying to fight that in the courts.  What do you think?

KIRSCHNER:  In a perfect world, we`d love to hear from the Bolton`s and the Pompeo`s and the Mulvaney`s.  And you know, it`s interesting because Dr. Fiona Hill showed us all that it`s possible to testify and still appropriately invoke executive privilege, which is exactly what the Pompeo`s and the Mulvaney`s should be doing instead of hiding in their offices behind this bogus claim of absolute immunity.  There`s no such thing that`s ever been recognized in the law.

But I thought it was interesting because Sondland said, no, no, no, there was only one channel.  It was the President`s channel to do the quid pro quo.

HAYES:  Right.

KIRSCHNER:  Dr. Fiona Hill said no, there were two channels.  There was the legitimate foreign policy channel in which I operated and Bill Taylor operated, and then there was the illegitimate.  I think she called the political errand channel, which was an illegitimate channel albeit one that President Trump was telling people to pursue.

And what I like is that it looks like Sondland has kind of gone from a coffee boy to an errand boy, because he was the one to sort of taking the lead the lead and point on this improper, you know, political errand channel.

HAYES:  You know, he also -- one thing that made him strange as a witness to your point about why he was sort of an odd presence is that he`s reciting all this, he`s implicating everyone, he seems to have no awareness that any of it was maybe not right.  I mean, he`s trying to maintain this kind of distance that Volker did, which we never realized that Burisma was about Biden, which today, the witnesses said was completely not credible.  Do you find that credible at all?

KIRSCHNER:  No, and I think Dr. Hill pretty much laid that to rest.  But you know, I think Sondland was signaling that he knew things weren`t right.

HAYES:  Yes.

KIRSCHNER:  Because if he was fully forthcoming, he would have said, of course, Burisma equaled the Biden`s.  But he wasn`t willing to go that far so that tells me he was willing to sort of give up some of his own complicity, but not all of his own complicity.

HAYES:  Right, exactly.  We sort of kept one foot in, one foot out the entire day.  It was really odd and fascinating to watch.  Glenn Kirschner, thanks for being with me.

KIRSCHNER:  Thank you, Chris.

HAYES:  Ahead, the much bigger fish as the State Department withholds key documents from the impeachment inquiry.  We`re learning just how close Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was to the center of it all.  More on that next.

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HAYES:  One thing we`ve learned from this impeachment testimony, particularly from U.S. Ambassador to the EU Gordon Sondland yesterday, but really a theme throughout the entire week is that the Secretary of State of the United States, Mike Pompeo, was looped into and made aware of the unfolding extortion scheme at nearly every turn, not to mention he was part of the extortion scheme at every turn, not to mention he was actually on the call in which the president pressured the Ukrainian president to pull off the political hit job on his opponent.

And yet Secretary Pompeo has refused to release relevant records and documents to the State Department, and has been dodging questions about his own conduct in the matter.  All the while apparently eying the exits in hopes of a Kansas Senate run.

For more on all this, I`m joined by Washington Post national security reporter John Hudson.

First, John, let me just ask you how your reporting, how has all this been playing inside the State Department?

JOHN HUDSON, THE WASHINGTON POST:  Well, there`s a few different angles going on.  For the rank and file State Department officials, many of whom knew the former and ousted U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, there`s a lot of disappointment because they feel like this is one of the most decorated and well respected diplomats among them who was unceremoniously ousted.

On the other hand, you know, they have appreciated the fact that Mike Pompeo, as you said, is a big fish.  He is the most treasured and prized member of Trump`s cabinet.  And so that gives the State Department more relevance than it used to have say under Rex Tillerson, but when they see their own  members and their own sort of well-respected diplomats treated in this way, it really is discouraging,  And that`s been felt widely across the department.

  HAYES:  I know that he has answered questions about this matter at a variety of press avails, but they were non-responsive answers largely.  I knew what was going on in Ukraine and I was involved in the policy and that`s it.  I mean, it does seem to me there`s a lot for him to answer for, particularly in the wake of Gordon Sondland`s release of those texts, and the fact that his State Department is withholding relevant notes, texts and emails.

HUDSON:  Oh, that`s absolutely right.  I mean, they had put up a dam in front of this committee that we`re not responding to records requests, being very dismissive of reporters who asked about it, telling them they`re not doing their job.  And Gordon Sondland essentially burst through that dam and put forward emails that he sent directly to the secretary of state, emails that he sent to the secretary`s executive assistant, and really detailing how he put together this quid pro quo and exchanging a White House visit for support for investigations, and making very clear that he kept the secretary abreast.  And  so that really transformed our understanding of just how closely Secretary Pompeo was following everything.

HAYES:  Sondland also -- I want to play this testimony yesterday -- he`s frustrated, he said, by the fact he couldn`t get his own notes from the State Department which is withholding them.  Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SONDLAND:  I have not had access to all of my phone records, State Department emails and many, many other State Department documents.  And I was told I could not work with my EU staff to pull together the relevant files and information.  Having access to the State Department materials would have been very helpful to me in trying to reconstruct with whom I spoke and met and when and what was said.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAYES:  Do we know what Pompeo`s next move is?  There`s a lot of talk about Kansas.  He`s been flying there a lot.  There`s some reporting indicating that folks think he has his eyes on a senate run.  What does your reporting indicate?

HUDSON:  Yes, so our reporting indicates that the Republican leadership in the senate is very interested in having him run for senate, and they don`t want to lose the senate.  And so the -- you know, it`s obvious that Secretary Pompeo through his work as the top diplomat, through his work as the nation`s top spy at the CIA would be a very compelling candidate in Kansas where they`re worried they could lose to a Democrat, which would be extremely unexpected.  And so in the party leadership they want him to do this. 

Meanwhile, he is taking hits day in and day out for any involvement in the impeachment, and so there`s a lot of questions about whether he is going to just cut and run and run for the senate. 

His people say that that`s absolutely out of the question.  And the only thing he has on the mind is America`s diplomacy.

HAYES:  Yes, well, that and three dollars gets you on the subway.

John Hudson, thank you for your time tonight.  Appreciate it.

Coming up, did we mention there was a Democratic debate last night, too?  We`re going to talk about that amazing event coming up.

But next a Thing One, Thing Two remix.  Don`t go anywhere.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HAYES:  A special Thing One, Thing Two tonight without the commercial in the middle.  As we`ve learned that Donald Trump I want nothing conversation with Gordon Sondland may not have been exactly what the two have said it was, but that`s the story.  And man alive is Trump sticking to it.

Yesterday, the president marched out of the driveway on a mission, and photographers there captured his notes, which he apparently wants you to believe count as an official transcript of the call.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP:  I want nothing.  I want nothing.  I want no quid pro quo.  Tell Zelensky, President Zelensky, to do the right thing.  This is the final word from the president of the United States.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAYES:  Well, I hate to tell you, buddy, this is not going to be the final word because Thing Two, the Internet had a field day with that.  One guy changed the image of his notes to the Baby Back Ribs song from the Chili`s commercial, others went with the showman horror movie theme, but some really took it up a notch, like Nick Lutso (ph) who turned the whole Trump appearance into an emo music video.

(MUSIC)

HAYES:  That was damn good, but the Ramones version from Alex Clemente (ph) might be even better.

(MUSIC)

HAYES:  Oh, so good.

Someday, maybe one of those will be on the soundtrack of the movie version of all this, and I  sincerely hope that actress Lily Sullivan will be considered for a role.  She posted today I will now  always use this text as my audition monologue.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LILY SULLIVAN, ACTRESS:  I want nothing.  I want nothing.  I want no quid pro quo.  Tell Zelensky to do the right thing.  This is the final word, from the president.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HAYES:  So, here`s an issue front that`s center this week, as the president of the United States pursue American foreign policy in the nation`s interest or in his own political or monetary interest?  Interesting thing to ponder in a lot of domains.

Just this week, Secretary of State Pompeo announced the United States is breaking with four decades of bipartisan precedent in declaring that it no longer views Israeli settlements in the West Bank as a violation of international law.  Those settlements are in fact recognized by the UN and international law as illegal, because they are constructed on land taken in war.

But the U.S. no longer sees it that way.  And this reversal in American policy is consistent with one prime imperative Donald Trump has followed since the day he took office, which is to make  policy choices that are favorable for the Israeli right wing.

And Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has repaid the president with a tremendous amount of praise and support.  The two men have a lot in common.  Today, that commonality has a fine point on it, because as Donald Trump faces impeachment for a scheme to extort a political hit on one of his rivals, Netanyahu was indicted today for bribery, fraud and breach of trust in three different corruption cases.

I should note it is the first time in Israeli history that a prime minister has been indicted while still in office.  The most serious charge involves the prime minister, get this, allegedly pushing for regulatory benefits worth over $250 million, to the owner of a news website in exchange, prosecutors say, quid pro quo you might call it, for favorable news coverage and even choice of stories and language used.

And Netanyahu is reacting to it often word for word as Trump would and does.  Netanyahu has called it a witch hunt.  He has called it an attempted coup.  Quoting his televised you would have to be blind to see that something bad is happening with the police and prosecution, because tonight we are witnessing an attempted coup against a prime minister through blood libels, and a biased investigation process.

The reality is the prime minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu was indicted today in three long running corruption cases.  And keep in mind, for the entire week, Republicans have tried to convince us, even though it is preposterous, and not an argument made in good faith, that the reason President Trump held up nearly $400 million worth of military aid to Ukraine was because Donald Trump is so concerned about corruption in countries that receive foreign aid.

So, now I am sure we will be hearing about all those concerns President Trump has expressed as Netanyahu`s corruption indictment dropped today in a country the U.S. gives nearly $4 billion worth of aid to every year.  Somehow I do not think we are going to see that.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), PRESIDENTIAL C ANDIDATE:  We have a president who is not only a pathological liar, he is likely the most corrupt president in the modern history of America.  But we cannot simply be consumed by Donald Trump.  Because if we are, you know what we`re going to lose the election.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAYES:  Senator Bernie Sanders seemed to set the phone last night for an evening full of extremely substantive changes that lasted for two hours, once again showing a party that`s really not obsessed with Trump, a party that is having a variety of sharp spirited discussions about the direction of its governing vision in an alternate universe from Trump world really.

It`s like the normal politics of the Democratic Party where people talk about a variety of important issues like health care and housing or practical stuff like paid family leave. 

And joining me to talk more about last night`s debate is Christina Greer, an associated professor of political science at Fordham University, Zerlina Maxwell, co-host of Signal Boost on Sirius/XM, and Sam Seder, host of Majority Report with Sam Seder.

Sam, let me start with you, I just was so struck, like we -- we were coming out of impeachment hearings all day.  Obviously impeachment is a huge deal, I personally think extremely important for the rule of law, but it is also the case that Trump is not dominating the Democratic Party primary discussion in ways that I find, frankly, interesting, I think healthily but find interesting.  And that happened again tonight, even though it came after 11 hours of the hearings.

SAM SEDER, HOST, MAJORITY REPORT:  I think it makes sense in the context of the Democratic primary.  And I think there`s wide acceptance that at least, you know, the top four or five  candidates in the primary can probably beat Donald Trump as long as they`re able to motivate a segment of the Democratic base.  And I think there`s frankly some actual questions about one or two of those people.  I could tell you who I think -- you know, I`ve yet to meet a Joe Biden supporter who is excited about Joe Biden beyond the fact that like I know him or I think he can win, but you don`t see a lot of people -- I mean he`s had trouble fund-raising, which is really bizarre when you think about it.

I mean, we`re far-out.  You know polls take a snapshot.  But the idea someone who`s winning by double digits and is having fund-raising problems, that to me is big red flag.

HAYES:  Although, again, he continues to be at 30 percent in the polls and he continues to lead.

SEDER:  Without a doubt.  And that`s the point, though, is that when can you point to someone who`s been that far-out this early who can`t fund raise?

HAYES:  Well, OK, so you said about this idea that like these people can win, so you think that -- I there`s two things happening.  Partly, like some confidence.  Partly I think it`s also true -- and I think it`s a good thing that like people -- there`s all this hectoring of Democrats like you`re in the bubble, this and that, and I do think it`s sort of like back in 2018 they didn`t run against Trump, they ran -- they understood that`s baked in.  The people that are coming to lick envelope for you and make calls because they hate Trump, they hate -- that`s done.

The people that you need to get are people who are like what`s happening with my health care?  And I think you have seen that carry over generally to the message last night.  Even when they`re arguing or fighting about policy, it is pretty brass tack stuff.

ZERLINA MAXWELL, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:  Yes, but I also think there were lessons learned from 2016 because, you know, i don`t think this is necessarily true that we only focused on, you know, Trump is racist, Trump is a white nationalist, he`s bad and don`t vote for him.  There was a lot of policy.  We just didn`t get to talk about it because they were talking about emails. 

But, the point is that I think that the lesson that Democrats took away from 2016 is you can`t just be against Trump, because everyone is pretty much -- on the Democratic side especially they`re already against Trump -- what are you going to do to make my life better post-Trump?

HAYES:  Particularly for the marginal -- particularly for the marginal voter, right?  For the voter that like you either need to motivate to come out to the polls or the voter that you need to persuade.  And like for them it`s like there`s no real impeachment -- I think the Democrats are right there`s not a big impeachment message to the swing voters of rural Wisconsin.

CHRISTINA GREER, FORDHAM UNIVERSITY:  No.  And we know in political science theory tells us all the time voters come out for pocketbook issues.  And so if we`re talking substantively and concretely about jobs, how are you going to create them, how are you going to keep them, how are you going to make sure I don`t go bankrupt if I have one small illness, that is actually what the Democrats need and should focus on, and they`re getting better.   Because it`s a given, Trump is bad.  Don`t vote for him.

HAYES:  Well, one other thing that I think was interesting now that was the health care -- there`s another health care section last night, but I thought it was very good.  I thought that the advocates of single payer, which is Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren did a better job here of staying out of the like how are you going to pay for it stuff, and more about here`s what we`re trying to build.  Like maybe...

GREER:  Have some imagination.

HAYES:  Like maybe you don`t like that.  And, look, there`s arguments on both sides.  But if you`re going to make the argument, like, they need to be able to try to move the conversation over their terms, which I thought they did pretty well last night.

SEDER:  Yes, and I think to a certain extent, too, we`re three months out from the Iowa caucus.  I think like frankly, I think the DNC has been very generous in terms of trying to be democratic. 

HAYES:  It sure has.

SEDER:  There shouldn`t be five people up there who are not cracking even close to double digits.  It`s getting to the point where it`s ridiculous.  And I think there`s a lot of people out there hoping that there`s going to be some type of like, you know, great moderate hope that`s going to show up and rescue the centrists in some way, but they have their candidates.

HAYES:  Buddy, he`s there.  Pete Buttigieg is like is going -- running as a moderate and he`s currently at the top of the polls in Iowa.

SEDER:  That`s what I`m saying.  So, it`s time to let them all -- let the top four or five candidates actually have a deeper debate about the direction of the Democratic Party.

GREER:  Well, I mean it`s interesting that you say the DNC is being generous.  I would say that Tom Perez is asleep at the wheel.  I mean, I don`t think that Tom Steyer should be able to purchase his way onto the stage.  I don`t think that Tulsi Gabbard should be on the stage spouting out Fox News points.  I mean, there are some people that just...

HAYES:  Well, she`s polling at 20 percent she could.  I mean, the point there is not the viewpoint discrimination, the point is that if you are not cracking 3, or 4 or 5 percent...

GREER:  Why are you here?

SEDER:  I wouldn`t say -- look, I`m not necessarily partial to Tulsi Gabbard, but there`s really no reason for Amy Klobuchar to be there anymore either.  And there`s really no reason for -- you could argue that Andrew Yang, I guess, is presenting a whole set of ideas that we don`t hear.

But, look, the bottom line is if you`ve got low single digits, it is time for the DNC to sort of  say you go, you can have another debate somewhere else, but in terms of this one we need to focus on people who the Democratic Party have decided they think can take on Donald Trump.

MAXWELL:  I think maybe polling is not the best way to do this in the future, and maybe that`s what we`re learning from this.  It can`t be one of the only factors, because national polling is not necessarily capturing the support among black people that Christina and I know exists for Cory Booker or Kamala Harris that is not factoring in the polling, right, because I`ve talked to plenty of Boomer black people that if you called them and asked them who would you support and they would probably say Biden, but if you asked the follow-up question, are you excited?  They go -- they waffle on that.

And so I think that what that tells me is that it`s a placeholder.  You`re sort of parking your car there and waiting for a spark from one of these other candidates that may resonate with you on the issues.

HAYES:  I think that is probably true.  And I think we`re going to see this continue.  I will say that I think even -- I think Harris and Booker are over the threshold, even if you shrunk down by four or five candidates.  I mean, I think they`re still over the threshold enough even if there was like a main consolidation...

SEDER:  I think Harris is in terms of the polling.

HAYES:  But I think it is inevitable that we are going to see that ratcheted down, because you do have to sort of focus things at a certain point.

Christina Greer, Zerlina Maxwell, Sam Seder, thanks for joining us.

If you`re in New York, don`t forget we`re doing a live recording of our Podcast why is this happening December 8.  Tickets available now.  You can find all the details on our website.  It`s going to be awesome. 

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