CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: And that`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us. "All In" with Chris Hayes starts right now.
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CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: Tonight on a special edition of ALL IN.
REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): This president believes he is above the law, beyond accountability.
HAYES: Two weeks into the impeachment inquiry and the case against Donald J. Trump is strong.
REP. DENNY HECK (D-WA): Here`s the big truth. The President did it. He did it.
HAYES: What we know after a dozen officials testified and our articles of impeachment next.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Frankly, I want to trial.
HAYES: Plus, all the corruption Trump is not being impeached over.
TRUMP: I do want always corruption.
HAYES: And I sit down with legendary journalist Bill Moyer and the dangers of so much dishonesty. Live from Studio Six A in Rockefeller Plaza, ALL IN starts right now.
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HAYES: Hello. Hey, everybody. How are you? Good evening. Thank you for being here. Thank you, thank you. It`s great to have you all here back at our special studio on 30 Rock. It has been another crazy, overwhelming and ultimately historic week. We`re going to get into all the details.
We thought -- saw three marathon days of testimony in the impeachment of Donald J. Trump this week. We`ve now seen public testimony from 12 different witnesses including three that were requested by the Republicans on the committee, though you`d never noticed by the way they treated them.
You know, if you were pressed for time this week, and I get it if you were, it was a crazy week, and you want to sort of top-line takeaway from all of his testimony, and all the hearings this week, it`s he did it. That`s basically the top-line takeaway.
One thing that we have seen over the last two weeks is that there`s been a lot of testimony about just how messed up it was for the President to do what he did to Ukraine, right, to withhold assistance and support from the young democracy. I mean, Ukraine continues to this very moment as I`m speaking to you, right, they`re literally any hot shooting war with Russia right now.
Thousands and thousands of Ukrainian soldiers have died. Russia is currently occupying huge parts of that country. And we are the U.S., we are Ukraine`s ally. And just to be clear here, because I think there`s a little lost this week, we are not Ukraine`s ally or assisting them because of some deep state globalist agenda.
No, we agreed to give them military aid because of wait for it, a bipartisan vote in Congress 351 to 66 which, by the way, many of the Republican congressmen you saw ranting all this week, they all voted for, Jim Jordan, Devin Nunes among others. They voted for the bill.
Oh, and then it was signed into law by President Donald Trump, OK. This was the policy, the policy of both houses of Congress and the President, and the President signed it. For President Trump to then throw these roadblocks in front of the new Ukrainian president who`s attempting to extricate himself from this horrible war of occupation at a time when they need our support, it just it`s an incredibly screwed up thing to do. And we have a lot of evidence of that. We got a lot of evidence this week.
But I want to be clear about something as we think about all the evidence we`ve seen, which is that as messed up as it is, this is not why President Trump is being impeached. It is not what the President did to Ukraine that is impeachable. It is what he did to all of us as American citizens and American voters.
Remember, this is the guy who goes around touting himself as America first. He`s looking out for Americans, right. But his conduct here is literally the opposite of that. We`ve all seen in this testimony, the President Trump, what he`s consistently doing is throwing Americans under the bus to a foreign interest, selling America out to foreign interest.
First, there`s the fact that President is trying to, and this is so central to this, he`s trying to get an American election determined by forces outside America, by foreigners. It is a great violation of our sovereignty and democratic determination as a collective people.
We determine our elections. We should let other countries determine theirs, right? We should -- we should not meddle in other elections and other people should not meddle in ours. It`s a universal principle we should apply. Though to our great shame as Americans, I feel obliged to say we have violated that over and over. Let`s be clear. But we determine our fate and our future and we determine our elected representatives.
The last time 2016, Donald Trump solicited foreign assistance very openly. He welcomed it, and he weaponized it, and used it to win an election, and it fundamentally did something deeply destructive to our sense of democratic legitimacy.
And as soon as he thought he got away with it, literally the day after Special Counsel, Robert Mueller testified, and a lot of people thought the whole thing were over, the day after, he gets on the phone with Ukrainian president and he tries to extort him into meddling in the upcoming election.
So that is the first and the biggest infraction here to us as Americans. The second is that the President of the United States right now is providing active cover for the foreign entity that actually did sabotage our last election. And not only that, he`s actually attempting to blame Americans rather than Russians for that sabotage.
And that shows up in -- on the part of the Trump`s phone call with the Ukrainian president that honestly people talk the least about because I honestly think this, it is so cringe-inducing nuts. And it`s the conspiracy theory that made its way President`s brain and into that phone call with the Ukrainian president.
And it`s almost too embarrassing to actually get into the details so Republicans just have this euphemism for it. They say 2016 -- have you heard that right, in the hearings? You wanted to investigate 2016. That`s shorthand. Trump didn`t say 2016 on the phone call. Check the transcript. He said CrowdStrike. Look at the call notes.
"I would like you to find out what happened with this whole situation with Ukraine." They say CrowdStrike, I guess you have one of your wealthy people. The server, they say Ukraine has it. What is Zelensky thinking that moment?
So four months after the call, the President is still parroting that insane conspiracy theory literally this morning on Fox and Friends. President Trump repeated the exact same thing, almost verbatim, a conspiracy theory which I`m going to explain in the moment is so nuts, it`s so out there that even one Stephen James Doocy sitting on the curvy couch, staring dead-on into the cameras, the President ranted, was forced to raise his voice with a gentle reminder that we live on planet Earth.
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TRUMP: A lot of it had to do, they say with Ukraine.
STEPHEN JAMES DOOCY, HOST, FOX NEWS CHANNEL: But Mr. President.
TRUMP: You know, it`s very interesting -- it`s very interesting. They have the server right from the DNC Democratic National Committee.
DOOCY: Who has the server?
TRUMP: The FBI went in and they told them, get out of here, you`re not -- we`re not giving it to you. They gave the server to CrowdStrike or whatever it`s called, which is a -- which is a company owned by a very wealthy Ukrainian. And I still want to see that server. You know, the FBI has never gotten that server. That`s a big part of this whole thing. Why did they give it to a Ukrainian company?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you sure they did that? Are you sure they gave it to Ukraine?
TRUMP: Well, that`s what the word is. That`s what I asked actually at my phone call if you know. I mean, I asked it very point-blank because we`re looking for corruption.
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HAYES: Are you they did that Mr. President? Are you`re sure about that? Again, just bear with me here. While I have to explain what those words mean, because almost no one takes the time to explain it. Do you feel like that? Because it`s so wild. Like the CrowdStrike -- OK, just to be clear, CrowdStrike is not a Ukrainian company, OK. It`s an American one, and it`s co-founded by a guy who was born in Russia who is an American citizen. And it is a publicly listed cybersecurity company based in Silicon Valley in good old Sunnyvale, California.
In fact, get this, they have a contract with the Republican Party right now. They do digital security for Fortune 500 companies all over the country, and they happen to have a client back in 2016, the Democratic National Committee, the DNC who got hacked in 2016, and they hired CrowdStrike to do the analysis what happened here.
And CrowdStrike were the first people to say we looked at it, we analyzed it, we found the culprit. Russia hacked the DNC. That is why CrowdStrike is the target because they were the ones who to coin a phrase blew the whistle on Russia. They were the first ones to say this is Russia. And so they have been a target of Russia and President Donald Trump ever since, right? Fascinating how that works.
So the conspiracy theory that has been spun out of it, and it lives in the darkest corners of the Internet, and I mean, like, chance with numbers you`ve never even encountered. The idea of this conspiracy theory is that get this, contrary to U.S. intelligence and Special Counsel Mueller, Russia didn`t actually hack the DNC. No, no, no, no, no. Instead, the DNC hacked its own server, then leaked their own e-mails, which got their own head of the DNC fired, OK. And then in partnership with CrowdStrike, they created a story framing the Russians for the hack they did it themselves. And then they refuse to let anyone investigated and so they ship the physical server that had the evidence over to Ukraine.
Just to be clear, we have no reason to believe that there`s a server and a vault in Kiev that is being locked away from the prying eyes of the FBI. But the whole CrowdStrike conspiracy theory, it is -- I just want to be real clear about this, it`s like 9/11 truth or level, nuts, all right. Because what it says is that the attack that happened on America was actually done internally by Americans to themselves. That`s what he`s saying when he says that. And that is vile slander against Americans, and it`s vile slander, all for the purpose of giving cover to the actual foreign intelligence service that committed a grave crime against us the American electorate.
So that`s two things. Third thing that is an American betrayal, betrayal of Americans, it has to do with President Trump what he`s asking be done to the Biden`s. And I don`t think this part of it honestly has gotten enough attention.
Typically, nations are jealous guards have their own sovereignty and have their own legal process, right? I mean, we want to deal with American citizens ideally in American jurisdiction. We tend to be a bit suspicious of other countries` judicial systems. What`s happening here is the opposite.
The President of the United States is taking a private American citizen and trying to get a notably corrupt country, Ukraine, to attempt to subject him to their jurisdiction when he is not accused of any crime. If Hunter Biden broke the law, that is the U.S. Justice Department`s business, and that`s our business.
And the American first guy, right, the guy who talks about standing up for Americans, he`s pushing a foreign country to pull an American into their system to sell out an American citizen who is not accused of any crime and attempt to sacrifice that person at the altar reformed judicial process that is notably corrupt and is not our own. And that`s not the way it works or it shouldn`t work.
You know, we actually have a version right now of the way it should work, and that`s with Rudy Giuliani`s buddies, Rudy and his buddies Lev and Igor. If you know them, you`ll love them. So basically, there`s an investigation in the Southern District of New York by U.S. authorities, and they have a factual predicate for that investigation, and then they get probable cause to get an indictment, right? They have to go through a U.S. judicial process.
And the authorities get indictment and have appear -- it looks like, to secure the cooperation from Ukrainian officials without the president making a call to order it. The President doesn`t do that. That`s for the line prosecutors to do using established international protocols.
And Lev and Igor are being prosecuted here in our country under our laws with our constitutional protections because they`re Americans. And what the President tried to do in Ukraine is a fundamental betrayal of his duty because the President, and I know he doesn`t believe this, but it is true, the President is the president of Hunter Biden too. He is.
Because Hunter Biden is an American citizen, and it`s the President`s duty to protect all Americans, all American citizens from the deprivations of foreign judicial systems. In fact, it is really the President`s job to represent all of America`s national interest. That`s the job. That`s the job.
He took an oath to take care of that the laws are faithfully executed, and he has used the position to benefit himself instead. And not just to benefit himself, he benefits himself at the cost of the American interest, at the cost of American citizens, at the cost of American`s reputation, at the cost of American sovereignty and self-determination over our own electoral process. And that is the reason that he`s being impeached.
Joining me now is one of the members of Congress who will draft and vote on articles of impeachment against the President, Democratic Congressman Joe Neguse of Colorado. He`s a member of the House Judiciary Committee. Good to see you, Congressman.
REP. JOE NEGUSE (D-CO): Good to be with you, Chris.
HAYES: What is your understanding of where the process is now? We`ve heard from the 12 witnesses, House Intelligence Committee did depositions, now open hearings. Is the ball now coming to your court in the Judiciary Committee?
NEGUSE: So that`s an open question, Chris. First, I would just say, you articulated the case very well in terms of kind of recounting what`s occurred over the better part of the last two weeks. It`s worth really taking a breath and considering the scope and the gravity of the evidence that we`ve ascertained over the last several weeks.
And the American people really have had an opportunity to hear from people whom I think are patriots, public servants who have served under Republican and Democratic administrations, who have fought for our country, people like Lieutenant Colonel Vindman, Ambassador Taylor, Ambassador Yovanovitch, Dr. Hill who as you know did a really effective job of explaining the reasons why these conspiracy theories aren`t even theories. They ultimately constitute Russian propaganda, the point that you mentioned regarding CrowdStrike and the rest.
So I think if one takes a step back and considers all the evidence that we`ve gathered, it is clear that this President abused his power and betrayed his oath and ultimately betrayed the constitution by soliciting a foreign power to interfere in the next presidential election and to target a domestic political rival and so forth.
So in terms of next steps, look, Chairman Schiff has done a masterful job with respect to the fact-gathering. It`s going to be his call as to whether or not more witnesses are needed and whether or not there`ll be other depositions or potential other public hearings. The judiciary committee will stand ready to consider the evidence that he transmits to us under House Resolution 660 and to be able to obviously take our work very seriously as we proceed potentially into the next phase of the process.
HAYES: So I`ve seen reporting that indicates that the timescale of this, the pace and the scope is likely to essentially result in some kind of report to the Judiciary Committee. They`ve been talking about drafting articles impeachment by Christmas, I think I`ve heard. And I guess my question to you is like, why the rush?
There are -- there are fact witnesses who are currently denying subpoenas. Mick Mulvaney is one of them. And we know that he`s been implicated directly by the testimony. There are documents that State hasn`t handed it over. And there`s also I think a questioning lingering in the back of people`s minds of like, OK, well, this was the one case we cracked open that hearings about and sure a lot stuff spilled out. Do we want to just like ignore all these other boxes of secrets that are strewn around the White House?
NEGUSE: Well, I`ll say this. I don`t think that there is a set timetable. I`ve seen the speculation regarding the potential calendar but I think it`s precisely that. It`s speculation.
HAYES: You think that`s wrong?
NEGUSE: The Speaker -- yes, I think the Speaker has been very clear that we were going to move expeditiously but that we also were going to follow the facts where they lead us. And as you know, I mean, Chairman Schiff, great example of this, is with respect to the hearings that were conducted over the last two weeks, where there were other witnesses that they learned of by virtue of the testimony that they received in the depositions, and ultimately, those witnesses then came forward and testified, an example being Mr. Holmes.
So I think we`re going to, as I said, take a step back to be able to unpack all the evidence that we have gleaned of the President`s egregious conduct. We`ll take our cues with respect to next steps as to whether or not Chairman Schiff wants to do additional fact-finding hearings and depositions. And then, ultimately will make a judgment call as to where we go from there.
HAYES: Final question for you. It appears to me that there`s a unified effort, particularly in the last few days from the White House, Congressional Republicans, and Senate Republicans to essentially project sort of unified confidence and strength.
And basically the message they`re going to -- they`re sending is you can`t break us. And if you can`t break us, if you can`t peel any of us off, then this is all for not. And too bad, we don`t care what the facts are necessarily because we don`t believe you, we don`t believe your process. There`s nothing you can do to make us turn on our beloved president.
And when you watch that, what is -- what goes through your head about what exactly the state of American politics is, and what your role is persuasively in the job that you occupy?
NEGUSE: The feeling I have is profound disappointment that so many of my colleagues on the other side of the aisle are unwilling to choose country over party. At the end of the day, they take the same oath that I do to defend the constitution against enemies, foreign and domestic.
And I would hope that after reviewing all the evidence that the Intelligence Committee has, as I said, gleaned, that they would ultimately view that evidence objectively and really be prepared to discharge their duties as an independent and coequal branch of government that is the Congress.
But look, at the end of the day, Chris, while the Senate may be the jury under our Constitution, there`s a second jury which is the American people. And the American people understand an abuse of power when they see it. They recognize when they see it. It`s why public polling has shifted, in my view, as -- in some of the empirical studies that I`ve seen, in support of the impeachment inquiry, the methodical work that we have done in the Congress.
So I`ve never lost faith that the Congress will ultimately do what it takes to hold this administration accountable, and to discharge our constitutional duties, nor should the American people lose faith either.
HAYES: All right, Congressman Joe Neguse of Colorado, thank you much, sir. I appreciate it.
NEGUSE: Thank you, Chris.
HAYES: A lot more tonight. All right, when we come back, we`re going to go through the evidence in the case. There was a lot of it laid out. We`ve got two people who`ve been spending a lot of time thinking about it. We`re going to go through the evidence in the case of the impeachment of Donald J. Trump. Don`t go away.
HAYES: So this week, we had nine witnesses testifying in the impeachment inquiry. And over the of 24 hours total of public testimony, there`s been a pretty consistent thing.
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LT. COL. ALEXANDER VINDMAN, DIRECTOR FOR EUROPEAN AFFAIRS, NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL: Frankly, I couldn`t believe what I was hearing. It was probably an element of shock that maybe in certain regards my worst fear of how our Ukraine policy could play out, was playing out.
GORDON SONDLAND, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO EUROPEAN UNION: Was there a quid pro quo? As I testified previously, with regard to the requested White House call and the White House meeting, the answer is yes. Everyone was in the loop.
FIONA HILL, FORMER SENIOR DIRECTOR, NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL: 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.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: I have to say, even for someone like me who was professionally paying attention to this, there was a lot to sort through. And so we brought in two people who have been spending all week sifting through this stuff, watching the testimony, studying it, Erin Banco who`s been breaking stories left and right on this beat, the National Security Reporter for The Daily Beast, and Maya Wiley who was -- who was an attorney in the Southern District of New York and has been doing a live daily coverage of the impeachment hearings as an MSNBC Legal Analyst. Great to have you both here.
So big themes as established there, right, the fact that everyone`s implicated, the fact that they were looped in. What were -- what were some other things that stuck out to you that might be not quite the big, like Gordon Sondland, we`re all guilty headline of the week?
ERIN BANCO, NATIONAL SECURITY REPORTER, THE DAILY BEAST: So I thought one of the first things that was really interesting to me is that quite a few witnesses mentioned Vice President Mike Pence, right? He`s sort of implicated in the July 25th call. He`s on the call. Jennifer Williams, his aide appears in front of house investigators this week and says, you know a little bit about his trip to Warsaw that happens in September.
Yet a couple of witnesses are asked so what did Mike Pence tell you or what did he relayed back to the president? And everyone kind of shrugs like I don`t know. I don`t really know what`s up with Mike Pence. And I found that kind of shocking, right because he started just as lurking in the background here, but is very knowledgeable about what`s going on get has said very little publicly and people who are around him don`t seem to really know what Mike Pence knows.
HAYES: You know, that that point -- you know, that Warsaw meeting. This is after -- this is in September, right?
HAYES: This is at the point where Zelensky is like, what`s the deal with the aid?
HAYES: Right? I mean, the aid is held up. Pence is there as a sort of emissary for the president.
BANCO: That`s right.
HAYES: In Warsaw, the president was supposed to go. And I -- that struck out to me as well, particularly the fact that we know that Pence is communicating Zelensky corruption.
HAYES: And at that point, Zelensky strikes me as a pretty bright guy. He knows what that means. This has been pretty well established.
MAYA WILEY, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST: I think he knew what that meant on July 25th.
HAYES: Right, exactly. Yes.
WILEY: Which was this as a hold-up. But there are two pieces to that. One is the critical importance of Pence in that role and lots of questions about that. But something that was so critical that we did not know from Fiona Hill`s testimony was that John Bolton, who has been portrayed in the media as the adult in the room kind of saying Giuliani`s a hand grenade and I don`t want to be part of this drug deal was actually part of the drug deal.
HAYES: Right. That`s a good point. That is a good point.
WILEY: So --
HAYES: That relates -- this is weirdness today with John Bolton which is he`s doing this --
BANCO: He`s back.
HAYES: Yes. Well, he`s back on Twitter and he wrenched his Twitter account back from the White House.
WILEY: He`s back -- he`s the backstory that we were going to learn had nothing to do with the constitutional crisis. It`s just had to --
HAYES: Well, this is -- he`s on Twitter now like teasing, like he`s selling a book where he`s trying to get the viewers to watch the next block of television, something I know a little bit about. But like, it`s -- this is -- like the constitution is that like are you going to testify or not?
BANCO: You know, according to sources that we`ve been speaking to on the Hill, I don`t think there`s any anticipation that John Bolton will appear for testimony of any kind. But you know, it`s -- we keep hearing his name right? His name keeps coming up.
And I think in particular, you know, Bolton`s role is really interesting in this, you know now-infamous July 10th meeting that happens at the White House where Ukrainian officials come to Washington, they`re all ready to me Bolton and talk about a roadmap for it, right?
And Bolton sort of ends the meeting early and does not then go into the wardroom where all the messiness happens, where the demands are made by Sondland.
WILEY: He then sends Fiona Hill in.
BANCO: He sends Fiona Hill in.
HAYES: Right. He`s constantly telling people to go to the lawyers. It`s like, dude, how about you go to the lawyers?
BANCI: He`s like I don`t want any part of this but let me know what happened.
HAYES: Yes, you go to the lawyers. You go to the lawyers.
WILEY: And I`ll still carry the water to get the military aid released and say, yes, you have to deliver those investigations.
WILEY: The thing about him not testifying is so much more obvious now though because of Fiona Hill.
HAYES: Right. That`s a great point.
WILEY: See, that`s the thing. Before we thought, oh, he`s really stuck between rocks in a fireplace. You know, poor guy. And then you`re like no, it`s like I don`t want to testify under oath.
HAYES: Because I`m implicated.
WILEY: Because I`m implicated. What is he going to say about what he said in those investigations? Oh, and I don`t think he can do what a Volker and a Sondland did again because it`s so not credible, which is to say Burisma, who knew that was the Biden`s. Everybody but them apparently
HAYES: Yes, yes. It`s like yes, I was working on this and I`m also the dumbest person possibly imaginable, like that`s my story and I`m sticking to it. And the Sondland testimony, I mean, to say that, you know, what will Bolton do because he`s implicated? Like Sondland was the guy, right?
HAYES: And there was this open question which I think we`ve all sort of forgotten because once it happened, I was like, oh, I guess he`s doing it. But going in it was like, is he going to defend the president and be a kind of antagonistic with the Democrats, which is clearly what Devin Nunes thought when he read his opening statement. Like it was not clear, Erin, going in which way he was going to go on that.
BANCO: No. You know, obviously a lot of people know Sondland is a big- time Trump donor. He, you know, I thought he was going to go in and sort of be defiant, and sort of, you know, of defend Trump at all costs. And what we ended up seeing was that he just dragged everyone down with him, right. And he went in and he was like, you know, this is what it is and he seemed to be overly confident, which was weird...
HAYES: And weirdly happy.
HAYES: I`m just happy to be here. I`ve got a plane to catch.
BANCO: It was like I`ve got to go back to Brussels and do my job. And we`re like what, you still have your job?
HAYES: Yes, also like you bought a ticket today?
BANCO: It`s fascinating, right. And then Trump comes out and he -- all hail Sondland for his testimony while Republicans meanwhile I think on Fox News and elsewhere are saying, you know, what is Sondland saying, you know, trying to discredit him while meanwhile the president`s like, no, no, no, he was great.
HAYES: That was great testimony.
WILEY: well, he`s got the goods. I mean, they`re kind of stuck between a rock and a hard place. And the only -- I won`t call it a good argument, but the only argument they have is this was wrong, wrong, wrong. And you heard Representative Hurd do this...
HAYES: Hurd was the one who articulated it.
WILEY: Hurd was the one...
HAYES: Republican of Texas, retiring...
WILEY: The only rational thing you can say, which is he said the call on July 25th was wrong, White House bungling, just not impeachable. I mean, which is not true, we should say. And I think what was so important about the testimony which was different from the depositions was the power of the points about national security and the abuse of office for Trump`s personal gain at the expense of us.
And one thing that really...
WILEY: Yeah, you can applause.
HAYES: Anyway, the final thought I just had is you had all these people scratching their head through this whole thing because it`s inconceivable what the president. The reason it takes them so long to put two plus two equal four for Hill and Vindman is there`s no way he`s doing this, right? And what see them up there being is like, oh my god, he`s going to do this. And that to me was one the most powerful aspects of the full trajectory of the testimony this week.
Erin Banco and Maya Wiley, thank you both. That was great.
HAYES: Sometimes I think its worth, amidst all the details and the 24 hours of testimony, to take a step back to remember this entire impeachment process is over just one corrupt act by a president whose corruption is his defining feature. We`re going to talk about that next. Don`t go away.
HAYES: At the center of the impeachment inquiry is the president`s corruption, corruptions of the use of public office and public power for private personal gain. And that`s what the president very clearly did here, and it`s why he`s being impeached.
But here`s the thing, it`s not just this one little Ukraine thing, it`s a recurring practice of the president. We just found out this week that in the first five months of his presidency back in 2017, Donald Trump had the Secret Service paying his properties more than a quarter of a million dollars. That`s five months.
Just last month, remember, he tried to award himself a multi-million dollar government contract by bringing the G-7 to one of his resorts? Miami in July. If you`re going to talk about Donald Trump`s corruption it just suffuses everything about his presidency. So, joining me now to talk about that is a woman who literally wrote a book about corruption in America and how much the founders hated it, Zephyr Teachout.
HAYES: How are you?
ZEPHYR TEACHOUT, FORDHAM UNIVERSITY: Good, how are you?
HAYES: So, let me just start with the concept of corruption, like how you think about it and how central you think about it to being to the constitution, the founders` concerns, the strength of American democracy.
TEACHOUT: Yeah, corruption is when somebody has been given, really, the sacred power to use public power, to act for the people, then takes that and uses it for their own selfish, private gain.
And this concern, the fear of corruption, was actually really central to the founding of our country. After we had decided that we were going to try to be, a, United States, the next question was how do we construct a country that protects against corruption?
At the Constitutional Convention -- so imagine you`re in that hot summer in Philadelphia, the framers talked about corruption a quarter of the time. Like they`re kind of wringing everything through the wringer, like the treaty power, the size of districts, the electoral college. Everything they debated in terms of how can we protect against corruption? Because what they said and understood is that the danger of republics is that -- and their potential weakness -- is that they could become corrupted. And so they were less afraid of external threats and more afraid of internal threats of corruption.
HAYES: They`re particularly afraid -- there`s a quote from George Mason during the Constitutional Convention, which you pointed out to me -- I shouldn`t be like, oh, I just found this quote -- who said this, "shall the man who has practiced corruption and by that means procured his appointment in the first instance be suffered to escape punishment by repeating his guilt."
So it`s not just the corruption they`re worried about, it`s if you get corrupt enough that you can corrupt the electoral process to get yourself into power again.
So that Mason quote comes in the middle of this very vibrant debate about impeachment. Initially in the early drafts there was a provision for impeachment for malpractice or neglect of duty. But Mason and others were so worried about corruption, they said, no, we have to make sure that we`re really clear that we can have impeachment for bribery and treason and then add a general phrase about maladministration, and Madison said let`s clean that up.
HAYES: Right, and I think it`s interesting, too, they take maladministration out specifically, because they think it`s too broad and it`s not specific to this idea of corruption, it`s just if you`re incompetent, if you`re bad at your job, that`s actually not enough to their view. Like they actually make the decision to take that out.
TEACHOUT: And they replace it with "high crimes and misdemeanors," which had a precise meaning in the English tradition. And the three big proponents of the impeachment power were Randolph and Mason and Madison, and all of them not only talked about corruption but particularly about foreign corruption and about the unique dangers of an executive having extraordinary powers in the foreign realm.
Randolph is really worried about the executive becoming corrupt in questions of war and peace, because people wouldn`t necessarily know about them. It was the peak of presidential power.
So they were concerned about it. And there were a people who objected who said, no, we shouldn`t have this impeachment clause. In fact Charles Pinckney said don`t worry if there`s another election, that is all you need.
HAYES: Literally the argument.
TEACHOUT: Literally the same argument.
HAYES: And what`s the response to that?
TEACHOUT: Well, the overwhelming response, the overwhelming majority of states and delegates said, no, we actually need this, because the threat of corruption and foreign corruption is so grave and it can do so much to our country to have somebody continuing in office when they are serving their own private selfish ends at the expense of the public, especially in foreign affairs but in all affairs, that we can`t actually wait for that, we need to have the impeachment clause.
HAYES: A lot of that is relayed in this book, "Corruption in America," which a great book I recommend to everyone. You and I had discussed it in an episode we did in my podcast, "Why is this Happening," which you can download if you want to hear more about this.
Zephyr Teachout, thank you so much for being here.
TEACHOUT: Thank you.
HAYES: All right, coming up, we`re going to get a little perspective on the last three impeachments, the trajectory of the American republic over three impeachments with the legendary journalist Bill Moyers who is here. Don`t go anywhere.
HAYES: Bill Moyers has been a journalist for more than 50 years and came to journalism after serving in multiple roles in President Lyndon B. Johnson`s administration including press secretary. He`s one of the foremost chroniclers of the transformation of both our media and our politics. He`s covered three impeachments from Watergate through Bill Clinton to now Donald Trump. And about two weeks ago, ahead of the Trump impeachment hearings, Moyers and a colleague published a full page ad in The New York Times calling on his long-time employer PBC to televise the impeachment hearings in prime time, because they wanted working Americans to be able to witness in full the case against the president of the United States.
Joining me now the incomparable Bill Moyers.
HAYES: Great to see you.
Why -- why did you take that ad out? Why do you think it`s important for people to be able to actually watch the hearings themselves?
BILL MOYERS, JOURNALIST: Because they`ve only been for this one for impeachment hearings. They`re a powerful course in civic education. If you watched every day this week, as my wife and I did, you really see how government works, why we have embassies, for example. That`s why we have embassies. You look at those first class civil servants, foreign officers, Foreign Service officers, and you see why we have embassies.
You see how this president can -- how this president has maligned those people.
If you just get what we got in the evening, in the evening newscast, and in five or six segments, you can`t see the organic process as it unfolds. And to see that is to sit there and be both proud of the people who are telling the truth and deeply worried about the people who are lying.
HAYES: You know, it`s funny you say that because I had that same thought watching a few of these individuals, Fiona Hill, Lieutenant Colonel Vindman, George Kent, in particular, whose command -- whose just basic command and fluidity with the facts. I mean, there`s one point where Kent is going back and forth, and he`s saying, well, when did this investigation. And he goes, well that began in 2014. And who is this person? He was -- they just know they`re brief. This is -- these are the people that we have inside our government. And I thought for people to think that these are bureaucrats, and the deep state or something, this is pretty remarkable thing to watch.
MOYERS: And for a president to -- and for President Trump to vigorously denigrate them, to malign them, with Giuliani leading a smear campaign against these fine public servants is disgusting, It`s abominable.
HAYES: You covered Watergate. You covered Bill Clinton. You are now watching this. What is your general sense of what the fundamental shifts in American politics and media are between the Watergate era through Clinton to now?
MOYERS: Well, the Watergate story started in the summer of `72 and ran until Nixon resigned in `74. It was a long running story with one revelation after another. There was a smoking gun, that was the missing tape that Nixon first to release the transcript of and then was required by the Supreme Court to release the whole tape.
You know, I wonder, Chris, I just wonder if there isn`t a tape of this conversation between the Presidents, Zelensky and Trump, that isn`t back there somewhere in that closet.
It took longer to get at the story of Watergate. There was a smoking gun, as I said. There are smoking bricks here, carefully put into place by these -- the people who testified, these foreign service officers, who testified this week, one brick at a time, so that you`re beginning to see the pattern of what he did, whereas it took some sudden release, it took some crisis in the Watergate hearing for the truth to come out.
HAYES: You know, one thing when I`ve gone back and doing a lot of reading about Watergate now and partly sort of context of this, and doing reading about Andrew Johnson`s impeachment in the 1860s, but in the Watergate context I think the way that you get taught the history is that it was foreordained he would fall. That, of course, in a kind of almost Greek drama way fate would catch up to him. But you go back and you look at it, you know, if he hadn`t taped himself, there`s a lot of ways it would have gone that Nixon just survived the whole thing.
MOYERS: I think he would have survived. For one thing, he never admitted his crimes. Trump announced his in public.
HAYES: Right. Repeatedly.
MOYERS: No, no, that`s the truth. But there is a similarity, and it is this: Republicans did not rush to get rid of Nixon. It wasn`t -- I think it was the few months before the actual trial that the first Republican representative said I`m convinced. But Republicans in the congress did not want Nixon to go. And in fact the Republican Party was polled just before the vote, and 31 percent of them said, yes, he should go, but two thirds of them said no, he shouldn`t. And that`s basically where the Republican Party is today.
Partisanship is a great insurance policy against impeachment. If the Republican Party members don`t fold, don`t see the light, go over to the other side, vote against Trump, I doubt that there will be an impeachment.
HAYES: I think there`s an instinct I think always with Trump, because he`s so strange in many ways to kind of historicize, like never before -- and, you know, if you go back and you look at impeachment, impeachment is always partisan, actually, in the history of the republic. The big exception was Nixon, actually, when Goldwater goes and tells him you don`t have the votes.
Is it stronger now? Is the sort of -- you know, politicians -- political scientists talk about polarization, the intensity of that, the media environment and the way that feeds -- can feed polarization. Do you see it as...
MOYERS: Of course, I`ve seen extreme partisanship dominate politics in the last 20 years, beginning with around Newt Gingrich, who believed in treating your adversary not as a foe, but as an enemy, not to be defeated but to be destroyed. And that has been contagious. And you have it now and you see it in the Trump testimony, and in the Trump hearings.
If the Republicans hang tough as they did, if they cling to their false defense of the president ignoring the evidence and live with their lies, it`s going to be a long drawn out fight.
HAYES: T he other thing that`s changed so much, of course, is the way the media works and the balkanization of it. And I should say, you know, the people watching this right now, we have people across the ideological spectrum that watch our show. I know that, because people come up to me and I think people I think assume like oh you`re just preaching to the choir.
But that said, the media is quite Balkanized right now. And back during the Watergate hearings you`ve got three networks that basically 80 percent of American households are watching and it`s just that.
Now you have a million different ways in which information gets to people, through Facebook, through Fox News, in which you can basically get a kind of predigested version that essentially assembles the facts,. or even fact and fiction together, to kind of ensure you never see the whole picture.
MOYERS: That is Trump`s great strength. He wants to own reality. He`s what psychiatrists call a solipsist. They believe the only reality that exists is in their head and everything else they can dominate with their reality by creating a new reality.
So, he has created a reality of which his media share his philosophy which is we can tell you what reality is, it doesn`t matter what you think it is, whatever they say it is, the truth is, we can create a reality. That began in the Clinton administration when the first perambulations of the partisan right wing media hated Bill Clinton and turned everything that was said, done and presented as evidence against him. And, unfortunately, you know, he was accused of perjury and accused of obstruction of justice and acquitted in the Senate of both them.
HAYES: Although the thing I always think about with Clinton, and I tried to say this to conservatives who I`ve had conversations with is that just because people are out to get you doesn`t mean you didn`t do the wrong thing. And with Bill Clinton that was the case, it was the case there was a plot to bring him down and he definitely shouldn`t have done that.
And I`m curious whether we can get to that point here, right, even with just what Will Hurd said the other day which was I don`t think this is right but it`s not impeachable. It seems like the loyalty the demands is so total that no one can even just say the obvious thing that this was wrong, you shouldn`t have done that.
MOYERS: No one has said that.
HAYES: A few -- Romney, around the edges.
MOYERS: But the -- yeah, exactly.
HAYES: Do you have -- I get dispirited sometimes, because I feel sometimes like there`s a knot and my job is partly pulling on it to make it undo, like I`m applying force in the wrong direction. And I wonder how the knot gets undone particularly as I watch this impeachment, like do you -- what is your -- how confident are you that some of the worst pathologies that we have in our politics right now can`t be undone?
MOYERS: I think they are here until there is some transformation in the American culture and American body politic, until enough people -- I went to listen to Robert J. Liften (ph), one of the great forensic psychologists of our time, wrote magnificent books about the survivors of Hiroshima, about Hitler`s Nazis, about people who experienced trauma. And he says there`s only one way we`re going to get out of this, and that is to do what Vaclav Havel, who had been the champion of freedom against the communists in Czechoslovakia and became the first president of Czechoslovakia, said you have to live in the truth, everyone has to live in the truth, and you have to attach yourself to organizations that are trying to serve the truth. If we all -- if enough of us do that we might yet see our republic safe.
Remember what Grover Cleveland said that the ship of democracy, which is weathered many great storms, may, like any great ship at sea, sink from the mutiny of those onboard. Throw them out and start putting the ship of democracy in the path of the truth of our experience and we`ll get through it, but only if we do that.
HAYES: Bill Moyers, thank you. Thank you for being with us.
MOYERS: Should I leave?
HAYES: No, stay here.
Don`t go anywhere, Rachel Maddow is next.
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