Supreme Court issues a stay on House subpoena. TRANSCRIPT: 11/25/19, All In w/ Chris Hayes.

Guests: Jamie Raskin, Christina Wilkie, Michael Isikoff, RichardBlumenthal, Paul Rieckhoff, Lawrence Korb

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST:  That`s exactly the choice they will face.  All this is going to happen for one prime reason, because Adam Schiff has kept the ship of state on course.  And for that, he deserves an historic credit.

That`s HARDBALL for now.  "ALL IN" with Chris Hayes starts right now.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST:  Tonight on ALL IN.

ED HENRY, CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT, FOX NEWS CHANNEL:  Are you afraid, Mr. Mayor, that you could be indicted?

RUDY GIULIANI, LAWYER OF DONALD TRUMP:  Wow.  You think I`m afraid?

HENRY:  I don`t know.

GIULIANI:  You think I get afraid?

HAYES:  New subpoenas revealed the depth of the federal investigation into the President`s lawyer.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  Rudy is a great guy.

HAYES:  Tonight, the trouble Rudy is in, just what his indicted associate handed over to investigator, and just how close this all gets to the President.  Then --

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC):  I have a conscience very clear right now and I have a duty.

HAYES:  Republicans in Congress pick up what the President wanted Ukraine to do.

GRAHAM:  What role if any did Joe Biden play?

HAYES:  Plus, Trump sides with Fox and Friends.

TRUMP:  I`m going to stick for our warrior.

HAYES:  Firing his own Navy Secretary to support an accused war criminal.

TRUMP:  He was one of the ultimate fighters.

HAYES:  And in the Rose Garden --

TRUMP:  This is the ultimate fighter, ultimate everything.

HAYES:  The President finds a friend.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Would you say he`s a very good boy?

HAYES:  When ALL IN starts right now.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAYES:  Good evening from New York, I`m Chris Hayes.  President Trump`s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani seems to be in some very hot water.  The Wall Street Journal reporting today that subpoenas issue to people with ties to Giuliani and his associates indicate a broad federal investigation suggested prosecutors are looking closely at Giuliani himself.

According to the report, "subpoenas described by the Wall Street Journal listed more than half dozen potential charges under consideration, obstruction of justice, money laundering, conspiracy to defraud the United States, making false statements the federal government, serving as an agent of a foreign government without registering with the Justice Department, donating funds from foreign nationals, making contributions to the name of another person or allowing someone else use one`s name to make a contribution, along with mail fraud and wire fraud."

And just this weekend, Rudy was back on Trump T.V. brushing off concerns about his own legal situation while seemingly intimating he knows things about the President that will stop Trump from throwing Rudy under the bus.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HENRY:  Are you afraid, Mr. Mayor, that you could be indicted?

GIULIANI:  Wow.  How long have you known me, Ed?

HENRY:  I`ve known you several years.

GIULIANI:  You think I`m afraid?

HENRY:  I don`t know.

GIULIANI:  You think I get afraid?

HENRY:  Well --

GIULIANI:  I did the right thing.  I represented my client in a very, very effective way.

HENRY:  Have you talked to President Trump in the last week or two? Have you met with him?  Are you still his --

GIULIANI:  I don`t -- I don`t discuss -- I do not discuss my conversations with my client.  You can assume that I talked to him early and often.

HENRY:  Yes.

GIULIANI:  And have a very, very good relationship with him.  And all of these comments, which are totally insulting.

HENRY:  Yes.

GIULIANI:  I mean, I`ve seen -- I`ve seen things written like he`s going to throw me under the bus.

HENRY:  Right.

GIULIANI:  When they say that, I say he isn`t, but I have insurance.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAYES:  OK.  First of all, a little cable news host empathy for Ed Henry for getting through that interview there.  I have insurance.  That`s the President`s personal lawyer.  We also just learned some big news about another lawyer who represented the President.  Just earlier tonight, just within the last hour so, a federal judge ruled that former White House Counsel Don McGahn must obey a subpoena to testify before Congress.  The Trump ministration is appealing that ruling.

We also learned tonight that the Supreme Court has agreed just to suspend another congressional subpoena, this one seeking Trump`s financial records.  So we`ve got a lot of news on that front.  We`ll have more on both those legal decisions in just a few minutes.

Now, those rulings came out shortly after news that House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff has written the Dear Colleague letter saying that his committee is drafting a report summarizing the evidence against President Trump`s so far.

Schiff says he expects the report will be sent to the Judiciary Committee soon after Congress comes back in Thanksgiving recess.  But he also very clearly says the following, "We are open to the possibility that further evidence will come to light," which is important, I think, because there continues to be quite a bit more evidence coming to light.

I mean, just over the weekend, we saw a whole barrage of new reporting.  The Washington Post reports, "a confidential White House review of President Trump`s decision to place a hold on military aid to Ukraine has turned up hundreds of documents that reveal extensive efforts to generate an after the fact justification for the decision, and a debate over whether the delay was legal.  That sounds interesting.

In other words, Trump halted the military at Ukraine and then the White House tried to figure out a good excuse for why he did it.  We also got a nearly 100 pages of documents shaken loose in the State Department that show Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was having conversations directly with the Rudy Giuliani about a month before the U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch was suddenly removed from her post.

And remember that two of the men who worked for Giuliani to smear the ambassador had been indicted in part for their role in that scheme.  And one of them Lev Parnas is just -- he`s just out there begging to cooperate at this point.

CNN reporting Friday night then his lawyer says Parnas is willing to tell Congress that the top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, the guy sitting next to Adam Schiff, you`ve seen him a lot last two weeks, Devon Nunes, that Devin Nunes met with a shady former Ukrainian prosecutor named Viktor Shokin in Vienna last December.

According to Parnas` lawyer, "Nunes had told Shokin of the urgent need to launch investigations into Burisma, Joe and Hunter Biden, and the purported Ukrainian interference in the 2016 election.  Parnas` lawyer then told CNBC that Parnas was prepared to testify that aides for Nunes only canceled a trip to Ukraine when they realized they could -- they would have to tell Chairman Adam Schiff about it.

Nunes has loyally defended the president throughout the impeachment hearings, pushing one discredited conspiracy theory after another to try to distract from Trump`s obvious wrongdoings.  And when he was asked about the reports on Trump T.V. this weekend, Nunes naturally went after the reporters.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MARIA BARTIROMO, HOST, FOX NEWS CHANNEL:  Bottom line, where are you in Vienna with Shokin?

REP. DEVIN NUNES (R-CA):  Yes, so look, Maria, I really want to answer all of these questions.  And I promise you absolutely I will come back on the show and answer these questions.  But because there is criminal activity here, we`re working with the appropriate law enforcement agencies.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAYES:  He`s not totally wrong.  There does seem to be criminal activity around all this.  But it`s unclear what he meant by that.  Also noteworthy and he`s not denied it.  Who knows what that means?  I`m having a hard time making heads or tails of it.

But that chef`s kiss of the Lev Parnas media blitz this weekend is a report from ABC News that "the House Intelligence Committee is in possession of audio and video recordings and photographs provided by -- to the committee by Lev Parnas.  And materials submitted to the committee includes audio, video and photos that include Giuliani and Trump."

So that`s right.  The House committee investing in the President of the United States now has audio, video, and photos of the president and his lawyer for a man charged with multiple federal offenses. 

Joining me now is one of the members of Congress who will draft and vote on articles of impeachment against the President, Democratic Congressman Jamie Raskin of Maryland.  He`s a member of both the House Judiciary and oversight committees.

First, let`s start with this scope question in light of all this evidence.  I mean, Lev Parnas has said through his lawyer publicly he wants to cooperate.  Apparently, he`s turned over various evidence.  There`s new reporting every day.  There`s pages of documents inside the White House about the review.  What is your thought on the balance between speed in all of this and getting everything you can possibly get?

REP. JAMIE RASKIN (D-DM):  Well, first, thanks for having me, Chris.  And I want to say that we`re obviously interested in all relevant testimony from all material witnesses.  And Chairman Schiff has said that the job is not necessarily over as more evidence comes in.  I think the Oversight Committee feels the same way and the Judiciary Committee feels the same way.

On the other hand, we are in the midst of an impeachment investigation against the President of the United States.  And so what we have to look at is the table of evidence that is facing us with respect to the President`s misconduct in office.

And we`ve seen overwhelming and on contradicted evidence that the President organized to this shakedown of the Ukrainian president in order to obtain statements he wanted from him about investigations that he would produce against Joe Biden, and he also wanted confirmation of the discredited 2016 conspiracy theory basically trading the Russian intervention for a mythical Ukrainian intervention.

So we definitely need to get all the evidence we can related to that.  But a lot of the things that you were mentioning goes to other crimes and other offenses against the United States.  And you know, Parnas and Fruman have already been indicted for federal campaign finance violations.  And yes, it looks like there`s a broadening investigation into money laundering, representing foreign governments without registering, funneling foreign money into our elections and so on.

We`re interested in that right now to the extent that it implicates the President.  And if it doesn`t, then I think that will have to be dealt with in other criminal investigations or later on by us.

HAYES:  I guess the question is, how do you find that out, right?  I mean, one of the things that`s happened is we had a weeks of depositions and then followed by public hearings, and in defiance of word from the White House, people came and testified and some people turned over documents, but the White House is still holding on to documents.

It does seem like they`re stonewalling on many fronts.  And so how would you establish essentially the parameters of the needed facts or do you feel like look, we have him on this, we don`t really need any more evidence.

RASKIN:  Well, the Intelligence Committee is preparing a report, as chairman Schiff said earlier today, that we will get upon our return to Congress from the Thanksgiving break.  At that point, we will see exactly how they have delineated the contours of the case.

And we will have a sense from them whether they think there are still any places where evidence needs to be obtained or whether they think there is sufficient and compelling evidence of high crimes and misdemeanors at this point.

What`s fascinating about the hearings that took place was that the story that emerged was un-contradicted.  I mean, there was basically no rival factual hypothesis about what happened.  And the only people throwing stones at the investigation or people who are refusing to testify in the investigation and refusing to go under oath.

HAYES:  Final question, Don McGahn has been ordered by district -- federal district judge that he had -- doesn`t have absolute immunity.  He does have to testify.  Do you think that`s going to happen?

RASKIN:  Well, it`s got to happen.  I mean, Judge Jackson wrote a really comprehensive and decisive opinion saying that they`ve got to cut out all the nonsense about absolute immunity and categorical executive immunity, and all of these totally cooked up phony doctrines.

Everybody owes the Sovereign of the United States, the people of the United States through their representatives in Congress honest and truthful testimony when called to testify.  And unless you`ve got a real privilege against testifying like the Fifth Amendment, forget it.  And this absolute immunity stuff has got to go.

We`ve won every case on this, and the administration should stop invoking it, instead should send people to come in and give us their testimony.

HAYES:  All right, Congressman Jamie Raskin, thank you so much.  Joining me now our two reporters who have been closely following the impeachment of the President, Michael Isikoff Chief Investigative Correspondent at Yahoo News and Christina Wilkie Political Reporter for CNBC.com.  She broke the story about Devin Nunes` aides aborted trip to Ukraine.

I want to start on the Julie angle -- the Giuliani angle with you, Christina.  I mean, again, I`m a layperson.  Giuliani has not been indicted and he -- so there`s no formal accusation against him.  But my word having followed developments on other people, it does not look good, very good for him right now.

CHRISTINA WILKIE, POLITICAL REPORTER, CNBC:  I think what we`re beginning to see as more people talk is an emerging picture, yes, of Giuliani moving through Ukraine, through parts of eastern Europe of him collaborating with people potentially like Devin Nunes who was interested in a lot of the same things of him going and finding Ukrainian officials who might have something and bringing it back and really building these two cases, building the Biden Burisma case.

And I think that is what -- it`s an important piece of understanding how the Republican argument here which is that Biden, Burisma, that`s one avenue of it, and the other avenue is a sort of 2016 Democratic Ukraine collusion conspiracies.  But how these came to be and how they got so close to the President, and that we think that they might be what Republicans decided to bring in part to the Senate trial if there is one.

HAYES:  Michael, the Parnas being outside the tent now seems like a really huge development.  And I`m curious what you make of the noises that he is obviously making, the fact that he`s turned over documents to the House Intelligence Committee, that he`s talking about wanting to testify, etcetera.

MICHAEL ISIKOFF, CHIEF INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT, YAHOO NEWS:  Yes.  it`s pretty clear that Parnas has been trying to sort of dangle the idea that he has useful information for the House Intelligence Committee in order to get immunity.  And I think he thinks that will may help him with the Southern District.  I`m not sure it will.

HAYES:  Right.

ISIKOFF:  And I`m not sure the House is going to give him immunity when these kinds of serious charges are being investigated by the Southern District.  I just want to add one quick point about, you know, one of the many mysteries here is who was paying for Giuliani`s trips to Madrid, to Kiev, all around the world to develop all this information that began the pressure campaign.  And it clearly seems to come from the machinations of Parnas and Fruman.

They were dangling the idea that if people in -- to try to get investors in a company, if you can believe it called fraud insurance.  It was an --

HAYES:  Fraud Guarantee.  Yes.

ISIKOFF:  -- fraud insurance company.  Fraud Guarantee, sorry.  And somehow they got a Florida personal injury lawyer to put up $500,000 that then went to Parnas and Fruman, which then went to Giuliani.  If that`s how Donald Trump`s legal bills were being paid, that raises a whole host --

HAYES:  That`s a great point.

ISIKOFF:  -- of you know, other questions about the financial benefits going to the President himself.

HAYES:  It`s a really good point.  And we`ve also got now the Wall Street Journal reporting, Christina, that the Ukraine energy official, saying that Giuliani associates tried to recruit him.  There`s cooperation forthcoming, apparently, because there seems to be two tracks here, which I think is part of what makes this case so weird, right?

Like, there`s this mission to get stuff that will help the present politically, and also like a bunch of side deals that Parnas and Fruman were pursuing perhaps with Giuliani looped in.

WILKIE:  Yes.  And perhaps -- and perhaps these side deals are part of the narrative of what may have caused them to want to remove Marie Yovanovitch, the ambassador, which is, you know, is an important piece again of the growing of us understanding the origins of what -- of the July 25th phone call and where the President -- where his head was, what he was thinking.

But yes, I mean, I think these are, you know, Fruman and Parnas, and to some extent, as well, Giuliani are all people with various businesses, consulting businesses, financial businesses, private clients.  And you know that there are people who have a lot of avenues for revenue. And we really don`t know what was coming from where and I think that is one of the biggest questions still standing.

HAYES:  Final question for you, Michael, on the, you know, Parnas saying that he heard from others that Nunes was meeting with these folks in Vienna.  You know, it`s a factual question, it`s either true or not.  I don`t know if it is, and I think there`s reason that you should be skeptical of this.  It`s hearsay in Parnas.  But it does strike me as quite serious should it be the case.

ISIKOFF:  Well, first of all, I agree.  Look, Parnas has made a number of claims now that people have not been able to verify, others have disputed.  You know, it all depends on the circumstances.  First of all, if Nunes really went to Vienna, if the sole purpose was to dig up stuff on Biden, then there`s potential issues there.

Although I imagine he will claim that just like that Democrats on the committee, he was seeking right information relevant to the scope of the committee`s investigation.

HAYES:  Yes.  Michael Isikoff and Christina Wilkie, thank you both.  Up next, breaking news tonight, a federal judge says former White House Counsel Don McGahn must testify in the impeachment hearings.  And now the Supreme Court makes a move on the fight for the President`s tax returns.  More of those two very big developments and legal battles of the Trump administration in two minutes.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HAYES:  Breaking news tonight on the extremely active legal front between Congress and the White House, the U.S. District Court in Washington D.C. ruled that former White House Counsel Don McGahn does indeed have to testify for the House because the president cannot grant absolute immunity to former White House officials in order to block them from congressional subpoenas.

Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson found in favor of the House Judiciary Committee and against former White House Counsel Don McGahn who was being defended by the Justice Department and its lawyers.  "Stated simply, the primary takeaway from the past 250 years recorded in the American history is that presidents are not kings.  So that`s one avenue.

Also tonight, the Supreme Court stepped in issued a stay on a subpoena from Congress for eight years of the President`s financial records.  This comes amid another case percolating for the supreme court where Trump`s lawyers are asking the court to look at a ruling in which the President has been directed to hand over his tax returns to the Manhattan district attorney Cy Vance.

To talk through all these cases, I want to bring in former federal prosecutor and MSNBC Legal Analyst Mimi Rocah and former Watergate Prosecutor Nick Akerman.  Let`s start with Judge Jackson`s ruling in this district court.  It`s a long-ruling and it`s quite -- goes right to the point.

She writes, "However busy or essential a presidential aid might be and whatever their proximity to sensitive domestic and national security projects, the President does not have the power to excuse him or her from taking action the law requires."

MIMI ROCAH, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST:  All right, I mean, it`s another Western opinion.  And we keep seeing this for a reason.  I mean, there`s a reason that the courts keep not just ruling against the president, the administration`s positions in these cases, but ruling against them forcefully and invoking, you know, this is what the Constitution says and your position is, you know, absolutely ridiculous, basically.

You don`t -- that`s not something you often see in any kind of litigation, let alone with an administration.  It just shows how extreme the positions are that they are taking.  So now boom, absolute immunity, done.  It is not a real thing is what she said.

Of course, there is a possibility.  I mean, they will -- they are appealing.  I -- you know, think that that will come out though in favor again, there being no absolute immunity.

HAYES:  Well, so far, they`ve lost all these, right?  I mean, they`ve lost in the district courts, and then they`ve lost the circuit courts.  And now the first time today, the Supreme Court steps in to essentially stay a ruling that they have to comply with the subpoena and hand over the masers, not the President, the masers has to hand over that accounting information.  How do you read that Supreme Court action?

NICK AKERMAN, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST:  Well, I think they`re just giving time to decide whether or not they`re going to grant certiorari, which means they would consider the issue.

HAYES:  Right?

AKERMAN:  I don`t think they are.  I just don`t think these issues are big enough for the Supreme Court to consider.  What`s really significant is this 120-page document.  It basically puts the lie that President Trump who`s directed all of his subordinates not to go in and testify --

HAYES:  All of that.

AKERMAN:  All of them.  And with the real proof of the pudding is going to come with John Bolton.  He said he wanted an opinion from the court as to whether or not a presidential aide had to go in and testify.  Well, Mr. Bolton, here it is.

HAYES:  It`s a good point.

AKERMAN:  If he sits around and waits for an Appellate Division ruling on this, the circuit court in D.C. or for the Supreme Court to rule on whether there`s a stay or not, which will take us well into January, I mean, that really -- this is where the rubber hits the road with John Bolton.

HAYES:  Well, that`s the -- that`s the question, right?  There`s two things happening here.  There`s a bunch of -- there`s like legal processes and legal arguments, and then there`s just like delay sand in the gears, right?

And Donald Trump is one of these people who`s lived his whole career just like suing and being sued, and things wind up slowly, and people can`t get you to pay them the $19,000 you owe him because they can`t afford the legal fees for six years, like that seems to be part of the strategy.  It`s also a question here of how quickly courts will move?

ROCAH:  Right, although I mean, I think so far we`ve been surprised even at the district court level, they have moved more quickly than people thought.  The circuit court, I mean, this isn`t hard --

HAYES:  That`s the thing.

ROCAH:  That`s part of it, right?  I mean, I feel like you know, some good law clerks in the circuit court can write the opinion -- you could have oral argument and write an opinion really quickly here.  These aren`t -- I mean, we keep saying this over and over, but these are not hard piece because they are such ridiculous position.

AKERMAN:  Right.  But the big issue here is what is going to be the smoking gun tape like in Watergate that got the Republicans off the dime to get rid of Nixon.  And you`ve got two items here.

HAYES:  You`re presuming such a thing exists.

AKERMAN:  Well, there`s two possibilities.  One is the Trump`s taxes which could show he`s a tax cheat.  And I would think that might move a few Republicans off the dime.  And the other is will this opinion get John Bolton in to testify before Congress?

HAYES:  There`s also the fact that -- I mean, there`s an amazing moment in here with -- just in terms of the way that this Department of Justice has lowered on behalf of the President.  But one point, the Department of Justice says actually, you don`t actually even have the jurisdiction to resolve this fight between the article one and article two branches.  And she writes back to say, you guys have like three courts before -- you have three cases in court federal documents which are arguing we do have this jurisdiction.

ROCAH:  Right.  She points out just how hypocritical which is probably the nicest word to describe what DOJ is doing.  And it`s, I mean, think about that.  Our Department of Justice is taking it frivolous -- they`re making frivolous arguments.

HAYES:  They are our lawyers.  They are making frivolous arguments on behalf of this individual president representing us in the United States.

AKERMAN:  It`s because of the Attorney General that we have.  That guy is nothing but a shill for President Trump.

HAYES:  And that shows -- it shows up in the sloppiness of the legal reasoning that you see in a lot of these cases.  And their one last record they had yet to get a win.  Mimi Rocah and Nick Akerman, thanks for joining us.

AKERMAN:  Thank you.

HAYES:  Coming up, is United States Senate about to investigate the conspiracy theories that the Ukrainian president would not?  Why Senator Lindsey Graham is defending his conscience as he launches a Biden investigation next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HAYES:  There were two things that Donald Trump was asking for during that infamous July phone call with the Ukrainian president.  They`re both the center of the impeachment inquiry.  First, he was trying to extort the Ukrainian government into supporting an insane conspiracy theory which was pushed by the Kremlin that blames Ukraine for Russia`s criminal sabotage of our election and thereby let`s Russia off the hook.

The other thing Trump was trying to do was to force Ukrainian government to manufacture dirt on Joe Biden`s son.  That effort is why Trump is now facing an impeachment inquiry in the House, why it is very likely that the Republican-led Senate will soon be forced to put the President on trial.

But instead of a real trial, Senate Republicans appear eager to use that forum to just do the things that Trump was trying to force the Ukrainians to do.  Listen to Senator John Kennedy who definitely knows better.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHRIS WALLACE, ANCHOR, FOX NEWS CHANNEL:  Senator Kennedy, who do you believe was responsible for a hacking the DNC and Clinton campaign computers, their e-mails?  Was it Russia or Ukraine?

SEN. JOHN KENNEDY (R-LA):  I don`t know, nor do you, nor do any of us.

WALLACE:  The entire Intelligence Community says it was Russia.

KENNEDY:  Right, but it could also be Ukraine.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAYES: I mean, you know, maybe we faked the moon landing, maybe 9/11 was an inside job.  I mean, really, who`s to say what knowledge or truth is?

No, senator, it wasn`t Ukraine or China or somebody sitting on their bed that weighs 400 pounds as the president once claimed, it was Russia, period, full stop.

Senator Lindsey Graham is going even further is now trying to spearhead his own investigation into Joe Biden and his son, you know, this Joe Biden.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM, (R) SOUTH CAROLINA:  If you can`t admire Joe Biden as a person, there`s probably -- you`ve got a problem.  He`s the nicest person I think I`ve ever met in politics.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Is that right?

GRAHAM:  He is as good a man as god ever created.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAYES:  Remember, there`s no evidence that Joe Biden did anything wrong whatsoever in Ukraine, quite the opposite.  And yet Graham is now trying to help bring down his old friend, the man he so admires, simply to serve the interests of Donald Trump.

I`m joined by the Democratic Senator from Connecticut, Richard Blumenthal, who, of course, has served with Senator Graham for many years, right?

SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL, (D) CONNECTICUT:  I`ve served with him, I`ve traveled with him, I`ve worked with him.

HAYES:  I think you would consider yourself really close to the man, right?

BLUMENTHAL:  Well, closeness in politics is all relative.  And frankly, I really regret that he has launched on this course.  I think he`ll regret it too, because not only is it completely spurious, he knows it`s been debunked.  It`s also in fact relying on this, insane as you have correctly called it, conspiracy theory involving Ukraine endangers our national security. 

This Ukrainian theory is one of the central tenets and tropes of Russian propaganda and disinformation.

HAYES:  Graham tweeting I love Joe Biden as a person, but we are not going to give a pass to what is obviously a conflict of interest.  I believe Hunter Biden`s association on the Burisma board doesn`t pass the smell test.  If a Republican was in the same position, they`d certainly be investigated.

One thing that is -- I would like to hear you talk about, this thing which they now think is the most important story that ever happened, am I wrong?  Republicans controlled both houses of congress when it actually when they now think is the most important story that`s ever happened, am I wrong, Republicans controlled both houses of congress when it actually happened.

They controlled both houses of congress he was appointed to the board when Biden called for the corrupt prosecutor to be fired.  Did Republicans do anything about it then?

BLUMENTHAL:  They did nothing for all of those years.  And in fact during those years they said Russia infiltrated in our elections.  They interfered in our democracy.  We need to make them pay a price.  All of their past statements contradict this insane conspiracy theory involving Ukraine.

HAYES:  I have to say I was surprised Senator Kennedy is an extremely sharp guy, that`s evident if you`ve ever heard him sort of talk at length.  He`s got a few credible, very elite, dare I say, resume.  Were you surprised to see him say that?

BLUMENTHAL:  I was astonished and appalled.

And to my Republican colleagues, I would say you do know better.  And if you don`t, you should just read the report done by our intelligence committee controlled by Republicans.

HAYES:  On the senate side.

BLUMENTHAL:  On the Senate side, which says the Russians interfered.  It affirms unanimous conclusion of the intelligence community and the Mueller report in saying it was the Russians, not the Ukrainians.

HAYES:  Here`s what I think is unnerving about what I feel like I`m beginning to see.  So, the president makes these two asks on the phone call.  One is this 9/11/truther level insanity about the server, and the other is go get dirt on the Bidens.  Republicans in the senate have the option to say he shouldn`t have done those things and those are bad, but we don`t think you should impeach them for it. But instead it seems that some of them are embracing not just that they were not bad and impeachable, but affirmatively good and both of those avenues must be pursued by the Republican-controlled senate.

BLUMENTHAL:  It`s clearly an effort to distract at the very best, most charitable interpretation, but it also clearly endangers our national security to say it was the Ukrainians not the Russians, because the Russians are at it again.  They are attacking us right now.  And we need to call them out, not let them off the hook as this kind of fictional narrative would have us do as a nation.

And that`s whom we should be investigating.  Vladimir Putin deserves no pass here and they are aligning themselves with Vladimir Putin, absolving the Russians and really using this distraction in a way that profoundly disserves our national security.

HAYES:  Your name is on a lawsuit around the emoluments clause that is working its way through the courts.  I`m curious as someone what you think of the rulings of lower courts and even appellate courts that have essentially unanimously knocked down a series of arguments the Department of Justice and the White House have put up saying you cannot touch anything having to do with the  president`s former officials or his records.

BLUMENTHAL:  You`ve just heard from two very able lawyers about how absolutely spurious the Department of Justice`s defense of the president is on efforts to get records and his blocking witnesses and it`s equally true on the emoluments clause, which is the premier anti-corruption tenet, provision, of our constitution.  And nobody should be surprised that the courts have said the constitution means what it says, the president cannot receive benefits and payments without the consent of congress.  That`s exactly what he`s been doing in the millions and millions of dollars.  And, again, it compromises our national security.

HAYES:  All right,Senator Richard  Blumenthal of Connecticut, thank you very much for coming by.

BLUMENTHAL:  Thank you.

HAYES:  Still to come, why did the president fire his own navy secretary?  As was with many things in the Trump administration, it all started with watching Trump TV.  How it happened, what it means for our military ahead.

Plus, tonight`s Thing One, Thing Two starts next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HAYES:  Thing One tonight, it`s well known by this point the president is not a fan of man`s best friend, as we have noted before.  "Like a dog" is one of the president`s most used burns.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP:  He choked, just like a dog.  He choked.

I`m watching Marco sweating like a dog on my right.

He was fired like a dog.

They throw you the hell out like a dog.

She lied like a dog.

I see her barking like a dog, right?  No, she`s barking like a dog.

And he was run out of office like a dog.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAYES:  Like a dog.

And so you might have been surprised today when the White House unexpectedly called the  press pool to the Rose Garden for an unannounced event.  The West Wing doors opened and the president strolled out with Melania, the vice president, and a special guest Conan the heroic dog of the Al-Baghdadi raid.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP:  We just gave Conan a medal and a plaque.  And it`s really -- and I actually think Conan knew exactly what was going on.  They were going to put a muzzle on the dog, and I thought that was a good idea, but then it gets even more violent, John, so I had a choice. 

But, no, the dog is incredible, actually incredible.  we spent some good time it.  And so brilliant, so smart.  They`re very special dogs.  They`re very hard to get.  This particular dog is -- this is the ultimate fighter, ultimate everything.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAYES:  It was a perfectly feel good afternoon outside the White House for the president, I  guess.  But even with what should have been just a simple straightforward photo op, the White House had to keep changing its story.  That`s Thing Two in 60 seconds.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HAYES:  For about six minutes in the Rose Garden, the president heaped praise on Conan, the heroic dog, while Vice President Pence awkwardly gave the dog an ear rub, and Judge Jeanine Pirro inexplicably watched from the wings.  Why not?

As the pool reporter Hunter Walker of Yahoo! News noted, quote, "in your pooler`s humble opinion, he was a very good boy, a very good boy indeed."

The White House, always on alert for fake news, corrected Walker, forcing him to issue an update to his pool report, quote, "a White House official confirmed to your pooler on background that Conan the dog is female."  The president used male pronouns to identify the dog during the  earlier event.  Your pooler retracts the earlier comment that Conan was a very good boy.  Conan is apparently a very good girl.  Good girl, Conan."

CBS reporter Cathryn Watson had another White House source, quoting again here, "a White House official now tells me that Conan is actually a male dog after we were told earlier that Conan is a female dog."  Working for more clarity on the matter.

And so Hunter Walker issued a third report, "a White House official informed your pooler that Conan the dog is male.  Multiple officials had previously said Conan was female.  Your pooler retracts prior statements calling Conan a good boy and a good girl.  Conan was a good dog."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HAYES:  They`re very special dogs.  They`re very hard to get.  This is particular is -- this is the ultimate fighter, ultimate everything.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HAYES:  Chief Petty Officer Edward Gallagher, Navy SEAL, has been a cause celeb for Fox News, particularly Fox and Friends weekend co-host Pete Hegseth. 

Gallagher was charged with murder, accused of fatally stabbing a wounded teen aged captive in the neck with a hunting knife in Mosul, Iraq.  He was charged with posing with the prisoner`s corpse.  HE was also charged with attempted murder, accused of firing a sniper rifle and hitting civilians, including a young girl and an elderly man.

Gallagher was arrested after men under his command complained to their superiors.  Also, several fellow navy SEALs testified against him.  But a jury in a military court acquitted Gallagher of the worst charges after just a crazy turnabout at trial where a key witness changed his story on the stand.

Gallagher was, however, convicted of posing with the prisoner`s dead body.  And he was sentenced to four months, given credit for time served, and a reduction in rank.  And throughout all this Fox News has been advocating on his behalf, despite the fact the entire chain of command of the U.S.  armed forces have the responsibility of maintaining good order and discipline.

And Gallagher was going to be expelled from the SEALs following his conviction of posing with a corpse.  But Fox & Friends Pete Hegseth has been lobbying the president to pardon the guy and it worked.  The president pardoned Gallagher and ordered the navy to restore his rank.

Then later in a tweet, Trump said he would stop the SEALs from kicking him out of the unit, which was so odious that Navy Secretary Richard Spencer essentially decided to just pretend the tweet  wasn`t a formal order.

But then this weekend Gallagher went on Trump TV to rail against his own commanding officers.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

EDWARD GALLAGHER, U.S. NAVY:  Admiral Green is letting the ego get the best of him at this point and trying to take my trident, because it`s all about retaliation.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Why is the navy still going after you when they know what the president wants to happen?

GALLAGHER:  This is all about ego and retaliation, this has nothing to do with good order and discipline.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAYES:  The end result is that Gallagher got his rank restored, he keeps his trident pin, which signifies his membership in the SEALs, and the secretary of the navy of the United States was fired.

More on that after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  What were the ramifications of intervening in that review process?

RICHARD SPENCER, FORMER SECRETARY OF THE NA VY:  Well, right now, we`re not going to do it is what Secretary Esper says.  What message does that send to the troops?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Well, what message does it send?

SPENCER:  That you can get away with things.  We have to have good order and discipline, it`s the backbone of what we do.  And the Trident review process, with the senior enlisted reviewing fellow senior enlisted is critical.  The senior enlisted of our military are the backbone of our military.  They are the girder of good order and discipline. 

They can handle this.  They can handle this in each one of their communities.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAYES:  The now fired Navy Secretary Richard Spencer explained to CBS News exactly why President Trump should not have intervened in the navy`s process of discipline regarding an accused war criminal who was later acquitted of the most serious charges.

There was a point that he also made in his letter to the president accepting his own termination.  That letter, which became public over the weekend, is a remarkable document not the least because it comes of two weeks of nonpartisan career U.S. officers offering their testimony against the president`s actions under oath in the impeachment inquiry.

Spencer writes, quote, "I no longer share the same understanding with the commander-in-chief who appointed me in regards to the key principle of good order and discipline cannot in good conscience obey an order I believe violates the sacred oath I took in the presence of my family, my flag and my faith, to support and defend the constitution of the United States."

Here to talk about just how enormous the moral and legal stakes are in this story, Paul Rieckhoff, founder of the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, and Lawrence Korb, former assistant secretary of defense and a retired navy captain.

Paul, since you`re right here, you know, the president has made noises about doing things like this.  There was a pardon earlier in the year.  How big a deal is what has happened over the last 48 hours?

PAUL  RIECKHOFF, FOUNDER, IRAQ AND AFGHANISTAN VETERANS OF AMERICA:  It`s a massive deal.  I think it`s maybe one of the most destructive things he`s done in his entire presidency, and he`s done some bad stuff, right?  I mean, this cuts to the very fabric of good order and discipline in the military, the place where they have guns and run our wars and protect our nukes.  I mean, if he starts meddling with the good order and discipline in the military a lot of bad things could happen.

And I think what`s interesting here is the navy is actually standing up, the navy SEALs are pushing bark.  They`re drawing a line.  They want to take back Gallagher`s trident.  And Spencer is making a stand.

This might be the most important stand yet.  And it`s trying to block a pattern, a politicization and now weaponization, of the military that goes back to the Kurds, it goes back to the Khan family, it goes back to the July 4 parade.  Mattis, right?

HAYES:  Right.

RIECKHOFF:  This is a pattern of Trump reaching in and disrupting the military.

And at the end, the only folks that are really happy about this are our enemies.  Our enemies are celebrating every time this happens, they see the commander-in-chief fighting with the Navy SEALSs, our enemies all around the world are clapping their hands and celebrating.

HAYES:  Lawrence, what do you think? . LAWRENCE KORB, FORMER ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF DEFENSE:  Well, essentially Paul is  right because these terrorist groups can recruit people by saying, look at the United States, they come over here and kill innocent civilians and they get away with it.  I mean, this is -- follows on what happened at Guantanamo, so it feeds into their narrative.  And it also undermines the order and discipline.

And the real villain in this is the secretary of defense, because basically, he claimed that he was firing Spencer because Spencer had communicated with the White House.  The president has been after Spencer since last March, he`s been talking to him, and Spencer was also acting secretary of defense at one time.  So he`s -- you know, it`s interesting, Pompeo and Esper are both West Point classmates of the same year.  I don`t know what was going on that year, but they`re not living up to what they were supposedly taught.

HAYES:  You know, part of what I find unnerving here and sort of enraging is the president and his defenders presenting these moves as sort of, like, pro-supporting the armed forces, pro-supporting service members who got a raw deal, but let me just read this about platoon members in Gallagher`s own unit.

"Some platoon members were so distraught by Gallagher`s actions, investigators said, they tampered with his sniper rifle to make it less accurate and fired warning shots to scare away civilians before the chief had a chance to shoot them."

This was someone who the war fighters he was fighting with really, really had a problem with.

RIECKHOFF:  Yeah.  I mean, there have been a number of checks throughout the system that they have try to keep this guy in line all the way through a UCMJ court-martial.  And the navy actually did hold him accountable, at least on one charge.

So, this is literally like reaching in and freeing criminals, right?  If there was -- if you were driving...

HAYES:  Which the president has a power to do in the civilian context as well, right?  He`s got the absolute power to pardon

RIECKHOFF:  But there are rules of the road, and you`re not supposed to hit civilians with your car.  You`re not supposed to drive off the road and crash into buildings.  You`re not supposed to speed.  And when you do you`re supposed to be held  accountable.  And that`s what happening here, he`s taking the rules and thrown them out the window, and sending them a message to everyone else in the military.  And if you break the rules, you can get out of it.  It`s a get out of jail free card if you go on Fox News and make your case.  And it weaponizing our military to his advantage. 

This is a calculated move.  I mean, whether it`s the dog or Gallagher, he`s weaponizing these people and our military because he knows it works with the populist base.  There`s nothing that appeals to the populist movement and the populist core more than our military.  And he`s playing that tune over and over again and it`s very, very dangerous.

HAYES:  Daily Beast reporting just I think an hour ago that he tells allies he wants the absolved war criminals, the pardoned war criminals, to campaign for him.

RIECKHOFF:  100 percent.  This is the plan.  This is the playbook.

HAYES:  They heard Trump talk about how he`d like to have the now cleared Clint Lorance, Matthew Golsteyn, Edward Gallagher, show up at his rallies, even having a moment on stage at his  renomination.  How big a deal is it institutionally for Spencer, the secretary of the navy, to be fired and to write that letter, Lawrence?

KORB:  Well, I think it`s sort of like when Secretary Mattis wrote the letter basically when Trump had this insane policy in Syria to get out in the middle of the conflict, and I think he`s making a statement.

Now, this is a lifelong Republican coming out against him and basically saying that you`re ruining our military by doing this.  You know, since 2011, 150 members of the SEALs have lost their trident pin, so this is -- they do come after people before.  What about those people?  Are they going to, you know, come out and say, well, wait a second, why can`t you do it for me?

HAYES:  Yeah.

KORB:  And don`t forget at the same time Trump pardoned an Army 1st Lieutenant Lorance who had been convicted of killing three Afghans and had -- it was nine members of his team testified against him.

RIECKHOFF:  Trump`s making people choose, choose me or choose your oath.  That`s the line he`s drawing in the sand right now.  And Esper, the secretary of defense, has chosen to go with the Trump and politics instead of our troops.  And many other people are going to have to choose in the next couple weeks as well.

HAYES:  You know, this is also going to cascade through the services.  I mean, and obviously when you`re talking about almost 2 million people, this is a heterogeneous group of people, it`s a diverse people with diverse politics.  But you have got to imagine it`s going to be polarizing within folks there as well.

RIECKHOFF:  It`s terribly divisive and it`s demoralizing.  It`s coming on the backs of abandoning our Kurdish allies, which in my view was the most unpopular thing he`s done across the military.  So, morale is going to suffer and our troops are going to suffer as a result.

HAYES:  Lorance Korb, senior fellow for the Center for American Progress, Paul Rieckhoff, host of the podcast "Angry Americans."  Thank you, gentlemen, both.

That`s 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