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CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: Tonight on ALL IN.
REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): There is I think grave risk of the country with waiting until we have every last fact.
HAYES: Brand new bombshells in the House impeachment report.
SCHIFF: We do not intend to delay when the integrity of the next election is still at risk.
HAYES: Tonight, damning new evidence that goes to the heart of the case for impeaching the president.
SCHIFF: Certainly the phone records show that there was considerable coordination among the parties including the White House.
HAYES: New questions about who the President`s lawyer was calling inside the White House, what the vice president knew and when he knew it, and why one member of Congress may be in deep trouble.
SCHIFF: There may be evidence that there were members of Congress complicit in that activity.
REP. DEVIN NUNES (R-CA): Change the channel, turn down the volume.
HAYES: Plus, Cory Booker on the Ukraine conspiracy theory taking hold in the Senate, and a one-time front runner exits the race.
SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D-CA): It`s about fighting for a country with an equal treatment, collective purpose, and freedom for all.
HAYES: What the departure of Kamala Harris means for the Democratic primary when ALL IN starts right now.
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HAYES: Good evening from New York, I`m Chris Hayes. The impeachment report is here. Over 120 hours of deposition testimony from 17 witnesses, more than 35 hours of public hearing with 12 witnesses have resulted in a 300-page report from the House Intelligence Committee chronicling President Trump`s extortion of Ukraine and his attempts to block the investigation into it.
Just over an hour ago, the Committee voted 39 along party lines to adopt an issue of that report. It will soon be sent to the Judiciary Committee which will decide on whether to draft articles of impeachment. Make no mistake, the report is conclusive and damning for the President. As the report itself points out, most of the facts presented or uncontested.
Simply put, "the impeachment inquiry has found that President Trump personally and acting through agents within and outside the U.S. government solicited the interference of a foreign government, Ukraine, to benefit his reelection. The evidence of the President`s misconduct is overwhelming, and so too is the evidence of his obstruction of Congress. Indeed, it would be hard to imagine a stronger or more complete case of obstruction than that demonstrated by the president since the inquiry began." Here`s Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff explaining why all of that matters.
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SCHIFF: Now, what does this mean for Americans? Why should they care about what the President did vis-a-vis Ukraine? Why should they care indeed about Ukraine? First of all, this is not about Ukraine. This is about our democracy. This is about our national security.
This is about whether the American people have a right to expect that the President states is going to act in their interests, with their security in mind, and not for some illicit personal or political reason. So Americans should care deeply about whether the President of the United States is betraying their trust in him.
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HAYES: Given the fact that thousands of pages of closed or depositions started and made public, and that we saw with our eyes, over 30 hours of public testimony from those witnesses, and we read for ourselves, of course, the call notes released by the White House where President Trump said to the president of Ukraine "I would like you to do us a favor though." Considering all that, before we saw this report, we thought, I thought we were operating with basically the full set of facts.
But that`s not true. There is some crazy stuff in this report we just did not know. And the House Democrats were sitting on it. And it has to do with phone records that are just even more incriminating about the breadth of the entire plot.
And remember, for a second there are two stories here. And if this were a T.V. drama, you`d expect the plotlines to intersect. You`ve got Trump and Rudy Giuliani schemed to extort the Ukrainians into announcing investigation into Trump`s political opponents, right? But you`ve also got this criminal case in the Southern District of New York where two associates of Rudy Giuliani have been charged with making illegal campaign donations in furtherance of the plot to knock out the U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine in order to take over Ukraine policy to run it for corrupt ends.
The report that was released today explains or at least indicates where the two plots come together. Call logs revealed in the report show that on April 24th, the day the U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine was recalled, Rudy Giuliani called the White House seven different times. He had a nearly nine-minute conversation with a conspicuously unidentified phone number.
To add to it, on the same day, someone from the Office of Management and Budget called Rudy twice resulting in nearly 15-minute conversation. Think about that for a second. Why is someone from the OMB now best known as the agency that would later withhold military aid to Ukraine on the President`s words, why are they calling the President`s personal attorney?
We also learned -- and here`s again where those two plots are coming together that Lev Parnas, one of the men indicted by the SDNY, had multiple phone calls with the ranking Republican on the House Intelligence Committee Devin Nunes. On just April 12th, the two men share four phone calls including one that lasts nearly nine minutes.
Again, a man charged with engaging the plot to smear U.S. Ambassador Ukraine and who I might add now says he wants to cooperate with the impeachment inquiry, that guy was having extended conversations with the top republican charged with investigating this whole process. In fact, now Parnas` lawyer is taunting Nunes on Twitter, "Devin Nunes, you should have recuse yourself at the outset of impeachment hearings, hashtag let Lev speak."
And Devin Nunes sat there the whole time for hours and hours and hours of testimony talking about what a contemptible circus it was, while he and his colleagues had the nerve to say that Adam Schiff should be called to testify. All while Nunes himself was implicated in the plot that they were investigating. Here`s how Chairman Schiff explains the revelations in the call logs.
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SCHIFF: Certainly, the phone records show that there was considerable coordination among the parties including the White House. Coordination in the smear campaign against Ambassador Yovanovitch which cleared the way for the Three Amigos to take over a significant part of Ukraine policy, coordination and the execution of that policy, and that that this was indeed a continuum that began even prior to the recall of the ambassador.
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HAYES: Joining me now to help explain what we learned today MSNBC`s Chief Legal Analyst and Host of "THE BEAT" at 6:00 p.m. with Ari Melber. Ari Melber, good to have you here.
ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: Good evening.
HAYES: So you had this as this is sort of coming on on-air, and we`re pulling out some of the most sort of startling bits of news in there. What jumps out to you that we learned from this report today that we didn`t know before today?
MELBER: Rudy Giuliani, as you reported, quarterbacking the money, seizing us taxpayer dollars to help them Trump`s reelection. I mean, we think about election donations as a couple thousand dollars limited by federal law, this is hundreds of millions of dollars.
HAYES: You`re talking about the aid to Ukraine?
HAYES: Yes. Because Rudy Giuliani doesn`t have an appropriate legal reason to do that. I mean, there are members of Congress, former Governor of Illinois who are in jail today for bribery schemes that involve the hundreds of thousands of dollars. We`re talking about hundreds of millions of dollars. And Giuliani`s fingerprints are all over that. It also obviously, undercuts and fact-checks his false claims on Fox News and elsewhere that he was just doing with the State Department asked him to do.
No, the calls were coming from inside the White House from Donald Trump. They got outside the White House to Rudy Giuliani and back. And before you know it, critically as you mentioned, OMB was also initiating calls to Giuliani showing they were taking the orders to talk to this guy.
HAYES: That`s a key point. So Giuliana is calling OMB. I mean, again, it`s one thing for Rudy Giuliani to say -- and I don`t think it passes the sniff test, but it is one thing for him to say I`m going to Ukraine to represent the interests of my client who`s the President of the United States who`s not paying me, I`m just sort of pro bono working for him like Mother Teresa in the slums of Calcutta, just out of the goodness of my heart, that I`m going to Ukraine behalf of my client. It`s another when he`s interfacing with Kurt Volker and the -- and the sort of machinery of American foreign policy. And yet another still when he is talking to OMB. There is -- he has no -- I mean, there`s no possible justification for him to be interacting with OMB.
MELBER: And this explains, in my view, why they were willing to take the hit on the defiance. This report lays out worse than Nixon in measurable ways in obstructing the probe. The only two presidents who`ve ever been historically actually impeached because Nixon left beforehand, Johnson and Clinton faced articles of impeachment on obstruction or defying Congress. Donald Trump has doubled down on both those things. Why would you do that?
Being as litigious as he is with some experience, he is smarter than the reality show star he sometimes plays on TV.
MELBER: Well, it might be because letting these people testify, Giuliani having to answer the question, what were you doing calling them in April? Why did you lie about that on television? That might be literally worse than the thing that is partially apparently going to get him impeached, the obstruction.
HAYES: We also knew that -- we knew from both reporting and from some of the things that Lev Parnas` lawyer has been telling reporters on the record that Parnas and Fruman obviously are sort of deeply interwoven in this whole thing. But the call records showed the extent that`s true.
MELBER: Yes. And the call records are really significant. I think this again goes to the fact that this is a really thorough investigation. Everyone remembers the length of the Mueller report and the length of the investigation. If you take a step back here, it`s pretty extraordinary that Speaker Pelosi kept her powder dry for so long, then let Adam Schiff of the Intelligence Committee go forward on what really looked like a forward-looking election conspiracy case that the Russian collusion questions were all backward-looking 2016.
This is about Donald Trump using U.S. taxpayer dollars to extort 2020 election help, worth way more than the maximum for -- you know, maximum (INAUDIBLE) to say nothing of the fact that foreign help is illegal. And in a very fast period of time, a couple of months, they have now assembled a report with the receipts.
You mentioned the call logs, something we haven`t talked about yet, which is that if you thought Drake needed ghostwriters, apparently Rudy Giuliani wanted to be the ghostwriter for the President of Ukraine.
MELBER: They prepare a statement saying, yes, we`ll do the investigations and Giuliani and Sondland, they have a side by side report and say, no, not good enough. It needs to say the B-word, Biden and Burisma.
HAYES: It has to say the words. It got to have Biden. It got to have Burisma. That`s --
MELBER: So that`s a lot -- that`s a lot of damning stuff.
HAYES: Yes. I guess the final question for me is the sort of the loose ends and investigative fact-finding here. I mean, you know, here we have this thing where they subpoenaed AT&T apparently. AT&T on the record saying we comply with the congressional subpoena which is what people who aren`t named Mick Mulvaney do. There`s also the fact that Schiff says we don`t know everything, all the facts. What do you see as the sort of set of facts that we don`t know?
MELBER: I think you`re putting your finger on something really important. You and Rachel have done segments on this going back to the election. The midterms have consequences, subpoenas have consequences.
If we take a step back from the details of the report, part of the counterfactual counter law defiance of Trumpism is this idea of well, maybe nothing matters, we`ll get away with everything. And that can create an environment where people, even people who criticize Trump start to believe that. That is wrong.
Today is another day where not only is there a judicial and a process in the courts and Don McGahn under pressure, that`s fine, all of that. There`s also very clearly these subpoenas from this Congress to any entity that`s not directly controlled by Donald Trump, which includes the telephone companies includes the auditing companies, it includes the tax financial institutions, all of that adding up to oh my god, we`re learning new things.
And I`ll tell you one other thing that I`m sure was on your mind. If SDNY didn`t already have these call logs, which they probably did. But if they didn`t, they`re asking for the night too.
HAYES: And that is another shoe yet to drop. Ari Melber, thank you so much for coming in.
MELBER: Thank you, Chris.
HAYES: I really appreciate it. Joining me now for more on this damning report, one of the members of the committee that produced it, Democratic Congressman Joaquin Castro of Texas. Congressman, to Ari`s point here, I mean it`s remarkable to me that this has been done under the timeframe that it has been done. Do you see the committee`s work is finished?
REP. JOAQUIN CASTO (D-TX): I think it`s quite possible. As Chairman Schiff has said that it will continue. As witnesses either decide to come forward or are compelled by subpoenas to come forward, I think that we could be interviewing more people.
But today we did send the report to the Judiciary Committee. And I believe that after their work is done, there`s enough evidence there where they will drop articles of impeachment that will be voted on in the House of Representatives.
HAYES: Let me ask you about a member of your committee Devin Nunes, of course, ranking member, formerly the chairman. We know from the call logs included in the report that your committee produced that he was in touch with Lev Parnas who has been indicted by SDNY in part for the role he played in the scheme to oust Marie Yovanovitch. Did members of the committee know that and know the call logs during these hearings as he was -- he was sitting there calling the entire thing a sham and a circus?
CASTRO: I certainly didn`t know of those calls and his involvement, and he didn`t make that -- he didn`t say anything to the committee when we were going through the process. But what`s most striking, Chris, is that this was a whole of government corruption. I think what`s striking is the network of assailants who are helping the president achieve this corrupt goal of taking out a political rival.
Remember, this is a pattern with Donald Trump. He invited the Russians to interfere the 2016 elections. He was actively getting another foreign government, the Ukrainian government to interfere the 2020 elections. But it wasn`t just him, it wasn`t just the president, it was his network of assailants that may well include Devin Nunes.
HAYES: When you characterize him that -- in that sense, what do you mean by that?
CASTRO: Well, I mean that rather than serving a few years ago as the chairman of the Intelligence Committee and watching out for the national security interest of his country, he essentially for a few years now, but especially in this Ukrainian affair, has been acting as a henchman for the President.
Now we have more evidence that we`ve got to sort through, but it looks like he was clearly in bed with these two Ukrainians, and may have been not somebody who`s on the sidelines, but actively helping President Trump achieve a corrupt and illegal goal of taking out a political rival by conditioning U.S. government assistance on it.
And so it`s just amazing that somebody on the Intelligence Committee in the House of Representatives, the ranking member, that`s the lead Republican member of this committee, would be undermining the national security of the United States to help President Trump achieve a corrupt goal.
HAYES: There is a note in the report that Lev Parnas, of course, one of the two individuals who`s been indicted is cooperating with the committees, made a lot of noises about that, what can you tell us about that?
CASTRO: Well, of course, you know, we`ve just had -- the committees had limited interaction with his attorneys. You know, we were obviously very busy before the Thanksgiving break with our active hearings. So now we`re going to have a chance to basically assess what he has to offer. But as chairman Schiff has said, we`re open to hearing from people that played a significant role in this what is really a sordid affair.
HAYES: All right, Congressman Joaquin Castro in the House Intel committee, thank you very much.
CASTRO: Thank you.
HAYES: Next, the ranking member of the Intelligence Committee implicated in the impeachment report, the newly uncovered phone calls between Congressman Devin Nunes and Rudy Giuliani, and Rudy Giuliani`s indicted buddy, all while the Ukraine scheme was unfolding after these two minutes.
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REP. ERIC SWALWELL (D-CA): Are you aware of yesterday`s Daily Beast story reporting the indicted Ukrainian Lev Parnas has been working with Ranking Member Devin Nunes on Mr. Nunes` overseas investigations?
FIONA HILL, FORMER WHITE HOUSE ADVISOR ON RUSSIA: I`m not aware of that.
SWALWELL: Mr. Chairman, you have been falsely accused throughout these proceedings by the ranking member as being a "fact witness." Now, if the story is correct, the ranking member may have actually been projecting and in fact, he had been -- he may be the fact witness if he`s working with indicted individuals around our investigation.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: That was Congressman Eric Swalwell from the last day of public impeachment hearings raising the red flag about Ranking Member Devin Nunes` involvement in the scheme the committee was investigating. At the time, all we had was that Daily Beast story.
Well, today we got the report the House Intelligence Committee released and Ranking Member Devin Nunes` name appears in it 50 times. The first time is on page two of the report. That`s where they list the members of the committee. You can see it right there. More than half of the 49 other times that he appears in the report are apparently him being involved in the very scheme to hijack Ukraine policy that is the subject of the report and the impeachment inquiry itself.
Amidst Ranking Member Nunes` antics during the hearings, his rants about how it was a circus and his insults tossed at the committee chair, he somehow never felt the need to disclose to anyone the fact that he was apparently a principal in the very scheme that they were investigating.
As we now know from the report, Nunes spoke on the phone multiple times with both Rudy Giuliani and his indicted associate Lev Parnas, one of the men at the center of the whole Ukraine scheme. We know from that Daily Beast reporting that Lev Parnas also says that he helped arrange meetings and calls in Europe for Nunes relating to his investigative work.
And here is Parnas` lawyer today taunting the ranking member tweeting he should have recused himself at the outset of the impeachment hearings. I`m joined now by Christina Wilkie, White House Reporter at CNBC who has been covering Nunes` role in all of this.
Christina, you know, we`ve had reporting of Parness and his lawyer saying, look, I worked with Devin Nunes, I set up meetings for him. But again, there`s a little bit of an unreliable narrator issue there. This -- now we have like black and white some sort of evidence that there was some contact.
CHRISTINA WILKIE, CNBC WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Absolutely. I think what happened today was that the last fig leaf was pulled away under which Nunes could have reasonably argued that he was conducting his own parallel kind of investigation which is a message that we were initially getting, you know, that Nunes and his staff were interviewing Ukrainian prosecutors, that they were interested in pursuing what -- depending how you look at it, what could be considered a reasonable line of inquiry.
And all of a sudden today, what we -- what this breaks apart is that idea that Nunes was conducting a straight inquiry on his own. And now we see that he was really among the collaborators and not simply a member of Congress interested in what was happening in Ukraine.
HAYES: And there`s a history here which is pretty fascinating. I mean, Nunes had to recuse himself from the House Intel Committee investigation into Russian interference way back when it first started because he was essentially running interference for the White House and was essentially nabbed doing it. This time around. He is not recused himself, but it does look like there`s a little bit of pattern of behavior here.
WILKIE: There is. And one of the questions that I`m working on tonight is how many of his Republican colleagues on the committee and just in the House generally knew about this, knew about his personal involvement. I would wager the number is pretty low.
Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy earlier tonight was asked about the new revelations, and his only answer was a very terse sort of Nunes can call whoever he wants to, which you would think if it had been known previously, or more widely, they would have prepared a better answer about Nunes you know, conducting an investigation or whatever he was doing. But I cannot imagine that the House Republican caucus is very pleased with Congressman Nunes tonight.
HAYES: There`s also a question here about Parnas as this kind of, you know, he`s just sort of loaded gun on the table right now, right?
HAYES: I mean, you know, here`s this guy who`s under indictment in SDNY who seems to know quite a bit because he`s intimately involved in the entirety of this scheme who`s now we have phone records of him talking to the President`s lawyer, talking to the ranking member. He says he talked to the President himself and was tasked by him. And this is a guy who seems desperate to make a deal.
WILKIE: He is. And I think one of the big questions is whether he is telling the entire truth, whether he`s holding some back in the hopes that it will be of such interest to Schiff that Schiff calls him in. You know, I think as he goes through his trial, we had news yesterday that additional charges could be added to his current -- the charges he`s currently facing which are campaign finance-related.
But as he is staring down, potentially he`s pleaded not guilty, but we`ll see what happens. He may be interested in presenting himself as a good citizen, which when it comes to addressing a judge, whether it`s over sentencing it please, you know, can make a significant difference. But yes, I think he is -- he`s revealed some, but I think he`s still holding back and I think the committee is understandably unsure of whether to trust him.
HAYES: The final point here to me about Nunes is here`s an individual who -- I mean, the entire Republican talking point was at Adam Schiff is the fact witness, Adam Schiff needs to call and Adam Schiff needs to testify and he needs to be sworn under oath. We need to go get what Adam Schiff is hiding. And all the while, the ranking member appears to have been at least tangentially perhaps much more than tangentially actually at the heart of the entire set of facts that are being investigated.
WILKIE: I can`t think of -- I know we tend to toss around the term unprecedented when talking about both the impeachment, sometimes the presidency, but I cannot think of any example in history where a member of Congress at this high level of ranking member on a committee as serious as the House Intelligence Committee was both the questioner and the witness.
And when you go back and you look at his questioning of Marie Yovanovitch, you know, and you realize that a couple of days before she was -- she was recalled, he was on the phone with Giuliana. He effectively -- he said to Yovanovitch, well, you know, I think this is probably an H.R. issue. You know, this isn`t about any plot. And you`re really -- like, you didn`t matter. You probably just weren`t doing your job was the implication.
And we now realize that he may well have known a week or two ahead of time what was going to happen to her.
WILKIE: It adds an incredibly disingenuous quality to this -- the entirety of his behavior in these public hearings.
HAYES: Yes, disingenuous is an understatement. Christina Wilkie, thank you so much for joining me.
WILKIE: Thanks, Chris.
HAYES: Coming up, impeachment moves to a brand new face tomorrow. Up next Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee on what the Intelligence Committee report earlier tonight and what we can expect from her judiciary hearing tomorrow.
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SCHIFF: This is the result of a president who believes that he is beyond indictment, beyond impeachment, beyond any form of accountability and indeed above the law. And that is a very dangerous thing for this country to have an unethical president who believes they are above the law.
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HAYES: Well, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff did not say that the case of the president extorting Ukraine was closed. His committee did issue a pretty comprehensive 300-page report that fundamentally at its core makes the argument the president abuses office, that he committed high crimes and misdemeanors.
That report voted out just a few hours ago now goes to the House Judiciary Committee which will be charged with actually drafting articles of impeachment, and they will be holding their first impeachment hearing tomorrow morning.
Joining me now, a member of that committee, Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas. Congresswoman, what do you make of this report? What does it mean to have this report now in hand for what your committee is tasked with doing?
REP. SHEILA JACKSON LEE (D-TX): Well, Chris, first of all, thank you for having me. But what I will say to you that this moment as the committee`s report was provided by the Intelligence Committee, the weight of the world has now fallen on the shoulders of the House Judiciary Committee. There is now a moment of sober and somber thinking and moving forward in the context of the Constitution.
What it means is that the investigatory aspect has now paused with a report that is substantive, very comprehensive, and captures the testimony that was so striking over the last two weeks. This document now comes in the midst of the Judiciary Committee, educating the American people about what this constitution intended for the House of Representatives to do as it relates to the possible impeachment of a president.
So we have a very key role tomorrow in having scholars, individuals who are immersed in what the word impeachment means and the aspects of a president`s behavior and how it relates to the concept abuse of power. But our most important role is to have the American people understand the truth and understand the role that the constitution has in protecting them. This must be protecting them.
HAYES: To that end, I saw an interesting critique from one conservative law professor I think who favors impeachment, Jonathan Adler, saying that it was a mistake for Democrats not to call any conservatives, essentially, who believe this is impeachable -- Charles Fried, former solicitor-general for Reagan, who has been quite outspoken about the president`s behavior comes to mind. What do you say to that?
LEE: Well, I think I would certainly support the individuals that have been mentioned. I`ve read some of them. We`ve been inundated by previous attorney generals and others who have commented on this behavior. Those are all important voices to be heard.
We`re not finished. I don`t know what witnesses we may ultimately call in the coming days, so I don`t want to close the door on it, but I will say that we had to provide for Republican witness, and there will be a Republican witness. Tomorrow, of course, they`ll have a different view. We think we will gain from those scholars a very detailed presentation to the American people. But, Chris, the door is not closed. Again, it is about the truth.
HAYES: So, there`s a public education component to this and there`s a question of what the law means and what the constitution prescribes, but then there will, I imagine, there will be the work of drafting the articles. I mean, have you begun discussions within your committee about what those articles would look like, how many there might be and how you`ll describe what the president`s acts are?
LEE: We wanted to first of all lay out the constitutional parameters. We will be immersed in future discussions. We wanted to also wait on the House Intelligence report. As you well know, this was concise and pointed. But also a few tidbits of new information came out. We`ve got to digest all that.
But we think tomorrow should stand on its own two feet where we present scholars and what this thing called impeachment, why the constitution was so keen, why were the framers so keen in protecting people, the people, the American people, from what a king had done to them previously, which is to not be concerned about the governed. They wanted to make sure that this process said the governed are the bosses, are the leaders of those who govern.
In this instance we have to show the American people that the person who governs did actions that did not go to the benefit of the American people. We want to stand on that tomorrow. And I think you will see an unveiling of that story and then moving to the question of how we frame, if we move forward, the articles of impeachment.
We have a lot to digest, as you have indicated. And I think it`s important for people to know it will be deliberate, thoughtful and not intimidated by any false opposition to us doing our work.
HAYES: Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas will be in that committee hearing tomorrow. Thank you very much.
LEE: Thank you for having me.
HAYES: Just ahead, how far are Republicans willing to go to defend the president? Senator Cory Booker on the conspiracy theories now taking hold among his Republican colleagues right after this.
HAYES: For a representative snapshot into just how far Republicans are willing to go to defend the president, here`s where we are right now. Republican Senator Richard Burr is the chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee. It`s a big job. And that committee investigated and commissioned a report into the widespread and systemic efforts by Russia to sabotage the campaign of Hillary Clinton on behalf of then candidate Donald Trump by using a variety of illegal means.
Now Burr`s committee also reportedly looked into the notion that Ukraine meddled in the election, and while that part of the report has yet to be released, Politico, citing people with direct knowledge the committee, quote, "found no evidence that Ukraine waged a top-down interference campaign akin to Kremlin`s efforts to help Trump win in 2016." No evidence.
Yet Senator Richard Burr is now effectively rejecting the determination of his own committee, the one that he chairs, in order to lend credence to the wild theories the president and his allies are now resorting to.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is there any evidence that Ukraine meddled in the 2016 election?
SEN. RICHARD BURR, (R) NORTH CAROLINA: I don`t think there`s any question that elected officials in Ukraine had a favorite in the election. Every elected officials in Ukraine was for Hillary Clinton.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK.
BURR: Is that very different than the Russians being for Donald Trump?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Yes, yes, it`s very different. Duh. It might be true there were officials in Ukraine just like there were in other countries who did not support the election of Donald Trump. But there is a world of difference between that and Russia`s direct, systemic, interference in our election. Either Senator Burr does not understand that incredibly obvious distinction, which I doubt, or he`s just trying to mislead the public in order to aid Trump.
I`m joined now by Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, a candidate for the Democratic presidential nominations. Good to have you here.
SEN. CORY BOOKER, (D-NJ) 2020 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Great to be here, Chris. Thank you.
HAYES: So, it`s been this weird thing. So, there`s Senator John Kennedy of Louisiana sort of pushing this line, too. There`s Richard Burr who`s actually the Senate Intel chair. The Washington Post has a headline out just today, GOP embraces a debunked Ukraine conspiracy to defend Trump from impeachment.
What is going on?
BOOKER: Well, I want to take a big lens back about what the Russians are doing right now to western democracy, to free nations from Madagascar, which was reported in The New York Times, so what they`ve been doing in Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, many eastern European countries, they are trying to undermine freedom and democracy with this same play that they`re perfecting each time.
America is under attack. They`re using our social media platforms. They`re using all kinds of ways to try to undermine democracy, make us doubt our institutions, make us doubt what the truth is, make us doubt our media. And so to see Republicans rolling out theories that are complicit, in a way, to the attacks on this democracy, we`re all privy to intelligence reports that show that this is actually their strategy, pitting Americans more against each other, undermining fundamental institutional ideals.
So this to me is a growing crisis. When I was visiting Ukraine, actually, with Ambassador Yovanovitch, meeting with Ukrainian soldiers who were explaining the us the urgency of their aid, our military and their our military were calling it a war. The kinetic part of it was going on in Eastern Ukraine, but they considered the attacks on our democracy not a cold war, but a hybrid war trying to stop our democracy as we know it.
And I just find it very frustrating, it makes me angry, to see Republicans in the House and elsewhere parroting the same kind of conspiracy theories that they`re peddling with the intention of undermining our democracy.
HAYES: There`s the question, I guess, about what exactly how your colleagues are preparing to receive this trial, right, and what it indicates about them.
I thought this, for Mitt Romney, was interesting. And it was noteworthy and newsworthy simply because he stated the kind of consensus facts about the matter. This is what he had to say. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MITT ROMNEY, (R) UTAH: I saw no intelligence from my intelligence community, nor from the representatives today from the Department of State that there is any evidence of any kind to suggest that Ukraine interfered in our elections.
We have ample evidence that Russia interfered in our elections.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: That`s just a basic statement of fact, but I mean it seems to me that faced with a choice between the facts or the president they`re going to choose the president.
BOOKER: But you`re missing one other step in this, the Russians intention was to try to frame the Ukrainians.
BOOKER: They have been actively working for months and months and months...
HAYES: And been seeding this story.
BOOKER: Seeding this story that now is being taken up, their dirty work is being continued from the White House and from others. They want to make this preposterous lie that goes counter to every objective shred of truth. This is insidious. And it`s dangerous.
And it`s not just a threat to Donald Trump, whether they want (inaudible) just one president. It`s not their short-term policy, it`s the long-term strength of this nation to an adversary of ours back to the Krushchev days. They said we`re not going to be able to beat you tank for tank or warship for warship, but you will be corrupted from within. This is corruption from within.
HAYES: So here`s my question, there`s also a danger, though, it seems to me, in that sort of line of thinking when you referenced back to Krushchev, right, because like just because the Russians are pushing some line doesn`t make it illegitimate in American political discourse, do you get what I`m saying. There were people back during the cold war where the Russians were like using the civil rights struggle as an opportunistic way to flog the inferiority of the American system. And if you supported civil rights it`s like, well, that`s a Russian line.
Like, the problem it seems to me is that it`s wrong and false, above and beyond anything having to do with the Russians.
BOOKER: It`s insult to injury when your enemy is trying to destroy you and you`re picking up your enemies lines and the work they`ve been doing and parroting it around for some shameful attempt to save a president from his obvious wrongdoing in that office.
This is a moral vandal we have in the White House right now, whether you want to say it`s impeachable or not, argue with me on that level, whether it`s impeachable or not, but we know, Republican and Democrat, that this is moral vandalism what he`s doing.
HAYES: Do they know that though?
BOOKER: I have private conversations.
HAYES: OK, they do.
BOOKER: 100 percent.
HAYES: So you are here as a senator from New Jersey, sitting senator. You`re on the judiciary committee. You`re also about -- you`re a candidate for president. You`re about to go to Iowa, if I`m not mistaken.
There was big news today about a fellow member of the judiciary committee, fellow Senate Democrat, Kamala Harris, dropping out of the race. Took a lot of people by surprise. What`s your reaction.
BOOKER: Let me just say Kamala before she was a senator, presidential candidate, she was my friend, she was my sister. And so today I`m a little angry, I have to say, that we started with one of the most diverse fields in our history, giving people pride. And it`s a damn shame now that the only African-American woman in this race, who has been speaking to issues that need to be brought up is no no longer in it and we`re spiraling toward a debate stage that potentially, we`re still fighting to get on it, but could have six people with no diversity whatsoever.
The way this is shaping up, especially with the rules of the DNC, it is preferencing millionaires and billionaires and a lot of other things that don`t ever translate into viability in Iowa.
HAYES: But is that the -- so is it the DNC`s fault or is it the electorate`s fault, or is it the sequencing of Iowa and New Hamp -- do you see what I`m saying?
BOOKER: I`m not even thinking it`s sequencing or the electorate...
HAYES: Well, you can`t say -- you can`t talk smack about Iowa.
BOOKER: What I -- listen, Iowa selected the only African-American president we`ve ever had.
HAYES: Yes, fair counterpoint.
BOOKER: And you know we know that the things that matter, the Kerry campaign told us this, the Obama campaign, all the people who upset, who were polling well behind and went on to win, they said, hey Cory, focus on your popularity in the state. I`m number three in that favorability. Focus on your organization. The Des Moines Register has said we have won the top two organizations with Elizabeth Warren. Focus on the endorsements, the people in that caucus in Iowa and New Hampshire. We lead...
HAYES: So, it`s not that. That`s not the problem.
BOOKER: No, what I`m saying is these aren`t the things that this campaigns seem to be selected for and we`re seeing some casualties of that.
This should -- Kamala`s destiny should have been decided by voters in Iowa, not a lot of the other things. And we are at our own peril as a party, and this is why I`m fighting even harder, doubling down, if we do not have somebody that can excite and ignite that Obama coalition, the fullness of who we are. And it would be malpractice if I didn`t say this to you, but if folks want to keep me in this race please go to CoryBooker.com, contribute so we can make sure we`re on that next debate stage.
HAYES: All right, Senator Cory Booker. Thanks for being with me.
BOOKER: Thank you so much for having me.
HAYES: Still to come, more on Senator Kamala Harris ending her presidential campaign. What happened to the one-time front-runner and what this means for the 2020 field ahead.
HAYES: Any reporter who`s covered local governments -- state, local, city stuff -- can tell you that perhaps the ripest area for corruption is government contracts. I mean local papers around the country ever year are littered with stories of corrupt government officials steering contracts to friends, families, cronies and donors. I mean people go to jail for it all the time.
Now luckily, at the federal level where you`ve got I mean hundreds of millions even billions of dollars in one contract at stake, there are really stringent regulations governing procurement and awarding of contracts. And the idea is that you don`t want say, some, big donor to the president`s party being able to work his contacts and go on friendly news outlets to campaign himself to a $400 million government contract on the basis of a bunch of flimflam promises and connections.
But that`s literally what appeared to have happened. A North Dakota company named Fisher Sand and Gravel, run by Republican donor and Trump TV regular Tommy Fisher, has been awarded a $400 million contract to build 31 miles of border wall.
Now, Donald Trump loves Tommy Fisher. As The Washington Post reports Trump has repeatedly pushed for Fisher to get a wall building contract, urging the officials with the Army Corps of Engineers to pick the firm only to be told, get this, that Fisher`s bids did not meet standards.
But, after the president personally pushed the Army Corps and kept pushing, wow, lo and behold, the company was added to a pool of competitors. And now it has been awarded a massive $400 million.
Probably didn`t hurt that Fisher and his wife maxed out donations to Republican Senator Kevin Kramer who Trump said strongly recommended that he use Fisher`s company to build the wall, the one that Mexico is going to pay for.
It also probably helped that Fisher was campaigning for the contract on Trump TV sounding uncannily like Trump himself.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TOMMY FISHER, CEO, FISHER GRAVEL AND SAND: The president will -- if he allows us to play and our team at Fisher Industries to play I guarantee you no different than Tom Brady, once we get in we never come out. And if we don`t perform, the president can fire us, and that`s how comfortable and confident I am is when people see what we really offer.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: That seems like a news worthy interview, a guy just campaigning for a contract.
I know there is so much corruption in the Trump administration, it is hard to even keep track. Believe me, I know. But call me crazy, a sweetheart $400 million contract to a well-connected donor over the objections of the procurement professionals does not seem like something that we should just accept as the new normal in this United States of America.
HAYES: Kamala Harris, a senator from California, started her campaign for president with a bang. More than 20,000 people came out for her launch in Oakland. She had a strong, very strong fund-raising start, a very good summer debate performance, and was seen by many Democratic political professionals as a likely top tier candidate and possibly the first woman of color to be a nominee for a major party.
But facing a shrinking donor base and low polling and days away from the deadline to remove her name from the California ballot, today Kamala Harris announced she`s suspending her campaign.
What does it mean for the Democratic field and what does it say about this primary race so far, she`s already out while say Tom Steyer and John Delaney and Marianne Williamson are not.
To talk about that, I`m joined by two MSNBC political analysts, Zerlina Maxwell, co-host of Signal Boost, and Cornell Belcher, a Democratic strategist and a pollster.
What is your, Zerlina, diagnosis of what happened?
ZERLINA MAXWELL, CO-HOST, SIGNAL BOOST: Well, look, I think that a lot of people are pointing to some of the mistakes and the missteps by the campaign, and that is a valid conversation, but I think -- you know, today as I sit here where many candidates of color either are towards the bottom of the pack or they`re dropping out, that`s not a reflection of the base of the party, the electorate. And I think that that`s a real problem the party as a whole should look at.
So, my main assessment is that Kamala Harris sort of f aced a double-edged sword. She had high expectations. She had a flawless rollout. She`s sharp. She`s prepared. She shows up at the debate to debate, to win the debate. And I think that, you know, when you set expectations that are so high, and you`re a black woman running for president, that`s going to be an interesting mix of race bias and gender bias, and she faces both.
CORNELL BELCHER, DEMOCRATIC POLLSTER: Look, I think all those are valid. Look, I`ve talked about this before, you know, if -- it `s higher -- hurdles are higher for minority candidates, particularly African-Americans, and then you throw in an African-American woman.
That said -- I think all those are valid -- but I will also say that it`s also valid that -- look, I think the future belongs to Senator Harris. She has a bright future. Heck, the guy who is now leading in the Democratic primary polls has run for this a couple of times, so I think she has a bright future. But I think she`ll also have to learn from some of the mistakes that happened this year. And the truth is there were some mistakes.
I think her campaign never found a storyline through this sort of chaotic political narrative that we`re in right now. And, you know, talking to some of my -- you know, look, I`m an unabashedly a political hack, and so to talking to some of my campaign friends, I mean, the stories that came out about her internally from her campaign that we`ve never seen people spill the beans sort of publicly and so unhappy about what`s happening internally in the campaign like that before. And I think those stories that came out made her look like he a poor investment. And unfortunately money rules politics.
So, look, I agree 100 percent that it was a double standard, but also I think that next time around she has to learn from those mistakes and run a better campaign.
HAYES: I think -- there`s two things here, one, I think that it`s very hard to sort of cut through to like what`s your brand, what`s the tweet length version of your candidacy? The other thing that I`ll -- I`ve seen a lot of people talking about like all this like scouting about -- she was highly touted and she was, and I myself was one of them. A lot of that, though, was before -- Joe Biden got in the race relatively late and when she was getting into the race, it looked like he wasn`t going to get in.
The biggest thing that changed for Kamala Harris from like when Kamala Harris announced to right now is that Joe Biden got in the race and took up a big part of what I think would have been the supporters that she would have had in his absence.
MAXWELL: I agree. I agree. I think that there`s a couple of things at play. And I think Cornell and I agree on most of the points. I`m not saying that she didn`t make mistakes, but all of the candidates have. Mayor Pete has made mistakes. He`s surging while he`s making lots and lots and lots of mistakes. What are we on three birther videos that have come to light this week, just this week, from 2017, 2018. Additionally, Biden has said all kind of funky things and he`s known to be a gaffe machine.
And so I think that there is a standard through which we are viewing her mistakes and we`re sort of weighting them more than we would with the men.
HAYES: So, here`s the question, though, and this always becomes difficult, Cornell, is like this question of -- there`s media bias, there`s obviously build-in structural bias in terms of sexism and racism.
MAXWELL: Structural and cultural.
HAYES: But there`s also the electorate. Like, there`s a certain amount -- and this is the thing that I think a lot of people were talking about like among the base of the party, which is diverse base, right, that Biden right now is leading very heavily among African-American voters. He`s leading pretty well among Latino voters, or Bernie Sanders in California in the latest polling.
Like, the electorate also seems to be, and it`s not like some exogenous thing you can take out of the dynamics that ensnare all of this, but right now that`s a big part of it, too, just what the polling has been among the diverse coalition that`s been the Democratic Party.
BELCHER: Well, I would make an argument -- first, I`ve got to go back and say there is absolutely -- and I`m not telling you anything, but, yes as a black person you do have to be better. I mean, we got spoiled by Barack Obama. Barack Obama was a fantastic candidate and he was darn near perfect and he still had a battle out Hillary Clinton almost to the very end.
And so absolutely, black candidates and Hispanic candidates don`t get away with what white candidates do. Quite frankly, Barack Obama would have been impeached a long time ago if he did half the stuff Donald Trump did.
But that said, it does leave a space for, look, that Obama coalition that Senator Harris is sort of talking about, sort of who`s going to inherit that? Is -- can Joe Biden inherit that and hold on to it.
I would argue, Chris, that not enough of the candidates that we`ve seen have actually put in place the infrastructure and started doing the communication with voters of color and beyond Iowa and New Hampshire like, quite frankly, we did in `07 on the Obama campaign.
HAYES: That is the big question right now, and the concern I think of the Democratic Party.
Zerlina Maxwell, Cornell Belcher, thank you both for joining us.
That is ALL IN for this evening. "THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW" starts right now.
Good evening, Rachel.
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