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Giuliani still pursuing manufactured dirt on Biden. TRANSCRIPT: 12/16/19, All In w/ Chris Hayes.

Guests: Joe Neguse, Lynn Sweet, Mickey Edwards, Chris Coons, NoahBookbinder, Ilya Marritz, Rebecca Ballhaus

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST:  And that`s HARDBALL for now.  Thanks for being with us.  "ALL IN" with Chris Hayes starts right now.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST:  Tonight on ALL IN.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Fifty percent of the country wants the President impeached.  I was stunned to see that that`s the number.

HAYES:  Impeachment week on Capitol Hill.

REP. ELISSA SLOTKIN (D-MI):  I will be voting yes on obstruction of Congress.

HAYES:  Tonight, the swing district Democrats banding together as a House prepares to vote on Wednesday.  Then, what happens when impeachment gets to the Senate.

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY):  Trials have witnesses.  That`s what trials are all about.

HAYES:  The push to make Republicans honor their oath to be impartial.

SEN. CHRIS COONS (D-DE):  If the Senate Republican majority refuses to discipline him through impeachment, he will be unbounded.

HAYES:  Plus, the House bills gummed up in the Senate, the latest on the hunt for the President`s tax return, and new detail on just what Trump and Giuliani have been up to in Ukraine.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  How much has Giuliana shared with you about his recent trip to Ukraine?

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  Oh, not too much.

HAYES:  When ALL IN starts right now.

TRUMP:  He does this out of love.  He does it out of love.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAYES:  Good evening from New York, I`m Chris Hayes.  In just two days the House of Representatives will vote to impeach the President of the United States.  In anticipation of that full floor vote this morning, the House Judiciary Committee released a 658-page report making the case that President Trump "betrayed the nation by abusing his high office to enlist a foreign power in corrupting democratic elections."

The report explains why the committee decided to charge the president with two articles of impeachment, abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.  Tomorrow morning, the House Rules Committee will meet to consider the rules for Wednesday`s impeachment debate.  As we head to the House impeachment vote, there are a few notable trend lines happening in the politics of all this.

So the big news over the weekend was that New Jersey congressman Jeff Van Drew, who was one of two Democrats who did not vote for the impeachment inquiry and who is not going to vote for impeachment is now expected to switch to the Republican Party.  Some calls it a coup for the President but it essentially shows that Congressman Van Drew did not think he could cross the party on this and stay a Democrat and retain his seat in a competitive swing district.

As Democrats lose one member, the Washington Post reports that a group of 30 freshman Democrats is pushing leadership to consider Justin Amash, the one Republican turned Independent congressman who supports impeachment as an actual impeachment manager.  Of course, Congressman Amash came out in favor impeachment shortly after the Mueller report was released, which put him at odds starkly with his party.  That led to his decision to leave the Republican Party.

Over the last few days, more than 30 Democrats from frontline districts have come out one after another, announcing their support for impeachment.  To Congress members from the Texas suburbs Colin Allred, Lizzie Fletcher, said they were in.  Congresswoman Elissa Slotkin of Michigan made the case to her constituents in a town hall where some of her constituents booed, but then many others gave her a standing ovation.

Congressman Joe Cunningham of South Carolina who took former Governor Mark Sanford`s seat announced his support for impeachment as well.  As you have this partisan sorting in Congress, it`s notable that the voices of people who are no longer involved in politics, who don`t have to worry about being primaried or political loyalty in a sort of acute tangible sense, but are nonetheless lifelong Republicans, that this group of people have also come out and said, yes, this is bad what the President did.

There`s Tom Ridge, extremely prominent Republican in the Bush years, Governor of Pennsylvania, first secretary the Department of Homeland Security, who said he was disappointed and troubled and that he will not be backing the President in 2020.  Carly Fiorina who ran for the Republican nomination against Trump in 2016 said it`s vital Trump be impeached.  Though also later said she might vote for him.  Go figure that one.  And then today William Webster, the only man to lead both the FBI and CIA, a lifelong Republican said he is disturbed by Trump`s recent comments. 

It`s notable Republicans who no longer have to worry about a primary election are being fairly clear about just how out of bounds the President`s behavior is.  The polling shows the country is split on impeachment.  Fox News poll released yesterday showed 54 percent of the country thinks the president should be impeached, although four percent thinks he should be impeached, but not removed.

A new Quinnipiac today showed essentially the kind of reverse 45 percent saying the president should be impeached and removed and 51 percent in opposition.  No matter how you slice it, you essentially have about half the country who think the President of the United States should be impeached and removed from office.

It`s really kind of remarkable when you think about it.  That`s something that never happened during the long period of the run-up to and during the impeachment of Bill Clinton, and it`s something that didn`t happen during the entire Watergate scandal until right before Nixon resigned. 

Joining me now, one of the members of the Judiciary Committee who voted to pass the two articles impeachment against President, Democratic Congressman Joe Neguse of Colorado.  And Congressman, you`re a freshman, you`re a member of this freshman class.  You have a fairly safe seat.  It`s not one of these sort of front line seats.  And so I`m just curious to get your sense to the lead of the kind of freshman class as we`re seeing member after member come out sometimes in tough and competitive districts saying yes, I support this.

REP. JOE NEGUSE (D-CO):  Well, it`s good to be with you, Chris.  You know, I have the honor of representing the freshman class as a co-representative to the leadership team.  And as a result, I have gotten to know many of my colleagues quite well.  And the members that you mentioned, I`m just so deeply proud of.  These are people Elissa Slotkin, Abigail Spanberger, so many others who have served our country bravely, and who now are honoring their oath that they took, as we all did to defend the constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic, and really are choosing country over party.

I think it`s brave and courageous, and I wish that our Republican colleagues would do the same.  You know, I was listening to your opening, which is telling you I thought, represent -- excuse me, Governor Ridge`s comments, in particular, were very compelling.  I mean, this was George W. Bush`s first Homeland Security Secretary who acknowledge just how deeply problematic and egregious this President`s conduct was.

So look, I think public opinion clearly shows that the American people recognizes this president abused his power.  I think the fact that you see so many members of Congress reaching that same conclusion is -- really speaks to just the egregiousness of the President`s conduct and the need for the House to hold him accountable.

HAYES:  Do you have any sense of how this is -- we know there`s going to be a Rules Committee markup tomorrow, and then they`ll be the Wednesday.  Do you have any sense of how Wednesday is going to go?

NEGUSE:  You know, I do.  I mean, I imagine there will be robust debate on the floor of the House.  I suspect that it will be similar to the debate that took place in 1999 with respect to the president of -- impeachment, rather, of President Bill Clinton.  And I imagine it will be similar to some of the debate that you heard during the Judiciary Committee proceedings last week.

My hope is that my Republican colleagues will treat this process and that debate with the respect that it deserves, which is certainly something that me and my colleagues on the Judiciary Committee worked very hard to do when we took up the articles just last week.

HAYES:  The article about freshmen members pushing for Justin Amash I thought was quite interesting.  And I`m curious if you have any insight or comments on that idea.

NEGUSE:  I`m not going to speculate about who the speaker may or may not select with respect to the impeachment manager team to the extent that the house approves those articles.  I`m sure she`ll pick a very compelling team, obviously.

You know, I think Justin Amash, when we talk about really standing up and picking country over party, he is certainly a testament to that.  And when he bravely came out in support of an impeachment inquiry, and, you know, worked to explain the constitutional underpinnings as to the reason why, I thought he was a very compelling messenger and still is.  And you know, I imagine that you`ll see him take part in the Florida date on Wednesday.

HAYES:  There was a line that I thought was newsworthy, others have pointed this out in that long report issued by the committee that you sent on judiciary.  Most of which was not necessarily new, so to speak, but this was.  Although President Trump`s actions need not rise to the level of criminal violation to justify impeachment, his conduct here was criminal.  Do you agree with that?

NEGUSE:  I do.  I mean, I think that you heard the academic experts, the constitutional scholars that testified in front of our committee explained in great detail and expound upon the legal standards that govern this impeachment inquiry.  And what they explained was that abuse of power really is the highest crime that can be charged, so to speak, in an impeachment, and that certainly is the case here.

But as you this just recently referenced with respect to the report, the various other potential crimes and crimes rather, that this President engaged in are really subsumed by that abuse of power article, and they are detailed at great length in the Judiciary Committee`s report and would certainly encourage every American to read that report.  It`s lengthy, but there`s a very concise summary that lays out the elements of these various crimes and the reasons why the Judiciary Committee and the staff ultimately reach the conclusions that we did.

HAYES:  I`m curious, you know, this is a strange time in the -- in the year.  We`re heading to the end of the year.  There`s a lot of legislative activity that`s going to happen to avoid a shutdown.  There`s a bunch of must-pass appropriations bills.  The last-minute deals being cut on that.  The President is likely going to be impeached two days from now.  Then everyone`s going to go home for the holidays and recess.  And I`m just curious, what is the mood like in that building right now?  It`s a somewhat strange week to be going to do your job.

NEGUSE:  I`ll say this.  As far as the Democratic caucus is concerned, and the freshman class, in particular, I think the mood is one of ensuring that we deliver on the promises that we made to the American people.  I think there`s always been consensus in this caucus, Chris.  And you know, I`ve had a chance to discuss this previously around both the for the people legislative agenda and holding this administration accountable and upholding the rule of law.

So just last week, as you know, while the Judiciary Committee proceeded with the somber and solemn obligation and duty that it proceeded with, the House passed HR3 which was a incredible step forward in terms of reducing prescription drug prices.  And that is a measure that was supported by progressive and moderate Democrats in our caucus.

So you know, look, I think we are here to do the people`s work.  That`s exactly what we intend to do this week.  That work will continue while we also honor the oath that each and every one of us took to defend the constitution and at the of the day uphold the rule of law.

HAYES:  All right, Congressman Joe Neguse, thank you so much.

NEGUSE:  Thank you, Chris.

HAYES:  Joining me now for more on what to expect in the next few days, Mickey Edwards, former Republican Congressman from Oklahoma and Lynn Sweet Washington Bureau Chief of the Chicago Sun-Times.

Let me -- Lynn, let me start with you.  You know, it`s notable to me, I think earlier rounds of contentious legislative fights that I have covered, there was more of an inclination, particularly among Democrats, but I think both sides, that of taking votes to sort of distinguish you from your party, right? 

And what we`re seeing is that kind of the way that structural polarization has developed and I think Mitch McConnell`s deep insight into this that you -- you know, during Obama, that if you don`t give him any bipartisan cover, then by definition it`s not bipartisan.

It is interesting to me see the uniformity with which these frontline members in these tough districts are coming out being like we`re doing this.

LYNN SWEET, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, CHICAGO SUN-TIMES:  Well, I`m not surprised.  They need it to buy time because every day that they don`t have a position makes them look like they`re thinking about things more.  And it`s one less day perhaps for an attack ad.  And for those who like to read everything, they had a reason.

Today you have the hundreds of pages of a House report that might add some more insight to somebody who wants to justify their decision.  But here`s another quick example, though the degree of polarization.  You talked about the Rules Committee coming up tomorrow.  I know a lot of people don`t know what it`s about.  It`s not a high-profile group.

This will be the first time in history that rules is taking up an impeachment.  So in Clinton, even with all the polarization there and the beginning of the extremism that we have today, even then the Republicans and Democrats were able to in a unanimous way, deciding what the rule should be so they didn`t need to go to the Rules Committee.  That just shows another example how deep these divides are.

HAYES:  That`s fascinating.  Micky, I wanted to talk to you today because there is this fascinating divide to me between Republicans who currently are in elected office and who want a future in the Republican Party, and many Republicans who are no longer in that position but have deep connections to the party, to the Conservative movement.

And you saw with Ridge and with William Webster`s op-ed, I mean, there are just lots of people who say look, obviously, this is terrible and not defensible.  And they`re looking at the current electorate or the current elected Republicans and wondering what`s going on.  And I wonder if you could share your view on that.

MICKEY EDWARDS, FORMER U.S. REPRESENTATIVE FROM OKLAHOMA:  You know, Chris, first, it`s good to be back with you.  The -- people like Tom Ridge and others who have previously had other jobs executive or legislative and took an oath of office meant that oath seriously.  We -- so the Republicans are in Congress today are not just at war with another political party, they`re at war with the Constitution. They`re at war with a separation of powers there.

They become a cult that has set aside, as Joe said, you know, set aside their concerns about the country, because party first and party for them today means follow the leader, the other branch of government.  So I, I really think that people like Mitch McConnell, Lindsey Graham, and the others who are in a similar position, you know, they should be impeached.

They took an oath of office.  They took an oath to follow the Constitution, and they`re clearly not doing that.  And they don`t even appear to feel like they need to pretend they`re doing it.  So I mean, I think it`s really disturbing what they`ve done to the party and what they`re doing to the country.

HAYES:  Yes, there is no obviously impeachment provision of the United States Constitution for non-principal officers in the executive but I take your point.  And Lynn, I`m curious about what you make of the Senate.  So you talked about the sort of precedent here about how much polarization has sort of changed the institutions such that the Rules Committee can`t come to an agreement, right?  They`re going to have a sort of out and open fight tomorrow.

What does that mean, do you think for the Senate and how the senate tries to take up a really thorny set of questions I think that aren`t necessarily easy and clear for Mitch McConnell?

SWEET:  Well, one -- first thing to remember for everybody who wasn`t paying attention to, it`ll be 21 years ago on Thursday that Clinton -- that the House voted impeachment on Clinton, another benchmark.  This is called a trial but it`s not what you think of when you think of a criminal trial, because this wrangling over rules are big deal.

HAYES:  Right.

SWEET:  And we don`t even know for example, if McConnell agrees to the minimum amount of argument to keep face.  That is something that it will just spark and uproar.  The House prosecutors and Bill Clinton had three days to put on opening statements against Bill Clinton, three days.  So that`s the kind of dealing and wrangling that Schumer tried to get out in front by putting out his witness list and everything.  But these rules of the debate in the Senate are a big deal and you only need a majority to do it.

So McConnell is in the driver`s seat.  So if he wants to do another Merrick Garland, and that is no way know how he can do it.  But he is up for reelection in Kentucky and maybe there is a line that he will cross if he tries to just pretend that the trial is a minimal event in the nation`s history, and just tries to dispatch it in a minimum of time.

HAYES:  Mickey, my read on McConnell is he basically is trying to give just enough to his frontline members because he`s got folks who are up in difficult states like Susan Collins and Cory Gardner, for them to say that they delivered -- they deliberated, they did their duty, and they voted not to remove the president.  Is that -- that`s my read of what McConnell is after here.

EDWARDS:  Well, I think he`s trying to do that.  I think he`s also looking at his own election because Kentucky has shown its willing to remove Republicans from office too.  So I think he is trying to give a little bit of cover, but I don`t see how you can cover what they`re doing.  There are too many who are just ignoring but the president had done.

You know, at least there should be an open mind.  There should be -- even if you don`t start out by saying we want to impeach him, listen to the evidence, listen to what the what testimony you`ve got, and then make it -- that`s their -- they are committed, they are committed, they`re taking an oath to be impartial jurors, and they simply don`t care about those things anymore.

HAYES:  Yes, it is striking how much tension there is between the words of that oath and what they`ve expressed as their view on how they`re going to proceed.  Mickey Edwards, Lynn, sweet, thank you both.

SWEET:  Thank you.

EDWARDS:  Thank you.

HAYES:  Still to come, preparing for that Senate trial, Mitch McConnell says he`ll work in total coordination with the White House while Minority Leader Chuck Schumer claims to have the Republican votes needed to subpoena their witness list.  Where impeachment goes from here in two minutes.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAYES:  Over the weekend, Senator Chuck Schumer sent a letter to Majority Leader Mitch McConnell calling on him to establish a set of ground rules for the upcoming impeachment trial in the Senate, including calling witnesses the House was unable to compel to testify, people like Mick Mulvaney and John Bolton.  Schumer says he`s confident that he will have the votes to be able to push some of this forward.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SCHUMER:  I expect to have the support from Democrats and Republicans because the argument is so strong.  And many Republicans have voiced to me and many of my colleagues privately that they think what the President did is wrong but they`re just not sure enough facts have been presented to make the -- an impeachable case high crimes and misdemeanors.  This is the way to do it the way we outlined.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAYES:  Ever since McConnell went on Hannity last week to assure Hannity that McConnell will be working "in total coordination," those are his words, with the President`s defense team, people have pointed out that the literal text of the oath which is administered to senators sitting in -- sitting in an impeachment trial that Mitch McConnell himself will have to take requires him to be well quite impartial.

"I solemnly swear or affirm as the case may be that in all things appertaining to the trial of the impeachment of blank, now pending, I will do impartial justice according to the Constitution laws, so help me God."

One of the people who will very likely be taking that oath in the next year is Senator Chris Coons, a Democrat from Delaware, and he joins me now.  Let`s start on this question of impartiality.  I mean, you have the Senate Majority Leader saying, look, we`re -- we are working hand and glove with the President`s defense attorneys, and then you have the wording of this oath, which I imagine that you and your colleagues would take seriously.  How do you square those two?

COONS:  Well, Chris, I intend to take that oath seriously.  And one of the things I`ve been saying to my Republican colleagues is that President Trump deserves the chance to put on a full, vigorous defense.  But he declined to do so in the House.  He blocked the folks who are most central to making the President`s case from testifying in front of the House.

So, all I can say is that I will do my best to do impartial justice.  But all the evidence that I`ve been able to hear or see so far from the House inquiry points to President Trump having actually dangled military aid, as a bribe or an inducement to a vulnerable ally, Ukraine, in order to get them to dig up dirt without any foundation on his most viable political opponent, Joe Biden in our upcoming presidential election.

So that`s why leader Schumer has put this letter forward to Majority Leader McConnell.  These are four witnesses who would actually help either make the President`s case if they were allowed to testify, or further confirm that the President actually did the bad things that a whole series of witnesses testified in front of the House he had done.

HAYES:  I guess the question everyone sort of is wondering is whether this is all going to essentially come down to party-line votes.  Obviously, the Republicans have the majority and the rulings on procedure ultimately are going to come down to who can amass 51 votes on these procedural questions.

COONS:  That`s right.

HAYES:  Do you have -- are you in the midst of conversations?  Are there ongoing conversations?  Is this a thing that you think there`s kind of fair-minded openness to amongst your colleagues or are we just going to essentially see McConnell sort of pull a Merrick Garland 2.0 and just hold his caucus together?

COONS:  It`s entirely possible that what will happen will be a depressing display of caucus unity on the other side, and that by a 51 or more vote margin, they will have a very brief, very truncated trial with no witnesses, no evidence that House managers will present the barest of cases, and then it`ll be dismissed.  That`s entirely possible, Chris.

But I continue to have conversations with colleagues across the aisle because if just four of them decided that they think it should be a stronger and a fair trial, there should be some witnesses, some evidence, then we`ve got a chance at a real trial.

I think, as I`ve heard from my morning Senior senators who were here for the trial of President Clinton, that when you actually take that oath, when the Chief Justice takes the chair and begins presiding, and when the historical significance of the impeachment trial begins to settle in, there is a chance that a few Republican senators will vote with the Democrats for a few witnesses in order to make this a more even-handed trial.

HAYES:  You said something that struck me because it`s something I`ve been thinking about, about being gravely concerned about the President`s behavior and what he thinks he can get away with should he, in fact, be acquitted.  It seems to me we`re entering very dangerous territory in 2020, yet the President`s lawyer is still essentially carrying out the plot for which he is being impeached in front of all of us.  What are your concerns?  Why are you gravely concerned?

COONS:  Well, frankly, Rudy Giuliani has just returned from Ukraine where he was continuing extending his efforts to gin up fake dirt on President Trump`s opponents in the upcoming presidential elections.  So, my core concern is that there`s lots of opportunities for President Trump to invite interference, whether by China or Russia, or to continue to dig up and throw in the air distractions, or in some ways, efforts that will undermine our election.

I want to add one encouraging note, Chris, because I hate coming on and always depressing your audience.  I think it`s just become public that there`s going to be $425 million in election security grants in this appropriation bill that I think we are going to pass this week.  That`s something I fought very hard for.  It came out of this subcommittee of appropriations where I`m the senior Democrat.  And it is a small but important investment in trying to make sure that our states have the most up to date cyber-secure machinery to make it harder to hack our next election.

HAYES:  Do you think there`s -- I mean, one thing that I hear from you and other folks is, look, our colleagues wouldn`t actually do this.  They wouldn`t try to get a foreign leader to you know, open an investigation into political rivals nor do they think it`s appropriate or OK.  But in this environment, you`re either with the president you`re against him.  I mean, do you foresee a space at least for members of the Senate to at least express their disapproval of the thing that was done whether or not the vote to remove?

COONS:  Well, as you know, Chris, during the Clinton impeachment, there was a discussion about a center motion.  And that was strongly pushback against by the House managers because they didn`t want to give an alternative to a trial.  I do think that there will come a time for that conversation if we get through a full impeachment trial.  That`s the time to say, OK, we have a president who has been cleared by the majority in the Senate and who is now ungoverned, unbounded, unrestrained.  We have to express in some strong and bipartisan way disapproval of these actions.

So I`m not trying to foreclose and forestall the accountability that comes with President Trump likely being only the third president in the United States history to face a trial in the Senate, but I agree with the premise of your question, Chris.  There has to be some other way to hold him accountable if the outcome of the trial is that a Republican majority refuses to hold President Trump accountable on the evidence developed by the House Intelligence Committee.

HAYES:  All right, Senator Chris Coons, thank you so much for making time.

COONS:  Thank you, Chris.

HAYES:  Still ahead, Rudy Giuliani`s stunning admission related to one of the key plot points in the Ukraine scheme.  What he confirmed after this.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HAYES:  In some ways, the most unnerving subplot right now of the impeachment drama is the fact that the President and his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani are continuing to do the thing that the president is being impeached for, at least part of the thing, just out in the open. 

In fact, today in this just fascinating and excellent New Yorker piece about one of the ex-prosecutors at the center of this Ukraine story, Rudy Giuliani comes out and admits a key part of the plot.  He says that he spearheaded getting rid of the former U.S. ambassador of the Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch, because she stood in the way of his scheme.

"I believe that I needed Yovanovitch out of the way.  She was going to make the investigations difficult for everybody."

That scheme is partly what Rudy Giuliani`s two associates are indicted for.  It`s partly what President Trump`s impeachment is about.  This civil servant, Marie Yovanovitch, had to be removed so they could undergo their corrupt extortion plot holding back nearly $400 million in military aid to Ukraine until it announced investigations into the Bidens.

Just last week The Wall Street Journal reported that right when Rudy Giuliani got back from his latest trip to Ukraine, the president called him, "what did you get, Rudy said the president asked him?  More than you could imagine, he replied."

We also know Rudy was at the White House on Friday and Trump acknowledged.  And today Trump acknowledged talking to Rudy Giuliani, calling him a very great crime fighter.

Joining me now, Wall Street Journal White House reporter Rebecca Ballhaus, who co-authored The Wall Street Journal piece, and has been thoroughly covering this story.

All right, Rebecca, so we know they are in touch.  We know it`s -- Rudy`s first trip to Ukraine amidst this.  He comes back.  You have him telling you that he gets a call from the president.  What do we know about what the nature of that Friday meeting or debrief was?

REBECCA BALLHAUS, THE WALL ST REET JOURNEY:  So both the White House and Giuliani have so far declined to say what was discussed at that meeting, but one thing I would note is that in that call that you mentioned where the president called Giuliani the minute he lands back in the U.S. from Ukraine and says what did you get, that on that call he asked Giuliani to brief the attorney general, to brief congress, and to brief him at some point on what he had found.

And we know that this week or this morning the findings or some of the findings that Giuliani collected while he was on his trip started being broadcast on this series that he has been working on with OAN, and the president has been re-tweeting a lot of that.

So, I would say all signs point to the fact that this was discussed on Friday, but nobody is willing to confirm that right now.

HAYES:  Do we know if he`s -- this is now, if you read that piece in the New Yorker by Adam Entous, it`s great piece, that, you know, Barr comes up over and over again.  I mean, Giuliani seems to have connections to Barr and can get meetings with Barr.  Do we know if Barr met with Giuliani on this matter?

BALLHAUS:  I don`t think we have any indication that the two of them have met.  And actually we have reported at the beginning of this whole saga that back in May, I believe, or April, Barr had called the president to express some concerns about Giuliani and whether he was serving the president properly.  So they certainly I think have had sort of a fraught relationship in that sense.

And I think there was a lot of reporting around the time that the rough transcript of the president`s call with Zelensky was released in September that Barr was not happy with being sort of lumped in with Giuliani on that call.  The president repeatedly asked Zelensky to work with both Giuliani and with Barr on the investigations into Biden and election interference that he was asking for.

HAYES:  So, here is a question that we have talked about before, and I want to return to it again, because there is some interim reporting.  So Rudy Giuliani is not taking payment from the president.  There was some reporting last week the president did not note this in his gifts disclosures, financial disclosures, even though it would be a sizable gift of services.  You know, this is a very well paid lawyer. 

We still don`t know who is paying like completely for his -- for all of this, do we?

BALLHAUS:  So I asked him actually about who was paying for his travel last week when he went to Budapest, to Vienna, to Rome, and to Ukraine.  And what he said was that because he was working on this series with OAN, but also conducting some of his own investigations, that they split the cost of his travel for that trip.  So that answers some of the questions.

But it`s still not clear, I think, where the money that he has been funding his own efforts with is coming from.

And then fundamentally one of the issues here, Rudy is talking to these characters and figures in Ukraine.  And one of the things that that New Yorker piece I think does a good job of sort of laying out who these people are and what their agendas might be, but it`s pretty clear that he keeps going to pedal this information to people, and can`t get anyone to bite, because there is good reason to be suspicious of the motives behind the people he is talking to.  Is that a fair characterization?

BALLHAUS:  I think that`s certainly fair.  I mean, one of the people that he has been talking to is Viktor Shokin, who was the prosecutor who Biden pushed to oust, but who also was the focus of not only an international effort to oust him from the prosecutor`s office, but also several Republicans who are currently serving in congress and were also at the time also suggested that he be -- or were pushing for him to be removed from that position.

And Lutsenko is another person who has been sort of, you know, people advocated for him to be removed, because he wasn`t doing enough to combat corruption in Ukraine.  These are a lot of officials that he`s talking to who have been accused themselves of corruption in Ukraine.

HAYES:  We should note that Rudy is now claiming also, among other things, that Shokin was poisoned and died twice and came back to life twice, is that one of the many claims he`s making in this series that he`s doing in this essentially right-wing news outlet with whom he sort of partnered on this trip?

BALLHAUS:  That`s right.  That is a claim that he is making.  I don`t think we are able to  independently evaluate that claim right now, but that`s...

HAYES:  Oh, if he came back to life twice?  Yeah, we haven`t run that into the ground yet.

BALLHAUS:  Not quite yet.

HAYES:  Rebecca Ballhaus, thank you very much for your time.

BALLHAUS:  Thank you.

HAYES:  Still to come, the Supreme Court takes up the fight over the president`s financial records.  What that means ahead.

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

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HAYES:  Thing One tonight, it`s not terribly hard to figure out when Donald Trump is lying.  As a rule of thumb, it`s pretty much always.  But there is one little routine he does that is particularly entertaining, it`s the old I have a friend who told me a thing, like the story about his friend Jim who used to love to go to Paris, but not anymore.

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TRUMP:  I have a friend every year he goes to Paris.  I haven`t seen him in a while.  Paris, oh, the city of lights, he used to tell me.  My friend used to go to Paris.  Oh, Donald, I love Paris, it`s just so beautiful.  For years, a friend of mine, I saw him yesterday.  I said, how did you like France? 

And I said, Jim, let me ask you a question.  How is Paris doing?

Paris?  I don`t go there anymore.  Paris is no longer Paris.  He said France isn`t France anymore.  We`re not going.

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HAYES:  Now as it turns out there is no evidence that Trump`s friend Jim actually exists.  In fact, the New Yorker magazine tried to find Jim, searching far and wide, checking with all the Jims they could find who may have crossed paths with Trump and came up empty, because of course they did.

But Jim isn`t even the most egregious of Trump`s friend stories.  We just learned about a brand new one that is really something else.  That`s Thing Two in 60 seconds.

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HAYES:  The Washington Post identified a strange pattern last week in Donald Trump`s speeches, although maybe nothing is that strange anymore with this president.  It`s a story Trump has told several times about the Iran deal that he backed out of.  And this one is about a conversation he has with a Jewish friend, but every time he tells the story it`s a different Jewish friend.

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TRUMP:  I said to people, what is more important?  The Golan Heights or the capital of Jerusalem by moving our embassy there?  He said neither, sir.  What you have done in Iran is more important than both of them.

I said to Sheldon, what do you think was bigger?  Israel and the embassy going in and it became Jerusalem, the capital of Israel, or the Golan heights.  He said neither.  I said what do you mean neither, Sheldon?  He said the biggest thing you did for Israel was breaking up and terminating the horrible one-sided catastrophic deal that was made by President Obama.

I said Bob Kraft, which is bigger, which is more important to the Jewish people?  He said neither.  I said what does that mean?  He said what you did by terminating the Iran nuclear deal is bigger than both.

And then I asked Charlie Kushner.  I said Charlie, let me ask you what`s bigger for the Jewish people, giving the embassy to Jerusalem, it becomes the capital of Israel, what`s bigger, that or the Golan Heights?  He said neither.  I said what does that mean?  He said the biggest thing of all is what you did by ending the Iran nuclear catastrophe.

I think that`s true.  I think that`s true.

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HAYES:  Ever since the House started moving forward with the impeachment inquiry, there has been a concerted effort by the president and his allies to paint the House Democratic majority as essentially doing nothing, but the impeachment of the president.  Never mind that House Democrats did pass nearly 400 bills before impeachment ever started, including big substantive ones, sweeping anti-corruption legislation, bills to protect Americans with pre-existing conditions, legislation to improve gun safety and also fight climate change.

But just since the impeachment inquiry started, and probably in some suspects to ward off Trump`s attack, the Democratic House has passed a bunch more of important legislation, including, vitally, a bill to restore the Voting Rights Act, remember that, to full functionality, which they did are with a lone, single solitary Republican joining them.

They are also likely to pass the USMCA, aka NAFTA 2.0, after getting a number of concessions from the Trump administration.

And last week, they passed a bill to reduce prescription drug prices. 

And while President Trump has made noise about wanting to lower drug prices, I`m willing to place a pretty big wager that we will not see Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in the senate let that body vote on the bill. 

Politico reports McConnell was, quote, not eager to make a move that splits his caucus and could incur the wrath of the well financed pharmaceutical industry.  Yeah, you think?

And the irony here is that the true do nothing figure in congress is Mitch McConnell who refuses to bring virtually anything passed by the House that`s not an essential appropriation up for a vote.  He even expressed no urgency to pass the USMCA and said the Senate won`t even consider it until after an impeachment trial.

The thing is that voters really do care about this stuff.  They care about lowering prescription drug prices and gun safety and climate change and fighting corruption in government.  And if it were not for the do nothing Republicans in the Senate, maybe we could actually finally do something about all of it.

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HAYES:  On a Friday, the Supreme Court announced it will hear three different cases on subpoenas for the president`s financial records.  Lower courts that have heard the cases have ruled that the president, or more specifically the financial firms that have the records, have to turn them over.  Interestingly, missing from that set of cases is, perhaps, the most legally compelling one, which is the House Weighs and Means Committee`s demand for the president`s tax returns.

The committee subpoenaed the Treasury Department and the IRS for those in May after the agencies refused to comply, the committee sued.  That was five months ago.  There is still no decision from the court on it.  And since then, many critics have accused the chair of Weighs and Means Committee Congressman Richard Neal, of dragging his feet.

Meanwhile, however, as we face the question of whether or not the president`s taxes will be  made public before election day 2020, there`s also the story of a whistle-blower in the IRS that sort of looms in the background.  In August, there were reports that an IRS whistle-blower had come forward with concerns about that agency`s handling of the audit of the president`s or vice president`s taxes.

Senate staffers have reportedly met with the whistle-blower, but given the impeachment it seems like some more public information on this would be useful one way or the other.

Joining me to talk now about the status of the president`s taxes, Noel Bookbinder, executive director for Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, and Ilya Marritz, co-host of Trump Inc., a podcast from WNYC and ProPublica.

Noah, let me start with you.  When I saw the cert grant by the court on Friday, I was -- it reminded me that the Weighs and Means claim for the taxes is probably the most strongest statutorily, because there`s actually part of the law that says they can ask for tax returns, but that hasn`t even gotten to a ruling.  Where are we on that case?

NOAH BOOKBINDER, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, CITIZENS FOR RESPONSIBILITY AND ETHICS IN WASHINGTON:  Well, as you said, it`s still in early stages.  And you`re absolutely right that the law is extremely clear that when the Weighs and Means committee in the House asks for anyone`s tax returns, including the president, the IRS has to give them.  And so we`re certainly hopeful for a quick ruling, or it`s not quick at this point, but for a ruling.

In the meantime, the Supreme Court cases do include New York State`s attempts to get the president`s tax returns from -- from financial institutions, so we`ll see - - we`ll see, which way we get there faster, but it`s still crucial all these years later to get those tax returns.

HAYES:  It is striking to me, I mean, as someone who reports on the Trump organization, we had that amazing New York Times piece, right, where they got bits and scraps here and there they were able to get and found, you know, on its face, they used the word, fraud which was remarkable.  I mean, The New York Times just coming out saying this is fraud. 

And it`s remarkable that that was published, and the president has kicked the can, kicked the can, kicked the can, fought everywhere in the courts and we still don`t really have any definitive sense of what the president`s income is, who he owes money to, what his businesses are doing, what foreign governments might be putting money into it.

ILYA MARRITZ, CO-HOST, TRUMP, INC.:  Yeah, I mean, it is really incredible.  The president has fought oversight and accountability every step of the way, and now he`s fighting that battle on many different fronts. 

There`s the two congressional subpoenas that you referred to in the intro.  There is Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance`s efforts to get that information, which is also part of the Supreme Court case.  And then there`s separately the House Weighs and Means Committee also trying to get access to his tax returns and he is fighting all of them using very -- an interesting variety of arguments, actually.

So, if we look at the case in Manhattan with the district attorney here, Cy Vance, Vance is looking into the hush money payment made to Stormy Daniels, which the Trump organization, we believe, classified as legal expenses that may be -- that may constitute falsifying business records, which is a criminal offense.  Cy Vance is trying to look into that, trying to find out more about that.  He`s subpoenaed records from Trump`s account.

Trump`s legal team intervened in that case.  And they basically said there should be no state or local oversight over the president.  We already have a Justice Department memo says that federal crimes can`t be prosecuted against a president, but they`re saying state and local crime.

So, there`s actually this crazy moment in the court where the judge said, well, could Donald Trump really shoot someone -- if this is true, then could Donald Trump shoot someone on Fifth Avenue -- the famous example he once offered -- and Trump`s attorney came back and essentially said, yeah.

HAYES:  Yeah, and you couldn`t investigate him.

And part of what`s remarkable about the sort of legal arguments being made here, Noah, is that the strategy does seem delay, right.  I mean, it really does matter if people get to see some transparency of the president`s business expenses before he stands for reelection again.  And it seems clear from their legal strategy that a lot of this is designed to just move that date as far into the future as possible.

BOOKBINDER:  That`s absolutely right.  And the president from day one has been fighting any kind of oversight.  He`s been fighting congressional subpoenas.  He`s been fighting lawsuits. He`s been fighting prosecutor`s offices.  And really it does seem like what he is trying to do is throw up as many obstacles as possible so that we can`t get the records and see what his conflicts of interest might be, see whether he`s been complying with the law in his taxes and in his finances, see how he might benefit from the legal changes that his administration and this congress, or the last congress, have made.  And the longer he pushes it back, the less opportunity there is to have any oversight, and for the American  people to be able to really evaluate what this president is doing now, what he`s done in the past.

HAYES:  This point is a key one, right, because everyone`s like, we know the campaign has past, but it`s a live issue.  Like, every year until now the president files his taxes and then he releases them and everyone gets to see what they are.  They wouldn`t even  -- we had to track them down to see if he was even filing.  I mean, it`s a live issue what he`s doing while, since being in the White House.

MARRITZ:  And let`s add on top of that the Trump organization is a live organization from which Donald Trump can still draw income in which his two adult sons, Don Jr. and Eric are still running.

So much like the Ukraine scandal, which is playing out in tandem with this, also subject to whistle-blower complaint, this one also is sort of a real- time, I guess, scandal is the word that I would use for it or real-time conflict that we are all having to grapple with and it`s putting our government under strain.

HAYES:  And Noah, your organization, among others, have raised some questions about Charles Reddick who is the commissioner of the IRS, who has some conflicts himself.

BOOKBINDER:  That`s right.  So there are really two reasons why we should be very suspicious about whether the IRS is looking at the president`s tax returns the way they should.  The first is as you said, Commissioner Charles Rettig, the president`s choice to lead the IRS, is somebody who owns Trump-branded condominiums from which he profits, he initially didn`t disclose that but then he did, disclosing that in the year for which we have records that he gained up to a million dollars in income from the Trump businesses.

HAYES:  Wow.

BOOKBINDER:  That`s a conflict of interest, that could cause problems with his objectivity.  We also know that there is a whistle-blower out there who is saying that there is political interference in the IRS` audits of the president`s tax returns.  We don`t know a whole lot about it, but we know that`s out there, too.

HAYES:  Yes, and that`s something that it seems to me that it`s worth -- again, definitively settling one way or the other.

MARRITZ:  Absolutely.  We know so little about this right now, but potentially, I feel like this is one of those things that could really bubble up and start to cause new headaches for the president in the months ahead.

HAYES:  Yeah, we know that there`s been senate staff that`s been interviewed this individual.  We know that -- I think they have retained some counsel.

Again, it may be that there`s nothing there but, again, the issue seems to be in all of these things, it may be there`s nothing there, but some sort of definitive transparency seems so, so crucial to establish, particularly in the run-up to re-election.

Noah Bookbinder and Ilya Marritz, thanks for being here.

BOOKBINDER:  Thanks so much.

MARRITZ:  Thank you.

HAYES:  That is ALL IN for this evening.  "THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW" begins now.

  THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END