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Senator Chuck Schumer on impeachment. TRANSCRIPT: 12/17/19, All In w/ Chris Hayes.

Guests: Jim McGovern, Sheryl Gay Stolberg, Donna Edwards, Jason Crow, ChuckSchumer, John Brennan, Natasha Bertrand

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



REP. JIM MCGOVERN (D-MA):  This is about President Trump using his office to try and rig the next election.

HAYES:  The eve of the big impeachment vote.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  To me, it`s a dirty word, the word impeach.

HAYES:  The President scrambling as Democrats stand together.

REP. HAKEEM JEFFRIES (D-NY):  Every single member is going to have to make that decision as they have been doing anchored in principle.

HAYES:  What we can expect tomorrow and where do we stand tonight?  Then --

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY):  What is Leader McConnell afraid of?  What is President Trump afraid of?  The truth?

HAYES:  My special guest Senator Chuck Schumer on the president`s impeachment and the Republicans working with the White House.

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY):  I`m not impartial about this at all.

HAYES:  Plus, former CIA Director John Brennan on the threat to the rule of law.  And new details on Rudy Giuliani`s indicted associate and his close ties to a Russian backed oligarchs.


HAYES:  When ALL IN starts right now.


HAYES:  Good evening from New York, I`m Chris Hayes.  There`s been a marathon session underway basically all day and the Rules Committee to decide the rules for tomorrow`s big floor debate on impeachment.  Tomorrow is going to be the only third time in all American history that there will be a floor debate any vote on impeaching the President of the United States.

Tomorrow, Donald J. Trump is expected to join Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton as the only presidents in the history of the country to be impeached.  If you want to know how the President feels about that, well, he sent an absolutely unhinged, deranged six-page tweet like letter to Nancy Pelosi today in which he said among a variety of other things, "you have cheapened the importance of the very ugly word impeachment," and "more due process was afforded to those accused in the Salem witch trials."  Factcheck, not true.

Republicans have been trying a variety of tactics throughout this entire progression towards impeachment, primarily arguing about the process and making lots of loud noises rather than engaging on the substance, basically, the President`s fundamentally corrupt abuse of power, his attempt to extort a foreign nation into interfering an American election to benefit him.

Republicans have also throughout this entire thing trying a kind of political con game in which they project confidence that this is all going to be terrible politics of the Democrats and a disaster waiting to happen.  But the polling shows the country evenly divided on this question.  More support for impeachment and removal than there was by far then for Bill Clinton, and just below what it was for Richard Nixon at a similar period.

And not only that, frontline Democrats, the ones under the most cost pressure, those in districts that Trump won or that lean Republican have an announcement after announcement after announcement come out in favor of impeachment.  That even includes the highly vulnerable Democrat Kendra Horn of Oklahoma from a district the president carried by 13 points.

As we`ve seen in every hearing leading up to this point, in today`s rules committee hearing, Democrats again tried to underscore the basic actual severity of what the President did.


MCGOVERN:  We`ve listened to the hearings, we read the transcripts, and it`s clear that this President acted in a way that not only violates the public trust, he jeopardized our national security, and he undermined our democracy.  This is about President Trump using his office to try and rig the next election.

REP. JAMIE RASKIN (D-MD):  The President`s aggressive and unprecedented resistance to congressional subpoenas for witnesses and documents is blatantly and dangerously unconstitutional.  If accepted and normalized now, it will undermine perhaps for all time the congressional impeachment power itself which is the people`s last instrument of constitutional self- defense against a sitting president who behaves like a king and tramples the rule of law.


HAYES:  The Rules Committee is still in session at this hour.  Right now they`re on a break, and the Chairman of the Rules Committee, Congressman Jim McGovern will join me in just a moment.  Now, there`s already joking about what the trial will look like in the Senate should the President be impeached tomorrow as many expects.

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has rejected Minority Leader Chuck Schumer`s request for testimony from four Trump officials with intimate first-person knowledge who have refused to testify in the House inquiry despite the fact there`s subpoena.  Senator Schumer will join me later in the show.

While the country is in a partisan deadlock, it`s safe to say, over the question of whether the President should be impeached removed, several prominent Republican figures who are no longer in politics have come out in favor of impeachment.  500 law professors signed a letter saying his conduct is impeachable.  More than 750 historians, people who study this for a living signed an open letter concluding that "It is our consider judgment that if President Trump`s misconduct does not rise to the level of impeachment, then virtually nothing does."

And tonight, hundreds of thousands of ordinary citizens and protesters took to the streets throughout the country, calling for the president`s impeachment and removal.  And there are now enough Democrats on the record saying they will vote for impeachment.  The president should be impeached when that vote takes place tomorrow.

Impeachment was conceived of by the Framers of the Constitution and it has been used in the country`s history very sparingly as a truly extraordinary remedy.  Never in this country`s history is a president been both impeached and removed because that bar for conviction and removal in the Senate is so high.  But impeachment will forever be in the first line of a legacy of this president whatever the future holds and he knows that.

Joining me now, Congressman James McGovern, the Chairman of the House Rules Committee.  Can you explain, Congressman, for people not used to the functioning of the Rules Committee, which is one of the most important committees in the House, but also usually does this work behind closed doors.  What exactly today was?

MCGOVERN:  Well, it`s also the oldest committee in the Congress as well.  But today, what we did is we had eight hours of hearings.  Mostly a civil hearing, I should add.  And I`m proud of the members of the Rules Committee for conducting themselves that way.

And what basically what we are doing is we`re going to set the procedures for how the Articles of Impeachment will be brought to the fore tomorrow.  We want to make sure that we have a dignified and respectful and orderly process, and that`s what we will report are the rules committee later tonight.

HAYES:  I know that you haven`t reported it out yet, so some of the details have yet to be precisely determined.  But can you give us an idea of what to expect tomorrow broadly?

MCGOVERN:  Well, I think it`ll be several hours a debate.  And, you know, and we will probably have to address the issue of Republican threats to try to derail the process.  So we want to make sure that we can protect the rest -- the articles against dilatory tactics that seek nothing but to delay the process.

Look, this is a big deal.  The President, I think, committed a terrible crime.  I think it rises to the level of an impeachable offense.  And we need to get about the business of doing what, you know, our oath of office requires us to do, and that is to support and protect the Constitution of the United States.

HAYES:  How are you thinking about the vote that you`re going to cast tomorrow?

MCGOVERN:  You know, these are -- the vote for every member whether you`re Democrat or Republican is a vote of conscience.  Look, this is a sad day.  I didn`t run for Congress to impeach a president.  I ran to try to help people in my district and help working families and deal with the climate crisis and gun control.

But the bottom line is, you know, this is -- this is important.  I took my oath of office seriously.  And you know, it`s a vote of conscience.  And I will have a clear conscience tomorrow, when I vote yes, for the Articles of Impeachment.

HAYES:  Is anything -- I mean, it`s interesting that you`ve had this marathon session today which you said was civil.  Lyn Sweet was on yesterday and she noted that back the last time that Congress did this with impeachment of Bill Clinton, the Rules Committee actually just worked this -- worked out as sort of a deal within the committee.  This actually you had to have a full session today that`s not over yet.  What does that say about where Congress is at the moment?

MCGOVERN:  Well, I wish we could have worked it out through unanimous consent like we did during the Bill Clinton impeachment.  But the fact the matter is, we received a letter from 70 Republicans, including the Republican leader basically saying they`re going to use every dilatory available them -- available to them to try to derail the process.

So I mean, you know, we have -- we have to use the Rules Committee to be able to again, guarantee an orderly, and thoughtful, and respectful debate.

HAYES:  This has been a sort of interesting part.  So I`ve noticed this happened in the markup in which Republicans sort of kept raising amendments in that markup, sort of delaying the inevitable until it was gaveled close at night and then reconvene the next morning for the judiciary committee to actually vote on it.  What`s the point of it?  Is it sort of extracting a pound of flesh, right, to make this as difficult as possible for you in the majority?

MCGOVERN:  I think that`s part of it.  I think it`s playing to their base.  I think it`s making Donald Trump happy.  You know, I`m sure he`s watching all of this.  But you know what, at the end of the day, this is really not about Donald Trump.  This is about the Constitution of the United States.  You know, he happens to be president, and I think he violated his oath of office.  He committed high crimes and misdemeanors.

I mean, look, he, you know, use his office to try to shake down a foreign government to get dirt on a potential political rival, and he withheld military aid from that country to try to get it, a country, by the way, that`s under siege from Russia.  You know, that is an absolute abuse of power.

And on top of that, he is -- he`s guilty of obstructing Congress.  He`s cooperated in no way shape or form with any of the subpoena as request for information.  I mean, it is appalling behavior by any measure.

HAYES:  All right, Congressman James McGovern who will go back to wielding the gavel in the very small room of the Rules Committee where big decisions get made.  Thank you very much, sir.

MCGOVERN:  Thank you.

HAYES:  For more of the full implications of what will be the third impeachment in the American history, I`m joined by Donna Edwards, former Democratic Congressman from Maryland, who has an op-ed in the Washington Post tomorrow about the Democrats doubling down on impeachment, and New York Times Congressional Correspondent Sheryl Gay Stolberg who wrote today about frontline Democratic Congresswoman Elissa Slotkin`s support for impeachment.

Sheryl, let me start with you.  You know, I`m not that surprised, honestly, that every Democrat in one of these Trump districts has come out, but it wasn`t necessarily guaranteed going into this process.  What is your reporting indicates about the decisions that people like Elissa Slotkin, Kendra Horn, and others have come to on this vote?

SHERYL GAY STOLBERG, CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT, THE NEW YORK TIMES: 1 You know, I think they really did wrestle with their consciences.  And these are members who resisted impeachment all the way through this year.  They did not want to do this at all.  They came here saying they were going to work in a bipartisan way with this president, they won election in districts that he won.  But to a person, they have concluded that the evidence is really overwhelming and that they can`t ignore it.

And what`s been interesting, several of them have said to me, including Elissa Slotkin that if the voters choose not to return them, so be it.  She said she will have gone out with her head held high knowing that she acted out of principle and not out of political calculus.

So I think they really are taking this vote very seriously.  And let`s face it, this is not a good vote for them.  This vote could hurt them politically and cost them their jobs, and they know that going in.

HAYES:  Yes.  I mean, it`s -- that I think is true.  I mean, there`s very little upside, ultimately, in this sort of narrow tactical sense on this vote for them.  But I do think, Donna, that that one thing that is interesting to see about this sort of -- the decisions these individuals have made in the aggregate is that if ten or 12 voted against the articles, then a lot more people will be hung out to dry if everyone`s voting for it.  There`s a communication there about the severity of what they see as the transgression.

DONNA EDWARDS, FORMER U.S. REPRESENTATIVE FROM MARYLAND:  Well, I think that`s true.  And I mean, this actually very much reminds me of the kind of toxic environment that was present when the Affordable Care Act passed.  And there was a lot of pressure on particularly these frontline Democrats.  And what I saw -- I mean, the courageousness of these Democrats is unmeasured.

And I think that what they will find and what Leader Pelosi found is that she left them to their devices, to look at their own conscience, to read the materials, to study the debate and the evidence, and they came to their own conclusion.  And I think at the end of the day, that actually presents a much stronger vote for Nancy Pelosi.  And it also provides a way in which the entire caucus can help to stand up these frontline Democrats.

HAYES:  Let me follow up with you on the piece you wrote for the Washington Post about Democrats don`t move on from impeachment after double down on it.  What do you mean by that?

EDWARDS:  Well, what I mean is that I think it`s really important as Elissa Slotkin did in her town hall meeting, to go out and face the voters, to answer every question, to study the materials.  Because what we see is that every time people learn a little bit more information, then the support for impeachment, and eventually for removal actually increases.

And I think we need that kind of pressure in order to compel the Senate to come up with a fair trial and a fair process.  And this kind of public support for impeachment and explanation of it to the public really will help to do that.

HAYES:  You know, one of the sort of macro trends and recent politics, I think, is reflected in the vote that we`re anticipating to happen tomorrow which will largely be almost entirely on party lines, Sheryl, is the fact that understanding of everyone that the country increasingly votes almost in this kind of parliamentary way, right?  That there`s much less ticket- splitting, that the fate of the person at the top of the ticket is tied to yours, that distinguishing yourself on these sort of individual votes gets harder and harder.  And that`s a kind of collective conclusion that I think both sides increasingly have come to.

STOLBERG:  Yes.  I think that`s right.  And I think that this country is split.  This country has been divided.  It was divided when Barack Obama was president, although frankly, many of us didn`t realize just how divided it was.  Certainly, the Trump election divided the United States.  And what we`re seeing now on Capitol Hill is really a reflection of that.

And frankly, many lawmakers are worried that it`s divided beyond repair.  That this is a split that, you know, that we will not recover from.  And in fact, Speaker Pelosi herself said early on this year that she did not want to pursue impeachment because she felt that it would be too dismissive for the country.  And of course, as we know, she finally came around when the Ukraine news broke and said, we have no choice.

HAYES:  And that I think, Donna, is whatever the underscore here in talking to a lot of Democrats is a kind of earnestness about this.  I mean, to Sheryl`s point, right, the function here is not -- you know, there`s -- they`re figuring out deals and the tax extenders and people are trying to make sure that like hospitals are going to stay open in their district.  All those kinds of stuff where you`re just sort of doing these backroom deals.  You`re trying to deliver things.  This is just in a different category for people.  It does seem to me like people are voting their conscience on this.

EDWARDS:  Well, they are.  Although I do think this sort of business as usual with the passing of the spending bills and all of the legislation, which has been great, but in some ways, you risk making this seem actually quite ordinary.  And that`s why I think you have to keep the drumbeat up.

But look, the reality is that for so many of these Democrats are going to go back home to their home districts actually this at the end of this week, and they will know straight away in the way that they deal with their constituents, what the rest of the month and the following year is going to look like for them.

HAYES:  All right, Donn Edwards, Sheryl Gay Stolberg, thank you both.  Joining me now, Congressman Jason Crow who`s a Democrat at Colorado who just recently announced at a town hall meeting he will vote to impeach President Trump.  The crowd giving him a 2o-second long standing ovation.  Congressman, can you tell me about what your process was on coming to your conclusion on this vote?

REP. JASON CROW (D-CO):  Yes.  Hi, Chris.  Thanks for having me tonight.  You know, my process was about openness and transparency.  I made a promise to the folks in my district a long time ago that I would focus on making sure the process is open and fair, and that I would do what I did as a lawyer.  And remember, when I was a serving as a lawyer, and when I would listen to the judge give the admonition to the jury saying wait until all of the evidence is in until you make your decision.  So I did that.

I waited until the process was done, the evidence was in, and I made my decision.  Because one of the big struggles that we face as a country and this goes to what your earlier guests was just saying is that trust between the American people and their elected officials is at an all-time low.  And we have to make sure that we`re doing this the right way, that we`re showing them that government can work, that we can do it without a predetermined outcome, that we can put politics aside and do the right thing.

HAYES:  What is your plan when you go back to the district?  You already have out of town hall, right, where you talked about this.  I mean, about communicating about this question and about what you think the President did wrong and what the future holds with your constituents.

CROW:  Yes.  I`m somebody that believes that the more discussion, the more transparency, the more accessibility the better.  I think it`s the wrong decision for any elected official to try to run from these conversations, to hide from town halls.  You know, the questions won`t go away in your community.

So I`ve taken the opposite approach.  I`ve tried to set a new standard for the people in my district and for Colorado.  I`ve held over 250 events in my first year in office, dozens of town halls, and coffees on the corner, and other things, addressing concerns.  I treat everyone with respect and civility.  Everyone has a right to say how they -- what they believe.  I represent everybody whether they voted for me or not, and I have that conversation.

Because the promise ultimately in my community is not that you`re going to agree with me all the time.  I tell folks this all the time.  You know, if an elected official comes to you and tells you everything you want to hear, they`re probably not telling you the truth.  The promise is one of transparency and accessibility and civility.  You will always know where I stand.  You will know why I`ve arrived at that conclusion.  I will show up in good faith and have a conversation with the people in my community.

HAYES:  What -- do you have concerns about the conditions under which both your election and the presidential election will take place next year, given the fact that the President`s attorney is at this very moment, it appears essentially furthering the core project that lies at the heart of the thing that he will likely be impeached for tomorrow?

CROW:  Yes, election security is a grave concern.  And that was actually one of the reasons why a couple of months ago, me and some of my colleagues wrote an op-ed calling for the beginning of an inquiry, because this -- the allegations of Ukraine and the President`s actions go to the heart of free and fair elections.  You know, I`ve heard some people say, well, why don`t we just let the voters decide this?  And there`s certainly merit to that.

But for the voters to do this and weigh-in, there has to be free and fair elections.  And the allegations are and what the evidence has shown to be the case has shown to be true irrefutably, is that the President is inviting foreign powers to be involved in our elections.  It`s not OK.  We have to stand up and push back on that.

And that`s one of the big reasons why we`re doing tomorrow what we`re doing.  I will also say that in the Democratic lead House, may we passed an appropriations that has allocated hundreds of millions of dollars to secretaries of state around the country to bolster election security and to give them the resources that they need to actually make sure elections are secured.  So we are working on it.  But I still have a lot of concerns and we can`t let our guard down.

HAYES:  All right, Congressman Jason Crow, thank you for making some time tonight.

CROW:  Yes, thank you.

HAYES:  Up next, my interview with Minority Leader Chuck Schumer on the pending Senate trial and his blistering reaction to Mitch McConnell announcing he has no intentions of being an impartial juror.  That`s coming up in just two minutes.


HAYES:  Today Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell responded to Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer`s proposal for the Senate to call several witnesses who haven`t been heard from and also subpoena documents in order to add the factual record for the Senate impeachment trial, which will probably begin in January.

Perhaps not surprisingly, the man who brags about being the "Grim Reaper" tried to shut that proposal down in a speech on the Senate floor saying it`s not his job to investigate.


MCCONNELL:  The Senate is meant to act as judge and jury, to hear a trial, not to rerun the entire backgrounding investigation because angry partisans rush sloppily through it.  It`s not the Senate`s job to leap into the breach and search desperately for ways to get the guilty.  That would hardly be impartial justice.


HAYES:  Interesting that McConnell would bring up impartial justice considering that McConnell also responded today to criticism that by already announcing on Trump TV he is coordinating with the White House the impeachment trial, he has already abdicated his constitutional role which requires him to literally take an oath of, "impartial justice."


MCCONNELL:  I`m not an impartial juror.  This is a political process.  There`s not anything judicial about it.  Impeachment is a political decision.  The House made a partisan political decision to impeach.  I would anticipate we will have a largely partisan outcome in the Senate.  I`m not impartial about this at all.


HAYES:  Joining me now to respond to all of this, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer who`s a Democrat from New York.  First, I want to get your response to that statement.  This is not a judicial process.  Its flatly and boldly a political process, even our partisan one, and we have the votes on our side.

SCHUMER:  Well, George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, James Madison would be rolling their eyes.  The whole reason -- read the Federalist paper number 59, Alexander Hamilton. to choose the Senate would be that they are and the Senate should be and they hoped it would be impartial and dispassionate and ready to hear both sides and make an independent judgment.

Mitch McConnell is just turning everything inside out and it`s easy to see why.  He knows that he is covering up facts.  We have asked for something very simple, not to rehash as McConnell said, but four witnesses, probably the four who most know what happened.

They were eyewitnesses to everything that happened in the White House.  They have not been heard from and all we`ve asked is that they testified before us.  McConnell has no good answer, why they shouldn`t.  So he ties himself and all these knots, defies this constitutional mandate.  At some moments, he says he`s impartial at some moments he says he`s partial.  At some moments he said he`s public, at some moments he said he`s private.`

He`s just twisted in a knot because when we asked for witnesses and documents, he has no good response.  And I am hopeful, I am very, very hopeful that even McConnell is simply leading the charge to help President Trump cover-up, that some of his Republican colleagues will see the light.  They will see that our request is fair.  They will see that our request is down the middle.

And frankly, Chris, I don`t know how these people -- what these people will testify to.  They may give, you know, they`re Trump appointees.  For all we know they may give exculpatory evidence that helps Trump, they may give evidence that hurts Trump, but they shouldn`t be heard.  A trial without witnesses, without documents is not a trial.

HAYES:  It`s striking to me that a large majority of Americans say cross party lines, including the majority of Independents and Republicans, that the president should allow his people to testify, which is within ABC polling that shows partisan splits on just about anything else.  The only thing there seems to be any theory of unanimity about is just that we should hear from these witnesses who, as you say, may very well be exculpatory for the President.  I don`t know.

SCHUMER:  Yes, and by the way, when 64 percent of Republicans say that the people, the high ranking people in his administration to testify, that is really something, as you noted, because the Republican rank and file is almost lockstep with Trump.

And I will tell you this, when the Republican senators go home for their Christmas break, they are going to be asked over and over again by their constituents, why not allow a John Bolton, a Mulvaney to come testify?  What is the -- what is wrong with that, why, why aren`t you doing it?

And they`ll come to one conclusion, and that is that neither President Trump nor Mitch McConnell wants to hear from these witnesses because they are afraid of the truth.  They don`t want to know the truth, because it will probably, we don`t know, but probably put President Trump in an even deeper hole and maybe there`ll be some Republicans who will then decide they cannot have this man be president.

HAYES:  Have you met face to face with Mitch McConnell to work out any kind of arrangements about the procedures here?

SCHUMER:  Well, that`s another example of poor Mitch McConnell tying himself in a knot.  I went to him two weeks ago.  We were on the floor.  I said, Mitch, anytime whenever you`re ready to talk about how we can try to come up with a bipartisan agreement on rules, I`m ready.

He hasn`t done that.  He went on Sean Hannity.  He said he would just do what the President wanted.  He started offering this proposal which would not allow for a real trial.  And when I put out my documents, he said, well, why is Schumer going public?  Well, I guess his meeting with Sean Hannity was in a little corner, and no one heard it.  Of course, he`s, you know, he`s not acquitting himself fairly or well, but much more importantly, so much as at stake here.

Let me just say, if we can -- if Senate can never get facts or evidence, if that is what is going to be going forward, then the august, solemn, and very important power of Congress to stop an overreaching executive, namely impeachment, will be rendered virtually useless, and this President will continue to overreach I`m sure even worse ways, and the next President may do so too.  So they are really not serving the nation in a very deep and long-run sense.

HAYES:  Yes, I feel required to point this out, even though you have previously addressed it, which is that, you know, there`s a certain amount of parties involved here on the part of Republicans who served during Clinton`s impeachment, but the shoe is on the other foot in both directions, right?  I mean, you oppose witnesses being called in the in the Clinton impeachment trial, as did most Democrats.  I think it was basically a party-line vote.  Republicans say you`re just changing your tune now because the partisan valence has changed.

SCHUMER:  Yes, totally wrong.  Here`s the major difference and they have no answer.  Those witnesses who they wanted to call, the Republicans did in the Clinton trial had already testified before the grand jury.  We knew what they had said.  We have not heard from Mick Mulvaney, who was right there.  We have not heard from John Bolton who was right there, or from the other two witnesses that we`ve asked.

And furthermore, we haven`t seen documents the way Ken Starr was able to see documents with Clinton.  We`d like to know, for instance, all the e- mails that came about once the whistleblower was discovered.  What were they saying to one another?  And how about any e-mails from one leader in this administration to President Trump or to one another that talks about why the aid was delayed?

HAYES:  Right.

SCHUMER:  Why can`t -- if they`re innocent, Mr. President Trump, if you`re so innocent, why are you so afraid of the facts?  Why instead, just lash out and try to bully Nancy Pelosi.  And we know you`re not going to succeed at that.  She`s a lot tougher than you.

HAYES:  You know, generally it is -- it is the case that the majority in each house controls that house.  It`s always been the case for the House.  It`s increasingly been the case of the Senate as the Senate rules and sort of morphed over years and partisan polarization taking hold.  Given the fact that you don`t have a majority, what is the strategy here?

I mean, I understand you can impress upon the leader, you can try to shame them, you can try persuasion.  We saw your Democratic colleagues try to do that Republicans in minority on the other side, it didn`t seem to go so well.  Is there a strategy beyond that?

Are there tools that you have beyond that?  What are they?

SCHUMER:  Yeah, the tool is a vote.  I am allowed, even though 51 votes governs, I`m allowed to ask for votes.  I will ask during the impeachment proceeding for a vote on whether Mulvaney should testify and whether Bolton should testify and whether Casey should testify and whether Griffon (ph) should testify.  And many of my Republican colleagues will be in a real dilemma, because their  constituents will want them to do that.  They will have no good reason not to.  And they can well be  held accountable for doing that.

So our strategy -- if we were today to say to Republicans come out and vote with us even though we haven`t even -- most of us haven`t said finally how we`re voting, we`re waiting to see the evidence, but make sure you vote to get rid of President Trump, we wouldn`t get anywhere.  But asking for witnesses, something so reasonable and supported by 64 percent of Republicans is I expect we`ll get a bunch of Republicans to vote with us on these requests.

HAYES:  You really believe that?

SCHUMER:  I do.  I do.

HAYES:  Is there -- so this is a sort of arcane procedural point, but an important one, so you will be able to call those votes, right.

SCHUMER:  Correct.

HAYES:  You have -- that`s not the case, right, in the minority in the House. 

SCHUMER:  Correct.  Correct.

HAYES:  There are powers you have as a minority leader and you intend to use them to force votes, at the very least, to force votes on these specific questions of documents and witness production.

SCHUMER:  Absolutely.  And we`re going to do a whole bunch of them.

So any Republican thinks they can escape having to vote on this no matter how quickly Mitch McConnell tries to truncate doesn`t know the rules.

HAYES:  Do you think -- what is the sense in you`re caucus about the meaning of this trial?  I mean in the House, you know, we saw basically every front line Democrat, every Democrat representing a district that Trump won come out in favor of impeachment, often with statements saying, look, I didn`t want to do this, it`s with sorrow and solemnity that I`m doing this.  There`s a little less exposure, frankly, on the Senate side, just because of the way the map works out next November, so how are you and the caucus thinking about what the goal of this trial is, what would be the benchmark for something that was well-done and actually produced a just outcome?

SCHUMER:  OK, first, our benchmark, our goal, is to get the truth.  Let the truth come out.  You know, as Joe Friday said on dragnet, "just the facts, ma`am."  That`s all we want.  And we don`t know what they`ll be, but we`re willing to take the risk that those facts -- well, not take the risks, we`re willing to live with those facts whatever they may be.  And then if McConnell and the 51 Republicans don`t allow it, the trial will be regarded as a sham, to just have the House managers say their side of the case, president`s lawyers say their side of the case, and then just have a vote, all the American people will know that this trial wasn`t a real trial, and President Trump even if he wins the vote will not be exonerated.

So either way, it`s a good outcome.  But the preferable outcome would be to hear the witnesses and let the chips fall where they may.

HAYES:  All right, Senator Chuck Schumer, Democratic leader in the Senate preparing for that trial, which is upcoming.  Have a good holiday, senator.

SCHUMER:  Thank you.  You, too.  Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to your family.

HAYES:  Thanks a lot.

SCHUMER:  And to you.

HAYES:  Thank you.

SCHUMER:  Thanks.

HAYES:  Still to come, one of Rudy Giuliani`s indicted buddies is back in court today with new details about a secret million dollar deposit.  The details ahead.


HAYES:  So this is Lev Parnas, he`s the guy at the center of the scheme to remove former Ukrainian Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch.  He was indicted, you might remember, back in October in  the Southern District of New York.  And Parnas is a close associate of Donald Trump`s lawyer, Rudy Giuliani.

He has previously represented himself as part of the president`s own legal team.  His lawyer even put it in writing, well in comic sans to be precise, in a letter to the House Intelligence Committee, quote, "be advised that Mr. Parnas and another associate, Igor Fruman, assisted Mr. Giuliani in connection with his representation of President Trump."

All right, so this guy says, or said, that he`s part of Donald Trump`s legal team.

Now, Lev Parnas was back in court today in downtown Manhattan.  And the reason was because prosecutors wanted to revoke the bail he had been granted after they managed to uncover a secret $1 million transfer that Parnas received from a Russian bank.  The good news for Parnas is that the judge said he could remain out on bail.  The bad, or more intriguing news, is the source of that $1 million.

Joining me now for more on that, Natasha Bertram, national security correspondent for Politico and MSNBC contributor.

All right, so prosecutors last week said, look, we found there was a million dollars from a Russian bank account deposited in your account you hadn`t told us a bout.  We want to revoke bail over it.  Today, we found out the source of the money.  Where did the money come from?

NATASHA BERTRAND, POLITICO:  Yeah, so prosecutors said that this actually came from a lawyer for Dmitry Firtash, who, of course, is a Ukrainian oligarch who is due to be extradited to the United States on bribery charges.  And he`s been working with Lev Parnas and Victoria Toensing and Joe diGenova, the Trump world lawyers, on digging up dirt on Joe Biden and of course on trying to lobby the Justice Department to prevent his extradition to the United States.

The interesting part is that Lev Parnas, it was reported he had only received $200,000 for  his work for translation services for the legal team, but now we learned he actually made something like a million dollars.  So what was that other $800,000 for?  That is the remaining question.

HAYES:  All right, so Dmitry Firtash is a guy who is a Ukrainian oligarch, very close to the Kremlin, close to Putin, basically kind of ran the energy industry, or a big core part of it, in communication with a bunch of Russian figures, indicted by federal prosecutors in Chicago.  And he`s fighting extradition in Vienna.  He lives in Vienna. 

He`s desperately trying to not to get extradited.  And it appears that he is now basically like using his connections  to maybe Giuliani and these conservative lawyers who go on Vox News, to maybe like dig up dirt on Joe Biden, because that will maybe get him out of being extradited?

BERTRAND:  Right, that`s the idea.  So he had actually wanted to work with Giuliani directly, but Giuliani said, no, that might not look so good.  So Giuliani told him to hire Victoria Toensing and Joe diGenova them instead in order to do this work.

Now, of course, Dmitry Firtash`s ties to the Kremlin, to powerful Russians, is very important here because the implication is that the Russians might inadvertently, or indirectly, be funding this opo research campaign against Joe Biden.  So that is why Firtash is an important link here, because if he is essentially laundering Russian money into this operation, then that, of course, puts the Russians right squarely behind this campaign to discredit Joe Biden helping, of course, Trump in his reelection campaign.

HAYES:  Yeah, I mean, the worst-case scenario, and I don`t think facts have fully established this, but the worst-case scenario of the facts, the worst interpretation, is that basically a Russian mobster connected Ukrainian oligarch, currently fighting extradition, is funding the operation that Donald Trump`s lawyer Rudy Giuliani has been undertaking.

BERTRAND:  Right.  And the fact that this was sent to Lev Parnas` wife`s bank account, and that it was masked in that way also raises serious questions about why they were trying to conceal these funds, the fact that it came from, why it came from a Swiss bank account control by Firtash`s lawyer, it`s all just very suspect, according to prosecutors, that`s why they wanted Parnas to remain -- to go back to jail and have his bail revoked.

But Dmitry Firtash has said he didn`t know anything about Biden, that he didn`t provide any, you know, key information about his work in Ukraine and anything related to the vice president, but of course the things that Victoria Toensing and Joe diGenova did for his legal case somehow found their way into articles written by John Solomon who, of course, has been the biggest purveyor of these conspiracy theories surrounding Joe Biden, et cetera.  And Joe diGenova and Victoria Toensing are also John Solomon`s lawyers.

So, this all seemed to be a very, you know, intricate plot to kind of launder all of this information into the American media, thereby mainstreaming this narrative that Joe Biden was acting corruptly in Ukraine.

HAYES:  And Firtash -- I mean it`s strange to me that he`s sort of -- he`s just chilling in Vienna fighting this extradition.  At some point there`s going to be some judgment rendered on his extradition, right?

BERTRAND:  Yeah, and the Justice Department still hasn`t said anything.  Apparently, according to The New York Times, when the lawyers went to DOJ and tried to lobby Barr directly on the issue of Firtash`s extradition Barr said, look, we don`t want to get involved in this, go to Chicago and speak tot he prosecutors there.  But they are apparently still trying to go to the Justice Department and get them to work on this case.

HAYES:  Fascinating.  Natasha Bertrand, thank you very much for that.

Coming up, former CIA Director John Brennen on the damage he says the President Trump is inflicting on our government.  He joins me ahead.


HAYES:  One of the most unnerving aspects of Russian election interference that we`ve learned about since the 2016 election is that there were Russian actors that were actively probing and in some cases actually penetrating actual state election databases.

In one of the sort of ultimate nightmare scenarios with that is that they could conceivably, theoretically, just go in and delete a bunch of people from the rolls and throw the election into chaos.  But that`s a sort of hypothetical threat.

There`s a threat much closer to home, which is that right now in two states, Georgia and Wisconsin, the states themselves are doing exactly what we worry that Russia might do.  There are these voter purges happening in these incredibly important swing states, both of which are being pushed by conservative interests.

In Wisconsin, a right wing group successfully sued to knock 200,000 people off voter rolls in a state Trump won by fewer than 23,000 votes.  Democrats are now fighting the move, both in the courts and by contacting the voters who are being purged.

In Georgia 309,000 people were just purged from voter rolls overnight, and that happening under the now Governor Brian Kemp, who already had a notorious reputation for voter suppression, including closing polling locations when he was secretary of state.

In fact, the  Atlanta Journal Constitution just found that those closures  that Kemp oversaw when he, himself, was running for governor, likely prevented an estimated 54,000-85,000 voters from casting ballots.  Kemp won as gubernatorial election last year by just under 55,000 votes.

His opponent in that race, Stacey Abrams and her voting rights group Fair Fight Action, have been fighting the latest Georgia purge in court.

The thing that`s so crazy and maddening about these voter purges is, there`s really no reason to do it.  It does not actually hurt anyone to have inactive voters to remain on voter rolls.  The only reason to purge them would be to make it harder for certain people to vote, particularly people you think are going to vote for Democrats.

And the fact that these purges are being pushed by right wing groups, and conservative politicians, tells you everything you need to know about what they think they`re going to get out of it.



WILLIAM WEBSTER, FORMER DIRECTOR, FBI/CIA:  What`s happening to our government?  What`s happening to the people that we trusted and need to trust?  Why is all this stuff going on?  And I tried to raise that question, because it does affect the ability of organizations like the FBI that we love and cherish and the CIA that`s done so much to gather intelligence for us, it affects their ability to do their job and their willingness to do their job, and it shouldn`t be.  It`s not American.  It`s not our way of life, and it`s not the rule of law.


HAYES:  William Webster is one of the latest prominent Republicans to speak out against Donald Trump, the only man to head both the FBI and CIA who wrote an op-ed for The New York Times yesterday in which he said he had the unique responsibility to speak out about the, quote, dire threat to the rule of law in the United States.

Here with me now, someone who also served as CIA director and who has spoken about this president, NBC News senior national security intelligence analyst John Brennen.

I`m curious about your reaction to seeing William Webster come out and say what he has as well as a lot of people that I don`t think -- Tom Ridge and others -- that you would expect necessarily to be sort of outspoken critics of the president, feeling moved under these conditions to say something.

JOHN BRENNAN, FORMER CIA DIRECTOR:  Well, William Webster is one of the most immensely respected and revered national security professionals in this country.  And I think he felt compelled to speak out, because of what he is seeing happen to the rule of law and to the great institutions of the Federal Bureau of Investigation as well as CIA. 

And so he is exceptionally nonpartisan.  He was a lifelong Republican, but he was appointed to the FBI position by a Democratic president, Jimmy Carter, and served with Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush.  So he feels right now is really a trampling upon not only the institutions that we rely on to protect us, but also the laws that have served this country so well for so long.

So the fact that Bill Webster is coming out I think really speaks volumes to just how serious the threat is to this country`s security.

HAYES:  I`m curious what you make of one aspect of this story, which is the strangeness of the role the lawyer`s president has taken on.  I mean here you have a private individual who is going and talking to representatives of foreign governments, ex-officials in those foreign governments, communicating presumably in an unsecured manner with them, setting policy, perhaps dangling in front of U.S. policy makers.  It seems kind of like a nightmare, frankly, from just a counterintelligence perspective or a national security perspective.

BRENNAN:  Well, Rudy Giuliani I think is masquerading as Donald Trump`s lawyer.  He is this personal envoy who`s trying to seek out dirt on the political rivals of Donald Trump.  And so he`s engaged in these activities, and they`re clearly not coordinated with the Department of State as our ambassadors and others have attested to.  And so therefore Rudy Giuliani is just this rogue operator out  there.  And unfortunately I think individuals who tend to be corrupt will seek out others who are corrupt, because then they can work with them.  And so I`m really concerned about what Rudy Giuliani is doing and how that really is affecting our national security interests and our foreign policy, which is I think again suffering greatly under Donald Trump.

HAYES:  There was this inspector general`s report that came out about the origins of the investigation into the president.  The counterintelligence investigation started in 2016.  You were still in the Obama administration at that point.  And two aspects of that, one sort of knocking down the most far-fetched conspiracy theories about essentially a kind of partisan witch hunt inside the deep state to get the president of the United States, but the other expressing real critiques, quite concrete ones of the abuses of the FISA process.  And I wondering what you`re reaction to that was.

BRENNAN:  Well, clearly there were mistakes made based on the inspector general`s reports.  And I know a lot of people attribute it either to incompetence or politicization, well I just met to these were FBI agents who were doing their level best to try to prevent Russian interference in the election.  They were probably overly aggressive.  They didn`t pay careful enough attention to some of the details.  They may have ignored some aspects of the work that was uncovered.

But I think the IG was very clear that politicization did not seem to creep into any aspect of their work either at the initiation of the investigation or throughout.  But clearly as Chris Wray has said, these are issues that really need to be addressed, because the FISA court does have tremendous authority to allow the bureau to investigate the activities of U.S. citizens.

HAYES:  You know, there seems to be a larger issue here, someone who worked in the White House on national security, was director of the CIA, which is that we have this enormous secret government, right.  I mean, we have hundreds of thousands of people both for the government and contractor positions, and there has to be kind of both combination of legal oversight and fundamental trust about the integrity of the people inside that government for public democratic accountability to work.  And it seems to me like that`s broken down in some fundamental ways, not just in the era of Trump, but even dating back through the beginning of the war on terror post-9/11. 

Are there big things that have to be done to restore that trust?

BRENNAN:  Well, one of the things I`m most concerned about is the oversight responsibilities of the congress that I feel really has been affected by partisanship on both sides, looking back over the last two decades.

The Republicans are not the only ones that engaged in this partisan activity.  I experienced some of it on the m Democratic side when I was director of CIA and at the White House. 

And those oversight responsibilities are very, very important and fundamental to the good operation of the government.  And if those oversight activities are going to be beset and undermined by partisanship, and by political agendas, that really is going to affect our national security at its core.

And so I would like to see that maybe this -- what we experienced over the last several years is going to lead to a reevaluation of how we can ensure the appropriate oversight of government and to make sure that although there`s going to be partisanship in this city of Washington, that at least the oversight function of those core national security institutions, the FBI, the CIA, and others, is going to be done in a bipartisan matter the way it was intended when it was setup back in the 1980s.

HAYES:  You reference there partisanship, and I think you`re referring to the oversight torture Dianne Feinstein that has now been memorialized in a film.  I mean, the cynical interpretation there, and I think it`s been wielded precisely by the president and his allies, right, is that partisanship is just what the CIA doesn`t like, right?  That partisanship is in the eye of the beholder, it`s defined by those agencies when they don`t like the overnight they`re being subjected to.

BRENNAN:  Well, that`s certainly one way of looking at it.  But we would like to think whether or not you`re Republican or Democrat, you really are going to value the work and missions of these national security agencies, and you`re not going to be pursuing political agendas in that oversight  responsibility.

And I`ve seen it time and time again that one party will try to use the law enforcement or intelligence agencies to be able to get pack at the other party.  This has to stop.  And I think the women and men of the FBI and CIA and NSA and others are sick and tired of the being a political football in Washington. And we need to make sure that we`re going to value the work that they do, cherish it because our future depends on it, the future of our children and our grandchildren depend on the ability of these institutions to carry out their fundamental responsibilities to help protect their fellow citizens.

HAYES:  Are you confident that that is possible right now?  I mean, there`s been tremendous pressure put on every institution at this moment.  Where do you think things stand?

BRENNAN:  Well, you know, the 9/11 commission made a number of recommendations about how the executive branch should be overhauled.  It also made a number of recommendations about how legislative branch should be overhauled.

The committees of jurisdiction, there are so many, and they`re constantly battling.  And so I do think there needs to be a fresh look at how the congress is organized, how those committees of jurisdiction carry out their responsibilities.  And maybe now because of the great pain this country is going through over the past several years, we will now take a step back and say what can we do to put this on a better track as opposed to maintaining this polarized environment here in Washington that is not doing anybody any good?

HAYES:  Interesting.  Yeah, there might be a moment for that right now.

John Brennen, thank you so much for sharing your time.

BRENNAN:  Thanks, Chris.

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