(END OF IMPEACHMENT DEBATE AND VOTES)
BRIAN WILLIAMS, MSNBC HOST: There you have it at 8:09 Eastern time, the history-making vote on the impeachment of Donald J. Trump is now underway in the House of Representatives. Brian Williams here with you in New York after more than eight hours of debate on the House floor exceeding even the six-hour marathon we were anticipating and planning for all day.
Now the vote on the first article of impeachment over abuse of power, it will be followed by a vote on the second article, which remember is obstruction of Congress. Both are expected to pass along party lines, which means we are now likely moments away from this president becoming only the third in our history to be impeached.
Nicole Wallace has been here in this studio all day long for this debate. Did you count any minds change? What did you learn from today?
NICOLLE WALLACE, MSNBC CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: You know, what`s so interesting is the moment in time in which both sides were playing for. Nancy Pelosi set the tone this morning by placing this moment in a frame of history by going back to what the Framers intended. She is known publicly and privately to be very reluctant about taking this vote right now.
But she framed this and the Democrats all day long laid out inconvenient truths, evidence-based arguments for impeaching Donald Trump for doing what Donald Trump says he did, which was to ask for investigations into Burisma and a debunked conspiracy theory about 2016.
The Republicans on the other hand, no shortage of passion, but they were playing for this nanosecond, for this political nanosecond. They weren`t even -- I mean, it is a known unknown what happens next election day? Nobody knows. We didn`t get `16 right. It`s hard to predict what 2020 will bring. And the Republicans spent the last, you know, ten hours or so playing for this nanosecond in American politics.
WILLIAMS: All of us would normally be tuning in at this hour to hear our friend Chris Hayes who as luck would have it is part of our family right now. Chris, let me get you on the record on what we`ve just witnessed together.
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: Well, I think what was most striking today, you know, there are certain members of the caucuses respectively, you see a lot on T.V., right? These are people that are either chairs or ranking members of committees or people that like to go on television that are on our shows. You got to see everyone today, which was remarkable because --
WALLACE: For better and for worse.
HAYES: Well, what it showed me was there was not just a difference in approach. I think this sort of somber fact-based approach on this is what the President did, this is our moment history as opposed to this kind of pugilistic populism that we saw from the members of Republican Party. But it really drove home that this is Trump`s party.
It`s Trump`s party, not just in his leadership, but in effect and in style, in the perception of persecution, in the demonization of the other side, in the sort of idea that we are your -- we stand in for you 63 million Americans and they hate you, and they want you out of here.
All of the sort of tropes of Trumpism have been fully and totally transmuted into the Republican Party. And you saw it today from backbenchers that you never hear from. People who most Americans outside their districts probably don`t know and probably here from.
And you also saw it in and this is so stark, and it`s so stark every time we see this Congress and it was stark on the first day of this Congress, and I was there when (INAUDIBLE) in Washington being sworn in. There are two coalitions in American life. There are two political coalitions. And one coalition has 90 percent white men representing them on the floor of the House of Representatives and the other coalition represents the entire diversity of the rest of the American electorate.
And that feels like the core of the thing at some level, even if you turn the sound off and you look at the T.V. about what exactly has brought us to this moment and the fight that`s happening between these two parts.
WILLIAMS: Other members of our family here tonight, Eugene Robinson, Claire McCaskill, and Chris Matthews. Claire because we are watching the vote, we are watching the red voting cards get held aloft, tell us first of all how voting differs in the Senate and House, and secondly, why this looks like a highly social mosh pit in the front.
CLAIRE MCCASKILL, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes. It is much different in the -- in the House. You vote -- could vote electronically. In the Senate, you have to catch the clerk`s eye and you have to see her or him and say aye or nay. And you have to be on obviously on the floor of the Senate. So it is a -- it is not a quick process in the Senate if there`s a roll call because people wander in and out similar to this. And everyone has to register individually what their vote is without the benefit of electronic device.
You know, the thing that I would take away from today is that if you hadn`t been following this closely, if you hadn`t listened to the evidence that was presented at the hearings, if you didn`t understand who the people were that were referred to from time to time, what you would come from this day is you would come with one overriding feeling and that is, you know, the Republicans and Democrats see this much differently. And they say the same things over and over and over again.
I don`t think this was effective in terms of communicating to the American people what the evidence was and what the defense was other than you don`t like Donald Trump and this was preordained and clearly they`ve taken a poll and decided on the Republican side that it`s smarter to say over and over again the Democrats hate the president and they just decided to do this when he got elected.
WALLACE: Like on hour three, I wrote down, the emperor has no clothes is what the Democrats are saying. And he`s admitted he has on no clothes. And he said, you know, not only am I not wearing clothes, but I want Ukraine to get me new clothes and hurt Biden with him.
The Republicans are saying, you know, whose fault is that he has now clothes? It`s the Democrats` fault. I mean, they don`t -- the facts aren`t in dispute that Donald Trump has on no clothes. No one said yes, he does. No one says he`s fully dressed. Not one Republican said the facts were not as the Democrats depicted.
MCCASKILL: Can we quit using this thing because it`s -- the image is disturbing.
EUGENE ROBINSON, MSNBC CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: It`s making a picture in Claire`s head that`s not right.
MCCASKILL: It`s very disturbing.
WILLIAMS: Eugene and then Chris Matthews.
ROBINSON: Well, the two sides. It`s obvious -- Chris Hayes is absolutely right that you saw visually and you heard orally the difference in tone and character and, you know, angry white guys basically on one side and very different coalition and a different tone on the other side.
And there was also a different intent. It seemed to me that the message that Democrats were trying to get out there was -- they were attempting a unification. They were attempting to bring the rest of the country along. The Republicans were trying to divide. They`re trying to draw a very, very hard line saying those people over there, they hate us. they hate you.
They think you`re smelling. They think -- you know, they`re trying to take away your vote and, and un-elect your president, your Donald Trump. So it was a very different tactic in all the rhetoric that we heard today.
WILLIAMS: Just one bit of news. The two Democrats we expected, Peterson and Van Drew, in fact, have both voted no. Chris Matthews, I know for a fact you`ve been listening, for one thing, today from the Republican side and you never heard it.
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: I`ve been here since 9:00 this morning in that chair, and I`ve been listening, and I`ve been watching. And I heard something that wasn`t set all day. And here`s a president, a human being accused of horrible things, of selling out his office, of trading his public trust for personal gain, a terrible assault on who he was.
And yet all day long, with all the Republican speakers, they were able to say anything they want all day long. Not one Republican member that has stood in that well and defended this President`s character. Not one person said he`s an honest man. Not one person said he`s a good man. Not one person said he couldn`t have done something like this.
And that is powerful stuff that a party felt they could play all the games today. They could talk about tactics and style, they talk about everybody else`s situation, but they never defended the man, the person in the White House, his character. This is extraordinary. They don`t have any different opinion of Donald Trump`s character than anyone of his critics. And that`s where the standing. Nobody defended him.
WILLIAMS: Think of the change since the Bush years.
WALLACE: Well, I mean --
MATTHEWS: Change from George Bush.
WALLACE: I know that the emperor is a bad -- a bad image, but the point is the central accusation, the central reason for which the Democrats have built a case around abuse of power is not in dispute. And so I agree that the tone was galling, the makeup of each side is -- should be a horrendous embarrassment for every Republican elected or not, but what you`re saying is right. No one had a debate today about whether Donald Trump did it, whether he would do it, or whether he would do it again.
MATTHEWS: Is he kind of person who would do this, and no one defended on those grounds.
WALLACE: And no Republican said it won`t happen in 2010.
HAYES: And not only that, I mean, when you think back 21 years -- it`s telling Chris and I remember watching Chris cover it in the common room in my -- in my dorm as this was happening 21 years ago around the same time, it`s really striking the difference in tone, right?
So there were two things that happened then. One was contrition. President Clinton apologized, and people in his own party said he shouldn`t have done that. It was bad. In fact, the grassroots movement that was founded in that moment which is called Move On.org started with a petition to censure the president on Move On.
Now, think about -- try to conceive of a moment in which grassroots supporters of this president recommended this president be censured. That the grassroots would say this was wrong what the President did but he shouldn`t be impeached. It`s not just they won`t defend his character, they also won`t actually call the thing he did by its name, which is that it was wrong.
And both of those are entirely missing from the nine hours we had today. And if you go back to the partisan ranker of that Clinton impeachment, that is a striking asymmetry, a striking difference was that people were not defending the behavior. And they were saying that something had to be noted about how wrong it was. That was entirely absent from the Republican side to that.
WALLACE: But I think where the mind-bending element of Trumpism comes into play in the political dynamic, because I think you`re right. If you turn the T.V. on, one side was screaming and they were all white, and the other side was really faithful to the case they built, the evidence based case. But I think if you`re at home watching, it didn`t it wasn`t always clear.
You know, to your point about presentation, it wasn`t always clear that the crime isn`t in dispute. Abuse of power isn`t being debated by these two parties. The Republican argument was that, well, they were going to impeach him anyway. This was an impeachment looking for a crime. But they didn`t take the second step and say, and there wasn`t one.
WALLACE: They simply articulated that a couple of Democrats had been pro- impeachment before the crime is committed. They never said the crime in happened.
WALLACE: It didn`t meet the standard. Neal Katyal has joined us from Los Angeles, I am told, formerly the government`s chief lawyer in front of the Supreme Court and a veteran The Department of Justice. Neal, what do you make of today with three minutes 22 left in the vote?
NEAL KATYAL, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST: Well, I mean, I was struck by -- you know, I`m thinking about this more historically, Brian, as a constitutional law professor. And I was struck by something Chris said which is there was no defense of the President`s character, or really his conduct. They attack the process and things like that.
But as we think about moving beyond the nanosecond of 2020, and ask what is Donald Trump`s legacy going to be, I think even this party, even with all the sophistry that we heard today, couldn`t muster up a defense of the man. And, you know, I do think that will condemn him in the eyes of history regardless of what happens in the Senate. It will be the first line that everyone says about President Trump for the next 100, 200 years, President Trump who was impeached, and then it`ll go on. And the stories yet to be written about what happens in the Senate. But if there`s a real trial, I think I think we could see some things change and the success of partisanship we saw today hopefully give way to something that looks at more -- looks at some evidence because today -- you know, I`ve lived in DC for two decades, I`ve never seen as much sophistry, as I saw today on the part of the Republicans. No real defense of the President, just an attack on the process and attack on the Democrats and their motivations. And at least in the eyes of history, that`s not going to stand.
WILLIAMS: And, Neal, as we`re talking, we`re getting very close to the number needed to pass. A question that involves politics and procedure, how tough is it going to be for what passes for middle of the road Republican senators to say no, we don`t need to hear from John Bolton. I think we just passed over the -- all right, so the -- it appears we are at the number needed. and so on article one with a minute and a half remaining, Neal, you`ll forgive me, but this is a moment. The President joins the few others in the history of our country to have been impeached unofficially by the House of Representatives as the voting continues.
WALLACE: And I mean, just to lean into the points that the Republicans started with and carried throughout the day, that there were something in the water on the Democratic side about his impeachment, they couldn`t dance alone. Donald Trump had to do something impeachable and he did. And it would appear he did it the day after the last sort of act that was under scrutiny, and discussed as being impeachable.
He did it the day after Robert Mueller testified about his campaign`s 150 contacts with Russians and his ten acts at obstructing that investigation. So the conduct from the President, as you said, wasn`t defended and wasn`t debated.
MATTHEWS: Who he is?
WILLIAMS: It`s been -- it`s been an unusual presidency from the start, oldest first-term president in our history, first without prior military or government service of any kind, first president married three times. The first president from the world of television. And now our third president out of 45, impeached.
Notably, there`s been a change at the top in the well of the House and that is the Speaker is at her chair, her gavel by the side. Nancy Pelosi, one of many women in the House today wearing black because of the seriousness of the cause and the undertaking.
WALLACE: There was a line in the New York Times piece about her today where she described I think for the first time a phone call with Donald Trump or she thought he was calling to talk to her about gun control legislation and it was about this scab that he had about the idea of being impeached.
He`s appealed to her personally. He`s appealed to her directly, and I guess tonight when he takes the stage at his rally, he will make the same kinds of appeals to the country that impeachment isn`t as strict and a stain on his presidency, that he didn`t welcome and he didn`t want.
WILLIAMS: Chris Matthews, you spent a good deal of time in and around this chamber. Look at our totals there, no vote, 40 with zero time remaining. What does that mean for the folks watching home?
MATTHEWS: I don`t know. I was thinking of the people that didn`t speak today. I would think everyone would want to speak today. Not all of them did. Are they going to hold this open? I think, Brian, they`re not going to shut it down yet. I think they might wait a bit.
ROBINSON: Yes, they`ll keep it open.
MATTHEWS: Because, you know, it`s not an abuse to keep it open a few more seconds. But you wonder what would they do that was more important than this?
WILLIAMS: Yes, that`s true.
MATTHEWS: Making phone calls, raising money in the call time room. Perhaps that is. We all know what a call time room is. That`s how you stay in the House. You make phone calls, you dial for dollars, but it`s extraordinary. I thought -- I had to tell you, there`s a couple of people today that impressed me with their performances, and this will surprise people, but I do listen for serious efforts on both sides.
I thought Scalise was pretty good. I thought that Kevin McCarthy was pretty good. I thought Meadow was pretty good. I think they made the best case they could without having to defend the character of this president.
WILLIAMS: I was going to say how about the facts?
MATTHEWS: They couldn`t bring themselves to defend the guy or the case. They really didn`t defend the case. There`s -- this is a case where we all saw the call record. We all read it. And we argued about whether it was us or me, but it was us, and it still made the same point, I wanted something. And I care about it more than I care about the national security of Ukraine or our national security or anything else. I want some dirt on this guy who`s then leading in the polls this summer. And he was looking directly at the polls.
And by the way, Biden is back and maybe Biden has benefited from this whole -- this whole jamboree of arguments that`s all been about going after Biden. Maybe it`s helped them perk up a couple points. We`ll see in the debates as they come, but I can`t -- they stand at 27, Brian.
WILLIAMS: I know.
MATTHEWS: I think they`re scooting in there finally. She has to be in the vote.
WILLIAMS: I know. Claire McCaskill, come on, your name has been on a ballot.
MATTHEWS: You can`t call it in in this business. You have to walk in that chamber.
MCCASKILL: There will be some that will not vote, some Republicans it will not vote. And it is not unusual for a vote to go over the time allotted. In fact, it is the more common thing to happen that a vote stays open way beyond the number of minutes that it is allotted for. I mean, especially the first vote of the day.
And this in many ways is kind of like the first vote because it`s been hours since they`ve had a previous vote. So I think they`ll probably call it.
MATTHEWS: How do you explain it to your voter back there who has been watching on television, for example, emotionally involved in this. And you call up and say to the secretary or whoever answers the phone, how come the person who`s representing me in Washington isn`t representing me in Washington?
MCCASKILL: I`m willing to bet some of those people not voting are maybe not running again.
MCCASKILL: I think Congressman Shimkus is not there today from Illinois and he`s not running again. I think that maybe some of them are. You know, one of the things that struck me about today was this notion that they went all in that this was the Democrats hating Trump, and that this was planned the moment he was elected.
They know that Pelosi came to this reluctantly. They know that she took a very strong stand that she thought this would divert the attention away from the important issues that they won the Midterms on, health care, high prescription drug costs. And in fact, today, we had a big decision on the Affordable Care Act, which typically we`d all be talking about around this table tonight. And frankly, let`s hope they talk about tomorrow night at the debate.
But she didn`t -- she only came to this because she had to, because of what Trump did. Trump caused this. No one else caused this. Trump caused this. And the fact that he is desperate to avoid this branding, it doesn`t even appear that he was willing to do what might have cured it in some ways, saying he was sorry and he made a terrible mistake.
HAYES: And it`s striking that he both sought it out and hated it. I mean, what is -- what is so remarkable here is that this sort of Damocles has hung over his head. And in some ways, as Ari Melber was pointing out and I thought right, this is a person who`s skirted the edge of the law for 40 or 50 years, who has managed to get himself out of legal jams, the settlement in Atlantic City, the civil suit after civil suit.
He`s been associated with people have gone to jail. There had been a lot of sketchy transactions in his properties. He has moved through the world never having to face any kind of fundamental accountability for his actions, his ethics, or his character until the vote right there went over. This is the first time in the man`s life that he is facing any kind of concrete judgment on the nature of his behavior ever.
WALLACE: Well, what`s so interesting about that is that it`s to your point, Chris, I mean, even -- Chris Christie on this network, I think on your show said that with SDNY noodling around in the Trump Organization, the Trump Campaign, and the Trump Inauguration, they`re going to find something.
Now, you only say that know trump well enough to know there`s something to find. People that know him say it isn`t always an above board operation. People that know him say that it isn`t always an above board operation, people that know him say that, you know, whatever happened at the end of Mueller, Trump will do it again.
I think people might be surprised that he did the very next day.
MATTHEWS: Even now we`re talking about him. And I`m telling you a great line in The Maltese Falcon when Humphrey Bogart`s character says a little trouble I don`t mind. They like living in a world...
HAYES: A little trouble.
MATTHEWS: ...of intrigue -- a little bit of trouble. He didn`t want to get impeached, but he loved talking about it. He loved the fight
WILLIAMS: Let me be the falcon of the garden party here and do some record-keeping. Our sharp-eyed viewers may have noticed something that has gone away, and that was a single Republican yea vote. It was in the column for most of our conversation, it has vanished. We`ll try to get some reporting on that.
Secondly, Tulsi Gabbard, who was mysteriously missing all day, is in the chamber and has voted present. Claire McCaskill, what does that mean?
MCCASKILL: It`s just stupid.
WILLIAMS: I have a pulse. I can fog up a mirror?
MCCASKILL: I mean, what is the point? I don`t know what this woman thinks she`s accomplishing by that.
I guess getting attention. We`re talking about her and really we shouldn`t spend any time talking about her. It`s not, frankly, relevant to anything.
WILLIAMS: She`s running for president as a Democrat. We hasten to add that.
Chris Matthews, how do you take a vote off the board if you`re the Republican who voted yea? Where did that go?
MATTHEWS: It`s been done. I mean, this is dynamic process. They look up at the board and they see they`re out of step with their state or their delegation and they fix it. No, you can do it.
I have to tell you, doing it at a moment like this when you`ve been thinking about this baby for months and you have this last second guess, oh, I got it wrong -- what in that instant you got it wrong? What changed?
Maybe she got -- somebody got -- and I don`t know...
WILLIAMS: Tuning in what you see is what is happening. It`s not been made official. We`re waiting for the speaker to hit that gavel. The microphones are closed to us by the House of Representatives. The mics will come on when we hear from the speaker.
So we have to say that unofficially a majority of House members have voted to impeach the president of the United States on article I of two articles.
WALLACE: It`s unbelievable.
And, you know, Donald Trump didn`t flip a switch and suddenly make our politics as tribal and as nasty and as partisan as they are. I worked in a White House that was the target of a lot of ire from a lot of people, but it was never like this. And I would say it was never like this on either side.
One, he was never impeached. Two, the Republicans didn`t defend him the way -- people say this is just the Republican Party the way they`ve always been -- no, it`s not. They did not blindly defend anyone -- Mitt Romney -- and that was a good thing. They didn`t blindly defend John McCain, Sarah Palin -- thank god -- George Bush and especially Dick Cheney.
So this metamorphosis of the Republican Party is as big a story as the history that they made today when Donald Trump, you know, has now been impeached by the House of Representatives for abusing his office.
The co-conspirators today are the Republicans in the House, in my view.
ROBINSON: It is the Trumpist party now, it really is. And they`re more than halfway down the slippery slope. But the moment is, you know, third time in American history. This is -- this is a very big deal for this country.
WILLIAMS: Heck of a moment to be backstage for our own Garrett Haake. Garrett, can you add any reporting to what we`re seeing in this very static shot right now of the tally from the Clerk of the House office?
HAAKE: Yeah, Brian, just waiting on a few more votes to come in, but I want to jump off what Nicolle was saying, I was in the chamber all day long and I remember the Paul Ryan days on Capitol Hill, not that long ago, when Republicans used to at least to contort themselves to not accept the way that President Trump talked about his political allies, if not condemn it outright.
On the floor of the House today, you heard one Republican member compare the impeachment to the trial of Christ. You heard another compared to Pearl Harbor. And another compared to McCarthyism, a complete takeover...
WILLIAMS: I`ve got to cut you off for the speaker.
PELOSI: Article I is adopted.
PELOSI: The -- the question is on adoption of Article 2. The question is on the adoption of Article 2. Those in favor say aye.
Those opposed, no.
The ayes have it.
The ayes have it.
For what purpose does the gentleman from New York seek recognition? For what purpose does the gentleman...
NADLER: I ask for -- Madam Speaker, I ask for a roll...
PELOSI: For what purpose does the gentleman from New York seek recognition?
NADLER: I ask for a roll call vote.
PELOSI: A recorded vote is requested. Those favoring a recorded vote will rise. That will be an order. A sufficient number have risen. A recorded vote is ordered. Members will record their votes by electronic device. It is a five minute vote.
WILLIAMS: The microphones have been killed again by the House.
An unmistakable look to her caucus when she feared there was going to be celebration, not unlike when Schumer did that physically after the famous John McCain thumbs down on health care.
WALLACE: Yeah, I mean to Garrett`s point, it`s the tale of two parties. I mean, she is running her caucus with decorum. She is, as I said at the beginning, this was a day about history, this was a day about the history Donald Trump made by being the third president in our country`s history to abuse his office. This is the third time congress has taken this step.
And the contrast is just so stunning, you had the other side resembled a bar brawl watching a rugby match. I mean, it could not be more striking the difference between the two.
HAYES: And there`s something to that in the politics of this moment. When we were talking, we started out with a question about were minds change, right? The Republican Party has been able, since 2016, to govern from 42 percent to 43 percent of the country. They have directed all of their rhetorical energies at that 42 percent to 43 percent of the country. They have lashed themselves to that 42 percent to 43 percent of the country, and because of the structure of the American constitution, the Electoral College and the United States Senate, which you know well, they have been able to retain a tremendous amount of governmental power with 42 or 43 percent of the country.
They feel no need to speak to people in the next 10 percent of the country. You saw it on display today. One side feels the need to cheer and to yell as if they were at a Trump rally, because they view themselves as in the stadium together inside the Trump rally in the minority of the country that currently wields governmental power.
And the other side is laser focused on the median voter, laser focused on the person who is outside of that 43 percent, who is in the majority of the country that doesn`t approve of the president of the United States.
All of the restraint that Nancy Pelosi showed in not wanting to get pulled in to impeachment was with a mind towards her frontline districts, was with her mind towards how this would appear to the median voter. And one side has given up caring about that, because so far, with the exception of the defeat in 2018 in the House, it has worked out reasonably well from the perspective of wielding political power. That is the question on the table in some ways in both the Senate trial and in 2020 is how long can you govern from a minority of the country speaking to a minority of the country?
WILLIAMS: Chris Matthews?
HAYES: I just want to say that I worked for a speaker for six years every day, every morning with him, and I`ve never seen anything like this. Her ability to read the House, to find those people in the Howard Counties of Philadelphia, understanding that national security would work in those communities, the people read the paper, they think big, they`re very educated, I should say, they`re very aware of these issues. And it wasn`t about the emoluments clause, it wasn`t about ethics or the cheap stuff that Trump has done, it was about the grand macro issues of who`s going to look out for this country and he`s not looking out for this country.
And she knew that would sell in Bucks County, Montgomery County, Delaware County, Chester County, she knew that the people on the front line, as you said, are going to be able to fight this fight.
And it`s fascinating, I look at the number, it`s almost the 232 they started with -- it was 229. I mean, they almost got the number they got calling for the investigation, which is almost an A plus in terms of organization.
But I think, you know, Machiavelli said you must be feared but not hated, and that`s her. She is not hated, she`s feared, that is genius.
WALLACE: And do you know who agrees with you? I mean, Donald Trump agrees. He`s on the record with his admiration for her.
And when she ended the government shutdown for the good of all the government workers who were suffering, in some ways she saved him from -- I mean she owned him, and he seemed in some ways relieved. That was a colossal failure for him as was this.
MATTHEWS: Did he see her -- the way she orchestrated like an orchestra conductor, she just goes like this, like don`t cheer and they responded. There wasn`t any cheering among the progressive side who would be cheering like mad in their own hearts.
And by the way, the critics are right, there are a lot of people who wanted to impeach this guy from the time they heard about him, but that wasn`t going to get him impeached. What was going to get him impeached was the fact of what he did.
WILLIAMS: This is another...
MATTHEWS: She had to -- and she had to identify that.
WILLIAMS: And for folks watching, we`re waiting for 214, knowing it`ll be unofficial.
Go ahead, Jack. Sorry, somebody was talking to me. Knowing it`ll be unofficial, waiting for the gavel. This is a fast vote. Five minutes. We`re about to run out of time if we can lower our banner to see the clock and we`ll know when -- OK, so we`re under 10 seconds.
WALLACE: And she just extended the last one, so obviously we`ll stop talking if a buzzer dings.
WILLIAMS: We`ll go into golden time here.
WALLACE: You know, I`m thinking, too, you had Rick Wilson on your show last night. I had him on mine. I mean, playing for history and making a historic argument about Donald Trump isn`t something that you think about doing in a general election. It wasn`t essential to Hillary Clinton`s message.
It is this moment, though, that Nancy Pelosi was patient enough to wait for. She had to withstand a lot of pressure after the Mueller report came out from her left, but she waited for trump to do something that really did jeopardize not just our national security in the moment he did it, but our national security in the next presidential election.
And you`ve got Chris Wray, his sitting FBI director, Admiral Rogers his now retired NSA director, and countless other national security officials, who have testified before congress, before committees you used to sit on, that know we are not doing nearly enough to protect our election from Russia.
WILLIAMS: The adults in the room.
WILLIAMS: By the way, I have to interrupt -- we have again for those watching at home and looking at these numbers there`s a notable number top line and that is three Democratic nays. We know so far that one of them is a member of congress that announced who that was his intention, and that`s Congressman Golden of Maine. Tulsi Gabbard on the board again with her second straight present vote. Neither here nor there on impeachment. With that, she will walk away from this.
And Claire McCaskill, the Democratic nays allow them to be able to say that on article I they voted with the majority.
MCCASKILL: Yeah, the one member, you know, split it and said yes on one and no on the other. And so that`s why you get the three here. And you only had the two on the first article of impeachment.
The question is how many of those votes will be there in the senate?
WILLIAMS: Yep. How many witnesses, if any, will appear?
MCCASKILL: Yes. The witness is a problem for McConnell. The issue of witnesses appearing, because if individual votes are taken, it would be very difficult for many of the senators to vote against calling some key fact witnesses...
ROBINSON: Which 71 percent or something like that...
MCCASKILL: 62 percent of Republicans.
WILLIAMS: What are Collins and McSally going to say when they`re asked do you want to hear from Bolton or not?
MCCASKILL: Yeah, that`s a problem for McConnell. I think he`s going to negotiate something with Schumer in that regard.
But the question is who will vote to remove the president in the Republican Party in the Senate? Guess what? I`ll tell you a secret, the majority of them think he`s terrible. And they think he`s a problem for our country, and they are embarrassed about how he behaves. And they know his conduct is reprehensible. How many of them will actually vote what they will say to me and many others in private that, yeah, he is a terrible man...
ROBINSON: There`s a few.
MCCASKILL: But a few, maybe.
ROBINSON: And the system is designed so that removal is a much heavier lift than impeachment, I think.
MATTHEWS: Brian, did you see who said -- yeah...
ROBINSON: It`s supposed to be a trial. It`s supposed to be difficult to remove a president. It`s why it hasn`t been done.
MCCASKILL: One is probably cause, and one is proof.
MATTHEWS: One of the voices that`s been raised today against that Congressman Jared Golden up in Maine, who said he`s going to split his vote between 1 and 2 is Stephen King, the novelist. You don`t want him for an enemy.
WILLIAMS: No, you don`t.
MATTHEWS: You want Pet Cemetery.
WILLIAMS: He will stay under your stairs forever.
ROBINSON: In Maine?
MATTHEWS: He said I`m going to make sure this guy gets defeated.
ROBINSON: Well, the problem with history is that it doesn`t always feel like it in real-time, but this moment make no mistake is historic because, again, all numbers unofficial. We`ve crossed the threshold making for two articles of impeachment.
Ari Melber, you are watching and listening along with us. Your thoughts having crossed this threshold.
MELBER: Great to be you. We`re witnessing the worst day of Donald Trump`s presidency. I think that is both obvious, but bares witnessing, because the country is seeing this. The president stands credibly accused of an extortion plot to try to cheat an election and an obstruction plot to cover it up. And now with these votes coming in it looks like the congress impeaching him for both of those things.
In law, Brian, we would call what the president has done publicly, recently, a voluntary confession, that is the most damning kind of confession. And that is what brings to the fore -- and I think you saw this in the floor statements today, that`s what brings to the fore the lawlessness and the brazenness in these allegations of this second article that they`re still holding the vote open for, the obstruction of congress, because it is rare to see someone confess and then obstruct.
He walks out to the White House lawn and says forget the corruption defense, I wanted an investigation of my rival. I wanted the Bidens taken out. I wanted it announced, that`s what he says. He confesses. And then he goes on to continue to obstruct the congress openly, wantonly, defiantly.
And so I think we really should pause and reflect on that. It`s a bad day for the president in h is first term. He`s the first elected president to ever be impeached in his first term. And it`s a notable day for history precisely because it is so rare to see that brazen combination -- the voluntary confession, Brian, and the obstructive cover-up.
WILLIAMS: Ari, keeping in mind I am watching the speaker and her movements like a dog with a tennis ball. If she reaches for that gavel we will gently quiet everyone and listen in. We have a lot of no votes still outstanding at 33. Give me the short version, Ari, of how you intellectually get to a yes on one article and a no on the next?
MELBER: I suppose one way you would do it is to look at different types of problems, that is to say most people who have seen the evidence and are disinclined to Donald Trump acknowledge the evidence is bad for him on both articles, but there`s a theoretical argument that the second article is not as serious in the weight of history, because it is procedural, it is about dealing with congress rather than being substantive about the alleged abuse of the office of the presidency, Brian.
WILLIAMS: All right, I promise this, we`re watching the gavel. She has picked it up. She is toying with it, and with it our attention span. 26 no votes, Nicolle, still outstanding.
WALLACE: You know what`s amazing, and just to sort of hit pause again or freeze frame this moment, he`s being impeached right now -- the second she gavels in -- for obstructing congress. He`s been obstructing congress since the day he got there. Today is about the way he rolls day after day after day, the way he thumbs his nose at the rule of law, at the legal constitutional authority of congress day after day.
And as Adam Schiff said, he finally got caught, and he admitted it, and on obstruction of congress he added his own little exclamation points to the White House counsel`s letter bragging about it.
WILLIAMS: More than that, he`s on stage in Battle Creek, Michigan right now.
WALLACE: I bet he is.
ROBINSON: No, he is actually
WALLACE: No, I`m sure. where else would he be?
ROBINSON: But as you were saying earlier, though, he has just been held accountable. He has just been held accountable twice in the most serious way a president can be held accountable short of removal in the Senate. But he`s been impeached by the House of Representatives. That is a part of American history that will never be erased, and that will always tell people a lot about the Donald Trump era.
HAYES: And the reason for the import of that at this moment, the reason for the urgency -- and I think in some ways a little bit of despair that I think has crept in, and some people have been following this as they have realized that persuasion had met its end, that it was very little persuasion to do. And I think a kind of despair set in about that.
It`s precisely because it feels like we`ve drilled down pretty close to the bedrock of what`s holding this whole thing together. Can you get other people to manufacture investigations and author investigations into an American citizen, into your rival? Can you reach into the process by which we do the electing of our representatives and start to toy with it, start to exert a gravitational force on it, to push it in one direction or the other? If you can do that, you can get away with it, it feels like we`re moving towards a place that`s a pretty tough place to reconcile with at least what we espouse as the basic fundamentals of the way the system works.
And that`s why all this feels quite dire, really, honestly, because the behavior is still there. And Rudy Giuliani is still running around Ukraine. And the president clearly feels not just contrition for it, he feels a weird kind of pride. He feels a weird kind of braggadociousness about what he`s done. He wants people to investigate his political enemies. He wants to do whatever is possible, whatever dirty tricks he can get up to win the next election.
WALLACE: It is it most important point. I mean, as you said we drilled down congress, the House intelligence committee investigation drilled down to the bedrock of who he is. He`s a cheater.
I had a guy on who wrote a book about how he cheats at golf, and he cheats at campaigns. And now as president, he`s using his powers as the American president who other countries depend on to help him cheat in the 2020 election, an election that hasn`t happened yet.
ROBINSON: If this a slide down to banana republichood, the way you stop it is saying no. And now the House of Representatives is saying no. And so, now, the House of Representatives has said no.
WILLIAMS: 11 no votes. We`re watching the speaker. To the control room, can you invert the big little boxes and can we see the full chamber for just a hot second here? Just because it`s often interesting and instructive to see where the Democrats are caucusing there. It`s the upper side of the picture where formerly Tip O`Neill`s neighborhood. And the Republicans closer to the bottom of the frame.
Democrats appear to have a festival seating going on, Chris.
MATTHEWS: Well, they`re not running out of...
MCCASKILL: They`re not leaving.
MATTHEWS: They want to stay for credits...
MCCASKILL: I think a lot of the Republicans have left the chamber.
MATTHEWS: I`m going to be watching Trump`s behavior now, because he has been selling his brand ever since he got on his airplane, it`s called Trump Airlines, Trump Hotels, he doesn`t own a lot of them, he sells his brand. He has, you know, a beautiful wife. He talks about womens looks. He talks about his looks. He`s a very aesthetic guy. He`s obsessed with appearance. He`s obsessed with gold and golden buildings and high rise golden buildings.
Here he is now marked, marred. He is now ugly -- because he used the word the other day, impeachment is ugly. I`m now ugly.
How`s he going to react to this? He`s now ugly in history. He is ugly in history.
And he`s he going to react to that? You know, is he going to break worse?
But I`ll tell you one thing it`s going to do to him, he now will do anything to get reelected, because it`s the only way back for him is to double this, to win twice, no matter what the deep state, fake media, et cetera. et cetera. He has to win the next time.
WILLIAMS: Here we go.
PELOSI: On this vote, the yeas are 229, the nays are 198, present is one. Article II is adopted.
WILLIAMS: Mics have been killed once again. We`re waiting to see if the speaker has anything further. She is leaving the chair.
Donald J. Trump has now been impeached on two articles.
REP. DIANA DEGETTE, (D) COLORADO: Without objection, the motion to reconsider article I is laid on the table. Without objection the motion to reconsider article II is laid on the table. Pursuant to section 7b of House Resolution 758, the House stands adjourned until 9:00 a.m. tomorrow.
WILLIAMS: Congresswoman DeGette from Colorado, who has been sitting in as speaker during much of the afternoon session, you heard the woman they`re adjourned until 9:00 a.m.
WALLACE: I is sad. I was just watching that, it is so sad that there`s a president willing to be impeached over this, over cheating in another election, and not that there`s a good -- I guess that`s always what trips up a politician, this illusion of absolute power, of cutting corners.
But I mean I think there`s more that`s ominous than reassuring in tonight`s vote to impeach him in the House. The politics are ominous. The way that we talk about the outcomes being certain because of our politics, it should be depressing to everybody in politics and covering politics.
I think there`s more unknown than we can say sitting here right now about this Senate trial. I think it`s next to impossible to be Senator Gardener or Senator Collins and not say, hey, I`m leaning towards acquittal, but I cannot acquit you until I hear from the people who have already appeared in testimony.
Fiona Hill said John Bolton called it was a drug deal. I need to hear that from John Bolton, because if it is not true, it makes it easier for me to acquit you, but if it is, I`ve got to pray on that or think on that.
I mean, I think that the Senate trial has the potential to take this country on an even more dramatic roller coaster ride.
WILLIAMS: Jon Meacham, is watching and listening with us. John, as I said, my basis as an amateur in your world, history doesn`t always feel that way in real- time, though this feels historic. Take on that, and the point that Nicolle just made about what awaits us in the senate, please.
MEACHAM: Well, we`re all on trial here. Gouverneur Morris is credited would the phrase "we the people." He was on the drafting committee in Philadelphia that wrote that majestic preamble to the constitution. And one of the things we have to remember is that what we just saw, what we just spent all day absorbing was the peoples House considering the existential question of our time, which is is the law more important or is partisanship more important?
And the Democratic Party in this case, did the right thing. The Republican Party remarkably, I think, decided that their partisan passion was more important than their brains, or even I`d argue their hearts. Their appetites is what won the day for them.
And a republic is the sum of its parts, so we`re all complicit in the -- Gene just used the phrase, the Trump era. It`s not just the Trump era, it`s also this American era. And one of the things I think we have to go back is to remember that the fundamental insight of the founding, the document that led to the really majestic proceedings that unfolded today and will unfold in some way or other in the Senate, whether they are majestic or not, was that we would always more likely to be driven by sin and shortcoming and appetite and ambition than we would be by what Lincoln would later call our better angels.
And so the constitution was written with this sense that we were always going to fall short, so we had to decide sovereignty. We had to check and balance ourselves, so that when we were headed down the wrong path or a selfish path, we could be stopped. And so far at this one step the president who is violating the sovereignty of our elections, has been sort of stopped.
The Senate now has a solemn responsibility. And it seems to me that I was thinking about Edmund Burke all day, as I`m sure you were. Burke said that there were two kinds of representation, there was the representation where you offer the reflection of your constituents will, and then there`s a representation where you offer your constituents your best judgment.
And I think what the senate has to do is get to a point where they`re not simply reflecting what they think their constituents want in this moment, but to have offer a judgment that`s informed by the long-term health of a republic that has proven to be the best hope of man on Earth, but there`s nothing guaranteed about that. There`s nothing certain about our future. And everyone one of us now has a particular role in saying, no, we will not have the rule of law trampled by the demagogue of a moment.
HAYES: John, you know the Republicans we`re talking about here. You know the ones who are going to have to answer that very weighty question. Do you think they haven`t?
MEACHAM: Honestly, sadly, no. I think that they are deciding that they are going to reflect what they think is coming from their states, and there are enough of them who I believe are putting self-preservation in front of the long-term health of the republic.
Easy for me to say. I`ve never faced a voter, I`ve never run for office. But one of the things you have to ask yourself is why do you run for office? Is it simply to stay in office no matter what, or do you do it in order to actually serve the country in a way that -- and I`m not being noble about it -- but serve the country in a way that the future will look back and celebrate you?
Who would you rather be, Margaret Chase Smith, the Senator from Maine who opposed Joe McCarthy in the first months after he first launched his witch hunts, or do you want to be Joe McCarthy? Do you want to be a byword for selfishness and short-term partisan gain, or do you want to be an icon of principle and courage?
I think that`s a fairly easy choice if you frame it not in this cycle, but in the life of the country itself.
HAYES: Jon Meacham, among those we call on at moments like this one a bona fide historic moment tonight that we all shared in on live television. And Jon, thank you as we thank everyone who has been around and part of our coverage from Ari Melber, Chris Hayes has been here with us. Eugene Robinson, former Senator Claire McCaskill and Chris Matthews.
At this point, we hand-off to the usual occupant of this coming hour, 9:00 p.m. eastern time. Rachel Maddow is here -- Rachel.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC: Brian, thank you so much. You guys have done amazing work covering this live event as it is unfolded.
I want to thank you at home for being with us all through these proceedings and all through this very, very dramatic evening. You are not asleep. This is not a dream. This is really happening. This is your life. This is our country in our time.
It is Wednesday, the 18th of December in the year 2019, and President Donald Trump is impeached.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END