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Senate Impeachment trial of Trump begins. TRANSCRIPT: 1/16/20, All In w/ Chris Hayes.

Guests: Richard Blumenthal, Nancy Gertner, Sheryl Gay Stolberg, DavidJolly, Zach Everson

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: Well, that`s not what it looked like or sounded like when both thought the mic was off. That`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us. "ALL IN" with Chris Hayes starts right now.



JOHN ROBERTS, SUPREME COURT CHIEF JUSTICE: All senators now stand or remain standing and raise their right hand.

HAYES: The impeachment trial of Donald Trump begins.

REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): President Trump thus warrants impeachment and trial, removal from office, and disqualification to hold and enjoy any office of honor, trust, or profit under the United States.

HAYES: As the Lev Parnas aftershocks reverberate.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I don`t know Parnas other than I guess I had pictures taken.

HAYES: Tonight, the implications of what Lev Parnas is claiming for the president.

LEV PARNAS, ASSOCIATE OF RUDY GIULIANI: President Trump knows exactly what was going on.

HAYES: The vice-president.

PARNAS: Everybody was in the loop.

HAYES: For the Attorney General.

PARNAS: Attorney General Barr was basically (INAUDIBLE)

HAYES: And the rest of Trump world.

REP. DEVIN NUNES (R-CA): You know, you know now that he had called my cell phone, and I didn`t know his name.

HAYES: Plus, today`s historic scene in the Senate.

ROBERTS: You will do impartial justice according to the constitution and laws, so help you, God?

HAYES: And the party of Trump struggle to defend a man who gets more and more implicated every day.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Does the Senate consider new evidence as part of the impeachment trial?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Man, your liberal hack.

HAYES: When ALL IN starts right now.


HAYES: Good evening from New York, I`m Chris Hayes. The Senate impeachment trial of President Donald J. Trump began today. It began not even 24 hours after Lev Parnas an indicted associate of the President`s personal lawyer, a guy whose own lawyer represented him to Congress as part of the President`s own legal team, that guy, spoke at length to Rachel Maddow about how President Trump directed every part of this corrupt scheme for which he has now been impeached.

That interview happened yesterday. At the same time, over the days preceding, and yesterday we got hundreds and hundreds of pages of new evidence from Lev Parnas, notes, text, voicemails, all sorts of incriminating material turned over to the House Intelligence Committee.

That trove of documents included a handwritten note by Parnas that read "gets Zelensky to announce the Biden case will be investigated. Those documents and that absolutely explosive interview from last night are the context for the solemn procession that we saw today, for only the third time in all of American history.

At around noon today, the House impeachment managers made their way across the Capitol escorted by the Senate Sergeant arms. They walked the two articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump to the Senate chamber. There, the senators awaited their arrival seated at their respective desks, except for Senator Chuck Grassley who was presiding over today`s momentous events. The Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was standing to receive the managers. Once they arrived, the managers were formally presented by the Sergeant at Arms.


PAUL IRVING, SERGEANT AT ARMS, U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES: I announced the presence of the managers on the part of the House of Representatives to conduct proceedings on behalf of the House concerning the impeachment of Donald John Trump, President of the United States.


HAYES: As the managers filed into the chamber, the lead manager Congressman Adam Schiff took his place at the podium, the well the Senate, where he read aloud the two articles of impeachment against President Trump, abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.


SCHIFF: Articles of Impeachment exhibited by the House of Representatives of the United States of America in the name of itself, and of the people of the United States of America against Donald John Trump, President of the United States of America, in maintenance and support of its impeachment against him for high crimes and misdemeanors.


HAYES: The person overseeing the president`s impeachment trial, the presiding officer is, of course, Chief Justice John Roberts. And around 2:00 this afternoon, Roberts made a short trip from the Supreme Court across the streets, to the Capitol. There, a group of four senators to Democrats, to Republicans, escorted him into the Senate chamber, where he was sworn in.


ROBERTS: Senators, I attend the Senate in conformity with your notice for the purpose of joining with you for the trial of the President of the United States. I`m now prepared to take the oath.

SEN. CHUCK GRASSLEY (R-IA): Will you place your left hand on the Bible and raise your right hand. Do you solemnly swear that in all things appertaining to the trial of the impeachment of Donald John Trump, President of the United States, now pending, you will do impartial justice according to the Constitution and the laws, so help you God?


GRASSLEY: God bless you.

ROBERTS: Thank you very much.


HAYES: That oath that you saw him take there, that oath takes back to 1798. It was used, the very same oath on the impeachment trials of presidents Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton. Chief Justice Roberts then swore in all the senators.


ROBERTS: At this time, I will administer the oath to all senators in the chamber in conformance with Article 1, Section 3, Clause 6 of the Constitution, and the Senate`s impeachment rules. Will all senators stand or remain standing and raise their right hand? Do you solemnly swear that in all things appertaining to the trial of the impeachment of Donald John Trump, President of the United States, now pending, you will do impartial justice according to the constitution and laws so help you God?


HAYES: The clerk then called up the senators in groups of four to sign their names into an oath book. The Senate wrapped up the impeachment business for the day by unanimously issuing a formal summons for President Donald J. Trump, informing him with the charges against him. The President has until Saturday evening to respond in writing.


ROBERTS: The Senate sitting as court of impeachment is adjourned until Tuesday, January 21st, at 1:00 p.m.


HAYES: And with that, the first day of the impeachment trial of President Trump was in the books. A trial continues next week. The end of today`s events was marked with this all caps tweet from the president, "I just got impeached for making a perfect phone call."

Of course, if you believe Lev Parnas, a guy who federal prosecutors allege was working to remove the U.S. Ambassador Ukraine through illegal campaign donations, heck, if you believe the testimony of the over a dozen witnesses under oath, President Trump did much more than make a perfect phone call.


PARNAS: President Trump know exactly what was going on. He was aware of all my movements. He -- I wouldn`t do anything without the consent of Rudy Giuliani or the president.

HAYES: In his interview with Rachel Maddow last night, Parnas explained how he was able to meet with the highest-ranking people in Ukraine with the help of the President and Rudy Giuliani.


PARNAS: Why would President Zelensky`s inner circle or the Minister, or all these people, or President Poroshenko meet with me? Who am I? They were told to meet with me. And that`s the secret that they`re trying to keep. I was on the ground doing their work.

The first thing I did is to introduce myself and tell them I`m here on behalf of Rudy Giuliani and the President of the United States and I`d like to put you on speakerphone for you know, to confirm, which we did. We put Rudy on the phone. Rudy, relate to him basically that we were there on behalf of the President of the United States.

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: You were there to speak on President Trump`s behalf?

PARNAS: Correct, exactly. Those are the exact words.


HAYES: Lev Parnas also told a story about a threatening message President Trump and Rudy Giuliani ordered him to give to a senior aid to the incoming Ukrainian President.


MADDOW: It has been reported as far as we understand from public reporting that you conveyed to Mr. Schafer the exact quid pro quo that you wanted Zelensky to announce investigations into Joe Biden or military aid would not be released to Ukraine. Is that accurate?

PARNAS: I was a little bit more than that. Basically, the message that I was supposed to -- that I gave Sergei Shafer was a very harsh message that was told to be -- to give it to him in a very harsh way, not in a pleasant way.

MADDOW: Who told you to give it to him in a harsh way?

PARNAS: Mayor Giuliani, Rudy told me after, you know, meeting the President at the White House. He called me. The message was, it wasn`t just military aid, it was all aid. Basically, the relationships would be sour, that you would -- that we would stop giving them any kind of aid that --

MADDOW: Unless --

PARNAS: Unless that there was an announcement -- it was several things. There were several demands at that point. A, the most important was the announcement of the Biden investigation.


HAYES: So Lev Parnas says that he delivered that message, that extortion of the Ukrainian government months before the now infamous call President Trump have with the Ukrainian president where the President gave his own version of it. If we were to believe Mr. Parnas, that message was delivered just a week before the inauguration of the new Ukrainian president, President Zelensky.

The reverberations of Lev Parnas` disclosures, his interview and all the documents we got the Speaker echoing around the world. Today, for instance, the Ukrainian government announced the opening of a criminal investigation. But rather than investing a Trump political rival as the president tried so hard for them to do, they are rather investigating whether President Trump`s own flunkies illegally surveilled former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch.

Also today, the nonpartisan watchdog Government Accountability Office concluded the Trump administration broke the law when they withheld military aid to Ukraine. "Faithful execution of the law does not permit the president to substitute his own policy priorities for those the Congress has enacted into law."

We`ve been reporting on this from the very beginning regardless of the quid pro quo, regardless of the extortion, both of which I think have been established. The upholding of aid to Ukraine was simply not lawful. They did not have the legal authority to do it. In other words, President Trump broke the law.

I`m joined now by someone who was sworn in as an impeachment juror today, Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut. It was a pretty extraordinary scene. What was it like to be in that room?

SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL (D-CT): I have to tell you, Chris, that moment hit me like a rock when I took the oath and then signed the book and saw all of my colleagues raise their right hand and the Chief Justice of the United States presiding over an impeachment trial.

And what it reminded me and I hope it reminded my colleagues across the aisle as well, that we have an obligation now to be impartial, but also to put country ahead of party. That`s what we have to do. And to listen to the evidence as much as I think it`s overwhelmingly in favor of impeachment, I want those witnesses and documents that the President has blocked so that the American people get the full truth

HAYES: Are you willing yourself to be impartial? I mean, one of the things that`s interesting about this, right, is that Senators are political creatures if you don`t mind my saying. And you have this strange status now. You`re essentially a juror extensively but it`s still political process. You`re still a political creature. You`re still members of political parties. It`s like, what is your own mental state? What are you trying to do to yourself, just speaking for yourself, to try to force yourself to actually be open and neutral here?

BLUMENTHAL: Let me try to put it as bluntly and honestly as I can. I am searching for all the truth. I am willing to listen, although I have to be honest, I think that the smoking gun here is the president`s own words, "We need you to do us a favor though."


BLUMENTHAL: The Lev Parnas interview, plus the documents that corroborate what he told Rachel Maddow last night are explosive. But Mick Mulvaney was there with the president taking his orders. He ought to testify as to what was said. Blair and Duffy were the henchmen. They were executing the order. And John Bolton was also at the center of this scheme, but he was trying to talk the president out of doing it. I want to hear from them and I want to see those documents, the three sets of documents, specific communication, the e-mails, notes of conversation that may be will exonerate the president.

Maybe they have some exculpatory evidence that shows his innocence. I want to hear it. I have an obligation to listen. I`m willing to be impartial in the sense that I will carefully consider everything that the President lets us here. But so far, he has blocked, gagged, stopped everything. What is he hiding? If it were, in fact, helpful to them, he would think he would allow it to be presented.

HAYES: Is your sense -- I mean, obviously, you know, you guys are all in the Senate. The Senate doesn`t do anything anymore except for confirm judges. So even just having everyone there doing something as novel, right? Would you agree with that?

BLUMENTHAL: Well, I have a right to remain silent on that one.

HAYES: Well, I mean, I think it`s just -- it is wild because, you know, it`s very rare that you get all 100 senators in the body. It`s very rare that -- it`s certainly rare that you`re not allowed to talk. I mean, which is like basically a death sentence for United States Senator.

BLUMENTHAL: Well, here`s the thing, which will be little noted today. We actually passed a Trade Act which is somewhat historic also because for years, the federal government has been trying to rationalize its trade and improve its trade relationship.

But you`re absolutely right, this job has been extraordinarily frustrating to me, because we do a lot less than we should.

HAYES: In terms of that conversations that are happening on the floor and around the floor, I wondered as I was watching it today whether like the new information that we`re getting, the Parnas interview which, you know, sort of blew up last night and there`s an interview the New York Times and with other outlets today. Does that register?

BLUMENTHAL: Very much so.

HAYES: I mean, you guys know that`s happening. Not only do we know what`s happening, but we see it, we hear it, and the American people deserve to see and hear all of the testimony that would come from Mulvaney, Blair, Duffy, and Bolton, as well as those documents because they would corroborate not only the words of the president but also Lev Parnas saying as he put it very dramatically, he did nothing without the direction Rudy Giuliani, who said he was acting at the behest of the President, and also was taking phone calls while he was with Parnas from the president, who was overheard on those phone calls, his words the President`s words.

So yes, it registers with it, has a powerful impact, but even more so if it were presented at trial. Why is the president hiding these witnesses and document?

HAYES: All right, Senator Richard Blumenthal, thank you so much for making the time on this historic day. I`m joined now by Nancy Gertner former federal judge for the U.S. District Court of Massachusetts, and now a senior lecturer at Harvard Law School, and Maya Wiley, former Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Civil Division of Southern District of New York and MSNBC Legal Analyst. Nancy, I want to start with you on a slightly nerdy point but an interesting one to me --


HAYES: Which is that John Roberts is never on trial before, if I`m not mistaken. The first -- I mean, running a trial is no small thing as you know, former trial judge. And the first trial he`s ever going to run in his life, he`s banging the gavel there, his hand is shaking when he`s holding the paper, is this historic televised impeachment trial.

GERTNER: Except that one thing he knows how to do is administer the oath. And he did that swimmingly?

HAYES: Yes. He screwed it up with Barack Obama the first time, but yes.

GERTNER: But he administered the oath -- and the oath is actually very interesting. The question is whether or not when you administer the oath, whether the senators in the room who said, I can`t be impartial, not what Senator Blumenthal just said. I`ve heard all the evidence, but I`m going to try to dig out and see what actually happened here. But those like McConnell who said I can`t be impartial, such a juror would never have served in any court in the country.

HAYES: Right.

GERTNER: Now, the question is whether Roberts would disqualify someone under those circumstances which seems highly unlikely.

HAYES: The wait -- I mean, part of what is happening in the month since the vote happened in the House, Maya, is that that Nancy Pelosi held back the articles and naming the impeachment manager for four weeks. And in that time, there are a lot of new evidence surface. Some of it came from FOIA documents, some of it came from reporting, and some of it has been turned over by documents from the district court down in here in New York, and from Lev Parnas and in his interviews.

And, you know, it seems to me as I watch this, there`s a pressure now to like, get to the bottom of a bunch of stuff. Do you think that pressure is exerting itself on the chamber?

MAYA WILEY, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST: I don`t sit in the chamber. It is very hard to imagine that it doesn`t have an impact on the chamber. How much of an impact is the question? But I think if you remember when Nancy Pelosi has the announcement of her House managers, what she very, I think, smartly and strategically did in that announcement is she went through the dates of all, and summarized all the evidence we have learned after they voted the Articles of Impeachment starting in December, and then in January, and then Lev Parnas. I mean, it`s just one thing after another.

And she said, she framed the entire announcement of House managers around time. And that -- I just -- so it was very strategic on her part to say, if we essentially -- if we are sitting here, as Senator Blumenthal said, trying to decide whether or not Donald J. Trump is engaged in impeachable offenses, we need to know everything we can about what happened, and the more time has passed despite his obstruction.


WILEY: I mean, that`s the key, right? Despite his obstruction, we have only seen reinforcement of what we relied upon as evidence for the impeachment. So we had enough evidence. We should see more because maybe there is. But if there was something exonerating, wouldn`t we have heard it by now, why would he have blocked it?

GERTNER: So a better question is not just whether or not the senators feel the pressure. The question is whether the public is going to put pressure on the senators. And that there`s a whole other story out there that is not being told, and I think it has.

HAYES: Well, can I ask you what you make of this new evidence, again, as a former district --

GERTNER: Which new evidence? Which of the mound?

HAYES: All of the texts from Lev Parnas and his -- you know, it`s very hard for me to figure out what he`s doing precisely. This is a man who has a tremendous amount of legal exposure, who`s currently under indictment in Southern District of New York, who can`t -- I don`t know. I mean, it`s like the Democrats in Congress can`t cut him a deal.


HAYES: There`s nothing for him there. Do you know what he`s doing? Do you understand it?

GERTNER: No, I have no idea what he`s doing. I have no idea what his counsel is doing. Although he wants to cooperate, the way you cooperate with the government says that the government controls the output and inflow of information, you don`t go on, dare I say it, MSNBC. So I don`t understand what he`s doing.

His testimony is interesting because in one sense, he rounds the circle here. So he says Giuliani was a person I was interacting with. Sometimes I`d hear the President on the phone. And then Giuliani will say, as he said in the letters and in his representations to everyone, I`m getting this from the President. The notion that everyone is saying, do we have direct evidence against the president? You have direct evidence.

HAYES: That`s a great point.

GERTNER: You have Giuliani as an agent acting for the President and Parnas who speaks Ukraine, carrying it out.

WILEY: And Parnas is part -- remember when -- I was confused about how was he a client of Rudy Giuliani and working for Giuliani.

HAYES: Right.

WILEY: And he makes very clear one of the plausible theories which he says it`s to try to keep private --


WILEY: -- the conversations that include Donald Trump as attorney-client privilege.

GERTNER: Which it is not.

WILEY: Which it`s not. Which it`s clearly not. So that in and of itself indicates you`re trying to protect the President from him in directly as the article say, leading a scheme. And the whole hearsay -- just to -- we`re going to be really -- I shouldn`t be this nerdy with her. But this -- there is a coconspirator exception to hearsay.

So to the extent that Republicans have been saying no evidence because hearsay, well, you know, sorry this is actually evidence of a conspiracy.

HAYES: It`s a great point. Nancy Gertner, Maya Wiley, don`t go anywhere. There`s a lot more for us to get to. I`m going to keep you guys here including the claim by Lev Parnas that the vice-president knew exactly what was happening with the Ukraine scheme. We`ll talk about that in two minutes.


HAYES: Despite the overwhelming evidence against Donald Trump that continues to emerge, it remains I think, fair to say fairly unlikely that there will be 67 votes in the Republican-led Senate to remove the President from office for the first time in American history. If that does somehow happen, it will, of course, be the Vice President Mike Pence who ascends to the presidency.

One thing about that, Pence has been at the center of the reporting about the scheme that got Trump impeached from the very beginning. He has already admitted himself to discussing "corruption with the Ukrainian president." The Washington Post reported the president use Pence to tell Zelensky the U.S. aid was still being withheld while he was demanding more aggressive action on so-called corruption. We all know what corruption means.

And remember, Pence had been scheduled to attend the Ukrainian president`s inauguration. But as State Department official Jennifer Williams testified, Trump told Pence not to go. A decision made in the middle of Trump Giuliani`s Ukraine pressure campaign. And the big question, of course, is how much did Pence know? Last night Lev Parnas told Rachel Maddow that Pence knew pretty much everything.


MADDOW: So Vice President Mike Pence has his planned trip to the inauguration canceled after you are unable to get the Ukrainian government to commit to announcing investigations of Vice President Biden. Do you know what Vice President Pence was aware that that was the quid pro quo, that that was the trade, and that that, in fact, is why his inaugural visit was called off?

PARNAS: I`m going to use a famous quote, but Mr. Sondland, everybody was in the loop.

MADDOW: You believe that Vice President Pence knew what he was -- knew that his trip to the inauguration was contingent on those investigations being announced?

PARNAS: Again, I mean, I know he went to Poland also to discuss this on Trump`s behalf so he couldn`t have not known.


HAYES: Couldn`t have not known. That`s Parnas` characterization. Parnas also offered some backstory about what he says went down when Pence was pulled from attending the Ukrainian president`s inauguration.


PARNAS: Will President Zelensky winning on that platform being a young president and not really having any experience? The number one thing -- and being at war with Russia at the time -- the number one thing for them was not even aid. And I know it sounds crazy, but it was more of a support from the president by having White House visit, by having a big inauguration, by having all the dignitaries there. That was the key.

MADDOW: Unless he announced an investigation into Joe Biden, no U.S. officials, particularly Vice-President Mike Pence would not come to --

PARNAS: Particularly Vice President Mike Pence.


HAYES: In response to Parnas` claims, Pence`s chief of staff put out a statement attacking Parnas` credibility, noting that he is in fact under indictment, but not specifically denying anything he said. Still with me here at the table, former Federal Judge Nancy Gertner, senior lecturer at Harvard Law School, and former Assistant U.S. Attorney Maya Wiley, a professor at The New School and MSNBC Legal Analyst.

I mean, Pence already shows up in the reporting before this and he`s already told us himself that he talked about corruption. Parnas doesn`t seem to sort of have him dead to rights in so far as knowing directly that he knew this is a sort of his --

GERTNER: Everyone knew.

HAYES: Everyone knows.


HAYES: So what do you make of that?

GERTNER: Well, everyone knew is not good enough anywhere.


GERTNER: So you have -- what are the -- what are the things that Pence has his fingerprints on? Pence is clearly an emissary. He`s clearly withholding his -- putting his imperator on the -- on the new Ukrainian government. The question of Pence`s relationship to the withholding of aid, at least from what I`ve read, is less clear now. But there`s also an overarching political issue, which that`s not my bailiwick but if Pence were impeached --

HAYES: Right, well, yes, yes. I mean, I don`t think that`s going to happen.


HAYES: But it does seem to me like a matter of -- a question of what -- who knew, what, where. And it occurred to me, I was going back and forth about this last night about Pence. It occurs to me that one way to survive and adapt in these situations is become very good at intentionally not knowing things.


HAYES: I mean -- you know what I mean? Like, this is a thing that --

WILEY: And holding your mouth shut.

HAYES: What?

WILEY: And keeping your mouth shut.

HAYES: And also -- and also understanding when the temperature in the room changes, or that when Rudy comes in, or when the President takes a phone call at Mar-a-Lago to --

WILEY: Go out.

HAYES: -- make sure that you don`t know what is happening, which is a possible part of what is going on here.

WILEY: Right. So I just want to say one thing that`s specific to impeachment is the evidentiary standards are not the standards in a criminal court of law. So senators decide with sufficient evidence. And so, I actually would say that in the context of impeachment --

HAYES: Right.

WILEY: -- not in the context of a criminal trial, this actually is probative evidence. And one of the reasons is just think about Iran, which has happened to Iran. And what we know about Pence in his relationship to this administration is he is the adult in the room on foreign policy. He is one of the go-to people for Donald Trump. He was in those briefings on Iran while the President does not want to allow briefings on open threats, that`s part of the public transparency and open threats that we get every year, but yet Pence can know.

HAYES: Right.

WILEY: So there is a pattern of relationship and behavior that makes it very hard to believe he didn`t know particularly if the President is directing him not to go. And one little point that is important to make here. The e-mail exchanges that we have from the Parnas documents also makes clear that Giuliani in his representations, in an e-mail is saying back in January on Shokin, who`s supposedly is going to have some helpful information on them, he`s saying, I`ve talked directly to number one.

HAYES: Right.

WILEY: So number one -- that`s in January. So by May, we`re supposed to believe there`s no conversation between Trump and Pence about why now he`s changing his decision about inauguration?

HAYES: Right. It would have -- it would have to be -- the only way that Pence doesn`t know is if he made it his business not to know is the only plausible story for him not knowing.

GERTNER: He`s being directed from one part of the globe to the other and he never asked why.

HAYES: Like, why? Hey boss, why are we not going to --

GERTNER: That`s right.

HAYES: So the other -- the other person that Parnas talks about -- there`s a few other but I want to talk about Barr. Because Barr is actually a huge, important part of this. Barr is mentioned in the whistleblower complaint. Barr is mentioned by the president. The President names two people, he says, talk to Rudy and talk to Barr. Now, the Department of Justice --

WILEY: And Barr is flying around the world.

HAYES: And he`s running around the world. And the Department of Justice has said Barr doesn`t know anything about this, that he never talked to the President about this. But here`s what Parnas has to say about Barr. Take a listen.


MADDOW: Do you know if Mr. Giuliani was ever in contact with Mr. Barr specifically about the fact that he was trying to get Ukraine to announce these investigations into Joe Biden?

PARNAS: Absolutely.

MADDOW: Mr. Barr knew about that?

PARNAS: Mr. Barr have to have known everything. I mean, it`s impossible --

MADDOW: Did Rudy Giuliani tell you he`d spoken to the Attorney General specifically about Ukraine?

PARNAS: Not only Rudy Giuliani, I mean, Victoria and Joe, they were all best friends. I mean, Barr was -- Attorney General Barr was basically on the team.

HAYES: All right. So he had to have known everything. Again, a little -- slightly different than I know that he knew.

GERTNER: Right, right. No, no. He had to have known is not enough. So there are questions with Barr that go to, should he disqualify himself now from any criminal case that has any -- that touches at all?

HAYES: I mean he -- I mean, Justice oversees the SDNY which is currently prosecuting this guy who just implicated the Attorney General.

GERTNER: Right. Right. His disqualification is far more troubling than Sessions was. Then there is a range of things. So, the other thing is -- I mean, I would be troubled if he were involved in this, then you would be talking about disciplinary proceedings against a lawyer, then you would be talking about impeachment against Barr, you know, so there are consequences here.

WILEY:  I would argue that William Barr has earned an impeachment investigation. And that`s -- so, recusal absolutely, on anything that touches this. But between -- and it`s not just what we have heard from Lev Parnas, but just remember just today we have breaking news about reopening investigations about James Comey that no one understands, at least from a public standpoint why it`s been opened.

HAYES:  It`s very hard to credit Barr with any sort of charitable interpretation of his actions at this point during his tenure. Nancy Gertner and Maya Wiley, thank you so much. That was so great.

Still ahead, grifters, criminals, and the president of the United States:  why Lev Parnas is suddenly getting the Michael Cohen treatment from Donald Trump, and what it means for the rest of Trump world next.


HAYES:  The president surrounds himself with criminals. His campaign chair, his deputy campaign chair, his former national security adviser, on and on. You get the picture. And as a rule, if you`re a politician, that kind of thing isn`t generally a great move, but it does offer one surprising benefit:  when one of those folks turns on you, you can point to their own shady dealings and say why would anyone trust this person?

And as the president and his defenders go after Lev Parnas,repeating the same "you can`t trust him" line or "I don`t even know him," remember we have seen this all before with the last bag man who talked about the president:  Michael Cohen.

For about a decade, Michael Cohen was the executive vice president of the Trump Organization and Donald Trump`s special counsel. In September of 2017, a profile of him appeared in Vanity Fair entitled "Michael Cohen would take a bullet for Donald Trump." The piece points out Cohen`s extreme loyalty to the president, quote, "Cohen has been described as the sixth Trump child, or as Tom Hagen in this twisted version of The Godfather, and sometimes as both."

Michael Cohen was the president`s fixer. But that relationship started to fall apart in early 2018 as news leaked out of illegal hush money payments made to two women ahead of the presidential election. By April, the FBI had raided Cohen`s office and hotel room in Manhattan, seizing recordings and electronic devices.

Initially, the president was supportive of his longtime attorney, quote, "Michael is a lawyer who I have always liked and respected. Most people will flip if the government let`s them out of trouble. Sorry, I don`t see Michael doing that despite the horrible witch hunt and the dishonest media."

But on the day after Cohen pleaded guilty to eight federal crimes, including campaign finance violations, implicating the president directly as an unindicted co-conspirator, "individual 1," the president trashed him, quote, "if anyone is looking for a good lawyer, I would strongly suggest that you don`t retain the services of Michael Cohen." Burn.

Months later, Cohen found himself before congress delivering a warning.


MICHAEL COHEN, FORMER TRUMP ATTORNEY:  I did the same thing that you`re doing now for 10 years. I protected Mr. Trump for 10 years. And I can only warn people, the more people that follow Mr. Trump, as I did blindly, are going to suffer the same consequences that I`m suffering.


HAYES:  Michael Cohen pulled back the curtain on Trump world in 2018. And Lev Parnas did that last night, telling us what an absolute cesspool of conflicts of interest, corruption and shady characters surround the president of the United States. We`ll talk about that, next.


HAYES:  Today, the FBI showed up at the home of Robert F. Hyde just you days after the House Intelligence Committee released text messages provided by indicted Giuliani associate Lev Parnas, in which Hyde appears to be representing himself as actively surveilling then U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Maria Yovanovitch.

Hyde, who has told NBC news he was drunk and unserious when he sent those texts. But the question you have to ask yourself is, how did someone like Robert Hyde gain access to the president of the United States? And the answer to that was laid out by Lev himself who told Rachel Maddow how easy it is to get close to the president`s inner circle, " just show up at the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C. That`s how Parnas himself met Robert Hyde.



LEV PARNAS, FORMER GIULIANI ASSOCIATE:  I met him at I think at the Trump Hotel? Yes, the Trump Hotel. He was a regular at the bar.


PARNAS:  Because it was like a breeding ground at the Trump Hotel, so every event we`d be there, so everybody would hang out there afterwards, everybody -- all the meetings would be there, so it was basically you would see the same people every day, all the same congressmen that supported the president would be there, and nobody else.

So, he was a fixture on site. He was always there, and he was always drunk.

What you don`t understand is when we`re in the Trump Hotel, it`s like one big cesspool and it`s really hard to keep any secrets.


HAYES:  For more on that cesspool, I`m joined by independent journalist Zach Everson, who spent the last two years staking out the Trump Hotel and writing up what he saw in the 1100 Pennsylvania newsletter and in an article for Vanity Fair titled "Power Tripping in the Swam:  How Trump`s D.C. Hotel Swallowed Washington."

Zach, this is your beat, probably more than it is anyone`s beat. And I`m curious how Parnas`s descriptions squared with what you`ve been reporting over the last two years.

ZACH EVERSON, CONTRIBUTOR VANITY FAIR:  It`s spot on. I mean, Robert Hyde was on my radar as early as April. You look at his Instagram and there were pictures of him with the president. There were pictures of him with the vice president, all sorts of important people. And for him it actually transcended the Trump Hotel. I think he was at six different Trump properties.

But if you want to project importance, you can just go hang out at the hotel and take some pictures.

HAYES:  One of the things that has struck me about this -- where we are right now with the impeachment is, usually it is very hard to get to the president of the United States. And that`s for -- that can be really maddening for people when you`re trying to -- if you`re working in the staff of a White House and you want to get the president something on his agenda, it`s hard to get to him.

This president seems remarkably easy to get to by all kinds of people with all kinds of agendas, and it seems like his properties are the nexus of this kind of soft corruption.

EVERSON:  Oh, absolutely. I spoke to the president at the Trump Hotel. I was staying there researching one of my articles, and for the cost of a nice steak dinner, I was able to chat with the president, which, you know, makes for a really good social media post there.

So, if you just hang out there, take your pictures with your Kevin McCarthys or Mike Pence`s, they go back and forth -- now, they`re usually not up front in the bar, they`re usually going back and forth from the entranceway to private rooms, but you see them coming and going, you can collect enough pictures, and you look really important.

HAYES:  And then what do you do with that really important -- the look like you`re really important?

EVERSON:  Well, I think with Robert Hyde, he was using it to run for congress. And there were certainly some other people who are running for congress, typically Republican challengers, who seem to be collecting pictures of themselves at the Trump Hotel. But I`ve seen some people move kind of -- you know, from the lobby, where the lesser swamp things hang out, to the back rooms. And I don`t know exactly what they`re doing to get back there, but looking on social media, it almost looks like they`re puffing up importance with a lot of pictures and then all of a sudden they kind of get to be important.

HAYES:  What do you mean by the back rooms? Describe that? Because at one point, Parnas was talking about a private dinner with the president, which I think happens there in the hotel in like a back room. What`s the sort of distinction between the lobby bar and like the back rooms where the actual important power players are?

EVERSON:  Sure. So, there`s two tiers. If you go out in the lobby, that`s where you are going tot find not even Fox News hosts, but like Fox News guests are going to be hanging out there, people who really want to be seen, and need to be seen, to kind of project some sort of importance, but they may not actually be that important. You know, example, Corey Lewandowski is somebody you will see there. Rudy Giuliani was the exception to that.

But it`s the back rooms, it`s the Trump townhouse, which is where Lev dined with the president. And it`s the Franklin study and Lincoln library where they have those private events. And that`s where you will see them mingling with special interest groups that are flown in, lobbyists, you know, anybody can see them coming back and forth, though to the main entranceway, which is where some of these other interactions come from.

HAYES:  And is that -- final question here, like do -- my understanding, from the reporting we have and from the disclosure, that the special interest groups, if you`re trying to get a reg changed, if you`re trying to get a piece of legislation, like they know that`s the place to go, and that`s where those back-room meetings happen?

EVERSON:  It can`t hurt. There`s absolutely no downside to booking the Trump Hotel.

You know, I spoke to a lobbyist really early on when it was clear that this hotel was going to stick around. He said, you know, they`re going to go there to try to influence them, and the response was of course they are. Why wouldn`t they?

HAYES:  Yeah. Zach Everson, who has been covering this beat in his newsletter. Thanks a lot.

EVERSON:  Thanks.

HAYES:  Still to come, new signs of stress, a Republican Party attempting to clear the president. The early indications that the senators who pledged an oath of impartiality today may already be starting to crack. Next.


HAYES:  So, one big problem for Republican senators, who on the whole would very much like to move as quickly as possible to acquit the president and get back to judges, they want to cover up any additional evidence of wrongdoing, is that they have no idea the actual scope of what they`re really really covering up, and that`s been driven home over the last few days as Parnas`s documents and interviews reveal new depths of the scandal.

And so Republican senators are already hiding behind a lockdown of the press, ordered by Mitch McConnell are reacting like this.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Senator McSally, should the senate consider new evidence as part of the impeachment trial?

SEN. MARTHA MCSALLY, (R) ARIZONA:  Manny (ph), you`re are a liberal hack. I`m not talking to you?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  You`re not going to comment, senator?

MCSALLY:  You`re a liberal hack.


HAYES:  That`s Arizona Senator Martha McSally, who lost an election in 2018 and got appointed to fill McCain`s seat anyway. It really rarely happens that you lose and then become a senator.

She is currently polling behind her 2020 Democratic challenger Mark Kelly in Arizona as well as getting out fundraised by him, so they tried to fundraise off that moment later in the day.

The Maine senator, Susan Collins, who is also up in 2020 tried to dismiss the new Parnas evidence yesterday by saying the House should have gotten it earlier, quote, "I wonder why the House did not put that into the record. It`s only now being revealed." The reason why it`s just now being revealed, senator, is because one of Parnas`s lawyers had suggested the evidence might be subject to executive privilege, because he`s on the president`s legal team, and it wasn`t until earlier this month the federal judge authorized that Parnas begin turning over documents and other information to the House intelligence committee.

Republican Senators know what they want out of this trial. T he problem is the facts keep getting in the way. I want to talk about how they`re going to deal with that next.



JOHN ROBERTS, CHIEF JUSTICE OF THE SUPREME COURT:  Do you solemnly swear that in all things appertaining to the trial of the impeachment of Donald John Trump, president of the United States, now pending, you will do impartial justice according to the constitution and laws so help you god.

CROWD:  I do.


HAYES:  They all said I do, as far as we can tell. And the question that now hangs over every one of those senators in the impeachment trial of Donald J. Trump, as the entire country and the world watches is, will they actually live up to the oath that they took today.

Here with me now to talk about this question and the day`s events is Sheryl Gay Stolberg, New York Times congressional correspondent who was there at the Capitol today; and David Jolly, a former Republican congressman from Florida, now an MSNBC political contributor.

Sheryl, what was it like in that room today?

SHERYL GAY STOLBERG, NEW YORK TIMES:  It was very grave. I think you could really feel the weight of the moment. You know, there`s been a lot of partisan bickering back and forth in the Capitol in the months and weeks leading up to this day, but when Chief Justice John Roberts strode into that chamber, I think senators on both sides of the aisle really felt the moment and they felt history looking upon them.

And in fact, they said so afterwards. Senator Chuck Schumer said that he could hear on both sides of the aisle a gulp when Roberts took the presiding officer`s chair, and John Cornyn, the Republican of Texas, said afterward that senators really felt the gravity of the situation that was upon them.

HAYES:  You know, David, there`s a sort of duel roles, right. U.S. senators are political creatures, as I was saying, with Senator Blumenthal, necessarily they are, that`s how you become a senator and stay a senator. They`re also now essentially impartial jurors, but there`s always been a tension between those two.

The two other impeachment trials in this country`s history, Andrew Johnson in 1868, Bill Clinton in 1999, they both featured that tension, right. I mean, there`s no way out of that tension. How do you think about how lawmakers should be thinking about their role?

DAVID JOLLY, FORMER REPUBLICAN CONGRESSMAN:  Well, they should be thinking of it, as Justice Roberts asked them to, as impartial jurors. And, Chris, I would say several of the Republican senators have already demonstrated themselves to be unqualified to take that oath today, but they did so anyways.

We are seeing a coordinated effort by Republicans under Mitch McConnell, and frankly under Kevin McCarthy in the House, to defeat truth, to hide facts, and it has a certain chilling effect on Americans` faith in their very own government at a time of a constitutional crisis.

And so when you see senators suggest that they are taking that oath and that it was a solemn moment, we know through their actions that they are lying. And I think that is the part that the American people have a hard time reconciling, that we are seeing a defeat of truth here. And we`re putting our faith in four Republican senators, not really to seek justice, but just to seek fairness.

HAYES:  Right.

JOLLY:  And that has become the low bar for Republicans.

HAYES:  Well, the low bar is that -- you`re right, those four votes for witnesses and document production, today, Susan Collins -- the Collins situation is fascinating to me, right, so I read earlier in the show that she said, well, why didn`t this evidence come out earlier? Today she says this -- she puts out a long statement, new statement from Senator Collins, "while I need to hear the case argued and the questions answered, I tend to believe having additional information would be helpful. It is likely I would support a motion to call witnesses at that point in the trial just as I did in 1999."

What was your reaction to reading that, Sheryl?

STOLBERG:  Well, first of all, I was actually the reporter that asked her about Lev Parnas yesterday. And my reaction to that was frankly not that big of a surprise. Susan Collins has a reputation for independence. She voted to confirm Justice Brett Kavanaugh, and that created a lot of consternation among some who have supported her in her home state of Maine.

She is up for reelection in what many people believe will be a difficult race, so she is kind of in a delicate situation, and she is leading this effort, as the congressman said, to four Republican senators to try to force a vote on whether or not to have witnesses and documents at the trial.

That vote will likely occur after both sides present their case. And Democrats need those four Republicans to, in order to move forward with that. Four republicans, and the 47 Democrats and independents who vote with them makes for 51. That`s the majority that they need to prevent this trial from becoming just a rush-rush, wrap it up quick, and moving into a fuller trial with more witnesses and documents.

HAYES:  David, the politics here are just inescapable, though, right. I mean, even when you talk about taking that oath, like Martha McSally knows what her polling numbers are in Arizona. Susan Collins today there`s polling that she went from the most popular senator in the country in her home state. 2015, she was at 78 percent, to the least at 42 percent.

You know, she knows those. Those numbers, she and her staff talk about that. Everyone understands what a good score is.

JOLLY:  Chris, Susan Collins never misses the right opportunity to make the wrong decision. And I think the nation would be wary to put their faith in her in this moment.

But what we may see these Republicans who are vulnerable is they can at least say let`s have witnesses and then ultimately vote to acquit the president because they are acting in a hyper-partisan fashion.

I know we`re looking at Collins and Gardner and Alexander, a others, Chris, but there are three names that I think we should also put a spotlight on. One is Richard Burr, who is the Senate Intelligence chairman who has worked across the aisle with his Democratic counterpart, who has stayed silent, but frankly should ask for witnesses as well. Ben Sasse in Nebraska, who likes to say he puts the constitution before party, and Mike Lee who says he puts the constitution before party. And Mike Lee, who says he puts the constitution before party.

We will all watch Mike Lee melt down because the Trump administration was not giving him information on Iran and the death of Soleimani, he should care as much about what Trump did in the Ukraine as he did in Iran. Mike Lee should step up to this moment.

HAYES:  All right, Sheryl Gay Stolberg and David Jolly, thank you both so much.

That is All In for this evening. The Rachel Maddow Show starts right now. Good evening, Rachel.