CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: That`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us. "ALL IN" with Chris Hayes starts right now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: Tonight on ALL IN.
REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): The only remedy is the conviction and removal from office of President Donald Trump.
HAYES: The President`s attorneys visit the scene of the trial.
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): Everything I do during this, I`m coordinating with White House Counsel.
HAYES: And Mitch McConnell announces how the Senate trial will proceed.
MCCONNELL: There will be no difference between the President`s position and our position.
HAYES: Tonight, the McConnell resolution for the trial of Donald Trump, the President`s new outlandish defense, and what all of this means for witnesses. Plus --
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Do you know congressman Devin Nunes?
LEV PARNAS, ASSOCIATE OF RUDY GIULIANI: Yes, I do. We met several times at the Trump hotel.
HAYES: Just how involved was Devin Nunes in the Ukraine scheme.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Stand up, Devin. Everybody knows him.
HAYES: And as citizens across the country March the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, just what was happening in Richmond, Virginia today.
AMERICAN CROWD: We will not comply. We will not comply.
HAYES: When ALL IN starts right now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Good evening from New York, I`m Chris Hayes. The third impeachment trial in the history of the nation to possibly remove the President of the United States from office is about to begin. Late today, Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell released the highly anticipated resolution regarding how the trial of Donald Trump will proceed in the Senate.
And it`s clear that he wants to move very fast while also delay any consideration of those pesky witnesses or testimony until after opening arguments. At 1:00 p.m. Eastern time tomorrow, McConnell will formally introduce the organizing resolution, that`s what it`s called, which Chuck Schumer is already calling a cover-up and "nothing short of a national disgrace."
The document that lays out the rules for the start of the trial will be taken up tomorrow. And after the introduction of the resolution, there will be up to two hours of debate and then most likely, Democrats led by Schumer will introduce an amendment calling for witness testimony and document production. After that, we will have more debate and a vote. And then there`s a good chance of more amendments and possibly the Senate moving into closed session. But that`s very likely going to be a very long and interesting day.
Now, McConnell`s organizing resolutions is just four pages long, allows each side 24 hours to present their opening arguments. That`s precedent. That was a procedure in Bill Clinton`s impeachment trial, but this time, there is a quite a remarkable twist. McConnell is mandating that each side only gets two days per side to make their case.
So two days to make 24 hours` worth of arguments. If you can do the math of each time side uses all their time, they will be looking at four straight marathons, 12 hours a day of opening arguments starting Wednesday and lasting through Saturday.
Now, the man at the center of this trial, the person whose fate is in the hands of Senate, the President of the United States, well, he left the country this afternoon on the eve of his trial. Trump headed to the World Economic Forum in Davos, an event that he skipped last time around during the shutdown.
At the Capitol today, Trump was presented -- represented by his defense team who went to the Senate for a sort of walkthrough ahead of the trial. In a 171-page brief this morning, they also made clear they want the trial over very quickly. Trump`s legal team calling on the Senate to "swiftly and roundly condemned the House articles of impeachment."
Now, this brief -- reply brief that the President`s lawyers put together, it`s a pretty breathtaking document as all legal documents from this White House have been throughout this entire impeachment saga. The degree of opposition and obstruction that the White House and its lawyers have deployed in the face of impeachment has been -- let`s be really clear here, totally unprecedented.
Andrew Johnson didn`t do it this way, Richard Nixon didn`t do this way, Bill Clinton didn`t do it this way. This is a whole new level. As the House said in its impeachment articles in the history of the Republic, no President has ever ordered the complete defiance of an impeachment inquiry or sought to obstruct and impede so comprehensively the ability of the House of Representatives to investigate high crimes and misdemeanors.
This new document from the President`s lawyers is in keeping with that theme. The Trump team offering up a very Trumpian claim that "the President did absolutely nothing wrong." They also suggest that it doesn`t matter if Trump did exactly what the House said he did because they claim neither article of impeachment is a violation of the law.
Now, that is not the standard for impeachment, but even if it were, the Government Accountability Office down just last week that the administration did, in fact, violate the law by withholding that Ukrainian aid. Perhaps the most troubling argument that the President`s lawyers make is the unnerving suggestion that convicting the President, which will be the first time in American history and required 67 votes, but if that were to happen, that would be unconstitutional, because they argue the articles of impeachment are just too broad.
"With at least four independent basis alleged for abuse of power, article one invites conviction if as few as 18 senators agree that anyone alleged act occurred and constitute an abuse of power. That line of argument suggests that in the unlikely event, the Senate votes to impeach to remove the President, the White House would simply not accept its legitimacy what they have done for the duration of these proceedings.
Whatever happens this week, we are on the cusp of the sustained public airing of the President`s alleged crime, something this country has only seen once a century. And remarkably, a new poll finds that a slim majority of the nation, 51 percent wants Trump removed. They want him convicted, and removed, and barred from ever holding office ever again.
I`m joined now by Senator Chris Van Hollen who`s a Democrat of Maryland. First, Senator, your reaction to the four-page organizing resolution Mitch McConnell`s office has distributed today.
SEN. CHRIS VAN HOLLEN (D-MD): Well, Chris, it`s good to be with you. And when Mitch McConnell, Senator McConnell said he was going to work in lockstep with the President, we now have the proof in this resolution. And that`s why you`ve seen the President`s lawyers tweeting their approval of this resolution because it tries to speed this through in the dead of night, and changes the rules relative to the Clinton provisions in dramatic ways.
We all heard Senator McConnell over and over tell the country that he was going to follow the Clinton model. Well, he doesn`t follow that with respect to the time allocations in terms of how you spread it out. But there`s also a very interesting provision in here that says, all the evidence that`s already been collected by the House of Representatives does not enter into evidence in the trial from the beginning. It would go in at the end, and only then by motion, which means only by a majority vote, which is an outrageous change from what the Clinton trial proceedings were, and it means two things, possibly, but all of them are troubling.
HAYES: Well, here`s -- tell me what you think the two things are because my -- I`m confused. There seems something fundamentally backwards here, which is they`re going to start the opening arguments and leave the of what the evidence is unresolved until after. But you can only make arguments based on what the evidence is. It seems like you know, in a trial, they resolve that first usually, for precisely the reason that you got to figure out what evidence you`re using to make your argument.
VAN HOLLEN: Well, that`s exactly right. They`ve got it backwards. So here to the concerns. Let`s say, the House managers want to show videotapes of the sworn depositions of Dr. Fiona Hill or Ambassador Taylor. Is -- are the Republicans now going to object on the grounds that that hasn`t been entered into evidence?
And then if you look at the flip side, what it means is the President`s lawyers are not bound in any way by the facts in the record. They can make up their own -- they can make up their own stuff. They can misrepresent the facts because they don`t have to abide by what was in the record.
And then at the end of the day, they can vote the whole -- the Senate could theoretically vote, according to this, to say, well, we`re not ever going to enter into evidence, all of the important findings by the House of Representatives. So when Mitch McConnell told the country that he was going to follow the Clinton model, he totally misrepresented the facts and this is a dramatic departure.
HAYES: So -- well, so walk me through tomorrow. I mean -- so Chuck Schumer came out, just spoke to cameras before, he excoriated these proposed rules. Tomorrow, there`s going to be a bunch of -- like how do you understand what`s happening tomorrow and what inflection points will arise tomorrow on the first day in terms of votes and amendments and opportunities to change this basic framework that McConnell announced today?
VAN HOLLEN: So what will happen tomorrow is Senator Schumer will offer amendments right upfront to allow witnesses and documents where they normally come into the trial, at the beginning right, before -- as part of the normal trial proceedings, you would call your witnesses you would get your documents. And so Senator Schumer`s amendments to the McConnell resolution will call for making changes that allow for those witnesses. That will be the first test of whether Republicans want to allow witnesses.
Now we know from what Senator McConnell is saying that he`s got his members in lockstep on that -- at that juncture, which means that the moment of truth will come later in the trial on this motion that is set up in the resolution on whether or not to have any new witnesses and get new documents. And that will be the moment of truth as to whether or not Republican senators want a fair trial or not.
HAYES: Well, but that -- I know this is a little technical, but I just do want understand. That moment of truth though, as Mitch McConnell has designed it is to be after these marathon opening arguments with I think my understanding what his strategy here is have the -- rush through the opening arguments, and then basically vote nothing more than move to a vote as quick as possible. I mean, is that your read on what he`s trying to steer these doors?
VAN HOLLEN: Yes, absolutely. He wants to try and ram this through as quickly as possible, require that their House manners make their arguments without the benefit of any additional fact witnesses. Again, witnesses that we know the President block from testifying in the House, and then have this vote on witnesses.
McConnell, of course, hoping that the Senate will vote to reject any witnesses. The reason this provision is in there at all is probably because some of his members, at least at this point, were a little nervous saying right from the start that they wanted a sham. And so that`s why he set this up later on.
But make no mistake, McConnell has tried to stack the deck in this resolution to try to ram this through as fast as possible.
HAYES: Final question for you. This question about witnesses, obviously just four individuals, Democrats have asked for most notably John Bolton who the White House seems to be desperate to stop from testifying. The Republicans responded if you call witnesses, we`re going to be calling witnesses including perhaps Vice President Joe Biden`s son, Hunter Biden. What is your feeling about that threat or that rhetoric from your Republican colleagues about calling other witnesses like Hunter Biden?
VAN HOLLEN: Well, of course, Hunter Biden is a total sideshow and all of this, right? I mean, we know, he has no knowledge of the President`s actions to essentially blackmail Ukraine, say that we`re not going to give you this aid, which the GAO found to be unlawful in terms of his withholding that aid in order to get them to interfere in our elections. Hunter Biden knows nothing about any of that.
So we really should be considering these witness and the witness requests on the merits as to whether or not they have factual material knowledge of what`s in the articles of impeachment. But Chris, the first question is going to be whether Republicans even request those witnesses. We have requested these four fact witnesses, we`ve requested documents, they`ve made no indication that they think that`s a good idea for them to call Hunter Biden.
HAYES: Senator Chris Van Hollen, thanks for being with me tonight. I want to turn to Democratic Congressman Jamie Raskin of Maryland who`s member of the House Judiciary Committee who worked a lot on the sort of development of this case over in the House. Do you share your colleague`s feelings about the McConnell organizing resolution that Senator Van Hollen just talked about?
REP. JAMIE RASKIN (D-MD): Yes, I do, Chris. They`re perpetrating a fraud on the American people. I mean, we did the investigation leading to the Articles of Impeachment, which are, remember, like an indictment. And we had more than 100 hours of closed-door depositions, we had 30 hours of public testimony, we had 17 sworn witnesses, all of whom told different aspects or overlapping aspects of the exact same story, which was the President`s shakedown of Ukraine to do his political dirty work, and they`re supposed to have the trial.
Their trial should be much longer than what we did. We just got enough evidence, overwhelming evidence of the President`s culpability, but they`re just trying to wave a wand and make the whole thing go away. And it is really a fraud on the American people. And really, at this point, we need the American public to rise up to tell the Republican senators to do their job and to live up to their Constitutional oath of office because this is more like something you`d find in Putin`s Russia or in Duterte`s Philippines.
HAYES: So this question about the evidence, I thought -- the thought is interesting. So, my understanding, and again, I`m not quite sure I had this 100 percent correct so please correct me if I do that. The negotiated organizing resolution that was -- that was negotiated by Democrats, Republicans back during Clinton essentially just admitted the House record into evidence to begin as a kind of default step. And here, it`s just -- there`s going to be a vote for it after the argument start. Is that your understanding and what`s significant about that?
RASKIN: Well, that`s what McConnell was calling for. But I mean, understand the difference here. In the Clinton case, all of the witnesses that already testified, but Donald Trump has blockaded Bolton, and Mulvaney, and Blair, and Duffy, and so on. So those are people who should be called right now as a case of first impression, right, to get them to come forward.
The comical thing is that all of the evidence indicates the President. There`s not a shred of evidence that suggests that this is a case of mistaken identity or that the President has an alibi or whatever. He has the ability to send forth all of these eyewitnesses, and they won`t do it. And yet they claim that there`s not enough evidence. If there`s not enough evidence, he`s got the witnesses under his thumb.
HAYES: Well, so today, the President tweeted about -- that they didn`t want John Bolton and others in the house, which I don`t think is factual. They weren`t you want to rush now. They want all in the Senate, not supposed to be that way.
And then we`ve got this story from the Washington Post, which I thought was fascinating. Trump`s lawyers, Senate GOP allies work privately to ensure Bolton does not testify publicly. And it goes through a whole bunch of game-planning they`re doing over there, including some truly astounding things like, throw into the classified session if he does actually come forward. They seem very determined all of them to make sure John Bolton doesn`t testify. What is your read on that?
RASKIN: Well, I think my read is what Tom Paine would say, which is everybody use their common sense. People who are innocent, whose conduct was perfect and absolutely perfect would want all of the witnesses to come forward. This President is doing everything in his power to bury the evidence. They never turned over a single subpoenaed document, and he`s doing whatever he can to gag all of the witnesses within his control.
So we`re looking at perhaps the guiltiest President that there`s ever been. The question is whether we`re going to stand up and defend our constitutional order or are we going to let him get away with this. This President essentially has tried to pull the wool over America`s eyes and then pull the curtain down over the executive branch in saying, we`re not giving you anything. And that is a categorical obstruction of Congress.
We cannot let Presidents engage in corrupt and criminal activity all over the world to corrupt our elections, and then to deny Congress the ability to investigate and to deny the American people the truth about the character of their own President. It`s totally antithetical to the constitutional design.
HAYES: All right, Congressman Jamie Raskin, thank you for your time tonight.
RASKIN: Thank you for having me.
HAYES: Next, as Mitch McConnell plans to take the impeachment trial into the dead of night, where`s the fight stand on calling new witnesses? The latest strategies in two minutes.
HAYES: One of the only consistent things that a large, durable majority of Americans appear to believe on a fraught and polarizing question is that the Senate should have witnesses an impeachment trial. That just keeps being what the public opinion data show. Today a CNN poll support for new witnesses at 69 percent that includes 48 percent of Republicans.
Now we still do not know how that shakes out in the actual trial. We`re going to talk about that. But it would appear that if four Republicans joined Democrats, they will have enough votes to call witnesses. And Republican Senators Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska have both indicated that they are inclined towards calling witnesses.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. SUSAN COLLINS (R-ME): I am very likely to vote for additional information, but first I want to hear as I did last time, each side present its case.
SEN. LISA MURKOWSKI (R-AK): I`ve got to open my mind to both sides to what has been presented to us. And if there is more that I need, I will vote to accept additional information by way of additional witness, by way of additional documents, by way of additional deposition.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Meanwhile, other Republicans seem intent on threatening a kind of escalating witness for witness tit for tat. You have former National Security Advisor John Bolton or others are in fact called. Senator Rand Paul has said that if Democrats called witnesses, then they are prepared to call all witnesses including Joe Biden`s son, Hunter Biden.
Here to talk through how the various calculations are being made right now up in the Hill, Michael Steele. former Republican National Committee Chairman and currently an MSNBC Political Analyst, and Elizabeth Holtzman, a former Democratic Congresswoman who was on the Judiciary Committee when they voted to impeach President Richard Nixon. She`s also the author of the book The Case for Impeaching Trump.
Michael, let me start with you, as you think about -- so, I mean, McConnell is one of his powers is a sort of shamelessness when he does -- like the Merrick Garland thing was a great example, right? Because there`s only a few being like you can`t do that right. That`s not right. And he`s like I don`t care about right. I can -- I`m going to do what I can do. That`s what these rules --
MICHAEL STEELE, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: If the rules work for himself.
HAYES: Right. The question though is he got a hold -- he`s got a hold the caucus together on all these procedural votes. What do you think the calculation of gettable or persuadable if there are Republican senators are on this question?
STEELE: In the various people I`ve talked to over the last few weeks, there probably is about five, maybe six who could be gettable. I mean --
HAYES: Right, yes, that`s my question.
STEELE: The question is, what do you have to do to get them? And that`s always the trick. You listened in the lead into Murkowski and Collins and they sort of sound reasonable. Yes, if you provide the kind of information --
HAYES: That`s right.
STEELE: -- I think I can go along with that. That`s not how the pressure works inside the caucus. And so the fact of the matter is, it`s got to be something powerfully overwhelming, something that is inextricably damaging to the President. I mean, it`s just really, really clear beyond what we already know, which a lot of people who thinks already is damning.
HAYES: Yes, I mean, Bolton seems to check those boxes, right? I mean --
STEELE: Well, and Bolton check those boxes and it is why they`re working overtime to put the lockdown on Bolton because the last thing they want -- put it in your book day, because by that point, this is all over.
STEELE: But we don`t need you coming out now testifying in front of the country under oath. And that`s a whole different --
HAYES: And that`s -- and that`s -- to me the Bolton issue, the reason that it`s in a different category is because as A, it`s a known quantity, B, he made this announcement, C, we know from people around him that he was disapproving of the "drug deal," and D, that he is -- he`s in the club of like, Conservative, right-wing Republican, and he`s been -- he`s been working with these people and talking these people for 20, 30 years.
STEELE: And E, he`s willing.
HAYES: Right. What do you think?
ELIZABETH HOLTZMAN, FORMER U.S. REPRESENTATIVE: Well, I think of course, Bolton is a critical witness. I think the others that the Democrats have asked for are critical witnesses, and I think that`s why the Republicans are working overtime, McConnell, to squelch this. We are seeing a massive cover-up and there`s no other word for it.
If you look at the history here, even the Clinton impeachment, there were - - there were depositions taken, and witnesses called. Of course, they had already been called before. And here, the key witnesses have been shut up by the President. And we will have no impeachment power, we will have no Presidential accountability in the future if any President can do what Trump has done, which is say, oh, you think I did something wrong? Well, prove it. And you know what, I`m not going to let you prove it and that`s the story. And that`s not going to work.
And you know, it just reminds me that -- think about the Nixon impeachment which is a gold standard. The House Judiciary Committee never went to court to get documents, never. All of a sudden, they vote for impeachment, bipartisan vote, then the smoking gun tape comes out. And the Republican`s position now is oh, you didn`t do your homework.
HAYES: You didn`t -- you didn`t get the smoking tape.
HOLTZMAN: You didn`t get the smoking gun and we`re not going to even consider it. So that was vital evidence and it changed in which the country was for impeachment at that point, but it made impeachment totally inevitable. And here the Republicans are saying no vital evidence, there could be a smoking gun. John Bolton could be the smoking gun.
HAYES: That`s right. That`s right.
HOLTZMAN: Mick Mulvaney could be the smoking --
HAYES: Yes, you cannot have John Bolton on national television being like, the President broke the law and I watched him do it. He should be impeached, right? That`s the -- that`s the downside cataclysmic risk that they want to avoid. I`m not saying that`s what he`s going to say. He might, for all I know, try to exonerate the President.
STEELE: But even in trying to exonerate him, he could persuade four of those senators to make the move.
STEELE: And that`s the longer-term play here is look, we got this thing on lockdown. We`ve got --
HAYES: Right. We stick together and we ram it through.
STEELE: We`ve got the equitable done. We don`t need anything softening that vote.
HAYES: Right. That`s right. That`s right. Go ahead.
HOLTZMAN: But what they have to worry about is that more evidence is going to keep coming out as it has. And all of them, in my opinion, are going to be embarrassed if they don`t do the right job, because we`re just seeing the tip of the iceberg. It`s melting.
STEELE: Yes, do we know what else Lev has?
HAYES: No, no. We don`t know -- I mean, we also don`t know what John Bolton has, which again, like when as you say, put it in the book, like maybe he comes out and gives a big interview to someone a week after the acquittal.
HOLTZMAN: He`s writing a book.
HAYES: And the embarrassment factor is huge here. I thought this was -- very quickly, last note. If the Senate agrees to allow either the House of Representatives or the President to subpoena witnesses, the witnesses shall first be deposed, and the Senate shall decide after deposition which witnesses shall testify pursuant to the impeachment rules, which I think is interesting, because they don`t want -- I mean, and this sort of makes some sense to a certain extent. They don`t want to just roll the dice on someone coming before the Senate for the first time. They want to know what they`re going to say.
STEELE: They want to know what they`re going to say. And then they can use all little gadgets like oh, this a matter of national security here, therefore we clamp it down.
HOLTZMAN: But can they censor what`s going to be going publicly?
HAYES: Well, that`s the question. That seems --
HOLTZMAN: That`s really the critical thing.
HAYES: Again, if you`re Mitch McConnell, the argument you`re making is don`t start to pull any threads.
HAYES: Because you don`t know where it`s going to lead, right? Like just keep it all tight together.
STEELE: Because he`s already -- he`s already live to this tight as he could get it.
HAYES: Yes. So don`t pull it. That`s the message. Michael Steele, Liz Holtzman, thank you for being here. Coming up, the top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee has some explaining to do. A deep dive into the Devin Nunes-Lev Parnas connection next.
HAYES: The information we now have from Lev Parnas, Rudy Giuliani is indicted associate sheds new light on Republican Congressman Devin Nunes` role in the Ukraine scheme. Keep in mind that the whole scheme, the effort to denigrate and fire the former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Maria Yovanovitch, and to dig up dirt on the Biden`s, and also to try and prove a debunked, insane conspiracy theory that somehow Ukraine systematically meddled in the 2016 election, not Russia, all of those avenues of pursuit have not just been the obsession of Donald Trump and Rudy Giuliani and his henchmen, there`s been a whole group of conservatives working alongside them. And at the center of it all, is Congressman Devin Nunes.
We first got a window into his role in the scheme when the House Intelligence Committee, where he`s the lead Republican, released phone records showing that Nunes had spoken to Lev Parnas multiple times in April of last year. That very night, Nunes went on Fox News and claimed he just didn`t remember the guy.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP0
SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS: Did you ever talk to this guy, Les Parnas (ph), or whatever his name is?
NUNES: You know, it`s possible, but I haven`t gone through all my phone records. I don`t really recall that name. You know, I remember the name now because he`s been indicted.
But why would CNN rely on somebody like this? You know, and I`ll go back and check all my records, but it seems very unlikely that I would be taking calls from random people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Yes, why would someone rely on Lev Parnas for anything?
But then Lev Parnas spoke to Rachel Maddow and revealed he coordinated and worked with an aide to Devin Nunes named Derek Harvey.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PARNAS: I was in shock when I was watching the hearings and when I saw Devin Nunes sitting up there, and there was a picture where Derek Harvey was in back over there sitting. I texted my attorney, I said, I can`t believe this is happening.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC: Because?
PARNAS: Well, because they were involved in getting all this stuff on Biden. I mean, Derek Harvey had several interviews.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Well, now we have the evidence to back all that up. House Democrats on Friday released a trove of text messages between, guess who? Lev Parnas, or whatever his name is, and Derek Harvey, Nunes`s aid, in fact about 100 exchanged over the course of a few months. They arranged meetings, like this one in April, quote, at Trump, presumably meaning the president`s D.C. hotel. They discussed setting up Skype interviews with Harvey with multiple Ukrainians. They traded stories about Marie Yovanovitch.
There were multiple mentions of conservative writer John Solomon, who was being fed stories by Lev Parnas and Rudy Giuliani, something that seemed to irritate Harvey who wrote on April 3, quote, any documents for us? Are you going to keep working through Solomon?
Harvey even floated a just crazy conspiracy theory about the Clintons, some sort of grift where U.S. Foreign Aid would get grafted by Ukrainian officials in exchange for money and then given to the Clinton Foundation.
So a lot of contact between Lev Parnas and Derek Harvey, aide to Congressman Devin Nunes about a lot of stuff.
Oh, by the way, after the interview with Rachel Maddow, when he Parnas revealed the extent of Nunes and Harvey`s involvement, Nunes suddenly re- remembered him.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NUNES: I did remember going back looking at where I was at the time -- because you can do that now, you actually know where you physically are, checked it with my records, and it was very clear. I remember that call, which was very odd, random, talking about random things. And I said great, you know, just talk to my staff and boom, boom, boom.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: So random.
Joining me now for much more on this, Andrew DeSiderio -- sorry -- congressional reporter for Politico -- who has been covering all this new evidence from Lev Parnas.
What do we know about the extent of the working relationship between Parnes and this Nunes aide?
ANDREW DESIDERIO, POLITICO REPORTER: These messages, Chris, appear to show that Derek Harvey, the aide to Congressman Nunes, was apparently deputizing Lev Parnas to try to set up these meetings and calls in Europe and in Ukraine, the same exact mission that Rudy Giuliani was on this entire time.
The second-most important take away I think from this is that Derek Harvey appeared to be sending Devin Nunes`s contact information to Lev Parnas two days before those call records showed that Devin Nunes and Lev Parnas were in contact with each other, so Mr. Harvey appeared to have been the go between, at least, between these two men.
HAYES: Oh, so Harvey is actually -- so, this isn`t you get a random call from someone and you say talk to my staff, it appears it worked the other way around, which is to say the staff did the leg work and then the staff member shared the contact info to talk to the boss.
DESIDERIO: That`s apparently what happened, according to the dates we matched up in the call records, and of course the text messages that came out on Friday.
HAYES: I have got to play this clip from one of the House Intel impeachment hearings where Eric Swalwell sort of called out this whole thing.
You know, Nunes is sitting there being like this is all ridiculous and -- while he knows, he`s -- at least his staff is sort of a party to what the whole scheme was. Here`s Swalwell calling it out. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. ERIC SWALWELL, (D) CALIFORNIA: Are you aware of yesterday`s Daily Beast story reporting the indicted Ukrainian Lev Parnas has been working with ranking member Devin Nunes on Mr. Nunes` overseas investigations?
FIONA HILL, FORMER U.S. NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL MEMBER: I have no knowledge of that.
SWALWELL: Mr. Chairman, you have been falsely accused throughout these proceedings by the ranking member as being a quote, unquote, "fact witness." Now, if this story is correct, the ranking member may have actually been projecting, and, in fact, he may be the fact witness if he is working with indicted individuals around our investigation.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: It does seem that Nunes may know quite a bit about this scheme.
DESIDERIO: Yeah, that`s exactly right. So it at least raises the specter, or the possibility, that a member of congress was involved in the very effort for which President Trump was impeached. It wasn`t really an avenue that was explored by the House Intelligence Committee during the impeachment inquiry, it`s kind of an awkward and touchy subject when for at least for Chairman Schiff when his own ranking member is the subject of it. And it was, I know, a very tough decision for them to ultimately release these records that were provided by AT&T as part of the investigation showing that there were calls between Devin Nunes and Lev Parnas.
Chairman Schiff himself has been very hesitant to directly comment on this because, you know, I at least presume he fears it would further fray their relationship, which is at this point in tatters.
HAYES: All right, Andrew DeSiderio, thank you so much for your reporting and joining us tonight.
DESIDERIO: Thanks, Chris.
HAYES: Still ahead, the thousands of people who took to the street on MLK Day protesting in favor of guns, that`s coming up.
Plus, tonight`s Thing One, Thing Two starts next.
HAYES: Thing One tonight, I wonder, do you think Donald Trump has ever read the United States constitution? No, of course, he hasn`t. I`m sorry, what a ridiculous question. Although he sure has talked a lot about Article 2 lately.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP; Then I have an Article 2 where I have the right to do whatever I want as president, but I don`t even talk about that.
You have Article 2 and you have many other things.
That`s the other thing, if you use your rights, if you use your power, if you use Article 2 -- it`s called obstruction.
Also some day you ought to read a thing called Article 2. Read article 2, which gives the president powers that you wouldn`t believe.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Of course Article 2 does not give Trump unlimited powers. In fact, the guy just got impeached because he doesn`t understand that.
But, the weird thing is, we have documentary evidence that President Trump on at least one occasion, did read at least part of the U.S. constitution, and not just any part, Article 2. The problem is, he had a really hard time following it. And that`s Thing Two in 60 seconds.
HAYES: We know that Donald Trump has a tough time sticking to the script. When he was inducted into the hall of presidents at Disney World, he reportedly wanted to add a line for his robot to say about how America invented the sky scraper saying, quote, "then I could add a little -- which of course I know a thing or two about, right?" Disney eventually rejecting the idea explaining that actually a sky scraper wasn`t really an invention, just a taller building.
And so the weirdest looking of all, the Disney Animatronic president says nothing about big buildings.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: And will, to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the constitution of the United States, so help me god.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Good lord, that`s weird.
That brings us to the time Trump actually read that constitution his robot swore to defend. According to a new book, "A Very Stable Genius" excerpted in Vanity Fair about six weeks after the election, an HBO documentary is being put together in which the U.S. constitution would be read start to finish by various American leaders.
Trump`s part on Article 2 gave him some trouble from the book. Trump grew irritated. It`s very hard to do because of the language here, Trump told the crew. It`s very hard to get through the whole thing without a stumble. He added, it`s like a different language, right?
Trump tried again, but again remarked it`s like a foreign language.
But much like the Disney robot, Trump did finally power through it. How much he actually absorbed, well I think we all know.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Each state shall appoint in such manner as the legislature thereof may direct a number of electors equal to the whole number of senators and representatives to which the state may be entitled in the congress.
Also, someday, you ought to read a thing called Article 2. Read Article 2, which gives the president powers that you wouldn`t believe.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: There`s a big day on the campaign trail for two reasons today. One, this is the last free day for members of the senate who are running to replace President Donald Trump before the impeachment trial, which will keep them essentially pinned to their desks for a lot of time.
It is also, of course, Martin Luther King Day, a big day in the civic life of the nation and the political life of the Democratic Party. Many of the candidates were in Columbia, South Carolina for celebrations today. They marched together arm in arm through the streets of the NAACP`s 20th annual King Day at the Dome.
That event ended at the statehouse that flew a Confederate Flag on its Dome until 2000, and continued flying the flag on its grounds until 2015, so that`s how Democrats running for president commemorated Dr. Martin Luther King.
The Republican candidate, and current president of the United States, made a quick visit to Dr. King`s memorial in D.C. today, and tweeted about Dr. King saying, "it was exactly three years ago today, January 20, 2017, I was sworn into office. So appropriate that today is also Martin Luther King Day. African-American unemployment is the lowest in the history of our country by far."
Now, that tweet was sandwiched between him whining about impeachment and supporting a gun rally in Richmond, Virginia, where a completely different scene was taking place. We`ll talk about what happened there next.
HAYES: Thousands of protesters gathered in Richmond, Virginia today for what was billed as a Second Amendment protest at the state legislature, which is moving forward on several gun control measures, including a one handgun per month purchase limit, a universal background check requirement on gun sales, and allowing localities to ban guns in certain areas like parks and public buildings.
Now, all three of those measures passed the State Senate, they`re going to proceed to the House of Delegates before being sent over to the governor`s desk. There are also proposals to ban certain kinds of semiautomatic rifles, so-called assault-style weapons, along with a red flag law, which is aimed at temporarily restricting people deemed a danger to themselves or others from possessing weapons, both of those efforts have stalled.
That, however, did not stop 22,000 people from turning out in opposition to these laws. And state officials were very concerned in the run-up to today`s rally, hoping to prevent a repeat of the 2017 Charlottesville Confederate monument rally in which a right-wing activist murdered a counterprotester.
Concerns were so high, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam declared a state of emergency, banning weapons from the capital grounds. The good news is that no one got hurt today, no one discharged their weapon, that was partly, we should note, the result of what appears to be some very good law enforcement work last week when the FBI nabbed several members of a violent white supremacist group called The Case, which by the way translates into al Qaeda in Arabic. This is a group that modeled their group after another terrorist group.
Law enforcement officials say they planned on attending the rally and that they were in possession of a functioning automatic rifle, but the inescapable fact of this kind of event is that, yes, it`s peaceful protest, it`s first amendment protected speech, but the implicit and explicit message of a bunch of heavily armed people marching on the state`s capital is this: don`t you dare enact your policies, if you do we will use these guns against you.
Joining me now is Will Sommer of the Daily Beast who was on the ground at that huge rally today, and Vanita Gupta, former head of the Department of Justice civil rights division in the Obama administration.
Will, since you were there today, let me start with you, what was the scene like today?
WILL SOMMER, THE DAILY BEAST: Yeah, well, you saw it was quite a lot of folks and very heavily armed. You know, I saw countless assault-style rifles, folks with -- one guy had like a giant sniper rifle.
And, as you say, it wasn`t violent, but at the same time there was a lot of militias out there, heavily armored as well. So, there was sort of this message that if necessary, these people do have weapons.
HAYES: Yeah, Vanita, you know, you are someone who has worked in civil rights law most of your career. And obviously, like, peaceable assembly to petition your government is protested under the first amendment, even if you don`t agree with people. I just like -- I guess I struggle with like just the implied message of armed folks, and sometimes the explicit message is that, like, we will use these if you try to enact like your laws.
VANITA GUPTA, FORMER HEAD OF DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE CIVIL RIGHTS DIVISION: I mean, I think there`s no question. When you look at those images and watch the TV screens of mostly white men marching, armed to the hilt, the level of intimidation and fear that that can stoke is terrifying.
And actually, what the Virginia legislature did was enact the will of the people, but since our democracy has been overtaken and the NRA has an out- sized influence of on so many state legislatures right now, thanks to actually a decision that the Supreme Court decided about 10 years ago in Citizens United, tomorrow will be the 10th-year anniversary, you have got this kind of smaller minority of folks that can come out and look like that and intimidate folks and go really kind of trying to intimidate also legislators from enact the will of the people.
HAYES: Will, there were some groups that didn`t come, or there were fears about violent groups coming and actually starting something. This case of the FBI interrupting this plot by these folks in The Base seem to me to pass by in a very busy news week last week, but it was quite an important arrest they appear to have made.
SOMMER: Right. They arrested a couple of other folks also involved in this group who allegedly had other violent plots. Obviously, this group, the particular folks here were planning on allegedly going to Richmond and kind of starting something.
But, you know, more broadly this event was seen as potentially among a lot of fringe activists as sort of like the kickoff to a new civil war, or like the second American Revolution. The group that even organized this rally, they posted a video saying this might start the boogaloo, which is a sort of far right term for a second civil war.
So, this is not just -- I mean, I -- obviously The Base is an outlier in terms of violence, but this idea of a second civil war and violence over these gun laws is pretty mainstream amongst the people at this rally.
HAYES: Yeah, they were starting to sing -- I have a dream of a boogaloo, which of course is like a sort of wink wink, nudge nudge term for a second civil war and also like a Martin Luther King reference in a pretty despicable way.
Vanita, this sort of weird fantasizing about a second civil war, I have watched it in the last several years move from certain very fringy parts of kind of online right-wing culture towards more mainstream parts of right- wing culture.
GUPTA: Yeah, I mean, I think that is what we have been witnessing in the last several years is the emboldening of white supremacists and white nationalists kind of coming out of the wood work in plain day, it`s what we saw in Charlottesville in 2017 where literally white supremacists were marching with their hoods off, and you had a president -- and we have a president -- who has condoned this kind of behavior.
And, look, I don`t -- you know, the intentionality of having this kind of march on Martin Luther King Day, on a day that is supposed to be a day of pause to remember a man who stood for peace, for fought militarization, who was fighting for justice I think is, as you said, despicable, it`s insulting.
But it`s also terrifying, and it really is, I think, kind of a reminder that as much as we kind of think of these images of civil rights people marching on the Edmund Pettus Bridge facing, you know, state sanctioned violence, you know, and suffering and losing their lives on this stuff, this is kind of a very evocative, I think, scary moment for us to kind of juxtapose this kind of -- these kinds of images with the kinds of images and the work that civil rights leaders are doing today, and I just think you can`t forget it.
HAYES: Yeah, and there`s a sort of weird version, or kind of inversion of the civil rights movement in that they were chanting this thing we will not comply, right, this sort of like -- sort of weird echo we shall not be moved, which I first started seeing when Beto O`Rourke was running for president and he was talking about some kind of obligatory gun buyback, what people call confiscation. And that has now become, again, a sort of mainstream idea that you can`t actually move on certain gun legislation, because there will be bloodshed, there will be civil war, that people won`t comply.
SOMMER: Right, exactly. I mean, you know, there was a big guillotine they brought out in the streets. So, I mean, that`s pretty straightforward.
There`s kind of this idea that even though, you know, the voters in Virginia voted in the Democrats and it was pretty clear that they were going to do gun control measures, this group, and, you know, including plenty of people from outside Virginia who came in, they`re sort of suggesting that even though they`re not in political power, they`re going to take some sort of action if these gun control bills go forward.
HAYES: Will, you had noted -- go ahead, Vanita.
GUPTA: You know, what is striking to me right now is that you`ve got this kind of fear and intimidation of -- after an election where Virginia legislators had made clear that they were going to act on common sense gun reform. But you also have the kinds of -- you`ve got an active agenda right now where people are relying on these tactics of fear and indemnifications, but they`re also relying on some things like voter suppression. You have got a party right now, the Republican Party, that is actively trying to use voter suppression, fear and intimidation, to prevent the, you know, the will of the people from getting enacted into policy.
And I think we`re at this very critical moment in 2020 where we are going to see these forces at play more than ever this, and it will be incumbent on all of us to be mindful and to keep our eyes on the prize, as Dr. King used to say, and to make sure that we can actually preserve and fight for the soul of our democracy and ensure that people can actually vote and have their votes counted, to ensure that people aren`t going to be intimidated from actually, you know, getting their policies passed. I think this is a really critical moment.
HAYES: All right, Will Sommer and Vanita Gupta, thank you both for joining us this evening.
That is ALL IN for this evening. "THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW" starts right now. Good evening, Rachel.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END