CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: No courage, of course, to hide in a pack, to speak in unison with those around you. What takes bravery, what (INAUDIBLE) regard is the voice that speaks out and tells the brave truth through the sad chorus of silence and submission.
I saw it with John McCain when he refused to let that woman in the crowd question his rival Barack Obama`s loyalty. And today we saw when Mitt Romney stood up for the constitution against Donald Trump. And that`s HARDBALL for now. "ALL IN" with Chris Hayes starts right now.
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CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: Tonight on ALL IN.
JOHN ROBERTS, CHIEF JUSTICE, SUPREME COURT: Each senator when his or her name is called, will stand in his or her place and vote guilty or not guilty.
HAYES: Democrats, Independents, and a Republican vote to remove Donald Trump from office.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Romney. Mr. Romney, guilty.
HAYES: Tonight, as senators stood in judgment of the president.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Our votes to convict the President on both articles of impeachment.
HAYES: The surprise conclusion to the Trump impeachment trial.
SEN. MITT ROMNEY (R-UT): Corrupting an election to keep oneself in office is perhaps the most abusive and destructive violation of one`s oath of office that I can imagine.
HAYES: How Mitt Romney came to his decision.
ROMNEY: I do believe he should be removed from office.
HAYES: And why today`s vote could have wide-ranging implications for 2020 and beyond.
ROMNEY: There are some things that you just can`t imagine happening in your life. This is one of them.
HAYES: Plus, what we know about what`s happening in Iowa.
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (D-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I assume that one of these years, that vote count will be completed.
HAYES: And where the race stands as New Hampshire fast approaching.
PETE BUTTIGIEG (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Our vision has been validated. A
HAYES: When ALL IN starts right now.
SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We`re out here fighting for every vote in New Hampshire.
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HAYES: Good evening from New York, I`m Chris Hayes. Today President Donald Trump was acquitted of two impeachment charges, abuse of power and obstruction of Congress by a group of Republican senators who were able to excuse Trump`s crimes, even though several of them openly admitted, in fact, stated on the Senate floor that yes, the president extorting Ukraine to try to hurt his political opponent was wrong.
Even with that, they shut the trial down and they voted to quit, even though it was overwhelmingly clear that a majority of Americans really did want a fair trial. In fact, right before almost every Senate Republican voted against witnesses, the latest Quinnipiac poll found 75 percent of registered voters said witnesses should be allowed to testify in the trial.
Now, this was the third ever presidential impeachment trial in all of American history. And in both the previous two, unlike this one, there were of course, witnesses. But the results were the same in all three, and all three cases the President did stay in power. And that`s because the bar for removal their president, two-thirds majority in the Senate was pleased extremely high, probably, arguably rightly so by the founders.
But if there`s a silver lining here, I think it is fair to say the majority the Senate, at the very least, saw that the case was established. Unlike the perfect call nonsense or the ridiculous, maddening arguments undertaken by the president and his lawyers and his allies that he really cares about corruption.
No, come on. Most senators, most senators acknowledge they did see through that. That what we saw in front of our faces is actually what it is. For their part, Senate Democrats took to the Senate floor unleashing a truly scathing assessment of this president and harsh words, rarely heard in that body.
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SEN. CHIS VAN HOLLEN (D-MD): His ongoing betrayal of the oath of office represents a clear and present danger to our Constitution, our democracy, and the rule of law.
SEN. MAZIE HIRONO (D-HI): Truth matters to you. Right matters to you. You are decent. He is not who you are.
SEN. CHRIS MURPHY (D-CT): The truth is Republicans, before Trump became the head of their party, knew exactly how dangerous he was, and how dangerous he would be if he won. They knew he was the archetype of that bad man that the founders intended the Senate to protect democracy from.
SEN. CORY BOOKER (D-NJ): I`ve never seen a leader in high office ever take such glee in meanness. He considers it some kind of high badge of virtue in the way he demeans and degrades his political adversaries.
SEN. TIM KAINE (D-VA): We have allowed a toxic president to infect the Senate and warp its behavior.
SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY): This president is such a menace, so contemptuous of every virtue, so dishonorable, so dishonest, that you must ignore, indeed sacrifice the truth to maintain his favor.
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HAYES: Some Republicans whether out of partisan pressure or their own desire for political future, or even their independent judgments said that the things the President did don`t rise to an impeachable offense. But, and a big but, there was one Republican who thought it did. And it is worth noting that in the history of this country, no senator, no senator had ever voted to remove a president of his own party until today.
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ROMNEY: The grave question the constitution tasks senators to answer is whether the President committed an act so extreme and egregious that it rises to the level of a high crime and misdemeanor. Yes, he did. The president asked a foreign government to investigate his political rival.
The President withheld vital military funds from that government depress it to do so. The President delayed funds for an American ally at war with Russian invaders. The President`s purpose was personal and political. Accordingly, the President is guilty of an appalling abuse of public trust.
Where I to ignore the evidence that has been presented and disregard what I believe my oath and the Constitution demands of me for the sake of a partisan end, it would I fear, expose my character to history`s rebuke, and the center of my own conscience.
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HAYES: His vote to convict the president on abuse of power did not just come from anyone. This was, of course, Utah Senator Mitt Romney, the Republican nominee for President 2012. More than 60 million people voted for him to be president to lead the country. And today that man, Senator Romney voted to remove the current Republican president, President Trump from office.
I should tell you, the whole speech is remarkable is a stunning moment. No one really expected it, and you should watch it. Tonight, my colleague Rachel Maddow will be playing Senator Romney`s full speech on her show. Definitely tune in for that. But today, every Democratic and Independent senator joins Senator Romney and every other Republican senator voted to acquit Donald Trump.
So today, the impeachment trial Donald Trump wrapped up, but that does not mean that the President is totally unshackled and can now do whatever he wants. We still have a constitutional republic. We have a baseline of the expectations of norms what they should be. We still have people of conscience in this government and we should not lower the bar for this or any other president.
Today doesn`t mark some final point. The court still exist, Congressional majority still exist. Congress still has oversight power. The public still exists. There`s going to be a Supreme Court case about what documents Congress can and cannot get. And today Donald Trump was shamed and rebuked in a way that no other president has in history.
Democrats held a public investigation and all these witnesses said that what he did was dangerous, what he did was wrong. There was a Senate trial, however brief, and a senator for President Trump`s own party looked at the evidence and risked his future in the party to vote to remove Trump from office.
The Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi said as she signed those two articles of impeachment, "impeachment is forever." Joining me now is one of the senators who voted today to remove President Trump from office, Democratic Senator Chris Murphy, of Connecticut.
Maybe I`ll start with the speech of Senator Mitt Romney, because if I`m not mistaken, you were in the chamber when that was happening. What was going through your mind?
MURPHY: I had given my remarks just before Senator Romney. And in my remarks, I wondered aloud about what I would do if I was ever in Senator Romney`s position. I hoped that if a president of my own party had committed the same kind of offense, sacrificing America`s security for personal gain, that I would vote to remove them from office.
But I admitted at the end of my speech that I wasn`t sure, that I worried that the partisan temperature was just so high in Washington that we all have this temptation sometimes to think about party first and country second. And then coincidentally, I look across the chamber and there`s Mitt getting ready to give his speech. And in some way he provides an answer that it is still possible for senators of good conscience to put the nation before their partisan in trysts.
And I think that that speech will stand up for centuries. I think Mitt made that speech because he knows he`s already a figure of history. And he wants to know that 50 years from now or 100 years from now that his grandkids and their kids will look back with pride on the entirety of his career. I think they will after today.
HAYES: What do you make of the meaning of this impeachment trial now that it is closed? And I should say, you know, everyone suspected this would be the ending that it had. I don`t think there were any illusions really about anyone. We`ve never removed a president through this mechanism in the history of the country. Nixon, of course, resigned when Republican senators told him they would vote against him.
So what are you feeling and thinking about what happened over the last several weeks in America in this Republic?
MURPHY: So if I want to put on rose-colored glasses in looking back over this impeachment process, I take two things from it. I don`t think that this ultimately constraints President Trump`s behavior. He`s already dispatched Rudy Giuliani during the trial back to Ukraine to try to dig up dirt on his opponents, but it does set a much broader moral line in the sand. Donald Trump may only be around for another nine months. And it does make clear this kind of behavior isn`t acceptable.
Donald Trump may be an exceptional figure who just doesn`t pay any attention to these conventional norms, but other presidents Republicans and Democrats do, and they will know what we did. Second, though I deeply object to the decisions of my Republican colleagues to render no consequences for the President`s actions, the fact that they -- well, many of them chose not to deny the facts of the case, I also think is important. Because what this President is trying to do, what the Russians are trying to help him do is to destroy any factual narrative that exists in American politics.
And for people like Lamar Alexander and Rob Portman to say I don`t want to convict him, but I acknowledge what he did was wrong and I acknowledge that the House managers made their case, it may be inserted of rescuing the whole idea of objective truth. Maybe I`m being a little Pollyannaish about this, but if I want to view this with those rose-colored glasses, that`s how I look at it.
HAYES: It`s funny that you had that reaction. I have that reaction. When Lamar Alexander put out his statement, that was sort of my reaction to it. I didn`t have any anticipation that he would either vote for witnesses or vote to convict, but there is something deeply insanity-inducing about being told that you know, the sky is orange, and the two plus two equals five by the most powerful lawyers in the country, on national television time after time after time. And just the basic -- it`s a low bar, but the basic stipulation that like, yes, the facts are what they are, and we all know what he was doing here.
MURPHY: Yes, and listen, I mean, democracy rests on our ability to preserve the rule of law and our ability to come to some basic understanding as to what objective reality is. And, you know, when it comes to at least that latter charge, we live to fight another day. This president has made clear the rule of law doesn`t apply to him. But maybe by drawing this line in the sand, we make it clear to future presidents that the rule of law is still going to stick around for the next president`s term.
So in those -- in those ways, I think we have done something important to try to preserve what I argue is still a very fragile, very delicate experiment in government.
HAYES: Final question. I want you to respond to criticism I`ve seen from some folks that this was a fool`s errand, right. That that that impeaching the President was never going to result in his conviction, and that it occupied all this time, or it occupied the nation`s attention sometimes in a way from the President himself, who often when he`s the center of intention is doing just poorly politically. What do you say to people who are critics of this undertaking?
MURPHY: Well, again, I mean, I come back to this question about what the long term consequences of our actions are here today. No, it`s not going to change this President`s behavior. Man, we all fear for what he`s going to do to try to further manipulate the 2020 election. But it has set a line that I think is likely going to be noticed by future presidents.
The worry here is that this becomes the norm going forward. It`s so easy to look around the Oval Office and see all of these tools at your disposal to try to make your political life easier and use them. But by doing what we have done here and getting Republican support in the end, we`ve reestablished that norm and that I think has long term benefit to the country.
HAYES: Yes. We should note that Andrew Johnson and certainly -- and Bill Clinton to some extent weren`t just like unshackled afterwards. In fact, it hung over them afterwards. Senator Chris Murphy, thank you very much.
HAYES: Joining me now for more on the ramifications of today`s vote to acquit, Katie Hill former Democratic Congresswoman from California and Jim Manley former chief spokesperson for then-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. And Jim, I was thinking about you as I was thinking about what Mitch McConnell was thinking, and what Martha McSally, and Corey Gardner, and others are thinking as they watched Mitt Romney deliver this speech? What do you think?
JIM MANLEY, FORMER CHIEF SPOKESPERSON FOR THEN-SENATE LEADER HARRY REID: And Susan Collins to add another. I think he has commanded himself on a job well done. And working with the president, trying to rip up Article One of the Constitution that sets the parameters of the role of Congress. And he is now going back to doing what he does best. And he`s going to start passing -- go back to nominations.
I mean, democracy took a pretty big hit today. I mean, I appreciate your pep talk, and I appreciate the Senator`s rose-colored glasses. But you know, I for one, for instance, I don`t know how we`re ever going to set the limits of impeachment again. And I certainly don`t understand how we`re going to have proper congressional oversight and or subpoenas executed under this administration. They have simply defied the law and disgrace the Senate once again.
HAYES: Katie, you served in a district that was a frontline swing district. And so you were serving in Congress with having to sort of be cross- pressured on a lot of stuff, right? And we know that all but two Democrats voted for impeachment, one subsequently left the party. Was it surprising or not surprising you that all the Democrats today stayed together, and that includes Doug Jones, obviously, in a very uphill battle in Alabama, Joe Manchin in the state that Trump won by I think 20 points?
KATIE HILL (D), FORMER CONGRESSWOMAN FROM CALIFORNIA: Yes. Surprised? No, not really. I`m very proud. And I think that they did the right thing, knowing that it could come with political consequences. But that`s the choice that you have to make as a politician in a scenario like this when the fate of our country is at stake, and the fate of our democracy is at stake.
We know that, that this is all bigger than ourselves. And I think that the senators on the Democratic side and Mitt Romney today showed that.
HAYES: What do you think about the politics of the pressure this does or does not put, Jim, on McConnell sort of front-line members, right? I mean, he even made up sort of both today, I`m watching the poll numbers and this is only helped us. I thought that was a little -- that was not borne out by the data, although who knows what number she`s looking at. But it seems to me that Romney`s decision does make it a little hard for Gardner, and McSally, and Collins after they voted to be like, hey, it`s fine.
MANLEY: Along with the fact that no Democrats switch side --
HAYES: Yes, exactly.
MANLEY: -- voted with the President. Yes, I saw his boast today. I thought he was trying to get ahold -- ahead of, I think, what he sees is a real problem coming around the corner for some of these frontline members. But again, as you and I have talked before, this entire election is going to be about Donald Trump. That`s now going to be up to Democrats to hang this thing around everyone`s neck. They own it.
HAYES: Do you think that`s -- when you think about how this election will be run, particularly in those swing states, Katie, and again, in places that I think are not that different from the district you used to represent in sort of the suburbs in Colorado, for instance, or outside Phoenix or in Scottsdale, what do you -- how do you think of the import of this moment this vote tied to those senators?
HILL: I mean, I think that it`s going to come down to your alignment with the President, right? And this is just another one of the examples. This is the most glaring example. This is the one where I think that it`s the most inexcusable. But the voters -- I do truly believe that the election in November is going to be more about Trump than it is about anything else.
You -- everyone cares about their health care, everyone cares about jobs and the economy and the state of their family, but at the end of the day, we`re voting on who is running the country and the person that`s running the country as a criminal. And I think that when you -- when you know that when you`re a voter, and you know that and your senator stood in the face of that and voted the wrong way, then that`s what you`re going to --
HAYES: Let me -- let me follow up on that. For folks that were in the front line freshman class that you`re in, do you think they`re happy for that to be the binary in their districts? Do you think that`s a winning proposition on the wedge, like this is basically about this guy and whether you are subordinate to him or not?
HILL: No, and I think that each different -- each congressional district especially is going to be a little bit different. And as a member of Congress, you are also going to be judged on what you were able to accomplish. So a congressional election is a bit different than the presidential one overall, especially because people kind of know their members of Congress and have different expectations. They will split tickets.
We`ll see -- we see a lot of that. I had -- I know that we had a lot of split tickets in my race, but I do think -- no one wanted the race to be about Donald Trump. The campaigns were not run like that, and I anticipate that they will, again, not be run on Donald Trump. But it`s not ideal, but it also is just the case. You can`t avoid it and you kind of know -- have known all along that, you know, if impeachment is on the table, then it is going to be the thing that we`re dealing with.
HAYES: Final question for you, Jim, about Romney. I mean, the President`s adult son saying that Romney should be thrown out the GOP, the President tweeting a somewhat incoherent video about him. What does this mean for him among the Senate caucus?
MANLEY: Well, a couple of different things. Just to be clear, I`ve been a vocal critic of the guy for an awful long time going back to Senator Kennedy`s race against Romney in 94. But, you know, it`s going to be really difficult. I mean, Senator McConnell made it very clear afterwards that he was going to do what he could to try and protect Senator Romney.
But again, sitting in those luncheons on Tuesday, knowing that everyone of your colleagues is you know, looking at you just mattering the hell, it`s going to be -- he`s going to have a tough time for a while. No doubt about it.
HAYES: All right, Katie Hill and Jim Manley, thank you both. Coming up, Neal Katyal on what today`s vote will haunt the President and his enablers. McKay Coppins on how he broke the story that Mitt Romney was voting to remove the president. They`re going to both join me. Don`t go anywhere. Next.
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CHRIS WALLACE, FOX NEWS CHANNEL ANCHOR: Do you believe that Donald Trump is unfit to serve as president and should be removed from office.
ROMNEY: I do believe he should be removed from office. That`s the vote that I will take in just a short while.
WALLACE: If this means the end of your political career?
ROMNEY: I`ve got broad enough shoulders to be able to whether personal changes in my -- in my career, political or otherwise. But what I don`t have is the capacity to ignore my conscience.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: For the first time in American history, a sitting U.S. Senator voted to convict or remove a president of his own party. Republican Senator Mitt Romney of Utah shocked, I got to say just about everyone, me as much as anyone with that announcement and vote today.
Before he did that, before he decided Donald Trump was guilty of abuse of power, he gave an interview with the Atlantic`s McKay Coppins talking about his rationale. He said that this is the last place he wanted to find himself. "I did not want to get here." In fact, he said that part of the reason he wanted former National Security Advisor John Bolton to testify about what President Trump had told him was, "I had the hope that Bolton would be able to say something exculpatory, create reasonable doubt, so I wouldn`t have to vote to convict."
To talk more about Senator Romney`s vote today, I`m joined by the guy who got that big interview McKay Coppins Staff Writer of the Atlantic, and Neal Katyal former Acting Solicitor General in the Obama administration, who coauthored an opinion piece in The Times today titled, "This will come back to haunt Trump and his enablers.
McKay, let me start with you. remarkable moment in politics, and often I think don`t surprise us because it`s like, well, everyone`s going to just do what the partisan incentives are here. What was your sense of talking to him about what this meant and how he got there?
COPPINS: You know, I have to say that when I was told by his office that he was willing to talk to me yesterday, and that he would kind of reveal his vote, I went there with the assumption that he would probably be telling me he was going to vote to acquit.
You know, I -- that wasn`t to say I was -- I wasn`t open to the other possibility. I think I actually said on your show last fall that I thought of all the Republican senators, Romney was the biggest threat to vote to convict. But, you know, I had watched this kind of wrathful response from the right over the last few months directed at him and I kind of expected him to be cowed and to have like a bunch of excuses for why he had decided to vote to acquit.
Instead, he was very kind of almost indignant about what he saw as the President`s misconduct. He was dismayed by his party and what`s become of it. And, you know, one thing that was remarkable to me was the degree to which was kind of talking about very personal issues of conscience and faith and morality. He told me -- you know, I`m a fellow Mormon, and he was talking -- he was quoting scripture to me, quoting from hymns, kind of talking about how he had -- he had had to pray for wisdom throughout this ordeal.
And so this really was something that was very personal for him and something he seemed really committed to.
HAYES: Neal, you wrote today about the history haunting the Republican senators or even in the near term being haunted by this. What do you mean by that, and why do you think that`s the case as opposed to it being consigned to the memory hole like so much that happens in our -- in our political world?
NEAL KATYAL, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST: Yes. I think that the GOP is now like the grand old coverup party. And I think there`s kind of three structural features that if I were Republican outside of Romney, I`d be really worried about. Number one is that 75 percent of Americans wanted witnesses, and 75 percent of Americans think the President did something wrong in Ukraine.
And that`s even though we`re so bitterly divided as a country, so many Americans share that same core belief. The second is the Democratic Party, which has been told from the start impeachment is a sure loser. The President keeps saying it in the like, and they did it anyway. They did it despite the cost because like Senator Romney, they thought it was the right thing.
And third, underappreciated in this is also the role of the folks in the federal government. People like Dr. Fiona Hill, and Colonel Vindman, and the brave whistleblower, all of whom came forward to say, hey, this is a real problem. Those three things together suit say to me, if the President continues doing this stuff, he`s going to face those three problems again.
And then there`s one other thing which is consequence of the President`s own legal arguments. He said it to the Senate two things. He said number one, that there weren`t any first-hand witnesses in the House should have gotten them. And number two, he said, let the voters decide in November. Those two things together say the House tomorrow should be subpoenaing Bolton and launching a full-scale investigation. That`s what the President`s own lawyers said should be done.
And so yeah, I`d be really worried if I`m the president. I`d be worried about every senator who enabled this cover-up.
HAYES: McKay, Don Jr., somewhat predictably, tweeting about how Mitt Romney should be expelled from the GOP, that he`s now officially a member of the resistance and should be expelled. And then, of course, Romney`s niece, Ronna Romney McDaniel who was the chair of the GOP said, this is not the first time I disagree with Mitt. I imagine it not be the last. The bottom line is President Trump did nothing wrong. The Republican Party is more united than ever behind him.
I got to imagine everyone`s going to watch the predictable kind of nuclear reaction that they will get from Trump and the Republican Party on this.
COPPINS: Well, that`s the whole point. That`s the strategy. And that`s been the strategy from day one that, you know, Donald Trump goes after Mitt Romney when he steps out of line, not because he thinks he`s going to be able to intimidate Mitt Romney necessarily, but because he`s sending a message to all the other Republicans who might consider stepping out of line.
I will say that, you know, when I was talking to Romney, he was bracing for this political backlash yesterday. And he said, look, I know this is going to be really bad. I know that the vast majority of my party is lined up behind Trump. He told me that when he`s in airports or he walks down the street, random people will shout things at him, call him a traitor, telling him he ought to be ashamed of himself, and that was before he took this vote.
So you know, the backlash is going to be kind of deliberately a spectacle to try to make an example out of Mitt Romney. And I think that`s part of the reason that Romney -- it`ll be interesting to continue to watch him both how he reacts to that, and what -- and how he kind of weathers that. Because while I do think there`s going to be a lot of anger from the White House, and president`s allies, the grassroots, I`m not actually sure that his Republican colleagues in the Senate are going to be quite as vicious. And, you know, Romney wants to show that you can do this, you can take this vote, you can stand up to Trump and continue to exist and do your job.
HAYES: Yes. The President also, of course, tweeting, as I said earlier, a kind of nonsensical video targeting Romney. I also wonder Neal, on sort of different calculation. But folks in the civil service, I mean, this seems to be key. So many of them risked -- stuck their neck out to go to go testify. We know that there were people in the administration, some political but mostly civil servants who were saying this is wrong, this is wrong, we shouldn`t be doing this. And I do wonder what today means for them as well in terms of restraining the president going forward.
KATYAL: So two things. First, just with respect of the conversation you`re just having. It`s so striking to me that this is the same person who evidently said something, according to CBS, like, you know, any opponent`s head is going to be put on the pike. And that led all the Republican senators to freak out when representative Schiff made that argument.
But now, that`s exactly what`s happening to Romney. And we don`t hear any of that -- any of that back. And then with respect to the federal bureaucracy, I think you`re absolutely right. You could take two different lessons from it. One is it didn`t work. But I think the lesson that is being taken in America and I`m starting to hear it from people in the federal government, including people who`ve seen some bad stuff and haven`t come forward yet is the truth is got to come out.
KATYAL: If the truth keeps coming out, then the President is going to be stymied and all of the horrible things that he`s trying to do. And so I think this is going to be a lesson that`s going to empower future whistleblowers. It`s not going to hold them back. And I certainly encourage anyone with information to come forward.
HAYES: McKay Coppins and Neal Katyal, thank you, gentlemen, for taking time tonight. What about the senators who basically agreed with Mitt Romney but found Trump not guilty, what that means for vulnerable Republican senators in control of the Senate, just ahead.
HAYES: As I discussed earlier with Senator Chris Murphy, I do think there is a silver lining, one small narrow thread of one, in the acquittal of the president in his impeachment trial today, which is at the very least, there is a small caucus of Republicans, who like Mitt Romney, just agreed that the president`s behavior was wrong, that the House established their case; unlike Romney, however, they ultimately voted with the Republican Party to keep the president in office and allow him to keep doing this while offering varying degrees of chastisement to a fundamentally unchastisable man.
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SEN. LAMAR ALEXANDER, (R) TENNESSEE: I think he shouldn`t have done it. I think it was wrong, inappropriate was the way I`d say, improper, crossing the line.
SEN. LISA MURKOWSKI, (R) ALASKA: The president`s behavior was shameful and wrong. His personal interests do not take precedent over those of this great nation.
SEN. SUSAN COLLINS, (R) MAINE: It was wrong for President Trump to mention former Vice President Biden on that phone call, and it was wrong for him to ask a foreign country to investigate a political rival.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Interestingly, when this trial started, there was a lot of attention being paid to the Republican senators that are up for re-election this year in either swing or blue states, senators like Susan Collins in Maine, who you just saw, Cory Gardner in Colorado, Martha McSally in Arizona, Thom Tillis in North Carolina, even Joni Ernst in Iowa.
But among that small caucus of Republicans who at the very least could bring themselves to say the obvious thing, the president should not have done what he did, Senator Collins was the lone imperiled senator in that group, one who spoke out calling the president`s conduct wrong, and then turned around and voted to acquit after voting against witnesses.
Now the question is, what do Democrats do to mobilize actual voters and votes against these folks? We`re going to talk about that with someone who is working on it full-time next.
HAYES: Just a few short years ago, as Susan Collins touted on her own website, a Morning Consult poll, found she was the second-most popular Senator in the United States in their home state. More recently Morning Consult found that she`s now now she is the least-popular, putting her just ahead of second place finish Mitch McConnell.
Now, Collins started on that trajectory with her vote for big corporate tax cuts, then very famously Supreme Court Justice Kavanaugh and now she`s wrestled mightily to kind of both ways on impeachment, but has voted exactly along that MAGA party line, unlike Mitt Romney.
She also faces an election in November in a state Trump lost and with a strong Democratic challenger. Here with me now to talk about efforts to create political costs for the impeachment vote, Ezra Levine, co-founder of Indivisible, a political action group, whose latest initiative Payback Project is aimed at defeating the Senate Republicans who helped Donald Trump escape removal from office.
Ezra, welcome. What is this project?
EZRA LEVIN, CO-EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR : Look, what we learned today is that Donald Trump is a bulbous bile spewing symptom of a much deeper problem with our democracy. What we see is that it`s not just Trump. When he`s gone, when we defeat him in November, we won`t suddenly have saved democracy. Mitch McConnell, the senate majority leader on the Republican side, has called voting right and election security on the floor of the U.S. Senate socialism and a power grab. He`s promised in his own words to be the grim reaper of all progressive legislation. And today, what we have seen is senators on his side of the aisle standing with Donald Trump instead of the constitution.
So this payback project is about what it sound like, it`s about payback, it`s about ensuring that we flip these nine senate seats so that the incoming president in 2021 has a Democratic Senate and a pro-democracy senate.
HAYES: Sara Gideon, I believe, is the challenger up in Maine against Susan Collins. She`s been fundraising fairly well.
It is striking to me -- I mean, Collins knows that state well. She`s been popular there. It is striking to me how much her approval rating has declined in the wake -- particularly of the Kavanaugh vote.
LEVIN: That`s right. So what we see happening all across the country -- it`s in Maine, it`s in Colorado, it`s in Iowa, it`s in Arizona, is this isn`t an effort that`s going to get up and go a week before the election to get out the vote. The way that you win these seats is by actively getting engaged on the ground and making clear to folks in that state, hey this senator doesn`t actually represent us. This senator is one of the problems in the senate and we got to get rid of them.
So we saw that in Maine going all the way back to 2017 when Mainers were out in front of her offices saying, hey, vote against this tax bill. Hey, vote against Kavanaugh. And when she didn`t, all the folks in their communities saw that.
We saw that exact phenomenon play out in Colorado with Cory Gardner, in Arizona with Martha McSally, and we are seeing it more across the country in these states as it pertains to this vote on impeachment.
HAYES: Yeah, so the theory of the case here, right -- what I`m hearing is that you can`t just run ads late in the campaign. You have to sort of organize around increase the salients of these big key votes when they`re happening and right after they`re happening.
LEVIN: Yeah, there is this common misconception that elections are won on election day and nothing could be further from the truth. Elections begin the day after election day, then you start building.
We launched the paybackproject.org website three or four days ago. We have had 25,000 volunteers sign up. We had our first training tonight and hit capacity on the training.
Now, these volunteers, what are they going to be doing? Many of them don`t live in these states. What they are going to be doing is texting in to these states to recruit volunteers, so we`re recruiting Arizonans, we`re recruiting Coloradans, we`re recruiting Iowans, we`re recruiting Mainers in those states, people with legitimacy, people who not only are going to have to choose whether or not to vote for a Susan Collins or vote for a Cory Gardner, but they`re going to be the ones that can mobilize their communities in a few months to actually get them out of office.
HAYES: All right, Ezra Levin, from indivisible, thanks so much for sharing that. Appreciate it.
LEVIN: Thanks for having me.
HAYES: Just ahead, Steve Kornacki on what we are now learning from Iowa, and how this race is shaping up as New Hampshire closes in. That`s next.
HAYES: Two days later, we still don`t have full results now of caucuses. More results have been trickling in throughout the day. Here with the latest, MSNBC national political correspondent Steve Kornacki.
First, Steve, my friends on my text chain are like is he OK? Is he getting any sleep? Are you OK?
STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: I am OK. The board is -- I am going to ask my producer to come over and just take this thing off the screen here so we get this off so we can -- we just got brand-new results in, and I`m stuck on the thing I don`t want to be stuck on.
I`m sorry. Chris, I can tell you the results, my producer Adam here. Meet Adam, America. I can tell you the results while we fix this.
The new results were up to 92 percent of the precincts reporting in Iowa, in the basically the popular vote, the first -- OK, here it is. Sorry, I really apologize. This thing has a mind of its own. Here it is, 92 percent in, state delegate equivalents, Buttigieg continues to lead. The margin is 1 percent.
Now, you can see in this latest update, Sanders has cut the gap, 513 you see here here, 531 for Buttigieg, it`s a gap of 18 -- it`s a gap of 18. Somehow I just called up the Nebraska primary. 531 to 513. It was 24 before, so he has cut that from 24 to 18. Still to get that to zero for Sanders might be difficult.
There is also this popular vote, first preference, whatever you want to call it. Sanders continues to open up a wider lead here, now it`s approaching 5,000 votes here, Sanders over Buttigieg again with 92 percent in. So very difficult. I mean, almost impossible really to see Buttigieg catching Sanders in the popular vote at this point.
When they did the reallocation, you know, this whole thing, this second choice, much tighter there, but still over a thousand, Sanders continues to lead Buttigieg on that. But it is when you get to the state delegate equivalents. This is the thing they traditionally use to award the winner. The state delegate equivalent is the unit that determines national convention delegates. This is where Buttigieg has the advantage. And again it will be tough for Sanders to overtake that, but he has just cut into it a little bit.
HAYES: Two quick questions, one is with state delegate equivalents roughly that close, the amount of convention delegates that Buttigieg and Sanders are going to come out of Iowa with are going to be the same number, right?
KORNACKI: It may not be the same number. So I just take you through the Cliff`s Notes version is, some of this, some of the national conventions delegates are based on this state-wide finish, but two-thirds of them are based on the results by congressional district.
KORNACKI: Four congress districts in Iowa, you have got a little more variance built in there. In fact, I think Amy Klobuchar may even get a national convention delegate out of that. So I think we haven`t seen a formal estimate here. But I think Buttigieg, if this holds, would probably be a couple higher than Sanders. I don`t have the exact number, because it`s not necessarily going to be even.
HAYES: OK. And the final question, just -- it`s such a Rube Goldberg machine. But when you go from the popular vote to the second alignment to the state delegate equivalent, the reason that Buttigieg comes out on top is because of the way they apportion based on the counties, right?
KORNACKI: Yeah, I mean, it`s two things that are happening. It`s -- look, it is -- there is some second choice element to this, because of 5,000 -- almost 5,000 vote lead for Sanders. When you get those second preferences factored in that does cut it down pretty significantly. So that`s helping Buttigieg, but again not helping him over the top.
What gets him over the top -- see if I can come up with a good example. Here is a good example of this. See purple, this is a college county, Poweshiek County, Grinnell College, Sanders did extremely well here, Warren didn`t do bad. These two both did really well in college counties. Buttigieg getting buried at 13 percent.
Now, in terms of the turnout, what the share of state delegates that comes out of Poweshiek County is lower than the share that it accounts for in turnout, totally at odds with a place like this, a rural county, that gets more bang for its buck. That`s what`s putting Buttigieg over the top in state delegate equivalents.
HAYES: All right, Steve Kornacki, thank you so much for being with me tonight.
KORNACKI: Thanks so much for baring with me there.
HAYES: No, you`re great. As always we are now just six days away from New Hampshire primary where the first actual vote will be cast in this process. And hopefully this time we`ll actually get the results on election night? I don`t know, crazy idea.
The latest on New Hampshire next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, 2020 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I am not going to sugar coat it, we took a gut punch in Iowa. The whole process took a gut punch. But, look, this isn`t the first time in my life I have been knocked down. I`m not going anywhere. I`m not going anywhere. And I`m counting on New Hampshire.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Joe Biden has spent basically all of the Democratic presidential race, since he got in, as the front-runner, but he does now look poised to finish in fourth place in the Iowa Caucuses with 92 percent of those precincts in. And with six days until the New Hampshire primary today, he criticized two of the candidates who finished above him in Iowa, Bernie Sanders and Pete Buttigieg.
To talk about the state of the race, I`m joined now by Zerlina Maxwell, senior director of progressive programming for Sirius/XM; and Sam Seder, host of the Majority Report podcast.
The sort of -- as we`re going back and forth about these 1 percent with Buttigieg and Sanders, it`s like a little bit academic. To me, the big sort of like horse race part of this is that Joe Biden had as a, to his line, had a rough night. And I think that like there`s been this sort of divided mind about Biden from the beginning, which is people are like -- he doesn`t seem that super strong on the trail. He`s not drawing big crowds, but he is reliably polling at the head of the field. Do you think the actual first tangible results impact that?
ZERLINA MAXWELL, SIRIUS/XM: I think it will. I think we`ll have to see how he does in New Hampshire, so I`ll caveat that. If he does a little bit better in New Hampshire, that could then have him going into South Carolina, Nevada in a little bit of a better position. But the muddled results he actually benefits from that, because if it was a clear he did not do well on Monday night, and that`s the narrative...
HAYES: I agree.
MAXWELL: I think that would have been worse for him. So, I think he has a small moment here to get it together.
But, again, I think that, you know, big picture. He has some built-in strengths. He is still polling very high with African-Americans, older African-Americans. Bernie has the millennial voters of color, and so you`re going to have this generational divide really come to fore in a state like South Carolina. And I think that`s when we`re really going to find out where the rubber hits the road.
Is Pete Buttigieg really the front-runner when he has zero with black people? Is Amy really a contender when she has zero with black people? I would argue no. But we`re going to see that all play out.
HAYES: Well, we`re also going to see like how dynamically all this impacts it, right. Because for a long time we`ve had fairly consistent polling and we haven`t had any results. Now we have results, and now, you know, what`s happened in the past -- I remember 2004 with John Kerry, it was like no one knew. And it was Kerry won Iowa and people were so ready to just have a nominee to take on Bush it was like, all right, I guess we`re doing it.
SAM SEDER, HOST, MAJORITY REPORT: I don`t think that will happen this time, but I do think that despite all the problems with Iowa, like I don`t know that we know who the winner is, frankly. I mean, it depends on which metric you want to go with.
For me personally, I like the metric that is least tainted by the process, because every day it goes on I start to wonder what is in that black box. So, you know...
MAXWELL: I`m into the popular vote. I think we agree there. Hillary/Bernie people agree.
SEDER: But the one thing that has been clear is that Biden lost. Like, that`s the one thing that is completely unambiguous, he lost. And the problem with him losing in that way, as opposed to probably any other candidate, is that so much of those numbers was built upon the idea that he could win.
HAYES: This is the big issue.
SEDER: Every time he shows that he can lose. And my guess...
HAYES: This is problem with the electable argument as a sort of sum total of the argument, which is he has made other arguments that he`s a decent guy, that he has an amazing record.
SEDER: He`s made them, but I -- you know, when you hear people talk about him. And I think it`s no mistake that it`s older black voters who are supporting Biden, because the ability to win I think is very, very important to them. And I think, you know, to a certain extent and I think to a certain extent, their high propensity voters. They may hang in there a little bit longer, I think, in terms of when they give up on Biden. But if he does not show some strength in New Hampshire, I think he`s a big, big, big trouble.
MAXWELL: I agree that he`s in big trouble, but I do think that there -- you know, I talk a lot to my older family members about this. I`m trying to figure out, where are the Biden numbers coming from? What is that? He`s not Obama, so I don`t understand it necessarily, even though he was Obama`s vice president.
And part of that is, when you talk about big structural change and you`re trying to convince a 65-year-old black person who lived through civil rights movement, who lived through all of that, that`s a really risky choice, especially coming on the heels of Trump. And so any candidate, whether it`s Warren or Bernie Sanders, is going to have to make that argument very compelling.
And I think part of that is showing your work. So I think in some ways, that`s where the numbers do matter, the details of the plans matter, because people are going to will be looking at that.
HAYES: And organizing, too.
MAXWELL: If you want to make big change, you`ve got to show me how you`re going to do it.
HAYES: That`s a great point. There`s also the fact -- this is an amazing and fascinating thing about the Democratic Party coalition, which is that it has -- it is diverse in a lot of ways. One of the ways it`s diverse in temperament, it`s diverse in personality. Increasingly the Republican Party sorts along certain personality dimensions, but the personality temperament of a 70-year-old black woman in South Carolina is going to be quite different than the personality and temperament of other people. And that might be more small "c" conservative, right.
The question, though, for me is the other problem is Buttigieg for Biden, which is that I heard someone say on our air on like I wanted someone centrist but new or moderate but new was the thing they said. And Buttigieg has enunciated a vision of like there is a better future ahead of us, you know, it`s in these sort of centrist tones, but there`s also a question of like how far he can go, right, and how much of a bump he gets in New Hampshire. But him doing well in New Hampshire right now is bad for Joe Biden.
SEDER: Yeah, I mean, anybody doing well in New Hampshire is bad for Joe Biden, frankly. I mean, I think, you know, there`s an expectations that Sanders is out ahead and has some strength there. But anybody else who does well does so at the expense of Biden.
Like, I think there`s a mistake that sometimes that we make because we deal with politics so much, that the lanes, we see as ideological lanes. I think there are lanes, I think that they`re different for different people and they can cut across this person has a quality of ruralness that I like. This person -- I mean, people talk about Bernie Sanders as a possible independent. some people like that lane.
HAYES: There`s a lot of different lanes, a lot of fluidity, and it is going to will be interesting to see how much sort of herding there is after the first three or four.
Zerlina Maxwell, Sam Seder, thank you.
That is ALL IN for this evening. "THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW" starts right now.
Good evening, Rachel.
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