CHUCK TODD, MSNBC HOST: That`s all we have for tonight. We`ll be back tomorrow with more MEET THE PRESS DAILY. And if it`s Wednesday, there`s a new "Chuck ToddCast." Not have you on the Nets, I promise. But it`s ready to and would get it wherever you get your podcast.
"THE BEAT" with Ari Melber starts right now.
Good evening, Ari. Sorry for any Nationals rant.
ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: You`re good baby--
TODD: It`s the one thing keeping Washington from totally going into a black hole.
TODD: --we have our Nationals.
MELBER: Anything that can keep Chuck Todd, a politics junkie, from watching a debate live must be big. Thank you, sir.
TODD: Good to be you buddy.
MELBER: Good to see you. We have a major show tonight. Dominos falling. Rudy Giuliani facing new heat, and new reporting on the criminal probe against him. I also have for you something I`ve been working on with our team here.
It`s a special report tonight on how Donald Trump`s own employees, including some of his self-declared fixers, are now key in its impeachment probe. And why Democrats say it`s that evidence from these people that has Donald Trump on the run like never before. It`s a big deep dive that we`ve been working on. We have that tonight.
And as if that wasn`t enough, I have something even bigger. My colleague Rachel Maddow is here. She`s live, she`s talking all about the news, reactions to what we`re learning today, and of course reporting from her new book, which also touches on Ukraine.
So all of that`s in the show. But we begin with the action on the impeachment probe against Donald Trump. Hearing from key witnesses, another new person says they will testify, and what looks like a stonewall cracking as this Ukraine scandal engulfs Donald Trump`s presidency.
A fourth Giuliani associate arrested this morning, taken into federal custody at JFK Airport by the FBI. The man you see is linked to the other Ukrainian businessmen who have those ties to Giuliani indicted. All four do in court tomorrow.
Now CNN is reporting the criminal probe of Giuliani also now includes, according to CNN`s reporting, what they call counterintelligence concerns, and that`s a big deal, because it could mean there are national security implications to all of this and it also means potential charges. Donald Trump seemed to turn on Giuliani, then he seemed to embrace him this weekend and just on cue here is distancing himself from him today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Rudy was seeking out corruption, and I think there`s nothing wrong with seeking at corruption. Did you have Steve?
Reporter: Should Rudy register as foreign lobbyist?
TRUMP: I don`t know what he did. I don`t know that`s up to him. That you have to ask - excuse me, no. You have to ask Rudy those questions. Don`t ask me--
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: You have to ask Rudy. Anyone who`s been a lawyer for Donald Trump knows that`s not the greatest sign. Meanwhile, Democrats are asking Mike Pompeo`s former adviser about what was an abrupt resignation - suspicious given everything going on.
And that individual his name`s Michael McKinley is testifying that he saw this plot, this politics as undercutting his foreign policy obligations and he resigned over the ousting, which Rudy Giuliani and others had pushed for, of the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine in the Trump administration.
Meanwhile, the person who took over as Acting Ambassador to Ukraine, Bill Taylor, is on his way to testify. He is another key witness, remember there`s a lot of names here. But he is the one where if you don`t remember his name, I bet you remember his text exchange, because he talked to Donald Trump`s hand-picked ambassador to the EU Gordon Sondland.
Mr. Taylor was the one who wrote it is quote "crazy to withhold security assistance for help with a political campaign." And is the pressure getting to Donald Trump, well on a set of different issues we are seeing clues, because speaker Pelosi just described a potential, what she sees as a kind of a meltdown today after the United States House passed this resolution condemning the President`s decision to withdraw from Syria.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): What we witnessed on the part of the President was a meltdown, sad to say.
SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY): He was insulting, particularly to the Speaker. She kept her cool completely. But he called her a third-rate politician. This was not a dialogue. It was sort of a diatribe - a nasty diatribe--
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: I`m joined now by Matt Miller who worked at the DOJ during the Obama and Holder administration. Maya Wiley from SDNY; and The Daily Beast`s, Betsy Woodruff Swan. Good evening everyone.
Matt, given all the interbranch interplay and something you`ve dealt with when sometimes agencies have reasons they`ve pushed people from testifying or how they testify, what do you see here in what is widely being described as a stonewall crumbling?
MATTHEW MILLER, FORMER CHIEF DOJ SPOKESMAN: I think the most important thing that`s happened over the past week is we`ve seen that there are a number of people from the administration who have decided to put either patriotism or self-interest over protecting Donald Trump.
And, look, people come forward from - for different motives. I think there are some people - Bill Taylor is probably going to be one of them who will be ordered by the administration not to testify, who don`t care. You know George Kent, yesterday the State Department official, came and testified despite a State Department directive not to do so.
I think both of them will do so, because what they saw inside the administration, they very much disagree with, and they see it as their patriotic duty to come forward.
And I think there are other people, Kurt Volker is one of them, George Sondland is another, who see themselves being fingered as having key liability in this plot, as being part of the people trying to carry out the President`s corrupt wishes and they want to get in and tell their side of the story to make sure that when that this story is written they`re not the fall guy for Donald Trump.
MELBER: Yes. And you talk about the fall people, I mean, Betsy, what we see here is to the extent the idea was to keep this plot under wraps, it was actually too widespread, too perhaps, I don`t want to say sophisticated, but it had too many moving parts to keep it under wraps. And a lot of these people are now saying, hey, I got to tell this story.
To Matt`s point, I want to read from some of this reporting, because there`s so many different strands tonight. The former ambassador and advisor Fiona Hill talking about Mr. Sondland who was initially quoting and kind of defending allegedly the Trump view of this.
And she says, look, Sondland she saw as a national security risk, describing him the Trump donor turned ambassador "as metaphorically driving in an unfamiliar place with no guardrails and no GPS." Betsy?
BETSY WOODRUFF SWAN, THE DAILY BEAST: That`s right. And part of the reason that this is seen so widely throughout the Trump administration is that Rudy Giuliani`s influence project was wide-ranging. He wasn`t just reaching out to the President, but to folks throughout government.
And everyone who he talked to about this particular undertaking is now, whether they like it or not, wrapped up in this investigation. And part of the reason that we`re seeing so many of these folks come forward, including people like Sondland, who have been political allies of the President. Is that they are having to think for perhaps the first time in this administration about life after Trump.
MELBER: So let me pause you on that.
SWAN: And they`re realizing that this is a historic moment.
MELBER: Walk us through then your point that - that there`s all these diplomats, some of them are just career people, which means we expect them to do their level best. Some of them, like Mr. Sondland has a diplomatic job, Ambassador, but you are saying he`s a trump guy and he`s turning?
SWAN: What we know about Sondland is that he made a very generous contribution to Trump`s inaugural fund. I believe it was a $1 million donation and he`s somebody who came into the State Department without foreign policy experience.
The fact that he, to an extent, is pushing back against this administration`s direction, in order according to all reports and based on what you know members of Congress think right now in order to testify as part of this inquiry, indicates that for him in this moment being on the record - even if it`s behind closed doors to these impeachment investigators, is more important than staying in President Trump`s good graces.
And that`s part of this shift that a lot of these folks are having where they have to think about what is life after Trump going to be like. And whether they like it or not, what is history`s view of them going to be.
MELBER: Well - and that`s a high-level statement you`re making. But I don`t think you`re being at all dramatic. Maya, we are talking about people who, again to take a step back, and not prejudging what we`ll learn from the probe. Some of these are people who - like the folks you`ve worked with at the Southern District, give years or decades to public service.
They are not the ones jumping in front of TV cameras. They`re not the ones giving the first statement. I`ve mention on this show before. Our review of a lot of these folks is they air on the side of caution, not testifying if they can honor a legitimate request.
But some of them are saying these aren`t legitimate requests. There is a crime fraud exception in most of the privilege issues, and it`s time to go into Congress, even if it means they might not even get another term in any Republican administration, even a "more traditional" one.
MAYA WILEY, FORMER COUNSEL TO MAYOR OF NEW YORK: Absolutely. I think there comes a time in every public servant`s career where they have to choose between the law and the Constitution and what they took the job to do, versus curing political favor.
And for most of them it sounds like, and this was true Fiona Hill as well, that they did the best they could with what the job was and what the circumstances were, were seriously troubled by it. As we know from the whistleblower, went through the proper channels to lodge and register those concerns. They didn`t go outside of channels--
MELBER: They didn`t leak to your point--
WILEY: They didn`t leak.
WILEY: They did what was obligated of them to do. And what - the part of the problem here is public servants should not be punished for doing what they`re supposed to do, which is serve the public interest.
MELBER: Yes, when you think about that, Matt, take a listen to Joe Biden who figures into this in more than one way, as we all know, talking about what he views as a thug operation.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Rudy Giuliani, the President and his thugs have already proven that they in fact are flat lying. What we have to do now is focus on Donald Trump.
I`ve released 21 years of my tax returns. Even Richard Nixon released his tax returns. Mr. President release your tax returns or shut up.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MILLER: I think the former Vice President is getting it two very important points there. One, is the really - the word he used as his thug - thuggish, the way that the President has run the government to try to take every instrument of government power and use it not to serve America`s best interest, but his own personal, political interest, something we`ve not seen from a President really since Richard Nixon, at least in in this this scope.
And the second is just the blatant hypocrisy coming from the White House. You can hear the White House accusing the former Vice President of being corrupt, accusing his son of trying to profit from the vice - from the fact that his vice - his dad was the Vice President.
When you have Trump personally profiting from his time in office, because he hasn`t divested his own interest, and his son`s going around and signing deals and for in foreign countries after the President is saying he wouldn`t do that as long as he was President.
So I think you see the Vice President making two of those very important points. And I think he`s right to do that.
MELBER: Betsy and Maya, with a little time we have left, I`d like both you to speak to, what are the most important remaining questions for these witnesses? Because before you know what it`s Thanksgiving and the Congress has to decide when it can if it wants to be legitimate and fair say they have enough evidence that they`re either going to go or not go when it comes to articles of impeachment. First up Betsy.
SWAN: One really important question is whether the State Department issued any threats toward current State Department officials about whether or not they`d face repercussions if they testified.
Of course, we don`t know that that happened, but if that did, and if any of these folks have had concerns about losing their pensions or their salaries, that`s something that would be really significant. So that`s something that I expect investigators to be asking and to keep an eye out for.
WILEY: And I think the question of what did Trump know, what conversations, if any, are people aware that happened with Donald Trump himself. I think there really is enough already that Congress could vote articles of impeachment today. But that question is an important one for the American public.
MELBER: Yes. It`s really striking because it has come so fast there`s so much going on, perhaps a thing we say a lot around here. But it is very unusual to have this many senior people - advisor to the President, diplomats and the National Security Advisor, at least according to other people`s quoting of him, all weighing in short order about this spot.
Betsy Woodruff, Maya Wiley, Matt Miller, thanks so much. Betsy Woodruff Swan, I should say thanks so much to each of you.
WILEY: Thank you.
MELBER: Appreciate you. We have a lot to get to tonight. Coming up, my special report is next on the Trump fixers and the witnesses and why they are crucial to understanding where impeachment is headed. That`s the special report I told you about, it`s right after this break.
Later, new reporting on now Trump`s Chief of Staff is "substantially implicated in the Ukraine plot."
And as promised, and we are proud about it, Rachel Maddow, live on THE BEAT tonight on a whole lot of news and her book.
I`m Ari Melber. You`re watching THE BEAT on MSNBC.
MELBER: Tonight the Congress is closer to impeaching President Trump than ever before as Speaker Pelosi and Chairman Schiff detail new testimony, supporting the case for impeachment, much of it gathered from people who worked for Trump.
So in our special report right now let`s dig into why so much damning evidence against Trump keeps coming from his own employees and how that impacts potential impeachment. Diplomats are telling Congress that Trump`s aide worried he broke the law by following Rudy Giuliani`s now-infamous shadow diplomacy.
That Giuliani was some kind of shadow Secretary of State pushing a corrupt agenda targeting Trump`s rivals and putting his business interests above the United States. Now remember, when Trump first one in 2016, Giuliani was gunning for the actual Secretary of State job. He was shuttling to Trump Tower and netting headlines from the AP to Fox News, claiming he was Trump`s favorite for the job.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RUDY GIULIANI, PRESIDENT TRUMP`S ATTORNEY: John would be a very good choice.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is there anybody better?
GIULIANI: Maybe me, I don`t know.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Talking about John Bolton. But Giuliani didn`t get that job or any cabinet post. That doesn`t mean no that he stopped working for Trump. He just began to do it in a very important way for where the story is going. Giuliani worked as an adviser and a lawyer and a pundit, we all know about those roles. But there`s more to it than that.
This is key. Whatever one thinks of Giuliani`s TV appearances, they`re not criminal, that`s not why he`s under investigation tonight. Whatever you think of his legal advocacy in the Russia probe, it`s not criminal. Mueller indicted many people, including the lawyer, but not Giuliani.
Now the question facing Giuliani now is if he acted is not just a shadow diplomat, but as a bagman, a fixer, someone willing to do what real diplomats and real lawyers aren`t supposed to do - the dirty work.
And the evidence shows Donald Trump has pressed dirty work on his employees. It`s part of his operation. He pushes them to do it. And if or when they resist, then he goes ahead and finds people outside the given organization or a chain of command, whether that organization is his company or now, of course, the government, and he pushes those people to still go get what he wants to do the dirty work.
And this is important now, not just as some kind of criticism, but because it speaks to both strands of this Ukraine plot and the mounting impeachment evidence. The pushing for dirty work propelled Trump`s career, it can be effective. It`s also uncorked more witnesses and whistleblowers and now corroborating insider accounts against Trump than most politicians face in a lifetime.
And here`s exactly how it works. Some people get orders for dirty work from Trump and they stand by him. Think Corey Lewandowski getting requests to obstruct the Mueller probe and endlessly defending Trump. Others do the dirty work, but ultimately may still turn, think Michael Cohen. And some people begin resisting immediately.
The Congress now is starting to hear from the people in those second two camps. The diplomats are just the latest examples, several rejecting the dirty work requests, however, they came down from Trump or his shadow associates.
This problem has now hit each of Mr. Trump`s most famous lawyers. His first favorite Roy Cohn was indicted three times and disbarred in 1986. Michael Cohen, of course, in jail now on a campaign finance crime, literally committed for Trump`s election; Giuliani under investigation, while his associates are under arrest. Back in the 80s, Trump told people about his scary fixer Roy Cohn.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Donald Trump said, if someone threatens me I will go to Roy Cohn, it scares the hell out them and they back off. So it`s a weapon for me. Roy Cohn is a weapon for me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: When trump thought his attorney general and government lawyers failed to control the Mueller probe, "New York Times" reports he erupted in anger over Jeff Sessions not protecting him and asked, "Where`s my Roy Cohn?," chilling.
Trump wanted someone to do his dirty work inside the White House. And thanks to Mueller`s investigation we know when his own government staff refused the dirty work, they didn`t want to do it, then he went outside to outsource the dirty work. You could call that a shadow justice policy the way people are saying shadow foreign policy right now. Bob Mueller called it "substantial evidence of obstruction."
Trump asked advisers like Mr. Lewandowski and Dearborn to do what government lawyers would not, press Mr. Sessions to try to take over the whole Mueller probe.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. HANK JOHNSON (D-GA): And he dictated to you exactly what he wanted you to put into the mouth of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, correct?
COREY LEWANDOWSKI, FORMER TRUMP PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN MANAGER: I believe he asked me to deliver a message for Jeff to consider delivering himself.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Asked. But Lewandowski says he took the orders and didn`t complete them. Even he knew that dirty work was too far, which makes him more careful and his former colleague who`s now incarcerated.
Mr. Cohen admitting he committed crime to benefit his client individual one Donald Trump, and that`s why his arc has gone from doing and defending that work to what you see here, reporting to prison and before he did that, blowing the whistle on Trump.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHAEL COHEN, FORMER ATTORNEY TO PRESIDENT TRUMP: He`s more to us than just the boss. He`s a mentor. He`s a he`s a sage. He`s like family.
Mr. Trump is a conman, Mr. Trump is a cheat. I have fixed things. But I am no longer your fixer, Mr. Trump.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: That testimony called out all kinds of Trump actions, you remember it. But that is not what pushed Speaker Pelosi over the line on this impeachment quest, and that brings me to the third category as we think this through, the people who work for Trump but resist the calls for dirty work, be they, his like-minded ideologues or be they civil servants.
This is the whole enchilada. Their testimony is devastating, because it combines eyewitness credibility with professional credibility. People who say they rejected the dirty work and ultimately spoke out.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A whistleblower had apparently come forward from inside the intelligence community with an urgent and credible complaint involves President Trump`s communications with a foreign leader.
BRIAN WILLIAMS, MSNBC HOST: This whistleblower is accusing the President of abusing his power and further accuses the national security structure around him in the White House of trying to cover it up.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In the course of my official duties, I`ve received information from multiple U.S. government officials that the President of the United States is using the power of his office to solicit interference from a foreign country in the 2020 U.S. election.
SALLY YATES, FORMER ACTING ATTORNEY GENERA: I told them again that there were a number of press accounts of statements that have been made by the Vice President and other high-ranking White House officials about General Flynn`s conduct that we knew to be untrue.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Those people who have been speaking out this whole time, but who are speaking out especially on Ukraine, are exposing, what some of them call, a criminal conspiracy inside the White House. This year also known as quote "cooking up a drug deal," that`s what Mr. Bolton has talked about as he assessed this tumultuous administration.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN BOLTON, FORMER UNITED STATES AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS: It`s obviously a great honor, it`s always an honor to serve our country.
WILLIAMS: The headline is Bolton objected to Ukraine pressure campaign calling Giuliani a hand-grenade. House investigators were told on Monday quote "I am not part of whatever drug deal Rudy and Mulvaney are cooking up."
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Wow. That`s John Bolton. He supports Trump. He worked for Trump. He wants Trump to succeed. But Bolton won`t do the dirty work. Apparently, he`s not standing for it either, because saying you`re President or his shadow advisers are cooking up a drug deal is the ultimate indictment, which brings us full circle to the cost of Donald Trump`s dirty work.
It may propel him in the short run, we`ve all seen some of that. But in the long-term, people are talking. Consider how as things got hot Trump`s business employees, they began talking, some flipping and going to jail like Cohen, others merely cooperating, like Mr. Weisselberg.
Others talked a bit, pleaded guilty then went back to lying during investigations. You remember them and others, of course, out of their public service work stood up and said no, including law enforcement officials like Mr. Comey and Ms. Yates. That`s all up until say a month ago.
Boom! Then you have the Ukraine scandal kicking off with what you see on your screen are not faces, but the absence of faces. Two anonymous whistleblowers who decided to take a risk.
That was a few weeks ago which set off the new round of these public servants and diplomats, most of them we`ve never heard of, but who have long records, many of them bipartisan. And the stories we`ve heard are largely from these people over the past few weeks - diplomats, ambassadors, civil servants, as I`ve said.
They previewed John Bolton`s concerns, who`s now become a sought-after witness, along with these other people who appeared to quote "the defense" of Trump`s dirty work, like Mr. Gordon Sondland, who says, he was echoing Trump according to reports, but maybe having second thoughts in that apparent denial of a bribe of a quid pro quo.
And then look at all the big fish on the screen, you have Giuliani and the Secretary of State, he was shadowing, Mr. Pompeo, and then of course Mr. Pence who was around for much of this.
When you think about the trail of dirty work and the people on the screen, many known, some unknown, these people hold the keys to where the impeachment probe goes and if there is the impeaching of the President. These witnesses and potential witnesses, there`s a lot of them.
Now we know some have already issued damning testimony. But I want you to think about this as we track this and track the facts in the evidence. The people on the screen who haven`t yet spoken, who haven`t proven whether or not they`ll tell the truth, let alone under oath, they have to think hard about whether they will tell the truth, because there`s pressure here, including criminal pressure.
So the paraphrase Aubrey Graham assessing criminal pressure, "You may not want to do it, and you may have every reason. But if you`ve seen what you do for fame, what would you do for freedom?"
It`s a very big question. I`m going to get right into it with Watergate special prosecutor Nick Ackerman and the Washington Post`s Kathleen Parker, when we`re back in 30 seconds.
MELBER: And we`re back with Nick Ackerman and Kathleen Parker. Nice to see you both.
NICK AKERMAN, FORMER ASSISTANT SPECIAL WATERGATE PROSECUTOR: Good to see you.
MELBER: Kathleen, how about it, all those individuals and those who have yet to speak?
KATHLEEN PARKER, THE WASHINGTON POST SYNDICATE COLUMNIST: Well, it`s long been known that if you walk into the Trump administration, you`re going to come out with - dirty.
And I think a lot of people - I think we`re probably going to see a lot more people coming forward, because they`re not going to take the fall for this guy who now has proved over and over and has your report makes very clear, that once you are no longer useful to Donald Trump, he will throw you under that very large bus that sits idling on Pennsylvania Avenue.
The thing that puzzles me about all of this is why the Democrats don`t have these hearings in the open? The fact is, they need to trust the American people to watch this. As far as the impeachment goes, whether the Senate will convict Donald Trump is pretty unlikely, no matter what turns up in the next few days and weeks.
MELBER: Well, I don`t think we know. I mean, I would gently push back, though you are a Washington expert and say--
MELBER: I would say anyone - two months--
PARKER: In the--
MELBER: Go ahead.
PARKER: No, I was just going to say Congress can get this information in other ways.
MELBER: Yes. I mean, I - just on the point of following the facts. I don`t think two months ago anyone would have said we would be on the precipice of impeachment, and here we are. I don`t think a year ago anyone would have said John Bolton would be having a crisis of conscience and be making it known that he saw drug deals. So I think it is hard to predict.
Let me read to you for your analysis, Kathleen with what we`re hearing from other reports on Mick Mulvaney. Current and former officials say he contributed substantially to the unfolding crisis, connecting key events relating to the attempt of pressure Ukraine. And through his general approach to the chief of staff job and reluctance to ever displease the President. Does he have a problem?
PARKER: Oh, I think he clearly has a problem. And he was very much engaged in doing some of Donald Trump`s dirty work, as you say. And I don`t know how these people think that they`re going to somehow not be damaged by this.
Ultimately, it seems to me that all roads lead to Rudy on the impeachment. And everything that Rudy Giuliani has done it`s very - he`s got a very odd position. He`s the lawyer for the President, but he doesn`t get paid - at least not by the taxpayers. He gets paid by these fellows that he associates with, and these guys are clearly shady and corrupt.
And it seems to it seems as though Rudy Giuliani did no due diligence on these guys or he became engaged with them because they would do his bidding as it relates to either the Biden investigation or the Burisma special prosecutor investigation.
But Rudy made a lot of money from those guys. He has admitted that they paid him $500,000. And what did he do for that? Obviously, they`re paying him for access. They`re paying for access to the President of United States.
Now Rudy Giuliani is - how do you explain that to Donald Trump?
MELBER: Yes. Well let me bring in Nick on that, because Kathleen lays it out so expertly. The last person who worked really for a long time in a big job for free for Donald Trump was Paul Manafort, and he turned out, he was getting paid by people in Ukraine.
AKERMAN: Right, and Russians.
MELBER: Well, the biggest money was from Ukraine, the ledger, and that was a lot of stuff that got him tripped up with the feds. Speak to Kathleen`s point as well as what we could learn from these witnesses.
AKERMAN: Well, I think what we`re going to learn from these witnesses - and first of all, I think this stuff does have to be done in private right now. We`re dealing with a lot of people who have information that`s classified information. Congress has to sort through that and decide what`s going to be shown to the public.
Secondly, they`ve got to put together this whole story and they`ve got to do it in a contained way so that witnesses don`t know what each other are saying. You want to be able to put this together--
AKERMAN: --in a contained way.
MELBER: And let`s get into the intersection. You worked at SDNY.
MELBER: And you worked as a Watergate prosecutor.
MELBER: And here is SDNY back in the middle of a big probe that also involves Washington. And the reporting here and I`m crediting CNN, because we haven`t confirmed this. But they report FBI agents and prosecutors in the case come from the same public corruption unit that went after Cohen. And it`s clear the investigation could result, they say, quote "in more charges."
AKERMAN: And I think one of the people that they`re looking at, one of the subjects is Rudy Giuliani.
I mean, you`ve clearly got a prima facie case of Hobbs Act extortion with respect from Trump to the President of Ukraine. You`ve got possibly--
MELBER: You`re talking about a federal law against extorting a bride?
AKERMAN: That`s right exporting the--
MELBER: And the bribe--
AKERMAN: Extorting actions.
MELBER: Actions. And what is - what would they be extorting? What would Trump be extorting?
AKERMAN: He`d be extorting to get them to open an investigation into Joe Biden.
MELBER: And that`s enough, and you`re on the Fed. Before - impeachment is this complex thing. You`re saying up here in New York - up in New York where Michael Cohen is.
AKERMAN: We got a criminal - we got a federal crime.
MELBER: And Giuliani - that`s already a federal crime.
AKERMAN: Its federal crime. It`s a federal crime also to be getting something of value for a campaign, which is what he`s doing.
MELBER: When Rudy said yesterday he doesn`t have a lawyer, he doesn`t need one right now, what did you think?
AKERMAN: I think he`s fooling. He knows he needs a lawyer. I think he even announced he has a lawyer as my understanding--
MELBER: His lawyer left him this week.
AKERMAN: Oh, was that John - ?
MELBER: Yes, they separated, yes.
AKERMAN: OK. Well, I think he needs a lawyer badly, because there - on the face it looks as though whatever Trump was doing, he was doing. It`s not so much all roads lead to Rudy, all roads lead to Donald Trump.
MELBER: And Kathleen briefly your final thought, tying it all together.
PARKER: Well, Rudy has been whispering in the President`s ear all this time and telling him whatever conspiracy theories pleased his palate at the moment. We know that Donald Trump is paranoid and inclined toward conspiracy theories.
And so there`s always the question in the back of my mind did Rudy actually have anything to say that was based on any kind of legitimate facts? These fellas that were feeding him information, clearly, had their own agenda. And I always wondered just if there weren`t - if there wasn`t the possibility that Rudy was played and the President was played and that may be why Rudy is being thrown back under that bus.
MELBER: Wow, it`s a lot. And it`s really interesting getting both of your expertise on this. At a time where it is - we`re feeling a breaking point coming. Whether it breaks towards they have enough evidence they move or they`ve heard from everybody and they don`t. It is a lot coming at us.
Nick and Kathleen, thanks to both of you.
AKERMAN: Thank you.
PARKER: Nice to see you.
MELBER: Great to see you. We have new revelations that are coming out tonight about Vladimir Putin, and what it has to do with Ukraine, Donald Trump impeachment and oil. And guess who`s here to untangle all of it live, MSNBC`s Rachel Maddow when we come back.
MELBER: President Trump is under fire for alleged foreign collusion with Ukraine and is now getting support in his defense from the last foreign leader he was accused of colluding with.
Vladimir Putin defending Donald Trump`s Ukraine call and echoing the Republican line that this is a quote "pretext for Democrats," he`s also trolling.
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VLADIMIR PUTIN, PRESIDENT OF RUSSIA (via translator): I`ll tell you in a secret - yes! We will definitely intervene. It`s a secret so that everybody can laugh, and so, we`ll go big, but don`t tell anyone, please. Please don`t tell anyone.
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MELBER: They would be tempting to let some of these foreign policy battles devolve just into rhetoric - Putin`s stage whisper, Donald Trump`s bluster and calls for collusion from all kinds of countries.
The stakes are also high, because great power politics are undergirded by many hard assets from those U.S. nukes, currently apparently jeopardized in the Middle East after Trump`s shift on Syria policy, to the international energy markets, which Russia both impacts and is vulnerable to.
Russia treats oil as a resource and as a weapon and a point of national pride. Putin`s aides quote "believe their energy industry is about restoring Russian honor and deploying power and leverage advancing Putin`s foreign policy aims," as Rachel Maddow documents in her new book and those aims include Ukraine, a state that Russia has at times pushed around, even cutting the nation`s gas supply and then blaming that same country for Russia`s actions.
Something that Maddow also documents, writing "The infinitely corruptible energy business allowed Putin to pick and choose who would be rich, and who would be powerful in Ukraine."
When President Trump won he appointed an oil executive, Rex Tillerson. Who also was something of a Putin ally to run the whole State Department, which really you could argue, spent years struggling under the weight of what you might call very blatant Russian conflicts of interest. Only to find his replacement now laboring under the weight of a new plot and a new set of conflicts of interest regarding Ukraine.
It`s a lot. But I think we`re going to have help untangling it, because Rachel Maddow is right now with me live on THE BEAT and found time somehow to write another book, which we`ll get into after the break.
MELBER: Welcome back to "THE BEAT." I`m joined by Rachel Maddow, host of the "Rachel Maddow Show" right here on MSNBC. Her new book is "Blowout" about how the oil and natural gas businesses can corrupt governments around the world. And we can announce right here right now it is again #1 in "The New York Times Bestseller List" tonight, that`s new and for the second week in a row.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Wow.
MADDOW: Thank you that`s brand-new news.
MADDOW: Yes weird. It`s awesome. I mean, it`s weird. Mostly weird.
MELBER: Thank you. Thank you for first talking about you`re doing a million things.
MELBER: Why is it important to understand oil and business as an agent of a foreign policy problem around the world?
MADDOW: I got interested in this topic, in part, because I was trying to figure out like what was the motive force for why Russia attacked us the way they did in 2016. And where I got pretty quickly, to kind of make a long story short, is that they were desperate in ways that I didn`t understand.
Desperate, driven by their economy which both sucks, it`s a really small economy for a really big country and it`s really, really, really dependent on oil and gas and their own oil and gas sector is terrible.
So they were desperate to get U.S. sanctions dropped. I believe, a lot of what they did in 2016 was about trying to get sanctions dropped. I think that`s a lot of what they`re still doing in terms of whatever influence they still do have.
But a lot of that is just driven by the way that oil and gas warped their economy. Putin likes oil and gas being their main economic pillar, because he wants to use oil and gas, as you were saying before the break, essentially as a weapon against other countries.
But in so doing, and making it basically an arm of his presidential office, he oversees an oil and gas industry in his country, that`s terrible at what they do, and it`s really painted them into a corner. So they have very few other options other than to try to sort of sabotage and cheat their way to a new future.
MELBER: I have a very big question that I think you`re perfect to answer, and I know it touches on some reporting you`ve also been doing. Why does Russia always go when they have options? They always go to the button of, well, let`s just try to change U.S. policy. Not every country does that, whether it`s we`ve done a lot on the meddling.
But you`re reporting as well on ideas of, well, let`s just change who the Ambassador is, let`s just change what the extradition outlook is. Why is that there go to move and should we be concerned that in the current era they`re good at it?
MADDOW: Well it wasn`t their go-to move before this administration. I mean, they never before the Trump administration, I think, had an expectation that they would be able to wheedle what they wanted out of U.S. policy.
Now it seems like they do. That`s why I think the impeachment story about Trump right now is at the one level. As you`re just talking about your previous guests, super simple, you can`t go to another country for help against your opponents in the next election. Done. It`s over that`s a crime. It`s obviously impeachable and the President has confessed to it and he will be impeached for it.
What`s getting to be more interesting about the story, sort of above and beyond that, is who was helping cook up this scheme and for what. And the Giuliani factor here is interesting. His associates being arrested, Giuliani himself being under investigation now, reportedly under counterintelligence investigation.
The guy who appears to have been paying Giuliani`s associates who just got arrested is a Ukrainian natural gas billionaire who`s connected to the Kremlin. To the extent that Russia has been - Russia had sort of - and they`re their cutouts in all these places has been trying to get the U.S. to do stuff with both a carrot approach and a stick approach. It seems like this this impeachment scandal was part of it.
MELBER: When you look at where the Congress seems to be headed on impeachment. And you track these stories, and a lot of people, myself included, wait to see you make sense of it every night. Do you see this as a story with a deadline? Because a lot of political stories have a kind of an endless contested quality, which is why I think some people in the country get very tired of parts of politics - typically in Washington.
Does this have a deadline? Because 2020 to certain point begins and Speaker Pelosi either moves or doesn`t, or because Ukraine itself became a thing that was justified by new facts or new reports, it could still pop up in the middle of a presidential camp?
MADDOW: Yes. It`s a super interesting question. And now that we`re starting to see arrests, now that we`re starting to see the - at least part of the Justice Department, Southern District of New York involved here, and this is has some criminal elements to it and some prosecutorial elements to it. That puts a kind of different spin on whether or not we think this stuff has a timeline.
I mean, number one, it means that statutes of limitations are implicated. Also means that we could sort of watch things on court deadlines and we can expect things to unfold on the timeline of prosecutors in the New York courts and the New York federal court system.
But in terms of the impeachment stuff, I have heard that Nancy Pelosi wants this done by the end of the year. I think that that makes sense given the initial accusations against the President for which he`s being impeached.
But if this becomes a bigger thing, if this spells out into a major counterintelligence matter, which it`s starting to look like it might, well, maybe that means the investigation and the proceedings against the President here might take longer. I don`t know.
I mean, I tend to think that Nancy Pelosi has good political instincts on these things. But I don`t know what those arguments are like within the Democratic caucus based on what they`re finding out. I mean, it`ll be fascinating to see what`s in all these depositions when they finally come out.
MELBER: Yes. You also talk to a lot of these individuals from the Presidential debates to interviews you do.
MELBER: Do you think Congressman Schiff is better at this than other people and that`s why he`s out in the helm? Because we heard a lot about an umbrella, we heard a lot about multiple committees. Congress gets back to town after, as you said these blockbuster depositions and we see the Speaker, and the Intel Chair and that`s it.
MADDOW: And we see the Intel Chairman giving a press conference and the Speaker of the House sitting in the audience at the press - at his press conference listening to him. You never see that in Washington. Right?
MADDOW: I was going to ask you about this, Ari, in terms of what you think is going to happen with these depositions? I mean, they`re all happening behind closed doors. We are getting a little bit of leak, a little bit of description, a little bit of reporting as to what`s happening in those depositions, but they`re basically still very much under wraps.
We know that there`s a stated intention that they`re going to release these depositions - scrubbed versions of these depositions ultimately. What do you think the end product here is going to be?
Do you think that Schiff is going to put something together that`s like the Watergate roadmap where you know they cited to all of the grand jury testimony of all of the different witnesses and laid it out and said this is what the basis of the impeachment articles should be. Except in this case, it won`t be grand jury testimony, it will be these depositions.
Or do you think they`re just going to release all this stuff all at once. I mean what do you think they`re going to do?
MELBER: Well, that`s the big question. Right. I think what people get confused about, as we talk so much about fairness and under the Constitution. The Senate is supposed to provide this fair process. That`s not the House`s job.
MELBER: The House is supposed to decide whether something`s bad enough to charge and to act like prosecutors. And so I think to your question it is, do they decide that there is if there`s zero articles of impeachment, they explain and move on. That`s like a declination.
But if they`re charging, do they come out with one to five articles. I mean, Johnson started out with 11 articles. But - and then release evidence to support their case. Because the public opinion is already moving just from a kind of a, "hey, we heard this. Did you hear Giuliani is a walking hand grenade and he is probably (inaudible). Do you have people come out and do it as charges?
MADDOW: Yes. I mean, that`s what I can imagine here. I mean, we`ve all seen the Watergate roadmap. Right? So that didn`t - that actually wasn`t released publicly--
MADDOW: --that was past year. Oh, and thank God that it was. But you could see the Watergate special prosecutor, the second one at that point it`s Jaworski, right? Because Archibald Cox got fired in the Saturday Night Massacre, Jaworski`s there.
He goes through all the grand jury testimony from all the witnesses and just lays it out just the facts. Here`s the criminal acts and here`s the basis that we have for asserting that these appear to have been criminal acts. And that becomes the basis for the impeachment articles, which by the time they`re actually drawn up in the House. It`s an insurmountable barrier for President Nixon.
I mean, I`m assuming that`s where Schiff is going here. But he`s also said he`s going to release the full depositions.
MELBER: Right, which then that allows people to cherry-pick.
MADDOW: Yes, is the - and if this is now happening alongside an active counterintelligence investigation as to whether or not this scheme was an a foreign influence operation, which is reportedly what SDNY is looking at this from the Giuliani side, well that`s also going to be an interesting thing in terms how those two things dovetail.
MELBER: Yes. Because we keep an eye on your work, before I let you go, we did take just a couple moments from the full decade history of the "Rachel Maddow Show."
MELBER: Your first show, your interview with Barack Obama and you in Iraq, because that`s striking to me as someone who`s learned from you and the obviously looks up to you, I`ve said that before, it`s not a secret, to think about the evolution and the reporting you do which I would love to get your thoughts on the other side of a little bit of "Rachel Maddow at Work".
MADDOW: Wow. Thanks man.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Welcome to the "Rachel Maddow Show" here on MSNBC. We are very excited about the new show.
BARACK OBAMA, 44TH U.S. PRESIDENT: I think there are a lot of Republican voters out there, self-identified, who actually think that what the Bush administration has done has been damaging to the country.
MADDOW: We are coming to you live tonight from a U.S. military base inside the International zone aka the Green Zone here in Baghdad.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: How is your job different now? What do you do more or less of?
MADDOW: I clearly - I`m not doing a better job with my hair. It`s got - over time 12 years of basically the same haircut, looking better or worse depending on the humidity. Wow.
You know, this - it`s an incredible privilege to have a job where what you`re paid to do is read the news, report, talk to people and explain what you think is important. And that remains the core of what we do every day.
This thing that we`re in the middle of right now for this past three years or so, not just about the foreign influence on the 2016 election, not just about this impeachment crisis, but everything in between, I feel like has sort of tested all of our abilities to stay up on what matters, to stay up to keep all the dots in your head so that you can see when they do connect.
But the basic rules are the same. Try to increase the amount of useful information in the world. Try to make sure you`ve read everything and when you come - when it comes time to talk and say what was most important that you`ve got a good sense of how these things fit into context.
MELBER: Well, if you have to make sure you`ve read everything, I`ll just say on behalf of THE BEAT, start right here with "Blowout", a lot of other people, its #1. Rachel--
MADDOW: Thank you so much my friend.
MELBER :-- thanks for making time. You`re doing a million things. I`ve really appreciate it.
MADDOW: I appreciate it.
MELBER: Rachel Maddow, again the book, "Blowout" you can get it wherever books are sold. We`ll be right back.
MELBER: -- this show and that does it. Make sure to get "Blowout." Thanks for watching. Join me again 6:00 p.m. Eastern tomorrow.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END