ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: Thank you and good evening. We have a lot to get to tonight, and we begin with breaking news.
Today the congressional impeachment probe is going public for the first time. Here is the scene in Washington, as House investigators are releasing the first transcripts from their high stakes impeachment interviews, showing the world what some witnesses testified about President Trump`s Ukraine plot.
You`re looking at, of course, House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff. He was stepping out to the cameras here to recount damning testimony from the former Ambassador to Ukraine and from Mike Pompeo`s deputy at the State Department.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): One of the first witnesses to this irregular back channel that the President has established with Rudy Giuliani, the degree to which the apparatus of the State Department itself was being used to seek political information for a political purpose by the President of the United States.
Tomorrow we are scheduled to release the transcripts of Ambassador Volker and Ambassador Sondland, and we will continue to release the transcripts in an orderly way.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Democrats say this orderly release of calls and transcripts and everything they have that is supporting the evidence will ultimately deal with the Republicans` bluff and what they say are basically bad faith complaints about this probe and process thus far.
Democrats say that everyone will then see the same interviews, the same allegations, the same corroboration of a Trump-Giuliani plot that so concerned career diplomats, army officers and other nonpartisan veterans.
Now I`m going to go through right now just a few of the high points. Today`s release provides 473 pages of new testimony and it paints a rebuttal to the emerging argument that Trump`s Ukraine mistake or plot was some sort of simple phone call or just an uncompleted request. That`s part of the defense that Trump allies have lined up.
But here you have impeachment witnesses like a former ambassador saying that Donald Trump threatened her for her objections to that infamous July phone call, recounting she was shocked and surprised Trump would speak about me or any ambassador in that way to a foreign counterpart.
The point there is that this diplomat was concerned Trump was acting more in concert with foreign interests in this shadow agenda than the U.S. State Department. She details this by going on and showing how a now-famous Trump loyalists, Mr. Gordon Sondland, advisor to address these internal attacks on her by going political saying "you need to go big or go home. Tweet out there that you support the President and that all these are lies and everything else."
Well that is improper advice. Career diplomats do not go big on public political endorsements any more than military leaders do. Both categories of service members steer clear of, for example, both parties` political conventions. That`s just to avoid any perception that currently serving officials at the Pentagon or state are just political partisans.
Now then tonight we can also report on new testimony about the intersection of this shadow foreign policy plot and the President`s shadow communications arm. Because a Fox News anchor, who shared a lawyer with the President, whose name arose in the Mueller probe is back.
In the new transcript out tonight this ambassador details how Sean Hannity`s attacks on her and his alleged support of aspects of the Ukraine plot made it to the highest levels of the State Department where some officials called Hannity seeking any evidence to support basically these red-hot allegations against her.
The testimony stating that these officials asked basically to Fox News, "Hey what`s going on? Do you have any proof of these kinds of allegations or not? And if you have proof, tell me. And if not, stop."
Now press reporting can of course draw any kind of pushback or dialog from the government. That itself isn`t automatically suspicious. But impeachment investigators are probing the theory that this was part of the shadow foreign policy to hijack diplomacy for Trump`s reelection.
Fox News itself has rebuked Hannity for what you see on your screen, his appearance at a Trump rally, which of course makes him look less like an independent reporter and more like Trump`s surrogate.
So keep all that in mind when you go all the way back to march on Hannity`s show, which by the way, doesn`t usually delve into the names of individual ambassadors to all the different countries around the world. But on that show they went in. They named check this one Yovanovitch and that looks especially interesting given what is coming out today. That Giuliani and others were trying to oust her.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS HOST: A letter surfaced from a senior member of Congress to Secretary Pompeo accusing the current U.S. Ambassador in Kiev of bad-mouthing the Trump administration.
JOE DIGENOVA. FORMER US ATTORNEY: We also now know that the current United States Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch has badmouthed the President of the United States. This woman needs to be called home to the United States.
HANNITY: Oh, immediately--
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: That`s on Hannity`s show, that`s Trump`s big booster lawyer Joe diGenova and that`s what they were saying about the Ambassador back in this spring.
We now know, here`s what I`m showing you that tonight and why it came up in today`s released testimony. We know that while those public attacks were occurring, Fox News taking a sudden interest in a random ambassador, Rudy Giuliani was pushing his Ukraine plot.
And that`s not all, that Fox News lawyer you just saw there, Joe diGenova, who was making that case with Hannity, he legally represents the conservative writer who was pushing the same Ukraine plot. So that`s the context for this ambassador`s testimony about what looks like a coordinated smear campaign, not only to oust her, but to get a bribe out of Ukraine to help Trump win reelection.
Now the other new transcript today comes from an aide to Secretary of State Pompeo who criticized the administration for using the State Department for this, "To procure negative political information for domestic purposes."
And when asked about efforts to "Use the State Department to dig up dirt on political opponent," McKinley responds, "In 37 years in the Foreign Service in different parts of the globe and working on controversial issues, 10 years back in Washington and I had never seen that."
I`m joined now by former federal prosecutor John Flannery. Flannery, and Nayyera Haq, a former White House and State Department official in the Obama administration. Good evening to both of you.
Nayyera what is the level of significance of these of these disclosures in your view and how unusual are they given your experience to have any of this going on inside the State Department?
NAYYERA HAQ, FORMER OBAMA WHITE HOUSE SENIOR DIRECTOR: I mean, it`s fascinating in a very prurient reading a political thriller type way. I mean, it`s completely out of line with how we usually run national security and diplomacy efforts.
What we`re really seeing is how the President on a day-by-day basis was effectively extorting a foreign government to be able to advance his own political interests. Marie Yovanovitch was a career official who`s doing her job as best as she knows how and as she`s been trained to do. And effectively Giuliani and his goons that were sicked on her to try to make her bend, to do the President`s specific political bidding, that`s what we`re seeing in the transcript.
I also find very fascinating how Trump`s Twitter account has really filtered down to the lowest and highest levels of diplomacy. You see on the same day in which President Trump - there`s accounts of how his own staff was trying to do a 15-minute delay on his Twitter account.
That suddenly on the same day we see a transcript that says an ambassador has to tweet her loyalty in praise of the President. It is all about his own personal ego and not about the security of United States.
MELBER: So - that`s great. Walk us through what you`re getting at there, because obviously there are people who are welcome to go out and say whatever they want, no matter how great any politician is - right, people in public life in America, the political arm, the campaign arm.
You`re saying, as we mentioned earlier in our reporting, that the State Department like the Pentagon is supposed to be totally walled off from that.
HAQ: And this is a part where we talk about country over party. It`s actually part of the service agreement that foreign service officers of the State Department who were the career diplomats, military officers over at the Pentagon and the Armed Forces, they are supposed to be advancing that interests of the country and the policy.
There is a layer of political appointees who try to steer the ship in the direction that the President may want. But they usually work together in concert and not against each other. But at no point is it supposed to be praise the dear leader. This is what we think it is about praising America independent whoever holds the White House.
MELBER: John, let`s stipulate that these officials, who - many of them we`ve noted are - have bipartisan experience say this is terrible, bad for foreign policy, people might get fired over it. That`s all of the policy personnel side.
JOHN FLANNERY, FORMAL FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Right.
MELBER: but this isn`t just that level. This is a higher level today. These are the first transcripts we`ve seen tonight ever in the impeachment probe. Do you see anything in here that hits the higher level of evidence of a high crime?
FLANNERY: Yes. The thing that I was interested in, that I didn`t realize, because I didn`t focus at the time. When Hannity referenced the Congressman, he referenced Congressman Sessions from Texas.
You may remember that he was the target of the two associates of Rudy Giuliani to receive funds to write the letter attacking Yovanovitch. So a moment ago you were talking about kind of the rat`s nest of how these people are all intertwined.
MELBER: Well, I didn`t mention any rats.
FLANNERY: --diGenova, Rudy and so - I don`t you said rats, maybe - I was thinking it when you were saying it. But so what I see is a connection here and it goes back.
Like all compulsive lawyers I read at least the beginning of Yovanovitch`s testimony. And at the beginning of it the Republicans who wanted to be in the room were in the room and they did everything they could to be dilatory and to delay what was going on, unsuccessfully.
But on top of that, Yovanovitch gave us the sense of what she was going through over there and how they were spreading word that she was saying some people shouldn`t be prosecuted, which was a lie. And this goes back to November of `18 and coming forward. So this was a long campaign. And Rudy Giuliani was in there from the beginning, as we`ve learned from other witnesses.
So I think that they`re - the pieces are here, and if people fairly read the transcripts, all this naysaying about quid pro quo goes away and all we`re faced with is bribery and extortion and misconduct. But by many more people--
MELBER: So let me - (CROSSTALK)
MELBER: John you`re saying these transcripts alone were not up to everyone who was on the call, this isn`t that part, that`s not the first-hand account of the call.
FLANNERY: No, no.
MELBER: Although, impeachment investigators are saying they`re releasing as they go. But this part you`re saying provides what part of the bribery plot?
FLANNERY: Well what it provides is we have to get out of the way. Somebody who would prevent a rogue Rudy from doing what he wants to do, which is to create the situation for the President to have an easy pass in the 2020 election--
MELBER: Got it.
FLANNERY: --by having them announce a bogus investigation.
MELBER: I`m only slowing you down, because there`s so much happening here. Before I - and got another lawyer I`m going to bring in.
MELBER: But just with you as if my first lawyer, you`re saying that basically if the briefcase - the briefcase bribe is getting the Biden investigation, some of these diplomats that we`re hearing from now were people in the room who would say, "Don`t do that. We don`t do that." And so we`re seeing the part of the conspiracy tonight, according transcripts, we`re first those people had to be cleared out of the room then you bring in the bribe.
FLANNERY: Yes. That`s - and it looks like they were they were working on parallel tracks. But she was always a danger, because she was a straight shooter and they didn`t want a straight shooter and they wanted to be rumbling around behind the green curtain doing what they were doing.
Both for apparently Rudy`s own personal bank account, but also to help the President get this dirt on Biden and that became especially true in July when he was polling better. Biden was polling better--
MELBER: Right the context--
FLANNERY: --in the democratic primary.
MELBER: --of who they saw as an opponent. Both of you stay with me.
MELBER: As promised, I want to bring in another lawyer and one with tremendous experience here, Robert Dietz, the general counsel at the NSA, senior roles at CIA and Defense Department. Good evening to you sir.
ROBERT DIETZ, FORMER NSA GENERAL COUNSEL: Good evening, sir.
MELBER: I put the same question to you. And without profiling you too much, part of your job is to look at this from the perspective of the intelligence and security agencies, to give - the tie would go to that and typically in your day job, right? Give them a benign view of - or at least a defense of what happened.
Given your experience in that and you look at what we`re seeing in these new transcripts, do you see a way that this breaks towards the Trump administration or does this look well over the line?
DIETZ: To me this looks well over the line. As a lawyer, whenever I hear about a complicated case, I always try to put myself in the position of defense counsel, what is it that I would argue? And I don`t see it here.
And people have objected to the quid pro quo perhaps because it`s Latin, a much easier good old Anglo-Saxon word is bribery and it`s actually mentioned in Article II Section 3 as one of the high crimes and misdemeanors. This was an attempt at bribery. Do me a favor and I`ll give you $400 million in military aid.
MELBER: Yes. Lay it out. Congresswoman Speier was on the Intelligence Committee making a similar point that you raise there - the idea that we are we are looking potentially here at the allegations of a bribe. Here`s what she said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JACKIE SPEIER (D-CA): I think that you can make a case for bribery now and I think that discussion needs to be seriously developed and considered, because there was an effort to try to seek to get something of value from Mr. Zelensky, the President of Ukraine.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Robert, how important is that if the Democrats are moving towards making that case and she is on the key committee here that`s releasing these transcripts, to show that this was a larger plot. That there was a premeditated strategy, as John and I were just discussing, to get anyone who might object out of the room and then go forward with this.
DIETZ: Look, I think that`s all coloration. I think it`s important coloration certainly for a jury as an initial matter the House, but ultimately the Senate to tell a compelling story. And all this looks like it was an organized event. And sort of get rid of the players that are objectionable, including the Ambassador of the United States so Ukraine. So, yes, again it`s coloration, but telling a colorful story is important.
HAQ: And Ari, it`s very important that they show a pattern of behavior as part of the story, because it`s ultimately going to be a political process and not just about one moment in time that can be dismissed. This is about how Donald Trump has behaved the entire presidency. He`s using bullying tactics on U.S. government officials and actively running a disinformation campaign on a U.S. ambassador.
FLANNERY: Well, there`s also, if you think about it, the other part is holding back the money. And they hold back the $391 million and are asked about it. It could have gone in February and it was delayed continuously. And it was delayed presumably for what was said in the readout, which we accept there`s only an excerpt of what was fully said.
But in the excerpt we basically said I need the Javelins to defend my nation says Zelensky. He says, yes, but I have a favor though. And he says it`s about it`s about getting at the Biden. And this didn`t happen in a single phone call. This one orchestrated going back to November.
These guys have been working on this for their campaign and it has only to do with the President`s election. But they would put at risk Ukraine against a Russian adversary for this political campaign. And if they`re if that`s not a straight-out bribery, if that`s not extortion then I don`t know what is.
And I just can`t believe people are belaboring the question and still talking about quid pro quo. This is the crime, let`s talk frankly about it and have anybody say why it`s not bribery, because it is.
MELBER: Right. And that goes right--
DIETZ: If I--
MELBER: Go ahead.
DIETZ: If I could add. It also violates the federal election law. You`re not allowed as a foreigner to influence American elections. Americans are not allowed to take money from foreigners to enhance their ability to win an election. So that itself is a crime as in high crime and misdemeanor.
MELBER: Yes. Well, each of you with your experience have laid it out. Flannery, I got to fit in a break. It`s the generally reason I cut in, but my thanks to John, Nayyera Haq and Robert Dietz to each of you for joining us tonight.
Coming up, Donald Trump and his Republican allies have a new excuse about this, we`re going to get into fact-checking that. Also new reporting on Giuliani who was chasing down Ukraine conspiracies as recently as last week in New York, that`s brand-new. And you haven`t heard about this yet, a giant rebuke. Donald Trump was just ordered by the Appeals Court to turn over his tax returns.
We have all of that and special preview of Roger Stone goes on trial tomorrow. I`m Ari Melber and you are watching THE BEAT on MSNBC.
MELBER: Today marks the first time of actual witness interviews from the Trump impeachment probe are going public. And this is just the beginning, as elected Republicans are confronted with these full transcripts from the witness depositions - two today, more tomorrow, then public hearings.
And it will become harder for Trump defenders to credibly deny the corroborated facts that President demanded Ukraine go after the Biden`s and that has some Trump allies struggling with the defense.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DANA BASH, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Was there a time when military aid was held up because the President wanted Ukraine to look into the Biden?
KELLYANNE CONWAY, COUNSELOR TO THE PRESIDENT: I don`t know. But I know they`ve got their aid.
REP. TOM COLE (R-OK): I look at it this way. The aid is there and the investigations didn`t happen. So if there was a quid pro quo, it certainly weren`t a very effective one.
DR. BILL BENNETT, DRUG CZAR UNDER GEORGE H.W. BUSH: Look, take the quid pro quo thing, all the foreign relations is quid pro quo. We do things for them, they do things for us. There`s quid pro quo, there is bad quid pro quo. This quid pro quo if it actually was completed, which it wasn`t, was a good thing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Remember when Trump went from no collusion to pro collusion? Well, the message here has gone from no quid pro quo to all foreign policy is quid pro quo to don`t forget about good quid pro quo. Now it`s not just about pundits and Trump defenders, the people with an actual vote on Trump`s potential guilt, U.S. Senators, are also debating these very arguments.
A growing number of Republican Senators considering admitting there was a quid pro quo in order to acknowledge some of the facts, while landing on the argument that it would still not be impeachable. "The Washington Post" reporting that option was raised at a recent private Senate GOP lunch where Senator John Kennedy said maybe there was a quid pro quo, but the U.S. government often attaches conditions to foreign aid.
Now President Trump responded to that article by arguing it was quote "false," but adding "there`s nothing wrong with a quid pro quo, because it`s not even an impeachable event." Note that while pretending to shoot down that story, the President`s actually giving it attention on twitter and endorsing the core defense argument that Republicans are looking to argue that in equate pro quo, bribery would not be impeachable.
Fact check, false. Bribery is impeachable. It`s actually one of only two specified offense is listed as impeachable, we were just discussing this earlier in the show. Now it`s always up to the Senate to decide what to do in any trial. But it is a constitutional argument bribery is one of the most impeachable examples you could possibly come up with.
Now those senators are not the only potential jurors in a Trump related trial. You know what starts tomorrow - Jury selection in the trial of Trump`s longest-serving advisor Roger Stone for witness tampering.
Now if the House does impeach Donald Trump it is now entirely possible that both he and his longtime advisor could be awaiting verdicts at the same time and the senators are facing voters who increasingly back impeachment, something that President remains in denial about.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: Mr. President, according to several recent polls, more Americans want you to be impeached and removed from the office than the number of Americans who don`t--
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You`re reading the wrong poll.
REPORTER: Fox News, Wall Street Journal, NBC, ABC, Washington Post--
TRUMP: Let me just tell you I have the real polls. I have the real polls. The CNN are fake, the Fox polls have always been lousy--
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: You know, the President`s mentality there could be summed up by another confident, sometime defended, Shawn Carter, who famously said, "He who does not feel me, is not real to me," a psychological denial of anyone who doesn`t support or feel you. In that same song Carter goes on to say, "Cops want to knock me, DEA wants to box me in, but somehow I beat them charges like Rocky."
MELBER: And Roger Stone, who you see there on video getting arrested, beat the charges like Rocky. Can Donald Trump? Well, David Corn, and former Reagan speechwriter John Podhoretz is here to tackle that in 30 seconds.
MELBER: We are back on this mounting case against President Trump with Washington Bureau Chief for "Mother Jones," David Corn, and Commercial Magazine`s John Podhoretz , it`s a former speechwriter for President Reagan. Good evening to both of you.
JOHN PODHORETZ, COMMENTARY MAGAZINE EDITOR: Hi.
DAVID CORN, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, MOTHER JONES: Good evening.
MELBER: David I put the Shawn Carter question to you first. Can Trump beat these charges like Rocky and can he do so with this new bribery type defense?
CORN: Well, I don`t think he`s saying that he committed bribery. I think he said it was beautiful and perfect, whatever you might want to call it. Yes, I think it`s pretty clear, day-by-day, the evidence gets stronger and stronger that there was corrupt attempt intent and then it wasn`t just a quid pro quo, extortion, bribery these are better descriptions of what happened.
So he`s not going to beat the charge in the sense that it`s likely that the House is going to go ahead and impeach him and send him to a trial in the Senate where chaos can rule and we don`t know what`s going to happen. And at this point it`s hard to conceive those Republican Senators voting to convict him.
They`re trying to do everything they can to concede reality, to acknowledge reality, but yet claim that there`s nothing really wrong here. At least nothing that`s impeachable. So he`s not going to - I don`t know if there`s a rap song about beating and indictment. But if there is, it would not apply in this case.
PODHORETZ: I just want to say. I believe from the context of the constitutional mention of bribery that what the Founders probably meant there was that if the President were himself paid a bribe that that would be impeachable.
MELBER: That the idea that Ukraine investigation is the bribe. If you`re rich, you don`t need money, you need power.
PODHORETZ: Although, I thought the bribe was releasing money. I mean, the--
MELBER: No, the legal theory - we`re doing it right here live on "THE BEAT." The legal theory is you walk in and if you have no cash for your campaign, you want a briefcase of cash.
MELBER: if you are the sitting President of United States you don`t need a briefcase of cash. In this case the election help he wants, the bribe he`s seeking in his office is Ukraine announcing the investigation, which they already did, basically, and hopefully in his case doing it.
MELBER: That`s the bribe.
PODHORETZ: Well, look, it`s bad. However you slice it, it`s bad. That was never intended to be a defense, and I understand - I mean, the question is what you posed before the break, which is will Republicans say at - when all this is said and done. What happened wasn`t good, but we`re not right we`re not going to kick him out of office for it. And I think that is 95 percent what`s going to happen.
MELBER: You think that`s where its headed?
PODHORETZ: They will say that there will be a rainbow of views going from what he did was just wonderful, because we need to find out about those terrible Biden`s and whether a server was buried in the sands of Ukraine, or it was really bad.
But, look, there`s an election coming up in November. The American public now has the facts and the American public will serve as the impeachment, will serve to remove the President--
MELBER: Well, and part of the--
PODHORETZ: --if he deserves removing.
MELBER: --part of "The Washington Post" coverage here says, look, the President is frustrated that Senate Republicans by seeming to change his messaging strategy every day, rather than present a coherent defense of his actions. That it is it is unusual we`ve kind of looked at some of the past historical examples of impeachment. And one thing that`s unusual is to have the Senate in the lead because the client won`t pick a defense.
PODHORETZ: Well, look, it`s - even weirder is you can see that the Senate - that the smart cynical thing to do if you don`t want to remove them from office is to say look he did a bad thing, but it`s not the worst thing. It`s not - you know - we didn`t he didn`t shoot someone on Fifth Avenue and there`s an election coming up.
Trump make himself be unsatisfied by that and punish, then the question is, is he going to make it clear to Republican Senators that he will look askance if they do that and criticize him, because he doesn`t like to be criticized at all and will he do it in such a way that they could get primary - will there be time for someone to primary them in 2020. And I - that we really don`t know the answer.
Obviously, the thing that he needs is to not be removed from office if there`s an impeachment. But he is not - he doesn`t play safe ball. He may go for swinging for the fences and say not only shouldn`t you remove me from office, you have to defend me during this process. I did that - the call was perfect.
MELBER: Right and--
PODHORETZ: Say the call was perfect.
MELBER: And then to John`s point, David, that`s clearly where a lot of Senate Republicans disagree with the President on meeting. Whatever - in John`s analysis, whatever egocentric reasons there may be for a certain defense these are Republicans, some of whom are up this cycle, some of whom are up later, and they don`t necessarily want to own all of that.
As for the improvising, I want to play for you, David, because we always try to get everyone we can on this show to get through all these defenses and ideas. And we had the top national spokesperson for the RNC on - this was just, Friday, and she was sort of going back and forth from nothing to see here to what I affectionately call the double Mulvaney. We do it all the time. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Mick Mulvaney - just to be clear - just to be clear, "what you described is a quid pro quo." Mick Mulvaney, "We do it all the time with foreign policy, that`s why we held up the money." Was he wrong when he admitted that?
LIZ HARRINGTON, REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE SPOKESPERSON: He said we held up the money because it`s on the transcript. We can all read it for yourselves. We wanted Europe to do more, our allies - why weren`t they doing more for - to help Ukraine? And we wanted cooperation in the legitimate Justice Department investigation into Ukraine election meddling in the 2016 election.
MELBER: You`re kind of doing a double Mulvaney. You`re saying, yes, this was part of it. Yes, that`s what you needed from Ukraine?
HARRINGTON: It had nothing to do with Biden.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: David, I mean, it had to do with Biden, because the White House admitted that already.
CORN: And in how to do with the servers in a far-right kooky conspiracy theory. I mean, the problem that some of these Republican Senators are going to have is that Trump and his acolytes and fellow cultists, like you just have in your show, change their tune. They basically create a never- ending whipsaw of whether things are wrong, not wrong; right, not right.
And it`s you know he makes it very hard for reasonable people who want to have a toe in the pool of reality to stick with. And--
MELBER: But here is the thing--
CORN: Listen, I still think they can do it.
MELBER: But you are saying, David, they doing full Mulvaney - David, you`re saying going full Mulvaney still allowed Senate Republicans to look less counterfactual?
CORN: To a certain degree. I don`t think they`re going to go full Mulvaney, because full Mulvaney now is like a 360-degree whirling dervish, and you don`t really know where they`re going to land, because they change every moment the White House position.
I do think - I think John`s right and I think other people have said this. They will find a way to create a certain degree of distance from the chaos of the Trump defense.
MELBER: Right. I want to be - I`m over on time. But John do you see full Mulvaney?
PODHORETZ: Well, I think, basically what we have here is Republicans are going to be like Tim Matheson in "Animal House" when they`re on trial. You know and he basically says - they say, "Did you do this?" And he`s like I`m not going to have to do - run down the United States of America and march out of the hall.
We don`t know what probably we`re going to do. One thing that we know that they will do either in the impeachment or the removal is some kind of - there will be some kind of stunt at some point where there`s a walkout or there`s a scene or that basically they say, we don`t accept your - the legitimacy of any of this--
MELBER: Stunt - yes.
PODHORETZ: --and just stunt it out.
MELBER: Well, you see, David, we started with Shawn Carter and we ended with stunting.
CORN: Well, we didn`t get to twerking.
MELBER: That`s true.
PODHORETZ: We`re all too old to twerk.
PODHORETZ: If you and I were to--
MELBER: Fact check, John.
CORN: We did not get to twerking.
PODHORETZ: I have nothing to - I have nothing to add there. I`ve nothing to add.
MELBER: Its rare.
MELBER: It`s rare to have these moments.
PODHORETZ: I`m - I`ve gone totally up.
MELBER: My special thanks to David and John. We went through a lot of it and thankfully not all of it.
When we come back, there is late breaking news on Giuliani and his associate now saying he will cooperate with impeachment probe, that`s new. Also, Donald Trump getting a majorly set back on taxes, we will tell you why this is criminally significant.
MELBER: Breaking news this hour. Rudy Giuliani`s indicted Ukrainian linked associate is announcing he will cooperate with this impeachment probe. NBC News confirming, Reuters first reporting, Lev Parnas will comply with the impeachment investigator`s requests and potential testimony. This is according to his lawyer tonight.
news on the indicted Giuliani aide comes, as we`re also learning that the former diplomat to Ukraine told impeachment investigators Giuliani was threatening her, a major allegation that adds to the headaches for the Trump lawyer, now under criminal investigation himself.
Now get this. It turns out he`s also still holding meetings with Ukrainians about the election. Within the last week he was pushing for foreign election interference, sitting down at his New York City office with a former Ukrainian diplomat who has pushed the conspiracy theory that Ukraine was working with the DNC against Trump back in 2016.
NBC reporting all this shows that Giuliani`s efforts at a shadow foreign policy and the Ukraine plot, which is of course the whole heart of the impeachment probe, basically continues.
Now in public, we can note that Giuliani has been keeping a low profile, staying off TV, and while he often e-mails and texts reporters, he did not provide comment to NBC on this new report I`m telling you about.
And while Giuliani is not putting himself on television lately, SNL just put him on blast.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was reported that just after President should have named Rudy Giuliani as his cybersecurity adviser in 2017 Giuliani went to an Apple Store for help after he entered the wrong password in his phone 10 times and permanently locked himself out. Even worse, he went to this Apple store.
By the way, of course, Giuliani`s iPhone wouldn`t unlock, because even Apple`s face ID couldn`t recognize the man Rudy has become.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: I want to bring a Daily Beast Reporter, Betsy Woodruff Swan; and Harvard University Professor Leah Wright Rigueur.
LEAH WRIGHT RIGUEUR, HARVARD UNIVERSITY, KENNEDY SCHOOL OF GOVERNMENT: Good evening.
BETSY WOODRUFF SWAN, THE DAILY BEAST: Hey.
MELBER: Professor, he won`t stop, he doesn`t have an announcement yet of a lawyer. SNL has their take on it. What do you see is important here, because there`s a political lane, there`s the public lane and then there`s the illegal impeachment lane.
RIGUEUR: Well, I should give a shout out to Diddy since it`s his birthday today and say, "Can`t stop, won`t stop," and that seems to be Mr. Giuliani`s motto--
MELBER: Happy birthday Diddy--
RIGUEUR: --for the past couple of months. Happy birthday, Diddy. I think what we`re seeing here is a person who is motivated--
MELBER: I also have to - I have to say one more thing. We have below you on the screen "Can`t stop, won`t stop," but I didn`t know you were going to say that. So that is a - that`s a mind-meld.
RIGUEUR: You know we`re here, we`re here. I think what we`re seeing is the continuation of Rudy Giuliani showcasing the two people that he is most interested in protecting, Donald Trump and himself.
And so what ends up happening is, even though he knows that he should be staying away from various individuals, even though he knows that he shouldn`t be doing this. He is out there, he is in continuing to look for conversations and corruption and conspiracies around Ukraine. And he is continuing to try to influence the public conversation around Ukraine, which means taking the pressure off of Donald Trump and putting it back on Joe Biden.
So is this the smartest strategy? I don`t actually think it is the smartest strategy. But we are still continuing to have a conversation around Joe Biden in these corruption charges, in these corruption allegations, even though there are conspiracies, even as Rudy Giuliani continues to somewhat self-incriminate.
SWAN: First I`d like to associate myself with the happy birthday wishes to Diddy, co-signing that. Second, the Lev Parnas news that just came out is something that likely is making Mayor Giuliani extremely nervous.
When people make dramatic switches in the way that they`re talking about their levels of cooperation with any branch of the federal government, the first thing that I think most lawyers think is, is there some sort of plea- deal conversation that`s going on.
I want to be clear that - I don`t have any reporting to that effect. But this new sort of - the newly cooperative version of Lev Parnas suggests that he`s trying to potentially curry favor with folks in the federal government.
It`s also a very weird plot twist for Capitol Hill. Members of the congressional committees that are trying to investigate the President for impeachment, as part of an impeachment inquiry, have said that they`re hoping this could be the last week of closed-door depositions.
They`re going to want to talk to Lev Parnas behind closed doors before they put him on any sort of public witness stand--
MELBER: So you see this--
SWAN: There are going to have move fast--
MELBER: Yes, Betsy, let me draw you out on this. I mean, you see this as a significant and not automatic development, because sometimes there`s so many things flying - this person, that person`s turning over materials. OK. Well, they`re supposed to in normal times, they almost all do. But you see this as more of an inflection?
SWAN: No question, especially because it was just a couple weeks ago that Parnas and Fruman`s then lawyer John Dowd said that they would not be cooperating with the impeachment inquiry. He wrote a letter that I obtained saying that the impeachment inquiry was on its face kind of fraudulent or fake.
The fact that Parnas is now saying, actually I`m going to be helpful to you guys. In his specific case, I think, is a large and meaningful change and it suggests that he`s worried. When people who are close associates of Rudy Giuliani get worried about the federal government, that`s probably a reason for the Mayor himself to have a fairly significantly higher stress level.
RIGUEUR: I completely agree with this. I mean, one of the - the most striking things about what`s going on right now is the complete about-face. This abrupt shift from this camp, going from saying - suggesting we`re not going to cooperate, this investigation is not, this inquiry is not valid. To saying, no, we`re actually willing to cooperate, we`re willing to participate.
I think we should all be eager to hear - at least hear reports of what`s going to happen during that testimony. What are the documents that are going to come forward, because part of what is - part of what is happening is that a new kind of story or it`s contributing to a new kind of story emerging.
And again, Rudy Giuliani has been in the hot seat for some time now, I would be extremely concerned if I was Rudy Giuliani. It also explains, in part, why he continues to do - continues to go on essentially what is a wild goose chase and continues to engage in these off the books shadow government meetings, because the people are turning up the heat on him right now, so he is concerned.
So I think that`s part - that partially explains why we continue to see this behavior. One more thing, Ari, that I think is important. there`s something to be said about Rudy Giuliani and his feelings towards Congress.
And one of the things that is really striking to think about this is the way that Rudy Giuliani used Congress right now. He`s been dismissive, he`s been - he`s rejected Congress. So even while I think they`re significant fears then he is displaying behavior that indicate that he is concerned, he has also essentially said to Democrats I don`t care, force, me make me.
So the challenge - he is laying part of the challenge back in Democrats lap.
MELBER: And so Betsy do you have any idea, briefly, when we would hear from Parnas?
SWAN: If he wants to talk to Congress before they start public hearings he`s going to need to get in there potentially within the next four or five business days. It`s going to have to be quick. That said, if he`s been cooperating with the Justice Department then it`s possible he can just hit forward on an e-mail and send Capitol Hill any documents that he may or may not have provided to DOJ.
MELBER: Yes. And we saw that matching at times with requester and other probes where they would say, "Hey, we just want to see everything that you found responsive in the other thing."
Although impeachment is broader, and as we`ve been covering all night, there are aspects to what the House is looking at impeachment that may not be technical felonies, but go to what they call the shadow foreign policy. So a lot here.
Betsy and Leah, thanks to both of you.
SWAN: Thank you.
RIGUEUR: Thank you.
MELBER: Up ahead. What to expect when Roger Stone`s trial starts tomorrow. But first I`m going to report for you on a major legal loss for Trump, one step closer to only his taxes going public, but why John Roberts could be key to so many things looming for Trump, including an impeachment trial.
MELBER: President Trump has been fighting to hide his tax returns for as long as they`ve been in public demand. Now, today, he lost a huge case on that front. Federal judges ordering he turn over his tax returns to the Manhattan DA.
The case stems from investigations into Donald Trump`s hush money payments during the 2016 campaign. Trump lawyer Michael Cohen was convicted, of course, of a federal crime related to those very payments.
The DA probing if anyone, including potentially Donald Trump, broke New York laws in this similar case. Well there have been several efforts, of course, to get Trump`s taxes, including a different one by Congress.
You may wonder, OK, Ari, where does this one fit in. Well, I can tell you this tonight. This new one, with this ruling is the most criminally significant, because the return could go to a prosecutor. As of tonight this one is also very high level. The only court above this appeals court that just dealt this blow to Trump is the U.S. Supreme Court.
TRUMP would have to file an appeal to the Supreme Court to stop this, and that`s what Trump lawyer Jay Sekulow is announcing late today, plans to appeal to the Supreme Court to protect Trump`s taxes.
So what comes next? Well Trump`s team would need four justices to agree to even take this appeal. If they fail at that, well they lose and the taxes go to the DA. If they have at least four justices, the case would go on to the Supreme Court`s docket and they would need five full justices is of course to win in a traditional ruling that would try to overrule this and hold back the taxes.
Now many court watchers think Donald Trump starts out a lot of cases with at least four sympathetic justices. Kavanaugh and Gorsuch, that put on the court by the way, and Thomas and Alito. John Roberts has become something of a swing vote on certain issues, which could be the case on this one --on Trump`s taxes, which is an unusual issue for the court to resolve.
And if the Supreme Court does take this case that could mean that by early next year John Roberts would be the key vote in deciding whether Donald Trump`s taxes are ever forked over or John Roberts also would be the person presiding over any potential impeachment trial of Mr. Trump in this Senate, making for a very pivotal time for Donald Trump who has a great deal of temporary power in Washington and John Roberts, who has a great deal of permanent power.
Now, I can tell you one other thing, Roger Stone`s criminal trial kicks off tomorrow. We have a preview when we come back.
MELBER: I want to tell you, tomorrow Donald Trump`s longtime adviser Roger Stone is going on trial. This is all about misleading Congress about his dealings with WikiLeaks and other charges of obstruction and witness tampering. He could face prison time if convicted.
Some of the alleges, though, go to major controversies that are bigger than this case, including Stone`s public claims that he had some kind of channel to Julian Assange or whether that person was or was not radio host, Randy Credico.
Stone`s own associates have been contradicting him in public. They`ve also testified against Donald Trump before going to prison like, remember, Michael Cohen, he said Roger Stone was personally briefing then candidate Trump about WikiLeaks` plans.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROGER STONE, POLITICAL CONSULTANT: I can honestly say that candidate Trump - Donald Trump, President Trump and I have never discussed the WikiLeaks disclosures.
MICHAEL COHEN, FORMER ATTORNEY FOR DONALD TRUMP: Mr. Stone told Mr. Trump he had just gotten off the phone with Julian Assange and Mr. Assange told Mr. Stone that within a couple of days there would be a massive dump of e- mails that would damage Hillary Clinton`s campaign.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: This week we`re going to get into those conflicting stories. Now prosecutors do have to prove way more than just that Stone was deceitful along the line. They have to prove he knowingly deceived Congress or authorities and knowingly tampered with witnesses.
The whole obstruction case, of course, grew originally out of the Mueller probe. And tonight, many are still trying to make sense of these brand new disclosures. This is something I`m about to tell you that we haven`t had time to get to yet, long secret evidence that inside the Mueller probe that Buzzfeed just obtained by filing a Freedom of Information request.
And these disclosures show another top Trump official, who ultimately pled guilty, Rick Gates, was at the time "Very happy about the WikiLeaks e- mails. He even told investigators the RNC had non-public information about the timing of those WikiLeaks releases."
Now why does that matter? Well, it suggests some Republicans in high places, including some who went onto be convicted of crimes, well, they believe that Roger Stone or some other Stone like sources did have inside Intel from WikiLeaks.
Now to be clear, the RNC disputes that and Stone and of course maintains his innocence, that`s why he`s going to trial. Now what comes next? Now, this trial is about to bring a lot of people back into public view, both Gates and Credico who I just mentioned, they are going to be probably testifying as is Steve Bannon.
So we`re going to see a lot come out. We`re going to cover any big news that comes out of this trial starting, as I tell you, as it kicks off tomorrow. And that`s not all that`s going on tomorrow. We will preview a ton of interviews around here, because there`s so much going on.
But I want to tell you, tomorrow night, Oscar winner Forest Whittaker is going to be here on "THE BEAT." We`re going to be discussing the new series of "Godfather of Harlem," tackling everything from the drug war to Malcolm X. That`s Forest Whitaker tomorrow night right here on THE BEAT at 6:00 p.m. Eastern. So I hope you mark your calendar and join us.
And don`t go anywhere right now, because "HARDBALL" with Chris Matthews is up next.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END