CHUCK TODD, MSNBC HOST: I will talk to two senators who met with Ukraine President Zelensky while the military assistance was being withheld, Democratic Chris Murphy and Republican Ron Johnson comes back to "MEET THE PRESS," and the new Democratic presidential candidate, Deval Patrick.
"THE BEAT" though with Ari Melber starts right now.
Good evening, Ari.
ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Chuck. Thank you very much. Tonight we have breaking coverage of a momentous impeachment hearing today. This diplomat recounting the entire Ukraine plot, the President hitting back with an attack that some say adds to the impeachment evidence against him.
And Donald Trump`s longtime adviser Roger Stone convicted of the very obstruction Trump stands accused of.
I wish you a good evening on this Friday night. We are capping a week, which has certainly been one of the objectively worst of President Trump`s entire time in office. Washington on edge all day for the second day of impeachment hearings as the former Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch added new details to the broad outline of the alleged Ukraine bribery plot.
Rudy Giuliani trying to oust her so that he could have his agenda move forward. And then as she testified about that, and about Donald Trump`s smear campaign against her, the President literally attacked her today during the proceeding, leading to this truly surreal moment.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): And now the President in real-time is attacking you. What affect do you think that has on other witnesses` willingness to come forward and expose wrong doing?
MARIE YOVANOVITCH, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO UKRAINE: Well, it`s very intimidating.
SCHIFF: It`s designed to intimidate, is it not?
YOVANOVITCH: I mean, I can`t speak to what the President is trying to do, but I think the effect is to be intimidating.
SCHIFF: Well, I want to let you know, Ambassador, that some of us here take witness intimidation very, very seriously.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Witness intimidation is very serious. It is literally a felony. It often also can reveal the corrupt intent of a cover up, that is to say you intimidate, because you don`t want the truth to come out. Now for citizens, it is something that can land you in jail. That is what Roger Stone is actually facing today after being found guilty of all seven counts, a story we`ll bring you in this hour.
Now for a President, witness tampering, obstruction, it can get you impeached. Now that is a point so clearly established that in addition to the obvious and expected rebuke of Donald Trump today by legal experts for what you just saw for what he did, by obviously the Democratic officials - we just showed you Chairman Schiff.
He was also rebuked in the normally friendly confines of Fox News, where voices immediately put Donald Trump on blast, decrying his blatant effort of witness intimidation, including criticism by conservative prosecutor today Ken Starr.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KEN STARR, FORMER UNITED STATES SOLICITOR GENERAL: The President was not advised by counsel in deciding to do this tweet, extraordinarily poor judgment. Obviously, this was, I think, quite injurious.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: --adding essentially an article of impeachment real time.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Donald Trump adding to the case against Donald Trump by doing more of the same. Because he was, of course, caught going after this same diplomat in the infamous phone call with the Ukrainian President, which is under investigation in the impeachment probe, infamously saying, she`s going to go through some things.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
YOVANOVITCH: President Trump said that I was bad news to another world leader and that I would be going through some things. So, I was - it was a terrible moment. A person who saw me actually reading a transcript said that the color drained from my face.
DANIEL GOLDMAN, DEMOCRATIC COUNSEL: What were you concerned about?
YOVANOVITCH: She`s going to go through some things. It didn`t sound good. It sounded like a threat.
GOLDMAN: Did you feel threatened?
YOVANOVITCH: I did.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: She felt threatened. She says she was threatened. This was just a part of a day of a lot of momentous pieces of information coming out. And I can tell you one more thing before I bring in our experts. You`re watching this story unfold. It is really something else.
You`ve probably noticed that very little about the impeachment process to- date in the House has been bipartisan. But that`s the other notable thing in today`s hearing is what you didn`t hear, because house Republicans largely did not echo Donald Trump`s tactics today. Several even hailed this diplomat`s record of independent non-partisan service. And that basic courtesy, it`s not that big a deal to note that someone this long served such a record.
But it adds fuel to the case against Donald Trump, because democrats are arguing that is exactly why Giuliani and Donald Trump targeted her. They needed to get rid of people like her, because they thought she would be more likely to stop an international bribery plot than to join one.
Now we turn to our experts on this momentous day, Pulitzer Prize winning author and historian Jon Meacham; David Corn, Mother Jones` Washington Bureau Chief, who was inside that hearing room today; and former Counsel to the Mayor of New York and former SDNY Civil Prosecutor, Maya Wiley. Good evening, everyone.
David what was important that jumped out to both you from your perspective inside the room and the way this is all being understood across the nation?
DAVID CORN, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, MOTHER JONES: I think what was important was she came across really well as what we know her to be, a career public servant. She wasn`t representing the deep state. She wasn`t putting forward any conspiracy theories designed to get Trump. She was there telling her story.
And in a lot of ways she does not still - she still does not know what happened to her. We still don`t have good answers about why Rudy Giuliani and his two business associates who now have been indicted and a bunch of corrupt current and past prosecutors in Ukraine felt that she was such a target that they had to mount an international smear campaign, disinformation game.
So, she`s a bit befuddled about what happened to her. She just went there to do her job and focus on corruption and other matters and somehow she ran afoul of these people. So, it raises a very big question. Why were they scared of her? And that`s something that, obviously, the two indicted people could talk about, Rudy Giuliani could, and it`s also something that the Republicans didn`t even get close to asking her about. They simply don`t care.
MELBER: Maya, take a look at this exchange from today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JIM HIMES (D-CT): Would you have recommended to the President of the United States that he asked the new Ukrainian President to investigate - and I`m quoting from the transcript here - "crowd strike or the server?"
HIMES: Would you have supported a three-month delay in congressionally mandated military aid to Ukraine?
HIMES: Would you have recommended to the President that he ask a new President of Ukraine to, quote, "find out about Biden`s son?"
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Maya, it seems there very clearly they`re laying out the case that she would get in the way of this plot that Donald Trump thought would help him get reelected.
MAYA WILEY, FORMER COUNSEL TO MAYOR OF NEW YORK: That is certainly the way it came off. Obviously, the former ambassador could not say what was in Trump`s mind. But that was why it was so important to lay that foundation. I mean, she`s really the foundation of the house upon which impeachment is being built.
Because fundamentally it`s about Donald Trump abusing his power with a foreign nation, trying to get them involved in domestic affairs. There was a point later in the hearing where she really eloquently talked about the importance of being non-partisan in the context of dealing with foreign governments, because when we`re abroad, our only interests are national interests, not personal interests.
And what was being laid out in this hearing is that there`s simply no other explanation. And Republicans could not come up and haven`t in the days of public hearings that we`ve had so far any evidence that provides any alternative narrative.
And really importantly, the one we thought was - at least one we were hearing was, well, Donald Trump`s primary interest was overall corruption. And I think one of the things that was laid out very clearly today is, this is the person, this is the career public servant who`s served six Presidents, who was standing in the way of corruption.
And it was the very people she was blocking who were bad mouthing her to the president and getting her moved out of the way. And that included his personal attorney who publicly stated he was there to defend Donald Trump.
MELBER: Jon, what are Americans learning this week after these first two impeachment hearings?
JON MEACHAM, PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: Well, they`re learning anew that we have a President who attacks those who intimidate him by their own example, whether it`s the Khan (ph) family, whether it`s John McCain, whether it`s this ambassador who seems very clearly to be working in a tradition.
Our first three diplomats in this country were Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, and Thomas Jefferson. So, we started pretty high on the chart, and we`ve done very, very well ever since then. My sense is that we have a President who is congenitally incapable of seeing beyond his own self- interest.
And what these witnesses have done is proven that while he wants to build a wall at the border, he has no interest in building a wall around our elections. My hope is - I`ve looked this up the other day. 13% of self- identified Republicans voted for Barack Obama in 2008. It`s all exit polls, so it`s a solid number, why would you say it if it weren`t true.
If you could get half those folks, if you could get 7%, 8% of those republicans to say this is not what we want and whatever we may think about Hillary Clinton, that election already happened, I would ask those Republicans tonight do they think, Mike Pence - a President Mike Pence would intimidate an American career diplomat?
Do they think a President Mike Pence would attack John McCain? Do they think a President Mike Pence would say he didn`t understand what George H.W. Bush meant when he said a thousand points of light?
Why can`t they make this choice? Why can`t they admit we took a flier and we were wrong? That would be true of the American tradition of actually responding to changing data?
MELBER: Well, and Jon, you think about the old phrase of defining deviancy down. The Watergate burglary was not ultimately considered the most successful crime operation. It was famously decried as a third rate burglary. But few people on the Republican side then were saying, well, the fact that it wasn`t effective - that it wasn`t a good burglary, whatever that mean if you`re into crime, was not a very good defense.
And so I put to you with the historical context briefly here`s the remarks from Congressman Schiff on that today as we heard some Republicans say, well, the entire plot didn`t get pulled off. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SCHIFF: The fact that they failed in this solicitation of bribery doesn`t make it any less bribery, doesn`t make it any less immoral or corrupt. It just means it was unsuccessful.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MEACHAM: The test of the Nixon impeachment was not the efficacy of either the break in or the cover up, both of which were disasters, because here we are talking about them. I remember hearing Clifton White, a Barry Goldwater strategist say in the 1980s, "one of the more insane things about Watergate was, if you have to break into the party Chairman`s office, you should already know what they`re saying in the party Chairman`s office."
So, arguing that somehow or another the crime was not commensurate with the punishment here is not an argument. This is a President who has a pattern of abusing his power. And the fact that he can`t do it very well is not a reason to leave someone at the pinnacle of power as the steward of a fragile, fragile, fragile 242-year constitutional order.
There`s something prophylactic about impeachment too. George Mason at the Constitutional Convention said shall, Any man be above justice, know particularly the man who can commit the most extensive injustice. And I think we should focus on that. This is also about committing even more extensive injustice.
MELBER: Right. And what is the - nothing is neutral. You can`t be neutral on a moving train. There`s nothing neutral about being complicit in some of this alleged conduct including what just happened today. I want to give David Corn one more - excuse me, Maya Wiley one losing. David Corn comes back later this hour.
Maya, Jon Meacham, coming through with the George Mason bars quote we could all consider. What do you see going on from here as Americans do see some bipartisanship, I`m calling it, or at least some refusal by some House Republicans and the Ken Starr of the world to say just anything goes?
WILEY: Yes, I mean I think what we`re looking at is the argument that we are either going to have a constitutional order with a congress that has the authority to provide balanced oversight over the executive branch or we`re going to have a President who continuously tries to violate the law of the land for personal gain and just not worry as long as he`s not able to be successful at it.
But one of the things we heard from Yovanovitch today was, he`s been very successful at undermining our national security, and that is an abuse of authority that`s impeachable. It`s impeachable. It`s impeachable. And I think we have to remember that. Our national security does not come after the personal interests of one man.
MELBER: Right. Right. And that is something these hearings are doing more, I think, than some other probes into Donald Trump is really putting the stakes there. As mentioned David Corn comes back. Maya and Jon, thank you so much for being part of our coverage tonight.
We have a jam packed show. Coming up Trump advisor, Roger Stone guilty on all counts, this was the last known Mueller related case. I have an exclusive comment from a key witness and our special reporting.
Also new heat on Rudy Giuliani, the federal probe in New York is expanding. We`re going to break down why all of it adds to new dangers for Donald Trump with two close associates looking at things that might make them turn.
Also new testimony from the official who reportedly overheard the bombshell phone call. I`m Ari Melber. You`re watching THE BEAT on MSNBC.
MELBER: Breaking news, another Trump advisor convicted in a case from the Mueller probe. Roger Stone found guilty on all seven counts today, convicted of witness tampering, obstruction of justice, and lying to Congress. Convection that show this jury accepted the prosecution`s argument that Stone deliberately obstructed investigations into Russian meddling.
Stone guilty of lying to Congress about his conversations with Trump concerning WikiLeaks, which occurred in the crucial period, months before the hacked e-mails went public. Today`s suggestions suggest that DONALD TRUMP misled Robert Mueller about it, all of this capping a long road for Mr. Stone.
He was first arrested back in January and fought this case to the bitter end, denying everything.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: Roger, did anyone tell you to contact, in the Trump campaign, to contact WikiLeaks?
ROGER STONE, POLITICAL CONSULTANT: No, I`ve addressed that before. That is incorrect.
KERRY SANDERS, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: My question is, did you in any way work with the Russians to help President Trump?
STONE: Categorically no, absolutely not.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Yet after all of the remarks and noise and defenses that Roger Stone made, all the social media memes, all of the time out in the public eye, he did go quiet in the one room where it mattered most. Declined to take the stand in his own defense in this trial and didn`t address reporters as we left court today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: Do you have any comments at all?
STONE: None whatsoever.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Stone could technically face up to 20 years in prison. He`ll be sentenced in February. Now, if this were a movie, it would be too much to have Mr. Stone convicted of witness tampering on the very same day his old boss, Donald Trump, was doing the tampering in public.
In fact, Roger Stone`s former prot‚g‚ Sam Nunberg who ultimately cooperated with the Mueller probe, he told us before stone was even indicted that unlike Donald Trump, Roger Stone was not going to get away with witness tampering. Today that assessment proved true.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SAM NUNBERG, FORMER TRUMP AIDE: --fact of the matter is the reason us three are essentially in there is because of Stone. One--
MICHAEL CAPUTO, FORMER TRUMP AIDE: CAPUTO: I get that. I get that, but I don`t--
NUNBERG: Number two, Roger--
MELBER: Let Sam finish.
NUNBERG: Number two, Roger is not Donald Trump, OK? He`s not going to get away with witness tampering. He should shut up. When he goes around and lies and says that he was - I was the only person he told as a joke that he met with Julian Assange. Give me a break. Give me a break. That was wrong
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: I`m joined now by that also former Trump aide, Sam Nunberg, who was also a Mueller witness and David Corn, Washington Bureau Chief for Mother Jones. Sam, you said Roger Stone would not get away with witness tampering. That is true today. Your reaction?
NUNBERG: Well, I was actually surprised in light of Credico who gave testimony to the defense when he - saying that he didn`t actually believe that Roger was really going to thread in this thought (ph).
But regardless, Roger, as I said before, really made himself a target and he made himself a target the entire time of the election and without, Ari, as we know, coordinating with the Russians themselves. So this is really something where, as you said earlier, this is something where is Donald Trump going to pardon him. I happen to believe no.
But had let`s go back, had Roger testified at Congress in 2017 that he had talked to the President directly about WikiLeaks, the President would have had a lot of problems and a lot of difficulties.
MELBER: And so what do you think accounts - well hold on one second. What do you think accounts, Sam, for Roger`s poor choices then.
NUNBERG: Roger`s undying loyalty to Donald Trump and I also think to the office of the presidency as well. I think that Roger is someone who has a long relationship with the President. He knew, when I was talking with him in 2017, it was obvious to us that the President was on the precipice, we thought, of getting removed from office.
Steve Bannon, one of the witnesses used to tell me frequently that Trump should be - know he`s going to be kicked out by the end of 2017. Then it was 2018, then it was 2019. He`s there telling - testifying against Roger as well about WikiLeaks coordination dealing with Roger.
But the longer short of it is that he has a loyalty toward Donald that he should not have had. That I warned him about, that I said in the grand jury as well.
CORN: And I would just say that Roger Stone in the summer of 2016 did try to help and work with the Russians. He reached out to Guccifer 2.0. He had private messages. Those were - that was the online persona of the Russian hackers.
And while everybody was out there saying this is a Russian attack, Rogers is out there saying no, no, no, no, it`s certain lone Romanian hacker. He was presenting, amplifying, boosting Russian disinformation to cover up the attack. And then he ends up lying about it to Congress in the worst possible way saying that he had no e-mails related to his interactions with WikiLeaks when he had hundreds of e-mails related to this material.
So he was a scoundrel. He helped the Russians pull this off where he was in direct cahoots with them. He helped get the cover story across throughout the summer of 2016 and he was in touch with Trump.
And I think in they didn`t get into this, because it wasn`t part of the case. I think that Trump worried that right that Roger was indeed the conduit who would make it look as if the campaign had indeed colluded with WikiLeaks. They`re trying to get in some information--
MELBER: Right, which would be a huge deal. David what do you think of the oddity that it was Republicans kids who summoned Mr. Stone to go testify and it was the Republican house that he`s convicted of lying to today.
CORN: Well, I think, Sam could tell them, a lot of you could tell them that Roger is not a guy who you would call truthful from the very start. It`s an agenda. He`s been out there for years doing whatever he thinks is necessary to get him an advantage of that moment in time. He was working hand in glove with Alex Jones, a foul conspiracy theorists, throughout the 2016 campaign.
I had no idea why they thought he could help them except he did come in and lie and basically said and basically put up a firewall between the campaign and WikiLeaks when he indeed was - least he was trying to be the go-between and gave Donald that impression.
MELBER: Well he was - as you say, he was declaring himself to go between publicly when it suited him.
Sam, finally, it is important to note that the jury`s acceptance of this evidence is a judicial finding today. This is true today, it wasn`t true yesterday that in the American court of law there is now a finding that suggests Donald Trump lied to Bob Mueller or misled Bob Mueller which could be a separate crime.
Do you think that Donald Trump, your old boss, lied here in contrast to what Stone ultimately was proven to have done in court?
NUNBERG: I think he gave a lot of caveat, Ari, I was responding to Mueller report when he answered that question. What I would say is I don`t know his state of mind. But I do think and I do think that he did discuss this with Roger and I do think--
MELBER: Well, you`ve been--
NUNBERG: Hold on - excuse me--
MELBER: --you`ve been in the grand jury room. Sam, you`ve been in the room, you`ve been under the heat, do you think Donald Trump was truthful or not about this?
NUNBERG: Ultimately no. And I also - would also note here that as opposed to Manafort, as opposed to Flynn, as opposed to Bannon, but as opposed to Manafort, Flynn and Gates, Roger`s indictment, Roger`s charges he was found guilty of solely relate to this investigation. It`s analogous to Scooter Libby.
And if the President has already pardoned Scooter Libby, I don`t understand why he won`t pardon Roger. We shall see. But I doubt he will.
MELBER: Yes. Look, obstruction is no all matter. But you do make an accurate legal point which is this was a crime of obstruction without any other underlying offense. The Libby pardon was by many seen as a signal. We will see what happens.
Sam Nunberg, always appreciate you coming on with your experience. David Corn in more than one block. Thanks to both of you.
MELBER: We will be back in 30 seconds. There`s breaking news on new testimony coming from a diplomat about the phone call when we come back.
MELBER: Breaking news. New testimony from the diplomat who says he overheard the phone call between President Trump and EU Ambassador Sondland, of course, who is a crucial witness next week. So this is brand new.
David Holmes has testified, basically behind closed doors. As we speak it`s ongoing. But according to "The New York Times" the information that`s already coming out about this, Holmes telling lawmakers right out the gate that he heard Sondland tell Trump, Ukraine`s President loves your - and an expletive.
Sondland also telling Trump Ukraine`s President will do anything you ask him to do about these investigations. Holmes also saying after the call, he asked Sondland if it was true. That he didn`t give another expletive about Ukraine. Sondland responding, Trump only cares about big stuff that helps the President personally like the probe Biden probe that Giuliani was pushing.
That is a damning admission in this new testimony. Holmes also says something that will be tantalizing according to "The New York Times" for this probe, two other witnesses also could corroborate this very, very damning phone call. This is all brand-new and its ongoing and it`s unfolding. We were thrilled to have someone with experience in congressional investigations, former federal prosecutor John Flannery.
Good evening you, sir. This is one of those nights, a lot going on. "The New York Times" is literally doing real-time - earlier in the day there was real-time alleged witness tampering now there`s real-time readouts of what`s happening in these private depositions.
Your response to the headline here which is another official independently confirming that after Trump did the infamous Ukraine presidential call, he was back on the phone trying to get this plot executed and get Biden investigated.
JOHN FLANNERY, FORMAL FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Well, I think it`s dynamite. I mean, they keep talking about we only hearsay. Well a statement that is against your own interest, a confession is the strongest kind of hearsay. And here you have the President basically saying, I don`t care about Ukraine, I`m only cared about getting out this investigation. And this guy loves my blank and that`s all I need and I`m going forward with it.
And we have three witnesses who overheard it, because the phone call was so loud in the restaurant, they could all hear what was said. And immediately afterwards David Holmes told someone else, so we have a contemporaneous corroborating event.
And you know what, this is really dangerous for Sondland. What is he going to say when he testifies under oath? Is he going to forget this? Is he going to have to be refreshed?
FLANNERY: he`s in a difficult position, I think.
MELBER: Well, exactly. And, again, I`m working here off the reports we`re getting out. We`ve had our reporters, NBC and MSNBC, obviously all over the hearing rooms. But this was initially reported by CNN and its now "New York Times" reporting.
Reading from "The New York Times," to your point John it says, Sondland didn`t mention this incident to investigators when he answered their questions in private. He will almost certainly be asked about it next week in his blockbuster hearing. He`s already revised his initial testimony once."
What does it say to you that Sondland appears under pressure to be coughing up more and more incriminating details about Donald Trump? How does that go into the available evidence in the bribery case?
FLANNERY: It`s because Sondland is on the side of the irregular channel. You may remember Jared wanted a channel to go with Russia. Well, they had this a regular channel and they wanted to move Yovanovitch out of the way and Sondland for a whole month was free to do what he needed to do.
And I`m suspicious after the testimony today that what your Yovanovitch was saying very carefully was, the two associates of Rudy Giuliani who were interested in this liquid natural gas project, they weren`t going to get past her front door. And that may be an additional reason why she was moved out.
But they never counted on Taylor coming up to speed as quickly as he did and finding out what was going on in that irregular channel. And it`s sort of like the cops that - the Keystone Cops, they don`t know what they`re doing. And Sondland opened the door and said ridiculous things that allowed Taylor to know the full story.
So these guys were caught with their hand in the cookie jar committing the crime, a bribery and extortion and probably for a monetary basis having to do with a secret deal involving liquid natural gas, and that`s why Bill Perry was in this mess from the Energy Department.
MELBER: Rick Perry.
FLANNERY: I`m sorry, Rick Perry - excuse me.
MELBER: What you`re laying out also goes back to what was elucidated in this morning`s impeachment hearing, which is, they didn`t want this to happen. Right now "The New York Times" reporting that there are official additional witnesses to the call. This diplomat who testified this morning would be one of those.
This is exactly why they were trying to clear out, according to at least to the impeachment of investigators on the Democratic side, why they were trying to clear people out, so you can get at the plot.
John stay with me. I want to bring back in Maya Wiley, a colleague of both of ours here. And Maya when you look at this account and you have - again I`m reading from "The Times" on the breaking story.
The official David Holmes testifying privately he was also in the Ukrainian restaurant. Heard the call, if Ukraine`s President had agreed to conduct investigations, Sondland replied yes to the President. Sondland then tells the President that Zelensky of Ukraine loves you effectively and would do these investigations along with "anything you ask him to."
Does that look to you like additional evidence of a bribery conspiracy?
WILEY: Yes, I`m call that a bombshell. It`s literally a bombshell, because the only, only, only very weak and unsubstantiated defense that we`ve heard that might if there was any evidence to support it, might get Donald Trump out of this is, that he actually was concerned about real corruption. This takes that completely off the table and go straight to personal gain.
You know, whether it`s bribery, whether it`s extortion or any other abuse of power at the center of every single one of those, every single one being impeachable is personal gain. So really--
MELBER: Let me read to your point, Maya. I want to add evidence to your point and you could continue the analysis again from "The Times" - brand new story. This is according to this new witness what was happening on the call with Sondland saying, look, "the Ambassador replied Mr. Trump only cared about the investigations Giuliani was pushing for." - again, quoting from "The Times," "because they affected him personally."
I mean, it`s literally Sondland who`s the Trump person providing the element of that crime. And you could see up on the screen a little more from this that he didn`t give a - and you have a swear word there. I`m not going to say on TV about Ukraine. Trump only cared about the big stuff, the investigations the Giuliani was pushing for because they affect him "personally." Maya?
WILEY: Yes. So this was - and I think John is absolutely right when he says, look, now the problem is Sondland is now named as an additional witness to this bombshell that removes any defense - any credible defense anyone might mount on Donald Trump`s behalf on the fact that he was using the levers of government and undermining national security for his own personal gain.
So one of the things that we heard from Bill Taylor early this week, which goes to the Zelensky state of mind, right, in the - he loves Trump so much. Of course, he doesn`t love Trump so much.
What Taylor told us was on July 10th - July 10th the Ukrainians were already alarmed is the word that Taylor used - alarmed because they already learned that the meeting that they had thought that they were going to get with Donald Trump was in jeopardy. So they knew that there were issues already.
But now the whole point about - of this that puts it squarely in Donald Trump`s state of mind is clear intent for personal gain. It`s intentional.
WILEY: There`s nothing left them to defend.
MELBER: And that`s why they`re having these witnesses in, it`s so significant. Both of you stay with me on our breaking coverage, I want to bring in another reporter who has been along for a lot of these rides, the Daily Beast`s Margaret Carlson joins our coverage.
And Margaret I actually want to play you some sound from the Republicans in the Wednesday hearing, which is so relevant tonight. I think, we don`t have the - I think we can get it. Republican hearing - from I`m talking to my control room, Margaret it`s D5, no one else needs to know what that means.
But it`s a quote from the Wednesday hearing, Margaret, because a lot of the Republicans have said well if it`s all secondhand if it`s all hearsay, what good is it? Do we have that? We`re going to pull that up. And Margaret the reason why I want to play that is, we`re looking at an account right now of someone who was not hearsay, but was literally listening to the President`s voice. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I know nothing about that. First time I`ve heard it. In any event, it`s more secondhand information, but I`ve never heard it.
REPORTER: Do you recall having a conversation?
TRUMP: I don`t recall. No, not at all. Not even a little bit.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Margaret your view?
MARGARET CARLSON, COLUMNIST, THE DAILY BEAST: The details of this call, I think for about five people at the table, it wasn`t hearsay, because Ambassador Sondland held the phone away from his ear because Trump was speaking so loudly. That violates so many security rules. But aside from that, it means that everyone heard it at the table. So there are a number of other people that can be called.
And the hearsay objection, there are more exceptions to the hearsay rule then there are rules to follow. So it`s not a good argument and he`s of course depriving Democrats of any of the firsthand witnesses.
WILEY: Yes, absolutely. Donald Trump one of the articles of impeachment he`s facing is obstruction and obstruction of Congress is exactly why on one hand Republicans and Donald Trump are saying hearsay, hearsay - all you have is hearsay. At the same time they are the ones blocking witnesses with direct knowledge.
But, fortunately, because we have public servants who see their obligations to be accountable to Congress when they receive a subpoena coming forward and telling what they know. You know, they`re going to be - if all they can do at this point is say hearsay, that`s tantamount to what we have no evidence to counter this.
Because all we can do is try to keep people with knowledge from Congress, from sharing information, that`s exactly when you`re sitting on the other side of the fence as a lawyer saying that looks guilty.
MELBER: Yes. And so John, the one I mentioned a bit earlier, I want to go ahead and tee that up for everyone. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. DEVIN NUNES (R-CA): Officials alarm if the President`s actions was typically based on secondhand, third hand and even fourth hand rumors, and innuendo.
REP. JIM JORDAN (R-OH): We got six people having four conversations in one sentence and you just told me this is where you got your clear understanding.
REP. MIKE TURNER (R-OH): Well, we`re not in a court gentlemen, and if we were, the Sixth Amendment would apply and so would rules on hearsay and opinion and most of your testimonies would not be admissible whatsoever--
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: And so, John, I almost wonder whether some of these individuals just didn`t look ahead to who the other scheduled witnesses were going to be. Because, I think, the panel has spoken about the limits of that on substance.
But there`s also the fact that if your main complaint is hey who heard the President directly, well, now there`s a lot of that too tonight with this with this "Time" story.
FLANNERY: Well there`s a short perimeter that they seem to need. These guys supposedly pass laws that have to do with what we do with evidence. And if I make - if I admit to a crime and you hear it, that`s hearsay. But it`s considered reliable, because I`m saying something against my own interest and that`s why it`s the strongest kind of evidence, even though the president`s statement you hear it said.
There`s another exception that`s critical here, and I don`t think impeachment can handle all it, we have all these people involved in a conspiracy and there`s an exception to the hearsay rule for people who are in a criminal agreement and they all are making statements and furtherance of that agreement - conspiratorial statements, they`re hearsay and they`re admissible.
And most of the evidence we`ve heard when they`re saying you said, here`s said hearsay it shows two things. One, they don`t have any idea what hearsay is and what`s admissible, although that`s what they write the laws about. And maybe they`re just trying to be ignorant to the public, so they`d say, "oh, that`s just hearsay. I don`t know what that means."
What it means is we have the strongest possible case against any President who`s ever had to face an impeachment effort with real time evidence of the crime and admissions being given to our attention, even as they try to prevent us from knowing the evidence they have. And it`s ironic that they say, well, you have you that you have this hearsay, when there concealing the other witnesses who have direct testimony.
Bolton should be ashamed. If he has evidence, he should come forward or forever be banned from any public office in this country. And there`s a whole bunch of these people. The reason impeachment is not enough is because we have a conspiracy of people.
And if we remove this President, we still have all these people. We have a corrupt person heading the Department of Justice. We have somebody heading the State Department we can`t rely on. That is not a government that`s in good shape.
That`s a government at risk, that`s a constitutional violation. This is a crisis of the first and historic order. If Jon M Jon Meacham is still around I`m sure you`d say exactly that.
MELBER: Well, John, I mean, I know it`s interesting - no, it`s interesting hearing your emphatic constitutional passion. I want to bring in not Jon Meacham, but the Root`s Jason Johnson who joins our special coverage as well. We`re in rolling coverage given this breaking story. Good to see you Jason.
JASON JOHNSON, THEROOT.COM POLITICS EDITOR: Good to see you.
MELBER: The detail I`m about to mention from the New York Times story is one we haven`t reached yet, and I don`t just mention it. Although, I am admittedly a fan of the musician, but that`s not why I bring it up. I bring it up because of the evidentiary specificity of it.
Near the end of the "The Times" article they note that in addition other items mentioned, the President asked Mr. Sondland "about ASAP Rocky," an American rapper, imprisoned in Sweden at the time. And I mentioned that Mr. Rocky`s case is one that we covered on this show, in fact.
But Jason I mention it because it speaks to the very detailed account we have here. It`s not just people who were in the State Department saying, oh I heard one big thing or I heard a bad thing about Donald Trump or maybe some of them are disagreement with Donald Trump about policy.
This seems to be the kind of accounting that is provable, that can be corroborated, where multiple witnesses are saying the President and Sondland talked about these seven things and these five were about Ukraine and these three were about bribery, and here`s other things that may or may not be as important today.
I am really struck by the details in here. I wonder what you think that does to the evidence in a rapidly accelerating impeachment probe?
JOHNSON: Well it shows, Ari, that a whole bunch of people were taking notes. Right? They were taking time, taking place and taking notes. They wanted to know where he been at, where he dresses at, everything about what Donald Trump does has become very important to many of the men and women involved in the State Department.
And why is that? It`s not because they were part of the deep State, it`s not because they were out to get him. It`s because he has created a culture of paranoia. He`s created a culture of corruption.
And so these people who have spent their entire lives trying to protect nations, trying to protect the United States and U.S. interest, have made it their life`s mission, I`ve got to write this down, I`ve got to remember every phone call. I`ve got to remember who`s walked in this room to that room, because if they don`t, they might get caught up in the whirlwind of corruption.
So I`m not surprised by this. And I know that Donald Trump was very concerned about ASAP Rocky because he thought it`s going to be beneficial for him in the elections in 2020. But it speaks to the fact that every single person around this President and the people connected him, they have to have their head on a swivel.
MELBER: Yes, and it speaks to the credibility - go-ahead Margret. I was just going to say it speaks to the credibility of these individuals. These are longtime public servants. They seem to have, Margaret, attention to detail.
CARLSON: That`s what I wanted to mention, which is, you could juxtapose Roger Stone today walking out of the courtroom, having been found guilty and Marie Yovanovitch. Just look at the two of them and who do you trust?
You know, what we`ve seen the last two days - for the last three days is the deep state. You know, your check is in the mail, is a punch line about bureaucrats. But we should stop for a moment. They don`t ask for us to thank them, and it`s good, because we don`t. We make jokes about them.
But these are the people that make the government we live under work. And at the end of today, there was a spontaneous outburst of applause for ambassador - former Ambassador Yovanovitch, so well deserved.
I mean, if I get one call from the police station, I want it to be to her, because I know she would do the right thing. And I don`t see those people around Donald Trump. When Donald Trump sees a person like that he smears them and gets rid of them.
MELBER: Right. Well and that`s - that I think what you just said is what ties together all of it. The idea that while even in her careful testimony she didn`t say or speculate on exactly the workings of the plot of why they wanted to get rid of her, it`s all implied.
Because she would be the person who would act like the adult or like the honest person or the police officer whatever you want to call it, the person who says stop we can`t do this. And Ambassador Taylor, Jason, was also that person.
Which goes to the other thing I wanted to get to that we haven`t even had time to hit yet, which is while Ken Starr and others on Fox News today we`re critical of the President`s attacks.
The other defense we`re seeing and I`m about to play for you from Laura Ingraham on Fox News in defense the President was, well, because people like Bill Taylor and others objected and then because of the whistleblower - because Congress got involved and stopped this - because of all that, well, it was only attempted and thus it`s not really impeachable. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LAURA INGRAHAM, FOX NEWS HOST: Attempted bribery isn`t in the Constitution. Remember, Ukraine got its military aid. It was 14 days delayed - big deal. Democrats think they`re cats.
They have nine political lives when it comes to impeachment. None of these people should be taken seriously, because they know they do not have a legitimate case for impeachment and they`re going forward with it anyway.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JOHNSON: --would never go into court and say I tried to assault you, but you beat me off for you, so I guess I`m good, right? Like that`s essentially the argument that the right has at this point.
That we were attempting to bribe someone, we were attempting to manipulate foreign policy to put money in the pockets of Rudy Giuliani. But since we weren`t successful, you can`t hold us accountable for. I don`t know how that works in the court of law.
I don`t know how that works in the court of public opinion, and it certainly doesn`t work to have a functional democracy operate with an entire political party and an entire media outlet saying that incompetence is the reason that we can`t be held responsible for attempts to break the law and violate sovereignty.
MELBER: 30 seconds Flannery, bribery in the Constitution?
FLANNERY: Well bribery and the Constitution, I mean, to say that you could defy our American policy toward Ukraine - withhold funds at a time of war in Ukraine, make man to get help in a presidential contest and say that`s not a high crime and misdemeanor, that`s not a bribery, that`s not extortion, is to suspend all belief in a way that the Republicans would like us to do.
But I think the Americans are a lot smarter than that. We`ll find out in the holiday ahead when they all have to go home and talk in their districts.
MELBER: WELL quite a set of stories we`ve been following. My thanks to John, Maya, Margaret and Jason to each of you. I`m going to fit in a quick break, but coming up one thing on Rudy Giuliani`s actions that are the center of the plot.
MELBER: It`s now time for a special edition of "Fallback." And joining me is Grammy Award winning musician, PJ Morton, a singer, songwriter and record producers - quite busy. Six albums, solo, keyboardest for a band you may have heard of, Maroon 5. Three other Grammies there and hit #1 on the Billboard charts four different times. His brand new album is Paul and he is hitting the road, kicking off an international tour, which we will get into.
We4`re also joined by a friend of THE BEAT, Rick Stengel, a former senior diplomat for Barack Obama. He`s also worked with Nelson Mandela on the autobiography "Long Walk to Freedom" and was "TIME Magazine`s" Managing Editor, the 16th of that venerable institution. Thanks for being here both of you know.
RICHARD STENGEL, FORMER UNDERSECRETARY OF STATE: No Grammies?
MELBER: Not yet.
STENGEL: OK. Thank you.
PJ MORTON, AMERICAN MUSICIAN: It does great to be here with you.
MELBER: It`s fantastic. There`s a lot to get to. I`m wondering what`s on your list PJ to fallback.
MORTON: To fallback, well, I want to start is all this stuff that`s going on. But I want Rudy Giuliani or the idea of Rudy Giuliani to fallback. I`m not a New Yorker, from the outside looking in, seemed like this great figure in New York in bringing people together. And I don`t know what happened exactly, but it just seems like something flipped and I don`t recognize - I don`t recognize.
MELBER: Well, you are mentioning something that a lot of Americans feel, which is at a distance, there was a time when Giuliani was associating himself with everything that could be unity or how to respond to 9/11. And now people look up and this this guy`s literally under investigation.
MORTON: Yes, right in the middle of all of it. Yes, so it seems like a different Giuliani than the one I remember.
MELBER: What else is on your list?
STENGEL: So what`s on my list is this is Rand Paul calling for - exposing of the identity of the whistleblower. Now that the Whistleblower Act is designed to protect the identity of federal employees who want to expose wrongdoing, to protect them from retaliation.
And Rand Paul is up there next to President Trump saying we need to expose the identity of the whistleblower. To me that is a violation of the law. Just to even do that.
MELBER: PJ when we were getting ready for this segment, I heard you have a fallback that`s right in the intersection of culture and politics and it relates to something that Barack Obama just weighed in on. Let`s take a look at that and hear your thoughts. Here`s Barack Obama.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, 44TH U.S. PRESIDENT: There is this sense sometimes of the way of me making change is to be as judgmental as possible about other people and that`s enough. Like if I tweet or hashtag about how you didn`t do something right or used the word wrong verb or - then I can sit back and feel pretty good about myself, because man you see how woke I was, I called you out. That`s not activism. That`s not bringing about change.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MORTON: Yes, cancel culture. I want that to fall back. I - it`s so easy to sit back. And I think even my generation - we spend so much time on social media and online that I think we`ve start to fight our battles there as well instead of actually doing real work to make things move.
MELBER: And you said cancel culture.
MELBER: What does that mean to you?
MORTON: We`ll cancel culture is, if you do one bad thing or if you make a mistake there`s no conversation has had, there`s no trying to understand what you did or give you a chance to change that. It`s like no you did some wrong. That`s it.
MELBER: And Rick I wonder what you think about this in terms of ideas. Because I`m betting in your tenure at "TIME Magazine" you published articles and ideas and people that you might have disagreed with, because you thought it was worth discussing.
STENGEL: Yes. I mean, I always thought that that`s what this marketplace of ideas is. We need to hear everybody`s argument. In fact, I was looking at that tape of President Obama, I think it was in that same interview where he also had to say that kindness is a virtue for a man. That kindness is not a weakness.
That we have a president who, now I`m calling him out, who is unkind and exploits other people`s weaknesses. And Obama was - who was always saying I always want to praise people and bring them up. I don`t want to bring them down.
MELBER: Before I let you go, I want to talk about your music a little bit.
MORTON: All right.
MELBER: It`s varied. So you have songs in rock that`s just fun and interesting and love, party. Then you also have stuff that`s much more social, civic, political. That seems where you`re going on Paul can I read a little bit, can you tell us what it means? We do that around here sometimes.
MELBER: You have a song called MAGA.
MORTON: Had to.
MELBER: And you say, "It can`t last forever, seasons changes as does the weather. Make America Great Again, I think they mean it was great for them, because it wasn`t so great for everyone back then."
MELBER: Tell us about this.
MORTON: Yes. I mean, it`s very simplistic to me and it comes down to dialogue again. My only question was when do you mean and for who when America was great. Because if you talk about the glaring, 50s, right, when people had their white picket fences and perfect houses, I don`t know that all of my people had that.
So if you want to go back there I`m not a fan of that. I`d rather start here and keep trying to make America better.
MELBER: And how do your fans respond, because some of them might know you from Maroon 5 and not be as hip to this.
MORTON: Yes, I mean, I think the fans - even Maroon fans who become fans of mine, understand that I`m just honest and I`m trying to get across truth and create conversation. So I don`t think much past that. I hope they don`t understand about me--
MELBER: --- to your truth.
MORTON: --then then that`s OK for them to not be my fan. But people who know me and buy into what I do, understand that I`m about honesty and honest conversation and that was a genuine question for me, so I thought I`d pose it in song.
MELBER: Yes. I appreciate that.
MELBER: PJ Morton.
MORTON: Yes sir, thank you for having me on.
MELBER: Rick Stengel.
MELBER: Great to have you both here together.
A conversation worth having. But we want to turn back to the breaking news in this big "New York Times" story which reveals brand new testimony from a diplomat saying they overheard a phone call between Donald Trump and Gordon Sondland.
David Holmes telling lawmakers he heard Sondland tell Trump Ukraine`s President "loves you" and what you`re doing, Sondland also telling Trump, Ukraine`s President would do anything you asked him to, including those investigations for personal interest. And that Donald Trump wanted them for his personal political benefit.
Damning evidence as far as impeachment is concerned. We`re going to dig in to that and a lot more with a new Sunday night special 9:00 p.m. Eastern this Sunday, "Impeachment: White House in Crisis."
I have some great guests which will make sense of everything and some deep reporting, some of which we did even have time to get through this week. And we`re going to answer some of your questions. So, Sunday 9:00 p.m. Eastern, I hope you`ll join me for a brand new "Impeachment: White House in Crisis" right here on MSNBC.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END