CHUCK TODD, MSNBC HOST: Well, that`s all we have this hour. We`ll be back of course with more tomorrow on MEET THE PRESS DAILY. "THE BEAT" with Ari Melber starts right now, and Ari`s got rolling coverage himself. We`ve got the actual hearing here.
ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: I`ve got the book report, Oracle.
TODD: Historical moment. You`ve got the book report.
MELBER: You and I are the same, on big days in Washington when the government does big things, it`s worth reading the primary sources and nowadays people see quotes on Twitter. We`ve been reading it as a team and we`re going through a lot of it.
TODD: And the footnotes are amazing, which is got to say, if you choose to read, you will learn something.
MELBER: I agree and that`s not unlike Supreme Court opinions. There`s a lot in the footnotes. Chuck, we`ll be working on it. I`ll see you again soon.
TODD: Thanks brother.
MELBER: We begin with breaking news as Congress releases a blueprint for impeaching the President. Tonight, Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff has officially completed the fact-finding in this Ukraine plot and releasing what Democrats say is the definitive account of President Trump`s alleged abuse of power.
And Chairman Schiff has receipts as I was just discussing with Chuck Todd, about 300 pages of receipts in what can only be described as an exhaustive document that formally shows that Congress has completed its fact-finding and it says, the Democrats say, they have in here a factual basis for impeaching the sitting President.
This is not a drill right now. And this, I really having spent some time with it, don`t think this is another prop in the seemingly endless battles of this Trump era. This report which the Committee will formally vote on tonight forms the evidentiary and constitutional blueprint for what Congress does next, decide whether to impeach and if so, impeach for what, the details matter.
And then if that impeachment passes this Democratic House, the evidence will then operate a bit like an indictment of the sitting President to be presented at any potential trial of the President in the Senate.
So, here`s how we are going to do this tonight. Right now, I`m going to walk through the key evidence on the Ukraine plot with you. Later, we`re going to turn to other things in the report like obstruction, other new evidence and then later in the hour to some new revelations about the nature of this propaganda plot. We will break this down, all the key parts of the report with many new pieces of evidence and soon we`ll be joined by the experts. You see a raid on your screen.
Now here`s what you need to know about what Democrats say is an impeachable plot. They`ve gathered the evidence from all of those witnesses you remember and this report they say advances the case against Trump with a clear argument that Trump`s abuse of power was not confined to one phone call with a foreign leader that it was a multi-step conspiracy stretching over months. You can see all that laid out right here in a section that the House Democrats say lays out Trump`s misconduct.
Step one, this is how it all started. It didn`t start with shaking down the Ukrainian government. It started with ousting the Ukrainian Ambassador who might have been a kind of a good cop who would tell on them.
Step two, you`ve heard a lot about this one, it`s in the report, put Giuliani in-charge.
Step three, freeze the military aid to Ukraine, which Democrats say was the key to get leverage for extorting Donald Trump`s re-election help.
And then steps four and five, execute the plot by showing Ukraine the conditions for the money and the military help they needed, they desperately needed according to those witnesses we heard from. This report documents, I can tell you in more detail than we`ve ever seen in public how Donald Trump`s White House meeting and this critical military funding was explicitly going to be in exchange for these illicit political investigations targeting the Biden`s, a point repeated in unison by Trump and his key aides as the report shows in which continued long after the infamous call, those demands we heard about in the hearings to announce those political investigations in public.
So, right here that is a lot and it`s backed up by the evidence. Now, if this new report was documenting a shadow or rogue plot, the White House could of course stop it when it was exposed. And this is where the cover up is key and why the news tonight right now shows Congress moving towards impeaching President Trump on multiple grounds, on more than one ground.
Let me explain to you exactly what we`re learning. The report shows that as the plot raised "alarm within the U.S. government and the military", the White House didn`t try to stop this potential abuse of power or rather cover it up as those things were exposed as the whistles were proverbially blown.
Prosecutors call this kind of thing consciousness of guilt. In Watergate, they called it an impeachable offense. Tonight, Speaker Pelosi`s House is showing more of its cards teeing up potential impeachment for what looks like obstruction and abuse of power and this potentially also including the bribery scheme which is why the evidence is important that this all went way beyond one phone call instead encompassing according to this report a month`s long plot documented now in contemporaneous text messages and phone records newly revealed, in e-mails, in WhatsApp messages.
So, right there, we`ve just been through a few things in a few minutes. If you take one thing from the whole Ukraine section of this new report, it could be this. Again, I`m going to lift it up because I`ve been working with it. This report`s evidence basically has Democrats saying, they don`t even need the infamous phone call to prove that Donald Trump committed an impeachable offense. They now have, they say, more damning corroboration beyond that phone call.
That`s pretty interesting right there today. I mean, just let that sink in for a second. This is how investigations often work. Sometimes the worst thing at the start that seems like the whole smoking gun, it actually ends up paling in comparison to what`s uncovered later as the subpoenas fly, as people start to sing. And late today, Chairman Schiff invoked some of this evidence to argue that is why all of this ultimately goes, in his view, beyond the Ukraine call and beyond Ukraine itself.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): This is not about Ukraine. This is about our democracy. This is about our national security. This is about whether the American people have a right to expect that the President of the United States is going to act in their interests with their security in mind, and not for some illicit personal or political reason. So, Americans should care deeply about what the President states is betraying their trust in him. We should care about this. We must care about this. And if we don`t care about this, we can darn well be assured the President will be back at it doing this all over again.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Back at it doing this all over again. This is real stuff tonight. This is real talk about real potential abuse of power. Adam Schiff is fundamentally talking about deterrence right there and what we just showed. That`s the basic foundation for why you punish in Western law, that when you punish, you deter current and would be criminals.
I don`t care what you think of Donald Trump as a person or his ideology or the way he comports himself. It is a sad day when that criminal logic is applied to how the President acts or how he uses his powers to run the military. But Adam Schiff is saying the evidence shows that criminal logic does apply to your President right now.
In fact, he`s released for the very first-time scores of phone records that we`ve never even heard hints of before tonight that show Rudy Giuliani in regular contact with the White House months before any of this plot had spilled out in public and in contact. This is so key with the people who had control over the Ukraine money.
New call logs that show in April, hours after Rudy Giuliani went on Fox News to promote conspiracy theories about Ukraine, he had three secret phone calls with a number linked to the Office of Management and Budget. That is the office that months later ordered to hold on Ukrainian assistance and eight calls with another White House number.
And the President`s lawyer can call the President for all kinds of innocent or even boring reasons. But the Budget Office, Rudy Giuliani has no legal authority there. He has no statutory authority. He has no business calling the Budget Office. And you might say, OK, Ari, but like anyone could call anyone and Rudy Giuliani is Rudy Giuliani. Maybe he was just calling around.
No. These receipts, these new records, these call logs show OMB, the Office of Management and Budget, also initiating calls with Giuliani and having them for several minutes, over 10 minutes would look like substantive conversations. And those calls coming the same day he was peddling conspiracy theories about Ukraine on television, in his tweets, again in August, around the same couple of days, while Trump aides wrote out their plot to take this money, to seize money, your taxpayer dollars to extort Ukraine. So, there wouldn`t be a fair and free election in 2020.
This report has a lot in it that you have to care about, regardless of what you think is going to happen in the House or the Senate. This is a report about efforts on the record now because the records have suddenly been released. To steal an election, to subvert your democracy.
As I said at the top of our broadcast. Not a drill. It also this report, this evidence puts new heat on Giuliani, because if Congress got these records through their subpoenas, you can bet New York prosecutors have them, too, or are about to get them.
As for the pressure on Ukraine, the report also debunks another Trump defense that he couldn`t have done anything all that wrong if the Ukrainians never knew the function of the extortion, if they didn`t know the aid was being frozen for these reasons, then, well, how big of a threat was it?
Well, that`s an interesting defense. If it were true, the records though show multiple witnesses testifying and multiple pieces of evidence supporting, and corroborating Ukrainians all knew about this before it was publicly reported. So those are some of what we think are the most important factual highlights for you to know about this Ukraine plot in this report. There`s also, as I mentioned, there`s more evidence on obstruction. There`s stuff I haven`t even mentioned yet on implicating the top Republican on the Intelligence Committee in some of this. And on one of Giuliani`s associates and all the other mysterious calls coming from inside, the White House.
So, we always like to tell you what we`re going to do with the facts on THE BEAT. We have reports on all of those items as we go through the hour tonight. But now, given what we just learned, I want to bring in former U.S. attorney Joyce Vance. Mother Jones David Corn and New York Times magazine staff writer Emily Bazelon. David, is this a damning report? And what does it do to the growing case for impeachment?
DAVID CORN, MOTHER JONES WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF: What I think is foremost important about this report is that it is a wonderful, masterful synthesis of a lot of the information that`s come out over the past few months, out of the hearings, out of reporting. And I find it really hard to believe that anybody who manages to read the report, even the executive summary, which is, I don`t know, 10, 20 pages and lays out the chronology, cannot escape the conclusion that there was a quid pro quo. There was conditionality. And it`s not just because Ambassador Sondland said there was when he testified. But you see again and again and again, this formula are being foisted on the Ukrainians. And you want anything--
MELBER: I`m just going to kind of break out your point into pieces, when you say quid pro quo and the report makes that direct allegation. That`s a type of bribery, which is an impeachable offense.
CORN: Well, that is a question that people, I think, can argue about. But it makes it clear that the fact pattern here is that there was conditionality few. The Ukrainians want favorable action from the White House, and it could be a meeting, a phone call or military aid. They had to deliver these political investigations that had no legitimate basis despite what Republicans are saying.
Now, unfortunately, I mean, I sat through the hearings. It`d be wonderful if we can have a debate in the country about whether this fact pattern is bad enough that it should lead to the ultimate political punishment of impeachment or not. But the Republicans are out there denying that any of this is really actually happening.
But the chronology here that Schiff`s staff and others laid out is really compelling and simple and just shows again and again, it wasn`t just the phone call, as you said, early on. It was a month long pattern of trying to put this deal together that followed almost a yearlong campaign to smear the Ukrainian Ambassador as part of Rudy Giuliani`s campaign to either get Russia off the hook, to help Donald Trump or to do other business related things that the report does not go and do.
But when it comes to the core of this scandal, this is a very simple, straightforward account that is rather damning.
JOYCE VANCE, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY: You know, I think David is absolutely right, and the key thing that I take away after having read most of this report is that Schiff comes up with what Mueller was lacking in the Russia investigation. Schiff has the evidence that President Trump, as he says in the report personally and through agents both inside and outside of government, directed this scheme as it was in operation, directed a scheme that was an effort to extort a foreign country, to get evidence, to get information that Trump could use for personal advantage to cheat in a campaign. So, this is sort of like the Russia investigation. The obstruction didn`t work in this case.
MELBER: Yes. Joyce, I want to walk through some of that key evidence because it is possible that a President could do some of the things in this report and not have committed by any stretch a high crime. Many people have pointed out, well, there`s all sorts of deals in foreign policy. Of course, there are. There are treaties. That`s a deal. There`s all sorts of leverage and pressure. Of course, there are. That`s why the U.S. wants a strong military.
The whole issue is not that those actions occurred. But as with any crime, whether it`s an impeachable high crime or an actual felony, which is why some of these things are under investigation in New York, the question, of course, always goes back to whether there was essentially corrupt intent. Did you do a thing for the wrong reason?
And when you look at this, one of the most damning pieces in the report that we haven`t even mentioned yet, and I maybe a broken record, I`ll say that a few times now as we get to new things. It`s something I want to put on the screen that compares something fascinating, which is when basically the whole Giuliani gang wanted to go straight, the announcement. And so, what you see under that, what they call the year Mac draft, August 12th, is the original Ukraine announcement. So, they said, well, look, maybe we`ll announce. Special attention should be paid to interference in the U.S., alleged involvement of some Ukrainian politicians and that`s unacceptable.
What you`re reading on that side of the screen is basically Ukraine trying to say something that sounded OK. And on the right side, this is what according to the new Intel report, Giuliani added in in bold. You see, the Burisma-Biden issue, it wasn`t good enough to just say investigations. It had to say including Burisma and the 2016 elections.
Joyce, I cover this day in and day out, we rely on you and our other panelists as well. I have not seen something that direct and damning that shows Rudy Giuliani and Donald Trump are trying to ghostwrite for the Ukrainians. What the investigations are, and it`s got to have the B-word stuff. It`s got to have Biden Bursima.
VANCE: Those side-by-side changes are incredibly powerful with the insertion of a couple of phrases. They change the entire force, the entire meaning of what the Ukrainians were about to say. And this, as you say, Ari. This isn`t about typical sorts of foreign affairs, which involves horse trading for favors. This is about a favor that had nothing to do with the national security of our country. This is about a favor that was for the President`s personal political advantage.
He was trying to extract something of value from the Ukrainians that would help him cheat in 2020. And he did that by withholding an act that he was supposed to take, an official act which was turning over aid that Congress had already allocated for the Ukrainians. So, this, I think, on every level resonates as impeachable conduct probably is criminal too.
MELBER: Emily, as someone who specializes in basically legal storytelling, I think you do it and we read you and you`re quite good at it. What do you think of the evidentiary and legal story in the report?
EMILY BAZELON, THE NEW YORK TIMES MAGAZINE STAFF WRITER: I think it`s so important to have moments like this where we take a step back. We often get caught up in the drift of the news and you`re seeing one new fact. But to have a report lay out everything and connect all the dots tells a whole narrative about what happened. And the report also has some new information in this. Right. We`re finding out that Giuliani was in touch with OMB much earlier than we knew before.
BAZELON: Exactly. That has implications for why this aid was frozen. Whose idea was it? How long was it on the table for? And so, there is some news in the report. But I think for the most important job it can do is in this kind of masterful way as David was saying, lay out the whole case so that whether or not you`ve been paying attention up to now, you can take a look at this and just ask yourself whether you think this is acceptable conduct for a President to be engaging in.
MELBER: And David, sticking with the substance of this, I`m curious your view, having covered many administrations in Washington. What would have happened if George W. Bush or Barack Obama was caught red handed, seizing military money to get re-election help?
CORN: I think we`re at a point now where the political divide is so severe, and the Republicans are so committed to protecting their dear leader no matter what that they can`t concede the basic facts. I mean, we - during the IrŠne Contra scandal way back, Ari, there was not much of a debate eventually, after the investigation was done or what Oliver North did, selling arms to Iran and giving them money to the Contras, people kind of agreed to that.
The question was whether Congress forced them to break the law, whether it was breaking the law, whether it was impeachable. And that`s what the argument became. What we have now and even in the Clinton business, eventually when it came out that he had his affair with Monica Lewinsky, when his denials fell apart. You know, the Democrats argue that nothing happened.
Clinton at that point didn`t argue that nothing happened. And there was a debate about whether this was impeachable or not, what you do about this. But at this point in the game, even after this report came out and I read the Republican report and wrote about that earlier today, they are still holding fast to nothing happened that was wrong. They deny all the evidence that Schiff plays out. And they have a basically a Soviet style reversionistic history take on the phone call.
So, what do we do at this point when one side of the political equation won`t recognize basic facts and just space and says that there was no linkage, there was no conditionality, even when you have Sondland and others saying, there was and there are multiple examples as I said earlier, besides that phone call and Giuliani story is breaking down, too. I hope we can get to that. His cover story is completely falling apart when he says everything, he did was just to defend Trump in the Mueller case. That`s not true when he`s calling the OMB.
MELBER: Well, and to your point, and you lay it out very, very clearly. Rudy Giuliani also went out in public and claimed he was taking orders from the State Department. Well, that made them look bad. But in fact, he was part of a plot to run the State Department, to run OMB.
He and Mulvaney are in the soup in it to a degree that definitely has criminal consequences. The attempt by, I think, the cynics to narrow this too, well, what will the Senate vote be? And that`s the only thing that matters. We just discussed deterrence. There`s also Giuliani clients who are indicted and there`s also other people who have rising legal exposure.
I will say as an analyst reading this report, what`s in this report today makes it look like other people are more likely to face potential indictment than what we knew yesterday. So, there`s a lot of layers to this. I want to thank David and Joyce, as always, we`ll be coming back to you about this story. Emily, I am going to see you later in the program.
I`ve been telling you, if you`re watching at home how we`re going to go through each of this, we just hit the key points on the Ukraine plot. The report arguing that`s impeachable on its own. Now, before I bring in our next experts, I want to walk you through something that you need to know about if you`re going to discuss any of this in the days and weeks ahead.
What Democrats say is another impeachable offense basically, the report recounting that Trump covered up and obstructed the probe. This is key, because it is the Democrats answer to Donald Trump`s very brazen months- long defiance of this and other congressional probes and whether Donald Trump knows it or not. The only two presidents who`ve ever been impeached both faced articles of impeachment for guess what? Defying Congress in obstruction. Tonight`s new report says that despite that history, Donald Trump may have even gone further as he is "the first and only President in history to defy all aspects of the constitutional impeachment process and the investigation laying out examples like defying 71 requests for documents across federal agencies".
Attacking and impugning people who were just cooperating with the investigation or law enforcement, including count them up a hundred statements against the whistleblower who is protected under federal law. Also blocking testimony from other 12 witnesses, including key officials like Mulvaney, Perry, Bolton. I`m speaking about some of the amigos, if you will.
The report also detailed how Trump aides act in ways that seemingly looked like concealment, like hiding. Ambassador Volker arranging a key call and then requesting that everyone use the encrypted messaging service WhatsApp. The report noting that one of its key features is the ability to delete forever what comes up in conversation.
Now think about this. There`s a really big irony here. Maybe, maybe it`s already on your mind. These individuals went out of their way to avoid using government e-mails, so they wouldn`t get caught. But then there was so much heat on some of them that the only reason we know any of this is that some of the WhatsApp messages were not deleted. So, as the State Department and Trump White House continue to defy and stonewall those requests, it is Gordon Sondland`s WhatsApp messages, seeded through this report that show some of the alleged obstruction.
I want to bring in Matt Miller, who has worked at the Justice Department in the Obama administration and former Federal Prosecutor Glenn Kirschner. Good evening. I want to turn both of your expert attention to the obstruction portion, Glenn, what case does it make?
GLENN KIRSCHNER, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: So, Ari, if the abuse of office allegation is a bit of an outside jump shot, then I think the obstruction allegation is going to be a layup. You have the President who is often his own worst enemy, who stood up on camera and said, I will comply with exactly zero congressional subpoenas. And then he made good on that promise by ordering administration officials who could provide not just relevant information, but now we know courtesy of this report and we even knew it before we began to absorb this report. They can provide incriminating information about the President`s plot to bribe and extort Presidents Zelensky for his Trump`s own political gain. That is a charge obstructing the congressional inquiry that I think you can make in your sleep, given the evidence we have that.
MATTHEW MILLER, FORMER CHIEF DOJ SPOKESMAN: Yes, I would agree with that. There are a couple of things that - a few things that strike me about the obstruction portion of this report.
Number one, just how far reaching and wide ranging the President`s obstruction was. It wasn`t just any one thing. It was withholding documents. It was blocking witnesses from testifying. And when some witnesses did come forward and testify over the President`s objections, actually intimidating and attacking him on Twitter, trying to keep them from testifying that it`s so unprecedented.
The report notes that even Richard Nixon, the only President to have to resign in the face of an impeachment inquiry, even he let witnesses come forward and turn and turned over some documents.
And then the thing that that the report doesn`t really know, but I`m struck by is how much more information we would have if the President hadn`t obstructed this inquiry. You know, when we were watching the hearings and Mick Mulvaney figured so prominently and John Bolton, figured so prominently. John Bolton, who met with the President to discuss withholding aid to Ukraine, I kept thinking how much more information we would have if those witnesses came forward.
But when you see that Rudy Giuliani was calling OMB, someone who he should be having no contact with.
MILLER: You understand why the President promoted OMB officials from coming forward and testifying.
MELBER: Matt, let`s dig into that. And you`ve prepped people for these hearings, and they could be bruising. When you look at who testified and who different. Corey Lewandowski has caught heat on this program and others for being a liar, a confessed liar, and we fact checked him on that.
But I want to say, in fairness to Corey Lewandowski, the Mueller probe did not find him to be a criminal. When he showed up, guns blazing the Judiciary Committee hearing, some people felt he did OK, partly because he was able to push back on the criminal stuff. They didn`t really land that. That`s my take. I`ll leave time for yours.
By contrast, if Mr. Giuliani, who`s currently under this defying, and if he showed up and they said, what the heck were you doing, calling and getting called back by OMB in April, what the heck were you doing? Taking money? Hundreds of thousand dollars when these foreigners, without registering as a foreign lobbyist, going around the world and then trying to frame the Biden`s.
What the heck were you doing? I`m not sure under oath that he would fare well. He might increase his legal exposure in an open pro in New York. And so how much of this really comes down to the fact that as bad as defiance looks even to this day, it might be impeachable, cooperating for them, for some of them looked even worse, Matt?
MILLER: I think that is exactly right. I think that`s the calculation they made. That`s why not only do you not see Rudy Giuliani, that`s why you don`t see any of these other witnesses from the administration, because if they came forward and testified truthfully, their answers would be incredibly damning to the President. And it`s one thing for them to go out and do kind of what Mike Pompeo does with the press, where he`ll try to bully reporters, he will flat out lie sometimes.
You can`t do that in front of a congressional committee, at least if you want to, you can`t do unless you if you want to avoid criminal charges.
MELBER: And, Glenn, so I`m running out of time, Glenn, there`s also no backseats of all these updates and additions and ASAP Rocky, refresh my memory. At a certain point, too much of that on substantive matters will get you indicted.
KIRSCHNER: I agree with you both. Defiance is really all that`s left for Giuliani, Pompeo Mulvaney, Perry. Look, it`s no coincidence that in paragraph two of the executive summary, guess who gets called out as potential co-conspirators? Perry, Mulvaney, Pompeo and listen, we all know that AG Barr thinks that the President can`t be investigated, indicted, tried, convicted or imprisoned because of this crazy unitary executive theory. But you know what? There is no such thing as an OLC memo that protects a Secretary of State, a Secretary of Energy, an OMB Director or Acting Chief of Staff. There is no unitary Secretary of State theory.
So, when I read this today, Ari, I thought I certainly hope that the FBI is investigating the people who can and should be charged because of their complicity with the President`s scheme to coerce that this help from Zelensky.
MELBER: Yes. I can`t see the future, but I read precedents like any other lawyer. And there`s a lot of precedents of people in government who have gone down for less at a lower level and lower stakes and a lower dollar figure than some of what is laid out in this report. Quite something. Matt Miller and Glenn Kirschner, thanks to you. We have a lot more on the program. The Republican lawmaker implicated in the plot. Nunes, secret call logs. Did he know this was about to hit him today? We`re going to get into all of that.
Plus, way more details on Giuliani`s role in the alleged conspiracy, including new intrigue about a "minus one phone number." Is it Donald Trump? And how Adam Schiff has laid out a blueprint that will drive the very first judiciary impeachment hearing tomorrow. I`m Ari Melber. We have so much more. So, don`t go anywhere. We`ll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SCHIFF: I can`t go into specifics of the dates in which we obtain certain evidence or indeed whether we obtain communications from one or multiple parties. But certainly, the phone records show that there was considerable coordination among the parties including the White House.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: The phone records. That`s new. Tonight, Chairman Schiff discussing one of the clear evidentiary bombshells in this report newly revealed phone records that show what he calls "considerable coordination" coming from inside upper echelons of the White House. And now we have them, right here. Everybody has them. We`ve been working with these all day to report on the exact type of thing that you don`t want to see if you`re being prosecuted.
Now, normally this alone would be a wall-to-wall coverage bombshell if it was a one of these New York Times or NBC stories. This isn`t coming from journalists though to be clear; these are pieces of evidence coming from Congress, the government itself. And these logs actually considerably advance our understanding of this plot. And one of the mysteries in it.
Why was the White House taking such a risk and holding everything back, which can look guilty? Well, part of the answer is right here. They didn`t want this type of stuff to come out if they had to hand it over, the House Intelligence Committee didn`t get it from the White House. It appears from what we understand, they got it by subpoenaing AT&T itself. Another takeaway obviously subpoenas matter.
Now, here`s another question we can answer today that we couldn`t have yesterday or any day before, which is when did this all really start with the money, which was so key to extorting Ukraine. How early did Rudy Giuliani get involved with that aspect of it? Well, I can tell you. All the way back in April, they were having phone calls and conversations, take a look.
Three calls between Giuliani and the Office of Budget and Management. One of those calls 14 minutes long. That`s bad because they don`t have any good reason to talk to Giuliani. That same day, Giuliani as you`ve seen talking to the White House basically with phone tag eight times over. I asked this earlier in the show and I`ll repeat it. What is Rudy Giuliani, Donald Trump`s personal attorney doing trading so many calls with the Office of Management and Budget.
He`s not in the U.S. government, but he does stand at the center of an illicit plot to seize U.S. government OMB funds to extort Ukraine. And this goes to a whole question in the whole plot. Was Rudy Giuliani calling all these shots? Does he have extra criminal exposure for this in addition whatever else he`s under investigation for.
We have a new player on the call log as well. Giuliani`s indicted associate Lev Parnas who says he wants to cooperate. He was having very high-level contact at the White House for someone with no discernible reason to do so, an eight-minute call with Mr. Parnas came that same day. Giuliani also got a call from a new mystery number, negative one that lasted eight minutes.
The negative one appears several times on the log. This report doesn`t say who it is, but we do know that in August that negative one number dialed Giuliani three times rapidly. The report accounts and then minutes later Giuliani dialed not just any number, but the White House. And this isn`t just thinking the worst. His connection to the White House is not being Mick Mulvaney`s lawyer or a spokesperson. He`s the president`s lawyer which makes it feel like this web keeps growing.
Now on the Republican side of the Intelligence Committee something else came out Congressman Devin Nunes. He`s not just signing this report or the minority report like we usually see, he is actually in the report. Chuck Todd and I earlier we`re talking about these fascinating footnotes. Take a look at this, call records show Ranking Member Nunes exchanging five calls with Giuliani in April, two days before speaking with Mr. Parnas, who is both a client of Giuliani and now indicted. And that went for eight minutes.
There are a lot of questions posed here. What are the answers and why are these calls newly released tonight in the impeachment report? I`ve got experts to dig into that when we`re back in just 30 seconds.
MELBER: We are back with journalist Jacob Weisberg and Emily Bazelon back with us from the New York Times. A lot of evidence in this report. What do you make specifically of this newly released set of call logs?
JACOB WEISBERG, SLATE MAGAZINE FORMER EDITOR-IN-CHIEF: Well in a way it confirms what we knew. Nunes is paid through Congress but works for the President and was playing defense for them in Congress and was up to its eyeballs in this.
But you know I think the specificity, the chronology, the calls in relation to each other paint the picture that is missing from the documents the White House wouldn`t share, the witnesses who wouldn`t testify. The House Schiff have been actually quite enterprising in putting the story together in a short period of time around the total obstruction, the total non- cooperation.
MELBER: Would you say yes or no faster than Mueller?
WEISBERG: It`s certainly faster than Mueller but--
MELBER: Faster than Mueller.
BAZELON: Faster than Mueller.
MELBER: Would you say on the issue of election related conspiracy more devastating than Mueller?
WEISBERG: Yes, it`s more coherent, it`s a contained story.
BAZELON: It also is looking forward at our next election. And that makes the difference right because we want that one to be fair.
MELBER: Well, the critics would say Donald Trump did what he needed to do in 2016 although as I`ve often repeated. There was no finding of an election conspiracy by Mueller. But the 2020 focus is not - that`s not from Adam Schiff or the House, that`s from Donald Trump himself.
BAZELON: Exactly. And this whole plot if that`s the right word for it is about trying to gin up evidence against Joe Biden that would damage him as a candidate. And so, you`re seeing the President use his office for that end and I think we do know that from his phone call with Ukrainian President Zelensky.
MELBER: Yes. And so that`s why it really stacks up in a different way tonight with the level of the evidence in the corroboration. The Nunes part is something that would be a huge deal just on its own. Given that he is supposed to be doing this investigation.
Chairman Schiff was quite careful in his generalized remarks about it tonight and they still have a relationship, a professional issue with this committee. But he did use a very legal word Jacob here in discussing the potential complicity of members of Congress. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SCHIFF: It is I think deeply concerning that at a time when the President of the United States was using the power of his office to dig up dirt on a political rival that there may be evidence that there were members of Congress complicit in that activity.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WEISBERG: The entire Republican Party which has I think revealed itself to be rotten to the core has taken the position that the impeachment inquiry is illegitimate.
Not just that they need to present their side, not that there are certain things that might be unfair but that it should not be allowed to take place and it should not be accepted in any way. And in saying that Nunes was complicit, I think what Schiff is saying is you know the White House in obstructing our legitimate constitutional role, investigate has held from inside the House.
There are people who should be on our team institutionally. Even if they agree, but they`re playing for the other team in arguing that Congress isn`t allowed to investigate the President.
MELBER: Which not to get too constitutional, Emily. But that`s the founder`s core concerns were abuse of power which is why those checks and balances. That`s why you have an impeachment function. And then second factionalism that factions and parties would eventually supersede patriotism. I put that somewhat high fluting point against a more basic one, which is let`s look at an August call record.
August 8th, we only know this tonight, we didn`t know this last night. Giuliani, I think we have this calling and texting the White House and OMB over and over and over. This is all brand new. I mean again to put it a different media language, this would be a front-page story a huge deal that the president`s personal lawyer and Ukraine fixer, not only has this high- level contact but he`s talking to OMB for 13 minutes. No one at the Budget Office has a substantive or proper reason to even talk to him at all right, Emily.
BAZELON: Right. I mean he is acting as the personal lawyer. He`s not in a government. To go back to your point about Congress. I think the framers expected Congress to have institutional interests and prerogatives that they would care deeply about that would transcend factionalism and party politics. And we`ve seen just a complete breakdown of that set of assumptions with this particular Congress and Devin Nunes` role kind of in the middle of this is an amazing example of that.
WEISBERG: Yes, it`s interesting the report starts with a quote from George Washington from his farewell address, which he is warning the country about unscrupulous, cunning, ambitious. I think those are Washington term, men who will abuse the power to essentially subvert democracy, take away democracy.
And they frame this report as far as I`ve got which was maybe about a third of the way into it. The time I had before the show Ari, very much around the constitutional principles and what the founders thought impeachment was for. And I think they do that very well because it goes to the heart and this is what we`re going to hear I think at the Judiciary Committee hearing tomorrow.
MELBER: And you`re talking about President Washington warning against cunning ambitious and unprincipled men who could subvert the power of the people and usurp for themselves the reins of government destroying afterwards the very engines which have lifted them to unjust domination.
WEISBERG: And have we ever had that President before. That`s the question. We`ve had terrible Presidents. We`ve even had presidents that were corrupt and abused their power in various ways. But that`s` the year who was really in the minds of the founders in creating the impeachment procedure, have we had that President before Donald Trump.
MELBER: I think that the reports answer on the evidence is worse than Nixon not as an opinion, not as an assessment but worse than Nixon in the measurable accountable ways of abusing the levers of power and defying Congress. That`ll be debated. The evidence is here. But that`s one answer which is so striking.
Jacob and Emily, my thanks to both of you on a big night for joining us. A special guest for special coverage. Still ahead what is the blueprint that will pave the way for tomorrow`s Judiciary Committee hearing. We have a special new guest on that when we come back.
MELBER: Late today Chairman Adam Schiff released this report. What many have been waiting for, what the White House may have been dreading. What does it do beyond the facts we`ve been reporting? Well, now we turn to the blueprint, it creates. A blueprint for impeachment using specific and often constitutional language that provides a kind of a roadmap because there`s discussion of abuse of a public office for personal gain, a report alleging Donald Trump acted in his official capacity using his position of public trust and withholding "official acts of value to benefit his personal and political interests."
Those are very important words if you want to make a specific article of impeachment and I want to get into all of this now with a very experienced government lawyer who has held several positions including General Counsel of the NSA, Robert Deitz.
Good evening, sir.
ROBERT DIETZ, FORMER NSA GENERAL COUNSEL: Good evening.
MELBER: When you look at this document as a blueprint for what the Judiciary Committee will ultimately decide to do in writing articles of impeachment, what stands out to you.
DIETZ: Well, what stands out to me is the is the phone calls I`ve wondered throughout whether the committee would obtain telephone records. As you know I spent a lot of time at NSA. And telephone records are often the most damning even if you don`t have the content. If you just had the fact of the phone call.
And to me what`s damning about them is that it does lay out the roadmap. It basically tells you the beginning of the story, sort of each step of the story. And so, I think what`s helpful from the Committee`s standpoint is that they can use this as a way of telling a very clean straightforward story to the American people and the congressman.
MELBER: They tee up the facts, here is the bad or incriminating evidence. But then you have to bring down OK, what he does wrong. Because the President could do many things that look "bad" that aren`t impeachable. When you see the reference to the official acts and official office duties used for personal gain. What do you see there?
DIETZ: Well, I see the very second specific item mentioned in the impeachment provision in Article 2 Section 5, I think. It lays out treason, then bribery, then impeachable offenses. Bribery was number two. And the reason treason and bribery were so high on the list was the concern mentioned in one of your prior guests, in the founding of the republic that concern was will people in official office particularly the President use that position as a way of self-enrichment.
And so, bribery is a huge red flag. And it seems to me that the report lays this out.
MELBER: I thought that was striking. You have about 30 seconds left that you really see the outlines of at least three articles of impeachment, abuse of power on Ukraine, soliciting the bribe or extorting it from Ukraine and then obstruction.
DIETZ: Yes. If I could just add one thing about that. This is also - this report along with the phone records kind of eliminates a defense that I`ve seen averted to a couple of times in the last couple of weeks. It`s a defense that I call the Three Stooges defense, which is the President and the White House were not sufficiently competent to have organized such--
MELBER: They couldn`t pull it off. Well, this is - we`ve gone from Three Stooges to three amigos. And you know what comes after amigos, Robert, it`s just Migos. I don`t know if you`re familiar with them, but--
DIETZ: I am.
MELBER: You are? Favorite song?
MELBER: But you know about them.
DIETZ: I do.
MELBER: Well, they say, walk it like I talk it. And the problem is it seems like Rudy Giuliani was walking it like Donald Trump wanted and Gordon Sondland wanted, which was a quid pro quo. So, there`s a lot here, Robert. I`m glad to get your expertise. We`ll have you back on these big nights. Thank you, sir.
DIETZ: Thank you.
MELBER: And we`ll be back with one more thing.
MELBER: Breaking news and we came on the air tonight. We`ve been reporting on this newly released Intelligence Committee report on the Ukraine plot and potential obstruction by the President. I can report now within the hour we`ve been on air and a closed door behind the scenes vote, Intelligence Committee has now formally passed this report on a 13 to 9 party line vote.
What that means officially is this is passed out of Committee. It is now formally the majority view of the Democrats in Congress; it goes to Judiciary Committee and it`s all going according to their timeline with a Judiciary Committee hearing beginning tomorrow morning. We`ll be back with one more thought in our breaking coverage.
MELBER: We are in the middle of a big story here at MSNBC in New York. And I can tell you, we have a lot coming, tomorrow morning, special coverage begins at 9 a.m. with the Judiciary hearing. Tonight, MSNBC Primetime as you cover, I`ll be filling in with some expert analysis on all in at 8 and again, at "THE LAST WORD" with Lawrence and don`t miss any of the lineup, including of course Rachel.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END