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Senior Trump Officials continue to testify. TRANSCRIPT: 10/16/19, All In w/ Chris Hayes.

Guests: Adam Smith, Rula Jebreal, Joaquin Castro, Robert Bennett, WalterDellinger, Michelle Goldberg, Carol Leonnig

STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT:  Look for article to incite impeachment starting this Friday or wherever you get your podcast.

That`s HARDBALL for now.  "ALL IN" with Chris Hayes starts right now.



DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  If you look at the Kurds, and again, I say this with great respect, they`re no angels.

HAYES:  Donald Trump once again turns on the Kurds.

TRUMP:  So a lot of sand, they`ve got a lot of sand over there.

HAYES:  As Republicans join with Democrats to overwhelmingly rebuke Trump, and the President loses it on Nancy Pelosi.

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY):  She kept her cool completely, but he called her a third rate politician.

HAYES:  Tonight, the latest fallout from the Trump debacle in Syria.

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA):  Right now, we have to pray for his health, because this is a very serious meltdown on part of the President.

HAYES:  Then, another arrest in the probe of Rudy Giuliani associates, and new reporting that Trump`s lawyer was lobbying the President on behalf of Turkey.  Plus, what we learned from today`s new impeachment witnesses, the key impeachment witness now flying in from Ukraine, and why Mick Mulvaney is now officially knee-deep in all the President`s mass.

TRUMP:  Let`s do that over.  He`s coughing in the middle of my answer.

HAYES:  When ALL IN starts right now.


HAYES:  Good evening from New York.  I`m Chris Hayes.  This is how bad things have gotten in the wake of Donald Trump`s decision to abruptly with no warning pull U.S. troops out of northern Syria and give Turkish strongman Recep Erdogan the green light to invade.

Today, the U.S. was forced to bomb its own base.  Here`s how the Wall Street Journal described it.  Our military "carried out airstrikes to destroy the Syrian headquarters of the American campaign to destroy ISIS after rapidly pulling Americans from the base."

We bombed our own headquarters in the fight against ISIS because they were about to be taken over by Turkish-backed forces.  With the situation rapidly deteriorating, the President is having what the Speaker of the House called a meltdown right before our very eyes.

Trump went before the cameras today to offer up a series of completely nonsensical and incoherent defenses for his decision to abandon U.S.- Kurdish allies in the fight against ISIS.  Trump insisting the Kurds are "no angels," that Kurdish militants are actually worse than ISIS in many cases, and that it does not really matter at all one way or the other what happens in order to Syria because people have been fighting there for a long time and "they`ve got a lot of sand over there so there`s a lot of sand there they can play with.

The president said all this as hundreds of thousands are fleeing their homes and others are being killed.  And he said all this in front of his Vice President and Secretary of State Mike Pence and Mike Pompeo just hours before those two men departed for Turkey to try to negotiate a ceasefire with Erdogan to stop what`s happening there.  Erdogan who not only has already rejected the idea of a ceasefire, but also initially balked at even gaining to meet Vice President Pence.

Meanwhile, Congressional leaders across ideological lines are freaking out.  Today, the House voted shockingly, overwhelmingly, to condemn Trump`s withdrawal of U.S. forces 354 to 60, 129 Republicans supporting the resolution.  Even Trump`s staunch supporter, and loyal admirer, and golfing buddy Senator Lindsey Graham seems like he`s had enough.


SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC):  He`s not listening to his commanders, he`s not listening to his advisors, he is not -- he`s making the biggest mistake of his presidency by assuming the Kurds are better off today than they were yesterday.  That is just unbelievable.


HAYES:  After the House vote, congressional leaders went to meet with Trump at the White House`s invitation, and that turned into by most accounts a meltdown, an absolute debacle.  Listen to the shell-shocked account of Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and Senator Chuck Schumer, and Congressman Steny Hoyer just minutes after they walked out of that meeting.


SCHUMER:  He was insulting particularly to the Speaker.  She kept her cool completely.  But he called her a third-rate politician.  He said that there are communists involved and you guys might like that.  He said the Communists are taking --

REP. STENY HOYER (D-MD):  He said ISIS were communist --

SCHUMER:  And you would be happy with that.

PELOSI:  That might make you happy.

SCHUMER:  That might make you happy.


HAYES:  A little bit later on Capitol Hill, Pelosi added this.


PELOSI:  What`s really sad about it is I prayed for the President all the time.  And I tell him that I pray for his safety and that of his family.  Right now, we have to pray for his health because this was a very serious meltdown on the part of the president.


HAYES:  We learn more about the meeting from a Democratic source.  As Senator Schumer started to read Trump a quote from former Secretary of Defense James Mattis warning about an ISIS resurgence, but Trump cut Schumer off saying that Mattis is "The world`s most overrated general.  You know why, he wasn`t tough enough.  I captured ISIS.  Mattis said it would take two years, I captured them in one month."

Personally, I guess he captured ISIS.  A source said Trump also acknowledged that up to 100 ISIS fighters escaped due to his decision but insisted twice they`re "the least dangerous ones."  A claim the Secretary Defense Mark Esper notably declined to back up.

Schumer said that Trump also handed out copies of a letter he said -- the President said he sent Erdogan a week ago, that`s three days after Trump had that phone call in which he gave Erdogan the green light to invade.  A senior Democratic aide said Trump bragged about the letter which Erdogan appears to have completely ignored since he went ahead and did it anyway.

It was released first by Trish Regan of Fox Business.  I`ll read part of it.  "Dear Mr. President, let`s work out a good deal.  You don`t want to be responsible for slaughtering thousands of and I don`t want to be responsible for destroying the Turkish economy, and I will."  There`s more in that tone.  "History will look upon you favorably if you get this done the right and humane way.  It will look upon you as the devil if good things don`t happen.  Don`t be a tough guy.  Don`t be a fool.  I will call you later."

Joining me now is someone who is at that White House meeting today, Democratic Congressman Adam Smith of Washington who chairs the House Armed Services Committee.  Let me start here.  How did this meeting come about?

REP. ADAM SMITH (D-WA):  Well, and that -- actually, we started arguing about that as soon as everybody sat down.  But we in the House and the Senate for that matter asked to be briefed by the administration on what was going on in Syria and Turkey.  They came back with a variety of offers and this was one of them, to have a White House meeting with senior leadership.

The President seemed to be under the impression that we had asked for that.  I don`t really care who asked for the meeting.  It was appropriate people in the room having the meeting.  But that`s sort of how it came about.  And I -- we`re having a classified briefing in the House Armed Services Committee tomorrow.  We were supposed to have a full House briefing but Secretary of State is out of the country now so we`re -- so that`s how the meeting came about.

HAYES:  Yes.  I think you`ve probably heard the reporting that -- about what happened in that meeting that I just read.  Was that accurate?

SMITH:  Well, it`s interesting.  You know, people say the President had a meltdown.  He didn`t sound altogether that much different than I`ve seen him in a lot of other settings, OK.  I don`t know.  I went to college in New York, maybe I`m more accustomed to it.  And also the president, that`s sort of the way he talks and it is problematic.

I mean, he`s very insulting particularly with the people who disagree with him and particularly to the Speaker, and he was very dismissive and very insulting, but he kind of always is.  And you know, he was very boastful about his own accomplishments and his facts were very questionable as he was laying them out.

So -- but that`s -- I don`t -- I didn`t see it as being that much different than what we see certainly at his rallies, what we see at various press conferences.  It`s who he is.  It`s the way he talks.  So -- and my perspective was it`s fine.  I respect completely the Speaker`s decision that it wasn`t a productive meeting, but some of us stuck around to have the conversation because it matters.

OK, they`re going to -- they`re planning on sanctioning Turkey.  Towards what end?  What`s going to happen with that?  Are we keeping forces in the region?  There`s a whole bunch of policy questions that matter that we did discuss.

HAYES:  Does the President have command of those policy issues?

SMITH:  Not really.  I think he`s off on a number of key points.  And the biggest point I tried to explain was we work with partners to contain terrorist threats from groups like ISIS and al-Qaeda.  I actually agree with the President and others that it doesn`t make sense to send out 100,000 U.S. troops into a country to try and fix it.  What makes sense is to work with partners to try to contain the threat, to train and equip them.

And the president, you know, had said at one point that we were there as policemen.  He`s wrong about that.  We were there to train the Kurds and to work with them to help them fight the fight, and they were very good at it.  They helped defeat ISIS.  So they are a key partner and it`s not a matter of us carrying the fight, it`s a matter of us leveraging our partnerships to meet our national security interests.

HAYES:  I`m a little confused about what the policy is.  I have heard the following in a way that the President announced suddenly that Erdogan going in after a phone call which we all read.  We all read that message.  It took everyone by surprise.

And it was obviously a green light.  He was giving him the go-ahead for the invasion.  The President is saying he didn`t give him a green light.  The President is saying that if he did the tough way and not the soft way, that he would destroy the economy by himself, preparation of sanctions, also that the fight doesn`t matter.  It doesn`t matter to us.  Also that the Assad regime is -- can protect the Kurds, also that Syria -- the Syrian regime really wants to fight ISIS and that the Russians want to fight ISIS, and then they have a lot of sand over there and they`ve been fighting each other and also the Kurds are terrorists.

SMITH:  Well, I think you understand it perfectly, Chris.  Actually, I think you summed it up quite well there.  But that doesn`t make any sense.  It steps over and contradicts, it moves in a whole bunch of different directions.  And that`s what I was trying to sort of narrow down and others in the room we`re trying to narrow down as well, you know, what are we trying to do here.

And the important thing to remember is this all started when the president tweeted I think was November or December of last year, we`re pulling out of Syria and we`ll pull him out of Afghanistan by the way.  And this is why his Secretary Mattis quit.  He thought it was a horrible decision delivered in a horrible way.

So the effort to reduce our forces in Syria started a long time ago, and that sent the message to Turkey that they would have free reign if they came in.  So now what are we trying to accomplish?  Do we have a fight there?  Well, yes we do because we are concerned about ISIS.

We also I think have an obligation to help the Kurds and the free -- the Democratic -- the free democratic movement in Syria that fought with us to try and protect them, because where are we going to find allies in the future when we abandon ones that fought so bravely with us?

HAYES:  Congressman, that ship has sailed.  I mean --

SMITH:  Absolutely, yes.

HAYES:  I have watched the footage.  They`re --

SMITH:  No yes, no yes.

HAYES:  The Assad forces are in Kobane.  They have renamed it.  It`s Arabic name.  It`s done.

SMITH:  Well, Chris, when they asked me about this meeting yesterday, I said, well, it`s kind of like the President burned the house down, now he wants to invite us over to talk about remodeling.  You`re right, it is done.  And now -- but the President`s position at this point is number one, there was nothing he could have done about it.  Turkey was going to do this anyway.  As I said, I think I disagree for a number of reasons.

And number two, now, they`re going to sanction Turkey to force turkey into a ceasefire.  At the same time, he spent a lot of time in the meeting talking about how it didn`t make sense to punish Turkey because that would just push turkey towards Russia and away from us.  But if you`re going to sanction them into oblivion, there is no consistency to the policy.  There is no clear plan.

There`s a bunch of half-baked ideas that contradict themselves and that is incredibly dangerous for our national security interest not just in Syria, by the way.  I mean, if you`re looking at this and you`re thinking of partnering with the U.S., you`ve got to be deeply concerned about who you`re partnering with.

HAYES:  Final question.  The President distributed that letter in which he -- I think the White House claims was postmarked on three days after that phone call and actually sent to the president of Turkey.  How did that letter strike you?

SMITH:  Well, you heard how it struck me when you first raised it.  And I couldn`t help but chuckle as you raised the question.  It is a breathtaking effort at diplomacy.  Let`s just put it that way.  I don`t know what it was supposed to accomplish exactly, but you know, it`s -- he passed out copies over to all of us and I am going to frame that because I will never see the likes of it again, I sincerely hope.

It was -- it was just there was a (INAUDIBLE).  It was just -- I don`t know what he was trying to accomplish.  And the writing, the way it`s presented, nobody in the diplomatic world is going to take that type of writing seriously.  So you know, if that was the best effort we could to convince Erdogan not to go, it`s no wonder he went.

HAYES:  All right, Congressman Adam Smith, thank you so much for joining me.

SMITH:  Thanks Chris, I appreciate it.

HAYES:  I`m joined now Rula Jebreal, a journalist and a foreign policy analyst who specializes in Middle Eastern affairs, and Michael McFaul former U.S. Ambassador to Russia and MSNBC International Affairs Analyst.  Michael, what do you make of this situation right now?

MICHAEL MCFAUL, MSNBC INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS ANALYST:  It`s utter chaos.  I think what you`re seeing here is the breakdown of the foreign policy process for making decisions and implementing them.  It`s been going on for years but we haven`t had many crises, and now you`re seeing it both in Syria and Ukraine, by the way, both of these crises.

That letter you guys were just talking about, I used to write those letters when I worked for President Obama.  A letter like that traditionally would be written with people are experts on it.  It would be chopped and edited all the way up with the National Security Adviser signing off before it got to the president.  And it`s just one of many, many illustrations that whole process is completely broken down, and it has real consequences for our allies and for America`s reputation around the world

HAYES:  Rula, you`ve done a lot of reporting on the war and in the region.  What does the events of the last week as facilitated by President Trump but also Erdogan, we have to say, what does it mean for the balance of power and what happens in the region now?

RULA JEBREAL, FOREIGN POLICY ANALYST:  Well, a nightmare scenario.  Assad won.  He decimated the Kurdish project.  The Kurds ran back to Assad for protection, the man that slaughtered half million Syrian civilians, the guy that used chemical weapons against his own people, the guy that butchered the Syrians simply for standing in the street demanding more freedom, more democracy, social justice.

And then we see Putin that basically is the kingmaker, the deal maker of the Middle East, the rise of ISIS on whether -- on the other side, a force that was killed, decimated basically is revived.  And then Turkey playing another role and dismissing the Americans.  I mean, American role in the Middle East ends now, ends today with shame betrayal and genocide.

HAYES:  Michael, there -- Rula just mentioned Russia, obviously.  Russia had it`s only I think foreign Middle-Eastern base in Syria, in Assad Syria.  That was true before the war.  It was reason that Putin went all in to defend Assad and in some ways is the reason that I think in the balance of the conflict in Syria, it mattered more to Putin than it matter to us quite clearly.

Given that, does this actually need anything extra, this sort of you know rapid withdrawal, given the fact that they had to already come in and they had already essentially salvaged the Assad government?

MCFAUL:  I think it does.  I think for two reasons.  Number one, you`re absolutely right, Putin intervened to save the Assad regime back in 2015 and he did.  And without that, that regime might not have survived.  But remember, we that intervened operation inherent resolve back in 2014 to fight ISIS first in Iraq and then in eastern Syria.

We were not at loggerheads with the Russians back then.  The Russians were not fighting ISIS.  And for our retreat the way we`re doing it, Putin, looks like he is the new king then, he is the new guy that calls the shots, he`s got the relationships with everybody in the Middle East and we are pulling out and abandoning our ally.

When President Trump said I captured ISIS.  He didn`t capture ISIS.  The Kurds were the ones that fought ISIS.  That`s why we were there fighting them.  And when he says, well, why do we care what happens 7,000 miles away, I think he forgot that al-Qaeda also was 7,000 miles away on September 11th.  And by pulling away and abandoning, we are making ourselves less safe and we`re not going to have allies the next time around when we try to fight groups like ISIS.

HAYES:  So Rula, you`ve written about American intervention in the Middle East and how disastrous much of this has been in terms of the U.S. facilitating the ongoing slaughter that`s happening in Yemen through the Saudis, via war in Iraq, obviously.

To people that are watching this and thinking of themselves I see folks like Liz Cheney and Lindsey Graham and people who are proponents of constant U.S. military intervention in the region that has been disastrous and costly to the folks in the region first and foremost, to Americans, to American lives, to American treasure, and are saying there`s always the argument to stay.  What makes this different to those people -- to people that are thinking that one?

JEBREAL:  Well, there`s two separate things, Chris.  First of all, when Trump said that his ending the wars in the Middle East, this is a flat lie.  He actually increased the presence of troops since May by 14,000 by which 2,000 of them were sent recently to defend the dictators of Saudi Arabia.

So the war in Yemen is a disaster, catastrophic war led by Saudi Arabia and enabled, and endorsed, and helped by the Trump administration.  This is a different war.  The Iraq war was a war of choice where the United States led a regime change in Iraq with motivation that we all were critical of.

The Syrian uprising, this is a different issue.  The people of Syria, the nation -- the Syrian people stood up in the streets in 2011, demanded democracy and dignity.  The Syrian people themselves, the overwhelming majority don`t want the Assad regime.  They were calling on the international community to defend them. 

HAYES:  Right.

JEBREAL:  This is -- if we would call that intervention, it`s simply our responsibility to protect the civilian exactly like Kosovo.  This is a comparison.

HAYES:  Final question for you, ambassador.  The President said three things today that really struck me.  He said -- he said the PKK which is the term for Militant Kurdish Group has carried out attacks within Turkey but is different than the forces that we`re fighting ISIS at least in name.  But the PKK were terrorists, as bad as ISIS which is literally a talking point of Erdogan.

MCFAUL:  That`s from Erdogan, yes.

HAYES:  He said -- he said that Assad and the Syrian regime is going to -- is determined to fight ISIS which is a talking point of the Assad regime, and that Russia is determined to fight ISIS which is a talking point of the Putin regime.  Did it strike you as strange that these three things came out of his mouth in almost secession?

MCFAUL:  Yes.  Chris, it`s just so disappointing and sad to watch this because it means he`s not getting any advice from his national security advisor or his generals.  There are people on the staff in the White House that know the truth, and for some reason, the President of the United States seems to be listening to Russia today and not listening to his own National Security staff.

That was embarrassing when he said that.  And I call upon those people.  That`s why you`re there.  The job is national security advisor.  Please at least stop our president from saying things that are untrue and embarrasses him and it embarrasses the United States of America.

HAYES:  All right, Rula Jebreal and Michael McFaul, thank you both.

JEBREAL:  Thank you.

HAYES:  Next, the impeachment inquiry continues at a furious pace.  What we learn from today`s witness, what we know about what Gordon Sondland will say tomorrow, what we know about the key witness who is now flying in from U.K. to meet investigators in two minutes.


HAYES:  You`re watching a very simple story become more complicated, but do not lose sight of the simple story.  The President of the United States corruptly used his office to coerce and occupy a foreign country to manufacture dirt on his political opponent, to meddle in the American elections.  We knew that when we saw the notes of the call, the very first document publicly released in this investigation.

Everything we`ve learned since that makes this more complicated only because of the scope of the crime at the heart of it keeps growing.  Today we got testimony from Michael McKinley.  He`s a former Senior Adviser to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.  McKinley is yet another person who`s testifying to say basically the entire apparatus of the actual foreign policy of the United States as a country was sidelined, politicized, and threatened precisely because it was standing in the way of the rogue Trump- Giuliani foreign policy.

NBC News reports McKinley testified.  He quit last week in part because of "what appears to be a utilization of our ambassadors overseas to advance domestic political objectives."  Adding, "I was disturbed by the implication that foreign governments were being approached to procure negative information on political opponents."

Tomorrow, Trump`s ambassador to the E.U. Gordon Sondland is expected to be deposed.  Other witnesses have described Sondland is playing a very central role in Trump`s Ukraine policy.  And Sondland, you`ll remember famously quoted -- the famously texted, "The President has been crystal clear, no quid pro quos of any kind."

He`s expected to testify.  He was only repeating what President Trump himself told him.  And Bill Taylor, remember, he was the guy in the other end of that text who five hours prior had texted, I think it`s crazy to withhold Security Assistance for help with a political campaign.  That`s it right there.  That`s the impeachable scandal.  I think it`s crazy.

That man who wrote that, Bill Taylor, wakes up every morning in Kiev and goes to his jobs as the chief of mission to Ukraine where we do not have an ambassador because the President recalled the last one because she wouldn`t go along with his rogue plan.  That Bill Taylor, he took off from Ukraine today to return to Washington D.C. so he can tell Congress in person when he witnessed.

The process that the State Department officials are describing is part of the crime.  It`s the reason that you have this expanding cast of characters, this weird world in which these career diplomats you never heard of being sidelined and stiffed armed.

And the reason that`s happening is because they are the ones who won`t go along with the corrupt abuse of power being cooked up by the President and his personal bagman.  A scheme that many of them viewed as an illegal operation.

Joining me now, one of the congresspeople who attended the deposition former Senior Advisor for the Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Michael McKinley, Democratic Congressman Joaquin Castro of Texas, a member of the House Intelligence Committee.  Congressman, what did you learn today?

REP. JOAQUIN CASTRO (D-TX):  Well, as you know, because I`m on the Intel Committee, I can`t say exactly what Mr. McKinley said.  But my impression after listening to this testimony and also the other testimony that we`ve heard and the documents that we`ve seen is that there was essentially a shadow foreign policy apparatus that was doing the bidding for Donald Trump and for his cronies like Rudy Giuliani.

And these people were the ones that were entrusted to carry out the mission of the president.  And the people at the State Department were basically cast aside.  Their opinion didn`t really matter, their advice was not taken, their counsel was not taken.  The President entrusted instead his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani to do his bidding.  And it looks like perhaps Gordon Sondland as well.

Remember, Gordon Sondland was a political appointee.  He`s not somebody that worked his way up through the ranks as a career diplomat.  And so I`m looking forward to hearing his testimony as well.

HAYES:  The manner of impeaching a president pertains the language in the Constitution, treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors, that`s different from statutory violations of the U.S. federal criminal code.  But given the testimony, do you think crimes were committed?  That only applies to the president.  Do you think that the law was transgressed here?

CASTRO:  Based on what I`ve seen and what I`ve heard, I think it is very possible.  It`s quite possible.  In fact, I would say at this point it`s probable that laws were broken, yes.

HAYES:  There is -- speaking of running afoul of the law, there is a subpoena to Rudy Giuliani the President`s personal attorney or advisor, it`s actually unclear who pays him or who he works for, who has defied the subpoena from your committee and other oversight communities.  And there`s some reporting there`s a divide among Democrats about what to do about it.  What do you think should be done about the fact that Mr. Giuliani has defied your subpoena?

CASTRO:  You`re right.  I mean, look, all of us are very disappointed, dismayed, disturbed, all of it, that Rudy Giuliani is not cooperating with the Congress even though he`s been subpoenaed.  And so there is a split of opinion about what we do on the subpoenas.  Do we go litigate them?  Do we hold back?

I think all of us agree that this is another instance because Rudy Giuliani has been I think has consulted with the White House.  We think that it`s an instance of obstruction in this case.  And ultimately when articles of impeachment I think are brought forward, you`ll see all of these cases of obstruction put forward or these instances of obstruction put forward.

And -- but I think that we`ve got to pursue every legal avenue possible to get him to comply.  Hopefully, he`ll decide to come forward on his own.  As you`ve seen in the last week and a half or two weeks, there have been people who initially resisted coming forward who decided after all that it was in their best interest to come forward.  I hope that for Rudy Giuliani that will be the case as well.

HAYES:  I know you can`t speak to specific testimony, but I`ll go ahead and say this.  Do you feel that the witnesses that you have heard from have been truthful and forthcoming?

CASTRO:  So far I think so.  Yes.  The career -- the career diplomats, the civil servants I think so ar yes.  They`ve come forward and they feel a duty I think to tell the truth.  The folks that are more -- that have been more political, I think that their testimony is really open to skepticism.

HAYES:  Final question.  Republicans want to try to force a vote to formally rebuke the chair of your committee, Adam Schiff.  What do you think of that?

CASTRO:  Yes, I mean, that`s just absolutely ridiculous.  Look, right now, Kevin McCarthy and the Republican Conference is doing everything that they can to avoid talking about what is for them the elephant in the room, and what is for Americans increasingly an erratic and dangerous president.

They don`t want to talk about the fact the President Trump has abused his power, has betrayed his oath of office, and has betrayed the American people.  So instead, they`re doing this sideshow going after Adam Schiff.  I think it`s ridiculous and I hope the American people see through it.

HAYES:  All right, Congressman Joaquin Castro, thank you very much.  Joining me now are two men with decades of legal experience, Walter Dellinger former Acting Solicitor General, former head of the Office of Legal Counsel under President Bill Clinton, and Robert Bennett former personal defense attorney for President Bill Clinton during the Paula Jones case as well former Special Counsel to the U.S. Senate Select Committee on ethics.

Mr. Bennett, let me begin with you.  As someone who represented a president in his personal capacity during an impeachment event, how bad did the facts look for this president?

ROBERT BENNETT, FORMER DEFENSE LAWYER, BILL CLINTON: I think they look very bad.  I think on the obstruction, I mean you can be impeached for obstructing justice and obstructing a legitimate inquiry by congress.  So I think the president himself has established the grounds for a charge of impeachment.

HAYES:  Walter, you worked at OLC and you`ve been inside the government as it wrestled with the questions what is the law and how do we follow it?  And I can`t help but notice that in multiple instances it appears that people around this scheme, whether it`s Fiona Hill and John Bolton referring to the drug deal being cooked up by Mulvaney and Sondland, it`s others who want to refer this to the NSC lawyer, it`s folks in the DOD who did some legal analysis and found that upholding the payments was possibly unlawful, the criminal referral to DOJ.  There are red flags going off all over the system in the lead up to this as it is going.  What do you make of it?

WALTER DELLINGER, FORMER HEAD OF THE OFFICE OF LEGAL COUNSEL:  Well, I make of it that those who were part of the scheme to corrupt our relationship with Ukraine in order to advance a political agenda, to interfere with our election, I take it they`re in deep trouble.  And thank goodness, there are career and even some political appointees who are willing to stand up to that who will be voluntary witnesses.

The claim by the White House counsel that a blanket refusal to cooperate with the congressional oversight is just simply preposterous.  And I hope that some Republicans will think about how they would feel if a president, say, Elizabeth Warren or whoever, came into office knowing that she should be subject to no congressional oversight, because she should just refuse to go along.

HAYES:  Robert, did you ever consider or discuss with President Clinton at the time or your legal team the possibility of essentially a blanket refusal to cooperate in any way with the impeachment inquiry back then?

BENNETT:  I cannot discuss any conversations I had with the president, but I can say that I never had that, and I never heard that that was a possibility, that would have been a very bad idea politically, and don`t forget we had an election coming up.  And secondly, you know it would be very close if not already there a crime.

So I think the answer to that is no with the understanding I can`t discuss conversations I had with the president.

HAYES:  Walter, what do you -- go ahead.

DELLINGER:  We did -- I did have experience heading the Office of Legal Counsel where we would assert some executive privilege over some aspect of some matters, but we always engaged thin  process of accommodation where you pressed to see what congress really needs for its oversight.  They agree to narrow the request in some respects and you agree to comply.  I`ve never seen anything or imagined a complete blanket refusal to cooperate.  It really turns upside down the constitutional order of things where you created a legislative branch and a president to execute the laws passed by congress.  And yet you have this complete freedom from oversight being asserted by this president.

HAYES:  Robert, you served in this personal capacity for President Clinton.  And I wonder as you watch this reporting on Rudy Giuliani and how intimately involved he is with various members of the civil service, the foreign service, running foreign policy, like could you imagine a universe in which you have been dispatched in this role, or can you conceive of a role like this in which the president`s personal attorney essentially is running point on a matter of important American foreign policy?

BENNETT:  I mean I -- to be honest with you I find it shocking.  I mean -- and first of all he`s not qualified to do this.  He`s a very smart lawyer and I think he was a superb mayor of New York, but this is not within his area of expertise.

Secondly, the president of the United States should by relying on the professionals, the State Department professionals, not a lawyer who -- who he just happens to like or trust.  So I am baffled.  I have represented a lot -- I`ve represented former secretaries of defense and so forth, and nobody has even remotely suggested, notwithstanding how much confidence they had in me, that I do any of these things that Mr. Giuliani is now doing.

DELLINGER:  Chris, one quick point, we realize that Rudy Giuliani, as the president`s personal attorney, has an ethical obligation to represent Donald Trump`s interests when he is engaged in the Ukraine matters.  He does not have the obligation to the United States, and that`s what`s terribly wrong about having him exercise that role.

HAYES:  Well, Walter Dellinger, thank you, and Robert Bennett as well.  That was really fantastic gentlemen, thank you very much.

Next, things are rapidly deteriorating for the president`s bagman, Rudy Giuliani, with another arrest.  And now new reporting Giuliani is the subject of a counterintelligence investigation.  All the details after this. 


HAYES:  At the moment, if all reporting is correct, Rudy Giuliani does not appear to be represented by any other counsel other than himself.  And though I am not a lawyer, it just seems to me that`s not a great idea.

Last week Giuliani`s two associates Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, men whose company called Fraud Guarantee, paid Giuliani $500,000, men he once referred to as his clients, men whose current lawyer said they were assisting Mr. Giuliani, quote, in connection with his representation of President Trump, those two men were arrested trying to leave the country at Dulles Airport in D.C. just a few hours after lunching with Rudy Giuliani at of course the Trump International Hotel in Washington.

Then a series of news outlets reported, perhaps not the surprisingly, that Giuliani himself is now under criminal investigation by the office he used to run in the Southern District of New York.  That was followed by a spate of stories about Giuliani appearing to lobby on behalf of the foreign priorities of the Turkish government multiple times directly to the president so often that, according to The Washington Post, quote, "one formal official described the subject as Giuliani`s hobby horse." 

All this despite the fact that Giuliani is not registered to lobby for foreign interests as the law requires.  And then today, a new report from CNN that Giuliani is also now the subject of a counter intelligence investigation.

Oh, yeah, also one of the other guys that was indicted in Giuliani`s associates on the campaign finance violations, David Correia, he was also arrested at JFK Airport today.  I should note he had been traveling in the Middle East and returned to the U.S. to surrender to authorities.

His biggest venture with Parnas and Fruman was the company called, amazingly, Fraud Guarantee.  Correia was a co-founder.  And just a reminder that is the company that paid Giuliani half a million dollars for his work.

So, yeah, I think Rudy could probably use a lawyer.

For more I`m joined by Washington Post national investigator reporter Carol Lennig, who along with her colleagues, has been doing great reporting on Giuliani`s activities.

And Carol, I want to talk about these two foreign policy issues it appears Giuliani that was involved with.  One of them pertains to a Turkish man who was being prosecuted by the Southern District of New York who he was retained as his attorney.  What was that story?

CAROL LENNIG, THE WASHINGTON POST:  Yes, this was extremely strange because even in 2017 when there were so many things going on in the early days of the Trump administration, but in the Southern District of New York federal prosecutors had a pretty interesting case involving a Turkish gold trader who was accused of vast money laundering, bribery, Turkish corruption scandal, an effort to bypass U.S. sanctions against Iran.

Rudy Giuliani and a co-counsel flew to Turkey to meet with Turkish President Erdogan to discuss this case of a gold trader.  Erdogan desperately wanted this case dismissed and wanted this traitor released.  We would later learn at one reason why Erdogan would want that to happen, the trader had incredibly unflattering politically damaging information about the Turkish president.

Anyway, Rudy Giuliani was essentially pushing the president and others to help release this guy as part of a diplomatic agreement.  Prosecutors in New York were very suspicious about who exactly Rudy Giuliani was representing.  Was he representing the gold trader as he alleged in federal court, or was, by the fact that he was pushing something at the top of Erdogan`s priority list, really advocating for the leader of Turkey?

HAYES:  We should note that the reporting indicates there were possible multiple meetings where the president who was inviting Rudy Giuliani directed to argue for and lobby Tillerson and others to intervene in a criminal case, right, and get it stopped.

LENNIG:  Well, there is one bizarre scene, Chris, which I have to give credit to the great reporters I work with at The Washington Post for figuring this piece out, there was an amazing scene where basically Rudy Giuliani was in the Oval Office and the president said, hey, give Rex your pitch, guys.  And asks Tillerson to listen to Rudy Giuliani explain how they could get these charges dropped.

Our reporting shows that Rex Tillerson, then secretary of state, was appalled and said he was not going to be involved with this.  We don`t drop charges essentially against people who are under criminal prosecution in federal court, and Tillerson warned then Chief of Staff John Kelly that this made him uncomfortable.

HAYES:  OK, so once would be one thing, but we should also say that Mike Flynn, one of the things he is probably going to do prison time for, is facing sentencing, is being an unregistered foreign agent of Turkey on the campaign.  And on the day of election in November 8, 2016, the greatest op-ed ever published on election day, out of nowhere, Michael Flynn says basically  the U.S. should deport a cleric who`s living in the Poconos back to Turkey, because Turkey needs it. 

That turns out to be the other huge foreign policy priority of Erdogan, to deport this cleric who he doesn`t like who he holds responsible for the coup again him, and Giuliani was also lobbying the president on that issue?

LENNIG:  Yes.  And, you know, it`s amazing that in 2019 we`re finding out this through reporting that this is another sort of off-book policy that Rudy Giuliani was pushing. 

I think what`s more worrisome about this one, Chris, is that there is no client for extraditing Gulen, except the Turkish president.  There is no entity that is seeking this but Erdogan.  So, who is Rudy representing? 

HAYES:  Who is he working for?

LENNIG:  And who is he being paid by?

HAYES:  Carol Lennig, great reporting, thank you very much.

Man, that story.

Still to come, just how far reaching is the Ukrainian scandal?  From the secretary of energy to the acting chief of staff, a look at the cast of characters who managed to get their hands on the ball ahead.


HAYES:  It`s unclear if the president did this on purpose or not, but he seems to have looped  a very wide array of his officials in the White House into the Ukraine scheme.  With each day`s new testimony, we learn of more high ranking officials who are involved.  Remember, Trump mentioned Attorney General Bill Barr on the phone call in July -- talk to Bill Barr.  Secretary of State Mike Pompeo appears to have facilitated the policy along with the hand-picked ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland who is a Trump inaugural donor.

Also, his Energy Secretary Rick Perry was involved.  That`s someone who had managed, up  until the last moment, to more or less keep his name out of the headlines.  And Sondland and Perry were two of the so-called Three Amigos running Ukraine policy.

But there`s also Trump`s Vice President Mike Pence, who remember personally delivered the so-called corruption message to Zelensky after the phone call, meaning Zelensky would know that was all about manufacturing dirt on Biden.  And also, I`m not done yet, Trump`s current acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney.  In fact, in the legendary phrase reportedly uttered by John Bolton, it was Mulvaney and Sondland who were cooking up what he called a "drug deal."

That is a lot of White House officials involved in the president`s Ukraine scheme, a lot of them.  So just how involved was Mick Mulvaney?  We talk about that and all the president`s men next.


HAYES:  Lest anyone out there worry, we weren`t going to get to the bottom of the president`s  corrupt abuse of power to coerce Ukraine to manufacturing dirt on his political opponent, never fear, there is now a White House internal review.

The New York Times reporting that it was not clear who green lit the review, but, quote, "the acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney has encouraged it."

So Mulvaney, who is, according to a new Washington Post report, directly implicated in the Ukraine scheme, apparently approves this fact-finding review, leading some people inside the White House to fear it will essentially amount to a search for a scapegoat.

Joining me now to talk about the vast array of the president`s men who are now implicated in the scandal, Michelle Goldberg, columnist for The New York Times; and Jill Wine-Banks, former Watergate prosecutor.

Jill, I`ll start with you.  I don`t know if it`s intentional or not, but it`s remarkable how many people got pulled into this thing.  I mean, you can imagine a world in which the president basically tries to run this with Rudy Giuliani as a kind of off-book operation, but he`s got everyone, including the vice president involved.

JILL WINE-BANKS, FORMER WATERGATE PROSECUTOR:  Yes, but the same happened in Watergate.  You had a huge cast of characters.  I mean, we indicted and convicted the attorney general...

HAYES:  Right.

WINE-BANKS:  ...the chief of staff, the chief domestic policy adviser, many people from the campaign.  And when, by the way, you just mentioned this internal review, remember, one of the acts of the conspiracy was ordering Dean to do an internal review, to get to the bottom of things.  And, of  course, not only did Dean know what the truth was, but it was clearly done as a whitewash.  He was supposed to say there`s nobody involved, that was the whole point of his review. 

And that could be what they`re doing here, or it could be to look for a scapegoat because in this administration, being thrown under the bus and then run over back and forth and back and forth seems to be the way to go.  So, it could be they`re looking for someone to throw under the bus.

HAYES:  Mulvaney strikes me as being really precarious here.  And the reason is, is for this, you`ve got that quote via Fiona Hill, who -- Bolton -- the drug deal they`re cooking up.  And then this reporting, "Mulvaney organized a meeting that stripped control of the country`s relationship with Ukraine for those who had the most expertise at the NSC and the State Department.  Most significantly Mulvaney, at the direction of the president, placed the hold on nearly $400 million aid to Ukraine."

You got the money and the Ukraine stuff, both arrows going into Mick Mulvaney.

MICHELLE GOLDBERG,  THE NEW YORK TIMES:  Right.  And so I`m not sure if any of this is criminal on his part, right, there`s a lot of people who are obviously involved in a criminal conspiracy, but I think it just speaks to the degradation in the caliber of people who are willing to be  associated with this administration.  Like, do you remember when Rex Tillerson said how Trump was always asking him to do things that were illegal, and he always pushed back.  And so you once had a layer of people who were willing to be pushed back.  And then as those people have been sort of hollowed out, you`re left with these kind of slavish, obsequious lackeys, you know, kind of morally compromised by definition.

And so of course, when Trump asks them to do something illegal, they`re just going to roll over and do it.

HAYES:  It`s a great point, and it`s not even sort of lackeys, right, and morally compromised, Jill, it`s also a kind of incompetence.  I mean, John Bolton, I think, has a complicated moral record, and has probably done some covert stuff in his day, but is wise enough of a bureaucratic in-fighter to know to stay away from this and to alert the lawyers.

WINE-BANKS:  Yes.  He has to be praised for that.  And I`m waiting for other Republicans to stand up to the president.  But I do want to say that Mulvaney could have been involved in crime, because it`s hard to believe...

HAYES:  Yeah.

WINE-BANKS:  ...that he didn`t know that the reason that he was doing this covert shadow foreign policy was because the president was looking for something of personal value, of political value, that this wasn`t to root out corruption in Ukraine, it was to make up information that would hurt the Democrats, and that is a criminal activity.  I think that that could be a Hobbs Act violation, it could be so many things.

HAYES:  This is a really important point, if we hadn`t gone through Mueller, and if we were in other situation, there would probably be a special prosecutor appointed at this point.



HAYES:  There is real reason to think there should be one.


HAYES:  Michelle?

GOLDBERG:  Well, I think you`re right, although in some ways I think it`s lucky that that`s not happening, because that would allow them to play the whole thing out like they did with Mueller.

HAYES:  ...investigate -- yes.

GOLDBERG:  Right.  Instead, it`s sort of -- because it`s so clear that this is impeachable that in a way to go through a whole special prosecutor investigation would almost kind of cloud the issue.  I think we`re sort of lucky if we can say we`re lucky in this kind of extremely perilous and debased situation, but we`re lucky that at least the House now can just move very expeditiously.

HAYES:  But do you think -- I mean, I said this before about Rudy Giuliani, Jill, like, Mick Mulvaney and Rick Perry and Gordon -- they need to get lawyers.  I mean, they`re facing legal exposure right now.

WINE-BANKS:  Absolutely.  And it appears that Giuliani has fired the lawyer he hired.

HAYES:  Yes.

WINE-BANKS:  And said I don`t need him anymore.  He needs a lawyer.  I would be more suspicious that Jon Sale, a former Watergate prosecutor, said I see what`s going on here and I`m out of this.  But he does need a lawyer.  And you know the old saying, a lawyer who represents himself, as  Giuliani says he is, has a fool for a client.

HAYES:  Yeah, I think that seems to pertain here.

Jill Wine-Banks, and Michelle Goldberg, thank you both so much for joining us.

HAYES:  OK.  Final countdown to our special live recording of Why is This Happening.  I`m not going to lie, I`m very excited.  A reminder, it`s happening Monday, October 21 in Downtown Los Angeles.  I`m going to talk to Adam McKay, director of The Big Short, and Vice, along with the author of one of my favorite books right now, Omar El Akkad, who wrote "American War."

The great news is you can still tickets.  There are a few left.  Go to our website at  And for a chance to win tickets, you might want to check out our most recent WITH pod episode.  Plus, this Friday we will be back in Studio 6A here at 30 Rock with a live studio audience.  One of my guests is someone you haven`t heard from in a while.  Have you missed Steve Schmidt?  He`s back, and will join me for his first interview on MSNBC in a better part of a year.  That`s this Friday, a special edition of All In.  Be there.

With that, that does it for ALL IN for this evening.   "THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW" starts now.  Good evening, Rachel.