CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: That is "ALL IN" for this evening on a marathon day of testimony.
"THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW" starts right now.
Good evening, Rachel.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Chris. Thank you, my friend. Much appreciated.
And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour. We`re coming to you tonight from Atlanta, Georgia, the site of tomorrow night`s Democratic presidential candidate`s debate. We`ll have that later on this hour. Very excited for the debate, by which I mean I`m very nervous to have anything to do with it, but here we are. It`s unavoidable now.
The impeachment proceedings against President Trump were a doubleheader today with hearings both this morning starting at 9:00 a.m. Eastern and another marathon hearing this afternoon starting at 3:00 Eastern, extending well into the evening tonight, ending less than a half an hour ago now.
The second hearing today, the afternoon and evening session that just ended was technically a first, though, because the two witnesses who were called specifically in the impeachment hearing this afternoon were the first witnesses who were specifically requested by the Republicans on the committee. Now, we don`t know exactly why the Republicans on the committee were so eager to call these particular witnesses today. It kind of seems clear from how it went with them today that the Democrats would have been just as happy to call them, too, if the Republicans hadn`t.
But this is specifically who the Republicans wanted, and it seems like it`s probably not the way they had wanted it to go.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AMB. KURT VOLKER, FORMER U.S. SPECIAL ENVOY TO UKRAINE: It`s not credible to me that former Vice President Biden would have been influenced in any way by financial or personal motives in carrying out his duties as vice president.
I don`t think that raising 2016 elections or Vice President Biden or these things that I consider to be conspiracy theories that have been circulated by the Ukrainians particularly the former prosecutor general are -- they`re not things that we should be pursuing as part of our national security strategy with Ukraine.
At the one in-person meeting I had with Mayor Giuliani on July 19th, Mayor Giuliani raised and I rejected the conspiracy theory that Vice President Biden would have been influenced in his duties as vice president by money paid to his son. As I previously testified, I`ve known Vice President Biden for 23 years, he`s an honorable man and I hold him in the highest regard.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That is Ambassador Kurt Volker who resigned as U.S. envoy to Ukraine when the impeachment scandal broke open a few weeks ago, he was asked to testify before these proceedings, he accepted that invitation to testify and he resigned his job.
What that means though because he was the first witness they asked to come in and give a closed door deposition, that tells you that the Democratic leadership of the impeachment committees were happy to hear from Ambassador Volker as a witness in the first instance. I`m -- I can surmise that the Democratic leadership of those committees would have been happy calling him again for this public testimony, of the type that he went through today.
That said, he was specifically requested Republican witness. The Republicans on the committee specifically wanted Ambassador Volker and Tim Morrison who he testified alongside today. I`m not exactly sure why Republican members of the committee were so psyched to have him there today specifically as their witness.
But there he was. It was Ambassador Volker and as I mentioned, a senior national security official who also recently resigned his post. The man he testified alongside is named Tim Morrison. Morrison and Volker are the witnesses that that Republicans wanted to make sure got their turn before the cameras in these televised hearings.
But whatever the Republicans` motivation was for that, honestly, their testimony wasn`t awesome for the president`s defense. Not at all. Quite the contrary.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAN GOLDMAN, COUNSEL FOR DEMOCRATS ON INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: Now, after this larger meeting with Vice President Pence and President Zelensky, you testified at your deposition you saw Ambassador Sondland immediately go over and pull Andriy Yermak aside and have a conservation, is that right?
TIMOTHY MORRISON, SENIOR DIRECTOR FOR EUROPEAN AFFAIRS AT THE WHITE HOUSE IN THE NSC: I mean, President Zelensky left the room, Vice President Pence left the room, and in sort of anti-room, Ambassador Sondland and presidential advisor Yermak had this discussion, yes.
GOLDMAN: What did Ambassador Sondland say to tell you that he told Mr. Yermak?
MORRISON: That the Ukrainians would have to have the prosecutor general make a statement with respect to the investigations as a condition of having the aid lifted.
GOLDMAN: Now, did you tell Ambassador Bolton about this conversation as well?
MORRISON: I reached out to him as well and requested his availability for a secure phone call.
GOLDMAN: And what was his response when he explained him what Ambassador Sondland had said?
MORRISON: Tell the lawyers.
GOLDMAN: Now, a few days later on September 7th, you spoke again to ambassador Sondland who told you that he had just gotten off the phone with President Trump, isn`t that right?
MORRISON: That sounds correct, yes.
GOLDMAN: What did Ambassador Sondland tell you that President Trump said to him?
MORRISON: If I recall this conversation correctly, this is where Ambassador Sondland related that there was no quid pro quo but President Zelensky had to make the statement and that he had to want to do it.
GOLDMAN: And by that point, did you understand that the statement related to the Biden and the 2016 investigations?
MORRISON: I think I did, yes.
GOLDMAN: And that that was essentially a condition for the security assistance to be released?
MORRISON: I understood that`s what Ambassador Sondland believed.
GOLDMAN: After speaking with President Trump.
MORRISON: That`s what he represented.
GOLDMAN: Did you tell Ambassador Bolton about this conversation as well?
MORRISON: I did, yes.
GOLDMAN: And what did he say to you?
MORRISON: He said to tell the lawyers.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: He said once again when I called him the second time for something like this, once again he told me, tell the lawyers.
Do we need a theme song for today? How about tell the lawyers? I mean, fire up the embroidery hoops, right?
Day three of the Trump impeachment hearings have provided us with yet another set of words to live by. Words to stitch onto a pillow? At least words to watch out for in testimony about how the president`s own appointees talk to each other when they learned what the president had been cooking up behind closed doors.
Dude, don`t even tell me. Talk to the lawyers. Dude, are you calling me about another one of these? I said talk to the lawyers.
Do you have the lawyer`s phone number? Can you get to the lawyer`s office? Talk to the lawyers.
Today was the first of the two-a-day hearings in the impeachment proceedings. I will just say as a personal observation, although nobody cares what I think about this, I will observe personally that two hearings in one day is one too many hearings in one day. It`s really hard to absorb information after the first intense six hours.
Going for another intense five or six or seven hours after that first one, it`s like adding five more courses to what was already a gigantic five- course meal. Nobody`s going to eat the whole thing. And if they do, they`ll regret it and they`ll never eat again.
I don`t know if they`re going to stick to these two-a-day things. They`re planning on doing at least a couple more of these, but it`s a bad idea. Just do one idea. It`s all right. Thanksgiving is coming. We can work through the holiday.
To be fair, for the Republicans who are trying to do their best in the hearings to mount a defense of the president against this impeachment, I am sure that the Republicans didn`t mind the two-a-day thing today. I`m sure they were very excited about getting their witnesses out there, these witnesses they had insisted on hearing on -- hearing from. But today proved more than anything that it doesn`t really matter what you`re hoping to get out of these witnesses.
Everybody who has been called in the impeachment proceedings thus far is either a Republican appointee or a non-partisan career person, or some combination thereof. It doesn`t matter. It`s not making a difference because they`re all fact witnesses. And they`re all describing what they saw of the facts of the president`s behavior.
And so, yes, they`re all fleshing out different parts of the story, but it`s one singular story about what the president did and what was wrong with it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JENNIFER WILLIAMS, VICE PRESIDENT PENCE`S SPECIAL ADVISOR ON EUROPE AND RUSSIA: I found the July 25th phone call unusual because in contrast to other presidential calls I had observed, it involved discussion of what appeared to be a domestic political matter.
REP. SEAN PATRICK MALONEY (D-NY): Ms. Williams, you heard the call with your own ears, right?
WILLIAMS: Yes, sir.
MALONEY: Not secondhand, not hearsay, you heard the president speak? You heard his voice on the call?
MALONEY: And your conclusion what he said about investigating the Bidens was in your words unusual and inappropriate I believe. Am I right?
WILLIAMS: That was my testimony.
MALONEY: And, Mr. Vindman, you were treated to a July 10th meeting in the White House where you heard Ambassador Sondland raised investigations, conditioning a White House meeting on that investigations that you thought were unduly political, I believe that`s how you described them, and you went to the NSC counsel and you reported it, right?
ALEXANDER VINDMAN, NSC OFFICIAL: Correct.
MALONEY: And then later, you too are on the White House call, am I right? You heard it with your own ears.
MALONEY: Not secondhand, not from somebody else, not hearsay, right?
MALONEY: You heard the president`s voice on the call.
VINDMAN: I did.
MALONEY: And you heard him raise that subject again that Ambassador Sondland had raised before about investigating the Bidens, right?
VINDMAN: I did.
MALONEY: And I want to ask you when you heard him say that, what was the first thought that went through your mind?
VINDMAN: Frankly, I couldn`t believe what I was hearing. There was probably an element of shock that maybe in certain regards, my worst fear of how our Ukrainian policy could play out was playing out and how this was likely to have significant implications for U.S. national security.
MALONEY: And you wept immediately and reported it, didn`t you?
VINDMAN: I did.
VINDMAN: Because that was my duty.
GOLDMAN: Now, are you aware of any credible allegations or evidence to support this notion that Vice President Biden did something wrong or against U.S. policy with regard to Ukraine?
VINDMAN: I am not.
GOLDMAN: Ms. Williams, are you familiar with any credible evidence to support this theory against Vice President Biden?
WILLIAMS: No, I`m not.
REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA) Colonel Vindman, you were asked by the minority counsel about the president`s words in the July 25th call, and whether the president`s words were ambiguous. Was there any ambiguity about the president`s use of the word, Biden?
VINDMAN: There was not.
SCHIFF: It was pretty clear that the president wanted Zelensky to commit to investigating the Bidens, was it not?
VINDMAN: That is correct.
SCHIFF: That is one of it favors that you thought should be properly characterized as a demand?
VINDMAN: That is correct.
GOLDMAN: So, just to summarize in this July 25th call between the presidents of the United States and Ukraine, President Trump demanded a favor of President Zelensky to conduct investigations that both of you acknowledged were for President Trump`s political interest, not the national interest, and in return for his promise of a much desired White House meeting for president Zelensky.
Colonel Vindman, is that an accurate summary of the excerpts we just looked at?
VINDMAN: Yes, sir.
GOLDMAN: Ms. Williams?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Just to summarize, yes, yes.
It turns out it doesn`t matter if they are the witnesses who the Republicans specifically want or the witnesses who the Democrats want, all these witnesses, they`re all non-partisan military officers or career foreign service officers or career national security professionals or even, yes, Republican appointees, Trump appointees. But regardless, they`re all telling the same story. They are all fact witnesses to the same behavior by the president for when the president is being impeached.
And we`re going to talk more in just a few minutes about the remarkable testimony of Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman today and the attacks on him from the Republican side which were sort of mind-boggling. I feel that`s almost a separate matter from the core factual issues of the impeachment proceedings.
But it was -- I mean, it was kind of amazing. What he said on camera to his dad, dad, don`t worry, dad, you made the right decision by emigrating to us to this country and raising us here as Americans, they won`t hurt me for telling the truth here, I`ll be fine, I mean, it`s just -- just gutting. I don`t know if you were able to see the hearings live. We will play that for you -- that moment for you, if you haven`t seen it, you should see it.
We`re also going to talk to one of the people who was in the room at that moment to talk about that and its importance. But before we get to that and you do want to see that, there`s one other thing that happened here today which I want to underscore which is that we`re getting more information now about how the upper reaches of the Trump administration knew. They knew at the time that what President Trump was doing in jerking Ukraine around like this to get them to help him with his re-election effort, that effort by the president, the Trump White House knew at the time.
They were told at the time what the cost was of the president doing that, what -- who would ultimately benefit from the president doing that in addition to the president trying to benefit himself.
Jennifer Williams is a Foreign Service officer. She started her career under the George W. Bush administration at the Department of Homeland Security. She went out of her way to say she worked at the Department of Homeland Security under Secretary Michael Chertoff, who was George W. Bush`s -- one of his homeland security appointees.
She went out of her today to say that her hero is Condoleezza Rice. She bent over backwards today to make sure that her comments about Vice President Mike Pence were nothing but good or at least neutral or at least ambiguous if need be. I mean, this was not a witness who was on an anti- Trump administration crusade. I mean, none of them are, but she went out of her way to make clear that she definitely isn`t.
But as a factual matter and a matter of her expertise and her job responsibilities, she staffs Vice President Pence on the issues of Ukraine. And so, now, through her testimony today, we know what Ukraine`s president explained out loud to Mike Pence, to the vice president of the United States, told him to his face in person about what the affect was about what President Trump was doing by jerking Ukraine around this way. Not only that he was hurting Ukraine but the Ukrainian president told Mike Pence to his face directly who that was helping.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAMS: President Zelensky explained that more than -- or just equally with the financial and physical value of the assistance, that it was the symbolic nature of that assistance that really was the show of U.S. support for Ukraine and Ukraine`s sovereignty and territorial integrity. And I think he was stressing that to the vice president to really underscore the need for the security assistance to be released.
GOLDMAN: And that if the United States was holding the security assistance, is it also true then that Russia could see that as a sign of weakening U.S. support for Ukraine and take advantage of that?
WILLIAMS: I believe that`s what President Zelensky was indicating, that any signal or sign that U.S. support was wavering would be construed by Russia as potentially an opportunity for them to strengthen their own hand in Ukraine.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That point about how President Trump`s actions, his actions at the heart of this impeachment were ultimately to the benefit of Russia, that came home as well today on the specific issue of this theory, this foreign -- can I call it the foreign theory? This odd theory that not only President Trump were pushing this Ukraine scheme but the Republicans defending President Trump in these impeachment proceedings, they have been pushing this theory as well at the hearings. Watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. DEVIN NUNES (R-CA): What was the full extent of Ukraine`s election meddling against the Trump campaign? In these depositions and hearings, Republicans have cited numerous indications of Ukraine meddling in the 2016 elections to oppose the Trump campaign.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Oh, the Ukraine meddling in the 2016 election. The way Ukraine intervened in the election to mess with us as Americans, to try to get Hillary Clinton elected.
You know, this -- if -- if the history of this moment is well-written, this ought to be some of the enduring residue of this impeachment when it`s all over. Because, yes, the president is being impeached for trying to get a foreign country to investigate his political rival Joe Biden, literally everyone who has testified even the Trump appointees who the Republicans specifically requested, they all conceded that`s bad. A president should ask a foreign country to investigate his political rival.
But at the same time that the president was asking Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden, the president was also trying to get Ukraine to provide him some kind of investigation, something to back up this cocoa for cocoa puffs idea that it wasn`t Russia that interfered in the 2016 election, it was some other country who did it. It was Ukraine.
And President Trump was pushing for that on the phone with the president of Ukraine. And some of the Republicans in Congress are pushing that theory themselves at the impeachment hearings. While the entire intelligence community says, no, actually it was Russia that did and the bipartisan Senate intelligence committee says, no, it was Russia that did it. And a dozen Russian military intelligence officers are under indictment right now by the Justice Department for that attack because, yes, it was Russia who did it.
And against all of that evidence and all of those we thought relatively controversial conclusions, where does this alternate theory come from, that Russia didn`t actually do it, that Russia didn`t interfere in the election, that`s a hoax, it was Ukraine that interfered in the election? Where did that come from? I mean, that`s as much a part of this impeachment in terms of what Trump was trying to get out of Ukraine as a thing about Joe Biden. He`s trying to get Ukraine to give him back up for this cockamamie theory that Russia didn`t do it. Ukraine was the real meddler in our elections, where does that come from?
Well, among the other things we`re getting from these witnesses at all of these hearings is they`re all subject matter experts, right? They`re all subject matter expert fact witnesses who really know Ukraine and really know that part of the world. And they actually know the answer to that question of where that cockamamie theory comes from.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOLDMAN: Now, at the time of this July 25th phone call, Colonel Vindman, were you aware of a theory that Ukraine had intervene or interfered in the 2016 U.S. election?
VINDMAN: I was.
GOLDMAN: Are you aware of any credible evidence to support this theory?
VINDMAN: I`m not.
GOLDMAN: Are you also aware that Vladimir Putin had promoted this theory of Ukrainian interference in the 2016 election?
VINDMAN: I`m well aware of that fact.
GOLDMAN: And ultimately, which country did U.S. intelligence services determined to have interfered in the 2016 election?
VINDMAN: It is the consensus of the entire intelligence community that the Russians interfered in U.S. elections in 2016.
REP. JOAQUIN CASTRO (D-TX): You both listened in real time to the July 25th call. In particular, you would have heard President Trump ask the president of Ukraine, quote, I would like you to find out what happened with this whole situation with Ukraine. They say CrowdStrike and quote, the server, they say Ukraine has it.
This is debunked conspiracy theory that has no basis in fact. President Trump`s own former homeland security advisor, Thomas P. Bossert, called the president`s assertion that Ukraine intervened in the 2016 elections, quote, not only a conspiracy theory but, quote-unquote, completely debunked, unquote.
Colonel Vindman, are you aware of any evidence to support the theory the Ukrainian government interfered in the 2016 election?
VINDMAN: Congressman, I`m not. And furthermore, I would say this is a Russian narrative that President Putin has promoted.
CASTRO: And are you aware of any part of the U.S. government, its foreign policy or intelligence apparatus, that supports that theory?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: No. No, just the president, just the president and the Republicans who are defending him in this impeachment hearing. They`re the only ones who are supporting that Russian narrative that President Putin has promoted. The entire U.S. intelligence community and every part of the foreign policy and intelligence apparatus of this country, the entirety of the U.S. government concedes that it was Russia who did it, but the president is pushing this Russia narrative that President Putin has promoted and now his supporters in Congress are pushing that.
I mean, in the end, when does the end come?
In the end, someone will write or book or someone will run a presidential campaign on this basis or someone will at least make a great TV show someday about the fact that in this impeachment of this president, one of the things the president was impeached for and the ways some of his supporters in Congress defended him at these impeachment hearings was by promulgating a Russian government promoted conspiracy theory that was designed to exonerate that country from their attack on us in 2016. Someday, that story will be written, and in the future, no one will freaking believe that we lived through that in 2019 in the United States of America. Someday that story is coming.
But as of tonight, we are still right in the throes of these guys getting caught.
MADDOW: One of the really striking moments from the last impeachment hearing before today was the spontaneous applause that broke out in the hearing room when Marie Yovanovitch concluded her testimony. Marie Yovanovitch, the former ambassador to Ukraine. Applause broke out.
I don`t know if you go to church, you go to religious services of any kind, in some churches, like people applaud. That`s not a weird. In other churches, there`s never applause.
I`m a Catholic, other churches clap I know. But we do not clap. If you`re ever at a Catholic mass and people start clapping, it probably means something wrong and it`s time to go.
But, you know, the same thing sometimes happen with congressional hearings I guess which we`ve never seen before, I`ve never seen before. But there it was people clapping at the end of Marie Yovanovitch`s testimony this week. And it also happened today. Not at the end of the day. It happened in the middle of the testimony that involved Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VINDMAN: When my father was 47 years old, he left behind his entire life, and the only home he had ever known to start over in the United States so his three sons could have a better and safer lives. His courageous decision inspired a deep sense of gratitude in my brothers and myself and instilled in us a sense of duty and service. All three of us have served or are currently serving in the military.
In Russia, my act of expressing concern to the chain of command in an official and private channel would have severe personal and professional repercussions, and offering public testimony involving the president would surely cost me my life.
Dad, I`m sitting here today in the U.S. Capitol talking to our elected professionals, talking to our elected professionals is proof you made the right decision 48 years ago to leave the Soviet Union and come here in search of a better life for our family. Do not worry, I will be fine for telling the truth.
MALONEY: You would be worried if you were putting yourself up against the president of the United States, is that right?
VINDMAN: He deeply worried about because in his contacts, that was -- that was the ultimate risk.
MALONEY: And why do you have confidence you can do that and tell your dad not to worry?
VINDMAN: Congressman, because this is America. This is country I`ve served and defended, that all my brothers have served. And here, right matters.
MALONEY: Thank you, sir. I yield back.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: He says, here, right matters. And another spontaneous out break of applause inside the hearing room.
Again, I mean, I`ve watched a lot of congressional hearings. I`ve not seen a lot of applause. But alongside that moment, it was also just super jarring to see that kind of emotional, you know, affecting statement of faith in his country from this 20-year army officer who his two brothers have also served in the U.S. military.
His faith that, you know, this is America, so he`ll be fine for speaking the truth. And then right after that, seeing the headlines like this that accompanied his testimony today. Reporting that in fact the U.S. Army is preparing to move Colonel Vindman and his family to a U.S. military base if necessary to protect him, to try to keep him safe given the attacks that are being directed at him from the president`s supporters because of Colonel Vindman`s testimony in these impeachment proceedings.
At the hearing today, the president`s allies on the committee really did do their best to try to tear Colonel Vindman down.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JIM JORDAN (R-OH): Your boss had concerns about your judgment. Your former boss Dr. Hill had concerns about your judgment. Your colleagues had concerns about your judgment, and your colleagues felt there were times you leaked information.
Any idea why they have those impressions, Colonel Vindman?
VINDMAN: Representative Jordan, I guess I`ll start by reading Dr. Hill`s own words as she attested to in my last evaluation that was dated middle of July right before she left. Alex is a top 1 percent military officer and the best army officer I`ve ever worked with in my 15 years of government service. He`s brilliant, unflappable and exercises excellent judgment.
REP. CHRIS STEWART (R-UT): Lieutenant Colonel Vindman, I see you wearing your dress uniform. Knowing that`s not your normal uniform of the day and you normally wear a suit to the White House, I think it`s a great reminder of your military service.
JORDAN: And, Colonel, you never leaked information?
VINDMAN: I never did, never would. That is -- that is preposterous that I would do mat.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: While the president`s allies were going after this army officer today, and that will be one of the indelible things about this process and the Republican Party in this era. The fact remains that Colonel Vindman is not only a 20 year military officer, he`s also the expert at the National Security Council currently serving on Ukraine, which means he`s one of the most qualified people in the country to explain what was so uniquely dangerous about the behavior for which the president is now getting impeached in terms of its effects on U.S. national security.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. VAL DEMINGS (D-FL): Could you please explain why a strong and independent Ukraine is so critical and why it is so vital to U.S. interests?
VINDMAN: We sometimes refer to Ukraine as a front of the line state. It`s on the front line of Europe. It`s -- they have actually described to me the Ukrainians that it is a -- they consider themselves as a barrier between Russian aggression and Europe. And what I`ve heard them describe is the need for U.S. support in order to serve this role, in order to protect European and Western security.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Joining us now is Congresswoman Val Demings who you saw there questioning Colonel Vindman. She`s a member of the House who sits in the Intelligence Committee.
Representative Demings, thank you so much for making time tonight. I know this has been a marathon day already.
DEMINGS: It`s great to be with you, Rachel.
MADDOW: I know this is improper for me to ask but I feel as an American who`s really interested in watching this stuff, I want to beg you to please not do two hearings in one day anymore. It was too much. It was really hard to watch that much testimony as fascinating as it was.
I have to ask you if on the committee it felt like too much as well?
DEMINGS: I`ll tell you what, it was a long day today. But, you know, when you -- let`s talk about Lieutenant Colonel Vindman`s statement this morning when he said to his dad, you know, I`ll be OK basically for telling the truth.
And Rachel, it was just a reminder of what we`re all really fighting for and working so hard for. And that`s our democracy. That`s the American dream. That is the safety and security of our nation.
We had some powerful testimony today starting with Lieutenant Colonel Vindman and Ms. Williams. And both two career service officers who have served in Republican and Democratic administrations who simply came in today to tell the truth and said that the call that the president made on the 25th of July, that what the president said was improper and inappropriate.
MADDOW: In terms of afternoon testimony that we heard today, Ambassador Volker spent a lot time in his opening statement and a long time discussing it with various questioners today how his testimony has essentially evolved, how he has wanted to revise his explanations about various things that he saw or witnessed or how he interpreted them. I think there had been a lot of anticipation today about Ambassador Volker and whether or not he was essentially going to be in trouble for having described things differently in his closed door deposition a few weeks ago compared to how he talked about them today.
How satisfied were you on that front and overall what you heard today from Ambassador Volker?
DEMINGS: Let me say this, Ambassador Volker was one of the witnesses that the minority called today. And he did make quite a few changes to his original statement. You know, we have seen changes before where people refresh their memory after listening and hearing other testimony.
But, Rachel, the bottom line is today is that Ambassador Volker basically said that any investigation involving the Bidens orchestrated by the president is definitely inappropriate. Matter of fact, he just described Vice President Biden as one of the most decent, most honest upstanding citizens in our nation.
And so, you know, he -- yes, he did make quite a few changes to his testimony. But I believe once again he just corroborated what we already know that the president abused his power.
MADDOW: And to that point, I`m glad you made that point because I feel like no matter who wants what particular witness or who`s rooting for them or what kind of, you know, cheering section they may have in various parts of the conservative media or not, I do feel like watching all of this testimony thus far, reading all the depositions y`all have released, I feel we`re seeing a consistent story. Not only about the president`s behavior but how the professional staff, the Trump appointees around this president saw his behavior in terms of its unusualness and it`s -- the fact that it was improper.
Given that, given that we`re getting so much consistency from the witnesses, I wanted to ask you about this ruling or this word we got from the federal court today that it sounds like in that landmark case about whether the subpoena against Don McGahn is going to be enforced and whether he can be compelled to testify, this thing that`s been in the court for months, it sounds like the judge is going to rule on that case on Monday. That may, in fact, legally crack open your ability on your committee to compel witnesses to testimony even when the White House tells them not to it. If that happens are there other witnesses you haven`t heard from you`d like to bring in for hearings like this or do you feel like you have the story even those who thus far have been resisting subpoenas?
DEMINGS: Well, I`ll tell you, Rachel. Certainly, our leadership will decide based on what additional witnesses may need to be called. But what we do know is this moment in history has really tested our institutions. And when I heard the ruling basically from the court or at least that the judge will be making a decision regarding McGahn basically refusing to obey a lawful subpoena, it really just gave me hope and faith that as we are going through this impeachment inquiry, our institutions of justice, i.e., the courts, are still sending a message that the rule of law matters, up holding the Constitution still matters and that you should still be required to follow the law.
And we know in this particular case ever excuse that the president`s defenders have made have been debunked. First, the president didn`t do anything wrong, or we only had second and third-hand information. Well, today`s witnesses were on the call and said it was improper and inappropriate.
You know, the fact that the aid was eventually released, you know, what`s the big deal? Well, we do know that the aid was released because the president basically got caught.
And so, the ruling today was encouraging. Leadership would work out the details in terms of who -- what additional witnesses we need to hear from, but today was a good day I believe for the American people.
MADDOW: Congresswoman Val Demings, member of the House Intelligence Committee -- ma`am, thank you so much for this time tonight. It`s been a marathon day. I wish you a good night`s sleep. Thank you very much for being here.
DEMINGS: Thank you so much.
MADDOW: All right. Much more to come tonight.
Ultimately, at the end of the night, I`m going to wish you a good night`s sleep as well. There are more impeachment hearings tomorrow. The Democratic debate here in Atlanta tomorrow night. There`s more impeachment hearings after that.
Whoo, lots to come. Stay with us.
MADDOW: The secret taping system that President Richard Nixon installed in the White House was sort of ingenious in some ways. Nixon wore a little device, it was kind of like a pager that was provided to him by the Secret Service. And when that device was in range of the one of the taping locations, the little pager thingy in Nixon`s pocket would signal that nearby recorder to switch-on. It was pretty advanced system for the time.
But even with that advanced for the `70s system, the audio quality ended up being often really bad. I mean, if one person was shuffling papers next to one of those hidden recorders, good luck ever deciphering that tape.
The result of that one of the most famous and damning Nixon quotes that are technically from the Watergate tapes, they`re still really hard to hear. They`re sort of better off being read from the transcripts, like, for example, this one from March 22nd, 1973. Here you have Nixon talking to his soon to be imprisoned Watergate henchman John Mitchell, about how the White House should respond to demands for testimony at the Watergate hearings, how they should respond to them trying to get White House officials to come in and talk.
Nixon tells Mitchell, quote, I want you all to stone wall it. Let them plead the Fifth Amendment, cover up or anything else if it`ll save it, save the plan. That`s the whole point.
Let them plead the Fifth Amendment. Anything. Of the several dozens of witnesses who were ultimately called before the Watergate investigation, the vast majority of them didn`t invoke the Fifth Amendment, but a few did memorably. The first to do was a White House aided by the name of Egil Krogh.
His name was Egil. He went by Bud.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: Egil Krogh, the former head of the White House political espionage unit, today appeared before a congressional subcommittee examining any CIA involvement in the Watergate cover-up. The committee didn`t learn much from Krogh. He took the Fifth Amendment 50 times.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: He took the Fifth Amendment 50 times. Egil "Bud" Krogh ended up serving six months in prison.
During the Watergate investigation, White House counsel John Dean also pled the Fifth before the grand jury. So did a key Watergate conspirator G. Gordon Liddy. They both took the Fifth and they both ended up serving time in prison as well.
Well, now, for the first time, there are reports, there are speculative reports, but there are reports that in tomorrow`s public impeachment hearing for President Trump, we may for the first time have a witness in this impeachment who is planning on pleading the Fifth. That story is next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SCHIFF: Ambassador Volker, we asked you about that meeting during your deposition, and you told us nothing about this. Why didn`t you tell us about this?
VOLKER: Because that`s what I remembered from the meeting, what I provided in my October 3rd statement. As I said I learned other things including seeing the statements from Alex Vindman and Fiona Hill, and that reminded me, yes, at the very end of that meeting as it was recounted in Colonel Vindman`s statement, I did remember that. Yes, that`s right, Gordon did bring that up, and that was it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Ambassador Kurt Volker revising live today his earlier closed door testimony. And he did that on a number of fronts today. He testified behind closed door October 3rd, today testifying in public, he said, a lot of what he said on October 3rd was mistaken.
Well, tomorrow, we`re going to hear from somebody else who says his memory was jogged, E.U. Ambassador Gordon Sondland. Mr. Sondland has radically amended his testimony that he gave behind closed doors already, he did that in writing. Now, he`s due to testify tomorrow in open session.
The question is he potentially in trouble for continued revisions to his testimony, and what do we make to these reports, speculative reports admittedly, he may find himself pleading the Fifth tomorrow?
Joining us is Chuck Rosenberg, former senior official at the Justice Department and the FBI, former U.S. attorney.
Sir, I really appreciate you making the time to be hereafter such a marathon day. Nice to see you, Chuck.
CHUCK ROSENBERG, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY: It`s nice to see. Thank you for having me.
MADDOW: So, we saw Ambassador Volker today revise his testimony on a number of fronts. We`ve seen Ambassador Sondland do the same thing in writing, and now he`s going to be testifying in open session tomorrow. And we believe that he will probably have to make some other revisions to his testimony.
Is this just unfortunate in terms of their credibility? Are witnesses in these kinds of circumstances potentially in trouble for having to continually revise what they say are the facts?
ROSENBERG: Yes and yes. It is unfortunate in terms of their credibility. Although I`ve seen it many times as a federal prosecutor, Rachel. Sometimes it`s genuine. People remember things at a later date. Sometimes it`s disingenuous. They remember things conveniently when they sort of get caught not remembering things.
And, yes, while Mr. Volker`s amendments were relatively minor, concerning but relatively minor, it seems like the ones for Ambassador Sondland may be a little more dramatic. So I imagine he and his attorney are going to have at least one or two serious discussions about whether or not he ought to plead the Fifth Amendment tomorrow.
MADDOW: Do people plead the Fifth Amendment only because they`re afraid of prosecution for some underlying crime that they may be describing? Or do people ever plead the fifth because their previous testimony could be construed as perjury? I don`t know if I`m making that totally clear in term of thought distinction is, but do people invoke the Fifth Amendment simply because of potentially getting in trouble for what they`ve already said?
ROSENBERG: Yes. So, again, yes and yes. It could be for both reasons.
Very basically, we all have the Fifth Amendment privilege to refuse to answer any question if a truthful answer would tend to incriminate. So if it would incriminate you for the underlying crime, you could plead the Fifth Amendment. If it would incriminate you for lying about the underlying crime, perjury in this case, you can plead the Fifth Amendment. So, you question makes perfect sense, and the answer is it could be either, both.
MADDOW: And, Chuck, I feel a lot of us whose brains have been infected by watching a lot of procedurals on TV bought not actually going to law school, I feel like the Fifth Amendment is one of those things that civilians tend to have some misconceptions about. Is there anything you`d give us advice toward in terms of about how to watch this intelligently tomorrow and really understand it if that is in fact going to happen tomorrow?
RSOSENBERG: Well, you know, so going back to the example that you talked about, Mr. Krogh, Bud Krogh, you know, he`d two underlying investigations as I recall, one in Los Angeles and one in the District of Columbia, and he was in jeopardy in both. And so, what you want to watch for is whether or not, and this is going to be a little hard to divine simply tomorrow, but you want to watch for whether or not the types of questions that Mr. Sondland is being asked, if he invokes his Fifth Amendment privilege would be the type that would necessarily lead him down some perilous path.
I don`t know we`ll be able to know that, but he knows that and his attorney knows that. By the way, just to add a little layer of complexity, Congress could try to overcome an assertion of the Fifth Amendment privilege by immunizing a witness. But that`s probably a story for another day because it adds a layer of complexity.
MADDOW: Well, when it -- if and when that happens, we know you`ll be back here to help us through it.
Chuck Rosenberg, former senior official to Justice Department, sir, thank you for your time tonight. Really appreciate it.
ROSENBERG: My pleasure. Thank you.
MADDOW: All right. We will be right back. Stay with us.
MADDOW: This is not my usual look, I know. This is not the way you are used to seeing me, so I feel like I need to give you a quick word where we are right now. This is sound stage 1 otherwise known as the Oprah Winfrey sound stage. We`re in Atlanta, Georgia, at the Tyler Perry Studios and this setup behind me was built just the tomorrow night.
By this time tomorrow, this space is going to filled up with a crowd and ten Democratic presidential hopefuls on stage. I`m very nervous. NBC`s coverage of the Fifth Democratic presidential debate is going to start at 7:00 Eastern tomorrow.
My colleague Brian Williams will be at the helm, and at 9:00 it`s go time. I`m going to be joined my NBC and MSNBC colleagues, Andrea Mitchell and Kristen Welker, along with Ashley Parker from "The Washington Post." The four of us will be moderators of tomorrow night`s debate. Eek.
I`ll be right back.
MADDOW: What a day this has been. That`s going to do it for us for tonight. Remember tomorrow morning, 9:00 Eastern, the impeachment hearings pick back up with the very interesting case of E.U. Ambassador Gordon Sondland.
And then tomorrow night, at 9:00 p.m. Eastern, it`s the Democratic debate here in Atlanta. Our MSNBC coverage starts 7:00 Eastern. It`s going to be a big night.
Right now, it`s time for "THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL".
Good evening, Lawrence.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END