RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Chris. Thanks, my friend. I really appreciate it.
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: You bet.
MADDOW: Thanks to you at home for joining us this hour.
I am very pleased to say that Hillary Clinton is here in studio tonight for the interview. Yes, that Hillary Clinton. I have been looking forward to this interview with her ever since we learned it was even a possibility that she could come in. We`ve obviously got -- obviously got lots to talk with her tonight about, including her book, which is called "The Book of Gutsy Women". We`ll be talking with her about that.
We`ll also, of course, be talking with her to get her take on the ongoing impeachment proceedings against President Trump, which are now in their ninth day.
The president appeared to have been a little sort of emotionally overwrought today, beyond his even for him unusually bombastic online statements today, including him swearing in all capital letters online today. The president also really seemed to be having a hard time at a White House appearance alongside the president of Finland. And the president of Finland, honestly, did nothing to deserve this.
The next U.S. president will presumably need to do like a big state dinner for Finland, or maybe just send them a nice flower arrangement to try to make up for what their president today had to sit through and get roped into at the White House alongside President Trump who was really having a very emotional sort of out of control, over the top day.
Part of what appears to have set off the president may be the no uncertain terms on which the House is now moving ahead with these impeachment proceedings against him. Late last night, the heads of three House committees that are involved in the impeachment, they wrote to, and I think this is important, the number two official at the State Department. They didn`t write to the number one official, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
They wrote to the number two guy under him at the department saying this: Dear, Mr. Deputy Secretary. We are writing to you because secretary Pompeo now appears to have an obvious conflict of interest. They go on to describe reports that Secretary Pompeo was himself a participant in the call in which President Trump solicited help from a foreign country from Ukraine against Joe Biden ahead of the 2020 election.
The chairs say, quote: If true, Secretary Pompeo is now a fact witness in the impeachment inquiry. He should not be making any decisions regarding witness testimony or document production in order to protect himself or the president.
Since this letter went out late last night, Secretary Pompeo has confirmed that those reports are true, that he was a participant on that call for which the president is now being impeached.
But the committee chairs continue. Quote: Any effort by Secretary Pompeo or the State Department to intimidate or prevent witnesses from testifying or to withhold documents from the committees shall constitute evidence of obstruction of the impeachment inquiry.
And then they say this, because clearly they are not playing. The chairman pointing out to the number two official at the State Department that if officials at that department like, say you, for example, Mr. Deputy Secretary, if any officials at the State Department interfere with the impeachment inquiry, if they, say, try to block witnesses from testifying, the committee chairman warned the deputy secretary those officials, quote, may be subjected to liability. Excuse me, may be subject to liability under several federal statutes, including one that could result in five years in prison for obstructing Congress` inquiry.
So, this was late last night, right? Secretary Pompeo, you yourself, sir, are up to your neck in this impeachment scandal. You are conflicted because you are implicated in it. You should, therefore, not be making decisions about anything having to do with the inquiry into this matter as far as the State Department goes.
And, you know, here`s the people running the impeachment inquiry writing to the lower level officials at the State Department, his deputy at the State Department saying, hey, Pompeo shouldn`t be involved in the decisions at all. You should be making these decisions. And if you too are thinking about interfering here or trying to block witnesses the way Pompeo has been threatening, that may put you in violation of a number of federal laws, including federal laws that would put you in prison for breaking them. So think hard about that.
So that was the signal late last night, the sort of we`re not playing around here signal from Congress in terms of this impeachment proceeding. That we`re not playing around here theme was made explicit today by the one committee chairman who is essentially heading up the inquiry as it moves forward.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): Any effort by the secretary, by the president or anyone else to interfere with the Congress` ability to call before it relevant witnesses will be considered as evidence of obstruction of the lawful functions of Congress. They just need to know that even as they try to undermine our ability to find the facts around the president`s effort to coerce a foreign leader to create dirt that he can use against the political opponent, that they will be strengthening the case on obstruction if they behave that way. We`re not fooling around here.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: We`re not fooling around here. That is evident both in the way they are talking about these proceedings now. Again now, in their ninth day, and in how they are pursuing these proceedings.
Tomorrow, Congress is expecting to depose President Trump`s special envoy to Ukraine who, depending who you believe, was either suddenly fired or he suddenly resigned late last week, after his -- after his name surfaced in the whistle-blower`s complaint about what the president did with Ukraine.
Today, a federal judge elicited a commitment from the Justice Department that the Trump administration will not destroy and will properly retain all records of the president`s meetings, calls, and other communications with foreign leaders, all documents about the administration`s record keeping practices and policies and all records about efforts by the White House or other executive branch officials to claw back or otherwise limit access to records about officials` communications with foreign leaders.
So, no more locking this stuff up, and certainly no destroying it. This is a voluntary commitment to the court to do this, to preserve these records and to make sure they are preserved properly.
But I have to tell you, the Justice Department only made this voluntary commitment today that these records would be preserved. They only made this commitment today in the face of the all but certain prospect that a federal judge was otherwise going to issue an emergency restraining order forcing the administration to retain those records of the president`s calls with foreign leaders and any record of how those materials like that are being handled.
You can see why it`s a very propitious night to have Hillary Clinton here, right, to ask about these things, somebody who has seen these things from so many different angles, including as secretary of state. But before we talk to Secretary Clinton, there are -- there are two specific things that have broken tonight that are both on their own gobsmacking, and these are both stories we are expecting to keep developing. In fact, both of them since I sat down and started talking to you, I have been handed new developments on both of them. So, it`s clear these stories will continue developing through the night, including this hour.
But let`s just start with the first of these two stories, it concerns Vice President Pence. It`s this front page story tonight in "The Washington Post." The byline here is Greg Miller, Greg Jaffe and Ashley Parker. And the headline here, I mean, it`s sort of a plot twist in this impeachment story.
Quote, Trump involved Pence in efforts to pressure Ukraine`s leader. It wasn`t just the president. It was the vice president.
And this is a fascinating story. I think this will go down as a landmark story in the saga from "The Washington Post" tonight because it involves not only an account of Vice President Pence`s involvement in the very simple scandal for which president Trump is now being impeached. It also includes lots of sort of spin and anonymous claims from both Vice President Pence`s camp, people sort of trying to defend him, and on the other side from unnamed White House officials who are clearly not in camp Pence, who are clearly trying to let it be known that Pence was part of this scheme.
And so, this article represents to some degree a little of the human drama here at the top which may be allies of the president and allies of the vice president turning against each other as these impeachment proceedings go forward.
From "The Post," tonight, quote: President Trump repeatedly involved Vice President Pence in efforts to exert pressure on the leader of Ukraine. Following Trump`s July 25th phone call with the president of Ukraine, President Trump used Pence to tell President Zelensky that U.S. aid was still being withheld while demanding more aggressive action on corruption. At that time, again immediately following Trump`s call with Zelensky where he asked for help against Joe Biden, quote, the Ukrainians probably understood action on corruption to include the investigation of former Vice President Joe Biden for which President Trump had earlier pressed them.
So the basic timeline is that President Trump personally intervenes to withhold military aid from Ukraine. He then also withholds further support from Ukraine in ways that are really important to their new president. Not just in terms of military aid, but also denying them visible signs of support from the U.S. government, including White House trip or a meeting with President Trump or call with President Trump that they could announce. Denying Ukraine that sort of support, denying them the military aid.
When Trump finally got on the call with the president of Ukraine in late July, we now know from the White House, that call that they released, that President Trump heard the specific request from President Zelensky for military assistance for his country. Trump responded immediately by saying, I would like you to do us a favor though. He then immediately asked the president of Ukraine to, among other things, take law enforcement action involving his potential 2020 political rival Joe Biden.
So, that very simply is what President Trump is being impeached for. We know from "The Washington Post" that after that call where President Trump asked Ukraine for help in his to 2020 effort against Joe Biden, we know that after that call, the person from the U.S. government who went over to Ukraine and reiterated to that same president, hey, you are not getting U.S. military aid unless you carry out these investigations, that person was Vice President Mike Pence and he did it in person.
And if you step back from this, that means that if President Trump is going to get impeached for this, President Trump is going to get impeached for this, it kind of looks like Vice President Pence did the exact same thing, except in his role in this he may have been even more explicit in threatening Ukraine with the withholding of military aid unless they did what Trump was asking them.
All right. Now, the spin here and the sort of attempted defense by allies of the vice president is a little bit labored. Quote: Officials close to Pence insist that he was unaware of Trump`s efforts to pressure Zelensky for damaging information about Biden.
That means Vice President Pence is conceding, he is admitting to telling the president of Ukraine that their military aid was being withheld. He`s admitted to tying that to demands that they do some sort of investigation related to some sort of corruption. But he is trying to say that he didn`t realize when he was pressing them about investigations having to do with corruption that that might have been perceived as a demand having something to do with Joe Biden.
That`s the limits of the vice president`s defense here. Well, how credible is the vice president`s defense here? Why might Mike Pence conceivably have known about this demand recently made by President Trump? That Ukraine needed to give him something he could work with against Biden for 2020? How could Mike Pence have possibly have known about the content of that conversation between President Trump and Zelensky and Trump pressing Zelensky specifically to give him something on Biden?
How could Pence have known about that? Well, quote: Perhaps most significantly, one of Pence`s top advisors was on the July 25th call between President Trump and President Zelensky when Trump made that specific ask about Joe Biden. Also, quote, the vice president would have had access to the transcript of that call within hours of it taking place.
And now, here`s where we get the anonymous White House officials throwing Vice President Mike Pence under the bus. Quote: White House officials say Pence likely would have received detailed notes of the president`s call with Zelensky in his daily briefing book on July 26th, just one day after the call took place. Those same officials also telling "The Washington Post" tonight that that detailed record of the president`s call with Zelensky, which we have all seen now, which shows President Trump plainly pressuring Zelensky to give him dirt on Biden.
That five-page document, according to White House officials, should also have been part of the briefing materials that Pence was given to take with him to Warsaw to prepare for his own meeting with the Ukrainian president. Quote: Officials close to Pence contend that he did travel to Warsaw for a meeting with Zelensky on September 1st, but these officials close to Pence say that Pence did travel to that meeting, quote, probably without having read or at least fully registered the transcript of Trump`s call with the leader of Ukraine.
So, this is the vice president`s defense against his own impeachment, I guess?
First, he didn`t know about it. Yes, one of his top advisors was on the call. Yes, the vice president had access to the transcript of that call. Yes, the transcript of that call was given to him the day after the call.
Yes, the transcript of that call was, in fact, given to him again as he was preparing to talk to that leader overseas. Yes, the vice president`s allies concede that it is possible that the vice president actually read the transcript of that call. But even if he read it, who is to say whether or not it registered? Who is to say whether or not it sunk in to that big brain?
And that`s the defense?
Quote: In his meeting with Zelensky, Pence conveyed the news that hundreds of millions of dollars in U.S. aid to Ukraine was not going to be released amid concerns about the country`s lagging efforts to combat corruption. We will not give you this military aid unless you do something on corruption.
Quote: At that point, Ukraine`s president had already spoken to Trump and was familiar with the president`s demands, which were, once again, that Ukraine needed to investigate Joe Biden. Come up with some sort of corruption investigation about Biden that Trump could use for his election.
So the sort of open and shut nature of the impeachment proceeding against President Trump right now is that he has been caught. I mean, he admits, the White House has provided the evidence that President Trump really did call a foreign leader and solicit help from the government in producing something he could use against one of his Democratic rivals. Open, shut, he`s going to be impeached. That`s enough.
That`s what he is going to be impeached for. That`s at least one of the things he`s going to be impeached for. Now, there are a number of things contextually around what President Trump did that make it worse, right? Including the fact that he had just personally intervened to block hundreds of millions of dollars to military aid going to Ukraine right before he made this demand on them about what kind of favor he needed from them.
And, in fact, he raised the prospect of what he needed as favors from Ukraine immediately in conversation right after the Ukrainian president asked him about the military aid, right? So that`s bad as a contextual matter in terms of the way the president handled this.
He was simultaneously withholding the military aid and saying, yes, do me a favor though. Oh, you want military aid? Do me a favor though. The president is already there.
When it comes to the vice president though, it appears to be more direct. Vice President Mike Pence appears to be the pro in between the quid and the quo, because he appears to have been the one who is responsible for explicitly linking the issue of this military aid with Ukraine`s behavior on, quote, corruption, which at that point the vice president had every reason to know was a direct follow-up to the president demanding help versus Biden for 2020.
In his defense, to, I guess, potentially being impeached himself on these matters, if his defense is that he definitely didn`t know that Biden had ever come up in the discussions with the Ukraine, I mean, except for his advisor listening on the call, except for him having access to the transcript of the call, except for him being given the notes of that call, except for him being given the notes of that call again, except for his advisors admitting that, yes, he probably read the notes from the call including that part that`s explicitly about Joe Biden -- I mean, apart from his advisors admitting, yes, he might have read that -- but maybe he didn`t get it?
I mean, that is not the world`s strongest defense. But that is what the vice president is leading with. That feels like an important new development. That is just breaking tonight again from "The Washington Post."
One other one. The other story that has broken late today, which we don`t have total clarity about, but it seems bad and it`s continuing to break over the course of tonight. It`s a story that we tried to give you a heads up about last night on the show. It involves this unusual request from the inspector general at the State Department who yesterday contacted a whole bunch of congressional committees and told them that he had an urgent request for them. He needed to see those committees right away today to give them documents concerning the State Department and Ukraine, which, of course, relates to the impeachment proceedings underway involving the president.
Well, the inspector general for the State Department delivered that briefing to the committees today. So we have now seen what some of these documents are. And you can, therefore, feast your eyes upon this.
Have you seen this yet today? Have you seen the visual? This is not like something we concocted to make this whole thing look crazy. This is the real thing.
This is the envelope in which these documents were reportedly delivered which means I think the perpetrator we are looking for here might be a producer of wedding invitations. Do you see that? Secretary Pompeo, attention Ruth. We think that is Secretary Pompeo`s secretary. Somebody who knew her well enough to call her by her first name.
In the upper left-hand corner, the return address, the White House, right, in this calligraphic all caps, that looks very legit.
Congressman Jamie Raskin from the Intelligence Committee, from the Judiciary Committee, excuse me, was in on this briefing today, and as I said, we are not entirely clear what this sort of BOLOs of information is, but as best as we can piece it together from NBC News reporting, from some CNN reporting that`s broken late tonight, from comments made today by Congressman Raskin after he was briefed on these materials, the best we can piece this together, and I reserve the right for this story to evolve in way that clear this up further in days ahead, what we can best piece together tonight is that the inspector general from the State Department went it Congress today to hand over a packet of information which had apparently arrived at the State Department in this weird envelope with calligraphy on it. It is material which purports to have originated at the White House, which you can see from the envelope.
The stuff was apparently sent over from the White House to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo`s office in May of this year via his secretary, Ruth. Congressman Raskin today described it as a packet of propaganda, disinformation, and conspiracy theories, indicating he does not think highly of the content of this pact of information.
NBC News has published a couple of images of some of the contents of the packet. These couple of pages NBC News has published appear to bolster that description of this being conspiracy theory stuff involving Ukraine. But based on the timing and consent content of this material and the weird way it was delivered from the White House to Secretary of State Pompeo`s office and then it ended up in the hands of the inspector general who ultimately felt like Congress needed to see it given the impeachment proceedings underway, I mean, the story that appears to be emerging here is that this stapled and calligraphied and a highlighted stack of disproven, conspiratorial nonsense printed out from the Internet may have been the grounds on which Mike Pompeo and the State Department basically fired the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine.
This veteran, non-political career diplomat who, in the middle of all this mishegoss was randomly yanked back from her posting as America`s ambassador to Ukraine. She was recalled early from that post just as this campaign appears to have started in the White House to put this incredible pressure on Ukraine to get that government to help Trump get elected in 2020.
Congressman Raskin described this material today as a material that appeared to have been designed to sabotage the U.S. ambassador in her job in Ukraine. NBC News says the inspector general characterized this material he handed over to Congress today as, quote, what he knows about the circumstances surrounding the abrupt recall of the former ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch.
This packet was apparently at least 50 pages, including lots of wild right wing conspiracy theories about the ambassador that are all debunked but have been circulating in right wing media. And if this is in fact what Mike Pompeo was circulating at the top levels of the State Department, if this is, in fact, what was delivered to him from the White House and then circulated within the State Department ahead of Marie Yovanovitch being fired, if this was, in fact, the basis for the recall of that U.S. ambassador, while the president and the vice president were simultaneously trying to press gang the government of that country into helping out President Trump in his potential campaign against Joe Biden in 2020 -- I mean, the fact that, you know, that what`s in this packet of material handed over to Congress today by the I.G., the fact that it`s a bunch of nonsense sort of makes it more relevant and not less because it tells you how they are running the place.
It also raises some further serious questions about Mike Pompeo, who may turn out to be in as much trouble here as the president and potentially the vice president. According this the inspector general briefing Congress today, there is a senior State Department official who talked to the inspector general about this material. According to the senior Justice Department official, he informed the inspector general that Secretary Pompeo told him this packet came over, this pile of disinformation and conspiracy theories about the ambassador to Ukraine, quote, came over. The official presumed that meant that it came over from the White House.
That senior State Department official who talked to the inspector general about this material has already given that information to the inspector general. He is obviously a key witness for whatever is going on with Ukraine and the White House and the State Department, which is now the basis of this impeachment proceeding. That official is also, ding-ding- ding, one of the State Department officials who Mike Pompeo has been trying to block from testifying this week in the impeachment proceedings against the president.
Congress asked for a deposition with him. He is one of the people Mike Pompeo is trying to block from testifying. I wonder why he wants to keep that guy from testifying.
So the president is freaking out. Fine. Wake me over in a day that ends in "Y." The impeachment proceedings against the president now in day nine, appeared to be ramping up significantly, both in pace and in seriousness. The administration is now legally required to preserve all records of the president`s meetings and phone calls with foreign leaders which they have been occasionally hiding on a stand alone, high security server that`s supposed to be reserved for things like covert actions.
The vice president, Mike Pence, appears, according to this report in "The Washington Post" tonight, appears to have committed basically the same offense for which the president is about to be impeached. His defense to that damning report tonight is basically, who me? I didn`t know anything.
And now, the paper trail is starting to emerge for what substituted for normal government policy towards that part of the world, towards that specific country while the president was trying to enlist that country`s government in his re-election effort, which is illegal. It is illegal to solicit foreign effort -- foreign help with a U.S. election. It is also the grounds on which Trump is being to be impeached.
We also know that Congress in its impeachment proceedings has the names and has already planned depositions from a bunch of the key people who were direct witnesses to what happened here, including a number of them from the secretary -- excuse me, from the department of state.
Other than that, a pretty normal day. Former secretary of state, former Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton is going to join us here live next. It`s a good night for it, right?
We`ll be right back.
MADDOW: Joining us now live for the interview is former secretary of state, former first lady, former senator, 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton. She has a new book out this week with her daughter, Chelsea Clinton. It is called "The Book of Gutsy Women: Favorite Stories of Courage and Resilience." It is currently topping the charts, having just come out this week.
Secretary Clinton, great to see you.
HILLARY CLINTON, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: How are you?
MADDOW: It`s great to have you here.
CLINTON: Good to see you, Rachel.
MADDOW: The last time you were here, the Mueller report had just come out and I asked you how you were doing, and you said personally things were great, but you said, as an American, you were feeling, and I quote, "Oh, my gosh."
MADDOW: Are you still feeling, "Oh, my gosh"?
CLINTON: Oh, my gosh, now 10 alarm oh my gosh`s.
CLINTON: Yeah, look, I mean, I think this incredible series of events that we are living through right now are overwhelming in their intensity and velocity, but they also are so sad and distressing to have a government that is now engaged in behavior that puts our national security at risk in order to further the president`s personal and political interests. It is tragic. So everything you`re doing and others who are actually reporting on it is so necessary.
MADDOW: In terms of the national security risk here, obviously what the president did -- and has sort of copped to, because it`s there in the White House records that were released -- tells us something about what he was trying to do. But in terms of the danger here, the president did put our support for Ukraine in a way that made it contingent. He also has seemingly deliberately reduced public impressions that the U.S. supported Ukraine. He denied them a White House visit until he could promise that he could get what he wanted.
Why is that dangerous? What can you tell the American people watching right now about why it`s important for us to support Ukraine?
CLINTON: Well, first of all, look at what he did. He, obviously, used taxpayer-funded assistance, passed by the Congress on a bipartisan basis, to both threaten and intimidate the new president of Ukraine to investigate his political opponents for the purpose of advancing his own re-election. Now, that has so many elements in it, and it`s one of the reasons why I think it`s broken through to the American people.
It also is troubling that Ukraine has been a subject of constant pressure from Vladimir Putin and the Russian interests in Ukraine. So you have the Trump administration, the president, the vice president, others, actually pressuring a new president who has a part of his country invaded and occupied by Russian troops, and putting this poor new president in this vise. You think you`re going to get military aid from us? Well, we have a favor to ask of you.
Now, we know that the aggressiveness of Putin has been unchecked and, in fact, I would argue actually accelerated in both rhetoric and potential adverse actions to our interests because of what Trump has made clear that he supports and looks to Vladimir Putin.
So Ukraine is a very specific example of what is at stake. But I don`t think it`s the only example that we could find if we looked at the transcripts of the calls with Vladimir Putin, for example. We still have no notes, no reporting about the many meetings and the many calls.
We do know that in the Oval Office early in his term, Trump basically said to the foreign secretary of Russia, Sergey Lavrov, to the then-ambassador, Kislyak, hey, I don`t mind that interference in the election, wink-wink. So this is about Ukraine, but Ukraine is the canary in the coal mine about what this president and his allies have been up to.
MADDOW: One of the revelations brought to light by this impeachment scandal is that members of the president`s administration, White House lawyers, appear to have directed an effort to hide transcripts of the president`s phone calls with foreign leaders, including the Zelenskiy call in question, including reportedly calls with Putin, calls with the leader of Saudi Arabia, and others.
For me it raises this interesting question, because I feel like as a civilian watching these things, just as an American who tries to follow these matters, I`m not sure how much of that we should ever expect to see. And so I`m troubled by these reports that there is an effort in the White House involving lawyers in particular trying to hide this stuff in places where it doesn`t belong. But how do you see this in terms of what sorts of communications should be shown to the public? You said you`d like to see transcripts of his calls with Vladimir Putin. What of those things should we see and what should be kept secret?
CLINTON: Well, the understanding I have of this particular call -- and the way calls operate is, you know, pretty elaborate. If you`re going to have a call between our president and a president, leader of another country, there is a whole process before that call is placed. People are prepping and briefing. They`re trying to figure out what is the goal of the call, maybe what does the foreign leader want, what do we want in return, what are we talking about?
So the president is given talking points, and people are in the room usually, whatever appropriate personnel from the White House or maybe other agencies. So the call is placed. The call is made. And the call is usually listened to, or, at the very least, quickly reported out.
Now, this is part of the transparency that we should expect. Maybe not the exact words, but the fact that our president spoke to Vladimir Putin or spoke to, you know, the president of Ukraine. That`s part of the information that the rest of the government, that the Congress, the American public, and press deserve to see.
You don`t have to have the exact wording, but what happened here from the report of the call itself that came out of the White House, plus the whistle-blower complaint, is there was nothing classified. There was nothing that should have been kept from the rest of the government. This was embarrassing and potentially impeachable because of the way the president was pressuring the president of Ukraine.
And, of course, there can be very serious calls that never see the light of day until 30, 40 years from now, but this was not one of those. This was hidden by the White House lawyers because somebody in that room who was observing the call or hearing the president`s end of the call went, oh, what are we going to do? What did he just say? We can`t let anybody see that.
So instead of circulating the call, because, you know, there are a lot of people working in the Defense Department about the military aid. There are people in the State Department who want to know what`s happening with Ukraine. "We`d better deep-six this, so put it on the most classified system," the place where you would keep information about the raid on Osama bin Laden in the prior administration, and don`t let anybody see it.
That, I think, as much as the call itself is what bothered the whistle- blower, because if you read the complaint, he spends, or she, whoever it is, spends time saying, look, here is the substance, which bothered me, but then here`s what they did with it. So, yeah, some calls you`re not going to see, certainly not in any contemporaneous way. But other calls, they should be shared with the people working on these problems in the rest of the government.
MADDOW: If there were White House lawyers or other White House officials who directed that kind of effort, an "oh, my god, what did he say, we need to hide this" kind of effort, which is what the whistle-blower is indicating, the way it seems at least from the outside, should those officials bear some consequences for that? What should -- I mean, I don`t know that what they did is illegal, but certainly it seems improper.
CLINTON: Well, it certainly deserves questioning. And that`s what`s going on with this impeachment inquiry. You know, ironically, I was on the staff of the 1974 impeachment inquiry, and you should follow every thread to see where it leads. And you should look at anything that could amount to abuse of power or obstruction of justice or contempt of Congress. And if people were a part of that, as they were in the Nixon administration, then, yes, they should be held accountable.
MADDOW: And if the Justice Department won`t bring charges for anything that turns up in the impeachment investigation -- clearly, they`re not going to charge the president no matter what he does -- but if other officials up to and including the vice president are found in this impeachment inquiry to have obstructed justice, to have destroyed records, to have lied to investigators, any other number of things that may turn up, if this Justice Department under William Barr says we`re not bringing prosecutions on any of these things, are there any further remedies? I mean, it`s starting to feel like, no matter what`s uncovered, there will never be consequences.
CLINTON: Well, that depends. It depends upon who`s in the White House and who`s at the Justice Department in 2021. That`s why the stakes of this election have just exponentially increased, because what we`re dealing with is a constitutional crisis.
And I`ve said over and over again, we`ve got to be able to do two things as Democrats. We have to be able to have a deliberative, serious pursuit of the impeachment inquiry. We have to continue to make our case about all of the bills that the House Democrats have passed that have, you know, gone to the Senate to die in, you know, Mitch McConnell`s graveyard. So I think we have to do both of those things simultaneously.
But if there were to be a change in administration, and certainly a change in attorney general, because what we`re seeing with this particular attorney general is full-throated support of every conspiracy theory that could possibly hurt Democrats and help this president, which is deeply disturbing to those of us who remember attorney generals quitting over a president trying to order them to deep-six evidence back in the Nixon administration.
So I think that there will be consequences, depending upon, you know, how this impeachment inquiry plays out. And let`s not forget that the evidence right now is very damning. And the American public really grasps that. This is an abuse of power that has broken through. So if it`s determined by the House that they`re going to present articles of impeachment, that puts a lot of Republican senators up for re-election in a very tough spot.
So I don`t think we`re anywhere near the number of scenarios that could be played out from this day forward in the investigation.
MADDOW: We`ll be right back with former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Stay with us.
MADDOW: Barbara Jordan in many ways had an unparalleled career. In 1966, she became the first African-American elected to the Texas Senate since reconstruction. By `72, she was the first Southern black woman serving in the House of Representatives. By `76, she became the first woman and the first African-American keynote speaker at a Democratic convention.
But what made Barbara Jordan a household name was the Nixon impeachment inquiry. Here she was in her first term in office, which is important here, serving as a member of the Judiciary Committee while they`re considering whether or not to impeach Nixon. Nobody knew at that point how that committee vote would turn out, but this speech started to make it clear. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JORDAN: Earlier today, we heard the beginning of the preamble to the Constitution of the United States. We, the people. It`s a very eloquent beginning. But when that document was completed on the 17th of September in 1787, I was not included in that "We, the people." I`ve felt somehow for many years that George Washington and Alexander Hamilton just left me out by mistake.
But through the process of amendment, interpretation, and court decision, I have finally been included in "We, the people."
Today, I am an inquisitor. An hyperbole would not be fictional and would not overstate the solemnness that I feel right now. My faith in the Constitution is whole, it is complete, it is total. And I am not going to sit here and be an idle spectator to the diminution, the subversion, the destruction of the Constitution.
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MADDOW: Hillary Rodham was a young staffer on that House committee. She writes in her new book that that commanding rhetoric, passion, and moral clarity, she says, brought tears to her eyes. Back with us is Secretary of State, 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.
Madam Secretary, thank you. And congratulations on this.
CLINTON: Thank you.
MADDOW: "The Book of Gutsy Women," it`s an encyclopedia of gutsy women.
CLINTON: Well, it could have been a lot longer. There`s a lot of women who certainly deserve to be in it. But it was an effort by my daughter and myself to highlight some of the women that we were inspired by.
And I was listening to that clip of Barbara Jordan`s speech during the hearing on articles of impeachment against President Nixon, and I remember watching it as a young staffer on the impeachment inquiry, and it did bring me to tears. And it`s worth repeating, I am not going to sit here and be an idle spectator to the diminution, the subversion, the destruction of the Constitution. I think that`s the time we`re in now, too, Rachel.
MADDOW: You talked earlier before the break about the fact that the American people are very focused and are very able to sort of grok to get their heads around exactly what this claim is right now for which President Trump looks likely to be impeached.
But you also talked about the need to follow these questions where they lead and to figure out who else was involved and whether other serious abuses were committed. How do you think of this, in terms of how long this process should last, how directly the House should go at the president`s conduct that`s already been in some ways very tightly defined, in terms of what he did that he should be impeached for?
CLINTON: Well, look, I think that the speaker has made it very clear that it`s going to proceed expeditiously. I cannot put a timetable on it. I went to work in the impeachment inquiry staff in January of 1974, and there was a lot else going on. There had been lots of hearings. There was a Senate Select Committee that the then-senator from Alabama, as I recall, was chairing. And there had been -- or North Carolina -- and there had been a grand jury. There was a lot of other activity.
And it wasn`t until the tapes were finally released. And remember what happened. The Nixon White House tried to provide edited versions of the tapes.
CLINTON: One of my jobs, along with other lawyers on the staff, was to sit in a sound-proof booth with great big earphones on and listen to the tapes, look at what the White House said the tapes said, and see what it actually said.
MADDOW: Correct, essentially, their mistakes in the transcripts?
CLINTON: Correct -- exactly.
MADDOW: Were those transcripts deliberately constructed by the White House to be more exculpatory than they actually were?
CLINTON: Well, that was our conclusion. So, by July, that`s when Barbara Jordan was making that speech. And, remember, Republicans on the Judiciary Committee voted for those articles of impeachment, because it was so clear how wrong it was, the abuse of power and obstruction of justice and contempt of Congress that was going on at that time.
MADDOW: There were so many other officials who were caught up in what happened in Watergate. I was thinking this week, because of a very good piece in the New Yorker by David Rohde, about John Mitchell, who was President Nixon`s attorney general who went to prison for 17 months because of Watergate-era abuses that were exposed through this. He was loyal to Nixon to the very end.
MADDOW: Went to prison himself. Other cabinet officials were implicated. Right now, it seems like both the vice president and the attorney general and the secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, your successor at the State Department, may themselves have been at least aware, if not participants in what the president is going to be impeached for here.
As a former cabinet secretary, do you have advice on the right way to comport yourself in this situation? I mean, they do all seem like they`re up to their necks.
CLINTON: Well, I think what many in the Nixon White House and administration concluded was the right thing to do was tell the truth. Tell the truth. And that would be advice that should be given to anybody caught up in this, because it`s clear that the president has made a series of decisions to benefit himself and his political fortune at the expense of other matters in our government.
And the people you point to are certainly aware of that. Think of all the people who have left. And one of the people who left early on, someone who was on the National Security Council -- Mr. Bossert, I think -- he basically said, look, we tried to convince the president not to buy into all these wild conspiracy theories that people like Giuliani and others were pushing at him. And he bought it. He bought all of the conspiracy theories, all of the crazy, wacky ideas about all of the, you know, things that were being done to him, and now he`s on this pursuit of trying to prove that Russia`s systematic and sweeping influence in our election didn`t happen because people who he wants to have around him now have totally free reign.
You know, others who were trying to pull him back, trying to say, no, Mr. President, there`s no evidence of that, they`re gone. So those who are left -- and I hope some of the Republicans in the House, and particularly in the Senate, need to start thinking about putting country over party.
We have Margaret Chase Smith in this book. Margaret Chase Smith, a Republican woman senator from Maine, who was the only member of her party to take a public stand against Joe McCarthy from the very beginning. She eventually brought a few of her Republican colleagues with her. But she not only attacked McCarthy and his tactics of smear and destroy, but she attacked her own party and said, why are we doing this? Stop it. Don`t be preying on people. Don`t be leading with fear.
We need some Republicans to step up. And for the life of me, I don`t understand it. I know some of these people. I served with some of these people. And the fact that they`re letting this man run roughshod over our Constitution, over separation of powers, over checks and balances, over the rule of law -- absolutely makes no sense to me.
So the way that many Republicans are protesting or showing their opposition is deciding not to run again, but they don`t say anything. They just say, I`m not going to run again.
MADDOW: You are also a predecessor to Mike Pompeo as secretary of state. One of the stories that we`re right in the middle of right now appears to be the State Department -- Secretary Pompeo`s office sort of trafficking in materials, conspiracy theories and other stuff sort of culled from right- wing media.
CNN is reporting that this is material that was delivered to the White House by Rudy Giuliani. It was then delivered to Mike Pompeo for him to look into it. The inspector general from the department has now handed it over to Congress.
From what we have learned about these materials, it seems like this was an effort to sabotage and to end the career of Marie Yovanovitch, who is a veteran ambassador and foreign service officer.
MADDOW: First, I don`t know if you know Ambassador Yovanovitch...
MADDOW: ... or if you have any insight into this sort of effort against her.
CLINTON: Well, I do, and it`s disgraceful. She is a distinguished foreign service officer, nonpolitical. She was -- you know, came up through the ranks. She was the ambassador to Armenia, appointed under the Bush administration. When I became secretary of state, I visited Armenia. I know her work. She`s a serious, level-headed ambassador, a real credit to the foreign service.
And so what they did -- and we now know Giuliani was actually seeking advice from Paul Manafort. What they did was to say, OK, what are all the obstacles in our way of trying to peddle these conspiracy theories?
Because remember, Manafort was peddling conspiracy theories about Ukraine during the 2016 election, you know, some of them aimed at me. So Giuliani goes to the source. OK, you`re the guy who knows how to manipulate the press and everybody about Ukraine. What do we do to get everybody out of the way? And she is clearly the target of this smear campaign in these materials that were delivered to Pompeo.
You know, there are 70,000 people who work for the State Department around the world, foreign service officers, civil servants, foreign nationals who work in our consulates and our embassies. And very few -- couple hundred - - political appointees. So the people who are carrying out our foreign policy, our diplomacy, day in and day out, are people who serve from administration to administration.
They are not partisan. They are not even political. They`re trying to represent the United States. So the idea that Giuliani and his henchmen would go after an experienced foreign service officer who had been an ambassador to Ukraine, a country right in the bull`s-eye of Russian interference and aggression, in order to clear her out so they`d have free reign inside of Ukraine -- to do what, I`m not sure, except -- Manafort`s modus operandi included bribery, extortion, and smear all the time.
So, you know, I wish I could say I was surprised, but nothing they do any more surprises me. It is truly distressing to see people who are in our government using it for ideological and personal and power-related partisan interests over and above the best interests of our country.
MADDOW: Former Secretary of the State Hillary Clinton, author with her daughter, Chelsea Clinton, of "The Book of Gutsy Women: Favorite Stories of Courage and Resilience." It`s really good to have you here.
CLINTON: Thank you.
MADDOW: Thank you for making time. I really appreciate it.
CLINTON: Glad to be here.
MADDOW: All right. We`ll be right back. Stay with us.
MADDOW: The news is not going to let up any time soon. Tomorrow, the former U.S. special envoy to Ukraine, Kurt Volker who was either recently fired or who recently resigned, we`re not quite sure, he is going to be deposed as part of the impeachment inquiry against president Trump in the House.
There have been efforts by the State Department, by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to block former officials and current officials from the State Department from being deposed in this inquiry. Volker is going ahead. That may have something to do with the fact he is no longer working at the State Department and they, therefore, don`t have quite as much leverage over him. So, that`s tomorrow.
Also tomorrow, interestingly, Ambassador Jon Huntsman will be returning to Utah from his posting in Russia. Huntsman was the U.S. ambassador to Russia under President Trump until he submitted his resignation letter in August. That resignation is effective tomorrow.
The exact reason why he resigned and the timing of it all remains somewhat of an open and interesting question. I have to tell you, though, I have a beat on a good source. I`m going to be on "The View" tomorrow with among others his daughter, who is one of the hosts of "The View". Do not tell her I want to ask her about that. I want to surprise here.
But that`s tomorrow at 11:00 Eastern Time. I`ll see you then.
That does it for us tonight. I`ll see you again tomorrow.
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