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Opening STMT from 1st WH Official to testify. TRANSCRIPT: 10/28/19, The Rachel Maddow Show.

Guests: Raja Krishnamoorthi

CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST:  This Friday, we`re back in Studio 6A.  Our special shows in front of a live studio audience.  This month, we`ll be doing four Fridays in a row.  If you`re in and around New York City, you should come join us, completely new and unique way to experience the show.  Tickets are available right now. 

You can find a link to them on our Facebook and Twitter.  We`re releasing all tickets at once.  Get them for this Friday, November 1st, or whichever date you can come.  Hope to see you soon. 

That is ALL IN for this evening. 

"THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW" starts right now. 

Good evening, Rachel.

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST:  Good evening, Chris.  Thank you, my friend.  Much appreciated.

HAYES: You bet.

MADDOW:  Thanks to you at home for joining us this hour.  Happy Monday. 

So, it is a national education board, prestigious one.  It`s the Commission on Presidential Scholars.  And because this is an actual presidential commission, it needs presidential appointees.  And the Trump administration, this month, needed a new one, needed a new presidential appointee to this presidential commission. 

And they found the perfect guy.  He`s a big Trump donor.  He writes articles for the conservative blog, "Newsmax".  Like this one, "Trump`s new tax code will save the economy." 

He also runs a couple of private sort of pseudo-educational companies that will allow you basically to buy certifications which appear to be academic qualifications if you squint and maybe if you`ve had a few drinks. 

Here`s the "Denver Post".  Quote: George Mentz owns the Global Academy of Finance and Management.  He was previously the CEO of a similar company, the American Academy of Financial Management.  Both companies award certifications, allowing applicants to add an alphabet soup of titles after their names. 

For a fee, for example, paid to this guy, he would send you something that describes you as an accredited life coach or a certified political scientist or a master Islamic financial specialist.  You can choose from more than 100 other titles.  You just pay this guy and then he sends you a piece of paper given you the title. 

According to George Mentz, this Trump donor, this new appointee to this national prestigious education commission, buying one of these certifications from his company, quote, makes you one of the next generation of global leaders.  Oh, yes, because you pay him $378 and he gives you a piece of paper calling you a certified political scientist, clearly, you are ready for your turn on the global stage.  Clearly, you are one of the next generation of global leaders. 

But this guy, Mr. Newsmax, blogger, fake certifications by mail -- I mean, as impressive as his record is in the field of education, I think the real attraction for this presidential appointment for him getting a presidential appointment to this prestigious federal education board must have been his long list of books. 

Here`s one of the books that he has authored.  And this is not the whole book.  This is just the title.  This is a book he wrote in 2013, but that the whole title is here. 

It is, and I quote, "Success Magic: The Prosperity Secret to Win with Magical Spiritual Power, How to Grow Rich, Influence People, Protect Your Mindset and Love Yourself Like a Warrior Using Timeless Abundance Secrets."  That`s the title. 

Now, in the odd chance that that seems like that book might be confusing, how do you love yourself like a warrior using timeless abundance secrets while also using magical spiritual power to grow rich and influence people, and what does that have to do with success, magic, and why isn`t there a comma between them?  Don`t worry.  It sounds a little confusing but he has a tick in his books which is he puts the really good parts, really important parts, in all capital letters. 

So, "The Denver Post" was reviewing this guy`s literary output in the light of his new presidential appointment and they were able to zoom right in on the bottom line thesis of that book with the 29-word title, not including the ampersand, and the bottom-line thesis of the book according to the "Denver Post" is this.  Quote: When a person starts struggling and initiates -- all capital letters -- alchemy or magic, something happens.  Got it? 

"The Denver Post" profiled George Mentz as a homegrown Colorado presidential employee.  They highlighted not only his awkward business history of handing out fake academic titles for money, but also the quite amazing list of books that he has to his name, because it`s not just that one.  I mean, let me show you a little bit of a list.  These are all by the same guy. 

Trump donor just appointed to a federal education board.  Yes, he is the author of the big one, right?   "Success Magic: The Prosperity Secret to Win With Magical Power, How to Grow Rich, Influence People, Protect Your Mindset and Love Yourself Like a Warrior Using Timeless Abundance Secrets."  That`s one. 

But he`s also the author of "The Illuminati: Secret Laws of Money, the Wealth Mindset Manifesto."  Also, "The Illuminati Handbook: The Path of Illumination and Ascension".  Also, "The 50 Laws of Power of the Illuminati."  Also, "100 Secrets and Habits of the Illuminati for Life`s Success".

And also, I don`t know how he finds the time, but the same year he wrote the success magic book with the 29-word-long tight the about the alchemy and something happening, that same year, he also wrote a whole other different book that`s called "The Abundance Bible and the Secret Powers of Manifesting Wealth, Health and Peace of Mind."  Man, has this guy got it all figured out. 

When he started donating money to the Donald Trump for president, the company responded by naming him economic board that advised the campaign.  Now that Donald Trump, surprise, is actually the president of the United States, they`ve gone back to the well and so now the author of "The Illuminati Secret Laws of Money" and all those other books, now he`s a presidential appointee to the Federal Presidential Commission on Presidential Scholars.  Because why not? 

And whether or not you were worried about the presidential commission, a commission on presidential scholars, and what Donald Trump might be capable of doing to such an education board, when it comes to him choosing his high level appointees for various jobs in the administration, there would appear to be some continuity in the selection process between how he has found personnel for boards like that and how he has chosen, like, his top adviser on China, which is an even more important job. 

I mean, it`s easy to forget now, but when Trump announced he was running for president in the first place, kind of his whole argument for why he was running was about China.  It was supposedly the most important thing to him during the campaign.  The multimedia team at the "Huffington Post" website cut together an epic sort of endless super cut of what Trump was talking about every day on the campaign trail, every time he opened his mouth to explain why he decided to run for president. 


DONALD TRUMP, THEN-PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  Let`s say China, China.  China.  China.  China.  China.  China.  China.  China.  China.


You go over to China.  China.  China.  China.  China.  China.  China.  You take China. 


China.  I love them.  China.  China.  China.  I have to have my China. 


MADDOW:  That was from 2015.  That was the way he started to run for president.  That was his stated for having to run for president.  I have to have my China.  China, right?

Then he becomes president.  And, believe it or not,, he appoints a top adviser to the president of the United States on the issue of China, China, China, I have to have my China, and for that job which you think would be very important for them to get the right person, he picks somebody who reportedly had never been to China, who does not speak Chinese, has not formally studied China.  How does he pick this guy on his supposedly top issue? 

Well, the guy did write some books with some amazing titles that you can imagine, perhaps, maybe appealed to the president`s sense of branding on this issue, if not his deep appreciation for actual expertise, because Peter Navarro`s books on China are called things like "Death by China", "Confronting the Dragon."  Also, "The Coming China Wars." 

It`s good enough.  Look at that.  "Death by China." get me that guy.  It sounds awesome.  Please tell me that`s a movie already. 

That`s how we got our nation`s top presidential adviser on China.  Now, in looking at his literary output on China, The Chronicle of Higher Education recently reported that Peter Navarro invented a fake source, a fake, quote, China muse, for his belligerent somewhat crazy books about China.  In Peter Navarro`s books, he repeatedly cites somebody named Ron Vara who says very quotable anti-China things in Mr. Navarro`s books, things like, you`ve got to be nuts to eat Chinese food.

Well, the Chronicle of Higher Education was first to document it but this repeatedly cited China expert for the president`s top adviser on China is a figment of Peter Navarro`s own imagination, it`s his imagination friend.  The name, Ron Vara, this guy who keeps citing as a China expert is actually an anagram of his own last name, Navarro. 

Since he has been caught citing himself as a fake China expert in his own books about China, Mr. Navarro has tried to pass this off as a hilarious in-joke that everybody should just get over.  Who among us does not enjoy made-up sources in books as a source of inherent plurality? 

The problem with this line, the people with whom he was co-authoring his books apparently didn`t know that Peter Navarro`s source was made up.  Quote: One of Mr. Navarro`s co-author was unaware of Ron Vara`s fictional status.  Ron Vara is quoted in "Seeds of Destruction" which was written in 2010 by Navarro and Glenn Hubbard, a professor of finance and economics at Columbia University. 

Asked via email whether he knew that Peter Navarro had inserted a fictional character into their book and whether doing so was OK with him, Professor Hubbard replied, "no and no."  As in, no, I didn`t know he was making up sources for our book, and no, I`m not OK with it. 

And that`s just bizarre.  I mean, it`s just funny and it`s weird and it`s - - but in the Trump administration, with their hiring policies and their excellent vetting, that is who you`re going to get as the top China adviser to the president, right?  Get me the "Death by China" guy. 

And he has now become the actual architect of a real trade war that our country is waging with China and as a result of that, U.S. manufacturing is in an actual recession for the first time in years and the federal government is giving direct bailout payments to U.S. farmers to compensate them for the economic devastation the China trade war has caused U.S. farms.  Those payments to U.S. farmers at this point are already more than double what the U.S. government paid out during the great recession to save the whole U.S. auto industry. 

But don`t worry, Peter Navarro has it all in hand.  He knows what he`s doing.  Ron Vara told him not to eat the chow mein so, you know, "Death by China," we`re confronting the dragon. 

So, it`s all nut, but now, this particularly nutty and destructive area of presidential policymaking and presidential personnel looks like it might potentially be the next page in the Donald Trump impeachment inquiry.  The impeachment proceedings as you know sparked by a whistle-blower complaint from inside the intelligence community, and the intelligence professional who reportedly been detailed at the White House, raising the alarm first internally and through whistle-blower channels that the president had been, quote, using the power of his office to solicit interference from a foreign country in the 2020 U.S. election, including among other things pressing a foreign country to investigate one of the president`s main political rivals.  That was the whistle-blower complaint. 

There was a concerted effort within the White House and the Justice Department, even it appears at the office of the director of national intelligence, to try to kibosh this whistle-blower`s complaint, keep it quiet, keep Congress from getting it.  Nevertheless, the complaint gets to Congress.  The allegation is totally explosive. 

When it emerges that the whistle-blower`s complaint hinges on a July 25th phone call between President Trump and the president of Ukraine, president Trump initially asserts that the call was, in his words, perfect.  There was nothing wrong with the call.  The White House to back that up then released the official notes from that call.  The White House notes of that call confirm everything the whistle-blower said and worse. 

I mean, there in black and white is President Trump demanding from Ukraine an investigation into one of his domestic political rivals.  It was almost like the president didn`t realize that was bad.  With all the things he`s gotten away with, oh, this one is bad?  This is what I`m going to get in trouble for? 

The president sort of had to pivot from the call was perfect.  The president`s supporters, particularly members of Congress, initially tried to kind of spin the White House notes on that call.  Tried to kind of reimagine what happened there. 

Supporters were, like, OK, we know what it looks like, but you`re reading it wrong, right?  You`re reading too much into it.  He`s not really literally asking for Ukraine to investigate the Bidens.  That`s fake news.  That`s Democratic spin. 

In response to that pushback, reporters naturally just asked the president, you know, sir, are your supporters right?  Is that not what you meant?  What did you want to happen there, sir?  Were you asking for an investigation of the Bidens? 


REPORTER:  Mr. President, what exactly did you hope Zelensky would do about the Bidens after your phone call? 

TRUMP:  Well, I would think that if they were honest about it, they`d start a major investigation into the Bidens.  It`s a very simple answer. 


MADDOW:  Oh, there goes the initial defense that he was not asking for an investigation into the Bidens. 

Mr. President, what did you hope Zelensky would do after your phone call?  Well, if they were honest about it, I hope they`d start a major investigation into the Bidens.

The president just admits it, yes, that`s what I was trying to get in that call from an foreign country, an investigation into the Bidens.  Why, is that bad? 

Then in the next breath, he compounds the problem in what is turning out to potentially be a very important way. 


TRUMP:  It`s a very simple answer.  They should investigate the Bidens because how does a company that`s newly formed and all these companies, you look at -- by the way, likewise, China should start an investigation into the Bidens. 


MADDOW:  Oh, China should start an investigation into the Bidens, too.  Yes, the thing you are impeaching me for, asking Ukraine for an investigation of the Bidens, yes, I did that.  We`ve now provided you written official White House evidence of that and I`m reiterating it here on the White House lawn. 

Also, if you would like to impeach me for asking China to do the same thing, I`m going to go ahead and commit that crime right here, right now, in front of all of you.  Microphones all still on?  OK.  Ready? 

Here it goes.  I would also like China to investigate the Bidens.  Now, where do I sign? 

The only defense at that point for the president`s supporters would have to be a creative one.  Republican Senator Marco Rubio sort of took the lead on that arguing that President Trump couldn`t possibly have just asked China to investigate Joe Biden, too.  He cannot have done that. 

It must have been -- he must -- uh -- he was kidding?  Let`s say he was kidding. 


REPORTER:  You`re one of the loudest critics of China and its human rights abuses.  I mean, is it OK for him to ask to say that? 

SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R-FL):  I don`t think it`s a real -- I think, again, I think he did it to gig you guys. 


MADDOW:  He didn`t mean that.  He was telling a hilarious joke to gig you guys.  To make you giggle?  To gig you?  I don`t know. 

The White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney also got asked about it.  This is the White House briefing where Mulvaney went ahead and confirmed that there was a quid pro quo demand to Ukraine that they do these investigations that President Trump was demanding if they wanted to get their U.S. military aid.  And then, of course, after that, he pretended that he hadn`t said that at all. 

Part of the reason he ended up dancing himself into that box at that press conference, though, is because he wasn`t just asked about Ukraine, at that press conference.  He got asked the unanswerable question about how he could possibly explain that Trump was also asking for China to do it as well. 


REPORTER:  Can you clarify, I`ve been trying to get an answer to this, was the president serious when he said that he would also like to see China investigate the Bidens?  And you were directly involved in the decision to withhold funding from Ukraine.  Can you explain to us now, definitively, why?  Why was funding --

MICK MULVANEY, ACTING WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF:  Sure, let`s deal with the second one first. 


MADDOW:  Let`s -- you know what, of those two, I`d rather deal with me being directly involved in a quid pro quo arrangement of illegally withholding congressionally appropriated money from a foreign ally in exchange for domestic political help for the president.  I would actually rather talk about that, than whether he really meant it when he committed the same crime out loud on the lawn when it comes to China.  Can we deal with that one after? 

The chief of staff, needless to say, never went back and specifically answered the part of that question about China.  I mean, what would he say if he had?  But CNN soon reported that the president`s behavior about the China part of this really didn`t appear to have been a joke or an effort to gig the press, whatever that means. 

CNN reporting that one of the call records that has been locked up inside the White House in a standalone high-security server that`s usually reserved for highly classified material like covert action, one of those call records is from when President Trump called President Xi of China and, in fact, talked to him about Joe Biden.  We still haven`t seen that call record.  It is reportedly locked up in that high-security server.  Some Democrats in Congress have now called for those call notes to be released. 

Within a week of the president standing on the South Lawn and calling for China to investigate Joe Biden, we also have this intriguing reporting in the "Financial Times".  Quote: Trump adviser says China provided information about Hunter Biden.  Quote: Michael Pillsbury, an informal White House adviser on China, said he received information about the business activities of Hunter Biden during a visit to Beijing in the same week that Donald Trump urged China to probe Mr. Biden.  Quote: I got quite a bit of background on Hunter Biden from the Chinese.  Mr. Pillsbury told the "Financial Times."

So, President Trump is being impeached for asking Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden.  He then openly announces that he`s doing the same thing with China and we learned that he has apparently raised this already not just on the White House South Lawn in front of everybody but in a private call to the Chinese president.  The records of which have now been hidden away.  And now he has apparently dispatched one of his China advisers to go to China to collect information on the Biden family, whatever you can get from the Chinese government. 

I mean, that`s what this guy is saying.  Quote: I have got quite a bit of background on Hunter Biden from the Chinese.  Very explosive claim in the middle of this impeachment inquiry. 

Well, the same day that story appears in the "Financial Times," that gentleman, that adviser to Trump on China, his name is Michael Pillsbury, he went on C-Span that day and he was asked about it and this is like poetry.  This is like every once in a while the news gods hand down not prose, but poetry. 

October 10th, same day the "Financial Times" has run the story, right?  Trump adviser says China provided information about Hunter Biden.  That story`s in the "Financial Times." 

The guy this story is about goes on C-Span.  He gets asked about it.  Watch. 


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  The "Financial Times" is quoted as you saying, I quote, I got quite a bit of background on Hunter Biden from the Chinese, Pillsbury told the "Financial Times."

MICHAEL PILLSBURY:  I wonder what, I haven`t spoken to the "Financial Times" for a month. 


MADDOW:  I wonder, I haven`t spoken to the "Financial Times" -- I haven`t spoken to the "Financial Times" for at least a month.  That`s nutty.  The "Financial Times" quoting me today saying I got background on hunter Biden from China, that`s insane, I haven`t spoken to them for a month. 

Whereupon the reporter in question for the "Financial Times" instantly posts online the email he got the previous day from Michael Pillsbury saying exactly what he was going quote quoted as saying in the story.  Quote: Mike Pillsbury denied on C-Span that he told me this, but here`s the email exchange I had with him last night, and then he posts it from Mike Pillsbury to reporter at the "Financial Times".

And there`s the quote: actually I got quite a bit of background on Hunter Biden from the Chinese.

You know, do not deny things that you have done in general.  God will know, right?  So will your mother, wherever she is. 

But beyond that, definitely don`t deny things that you have not only done but you`ve put in writing less than 24 hours previous to your denial, especially if the thing that you`re denying is something that you put in writing on the record to a reporter who then printed your words.  It`s not like reporters get these things from you and then they burn all their materials once they`ve published, right? 

Mr. Pillsbury later got quite cagy about his claims that the he had been dispatched to China to go collect information on Hunter Biden there after the president said out loud on the White House South Lawn that`s what he wanted.  He told the "Washington Post" when they reported on this development that, quote, White House officials had asked him not to disclose his conversations with the president. 

So, now, right, impeachment proceedings against the president are well along their way to fruition.  I mean, it was last week, we got Ambassador Bill Taylor testifying that the White House withheld meetings and delayed and threatened to withhold military aid unless Ukraine announced bogus investigations to benefit the president domestically. 

Ambassador Taylor testifying that the president personally insisted on that, just devastating testimony.  Shortly thereafter the "Washington Post" reporting in addition to withholding meetings and military aid, it appears the Trump administration also withheld trade assistance from Ukraine as well.  Part of the same pressure campaign to get these investigations out of Ukraine that the president thought would help him in his next election. 

Well, now, today, the House has announced that they will take a vote this week establishing the format for how they`re going to move forward in the impeachment proceedings.  There`s a fairly long list of depositions that are still to go for the behind closed doors witness testimony that they`ve been taking thus far.  That part of the investigation. 

But House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Intelligence Chair Adam Schiff are saying as of today that there will be a full vote in the House this week to establish the rules for the next phase of the impeachment proceedings which will include not just closed-door depositions but also public hearings.  Importantly, "The New York Times" is reporting that the rules that they`re going to vote on will allow staff from the Intelligence Committee to conduct some of the questioning of the witnesses in these public hearings, which is a big deal because members of Congress, I love you, but doing the questioning with this lily pad hopping around in five-minute chunks from member to member to member where nobody can keep the line of questioning in their head and everybody`s showboating and everybody keeps starting over from the beginning, basically that`s a means of doing the questioning that elicits no information and the public can`t follow. 

But if instead at these public hearings you going to have staff doing the questioning with continuity, with subject matter expertise knowing what they`re asking about and why, well, that helps you actually learn things from witnesses.  That`s a large part of why the Watergate hearings were so revelatory for the public, honestly, and that`s apparently what they are going to do here for the Trump impeachment. 

So, it`s going to go up to a rules committee for a vote first which will tee up a full house vote we believe on Thursday of this week.  But in the middle of that, as the impeachment inquiry, which is like a month old now, as it starts, you know, turning on the runway lights and planning its approach, now we`ve got this one gigantic dangling thread in terms of what exactly they`re investigating and what it`s going to make of the articles of impeachment here because it really does appear like hiding in plain sight that the president did this not just with Ukraine, he did this with two countries. 

It is at least worth asking about that because here, I`ll show you, here`s Peter Navarro, aka, Ron Vara, right, the author "Death by China."  The architect of the president`s China trade war being asked about this very issue by CNN`s Jim Sciutto, and watch how Navarro answers. 


PETER NAVARRO, WHITE HOUSE TRADE ADVISER:  You don`t have a right to know what happens behind closed doors in the administration, and the only way --

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN:  I think the American people have a right to know. 

NAVARRO:  Hey --

SCIUTTO:  When politics entered trade negotiations. 

NAVARRO:  Let me answer this.  I mean, the problem that I`ve seen over the last three years in Washington is that there`s just too many stories that are reported based on anonymous sources. 

SCIUTTO:  Oh, let`s not go there. 

NAVARRO:  Inevitably get it wrong.  So --

SCIUTTO:  Well. 

NAVARRO:  Ii don`t know, do we want to spend this time doing that? 

SCIUTTO:  I`m asking you a direct question, did you bring up investigating the Bidens as part of the negotiation? 

NAVARRO:  In my judgment --

SCIUTTO:  We`re not --

NAVARRO:  You`re asking me what happens in the White House behind closed doors. 

SCIUTTO:  I`m asking if politics have --

NAVARRO:  I`m not going to tell you --

SCIUTTO:  -- the sphere of international relations here. 

NAVARRO:  Jim, asked and answered. 


MADDOW:  Asked, repeatedly, but not answered at all.  I`m not going to tell you.  I`m not going to tell you.

And as the House starts to land these impeachment proceedings, as they round at least first base and head toward second, it is starting to seem like this really might be chapter two.  Country two, at least.  Article II maybe? 

Stay tuned.  We`ll be right back. 


MADDOW:  I knew tonight was too quiet.  Here we go, right on schedule. 

Breaking news this hour from "The New York Times" about the impeachment proceedings.  You see the headline here.  "Army officer on White House staff reported concerns on Trump`s Ukraine dealings."  This is from Danny Hakim at "The New York Times."

The subhead tonight sort of says a lot about what this new reporting is.  Quote: The top Ukraine expert at the White House will tell impeachment investigators he twice reported concerns about President Trump`s pressure tactics on Ukraine acting out of a, quote, sense of duty. 

Here`s the lead.  Wow.  A White House national security official who`s a decorated Iraq war veteran plans to tell House impeachment investigators tomorrow that he heard President Trump appeal to Ukraine`s president to investigate one of this leading political rivals, a request the aide considered so damaging to American interests that he reported it to a superior. 

Lieutenant Colonel Alexander S. Vindman of the U.S. Army, the top Ukraine expert on the National Security Council, twice registered internal objections about how President Trump and his inner circle were treating Ukraine.  Out of what he called a, quote, sense of duty, according to a draft of his opening statement that`s been obtained by "The New York Times."

Colonel Vindman will be the first White House official to testify who listened in on the July 25th telephone call between President Trump and President Zelensky of Ukraine.  The call that is at the center of the impeachment inquiry.  Colonel Vindman says in his statement, quote, I did not think it was proper to demand that a foreign government investigate a U.S. citizen and I was worried about the implications for the U.S. government`s support of Ukraine.

Again, this is just being reported in "The New York Times."  I`ll just read you one other little bit of this.  In his testimony, Colonel Vindman -- again, tomorrow, planned testimony tomorrow -- plans to say that he is not the whistle-blower who initially reported President Trump`s pressure campaign on Ukraine but he will provide an account that corroborates and fleshes out the crucial elements in that complaint. 

In terms of who Colonel Vindman is, he`s a Ukrainian-American immigrant.  He received a Purple Heart after being wounded in Iraq by a roadside bomb.  According to "The Times", which, again, has seen his opening statement, his statement is, quote, full of references to duty and patriotism.  He could be a very difficult witness to dismiss than his civilian counterparts. 

Colonel Vindman plans to tell the investigators, quote, I am a patriot and it is my secret duty and honor the advance and defend our country irrespective of party or politics.

Joining us now is Democratic Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi from Illinois.  He sits on the Intelligence and Oversight Committees.  Those committees are set to hear Colonel Vindman`s deposition tomorrow. 

Congressman Krishnamoorthi, thank you so much for being with us tonight.  I really appreciate you making time. 

REP. RAJA KRISHNAMOORTHI (D-IL):  Great to be here, Rachel. 

MADDOW:  So first thing I want to ask you about is this breaking news tonight from "The Times."  This is Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman.  He`s the top Ukraine expert on the National Security Council.  "The Times" has obtained his opening statement.  I assume that means you and your fellow members of the committee do expect him to testify tomorrow. 

KRISHNAMOORTHI:  I certainly hope so.  And this would be the first White House official who actually would be defying the White House`s orders not to cooperate.  As you mentioned, he was also a party to the July 25th phone call and he`s the top Ukraine expert on the national security council so his testimony is very important. 

MADDOW:  In terms of the way that things are going to go forward now, it sounds like Colonel Vindman`s testimony is going to be very important for the core allegations at the center of the impeachment proceedings. 

With this announcement today by Speaker Pelosi and Chairman Schiff of the Intelligence Committee, that the House is going to move toward a vote, toward setting the rules, sort of setting the format for the next phase of the inquiry, can you share anything with us about the expected timing there about how many more closed-door depositions there will be, when you expect the first public hearings to happen? 

KRISHNAMOORTHI:  I honestly don`t know.  No date has been set, to my knowledge, and each time we think that we have kind of come across a witness whose testimony is incredibly compelling, we then hear from another witness whose testimony is equally, if not more, compelling.  And really I think we just have to conclude this back-fact-gathering process thoroughly but expeditiously. 

And as you said, now we are going to be voting on rules on how does the public hearing process work and what are the rules for that going forward? 

MADDOW:  One of the things I have been watching since the beginning, since it became apparent, just to the point where I`m desperate to know how it fits into this sort of thing, is that obviously the president`s request to Ukraine that they needed to give him these investigations that he thinks would be helpful for him to domestically, holding up White House meetings, holding up military aid, trying to leverage those things, that`s the core that started this impeach pt men inquiry and seems to be the core of where you guys are focusing. 

What about the president appearing to do exactly the same thing with China?  Is that at all part of the in inquiry or handled or investigated in any other way by Congress? 

KRISHNAMOORTHI:  It`s not something that`s a subject matter for this particular inquiry.  It -- I`m sure that folks on the Foreign Affairs Committee might be looking at it or another equivalent committee, but right now, we`re kind of focused on this because, quite frankly, the evidence that has come out has been kind of gushing out at this point.  Not only the call transcript but also statements like Mick Mulvaney`s the other day where I think he blurted out in candor that the military aid was premised on, you know, conducting these bogus investigation of domestic political rivals of the president.  And, of course, this trade of witnesses -- these are career public servants. 

Many like Mr. Vindman, veterans, people who served the country honorably, who are coming and testifying to us at their own expense.  They hire their own attorneys.  And they`re putting their careers on the line.  So, I think we`re really focused on the whistle-blower`s claims and what these witnesses and the testimony can add in terms of fleshing out those complaints. 

MADDOW:  Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi, thanks so much for being with us tonight. 


MADDOW:  It sounds like tomorrow is going to be another important day. 

KRISHNAMOORTHI:  Another slow fake news day, I`m sure. 

MADDOW:  Exactly.  I remember what those were like, I think. 

Thank you, sir.  Much appreciate it. 

KRISHNAMOORTHI:  Thanks, Rachel. 

MADDOW:  I want to tell you while I was speaking with Congressman Krishnamoorthi there, we actually got -- or at least I have been given for the first time the full opening statement that is expected from Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman.  This is the basis for this "New York Times" reporting tonight, makes it seem like this deposition is going to be fairly explosive, at least it`s going to be right on point in terms of what the impeachment proceedings are about. 

Let me read you a little bit of what is -- again, I`m just looking at this for the first time.  Let me read you a little bit of what is here.  This has just been handed to me. 

Mr. Chairman and ranking member, thank you for the opportunity to address the committee`s concern, the activities relating to Ukraine and my role and my events under investigation.  I have dedicated my entire professional life to the United States of America. 

For more than two decades, it`s been my honor to serve as an officer in the U.S. Army.  As an infantry officer, I served multiple overseas tours, including South Korea and Germany and deployment to Iraq for combat operations.  In Iraq, I was wounded in an IED attack and awarded a Purple Heart. 

Since 2008, I`ve been a foreign area officer specializing in Eurasia.  In this role, I served in the U.S. embassies in Kiev and in Moscow and Washington, D.C.  I was a political military affairs officer for Russia for the chairman of the joint chiefs where I offered the strategy for managing competition with Russia.  He says, on July 2018, I was asked to serve with the National Security Council.

He says, quote: My family fled the Soviet Union when I was 3 1/2 years old.  Upon arriving in New York City in 1979, my father worked multiple jobs to support us all the while learning English at night.  He stressed to us the importance of us -- "excuse me," he stressed to us the importance of fully integrating into our adopted country. 

For many years, life was quite difficult.  In spite of our challenging beginnings, my family worked to build its own American dream.  I have a deep appreciation for American values and ideals and the power of freedom.  I am a patriot and it is my sacred duty and honor to advance and defend our country irrespective of party or politics. 

For over 20 years as an active duty U.S. military officer and diplomat, I have served this country in a nonpartisan manner and I have done so with the utmost respect and professionalism for both Republican and Democratic administrations.

Again, Lieutenant Colonel Vindman goes on to suggest that the president`s behavior in this call with President Zelensky was so alarming that he twice raised this issue internally with his superiors out of a sense of duty that what he was seeing was wrong.  On July 25th, 2019, the call occurred, I listened in on the call in the Situation Room with colleagues from the National Security Council and the Office of the Vice President. 

As the transcript is in the public record, we`re all well a aware of what was said.  I was concerned by the call.  I do not think it was proper.  I did think it was proper to demand that a foreign government investigate a U.S. citizen and I was worried about the implications for the U.S. government`s support of Ukraine. 

I realize that if Ukraine pursued an investigation into the Bidens and Burisma, it would be interpreted as a partisan play which would undoubtedly result in Ukraine losing the bipartisan support it has thus far maintained.  This would all undermine U.S. national security.  Following the call I, again, reported my concerns to the lead counsel for the National Security Council.  And it goes on. 

Again, this just obtained this evening.  The opening statement from Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman, the top Ukraine official on the National Security Council who appears to validate the concerns of the whistle-blower that led to these impeachment proceedings against the president, and express his own alarm at what he saw on that call and of the president`s behavior. 

More to come.  Stay with us. 


MADDOW:  Courtney Kube is NBC`s national security and military correspondent.  She`s been on this show a lot of times.  You will recognize her when we speak to her in just a moment. 

Almost always when we speak with Courtney, she is joining us from the Pentagon or from the news bureau that we have in Washington, D.C.  But this weekend, Courtney Kube was in Iraq when U.S. special operations forces carried out a raid on the leader of ISIS at his compound in northwestern Syria.  She was already in Iraq when that happened. 

Well, from that vantage point, she`s in a unique position from which to be able to report on that raid and its consequences.  She`s got fascinating new reporting out tonight along with reporter Carol Lee about both the sensitive information and the untrue information that President Trump shared during his press conference about the raid.  Courtney Kube`s going to join us live from Iraq, next. 


MADDOW:  This is the new headline just posted on NBC News tonight by Courtney Kube and Carol Lee.  The headline: Officials cringe as Trump spills sensitive details of al-Baghdadi raid.  Some details the president has revealed are inaccurate, they say, others are classified.  Officials say they worry what to put in briefings for a man with no filter. 

Joining us now live from Iraq is Courtney Kube, NBC`s national security and military correspondent. 

Courtney, thank you for being up at 5:00 in the morning for us.  I really appreciate you staying up. 


MADDOW:  So let me talk to you about the aftermath of the Baghdadi raid and this remarkable announcement and ongoing discussion that the president had with reporters about what happened there.  You and Carol say that national security officials are cringing at some of the things he said were classified.  Some of the things he said were untrue. 

What are the national security worries about the president`s remarks after this raid? 

KUBE:  So it was really a combination, two categories of information here.  One was the classified information that he talked about and the other was the tactical.  So on the classified side, he talked about things, it`s getting a lot of attention today like the dog, the dog that was involved in this raid.  Technically, that is a classified detail, both the existence, the breed, everything.  The name of that dog is classified. 

But beyond that, he talked about things that they just don`t want out because of -- it might hurt their ability to -- for further on raids or further on gathering of information.  One is the fact that he acknowledged that they actually took some people from the compound in as prisoners.  That`s the kind of information that the military wouldn`t want out because they would want to bring those people back in, question them and get some kind of very quick, fresh, potentially actionable intelligence that they might be able to act on very quickly. 

Then there was the tactical stuff.  So that was things like explaining how they breached the wall, because they were worried that the front door could be booby trapped.  He talked very specifically about how the helicopters were coming in very, very low and very, very fast. 

You know, if you cover the military and spend time with them, especially in a combat zone, those are the kind of things you might know, but not the sort of detail that the military wants out, primarily because, look, ISIS, al Qaeda, anyone could look at this and say, okay, next time we know, this is how they`re going to approach and this is what they`re going to do, and in particular because this mission involved the most elite Delta Forces.  That`s a unit that the military doesn`t even technically -- publicly acknowledge exists, let alone talk about any of the tactics they might use in a highly sensitive, highly visible raid like the one we saw over the weekend. 

MADDOW:  And, Courtney, in terms of follow-on actions after this, obviously, the death of Baghdadi is significant in itself whereby terms of what that`s going to mean for ISIS, but the idea that it could be an intelligence windfall, right?  That you could collect so much -- not only people, you cannot only take other people into custody, that could provide you further information or that themselves would be valuable as prisoners, but you could get a lot of documents or other material that might be helpful in terms of follow-on raids and other things that you could leverage against ISIS. 

The president disclosing both the existence of that kind of evidence and the ongoing efforts to exploit that evidence is the sort of thing that undercuts the value of that evidence and that intelligence? 

KUBE:  It undercuts the ability to act on it quickly.  So let`s say that now ISIS, they know now that several people were taken into custody.  The hope after something like this is, ISIS needs a little bit of time to figure out exactly what happened.  Who might be dead, who might be alive. 

By saying that anyone was taken into custody, it might cut off some potential line of communication or some sort of -- something that was about to happen, that they could have gotten out of those individuals and exploited.  Beyond that, one of the things that President Trump also talked about was the actual exploitation of the site after the raid.  We all know that happens.  That happened after the bin Laden raid.  They brought in trash bags and took them out with computers and discs and files and anything that they could carry back to the helicopters. 

But in this case, he talks specifically about how they got highly sensitive information that included information about ISIS`s origins.  Well, that not only gives an idea to ISIS the kind of information that they might have gotten, but it also talks about the location itself.  If there was information about ISIS` origins, it would stand to reason that that might be the sort of safe house where Baghdadi frequented often. 

It`s just the kind of information that the military doesn`t necessarily want out, because it might provide a pathway to ISIS, to find out how they might go about future raids.  You know, we`ve seen a number of raids against ISIS and strikes in the immediate aftermath of 48 hours or so since this actually occurred.  And you generally, right after something like this, you will see those sorts of high-viz, high-value raids and targeting.  And generally, we don`t yet know in the cases of the ones like ISIS` spokesperson, who was kill Sunday, I think it was, I`m sorry, I`m losing track of my days here, but ISIS` spokesperson who was killed. 

But generally, those kinds of things are because they`ve been able to gather and gain very valuable information from this raid, and then they exploit it very quickly.  So anything that lets on that that was happening, it just hurts the military.  And also, it can generally increase the risk to the military members who are trying to carry out these raids. 

MADDOW:  Courtney Kube, NBC News national security and military correspondent -- Courtney, I wish you safety, continued luck in your reporting, and a lot more sleep than you are expecting.  Thank you so much for being us tonight. 

All right.  We`ve got more news ahead.  Stay with us. 


MADDOW:  I want to return to the news that has broken over the course of this hour, first reported by "The New York Times," but it`s based on the opening statement that is due to be delivered tomorrow morning by Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman.  He`s the top national security expert on Ukraine at the White House.  He is planning to testify to the impeachment proceedings tomorrow, in defiance of this White House edict that says that White House officials are not allowed to testify. 

Now, we also have a copy of the -- of Colonel Vindman`s opening statement and I want to tell you another couple of things that are in here that are going to make tomorrow a very big news day.  Colonel Vindman says, quote: I want the committees to know I am not the whistle-blower who brought this issue to the CIA and the committee`s attention.  I do not know who the whistle-blower is and I would not feel comfortable to speculate to the identity of the whistle-blower. 

But as I will detail herein, I did convey certain concerns internally to national security officials, in accordance my decades of experience and training, my sense of duty, and my obligation to operate within the chain of command.  He says, quote, when I joined the National Security Council on July 2018, I began implementing the policy on Ukraine.  In the spring of 2019, I became aware of outside influencers promoting a false narrative of Ukraine inconsistent with the consensus views of the interagency.  This narrative was harmful to U.S. government policy. 

And then he gets very specific about something that happened in July.  This is July 10th.  It`s in advance, that means, about two weeks in advance of the president`s call with the president of Ukraine.  He says, quote, on July 10th, the secretary of the National Security and Defense Council for Ukraine visited Washington for a meeting with national security adviser John Bolton.  Ambassadors Kurt Volker and Gordon Sondland also attended along with Energy Secretary, Rick Perry.  The three amigos, right? 

The meeting proceeded well until the Ukrainians broached the subject of a meeting between the two presidents.  Ambassador Gordon Sondland started speaking about Ukraine delivering specific -- excuse me, started to speak about Ukraine delivering specific investigations in order to secure the meeting with President Trump, at which time Ambassador Bolton cut the meeting short. 

Following this meeting, there was a scheduled debriefing, during which Ambassador Gordon Sondland emphasized the importance that Ukraine deliver the investigations into the 2016 election, the Bidens, and Burisma.  I stated to Ambassador Gordon Sondland that his statements were inappropriate.  That the requests to investigate Biden and his son had nothing to do with national security and that such investigations were not something the NSC was going to get involved in or push. 

Dr. Fiona hill, I believe to whom Colonel Vindman actually reported on the National Security Council, Dr. Fiona Hill then entered the room and she too asserted to Ambassador Gordon Sondland that his statements were inappropriate.  Following the debriefing meeting, Colonel Vindman says, I reported my concerns to the NSC`s lead counsel. 

We assume that league counsel would be John Eisenberg, the top lawyer at the National Security Council.  But again, this is from the opening statement due to be delivered tomorrow morning by Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman from the National Security Council, the first current White House official to be testifying to the impeachment proceedings.  He will be doing so in defiance of a White House that is telling him not to show up. 

It`s going to be a big day tomorrow.  We`ll see you again tomorrow night. 


Good evening, Lawrence.

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