CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: That is "ALL IN" for this evening.
THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW starts right now.
Good evening, Rachel.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Thank you so much, my friend. Thank you, Chris.
HAYES: Thank you, Rachel.
MADDOW: Awesome, great to see you.
And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour. Happy Friday.
Because it is Friday, naturally, there's a ton of news. But actually I need to start tonight with an apology. Not exactly a correction, but I am sorry. Because for more than a week now, I neglected -- to be honest I just flat out forgot that I needed to poof Tim Ryan. I am so sorry.
A week ago yesterday, Ohio Democratic Congressman Tim Ryan dropped out of the presidential race. Don't worry, it's not a lonely race yet. There's still roughly 400,000 Democrats running for president if we round up to the nearest 400,000. But last week, Tim Ryan dropped out of the race, and I am committed to tracking that sort of thing when it happens, and I am sorry that I forgot until now.
And so, here goes, Ohio Democrat Congressman Tim Ryan no longer as a Democratic candidate for president. And so, we get to three, two, one -- poof. There he goes.
Now, what is even more embarrassing for me the only reason I remembered today that I needed to poof Tim Ryan and I had forgotten to is because today, yet another Democratic candidate has dropped out of the race. You have probably by now already seen this evening's headlines that former Texas Congressman Beto O'Rourke who made a huge national splash with a strong challenge to Texas Senator Ted Cruz last year, a race that gave him not only a national profile but a real head of steam as he entered the Democratic presidential race in March, tonight, Beto O'Rourke has announced that he is leaving the presidential race, so we will have to poof him off our list of candidates this evening, and we'll be talking a little bit later on the show about the impact that Beto O'Rourke's departure may have on the rest of race.
Now, he, of course, was not at this point polling as a top tier candidate. It was honestly not clear whether or not he was going to make the next debate, the Georgia debate later this month. But he has made all the previous debates, and he did have a national reach and he did have a ton of name recognition. And he does have a considerable and very interesting fund-raising base.
So his potential impact, the impact of his leaving the race, we're going to say good-bye to Congressman O'Rourke's presidential hopes later on the show tonight. And again, you have my apologies for me not poofing Tim Ryan until eight days late.
That said like I mentioned lots of news to get to tonight. The unofficial Friday night RACHEL MADDOW SHOW courthouse news drama reporting award goes today to Ema O'Connor of "BuzzFeed News". She was sent by "BuzzFeed News" to go cover what we had expected to be an interesting, at least an intriguing court hearing today involving our old friend Igor.
Not to be confused with Lev. Lev is on the left, Igor is on the right. Both Lev and Igor you might remember were both represented by Paul Manafort's attorneys at their initial court experience after they were arrested at Dulles Airport just before they tried to board an outgoing international flight several weeks ago. They were arraigned on campaign finance charges, charged with trying to illegally funnel foreign money into a number of different Republican campaigns, including the major super PAC supporting President Trump's re-election.
Since their initial court appearance, Lev, Mr. Parnas has switched his representation, but Igor, his buddy, Mr. Fruman, he has stuck with Paul Manafort's lawyers for his legal representation. That itself is a fascinating and as yet untold subplot here. The way the president's imprisoned former campaign chairman seems to be right at the heart of so many tendrils of this ongoing impeachment scandal as it roils this presidency.
But last night, you might remember here on the show, we talked about this interesting filing that was made with a federal court in New York, the court handling Lev and Igor's case.
In that filing, Igor's lawyer, the Paul Manafort lawyer, wrote to the judge in the case because the lawyer said he had new information of which he wanted to try to persuade the judge that his client should no longer have these onerous bail conditions. Specifically, he no longer wanted his client to be under house arrest or nor have to keep wearing a GPS monitoring device on his ankle.
So, I mean, Igor and his counsel had agreed to those exact bail conditions only a week ago, right? So, it's intriguing, sort of weird they were writing the judge last night already saying they want relief from those conditions that they just signed up for. So, we thought there might be something dramatic they could unveil in court today in an effort to try to convince this judge to say his mind about something he decided only last week. So, we sort of had a heads up this hearing might be interesting.
It definitely was a dramatic hearing. It was not a hearing that was dramatic in the way that Igor and his lawyer probably wanted.
As I mentioned, Ema O'Connor wins today's courtroom drama reporting award from this today show. Here's her reporting from "BuzzFeed News". As far as I can tell, this is 1,000 percent perfect.
She writes, quote: A lawyer for Igor Fruman, one of the men who had been working with Rudy Giuliani in his Ukraine campaign tried to argue in court today his client was not a flight risk and did not need to be under house arrest, despite the fact that he'd been arrested just before boarding a flight overseas on a one way ticket last month.
Quote: I'm not exactly sure what your ask is here, the judge said to Todd Blanche, the lawyer for Igor Fruman. Mr. Blanche sighed and looked down. He was at a hearing at the U.S. district court for the Southern District of New York in which he was attempting to petition for modifications to Furman's bail agreement, house arrest, a GPS tracker, a million dollar bond.
Ema O'Connor writes, quote, this argument today was not going well. The allegations that when Fruman was arrested on the jet way at Dulles Airport when he was fleeing the country, those allegations were completely false, lawyer Blanche told the court. There is zero evidence, he said. The judge then asked, is it false that your client had a one way ticket? Blanche responded, no, your honor, that is absolutely true.
At which point in my office we promptly ordered the transcript of the court hearing. And it turns out Ema O'Connor's reporting is exactly correct. Here's how it goes in the transcript today.
Igor's lawyer, the Paul Manafort guy says: your honor, quote, I do not know what is in the government's mind, we will hear from them in a minute. But it seems to me that one of the reasons why everybody agreed to home detention is the recorded fact that Mr. Fruman was arrested at Dulles Airport with a one way ticket to Vienna.
The only admissible of that is that he was fleeing the country. That is completely false. There's no evidence Mr. Fruman was leaving the United States and not intending to come back.
The judge: Is it false he had a one way ticket to Vienna? The lawyer: Pardon me? The judge: Is it false he had a one way ticket to Vienna? The lawyer: No, your honor, that is true.
That's exactly right. And there are other parts of this hearing which went badly for Igor and for his Paul Manafort lawyer. There's the part, for example, where that lawyer tells the judge, your honor, at the end of the day, I suppose this is an odd request because we just agreed to this all last week. Right.
He goes onto say but requiring him to sit in his apartment in Miami 24 hours a day guarantees you were he shows up here when directed, it's not necessary in my view.
Not an awesome argument to a court of law. I don't think that's necessary. It doesn't feel right to me. I know he's paying me.
There's also the part where the prosecutors make their case based on the timing of all this that it is entirely possible the guy was fleeing the country when they arrested him on that jetway at Dulles.
The prosecutor says, quote: Your honor, I will start with the circumstances of his arrest. There's not a lot of dispute here. What's clear Mr. Fruman was subpoenaed by Congress on October 7th. He indicated he was not going to comply with that subpoena. The next day, on October 8th, he booked this flight. The next day after that, October 9th, he was arrested on the bridge as he was boarding a one way flight to Vienna.
The prosecutor continues: Now, that is not the sole basis for the government's detention of the argument but it's certainly is a fear here, which he had a reason to leave and he did it on short notice.
Prosecutors then go onto argue that had Igor made it to Europe, he would have found it easy, comfortable even to stay there. Quote: Mr. Fruman lived a good part of his life in Ukraine. He has substantial business ties there. Prosecutor says he operates a bar called Buddha Bar. He has a luxury brand called Tada that has hotels and restaurants.
The judge says: That is in Europe? The prosecutor says: Yes, your honor, I can pass this up to you. This is the hotel brochure for Tada. Mr. Fruman is on the second page. It describes him as the president and CEO of FD Import Corporation and Tada Luxury Group.
The prosecutor says, quote, this is not in the pretrial services report because I guess the defendant didn't disclose it, but there's a hotel, there are restaurants, there's the beach club, there's the Buddha Bar in Kiev. There are various retail stores that are associated with this group.
So I think it's safe to say the defend is in a position he can return to Ukraine where he's politically connected and he can decide to never come back here. He could live a very nice life, and his family could follow him.
This is the reason why substantial conditions need to be in place in the United States to ensure he does not flee.
Remember this is hearing that Igor asked for. And you know sometimes judges, you know, hear arguments like this and they take some time, maybe they take a few days, maybe they take a recess, a few minutes to mull these things over. In this case, it didn't take but a few seconds. The judge was able to rule right there, didn't pause at all.
The judge says, quote: Thank you for your argument. Having considered the circumstances and the factors of the statute, I'm going to deny the request for a bail modification.
And so nice try, Igor will stay under house arrest. He does not get to remove his ankle monitoring.
And then later in the hearing, prosecutors made clear that his bail might fall apart anyway. This might even get worse for Igor because his brother is a cosigner for his millions dollar bail. Prosecutors explained to the judge today that they have reason to believe Igor's brother might be involved in some of the crimes for which Igor has been charged. And however much flexibility there may be in the bail system, particularly for high profile and white collar cases like this, especially ones that have links to the president's impeachment, I don't know does that affect these sorts of things?
Regardless of what kind of case it is, they're not going to let you post bail money that's potentially derived from the crimes you're being charged with, right? Even us non-lawyers can get that. You can't rob a bank and then post bail with money you stole from the bank. They're also not going to let someone cosign for your bail if that person was involved in your proverbial bank robbery.
So, Igor still on house arrest, still has his ankle monitor. And the bail that has him out on House arrest and not actually in jail right now is in jeopardy and looks like they'll be back in court next week. So --
The relationship between these two guys and the president and the president's personal lawyer and the impeachment proceedings against the president, these ties remain somewhat murky but already fascinating. In terms of their case, the way this is playing out in criminal court alongside the impeachment proceedings on Capitol Hill, so far, things are not going well in court.
Things are also not going well in court for the president's national security advisor, Mike Flynn. This has sunk into the background a little bit, but Trump national security advisor Mike Flynn is still awaiting sentencing for his crimes. He's due to be sentenced next month.
And as we've covered on the show a few times in recent months, Mike Flynn has traded in his old lawyers he used to have and instead he got lawyers who decided to go full Fox News, deep state conspiracy, storm the state -- like storm the SCIF nut ball in their defense. To the point where they're claiming that Mike Flynn didn't mean to plead guilty after all, that he's totally innocent, he was framed.
Mike Flynn's Fox News lawyer are now arguing that he doesn't need to rescind his guilty plea even though they're now contending his innocence because the deep state Robert Mueller crime family conspiracy is so egregious that the government should throw out the whole case, and not only throw out the whole case, they should basically dissolve the FBI and lock up the real criminals, meaning the FBI agents and even the prosecutors who were involved in his case and any of the Russia cases at all, because those are the real criminals. That's the real conspiracy and Mike Flynn didn't do anything wrong.
That's been the basis of Flynn's new defense as he heads toward sentencing. Today in court, the government released a whole a bunch of information about Flynn's case that has been previously secret. But it's been questioned by Flynn's new defense. Flynn's new claim that even though he did plead guilty and admit in court that he lied to the FBI about his contacts with the Russian government, his new claim is he didn't really mean it, that guilty plea was an error, he was trapped into and it and he was framed.
His new Fox lawyers have been claiming that he was -- he was setup even though he pled guilty. They're saying that the FBI lied about the fact that Flynn lied to them, and that they thereafter somehow hypnotized him into lying even though he didn't. It's all very weird, honestly.
But Flynn's new defense, part of it has been that the notes the FBI relied onto say that he lied, right, that was the felony of which he pled guilty. They're saying the FBI notes that showed Flynn lied were forgeries, that they weren't real notes, they were doctored to frame him after the fact.
And so, Flynn's defense has demanded that the FBI release these notes, release the evidence that would prove this has all been a big frame-up job.
Well, today, this is what the FBI and prosecutors released and it's kind of amazing. Quote, on January 29th, 2018, the special counsel's office received an e-mail stating a member of the media had received information that blank, somebody whose name is redacted, told the office of inspector general that FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe pressured, blanked out name, to change the 302 form documenting the interview of Michael Flynn.
So the special counsel's office gets notice that a member of the media had received information that McCabe had pressured somebody to change the FBI interview notes documenting Michael Flynn lying to the FBI.
Quote: After being advised of the identity of the interviewing agent and the nature of the interview, blanked out name, provided the following information. Number one, Andrew McCabe did not pressure this person to change the 302 documenting the interview of Michael Flynn.
Number two, no one at the FBI pressured this person to change Michael Flynn's 302. This person did not tell anyone that McCabe or anyone else at the FBI pressured him to change the 302. Also, this person has no information on any pressure to change the 302. And finally, this person believes all the information in the 302 is accurate.
This government lawyer is responding today to Mike Flynn's conspiracy theory saying, nope.
There's been a -- there's been a theory advanced in the right wing media that all of the documentation about Mike Flynn's felonies, it was all made up, it was all false, and the FBI knows it and they just have to come clean about it. But this is the FBI now saying we've gone through this, we've gone ahead and looked back at it because of these allegations and it turns out, no, Mike Flynn definitely lied about his conversations with the Russian government which is what he pled guilty to, and no matter what you heard about this on the Fox News Channel or out of the custom antenna you've plugged into the Facebook machine to give you the signals, in the court you still actually have to prove stuff.
Because of the growing insanity of the Mike Flynn defense, more than ever I think it's reasonable to be on pardon watch when it comes to Mike Flynn because clearly, Flynn and his lawyers are not playing his case to try to win in court now. The court filings they're making now are bonkers. And so, they are playing this now not to win with a judge but to win instead on Fox News with an eye toward winning with the president. The presumption is they're playing this now to try to get Mike Flynn a presidential pardon. And there is evidence in fact they've got the president's attention with Fox News coverage of this increasingly insane Flynn defense theory.
Here's something I want you to keep an eye on, though. The very first time that we the public had any inkling that Mike Flynn was going to be in trouble, well before the charges against him were brought, well before he was fired from the White House, the very first time we had any sign that there was going to be trouble with Trump's national security advisor was actually a column in "The Washington Post" by a very connected, very well- sourced columnist named David Ignatius.
I remember when I first read that column back in January 2017, there was kind of a bolt from the blue. This is what Ignatius said. He said, quote: Retired General Michael T. Flynn, Trump's choice for national security adviser, cultivates close Russian contacts. He has appeared on Russia Today and received a speaking fee from the cable network which was described in last week's unclassified intelligence briefing on Russian hacking as the Kremlin's principal international propaganda outlet.
Quote: According to a senior U.S. official, Flynn phoned Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak several times on December 29th, the day the Obama administration announced the expulsion of 35 Russian officials, as well as other measures in retaliation for the hacking. What did Flynn say and did it undercut the sanctions? Ignatius concluded, quote, we ought to know the facts.
That was the first we learned about Mike Flynn having secret communications with the Russian government about sanctions, and eventually we would know the facts. It would take a while for it to come out, though. That column was published more than a full week before Trump was inaugurated. It was published well before any other news outlets would report on the troublesome nature of Flynn's secret contacts with the Russian government, this whole series of events that led to his guilty plea for lying to the FBI about those contacts.
And that was a great scoop for David Ignatius. But it was interesting. It was in a column, right? I mean, "The Washington Post" as you would expect has a clear divide between the news pages and editorial pages. But they also have frequently have columnists and even the paper's own editorials break news.
And it was that David Ignatius column back in January 2017, before Trump was even sworn in, that first broke the news about Flynn's secret conversations with the Russian government about sanctions. And that's why all of this stuff that's happened since then.
But just a few weeks ago, "The Post" did it again. It was September 5th, an editorial in "The Washington Post," again, not a news story but an editorial which broke the news of the scandal that would eventually lead to the current impeachment proceedings against President Trump. This was the first report.
September 5th, this year, editorial page, "The Washington Post." You see the headline. Trump tries to force Ukraine to meddle in the 2020 election. It's an editorial but they just nailed it news wise.
Quote, Ukraine's new President Volodymyr Zelensky has so far failed to win the backing of President Trump. Not only has Mr. Trump refused to grant the Ukrainian leader a White House visit, but he has suspended the delivery of $250 million in the U.S. military aid to a country still fighting Russian aggression in its eastern provinces. Some suspect Mr. Trump is once again catering to Mr. Putin who's dedicated to undermining Ukrainian democracy and independence.
But, "The Post" says, we're reliably told that the president has a second and more venal agenda. He's attempting to force President Zelensky to intervene in the 2020 U.S. presidential election by launching an investigation of the leading Democratic candidate, Joe Biden. Mr. Trump is not just soliciting Ukraine's help with his presidential campaign, he is using U.S. military aid the country desperately needs in an attempt to extort it.
And "The Post" went onto note that the case against Joe Biden that Trump wanted investigated was, quote, bogus on its face. "The Post" also noted that the White House had advanced unconvincing explanations for its reticence behavior thus far.
But they then concluded with this: If President Trump's recalcitrance toward Ukraine has a rationale other than seeking a foreign government to aid his election, the president has yet to reveal it. That's because it turns out that was exactly what President Trump was doing. In fact, President Trump was trying to compel that foreign government to aid his re- election by extorting them to launch a bogus investigation as a condition of them getting their congressionally approved military aid.
I mean, that was an editorial first week in September. Not a news story but "The Post" nailed it. That's exactly how it played out in this impeachment investigation.
And now, today, after they nailed the Flynn scandal on the editorial page in that column by David Ignatius back in the day, and then they nailed the core of the impeachment scandal on the editorial page several weeks ago, now, today, I think they've just done it again. And that's next.
MADDOW: The editorial pages are not usually where you turn to get the latest breaking news but in the case of "The Washington Post" during the Trump era, that has often turned out to be the case. As I mentioned at the top of the show tonight, we've seen "The Washington Post" in its editorials and columns break huge stories. The news of Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn secretly talking with the Russian government about sanctions, a key early revelation in the whole Trump Russia scandal and something that may yet put Flynn in prison. That was a David Ignatius column in January 2017.
We've also seen "The Post" just a few weeks ago in an editorial break the news about President Trump delivering military aid to Ukraine to make them give him dirt on Joe Biden, the exact plot that has now led to these very serious impeachment proceedings against the president.
Well, now, as the impeachment proceedings go forward on very serious footing, "The Washington Post" editorial page appears to have done it again. Once again, it's from columnist David Ignatius, and we've got something new here. In his latest column, Ignatius raises the prospect that this scheme that's currently at the center of the House impeachment investigation may have been round two for President Trump and Ukraine. He may have done this exact thing once before with Ukraine, before he did it this time and got caught.
Before Volodymyr Zelensky was elected president, the president of Ukraine was this man, Petro Poroshenko. According to David Ignatius today, in 2017 after Trump was elected, in January of 2017, Poroshenko's government hired an expensive lobbying firm in Washington to try to give Poroshenko and his new government better contacts with the new American administration. They were paying trying to get into the White House. They wanted to make contact with the new Trump folks.
According to David Ignatius, it wasn't working. Quote: Ukraine had hired the lobbying firm BGR Group in January 2017 to foster contact with Trump, but nothing had happened. But then, suddenly, six months down the road in June 2017, Ignatius says, quote, the door opened.
Why? Well, here's something we didn't know before. On June 7th, Rudy Giuliani, visited Ukraine, visited Kiev. He was there giving a speech and while he was there he met with President Poroshenko and Poroshenko's main prosecutor. And who knows what was said at that meeting.
But within a couple of days, for some strange reason, within of a couple of days of that meeting, Ukraine's ongoing then criminal investigations of Trump's campaign chairman Paul Manafort got dropped. Paul Manafort was under investigation in Ukraine for having taken millions of dollars in illicit off the books payments from a pro-Kremlin political party, and for his connection to that pro-Kremlin political party basically looting the Ukrainian government for themselves when they were in charge. I mean, that was Ukraine's money that went up the chimney with those guys. And so, what was Ukraine's anti-corruption prosecutors who are looking hard at Paul Manafort at that time in mid-2017.
As part of their investigations of Manafort, we believe, those Ukrainian anti-corruption prosecutors were cooperating with the domestic investigation of Paul Manafort here at home, the one part of the special counsel's investigation and ultimately would result in Manafort's prosecution and his imprisonment on multiple felony counts. So, Ukraine's got this open investigations of Manafort.
And then, mysteriously, within a couple of days of Giuliani visiting and meeting with the president of Ukraine and his top prosecutor, within a couple of days of that meeting, the Manafort cases get taken away from the anti-corruption guys and move to be basically under the purview of the president.
And people in Ukraine were mad about this. This was the headline in the "Kiev Post" when it happened. Quote, black ledger investigation appears to come to a halt. Quote, after a year of investigation by Ukrainian law enforcement, the case of the black ledger, a secret hand written list of $2 billion of shady payments by the political party of the ousted Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych appears to have stalled.
When reports of the finding of the ledger first surfaced last year, the scandal led to the resignation of the chairman of Donald Trump's presidential election campaign team, Paul Manafort, whose name was found in the ledger next to the sums of hundreds of thousands of dollars. But the anti-corruption prosecutor's office of Ukraine has now passed the anti- corruption documents to the special investigations department of the prosecutor general's office.
And, of course, I mean, different prosecutor's offices, we don't know. From here you how do we know how to judge the various equities or proprieties of the different types of offices in the country? We don't know, but they do.
As David Ignatius points out, a former senior security official in Ukraine was quoted at the time explaining what exactly it meant that these Manafort prosecutions were moved from the anti-corruption folks to this other office under the president. Quote: The fact the black ledger case was passed to the prosecutor general's office means it will from now on be under political control, he said. He said, quote, it is clear for me that somebody gave an order to bury the black ledger.
And then presto, interesting. Rudy gets his meeting, the Manafort cases get dropped, get buried. And then less than a week later, the Ukrainian president gets his White House meeting, the one that the Ukrainian presidency has been trying for fruitlessly for months, it instantly comes through as soon as those Manafort cases are shelved, right?
So, a new administration is sworn in here. Ukrainians can't get anywhere with the new administration. Giuliani goes over there and meet with the president and prosecutor. Within a week, actually, the "Kiev Post" says within two days of that Giuliani meeting, the Paul Manafort cases got put under political control. They get disappeared in Ukraine, along with any help that Ukrainian prosecutors might have been providing to U.S. prosecutors, the special counsel's office, right, which was right then gearing up to the charge Manafort with multiple felonies as part of Robert Mueller's special counsel investigation.
That all goes away right after the Giuliani meeting and within two weeks of Giuliani meeting and the submarining of the Manafort cases, presto, the Ukrainian president gets his White House meeting he couldn't get anywhere near for months before that.
Again, this is new from "The Washington Post" columnist David Ignatius. The reporter who broke the Mike Flynn talking to the Russian story back in January 2017 before anybody else. This is Ignatius writing on the editorial page that broke the Ukraine scandal that has now led to impeachment proceedings against the president, and here he argues it looks like this may be round 2.
You know, President Trump working with Rudy Giuliani, the extortion of the government of Ukraine, getting them to do things to help Trump in exchange for something that country desperately wanted and needed from the U.S. government.
And just one last point on this. You might remember that last year, there was a "New York Times" report. We actually talked about it on the last couple of months here on the show. It was a report from "The New York Times" last may which suggested that when Ukraine dropped those Manafort cases and they stopped helping the special counsel's office here with their own investigation of Manafort, "The Times" reporting suggested last year when they shelved those Manafort cases, Ukrainians were not only in the words of one Ukrainian lawyer doing that in an effort to, quote, avoid irritating the top American officials, they were also doing it they believed because they were trying to secure the delivery of Javelin missiles from the United States that they wanted to use in their war against Russia.
The Ukraine government for some reason appears to have believed at that time that dropping the cases against Manafort would not only avoid irritating top U.S. officials, it would also facilitate the delivery of those missiles from the U.S. government. Well, in the end, they did kill the Manafort cases. They did stop helping the special counsel here when they were looking into Manafort. After doing so, they now all of a sudden we now know did get their White House meeting for their president that they previously couldn't get. And they did finally get the delivery of those Javelin missiles that they previously couldn't get.
And Giuliani was taking meetings in Ukraine and talking to the president of that country and its prosecutors all through the middle of that. Does that sound familiar or what? Was that round one? Was that the dress rehearsal on how to extort stuff to help Trump out of Ukraine? And it got away with it in 2017, and when they tried to get away with it this year, too many people saw them and squawked? I mean, is the reason that Trump thought this was a perfect call and this was all fine is because he's done it before and got away with it, so he thought it was legal?
This question is now being raised by a well-connected columnist writing on a piece of journalistic real estate that has broken a lot of these kinds of stories already.
And I'll just tell you one final point about it, it kind of looks like the impeachment investigators on Capitol Hill may be onto this already. And I'm saying that based on one little tiny short piece of tape. Watch this.
This is Congressman Gerry Connolly, senior member of the Oversight Committee and the Foreign Affairs Committee, coming out of the sealed hearing room where they've been taking these closed door depositions for weeks now. This is him on Wednesday popping his head out in the middle of these closed door depositions, and he basically gives reporters a hint as to where some of this might be going.
He says to them first off camera and as best as we can tell, the reporters can't quite believe it or they at least want to get him on the record about it. So they ask Connolly to please repeat it, please say it again this time on camera so they say it again on camera and on the record. Watch what he tells them.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Do you want to speak on camera briefly? Just what you told them.
REP. GERRY CONNOLLY (D-VA): If I were an enterprising reporter, I would spend little time on the issue of javelin missiles.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Why? Why?
CONNOLLY: Being an enterprising reporter.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: If I were an enterprising reporter, I would spend a little time on the issue of javelin missiles. OK. Agreed, agreed. Here we go. Now watch this space.
MADDOW: So we now tonight have the first invitation for testimony by a member of the president's cabinet in the ongoing impeachment inquiry. Energy Secretary Rick Perry has been described in reporting and in witness testimony as one of three people in the Trump administration who was working an alternate channel of diplomacy and foreign policy and maybe extortion involving the nation of Ukraine. It was Rick Perry along with the president's special envoy to Ukraine, Kurt Volker, and the ambassador to the European Union for some reason, Gordon Sondland.
So it was Rick and Kurt and Gordon, and they called themselves the "three amigos". How much do you want to bet it was Perry who came up with that name?
Secretary Perry announced his resignation as energy secretary last month. But tonight, "The Wall Street Journal" says that an invitation for him to testify has gone out. They want him to testify next week in the impeachment inquiry. "The New York Times" says Secretary Perry's chief of staff has also been called in for testimony but in his case, it's not a request, it's a subpoena.
A spokesperson for Secretary Perry tonight says he won't testify in closed session, though he might consider showing from a public hearing with his lawyer. That may not be all his choice, honestly, but we'll see.
This call for Energy Secretary Perry to come in and testify is just the latest sign that the impeachment proceedings are getting very much into the echelon of people who are closest to the president, and that has some interesting consequences for what happens next.
That story is next. Stay with us.
MADDOW: Another subpoena went out today from the impeachment inquiry for a senior White House lawyer named John Eisenberg. Eisenberg is the lawyer who reportedly tucked away the transcript of the president's call with the leader of Ukraine in late July, tucked into a super high security server after being told by Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman who heard the call that the president had done something wrong on that call. Eisenberg responded by tucking that -- the call notes away in that weird place that they shouldn't have otherwise gone.
Politico.com advanced that story today with reporting that after Eisenberg put the call notes in that special secure server, Eisenberg went back to Colonel Vindman and told him that Vindman needed to not discuss it with anybody else. "The Washington Post" further reporting tonight that Colonel Vindman said he got instruction to keep quiet and not tell anybody about the secret server move not immediately after the stuff got put into the server but a couple of days later, after White House lawyers learned that there was an anonymous whistleblower complaint complaining about what the president had done on that call.
Quote, Eisenberg asked Vindman whether Vindman had spoken to other officials about his concerns and then he instructed Vindman not to have any further conversations about the matter.
Did you tell anybody else about this? Don't tell anybody about this. Don't tell what the president did wrong and don't tell anybody what I did to cover them.
There's also the question of how Mr. Eisenberg moved the transcript of that call under the server. Interesting reporting today from the "Associated Press". Quote: Eisenberg couldn't have actually moved the document to the more secure system himself. That raises the question as to what reasons were given for needing it to be moved.
So, when the guy goes move notes from the call, he gets told the president did something wrong on that call. OK, we'll put it on the secret server. Now, you, don't tell anybody what was wrong or don't tell anybody I put it on the secret server. Now, I need somebody's help to put them on the server.
Why I do need -- now I need you guys to do this, but here's why. I mean, if reasons had to be given to other people who then had to help him put the transcript on the secret server, well presumably that means there are not only other witnesses, presumably that means there's a document to re-trail about who pushed what buttons, about what the chain of custody was, about who made this decision under what supposed terms and who was involved. And that gets to be difficult territory historically in a hurry.
I mean, we look back at the Watergate investigation now as having led to the resignation of a president, and that is huge. But, you know, along the way, dozens of other people were criminally indicted.
When people other than the president get in trouble, get caught for covering up the president's wrongdoing, how does that change the course of an impeachment overall? How does that affect the outcome for those individual players? But how does it affect the scandal and overall momentum and reach of the impeachment proceedings?
I know just the guy to ask. Joining us now is Michael Beschloss, NBC News presidential historian. Mr. Beschloss, it is great to see you. Thank you so much for being here tonight.
MICHAEL BESCHLOSS, BNC NEWS PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: Thank you. Great to see you, Rachel.
MADDOW: So, let me ask you ability that basic question. From the very beginning, from the whistle-blower's complaint we knew there were serious allegations but also about actions in the White House to it seems cover it up to make sure evidence of the president's behavior wasn't easily accessible.
Does that -- is there something in history we should see in terms of giving us some echoes or giving us some things to watch for how those two different sides of this might interact?
BESCHLOSS: Well, I think one echo of history, Rachel, would be the Watergate scandal with Nixon. And the way that the investigation really began was -- as you know, there was a break in at the Watergate, and one of the people who broke in was a guy named James McCord, and he wrote a letter to the judge saying that he was being pressured by people at the White House to say therapy involve in the break in.
And so, that led to investigation of others, people started testifying against one another. And in the end, finally, 69 people were indicted and 48 were convicted in the Watergate scandal. This is the way this happened. So, if there's a cover-up and an intensive investigation of what history suggests is that it may not last.
MADDOW: In terms of the sort of limits of that parallel, I think there are a lot of people right now who believe that Attorney General William Barr might be a worst-case scenario attorney general for public accountability for this kind of scandal. If William Barr is going to keep a clamp on the criminal justice process to make sure not only is the president protected but anybody around the president is protected, raises the question as to whether or not those kind of parallels could ever come to pass even if serious crimes are turned up by other people in the administration or around the president by this investigation.
If they don't get prosecuted, I suppose we're talking about the impeachment of other high ranking officials by the Congress and that might be as far as it goes?
BESCHLOSS: You never know. And this is going to be heavily scrutinized. And at the same time, as you well know, they're going to be public hearings with all sorts of people testifying. So, very much like with Watergate, you got people testifying in the public.
In that case, you had John Dean who went before the committee and said for the first time I had first-hand knowledge that the person in charge of the Watergate cover-up was Richard Nixon, or you had Alexander Butterfield going before the committee on TV saying no one knew this but the president was taping his conversations. And on those tapes would be evidence on whether he's done things like abuse power or obstruct justice.
So, we're just about to see this. And anybody who predicts at the beginning they could know how this could end up is someone who's not listening to history.
MADDOW: Michael Beschloss, NBC presidential historian, the author of "Presidents of War", which is out now in paperback, somebody who keeps us always listening to history -- sir, it's great to have you here. It's nice to have you, Michael.
BESCHLOSS: Oh, thank you so much. Congratulations on "Blowout."
MADDOW: Oh, thank you for saying so. OK. See you later. Back in a minute.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BETO O'ROURKE (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We have to clearly see at this point that we do not have the means to pursue this campaign successfully. And that my service will not be as a candidate nor as a nominee of this party for the presidency.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Former Texas Congressman Beto O'Rourke in Iowa tonight announcing that he is dropping out of the presidential race, and that means, sorry, former Texas Congressman Beto O'Rourke, I've got to do this -- three, two, one, poof.
Joining us now is MSNBC national correspondent Steve Kornacki.
Steve, thank you very much for being here tonight. Good to see you.
STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Glad to be here. You too.
MADDOW: So, Beto O'Rourke, a lot of excitement when he got into the race. Do you expect his leaving the race to have consequences for any other candidate?
KORNACKI: Yes, I was looking at the polling that's out there. The reality is by the end, he was at 1, 2 percent in these polls.
KORNACKI: You start to try to break that down and see where it's coming from, really hard to tell. The best thing I could say is it looks like it's more from the younger end of the spectrum than the older end.
The candidate who's been struggling the most with younger voters, Joe Biden, so maybe it's good news for anybody not named Biden. But realistically at the level that O'Rourke was at the end here, it's hard to see him having a measurable impact, just because his support was low.
MADDOW: His trajectory like in raw political science terms was very different than every other candidate here. He came out of this Gonzo Texas Senate campaign where he got reasonably close to knocking off an incumbent Republican senator in Texas. Got a huge amount of attention from liberals nationwide, but also from the press.
I presume that that gave him an interesting fund-raising base, when he started, particularly at the beginning, when he still had the momentum from that Senate race. Is that true?
KORNACKI: I think anybody presumed that.
KORNACKI: With fundraising and actual support. I mean, it's hard to remember now when he first got in this race, he had measurably, you know, double digit support nationally. And it was -- you know, he'd run a Senate campaign, yes, but that was a national campaign for all intents and purposes.
KORNACKI: The money that was coming in, the media attention that he was getting.
And what was he doing in Texas in 2018? He was chasing one of these great unfulfilled dreams nationally -- flipping Texas blue, defeating Ted Cruz, in Donald Trump's presidency, all these sort of sweet spots for Democrats I think were kind of hit when they look at Beto O'Rourke in 2018. But then you turn around and the contrast for him in 2019 is not Ted Cruz in Texas. It's all -- it's been Elizabeth Warren. It's been Cory Booker.
KORNACKI: It's been Pete Buttigieg.
It just -- he -- I think it plays differently in that context than last year's.
MADDOW: Do you -- it sounds like he's not going to run for Senate in 2020. There is a Senate seat in Texas in up in 2020.
MADDOW: Do you think that's wise?
KORNACKI: Yes. Well, think about the play he made over the last few months as his campaign started to lose support he became much more outspoken, especially on guns.
KORNACKI: This idea -- when he said, I'm coming for your guns. I think there was a sense maybe there was a national Democratic primary electorate that might resonate with. It doesn't look like it really did much. But to turn around and try to win statewide in Texas with some of the things he said in this campaign, it might be tricky.
Texas, I know Democrats think it could go blue in 2020, there's a possibility it could, but Texas still on some of these issues where he really staked out bold positions, he might have gone in directions that could complicate that.
MADDOW: MSNBC national political correspondent, Steve Kornacki, great to see you, my friend.
KORNACKI: You too, Rachel.
MADDOW: You're here at 11:00 tonight?
KORNACKI: Absolutely, yes.
MADDOW: All right. We'll see you there. Steve Kornacki will be back tonight at 11:00 on "THE 11TH HOUR."
We'll be right back.
MADDOW: I told you this was going to be an exhausting week. It has been an exhausting week. That means you have to have a good weekend and rest up because next week is probably going to be worse.
All right. We'll see you again on Monday.
Now it's time for "THE LAST WORD" where Ali Velshi is in for Lawrence tonight.
Good evening, Ali.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END