DAVID JOLLY, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: And he`s got the president where he wants him. I think the American people are going to learn a lot starting next week about the president and about Republicans.
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: Neera Tanden --
NEERA TANDEN, CEO, CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS: Yes, I would just say I would expect public opinion to move against the president after the public --
HAYES: That is the big test. I`m really curious if that happens.
Neera Tanden, David Jolly, thank you both for being with me.
That is ALL IN for this evening.
"THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW" starts right now.
Good evening, Rachel.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Chris, I`ve just been advised the cow is now suing you asserting you this whole fake cow thing is defamation --
HAYES: Another bovine lawsuit. I`ve already got a list full of them.
MADDOW: I`ve got a hotline, baby.
Thank you, my friend. Much appreciate it.
And thanks to you at home for joining us this hour. Happy Wednesday.
Since Donald Trump was elected president November 2016, there have been ten state legislative houses, either state senates or statehouses that are flipped in terms of which party controls them. The first one was in Washington state. The Senate there flipped from Republican control to Democratic control.
And then all on one night, election night, 2018, the Colorado Senate flipped, the Maine Senate flipped, the Minnesota House flipped, the New Hampshire House flipped, the Connecticut Senate flipped and the New York Senate all flipped, and all of them flipped from Republican control to Democratic control.
And then last night, the first call we got from the "Associated Press" at 9:29 Eastern Time was that the Virginia Senate would also flip, also from Republican control to Democratic control. And then after I got off the air for the first iteration of our show last night, the "A.P." made the call not just for the Virginia Senate but the Virginia house as well.
And so what that means is since Donald Trump has been president in all in eight different states, the House or the Senate in the state legislator, ten state legislative houses overall have flipped party control, since Trump has been president. And every single one of them has flipped from Republican control to Democratic control. And that result last night with the whole Virginia legislator, both the House and the Senate, flipping from Republican control to Democratic control while Democrats also control the governorship in the state of Virginia, not just going to have a huge impact in terms of policy and priorities in the state of Virginia, you`re now going to have Democratic controlled government in the state of Virginia.
After the courts repeatedly struck down electoral maps that the Republicans had drawn in Virginia, when they had control of legislator, after courts repeatedly struck down those Republican drawn maps for being discriminatory at one level or another, what happened last night in Virginia with Democrats taking both houses of had legislator, it also means that Republicans aren`t going to have another shot at trying to rig the electoral maps in their state to ensure that Republicans win even when they get far fewer votes.
So, Virginia is going to be a big, big change in terms of policy and in terms of House districts and in terms of future legislative districts. That result last night in Virginia was a big deal. A big hairy consequential deal, and it was a surprise.
We were also up late last night watching the returns roll in the Kentucky governor`s race where NBC News fairly last evening declared that the Democrat in the race, Andy Beshear, would be the apparent winner over incumbent Republican Governor Matt Bevin. Now, as of today, as of right now, Matt Bevin is still not conceding that race. He`s demanding all of the votes be re-canvassed which is not exactly the same thing as a recount. It basically means they tally the votes again.
Nobody`s quite sure if Bevin is going to ultimately demand a recount and if that`s going to happen. Nobody is quite sure how this can work out in Kentucky. There`s a few weird off-ramps they could take through the state legislator or through state government in Kentucky if they want to do that. But if Bevin insists on not conceding, it`s uncertain how this proceeds.
With all precincts reporting, it looks like Andy Beshear beat Matt Bevin by more than 5,000 votes. You can see the vote total difference at the bottom of your screen there. But Bevin is saying he won`t step down, he won`t concede he`s been beaten, and so, we shall see.
There was another governor`s race last night as well, which is in the great state of Mississippi. Republicans are able to celebrate if nothing else from last night, they`re able to celebrate the fact they were able to hold onto the governorship in Mississippi last night. It should be noted for context that Mississippi is a state that Donald Trump won by 28 points. Last night the Republican candidate for governor who president Trump campaigned for in person right up to Election Day, he was only able to pull off a single digit 5-point victory in that state where Trump had just romped to victory not long before.
So last night`s off-year elections are exciting to Democrats. Right, even in a deep red state like Mississippi where they didn`t quite pull it off in terms of the top race in the state, last night`s election results are energizing to Democrats for obvious reasons. And for converse reasons, the same results I`m sure made today feel pretty overcast, pretty cloudily from the point of view of, say, the Republican Party broadly, the Republican controlled White House looking ahead to 2020, specifically the West Wing in that White House where there sits Republican president Donald Trump staring down the start of his re-election campaign and his simultaneous impeachment in Washington.
Today was a remarkable day on that front. You will recall that one of President Trump`s personal lawyers, Michael Cohen, his long time personal lawyer, is already serving time in federal prison as we speak. And remember the day we first reported that Mr. Cohen had retained his own lawyer. The president`s lawyer had to get a criminal defense lawyer for himself. That seemed like a bad sign at the time. Indeed it turned out to be a bad sign since Michael Cohen is now in prison.
I don`t know what you have to call it, though, when you have to report that same thing for a second time. But tonight, we can report that the president`s new personal lawyer, the one who isn`t in prison tonight, he too has had to hire his own criminal defense lawyer. That was the news that we got today about the president`s current personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani. Rudy Giuliani has hired his own criminal defense lawyer now.
And of all the lawyers in the world that Rudy Giuliani could have hired, it turns out, sure, why not? He hired the guy who had been Michael Cohen`s criminal defense lawyer back in the day. Despite the fact that that worked out with Michael Cohen ultimately going to prison, it`s like there`s only ten of these guys in the world, like really?
Michael Cohen`s is the president`s other personal lawyer. He`s in jail. You`re hiring his lawyer? First of all you both had to get criminal defense lawyers. You both decided to get the same one?
It`s like literally there`s ten of these guys and they`re all like in each other`s indictments. Hey, person one, hey, individual one, right? Maybe someday they`ll open a wing for them in the federal prison system. The commissary will all be like Trump themed. I`ll trade you a baseball hat for an extra long tie.
But as the president`s personal lawyer, yet another one of them had to get his own criminal defense lawyer today. We also got big impeachment proceedings in -- big developments in the impeachment proceedings against the president on Capitol Hill. First of all, a senior State Department witness showed up to testify today. That`s notable because the White House and State Department have told everybody they can`t testify, they`re not allowed to testify in the impeachment committees, so every time a currently serving administration official does show up anyway in defiance of those instructions, it sort of changes the dynamic a little bit in terms of those instructions, in terms of how everybody else in the administration is going to treat their subpoenas, and whether or not that White House instruction that they shouldn`t testify is seen as binding or more binding than a lawful congressional subpoena.
The witness who, surprise, did show up and testify today for more than six hours is David Hale. He`s the number three official at the U.S. State Department. Unlike some other officials who have testified to the impeachment committees, we didn`t receive a prepared opening statement in Mr. Hale`s remarks, so at this point we don`t know much about what he said.
We do, however, as of today know quite a bit about the recent and explosive testimony from another senior State Department official, Ambassador Bill Taylor. He was the first witness to lay out in clear detail how this whole scheme worked for the president and Rudy Giuliani were demanding investigations to be announced by Ukraine, investigations that could help Trump in his re-election effort and in order to pressure Ukraine to handing those investigations over, to announcing those investigations, the core elements of American foreign policy towards that country were put on the line. Things like a White House meeting for their new president, even military assistance that had been ordered by law, by Congress.
Bill Taylor is the first one who laid that out in detail and crucially told the impeachment committees that he takes copious contemporaneous notes and had documentation to back up a lot of what it said.
Well, today, the intelligence committee released more than 300 pages of verbatim testimony from Bill Taylor, from his closed door deposition several weeks ago. They also simultaneously announced that Bill Taylor will be a witness at the first public hearing of the impeachment proceedings against Donald J. Trump. That first public hearing is now on the calendar. It`s going to be a week from today.
Ambassador Bill Taylor and another senior State Department official named George Kent, they`re going to be the first public testimony in the impeachment proceedings a week from today. And then two days later, next Friday, there will be a second public impeachment hearing, and that one will feature testimony from the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch, the one who was called from that post and sort of inexplicably fired essentially it seems to get her out of the way so Rudy Giuliani and President Trump could pursue her scream in Ukraine, the scheme in which the president is being impeached and presumably Mr. Giuliani has obtained his own criminal defense counsel.
The closed door depositions are continuing for now. Other people have been asked to testify, some people have been subpoenaed to testify. Most of those people who have been summoned to give more closed door depositions, we expect them not to show up I guess at this point on orders from the White House. Although with each day, you never know who`s actually going to turn up.
I`ll tell you one of the witnesses who`s been asked to testify behind closed doors who is expected to show up is somebody whose I am really interested in. And she`s going to be testifying tomorrow. She`s not a big name. She`s not a high profile person, but I`ll tell you why I`m super interested in her testimony tomorrow. We`ll get to that a little later on in tonight`s show.
But as they sort of finish up with these closed door depositions, the first public impeachment hearings are on the calendar now. So here we go, and remarkably, simultaneous to all of that, today, in federal court in Washington, D.C., they finished jury selection and started opening statements in the trial of the president`s long time friend and oldest political advisor, a man who`s gone to great lengths to make him seem too ridiculous for serious news coverage, a man named Roger Stone.
Now, whether or not you`re interested in Mr. Stone himself, and speaking from personal experience I can say that interest is hard to sustain on a personal level -- no offense. I just don`t care.
But the reason Mr. Stone is being prosecuted and the way prosecutors are carrying out this case that started today in federal court is like forget Roger Stone. I mean, yes, his criminal liability here is of interest, but forget Roger Stone. The case is about something way bigger than that, and we`ve known that was a possibility when we first saw the charges against stone in the way they laid out the case against him in the indictment, but I did not expect it to be like this in court today.
Just listen to this. We got the transcript today. I had no faith we would get it in time for tonight`s show, same day that it happened, right?
But just before I came down to the studio and we got on the air tonight, we got the transcript of what happened today in court. So I have marked it up. Let me just lay it out here in terms of how the prosecutors are making this case because you can tell what it`s about, and you do not have to care about Roger Stone to recognize this is big freaking hairy deal.
All right, here`s how the opening statement starts. The judge says, all right, you can proceed. She says that to the prosecutor, Aaron Zelinsky. And now, this is Aaron Zelinsky talking. You may recognize this name. He was one of the prosecutors who worked on the Mueller investigation.
Here`s Zelinsky. He says, quote: We are here today because one man obstructed Congress` investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. In a critical investigation of national importance, the defendant, Roger Stone, repeatedly lied under oath to a congressional committee and then tampered with a witness to cover up his tracks. Now, you`ll hear that in 2016, the Democratic National Committee, which is the organization that runs the Democratic Party of the United States, they announced their computer system had been hacked by the Russian government.
You`ll hear not long after that a website called WikiLeaks began to release thousands of e-mails that were related to the DNC. After WikiLeaks began releasing these DNC e-mails, you`ll also hear that the defendant, Roger Stone, started bragging he was in contact with WikiLeaks and he knew what WikiLeaks` plans were. At the time, the defendant`s long time friend and associate, Donald Trump, was running for president of the United States against Hillary Clinton. And the defendant, Roger Stone, thought that those e-mails would help his friend Trump, and they would hurt Clinton.
So you`ll hear in August of 2016 that Mr. Stone proclaimed over and over and over again that he was in contact with WikiLeaks, and that he had information about what was coming. And you`ll hear that Mr. Stone publicly said that he knew this information because he had an intermediary, a go- between, somebody that he was talking to that was talking to the head of WikiLeaks.
One year later, you`ll hear the United States Congress and particularly the House Intelligence Committee was undertaking an investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. And because of the allegation that Russia was responsible for the hacking of the DNC`s server and the e-mails that were subsequently released by WikiLeaks, the intelligence committee focused on WikiLeaks and they focused on Roger Stone.
And the Intelligence Committee wanted to know what information Stone had gotten from WikiLeaks, how he`d gotten it, and who he was talking to the Trump campaign about it.
Now, Roger Stone you`ll hear testified to the committee under oath on September 26, 2017, and you`ll hear when Mr. Stone testified, he told the committee five categories of lies.
That`s the preamble, that`s how he starts. In terms of the five categories of lies, Stone is facing seven felony counts altogether, one of them is witness tampering. That carries a 20-year potential prison term. I`ll just mention, just in case any members of the United States are listening right now. Witness tampering carries a potential 20-year prison term.
In addition to that, he`s facing five counts of lying to Congress and a count of obstruction to justice. Each of those come with a five years of their own. But the prosecution goes through at the outset all of the categories of lies that Roger Stone is alleged to have told under oath. First category is this, the second category is this, and the third category is this.
And the final category of lies they describe him as telling is this: quote, the last lie Roger Stone told the committee was about the Trump campaign. He was asked by the committee whether he`d ever discussed what he learned from his intermediary with the Trump campaign and Roger Stone told him he hadn`t. You`ll hear that Roger Stone discussed what he was learning with the senior levels of the Trump campaign. You might ask why didn`t Roger Stone just tell the truth to the Intelligence Committee?
The evidence in this case will show that Stone lied to the Intelligence Committee because the truth looked bad. The truth looked bad for the Trump campaign, and the truth looked bad for Roger -- excuse me, and the truth looked bad for Donald Trump.
So this is a case about Roger Stone. But the prosecution made clear there in their opening statement that the reason Stone lied in the prosecutor`s telling, the reason he`s on trial right now for these felony counts is because he couldn`t tell the truth, because -- and I quote, the truth looked bad for Donald Trump.
This is a case about the president. I mean, it`s about Roger Stone but it`s about the president. And it`s in part, you know, while the house is already in the midst of impeachment proceedings against the president, this case that started today in criminal court in Washington is about in part whether President Trump`s sworn written statements about Roger Stone were true. Whether his sworn written statements about what he knew about what Stone was doing, whether he was any part of that, this case in part is about whether the president`s written answers might themselves have been illegal false statements.
Back to Zelinsky here. Quote, just after Stone got this message about new expected dumps of stolen information about the Democrats, Roger Stone e- mailed the chairman of the Trump campaign Paul Manafort. Paul Manafort wasn`t just the chairman of the Trump campaign but also a long time friend of Roger Stone.
Stone wrote to Manafort on August 3rd, he had an idea in his words to, forgive me, save Trump`s ass, and he asks Manafort call him. You`ll also hear that Roger Stone e-mailed the Trump campaign CEO, Steve Bannon, and when Stone emailed Bannon, he told Bannon that Trump could still win, but time was running out. And he said he knew how to win this, but, quote, it ain`t pretty.
Roger Stone knew how to win this, and he was telling that to the Trump campaign CEO, but his way in his own words, quote, ain`t pretty.
Now at the same time in August, you`ll hear Roger Stone was bragging. He was bragging publicly and bragging loudly and bragging repeatedly that he was in contact with WikiLeaks. That he had a go` between that was telling him information about what was coming, that he had an intermediary.
Stone regularly updated people in the Trump campaign at the senior levels about whatever information he thought he had about WikiLeaks.
Now, make no mistake Roger Stone could have easily told the truth to the intelligence committee. Stone could have testified he had many e-mails and texts about WikiLeaks and Julian Assange. Including the ones you see here today. He could have said he had the messages with Steve Bannon, with Paul Manafort, with Randy Credico, with Jerome Corsi about Julian Assange.
Roger Stone could have told the truth that he told Corsi to get to Assange and get the pending WikiLeaks e-mails and that he then told Corsi to have an associate of theirs get to Julian Assange, and Roger Stone could have told the house intelligence committee that in fact Corsi had responded back to him and told him there would be, quote, dumps coming in October, impact planned to be very damaging.
And Stone could have told the committee he had all of this in writing, in his e-mail accounts and his text messages at the time of his testimony. Stone could have told the committee the truth that he asked to pass along a question to Julian Assange, that he requested information from Assange about whether or not he had e-mails concerning Hillary Clinton and Libya.
And Stone could have told the committee that he spoke with Steve Bannon and others about what he was learning regarding WikiLeaks. Stone could have truthfully stated that he had hundreds of messages, emails, texts, that would show the truth of what happened in 2016, that he had many written records that could help the committee establish what actually happened.
But Roger Stone didn`t do that. He didn`t even come close. Instead he repeatedly lied to the House Intelligence Committee. He did it because if he had told the truth, as he said before, it wasn`t pretty, it would look bad. And so instead he told these lies.
Roger Stone did all of this to obstruct an investigation by the House Intelligence Committee into Russian interference in the 2016 election. The committee was undertaking a critical investigation about an important moment in our nation`s history. The House Intelligence Committee was trying to learn the truth about what had happened in the 2016 election, and Roger Stone, he was doing his best to stop it.
And that is why after you`ve listened to all the evidence in this case and you`ve examined the documents and heard the witnesses, we are confident that you will return the only verdict justified on these facts, a verdict of guilty on all counts. Thank you.
So the president`s being impeached. Just in the past few minutes, I am advised that "The Washington Post" has just reported that the president asked the attorney general, Bill Barr, to hold a press conference saying the president did nothing wrong on the president`s phone call to Ukraine for which he`s now being impeached. The attorney general, yes that Attorney General Bill Barr, according to "The Washington Post" tonight reportedly turned the president down and said he would not hold such a press conference.
Also tonight, the president`s personal lawyer has just hired his own criminal defense lawyer. Same defense lawyer the president`s first personal lawyer used to have, but he`s freed up now because the other guy who used to be the president`s personal lawyer is already in prison, so his lawyers are available.
The public impeachment hearings are going to start next week. And, and, and, and -- and in a courtroom in Washington, D.C., as of today, prosecutors are finally litigating for the first time not just the obstruction of the Russia investigation, right, but for the first time they are finally litigating what the president knew about Russia`s interference to help his campaign and when he knew it. They`re finally litigating that question while he`s already being impeached for something else.
Other than that, totally normal Wednesday, right?
We`ll be right back. Stay with us.
MADDOW: One of the things that has been interesting and actually quite unique about covering this presidency is that this president has had a terrible time of it in court. From the earliest day of his administration no matter how many judges he appoints and he seems to think that`s his way out of it, but he just loses case after case after case on policy, on his tax returns, right? Now, he has impeachment to worry about in Congress and multiple criminal cases related to his administration, included related to the impeachment playing out in court.
But just in the past few weeks, something truly astounding happened in court even by the standards of this remarkable administration. A judge within the last few weeks threatened to send a Trump cabinet member to jail. The judge told the Trump cabinet secretary, quote, there have to be some consequences for the violation of my order 16,000 times.
The judge continued, quote, I`m not sending anyone to jail yet, but it`s good to know I have that ability.
Somehow I do not think that Education Secretary Betsy DeVos envisioned herself wearing a polyester jumpsuit eating baloney sandwiches when she signed up to be education secretary, but she made a federal judge mad enough to threaten it, mad enough to eventually hold Secretary Betsy DeVos in contempt of court and to fine her $100,000 for her going ahead with a policy that the court had ordered her department to stop.
We have some context for you tonight on how it is that a Trump cabinet member got that close to jail. The story is about one of the country`s largest chains of for-profit colleges. That chain of colleges was basically to bottom line it a total scam. They recruited largely poor and minority applicants by lying about how successful their programs were and the kinds of job placements they`d get, and they sent those recruits to go get student loans from the federal government.
Colleges ultimately benefitted from that, right? The government lends that money to the students. The students then pay it to that scam for-profit college. So the colleges collect all the money. The graduates are left with worthless degrees and a big student loan debt to pay back to the government.
Some students never even got the degree because the colleges went bankrupt in 2015 and shut their doors in one days notice. The Obama administration tried to do something to help those scammed students. The Obama education department said to those students, listen, those colleges, those fake colleges were so bad, we are not going to make this problem worse for you. We are going to forgive your student loan debt if you got duped by one of those schools. You can petition the federal government for relief from the debt that you got scammed into because that money shouldn`t go to those schools and you shouldn`t be on the hook for it even though it did.
That was how the Obama administration handled this crisis. Then came the Trump administration and a new education secretary, Betsy DeVos. She had a very different idea.
And so, her top lawyer at the education department came up with a memo describing what would be the policy change on this matter under the Trump administration. And we have obtained that memo here tonight.
This is the memo. It`s from December 2017, and what it says basically is actually some of these scammed for-profit college students should pay back their loans, they should be on the hook for that money. The idea as laid out in this memo is that the students must have gotten some benefit from these scam schools. If the department could show that these people ended up working in jobs that paid them more than if they had not gone to the school on average looking at it statistically, in this memo, the department claimed to have devised a formula for measuring just that.
Well, how did that magic formula they came up with work out? One former student claimed she finished the course of study at this scam for-profit college. She never got a diploma because the company suddenly without warning went bankrupt. But she nevertheless tried to get a job in her field and she discovered that the college had not actually given her the required training to get a job in her field at all.
But the Trump Education Department under Betsy DeVos, through its magic formula, determined that eligible student -- that that student was eligible to only have 20 percent of her loan forgiven. Eighty percent of her education according to their new formula had actually been quite useful but she got neither the diploma nor training necessary to get a job in her field, they still wanted 80 percent of the money.
And even without those painful consequences for the students, even setting aside how this worked out in practice, a federal judge looked at this new policy of the Trump administration and declared it illegal, determined that this whole formula they`d come up with had serious problems. For one, it depended on the government taking private information about these students in a way that the judge said was a violation of the law. And so, the judge ordered Betsy DeVos and her education department to stop collecting money from these students and to stop using that illegal formula, and Betsy DeVos and her Education Department ignored the judge`s order.
They didn`t exactly ignore it, but they didn`t stop collecting money from the students. Thousands of students were told they still needed to make payments on those loans from the scam colleges, and their credit scores got dinged, and their paychecks got garnished and their tax refunds got seized.
This Department of Education policy, the department`s determination to keep going with the policy despite the court order striking it down -- I mean, it materially hurt these real Americans who had already been injured, right? This damage was painful, it was personal. And they did it thousands of times. Thousands of people hurt after the court told the Education Department and Betsy DeVos to stop doing this, this illegal policy they had devised.
And that`s why the judge fined the education secretary a $100,000 and threatened to put her in jail. The $100,000, the judge said, should go toward trying to ameliorate the harm done to these former students by DeVos and by the department violating the judge`s order. Well, this memo laying out this policy under the Trump Education Department. This memo that we have obtained tonight, the thing that lays out the new formula for collecting money from these scammed students, its policy that got smacked down by a judge who then held the department and its cabinet secretaries in contempt, this memo came from the guy who at the time was the top lawyer at the Education Department.
He has a name. His name is Steven Menashi. He`s no longer at the Education Department. He now works at the White House, and President Trump has nominated him for a lifetime seat on the Federal Appeals Court, just one level below the Supreme Court.
The Senate Judiciary Committee scheduled a vote on his nomination tomorrow morning. But here`s the thing, Mr. Menashi`s nomination appears already to be in trouble. If they do vote on him tomorrow, that would be the third effort they`ve made to try to call a vote on him.
His nomination keeps getting kicked. It keeps getting rolled over to new date after new date, because he is one of Donald Trump`s most controversial nominees which is saying something given the roster Donald Trump has tried to turn into judges. We`ve talked about Mr. Menashi before on the show and paper trail left of his own writing.
For example on an Italian prime minister`s proclamation of the superiority of Western civilization over Islam. Mr. Menashi says, quote: Mr. Berlusconi did nothing other than state the obvious, the obvious inferiority of Islam.
He also wrote how offensive it was to him that the Matthew Shepard murder got so much attention. That definitely didn`t need as much attention as it got.
He also opined on the movement against campus rape, against rape and sexual assault on college campuses. He said campus gynocentrists are throwing around these accusations but there`s no similar leeway for men.
And there`s of course his law review article entitled ethnonationalism and liberal democracy in which he argues, quote, the solidarity underlying democratic polities rests in large part on ethnic identification. Surely, it does not serve the cause of liberal democracy to ignore this reality. The article goes onto argue that ethnically heterogeneous societies, ethnically diverse societies have less good stuff in them when it comes to being a good democracy, a working polity. Ethnic heterogeneities, not ideal.
Just that stuff alone has been dragging behind the bumper of the Steven Menashi judicial nomination, like just married decoration made of anvils and millstones, right? He has expressed regret for some of his writings. But it`s all stuck to him in part because there`s so much of it.
The Senate Judiciary Committee has been voting very right wing judicial nominees right on through, but they`ve been holding up Steven Menashi, and they have this memo to consider, this education policy from Steven Menashi that proved disastrous for students and embarrassing and expensive and potentially incarcerating for our nation`s secretary of education.
We reached out to the White House with some questions for Mr. Menashi about this memo. We haven`t heard anything back from them. I`m telling you, though, I`m not taking it personally because they also apparently did not answer questions tonight from "The New York Times" which as of this evening is also reporting this story tonight. An excellent piece in "The New York Times" tonight from Erica Green who`s also obtained this memo.
I just read you the lead in Erica Green`s story on this tonight on "New York Times". Quote, a judicial nominee slated for Senate confirmation vote on Thursday, meaning tomorrow, helped device an illegal education department effort to deny debt relief to thousands of students cheated by their for-profit colleges. Well put.
Yeah, he devised this illegal effort, it resulted among other things in not only people illegally having their wages garnished and their tax returns seized and their credit scores dinged and all the rest of that, people who absolutely should not have been subjected to that, thousands of people. It also resulted in the secretary of that in jail time and hit with a $100,000 fine.
So, naturally, that`s the guy they`re putting from a lifetime appointment as a judge just one level below the Supreme Court. And on top of everything else that`s going on right now, the Senate Judiciary Committee is scheduled for now to be voting on Steven Menashi`s nomination tomorrow 10:00 a.m. Eastern. We`ll see. We`ll keep you posted.
MADDOW: Ambassador Bill Taylor, the top American diplomat in Ukraine, decades of diplomatic experience under presidents of both parties, when he was called to testify before the impeachment proceedings recently, we knew shortly after he showed up, when we got his opening statement we knew he would confirm that, yes, President Trump really did block military aid to Ukraine to get that country to gin up some dirt on his domestic political rivals. That quid pro quo plot line is very simple, very consistent across all the testimony from all the witnesses so far. Taylor is the one who first laid it out more clearly than anybody else.
Because that plot line is simple and direct and now been reiterated by all the other witnesses, I mean, to be honest you don`t necessarily need all the details that we got from the 324-page-long transcript of Bill Taylor`s testimony that the impeachment committees released today. But even if you don`t need it, you might want some of these details anyway.
For example, there`s this moment when Ambassador Taylor is describing the National Security Council having to convene a whole bunch of interagency meetings to try to figure out why the military aid to Ukraine is being held up. Taylor says in his testimony that literally everyone was in agreement that that military aid should be released without delay. The defense secretary, CIA director, national security advisor, everybody wants the aid released, so they`re all scheduling meetings trying to get the president to release this stuff, trying to figure it out.
But it turns out they were having trouble scheduling a meeting with the president to talk about this matter for a very specific reason. Taylor says, quote, I think this was about the time of the Greenland question, about purchasing Greenland which took up a lot of energy in the National Security Council. Chairman Adam Schiff, OK, that`s disturbing for a whole different reason.
The president is trying to shakedown a foreign leader for dirt on his political opponents, he`s holding up military aid to try to force them to do it, and his National Security Council can`t find the time to get him to stop doing that because they`re all too busy dealing with his stated efforts to buy a whole different country, to buy it. That`s -- that`s a good day at the Trump White House. So there`s that.
But then there`s also the human reaction from these witnesses who, again, are mostly long time public servants and experts in their field. At one point in his testimony, New York Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney asked Ambassador Bill Taylor, quote, what was your emotional reaction to these events? And Taylor got a pretty stunning response. He says, quote, I think Ukraine is objective important to the United States. The emotional piece is based on my time in Ukraine, in 2006, 2009 when traveling around the country I got to know Ukrainians and their frustrations and difficulties in those kinds of things.
And then coming back and seeing it now where they have an opportunity, they`ve got a young president, young prime minister, young parliament. The prime minister is 35 years old. This new government has appealed to young people so idealistic, so pro-West, so pro-United States, pro-Europe, that I feel an emotional attachment, bond, connection to this country and these people. I care about this country. I didn`t want to see it screwed up. I wanted to see it succeed.
Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney says, quote, and you didn`t want to see it screwed up by some political agenda coming from Washington, is that fair to say? Ambassador Taylor says, well, what I didn`t want to do is have U.S. assistance to Ukraine be blocked or suspended for no good reasons that I could see. And there are some bad reasons that I didn`t want to see that blocked.
Bill Taylor is going to be the first witness in the public testimony that has just been announced in the impeachment proceedings for one week from today.
Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney joins us next.
MADDOW: So, today, we got more than 300 pages of testimony transcript from the top diplomat in Ukraine, Bill Taylor. This is from his deposition in the impeachment proceedings, a deposition in which he laid out the story that has been confirmed now by witness after witness that the president held up military aid to Ukraine to try to get that country to gin up dirt on the president`s political opponents.
With everything else that`s been turned up during the course of these impeachment proceedings, that remains the core of what is happening here.
Joining us now is New York Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney. He`s a member of the Intelligence Committee.
Sir, thanks for being here. It`s nice to see you.
REP. SEAN PATRICK MALONEY (D-NY): My pleasure.
MADDOW: So public hearings start a week from today. How should we prepare for that as people are going to be watching this to try to figure out what`s happening overall with this story and what`s happening in terms of the president`s culpability?
MALONEY: Well, I think the transcripts are a great place to start. I mean, I know they`re long and they can be dense, but there`s a very important story there. It`s also a very sad story. It`s a story about failure at the highest levels of American political leadership.
It`s a story about advancing shabby political interests over our national security. If you actually care about the American government, if you spent your youth thinking we were capable of great things, it`s heartbreaking to read the conduct the American president engaged in. But it`s important. And Ambassador Taylor lays it out very clearly.
MADDOW: In terms of the remaining closed door depositions I know there was one today where a State Department official David Hale actually showed up. I know tomorrow you`re expecting to hear testimony from a person who worked in the vice president`s office. It`s the first time that I know that a vice presidential adjacent person will be speaking.
There was also a decision today to drop a subpoena for an official who had gone to court to try to have a judge decide whether or not he should obey the subpoena. Can you tell us anything about that decision?
MALONEY: Well, in the last case, the Kupperman subpoena as I understand it, the point is that we don`t want to do anything that would advance the strategy to delay through litigation when in the McGahn case, a separate case the judge is going to rule very quickly on the same question. About whether there is some blanket never heard before wall to wall immunity from the authority of Congress to do oversight on officials like this.
It`s a frivolous claim. It`s going to be disposed of earlier, and as I understand it that`s the point, to essentially take away Mr. Kupperman`s legal arguments and have them advance more quickly through the McGahn case.
MADDOW: In terms of his dramatic revision to his testimony we saw from Ambassador Sondland yesterday, it was a remarkable document saying I`ve had my recollection refreshed, I now recall things -- and basically what he discloses is that on the side lines of a meeting Vice President Pence had with the Ukrainian president where vice president pence said you`re not getting your military aid unless you give us these corruption actions that we want, corruption related actions we want, Sondland is now admitting he made clear what we mean is you`re not getting your military aid unless you announce those investigations.
Now, tomorrow, somebody from -- who works in the vice president`s office is going to be testifying. Is Vice President Pence one of the people who carried out this scheme for President Trump?
MALONEY: Well, I asked that question of some of the witnesses. I`m interested in that. He did meet with the president of Ukraine in Warsaw on September 1st. It`s on the seed lines of that meeting Ambassador Sondland delivered, the explicit quid pro quo to the key aide of the Ukrainian president, Mr. Yermak, who said you`re not getting anything, not the White House meeting, not the desperately needed security assistance until you issue an explicit statement which you negotiated with Giuliani saying Burisma, 2016 election, the Bidens are the heart of this thing.
And Sondland forgot that until 24 hours ago, but he`s an important piece of this puzzle. And it`s good he`s aligning his testimony with what has been corroborated by other witnesses and documents. It`s an important piece of the puzzle. And the vice president`s role is still a question mark on this.
MADDOW: Is it possible the vice president will be called to give testimony himself?
MALONEY: You know, I`m not prepared to say at this point. I think we need to have a lot more evidence of what he did on this. And don`t want to lose focus on the president, which is the central issue. What did the president of the United States do? Why did he do it? And, you know, the evidence is overwhelming that this was a clear abuse of power for the worst possible reason, and I want to stay focused on that at least for now.
I do think it`s important that everybody involved in this answer for their actions.
MADDOW: New York Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney, it`s going to be a very busy week leading up to a very busy day, a week from today when those first public hearings happen -- thanks for being here.
MALONEY: Thank you.
MADDOW: All right. We`ll be back. Stay with us.
MADDOW: This is footage from September 1st, 2019, when Vice President Mike Pence went overseas met with the Ukrainian president. What I was talking about with Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney about.
You know who else was in that room? We`ve got that footage and that answer which will tell you about the most interesting thing going to happen in tomorrow`s news next.
Stay with us.
MADDOW: This is September 1st, 2019, Vice President Mike Pence in Europe meeting with the Ukrainian president. At this meeting, we believe that Vice President Pence told the Ukrainian president, that, yes, the U.S. government was holding up their military aid unless Ukraine took some sort of action on corruption. Which means in the context of this impeachment inquiry that Vice President Pence is the one who personally delivered the you`re not getting your military aid message face-to-face in that room.
A look at who else was in that room at that time. There`s Gordon Sondland, U.S. ambassador to the E.U. who now admits after revising his testimony that, yes -- there he is -- on the side lines of that meeting, he was personally reinforcing to the Ukrainians, no, you`re not getting your military aid unless you announce these investigations.
But if you keep panning there, the person in the second row there, we believe, is also newly important to the story because that is State Department veteran who was detailed to Vice President pence`s office. She surprisingly has just agreed to testify tomorrow. Jennifer Williams, one of two staff members from Pence`s office who was listening in on the July 25th call between the president -- President Trump and the Ukrainian president.
Her whole job at that point was to relay what happened on that call to Vice President Mike Pence. She was on that call. She was in charge of Ukraine issues for the vice president`s office. She was in Ukraine in the room when he demanded that Ukraine wasn`t going to get their military aid unless they coughed up what the administration wanted on corruption.
And now that person, Jennifer Williams, says she will answer the House impeachment committee`s questions tomorrow.
I know this is a lot. This is all nuts. Tomorrow will be worse.
That`s going to do it for us for now. We will see you again then.
It`s time for "THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL".
Good evening, Lawrence.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END