RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Chris. Thank you, my friend. Much appreciated.
Thanks to you at home for joining us this hour as well.
I always think it`s worth remembering and reiterating that while Memorial Day is a very somber day in terms of commemorating Americans who have sacrificed their lives for our country, today, Veterans Day, is a much broader and almost purely celebratory occasion for everybody who has served our nation in uniform.
I wish that we didn`t have to work on Veterans Day. I wish more people including us got the day off, honestly, but even though that part of Veterans Day has eroded and more and more of us are either going to school or working on this day, seems like year after year, fewer people get this day off. But it is still a big freaking deal and a happy occasion to congratulate and thank and honor and, again, celebrate our veterans. So happy Veterans Day.
Even though today is a federal holiday and a big one, the news cycle did not skip a beat, either. We are steaming, of course, toward the start of the first public impeachment hearings on the Ukraine scandal the day after tomorrow, Wednesday morning. And there`s a lot to catch up on in terms of that scandal and the developments around impeachment as we head towards that public hearing. It feels like it`s kind of piling up with each passing hour. So, let`s just -- let`s just jump right in.
And you know me, I always like to start with the weird stuff. So, let`s bring back my good friends, Lev and Igor. Hi, guys. These two gentlemen have been indicted by federal prosecutors in New York in a criminal case that is unfolding alongside the impeachment proceedings that are happening on Capitol Hill involving the president. Since these two men were arrested at Dulles Airport with one-way tickets to Vienna, their legal cases have diverged from each other a little bit.
They were arrested together while they were planning to travel together. They initially had the same lawyers and appeared to be mounting a similar defense, but they now appear to be sort of going their own individual ways.
And now, lawyers for Mr. Parnas in particular, he`s the one here on the left of the screen, I think of him as more the keyboard player and Igor more as the drummer. Mr. Parnas, the guy on the left, his lawyers now tell "The New York Times" that this spring, as early as the first part of may this year, he, Lev, and Igor, went to Ukraine to tell the Ukrainian government that they were not going to get any military aid and interestingly, they were not going to get Mike Pence at the inauguration of the new Ukrainian president unless the Ukrainian government coughed up investigations into Joe Biden and his son. Investigations designed to help President Trump in his 2020 re-election effort.
You see the headline there in "The New York Times," quote: Giuliani associate says he gave demand for Biden inquiry to Ukrainians. Quote: Not long before the Ukrainian president was inaugurated in May, an associate of Rudy Giuliani`s journeyed to Kiev to deliver a warning to the country`s new leadership. That associate, Lev Parnas, told a representative of the incoming government that it had to announce an investigation into Mr. Trump`s political rival Joe Biden and his son, or else, or else Vice President Mike Pence would not attend the swearing in of the new president and the United States would freeze aid to Ukraine.
What a world we live in, right? I mean, will the vice president of the United States attend the inauguration of an important new national leader in the capital city of one of our key strategic allies? Well, I don`t know, we`re going to have to run it through Lev, right? Lev is the guy who can broker that kind of thing.
Is he with Igor? OK, yes, of course, he`s with Igor. Yeah. Are they going to -- I mean, what a world.
Now, do we believe that -- do we believe Mr. Parnas in this assertion that this is what he did in Kiev in May? I mean, his lawyer further tells "The New York Times" that Lev`s message to the Ukrainians, quote, was given at the direction of Mr. Giuliani who Mr. Parnas believed was acting under Mr. Trump`s instruction.
Do we believe that? Do we believe what Mr. Parnas said he was doing in Ukraine of May of this year? I don`t know.
By the end of this administration, are any of us going to be able to believe anyone ever again especially if they`re associated with the highest levels of the U.S. government? Will we ever regain our capacity to belief someone when they speak? I don`t know.
I mean, everybody else associated with this story says that we shouldn`t believe Lev on this. Mr. Giuliani says he didn`t tell Lev to say anything like that in Ukraine. The guy from the Ukrainian government who they met with in Kiev says, yes, I did meet with Lev and Igor at that time in Ukraine, but they didn`t bring up military aid. The Ukrainian government guy pointedly not bringing up the issue of whether they threatened to withhold the Mike Pence as well. It just doesn`t address that part of it.
Igor, himself, or at least Igor`s lawyers who are quite a dream team now, his lawyer are one of Paul Manafort`s lawyers and one of Russia`s lawyers, John Dowd, Igor admits through those lawyers, yes, he did go to Ukraine with Lev for that meeting in early May and, yes, there was a discussion in Russian over coffee at a cafe in Kiev between him and Lev and a guy from the Ukrainian government. He concedes all of that but says that, no, none of these threats were delivered, not at least the way that Lev characterizes them.
And, again, I mean, who are you going to believe? Who -- do you believe -- do you believe anybody who asserts anything in the middle of this scandal? I mean, trying to sort out competing claims among associates of President Trump and his lawyers is like trying to hold on to your lunch money at a pickpocket convention without a money belt. Good luck. Hope you had something stashed in your sock because anything that was in your pockets is going to be gone.
So, I don`t know whether we should believe these guys and their competing claims as to what exactly they were doing in this extortion campaign and when, and who was delivering what message, but Lev says he was over there in early May saying, you`re not getting your aid and you`re not getting your Mike Pence unless you cough up investigations of Joe Biden. And here`s the thing. The military aid to Ukraine did get held up and Mike Pence did cancel his plan to go to the inauguration of the new Ukrainian president and the explanation at the time for why Mike Pence did that was a little weak and a little weird.
The vice president`s chief of staff said that Mike Pence`s trip to the Ukrainian inauguration was canceled because nobody sent the advance team to check it out. The Secret Service didn`t go over there in advance to plan it. And so Mike Pence went to Canada instead of going to Ukraine. That was their explanation for why he didn`t go.
Whether or not it was the fault of the Secret Service or the vice president`s advance team failing to launch and failing to set up the logistics for that inauguration, for whatever reason, Mike Pence did not go -- just as Lev allegedly threatened at that meeting in advance of the inauguration. Pence, in fact, didn`t show up.
But you know who did show up? You know who the U.S. government did send to that inauguration in place of Vice President Pence? They sent this guy. They sent Energy Secretary Rick Perry who you may recall somewhat inexplicably quit his job all of a sudden as energy secretary as soon as this impeachment scandal started to break open.
Well, in a remarkable news story from the "Associated Press" today, we learn a little bit about what Rick Perry did when he went over there for that inauguration. Again, Mike Pence was initially scheduled to go. That was canceled under strange circumstances. Rick Perry went instead.
And what did Rick Perry do while he was there? Honestly, it sort of brings it home. My god, what must the Ukrainians think of us? We`ve been so condescending and patronizing and pushy with them about how corrupt they are, right?
When it comes to just the inauguration of their new president who ran on an almost purely anti-corruption campaign, when it comes to the inauguration of their new anti-corruption president, I mean, in "The New York Times" today, there`s this story about how the Ukrainian government was threatened that the vice president of the United States wouldn`t come to that inauguration unless he could -- unless the new government could satisfy these guys, Lev and Igor, that Ukraine would help try to get Trump re- elected by cooking up some fake investigation into Joe Biden.
When Vice President Pence, indeed, canceled his trip to that inaugural, Ukraine instead gets Rick Perry who, according to the "A.P." today basically brought his own U-haul full of grift to that first date. Quote: Two political supporters of U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry secured a potentially lucrative oil and gas exploration deal from the Ukrainian government soon after Rick Perry proposed one of the men as an adviser to the country`s new president. Quote: Ukraine awarded the contract to Perry`s supporters a little more than a month after Perry attended Zelensky`s inauguration. In a meeting during that trip, during the inauguration, Perry handed the new president a list of people he recommended as energy advisers.
One of the four names was his longtime political backer Michael Bleyzer. A week later, Bleyzer and his partner submitted a bid to drill for oil and gas at a sprawling government-controlled site in Ukraine. They offered millions of dollars less to the Ukrainian government than their only competitor for those drilling rights but nevertheless, their newly created joint venture won the gig. They were awarded a 50-year contract because a government-appointed commission in Ukraine said they should get it.
This same reporting team at the "A.P." led by reporters Desmond Butler and Michael Biesecker reported as early as the beginning of May, as early as the first week of May, this new president-elect in Ukraine had convened his advisers to talk about all the pressure he was getting from the Trump administration to gin up some sort of investigation into Joe Biden.
I mean, this guy is newly elected, newly elected on an anti-corruption platform. His country has been invaded by Russia. His country is in an ongoing war with Russia.
We`re their most important political ally in the world. We`re their biggest source of military support. And he, upon getting elected, even before he`s sworn in, he`s simultaneously getting pressured to open investigations into Joe Biden as a political favor for U.S. President Donald Trump.
He ultimately gets pressured that he`s not going to get a White House meeting. That U.S. military aid could be held up. That the vice president, who`s initially supposed to have come to his inauguration, that`s going to get yanked.
Meanwhile, a Trump cabinet official does show up at the inauguration and slips him a piece of paper that says, hey, I got these buddies that are into oil and gas stuff, I hear you have government-controlled bids going. I mean, Rick Perry goes over there for the inauguration and uses that occasion in this context? To put in a word for these two guys, both of whom are big political donors to Rick Perry, including the guy who loaned Rick Perry the use of his private jet for one of Rick Perry`s presidential runs.
Perry goes over there on May 20th for the inauguration of the new Ukrainian president-elect, and that`s how he spends his time while he`s there. Trying to get his political donors a gig, an oil and gas drilling gig with the new Ukrainian government. And then a few weeks later, the Ukrainian government bites the bullet and is like, OK, Rick Perry, your friends can have a 50-year oil and gas contract on government-owned land here in Ukraine, even though they offered many millions of dollars less than the Ukrainian companies that bid for it. I guess we have to give them to you.
We`re lecturing them about corruption, right? But even still, the U.S. assistance, this crucial U.S. assistance to Ukraine was held up. And over the course of the past 24 hours, we`ve had a whole bunch of new information filling in the gaps as to how that happened and when it happened and how people inside our own government started to figure out what was going on there because today the impeachment committees released testimony from Laura Cooper, who is the deputy assistant secretary of defense for Russia, Ukraine, and Eurasia.
You might remember her testimony happened the day that Republican Trump supporters in Congress stormed the SCIF. They stormed into the secure hearing room that`s reserved for classified briefings and classified testimony. They took over the place even though they didn`t have clearance to be in there. They, like, ordered pizza and broke security and mounted the stunt in there for hours and hours to physically block the impeachment proceedings from going ahead.
Laura Cooper is the Pentagon official whose testimony got delayed that day for five-plus hours because of that stunt. But ultimately, she did testify and we got the transcript of that testimony today. And in that transcript, we get this really interesting window into her bewilderment as a seen year defense department official responsible for that part of the world. We get a sense of sort of her bewilderment and shock about this crucial U.S. aid to Ukraine being held up.
It was, for example, Laura Cooper`s office at the Pentagon that put together the announcement that Ukraine was about to get their long-planned delivery of U.S. military aid. This is from her transcript today. Cooper says, quote: By mid-June, we had announced and were moving out on it. Question: OK, when you say by mid June, we announced it, are you referring to the May 18th public release by the Defense Department? Answer: that`s exactly what I`m referring to. Thank you.
Question: Were you involved in the issuance of that public release? Answer: Yes, I coordinated on the content of it. Quote: I believe that my staff helped to draft it in consultation with our public affairs staff and they provided me with the draft for review and I approved.
Quote, question, and that release essentially said that the Defense Department was planning on providing $250 million to Ukraine and security cooperation funds? Is that consistent with your recollection of the release? Answer: yes, that would be the gist of it.
Question, what was the effect of this release on June 18th by the Defense Department? Answer: well, one effect was that the Ukraine embassy and the Ukraine government thanked us for making that public. They had been looking for a public acknowledgement of the assistance. Not because this was unusual, they just appreciate it when allies publicly note what kind of support we`re providing Ukraine.
So, that was an immediate reaction. We got a thank you phone call from the Ukraine embassy, our team in Kiev at the defense attache office heard appreciation. Quote: But the second potential effect was that a few days later, we got a question from my chain of command, forwarded down from the chief of staff asking for follow-up on a meeting with the president.
Question, who was this email from? You mentioned the chief of staff. Answer, yes, it came through a number of people before it reached my desk. I don`t recall exactly how many people, but it came from the chief of staff to the secretary of defense in our building.
Question: But you indicated you thought this might come from the White House? Answer: The way the email was phrased, it said follow-up from POTUS meeting, so follow-up from a meeting with the president. So, you know, I`m thinking that the questions are probably questions from the president. That`s how I interpreted that subject line.
So, on June 18th, right, this is the senior Pentagon official with responsibility for Ukraine, and it`s clear, like, she and her office think this is normal. This military aid has been approved. It`s gone through all its clearances. They go through the trouble of publicly announcing it, but then there`s a public announcement of it. And so, then, they get the questions from the president, from a meeting with the president, not just a White House meeting, the president has questions about this.
I mean, again, normal -- normal chain of events here, military aid is going to Ukraine. Ukraine is delighted. Ukraine says, thank you for saying something publicly. Your support means the world to us. We got a thank you phone call.
But then the president hears that this aid is going to Ukraine and they get this series of questions, right? Wait a second, why is the president concerned about this?
And then in July, it all just starts to fall apart. July 18th, Laura Cooper sends her deputy to a White House meeting. At that meeting, it`s where it`s announced the White House has ordered a hold on some of the U.S. government`s aid for Ukraine.
At this point, Laura Cooper, this Defense Department official, seems to be hopeful even if the other aid that`s help up to Ukraine, the aid that goes through the State Department, at least the military aid is still going to go through, right? No.
Five days later, on July 23rd, Cooper, herself, goes to participate in a White House meeting. She`s increasingly concerned because she still hasn`t heard anything specifically about the military funds, but that other U.S. aid that`s supposed to go through the State Department, she at that meeting starts advocating for the release of those funds because those funds are important, too, and why are those being held up?
And sure enough, July 25th, the day of the call between President Trump and the president of Ukraine, here comes the hammer. She gets a legal document at the Defense Department explaining that, in fact, the military aid is being frozen, too, on orders from the White House. And then the day after the phone call, July 26th, she`s back up at the White House for another meeting and all ambiguity is gone.
Quote: And there it was, to me, anyway, in my experience, it was the first time it was stated very clearly that, yes, it is both the military funds and the State Department funds that are both affected by this hold and that it relates to the president`s concerns. What kind of concerns? The president`s concerns about corruption. Oh, yes.
President Trump is very concerned about corruption, why he sent Rick Perry over to go over there to the inauguration with the piece of paper in his pockets with the names of his political donors he wants to get in on that 50-year Ukrainian gas contract. Whoo! Because the U.S. government`s really concerned about corruption, in Ukraine. Yes, that Ukrainian government, they`re very corrupt.
So this testimony from the senior Pentagon official, we just got the transcript of it today, now indicates that it was the president`s instruction that was holding up both the U.S. aid for Ukraine from the State Department and the U.S. aid for Ukraine, the military aid from the Defense Department.
And "Bloomberg News" has some detailed and fascinating new reporting about how half of that got freed up. How the State Department side of that got freed up. In a previously unreported classified memorandum to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, State Department lawyers reportedly found that the White House had no legal standing to block the spending of the Ukraine aid because they had no legal standing to block it, the State Department in early September freed up that aid to go to Ukraine, apparently without telling President Trump that they were doing so. The State Department reportedly internally concluded that it was illegal to not send over those funds to Ukraine before mid-September.
Ultimately, the person who ordered the State Department to pull the trigger after they`d conducted that legal analysis, it appears to have been John Bolton, the national security adviser. Quoting from "Bloomberg," quote: Shortly before September 9th, John Bolton had relayed a message to the State Department that the funding could go ahead. It`s not clear whether Bolton did so with Trump`s approval. Bolton resigned from his job one week later.
So, that`s how the State Department aid gets freed up. The lawyers conclude it has to go, legally, then John Bolton says, yeah, let it go, then he quits his job.
Now, the rest of the fund, the military funds, Laura Cooper, the senior Defense Department official, she indicates in her testimony which we just got today that it also appeared to be quite illegal for Trump to be withholding that part of the funding, too. She says in that meeting where it finally became crystal clear that the president had ordered the withholding of both the State Department money and the military money, she says, quote, in that meeting, deputies immediately began to raise concerns about how this could be done in a legal fashion.
Quote: The comments in the room at the deputies` level reflected a sense there was not an understanding of how this could legally play out. Quote: The expression in the room that I recall was the sense that there was not an available mechanism to simply not spend money that in the case of the State Department had already been notified to Congress and in the case of the military assistance was money already earmarked for Ukraine. So, the senior leaders were expressing they did not see how this option was legally available.
So you put all this together, and what we`ve got in all of this reporting, all of this testimony released right ahead of the public impeachment hearings that start the day after tomorrow, what we got is that while the president and his amazing cast of characters were working to pressure the Ukraine government that they had to announce investigations into the Democrats and into Joe Biden, right? While that was happening, the president was simultaneously ordering the withholding of aid to Ukraine -- aid that was supposed to go through the State Department and aid to Ukraine that was supposed to go through the military and in both instances, his efforts to hold up that money and not disperse it appear to have been illegal which both the State Department and the Defense Department were well aware of and were actively discussing including in at least one classified memo that they were using to advise at least one cabinet secretary at the time.
And while guys like Energy Secretary Rick Perry were working out their side hustle to get their campaign donors drilling contracts from the new Ukrainian government, while the Ukrainian government was desperate for our assistance and support, and where, remember, the U.S. government is very concerned that these Ukrainians might be corrupt, we really need them to up their game when it comes to corruption because Rick Perry`s come and somebody needs to get paid.
So when one U.S. cabinet official, Rick Perry, is working his side hustle for his campaign donors, right, and the vice president of the United States may or may not be having his time brokered and his overseas trips vetted and approved by Lev and Igor, and haplessly and desperately in the middle of all of this mishegoss from this administration, there`s Ukraine, invaded by Russia for whom we are the most important ally and the most important source of support, including specifically the most important source of military support. And people inside the U.S. government who understand what that country is going through and why we support them and how important that is to us and them, I mean, they`re at their wits` end. They can`t quite believe this is happening the way it`s happening.
I mean, here`s Laura Cooper. Quote: So DOD, the Defense Department, was concerned about the obligation of funds. Policy, my team, we were also concerned about any signal that we would send to Ukraine about wavering in our commitment. That`s another reason why -- I mean, we did not want this to be a big public discussion, you know, if we were about to get it turned back on again because we didn`t want to signal lack of support.
Question, why would that be a problem for Ukraine? Answer, so, the first and easiest way of looking at that is looking at the peace process. Ukraine is trying to negotiate a peace with Russia. If Ukraine is seen as weak and if they are seen to lack the backing of the United States for their armed forces, it makes it much more difficult for them to negotiate a peace on terms that are good for Ukraine.
Question, OK, so what would weaken an ally? That being Ukraine. Is that correct? Answer, it would weaken a strategic partner. Question, and it would potentially strengthen our embolden Russia? Answer, that is correct.
We also got testimony released today from two other Ukraine experts in the U.S. government, Christopher Anderson on the right, Catherine Croft on the left, both National Security Council officials. They both testified about this odd period in U.S. history that they lived through in their jobs this year with all of our previous support and all stated U.S. policy to Ukraine was suddenly up ended or weirdly put on the bubble.
Catherine Croft is asked about the upset, anxiety in Ukraine, that it would become known that the U.S. was maybe not supporting them anymore, particularly against Russia. Question, I think you said that word of that, word of this hold on military assistance got to the Ukrainians and two Ukrainian officials reached out to you quietly to ask you about this hold. Croft answers, yes, that`s right.
Question, now, you said the two Ukrainian embassy officials, you understood that they had no interest in this becoming public. Is that right? Answer, that`s correct, that`s correct.
Question, and why would they not want this to become public? Answer, because I think that if this were public in Ukraine, it would be seen as a reversal of our policy and would, to say candidly and colloquially, this would be a really big deal. It would be a real big deal in Ukraine and an expression of declining U.S. support for Ukraine.
Question, so as long as they thought they could work through what was causing the hold, they wanted this to remain out of the public attention? Answer, exactly.
So the pressure on Ukraine to investigate his political rivals to help him in his re-election effort, that`s what the president is being impeached for. And we will have public hearings on that subject starting the day after tomorrow. That said, the effort to put some real muscle into that pressure by holding up legally appropriated funds from both the State Department and the Defense Department, those efforts appear to have been illegal or at least judged as such by officials and experts inside the State Department and inside the Defense Department who were scrambling how to figure out -- scrambling to figure out what to do with these illegal instructions.
But on top of all of that, I mean, the damage we have just done to our ally, right, Ukraine`s standing, particularly when it comes to their ongoing war with Russia and the appearance of their strength and the implications of that for their negotiating position with Russia while they engage in negotiations with them over an ongoing war, I mean, that damage is done. That damage is done.
And even though this whole scandal is so ham-handed as to be laugh out loud funny every day, right, including Rick Perry over there bringing the anti- corruption message of the U.S. government and the Trump administration to bear, right? That`s on one side of the car, where on the other side of the card he`s got the name of his campaign donors because he needs them to get the contract from the Ukrainian government, when we`re putting almost unbelievable existential pressure on them. Here`s a U.S. cabinet official being like, hey, hook up my buddies.
I mean, from that to Lev and Igor and Rudy Giuliani and all the rest of these guys, through all of the other clowns in that particular clown car, it`s ridiculous, right? But then there`s a real country in the middle of a real war with thousands of their citizens dead right in the middle of all of this and the damage done to them, to our ally, an ally that really needs our help against an adversary that has invaded them and taken part of their country, and that means nothing but harm to us, that repair work obviously cannot even begin as long as this administration is still in office. Now that we understand this much more about how they are conducting themselves.
It`s not just about praising Vladimir Putin and having secret communications with them all the time. It`s at this is what we are doing to our closest ally who is at most danger from Russia`s every move. This is what we`ve been doing to them. Not threatening to do it, we`ve done it.
And unless this president is removed in this impeachment process, that repair job is going to be job one for the next president of the United States. If he is not removed by this impeachment process, we can`t start that repair until he`s gone some other way. Whoever replaces him will have that as day one, job one, as the cleanup for what this guy`s already done.
MADDOW: As we head toward the first public hearings in the impeachment of President Trump, we got new testimony released today from a senior Defense Department official and we got new reporting from "Bloomberg News" about how officials in the State Department and the Pentagon tried to cope with these decisions by the White House to hold up State Department assistance to Ukraine and to hold up military assistance to Ukraine, both on orders of the White House, even though both of those holds appear to have been illegal.
On top of that, we also got news about the Trump White House in 2017 and 2018 holding up the provision of Javelin missiles to Ukraine. And holding up them not at that point in exchange for some investigation they wanted about Joe Biden, no, they held up the Javelin missiles in 2017 and 2018 for a different reason. This is from today`s newly released testimony by State Department official Catherine Croft.
Quote: The Javelins, provision of the Javelin missiles, do you recall whether there was a hold or freeze put on the javelins? Answer: There was a process, and there was one hold, there was one agency that put a hold on that decision. Quote: And which was that agency? Answer: The Office of Management and Budget in the White House.
Question: Did you understand why? Answer: I understood the reason to be a policy one. Question: What was the policy one? Answer: In a briefing with Mr. Mulvaney, head of the Office of Management and Budget, the question centered around the Russian reaction.
Question: What was the concern around the Russian reaction? Answer: That Russia would react negatively to the provision of the Javelins to Ukraine. Question: What was the reaction of that concern from the other agencies? Answer: I don`t know if I can provide that information in an unclassified setting.
Question: OK, is there any way to provide it broadly? Answer: Well, I can say all the policy agencies were in support. Question: And you mean in support of providing the javelins? Answer, Croft, yes, correct.
Joining us now is Illinois Congressman Mike Quigley, a member of the House Intelligence Committee. Sir, thank you very much for joining us. I appreciate you being here.
REP. MIKE QUIGLEY (D-IL): Thank you. Glad to be here.
BURNETT: So, I`m drowning in transcripts. But I know you`ve been through all these things live. I wanted to read that one setting up this discussion with you because I was struck by that sort of bold-faced testimony that the White House made the decision to hold up javelin missiles that were otherwise due to be delivered to Ukraine and all agencies believed should be delivered on White House concerns that Russia might mind.
QUIGLEY: Here`s what`s questioning. What`s Mick Mulvaney doing making that decision when he`s the head of OMB? It`s extraordinarily unusual.
It leads me to believe that Mick Mulvaney wasn`t making that decision in his role, it was making that decision based on something the president was saying or doing which is more consistent with the rest of the policy in Ukraine. The reasons that they state that they`re doing clearly aren`t the case.
MADDOW: Well, Ms. Croft goes on to discussion in her testimony that this direction, she seems to have been under the impression that this direction on those javelin missiles came from the president. It is hard for us, I think, from the vantage point that we have as observers, people who`ve been reading the transcript released by the impeachment committees, it`s hard for us to discern how many people were acting of their own volition and how many people were acting at the direction o the president.
Is that something you can discern from your perspective on the intelligence committee without being able to depose people like Mick Mulvaney, people like Rick Perry, people like Rudy Giuliani?
QUIGLEY: It`s tough, but let`s look what`s in the public record. You have Mulvaney`s admission to this whole point. You have the White House call transcript. You have the Volker text.
You have all this testimony here that you piece together and the bottom line is there`s absolutely no way this takes place. All the things that we`re learning about, the extortion of one of our closest allies, without the president of the United States dictating that. When these gang of three or four go to the White House and talk about the new presidency in Ukraine, the president keeps saying over and over again, talk to Giuliani.
So, clearly, the shadow government, foreign policy they`re talking about, has set aside the established cream of our diplomatic core so they can do the president`s bidding to help him politically.
MADDOW: Congressman, I think a lot of people are wondering whether or not we should expect the public hearings that start on Wednesday to be just a public version of the kind of discussions that you all have been having behind closed doors, that we can read these transcripts of now.
Are -- for Americans who have been sort of aware that this is going on, and watching the headlines but not following it closely, should we expect that people tuning in on Wednesday to watch those hearings, paying attention to this closely for the first time, that they`ll be able to follow this in basic terms starting from square one, or are you guys kind of picking up with where you left off with these closed-door depositions?
QUIGLEY: Well, I think there`s a reason in a jury trial, they just don`t hang out depositions in a civil case. There`s a lot to be said for watching these people testify. And what struck me about them was they were clear, they were consistent, they were compelling, and I think that they showed the truth of what they were saying.
I think it was very hard to bump them off their game. I think that will help a great deal as the American people watch their testimony.
MADDOW: We`re going to have to public hearings this week, sir, do you anticipate that will be a pace going forward where we`ll have a couple of hearings per week and it will go on for a little while. Do you have any sense of the overall timeframe here?
QUIGLEY: Look, some of this has to go with what time allows. We do have a time crumple here, unfortunately, one we didn`t create because of the White House`s obstruction here and the fact so many of their witnesses were not allowed to testify.
I look back at Watergate, the Article 3 of the articles of impeachment against Richard Nixon dictates four times in which Richard Nixon obstructed that investigation. We saw that happen once, in one day, they obstructed four times where four people were supposed to testify did not because the White House told them not to. All of these witnesses were told not to. Many of them had the courage of their conviction to come forward.
This is compelling testimony. Only a small percentage of the American people had read the special counsel`s report on what took place with Russia. Far more people watch these hearings as they took place. I`m hoping we have the same effect here coming this week.
MADDOW: Congressman Mike Quigley, member of the Intelligence Committee, sir, good luck this week. Thanks very much for joining us.
QUIGLEY: Thank you.
MADDOW: All right. Much more ahead tonight. Stay with us.
MADDOW: One of the landmark hearings in Congress this year was the marathon testimony from President Trump`s longtime attorney Michael Cohen during which Cohen made allegations of serious criminal wrongdoing by the president from before the campaign all the way up to the White House. That was the Oversight Committee in Congress.
It`s also the Oversight Committee that launched an investigation into Trump`s immigration policy and family separations at the border. It was the Oversight Committee that has been relentless on the president`s alleged efforts to use the presidency to his own financial advantage, whether it be sending Vice President Pence to President Trump`s golf resort in Ireland during his official visit to that country, or the president`s pitch to host world leaders at the G7 at his own property in Miami.
All of those oversight responsibilities all conducted under the leadership of that committee`s chairman, Elijah Cummings. And that was even before that oversight committee took a central role in the ongoing impeachment proceedings against the president. The loss of Chairman Elijah Cummings would be hard at any time, but it has been an incredibly heavy thing to lose a leader with such gravitas, someone with such a clear ethical core, at a critical time like this.
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BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT: People will look back at this moment and they will ask the question, what did you do? And hearing him, we would be reminded that it falls upon each of us to give voice to the voiceless and comfort to the sick and opportunity to those not born to it and to preserve and nurture our democracy.
HILLARY CLINTON, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: He had little tolerance for those who put party ahead of country or partisanship above truth. But he could find common ground with anyone willing to seek it with him. And he liked to remind all of us that you can`t get so caught up in who you are fighting that you forget what you are fighting for.
MAYA ROCKEYMOORE CUMMINGS, WIDOW OF REP. ELIJAH CUMMINGS: Now, it is true that he dictated every aspect of his service today and he would have told me, Maya, I don`t want a service at the U.S. capitol, but I felt like very strongly that they were trying to tear him down and we needed to make sure that he went out with the respect and the dignity that he deserved.
This was a man of the utmost integrity. Do you hear me? He had integrity. And he cared about our democracy. He cared about our planet. He cared about our community. He wanted to make sure that we left a society worthy of our children.
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MADDOW: The last woman you heard from there is Maya Rockymoore Cummings. She is Congressman Elijah Cummings` wife and now widow. She`s always been an impressive figure in her own right, most recently serving as chair of the Maryland Democratic Party. She spent more than two decades working in the private and public sectors including at the National Urban League and Congressional Black Caucus Foundation.
And now, in the wake of her husband`s passing, a lot of people are wondering whether she may run for the seat in Congress that was left by her beloved late husband. Maya Rockymoore Cummings joins us here for the first time next.
Stay with us.
MADDOW: Pleased to welcome to the show tonight, Maya Rockeymoore Cummings. She is the widow of Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings. This is her first television interview since the passing of her husband.
Dr. Rockeymoore Cummings, it`s a real honor to have you here.
ROCKEYMOORE CUMMINGS: Thanks for having me on, Rachel.
MADDOW: So, your husband was a very, very valued guest here whenever we could get him. We`d talk to his staff and get a 20 percent chance or 12 percent chance or some minor chance that he could join us. Whenever we could, we`d hold the spot for him in the hope that he could be here.
We miss him, both his role as a leader and this is somebody we could speak to whenever we could. I can`t imagine that this hasn`t been the most difficult time of your life this past month.
ROCKEYMOORE CUMMINGS: It`s been a very challenging time, but I got to tell you, we watched you every night, Rachel. Even if he wasn`t on, he was watching. So, just know that he appreciated you as much as you appreciated him.
MADDOW: Oh, that -- my heart swells. Thank you for saying so.
I wanted to talk to you tonight in part because I know that you spoke with "The Baltimore Sun" recently about your own health and your own status, but also I believe that you`ve been doing something about your own plans and the status of your husband`s seat. I wanted to invite you to share some of that with us.
ROCKEYMOORE CUMMINGS: So, tomorrow, I will announce that I will be running for the Congress, the seventh congressional district of Maryland. I believe very strongly that, you know, I have the background and the focus and the commitment and the ability to take the reins and to make a good run for this seat. I fought right alongside Elijah for the last 12 years and we knew each other another 10 years before that. And so, I`ve been on this path for fighting for the soul of our democracy, for fighting for health care, education, for a better America for all.
And so, he want -- he wanted me to continue this fight, and I`m going to continue this fight and run the race and prayerfully win.
MADDOW: So you and your husband talked about this before his passing? He was enthusiastic about the idea of you carrying this and trying to take this burden on for yourself?
ROCKEYMOORE CUMMINGS: Yes, we -- you know, we`ve been discussing this for quite some time because he had been ill for quite some time. And he had been pondering his future and what would happen to the seat. So, about six months ago, we were talking and he said, you know, I really do think you should take this seat.
And so with that, you know, he would have expected it of me, and I`m going to continue the fight. The fact of the matter is I`ve been fighting all along. I have a track record of working on issues like Social Security, and Medicare, health care and economic security, and certainly technology, even.
And so, you know, I was in the forefront of the battle to take on George W. Bush when he tried to privatize the system. I`ve been working hard in the trenches at every level of government to advance policies of healthy working families. So, I`m prepared and I`m ready to roll up my sleeves and address what Baltimore needs.
Baltimore is a city of great potential, but it has lopsided economic outcomes, lopsided health care outcomes, lopsided education outcomes, and the poorest people of the black and brown population of the city and certainly surrounding areas are in need of somebody who is willing to launch what I call an inclusion revolution, someone who is ready to tackle the structural challenges that are facing the city and the surrounding areas. I believe that a better future is possible for Baltimore. And so, I`m looking forward to bringing everything I`ve got to make sure we ever a better future for the city and the region.
MADDOW: Dr. Cummings, I wanted to ask you about this conversation you had with "The Baltimore Sun" this week, that you plan to have a preventative double mastectomy this week, which is an incredible decision, must be a momentous decision for you at the same time you`re making this huge decision for your future. Can you tell me why you went public with this decision and how serious this is for you?
ROCKEYMOORE CUMMINGS: Let me just say this was scheduled before running for office was ever a consideration, before Elijah`s health really took a bad turn for the worst. He went with me to the doctor`s appointment where I got a consultation about this option, and he agreed and begged me several times before he passed away to prioritize myself. And so with that, I decided to keep, even though he passed away and even though this race is now before me, I decided to keep my promise to him, and I will keep this appointment on Friday where I will do this.
I should tell you that my mother died of stage 4 breast cancer in 2015. My sister was diagnosed with stage 2 last year. She`s my little sister diagnosed with stage 2. She had a double mastectomy, and now I want to get ahead of the curve and take basically the bull by the horns and stop it in its tracks before it ever begins.
So I`m going to do this, and the way I`m going to do it is by moving forward, one step at a time, one day at a time. That being said, although it will take two to four weeks in terms of recovery, I will be laser- focused on making sure that I am active, making sure that my campaign is strong, that I`m doing everything I need to do to fund-raise and of course focus on social media and the things that I can do to have a presence even while I`m not physically able to be out in the community.
MADDOW: Dr. Maya Rockeymoore Cummings, thank you so much for talking with us about all these matters. And stay in touch with us. We`d love -- we`d love -- you keep us apprised as you go through all these decisions. Thank you so much for being here, ma`am.
ROCKEYMOORE CUMMINGS: Thank you. MayaforCongress.com.
MADDOW: Well done. We`ll be right back. Stay with us.
MADDOW: When you see people lining up outside the U.S. Supreme Court, you know a big case is on the way. The people who lined up today outside the court plan to stay all night tonight so they can get a seat inside the court tomorrow morning for oral arguments over DACA, the Obama era program that protects 700,000 young people in this country from being deported. The Trump administration is trying to end that program. They want to deport all the Dreamers.
But lower courts, thus far, have rejected that Trump decision as arbitrary and capricious. And so, the question now goes to the Supreme Court.
One of the young Dreamers, Martin Batalla Vidal, caught the bus from New York to D.C. with his mom today. He`s one of the named parties in the case that`s going to be argued. He`s going to be there tomorrow inside the court for oral arguments.
He told "The Associated Press" today, quote, I don`t know what`s going to happen. Whatever the outcome is, we know we fought hard for it and we will continue fighting. I`m trying to be positive.
In terms of governance, this case has potential to impact how far the president can go in rolling back established policy of all kinds. If this was done in an arbitrary and capricious manner and the court is going to block him from doing so, that might mean a lot in terms of other policies that were treated in the same way.
But in human terms, in terms of what happens now for literally hundreds of thousands of people in this country, the Supreme Court case on DACA and the Dreamers tomorrow, it`s as big as it gets. That hearing is scheduled to start at 10:00 a.m. Eastern tomorrow. We`re all over it.
Watch this space. That does it for us tonight. We will see you again tomorrow.
Now, it`s time for "THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL".
Good evening, Lawrence.
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