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Taylor says staffer overheard Trump. TRANSCRIPT: 11/13/19, The Rachel Maddow Show.

Guests: Eric Swalwell

CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST:  That is ALL IN for this evening. 

"THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW" starts right now. 

Good evening, Rachel.

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST:  Totally normal day, right? 

HAYES:  Wow. 


MADDOW:  Are you relaxed?  Do you feel this is normal day at work?  How are you doing? 

HAYES:  I mean, it`s always weird, timing wise, when these things happen and we`ve got to make a show that night and they`re still happening, we usually have our show meetings and there are segment meetings.  But I found it very compelling and I thought it was like -- it was more illuminating than I thought it would be given how immersed you and I both are in the particularities of the details. 

MADDOW:  Yes, I learned new facts and I learned interesting new arguments and perspectives I had never heard before that I felt like deepened my understanding with the thing I was already obsessed with. 

HAYES:  Yes, that`s my feeling too. 

MADDOW:  Shocking.

Thank you, my friend.  Much appreciated.

Thanks to you at home for joining us this hour.  Happy to have you with us. 

You know, we do not have very much experience with impeachment of a president in this country.  In the modern era, only one president has been impeached.  Only one other has been subject to impeachment proceedings before he resigned.  We, therefore, because of that limited historical experience, we just don`t know what counts as normal for the first day of public hearings of the impeachment proceedings against a sitting president. 

But today`s proceedings in Congress, I feel like they did do us a little bit of a favor by giving us very clearly like a caption or like a thing you`d write on the mug if you were making swag for today`s hearing, like a motto.  It`s about two thirds of the proceedings today and we got what I guess you could think of like a theme or theme song from what we as a country are learning about this impeachment thus far from day one. 


REP. ANDRE CARSON (D-IN):  Some in Ukraine probably disliked our efforts to help Ukraine root out corruption, is that correct? 

GEORGE KENT, DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF STATE:  As I mentioned in my testimony, you can`t promote principled anti-corruption action without pissing off corrupt people. 

CARSON:  Fair enough. 


MADDOW:  When you take principled anti-corruption action, expect that that will anger -- that will upset corrupt people.  Principled anti-corrupt action angers corrupt people.  You can needle that point on a pillow today, right, as your keepsake from the first day of the Trump impeachment hearings. 

And perhaps, it`s the main message of these proceedings thus far.  And, you know, it`s clear in context like someone like that witness, deputy assistant secretary of state, George Kent, he sees -- forgive me, pissing off corrupt people, as not only a badge of honor for people in his profession and for people working in the U.S. government honorably, but he sees that as a sign that you`re doing good work, that you`re doing your work the right way, you are hitting the right mark. 


KENT:  You don`t step into the public arena of international diplomacy in act of pursuit of principled U.S. interests without expecting vigorous push back, including personal attacks.  Such attacks came from the Russians, their proxies and corrupt Ukrainians.  That tells me our efforts were hitting their mark. 

It was unexpected and most unfortunate, however, to watch some Americans, including those who allied themselves with corrupt Ukrainians in pursuit of private agendas launch attacks on dedicated public servants advancing U.S. interests in Ukraine. 


MADDOW:  We expect push back in our work from the entities the United States is fighting against in the world and from the corrupt forces we are fighting to dis-empower and bring to justice.  But when other Americans help with that kind of push back against us, those smears and attacks by America`s enemies brought against us by other Americans working with those corrupt forces, that is a new level of wrong for our country. 

You can`t promote principled anti-corruption action without pissing off corrupt people.  And when corrupt people are really mad, you know you`ve hit your mark. 

These impeachment hearings today were riveting, and I don`t know if they`re all going to be like this.  For one, I`m not sure anybody knew we would get new factual revelations in testimony today.  I mean, both of the witnesses who testified today have already spoken at length for hours and hours and hours in closed door depositions, and we`ve seen the transcripts of those depositions.  Nevertheless today, in today`s first public hearing, we got new factual revelations not just about details on the edges of this scandal, but new facts about the actions of the president and him directing this scheme personally. 

So we`re going to get to that in just a moment.  I`m not sure anybody knew we were going to get something that big and that new today in this first public hearing. 

But alongside that new information, which was a surprise, we also just got this master class in how our foreign policy is supposed to work and why it`s supposed to work that way and how that benefits us as a country and how much somebody`s screwing with it for corrupt purposes.  Not only hurts our allies, it also hurts us, too, and it helps our enemies. 


REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA):  You also testified that Russia was watching closely to gauge the level of American support for the Ukrainian government.  Why is that significant? 

WILLIAM TAYLOR, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO UKRAINE:  This is significant, Mr. Chairman, because the Ukrainians in particular under this new administration are eager to end this war.  And they`re eager to end it in a way that the Russians leave their territory.  These negotiations like all negotiations are difficult.  Ukrainians would like to be able to negotiate from a position of strength or at least more strength than they now have. 

Part of that strength, part of the ability of the Ukrainians to negotiate against the Russians, with the Russians for an end depends on the United States and other international support.  If we withdraw or suspend or threaten to withdraw our security assistance, that`s a message to the Ukrainians, but it`s at least as important as your question indicates, Mr. Chairman, to the Russians, who are looking for any sign of weakness or any sign that we are withdrawing our support for Ukraine. 

SCHIFF:  And so, when the Ukrainians learned of the suspension of the military aid either privately or when others learned publicly, the Russians would be learning also, and they would take that as a lack of robust U.S. support for Ukraine.  Is that right? 

TAYLOR:  That`s correct, sir. 

SCHIFF:  And that would weaken Ukraine in negotiating an end to the war in Donbass? 

TAYLOR:  It would. 

The Russians are violating all of the rules, treaties, understandings that they committed to that actually kept the peace in Europe for nearly 70 years.  Until they invaded Ukraine in 2014, they had abided by sovereignty of nations, of enviability of borders.  That rule of law, that order that kept the peace in Europe and allowed for prosperity as well as peace in Europe was violated by the Russians.  And if we don`t push back on that, on those violations, then that will continue. 

And that, Mr. Chairman, affects us, it affects the world we live in that our children will grow up in and our grandchildren.  This affects the kind of world that we want to see overall.  So that affects our national interests very directly.  Ukraine is on the front line of that -- of that conflict. 


MADDOW:  Impeachment proceedings against President Trump started on day one with as clear an explication as I think any of us thought we might ever get about what U.S. policy in that part of the world, what U.S. policy in Ukraine is supposed to be about and why it is that way and why it`s important and why messing with it is terrible idea, not just because we might have warm feelings or something for Ukraine, but because that stated policy of the United States makes sense, and it is in our own interests, our own strong interests as a country. 

And so, anybody who screws that up for their own purposes is undermining the national security of the United States. 


DAN GOLDMAN, INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE COUNSEL FOR THE MAJORITY:  On September 9th of this year, you texted Ambassador Sondland and Volker.  And the text message should be on the screen in front of you.  And if you could read what you wrote. 

TAYLOR:  As I said on the phone, I think it`s crazy to withhold security assistance for help with a political campaign. 

GOLDMAN:  What did you mean when you said you thought it was crazy? 

TAYLOR:  Mr. Goldman, I meant that the important -- because of the importance of security assistance that we had just described and had a conversation with the chairman -- because that was so important, that security assistance was so important for Ukraine, as well as our own national interests, to withhold that assistance for no good reason other than help with a political campaign made no sense.  It was -- it was counterproductive to all of what we had been trying to do. 

It was illogical.  It could not be explained.  It was crazy. 

GOLDMAN:  When you say all of what we were trying to do?  What do you mean by we? 

TAYLOR:  I mean that the United States was trying to support Ukraine as a front line state against attack.  And again, the whole notion of a rules- based order was being threatened by the Russians in Ukraine.  So, our security assistance was designed to support Ukraine.  That`s -- it was not just the United States.  It was all of our allies. 

GOLDMAN:  Ambassador Taylor, in your decades of military service and diplomatic service representing the United States around the world, have you ever seen another example of foreign aid conditioned on the political or personal interests of the president of the United States? 

TAYLOR:  No, Mr. Goldman, I have not. 

GOLDMAN:  Mr. Kent, that vital military assistance that was not the only thing that president Trump was withholding from Ukraine.  What else was contingent on Ukraine initiating these investigations? 

KENT:  Well, as we`ve talked earlier today, the possibility of a White House meeting was being held contingent to an announcement. 

GOLDMAN:  How important to President Zelensky was a White House meeting? 

KENT:  New leaders, particularly countries that are trying to have good footing in the international arena see a meeting with the U.S. president in the Oval Office as the White House as the ultimate sign of endorsement and support from the United States. 

GOLDMAN:  President Zelensky was a relatively new president, is that right? 

KENT:  That`s correct.  He was elected on April 21st and his government was formed after parliamentary elections in July. 

GOLDMAN:  Would a White House meeting for President Zelensky boost his legitimacy as a new president in Ukraine? 

KENT:  It would primarily boost his leverage to negotiate with Vladimir Putin about the Russian occupation of 7 percent of Ukrainian territory.

GOLDMAN:  Mr. Kent, is pressuring Ukraine to conduct what I believe you`ve called political investigations a part of U.S. foreign policy to promote the rule of law in Ukraine and around the world? 

KENT:  It is not. 

GOLDMAN:  Is it in the national interests of the United States? 

KENT:  In my opinion, it is not. 

GOLDMAN:  It is the purpose of our foreign policy to encourage foreign nations to refrain from conducting political investigations, is that right? 

KENT:  Correct.  And in fact, as a matter of policy not of programming, we oftentimes raise our concerns usually in private with countries that we feel are engaged in selective political prosecution and persecution of their opponents. 

As a general principle, I do not believe the United States should ask other countries to engage in selective politically associated investigations or prosecutions against opponents of those in power, because such selective actions undermine the rule of law regardless of the country. 


MADDOW:  Yes, asking a prosecutor to do selective politically associated investigations, America`s actually the country that goes after corrupt leaders all around the world who try to do something like that.  That trick where you lean on some prosecutor somewhere to bring a selective, politically associated prosecution against somebody who`s opposed to people in power, that`s something that America stops, not something that an American president does. 

But you can`t promote principled anti-corruption action without pissing off corrupt people. 

You know, you could have started the impeachment proceedings anywhere, with any -- with any of the witnesses who have thus far been brought in for these depositions.  But starting with these two witnesses today who can speak in terms like this about why American behavior matters here and what American norms and what the American policy toward this part of the world is about, why it serves our national interests, the thing that did unexpectedly for me, at least, was put in really sharp relief what the danger was of what President Trump got caught doing in Ukraine. 

What the danger of it was.  Not just because he got caught doing something illegal but specifically what he was doing was at the direct expense of our country`s national interest. 


REP. VAL DEMINGS (D-FL):  Both of you have explained that you grew seriously concerned when you realized that the interests of this irregular channel diverged from official U.S. policy and interests.  Was Mr. Giuliani promoting U.S. national interests or policy in Ukraine, Ambassador? 

TAYLOR:  I don`t think so, ma`am. 

DEMINGS:  Mr. Kent? 

KENT:  No, he was not. 

DEMINGS:  What interests do you believe he was promoting, Mr. Kent? 

KENT:  I believe he was looking to dig up political dirt against a potential rival in the next election cycle. 

DEMINGS:  Ambassador Taylor?  What interests do you believe he was promoting? 

TAYLOR:  I agree with Mr. Kent. 


MADDOW:  Both witnesses today questioned by Congresswoman Val Demings of Florida. 

I`ve been showing back and forth between these witnesses and their opening statements and their questioning by Democrats and Democratic counsel. 

The Republicans also got their shot today.  They handed off the lion share of initial questioning to their Republican counsel.  And what should have been sort of their best moment didn`t work right.  I mean, again, with these super serious witnesses, right?  Thirty years experience, 50 years experience as a public servant, these clear, rock-ribbed witnesses, right, who know about American national interests, who know about American national security, who can explain it in plain terms because they`ve been living it for decades in a totally nonpartisan context.  And those are the witnesses that Republicans brought out their counsel at the start of the hearing to question, to go at them, it was like, doo wop -- like what now? 

The Republican counsel`s exchanges with Bill Taylor at one point were actually funny.  At least it was -- it appeared to be funny to Ambassador Bill Taylor. 


STEVE CASTOR, INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE COUNSEL FOR THE MINORITY:  Ambassador Taylor, I want to turn to the discussion of the irregular channel you described. 

And in fairness, this irregular channel of diplomacy, it`s not as outlandish as it could be, is that correct? 

TAYLOR:  It`s not as outlandish as it could be, I agree. 



MADDOW:  Yes, sir, could be even weirder I suppose.  They could wear like Mexican wrestling masks.  That would make it weirder. 

So, that`s how the Republican committee starts on the Republican side.  But then, point of order here, if you right now are washing dishes or you`re not looking at the screen or something, this next thing I`m going to show you is a visual.  You want to see this. 

Just watch how Ambassador Bill Taylor responds as the Republican committee counsel keeps going down this road, trying to get Bill Taylor to agree that what President Trump was doing in Ukraine with his cast of characters that were like taking over and running a parallel foreign policy in opposition to the actual foreign policy and seemed to be just sort in the present, he was trying -- he`s trying to get Bill Taylor to say that wasn`t all that weird, right?  It wasn`t totally nuts, was it? 

But like I said this is visual.  You have to watch Bill Taylor`s face here. 


CASTOR:  In the second regular channel Ambassador Sondland who is Senate confirmed ambassador to the E.U., so his involvement here while, you know, not necessarily part of his official duties as the ambassador to the E.U., it`s certainly not outlandish for him to be interested and engaged pursuant to the president or Secretary Pompeo`s direction, correct? 

TAYLOR:  It`s a little unusual for the U.S. ambassador to the E.U. to play a role in Ukraine policy. 

CASTOR:  OK.  And it might be irregular but it`s certainly not outlandish?  And then Secretary Perry is the third member of the irregular channel. 


MADDOW:  He`s like -- you want me to say this is not outlandish?  I -- why don`t you just keep talking there, buddy, I`m going to sit this one out?  And he`s like, OK, I`ll sit this one out.  Let`s move onto the third amigo. 

So, I mean, that was like the best of the Republicans tonight.  That was the counsel they hired specifically for this purpose.  The questioning from the Republican side of the aisle did not elicit a lot of substance today.  Maybe it will get better over time. 

This is an interesting and important story, and hopefully two sides that are sort of equally equipped to try and get at the facts gives you a better shot of getting the full story than just one side pursuing that and the other like being it`s all normal, right, it`s not normal, OK, I`ll move on.  It doesn`t help. 

But what happened today was that kind of questioning from the Republican committee counsel.  And then when the Republicans otherwise tried to continue promoting the theories that underlay these investigations that Trump wanted from Ukraine -- I mean, they were trying to promote those theories, which I think works when they`re in their own bubble and only talking to themselves. 

That argument from the Republicans today, I`m trying to be nice about it, it was hard for them to sustain that in front of these two witnesses who aren`t part of their bubble, who are two long-standing professionals who have lived this work and who actually know of what they speak. 


GOLDMAN:  Now, are you aware that this is all part of a larger allegation that Ukraine interfered in the 2016 election? 

KENT:  Yes, that is my understanding. 

GOLDMAN:  And to your knowledge, is there any factual basis to support the allegation that Ukraine interfered in the 2016 election? 

KENT:  To my knowledge, there`s no factual basis, no. 

GOLDMAN:  And in fact who did interfere in the 2016 election? 

KENT:  I think it`s amply clear that Russian interference was at the heart of the interference in the 2016 election cycle. 

GOLDMAN:  Let`s move to the third excerpt I mentioned related to Vice President Biden.  And it says the other thing, there`s a lot of talk about Biden`s son.  This is president Trump speaking, that Biden stopped the prosecution and a lot of people want to find out about that.  So whatever you can do with the attorney general would be great. 

Biden went around bragging that he stopped the prosecution, so if you could look into it.  It sounds horrible. 

Now at the time of this call, Vice President Biden was the front-runner for the nomination in 2020 election.  Mr. Kent, are you familiar as you indicated in your opening statement about these allegations related to Vice President Biden? 

KENT:  I am. 

GOLDMAN:  And to your knowledge is there any factual basis to support those allegations? 

KENT:  None whatsoever. 

GOLDMAN:  When Vice President Biden acted in Ukraine, did he act in accordance with official U.S. policy?

KENT:  He did. 

REP. JIM HIMES (D-CT):  So, Mr. Kent, as you look at this whole mess, Rudy Giuliani, President Trump, in your opinion -- was this comprehensive and whole of government effort to end corruption in Ukraine? 

KENT:  Referring to the requests in July --

HIMES:  Exactly. 

KENT:  I would not say so.  No, sir. 


MADDOW:  Yes.  So, I was there and I know how these things work, and what Joe Biden did as vice president was carry out normal, overt, out in the open U.S. government policy to support Ukraine and legitimately help them fight corruption. 

What Trump and Giuliani have been trying to do this year was not that.  I know what that looks like.  This was something different. 

So, I mean, there`s a lot to get to.  Huge first day of the impeachment proceedings against the president.  We`re going to have a lot more of these over the next two weeks at least, so we`ve got to pace ourselves. 

And honestly, it`s going to be contentious.  Remember you can`t pursue principled anti-corruption action without pissing off corrupt people.  So, there`s going to be upset people, and things are going to be contentious. 

But as I mentioned at the top, there was one big new factual revelation today, one that puts President Trump even more squarely in the middle of what we now can see was a very consequential crime spree.  That new evidence about the president`s centrality and personal direct involvement in that scheme while it was at its apex being carried out, we`ve got that next.

Stay with us. 


MADDOW:  So as I mentioned a at the top, I`m not sure anyone in the public expected we were going to get new big deal factual revelations from the impeachment scandal today, but surprise, you can never get too comfortable with the story.  It just keeps going. 


TAYLOR:  Last Friday, a member of my staff told me events that occurred on July 26th.  While Ambassador Volker and I visited the front, a member of my staff accompanied Ambassador Sondland, Ambassador Sondland met with Mr. Yermak.  Following that meeting, in the presence of my staff, at a restaurant, Ambassador Sondland called President Trump and told him of his meetings in Kiev. 

The member of my staff could hear president Trump on the phone asking ambassador Sondland about the investigations.  Ambassador Sondland told President Trump the Ukrainians were ready to move forward. 

Following the call with President Trump, the member of my staff asked Ambassador Sondland what President Trump thought about Ukraine.  Ambassador Sondland responded that President Trump cares more about the investigations of Biden, which Giuliani was pressing for. 

At the time I gave my deposition on October 22nd, I was not aware of this information.  I`m including it here for completeness. 


MADDOW:  This was not known before today`s impeachment hearing.  What Ambassador Bill Taylor just described there is something that happened the day after that phone call between President Trump and the Ukrainian president, which kicked off this whole impeachment saga. 

The day after that call, Gordon Sondland, the Trump inaugural donor and rookie diplomat, he called President Trump on his cellphone from a restaurant in Ukraine -- ding, ding, ding -- like red flag sirens going off in the counterintelligence world just about that, right?  He calls President Trump personally on his cellphone from a restaurant in Ukraine.  And an embassy staffer who`s with him in the restaurant in Ukraine overhears on that call President Trump asking Gordon Sondland about Ukraine doing these investigations that he wants. 

When Gordon Sondland hangs up that call with the president, the staffer who`s sitting there with him turns to him and asks him what does President Trump think about Ukraine.  Sondland then reportedly tells the staff, quote, President Trump cares more about the investigations of Biden.

That was new today.  The president personally following up personally and directly with his guy in Ukraine about getting his Biden investigations.  When Bill Taylor dropped that proverbial bomb today, he said this is new information.  He said he had not known this with he gave his earlier deposition, and he said he asked his lawyer to notify the committee about this new information as soon as he learned of it last Friday.  He also said since his council notified the committee about this new fact not previously in the record he said he believed the committee was following up on it. 

Well, indeed, they are.  Now we know. 


SCHIFF:  Well, in terms of the new information that Ambassador Taylor gave today about this conversation the day after President Trump is on the phone with President Zelensky, in which one of Ambassador Taylor`s staff is overhearing a conversation between Sondland and the president, and the president is speaking loud enough where he can hear part of the conversation.  And the president is interested in whether the Ukrainians are going to do the investigation, and Sondland assures him that they are. 

This is very -- obviously very important because there is an effort apparently to by the president`s allies throw Sondland under the bus, throw Mulvaney under the bus, throw anybody under the bus in an effort to protect the president.  But what this call indicates as other testimony has likely indicated, is that the instructions are coming from the president on down.  I think this witness is potentially very important, and, of course, we are moving to depose this witness, and we`ve already scheduled their deposition. 


MADDOW:  New testimony, new revelation about the president`s direct and personal involvement, new witness scheduled to give a deposition to the impeachment committees the day after tomorrow.  That witness will be the staffer to Bill Taylor who overheard that call. 

New stuff every day.  Stay hydrated.  Keep pace.  This is going to get bigger before it gets smaller. 

Joining us now is California Congressman Eric Swalwell, who`s a member of the Judiciary Committee and the Intelligence Committee, which held today`s hearings.

Congressman, sir, it`s great to have you here.  Thanks for your time. 

REP. ERIC SWALWELL (D-CA):  Thank you.  Good evening, Rachel. 

MADDOW:  Let me just ask you your overall view, sir, of what you took away from today`s hearing and what you think the American people learned that was most important. 

SWALWELL:  The most important part of the hearing were the witnesses.  You know, these were people of unimpeachable integrity.  You know, career servants to our country.  Most of their service has been abroad.  And with Ambassador Taylor, that included serving in Vietnam. 

They are not out to get the president as the president and his defenders have suggested.  They saw wrongdoing as Ambassador Taylor said, what the president was seeking to do was just wrong.  And when asked to talk about it, they did not follow the president`s guidance to not come to Congress.  They honored the Constitution.  They came forward, and they described what legitimate U.S. foreign policy is and what they saw as irregular, illegitimate foreign policy. 

But I think, Rachel, one of the most important changes was when Ambassador Taylor described what this meant life and death for Ukrainians.  He said undoubtedly without U.S. security assistance, more Ukrainians will die.  That means the president of the United States was selfishly putting his own campaign`s interests, his re-election interests ahead of the other people who would die because he was leveraging his campaign assistance against their lives. 

MADDOW:  Well, Congressman, I felt there was also a really striking moment actually in your questioning with Ambassador Bill Taylor today.  You just referenced a little bit about what Bill Taylor said in this back and forth, but if you don`t mind I wouldn`t mind just playing this for your viewers, and I`d like to get your explanation of why you brought this up and did this in this way today.  Let`s watch. 


SWALWELL:  You described in your text message exchanges that engaging in a scheme like this, is, quote, crazy.  Can we also agree that it`s just wrong? 

TAYLOR:  Yes. 

SWALWELL:  Why is it wrong? 

TAYLOR:  Again, our holding up of security assistance that would go to a country that I is fighting aggression from Russia for no good policy reason, no good substantive reason, no good national security reason is wrong. 


MADDOW:  Why did you want to draw him out on why that is -- why that`s wrong?  Why ask him for that judgment in that way today? 

SWALWELL:  Rachel, for most people in America who just go to work every day, feed their kids, take care of their family, believe that this is a country where if you work hard, you do better and dream bigger, American values to them are free speech, free markets, free elections.  And there`s a lot of legal terms to describe what the president was trying to do.  But I think for most of us, it was just wrong. 

It was wrong to try to involve a foreign government in our elections.  It was wrong to use our taxpayer dollars to try and get another government to investigate a political opponent.  And I thought it was important to just really bring it down-to-earth through Ambassador Taylor`s own perspective. 

MADDOW:  Ambassador Taylor also broke some news today, at least news that those of us in the public, you in the committee may have known about this for a few days already.  But he shared publicly these new details about one of his staffers overhearing the president directly inquiring the day after his phone call with the president -- with Ukrainian president, directly inquiring about the status of those investigations that he wanted in Ukraine. 

That was new to us the public watching this today. 

It sounds like the committee has been notified about it the last few days.  Can you tell us how that`s significant and how you intend to follow up on that? 

SWALWELL:  Well, it`s significant because I don`t think there`s anyone who`s followed this president who would have a hard time believing the day after he spoke with President Zelensky, that he would call Ambassador Sondland and follow up on these investigations?  It sounds consistent with what we`ve heard in this investigation and what we know about this president. 

Second, and I think this is really important, this information was passed to Ambassador Taylor just a few weeks after he came from Ukraine to Washington to give us his deposition.  That means somebody saw Ambassador Taylor`s opening statement and recognized that they had witnessed wrongdoing themselves and reported it to Ambassador Taylor. 

I think that`s important because the more people who step up who see wrongdoing, they`ll be able to one assistance us in our investigation and, two, help us restore so many of these democratic principles that this president has just taken a wrecking ball to. 

MADDOW:  Congressman Eric Swalwell, a member of the House Intelligence Committee -- sir, I know that sleep is at a premium right now -- 


MADDOW:  -- as is prep time.  Thanks for making time for us tonight.

SWALWELL:  My pleasure.  Thanks, Rachel.

MADDOW:  All right.  Much more ahead tonight on this historic night, including one very, very simple, cheap thing that is repeatedly turning out to be trouble for the president.  That became more clear than ever today.  And that story is next. 

Stay with us. 


MADDOW:  Maybe he will try a ban on pencils or paper.  He could -- he could ban the use of paper in conjunction with pens or pencils, throughout the executive branch, as long as he`s president. 

That might improve -- one of the things that has really bedeviled President Trump and his many scandals thus far is that as he and his supporters have tried to paint witnesses to the president`s behavior as unreliable or as liars, it keeps turning out that these witnesses, these law enforcement and intelligence professionals, and experienced diplomats and other people who filled the upper echelons of the federal government, and who therefore have the opportunity to witness the president`s behavior, turns out these folks tend to be trained, inveterate note takers.  It`s absolutely terrible for the president. 


REP. MIKE QUIGLEY (D-IL):  Mr. Kent, as the day to day State Department point person in Washington on Ukraine policy, were you aware of this effort to persuade President Zelensky to issue a statement in order to get a White House meeting while they were happening? 

KENT:  When this exchanged happened on August 10th, I was not. 

QUIGLEY:  When did you learn about them? 

KENT:  As ambassador Taylor referenced earlier in his testimony in oral answering, he heard on August 16th, he then called me and we had a conversation.  And at that point, I memorialized my concerns in a note to the file. 

DEMINGS:  Mr. Kent, you are aware that your notes have not been turned over to Congress? 

KENT:  I have turned all my records I had in my possession to the State Department because whatever we do is considered a federal record not a personal record. 

GOLDMAN:  Now, Ambassador Taylor, you -- in your statement, you outlined a very detailed time line, in fact, we have a written copy here and you included some phrases and words in quotations.  Did you take notes of this conversation on September 1st with Ambassador Sondland? 

TAYLOR:  I did. 

GOLDMAN:  And did you take notes related to most of the conversations if not all of them that you recited in your opening statement? 

TAYLOR:  All of them, Mr. Goldman. 

GOLDMAN:  And you are aware I presume that the State Department has not provided those notes to the committee, is that right? 

TAYLOR:  I am aware. 

GOLDMAN:  So we don`t have the benefit of reviewing them to ask you these questions? 

TAYLOR:  Correct.  I understand that they may be coming sooner or later. 

GOLDMAN:  Well, we would welcome that.


MADDOW:  Do you take notes on most of the conversations you quoted in your statement?  I took notes on all of those conversations.  Yes, I`m sure.  I take notes on all my conversations.

Now, when Ambassador Bill Taylor volunteered there at the end, when he said I understand they may be coming sooner or later, he said he understands that his notes he turned over to the State Department might be coming to the committee sooner or later, we don`t know exactly what he meant by that.  It did send a bit of a murmur through the hearing room because it seemed to be indicating that he had reason to believe the impeachment committees might be getting some of these documents, some of these notes from these witnesses, some of the multitudinous paper that, of course, have already been subpoenaed from the State Department and more broadly the administration. 

Now, in the normal course of events, that is what you`d expect, right?  After the House subpoenas the State Department for the purpose of these impeachment proceedings, you`d expect the State Department to review the documents in its possession and hand over anything responsive to the subpoena including the kind of handwritten notes that were referenced by today`s two witnesses.  You`d think that in the normal course of events. 

That said, a source familiar with the process of responding to this document request tells us tonight that the White House has instructed the State Department not to even begin reviewing all of the documents that they have had subpoenaed, let alone start the process of handing them over to Congress. 

Again, a source familiar with this process tells us that the White House has instructed the State Department to not even start reviewing its documents let alone handing any of them over.  So, despite Bill Taylor saying documents might be coming.  It looks like, at least our reporting tonight indicates, those documents are not coming maybe at all. 

If so, if these notes aren`t going to turn up, if the supporting documentation for what these witnesses are testifying about isn`t going to turn up and committees aren`t going to get that paper, what does it mean for these impeachment proceedings, what does that mean for the testimony of all these witnesses, the ones today, and all the ones that are stacked up for the next two weeks?  They all kept notes.  But the administration is keeping their notes and their communications, their e-mails, their text messages, in some cases even their phones and they`re not letting the committees see those items and documents.  What does that do to the process? 

Hold that thought. 



REP. SEAN PATRICK MALONEY (D-NY):  What year did you graduate from West Point? 

TAYLOR:  1969, sir. 

MALONEY:  That`s the height of the Vietnam War, wasn`t it, sir? 

TAYLOR:  The height was about that time. 

MALONEY:  What was your class rank at West Point? 

TAYLOR:  I was number 5. 

MALONEY:  How many people in your class? 

TAYLOR:  Eight hundred. 

MALONEY:  Eight hundred cadets, you were number 5. 

TAYLOR:  Yes, sir. 

MALONEY:  So, when you were top 1 percent of your class at West Point, you probably get your pick of assignments, but you picked the infantry. 

TAYLOR:  I did, sir.  Yes, sir. 

MALONEY:  You were rifle company commander. 

TAYLOR:  Sir? 

MALONEY:  Where`d you serve? 

TAYLOR:  In Vietnam. 

MALONEY:  Did you see combat in Vietnam, sir? 

TAYLOR:  I did. 

MALONEY:  Did you earn any accommodations for that service? 

TAYLOR:  I was awarded the Combat Infantryman`s Badge which is my highest I`m proudest of.  There was a Bronze Star.  There was an Air Medal --

MALONEY:  That`s for valor, isn`t it, sir? 

TAYLOR:  It is. 

MALONEY:  On August 28th you find yourself in Ukraine with the national security advisor Mr. Bolton, right? 

TAYLOR:  Yes, sir. 

MALONEY:  And you convey your concerns.  He tells you that you should bring it up with the secretary of state.

TAYLOR:  Yes, sir.

MALONEY:  Have you sent a cable like that?  How many times in your career, 40, 50 years, have you sent a cable directly to the secretary of state? 

TAYLOR:  Once. 

MALONEY:  This time? 

TAYLOR:  Yes, sir. 

MALONEY:  In 50 years? 

TAYLOR:  Rifle company commanders don`t send cables.  But yes, sir. 


MADDOW:  How many times in your career have you sent a cable like that?  Once in 50 years, but rifle company commanders don`t send cables. 

You know, it wouldn`t help to be able to see that cable, though, right?  The impeachment committees haven`t seen it.  Impeachment committees haven`t seen anything from the State Department at all, including not just the cables, but these witnesses handwritten notes, which the State Department has and is keeping and not letting the committees see. 

Can they keep stuff like that from the committees forever?  And as an investigatory matter, is witness testimony like we saw today, is it disadvantaged with the committees not being able to see the notes that bolster the cases that these witnesses are making? 

Joining us now is Barbara McQuade, former U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan.

Barb, it`s great to have you here on such a big night.  Thanks for making time for us. 

BARBARA MCQUADE, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY:  Oh, thanks, Rachel.  I`m glad to be here. 

MADDOW:  So, I know this isn`t a courtroom.  I know this is different type of proceeding, but obviously, it had a -- it had a witness in a courtroom feel to some of it today.  Do you think that the witness testimony from these witnesses today or from future witnesses could be disadvantaged in terms of its value to the inquiry because the committee isn`t -- it seems like it`s not going to get any of the notes or documentation to back up what these witnesses are saying? 

MCQUADE:  Yes.  So, the notes themselves, you know, if it were a courtroom, are not typically admissible.  It`s the testimony itself, although notes can be helpful to refresh a witness` recollection and can be used for that purpose.  If you ask somebody about something that happened many months ago, they may say it can help me if I look at my notes to refresh my memory of that. 

But the part I think is a real disadvantage here are the other documents -- the cables, the e-mails, the text messages and all those things because those can tend to corroborate witness testimony. 

We already have Republicans here who are attacking the testimony.  They`re saying this is hearsay.  This is secondhand information and the like.  That kind of documentary evidence could support what they`re saying, and so, I think this strategy, though, could ultimately backfire on the administration because as they say that these State Department officials, administration officials are not required to testify, they`re asserting privileges, executive privileges, absolute immunity. 

The more this information is necessary, the more compelling the argument that it needs to be turned over.  And so, every time they attack these witnesses as hearsay and secondhand information, they are making the case that these documents should be turned over. 

MADDOW:  I also want to ask you, Barb, about this new revelation, new information we got from Ambassador Taylor today.  He says a member of his staff overheard a phone call that Gordon Sondland placed to the president personally from his cellphone from a restaurant in Ukraine which itself is mind-bending, right, that the president is having a call about a sensitive national matter over a cellphone at a restaurant in Ukraine, like that`s not how these things are supposed to go. 

That itself is mind-bending from a counter intelligence perspective.  But on this call, the Ambassador Taylor`s staffer reportedly heard the president asking about these investigations that he wanted in Ukraine, asking his guy in Ukraine about those investigations? 

Aside from this just being new information, do you think this is potentially significant in terms of linking the president more deeply and personally to the crimes at the center of this scandal? 

MCQUADE:  I do.  I thought it was very surprising just because it was new.  You know, we already heard the depositions and seen the transcript testimony.  So, I was surprised we had a new fact.

But I do think it was particularly significant because it links President Trump into the scheme.  It is not now just a one off conversation on July 25th when he mentions in his rambling fashion that he would like Ukraine to do us a favor, though.  He is following up.  He wants to know what`s going on with the investigation, and he hears from Sondland that Ukraine is ready to proceed and move forward with this. 

So, it demonstrates that President Trump is involved.  He cares what`s happening, he wants status updates.  And I think that`s significant. 

You know, there has been some suggestion that one of the defenses might be to suggest that Rudy Giuliani was going rogue or Mick Mulvaney and some of these others were orchestrating it without the president`s knowledge.  So, the more information you have tying President Trump to this scheme, the more likely it is that he is impeachable.  And so, I think this revelation today is extremely significant for that reason. 

MADDOW:  Barbara McQuade, former U.S. attorney in Eastern District of Michigan, Barb, it`s great to have you here tonight.  Thanks a lot for your time. 

MCQUADE:  Thanks, Rachel.  Glad to be here.  And I`m going to have that saying you have needlepoint tattooed on my back. 

MADDOW:  It is kind of a nice badge of honor thing, right?  I -- like, I`m going to learn to needlepoint tonight specifically so I can learn to do that.  Thanks, Barb.  Good to see you.

We`ll be right back. 



GOLDMAN:  Mr. Kent, are you familiar, as you indicated in your opening statement, about these allegations related to Vice President Biden? 

KENT:  I am. 

GOLDMAN:  And to your knowledge, is there any factual basis to support those allegations? 

KENT:  None whatsoever. 

GOLDMAN:  When Vice President Biden acted in Ukraine, did he act in accordance with official U.S. policy? 

KENT:  He did. 

The vice president`s role was critically important.  It was top cover to help us pursue our policy agenda. 

The vice president was promoting U.S. policy objectives in Ukraine. 

HIMES:  So, Joe Biden was participating in an open effort, established whole government effort to address corruption in Ukraine? 

KENT:  That is correct. 


MADDOW:  Deputy Assistant Secretary of State George Kent repeatedly testifying today that despite whatever Rudy Giuliani might be trying to sell you for a nickel, Vice President Joe Biden did the right thing when it came to his dealings with Ukraine when he was vice president, unlike some other people who we know trying to do dealings with Ukraine right now. 

Today was like a double-barreled problem for the president, triple- barreled, maybe.  I mean, number one, the president`s behavior was nailed down by important witnesses to that context -- to that conduct.  Also, it was put in the context of how dangerous the president`s behavior was for our country.  How much the thing he got caught doing in Ukraine to try to benefit himself was at the expense of America`s serious national security interests. 

And third barrel -- forgive the metaphor going awry -- but, bonus, there ended up being lots of testimony today, including to the Republican hapless committee counsel who was trying to take this in a different direction, ended up being lots of testimony how actually Vice President Biden did nothing wrong in Ukraine.  He was key to America`s rational, national security and foreign policy work in that country and was part of a whole of government effort. 

None of that is good for the argument that`s been coming from President Trump and Rudy Giuliani all of the other dwarves.  I mean, whether or not this leads to the president`s impeachment and the White House and the president`s supporters in Congress are still not only fighting that, they`re still trying to use this scandal to slime former Vice President Joe Biden ahead of the 2020 election, that turns out to be amazing. 

And for those of us watching at home, I mean, alongside that, there`s the fact that it turns out, the Democratic presidential field for 2020, even as of today, is still not settled.  NBC News and others reporting tonight that the Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick is about to join the presidential race for 2020.  According to "The New York Times", he plans to enter the race tomorrow morning and then head to the New Hampshire statehouse to fill out paperwork to get himself onto the primary ballot there.

And so, even as the president`s being impeached for this scheme he was setting up to try to dirty up Joe Biden for 2020, even as that`s happening, still, the Democratic 2020 field is still growing.  Another reminder that the news is not going to let up on any front anytime soon. 

We`ll see you again tomorrow night. 


Good evening, Lawrence.  We`re happy to have you back. 

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