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One-on-one with Susan Rice. TRANSCRIPT: 11/14/19, The Rachel Maddow Show.

Guests: Susan Rice, Michael Biesecker

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:  Good evening, Chris.  Thanks, my friend.  I appreciate it. 

HAYES:  You bet.

MADDOW:  Now, thanks to you at home for joining us this hour.

First of all, let me clear something up right away.  The first of the Donald J. Trump impeachment hearings yesterday, the one with Bill Taylor and George Kent from the State Department as witnesses, that first hearing yesterday started at 10:00 a.m. Eastern.  The second impeachment hearing is tomorrow, but it does not start at 10:00 a.m. Eastern like the first one did.  It starts an hour earlier at 9:00 a.m., not 10:00. 

So, you probably need to reset your alarm or re-plan your morning around when you`re telling people you will not be available to answer the phone.  Tomorrow 9:00 a.m. 

Tomorrow`s witness is going to be Marie Masha Yovanovitch.  She was a casualty of President Trump`s scheme in Ukraine in that she was pulled out of her job as U.S. ambassador in that country after a bizarre smear campaign against her that was led by people like the president`s lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, and the president`s eldest son.  Why was he involved in the campaign against Masha Yovanovitch as Ukraine ambassador?  Why was he involved? 

It also involved the president`s indicted little friends whom -- who he insists he has definitely never met, definitely never had anything to do with, he definitely doesn`t know these guys, has never encountered them, wouldn`t know them.  But these guys are now charged under our federal indictment that among other things lays out their role in this weird smear campaign to oust the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch.  So we`ll have more on that coming up later on in the show this hour.  And, of course, we`ll all get to hear from Marie Yovanovitch tomorrow at 9:00, at 9:00 a.m. Eastern. 

I have thought all week that tomorrow`s hearing was at 10:00.  It`s not.  It`s at 9:00. 

If the reaction to the first day of the hearings is anything to go by, I think we should expect tomorrow is going to be another big deal.  You know, it`s a historic day when the headline about any one news event spreads across all of the columns, right, the entire masthead of the national papers. 

This is the headline from "The Washington Post" today, for the first day -- reporting on the first day of the Trump impeachment, testimony puts Trump closer to scandal.  This was the all the way across the front page headline in "The New York Times" today.  They put theirs in capital letters.  Envoy reveals scope of Trump Ukraine push. 

This was "The L.A. Times", testimony builds case against Trump.  Here`s "The St. Louis Post Dispatch," pressure campaign, testimony ties Trump more directly to Ukraine efforts.  This is "The Philly Inquirer": Historic hearings begin.  This was the print edition of "Politico": Democrats land damning new evidence in testimony. 

This was one of my favorites actually, "The Providence Journal" in Rhode Island.  They kept it simple this is the whole top half of the front page all driven by that big photo and the supporting photos in the supporting cast of characters, but that simple headline, impeachment begins.

If you still subscribe to the print edition of the paper, number one, God bless you.  That`s how I learned how to read as a little kid was reading the newspaper at the kitchen table.  Thank you, mom and dad, for always having at least one newspaper around. 

If you do get the print edition of your paper, wherever you live today, with whatever your local paper`s headline was on the front page with the start of the impeachment, this is probably one of those issues of the newspaper you want to tuck away and save.  This is history.  This doesn`t happen very often in the United States of America. 

But we are now in the middle of it going forward.  The second impeachment hearing is going to be tomorrow.  And there`s breaking news tonight on the scope of the inquiry.  Super interesting to me. 

"The Washington Post" is first to report tonight that an official named Mark Sandy is expected to testify to the impeachment committees.  Now, this is name we have not previously heard in conjunction with the impeachment. 

Who is Mark Sandy?  Why is this important?  Excellent question, super interesting answer.  I think this is fascinating. 

All right, you go back to the original whistle-blower`s complaint, and you`ll remember right at the top of the whistle-blower`s complaint, we got the core allegation that has led to the impeachment and will likely ultimately lead to the first article of impeachment against the president.  The whistle-blower said right at the top: In the course of my official duties, I have received information from multiple U.S. officials that the president of the United States is using the power of his office to solicit interference from a foreign country in the 2020 U.S. election.  This interference includes among other things pressuring a foreign country to investigate one of the president`s main domestic political rivals. 

So that was, like, the opening gambit.  That was the thesis state of the whistle-blower`s complaint, right?  And that`s the main thing the president is being impeached for.  You can`t ask a foreign government, you can`t ask a foreign entity even a foreign person for help in a U.S. election. 

The president doing so with a foreign government trying to get that foreign government to announce an investigation into his potential opponent in his re-election effort, I mean, you just -- you just can`t do that.  That`s not legal. 

And so, we get this whistle-blower from the intelligence community who blows the whistle on the fact the president was doing this, and then in fact the whistle-blower cites multiple U.S. officials as the source for his whistle-blower claim.  I`ve received information from multiple U.S. government officials and in fact multiple U.S. officials confirmed that it happened. 

And then the president confessed that he did it, and so now we`re having a big impeachment.  Everybody`s invited. 

But you might also remember that the whistle-blower had this complaint that laid out that basic allegation that we saw in supporting information around it, described what happened in the phone call to the Ukrainian president and all that other stuff. 

But the whistle-blower also attached to his or her complaint a classified addendum.  This was a page and a half.  It was described by the whistle- blower as classified.  It was ultimately declassified, so it could be released to the public.  That`s why we can see most of it, although there are still some redactions. 

And it was in that part of the whistle-blower`s complaint, in the classified addendum that the whistle-blower mentioned that in addition to his or her other claims about the president`s behavior -- holy Toledo -- it looks like in addition to the president soliciting Ukraine to give him help against Joe Biden, it also looks like the president was holding up aid to Ukraine while he applied that pressure on them. 

This is from the classified annex of the whistle-blower`s complaint.  Quote, on 18 July, an office informed departments and agencies that the president earlier that month had issued instructions to suspend all U.S. security assistance to Ukraine.  Neither OMB nor National Security Council staff knew why this instruction had been issued. 

Again, that`s from the whistle-blower`s complaint.  And that part of it, too, has been borne out since by multiple witnesses in a position to know. 


WILLIAM TAYLOR, ACTING U.S. AMBASSADOR TO UKRAINE:  In a regular NSC secure videoconference call on July 18th, I heard a staff person from the Office of Management and Budget say there was a hold on security assistance to Ukraine but could not say why.  For the end of an otherwise normal meeting, a voice on the call, the person was off-screen, said that she was from OMB and her boss had instructed her not to approve any additional spending on security assistance from Ukraine until further notice. 

I and others sat in astonishment.  Ukrainians were fighting Russians and counted on not only the training and weapons but also the assurance of U.S. support.  All that the OMB staff person said was that the directive had come from the president. 


MADDOW:  So the president is being impeached for trying to get Ukraine to investigate Democrats to help them in his election, you know, full stop, no matter what else he did.  But the icing on that cake, right, is him using the withholding of military aid to up the pressure on Ukraine to do that.  And that is also all now coming out, too, over the course of this impeachment inquiry.  It was in the initial whistle-blower`s complaint.  It has been borne out by the inquiry since. 

And it was "The Wall Street Journal" that first reported in a really important piece from October 10th -- it was "The Wall Street Journal" that first reported how this whole issue of withholding the military aid might have played out inside the White House, and it laid out the circumstances there in a way that sort of offered a road map for the investigators to follow. 

"The Wall Street Journal" reported that after career budget staffers questioned the legality of delaying military aid to Ukraine, the White House instead gave a politically appointed official the authority to hold those funds, citing people familiar with the matter.  "The Journal" said, quote, career officials at the Office of Management and Budget became worried they didn`t have the legal authority to hold up the funds.  And while those career civil servants did put the initial hold on the aid per the president`s orders, the White House ultimately gave an apolitical appointee named Michael Duffey, the authority to continue to keep the aid on hold after the career staff began raising their concerns. 

The political officials like Mr. Duffey signing off on apportionments is unusual, according to several former OMB officials.  Career staff at OMB with years and sometimes decades of technical knowledge of funding process have historically overseeing this process.

So it`s weird for a political appointee to be shoved in there to do the job instead, while what was his qualification, what was Michael Duffey`s qualification for taking over this important process that usually people with decades of technocratic experience are only allowed to run inside the White House?  Right? 

Trained expert career staff raised concerns what the president has ordered here is illegal.  So they take out those trained career expert staff, and they instead put in this guy Michael Duffey, this political appointee.  What about him made him qualified to do this job instead of the expert career officials?  What was his background? 

Mr. Duffey had been, quote, the executive director of the Wisconsin Republican Party.  Oh. 

So the president is pressuring Ukraine to give him a Joe Biden investigation.  He orders military aid to Ukraine with hold while he`s putting that pressure on them.  The career staff at the White House say, well, OK, Mr. President, we`ll put a hold on this for now but we think it`s illegal to do this in any sustained sort of way. 

I mean, the implication of this reporting in "The Wall Street Journal" although they do not explicitly assert, is whether the career staff said they weren`t going to keep signing off on this drug deal, on this proverbial drug deal.  And so, the White House had to take those people out of the mix, say fine you guys don`t have to sign anything.  We`ll instead have the former executive director of the Wisconsin Republican Party, he`s working around here somewhere, we`ll name him as the guy in charge of signing off on the release or holding up of military aid.  And, of course, naturally, he`ll be fine with it. 

That`s apparently how it worked.  And so at least through July and August and well into September when this whole scheme ultimately got exposed and the whistle-blower complaint got delivered to Congress and Congress went nuts, right, through all that time Ukraine was not getting its military aid on orders from the president.  And in order to carry that out the White House had to install a guy to keep signing off on withholding that aid even though career staffers thought that was a crime. 

Well, again, "The Wall Street Journal" reported that October 10th.  Naturally, the impeachment committees thereafter subpoenaed the Wisconsin Republican Party guy to get him to testify.  Now, you`ve been signing off on what now, and how did you get put in charge of that, and how are you qualified to do that?  They subpoenaed him to come testify.  He refused.  He`s ignoring the subpoena. 

In fact, no one from the White House Office of Budget and Management is responding subpoenas or agreeing to testify under any terms until tonight.  Until now. 

Now, Mark Sandy, this guy you`ve never heard of in conjunction with the impeachment or anything else, Mark Sandy is saying he`s going to testify.  And he given his job would appear to be super important to the story because he appears to be the nonpartisan technocratic expert career official who did initially sign-off on holding up this aid to Ukraine on the president`s orders, but upon realizing and we believe expressing what the president orders was illegal, he appears to be the guy they had to push out, who they had to replace with the former executive director of the Wisconsin Republican Party, the guy who would be happy to sign-off on keeping Ukraine from getting its military assistance even if the career expert staff thought that was illegal to do so. 

Well, now, the career expert staff guy has agreed to testify.  His lawyer telling "The Washington Post" tonight, quote, if he is subpoenaed he will appear.  Quote, Mr. Sandy was among the career staffers who raised questions about the hold up on the aid, and his role gave him responsibility for signing the documents required to hold it up.  Sandy`s signature appears on at least one of these so-called apportionment letters in July that prevented the money from going to Ukraine.  But after that, the process for approving or denying such funds was taken over by a political appointee at OMB, Mike Duffey, who defied a congressional subpoena to testify earlier this month. 

So, fascinating turn, right?  Really interesting new development.  I mean, it`s one thing to commit a crime as president.  It`s another thing to not just carry it out yourself but to order other people who work in the government to commit that crime for you. 

When government workers who know better realize that you`re telling them to commit a crime on your behalf and they balk at doing that and they say no - - well, sure, maybe you can find a political appointee with just the right type of moral compass to step in and take over that job from those career officials.  Sure, that might work for a while.  That might work until the story comes out about what you did and then the government workers who you ordered to commit that crime, who said no to you, who you then replaced on the judge with somebody who would commit that crime for you -- yes, it`ll all work until those people agree to testify about what they know and about what you did.  And that`s where we are. 

So, Marie Yovanovitch who had to be pushed out as ambassador to Ukraine so that Trump and Giuliani could pull off whatever they were trying to pull off with the Ukrainian government, she`s going to testify tomorrow. 

And this career OMB official who will be testifying about Trump holding up the military aid, that`s new.  That`s something we just learned tonight. 

Now, that testimony will be a closed door deposition on Saturday.  They`re going to hold that over the weekend.  Maybe ultimately the official will be called onto give public testimony as well.  We don`t yet know.  We`ll see. 

But as the story evolves in this way and ahead of tomorrow`s second impeachment hearing, I think it`s also just worth articulating the existence of the elephant in the room here, right?  Because I know this is basic and I know you know it, but I feel like it`s easy to lose sight of as we head into the second public impeachment hearing.  There`s a reason that when the whistle-blower complaint was first filed, that bit about holding up the military aid to Ukraine, that was filed separately in a classified appendix. 

When the whistle-blower knew even that complaint was getting delivered to Congress which is what he or she wanted, still, this bit about the military aid to Ukraine being held up, the whistle-blower took steps to try to make sure that was treated with special care.  That the president`s order to hold up military aid to Ukraine would be handled tighter, restricted more, fewer people would see that, right?  Why would the whistle-blower want to make sure that part of what the whistle-blower is alleging, this incredibly inflammatory allegation that the whistle-blower is making about the president of the United States committing clearly impeachable and illegal acts in office to benefit himself politically at the expense of U.S. national security and our allies. 

I mean, the whistle-blower is willing to say a lot on page one of that complaint.  But that bit about the president holding military aid to Ukraine, keep that classified.  Why should that be kept more quiet? 

Well, we have since learned in this education we`ve all had as civilians watching these impeachment hearings rollout, as we`ve learned from these witnesses who are experts in this field, we have since learned from them that the reason you`d want to keep something like that as quiet as possible is because among other things, that becoming public knowledge, it becoming known around the world that U.S. military aid to Ukraine was being held up, that itself is a damaging thing to Ukraine.  Not just them losing the aid which hurts them materially but everybody knowing their aid was in jeopardy, it was being held up by the American president, that itself incurs damage. 


TAYLOR:  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 to the war in Donbass depends on the United States and other international support.  If we withdraw or suspend or threaten to withdraw or 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. 


MADDOW:  The Russians are looking for any sign of weakness, any sign that we are withdrawing our support for Ukraine.  So, if it becomes known that that support is threatened, that itself hurts Ukraine.  That benefits Russia, right? 

The president was holding up aid to Ukraine to try to pressure them to cook up these investigations to help them against the Democrats in 2020.  But in using Ukraine that way and in putting on ice hundreds of millions of dollars of U.S. aid to them, he hurt them.  He hurt their national security. 

He specifically as Bill Taylor just explained there yesterday, he hurt their negotiating position vis-a-vis Russia, with whom they are in a war right now, which means Russia benefits from Trump doing that.  From Trump withholding that military aid, Russia benefits from that because it shows that Ukraine doesn`t have the kind of American and international support that Ukraine might have thought they had.  And so they`re weaker than everybody thought they were.  They`re more at Russia`s mercy. 

Right, even with the military aid now being forced to be released because of this scandal, that`s how this thing is shaking out now, in terms of who benefits. 

Quote: In the past, American diplomats worked closely with Kiev in any talks with Moscow.  They presented a united front with the Kremlin.  They cajoled the European Union to maintain sanctions.  They tried to reassure a nervous Ukrainian public. 

But now, the United States is largely absent from the political and diplomatic process over resolving the war in the East.  The leader of one pro-U.S. political party in Ukraine telling "The Washington Post" today, quote, Ukraine is now kind of naked.  We are alone confronting Russia. 

David Ignatius -- excuse me, that was in "The New York Times" not "The Washington Post."  David Ignatius in "The Washington Post" raising much the same alarm today.  Trump`s Ukraine machinations have yielded the diminution of U.S. power and a corresponding increase in Russia`s military and diplomatic leverage.  The United States was an important backup for Ukraine.  Losing that support puts Kiev in a weaker bargaining position vis-a-vis Russia. 

How is the United States shaping events as Ukraine is rebalanced now?  America isn`t really a player.  Trump said in September while meeting Zelensky in New York, quote, I really hope that you and President Putin can get together and solve your problem. 

  Yes, we know we used to be your ally, your most important ally, we know we used to stand shoulder to shoulder with you so you never felt like you had to face Russia alone, but now, you`re alone.  Good luck against Putin now.  See what you can work with him, then get back to me.  If it works out, maybe you`ll get a White House visit.  Otherwise, maybe not. 

I mean, we are in the middle of this impeachment now, and it is still unfolding, and there is still more to learn.  And tomorrow is going to be - - tomorrow should be a big deal even just the news tonight is a big deal.  But even after one day of public hearings so far, the elephant in the room here feels like it`s rearing up and stomping its feet, because who benefits with all these things Trump has done?  With all of them, with all this stuff in the middle of the impeachment, but all the other stuff he`s doing simultaneously? 

I mean, it wasn`t just pressure on Ukraine to cough up investigations against Joe Biden, right?  It was withholding military aid, withholding the military aid, letting it be known the military aid was in question, that alone disadvantaged Ukraine in their hot war fight against Russia, benefit to Russia.  The U.S. special envoy to Ukraine, which was specifically tasked to help Ukraine in its war, in its negotiations against Russia, that was this guy Kurt Volker who resigned when he was called in to testify in the impeachment hearings. 

We just learned the Trump administration isn`t going to fill that job, now that Volker resigned from it.  They`re getting rid of that job now.  No more dedicated U.S. envoy for helping Ukraine with their war on Russia.  I`m sure Russia is delighted by that, too. 

We learned from the testimony of foreign service officer, Christopher Anderson, whose testimony has been released in transcript form, we learned from him that when Russia attacked Ukrainian ships and took a whole bunch of Ukrainian sailors prisoner this time last year, the Trump White House blocked a statement of condemnation from being issued against Russia for having done that.  Why did the Trump White House block a statement condemning Russia seizing Ukrainian ships and stealing Ukrainian sailors?  Trump White House blocked that.  Benefit to Russia.

We learned from Anderson as well when a CNN story ran last year about the U.S. Navy doing an exercise in the Black Sea that was portrayed as the U.S. military standing up to the Russia in the Black Sea, President Trump saw that report and called national security advisor John Bolton at home to tell Bolton how upset he was by that report.  And in response, the White House ordered the Navy to not do that exercise in the Black Sea.  Wouldn`t want to upset Russia. 

We learned from National Security Council staffer Catherine Croft whose testimony has also been released in transcript form that even after the administration set a new policy that Ukraine would get javelin missiles from the U.S. and everybody signed off on that policy, and the State Department, and the Defense Department, everybody else, National Security Council, everybody`s onboard, the White House specifically intervened with a late hold on those missiles.  Why?  What was the White House concerned about?  According to Catherine Croft, quote, that Russia would react negatively to the provision of javelins to Ukraine.  Yes, we can`t have that. 

I mean, on the day that President Trump was promising that he definitely wasn`t watching his first impeachment hearing, that day, President Erdogan of Turkey is at the White House, yesterday.  And that relationship is weird and inexplicable enough.  But when Trump does Erdogan this favor, right, and precipitously pulls U.S. troops out of northeastern Syria, in a phone call to Erdogan, he decides it`s going to be done, he does it, the immediate result is that Turkey and Russia come in to take over that land that our allies and U.S. special forces had been holding in northeastern Syria. 

The U.S. base there -- literally now has the American base there now has the Russian flag flying over it.  And Russian soldiers are now using that base.  And Russian soldiers are now patrolling that part of the country where U.S. troops and U.S. allies were removed by President Trump`s actions.  We`re out, here Putin you can have it. 

Turkey has also just bought Russian anti-aircraft weapons.  Turkey is a member of NATO.  Having a NATO member buy advanced Russian weapon systems is a huge military coup for Russian and it is a crisis for NATO.  I mean, not to get into the technicalities of it, but giving -- having a NATO member operating a sophisticated Russian anti-aircraft missile system like this potentially exposes the most secret U.S. fighter jet technology to the Russians. 

Thanks, Turkey.  Thanks for doing that. 

Republican senators who were upset by that and who are upset by the Turkish military attacking our allies in Syria, President Trump weighed in during this White House visit to try to smooth that all over, to try to calm down Republican senators about that, to try to make it OK for Turkey. 

So, it`s OK that they attacked our allies, and it`s OK that they`ve got to keep those sophisticated Russian weapons.  Trump wants Turkey to keep those sophisticated Russian weapons, regardless of what that means for U.S. military superiority and for NATO.  Advantage Russia. 

I mean even the core weirdness at the heart of the impeachment.  Trump didn`t just ask Ukraine to announce bogus investigations into Joe Biden, right?  Remember what else he asked Ukraine to investigate, he asked them to investigate 2016, specifically this weird conspiracy theory that it wasn`t Russia that messed with our elections in 2016, it was Ukraine messing with our elections. 

So, David Sanger of "The New York Times" calls one of the many odd twists in the partisan noise around impeachment.  President Trump`s effort to divert attention from suspicions about the 2016 hack away from Russia.  He calls it a completely discredited theory that Ukrainian hackers, not Russia`s military intelligence were responsible for the hack. 

Where did this completely discredited theory come from that it was Ukraine that meddled in the 2016 election and not Russia?  I mean, all of the U.S. intelligence and the bipartisan Senate Intelligence Committee concludes without any equivocation it was Russia who messed with us.  The president is advancing this theory instead it wasn`t Russia, it was Ukraine.  Ukraine did it.

Where does that come from?  We actually now have an origin story from where that came from?  The recently released -- this is just recently released by a court order.  Recently released FBI interview notes with Trump`s deputy campaign chair Rick Gates gives us our earliest known appearance of that weird conspiracy theory in the wild.

From the FBI interview notes with Rick Gates.  Quote, Gates recalled Paul Manafort saying the hack was likely carried out by the Ukrainians, not the Russians.  Why did Manafort say that, that, quote, parroted a narrative that Kilimnik often supported. 

Kilimnik, Konstantin Kilimnik, that`s the person who was saying that it was Ukraine, not Russia.  That`s where Paul Manafort got it from.  Who`s Konstantin Kilimnik?  Konstantin Kilimnik is the guy who Manafort worked for years in Ukraine, Konstantin Kilimnik who came out of Russian military intelligence, who the FBI assesses is still linked to Russian military intelligence. 

So, this whole thing that the president and the White House and Republicans in Congress now are actively promoting, this conspiracy theory that Russia didn`t intervene in the 2016 election, it was Ukraine who did that, that theory appears to have originated with the GRU, with the Russian military intelligence.  With a Russian military intelligence guy who delivered it to the president`s campaign chair who was in prison for laundering with not paying taxes for the millions of dollars he took from pro-Kremlin political allies and political parties in Ukraine. 

I mean, the president is now promoting the conspiracy theory that Russia didn`t intervene in the election at all, it was Ukraine.  That theory is from Russian military intelligence. 

I mean, I know this impeachment inquiry is about one specific thing that the president did about Ukraine, and it is about that for a reason.  I mean, it`s proven that he did it.  He`s admitted he`s done it.  It`s illegal and impeachable, and he`s going to get impeached for it.  I get it.

But literally, everything he`s doing here, including the core allegations at the heart of the impeachment, all just happen to benefit Russia.  All just happen to redound to the benefit of Russia, all of them.  And maybe that is a huge coincidence, but I mean, what do we do with that? 

We`ll get some help with that, next. 



TAYLOR:  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 your important question indicates, Mr. Chairman, to the Russians who are looking for any sign of weakness or any sign we are withdrawing our support for Ukraine. 


MADDOW:  Joining us now for the interview tonight is Susan Rice, former U.N. ambassador.  She`s national security advisor to President Obama.  She`s also the author of the very, very good new book which is called "Tough Love: My Story of the Things Worth Fighting For."

Ambassador Rice, great to have you here.  Thanks so much for coming in. 


MADDOW:  Basically wanted to get you in if I could because I wanted to get your take on public impeachment hearing, the status about this case of the president and the case being laid out by these professionals as we saw by these witnesses yesterday about the stakes, about what was so wrong about the president did.  I just immediately wanted to hear what you think of that. 

RICE:  Well, as they said very plainly yesterday and with great professionalism and patriotism, what the president of the United States appears to have done is abuse his office in the most blatant and gross way, taking security assistance desperately needed by an important American partner which has Russian proxy troops on its soil, has lost 13,000 of its own people in conflict and withheld that assistance in a White House meeting in order to extort information that is evidently completely false information against a political rival. 

So rather than pursuing anything vis-a-vis the national interests with respect to his relationship with the new Ukrainian president, he was trying to export information that he could use against Joe Biden.  And the stakes are extraordinary. 

People are still dying in Ukraine.  Lives have been lost while this aid was withheld.  And frankly, the notion he somehow would have released it had he not come under the pressure of the whistle-blower report and the pressure under Congress is a joke. 

But the other part of this is the message we are sending to the Ukrainians is, you know, we`re fair weather friends if friends at all.  And when we get tired of, you know, of being your partner and providing you the security assistance you need, then we`re gone.  And meanwhile, Russia is winning.  And Russia is reassured that we have really not made a lasting commitment to Ukraine`s security or economic development. 

MADDOW:  The thing I felt I learned in watching those witnesses yesterday and I guess I must have known it somewhere because it resonated with me is that the damage is done.  That even though the aid was ultimately released because of pressure from Congress, because of the whistle-blower complaint, because it`s turned into a gigantic scandal for which the president is now being impeached, the fact it was withheld and everybody now knows that the president was holding it back to get this petty favor for himself or to help him politically has already broken the perception of a principled or permanent alliance with our countries that nobody can interfere with. 

And without that sense of Americans abiding support, Ukraine is indelibly weakened. 

RICE:  Absolutely, there`s no question. 

MADDOW:  How do we fix that? 

RICE:  I`m not sure it can be fixed, certainly not while Donald Trump is president, because what we had previously before Trump was a clearly and unequivocal bipartisan policy of supporting Ukraine and recognizing that Russia`s aggression not only grievous blow to Ukraine, but unchecked would give Russia the signal it can do it elsewhere.  And we`ve seen first Georgia and then Ukraine.  What`s next? 

And now what we`ve said under President Trump is never mind.  You know, we`re not there for you in any sustained way as Trump himself said on live television to Zelensky, good luck on your negotiation with Vladimir Putin.  Hope you guys can work it out.  Where are we?

MADDOW:  And then right after -- and then right after that, he said maybe Zelensky can come to White House, that`s when he can get his White House meeting if he pleases Putin. 

RICE:  Yes.

MADDOW:  I have a lot of other things to ask you. 

Our guest is Susan Rice.  We`ll be right back. 


MADDOW:  Joining us once again is Ambassador Susan Rice, who was President Obama`s national security advisor, former U.S. ambassador to the U.N.

Let me ask you -- looking at the way the first impeachment hearing went, looking ahead tomorrow to Marie Yovanovitch who`s going to be testifying in the second public hearing, I wonder as someone who`s been in the crosshairs of not only partisan attacks but real conservative media concerted attacks on you over the course of your career, that`s one the things you write eloquently about in your book, I wonder how you feel about these career civil servant officers, foreign service officers, nonpartisan officials, people who are not as high profile as you, people who are not super high level political appointees, people who are doing their job, having the spotlight on them the way they do right now. 

I mean, in one sense, it`s heartening because they`re telling the truth and they are being brave, and they`re showing America what it is to do that kind of work.  On the other hand, the spotlight and crosshairs on them has got to be scary. 

RICE:  It`s got to be scary.  It is scary and it is outrageous, and it`s despicable.  These are civil servants, career foreign service officers, career intelligence officers, career military officers who have signed up to serve their country for modest pay because they care about the national interests.  They`ve sworn an oath to the Constitution.  They`re committed to defending it. 

And, you know, all things be equal, none of them would ever want to be a household name.  And here they are being publicly and consistently targeted by the president of the United States.  They have bulls-eyes on their back because the commander-in-chief put them there. 

It`s absolutely outrageous.  These are not political appointees.  And even when it happens to political appointees as it happened to me, it`s often dishonest and extremely unfair.  In this case, these are career civil servants who faithfully served Democratic and Republican administrations for years and done it with professionalism and patriotism, and now, their integrity is being impugned, their whole careers are being maligned, and they continue to come forward and tell the truth.

What I hope comes out of this, Rachel, is that the American people understand how incredibly committed and intelligent and talented and professional the people who work in the U.S. government are.  Whether you`re a Democrat or Republican, these are the people who keep our country humming on a daily basis. 

MADDOW:  When you see -- I mean, we saw the public smear campaign against Ambassador Yovanovitch who`s going to testify tomorrow.  We`re seeing the ongoing smear campaigns against Colonel Vindman, Colonel Alexander Vindman -- 

RICE:  Purple Heart.

MADDOW:  A Purple Heart veteran, a combat veteran. 

And I`ll tell you -- when you talk about their bravery and their commitment, I hear you.  I also wonder as a structural matter, having had all the different kinds of job you`ve had in government, if you feel there is something we can do to avoid the kind of chilling effect that these attacks on these kind of people is going to have on the civil service, on military officers, on anybody in public service to know you might have to walk through this kind of fire just to do your job and just to tell the truth?  Can we -- can we make up any of that ground again? 

RICE:  Well, first of all, it`s never been the case before and hopefully it won`t be the case in the future.  I do think and want to believe that in this regard, what we`ve seen out of Trump and this administration is an aberration.  We`ve never seen civil servants and career officials personally targeted in this way. 

But the other thing that gives me hope is the fact that they do continue to be honest, to tell the truth, to take great risks, and they`re being rewarded in the sense that I think many Americans understand now just how committed and dedicated these people are.  And so, they`ve earned our gratitude and respect.  In some ways, I think that may empower people who are continuing to try to serve despite these extraordinary difficult conditions. 

MADDOW:  They`re certainly creating a sense of sort of civic role models in a way that we didn`t know we needed to have.  But --

RICE:  Look, public service is extraordinarily rewarding, even if like me, you`ve had a few knives in your back along the way.  There`s no greater honor than serving your country and working with smart people.  And now, we have a president making it difficult. 

But these people have served long enough to know this is not the way it`s supposed to be and hopefully not the way it will long be. 

MADDOW:  Susan Rice, former national security adviser and U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, and you`re book is "Tough Love: My Story of the Things Worth Fighting For".  Great to have you here.  Thanks a lot.

RICE:  Good to see you.  Thanks so much.

MADDOW:  All right.  We`ll be right back.  Stay with us.


MADDOW:  Yesterday`s impeachment hearing, we got the news that the day after the phone call with the Ukrainian president that led to these impeachment proceedings against President Trump, U.S. diplomat Gordon Sondland allegedly called President Trump on his cellphone from a restaurant in Ukraine.  An embassy staffer who was with Sondland when he placed the call apparently overheard that conversation, including overhearing President Trump asking Sondland about the investigations that he was pressing Ukraine for.  That was yesterday`s revelation at the first impeachment hearing. 

Now, today, the "Associated Press" was first to report that a second individual can corroborate that account.  The "A.P." saying it has learned that, quote, a second U.S. embassy staffer in Kiev overheard a cellphone call between President Trump and his ambassador to the E.U. discussing a need for Ukrainian officials to pursue investigations. 

According to the "A.P.", the second diplomatic staffer also at the table was a Foreign Service officer based in Kiev.  A person briefed on what that officer overheard spoke to the "A.P." on condition of anonymity to discuss a sensitive matter currently under investigation. 

Now, it is important to note this "A.P." report as they say is based on what appears to be a single anonymous source.  NBC News has not spoken to anyone who has confirmed this account at this time. 

In terms of the second person overhearing President Trump on the call, but NBC has confirmed that the second Foreign Service officer was accompanying Sondland during that July visit to Ukraine.  She was what the state department refers to as his control officer during that trip.  So that means she was definitely with him. 

But this additional "A.P." reporting tonight, again single source is intriguing because if this bears out, this could be at least a path to another witness who could corroborate this big new development in the impeachment story about the president`s personal involvement in the core allegations at the heart of the matter. 

The reporter who broke that story from the "A.P." joins us next. 


MADDOW:  A few days ago, "The Associated Press" broke this bananas story about Trump Energy Secretary Rick Perry going to Ukraine for the inauguration of their new president and while he was there putting in a word for two of his new campaign donors who would soon apply for a gigantic contract for drilling rights on Ukraine owned land.  Wouldn`t you know it, they got a 50-year contract from the Ukrainian government after Rick Perry put in a word for them at the inauguration with their president.  Remember how much the Trump administration is trying to fight corruption over there? 

That same reporting team now has just broken the story that it wasn`t just one embassy staffer who overheard Ambassador Gordon Sondland talking with President Trump on a cellphone in a public restaurant about the investigations that Trump was seeking in Ukraine, it may have been an additional source as well who heard that call. 

Michael Biesecker broke that story today along with his team at the "Associated Press". 

You guys are on quite a roll, Michael.  Thanks very much for being here tonight. 


MADDOW:  So, I mentioned before the break the sourcing on this story we`ve been back and forth with NBC today trying to corroborate it.  I know "The Washington Post" has sort of matched your reporting on this.  It does appear that you guys have reported on this based on a single source. 

I have to ask you how confident you are in that sourcing and in the story? 

BIESECKER:  We wouldn`t have gone with a single source if we didn`t feel the information was very reliable. 

MADDOW:  And specifically, this second person is also able to corroborate what we learned in yesterday`s first impeachment hearing that president Trump could be overheard on the call asking about these investigations? 

BIESECKER:  That`s our understanding, is that she was sitting at the table during the lunch with Ambassador Sondland and was able to hear the president.  Apparently, Ambassador Sondland had his cellphone up pretty loud. 

MADDOW:  And I don`t mean to be too, like, specific or weedy about this, but I`ve been trying to figure out how this happened.  I mean, unless it`s a drop dead silent restaurant, is it possible that Sondland actually had the president on speakerphone so that he could show-off that he was speaking with the president and so other people at the table deliberately could hear him? 

BIESECKER:  You know, like you, we`ve been trying to figure out how this occurred.  I can just say our information is that Suriya Jayanti was able to hear part of the call just as the other witness David Holmes as testified to by Ambassador Taylor was able to hear parts of the call, including the president talking about the need for Ukrainian investigations. 

MADDOW:  And, Michael, we know that she had been earlier been invited to testify and perhaps had been scheduled to testify and that was rescheduled around the time of Congressman Elijah Cummings` funeral.  Do we know if she`s still planning to testify either as a closed door deposition or in public? 

BIESECKER:  Our understanding is that she was in Washington from Kiev and scheduled to testify, and then of course with the death of Representative Cummings, everybody was at his funeral, things sort of shutdown for a couple of days.  She went back to Kiev.  So at this time we`re not aware if she`s scheduled to testify. 

MADDOW:  "A.P." reporter Michael Biesecker, congratulations to you and your reporting team, that really have had a number of remarkable scoops on the story just in the past few weeks.  Keep going.  I don`t want to keep you away from your work, sir. 

BIESECKER:  Thank you, Rachel. 

MADDOW:  Thanks for being here. 

All right, we`ll be right back. 


MADDOW:  Tomorrow will be a big day.  Not only is tomorrow a Friday in the year 2019, tomorrow`s going to be day two of the impeachment hearings.  Marie Yovanovitch, ousted as Ukraine ambassador, her testimony and that second impeachment hearing will start at 9:00 a.m. Eastern. 

Also tomorrow, a closed door deposition from somebody named David Holmes.  He`s the first of potentially two staffers from Kiev who heard President Trump on a phone call to Ambassador Gordon Sondland in a restaurant in Ukraine asking Sondland about the investigations into the Bidens that he wanted Ukraine to do. 

I should also tell you that tomorrow.  We will be awaiting a jury verdict in the Roger Stone trial.  The jury is already out deliberating in that case. 

It`s going to be a big day tomorrow.  We`ll see you then.  That does it for us tonight.

Now, it`s time for "THE LAST WORD" where Joy Reid is in for Lawrence tonight. 

Good evening, Joy.

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