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Fiona Hill delivers compelling testimony. TRANSCRIPT: 11/21/19, The Rachel Maddow Show.

Guests: Sean Patrick Maloney

CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST:  You can find all the details on our website.  It`s going to be awesome.

That is "All In" for this evening. 

THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW starts right now. 

Good evening, Rachel.  You guys did an incredible job last night.  I was so impressed with the thoughtfulness and precision and the way you guys moved that through.  It was great. 

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST:  Oh, you are very -- you are very kind.  I have already -- you know me, I have a brain that`s like a bodega security camera that writes itself over every 24 hours.  So, it`s already completely gone for me because time to move on.

HAYES:  Yes.

MADDOW:  But it was -- it was a real honor to be there with those three other women moderators up there.  Those three guys (ph) were fricking fantastic.  So, credit to them.

HAYES:  It was great.

MADDOW:  Thanks, Chris.  Appreciate it. 

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

So, this was the headline on the front page of "The L.A. Times" this morning. 

Sondland implicates president.  Ambassador says he was following Trump`s orders in pressuring Ukraine.  You see the picture there.  This was actually very good story telling in terms of the photo-editing and headline-editing. 

So Sondland implicates the president is the big headline.  And the picture is Sondland getting legal advice, his lawyer talking to him from behind his hand.  And then you see that is actually in support of the sort of secondary front page story there below the main headline which is: He saved himself, not Trump.  Sticking with the president was risky so Sondland broke away.  And there`s him talking to his lawyer, right, about the strategy for saving himself. 

Well done, "L.A. Times".  "L.A. Times" front page today. 

Here was "The Wall Street journal" today five column page one headline: Envoy says Trump directed effort.  Sondland cites quid pro quo between Ukraine probes, meaning Ukraine investigations, and a meeting with the president. 

Here`s "The St. Louis Post-Dispatch" from St. Louis, Missouri.  Banner headline across the whole front page: It was no secret.  Everyone was in the loop, defiant Sondland says he followed Trump`s orders. 

And then you see the supporting stories there down at the bottom below the picture, Vice President Mike Pence.  VP was told Ukraine military aid appeared tied to investigations.  And Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, state chief ensnared in scandal. 

In Kansas City, "Kansas City Star", Mike Pompeo is from -- this "Kansas City Star" is Missouri-based but Kansas City, obviously, nearby to Kansas.  Mike Pompeo is from Kansas.  He`s a big deal in terms of that part of the country.  They therefore also zero in on Pompeo being implicated here. 

Their main headline is Trump directed pressure on Ukraine ambassador says, and then you see the supporting second story in the right-hand column.  Pompeo is directly implicated in Ukraine scandal by Sondland. 

Overseas interestingly, same deal.  This is the "Financial Times" which is based in London.  Another banner headline across their whole front page: Sondland followed orders from Trump on Ukraine quid pro quo, envoy turns on president.  Explosive impeachment testimony, Pompeo implicated. 

Again, Pompeo important, secretary of state, for an overseas paper. 

Here`s "USA Today" and a print edition of "Politico".  They both went with the same all the way across the front page headline today, a quote from Sondland`s testimony: everyone was in the loop.  Sondland affirms quid pro quo.  Yes, there was a quid pro quo. 

At "The Philadelphia Inquirer", this is the front page: Ambassador Trump ordered pressure, Sondland says there was a quid pro quo for Ukraine, announce a probe of Biden to get White House visit, comma phone call. 

From "The Chicago Tribune" to "The Miami Herald", I mean, this is what papers look like all across the country today.  Sondland ties Trump team to quid pro quo.  Sondland, I followed Trump`s orders to pressure Ukraine.  This was "The Washington Post," diplomat acknowledges quid pro quo, directly links probes to aid and visit.  Connects president and top officials to Ukraine effort. 

Vivid testimony shakes inquiry.  Might hasten Democrats timeline.  Sondland`s bombshell leaves Trump`s allies scrambling. 

And I`ll give you one more.  This is "The New York Times."  Look at the front page of "The New York Times" today.  Did you see the print edition today?  Look how stark that is. 

And that stark quote from Sondland as their headline, all capital letters all the way across the front page of "The New York Times": We followed the president`s orders.  And then there`s the supporting headlines: A witness places Secretary of State Pompeo firmly in the loop.  Sondland names top officials in Ukraine push.  And there`s the Peter Baker front page story.  Democrats detect Watergate echo. 

What a time to be alive, right?  I mean, we are living through history.  Free antacids and melatonin for everyone to get us through the end of this.  Now, today may have been the final impeachment hearing for President Trump.  It was at least the final one that is on the schedule right now.  We`re going to talk more about that later in terms of whether this was the last one for sure.  What`s going to happen next here, how this is going to move forward. 

But if you thought, I mean, looking at today`s headlines, if you thought that Ambassador Gordon Sondland`s testimony in the penultimate hearing yesterday, if you thought that`s as bad as it could get in terms of confirming in a quid pro quo, which, of course, is not only impeachable, it`s potentially criminal, directly implicating the president in ordering that scheme and directly implicating a whole bunch of very senior officials, including the vice president as being in on that scheme.

I mean, if you thought yesterday`s testimony was terrible for whatever defense they are ultimately going to try to mount in this impeachment, today, there was another hearing, and today, Gordon Sondland`s bombshell testimony from yesterday continued banging around inside this scandal.  And Sondland today honestly continued to do more damage, by among other things at one point shriveling up the Republican committee counsel, the Republican committee lawyer who was supposed to be there all day doing all the hard questioning for the Republicans.  Basically, a little hangover from Gordon Sondland today, ended up shriveling down to a dust moat and making him blow away.  He just disappeared. 

And that happened because at Gordon Sondland`s closed door deposition, before his bombshell public testimony yesterday, he had said this in that deposition.  He had said, quote: When Dr. Hill left her post to leave the government, I happened to drop by her officer to say goodbye to her.  I knew she was living I think in a few days or week.  I was at the White House for some other unrelated reason and I dropped up and we sat and had coffee.

And she was pretty upset about her role in the administration, about her superiors, about the president.  She was sort of shaking.  She was pretty mad. 

Now, the Dr. Hill he`s talking about here is someone we`ve all now met, Dr. Fiona Hill who testified at this hearing today.  Does she seem to you like a person who gets shaky, who gets uncontrollably emotional so much so that men around her in the workplace worry about her fragile emotional state?  Does that ring for you? 

Gordon Sondland told this tale in his closed door deposition about really how shocked he was by just how uncontrollably emotional she was in front of him.  She was really sort of shaky and out of control.  Hmm, really? 

Here`s how it went.  Gordon Sondland being questioned here by Republican committee counsel and ultimately by Republican members of Congress on the committee.  Question, she was mad?  Answer, yes.  Question, is that the first time you saw her mad?  Answer, first time I`ve seen her like that, yes. 

Question, she wasn`t mad at you?  No, no, she gave me a big hug.  Question, and what did she relate to you?  Answer, she was just upset about everything, having to do with the Trump administration.  She was upset at the president.  She was upset with Ambassador Bolton.  She was upset with a lot of things.  I mean, she was kind of -- it was very unusual.  I`ve never seen her like that. 

I mean, it does actually seem believable that he`s never seen her like that.  That actually does ring for me that he`s never seen her like that.  But he continued along these lines in his deposition. 

Question, she was railing against president Trump?  Yes.  Railing against Ambassador Bolton?  Yes.  Dissatisfied with her role?  Answer, I don`t know if she said that. 

Question: well, what else does she say?  What can you tell us?  Answer, I was -- I sat and listened.  I was trying to be a little bit of a shoulder and I wished her well.  As I said, I gave her a hug.  I thought you said she gave you a hug? 

Question, were you surprised by this?  Answer, a little bit, yeah, because as I`ve said I`ve never seen her that emotional. 

Ahem.  That was the testimony of Gordon Sondland behind closed doors.  Who gave who the hug now, sir?  You`re being just a shoulder for her to cry on?  Who was this little lady so emotional?  It was so good you were there as a big guy to give her a shoulder to shake and cry on? 

Who`s that you`re talking about?  Can we meet her?  We got to hear from her directly today and watch. 


STEPHEN CASTOR, COUNSEL FOR REPUBLICANS ON THE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE:  He testified about some sort of coffee he had with you on your last day.  He indicated you were upset and you were upset with Ambassador Bolton and upset with the way things were going. 

FIONA HILL, FORMER WHITE HOUSE ADVISOR ON RUSSIA:  I had a couple of testy encounters with him.  One of those was in June `18 when I actually said to him, who put you in charge of Ukraine, and, you know, I admit I was a bit rude, and that`s when he told me the president, which shut me up.  And this other meeting was maybe about 15, 20 minutes as he depicted it was, and I was exactly to be honest angry with him. 

And, you know, I hate to say it but often when women show anger, it`s not fully appreciated.  It`s often, you know, pushed onto emotional issues perhaps or deflected onto other people.

And what I was angry about is that he wasn`t coordinating with us.  I`ve actually realized having listened to his deposition that he was absolutely right, that he wasn`t coordinating with us because we weren`t doing the same thing that he was doing.  So I was upset with him that he wasn`t fully telling us about all of the meetings he was having. 

And he said to me, but I`m briefing the president.  I`m briefing Chief of Staff Mulvaney.  I`m briefing Secretary Pompeo, and I`ve talked to Ambassador Bolton.  Who else do I have to deal with? 

And the point is we have a robust interagency process that deals with Ukraine that includes Mr. Holmes, includes Ambassador Taylor as the charges in Ukraine, and includes a whole load of other people.  But it struck me when yesterday when you put upon the screen Ambassador Sondland`s e-mails and who was on these e-mails.  And he said these are the people you need to know and he was absolutely right, because he was being involved in a domestic political errand.  And we were being involved in national security foreign policy, and those two things had just diverged. 

So he was correct.  And I had not put my finger on that at the moment, but I was irritated with him and angry with him he wasn`t fully coordinating.  And I did say to him, Ambassador Sondland, Gordon, I think this is all going to blow up and here we are. 


MADDOW:  And here we are.  At which point, the Republican committee counsel, gentleman there on the right with Devin Nunes, who`s supposed to be doing all the hard questioning for the Republicans, at this point, Devin Nunes took over, kind of took the Republican committee counsel off the job, and he started asking his own questions instead.  Immediately because, you know, if you`re the Republican committee counsel who keeps eliciting testimony like that about the president and the people working for him and the scheme he was running he`s now getting impeached, that`s probably not the kind of testimony they hired you to elicit from witnesses.

I mean, what did he think he was going to get from Fiona Hill when he questioned her about why Gordon Sondland said that she was a crying shaking little lady who was so out of control and he had to comfort her and give her a shoulder to cry on?  I mean, she`d already expressed to her counsel objection through that characterization.  So, when he asked her what really happened there, did he not know what she was going to say?  Because what she just laid out is that what the president was having all of his folks do was a domestic political errand that was getting in the way of national security and foreign policy.  Would you like more? 

I mean, alongside everything else that just happened there, we also -- I mean right there at the questioning of the Republicans` lawyer, we had Fiona Hill destroying Gordon Sondland, right, in every way except for the fact she just bolstered and attested to the most explosive thing in Gordon Sondland`s own testimony from yesterday.  Which is that while he was doing this domestic political errand for the president, trying to get Ukraine to help the president with his re-election effort, while he was carrying out that domestic political errand which was at the expense of U.S. national security and foreign policy, he was doing that domestic political errand with the full knowledge and involvement of the president and the White House chief of staff and the secretary of state.  Yes, they`re all in on it explicitly.  They`re all in on Gordon`s little domestic errand which he`s been ordered to carry out by the president himself. 

I mean, just like you saw on the front page of the "St. Louis Post Dispatch" this morning, right, it was no secret.  Everyone was in the loop, following Trump`s orders for the quid pro quo.  I mean, that was this incredibly damning testimony that Sondland gave yesterday, which undoubtedly I assume will be seen as the apex of at least this round of public hearings in the impeachment inquiry. 

And substantively, today, we get this senior expert non-partisan national security official confirming that worst and most damning stuff that was delivered yesterday by goofy Gordon Sondland.  So, I mean in terms of the impact here you can choose your messenger.  You can choose who you like here and who seems like the credible person.  But on the substance, they are both confirming the same thing in terms of the president ordering it, it being a quid pro quo and everybody at the highest levels knowing all about it while it was happening. 

Now, that has consequences in terms of what happens next and whether these other senior administration officials who have been named here, whether they`re going to get questioned, whether documents that might shed light on their involvement are going to get -- going to be obtained by the committee.  We`ll have more on that later, including talking with a member of the committee that`s been pursuing this matter. 

But beyond the involvement of those other senior officials, I think it`s worth noting here that where we did land on this fifth day of hearings was with the question being settled and basically uncontested now as to the president himself ordering the scheme, the president having full knowledge of the scheme and the president having direct personal contact with the people who were carrying the scheme out on his behalf, him communicating with them about the scheme while they were doing it on his orders. 

It is remarkable that this impeachment is sort of this young in terms of how far we`ve gotten through these proceedings, and that part of it, the president`s -- the degree to which the president is personally and implicated in, that`s uncontested now.  The Republicans have even stopped fighting that.  That`s just unsettled. 

Here, for example, is the second witness who testified alongside Fiona Hill today, career foreign service officer David Holmes who was based at the embassy in Kiev. 


DAN GOLDMAN, COUNSEL FOR DEMOCRATS ON THE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE:  Now you said that at some point Ambassador Sondland pulled out his cellphone and called President Trump.  This was an unsecure cellphone, is that right? 


GOLDMAN:  In the middle of a restaurant in Kiev? 

HOLMES:  Yes. 

GOLDMAN:  Now, you said you were able to hear President Trump`s voice through the receiver.  How were you able to hear if it was not on speakerphone? 

HOLMES:  It was -- several things.  It was quite loud when the president came on, quite distinctive.  I believe Ambassador Sondland also said yesterday he often speaks loudly over the phone.  And I certainly experienced that. 

He -- when the president came on, he sort of winced and held the phone away from his ear like this.  And he did that for the first couple of exchanges.  I don`t know if he then turned the volume down, if he got used to it, if the president moderated his volume, I don`t know.  But that`s how I was able to hear it. 

GOLDMAN:  And so you were able to hear some of what President Trump said to Ambassador Sondland? 

HOLMES:  Would I hear --

GOLDMAN:  What the president say to Ambassador Sondland. 

HOLMES:  Yes, he clarified whether he was in Ukraine or not and he said yes, I`m here in Ukraine.  And Ambassador Sondland said he loves your ass and he said is he going to do the investigation. 

GOLDMAN:  So you heard President Trump ask ambassador Sondland if she going to do the investigation? 

HOLMES:  Yes, sir. 

GOLDMAN:  What was Ambassador Sondland`s response? 

HOLMES:  He said, oh, yes, he`s going to do it.  He`ll do anything you ask. 

GOLDMAN:  And was that the end of the Ukraine portion of the conversation? 

HOLMES:  Yes. 

GOLDMAN:  Afterwards, you described a follow-on conversation that you had with Ambassador Sondland where you asked him, I think, generally what did President Trump think of Ukraine, is that -- is that right? 

HOLMES:  Correct. 

GOLDMAN:  What did Ambassador Sondland say to you? 

HOLMES:  He said he doesn`t really care about Ukraine. 

GOLDMAN:  Did he use slightly more colorful language than that? 

HOLMES:  He did.

GOLDMAN:  What did he say that he does care about?

HOLMES:  He says he cares about big stuff. 

GOLDMAN:  Did he explain what he meant about big stuff? 

HOLMES:  I asked him, what kind of big stuff.  Like we have big stuff going on here with Russia, and he said no big stuff like the Biden investigation that Mr. Giuliani`s pushing. 

GOLDMAN:  Now, were you familiar with the Biden investigation that he referenced at that point? 

HOLMES:  Yes, sir. 

GOLDMAN:  And how did you have such a specific and clear recollection of this conversation with the president and your conversation with Ambassador Sondland? 

HOLMES:  Yes.  So, this was a very distinctive experience in my foreign service career, someone at a lunch in a restaurant making a call on a cellphone to the president of the United States.  Being able to hear his voice, it`s a very distinctive personality as we`ve all seen on television, very colorful language was used.  They were directly addressing something that I`d been wondering about working on for weeks and even months, a topic that had led to the recall of my former boss, the former ambassador. 

  And so here was a person who said he had direct contact with the president and said that over the course of time.  Here he is actually having that contact with the president.  Hearing the president`s voice, and then talking about this issue of the Biden investigation that I`d been hearing about. 


MADDOW:  So there we get the account, right?  There`s the president talking directly to his handpicked man on the ground in this foreign country.  The president on that phone call checking in on whether he`s getting these investigations he`s demanding into his political rivals from that foreign country. 

Yes, Mr. President, I`ll give you whatever you want, good.  Get me my investigations. 

It`s the president personally checking in on the scheme in the middle of it, and there are witnesses to it.  And that part of it just isn`t contested by the Republican side.  I mean, the impeachment -- I don`t know how much longer it`s going to go on for.  Again, we`ll try to chase that down some more over the course of this hour tonight. 

But in terms of the president having done it, ordered it, personally checked in on it during the course of it being carried out, Republicans just aren`t fighting that.  They`re willing to just let that ride. 

And so, you know, we`ll see about the others.  We`ll see about Vice President Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and the White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, and Energy Secretary Rick Perry.  And we`ll see about what happens to all of the other very senior officials who have got their arms or at least their shirttails, you know, stuck in the closing subway doors here themselves. 

But as for the president`s own role, we`ve had five days of hearings, and they`ve all nailed down different aspects of this, that what he confessed to is what he actually did.  And the Republicans aren`t fighting that at all.  Once we`ve all agreed on that, though, what we get to learn next is even worse, and that was made more sharply evident today than at any other day of this scandal yet.  That`s next.


MADDOW:  We do not know if today was the last public impeachment hearing or not.  It`s the last one that`s on the public schedule for now.  If that means that this is going to be the final hearing -- well, I think that means we can expect the committee that conducted this hearing to start working on its report from the partisan divisions that seemed evident on the committee over the course of these hearings.  I think we would expect that both the committee itself, the majority of the committee will produce its report and the Republicans will produce some sort of dissenting minority report with competing views. 

Regardless, the majority report, the actual report of the committee will then presumably go to the Judiciary Committee, because in impeachments, it`s the judiciary committee that has to draw up formal articles of impeachment against the president.  The House will then consider those articles of impeachment.  Whether or not the judiciary committee holds more hearings at that point in order to arrive at those final articles or to get ready for the vote, we don`t know.  The Judiciary Committee will produce articles of impeachment ultimately through whatever process.  The House will decide how they`re going to vote on those articles of impeachment, and that goes onto the Senate. 

So, again, we don`t know exactly where we are in the process.  We`re going to talk with a member of the intelligence committee today to try to figure out how much we can tell about how close they are to done and how they`re going to decide.  We`ve got our eye on one important federal court ruling due on Monday that potentially could be influencing the committee`s decision to whether or not they`re going to be able to get anymore witnesses they might want to hear from. 

But while we`re in this sort of limbo in terms of the process and how this is going to go forward, because of the subject matter of this inquiry, because of the types of experts and career national security people who have done the real work in this part of the U.S. government when -- when the president in the words of Fiona Hill today, was having his own handpicked people instead carry out a domestic political errand for the president which started to intrude on the real work of the government, this domestic political errand he was trying to get Ukraine to help him out with his election effort, because of the real people doing the real work of the U.S. government when that domestic political errand intruded because those are the people who are witnesses to what the president and his sort of henchmen here did, what was sort of amazing for us the public today, is that as they presumably closed out these public hearings today, we had these two additional witnesses, expert, non-partisan career foreign service and national security experts who closed out the witness testimony today.  The fact witness testimony today. 

And for us, the public, those expert witnesses were able to give us a master class not only on what happened and what they saw but on what the impact of it was, who the president hurt with these actions, who his actions benefitted.  Also, who came up with this scheme in the first place and whose interests does it serve?  Whose interests does it serve that even as part of this impeachment process, the Republican supporters of the president are still trying to push the scheme that he got caught trying to push in Ukraine? 


FIONA HILL, FORMER WHITE HOUSE ADVISOR ON RUSSIA:  Based on question and statements that I have heard, some of you on this committee appear to believe that Russia and its security services did not conduct a campaign against our country and that perhaps somehow for some reason Ukraine did.  This is a fictional narrative that has been perpetrated and propagated by the Russian security services themselves.  The unfortunate truth is that Russia was the foreign power that systematically attacked our Democratic institutions in 2016. 

This is the public conclusion of our intelligence agencies confirmed in by partisan congressional reports.  It is beyond dispute.  Even if of the underlying details must remain classified. 

The impact of the successful 2016 Russian campaign remains evident today.  Our nation is being torn apart.  Truth is questioned.  Our highly professional career foreign service is being undermined. 

U.S. support for Ukraine which continues to face armed Russian aggression has been politicized.  The Russian government`s goal is to weaken our country, to diminish America`s government role and neutralize a perceived U.S. threat to Russian interests.  President Putin and the Russian security services aim to counter U.S. foreign policy objectives in Europe including in Ukraine where Moscow wishes to reassert political dominance.  I say this not as an alarmist but as a realist. 

And the cause of this investigation, I would ask that you please not promote politically driven falsehoods that so clearly advance Russian interests.  And as I told the committee last month, I refuse to be part of an effort to legitimize an alternate narrative that the Ukrainian government is the U.S. adversary and Ukraine not Russia attacked us in 2016. 

These fictions are harmful, even if they`re deployed for purely domestic political purposes.  But we must not let domestic politics stop us from defending ourselves against the foreign powers who truly wish us harm. 


MADDOW:  I will not be part of an effort to legitimize that alternative narrative perpetrated and propagated by the Russian security services that Ukraine not Russia attacked us in 2016.  She says please do not promote politically driven falsehoods like that so clearly advance Russian interests.  This alternative narrative perpetrated and propagated by Russian security services that Ukraine not Russia attacked us in 2016.

Where did that theory come from?  That theory came from Russian security services.  Who has propagated it?  Well, it started off with Russian security services, but now, it`s kind of you guys, right? 

I mean, that was -- that was powerful stuff from this career national security and intelligence official who up until about five minutes ago was the top Russia expert in the U.S. government.  Right, powerful.  She`s saying don`t do this. 

This whole Ukraine interfered in our election, not Russia, this is false thing invented by Russia, invented by Russian security services to help Russia and to hurt the United States.  And if you spread that falsehood, if you promulgate that falsehood, you are doing the Kremlin`s work against the United States of America. 

She literally says please.  She says please don`t do this.  Please stop promoting this false idea that has been propagated by the Russian government to serve the Russian -- the Russian government`s purposes. 

Please, she says, do not do this.  It does not appear to sink in. 


REP. DEVIN NUNES (D-CA):  President Trump had good reason to be worried of Ukrainian election meddling against his campaign. 


MADDOW:  It`s weird, right?  I mean, the Republican defenders of the president on the impeachment committee are very happy to continue promulgating this thing that the president was promoting in Ukraine, nobody in the U.S. government and national security intelligence believes that this is credible.  The president`s own national security and foreign policy advisers told him this is not credible. 

Russian security services are promoting it, though, for their own purposes.  So, the president was promoting it and now his supporters in Congress are promoting it, too.  They`re just slogging away with this no matter the consequences. 


GOLDMAN:  This is an excerpt from a February 2nd, 2017, news conference between President Putin and Prime Minister Orban of Hungary where Putin says, second, as we all know during the presidential campaign in the United States, the Ukrainian government adopted a unilateral position in favor of one candidate.  More than that, certain oligarchs, certainly with the approval of the political leadership, funded this candidate or female candidate to be more precise. 

Mr. Holmes, you spent three years as well in the U.S. embassy in Russia.  Why would it be to Vladimir Putin`s advantage to promote this theory of Ukraine interference? 

HOLMES:  First of all, to deflect from the allegations of Russian interference.  Second of all, to drive a wedge between the United States and Ukraine, which Russia wants to essentially get back into its sphere of influence.  Thirdly, to besmirch Ukraine and its political leadership, to degrade and erode support for Ukrain from other key partners in Europe and elsewhere. 

HILL:  The Russians have a particular interest in putting Ukraine and Ukrainian leaders in a bad light.  There`s a great deal of hostility and maligned intent towards Ukraine and it suits the Russian government very much if we are also looking at Ukraine to somehow a perpetrator of maligned acts against us. 

REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA):  There`s also a benefit now, isn`t there, for Russia to put the blame on Ukraine?  To cast doubt on whether they intervened at all in our election and blame it on a U.S. ally as a way of driving a wedge between the U.S. and Ukraine, isn`t that true? 

HILL:  Well, that`s absolutely the case.  And in fact, you just made the point about U.S. allies.  The Russians like to put a lot of blame on U.S. allies for incidents that they have perpetrated.  We saw that recently with the United Kingdom and the Russian secret services attack on a former spy, Mr. Skripal, and his daughter in Salisbury, England, where you may recall that the Russians actually accused the British government of perpetrating this themselves.  So this falls into a long pattern of deflection and the Russian government trying to pin the blame on someone else. 


MADDOW:  Fiona Hill today bringing up the attempted assassination of a former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter.  You will remember this case, right?  They were basically stalked basically in the U.K., where Sergei Skripal now lives.  They`re stalked by two Russian military intelligence operatives.  They used a military grade nerve agent to try to assassinate Mr. Skripal.  He and his daughter were very nearly killed by it. 

Also, a random British civilian who came across the nerve agent that they dumped in a public trash can after they tried out this assassination effort, that random British civilian was killed in this effort. 

Fiona Hill today pointing out that`s the kind of outrageous attack that Russia committed that they`ve also tried to deflect from, right?  However outrageously they`ve tried to put the blame for that on a western power, right?  In this case, on the U.K. itself, right?  So as to deflect blame from themselves and try to smear a Western power for their own crimes. 

I will just note for the record it`s been a little bit lost in the shuffle, but just a few weeks ago, "The Washington Post" reported that in fact President Trump spent ten solid minutes on the phone with then British Prime Minister Theresa May trying to convince her over the phone that Russia didn`t actually poison Sergei Skripal in the U.K., couldn`t have been Russia.  They didn`t do it.

That`s apparently one of the calls that the Trump White House has locked up in the super secret server in the White House so that nobody can access the call record of that call. 

For whatever reason, one of the things we are learning in this impeachment, right, one of the things we`re getting is all this further news and confirmation that President Trump is up to his neck in stuff that is being promulgated by the Russian government and Russian intelligence.  By strange theories and strange excuses for Russian behavior that don`t match U.S. interests at all, that nobody inside the U.S. government or the U.S. national security establishment believes whatsoever, that only come from Russia because they only serve Russian interests.  The president has been promulgating stuff like this from the time of his campaign.  And it has continued through his presidency, and that says something, who knows what about this president. 

But what the impeachment witnesses nailed down in particular on this day on this fifth day of testimony is that now, Republican supporters of the president are promoting that stuff, too.  And as such, that stuff isn`t necessarily just foreign influence anymore, foreign influence that the president is oddly parroting.  Now, it is starting to take root here.  Now it is starting to become an American thing, too, in the Republican Party. 

The story line is promoted by the Russian government and inexplicably but tirelessly promoted by this president has now fused into Republican Party politics. 


GOLDMAN:  And Dr. Hill, by promoting this theory of Ukrainian interference in the 2016 election, was president Trump adopting Vladimir Putin`s view over his own senior advisers and intelligence officials? 

HILL:  I think we have to be very careful about the way that we phrase that.  This is a view that President Putin and the Russian security services and many actors in Russia have promoted.  But I think that this view has also got some traction perhaps in parallel and separately here in the United States.  And those two things have over time started to fuse together. 


MADDOW:  Turns out that view promoted by President Putin and Russian security services and many actors in Russia, it`s getting some traction here in the United States.  It`s getting some traction here. 

Over time, that view from Putin and the Russian security services, it`s started to take root in the United States.  Some strands of this are starting to sort of fuse together with the Russian line inside Republican politics.  How do we unfuse them? 

More ahead. 



REP. SEAN PATRICK MALONEY (D-NY):  Ever been instructed to go report something to the NSC lawyer before? 

HILL:  That was the first time I had been instructed a couple of times, but that was the first time I had been instructed to go. 

MALONEY:  And why did he send you to report this to the lawyer? 

HILL:  Well, he clearly wanted to have himself on the record as not being part of what was basically an agreement to have a meeting in return for investigations. 


MADDOW:  Joining us now is Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney who`s a member of the Intelligence Committee. 

Sir, thank you for being here.  I`m sure you`d rather be asleep. 

MALONEY:  I`ll confess to being a little worn-out.


MALONEY:  But it was an amazing week and it`s because of brave people like the one you just showed.  And starting with Marie Yovanovitch and all the way through, Lieutenant Colonel Vindman, Ambassador Taylor, I mean, honestly -- I think on behalf of all of us who had the privilege of listening to their testimony, they were remarkable Americans, and they`re doing a brave thing.  And their bosses are running for cover. 

And that`s one of the real hallmarks of this week is that we`ve got great professional Foreign Service officers.  Thank you all the people around the world who dedicate their lives to our country in that -- in that great profession, and the military officers, who know right from wrong.  So, I didn`t mean to take your comment and run with it, but I think when you`re blessed with witnesses like that who are taking those chances and serving their country and when a guy like Lieutenant Colonel Vindman says my dad would have been killed in his country for doing this.  He`s got three kids in the military, we`ve fought for this country, you know, we`ve defended it, and this is America -- I`m going to get emotional -- this is America and right matters, the rest of us can lose some sleep. 

MADDOW:  Is this the last public hearing? 

MALONEY:  I don`t know that.  I think this inquiry remains open in a sense.  Obviously, it`s the chairman`s decision and he`ll make it.  I think that we are obviously going to be open to significant evidence. 

There are real sources of information that have been denied to be seen properly.  The State Department is inexcusably refusing to produce a mountain of evidence, all these notes from these witnesses.  They`re all note takers, we know that exists.  E-mails, text messages, calendar entries.  That`s just one source. 

And then, of course, as I mentioned the superiors to these people -- people like Mick Mulvaney and John Bolton.  You know, John Bolton wasn`t shy about selling the information for $2 million in a book deal, but he won`t provide it to the Congress when three of his deputies are doing so.  That`s disgusting and cynical. 

And then, of course, there`s people like Secretary Pompeo who lets Marie Yovanovitch get thrown to the wolves and doesn`t have -- doesn`t have the guts to produce the underlying documents and make himself available for honest testimony when we know he was up to his neck in this. 

So I think if any of those witnesses sprouts a conscience or we get a decision, say, in the McGahn case as we expect and then bolsters both our argument and the opportunity to get it in a timely way this information, then I think the chairman will consider that.  But there`s obviously a real premium on expeditiously moving through this.  I think that`s been proven, by the way.  We`ve got a lot of information out very fast. 

Hats off to the incredible staff of the Intelligence Committee, if I can just say that.  I hope people realize how much work these people did, people like Dan Goldman, but all the other folks and from the other committees, Government Reform and Oversight, from Foreign Affairs.  This was a team effort, and those people worked around the clock, ladies and gentlemen, and they`re amazing.  And they`re going to have a really busy Thanksgiving because we`re going to move into summarizing this in a report. 

So the investigation is open, and very eager to have all of the information come out, but we`re not going to be detained either. 

MADDOW:  You mentioned that McGahn ruling, that`s expected a federal court ruling expected by Monday in terms of a McGahn subpoena, whether Don McGahn, former White House counsel, has to testify.  That may as you said influence some witnesses who have said no subpoenas to maybe turn around on that.  Who knows?  We`ll see when we get there.

But if there aren`t going to be additional depositions, if there aren`t going to be additional public hearings, you said you`re moving on now to write a report, write a summary.  What should we expect in terms of that?  Will we the public get to see it?  What`s the purpose of that report?  And who`s it delivered to? 

MALONEY:  Right.  Well, I think maybe an analogy works best here.  We`re basically the investigators.  That`s, of course, why those initial depositions were done in a private setting.  That well-worn technique was clearly borne out, by the way, because that was -- that was the pincer movement that forced people like Ambassador Sondland to tell us increasingly everything he knew, because they couldn`t coordinate their testimony. 

And then we move to a public phase of that, but we`re still the investigators.  We`re developing the facts.  That will reduce at some point into a report that goes into the Judiciary Committee.  They will make a determination about what to do. 

Should they approve articles of impeachment and the House acts on that?  I think of that as the indictment.  After all, all we`re saying right now, is there sufficient evidence to have a trial?  That`s our system. 

And it sure seems any -- like any fair reading of the facts and the evidence, which is now voluminous and, by the way, almost entirely contested, you know, any fair reading evidence of that would say you`ve got more than enough to indict, and that`s how I think about it. 

MADDOW:  Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney, member of the House Intelligence Committee -- busy day, incredible couple of weeks.  Thank you, sir. 

MALONEY:  My pleasure.

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


MADDOW:  It was a week before Thanksgiving, same as today, President Nixon was out there awkwardly hoisting up children before a rapturous crowd as he pledged to defiantly never resign his office.  It was a week before Thanksgiving, 1973.  That was the 51st and as it turned out the final day in public hearings in the Senate Watergate investigation, November 1973. 

We just don`t have a lot of experience to draw from when it comes to impeachment.  We haven`t done this very many times as a country.  But the Trump impeachment hearings apparently wrapping up today, is there anything from history that can help us figure out what`s happening next. 

Joining us now is NBC News presidential historian Michael Beschloss.

Mr. Beschloss, so glad to have you here.  What have you thought about this trough of these five days of hearings that we`ve had? 

MICHAEL BESCHLOSS, NBC NEWS PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN:  Well, the amazing thing is, you know, you`re talking about the Senate Watergate hearings.  It took them months to do what we`ve really seen in a short number of days here.  For instance, in the case of Watergate in the Senate, John Dean testified that Richard Nixon was centrally linked to the kinds of things that they were investigating.  But it took an awfully long time for there to be other witnesses and other evidence. 

MADDOW:  Adam Schiff referred several times over the course of these past eight days of public hearings that the fact one of the articles against Nixon was contempt of Congress, refusing to hand over materials to the inquiry.  Was that refusal by the Nixon White House part of the reason that Congress moved from investigating Watergate to specifically an impeachment inquiry against Nixon himself? 

BESCHLOSS:  Absolutely because the Congress felt that was in complete defiance of its role to check the power of the presidency.  We may be seeing a lot of that here. 

MADDOW:  You have talked it with me on this show our two most recent impeachment inquiries, Nixon and Clinton, the only other ones in the modern era, they took place in a president`s second term. 


MADDOW:  One of the things it turns out that the Republicans mentioned over and over again in these public hearings these last eight days is that this is playing out in the president`s first term less than a year before the next election.  I have to ask how sort of their argument about that, they`re implicitly arguing that this shouldn`t happen, that any concerns about this matter could just be settled by the voters in November.  I wonder how you thought about the way that dynamic played out in the room given that historic parallel. 

BESCHLOSS:  Right, it makes this a lot more intense because this does end up being a lot about who wins the presidency next year.  You know, when we heard Fiona Hill, what you were saying earlier in the program when you showed her talking about the theories of who interfered with the 2016 election, it shows how much these hearings and this impeachment inquiry has to do over what`s going to happen next year and why it`s so important. 

The other thing different about this -- from this all is obviously, this has only happened four times in history.  So, it`s historic by nature.  But the other thing is unlike the other three impeachment inquiries, this is the first time in America`s history where the president`s party has controlled the Senate. 

MADDOW:  Michael Beschloss, NBC News presidential historian, thank you, sir.  Good to see you. 

BESCHLOSS:  Same here.  Thanks.

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


MADDOW:  Quick heads up before we go, last month a federal judge ordered the State Department to turn over documents in response to a lawsuit from an oversight group called American Oversight.  The group specifically FOIA documents about the firing of Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch. 

Now, again, the court has ordered the state department to hand over documents about that by tomorrow.  The FOIA order includes communications between Giuliani and a bunch of State Department officials, communications between State Department officials and people not in the government, regarding any plan by Rudy Giuliani to talk to Ukraine officials or to encourage investigating the Biden family.  It includes external communications with people who aren`t in government regarding Marie Yovanovitch, the ambassador. 

It also includes, quote, any summaries and readouts of the July 25th call between President Trump and President Zelensky found in records stored by Secretary Pompeo, assistance communicating on his behalf, or Counselor Ulrich Brechbuhl.  So, all those documents are due to be handed over, according to court order, tomorrow.

The State Department, of course, could, you now, redact them, the American Oversight could then dispute those redactions.  But we should get something pretty interesting by tomorrow, because we don`t paper floating around. 

That does it for us tonight.  We`ll see you again tomorrow.

Now, it`s time for "The Last Word with Lawrence O`Donnell."

Good evening, Lawrence.

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