RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: And now, I move to a different camera. It`s a little bit weird. This is -- I`m excited you`re doing that live show in New Hampshire.
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: I am, too. I am, too. It should be great.
MADDOW: New Hampshire -- I spent a lot of time in New Hampshire, not around in the New Hampshire primary because my in-laws are there. I feel like I have been doing anecdotal polling of New Hampshire lawn signs for a long time. So, I`m so excited to get out there.
HAYES: I`m excited to get out there. It should be great.
MADDOW: Anyway, thanks, my friend. Appreciate it.
HAYES: You see.
MADDOW: All right. In 1968 when Richard Nixon ran against Democratic incumbent Vice President Hubert Humphrey and beat him, and the Nixon/Agnew ticket ascended to the White House for the first time, Nixon`s campaign chairman in that election was a man named John Mitchell. In a somewhat unusual move after he was sworn in as the 37th president of the United States, Nixon then named his campaign manager John Mitchell to be the next attorney general. That`s not a natural evolution in terms of political jobs going from campaign chairman to attorney general. But Nixon went ahead and did it and installed John Mitchell at the top of the U.S. Justice Department which turned out to be one of Nixon`s many disastrous early decisions as president.
John Mitchell, of course, would end up being up to his neck in the Watergate scandal, specifically in the cover up as well. Ultimately, John Mitchell would go down in history as the first U.S. attorney general to ever be convicted of multiple felonies and imprisoned. But at the height of the Watergate scandal, at the height of the inquiry, the Nixon administration thought Mitchell gave them an ace in the hole when it came to the Watergate investigation because before he ever served as Nixon`s attorney general, before he ever served as Nixon`s campaign chairman, John Mitchell had become friends with this man. This is Howard Baker, Republican -- we have Howard Baker?
Howard Baker, Republican senator from Tennessee. And when the Senate formed its special committee to investigate the Watergate scandal, Howard Baker was appointed to be the top Republican on that committee. How handy, right?
I mean, how handy for the Nixon administration that the top Republican on the committee investigating Watergate was this close friend of John Mitchell, right? Campaign chairman during `68, had been a linchpin in the whole scheme and in the whole cover up, was then serving as attorney general, right? I mean, having Howard Baker be the top Republican on the Watergate inquiry, it wasn`t quite like having a guy on the inside for the Nixon administration, but it was close.
And what was worse is that Howard Baker at the outset really considered himself to be the Nixon administration`s guy, their inside guy in the Senate Watergate investigation. Senator Baker sort of considered himself to be their ace in the hole. He was delighted to be named to the committee, specifically because he thought he could help Nixon out.
He later admitted that he fully intended at the outset to use his prime position on that committee basically to get Nixon cleared because coming into it, Howard Baker thought the whole Watergate scandal was just a scam and just a put-up job by the Democrats. He was glad to be there as part of the investigation, as the top Republican in the investigation basically so he could make sure that Nixon`s interests were taken care of against those dastardly Democrats.
And even worse than that, Senator Howard Baker let Nixon know that.
It`s interesting. It was never recorded in the White House diaries and schedules and notes about who the president was meeting with that day. But on February 22nd, 1973, Howard Baker secretly went up to the White House and took a meeting with Richard Nixon specifically to tell him that the president should be reassured, that he had an ally on the Senate Watergate committee, that the top Republican on that committee, he, Howard Baker, was essentially team Nixon.
And Nixon, of course, was delighted to hear that. And there is a tape of the interaction. It`s one of those Nixon White House tapes. It`s kind of too garbled to hear. Sounds like a coin operated space invaders being played inside a washing machine. But it is Senator Howard Baker and Richard Nixon on that tape. Richard Nixon can be heard saying, if it does get rough, you may have to turn and get away from this. You are going to have to get away from this. That`s President Nixon coaching the top Senate Republican, that Howard Baker is going to have to figure out a way to shut the investigation down if it goes too adverse to Nixon at any point.
Right? So, it`s a secret meeting at the White House, top Republican on the committee and the president who is under investigation. That`s bad, right? In terms of this idea that this was going to be an impartial open minded just seeking the facts inquiry, here`s the top Republican on that inquiry, later admitting that he considered himself to be secretly in cahoots with president Nixon from the outset. And he was intending to steer the thing as much as he could to protect Nixon`s interests.
Except as Howard Baker would later explain, things veered off for him in an unexpected direction. Notwithstanding that initial sort of attitude that he had toward the Watergate scandal, the initial way that he saw his own role as a Nixon loyalist Republican on that committee, things didn`t work out that way because at that secret meeting at the White House where Howard Baker went up there to go tell President Nixon, don`t put this on your schedule, let`s meet off the books. I want to assure you I`m going to take care of you on the committee.
When he went to the White House to talk to Nixon in that meeting, something happened that changed Howard Baker`s own course when it came to Watergate. Something happened at that meeting that changed the course of American history.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HOWARD BAKER, FORMER RANKING MEMBER ON THE WATERGATE COMMITTEE: When the committee was constituted, I felt within hours, it`s just a Democratic effort to embarrass him. But the election is over and that`s what I thought. And, indeed, I called President Nixon on the telephone. I said, Mr. President, I am the senior Republican on this committee and I would like to come down and talk to you. He said, of course. And I did, the next day as I remember.
He was in his office in the old EOB, Old Executive Building across the street from the Oval Office. When I walked in, I said something like, Mr. President, I`m the senior member of this committee, I want to you know I`m going to protect your rights. I`m your friend, I`m the senior Republican. He said, I thank you, and we chatted a few minutes.
Then I said the most important point of my life. I do hope my friend John Mitchell doesn`t have any problems. And Nixon said, well, Howard, he may. And a light bulb went off in my head and I decided, you know, Baker, you don`t know as much about this situation as you think you do. And you better just put your head down and charge into this thing and let the facts fall where they will.
That was -- look, not often when you find a single moment, a defining moment when you make a decision of that magnitude. But that was such a moment. And I decided that notwithstanding my personal friendship with Nixon, that he had campaigned for me in my races for the Senate, that he was a Republican president, I was a senior Republican, notwithstanding all of that, this is a very serious matter and that I didn`t know much about it, I better find out.
And that`s when I decided to do that. And I hope it does not sound vain of me to say that, but I think we did a pretty good job of it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: I hope it doesn`t sound vain of me to say it but I think we did a pretty good job of it. We all know how it worked out in terms of that investigation, right? That was Senator Howard Baker speaking more than 30 years after Watergate, in an interview looking back at it from 2005, talking about that defining moment when he realized that his preconceptions about Watergate, his hope and expectation even that his friend John Mitchell wasn`t implicated in the scandal, his sort of partisan self- assurance about the president`s innocence, and the scandal being some Democratic invention, this moment when he realized, you know what, maybe I`m wrong about all that.
And so he decided to drop his preconceived notions and his plans to use the inquiry to try to protect the president, and instead he decided in that moment, he said, like a light bulb went off. He decided in that moment that he would actually be humble about it. That he would stop assuming that he knew everything there was to know about this and, instead, he would try to find out the facts and to follow them wherever they would lead.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BAKER: The central question at this point is simply put, what did the president know and when did he know it?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: That`s the same Howard Baker. His famous crystallizing question from the Watergate inquiry. What did the president know and when did he know it?
You know, even at the time he asked that in the Watergate trial -- in the Watergate investigation, Howard Baker didn`t know the answer. He didn`t know at that point when he asked that question what Nixon knew and when Nixon knew it.
At that point in the investigation, Howard Baker was still hoping that Nixon would be shown to be out of the loop. The facts would prove Nixon was unaware of what was going on in the scandal. But, in fact, he agreed to follow the evidence as it came to light and Howard Baker and the rest of the Watergate Committee, Republicans and Democrats, would go on to discover that there was important new evidence they needed to look at, that shed light on the president`s direct involvement in the scandal, including the tapes that were made at the White House.
And despite all of his preconceptions, which he later copped to, his preconceptions, his prejudices, his intentions coming into it, Howard Baker followed the facts and ended up joining with the Democratic leadership of the Watergate Committee to demand that the White House tapes be handed over, and in so doing, the Watergate inquiry produced evidence of the president`s guilt beyond any reasonable doubt and that is why Richard Nixon resigned from the presidency rather than be forced out rather than by a certain bipartisan vote in the U.S. Senate.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BAKER: I said, Baker, you don`t know as much about this situation as you think you do and you better put your head down and charge into this thing and let the facts fall where they will.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: The lesson of Howard Baker from the Watergate scandal, I think, is often told as a story about sort of nonpartisan, country first bravery. But when Howard Baker himself described it, though, when he looked back on it decades after the fact, he told the moral of the story in a way that was -- I guess it was a little more subtle than that. The way Howard Baker described that himself was that there was this crucial inflection point in Watergate, this moment when he decided he better take this inquiry seriously. He better follow the facts.
That was when he realized he didn`t actually know the whole story. He couldn`t confidently predict what was going to happen next. Things might not end up the way he and his colleagues predicted they would go. That was the inflection moment when he realized it was important to be real about whether or not he really knew what was going on, when he realized it was important to be humble about the fact that there were parts of this he did not know, that was the inflection point. That was when the light bulb went off.
Impeachments of U.S. presidents are not unicorns. They`re real. But they are rare and odd enough that we really don`t know what`s likely to happen next in any one impeachment. It was definitely true with Watergate. It was true with the Clinton impeachment.
I think we know enough of the history to say it was probably true with the Johnson one as well. But it is certainly true with this one. I mean, tonight "Wall Street Journal" was first to report the Republican leader in the Senate, Mitch McConnell, says he doesn`t have enough votes to block the introduction of witness testimony and other evidence from the president`s Senate impeachment trial. They need 51 Republicans to vote no, to vote against hearing witnesses and introducing new evidence. "Wall Street Journal" was first to report that they don`t have those 51 votes.
Since then, that reporting has been matched by "The Washington Post" and "The New York Times." All of these reports are citing McConnell`s comments to his fellow Republican senators in a closed door meeting that happened today after the president`s defense counsel dramatically cut short their presentation of the president`s side of the case. They ended their arguments to the Senate with more than 14 of their allotted 24 hours left unused.
Now, again, these reports about whether or not McConnell has the votes or not, about introducing witnesses and bringing in new evidence, these reports are sourced to multiple sources describing something that happened behind closed doors. NBC News has sort of contrary reporting tonight suggesting that while Senator McConnell doesn`t have those votes now, Republicans think they might yet get them when it comes time to actually cast and count them a few days from now in the Senate.
I don`t know. I mean, ultimately we`ll see. If we have learned one thing from the American history of impeaching presidents, it is that humility is in order when predicting next steps, when predicting ultimate outcomes. Maybe the votes in the Senate will be there to hear from witnesses. Maybe they will not be there. We will know when they actually vote.
In terms of predicting stuff from here on out, I would be cautious. Stuff happens. Things change. Twists develop in plots, right?
In that same spirit, I would like to offer a piece of context for the debate over the impeachment scandal and what the Senate is likely to do next. I`d like to offer a little piece of news and context about that debate that you might not be expecting to hear from me -- which is that if you take an honest look at the record here, there is a fairly large contingent of Republicans in both the house and the Senate who I think it`s fair to say have behaved pretty heroically on the issue at the heart of this impeachment scandal. Maybe heroic isn`t exactly the right word. Maybe they were just being diligent, sort of patriotically doing their jobs with a little bit of bravery.
But there is an important piece of how we got here to this impeachment of this president, to this crux in the debate right now as to whether or not we`re going to hear from witnesses. There is a through-line in the recent history of how we got here that is being ignored by everybody on both sides because it doesn`t fit the narrative of Republicans versus Democrats and some sort of evenly divided mirror image split on the politics here and the disagreement on the basic facts. But I honestly think this is a very important piece of recent history in terms of how we got here.
And so take it from me. Rachel Maddow on MSNBC, I hereby want to praise some famous Republicans, more than a handful of them, for having earnestly pursued the America`s defense of the relationship with Ukraine and our supposedly unshakeable support for them as a matter of foreign policy, and having done so in ways that required them to confront the president and confront the Trump White House in very recent days. And I don`t know why this history is being written out of the way we got here, but I think we should stop doing that. I think this is worth paying attention to.
The night that the Senate impeachment trial of President Trump opened, a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit resulted in the publication of these documents from the White House, from the Office of Management and Budget inside the White House. American Oversight had filed a FOIA lawsuit to force the release of these documents from OMB. Documents having to do with Ukraine over the time period that`s implicated in the president`s impeachment scandal.
And most of these documents were ridiculously redacted by the White House. But we did in these documents -- again, that came out the night of the first -- the first night of the impeachment scandal, right? We did get to see the full text of a whole bunch of Republicans in the House and the Senate contacting the White House -- contacting OMB in August of 2019 to try to find out why the Trump White House was holding up aid to Ukraine. Why is this aid being held up? These multiple Republican members of the House and members of the Senate contacted the Trump White House to ask about the hold-up on the aid and to demand that the hold be released and that the aid make its way to Kiev.
For example, there`s this one. To Michael Duffey, OMB from staffer in Republican Senator Rob Portman`s office. Dated Friday, August 24th, 1:56 p.m.
Michael, I work on national security affairs for Senator Rob Portman. As you may know, he works closely with the Armed Services Committee on securing security assistance and is very interested in ensuring Ukraine has the military capabilities it needs to defend itself against Russian aggression. I understand that OMB has placed a hold on funding for Ukraine which could impact pending equipment contracts. If you`re the right point of contact, I`d appreciate it if you could lay out for me the reason behind the hold and what the process is for getting the funding released. If you`re not the right person, please put me in contact with the right office.
In a related email chain a few hours before that, blunt letter of concern from Rob Portman`s office gets sent up the chain at OMB, we find that Republican Senator James Inhofe has sent a similar inquiry. Quote: Thanks, Jason, flagging for another staffer as well. We got a similar inquiry from Senator Inhofe`s team.
Oh, really? Senator Portman and Senator Inhofe sending similar inquiries.
Then there`s this. August 22nd, 3:42 p.m., chief of staff to Republican Congressman Mac Thornberry sent a similar inquiry. Good afternoon, hope you`re doing well. I heard today that OMB has put a pause on spending funds authorized for Ukrainian security assistance. Is there somebody there I could talk to to understand why? Signed chief of staff to Republican Congressman Mac Thornberry.
Here`s another one. This is not just an email or a call. This one is on proper congressional office letterhead from Republican congressman Paul Cook of California sent to Mick Mulvaney and his position as White House chief of staff. Quote, we strongly urge you to direct that all Ukraine security assistance funding proceed to execution as planned. This funding is critical to support the Ukrainian armed forces against Russian aggression. Actions by OMB that delay implementation of this critical funding could undermine our clear national security interests. Slowing implementation of resources appropriated for the safety and security of Ukraine could undermine our relationship with Ukraine and our regional strategy.
Again, these documents, this evidence of Republicans -- Republicans in the House, Republicans in the Senate expressing earnest concern about why the White House was screwing this up and hurting our own national security by doing this, these documents were only made public the first day of the Senate impeachment trial. But it exposes these Republicans for having done the right thing here, and having been willing to stand up to the Trump White House to do it. This is all their communications to the Trump White House, to OMB, to the White House chief of staff.
Hey, what`s going on here? This isn`t right. I need to get an explanation here. This isn`t right. This is bad for the United States. I need an explanation.
But it`s not just those Republicans within those few days in August from which we have those documents. Within a couple of weeks of those letters to OMB, here`s more. Here`s Republican Senator Rob Portman and Republican Senator Ron Johnson. This is September 3rd, writing with a bunch of Democratic Senate colleagues to Mick Mulvaney.
Quote: We write to express our concerns of reports that the administration is considering not obligating Ukraine`s security assistance, Ukraine security initiative funds for 2019.
Quote: We have worked hard in a bipartisan manner in the Senate to provide funding for security assistance program for Ukraine that is effective and transparent and fiscally responsible. We strongly urge you to direct the Defense Department to obligate these funds immediately.
Two days after that, September 5th, another Republican, Congressman Mike McCaul, top Republican on the foreign affairs committee writes to Mick Mulvaney and to the head of OMB, Russell Vought. He says, quote: We write to express our deep concern in support of Ukraine`s defense regarding reports that OMB is holding up significant security assistance funding and support of Ukraine`s defense. We urge you to make these funds available for obligation without delay.
I mean, there`s all these Republicans who have been acting somewhat heroically, who have been getting up on their hind legs and demanding answers from the Trump White House, questioning the Trump administration, demanding that Ukraine needs to get its aid, right, standing up for how important that is, how crucial it is, as a matter of us keeping our word, what a central matter it is for U.S. national security.
Ultimately, when the aid was finally released in mid September -- you might remember at the time we finally found out the aid was being released, in a sort of weird statement from Republican Senator Lindsey Graham.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: With the Ukraine aid, what exactly happened either today or yesterday with Ukraine aid?
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): I don`t know.
REPORTER: But you said that it was --
GRAHAM: I still don`t know.
REPORTER: It had been freed up?
GRAHAM: Yes, last night. You need to ask them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Yes, yes, last night, it got freed up. You need to ask them.
It`s a weird statement, right, but that was Lindsey Graham. He was the one who confirmed to reporters and thereby to the public the first time for some mysterious reason he didn`t even know, this long-standing and increasingly troublesome hold on aid to Ukraine had finally been lifted overnight.
What he doesn`t talk about now and what has been somehow lost in the sauce of this impeachment scandal is that the reason reporters were asking him, Lindsey Graham, is because he Lindsey Graham had taken a stand on this issue. Lindsey Graham and Democratic Senator Dick Durbin that very day had been working together on an amendment that would have confronted the Trump White House on why that aid was being held up. The amendment essentially would have forced their hand to make them release it.
So, Lindsey Graham was getting asked about the aid finally getting freed up because Lindsey Graham was a key part of the effort to force the aid out, to force the White House to do the right thing, to confront the White House on this hold they had put on Ukraine`s aid and to make it stop.
Republican Senator John Kennedy of Louisiana suggested to CBS News that same day he would have been with Lindsey Graham and Dick Durbin on that as well, telling CBS News when they asked him about it, quote, we support Ukraine, period, end of discussion.
Good for you, Senator, right? And none of this is all that long ago. This is all within the last four, five months. In which all of these Republicans in the House and the Senate were somewhat heroically, at least earnestly and aggressively standing up to get in the way of the Trump administration messing with Ukraine, standing up to the White House to aggressively push back on this mysterious White House effort to try to mess with Ukraine, right?
All these Republicans in the House and Senate standing up to protect Ukraine against these weird machinations of the Trump White House that were as yet unexplained, right? Standing up for our national support for Ukraine, pointing out that our national support for Ukraine was undergirded by a huge bipartisan vote in the United States Congress to direct that aid to them, which had been signed into law by President Trump and, therefore, shouldn`t be screwed up by anyone.
I mean, Mac Thornberry, Michael McCaul, Paul Cook, Ron Johnson, Rob Portman, Lindsey Graham, John Kennedy, James Inhofe, they honestly have all been in the lead here. They`ve at least been willing to stand up alongside Democrats to do the right thing here. They have all been white hat good guys standing up against the Trump White House and demanding answers in terms of the mistreatment and the messing about of our ally Ukraine. They have all been doing the right thing here. Until very, very recently.
It`s only been a few months since they all stood up on this issue to do the right thing. We`ve got the receipts. I mean, we`ve got the details of it. Have they since lost their convictions on this matter? I mean, does it turn out this is something they don`t really care about? They were faking caring about it a few months ago for some reason?
Or have they all decided it`s important to support Ukraine, but it`s more important that the president demand that Ukraine announce investigations of Joe Biden and if they don`t, we can let that aid slide. Is that really what they think?
I doubt that all of those Republican members of the House and members of the Senate have changed their mind very much on the importance of U.S. aid to Ukraine. I doubt that any of them feel less strongly about it now. But where are they now?
And where are they going to be if this goes forward? Impeachments are unpredictable things. We may or may not be about to head into the witness and evidence portion of this trial. That itself will be unpredictable even in terms of the process.
Be humble in anticipating what might happen next here. The facts are still coming out. Just tonight as I sat down, I was just handed this. This is more documents that are pried loose under another Freedom of Information Act lawsuit tonight. This stuff was just pried loose by American oversight from the Department of Energy, and we`re just starting to go through it. Yet more documentation released just tonight.
But, you know, as this story continues to develop and the scandal continues to be exposed, at the heart of it all are individual elected officials, Republicans among them, who know about and care about and have fought for the real issues at the heart of this scandal. And no matter what you think about any individual politician in terms of how this fits into the rest of their politics and the rest of their biography, they all know in all likelihood, their behavior in this impeachment of President Donald Trump is going to end up in the first paragraph of their obituary some day when they finally leave this earth. They all know that.
And the human conscience is a powerful thing, and I think we do all know that every member of Congress, every senator associated with this scandal and with this impeachment will all want to look back at this moment as something they get to brag about 30 years down the road, not something they hope people will forget about them.
We`ll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BAKER: He campaigned for me in my races with the Senate. That he was a Republican, I was a senior Republican. Notwithstanding all of that, this is a very serious matter. I didn`t know much about it. I better find out.
That`s when I decided to do that. And I hope it does not sound vain of me to say that, but I think we did a pretty good job with it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Joining us now live is Congressman Adam Schiff. He is the chair of the House Intelligence Committee. He`s one of the House impeachment managers. He`s been at the center of the impeachment trial.
Mr. Chairman, thank you so much for joining us tonight. It`s a pleasure to have you.
REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): Thank you. Good to be with you.
MADDOW: So, there`s been some reporting sort of on both sides as to whether or not Senate majority leader McConnell has the 51 votes he`s trying to get to block any witness testimony at the trial. Whether he really doesn`t have the votes or he does president have the votes or he doesn`t have them right now, we`re not sure. What`s your understanding of the state of play on that now?
SCHIFF: I think it`s still in a state of flux. I don`t think the Senate leader can be all that confident of how it`s going to turn out. I think it`s very hard, increasingly hard every moment every day for Republican senators to say, we don`t want to hear from this witness who was at the center of things that had the president`s ear, that the president talked to about the heart of what the president is charged with here. And, therefore, we come to the end, at least of this beginning of the trial where we thought we would be once we presented our case, and the president presented his case, and that is the president`s team basically has admitted that Donald Trump acted corruptly, withheld this money, tried to cheat in the next election, use the money to coerce or extort the leader of Ukraine into doing his political dirty work.
And so, all we can fall back on now is, so what? The Constitution doesn`t allow us to do anything about it. And for that argument, their savior is Alan Dershowitz, a criminal defense lawyer who admits in his statement that his view is out of the mainstream.
Indeed, Jonathan Turley, who is the Republican`s own constitutional expert in the House, has said now again publicly Dershowitz is wrong. But you don`t need constitutional law professors to tell you that this whole theory is wrong. You just have to apply common sense.
Are the Republican senators really prepared to say that a president who compromises our national security uses hundreds of millions of dollars of taxpayer money for military gear and weapons to help an ally defend itself against our adversary to coerce political investigations into his opponent, are we really prepared to say that that conduct is compatible with the office of the president?
MADDOW: Tomorrow begins a new phase of the trial. You said this is sort of the end of the beginning. We`re going to start tomorrow 16 hours of written questions from senators on both sides.
And I went through all of the questions that were submitted in the Clinton impeachment trial. I saw the remarks today from Chief Justice Roberts, that he wants the questions to be framed in such a way that they can be answered in five minutes.
I wonder how you and your team are preparing for this next stage. You obviously don`t know what you`re going to be asked and you need to be prepared to answer in fairly short bites on any number of things that you might get from each side.
SCHIFF: Well, we`ve tried to divide up the topics so that members can focus in on specific subject matter areas. And so, if the questions relate to that area, we have a manager to go to here or there. It`s difficult to divide them out precisely. You can`t anticipate everything you`re going to be asked, but we can anticipate a lot of it.
I looked at the Clinton questions. A lot of them would ask the side that supported the case that the senators believed had been made, and then the other side would ask the other, either the managers or the president`s lawyers, if they wanted to respond to what had just been said. Both parties I think used it to expand their case, but also respond and rebut arguments made by the other side.
So I would anticipate that`s largely what will happen. But we`ll have to see.
MADDOW: Congressman Schiff, if you have a second, if I could ask you, we have to take a quick break. I have a couple things I want to ask you about including some of the latest reporting on John Bolton, his prospect as a witness, if you could stick with us.
MADDOW: Great. Congressman Adam Schiff, one of the House impeachment managers.
We`ll be right back after this. Stay with us.
MADDOW: Joining us once again is Chairman Adam Schiff, head of the Intelligence Committee in the House, one of the impeachment managers.
Sir, thanks again for your time tonight. I appreciate you sticking with us.
SCHIFF: You bet.
MADDOW: If the Senate ends up not voting for witnesses, again, there has been reporting that they may or may not have the votes to do so. If they end up not voting for witnesses, would you and the other impeachment managers consider asking Chief Justice Roberts if he himself would authorize subpoenas for witnesses?
SCHIFF: Rachel, I really don`t want to get into our strategy or what our fallback plan may be if the senators refuse to call for John Bolton. But I will say this -- you were asking earlier about the questions senators will have for us. I won`t have a chance to ask the senators questions, but if I did, the three that I would ask the senators are, would you agree that John Bolton has relevant testimony? And if you do, why don`t you want to hear it? And how can you have a fair trial without witnesses?
I may not get a chance to ask the senators that question, I won`t get a chance to ask them that, but their constituents will. And I think those are very difficult questions for the senators to answer. So I want to keep the focus where it is right now.
John Bolton should come and testify. I think that`s abundantly clear. The president`s lawyers tried to contest what John Bolton has to say. They claim that this was about a policy dispute, that the president is being impeached over a policy dispute.
This is not a policy dispute. John Bolton, I think be, will make clear the aid was withheld not because of any policy reason, but because of a corrupt reason, because of the president`s desire to use that money as leverage to get help, improper, illicit help to cheat in the election. So, that, I think, is really what`s at issue here. And I just don`t want to get into strategy beyond that.
MADDOW: We, of course, don`t know what`s in John Bolton`s book. The reporting from "The New York Times" says that in the manuscript, Bolton asserts President Trump specifically told him that he didn`t want to release any aid to Ukraine unless Ukraine announced investigations into the Bidens. That`s actually the core claim at the heart of your case for the president`s removal from office.
Is that the core issue that you would plan to ask Bolton about, or is there more that`s directly relevant to the question before the Senate that you`d like to ask him about as well?
SCHIFF: You know, there`s certainly a lot more we`d like to ask John Bolton. After all, as Dr. Fiona hill testified -- said, you go tell the lawyers after this meeting on July 10th at the White House in which Sondland basically blurted out in front of the Ukrainian delegation, hey, we`ve got a deal here with Mulvaney. You make the announcement of these investigations and you`ll get your White House meeting. We`ll give you a date.
And John Bolton says to Fiona Hill, go talk to the lawyers, tell them I don`t want to be part of whatever drug deal Sondland and Mulvaney have cooked up. Obviously, we want to ask him what he knows about that drug deal. That was in July.
Purportedly in this book, John Bolton confronts the president or has a conversation with the president the following month in August about the other quid pro quo involving the military aid. That is certainly the most serious allegation against the president, now proven by the House in this case. This is further direct evidence in addition to the direct confession by Mick Mulvaney that he talked to the president, that the president told him that, yes, the investigations are one of them or part of the why he held up the money.
Sondland also, another firsthand witness, said that while the president said no quid pro quo on the same call also said, but Zelensky has to go to the mic and he`s got to want to do it and announce these investigations, basically describe the quid pro quo. So, Bolton is another confirming witness. There was also abundant circumstantial evidence during the trial. Witnesses who said based on all the facts, the only conclusion they could reach, 2 plus 2 equals 4 is that this is exactly the corrupt scheme the president was involved in. So while we want to ask him about it, yes, that`s the most serious allegation. It comes apparently in a direct conversation with the president.
MADDOW: Congressman Adam Schiff, one of the House impeachment managers, the Senate impeachment trial -- sir, I know the next couple of days are going to be long days when you and your fellow managers are going to have to be on your feet a long time. Good luck. Keep us apprised and we hope to see you back soon.
SCHIFF: Thank you very much.
MADDOW: Thanks very much.
All right. We`ve got much more ahead tonight. Stay with us.
MADDOW: This is the front page banner headline of "The New York Times" yesterday morning on Monday: Money to Ukraine tied to inquiries, Bolton book says. "Washington Post" led with it, too. Manuscript leak spurs calls for Bolton testimony. "Wall Street Journal": Bolton claim ties to Trump to aid Freeze.
"The Miami Herald": Trump tied Ukraine aid to inquiries that he sought, Bolton book says.
Those were headlines yesterday morning Monday. Now, today, for a second day in a row, still dominating. "The New York Times": Bolton`s account fuels Senate push to call witnesses. "Washington Post": Bolton revelations roil GOP senators. "The Los Angeles Times", above their understandably giant headline of the death of Laker star Kobe Bryant, there it is in the left- hand column there. Bolton claims rattle Trump lawyers.
"USA Today": Bolton book adds to call for witnesses. "Politico", taking up the entire front page: Bolton sets off trial frenzy.
Here`s "The Tampa Bay Times", all caps, bold: Bolton`s book steals spotlight. Here`s "The Minnesota Star Tribune": Bolton book upends GOP strategy. "The Des Moines Register", six days out from the Iowa caucuses, right? Going with the huge headline above the fold, Bolton sought as witness.
There`s "The Charlotte Observer" in North Carolina. GOP defends Trump as Bolton book adds pressure.
The Bolton news is sticking. I mean, two days in a row of front page headlines about Ambassador John Bolton`s testimony in the impeachment trial, it is not going away. Amid questions tonight about whether Senator Mitch McConnell has the votes to try to block John Bolton and all witnesses from testifying, and what the White House might do to try to stop that testimony even if McConnell does have the votes.
How much muscle the White House could bring to bear in their own effort to try to foreclose the prospect of Bolton telling his story? The question off what the White House has in its quiver, what it might be able to do if it tries is a story that might surprise you, and we have an expert opinion on that that you will want to hear, next.
Stay with us.
MADDOW: While we wait to see whether Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell has the votes to block testimony at the impeachment trial, including John Bolton, while we wait to see what the White House will do to fend off that possibility, here`s something intriguing, published today at "Just Security" by Ryan Goodman and Andrew Weissmann.
Headline: Why the White House may not dare fight on executive privilege.
Joining us now is Andrew Weissmann, former federal prosecutor including his work as special counsel of Robert Mueller`s team.
Mr. Weissmann, thanks for being here. Appreciate it.
ANDREW WEISSMANN, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Welcome.
MADDOW: I feel you and Mr. Goodman have done a service by pointing out that everybody is talking about executive privilege when it comes to the power that the White House has to block witnesses. But you`re essentially saying that`s kind of a bluff, that they`re never going to actually assert it.
WEISSMANN: I`d be surprised if they did. And we started thinking about this when we heard Senator Murkowski say that she was concerned about just how long it would take if they called John Bolton because it may just be a long drawn out process in court. And we thought, OK, there are two issues to that.
One is waiver because now we`ve seen the president himself and authorizing other people to talk about what it is that happened or he claims happened with John Bolton. The other is that if you actually go to court and you ask a court to defend -- Bolton shouldn`t be able to talk because of executive privilege, the court is going to look for whether it`s waived or whether there is crime or fraud because that is an exception.
The whole point of executive privilege is you want good advice from your -- and legal advice from the people around you.
MADDOW: Literally legal advice.
WEISSMANN: Exactly, in both sense of the words. If you are doing this, you`re actually making -- having this conversation in order to commit a crime, the court obviously is not going to say that`s protected by the executive privilege.
MADDOW: That came up in Watergate as well, right, when the White House was threatening to invoke executive privilege as a reason for things not to be admissible. That was part of the problem, is that these conversations were about crimes or covering up crimes and therefore, they couldn`t, by definition be privileged.
WEISSMANN: Exactly. And so --
MADDOW: What would go right there if he did actually bring this stuff into court?
WEISSMANN: Some judges might duck it by saying it`s waived. I don`t need to reach this issue. But a lot of judges, at least in the argument phase, will explore all of the different issues, so you can imagine a district court judge saying, I want to talk about waiver and now let`s talk about crime fraud.
This, by the way, came up in the special counsel`s office with Chief Judge Howell, this is all public, had a decision about Paul Manafort and when he spoke to his counsel, we had made a motion saying, you know what, that should not be privileged because of crime fraud. And the judge asked for all of the evidence about it and then made a decision that, in fact, crime fraud applied. I mean, that`s the same court that the Senate Republicans or the White House would have to go to in order to make a decision.
MADDOW: In that -- just to be clear, in that part of the Manafort case, he wanted that evidence withheld from the court on the bases of privilege. The judge ruled, nope, crime fraud means that it`s actually admissible.
MADDOW: Which would happen to the president if he was in the same boat -- same court, yikes.
WEISSMANN: Right, and you can mean -- exactly. Politically, unlike the Manafort case, politically for the president, it would not be great obviously, like stating the obvious, to have a court make a finding. It wouldn`t just then be the Democrats saying, we are alleging something is improper.
You`re going to have a court making the initial determination I find crime fraud applies and thus executive privilege is not going to block this.
MADDOW: Bottom line here, this is very helpful. There is a lot of nonsense being said what the White House can do or will ultimately do to drag this thing out. It`s worth calling their bluff on some of it.
Andrew Weissmann, thank you very much. Appreciate it.
WEISSMANN: Nice to be here.
MADDOW: Appreciate it.
We`ll be right back. Stay with us.
MADDOW: Here it is in the wild. This is a billboard truck that puttered around Washington, D.C. all day shuttling between the Capitol and the White House and the Trump Hotel. It was paid for by Republicans for the rule of law, a group of self-proclaimed lifelong Republicans who have been rallying against this president.
The reason this thing has a giant picture of the vice-president`s face on it is because this truck is supposed to convince Republicans who might be on the fence about removing President Trump from office that going ahead with doing so might not be so bad. If you look clearly, it says there, remove Trump for Pence on the one side. And it says Pence, it could be worse on the other.
I`d also point you to a website, presidentpence.com where they seem to be testing out a possible campaign slogan for president pence. Quote: Well, I guess he`ll do.
Here`s their pitch for President Pence. Quote, dump Donald Trump. Get Mike Pence. Mike Pence is a bland, boring typical ordinary conservative Republican from Indiana. And if the Senate does its duty, they`ll make him the next president of the United States. If Donald Trump is removed from office, Mike Pence, not Nancy Pelosi or Hillary Clinton, becomes the president. And, you know, we could do worse.
I didn`t say it, they did.
That does it for us tonight. We will see you again tomorrow.
Now, it`s time for "THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL".
Good evening, Lawrence.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END