RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Now it`s time for the "Last Word" with Lawrence O`Donnell. Good evening, Lawrence.
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Rachel. And it turns out the whistleblower is right again. There`s that passage in the whistleblower report that people that the whistleblower spoke to said this was not the first time under this administration that a presidential transcript was placed into the code word level system solely for the purpose of protecting politically sensitive rather than national security sensitive information.
Every day that goes by, now every hour almost, the whistleblower report just bears more and more fruit.
MADDOW: And, yes. And the fact that we`re still getting new information about what happened between Trump and Lavrov and Kislyak in the Oval Office the day after he fired James Comey.
I mean after the special counsel`s investigation there`s apparently a memorandum of that conversation that exists somewhere that includes the president saying basically to Russia it`s okay that you interfered with the election.
I mean, that is -- that`s what the -- you would think that would have turned up in the Mueller report, right?
O`DONNELL: That`s what the Mueller report was looking for, but, of course, they didn`t have access to any of this material.
O`DONNELL: And it`s fascinating to see that the whistleblower has in effect created a momentum here because these people who are the sources for "The Washington Post," they`ve known this since the meeting, the way the article is presented.
They`ve known it every day since then and they didn`t say a word. They were never moved before to say a word to the "Washington Post" about it until now.
MADDOW: Yes. Well that, you know, I mean, the impeachment of the president obviously focuses things for the president. But for everybody else who was involved in either the scheme itself, who was a witness to the scheme and didn`t say anything about it or who was a witness to the scheme and helped cover it up, they all know they are liable now and they`re in trouble.
And those people are going to have to meet their maker one day. Those people also have to look at themselves in the mirror and those people also have to think about their own legal and career futures.
All of those people who are liable with having enabled or covered up this scheme now have their own skin in the game here and their own reasons to think about telling the people of this country what they know.
O`DONNELL: It looks like the "Washington Post" has written a rough draft of an article of impeachment tonight, another one.
O`DONNELL: Thank you, Rachel.
MADDOW: Thanks Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: Well, day three of the officially sanctioned impeachment investigation of President Trump has ended with a bang from "The Washington Post."
According to the "Washington Post" reporting tonight, as Rachel and I were just discussing, about President Trump`s meeting with Russians in the Oval Office in the fourth month of his presidency, what the president said in that meeting, forgiving the Russian attack on our election will surely be the subject of an article of impeachment.
The president is going to be impeached by the House of Representatives. Donald Trump might never give another state of the union address because in January, Donald Trump is now tonight more likely by that time to be in the middle of a trial in the United States Senate.
And the Speaker of the House is not going to invite an impeached president to deliver a state of the union address in the House of Representatives in the middle of his impeachment trial in the Senate.
Donald Trump is going to be impeached by the House of Representatives on at least one article of impeachment because, as of tonight, everything in the whistleblower`s report has so far proved to be true and more is proving to be true each day, including the most damning aspects of that whistleblower`s report.
But the smoking gun evidence that will force the impeachment of Donald Trump are the words that Donald Trump spoke in the White House record of his conversation with the president of Ukraine and nothing is going to change those words, nothing is going to make those words any better.
And so for the majority of the members of the House of Representatives who have said those words are worthy of an impeachment investigation, nothing is going to happen to make those words sound any better to them.
There will not come a moment when any of them say, oh, I thought those words looked suspicious when I first saw them, but now two months later, I get it. They were completely innocent.
I`m going to vote not to impeach the president. I don`t want to send him to trial in the United States Senate because now I see those words are innocent. That`s not going to happen. No one is going to make that speech.
Donald Trump should be very worried tonight about what Mitch McConnell has said and has not said about holding an impeachment trial of Donald Trump in the United States Senate. And Mitch McConnell should be even more worried about what other betrayals of national security and betrayals of his oath of office might be revealed about Donald Trump.
Like the revelations in tonight`s breaking news report in the "Washington Post" of Donald Trump telling Russian officials he did not care about Russia`s attack on our election, comments that witnesses interpreted as encouraging, actually encouraging the Russians to interfere in elections again.
We will cover Mitch McConnell`s role in the impeachment process, which should be very worrying to Donald Trump tonight later in this hour. And we will report the latest crack in the wall, the Republican defense wall in the House of Representatives.
One Republican member of the House Intelligence Committee said yesterday that he now supports an impeachment investigation of the president and another Republican said today that he supports an impeachment investigation of the president, and neither one of them have been attacked by Donald Trump.
And that is a clear sign that Donald Trump is already drowning in an ocean of impeachment worries that have dulled his attack reflexes. We will report on those Republican defections in the House later in this hour and what it might mean to the final vote on impeachment in the House. Will that be a bipartisan vote?
And at the end of the hour we`ll be joined by one of the freshman Democratic members of the House of Representatives who co-wrote an op-ed piece this week about the danger of Donald Trump that he represents to national security.
Congressman Jason Crow is a former Army Ranger. He knows more about national security and national defense than Donald Trump does. He will tell us what he will be looking for in the impeachment investigation of the president at the end of this hour.
As the certainty of the Trump impeachment sets in on Washington and the Trump White House, the pattern of the Nixon impeachment process is re- emerging when damning information about the president is revealed, that only provokes the revelation of similarly damning information about the president.
And so now, two days after the whistleblower`s report revealed that the record of the Trump conversation with the president of Ukraine was moved into high-security storage so that it would not be accessible in the way that such conversations are normally accessible, we are now learning tonight that the very same thing happened to Donald Trump`s conversation with Russians in the Oval Office.
And other reports indicate the same thing happened to Donald Trump`s conversations with Vladimir Putin and the murderous dictator of Saudi Arabia.
Tonight, the "Washington Post" is reporting, "President Trump told two senior Russian officials in 2017 Oval Office meeting that he was unconcerned about Moscow`s interference in the U.S. election because the United States did the same in other countries, an assertion that prompted alarmed White House officials to limit access to the remarks to an unusually small number of people, according to three former officials with knowledge of the matter."
Leading off our discussion tonight Evelyn Farkas, a former deputy assistant secretary of defense for Russia and Ukraine. She is an MSNBC national security analyst.
And Tess Bridgeman is with us. She`s a former special assistant to the president, deputy legal adviser to the National Security Council and associate White House counsel in President Obama`s White House. Evelyn and Tess were part of a letter today signed by more than 300 former officials voicing national security concerns about President Trump.
And also joining us, Jonathan Alter, comes from "The Daily Beast" and an MSNBC political analyst who will now be reporting on the third impeachment process he has witnessed --
JONATHAN ALTER, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: That`s true.
O`DONNELL: -- in his adulthood. Tess, let me start with you because you are an expert on the internal White House processes for these records and/or transcripts of these kinds of presidential conversations. Let me get your reaction to what the "Washington Post" is reporting tonight.
TESS BRIDGEMAN, FORMER DEPUTY LEGAL ADVISOR, NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL: Sure. Well, it`s obviously another instance of something that`s highly unusual and deeply troubling if these records are being restricted beyond even those with the need to know.
So normally these would be handled in a classified manner, and even beyond that, only those that truly have a need to know the information would have access within the security White House system.
But putting these records of phone calls that the president has with other foreign leaders into this stand-alone system for especially classified compartmented code word information is deeply troubling because it seems to indicate an apparent attempt to hide that information either because there is misconduct on the part of the president or even potential criminal wrongdoing.
That`s obviously deeply concerning from a national security perspective as well because it could indicate that there is even a counterintelligence concern at the highest level in the office of the president.
O`DONNELL: I want to go to the role of the national security lawyers. This is a reporting from the "New York Times" today where the Trump administration acknowledged how this happened.
"The Trump administration said on Friday that National Security Council lawyers made the decision about how to handle the record of President Trump`s July 25th phone call with the president of Ukraine which a whistleblower says was placed into a highly classified computer system accessible to only a small number of officials."
Tess, what about the lawyers making that decision?
BRIDGEWATER: Sure, Lawrence. Well, from my perspective, this is very odd and again, deeply troubling. First, I would just say that lawyers from the White House council`s office or the National Security Council legal office are not usually who make the call about the level of classification of a document or what system that document needs to be stored in.
So, that`s the first thing I would note is amiss here. But second obviously, if they were involved in directing that this be put into a different system for the purpose of hiding information that is politically damaging to the president, not because it`s national security sensitive information.
That represents an abuse of that system and potentially an attempt to actually cover up wrongdoing or criminality. So, it`s not at all unusual that the lawyers would be involved in providing advice to National Security Council staff for example or coordinating legal views among the inner agency. That`s their job.
But directing either a level of classification or the storage of that information in this special system particularly if the intent was to hide information that`s damaging to the president, that`s highly unusual and deeply concerning.
O`DONNELL: Evelyn Farkas, according to tonight`s "Washington Post" reporting, what we`re seeing in President Trump is a flawless consistency here about these kinds of conversations. At the beginning of his presidency, he was treating these conversations the same way.
He`s treating them now with the president of Ukraine, the conversation with the Russians one day in the Oval Office and the conversation with the president of Ukraine could have just been a day apart instead of a couple of years apart.
EVELYN FARKAS, MSNBC NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Yes, unfortunately. And there are a lot of conversations now, Lawrence, where I would really like to see the transcript because three days, I think it was threes days after that President Trump spoke with the Ukrainian president in the latest call that is causing all this consternation and probably will get him impeached.
He spoke with Vladimir Putin and we still don`t know what he talked about for about an hour or so giving, you know, interpretation time there, subtracting it, in Helsinki at that summit where it was just the two of them and the interpreter who I don`t understand why no one has actually subpoenaed to my knowledge.
Nobody has actually tried to get them to recollect if they don`t have any notes what Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin talked about. So yes, he says these things. He seems to have this dug-in idea that Russia is not our adversary because Russia`s not his adversary.
But Russia is very much the United States` adversary. Locking up these transcripts, it creates a counterintelligence weakness so, he can be black- mailed. And then imagine all those diplomats who have no idea that these conversations are going on. They are then conducting diplomacy almost blindfolded.
O`DONNELL: Jonathan Alter, we now are deeply into the echo chamber with the Nixon impeachment investigation because this pattern on one day we learn from the whistleblower about the treatment of this phone record, and then days later you discover from these are other whistleblowers, they are unofficial whistleblowers to the "Washington Post," oh, that`s exactly what they did with the transcript of the conversation with the Russians.
ALTER: So there`s a pattern here. But just to go back to something that Tess said. She said, you know, they might be covering up possible illegal activity. It`s not possible. There`s a lot that`s out there now. We know that this president was running an extortion racket, a shakedown operation. That`s what we`re learning.
And so it`s very important that when the shock of all of this wears off in a couple weeks that people not just say, oh, there was something kind of sketchy about that phone call or, you know, the Democrats are saying the president might have done something wrong.
No, they need to understand the Democratic messaging has to make them understand this was extortion. He was violating federal statutes that prohibit this behavior. Not to mention that it`s clear abuse of power and a violation of his oath of office.
So, it`s good that this is coming out now because it contributes to the obstruction of justice article of impeachment, which is an important one, one of the ones that Nixon was impeached for. But it`s not like the cover- up was worse than the crime in this case. There was a serious crime that took place.
O`DONNELL: Yes. And Tess, what do we know about other conversations? The whistleblower refers to possible other cases. This is obviously one, but it seems like the place to look are -- what we publicly know to be the most sensitive conversations, the Vladimir Putin conversations, conversations with the Saudis, that seems to be the place where people should be going to look.
BRIDGEMAN: Right. There`s obviously a lot more that we need to learn here and that`s why it`s important that Congress keep doing its work diligently. The Saudi conversations, the Russians conversations come to mind, but it`s not clear that this president doesn`t treat his relationships with almost all foreign leaders as though there is something for sale.
If you do me a favor, that will influence the foreign policy of the United States, right? I do though just want to go back to that previous point that was made because I think it is exactly right, that we shouldn`t lose sight of the fact that we do already have a smoking gun right here in front of us.
That the American people already know that the president of the United States used the power of his office to try to exert influence over a foreign leader to get him to intervene in our elections and that`s something that has of course implications in campaign finance law, perhaps on a services bribery.
So there`s a lot that we already know that we need to keep the focus on even while we continue to investigate where else this might be happening.
O`DONNELL: Another passage from the "Washington Post" tonight, "White House officials were particularly distressed by Trump`s election remarks because it appeared the president was forgiving Russia for an attack that had been designed to help elect him, the three former officials said. Trump also seemed to invite Russia to interfere in other countries` elections, they said."
And Evelyn, it sure sounds like the president was inviting them to continue to interfere to help him get elected.
FARKAS: Right, to continue to interfere in U.S. elections. I mean, the president cannot understand what the national interest is and he can`t even -- he doesn`t even have enough imagination, it appears, to even consider that the Russians might actually use the same tactics they used to get him elected to get him out of office. So, I mean, it`s a real lack of understanding of what it means to be an American president.
O`DONNELL: Go ahead, Jonathan.
ALTER: I`m just going to say, like, we need to take a step back and think about this. We`re so used to the Russian interference. This was a cyber Pearl Harbor, a cyber attack at the heart of our democracy.
So the equivalence of this would be if Franklin Roosevelt had Emperor Hirohito and Tojo into the Oval Office and he said, look, I know you attacked us, it`s okay. And if you want to attack us again, it might help me in the 1944 election. So yeah, come at us again, go ahead.
You know, this is selling out our country. And it just -- we have to continue to maintain a sense of understanding about what has really gone on here and why it`s about time that he`s impeached.
O`DONNELL: We`ll just squeeze in a break here. Tess Bridgeman, thank you for starting us off tonight with your expertise. Really appreciate that. When we come back --
BRIDGEMAN: Thank you.
O`DONNELL: -- we will get to all of the other day three developments in the official impeachment investigation of President Donald J. Trump. That`s next.
O`DONNELL: On day three and it is just day three of the official impeachment investigation of President Trump, the House of Representatives sent deposition notices to five State Department officials.
And immediately one of those officials resigned from the State Department, creating an even more dangerous situation for the Trump administration because they can no longer attempt to control access to that witness -- the State Department`s former special envoy for Ukraine, Kurt Volker.
And three House committees joined in sending a subpoena for State Department records and documents to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. The House Intelligence Committee, the House Foreign Affairs Committee and the House Oversight Committee are demanding records of all communications involving President Trump`s soliciting help from the president of Ukraine in his re-election campaign, including all communications involving Rudy Giuliani`s discussions with Ukrainian officials.
And back with us are Evelyn Farkas and Jonathan Alter. Evelyn, what do you make about this round of investigative developments today in the impeachment investigation?
FARKAS: Yes. So Lawrence, I`m cheering because they`re taking quick action. They`re trying to make sure they get as much information as possible from the relevant people before somehow they scurry away. In the case of Kurt Volker, he`s a friend, he`s a consummate professional. I truly believe he was trying to do the right thing, and I think it`s good that he resigned.
I understand from my sources that he realized he wasn`t going to be effective anymore in that role anyway, so hopefully he`ll be able to tell Congress everything that he knows. Same goes for all of those other individuals.
Certainly, the former ambassador has a story to tell as does her deputy, a man who hasn`t been mentioned yet, again, another person that I know and respect. All these people have long-standing allegiance to America and have taken oath to the constitution, so I fully expect that they will be cooperative and Congress will learn a lot.
O`DONNELL: Jonathan, Donald Trump and Mike Pompeo just lost control of Kurt Volker. That resignation makes him a completely free agent in dealing with Congress.
ALTER: So we`re going to learn everything about what Rudy Giuliani did when he got on the ground and what his contacts were, but I`m not sure that Volker was there for all those contacts so it might be a little underwhelming and we should understand that these are all sideshows.
That Trump has already confessed. He confessed last Sunday. So, it`s not like we have a lot of, you know, evidence-gathering to be done in this case, and that`s why Democrats rightly think that this can be done this year. He can be impeached before the end of the year. And it`s possible they could even have the trial as soon as December.
So, it`s very important that they stay on this fast track and that there`s a lot of worry in Washington because politicians like to grand stand. They`re going to be sort of -- they should be striking witnesses, actually, not adding too many witnesses, although it will be good to hear from Volker.
O`DONNELL: Yes. And Evelyn, on Volker and these other witnesses, it would be uncharacteristic for Pompeo and the Trump administration to not try to block their depositions, and so this will give us an early read on what the procedural resistance will be to these investigation.
FARKAS: I think you`re absolutely right, Lawrence. This will be very interesting. But again, I think this feels, you know, I worked for almost a decade in the legislative branch. This feels very different. The resolve is there and as you and others have pointed out, the Republicans are very quiet.
So, I think that you will get a lot more cooperation. We will see less stonewalling. And they know, they all know that regardless of what they say, they`re going to be coming before the Congress, many of them, and there will be a vote this year.
O`DONNELL: And Jonathan, one of the issues that for all these people in the Trump White House is how big a legal bill do you want? How much do you want to owe lawyers? Because the quicker you cooperate with these committees, the lower your legal bill is going to be.
ALTER: Yes. That`s always a big issue in these cases and you do sometimes want to follow the money a little bit. You know, Rudy Giuliani just canceled his trip to this conference that Vladimir Putin is putting on, which tells you a little bit about how Russia is behind a lot of these efforts.
And, you know, he has big alimony payments. He likes $12,000 fountain pens and he`s just losing a big payday because the optics are terrible. And I think some of these other possible witnesses are going to go, do I really want to stonewall? Do I really want to appeal this case? Keep it going?
And also there`s no love lost for Donald Trump either in the White House or in the administration or on the Hill. People say horrible things about him privately on the Republican side. I think you`re going to see more people breaking free from his hold.
O`DONNELL: Yes, that`s what former Senator Jeff Flake said today. Evely Farkas and Jonathan Alter, thank you both for joining us tonight.
And when we come back, why Donald Trump should be very worried about Mitch McConnell tonight because every minute that Mitch McConnell does not say anything about impeachment, Mitch McConnell is saying something. That`s next.
O`DONNELL: The "New York Times" is now reporting breaking news that the Trump administration restricted access to records of Trump phone calls with Vladimir Putin and members of the Saudi royal family.
And we know tonight that we`re having trouble keeping up with the impeachment action and President Trump absolutely cannot keep up with the impeachment action that is overwhelming his Presidency, because the first Republican member of the House of Representatives to clearly come out in direct support of the impeachment inquiry today has not yet been attacked by Donald Trump.
Nevada Republican Congressman Mark Amodei told Nevada reporters, let`s put it through the process and see what happens. He then got very scared that some Nevada Republicans would interpret that as supporting the actual final impeachment of the President, not just supporting the impeachment inquiry, and so Congressman Amodei put out a written statement saying in no way shape or form did I indicate support for impeachment.
But that is true of most House Democrats and Senate Democrats who at this point support an impeachment inquiry, but not the final impeachment vote, not yet. If like me you expected the first Republican supporter of the impeachment inquiry to be bombarded with Trump attack tweets, you were wrong, and that`s because Donald Trump is being bombarded with breaking impeachment bad news that he just can`t keep up with.
That means Donald Trump probably hasn`t noticed how unhelpful Mitch McConnell has been so far. Mitch McConnell has not defended Donald Trump`s phone call to the President of Ukraine. Mitch McConnell, who was willing to make history by not even allowing a confirmation hearing for President Obama`s last nominee to the United States Supreme Court, is not willing to make history by announcing that he will not allow an impeachment trial of Donald Trump in the United States Senate.
And so, everything is now at risk for Donald Trump. And as more reports come out of more betrayals of his oath of office, at the end of day three of the official impeachment investigation of Donald Trump, it is no longer an absolute certainty that the United States Senate will not convict and remove Donald Trump from office. It remains unlikely, but it is not certain.
After this break, we will discuss the rapidly changing political and evidentiary dynamics of the impeachment investigation and what that means for Republicans in the House and Senate, and what it could mean at the end of this road for the 4th President in history to be the subject of an official impeachment investigation.
O`DONNELL: And we are back with a breaking news at this minute from The New York Times. The New York Times reporting the White House put some reconstructed transcripts of delicate calls between President Trump and foreign officials, including President Vladimir Putin and the Saudi royal family, into a highly classified computer system, after embarrassing leaks of his conversations, according to current and former officials.
Jonathan Alter is back with us. Jonathan, here we go, the expanding of this story of the special treatment of Trump phone calls.
JONATHAN ALTER, THE DAILY BEAST COLUMNIST: Look, Presidents deserve a certain amount of privacy on their calls. I think we can all agree on that, we don`t want to handcuff them too much.
But it`s quite interesting that the only people, the only tyrants that he puts in these special systems are ones that he`s up to no good with. And why is it that it`s just the tyrants who get the high classification?
In other words, he`s okay with a wider circulation of the summary of the calls when it`s with allies or other countries that are - the U.S. does business with. But when it`s with thugs and killers, then he doesn`t want anybody else in the government to know about it; raises a lot of suspicions.
O`DONNELL: We are joined now by phone by New York Times reporter Julian Barnes, who was one of the co-authors of this breaking news report in The New York Times tonight. Julian, what else can you tell us about the way the White House has been treating these phone call reconstructed transcripts?
JULIAN BARNES, NEW YORK TIMES REPORTER: Well, this goes back to that famous meeting in the White House between Trump and Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov, where Mr. Trump said some explosive thing, as he may have leaked information about another country`s intelligence - Israeli intelligence. There are allegations in the press.
After that, White House officials started walking down these transcripts, they shoved it into this very classified system. And we know they did it for the leaders you were discussing, for the Saudi royal family, both for the conversations with the King, with the Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, and the then Saudi Ambassador to Washington, another member of the royal family.
So these calls, then some of them may have been sensitive, but they weren`t necessarily classified. They`re not what you usually put in this classified system. Now, the White House has defended it, but it wasn`t past practice.
O`DONNELL: And what about the calls with Vladimir Putin?
BARNES: So this is very interesting. I mean I think a lot of people want to know exactly what was said in there. Now, Trump has been very sensitive about his conversations with Putin`s famously in his meeting in Germany, he sees the translators notes afterwards to prevent information about that meeting leaking out.
We know he`s been very careful about this. So that`s why they got put in the system. But I think as we are learning about what was in the Ukraine call and what was discussed, there`s going to be more and more pressure to learn more about those calls with Vladimir Putin and what was said.
O`DONNELL: And the earlier reporting tonight about the President`s conversations with Lavrov and the Oval Office indicate that he was basically forgiving Russia or saying, look I understand why you attacked our election, we do the same thing. It was interpreted according to earlier reports to be basically okaying, saying - in effect saying to Russia, I understand that this is just something you have to do and seemingly okaying attacking future elections.
BARNES: Now, I personally have not been able to replicate The Washington Post reporting on that, but that is a very interesting report by some very talented journalists, and I think it will add to questions.
Trump has come back to this theme about interference before and sometimes he believes it, sometimes he doesn`t believe it. He says very divisive things about that. And so, if the Post report turns out to be true, I know he`s going to doubt it. I think we`re going to have more and more questions here about what he said to the Russians.
O`DONNELL: Julian Barnes, thank you very much for joining us with your important reporting for The New York Times tonight, really appreciate it.
BARNES: Thank you.
O`DONNELL: And we`re joined now in our discussion by Rick Wilson, Republican strategist and a contributor to The Daily Beast. Also, with us is Neera Tanden, former senior adviser for President Obama and Hillary Clinton. She`s the President and CEO of the Center for American Progress. And back with us is Evelyn Farkas.
And Neera Tanden, I want to get your reaction to this round of reporting tonight of the special treatment of the Presidential phone call records.
NEERA TANDEN, PRESIDENT AND CEO, CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS: Yes, I think we should be really clear about what`s happening here, which is just remember about this information about the Russia call The Washington Post is now breaking, the Russian meeting.
Remember, when you look at that photo that you showed on MSNBC just a second ago, it says Russian Foreign Ministry on the top of that. Why, because it was the Russians that showed the picture. Why is that important? Because Trump didn`t want to tell us that he even had the meeting.
And I think the time for giving the most charitable interpretation to Trump`s actions are over. Particularly after the Ukrainian call, the idea that he would say in the months after the 2016 election to the Russians, it`s basically okay what you did in our election because we do things like that in other elections.
He`s going to be a candidate again. It`s a green light to do the same thing again. We have now a pattern of practice of not just saying weird things to other countries, we have a pattern of the President Donald Trump asking other countries to intervene.
Remember, we now know he basically tried to extort the Ukrainians into digging up dirt on Biden. And in a few short months, he`s telling the Russians it`s okay what you did in the past, and I`m also the best friend you could possibly have, wink wink, nod nod, maybe you could do it again.
O`DONNELL: Rick Wilson, one of the missed points by a lot of people covering what happened in the Intelligence Committee hearing this week is one of the things that didn`t happen is no Republican on that Committee defended what Donald Trump said on the telephone to the President of Ukraine, which is what that hearing was about.
Now, those Republicans did make familiar-sounding noises attacking Democrats. They defended the witness, they sounded like Republicans, they sounded different from the Democratic side. But on the evidentiary elements of the hearing, they did not disagree about anything involving that phone call.
So Donald Trump so far has no defenders in the Congressional record on his phone call with the President of Ukraine. Anyone who`s thinking about defending the President is now reading tonight in The New York Times, reading tonight in The Washington Post, oh they`re hiding the conversations with Putin, they`re hiding the conversations with the Saudi royal family, they are hiding the conversation that Donald Trump was never even going to tell us happened with the Russians in the Oval Office in the fourth month of his Presidency.
As of tonight, if you were thinking as a member of Congress about getting out there and defending Donald Trump, you`re going to have to think again.
RICK WILSON, AUTHOR, EVERYTHING TRUMP TOUCHES DIES: We`ve moved from `73 to `74, where in `73 Republicans were screaming all day, it`s a conspiracy by the liberal news media. And now - and in `74, all of a sudden they hit the brakes because they realized--
O`DONNELL: Rick, for the kids, I have to explain he means 1973-
--the investigation of Richard Nixon, 1974 the impeachment investigation of Richard Nixon, in which he eventually resigns. Go ahead.
WILSON: Sorry, correct. And the sense in Republican circles right now, as you pointed out earlier, the deadly silence of Mitch McConnell is a very telling moment. And the fact that you don`t have the usual conspiracy boots out there running around, Jim Jordan and Mark Meadows and Matt Gates and Fredo Nunez (ph), all these kooks out there screaming with their hair on fire, it also tells you something is that they recognize this isn`t echoes of a report of rumors from the Steele dossier, this is the President admitting that he made this ask.
Giving the transcript out, and it has opened up the gates of hell for this administration, because right now, what are they doing? Right now, all these people from inside the White House are now leaking these things that he has been hiding these talk - these transcripts that are damning to him.
This Russian story that has broken tonight is utterly damning, because he had representatives from the Home Office in Moscow there. And what did he do, he acted like a whipped dog. He acted like, oh it`s fine don`t worry, we do the same thing. That`s not how a President acts, that`s how a traitor acts.
O`DONNELL: Evelyn Farkas, it seems like this week of coverage feels like that first week of covering the collapse of the Berlin Wall, the Berlin Wall coming down, it was that moment, that moment that we all saw, we were startled by - wait a minute, there are people actually climbing up on the Berlin Wall, for which you used to get shocked.
And they`re climbing up, and then suddenly they`re dancing on the Berlin Wall, and then suddenly they`re pulling it apart brick by brick, stone by stone, and eventually taking it all the way down to nothing.
This seems like the beginning of that week, where every day, and now today every hour of today, there is a new crack in this wall.
EVELYN FARKAS, FORMER DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: I agree, and I love your analogy, your example, as the child of the Hungarian Revolution. My parents both left after the Hungarian Revolution failed. That was a fight for democracy. And when the wall fell, they were essentially saying, we want democracy.
Inside the U.S. government right now, you have one by one patriotic government officials saying we want to defend our democracy, and they`re finding strength in numbers. And yes it`s snowballing as you said.
O`DONNELL: And Jonathan, let me just extend this Berlin Wall comparison a bit. Because a year earlier, those people who were dancing on the Berlin Wall were terrified of going near the Berlin Wall.
A year ago, the people who were leaking to The New York Times, leaking to The Washington Post tonight about the President`s conversations were terrified of doing that, or certainly were extremely reluctant to do it. It took until now, it took the cracks in the wall.
ALTER: Yes, I mean I think the death throes are going to go on for a while. I`m not sure that the whole thing`s going to collapse on Trump right now, because he does still have an entire cable network, although there`s dissension at Fox, but he still has a lot of people that are willing to carry water for him.
So it`s going to get very ugly this fall. But the order of battle is changing. And also, the Ukraine story and the Russia story are kind of converging. They`re coming together. So one of the things that didn`t get very much attention this week is when Trump said to Zelensky at the UN, I want you to make a deal with Vladimir Putin.
I mean this was a truly nutty thing. This would be like FDR saying to Belgium after the blitzkrieg, like I want you to make a deal with Hitler, after he just overran. So what was their endgame? I think for Trump, it`s to lift sanctions, which is what the Russians want. So he and the Russians are on the same page. Why does he want to lift sanctions and do that favor?
To pay them back for winning the 2016 election for them. That was the original quid pro quo at Trump Tower in 2016. He still owes Putin on that, right, because Putin did him a favor and he hasn`t repaid the favor yet. So that`s also going on here.
O`DONNELL: Yes, Neera, it`s a point. On the all one story piece here, it has always been about Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin and the phone call with Zalensky, with the President of the Ukraine is also about Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin.
TANDEN: I mean the first, second and third order of business is to do what we should have done a long time ago, which is to get the Putin call, to get the transcript of the call. His public behavior was basically insane, he was basically kowtowing to Putin in front of the cameras. I can only imagine what he did behind the cameras.
And the one thing I would say just about Republicans very briefly, they don`t know where the bottom is. That is the problem for Donald Trump. Because when they don`t know where the floor is, they don`t know where the ground is, it will freeze them into continuing the investigation. The longer they allow the investigation continue, stay silent, the longer - the greater his opposition will grow in the party.
O`DONNELL: Republican Senators still telling reporters that they haven`t read the whistleblower report yet, they haven`t read the phone call transcripts yet. Neera Tanden, Rick Wilson, Evelyn Farkas and Jonathan Alter, thank you all for joining us tonight.
And when we come back, a freshman House Democrat with far more national security experience than Donald Trump will join us on tonight`s breaking news.
O`DONNELL: We have been in breaking news mode for most of this hour. We started the hour with breaking news from The Washington Post, the news that President Trump told two senior Russian officials in that photograph, in that meeting in Oval Office in 2017 that he didn`t care at all about Moscow`s attack on the U.S. election, the election in which the Russians helped Donald Trump win the Presidency.
White House officials were worried about the President`s message to the Russians, according to The Washington Post. And just in the last few minutes, we have been discussing The New York Times` breaking news story tonight, that the White House used a highly classified system to hold the phone records of Donald Trump`s calls with Vladimir Putin and the Saudi royal family.
On Monday, seven freshmen House Democrats co-wrote an op-ed piece in The Washington Post about why they support an impeachment inquiry from a national security perspective. The piece was entitled "these allegations are a threat to all we have sworn to protect.
Joining us is one of the co-authors of that piece, freshman Democratic Congressman Jason Crow from Colorado. He`s a former Army Ranger, who won a Congressional district last year that a Democrat has never won before. Congressman Crow was one of those seven Democrats who published that op-ed piece in "The Washington Post."
Congressman Crow, I want to get your reaction to the breaking news tonight, which is a confirmation of the whistleblower`s report about the treatment of Presidential phone call records. It indicates that the records of the President`s conversation in the Oval Office with those high ranking Russian officials in the first few months of his Presidency were treated the same way as his phone call with the President of Ukraine, and it turns out now phone calls with Vladimir Putin are treated that way, phone calls with Saudi royal family are treated that way, and that is a break with the way previous Presidents have treated these phone records.
REP. JASON CROW (D-CO): Yes, that`s right. So much of this is troubling on so many levels. I`ve spent the last couple of days trying to wrap my brain around all these allegations as more and more comes to light.
There is a couple of common themes to all of this. Number one, it all seems to be related to helping Donald Trump win re-election. Everything that he does seems to be geared towards how can he help his election and better his prospects in 2020.
And I think it is important that number two, if you think about the national security aspect of this, and just the complete disregard for our national security professionals, our troops, people who have taken the oath, who are putting their lives on the line to defend this nation.
And context is really important. When President Trump was talking about Javelin missile systems with President Zalensky, these are weapon systems that are needed to prevent T-72, Russian T-72 tanks from moving forward and invading Ukraine.
And we have tens of thousands of U.S. troops in Europe that are in harm`s way, if that would happen. So, I take this very personally.
O`DONNELL: Yes, and you go to the transcript of the phone call, and President Zalensky brings up the Javelin missiles, that`s the last sentence he speaks before Donald Trump says, but we want a favor, I want a favor.
And Donald Trump stays on the favor for the rest of the phone call and never ever returns to the defense of Ukraine.
CROW: Right, that`s right. And what that tells me is that it is not obviously what he`s concerned about. And somebody who has taken oaths all of my adult life to defend the constitution, to defend this country, dedicate a lot of my life to the security of this country in Iraq and Afghanistan as an Army Ranger, everything that I do, I`m always thinking about those soldiers who are in Afghanistan and Iraq and around the world right now carrying weapons to defend us, and how can we keep faith with them and make sure we are protecting them and their families, and for these allegations to go really to the core of that is shocking to me.
O`DONNELL: I want to get your reaction Congressman to something the President said when he was visiting with the diplomatic corps at the United Nations Mission. And a lot of those people had brought their kids in for the day to see the President and he said that whistleblowers should be treated the way we used to treat people convicted of treason, which of course means execution. What was your reaction when you heard the President saying that?
CROW: I was really mad. This is something that again goes to the core of my oath. These are men and women who have taken the same oath that I`ve taken many times over in my adult life, who`s given up their lives in some cases, put their lives in the line every day, our diplomatic corps, our intelligence officers, our military professionals. They`ve dedicated their life to this country.
And for the President to say something like that and to threaten those folks either explicitly or passively, cannot stand. And my message to them is very simple. This Congress will do everything in its power to make sure we are protecting you and keeping faith with that sacrifice.
O`DONNELL: Congressman Jason Crow, thank you very much for joining us, and really appreciate your perspective on this tonight.
CROW: Thank you for having me.
O`DONNELL: Jason Crow gets tonight`s last word. The 11th Hour with Brian Williams starts now.