LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Rachel.
And I think Jon Huntsman`s memoir is going to be among maybe the most interesting, along with John Bolton`s from the Trump administration, because there are so many questions for the ambassador, including why did you stay as long as you did? And then, why did you leave?
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Why did you go when you went, yes.
O`DONNELL: Both of those things are fascinating.
O`DONNELL: And he`s got a story to tell.
MADDOW: Well, I`m going to -- I`ve got my source, my sneaky source tomorrow, I`m going to try it.
O`DONNELL: We will be watching.
MADDOW: All right. Thank you, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: Thank you, Rachel.
Well, the breaking news of the hour is, big surprise, it was Giuliani. Rudy Giuliani told CNN tonight that the very strange package of information that the State Department and inspector general rushed over to Congress today was originally sent to the secretary of state by Rudy Giuliani himself. A written statement by three House chairmen tonight came very close to accusing Rudy Giuliani of that, and a couple of hours later, Rudy Giuliani just confessed.
Rudy Giuliani and Donald Trump are now in a very close contest for the title of most out of control person in Trump world. Today, Donald Trump attacked the intelligence community whistleblower and made it clear that Donald Trump does not care that he is endangering the life of the whistleblower.
Bradley Moss, a national security lawyer whose law firm is representing the whistleblower, will join us tonight with reaction to what the president said about the whistleblower today, and to clarify for us what contact the whistleblower might have had with the House Intelligence Committee before the whistleblower`s complaint became public.
Donald Trump said today that he believes that the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Adam Schiff, wrote the whistleblower`s complaint for him. We`ll see what Bradley Moss has to say about that one.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo began his day early this morning trying to catch up with the truth. He finally admitted publicly, quote, I was on the phone call. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee has jurisdiction over the State Department.
Senator Chris Murphy is a member of that committee. Senator Murphy will join us with his reaction to Mike Pompeo`s sudden admission about the phone call after Mike Pompeo publicly pretended for a week that he knew nothing about it. Senator Murphy will be a juror in the impeachment trial of Donald J. Trump in the United States Senate if the House impeaches the president. Senator Murphy also might be a witness because Senator Murphy had his own conversation with the president of Ukraine and other Ukrainian officials about the pressure that Donald Trump put on Ukraine.
And as Donald Trump fights for his life, he doesn`t seem to have the energy or the focus or possibly even the awareness to fight the Republicans. Yes, the Republicans in Congress who are doing and saying things that Donald Trump does not like. Donald Trump appeared not to know today that Republican Senator Chuck Grassley came out yesterday in defense of the whistleblower, a strong defense, and specifically criticized what President Trump has said about the whistleblower without mentioning the president`s name.
That is the kind of thing that we haven`t seen Republicans doing in Congress for the last three years because they all live in fear of the wrath of Donald Trump. A Republican House member came out in favor of an investigation into Donald Trump`s phone call with Ukraine, and that Republican congressman has not been attacked by Donald Trump.
And then there is Mitch McConnell who decided to announce this week that he absolutely would start an impeachment trial in the Senate if the House impeaches the president. Mitch McConnell didn`t have to say that. He could have dodged that issue this week. Donald Trump hasn`t attacked Mitch McConnell for saying that.
Is Donald Trump going to be able to keep Republicans in Congress in line if some of them and more of them by the day possibly are not afraid of him anymore? And even more importantly tonight, is Donald Trump going to be able to keep Mike Pence in line, and Mike Pence`s staff in line now that the vice-president`s allies are leaking information to reporters, trying to distance Mike Pence from the president`s pressure on Ukraine? Are Donald Trump and Mike Pence approaching that fork in the impeachment road where the vice president will have to go in a very different direction from the president?
Eugene Robinson and Norm Ornstein have front row seats in Washington to what is now the third impeachment investigation of a president that they have witnessed. They will join us at the end of this hour to guide us along the road to impeachment and what appears to be Donald Trump`s loosening grip on Republicans in Congress. And by the time, Gene and Norm join the discussion at the end of the hour, who knows what else Rudy Giuliani might confess to?
Donald Trump was asked the question that he cannot answer today by White House reporter Jeff Mason. It was the best question a reporter has been able to ask this president of the United States in a very long time. And the answer to this question is the very heart of the president`s defense against impeachment, if he has an answer to this question.
And as of tonight, the president has no answer, which means the president has no defense. And that is why most Republicans in Congress are not trying to defend what the president said in his phone call with the president of Ukraine.
Here is the instantly historic moment when Jeff Mason exposed to the world that the emperor has no defense.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: Mr. President, can you just make clear right here, what do you or what did you want President Zelensky to do with regard to Joe and Hunter Biden?
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If you look at what he said, okay, and he brought it up. I think he brought up the name Rudy Giuliani. What I want is the following, and I`ve said this loud and clear. We have our ambassadors here. We have Mike Pence here.
Why are we the only ones that give the big money to the Ukraine? We give money to Ukraine and it`s bothered me from day one. And you have plenty people just here. I say how come it`s always the United States that gets ripped --
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: And then he kept going on and on without ever saying the answer, without ever saying what he wanted the president of Ukraine to do with regard to Joe and Hunter Biden as the question asked.
The president ran away from that question and used as many words as he possibly could in running away from that question. And Jeff Mason stood his ground and kept asking the question that Donald Trump could not answer.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: What did you want about Biden? What did you want him to look into about Biden?
TRUMP: Look, Biden and his son are stone cold crooked. And you know it. His son walks out with millions of dollars. The kid knows nothing. You know it and so do we.
Go ahead, ask a question.
REPORTER: The question, sir, is what did you want President Zelensky to do about Vice President Biden and his son Hunter?
TRUMP: Are you talking to me?
REPORTER: Yes. Just a follow-up of what I just asked you, sir.
TRUMP: Listen, are you ready? We have the president of Finland. Ask him a question.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: So, when Donald Trump is asked the central question about his defense, his answer is -- are you talking to me? His answer is, ask the president of Finland a question.
Answers like that are going to get the president of the United States impeached in the House of Representatives, and answers like that don`t give Republicans anyway to defend Donald Trump`s phone call with the president of Ukraine, in which he clearly openly solicited Ukraine`s help in his reelection campaign by trying to get Ukraine to slander Joe Biden and his family.
Washington has just gone through 24 hours of intense mystery followed by dumfounded confusion followed by the revelation that the madness of Rudy Giuliani is driving the Trump administration mad.
Last night at this hour, we were reporting that the inspector general of the State Department had asked for an urgent meeting with several House and Senate committees today, a meeting that the inspector general knew would be primarily a meeting of the committee staff because the Congress is in recess, and most of the members of the committees are not in Washington.
Congressman Jamie Raskin is a member of a couple of committees that were invited to that meeting today which he attended. He will join us in a moment with his reaction to the news tonight that the very strange package of documents that he saw today, that the inspector general brought to the Congress today originated with Rudy Giuliani. The inspector general revealed that the counsel to the secretary of state had passed along to him a strange package addressed to the secretary of state in calligraphy with a return address of the White House, but it was in an envelope that did not look like an official White House envelope.
Tonight, three chairs of the committees involved, Adam Schiff, Elliot Engel, Elijah Cummings released a statement, saying: Today, the State Department inspector general provided an unclassified briefing and documents to the House and Senate committees. The inspector general believes this matter is urgent in light of the complaint filed by a whistleblower regarding the president`s call in which he pressed the Ukrainian president to smear President Trump`s domestic political rival. And briefing and documents raise troubling questions about apparent efforts inside and outside the Trump administration to target specific officials.
And the letter went -- the statement by the chairman went on to say that it appears as if this document may have been something that was provided by, as they use the phrase, the president`s agent Rudy Giuliani. Now, they don`t say that in so many words, but sticking Rudy Giuliani`s name in that document at that point was clearly done for a very, very specific reason. And tonight, we now discover that the chairman`s mention of Rudy Giuliani might have been because they suspected he had a hand in this. Rudy Giuliani confessed to CNN tonight telling CNN that the documents originated with him. Giuliani said he received a phone call shortly thereafter from Pompeo who told him he would be referring the documents for investigation. They told me they were going to investigate it, Giuliani told CNN.
Also tonight, "The Washington Post" is reporting Rudolph W. Giuliani in recent months has consulted several times with Paul Manafort through the federal prisoner`s lawyer in pursuit of information that would bolster his theory that the real story of 2016 is not Russian interference to elect Trump, but Ukrainian efforts to support Hillary Clinton.
And leading off our discussion tonight is, Democratic Congressman Jamie Raskin of Maryland. He`s member of the House Judiciary Committee, House Oversight Committee, and he was in that meeting today with the State Department`s inspector general to discuss that very strange package which remained a mystery as of the end of that meeting.
Congressman Raskin joining us by phone. Thank you very much for joining us tonight.
What is your reaction to Rudy Giuliani`s confession after all you went through today, that that very strange package came from him?
REP. JAMIE RASKIN (D-MD) (via telephone): Well, thanks for having me, Lawrence. Delighted to be with you. I can say it was a total surprise to me. When they passed it out, everybody looked through it and then everybody looked up kind of puzzled and baffled like, why did inspector general of state convene this emergency meeting to pass out a pile of propaganda and disinformation and conspiracy theory that you can get for free from Rudy Giuliani every night on the news?
And it read almost like a transcript of his mind and what he`s been spreading over the last several weeks. And then he explained that this was a package that arrived anonymously. The return address was the White House. The calligraphy on the front to Secretary Pompeo, attention Ruth -- he knew the secretary of state`s assistant. And then there were Trump hotel dividers in the various folders. There`s the stuff you`ve been reading about.
When we came out, I said to the assembled reporters, it reads to me like something you could get from Rudy Giuliani, some of the conservative reporters there didn`t like that and said, I had no basis upon which to say that. My position is just to see the complete similarity between this and that.
So, I`m glad that he confirmed that he was the source of it. And it looks to me like they`re working on a massive conspiracy theory that everything going all the way back to pre-Mueller, pre-2016 is the concoction of some deep Ukrainian state conspiracy.
O`DONNELL: And did the inspector general say when Mike Pompeo received this envelope?
RASKIN: In late April or early May, he received it. Apparently he shared it with the State Department counsel who gave it to the inspector general who turned it over to the FBI.
Then he basically sat on it since then. He did not launch any investigations of any of the State Department or ambassadors mentioned, including Ambassador Yovanovitch who was definitely one of the targets in this package along with Joe Biden and Hunter Biden.
So there were -- she also said he doesn`t know. They may launch investigations into people, but it`s just as likely the investigation could be launched into Secretary of State Pompeo for circulating propaganda. We just don`t know. And he remained mum about what they might do with it, if anything, going forward.
O`DONNELL: And the inspector general did not know where this came from?
RASKIN: No, no. Nobody knows where it came from. Again --
O`DONNELL: Could I ask you, couldn`t the inspector general have just asked the secretary of state or asked the secretary`s counsel to ask the secretary who gave it to him?
RASKIN: Well, the one phrase that he gave us was that apparently the counsel reported to him that the secretary of state said they sense it`s over. Here, they sent this over. The implication being in the ellipses that it was from the White House. But he didn`t say that, so they sent this over or this came over, this came over.
O`DONNELL: Congressman --
RASKI: We`ll obviously have to ask Pompeo about that.
O`DONNELL: Yes. Please hold on with us. Congressman, we`re going to be joined by an under secretary of state who might be able to help us.
We`re going to bring in Ambassador Wendy Sherman. She`s under secretary of state for political affairs in the Obama administration. She`s an MSNBC global affairs contributor.
Jonathan Alter is with us. He`s a columnist with "The Daily Beast" and MSNBC political analyst.
And, Wendy Sherman, knowing the workings of the State Department as you do, an envelope like this getting literally into the hands of the secretary of state who then put it in the hands of the secretary`s counsel, to get an envelope into the hands of the secretary, that`s a very hard thing to do, isn`t it?
WENDY SHERMAN, MSNBC GLOBAL AFFAIRS CONTRIBUTOR: Right, you sort of -- unless things have changed dramatically, I doubt it in a world where everybody is concerned about security, you don`t just saunter into the State Department and go up to the seventh floor and hand over an envelope. There are guards everywhere.
So, the only way this could have happened -- it could have happened a couple of ways. One, that Rudy Giuliani gave it to Secretary Pompeo outside of the State Department and the secretary handed it off to his legal advisor who handed it off to the I.G., presumably because it had material in it about Ambassador Yovanovitch. And so, therefore, the I.G. was the person to investigate this. So, I find this whole mishegoss sort of crazy.
The other way this could happen is someone from the White House who has the clearances, gets badged into the State Department or is met on the first floor by someone from the secretary`s office, and they know each other, they know that a courier is coming over from the White House, and it goes up to the secretary of state.
But it appears to me like this was a little bit of a hot potato, Lawrence. The secretary giving it to the legal advisor, the legal advisor giving it to the I.G. The I.G. giving it to the Congress.
This happened, it appears, if I`m correct, Congressman Raskin, some months ago that this material was put together with all of these fake logos and it`s just more of the harassment, quite frankly, of Ambassador Yovanovitch and everyone else at the State Department.
O`DONNELL: So, Congressman Raskin, it sounds like the inspector general had this. It`s kind of mysterious the inspector general didn`t quite know what to do with it. But then once the whistleblower story broke, the inspector general saw some relevance here.
RASKIN: That`s right. He said essentially that when whistleblower story broke, he realized the potential relevance of this. He didn`t want to say what inferences he was drawing but he wanted to get to it immediately.
One thing everybody should recognize is that it was received at the Department of State, however it got there. I agree with Wendy, there are two likely routes. The Trump hotel stationary, somebody met somebody at the Trump hotel. It arrives a week to ten days before ambassador Yovanovitch was recalled.
So it was obviously part of the propaganda campaign to undermine her position and make it seem as if she was the problem related to corruption rather than the solution. It seems like if you read through all of it, that`s basically the tenor of it, that the corrupt people were actually the victims here.
O`DONNELL: And, Jonathan Alter, one of Rudy Giuliani`s roles has been to offer the confession when the Trump team knows the fact is going to come out. So, Rudy Giuliani went on TV and said, well, yes, of course, Trump paid Stormy Daniels, of course he did, when they knew that was going to come out.
And here`s Rudy Giuliani tonight saying, well, yes, that envelope is from me, because he knew the heat on that envelope with Congressman Raskin and others looking at it today, they were going to find out where that came from.
JONATHAN ALTER, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Right. And the important thing to keep in mind is that this material is bogus.
ALTER: Right? So, if it wasn`t bogus, you know that Bill Barr`s Justice Department would have opened an investigation. If it wasn`t bogus, you know that the State Department would not have issued a statement this spring defending Ambassador Yovanovitch against these trash allegations, which they did.
A very strong statement they issued in March, then this, you know, new material comes in. We know who it comes from. It comes from an ex-con prosecutor named Yuri Letnikov (ph), and he -- he`s a Ukrainian now former prosecutor who, you know, swore out an affidavit and then retracted it all. He`s the definition of a bad source. And everybody in Washington knew he was a bad source or they would have investigated it.
So this is the definition of a sliming of a very, very competent, well- regarded public servant and Foreign Service officer, Ambassador Yovanovitch.
O`DONNELL: Congressman Raskin, I want to go back to an impeachment investigation question. It was the best question we`ve heard a reporter ask the president in a long time. When the president was asked today, what was it that you wanted the president of Ukraine to do in relation to Joe Biden and his son?
And the president of the United States had no answer for that question. He was asked the question repeatedly. He could not answer that question. That seems to be the central question of the impeachment investigation.
RASKIN: And this is the inescapable bind that president Trump is in, which is causing his rapid mental dissent and downward spiral. It`s sort of like the Watergate break in. There`s the fact everybody could understand, and that became the governing paradigm of the whole advance in Watergate.
This is the controlling paradigm here. President Trump called up the president of Ukraine and shook him down for information about the Bidens. And he said, there`s something we want you to do for us, speaking -- I`m paraphrasing here.
But that is the essential problem, that he withheld $391 million in military and economic aid to an ally of the United States that Congress had voted in order to resist Russian aggression in their country. And the president uses an opportunity to extract a very significant political favor, to shake him down for dirt on the Bidens. This is a complete sellout of our constitution and our democracy.
I think everybody in the country is getting a hold of this story and it`s a very depressing and a shocking one no matter how many times you hear, it really is shocking that the president did it.
Now, all the president`s men are doing everything that they can to distract us and to throw dirt and to put up a million different smokescreens. And I think it`s going to be our job to knock them down and keep everybody focused on what we do know about this story.
O`DONNELL: And, Wendy Sherman, when the president talks about the phone call, he lies about it constantly, lies about it even though we have the rough transcript of it that shows that the president is lying about it. But then when he`s asked the central question today about that phone call, he couldn`t -- he couldn`t come close to an answer and basically ended up with, are you talking to me?
SHERMAN: Right, this is a man who is clearly cornered, is going to blame everyone else except himself. Standing next to the president of Finland, who looked like he wished, you know, he could drop through a hole in the floor to get away from this. At the end of the press conference saying to the president, he hopes that our great democracy continues. Hint, hint, hint, Mr. President.
The president showed in that press conference today why he has put our national security at risk in propositioning the president of Ukraine in the way he did, in the way that Congressman Raskin described. We believe he has done this with other leaders trying to get dirt to help him in the 2020 campaign. This is a risk to our national security. This is not who we are, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: Jonathan, today, the secretary of state finally -- finally had to admit, after pretending for a week that he knew nothing about it, that yes, he was on the phone call.
The secretary of state is now a witness in an impeachment investigation of the president. The secretary of state needs his own criminal defense lawyer at this point, as does the attorney general need his own criminal defense lawyer --
O`DONNELL: -- for where they stand tonight. And at some point, as we`ve seen in the past, in the Nixon version of this, these people do start to separate from the president for their own survival.
ALTER: Yes. You know, this call is the scene of the crime.
ALTER: And what we learned today with this "are you talking to me" like Travis Bickle, Robert de Niro`s character on "Taxi", are you talking to me?
Donald Trump`s "it was a perfect call" defense collapsed today for all time. He cannot make that perfect call argument, that stonewalling argument any more because he can`t and won`t answer the question about what he wanted the president of Ukraine to do regarding the Bidens.
So, if you think that the press is going to stop asking this question, I`ve got a bridge to sell you. He will be asked that question every time he goes out in public. So, he`s either going to have to suppress his ego and not go out in public any more, or he`s going to have to craft some new B.S. answer to the question.
O`DONNELL: And, Congressman Raskin, I think we know as I think we`ve known all along, why Donald Trump could never have been a witness in Robert Mueller`s investigation and could never have submitted to under oath questioning because we saw what happened to him today with one simple direct question by a reporter.
RASKIN: Well, that`s right. You know, I thought his answer was going to be one they tried before, which was that he was just engaged in a freelancing presidential investigation into corruption in Ukraine. But, of course, he didn`t raise any other corruption cases and he didn`t work on any other corruption cases. All he wanted to know about was the Bidens. So that, too, falls apart immediately.
It is interesting to me that they are still attacking the Mueller investigation and the Mueller report, and they`re the ones who continue to obsess about it. Even though he said that he was exonerated by it, but he seems to not like the conclusion that Russia was involved in a sweeping and systematic campaign to undermine our election. And I just wonder why that is such an obsessive focus of his energy at this point.
O`DONNELL: Congressman Jamie Raskin, former Undersecretary of State Wendy Sherman, and Jonathan Alter, thank you all for starting us off tonight. Thank you very much.
And here is Secretary of State Mike Pompeo today in Italy finally admitting that he was on the phone call.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKE POMPEO, SECRETARY OF STATE: As for was I on the phone call, I was on the phone call. The phone call was in the context of now I`ve been the secretary of state for coming on a year and a half. I know precisely what the American policy is with respect to Ukraine. It`s been remarkably consistent and we will continue to try to drive those set of outcomes. It`s what our team, including Ambassador Volker, were focused on, was taking down the threat that Russia poses there in Ukraine.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: And joining our discussion now is Democratic Senator Chris Murphy from Connecticut. He`s on the Foreign Relations Committee and the Appropriations Committee. He joins us from Las Vegas where he has been attending a gun safety forum today.
Senator, thank you very much for joining us on this important night. We really appreciate it.
SEN. CHRIS MURPHY (D-CT): Thanks for having me.
O`DONNELL: I want to get your reaction to the secretary of state finally saying, after a week of pretending otherwise, that, yes, he was on the phone call.
MURPHY: Well, the secretary of state, you know, clearly should have disclosed this prior to today. He knew it was eventually going to come out. But, of course, the secretary of state has been read into this campaign of corruption for months now.
Rudy Giuliani was openly bragging about his attempts to convince the Ukrainian government to investigate the Bidens and to relitigate the 2016 election. He apparently had been getting the help throughout from the State Department, including high-ranking officials there. And so, Mike Pompeo didn`t need to be on the July 25th phone call to understand that the Trump administration -- his Department of State and the president`s political operators -- were attempting to convince a foreign country to interfere in an American election.
And I think that deserves repeating over and over again. We focus on this call, and we should because it is a transcript in which the president is engaged in a fundamental corruption. But the corruption started far before that phone call and everyone close to the president knew about it.
O`DONNELL: Now, you`re in a peculiar position possibly as a senator here because as a senator, you will be one of the 100 jurors in an impeachment trial of the president if the house impeaches him and sends him to trial in the senate. You might also be a witness since you had your own meeting in Ukraine with the president of Ukraine and other Ukrainian officials.
What would you be able to tell the Senate about your sense of what kind of pressure Ukraine was feeling from the president?
MURPHY: Well, I`ve been involved in U.S.-Ukraine relationship for a long time. I was there three different times during the protest of 2013 and 2014. So I`ve paid attention to this relationship, you know, going back six years. I had begun to hear in the spring of this year about Giuliani`s overtures to the Ukrainian government.
I was hearing, not surprisingly, this new novice President Zelensky really didn`t understand what to do with these demands he was getting from Rudy Giuliani. Were they demands from the United States government or were they demands that he could ignore?
So part of the reason that I did go to Ukraine, now about three weeks ago was to make it clear to President Zelensky that if he was to deal with the U.S. Government, he should deal with the State Department, and that it was really a horrible idea for his government to get involved in an American election.
Now, in that meeting, he did not raise for me the concern that his aide was being withheld because of he was unwilling to fulfill these demands. But he certainly was very concerned about the aid being withheld, and he also was very knowledgeable about the demands that were being made of him by the Trump political operation.
Whether or not they were connected, of course, it would stand to reason that a new President might come to believe that the two things are connected.
O`DONNELL: And I want to get your reaction today to the President when he was asked about his - his attacks on the whistleblower possibly endangering the life of the whistleblower? The President didn`t even respond to that. Just went on to say he thinks the whistleblower is lying about him and he thinks the whistleblower is in a conspiracy with Democrats and the House, but no concern whatsoever for the whistleblower and for the possibility that the President is endangering his life.
MURPHY: Well, and then, once again, calling for the whistleblower to be made public so the President can directly confront him or her. Listen, the President says he supports whistleblowers except for the whistleblowers that are undoing - uncovering wrongdoing in his administration. That`s not how the whistleblower law works.
I think this is a really serious moment because we rely on the Whistleblower Act and these brave individuals to come forward when there is corruption happening inside an administration frankly, whether it`s a Democratic Administration or Republican Administration.
And if any President can get away with these kinds of personal vitriolic attacks against whistleblowers can withhold their information from Congress, I`m not sure why people are ever going to come forward in the future? So I really need my Republican colleagues, more than just Chuck Grassley, to stand up and call out the President when he`s threatening the life of the whistleblower, or when he`s trying to uncover it? Because we all rely on these people to keep government clean.
O`DONNELL: Senator, I want to get a quick LAST WORD from you about gun legislation. Speaker Pelosi was asked today can the Congress proceed with legislative business while also investigating the President. Any reporter who is wondering about that should look at 1973 and 1974. There was a great deal of legislating done during the Nixon impeachment process.
But specifically on guns, Speaker Pelosi was asked about that today. What`s your reaction? You`re in Las Vegas on this issue tonight working on the gun issue. What do you think is possible?
MURPHY: Yes, we had all - we had nine candidates here. Bernie obviously wasn`t able to make it. It was a great forum and thanks to MSNBC for helping to participate.
Listen, I`m ready to do a deal with the President on background checks. Obviously I want universal background checks, but I made it totally clear to the White House that I`m willing to negotiate a compromise. I`ve talked to the President several times personally about this. It`s been two weeks since I`ve heard from the White House substantively on this.
It`s just not true for the President to say that we can`t get anything done. Right now the ball is firmly in the White House`s court when it comes to getting a background checks deal done. There is no reason why we can`t walk and chew gum at the same time? If we shut down legislatively, there are only two people to blame for that, Donald Trump and Mitch McConnell.
O`DONNELL: Senator Chris Murphy, thank you for joining us tonight. Really appreciate it.
O`DONNELL: When we come back, Donald Trump does not care. He made that very clear today, does not care if he`s endangering the life of the whistleblower. A lawyer in the law firm representing the whistleblower will join us.
O`DONNELL: President Trump was asked today about concerns that he is putting the whistleblower`s life in danger, and he did not deny that he is putting the whistleblower`s life in danger. He made it as clear as he could to his followers that he believes the whistleblower is lying about him. And if that puts the whistleblower in danger, then that sounds like it`s okay with Donald Trump.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Sir, how do you respond to concerns that you are putting the whistleblower`s life in danger?
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Well, the whistleblower is very inaccurate. The whistleblower started this whole thing by writing a report on the conversation I had with the President of Ukraine. And the conversation was perfect. It couldn`t have been nicer.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: So far everything the whistleblower has reported has been accurate. Donald Trump went on to tell his followers the lie that Congressman Adam Schiff wrote the whistleblower`s complaint for him. "The New York Times" reported today that Congressman Adam Schiff was made vaguely aware of a whistleblower`s complaint before the whistleblower submitted that complaint to the Intelligence Community`s Inspector General.
The times reports that the whistleblower approached the House Intelligence Committee aide with his concerns about Mr. Trump only after he had had a colleague first convey them to the CIA`s top lawyer. Concerned about how that initial avenue for airing his allegations through the CIA was unfolding, the whistleblower then approached the House aide.
In both cases, the original accusation was vague. The House Staff Member following the Committee`s procedures suggested the whistleblower find a lawyer to advise him and meet with an Inspector General with whom he could file a whistleblower complaint. The aide shared some of what the whistleblower conveyed to Mr. Schiff.
The aide did not share the whistleblower`s identity with Mr. Schiff, an official said. After this break we will be joined by an Attorney whose law firm partner is representing the whistleblower. We will ask him about the whistleblower`s approach to the Intelligence Committee and the President`s false accusations against the whistleblower.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. ADAM SCHIFF, CHAIRMAN, INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE (D-CA): The President can attack the whistleblower rhetorically all the President wants. It doesn`t change the fact that the record of that call shows the President of the United States in the same conversation, indeed immediately after the Ukraine President asked for more military help, the President of the United States asked that leader a favor "Though" and no attack on the whistleblower, anyone else, is going to change those underlying facts.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Joining our discussion now is Bradley Moss he`s a National Security Attorney whose law firm partner is representing the whistleblower. Mr. Moss, thank you very much for joining us tonight. I want to get your reaction to what the President had to say today when he was asked about his rhetoric and possibly endangering the life of the whistleblower.
BRADLEY MOSS, NATIONAL SECURITY ATTORNEY: Sure, absolutely, Lawrence. What the President has said, what he has been stating on Twitter, what his allies in Capitol Hill and the media have been espousing is rather disappointing and quite candidly, beneath the integrity and the prestige of the office of the Presidency.
To be very clear, this whistleblower did this by the book and through the proper procedures. This person wrote the complaint him or herself. They did not provide the details of the complaint with Counsel. They only sought guidance on procedures. No one on the Committee saw the complaint before it went to the Inspector General.
The legal team never saw this complaint until it was released by Congress prior to last week`s testimony. This whistleblower did everything correctly, did everything properly and is now being attacked for political reasons, and that is grossly unprofessional by the President.
O`DONNELL: What about "The New York Times" report, today that the whistleblower approached a staff member of the House Intelligence Committee?
MOSS: Yes, so this happens all the time. It`s all too common because by and large, most people in the Intelligence Community don`t know the ins and outs of these procedures. They don`t know the ins and outs of the law nor should they have to know that. That`s why there are lawyers that are why they seek counsels.
So what it appears to happen here was the whistleblower went through agency counsel just try to raise the concern very vaguely, very initially was concerned that there was some stonewalling, which may have actually been true. So the person reached out to someone with a security clearance on the House Intelligence Committee for guidance.
The whistleblower did not provide the substantive details, did not provide a copy of the complaint that they were considering drafting. They sought initial guidance. As the Senate Intelligence Committee noted in a separate press released to, this happens all the time. What did the House Intelligence staffer do? They said you need to submit a complaint through the whistleblower process.
It`s called the Intelligence Community Whistleblower Protection Act. You should probably get an Attorney to help you. They did not identify an Attorney for the whistleblower. The whistleblower found the initial Attorney on this, Andrew Bakaj on his or her own because Mr. Bakaj has his own expertise and is very experienced on these matters.
O`DONNELL: Bradley Moss, thank you very much for joining us tonight and clarifying that. Really appreciate it.
MOSS: Absolutely, any time.
O`DONNELL: And when we come back, it was bound to come to this, Pence versus Trump. That`s next.
O`DONNELL: It was inevitable from the day Mike Pence was the unlucky one who won the Vice-Presidential nomination to run with Donald Trump. Eventually it was going to become Pence versus Trump. Eventually Mike Pence and his team are going to have to turn on Donald Trump and that is beginning to happen tonight.
In reporting in "The Washington Post," in which sources close to Mike Pence are trying to distance himself from Donald Trump`s pressure on the President of Ukraine at the same time team Trump is trying to implicate Mike Pence as much as possible in the impeachment investigation of Donald Trump. And the leader of the team Trump effort to implicate Mike Pence is of course, Donald Trump.
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TRUMP: I think you should ask for VP Pence`s conversation. He had a couple of conversations also. It could save you a lot of time. They were all perfect. Nothing was mentioned of any import other than congratulations. The word is that they`re going to ask for the first phone conversation. You can have it any time you need it. And also Mike Pence`s conversations, which were, I think one or two of them. They were perfect. They were all perfect.
What I want is the following. And I`ve said this loud and clear. We have our Ambassadors here. We have Mike Pence here. Why are we the only ones that give the big money to the Ukraine?
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O`DONNELL: When Donald Trump says your conversation was perfect, you are in trouble. Eugene Robinson and Norm Ornstein thought they had seen it all in impeachment investigations, then came Donald Trump. They will join us after this final break to guide us on the road to impeachment and what appears to be a fork in that road tonight where the Vice President just might be making a choice to go in a different direction than the President and so might some Republicans in Congress. That`s next.
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MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF UNITED STATES: As President Trump had made clear we have great concerns about issues of corruption. Unfortunately, President Zelensky was elected decisively on an anti-corruption message, and he and I discussed--
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O`DONNELL: Joining our discussion now is Norm Ornstein Congressional Historian and Resident Scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, Eugene Robinson, an Associate Editor and Pulitzer-Prize winning Columnist for "The Washington Post". He is an MSNBC Political Analyst and both of them thought they had seen it all in the world of Presidential impeachments.
Norm Ornstein, let`s start with you and your historical view of this. Does it feel like we`re at that spot where the fork in the road sends the President in one direction and the Vice President in another?
NORM ORNSTEIN, CONGRESSIONAL HISTORIAN: Absolutely. Of course, this is not uncommon with crime families. But, you know, I think there are two points to make here. One is, if you look at this in a Machiavellian kind of way, if Trump got impeached and Pence got impeached and both were removed, Nancy Pelosi becomes the Acting President.
And Trump I think and his people are trying to send a message to Republicans, go carefully here. That`s one part of it.
I think the second part we have going on here is that we have clearly an effort to try and shield himself the President, a little bit more from some of the blame going on. And when you look at the article, deeply reported one by Greg Miller, Greg Jaffey and Ashley Parker in "The Post," Pence`s response is what I didn`t know a thing when we know that his Defense Adviser, his National Security Adviser was in on the phone call that Trump made, that this call, including information about what Biden was doing was in his briefing papers and he`s basically saying, I didn`t know that the President was committing corrupt acts.
So, it`s delicious in a lot of ways, although it`s part of a farce that our country should not be going through?
O`DONNELL: Yes. And, Gene, in the reporting tonight, you can see the unnamed Pence defenders, people close to pence, as they`re identified, and then the Trump unnamed sources who are trying to pull Pence into this saying, well, of course he had the transcript of the phone call.
EUGENE ROBINSON, THE WASHINGTON POST, COLUMNIST: That`s right. So, it`s fascinating, because Pence is - there`s a double game going on here. The Pence advisers and aides who talk to "The Post" told a story basically of Mike Pence, who was innocent, doesn`t know nothing about no extortion.
You know, he`s completely innocent of all of this at the same time, Pence`s office is issuing an official statement saying "The Post" is totally crazy and, of course, there`s no daylight between the President and the Vice President.
When, in fact, if you believe "The Post" reporting and I certainly do believe "The Post" reporting, great reporters, there`s an increasing amount of day light. Mike Pence has been very good at sort of playing this game of publicly being with Trump but having his own little kind of insulated from what`s going on.
O`DONNELL: Norm, given that we have history of impeachment from Nixon through Bill Clinton and now tonight. I`ve been trying to find the historical markers as they happened, things that we`ll be looking back on and say that was a big one. And it feels like there was one today in that question to the President, what were you asking?
What did you want Ukraine to do about Joe Biden and his son? That seems to be the central impeachment question. And the President had no answer whatsoever.
ORNSTEIN: Absolutely. And I think what we`re going to see is more and more rats will start to think about leaving the ship and disclosing more information including the full content of that 30-minute phone call. There`s one other point that has not been made enough.
This isn`t just about Biden and Ukraine. It`s about doing Putin`s bidding, to weaken the Ukrainian President enough that Russia could get away with the invasion of Crimea. And we`re starting to see some evidence of that as well. This is a deeper, darker, horrible situation that Trump has gotten us into. It`s going to start to unravel even more rapidly now.
O`DONNELL: Gene, to that point, what was your reaction to the President`s inability to answer the fundamental defense question for his side?
ROBINSON: Well, there was kind of a deer in the headlights moment, wasn`t there?
ROBINSON: When finally as Jeff Mason kept pressing the question, you know, he refused to say anything and just stared and said are you talking to me? Are you talking to me? Sort of, you know taxi driver imitation.
So I agree with you that that was a key moment. I`m also eager to hear about the President`s deep and abiding concern about corruption in Russia, in the in the Philippines, in Egypt, in Saudi Arabia, in all these other countries he`s happy to deal with.
O`DONNELL: Yes, so far there`s just one country where corruption is an issue for him.
ROINSON: Only one.
O`DONNELL: Norm Ornstein, Eugene Robinson, thank you both very much for joining us tonight, really appreciate that.
ORNSTEIN: Thanks, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: And that is tonight`s LAST WORD." "THE 11TH HOUR" with Brian Williams starts right now.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END