Remembering Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD). TRANSCRIPT: 10/17/19, The Rachel Maddow Show.

Guests: Denny Heck, Wendy Sherman, Rick Wilson, Neal Katyal, Brett McGurk,Bill Kristol, Ro Khanna

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST:  And look, Rachel, it`s the picture of the right dude. 

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST:  I know.

O`DONNELL:  The 10:00 p.m. dude right here.

Rachel, I`m glad you`re going to stay in the building and watch TV for the next hour, before you go on with Brian Williams hour to talk about "Blowout", your bestselling new book that is fantastic, because here`s what`s going to happen in the next hour.  I`m going to do a Rachel thing. 

You know that thing you do when you have -- you have basically outlined a case, a situation and you bring on the guest who is the expert on this, who has been living with this subject much longer than you have and your first question is always --

MADDOW:  Did I get anything wrong? 

O`DONNELL:  Yes.  OK.  So, I`m going to take your tweet today, which summarized this week in Syria, more economically than anyone and I`m going to present that to my guest and say --

MADDOW:  You know, that`s nerve racking because what if -- because you`re not saying did I get anything wrong, you`re saying did Rachel get anything wrong? 

O`DONNELL:  Yes, I don`t want the heat.  So, it`s going to be --

MADDOW:  I will lurk in the back of your studio.  So if your guest is totally off base, I can take it right there. 

O`DONNELL:  OK.

MADDOW:  Thanks, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL:  Stick and watch, Rachel. 

MADDOW:  Thank you. 

O`DONNELL:  Well, we woke up to this tragic news this morning that the honorable Elijah Cummings passed away last night at the age of 68.  At the end of this hour, you will hear the very first speech that Congressman Cummings delivered on the floor of the House of Representatives. 

He will be missed every day in the House, but he was especially missed today when Washington was reacting to what White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney said in the White House press briefing room.  Neal Katyal will join us with what he thinks are the high crimes and misdemeanors that he thinks he heard Mick Mulvaney confessed to today in the White House.

And later in the hour, we will discuss the high crimes and misdemeanors Mulvaney announced Donald Trump intends to commit next year, the ones he`s planning to commit on a date certain.  Rick Wilson and Bill Kristol will join us with their reaction to that. 

And why Donald Trump could then become the first president who faces an article of impeachment for what he plans to do in the future in addition to what he has already done. 

What we have entered that stage in the spiraling decline of the Trump presidency when every day now, something happens in the public rooms of the White House that we have never seen before.  Yesterday in the cabinet room, it was Nancy Pelosi standing up to Donald Trump as no one has ever stood up to him before.  Nancy Pelosi was doing what Donald Trump`s parents apparently failed to do.  She was teaching a spoiled brat a lesson. 

Nancy Pelosi stood up to Donald Trump in a way in a no one who has ever worked for Donald Trump has ever done.  She did something Donald Trump`s wives are not allowed to do and his children do not know how to do. 

And 24 hours later, it was Mick Mulvaney`s turn in the White House press briefing room to do something we have never seen before and say things we have never heard in that room from a White House chief of staff. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MICK MULVANEY, ACTING WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF:  The president wants to fire me today and hire somebody else, he can. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL:  The president must be thinking about that right now, tonight, as he watches this show and other cable news shows and sees the overwhelmingly negative news coverage and commentary about Mick Mulvaney`s soiling of the White House press briefing room today. 

"The Washington Post" reported this afternoon that one person who spoke to Trump said that he was pleased with Mulvaney`s performance.  But that was before Mick Mulvaney was forced to release a written statement in which he attempted to rewrite what he did today in the White House press briefing room and what he did at that microphone in the briefing room was implicate the president, impossible crimes, and while he was at it, implicate himself. 

There is already a federal criminal investigation about what Rudy Giuliani was doing in Ukraine and what Donald Trump was telling him to do in Ukraine that could involve criminal violations of campaign finance law that makes it a crime to solicit help in a political campaign from a foreign country. 

Donald Trump clearly did that in the rough transcript of his phone call with the president of Ukraine where we see him soliciting help from Ukraine by asking the president of Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden by name.  Joe Biden.  But today, Mick Mulvaney identified another law that he and the president may have broken. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MULVANEY:  The Budget Control Act impound -- Budget Control Impoundment Act of 1974 says if Congress appropriates money, you have to spend it. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL:  OK.  Thanks for reminding us. 

In the same press conference where Mick Mulvaney reminded us it`s against the law for the president to block spending that Congress has authorized and appropriated, Mick Mulvaney said this about the $400 million in aid Congress appropriated for Ukraine. 

Quote: We cut the money off.  We held up the money.  We were holding up money. 

Mick Mulvaney is one of those Trump world characters who speaks as if he has not heard what he himself has just said.  And so, here is what Mick Mulvaney said about why he and the president held up the money. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MULVANEY:  Did he also mention to me in the past that the corruption related to the DNC server?  Absolutely, no question about that.  But that`s it.  That`s why we held up the money. 

Now, there was a report --

REPORTER:  So the demand for the investigation into the Democrats was part of the reason that he ordered to withhold funding to Ukraine? 

MULVANEY:  The look back to what happened in 2016 certainly was part of the thing that he was worried about in corruption with that nation.  That is absolutely appropriate. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL:  Absolutely appropriate.  The same guy who at the same microphone told you it is against the law to hold up the money tells you it`s absolutely appropriate.  And then he tells you how you should feel about all this. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MULVANEY:  I have news for everybody.  Get over it.  There`s going to be political influence in foreign policy. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL:  And much to Mick Mulvaney`s surprise, that didn`t help anyone get over it.  Republicans did not rush to the microphones to say, thanks, Mick, that clears that up.  Thanks for helping us get over it.

Adam Schiff, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, actually left the deposition that he was conducting today with one of the self- labeled three amigos of the Trump Ukraine conspiracy to say this --

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA):  With his acknowledgement now that military aid to a vital ally, an ally battling Russia as we speak was withheld in part out of a desire by the president to have Ukraine investigate the DNC server or Democrats of 2016 -- things have gone from very, very bad to much, much worse.  The idea that vital military assistance would be withheld for such a patently political reason, for the reason of serving the presidential reelection campaign, is a phenomenal breach of the president`s duty to defend our national security, and I hope that every member Democrat and Republican will speak out and condemn this illicit action by the president and his chief of staff.  Thank you. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL:  "The Washington Post" reports officials close to Trump were infuriated by Mulvaney`s comments during his new conference that essentially acknowledged a quid pro quo, under which Ukraine would receive aid in exchange for helping what a Justice Department investigation that might benefit Trump`s campaign. 

One Trump adviser called it totally inexplicable.  He literally said the thing that the president and everyone else said did not happen, the adviser said. 

As Democrats and Republicans in Washington were reeling from what they just saw Mick Mulvaney do, even Attorney General William Barr apparently decided he wanted no part of what Mick Mulvaney was selling today.  And so, an unnamed Justice Department official began telling news organizations the Justice Department doesn`t know what Mulvaney was talking about.  A senior Justice Department official told NBC news, quote, if the White House was withholding aid from Ukraine with regard to any investigation by the Justice Department, that`s news to us. 

Mick Mulvaney is going to be fired.  That`s what happens to all Trump White House chiefs of staff.  It`s going to happen.  Mick Mulvaney`s firing is now simply a question of timing. 

Will the impeachment process leave Donald Trump in the White House long enough to fire and replace Mick Mulvaney? 

Leading off our discussion, Democratic Congressman Denny Heck of Washington.  He`s a member of the House Intelligence Committee and the House Financial Services Committee.  He was present today for Gordon Sondland`s deposition. 

Also joining us, Ambassador Wendy Sherman, a former undersecretary of state in the Obama administration.  She is an MSNBC global affairs contributor.

And Neal Katyal, former acting U.S. solicitor general, is with us.  He is an MSNBC legal contributor. 

And, Congressman Heck, let me start with you, and I don`t want to go directly to what happened in the Sondland deposition.  I hope you can tell us what you will about that.  But when you were in that deposition and you heard about what Mick Mulvaney was saying at the White House, first of all, how did you hear about it, how did that word come into the members who were in that room and what was your reaction to it when you heard it? 

REP. DENNY HECK (D-WA):  It was right when we were returning from a break and somebody brought in a memo which actually distilled what the chief of staff -- acting chief of staff Mulvaney said. 

My reaction was we`ve seen this act before.  First, they go through a long pattern of denial and then they acknowledge that they did it and say, but it`s OK and then they seek to normalize it.  Of course, it`s not OK and it`s not normal. 

And as you pointed out earlier, it`s a clear violation of federal law to solicit assistance from a foreign government.  But, Lawrence, here`s what I did immediately.  I pulled out the transcript or the record of the call between President Trump and President Zelensky and I read it, again, word for word. 

And, you know, I asked myself where here is there a single instance of the president asking President Zelensky to combat efforts of general corruption in Ukraine?  There weren`t any.  As a matter of fact, in the entire transcript, Lawrence, the word corrupt or corruption never appears. 

He didn`t ask him to do that.  He didn`t ask him to reduce corruption in the energy sector about which there had been problems in the past.  He did not even ask him to reduce corruption or examine Burisma, the company. 

He only mentioned his potential rival in 2020.  This is clear violation of federal lawyer, period, full stop. 

O`DONNELL:  Congressman, did you get any sense of what Republican members of the committee or other Republican members of the House, what their private reaction was to Mulvaney? 

HECK:  They`re so busy defending him at any cost, I don`t know if they`ve lost all objectivity or they`re just frankly scared to their core of what he might do to them in a primary election. 

O`DONNELL:  Let`s listen to what Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski said about this. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. LISA MURKOWSKI (R-AK):  You don`t hold up foreign aid that we had previously appropriated for a political initiative.  Period.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL:  And, Neal Katyal, the law is pretty clear on that.  Mick Mulvaney was right about that when he was reciting it today.  But what did you hear when you listened to Mick Mulvaney today? 

NEAL KATYAL, MSNBC LEGAL CONTRIBUTOR:  I think the most striking thing I heard, Lawrence, was that this was the White House`s defense.  This wasn`t the prosecution talking.  This was the defense. 

And their defense was, hey, I did it.  You know, the president did it.  That`s the defense. 

And, you know, I disagree a little bit with the congressman, because he said this kind of stuff, we`ve heard this before.  We`ve never heard this before.  We`ve never heard the White House confess to a high crimes and misdemeanor because that`s what this is.  Make no mistake about it.  You go back to the finding and you ask you what`s the quintessential definition of an impeachable offense?  It`s going and asking a government to muck around in your election.  That`s what the founders Madison and others were so worried.

That`s exactly what Mulvaney confessed to today.  So, now, it`s like, you know, in the criminal law, you kind of -- you have the guilt and innocence phase that the person do it.  And then you have the sentencing phase. 

Well, the guilt and innocence phase is done here.  They`ve just admitted it.  I think the congressman was right to say the transcript already basically admitted it in the July 25 call, but not in so many words. 

Here you`ve had a -- we have a very repeated stark language.  And this isn`t like some casual slip of the tongue.  It was a 39-minute press conference that the White House chief of staff gave and after a month in which the White House has been consumed by this.  So, this wasn`t like he got some question -- gotcha question that he never thought about before, he confessed, he confessed plain and simple to an impeachable offense by the president of the United States, the definition of an impeachable offense.

O`DONNELL:  Wendy Sherman, when Mick Mulvaney was telling you to get over it today, Mick Mulvaney who has absolutely no experience in foreign policy was saying that this is the way it works, this is the way presidents and especially this president conducts foreign policy, so there`s nothing to see here, get over it, this is the way it works.  Is it the way it works? 

WENDY SHERMAN, MSNBC GLOBAL AFFAIRS CONTRIBUTOR:  It is absolutely not the way it works.  And, you know, a lot of people have been calling what Giuliani and Sondland and maybe Rick Perry and others did, a shadow foreign policy.  This isn`t foreign policy. 

I`m not a lawyer but to me this looks like corrupt operations for financial and political gain.  This is absolutely nothing to do with real foreign policy.  And yes, it`s true that presidents have different policies because they get elected and we have really tremendous patriots in our Foreign Service officers.  Many of whom we`ve seen gone up and testify to Congress, even though the administration has not wanted them to, who stay and serve presidents, even when they may not fully disagree with the policy.

But they have not been asked before to affect a U.S. political election through their actions.  That`s an operation that`s corrupt, that`s criminal probably, that is certainly not a shadow foreign policy.  It`s no foreign policy at all. 

O`DONNELL:  And, Congressman Heck, as you were in the deposition, that`s when Mick Mulvaney was doing all of this. 

But in the deposition of Gordon Sondland, the big suspense question for all of us is -- what happened in those five hours between Acting Ambassador Bill Taylor texting Gordon Sondland saying it crazy to hold up funding based on political favors that they want for their reelection campaign and Sondland eventually replies with this very legalistic replay saying, oh, no, that`s not what we`re doing, that`s not what the president is doing. 

Was that penetrated in this deposition today, what happened in that time space? 

HECK:  Lawrence, we`re obviously not talking about specific questions or answers in the deposition.  But let me say this -- each and every witness brings new information and new insights to the table.  And I like it to the use of one of those old 35 millimeter cameras where you adjust the lens until you get it into the highest possible focus, every witness has brought into higher focus.  In fact, I`d say we`re already in the higher resolution than basic cable.

And the question is rapidly going to become, frankly, where do we just draw the line and say, it`s time to proceed because we have enough?

O`DONNELL:  Congressman, what -- could you characterize his credibility, general credibility? 

HECK:  No.  We`re not commenting on any of the specifics, nor for that matter of the witness. 

But I would say each and every one, every one, has added to our insights on this one way or another.  And again, we`re making significant progress.  We have an incredibly aggressive schedule over the next two weeks, as has been indicated earlier. 

I think we`re going to proceed without haste but expeditiously.  I think the American people would like to bring this to a close.  I know all the members would like to bring it to a close.  Day in, day out of 9 to 12-hour depositions isn`t a lot of fun but it`s important, and we`re going to stay at it. 

O`DONNELL:  Neal Katyal, I have a feeling that if the Republican members of the committee thought they were helping helpful things from these witnesses for Donald Trump, they would be out there at the microphones delivering that information. 

KATYAL:  Well, I hope they`d maintain the confidentiality that`s supposed to be maintained in these things.  But I think the bottom line is, the defense has fallen completely apart.  I mean, the first defense was, oh, the president didn`t do it, the whistle-blower is lying, it`s hearsay.  Well, then they release the transcript which showed everything the whistle- blower said was correct. 

Then the next defense was, well, there`s no quid pro quo.  Well, that has been blown to smithereens by Mulvaney today, as well as by Ambassador Sondland`s testimony.  And now, the defense is, oh, it`s cool, very legal, very cool, everyone does this kind of thing.  Nobody -- no president has done this. 

I mean, "The New York Times" did a write-up in interviewing the last ten chiefs of staff to ask them did anyone ever contemplate anything like this, and the answer is no. 

And I think Ambassador Sherman had it exactly correct.  This is not shadow foreign policy.  This is something to just personally benefit Donald Trump and others around him.  And that is the gravest crime against America.  It`s not just criminal but it is impeachable. 

O`DONNELL:  Congressman Denny Heck, Neal Katyal, thank you both for joining us and starting us off tonight. 

Ambassador Sherman, please stay with us for more as we continue with our coverage of what`s going on in Turkey this week.  President Trump says that he`s reached some kind of deal with Turkey.  We`ll evaluate that deal. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL:  Today in Turkey, after meeting with Turkish President Erdogan, Vice President Mike Pence announced that he and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo negotiated a temporary cease-fire between Kurdish and Turkish forces in northern Syria near the Turkish border. 

The Turkish foreign minister immediately issued a statement saying this is not a cease-fire.  The Turkish foreign minister said that Turkey was suspending its attacks so that the Kurds could completely retreat from the area in dispute.  You could read thousands of words about this in "The New York Times" and other carefully reported journals that examine every detail, but what happened was economically summarized by Rachel in this tweet. 

She wrote: One, Turkey wants to push the Kurds out of that part of Syria.  Two, Trump gives them the OK to invade.  Three, Pence brokers a deal in which the Kurds must get out of the that part of Syria.  Four, the U.S. agrees to unsanction Turkey, that`s a deal like being mugged is a deal. 

Joining us now is Brett McGurk who served in national security positions under President Bush, Obama and Trump, most recently as the envoy leading the global campaign to defeat ISIS.  He is a senior foreign affairs analyst for MSNBC.

And Ambassador Wendy Sherman is back with us. 

So, Brett McGurk, you get the question of the night.  How did Rachel Maddow do in that tweet where she described so economically what happened in Syria this week? 

BRETT MCGURK, MSNBC SENIOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS ANALYST:  I think she has it just about right. 

O`DONNELL:  Ah, there you go.  Go ahead.

MCGURK:  In a chain reaction crisis, a cascading crisis like we`ve been in, you want to try to buy some time.  So, I hand it to the administration to scramble and try to buy sometime.  But in exchange for buying time, to completely capitulate in a 13-point statement which is basically written by the Turks, what it shows to me is the extreme duress under which the American side is negotiating. 

We`re evacuating our facilities, we`re bombing them as we leave and President Trump gave away all of our leverage.  He did that last December when he announced he wanted to leave Syria and that we were leaving Syria, so Putin knows we`re leaving, Erdogan knows we`re leaving, Assad knows we`re leaving, the Iranians know we`re leaving.  And he compounded that by what he did on the night of October 6th after the call with Erdogan, and then we`re now evacuating our positions.

So, we have no leverage, we have very little influence, we`re bystanders and the final deal will be cut in five days when Erdogan visits Putin in Moscow unfortunately. 

O`DONNELL:  Let`s listen to what Senator Mitt Romney said about this today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. MITT ROMNEY (R-UT):  The announcement is being portrayed as a victory.  It is far from a victory.  The decision to abandon the Kurds violates one of our most sacred duties, it strikes at American honor.  What we have done to the Kurds will stand as a bloodstain in the annals of American history. 

Was there no chance for diplomacy?  Are we so weak and so inept diplomatically that Turkey forced the hand of the United States of America?  Turkey? 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL:  And, Wendy Sherman, you have now pretty much seen just about everything Senate Republicans had to say on the floor today about Turkey. 

SHERMAN:  Well, I`m glad that Senator Romney made that statement and indeed we`ve heard from lots of our terrific military saying they`re actually ashamed of what has gone on here and having to leave the Kurds behind.  And as Brett pointed out, nobody knows the area as well as Brett McGurk does, we have totally capitulated.  We have given Turkey everything they`ve wanted.  And most importantly, we`ve given Putin everything he`s wanted. 

When Nancy Pelosi stood up in the photograph that you discussed at the beginning of tonight`s show, he was ostensibly saying to the president, all roads lead to Putin.  And on a day when you memorialize Elijah Cummings, who`s from Baltimore, who stands up with moral courage, and Nancy Pelosi, who`s from Baltimore, my hometown as well, these are two people who stand up for what is right and President Trump has no idea who either of those people are because he doesn`t understand the values of standing with the people who are there for you. 

The Kurds were there for us.  We`re going to see the resurgence of ISIS.  We`re going to see Putin control Syria with Assad in many ways as his puppet.  We are going to see Iran`s more malign behavior in the neighborhood.  We`re going to see Israel more insecure. 

This deal that the president ostensibly got and said today, he even as quoted as saying that, you know, Turkey had to clean out the border.  That is genocidal language.  That is ethnic cleansing language.  For the president of the United States to stand up for genocide?  That`s not the America that we really are. 

O`DONNELL:  Here`s the way the president put it tonight in his campaign rally to his rally audience he said: sometimes you have to let them fight.  Like two kids in a lot, you have to let them fight and then you pull them apart. 

Brett McGurk, your reaction to that? 

MCGURK:  You know, Lawrence, it`s difficult to me because it`s just obscene.  I served for two years in the Trump administration.  I know the diplomats were trying to work through this crisis that was precipitated by an impulsive decision by President Trump.  That is a totally obscene thing to say. 

Over the last ten days after the president`s phone call with Erdogan, we had about 200,000, civilians displaced from their homes.  We had about hundreds of people killed.  We`ve had innocent women pulled out of their car and murdered in cold blood by Turkish-backed opposition forces.  So for the president of the United States to say that, you know, everybody is listening. 

I`ve been to Syria so many times, and particularly in these war zone environments, everybody listens to the words of the president of the United States, and for him to say that is truly obscene.  We`re not just letting they will fight.  We are evacuating Syria and blowing up our bases as we leave and handing over facilities to the Russians. 

So for the president to suggest that this is just kind of no big deal and this was all going according to plan is a joke, and I think Senator Romney has it right and I fear that this is going to go worse.  I think it`s good that we bought some time, but Erdogan is on his way to Moscow and we are not bystanders as we work to get out of Syria.

So, I think it`s a pretty serious situation and it not likely to get better. 

O`DONNELL:  Brett McGurk, Wendy Sherman, thank you very much for joining us tonight.  Really appreciate it. 

MCGURK:  Thanks.

SHERMAN:  Thank you.

O`DONNELL:  And when we come back, Rick Wilson and Bill Kristol join us to discuss the need to impeach Donald Trump not just for what he has already done but for what he plans to do.  That`s next. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: In his disastrous press conference today, the current White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney announced that Donald Trump plans to commit two major violations of law next year on a date certain, two impeachable offenses.

The next meeting of the G7 is scheduled for June 10 next year and Mick Mulvaney announced today that Donald Trump is going to give himself and one of his failing businesses a big federal contract for that event, and Donald Trump is going to directly accept payments from foreign governments for the use of his failing property for the G7.

The President plans to violate both the domestic and foreign emoluments bans at the same time. The federal government will be pouring money directly into Donald Trump`s pockets at the same time that foreign governments will be paying money directly into Donald Trump`s pockets during the G7.

The Washington Post reports that Trump`s Doral Resort has been in sharp decline in recent years, according to the Trump organization`s own records. Its net operating income fell 69% from 2015 to 2017.

The G7 summit will draw hundreds of diplomats, journalists, and security personnel to the resort during one of its slowest months of the year, when the hotel is often less than 40 percent full.

The top Democrat in the Senate Finance Committee Ron Wyden said foreign governments should not be forced to line Donald Trump`s pockets and urged them to seek outside accommodation, adding that Congress should work to defund this effort to force the G7 to be held elsewhere.

Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski said she did not think it was appropriate to hold the summit there. Today, former Republican strategist Bill Kristol tweeted that Donald Trump`s corruption can only be stopped by impeachment. If Trump is not impeached and removed, the corruption will get even worse, the White House even more lawless, the violations of norms even more routine.

All previous articles of impeachment against Presidents have been about what the President has already done. This Congress might find it necessary to be the first to impeach a President for his past conduct and for what this President plans to do.

Bill Kristol and Rick Wilson will join us next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: Here is Pulitzer Prize winning Washington Post reporter David Fahrenthold discussing the location where Donald Trump wants to have the G7 next year.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DAVID FAHRENTHOLD, WASHINGTON POST REPORTER: It is basically the keystone of Donald Trump`s entire hospitality golf hotel business. It produces more revenue for him every year than any hotel or golf course and he has one of its biggest loans on it.

If you were to pick one property that Donald Trump`s financial health depended on, this would be it. June is the second slowest month for Doral, only August is worse. Their occupancy rate is under 40 percent.

So even if Trump just charged the cost, which we have no idea if he`s going to, but even if didn`t try to make a profit off each individual room, he`s filling the resort at a time it would be mostly empty.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Joining our discussion now is Bill Kristol, editor-at-large of The Bulwark and the Director of Defending Democracy Together. He served in senior positions in the Reagan and Bush administrations, and Rick Wilson as well he`s a former Republican strategist and contributor to The Daily Beast. He`s the author of Everything Trump Touches Dies.

Bill Kristol, your reaction to the announcement today that the President plans to commit these two violations of the emoluments clause, both the domestic and foreign.

BILL KRISTOL, EDITOR-AT-LARGE OF THE BULWARK AND DIRECTOR OF DEFENDING DEMOCRACY TOGETHER: Yes, and God knows what other laws are being violated. There are laws for federal contracting. Obviously, you can`t just give contracts to yourself or to your best friend. I mean it`s taxpayer money that`s involved.

And Congress really needs to - I think it`s very good since where Congress needs to demand the documents, who made the decision, where we know Trump made the decision, but who - what documents were provided, or were competitive bids were gotten from the private - from different hotel chains, did - where`s the Secret Service report saying that Doral would be easier to handle than some other place?

I mean the idea that this is Trump cheats the government as his own little private business. He can just choose to put things one place rather than another, and that`s the law. Doral is not important obviously, the amount of money isn`t huge, it`s not like serious - not like Ukraine. But the sort of just the routinization of corruption turning us into a kind of third world country, where the President treats the federal government as his own plaything to use as he chooses is very dangerous.

And I think the Congress has every right to demand these documents. If you think of it for a minute, Lawrence, you`ve been in Washington a lot, I mean you worked on The Hill. That`s announced from the White House, there is some part of the State Department or Treasury that`s in charge of going around and taking bids and figuring out what the most logistically convenient places for foreign leaders, and they make a decision or a recommendation.

And occasionally it might go up the chain and someone would say, well you know maybe it would be more appropriate to have a here rather than there. But the President just decides to spend federal money wherever he wants and in this case at his own resort, it`s really - it is lawless.

O`DONNELL: And Rick Wilson, when Mick Mulvaney announced it today, he threw in - while he was at it - don`t even think about getting any documents that would show how this decision was made.

RICK WILSON, FORMER REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST AND CONTRIBUTOR TO THE DAILY BEAST: Right, that was like the icing on the cake of Mick Mulvaney`s super horrible bad day that he threw out there, basically casually saying, oh by the way the President is just not going to let you know how he personally decided to benefit himself with a several million dollar contract for his South Florida house of bedbugs Hotel.

O`DONNELL: And Bill, the urgency - you sense more urgency about impeachment now, when you throw in the future factor and you use this example as one. But there`s also when you see what happened in Syria, which was not something you could have predicted two weeks ago, three weeks ago that the President will do something like this. There are other places on the map where he could do similar things.

KRISTOL: Yes, just two things, I mean two years ago when I would make the argument that this man shouldn`t be President, he was unfit for the office, people would say, look he says a lot of stupid things, he made me want to try to do a lot of stupid and even illegal things. But McGahn stops him from firing Mueller, and Mattis stops him from doing this, McMaster stops him from doing that.

And there was some truth to that. He was a little ineffectual in his lawlessness. Now, he`s doing it and we`re seeing the consequences in the real world in Syria in a truly disastrous and depressing way.

And with Ukraine, are we confident that he is now going to ensure that we have free and fair election here in 2020, without foreign interference, with a strong government reaction to disinformation, with a strong effort to make sure election security is maintained and strengthened?

I mean, after watching that he - what he - after watching him invite or pressure a foreign government to get involved in our elections, I mean are we confident that we have a President who`s going to stand up for the integrity of our election?

So I do feel a sense of urgency here. It`s not just about holding Trump accountable for what he has done, it`s about what could happen in the world and at home over the next year.

O`DONNELL: And Rick Wilson, I think we know that Mick Mulvaney doesn`t just decide to walk out to that microphone today on his own and the mastermind of the impeachment defense Donald Trump sent him out there. And by now, even though Mick Mulvaney might have - Trump might have thought what Mulvaney was doing was fine when he was watching it. By now Donald Trump has seen enough reaction to know how badly that went.

WILSON: I don`t think even Sean Hannity holding Donald close and rocking him to sleep is going to make him feel any better about the fact that Mick Mulvaney went out there and essentially set himself on fire on national television.

He brought down - thinking he was going to deflate the bubble of this idea of a quid pro quo was not a good idea on Trump`s part, because Mulvaney went out there and on live television said, oh all those denials we were making for two weeks now, they`re all inoperative because I came out and I said there was a quid pro quo, we deliberately withheld the money.

And Mick Mulvaney by the way, from his other half as OMB director, his one head is OMB Director, his other head is acting temporary provisional deputy whatever chief of staff. As OMB Director, he`s the guy who says those checks don`t move, those numbers don`t happen.

So he put himself in a terrible spot and the President a terrible spot, and that`s why the President`s lawyers are so furious tonight.

O`DONNELL: Rick Wilson, Bill Kristol, thank you both for joining us, really appreciate it.

KRISTOL: Thanks Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: And when we come back, we`ll be joined by Congressman Ro Khanna who was in that 10 hour deposition today of the Trump European Union Ambassador Gordon Sondland and who - that Gordon Sondland - it is Gordon Sondland who actually calls himself a member of the three amigos who were doing the President`s bidding in Ukraine.

Ro Khanna is a member of the House Oversight Committee, which lost its Chairman Elijah Cummings today. Congressman Khanna will offer his thoughts on the passing of Chairman Cummings. That`s next.

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REP. ELIJAH CUMMINGS (D-MD): This is a critical moment in our country`s history. Don`t be fooled. And it is a moment which people will be talking about and reading about 300, 400, 500 hundred years from now.

And they`re going to ask the question, what did you do when we had a President who knew the rules and knew that our founding fathers had done a great job of creating a constitution and had put in all the guardrails, but never anticipate that we would have a President that would just throw away the guardrails.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: That was Congressman Elijah Cummings just a couple of months ago on July this summer.

Congressman`s family announced this morning that he died last night from medical complications that he had been struggling with, while serving as the Chairman of the House Oversight Committee.

We`re joined now by a member of that Committee, Congressman Ro Khanna. Congressman Ro Khanna has been joining us before. But tonight Congressman, I want to give you a chance to share your thoughts on the passing of Chairman Cummings.

REP. RO KHANNA (D-CA): Well, it`s a very personal loss for many members of Congress. There wasn`t a dry eye when Speaker Pelosi took to the floor to talk about Elijah Cummings, the person. And there were two things that I remembered.

One actually right before the Michael Cohen hearing, Elijah Cummings took all of us into a room and he said that the weight of history is on us and that we ought to conduct ourselves in a civil way, in a respectful way, and worthy of our constitutional oath. So he had a sense of profoundness in someone who people respected.

And the second, on a more lighter note, I remember one of my Committee hearings, I was on my phone texting and I started hearing this booming voice saying Ro, Ro, Ro, and I looked up and it was almost he was like a schoolteacher sort of saying get in line, what are you doing, you are in the United States Congress on my Committee, pay more attention. So he`s just someone who was a funny, respected, wise and touched a lot of people.

O`DONNELL: What is the plan for the Committee now to continue working without Chairman Cummings?

KHANNA: Well the work continues. One of the things Chairman Cummings was so passionate about and proud of is he assembled the best staff. And you talk to a lot of people in Congress, they will tell you the Oversight Committee has one of the best staffs in Congress.

And so, they will continue the work and all of us will continue the work and do it in the spirit that Chairman Cummings wanted. I mean one thing he was so gracious and fair to Mark Meadows or Jim Jordan, even when he disagreed, it always bend over backwards to try to respect the process, and I think we just have to follow his footsteps, a commitment to the Constitution and values, but also a commitment to civility and to the process.

O`DONNELL: I want to get your reaction to the deposition of Mr. Sondland today that you were in. Debbie Wasserman Schultz came out of that deposition saying - telling NBC News, I`m concerned that he has been less than truthful throughout the day. Would you agree with that?

KHANNA: Well I don`t want to characterize anything in the hearing or deposition itself. But let me just say based on the public reports that the concern I have is why was Rudy Giuliani involved in the foreign policy towards Ukraine.

And the public testimony suggests - the public reports of his testimony suggest that he shared the same concern, and it`s a concern that`s widespread now among Foreign Service officers. What is a President`s personal lawyer doing conducting foreign policy?

O`DONNELL: And the - were there any moments in this hearing today where you would say, ah I did discover some things that were helpful to the President`s position?

KHANNA: I don`t see that. I mean I can`t see how the President has exonerating facts in this case. I mean the President and his Chief of Staff have basically admitted to the whole case. I mean the President has gone on national television and bragged that China and Ukraine should dig up dirt on Joe Biden.

And Mick Mulvaney, I mean it was staggering - I mean Mick Mulvaney basically says, yes there was a quid pro quo, move on, get over it, and that`s really the position of this administration. I mean they are saying it`s okay to dig up dirt on their rival from a foreign leader, let`s move on as a country.

And if you believe that it`s not a slap in the face of the Constitution, then I guess you can take the President`s side. But this is really not a factual dispute Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Congressman Ro Khanna, thank you very much for joining us tonight, really appreciate it.

KHANNA: Thank you for having me.

O`DONNELL: And in tonight`s Last Word, we will show you the very first words that newly elected Congressman Elijah Cummings spoke on the House floor in 1996, freshman Congressman Elijah Cummings is next.

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O`DONNELL: One of the biggest shocks that new members the House of Representatives experienced when they arrived in Washington is the sudden discovery that if they`re one of the lucky ones that day, who are allowed to speak on the House floor, they will rarely be allowed to speak for more than one minute.

To make that even harder to bear, members of the House have to watch freshmen Senators drone on for as long as they want in their Senate floor speeches. What can you say in one minute on the House floor that will get anyone`s attention? Freshman Elijah Cummings in 1996 knew exactly what he wanted to say in his first speech on the House floor.

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CUMMINGS: And there`s a point that Parren Mitchell said many, many years ago that I say sometimes 20 times a day and it`s a very simple point, but it`s one that I live by. He says, I only have a minute, 60 seconds in it, forced upon me, I did not choose it, but I know that I must use it, give account if I abuse it, suffer if I lose it, only a tiny little minute, but eternity isn`t it.

And so I join you as we move forward to uplift not only the nation, but the world. May God bless you all and may God bless America.

(APPLAUSE)

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O`DONNELL: The Honorable Elijah Cummings gets tonight`s LAST WORD. "THE 11TH HOUR" with Brian Williams starts now.

  THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END