Trump declares victory in Syria. TRANSCRIPT: 10/23/19, The Last Word w/ Lawrence O'Donnell.

Guests: Ro Khanna, Mieke Eoyang, Bill Bradley, Samantha Power, Rick Wilson

LAWRENCE O`DONNELLL, MSNBC HOST:  Good evening, Rachel. 

You know, when I was working in the Senate, when I would look at a senator, I`d see more than a senator, I would see the senator`s staff.  That`s the way staffs look at it in Washington.  And some of the senators had better staffs than others to put it mildly. 

Bill Bradley was one of those senators who had a great staff.  We were all in awe of Bill Bradley`s stuff.  We frequently learned things from him the hard way, meaning they knew stuff that we should have known.  Bill Bradley was a member of the Finance Committee.  I was working for Senator Moynihan, the chairman of the committee, so we had an awful lot of interaction. 

And so, I look at Bill Bradley with a duality of admiration, one for him in particular as a senator and then for his staff.  Bill Bradley is going to join us tonight. 

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST, "TRMS":  Oh. 

O`DONNELL:  Because when he was in his first term in the United States Senate, one of the people he hired for his staff was William Taylor, who became yesterday, possibly, the star witness in the case against Donald Trump. 

MADDOW:  Wow! 

O`DONNELL:  We will get Bill Bradley`s view of the young William Taylor who came to work for him in the United States.

MADDOW:  That is, A, that`s a fascinating backstory, and B, I am already riveted. 

O`DONNELL:  Stay with us Rachel. 

MADDOW:  I will. 

O`DONNELL:  Thank you.

Well, never Trump Republican Rick Wilson will be joining us at the end of this hour.  It`s going to take him that long to compose his thoughts to respond the way only a phrase maker like Rick Wilson can to Donald Trump accusing him and other never Trump Republicans today of being -- these are Donald Trump`s words here, these two words -- human scum. 

The rest of this hour`s discussion will take place on a decidedly higher plain, with President Obama`s ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power, joining us to consider Nancy Pelosi`s line that all roads lead to Putin with Donald Trump on a day when Donald Trump once again gave Vladimir Putin everything he wants in Syria. 

Matt Gaetz is one of the relatively few members of Congress who has a mug shot.  There it is.  That picture was taken by Florida police on the night Matt Gaetz was pulled over while driving his father`s BMW.  He was a recent law school graduate then and so he had the presence of mind to refuse the breathalyzer test and for everyone else who refuses a breathalyzer test in Florida and most other states, they automatically get their license suspended for one year. 

But not if you`re Matt Gaetz and you`re very white and very rich, thanks to your very rich father, who was a very powerful state senator at the time.  Arrested for drunk driving.  Refuses the breathalyzer test.  Gets his case dismissed and doesn`t lose his license. 

And now, Matt Gaetz is one of Donald Trump`s favorite members of the House of Representatives and he seems to think he can still get away with anything, because what Matt Gaetz did today is the congressional equivalent of drunk driving in the hallowed hallways of the House of Representatives.  Matt Gaetz is still a junior member of the House of Representatives, but he was the leader today of a group of about two dozen Republican members of the House who violated House rules and pushed their way into the secure room where the House impeachment investigating committees were scheduled to take the deposition of Laura Cooper, a Defense Department official who is an expert on delivering American military aid to Ukraine. 

The Republican House of Representatives is now such a disorganized gang of rebel rousers that the number two member of Republican House leadership, Steve Scalise, was actually one of the followers of the very junior member, Matt Gaetz.  They shouldered their way into the room, even though they had no right to be there because they were not members of the committees conducting the deposition.  When Republicans controlled the house, Trey Gowdy politely explained that to another Republican, Darrell Issa, explained why Congressman Issa could not be allowed in that room because he was a not member of the committee. 

Trey Gowdy told Darrell Issa then, quote, those are the rules.  And we have to follow them, no exceptions made.  Everyone knows that.  Everyone on the House knows that.  Matt Gaetz and his group didn`t just violate the rules by barging into that room, they violated the security of the room by bringing in their cell phones, which are not allowed in that room. 

Mieke Eoyang who has spent time in that room as a committee staffer will explain to us tonight the danger of cell phones in that room, the intrusion managed to delay the deposition for a few hours but it did not do what Donald Trump and Matt Gaetz hoped it would do when they reportedly discussed this stunt at the White House earlier this week.  The stunt did not take the heat off Donald Trump.  The stunt did not produce any helpful evidence for Donald Trump whose day began with a tweet that Donald Trump apparently did not realize was his confession. 

Congressman John Ratcliffe is a member of the House Intelligence Committee and is one of the many Republicans who has a right to be in the secure room and participate in all of the closed door depositions.  Congressman Ratcliffe was on "Fox & Friends" this morning and Donald Trump took what Congressman Ratcliffe said and turned it into a Trump tweet.  Quoting Ratcliffe saying in effect: No witness has provided testimony that the Ukrainians were aware that military aid was being when would. 

So, there`s Donald Trump confessing that military aid was withheld by Donald Trump and, of course, William Taylor did, in fact, testify in his opening statement that Ukrainians were very much aware that military aid was being withheld. 

And we now have additional reporting on that points tonight from "The New York Times," saying that word of the aid freeze had gotten to high-level Ukrainian officials by the first week in August, according to interviews and documents obtained by "The New York Times."  The problem was not bureaucratic, the Ukrainians were told.  To address it, they were advised, they should reach out to Mick Mulvaney, the acting White House chief of staff, according to the interviews and records. 

"The Associated Press" is reporting two months before President Trump`s phone call with the president of Ukraine, when President Trump asked the president of Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden, the president of Ukraine was already worried about that issue.  "The Associated Press" reports that on May 7th, President Zelensky, in a meeting with a small group of his advisers, spent most of the three-hour discussion talking about how to navigate the insistence from Trump and his personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, for a probe and how to avoid becoming entangled in the American elections, according to three people familiar with the details of the meeting. 

Donald Trump`s defense this morning was, Ukraine didn`t know that military aid was being withheld.  But Ukraine did know and Donald Trump`s defense really amounted to a guilty plea.  And that`s the person -- that`s the person Matt Gaetz tried to help, tried to save by breaking house rules and barging into a room to try to stop what cannot be stopped, the continued collection of damning impeachment evidence against the president of the United States, evidence that virtually guarantees Donald Trump`s position in history as the third president to be impeached by the House of Representatives and sent to trial in the United States Senate. 

Donald Trump knows the names of every one of those Republican members of the House who broke the House rules today and violated security procedures of that room.  And he was capable of human feeling, Donald Trump would actually be grateful to them, all 24 of them.

But the names he should pay much more attention to are the 173 Republican members of the House of Representatives today who did not storm the barricades for Donald Trump, did not violate the rules of the House of Representatives today in a hopeless attempt to block the collection of more damning evidence against Donald Trump, 173 didn`t do it.  They knew Donald Trump was watching and taking attendance at Matt Gaetz version of drunk driving in the halls of the House.  And they wanted nothing to do with Donald Trump and Matt Gaetz`s stunt. 

As the evidence pours in against him, Donald Trump should be wondering how many Republicans in the House might eventually vote for impeachment?  Every day, it becomes more likely that impeachment will have at least some Republican votes in the House of Representatives, and Donald Trump`s firewall in the United States Senate that`s supposed to save him from being removed from office seems to have a new crack in it every day. 

Today, it was Senator John Thune of South Dakota who is Mitch McConnell`s number two in the Senate leadership.  John Thune said this about what is emerging from the impeachment investigation.  Quote: The picture coming out of it, based on the reporting we`ve seen is, yeah, I would say, is not a good one. 

As Donald Trump`s desperation deepens, he chose to put the Trumpian word perfect in Mitch McConnell`s mouth, which provoked Mitch McConnell to, in his polite Senate way, call Donald Trump a liar. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REPORTER:  The president has said that you told him that his phone call with the Ukrainian was perfect and innocent.  Do you believe that the president has handled the Ukrainian situation perfectly?

SEN. MITCH MCCONELL (R-KY):  I have not had any conversations on that subject. 

REPORTER:  So he was lying about that? 

MCCONNELL:  You would have to ask him. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL:  Leading off our discussion tonight, Democratic Congressman Ro Khanna.  He`s a member of the House Oversight Committee and he was in the room today when the Republicans barged in and tried to stop the deposition. 

Also joining us, Mieke Eoyang, former staff member of the House Intelligence Committee, who has been in that room many, many times but has never seen anything like what happened there today. 

Also with us, Ned Price, he`s a former CIA analyst and former senior director and spokesperson for the National Security Council in the Obama administration.  He`s an MSNBC national security contributor.

And, Congressman Khanna, let me begin with you on what happened when they came in there, trying to stop this deposition. 

REP. RO KHANNA (D-CA):  Well, it was a scene not in the United States Congress but at a fraternity.  I mean, you had about 20 Republicans come in.  They were yelling.  They were basically disrupting the entire proceedings.  They brought their phones into the SCIF, which everyone knows is against the law. 

And then they started ordering pizza and pizza boxes were strewn all over the SCIF.  I mean, they didn`t even clean up.  It was really just an embarrassment.  It`s almost out of the "Animal House" movie. 

O`DONNELL:  And this reporting tonight that Laura Cooper, in her deposition, talked about a lot of the technical aspects of delivering military aid to Ukraine through the pentagon where she works, how that can be paused or stopped, or how funding for that can be blocked, and that the only real ways to do that legally is Congress can put a hold on the funding, but there was no description in the testimony of any legal way that that funding was being held up? 

KHANNA:  And the reporting suggests that what happened here is that the president told people that under -- unless Zelensky doesn`t go on television and say that he is going to investigate Biden, that there`s going to be a stalemate.  And what has taken place is the military aid was withheld in a way that was a violation of the law and it was clear to everyone involved that the only way they were going to get that aid is not only Zelensky investigated but if Zelensky told the world he was going to investigate Joe Biden. 

O`DONNELL:  Mieke, you issued a very educational tweet, flow of tweets today.  I hope to get your Twitter handle up there on the screen so people can follow you.  It was very instructive to me.  I didn`t know anything about what you were saying today about the danger of bringing phones into that room and what they did by barging in the room that way. 

MIEKE EOYANG, FORMER STAFF MEMBER, HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE:  Yes.  This is a very sensitive facility.  The kind of information they handle in the facility is electronic surveillance to covert action.  It`s not just this testimony.  So we know foreign adversaries are desperate to try to find out what happens in this room.  This is a room specifically designed to keep out electronic eavesdropping, to try to prevent signals from leaking, to try and prevent our adversaries from knowing what goes on inside. 

One of the big ways we get concerned is by taking electronic devices like cell phones into the room, which can be compromised in ways that can be turned into listening devices.  We also know that members of Congress are very high priority targets for our foreign adversaries.  They`re interested in knowing what they`re doing, what they`re thinking, can they compromise them?  These are people who don`t typically have very good security procedures. 

So, they took these devices into this very secure facility, marching right past the armed guards and cabinets set aside for people to lock their electronic devices in before they go into the room and started, from what I understand, recording while even in the room.  The committee is still trying to conduct other business, oversight of classified programs and these are members wandering around, recording inside the secure facility. 

It`s stunning.  The members of the committee are very concerned about maintaining the security of this facility.  And I think were likely appalled at what was happening. 

O`DONNELL:  Ned, I`ve never seen a weaker demonstration of an attempted defense of the president.  You would want to hear a defense of the president on the evidence and not one of those people shouting in that room could find one piece of evidence to defend Donald Trump on today. 

NED PRICE, FORMER CIA ANALYST:  No.  They sure couldn`t.  And I think when they can`t defend him on the evidence.  They go towards these clownish tactics. 

Look, I think what we saw today, yes, it was clownish but it was also startling in a number of ways.  Mieke just discussed the security implications which aren`t insignificant.  If hypocrisy counted for anything these days, it should mean something that one of the people, one of the congressmen who was captured on camera filming himself, the facility as he walked into the SCIF, just last year co-sponsored a House resolution calling for the appointment of a special counsel to investigate why it was that Hillary Clinton was not criminally charged for her handling of classified information.

But to my mind, Lawrence, the most jarring element of all of this is really the fact that it`s a microcosm of the larger scandal that we`re witnessing around us.  You have to remember at the end of the day why Donald Trump is in trouble is because he decided to betray his oath of office, to betray the American people and to betray our national security by putting his own narrow political interests ahead of our national interests, putting his own narrow political interests ahead of our national security. 

And that`s precisely what we saw today from these members of the House of Representatives.  They subordinated our national security by walking into this SCIF, this secure facility in order to score a cheap political point.  I`m not even sure they scored those points, but they sure degraded our national security. 

O`DONNELL:  Congressman Khanna, I am much more struck by the 170 or so Republicans that refused to have anything to do with it, knowing that Donald Trump was watching and taking attendance at it.  But it also is part of the lie, that demonstration is part of the lie that Donald Trump is telling on FOX News, people like Matt Gaetz and others telling Fox News that Republican members are being locked out of the room. 

In fact, you have Republican members on the committees in the rooms with you at all times. 

What was their reaction to their fellow Republicans invading their jobs there? 

KHANNA:  Well, Lawrence, first, you make a very important point.  Republicans are in that room.  They get to ask questions.  They get equal time as the Democrats. 

And, by the way, in the whole Benghazi hearing, they had the same depositions in the SCIF that were not public.  It`s the hype of height of hypocrisy for Republicans to complain. 

But, I`ll tell you, I don`t want to reveal the person`s name but I went up to the one of the individuals, and I said, oh, were you there in the protest?  He said absolutely not.  I follow the rules. 

So, there are a lot of Republicans who don`t want to be affiliated with those 23 members.  And privately, you do have Republicans saying that some of the things are indefensible.  They may not be at the point of coming for impeachment, but they don`t want to hang their reputations in the public definition of some things that are indefensible. 

O`DONNELL:  And, Mieke, that room does have Republican members of the committees in it.  It has a lot of Republican staff members in it.  They would be in a position to make public from that room, leak, any way they wanted to, any information coming in in these depositions that is helpful to Donald Trump. 

And they have not found one piece of information in those depositions that they`ve wanted to, in any way, make public. 

EOYANG:  That`s right.  If there was exculpatory evidence for the president they would be trumpeting that, they would be talking about it on the news, they would be saying, look, this is not really what you think or see.  This person said that was, in fact, the right thing to do. 

But what we see over and over again, and they cannot deny, is that this was not the right thing to do, that it was not right to set up a secondary channel.  It was not right to withhold the aid.  It was not right to fire the ambassador to Ukraine.  It was not right to demand a quid pro quo. 

It was not right to condition all of these things on the Ukrainians and that the Ukrainians themselves did not want to do.  They have been unable to find any exculpatory evidence for the president and are stuck pulling these stunts that even though they seem juvenile are really actually undermining our national security. 

O`DONNELL:  And, Ned, we`ve had more than 24 hours for them to find something in William Taylor`s deposition that Republicans want to emphasize or make public and William Taylor, at this point, based on what we`ve been able to glean from what`s happened in these depositions, seems to be, by far, the most valuable, most important witness to have testified so far. 

PRICE:  It sure seems that way from what we know so far, Lawrence.  Look, I don`t think William Taylor`s testimony yesterday really changed the contours of this scandal but he did add to the scope and to the scale of this scandal.  And I think most importantly connected it directly to the president.  There were a lot of damning elements of his testimony and that we read in his prepared remarks.  But I think none more so than the fact that President Trump himself directed Gordon Sondland, his ambassador to the European Union, to relay these demands to the Ukrainians. 

And there was no subtly in doing this.  This was not sort of a, you know, cloak and dagger operation where subtly whisper into the Ukrainian ear that maybe they should think about this investigation if maybe they wanted their aid.  No.  Gordon Sondland then went to the Ukrainian president and said here is the deal.  You undertake these investigations or else, we`re going to have, as he put it, a stalemate. 

He didn`t say the words quid pro quo, but he said there would be a stalemate and intimated the Ukrainians would not be receiving their aid.  That is the heart of this scandal.  There`s no getting around that.  I think that`s precisely why you`ve not heard anything from the Republicans from what they`ve heard yesterday. 

O`DONNELL:  Ned Price, Mieke Eoyang, and Congressman Ro Khanna, thank you all for starting us off tonight.  Really appreciate it.  Thank you. 

KHANNA:  Thank you.

O`DONNELL:  Rudy Giuliani is looking for new criminal defense lawyer tonight after his friends were arraigned in federal court today.  That`s coming up later in the hour. 

And President Obama`s ambassador to the United Nation, Samantha Power will join us later. 

And next, we`ll be joined by former Senator Bill Bradley who, in his first term in the Senate, hired Bill Taylor on his Senate staff.  Bill Taylor may now become the star witness in the impeachment trial of Donald J. Trump in the United States Senate. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL:  William Warren Bradley grew up in Crystal City, Missouri.  He went to college in New Jersey and made a life there.  He was a basketball star at Princeton and delayed his career in the NBA by taking a Rhodes scholarship. 

After Princeton, after his graduate studies in England, he finally did what America was rating for him to do and began in the NBA with the New York Knicks during the glory days of the Nixon.  Bill Bradley`s third season, Knicks won their first-ever championship. 

When his playing days were over, Bill Bradley surprised no one by announcing his candidacy for United States Senate for New Jersey because he was always seen as a serious and thoughtful man throughout his athletic career and he was seen as a winner, so no one was surprised when he won his first political campaign and was sworn in as United States senator in 1979.  And in his first term as a senator, Bill Bradley hired a Vietnam combat veteran, who`s a graduate of West Point, William V. Taylor who testified under oath to the impeachment investigating committees yesterday and who delivered the most devastating testimony yet against Donald Trump that the committees have heard. 

Bill Taylor detailed the various ways President Trump, Rudy Giuliani and others in the Trump administration were trying to pressure the president of Ukraine to conduct an investigation of Joe Biden.  When the impeachment proceedings move into the public testimony phase, Bill Taylor might be the star witness in the case against Donald Trump. 

We`re joined now by the man who helped to guide Bill Taylor`s transition from military to civilian service in government, former Democratic senator from the state of New Jersey, Bill Bradley. 

Really an honor to have you here, Senator. 

FORMER SENATOR BILL BRADLEY, WORKED WITH SPECIAL ENOVY TO UKRAINE:   Lawrence, it`s great to be with you, as always. 

O`DONNELL:  So, Donald Trump today tweeted an attack, one of -- for Trump, it`s a weak attack on Bill Taylor, like calling him never Trumper diplomat Bill Taylor, who I don`t know.

How do you expect Donald Trump`s character assassination of Bill Taylor to work?  Is that going to be an avenue that can work for Trump?

BRADLEY:  Absolutely not.  Bill Taylor is a patriot.  He`s led a life of service, courage, honor.  He is someone, like the vast majority of public servants, who Trump regularly ridicules and attacks. 

And West Point, worked for me five years, handling the energy and defense portfolios, 40 years in the State Department taking assignments that were dangerous and complicated, like Iraq and Afghanistan and Ukraine and the Soviet Union.  So, I think the way I would summarize it is that if I had a son, I would want him to have the integrity of Bill Taylor.  And so, I think Trump is going down the wrong road here. 

But Bill Taylor`s testimony made me realize there`s an untold story here.  And the untold story is how afraid Donald Trump is of Joe Biden. 

O`DONNELL:  Yes. 

BRADLEY:  I mean, really afraid.  I mean, he knows that Biden will beat him.  He`s already ahead of him in the Upper Midwest States.  I mean, how else do you explain this vast effort to smear Joe Biden?  Because he`s afraid of him. 

And I think that that`s the untold story.  I started thinking about being afraid, Trump being afraid.  And I realized this is kind of a theme in his life.  I mean, he was afraid to go in the military during Vietnam, right? 

He goes all the way up to today where he`s afraid to reveal his income tax returns.  I don`t know.  What are they going to show?  Russian payments?  I don`t know.  What is he afraid of? 

So I think this is a real fact.  So, that`s one of the things that I thought as I heard Bill Taylor`s testimony. 

O`DONNELL:  So we haven`t heard him testify.  It`s very clear when they go to public testimony, Bill Taylor is going to be one of the witnesses.  What do you -- who do you expect America to see when they`re watching Bill Taylor on television that day? 

BRADLEY:  I think they`re going to find a man of honor and of courage, and someone who is very clear, someone who is a true professional, somebody who is the best of the public servant lay out what the facts were, that he saw, witnessed in that position. 

And I think that, you know, the other thing that strikes me is President Trump really ran a rather small business, right?  And he never really ran a big organization.  And now, he`s running the biggest organization in the world and he`s failing, right? 

I mean, how else do you explain this Rudy and the thugs routine and diplomacy?  He`s basically failing and Bill Taylor`s testimony kind of laid out how ludicrous some of the actions taken were.  And I think that`s something that will last over time.  People will start to think about.  A, he`s afraid and he`s truly failing in the job of running the biggest organization in the world. 

O`DONNELL:  Bill Taylor closed his testimony with something I know is very important to you as it is to him, when he went to the front line with Ukraine and Russia`s conflict.  And he`s looking across that bridge and watching what Russia has amassed there and he`s worried for the lives that can be lost if Donald Trump gets his way and blocks this aid to Ukraine. 

What is at stake for us in the future of Ukraine? 

BRADLEY:  Well, I think it`s our steadfastness as someone who supports them in a difficult world.  They`re not all angels, but the reality is that we`ve made a commitment to them.  And I think what this testimony did was to actually give you a sense -- this isn`t like Watergate break in, or sex with Clinton.  This is life and death for a people that Bill Taylor happens to be very, very loyal to and supportive.  Not as loyal as he is to the United States of America, but he loves Ukrainian people. 

I visited when he was the ambassador in Ukraine.  I could see when he had people around the table from different political parties how much they trusted and respected him.  And so, I think he made that come to life when he talked about that visit to the front lines in Donbass.

O`DONNELL:  Senator Bill Bradley, great to be with you again.  Usually when we were working together at 10:00 p.m., it would be on the Senate floor trying to get one of those bills passed at the last minute. 

Thank you very much for joining us.  Really appreciate it. 

BRADLEY:  Thank you. 

O`DONNELL:  And when we come back, Rudy Giuliani`s pals, Lev and Igor, went to court today.  That`s it.  That`s all I have to say. Lev and Igor went to court today. Just - after this break, you`ll find out what happened.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: Breaking news. We have reporting tonight that`s saying Rudy Giuliani is now looking for a new criminal defense lawyer. That`s after two of Rudy Giuliani`s associates and friends, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, appeared in federal court Manhattan today where they pleaded not guilty to four counts of campaign finance violations.

Lev and Igor played a role in helping Rudy Giuliani`s efforts in obtaining damaging evidence on Joe Biden from Ukrainian officials. Lev`s attorney Edward McMahon raised concerns to the judge that some evidence gathered in the case already by the federal government may be protected by attorney client privilege and more interestingly possibly executive privilege.

He said there is a lot of attorney client and maybe even some executive privilege issues that are raised by the information that has already been ceased and then of course we have the issue of Mr. Giuliani acting as the attorney for the President of the United States and in that capacity, and I don`t speak for anyone but Mr. Parnas, working for him.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Rebecca Donaleski told the court, "So to the extent he is concerned about privilege, we are attuned to those concerns. We have a filter team in place." Joining us now to translate all of that Glenn Kirschner, former federal prosecutor and an MSNBC legal analyst.

And Glenn, executive privilege - they`re talking about the executive privilege that only President Trump can invoke to protect what could be communications involving him.

GLENN KIRSCHNER, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR AND MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST: Lawrence, I`m going to try to talk about this topic without sounding like a crazy person because I don`t quite know what to make of it. It`s not every day that we have a defendant in federal court stand up and through his lawyer tell a judge, "You know what judge, my client might have some privileged communications with the President of the United States such that they would be protected by executive privilege."

And, you know, I have the transcript here and I know you just put a clip of it up and let me just read two lines, because the first one on page nine, Ed McMahon, you can`t make the name up either that is Lev`s lawyer, says to the judge, "There have already been issues of executive privilege raised in the congressional subpoena to Mr. Parnas." And then he goes on, on page 10 and this is sort of the money line, he says "In response to a congressional subpoena, Mr. Parnas` prior attorney invoked and said he had been instructed to invoke executive privilege as to some of the discussions."

So if we kind of parse that out, somebody presumably in the White House instructed Lev Parnas` prior lawyer to have Parnas invoke executive privilege when he was hauled before Congress to testify. Now, the judge goes through questions like, "Well, wait a minute. Is Mr. Parnas part of the administration, a cabinet member, a government employee?" No, no, no. So how could it be that Mr. Parnas, a federal defendant, might enjoy privileged communications with the President of the United States that would give rise to a claim of executive privilege?

The only thing I can surmise, Lawrence, is that the White House seemed to be in the habit of telling people to invoke executive privilege even when they didn`t have it as a way to really just employ a delay tactic. Recall Corey Lewandowski when he testified, it was something of a clownish performance, but he would frequently invoke executive privilege even though he couldn`t lawfully do it because he was never a member of the administration or the cabinet or the federal government.

So, I`m just guessing here. It`s very curious that somebody instructed Mr. Parnas to invoke executive privilege.

O`DONNELL: Yes, in the transcript, you see that his own lawyer when he raises this is - he confesses that he himself is confused about what to do about this and he recognizes that it`s Donald Trump`s right to invoke it. It`s not his client`s right to invoke it. He just kind of throws it out there for the court as something to keep an eye on, which we will be doing. Glenn Kirschner, thank you very much for joining us tonight, really appreciate it.

KIRSCHNER: Thank you, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: And when we come back, today`s episode of all roads lead to Putin as Nancy Pelosi would it, Vladimir Putin got exactly what he wants in Syria after Donald Trump`s official abandonment of the Kurds today. President Obama`s ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power will join us next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: Today, Donald Trump declared victory for his policy of abandonment of the Kurds in Syria and said "Let someone else fight over this long blood-stained sand." The President also announced the removal of all sanctions against Turkey after saying Turkey has agreed to what President Trump is calling a permanent ceasefire in the region.

Joining us now is Samantha Power, President Obama`s ambassador to the United Nations and the author of the new New York Times bestseller "The Education of an Idealist." Samantha Power, your reaction to Donald Trump`s description of the long blood-stained sand and what`s happening there today.

SAMANTHA POWER, PRESIDENT OBAMA`S AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS: Well, it is blood-stained sand in fact because the Kurds took more than 10,000 casualties in being the ground force against ISIS which posed a threat to Americans all over the world. So, there`s a grain of truth for once in what he said, but the notion that this is a place of sand is something he keeps coming back to, it`s a place of people, of families who relied on the United States and who lost loved ones again in service of this cause on reliance on a promise.

O`DONNELL: What happens next in that region?

POWER: Well, that`s the really scary thing. I mean this triumphalism about the deal; it`s an ethnic cleansing deal. I mean the Russians came out today, they said - they`re - as Trump is boasting about what he has done, the Russians are pointing to what Trump has done and said, "This is the American - the official American betrayal of the Kurds."

So for once, you`re actually better off reading it our tasks (ph) and the Russian Foreign Ministry`s statements to have a sense of what`s actually happening here. But they`re saying if any Kurdish fighters remain, we`re going to roll them over. So in other words, this is an ultimatum to the Kurds to leave which is what Turkey has been saying all along.

It`s not a change to the status quo, except insofar as it has been legitimated now by the President of the United States and the cost for Turkey`s offensive and its killings and its sponsorship of this campaign, those costs have been lifted - very, very modest costs mind you, but those costs now have been taken away, at least for now.

O`DONNELL: I want to ask you about something I asked Senator Bradley about which is Bill Taylor, since you know him and there`s so many things in today`s news for us to be discussing with you, and so I apologize for racing through them. But, when Bill Taylor does publicly emerge as a public witness in this case as he surely will in both the public house impeachment hearings and what may be the Senate trial, what will the public see when they see Bill Taylor testify?

POWER: A pro`s pro, somebody with no axe to grind. I mean I think one of the things in reading his statement that was so striking was every person who read that statement could imagine themselves in his shoes, sort of thinking in an old-fashioned way that you`re there to pursue U.S. interests, thinking that when Russia invades a country and the United States has made a set of commitments to the country that has been invaded that those commitments are going to be maintained and his kind of dawning confusion about what`s going on, as these people keep popping up and talking about investigations and things that he`s in the dark on.

I`m - when I served in the Obama Administration, Bill Taylor was not all that happy with our policy because we weren`t going far enough in defense of the Ukrainian government from his perspective. He wanted us to move into providing lethal assistance much more quickly. And so, his view of Ukraine and the importance of Ukraine`s security and that security`s centrality to Europe`s stability and the world`s need to stand up to Russian aggression, that`s a through-line for him.

That`s not something that started when Donald Trump became President. He`s not some deep state guy who`s out to get this President. He was looking at a set of enduring national interests as he understood them.

O`DONNELL: I want to squeeze in a commercial break. When we come back, I want to talk about some of the things that are in your book that struck me in Bill Taylor`s testimony where he was describing the difficulty of making the choice to accept the job. And anyone who has accepted these kind of jobs, as you have, are very familiar with those kind of person elements that he was talking about. We will talk about that when we come back up after this break. We`ll be right back.

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O`DONNELL: And we are back with Ambassador Samantha Power, who is the author of `The Education of an Idealist`, which is Ambassador Power in my reading the single best memoir of a UN Ambassador since Daniel Patrick Moynihan`s which was - which he entitled `A Dangerous Place` and you both have similar backgrounds as professors who end up in government. What about that Moynihan title of A Dangerous Place, is that the way he was referring to both the world at the time in the Cold War and the UN itself?

POWER: Yes, I mean I think he felt as one did in the Cold War, kind of outnumbered--

O`DONNELL: Yes.

POWER: --by all the sort of Soviet proxies were voting one way, all the newly independent countries that were voting and just the absence of enough democracies to really be able to build coalitions. By the time I got there, we had a fighting chance on just about every issue. Israel, the issue in which Moynihan also made his name being the exception, where there was overwhelming sort of I think votes and really bias in one direction, in the sense that there`d be 18 resolutions on Israel and one on North Korea, and it just wasn`t - there wasn`t parity.

But on every other issue, even on LGBT rights, where 78 countries criminalized being LGBT around the world, we could get LGBT rights recognized as human rights for the first time. We could mobilize an Ebola - an anti-Ebola coalition, gathering democracies and non-democratic countries at once to go and deal with the threat. So, there are a lot of examples of the cacophony that drove Moynihan crazy, actually being harnessed for good, including the Paris agreement on climate change, but it is frustrating to see so many undemocratic countries trying to gum up the works and that still is the case but it`s a much more even fight now.

O`DONNELL: And I think of both of you actually as entering as both - both idealists and by the time you enter that job though, you have enough practical real world experience to be entering with the knowledge of the limitations of what`s possible. What do you do with that struggle against the limitations?

POWER: Well, I mean again--

O`DONNELL: For an idealist.

POWER: Yes.

O`DONNELL: --struggling dashed expectations (ph).

POWER: Yes, exactly. I mean my story is not one of dashed expectations. You`re right. It was kind of, "Oh, okay. They are the constraints. Now, who am I going to get to be my ally so we can circumvent them." And a lot of it entailed building coalitions within the government, finding allies within the Pentagon for example where people would be like, "Oh, that`s interesting. I wouldn`t have expected the human rights voice to be so aligned with the Chairman of the Joint Staff on this issue or that issue."

Some of it was about being able to prove internally that you think you have the support you need from other countries in the world to get the job done because people might start to say, "No, we can`t do that." and you say "Well, actually, I`ve talked to the British, the French, the Germans, the Swiss, among the democracies and I even think I can get Russia to abstain on this. Let`s go forth." And so, it`s about maneuvering within a messy world.

O`DONNELL: I`m sure when you read Bill Taylor`s statement - opening statement yesterday, you read that passage about him deciding to take the job and how that was not easy for him to decide to take the job to go back to Ukraine. Talk about your own choices that you have to make when a position like this is offered to you.

POWER: Well, for me, to be offered the chance to be President Obama`s Ambassador to the UN, I didn`t hesitate. I did flashback to bad relationships I had had and questions about whether confirmation was going to be terrible, and I completely exaggerated my past foibles and thought, Oh my God, this is going to be terrible getting to the job. But, I was incredibly gratified to work with somebody that - with whom I had felt I had a mind meld on how we use the international system to benefit the American people.

I think the real challenge now is that Bill Taylor has - even though he`s been out of government for a while, he has worked under Republican presidents and Democratic presidents who operate very differently than President Trump, who believe in diplomacy, who believe in global cooperation, who believe in human rights as if - you know, even if we`re not perfect in observing them as a foundation to our leadership in the world.

So, he`s looking and he`s thinking what am I getting into here and then like many of the people that I worked with when I was ambassador, he`s trying to decide will I be able even to have my voice heard given that the deep state is being attacked at all times and I`m a career diplomat. Am I going to be marginalized? Am I going to be just in a sense mailing it in? And so, he made the call that he could do - hopefully do more good than harm and maybe seek to put a break on some of the bad habits and seek to advance our enduring interests.

O`DONNELL: Ambassador Power, thank you very much for joining us tonight.

POWER: Thanks, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: And thank you very much for writing this book. This is a beautifully written thoughtful look into the complex life of a UN Ambassador. Thank you very much for that.

POWER: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: Really appreciate it. And when we come back, Rick Wilson is owed tonight`s LAST WORD after Donald Trump called him a very bad name today. That`s next.

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O`DONNELL: Donald Trump hates Never-Trump Republicans even more than he hates me. This morning, he tweeted "The Never-Trump Republicans though on respirators with not many left are in certain ways worse and more dangerous for our country than the do-nothing Democrats. Watch out for them. They are human scum!"

Joining us now is Never-Trump Republican, Rick Wilson, Daily Beast contributor and the author of `Everything Trump Touches Dies.` And Rick, there`s the laugh reaction and then there`s this. That`s what Donald Trump calls the most honorable Republicans of our time.

RICK WILSON, DAILY BEAST CONTRIBUTOR: Donald Trump is a man without honor, so I take his insult as a sort of backhanded compliment. And a lot of Republicans who are out there, who sort of breathe a sigh of relief, I recall I`m not on that list, they`re - that prickly feeling they experience sometimes of their souls trying to get back into their bodies.

But look, Donald Trump - the insults from this guy are par for the course right now because he is desperate, he is terrified, he wakes up in a pool of his own sweat every night. He is in a very unpleasant situation every day. He recognizes his world is turning to a very bad place very quickly and nothing is going to change that because he`s the cause of all these things. He`s a weak, sick, sad little man.

O`DONNELL: Yes, and he uses language that only the most extreme rabid Trump worshipers could possibly embrace.

WILSON: Right, right. And the form of that language, it reduces it so far that you know - one of the things Donald Trump wants to do is break down the traditional American tension between the parties and between the movements where there`s a dynamic back-and-forth and we argue things through. He doesn`t want to argue; he just wants to hammer away his opposition.

And the thing he hates the most is that people who still hold on for some of those old-fashioned principles like the rule of law and individual liberty and the obedience to the Constitution that he hates. Those are things he loathes and despises in a fundamental way.

Those people reminding Republicans out there are a huge danger to him, which while on the one hand, it`s always like "Oh, they`re on respirators," then it`s "They`re scum, we have to get them." It`s kind of a - I guess that it`s kind of a telling moment of how desperate the guy is and how sad and how sick and how humiliated he is by his own failures.

O`DONNELL:  Sad, sick and humiliated, those are the LAST WORDS, and Rick Wilson gets those LAST WORDS tonight.  Thank you for joining us, Rick.  Really appreciate it.

WILSON:  Thanks, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL:  "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