LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Rachel.
And we`re going to have former federal prosecutor Joyce Vance joining us in this hour to consider what this breaking news means tonight. As you`ve been covering it for the hour, it broke minutes before you went on. And I studied that "New York Times" article. None of the reporting, none of it, gives the slightest hint of what the crime might be --
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Yes.
O`DONNELL: -- that would be investigated in this criminal investigation, which makes it so very peculiar, because, in fact, it`s extremely difficult for an FBI agent to commit a crime in the course of his or her investigative duties. It is extremely difficult for a prosecutor to commit a crime and very difficult for CIA officer to commit a crime in the kind of investigation we`re talking about, other than some form of perjury, some form of untruth delivered in an under oath environment. And there actually isn`t very much of that environment controlling what they do most of the time.
O`DONNELL: And so this could be kind of a shell of a criminal investigation, one of the many, many, many legitimate criminal investigations that the Justice Department has conducted in its history that produce no charges.
But the Republicans and the president get now to say, get to deflect, Fox News gets to say the most important investigation in the world right now is not the impeachment investigation of the president of the United States. It`s this other thing that no matter how long we stare at it tonight, we can`t quite figure out what it is, what`s the crime they`re investigating.
MADDOW: Right. And what we`re left with is the president and his supporters having alleged that the law enforcement and intelligence professionals who investigated what Russia did, who investigated this crime, they`ve been denounced as traitors, right? They`ve been denounced as people who should be subject to capital punishment as traitors in this country for having engaged in that investigation.
The president has been saying that for two years, chanting it at rallies and they`ve been echoing it on conservative media and he finally got himself an attorney general who watches enough Fox News and echo the stuff enough that he is willing to put these things into legalese as well. And now, you`ve got him leading an empowered criminal inquiry that could lead to criminal charges against the investigators who looked into this thing for the country, who they really have been saying are worst -- are guilty of the worst things that you can charge an American with. It`s -- I mean, I don`t know the depths of what Bill Barr is planning to do here, but this is -- this is a big deal.
O`DONNELL: We`re going to get into it with Joyce Vance later in the hour. Thank you, Rachel. We really appreciate it.
Well, we`ll have coverage of all the breaking news of the hour, especially coverage of impeachment at this hour, including a corroborating witness for Ambassador William Taylor who is scheduled to testify next week in that investigation. The impeachment investigation of Donald Trump was suspended today in honor of Elijah Cummings who, only 30 days ago -- just 30 days ago when he was named as one of the leaders of the impeachment investigation, his role then as chairman of the Oversight Committee. Congressman Cummings died last week from medical complications.
And today, he became the first African-American member of Congress, first African-American elected official in history brought to lie in state in the capital.
Eugene Robinson will join us at the end of the hour to share his memories of and perspective on the life and times of the honorable Elijah Cummings.
Our first guest tonight is the youngest member of Elijah Cummings` committee, Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who will share what it was like to take her place in the House of Representatives this year, and win a valuable seat on the House Oversight Committee, with Chairman Cummings as her guide, welcoming her to that committee.
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has changed the definition of the possible for freshmen members of the House of Representatives. She has captured more public attention than any freshmen member of the House of Representatives in history.
And in politics, attention is power. Without the attention Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has brought to the Green New Deal, it would not be one of the leading agenda items of the Democratic Party and one of most prominent issues debated in the presidential campaign and without the professionalism that she has brought to her legislative agenda in the House, she would not have a Senate partner on the Green New Deal, which is absolutely mandatory for any realistic legislative enterprise.
But like an old pro at legislating, the freshman congresswoman found a partner in Senator Ed Markey of Massachusetts, who has pushed the Green New Deal on the Democratic agenda in the United States Senate. There`s no reason to expect leadership like that from a freshman member in the House because we have never seen leadership from a freshman member of the House. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is one of the freshman members of the House who have changed what is possible in committee hearings by the sharpness and inescapable logic of their questions in the five minutes that they are allowed to ask them.
Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez did that yesterday in what became five of the worst minutes of Mark Zuckerberg`s very rich life as the CEO of Facebook, who has gotten through most of the years of his life without ever having to answer difficult questions. We`ll show you some of that video of what Mark Zuckerberg ran into yesterday when Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez got her five minutes.
But we begin with impeachment. And as luck of history would have it, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is one of the members of Congress who is participating in the impeachment investigation as a member of the House Oversight Committee.
Contrary to Republican Congressman Matt Gaetz`s lies as he was leading his congressional drunk driving collision with the investigating committees yesterday, there are, in fact, dozens of Republican members of the House who are also allowed to participate in and ask questions in the investigation, including in the closed door depositions, because they are members of the investigating committees.
Republican Senator Lindsey Graham is introducing a resolution in the Senate to object to the procedures being used by the House of Representatives. We will consider Lindsey Graham`s objections later in this hour when we will be joined by former federal prosecutor Joyce Vance and former Under Secretary of State Wendy Sherman.
Most Republicans are supporting Lindsey Graham`s resolution objecting to the House procedures, but in what could be an ominous sign for Donald Trump, as of tonight, eight, eight Republican senators have chosen not to support Lindsey Graham`s resolution, including Senator Mitt Romney, Senator Susan Collins, Senator Lisa Murkowski. If just half of those eight senators were to join with Democrats in the Senate and vote against Donald Trump in his impeachment trial, then a majority of the Senate would be voting against the president, which would be an important note for history, even though the president could remain in power because it takes 67 votes to convict and remove a president in an impeachment trial in the Senate.
And joining us now is Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who represents the state of New York`s 14th congressional district, which covers portions of the Bronx and Queens in New York City.
Congresswoman, thank you very for joining us tonight on this very important news night.
And I want to get your reaction to what is happening in the impeachment investigation, beginning quickly with that very strange car crash of a scene we saw of Matt Gaetz leading a physical attack into the committee to disrupt it.
REP. ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ (D-NY): Yes, Lawrence. Well, first and foremost, I remember seeing, you know, that sea of men banging outside of House Intelligence, thinking that it was quite funny, because many of them are my colleagues on the House Oversight Committee and have access to those depositions. So, they were pretending that they weren`t able to be in these depositions, like many members of Congress, Republican and Democrat alike, in order to create a spectacle.
But the truth of the matter is, is not that -- the reason they were doing that, because they knew exactly what was going on inside. They know exactly what this testimony and what these depositions are adding up to and that, frankly, it is revealing a very disturbing sequence of events and very likely abuse of power and breaking of our oath to the Constitution of the United States.
O`DONNELL: Now, I know you were in Ambassador Gordon Sondland`s closed door deposition there. We had Congressman Peter Welch with us the other night. And after William Taylor testified in direct contradiction of Ambassador Sondland, let`s listen to what Congressman Welch said about the possibilities of perjury charges there. Let`s listen to that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Is Gordon Sondland in danger of perjury charges of his testimony to your committee?
REP. PETER WELCH (D-VT): I think he is. The evidence is coming out now that he, in fact, was a very active instrument to try to essentially assist Giuliani in the effort to have this rogue foreign policy. So, yes, I think Ambassador Sondland has some reason to be worried about how his testimony is going to be evaluated when reviewed by potential prosecutors.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: And today, Ambassador Sondland`s criminal defense lawyers relied on the "do not recall" defense to cover the conflict in his testimony with Ambassador Taylor`s testimony.
What is your sense of how much possible perjury charge danger Ambassador Sondland is in?
OCASIO-CORTEZ: Well, I think a lot of what we`re seeing here does reveal a decent amount of testimony that, frankly, just isn`t lining up. This is exactly why, in the House of Representatives, we separate all of our witnesses and depose them individually and in private, so that we can get these stories down and see what adds up and what doesn`t.
That is also a major reason why these Republicans are fighting to perhaps make all of this public. You know, it is known that this is done with the blessing of the president. And perhaps one of the reason they`re fighting for all of this testimony to be public is so that folks could potentially line up their depositions. We don`t know.
But with respect to Ambassador Sondland -- well, you know, the fact that they`re relying on this do not recall, let`s see what comes out, I do not think bodes very well for him. But once again, we still have more depositions left to go and we have to really get all of the facts.
O`DONNELL: It has been a very sad week for you and the members of the House, and the committee in particular, with the loss of Chairman Cummings.
What`s it like for you to be, first of all, win a seat on his committee and then be welcomed on to that committee by Elijah Cummings?
OCASIO-CORTEZ: It was the complete honor of a lifetime. When I first asked to be assigned to the House Oversight Committee, he brought me into his office personally and really wanted to know not just why I wanted to be on this committee, but he wanted to know who I was. And it was a real testimony to who Elijah Cummings was as a leader. He cared about serving the most vulnerable Americans, about bringing truth to light, about speaking truth to power.
And unlike the -- and contrary to the culture of Congress, which is so focused on the power of seniority, he, as Speaker Pelosi mentioned today earlier this year said, I want all the freshmen on my committee.
He was a relentless coach. He was an inspired mentor, and he believed and invested time in each and every one of us. And I feel profoundly blessed to have spent the last ten months with our chairman.
O`DONNELL: The -- it seems at this point certain that the House of Representatives is going to deliver articles of impeachment, at least one, to the United States Senate for trial, which leaves the senators in the posture of jurors. Some of them are actually refraining from comment on the basis of being jurors. We`ve seen this before, when the Clinton Senate jury was assembled.
Some of them -- it`s unlike a court jury where you`re not allowed to make any comment. They can. They can decide ahead of time how they`re going to vote. Some of them announce that, some of them don`t.
What is your sense of how the presidential candidates who are going to be jurors -- there`s about five of them now -- from Senator Sanders, the candidate you endorsed, through Elizabeth Warren, Cory Booker, Amy Klobuchar, how they should handle themselves now as the prospect of being potential jurors in the Senate trial becomes more and more serious?
OCASIO-CORTEZ: Well, first and foremost, I think what`s important to acknowledge is that the president has committed crimes in public, and that -- this is something that we know. This is something that all people know from the -- from, you know, from the green of the White House, he solicited election interference and discussed election interference with respect to China. He released public notes of his calls where he solicited and engaged in using the power of his office to create a politically motivated investigation against a political opponent.
So, this is all out in the public. We know that he has committed a crime.
The question is, how many other people are implicated in this? The question is, how often did he do it? Did he do it in other circumstances? How big does this get?
And so, with respect to the number of articles, I think that it`s fair to say, let`s look at what rolls in. But with respect to Ukraine and several other instances it`s a very open and shut case. So, I think it`s important that we discuss the fact that he has committed impeachable crimes. It`s just a question of how many and how many people were involved and who knew.
O`DONNELL: In addition to your work in the committees and investigative committees, you`re also become very active now in the political campaign, actively campaigning for Bernie Sanders, endorsing Ed Markey for Senate in Massachusetts, endorsing a new candidate, Attorney Cisneros in Texas, running for the House in Texas. You`re spreading your endorsements around the electoral map.
How much of that is something that is distracting from your daily work in the House?
OCASIO-CORTEZ: Well, I put my work in the House front and center. But what I do believe is that these endorsements are part of the work that we have to do in the House.
Very frequently, someone will say, oh, we can`t pass a Green New Deal. We don`t have support for that.
Oh, Medicare-for-All is, quote/unquote, unfeasible, because we may not have support in certain areas of the House.
Well, if we want to change that, then we need to be changing -- we need to be changing the map of the House. And we need to be protecting those folks who are leading and are taking political risks in order to serve the people of the United States of America.
And so, my work, first and foremost, informs the other work that I do to organize the electorate. But it`s -- it is important to acknowledge that in order to pass a transformative agenda for working class Americans, we`ve got to have the numbers and we`ve got to have the leadership in place.
And so, we have to play in both if we`re really going to change this country and if we`re serious about that.
O`DONNELL: I want to take a look at what your five minutes with Mark Zuckerberg was like yesterday. We do have squeeze in a commercial break here. We can do it on the other side if you can stay with us.
OCASIO-CORTEZ: Sure, of course.
O`DONNELL: Thank you. We`ll be right back with Congresswoman Ocasio- Cortez.
O`DONNELL: Some of the freshman Democrats in the House of Representatives have decided to concentrate on an aspect of their jobs that many members of Congress frequently ignore -- asking sharp questions in hearings.
Here is freshman Congresswoman Katie Porter questioning Mark Zuckerberg yesterday about how he runs Facebook.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. KATIE PORTER (D-CA): You`ve got about 15,000 contractors watching murders, stabbings, suicides, other gruesome, disgusting videos for content moderation. Correct?
MARK ZUCKERBERG, FACEBOOK CEO: Congresswoman, yes, I believe that that`s correct.
PORTER: You pay many of those workers under $30,000 a year and you`ve cut them off from mental health care when they leave the company, even if they have PTSD because of their work for your company?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Then came freshman Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez pressing Mark Zuckerberg on why he refuses to fact-check political advertising on Facebook.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OCASIO-CORTEZ: You`ve announced recently that the official policy of Facebook now allows politicians to pay to spread disinformation in 2020 elections and in the future. So I just want to know how far I can push this in the next year.
Under your policy, you know, using census data as well, could I pay to target predominantly black zip codes and advertise them the incorrect election date?
ZUCKERBERG: No, Congresswoman, you couldn`t. We have -- even for these policies around the newsworthiness of content that politicians say and the general principle that I believe that --
OCASIO-CORTEZ: But you said you`re not going to fact check my ads.
ZUCKERBERG: We have -- if anyone, including a politician, is saying things that can cause -- that is calling for violence or could risk imminent physical harm or voter or census suppression, and we roll out census suppression policy, we will take the content down.
OCASIO-CORTEZ: So, you will -- there is some threshold where you will fact check political advertisements? Is that what you`re telling me?
ZUCKERBERG: Well, Congresswoman, yes, and for specific things like that, where there`s imminent risk of harm.
OCASIO-CORTEZ: Could I run ads targeting Republicans in primaries saying that they voted for the Green New Deal?
ZUCKERBERG: Sorry, could you repeat that?
OCASIO-CORTEZ: Would I be able to run advertisements on Facebook targeting Republicans in primaries saying that they voted for the Green New Deal? I mean, if you`re not fact-checking political advertisements, I`m just trying to understand the bounds here, what`s fair game.
ZUCKERBERG: Congresswoman, I don`t know the answer to that off the top of my head. I think --
OCASIO-CORTEZ: So you don`t know if I`ll be able to do that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is back with us.
And, Congresswoman, what I was fascinated by was, I think the simplest question you asked him was the one he needed you to repeat, and one of the things I`m wondering is, does he even understand that all Republicans oppose the Green New Deal and, therefore, your ad would be a lie? It`s not clear to me that he actually understood that underlying element of your question.
OCASIO-CORTEZ: Yes, yes. You know, and the key is that if he didn`t understand that, he should have asked and clarified. But instead, he just immediately went for the probably, yes.
And when you pair that with the fact that Facebook has officially made its policy that it will not fact-check paid political advertisement, that they will take money in order to publish and spread disinformation is extraordinarily concerning.
And, by the way, this is also why I asked, in addition, to this line of questioning about what mark Zuckerberg knew about Cambridge Analytica, when and what did he about it? This is extremely concerning, because we`re not just talking about rehashing the 2016 election and the disinformation campaign. We`re talking about whether Facebook is going to play a role in affirmatively allowing the disinformation campaigns into the 2020 U.S. election.
And if that is the case, we need to take action. I believe we need to take preemptive action and we need to take action right now.
O`DONNELL: And when you were closing in on him on Cambridge Analytica, there were reporters who cover Mark Zuckerberg very closely, have been for years, who were kind of tweeting on their edge of their seats that they`ve never been able to get these questions in front of him. But he did kind of just slither away from those questions.
OCASIO-CORTEZ: Yes. And as a matter of fact, what we decided to do after he answered in very frankly strange and bizarre ways to those questions is that we are actually going to send follow-up questions, pen them to the record of the hearing and send them to Facebook for an official answer to these questions. We need to get it on the record.
We need to know whether Mark Zuckerberg knew. We need to know who in Facebook`s leadership knew about Cambridge Analytica, and we need to know whether they decided to do nothing while the 2016 were being manipulated and if they`re deciding to do nothing again.
Because if that`s the case, they are not the innocent bystanders that they like to say that they are. They may be active participants. We don`t know.
And so, for that, we have to get to the bottom of this. We need to understand what role they are deciding to play, especially given the light of the fact that they are going to take money to public disinformation ads from political campaigns.
Broadcasters are held to a much higher standard. While they cannot discriminate on what kind of advertisements they run, there is a base level of fact checking that must go on.
And so for this, in order for him to go far below that standard raises very serious questions about the integrity of the information that people are receiving.
O`DONNELL: I mean, there is a simple solution for Facebook, and that is simply to take no paid political advertising.
Does Facebook make enough money to survive if they don`t have that income?
OCASIO-CORTEZ: That`s a -- you know, that`s an excellent question. Full disclosure, I am a candidate that runs Facebook ads. But even given that, that was a very common question.
You know, some folks have noted that the night before my hearing, I took to Twitter, ironically enough. And I asked the public, what would you want to know from Mark Zuckerberg?
And one of the most common questions that I got from people here in the United States and around the world is why don`t you just ban political ads if you`re not even going to put in the resources to fact-check them?
And I think it`s a very legitimate question. If Facebook doesn`t want to put in the very basic investments of fact-checking on a very essential level, then why should they take the money to run these ads at all? They didn`t always run them. And I think it`s a natural question of should you run them if you`re not going to fact-check them?
O`DONNELL: Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, thank you very much for starting us off tonight. Really appreciate it.
OCASIO-CORTEZ: Of course. Thank you.
O`DONNELL: Thank you.
And when we come back, we have breaking news, there is new reporting tonight that a witness being deposed next week will corroborate Ambassador William Taylor`s damning testimony against Donald Trump in the impeachment investigation. That`s next.
O`DONNELL: Breaking news, there is new reporting tonight that another witness who will testify next week to the impeachment investigating committees will confirm key elements of Ambassador William Taylor`s testimony about President Trump pressuring the President of Ukraine to publicly announce an investigation of Joe Biden in exchange for security assistance that was already authorized by Congress, and that the President had no legal right to block or to use as a bargaining chip for his political campaign.
That witness next week will be Tim Morrison, a top ranking Europe and Russia advisor on the National Security Council in the Trump White House. And tonight, The Washington Post is reporting that the White House`s Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer in late August withdrew a recommendation to restore some of Ukraine`s trade privileges, after John Bolton then National Security Adviser warned him that President Trump probably would oppose any action that benefited the government in Kiev.
House Democrats are now preparing to go public with the evidence against the President, possibly in mid-November, according to The Washington Post. Potential public witnesses include Ambassador Bill Taylor, former Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch and former National Security Advisor John Bolton.
Joining our discussion now, Ambassador Wendy Sherman, she`s the former Undersecretary of State in the Obama administration; Evelyn Farkas is with us, a former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State in the Obama administration; and Joyce Vance, former US attorney; and Matt Miller a former spokesperson for Attorney General Eric Holder, all our MSNBC analysts.
And I want to start with the story, Rachel spent her hour with, and Rachel and I began discussing. Matt Miller, I`d like to begin with you on this, the idea that the Barr Justice Department has now officially launched a criminal investigation of the beginnings of the investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election.
MATT MILLER, FORMER DIRECTOR OF PUBLIC AFFAIRS, JUSTICE DEPARTMENT AND MSNBC ANALYST: I think it`s incredibly concerning, Lawrence. I think it`s the most concerning development we`ve seen out of Justice Department since Donald Trump became President.
Look, if there was a crime committed, obviously it ought to be investigated. But we know more about the Russia probe and the origins of the Russia probe than probably any investigation in the Justice Department`s history.
Bob Mueller wrote a 450 page report that became public, the department released a FISA application from that investigation, something it`s never before done in its history, there`s been extensive reporting, and through all of that, we`ve never seen a single evidence of a crime, not even an allegation of a crime something that would give a predicate to an investigation.
And I think it`s notable that in this story tonight, it doesn`t say what the allegation of a crime is that the department is now investigating. If I - I know John Durham, I worked with him when Eric Holder appointed him to investigate alleged torture by officers at the CIA. And if I thought he were running this investigation alone, I would have some confidence in it. But I don`t think that`s what`s happening.
Bill Barr has been micromanaging this, he`s been flying around the world to interrogate foreign officials about what happened, and I don`t think it`s a coincidence that the day after an Ambassador goes up to The Hill and gives incredibly damning testimony about the President extorting a foreign government that we see this leak from the Department of Justice. And I think it`s incredibly concerning about the administration of justice and the rule of law in this country.
O`DONNELL: Joyce Vance, if Mr. Durham is an honorable straight shooting prosecutor, nothing for anyone to worry about.
JOYCE VANCE, FORMER U.S. AND MSNBC ANALYST: Well that`s true and it`s not unheard of for prosecutors to use a grand jury investigation to close out allegations that aren`t warranted.
After all, if you want to leave folks with the conclusion that you left no stone unturned before you close an investigation without any indictment, this is a pretty good way to do it. And Durham has that sort of reputation.
Nonetheless, as Matt says, this is deeply concerning. The Inspector General was already running an administrative investigation to see whether there had been any misconduct by anyone involved in the origins of the investigation.
So it`s always been troubling to have these parallel investigations, particularly one where the Attorney General of the United States, a person with a pretty full plate and a lot of work to do, seemed so involved that he was investing the time to fly all around the world, always been very troubling.
O`DONNELL: Joyce, let me just get one more question on this, before we turn to the story that a - maybe this story is intended to divert, which is of course the story of the investigation of the President, and that is I spent an hour trying to figure out, OK what crime can you possibly be investigating here, because it is not easy for FBI agents to commit crimes in the course of their duties, it`s not easy for prosecutors to do that, it`s not easy for CIA officials to do that.
There has to be some kind of crime, it seems the most likely thing would be something involving at least some kind of charge of perjury or a cousin of perjury somewhere in the law, some kind of false statement being made.
But procedural irregularities are corrected by defendants that the investigators use procedural irregularities against, they`re corrected by the appeals process in trials and all of that sort of thing. It just - I can`t figure out what they could possibly be seriously investigating as a crime here.
VANCE: So what you`re saying I think is extremely important and that point is that, if there are prosecutors or investigators who do things that are wrong in the course of an investigation that comes to light during a prosecution and defendants have the opportunity to move to dismiss the indictment or judges exclude evidence or in extreme cases a conviction can be overturned.
And so, you`re exactly right about that. Chuck Rosenberg and I had this conversation earlier tonight, and the cousin of perjury that we came up with was 18 U.S.C. 1001, making false statements to the government or perhaps some sort of a leak involved with something to do with this investigation.
It`s very difficult to contemplate what the federal crime that investigators would be looking at so hard could possibly be.
O`DONNELL: Evelyn Farkas, I want to turn to what`s going to happen next week, Tim Morrison testifying. You know Tim Morrison, what do you expect will happen in that testimony?
EVELYN FARKAS, FORMER DEPARTMENT ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF DEFENSE AND MSNBC ANALYST: I think it will be different from Bill Taylor`s testimony, because Bill Taylor was a voluntary super-friendly witness. He was a guy who wanted to go and give the 9/11 report on everything he knew, give the narrative, the full story, all the details.
Tim is a different story, he`s a political appointee. However, he`s worked a long time on Congress on The Hill in the House Foreign Affairs Committee staff and also in the Senate. He knows the Constitution, he will not - I do not believe that he will lie, but I don`t believe that he will offer voluntary fulsome information necessarily.
So it remains to be seen. He may surprise us and be more forthcoming, but he may also just play it more safe as it relates to the President.
O`DONNELL: And Wendy Sherman, as the evidence close in - closes in on the President, we are not hearing from any Republican in the House or the Senate a single comment on the evidence. You have Matt Gaetz leading this kind of Congressional drunk driving rampage through the halls of the House to try to crash into the room.
You have Lindsey Graham introducing a Senate resolution taking issue with how the House is doing business, which is most meaningless document you could possibly raise. The idea of the House ever criticizing the Senate or the Senate ever criticizing the House is the most meaningless thing you can do. But no one is on the Republican side talking about the evidence.
AMBASSADOR WENDY SHERMAN, FORMER UNDERSECRETARY OF STATE FOR POLITICAL AFFAIRS AND MSNBC ANALYST: I think we`re seeing two things. One, because there is no substance they can attack, they are doing all process and they`re actually acting in pretty silly and ridiculous and absurd kinds of ways, as well as putting our national security at risk by bringing their cell phones into the SCIF, into the secured area in the House that really is against the law what they did, but also makes us vulnerable to Russian and Chinese hacking, getting into the phones and knowing what`s going on there.
They`re going to have to clean out the SCIF all over again and reseal it. But we`re also seeing the intimidation tactics that you were just discussing with Joyce and Matt, where you`re really saying to witnesses who are going to come forward be careful what you do, because we may come after you.
And indeed all of these people who are coming forward are patriots because they know they`re going to get attacked. But they think that their commitment to the Constitution is so deep that they`re going to do it. And I quite agree with Evelyn, I think we have to be very careful.
I think Tim Morrison`s going to be under tremendous pressure. Unless he gets his statement out quickly, he`s going to be under tremendous pressure to be pretty nuanced in what he says.
O`DONNELL: And Evelyn, as Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez pointed out, some of the people who raided the room, Republicans pretending that they were being locked out, were actually members of the Committee and had reserved seats in the room that they could have been sitting in, which bring us to the fact that there`s about 48 Republican members of the House who have the right to be in every one of these depositions, listening to every word.
We don`t know how many of them are exercising that right and how many of them are spending their time doing something else. But they are certainly in a position to reveal any evidence that they hear in that room that`s helpful to Donald Trump and we have silence from all 48 of them.
FARKAS: Right. I mean look, I`ve actually been in that room, I actually testified. Part of the intimidation is not just being in the face of the witness, which was pretty much what they did to Laura Cooper, my successor once removed from the Defense Department. But they also - it`s also intimidating when you have to hire a private lawyer, right.
It costs a lot of money when you are a government official. That`s not in your household budget. So there are levels of intimidation and yes they`re not going to - if they had something they could reveal, you better believe they would have leaked it, if it was helpful to them. But there`s nothing. I mean there`s nothing exonerating Donald Trump thus far.
O`DONNELL: And Matt Miller, Ambassador Sondland who one member of the Committee told me the other night is in danger of perjury charges, because William Taylor completely disagrees with Ambassador Sondland on key discussions that those two had. Ambassador Sondland is one of those rich guys who can afford the best criminal defense lawyers and his very good criminal defense lawyers today came up with the, he does not recall, defense.
They are attributing to their client that he does not recall the conversation in which William Taylor now is essentially saying Gordon Sondland lied under oath to Congress.
MILLER: Yes, he does have a very good criminal defense attorney, the same attorney that got Karl Rove out of being indicted when it appeared he had lied to the grand jury during the Bush administration.
I think Gordon Sondland has a lot of problems. Look, he can`t - if you just read his opening statement, even before Bill Taylor testified, he wanted you to believe that, in all the time that he was pushing for an investigation into Burisma and that he was talking to the President about this investigation, talking to others in the administration and outside people like Rudy Giuliani.
He had no idea that meant an investigation into Joe and Hunter Biden. He just thought it was a Ukrainian company apparently that had no connection to the President`s political opponents. That was hard to believe on its face.
And if I were him, I would have been worried about going and giving that kind of answer, if there`s another witness that can come forward and say, well Gordon Sondland said to me that this was all about Joe Biden, he knew everything that there was about.
You then add on top of it the contradictions that appear between his testimony and Taylor`s, and you have to look at which one of them would have a motive to lie. Bill Taylor has no reason to come up and lie to the Committee. Gordon Sondland very much does and I think I would be very concerned, if I were him at the end of this, that there`s a referral to the Department of Justice not under this administration, Bill Barr`s not going to do anything, but if there`s a new government in a year and a half, there`s a new administration, they might not take so kindly to members that go up and lie to Congress to protect the President of the United States.
O`DONNELL: Now the President tried to hire Trey Gowdy as a possible impeachment defense lawyer. That didn`t work out. Let`s listen to Trey Gowdy defending exactly the way this investigation is being conducted behind closed doors. He actually offered this defense in 2015. Let`s listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TREY GOWDY, FORMER U.S. REPRESENTATIVE: I can just tell you that, of the 50 some odd interviews we have done thus far, the vast majority of them have been private, and you don`t see the bickering among the members of Congress in private interviews. You don`t see any of that. The private ones always produce better results.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Wendy Sherman, the Republicans seem to have no memory of their own conduct.
SHERMAN: Indeed, not only during the Benghazi hearings, but during the Clinton impeachment hearings, much of it was done behind closed doors. These are House rules under which Adam Schiff and the rest of the House committees are operating. And as you pointed out at the beginning, 48 members that includes Kevin McCarthy in his role as the Minority Leader get to sit in those hearings and there`s equal time for questions, and they have been following that rule.
So the Republicans get as much time as the Democrats to ask questions. Nothing has come out that doesn`t corroborate what we heard particularly from Bill Taylor.
O`DONNELL: And the Republican staff is filled in the chairs in the background of that room. There are so many Republican opportunities to reveal helpful information that comes out in those depositions to the President. They`re not doing it - we have a right to believe that no helpful information is coming out there. We`re going to have to break it here, former Ambassador Wendy Sherman, Evelyn Farkas, Joyce Vance, Matt Miller, thank you all for joining us in this important discussion.
And when we come back, the Presidential debates haven`t been fun to watch, but the debate we really want to see is Senator Lindsey Graham debating against Congressman Lindsey Graham of 21 years ago. We will show you what that very intense heated debate would look like in a moment, when you`ll see Lindsey Graham contradicting Lindsey Graham about closed-door depositions in the impeachment investigation of a President.
O`DONNELL: Here is Lindsey Graham explaining why closed-door depositions in an impeachment investigation of the President are the very best way for the House of Representatives to discover impeachment evidence.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): The depositions I think will determine whether or not we go forward with hearings, I think it`s a very smart thing to do is to depose these people and find out what they`ve got to say and not drag this thing out unnecessarily.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: That was 21 years ago, and since then, Lindsey Graham has learned to tie a necktie and today he is saying exactly the opposite and lying, while he`s at it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GRAHAM: They`ve created a process in the Intel community committee that`s behind closed doors doesn`t provide access to the President`s accuser, shuts Republicans out for all practical purposes, and is an unworthy substitute for the way you need to do it, is that it`s core un-American.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Lindsey Graham continued to push the Republican lie that Republicans are, as he put it, shut out of the closed-door depositions in the House of Representatives. Every Republican member of the committees conducting those depositions is allowed to attend those depositions and ask questions in those depositions.
48 Republican members of the House of Representatives - remember that number, 48 are allowed to attend all of the closed-door depositions and ask as many questions as they want, and not one of those 48 Republicans has attempted in any way to contradict any of the testimony that they have heard against President Trump in those depositions.
Eight Republican Senators have so far refused to co-sponsor Lindsey Graham`s Senate resolution criticizing the impeachment procedures of the House of Representatives. Every one of those Republican Senators knows that Donald Trump wants their names on that resolution immediately, and as of tonight, they are defying Donald Trump.
And so Lindsey Graham`s resolution as of now is showing you that Donald Trump`s Republican line of defense in the United States Senate is not as solid as some people thought it appeared to be, until Lindsey Graham made the mistake of asking all Republican Senators to put their names on a frivolous resolution that has no meaning and will have no impact on the impeachment process.
Joining our discussion now is Eugene Robinson, Associate Editor and Pulitzer Prize winning columnist for The Washington Post; and Sam Stein, the Politics Editor of The Daily Beast is with us. They are both MSNBC analysts.
And Sam, the Lindsey Graham versus Lindsey Graham debate is the one I want to see.
SAM STEIN, THE DAILY BEAST POLITICS EDITOR AND MSNBC ANALYST: Yes, I mean we both know and I think everyone knows that Lindsey knows better than this. Certainly having been involved in 20 years ago, he knows the particulars about the process.
And what he`s essentially saying is that he wants the Senate trial to be the House impeachment process. That`s what he`s saying. So the question is why is he doing this. And that`s sort of been the question throughout Lindsey Graham`s conduct during the Trump administration, why do this to a degree it`s sacrificing of his reputation, to a degree it`s a sacrificing of his dignity.
And I`m not sure how far it gets him. I`ve talked to a bunch of people in and around the President`s political orbit over the past couple of days about how they feel this process is going. And to a person, they think Lindsey Graham is letting them down. They don`t care for pointless resolutions like the one that he introduced today. They think they`re largely immaterial and superficial.
What they really want him to do is they want him to use his perch as the Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee and call people up to testify to his Committee that might be involved in this allegation against Hunter Biden or John Brennan type.
And so far, Lindsey Graham has refused to do that saying that, well if he had to do that, the minority party would be able to call their witnesses as well, and he`s right about that. But to the point of Lindsey Graham`s reputation, it`s interesting to see him go to this length to try to cover for Donald Trump and still piss off people who are close to Donald Trump.
O`DONNELL: And Eugene Robinson, my explanation for Lindsey Graham is there is absolutely nothing he will not do to get reelected in South Carolina, and it doesn`t matter that much to him what the White House thinks about what he`s doing. What he cares about is what do South Carolina Republican voters think about what he`s doing to protect Donald Trump. And if it looks good to them, that`ll work for Lindsey Graham.
EUGENE ROBINSON, THE WASHINGTON POST ASSOCIATE EDITOR MSNBC ANALYST: Well that`s certainly is his prime objective is to ensure his re-election. I think he`s been clear over the years, he just wants to get reelected in perpetuity. I don`t think there`s any point to not getting reelected. And so he`s going to do what he has to do, and what he has to do in the context of South Carolina`s Republican Party is at least for now stick close to Donald Trump.
So that`s what he does. But Sam is right, I mean this ineffectual resolution that has no impact whatsoever is not what Donald Trump would really like to get out of Lindsey Graham. He`s in a very powerful position in the Senate, and Trump believes he could be carrying his water in a more meaningful way. And he`s not prepared to do that, and he`s kind of in the middle.
O`DONNELL: And Sam, so far what Lindsey Graham`s accomplished is to identify for us eight Republican Senators who are leaning against the Republican talking points certainly on the impeachment investigation of Donald Trump.
STEIN: That`s remarkable to me because this resolution is ceremonial at best. It will have no bearing on the House impeachment process. It`s merely a way to get through a new cycle without the President berating you.
And yet, eight members of the President`s own party are not putting their names on this resolution. I expect some of them eventually will, but it`s an embarrassment. This was done strictly to make the President feel good about himself and it will have the opposite impact.
Trump will have to look at this and say, OK if a trial comes to the Senate, I know at least eight members are not willing to buy into my process arguments that I`ve been using to demean the entire impeachment proceeding.
O`DONNELL: We`re going to have to leave it there. Sam Stein, thank you very much for joining us tonight, and Eugene Robinson, please stay with us. When we come back, we will reflect on the Congressional career of the Honorable Elijah Cummings, that`s next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
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 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 they 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: Congressman Elijah Cummings. Eugene Robinson is back with us. And Eugene, it was just 23 years ago that Elijah Cummings made that 25- minute trip down from Baltimore to Washington.
And I got to say he seemed like a senior member about, I don`t know, 90 days in.
ROBINSON: Exactly. He sort of lapped up the seniority chart in a preternatural natural way. He was - I have a good friend who went to Howard University with him, and he always told me that the Elijah Cummings you see now is the Elijah Cummings that you saw then.
I mean he was destined even at that point to have this sort of impact on people`s lives and determined to make people`s lives better. He was that rare person who walked the talk in every aspect of his life. He was passionate, he was sincere, brilliant, a fierce defender of the city of Baltimore and the people of Baltimore, and he meant what he said.
And that`s really why people listen to him and why you saw that really heartfelt outpouring in his memory today at the Capitol, it was quite stunning.
O`DONNELL: Eugene Robinson, thank you very much for joining us tonight, really appreciate it.
ROBINSON: Good to be here.
O`DONNELL: And now, for tonight`s LAST WORD.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CUMMINGS: I`m hoping that all of us can get back to this democracy that we want and that we should be passing on to our children, so that they can do better than what we did. When we`re dancing with the angels, the question will be asked, in 2019 what do we do to make sure we kept our democracy intact?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
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