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GOP struggles with impeachment strategy. TRANSCRIPT: 11/8/19, The Last Word w/ Lawrence O'Donnell.

Guests: Harley Rouda, Neera Tanden, Dan Friedman


RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST:  You don`t want to oversell them. But they may call the question a little bit of what Republicans are going to do in Washington in the House and especially in the Senate.

Because deciding how much you are willing to stand by this president while he`s being impeached is honestly going to be a decision both of conscience and of political calculation for Republicans.

Do the election results that we saw this week change the calculation at all for Republicans? We`ll have to think about their conscience and they have to think about their futures.

Do they change their mental math at all when they think about it? Thinking about how this next year is going to go and their own seats being at risk.

Open hearings in the impeachment inquiry start Wednesday morning. That does it for us tonight. We will see you again Monday. Now it`s time for the "Last Word" where Ali Velshi is in for Lawrence tonight. Good evening, Ali.

ALI VELSHI, MSNBC HOST:  Rachel, some good words for us to think about. You have yourself an excellent weekend. We`ll see you next week.

MADDOW:  I will do. Thanks my friend.

VELSHI:  It is a very busy night of news to get to. Ahead in this hour, all of the legal problems swirling around Trump world today -- Steve Bannon under oath at the Roger Stone trial. We`ll talk to someone who heard how Bannon tied the Trump campaign to WikiLeaks.

And Trump defender Jim Jordan is facing new accusations of doing nothing to stop sexual abuse when he worked at Ohio University. These as Republicans move to put him on the House Intelligence Committee so he can be part of the televised impeachment hearings.

And at the end of the show, the moods inside the White House now that the first excerpts of the new anonymous book are out.

But we begin with the newly released transcripts from two more key witnesses in the impeachment inquiry, ended an explosive week of damning revelations for President Trump.

They detail the blatant and explicit push by the Trump administration to pressure Ukraine to investigate the president`s political rivals in exchange for military aid and a coveted White House meeting.

And for the first time, White House officials testified the quid pro quo was orchestrated by acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney. This as another potential witness, former National Security Advisor John Bolton signals he knows key new details that House investigators do not.

Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman, the top Ukraine expert on the National Security Council was listening in on the July 25th phone call when he heard what he called obvious demands by President Trump for Ukraine`s president to investigate the Bidens and the 2016 election.

He was asked, quote, "Was there any doubt in your mind as to what the president, our president, was asking for as a deliverable?" Vindman answered, "There was no doubt."

Lieutenant Colonel Vindman was also present when Ambassador Gordon Sondland told Ukrainian officials that a face-to-face meeting with President Trump was dependent on Ukraine making a public announcement of these investigations.

He described the quid pro quo, "It was explicit. There was no ambiguity." The hold on Ukraine`s military aid came directly from the president`s chief of staff, according to Vindman`s testimony, "Sondland had a conversation with Mr. Mulvaney, and this is what was required in order to get a meeting. In order to get the White House meeting, they had to deliver an investigation."

Fiona Hill  who served under John Bolton also pointed to Mulvaney as coordinating the extortion plot testifying, "Ambassador Sondland in front of the Ukrainians as I came in was talking about how he had an agreement with Chief of Staff Mulvaney for a meeting with the Ukrainians if they were going to go forward with investigations."

These revelations shed new light on the comments that Mulvaney made last month.


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

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  You have to be clear. What you just described is a quid pro quo.

MULVANEY:  We do that all the time with foreign policy. Get over it. There is going to be a political influence in foreign policy.


VELSHI:  We do that all the time in foreign policy. Get over it. Not surprisingly, Mulvaney refused to comply with the subpoena to testify in the House impeachment committee hearings today before the hearings go public next week.

Fiona Hill also testified that Bolton objected to what he called the, "drug deal" that Mulvaney and Sondland were cooking up. "Bolton believed that they were making an improper arrangement predicating the meeting in the White House on the Ukrainians agreeing to restart investigations that had been dropped."

Hill testified that Bolton repeatedly told his staff that no one -- no one should be meeting with Rudy Giuliani, the president`s lawyer. After former Ukraine ambassador Marie Yovanovitch was ousted as a direct result of the campaign that Giuliani set in motion, according to Hill, "Bolton directly said Rudy Giuliani is a hand grenade that is going to blow everybody up."

As House Republicans prepare for their list of witnesses for the Trump impeachment inquiry, Trump`s allies are employing a new tactic to try to defend the president. The "Washington Post" reports that Republicans are, "sowing doubts about whether Sondland, Giuliani and Mulvaney were actually representing the president or freelancing to pursue their own agendas. The GOP is effectively offering up the three to be fall guys."

That might explain why Donald Trump tried to distance himself today from his multi-million dollar donor turned ambassador.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Gordon Sondland said at the beginning of September, he presumed there was a quid pro quo. Then there was a telephone call to you on September 9th. Had he ever talked to you prior to that telephone call --

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  Let me just tell you, I hardly know the gentleman, but this is the man who said there was no quid pro quo, and he still says that.


VELSHI:  I hardly knew the gentleman. That`s a far cry from his tweet just last month calling Sondland, "A really good man and great American." But I hardly knew the gentleman. Gordon Sondland revised his testimony this week and admitted that he told Ukrainian officials the White House meeting was conditioned on Ukraine launching the investigations.

Still unclear whether John Bolton will testify, but in a letter to the House General Council today, Bolton`s lawyers said that John Bolton, "was personally involved in many of the events, meetings and conversations about which you already have received testimony as well as many relevant meetings and conversations that have not yet been discussed in the testimonies thus far."

Leading off our discussion tonight is freshman Democratic Congressman Harley Rouda from California. He is a member of the Oversight Committee. He`s attended both Fiona Hill and Lieutenant Colonel Vindman`s depositions.

Natasha Bertrand is a national security correspondent for "Politico." She`s an MSNBC contributor. And Neera Tanden is a former senior advisor to President Obama and Hillary Clinton. She is president and CEO of the Center for American Progress. Welcome to all three of you. Thank you for being here.

Congressman, I want to ask you because you had a chance to listen in to some of this testimony. There`s an interesting pattern to it. There is a lot of similarity.

If you`re not familiar with these names, there will be a sameness to the testimony because they`re testifying or they have been -- given in their depositions, they`ve given details that largely support each other with one exception.

And that was Gordon Sondland who gave a deposition, he gave statements and then he went back and fixed them to be more in line with the testimony of others.

REP. HARLEY ROUDA (D-CA):  That`s absolutely correct. Every single one of these witnesses has come through, have provided very consistent stories that that line up exactly with what the whistleblower`s report said with the exception of Ambassador Sondland.

Ambassador Sondland had an acute case of selective amnesia when he testified. And many would probably suggest it was borderline perjury at times. And obviously, him coming back and supplementing his testimony was to basically try and fill in holes after he saw how others testified.

VELSHI:  And Fiona Hill has subsequently said even after his repaired testimony that he is still not fully telling the truth. Fiona Hill said about Sondland today, "I had a blow up with Sondland when he told me that he was in charge of Ukraine because initially I said to him, you`re not. And I said who said you`re in charge of Ukraine, Gordon? And he said the president. Well, that shut me up because you can`t really argue with that."

Gordon Sondland is the American ambassador to the European Union. A lot of people might really want Ukraine to be in the European Union, but it`s not. And we had an ambassador there. And then we had charges d`affaires there. So Gordon Sondland really didn`t have business leading Ukraine policy at the White House.

ROUDA:  Yes, that`s exactly correct. And we have to keep in mind, every one of these witnesses, again, with the exception of Ambassador Sondland, are Foreign Service officers, people who have dedicated their life to be an apolitical serving presidents both Republican and Democrat through multiple administrations. They take very copious notes of every single meeting and phone call.

On the other hand, Ambassador Sondland is a political appointee of Trump`s who got the job basically for giving a million dollars to his inauguration. So unfortunately we`ve got almost the keystone cops with him and Giuliani and Secretary Perry and others trying to run this back channel of communication.

VELSHI:  Natasha, you`re a national security expert, and there is a massive national security component to this. So while there are some people who will be frustrated, horrified, disgusted with what it is alleged that President Trump has done because he may have done something for personal political gain.

The more important part of the testimony from Vindman and Fiona Hill was the risk at which the United States in holding back this $391 million was putting Ukraine at in the midst of a remarkably important confrontation that Ukraine is having with Russia.

NATASHA BERTRAND, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR:  Absolutely, Ali. And one of the most striking things I think going back to the deposition that was released yesterday of top State Department official George Kent was when he said that the Ukraine aid that the U.S. gives to Ukraine in order to fend off Russian aggression is actually more in the national security interest of the United States than it even is in the national interest of Ukraine.

And he said I can`t get into that in an opening setting, I can only really get into the details of that in a classified setting wit my counterparts from the Pentagon and the State Department. But he emphasized this point, that this was not just the president trying to get personal political favors.

It`s not just about that. It`s also about the president toying with U.S. national security and I think once you start to think about it in those terms, in terms of fending off Russian aggression of the kind that, you know, we weren`t really helping with before Russia invaded eastern Ukraine in 2014 and then annexed Crimea and look what happened.

Then you start to get a fuller picture of the real risk that the president put the United States out here just in order to get dirt on his political rivals.

VELSHI:  So that`s -- the issue is as this becomes public and as we are seeing these transcripts of the depositions, there are many Americans possibly even conservative Americans to whom that may be the bigger problem, the national security risk that we put our allies in as well as the national security risk to America.

This is not charitable food donations to Ukraine because of a famine. This is actually in the national interest of the United States that this policy was approved by Congress and that funding was approved by Congress. A guy like Mick Mulvaney back in his days as a member of Congress would have had a massive problem with that.

NEERA TANDEN, PRESIDENT, CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS:  Yes, this is -- what I would say about this is that Ambassador Taylor also in his opening letter really makes clear how much the Ukrainians relied on it. He testifies vividly or speaks vividly of going to the front lines and seeing soldiers fighting.

And his concern is that soldiers would die without the aid or more people would die without the aid. So I think that is an issue of national security for the Ukrainians, but obviously as Natasha points out, it`s also a national security issue for us.

I think the issue with the public testimony is we will see a series of public servants really spell out, not really just the quid pro quo, but really what a quid pro quo is which is the president of the United States and his extortion tactics.

And the idea that Republicans are putting up a notion that Mick Mulvaney, the president`s chief of staff came up with this on his own when we, again, let`s just remind everyone, have the transcript or the memo released by the White House saying that it`s in the president`s own words, you know, I have a favor here, though.

It`s the president`s own words that connect him back and it`s not going to be possible, I think, for Americans to see Mick Mulvaney, the president`s chief of staff, as a lone wolf on this issue.

VELSHI:  Congressman Rouda, this is a fascinating line that the "Washington Post" repeating that that is a -- reporting -- that that this is a part of the GOP strategy that Neera was just talking about, painting one or two or three of Sondland, Mulvaney and Giuliani as the real masterminds behind this and he well have been executing it and delivering the messages.

It becomes hard to understand, maybe with the exception of Giuliani who seemed to be running a side hustle in Ukraine, why they would hold back this military aid in exchange for an investigation for their personal gain because it`s not obvious what the personal gain the three of them would be.

ROUDA:  You`re exactly right. And we`ve seen this movie before. We saw with Michael Cohen.


ROUDA:  The president turned on MICHAEL COHEN. Michael Cohen even admonished everyone in the hearing in front of my committee on oversight that, beware, Trump will turn on you too.

So, I fully expect President Trump to start distancing himself from Giuliani and the rest of them and arguably throwing them under the bus.

VELSHI:  Congressman, good to see you. Thank you for joining us Congressman Harley Rouda. Natasha Bertrand and Neera Tanden, please stay with us.

Coming up, Roger Stone is on trial for lying and obstructing the congressional investigation into Russia`s attack into our elections. And there`s a big headline tonight from today`s star witness, Steve Bannon.

According to the "Washington Post," Bannon`s testimony was, "the first time anyone affiliated with the Trump campaign acknowledged in court that they had actively sought material from WikiLeaks. We`re going to talk to a reporter who was at the courthouse today. That`s next.



TRUMP:  WikiLeaks, I love WikiLeaks. This WikiLeaks stuff is unbelievable. It tells you the inner heart. You got to read it.

It`s been amazing what`s coming out on WikiLeaks.


VELSHI:  Then candidate Donald Trump loved that WikiLeaks as he called it, released e-mails stolen by Russian government hackers that were damaging to Hillary Clinton.

And what Donald Trump was repeatedly praising WikiLeaks, Steve Bannon was working for him as his campaign chief executive and Roger Stone was Trump`s informal advisor.

Today, Steve Bannon testified under oath that Donald Trump`s 2016 campaign considered Trump`s long time confidant Roger Stone as the, "access point" to WikiLeaks.

Bannon delivered that explosive testimony in the ongoing trial of Roger Stone on charges that Stone lied to Congress while it was investigating Russia`s attack on our election.

Bannon told the jury, "The campaign had no official access to WikiLeaks or to Julian assignee. But Roger would be considered if we needed an access point because he had implied or told me he had a relationship with WikiLeaks and Julian Assange. It was something I think he would frequently mention or talk about."

That goes to one of the most crucial unanswered questions about then candidate Donald Trump. Did he rely on Roger Stone, his longest serving advisor, to get dirt on Hillary Clinton?

Joining us now Mother Jones reporter Dan Friedman who was inside the courthouse today, and back with us, Natasha Bertrand, national security correspondent for "Politico" and an MSNBC contributor.

Dan, I just want a quote from your own reporting here, you wrote an article in which you say Trump`s campaign apparently thought it was colluding with WikiLeaks.

Steve Bannon says Trump team saw Roger Stone as access point to Assange. The Trump campaign apparently thought it was colluding with WikiLeaks. In Bannon`s cross-examination today, Stone`s defense attorney asked him, "You and the Trump campaign didn`t view Stone as the access point to WikiLeaks? And Bannon says, "I think we did, yes." That`s remarkable.

DAN FREEDMAN, REPORTER, MOTHER JONES:  Yes, that`s pretty striking. And, you know, Bannon didn`t only say that the Trump campaign was receiving what it thought was inside information on WikiLeaks from Roger Stone. He also suggested that they believed that Stone was sort of orchestrating the release of the stolen Democratic e-mails.

Bannon said that when WikiLeaks released the e-mails from Clinton campaign chairman, John Podesta, on October 7, 2016, he said he heard that Stone had been involved in making that happen. And then Bannon`s assistant on the same day sent Stone an e-mail that said, well-done, just two words, so they kind of thought that Stone was actually helping them actively, which is quite striking.

VELSHI:  What`s the implication of that, Natasha? What is the implication of them thinking they were working through Stone with WikiLeaks and ostensibly with the Russians who had done the hacking that WikiLeaks -- the information that WikiLeaks had? What`s the implication of that on those who believe that there was some kind of coordination between the Trump campaign and the Russians or the Trump campaign and Julian Assange?

BERTRAND:  Well, the implication I think would be that they tried to cheat, right? I mean, one of the biggest questions is whether -- when after the "Access Hollywood" tape dropped about 20 minutes later WikiLeaks started releasing the e-mails from John Podesta`s inbox.

And the biggest question has always been did someone coordinate that? Did someone close to the campaign or on the campaign directly coordinate that with WikiLeaks? And I think it was touched upon a bit but Bannon did testify to the fact that they believed that Roger Stone had this power and access.

And he also said that he really felt like at the moment when they needed WikiLeaks the most and when they felt like they needed more e-mails to come out that were damaging to the Democrats and to Hillary Clinton, they felt like they could rely on Stone as that access point.

So I think that obviously raises a whole bunch of questions about whether they were waiting for a pivotal moment in the campaign when Trump was literally at his lowest point.

Republicans and allies abandoning him left and right after the "Access Hollywood" tape came out, when they actually went to Stone and said, hey, please help us out and do this because the timing of that release after the "Access Hollywood" tape was extremely to put it generously, coincidental.

VELSHI:  So, Dan, is there anything in that trial in which we are establishing whether someone did coordinated that because as Natasha said, observers of this, you know, concurrently while it was happening or in hindsight can conclude that it was either coincidental or lucky or organized.

And yet people who know Stone say the guy is a big talker. He wanted every body to think he was tied in with Julian Assange and WikiLeaks, but that he -- the evidence isn`t clear that he was.

FRIEDMAN:  They have not presented evidence they definitely coordinated the release of the e-mails, but there`s a lot of what I would say is circumstantial evidence that he was involved both on the WikiLeaks and at least through Jerome Corsi the right wing conspiracy theorist, and on the Trump campaign.

And he talked directly to then candidate Trump on June 14, 2016. That`s the day the DNC announced that they had been hacked by the Russians. Stone talked to Trump that day -- and then on July 31st, Stone also talked to Trump.

And just an hour later, Stone directed Corsi to go to London and see what he could find out from Assange about the e-mails. So that`s a pretty strong circumstantial suggestion that the president was perhaps putting Stone up to this effort to find out what WikiLeaks -- what kind of e-mails WikiLeaks had and when they were going to release them.

VELSHI:  Natasha, I don`t know if you had a chance to review what Bannon was doing inside the court and outside. But in both cases, he was going out of his way to indicate that he was not participating in this proceeding willingly.

He would not have shown up, he would not have spoken to a grand jury without a subpoena. He seemed to be sending some sort of message that he doesn`t want to be here, he would not be doing this willingly?

BERTRAND:  Yes. And that probably has to do with the people that he`s trying to appeal to now, right. I mean, he`s still trying to be on the administration`s good side.

But this completely belied by the fact that he cooperated voluntarily with Mueller`s investigation and he also participated in voluntary interviews with prosecutors before this trial even began.

So, I think there`s a lot of evidence here that, you know, Steve Bannon is putting on a show about not wanting to be throwing Roger Stone under the bus here, and that he is being forced essentially to testify in this trial.

But the facts don`t support that. And one other thing that, you know, obviously wasn`t mentioned today during the hearing was an e-mail that was released in a court case last week as part of a FOIA case against the Justice Department.

Releasing materials from the Mueller investigation, an e-mail in which Steve Bannon wrote to Jared Kushner and said we need to make sure that it`s not perceived that we have been getting help from Russia and WikiLeaks.

And in that sense, we need to kind of distance ourselves from, you know, the fired campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, who at that time was still advising the Trump campaign well into the November of 2016.

So clearly there was an awareness on Steve Bannon`s part of at least the perception that the Russians were -- that had hacked the DNC, had hacked John Podesta`s e-mail inbox, had fed the information to WikiLeaks and that the campaign was now benefitting from those releases. It seems like Steve Bannon was very much aware of that perception.

VELSHI:  Natasha, thank you, Dan Friedman as well. Thanks for joining us tonight.

Coming up, Ohio Congressman Jim Jordan has a key role in the impeachment hearings starting next week, but it comes as Jordan continues to be ensnared in a sex abuse scandal at the Ohio State University.

A second person has now said in a court filing that he told Jordan directly about sexual misconduct by a wrestling team doctor when Jordan was working as an assistant coach. That`s next.


VELSHI:  It is official, House Republican leader Kevin McCarty announced that Ohio Congressman Jim Jordan has been appointed to the House Intelligence Committee which McCarthy characterized as the impeachment committee.

Now, Jordan`s already been able to participate in the close door depositions because he`s the ranking member of the Oversight Committee and he`s a member of the Judiciary Committee.

And it`s been clear from the deposition transcripts that he`s playing a lead role in the Republican side of this investigation. But Congressman Jordan is in the news for another reason today. Here is the Cleveland Plain Dealer headline. U.S. representative Jim Jordan was told about sexual misconduct by ex-Ohio state Dr. Richard Strauss, a former referee claims. Here`s NBC`S Geoff Bennett with the story.


GEOFF BENNETT, NBC NEWS, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Republican Congressman Jim Jordan tonight facing a new accusation that he ignored warnings about an Ohio State University doctor accused of sexually abusing nearly 200 men over two decades.

In a lawsuit filed Thursday, a college wrestling referee named, as John Doe 42 says, "In the mid-90s he told Jordan, then Ohio State`s Assistant Wrestling Coach, that the team`s physician Richard Strauss, performed a sex act in front of him in a shower.

The referee says Jordan and the teams then head coach shrugged it off responding, "Yes, that`s Strauss." The referee and his attorney declined to be interviewed on camera.

DUNYASHA YETTS, OHIO STATE WRESTLER: Everybody talked about Strauss--

BENNETT (voice over): Former Ohio State Wrestler Dunyasha Yetts also says he complained directly to Jim Jordan after he says Strauss once tried to pull his pants down.

YETTS: I had told him, "hey, this is this is not right."

BENNETT (voice over): Yetts who`s not part of the latest lawsuit says Jordan failed to address it. Jordan has previously denied having any knowledge of the abuse, saying the allegations that he was told about it are politically motivated. His office did not respond to our request for comment.

The lawsuit comes as House Republican leaders today named Jordan to the House Intelligence Committee. Giving Jordan known as President Trump`s most aggressive defender, a more prominent role committees public impeachment hearing.

Tonight, OSU called Strauss` actions reprehensible. Adding, it "has implemented multiple additional safeguards in the 20 years since Strauss left the university." Strauss died by suicide in 2005. His horrifying legacy raising new questions about what should have been done to stop him.

Geoff Bennett, NBC News, The Capitol.


VELSHI: And coming up Tim Alberta, a reporter who literally wrote the book on the Republican Party and Donald Trump writes today in POLITICO that "There is a sizable number of Republican Senators and Representatives who believe Trump`s removal from office is not an altogether radical idea." That`s next.

VELSHI: Republicans are scrambling to prepare their defense of President Trump with televised impeachment hearings less than a week away. But ever since House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced the formal impeachment inquiry, Republicans have spent the past month providing various, and at times, contradictory defenses of President Trump, aimed at causing chaos.

In a new piece for POLITICO Magazine titled "Who will betray Trump?" Tim Alberta examines Donald Trump`s obsession with possible Republican defectors and whether any of them would actually turn against their own party and President on an impeachment vote.

Tim Alberta writes, "Venting privately about the President has become a hallowed pastime in Republican-controlled Washington, a sort of ritualistic release for those lawmakers tasked with routinely defending the indefensible. But it`s also evident that barring a plane admission of guilt by the President himself - think Jack Nicholson in A Few Good Men, the Republican Party will not be forsaking Trump."

Joining us now Jennifer Rubin an opinion writer at "The Washington Post" and an MSNBC Contributor and Tim Miller, the former Communications Director for Jeb Bush`s 2016 campaign and spokesman for the Republican National Committee, is now a contributor to "The Bulwark."

Jennifer, look, you are an optimistic former Republican who believes that they will do this. Earlier today i spoke to former Governor Bill Weld who`s running against Donald Trump in the primaries. He`s written a letter to Senators to say, the party will be destroyed and your careers will ultimately be destroyed. And the Senate hold - the Republican hold on the Senate will disappear if you don`t do the thing. Do you agree with all of those views?

JENNIFER RUBIN, OPINION WRITER, "THE WASHINGTON POST": Well, I agree with Bill Weld. I share, I think, the pessimism of Tim Alberta that Republicans are going to do the right thing.

I had a conversation this week with former defense secretary Bill Cohen. And he says, listen, these people are intimidated by Trump. They`re fearful of Trump and to some extent their complicit. They like some of the things he`s doing. And they don`t have the fortitude. They don`t have the moral backbone to stand up to him.

They will risk, I think, looking ridiculous. They will risk their seats. And I think you`ll maybe have a handful of people who will do the right thing. I think Mitt Romney will come around, perhaps Susan Collins, perhaps a handful of others.

But it was interesting, the piece said - and barring an admission of guilt, Trump has admitted guilt and he keeps admitting guilt, and they still don`t change. So I think it`s unfortunately unlikely that these people will rise to the occasion, which is why it`s important for the American people to vote them out next November.

VELSHI: Tim, talk to me about who we`re talking about, because these are senators from across the nation. You worked for Jeb Bush, a man who was a principled Republican, not a guy who was ideologically inflexible. But held to his conservative roots, while at the same time managing to have discussions with and enact legislation with people across party lines.

Why are these United States Senators so different? Some of them are served in statehouses. Some of them have had occasion to have debates with people who don`t share their views. Why is this the hill they want to die on?

TIM MILLER, COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR, JEB BUSH 2016 PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN: Ali, I wish I had the answer to that. I`ve just been disappointed - experienced disappointment after disappointment with a lot of folks I used to admire who are in the Senate and House in my party.

And I just want to give a warning to your viewers that the Alberta article just drove me into a blind range when I was reading it on my way over here today. So I wouldn`t recommend reading it before bed tonight.

But, look, here is the thing. There are a handful of folks either retiring or who have maintained their integrity who we are talking about. Jennifer mentioned Mitt Romney, and the House`s Adam Kinzinger.

The main thing that upset me about this article is there`s a Congressman from Florida who is actually a Jeb supporter named Francis Rooney. Now he`s the Ambassador to the Vatican. So he`s familiar how diplomacy somebody work. Right? He`s been a loyal ally of Trump - too loyal for my taste. All the way up until this Ukraine incident And basically what he said - he came out and just said "look, the facts do not look good." All he did was speak truth.

And the Alberta article, what do you can see there`s been a lot of his colleagues agree with him privately and yet still have targeted him, and still basically pressured him into retirement out of loyalty to the President.

These people have decided that they`re going to make lay their bet on short term political gain, because that`s what their voters wanted to do. None of them have the courage or the integrity or the willingness to step out against the President and take their chance with the voters next year.

And I agree with Jennifer, I`ll actually outflank her on pessimism. I don`t really see that changing no matter what the circumstances.

VELSHI: I`m just going to read from Tim`s article what Representative Francis Rooney of Florida said. He said, "So the question is, is that enough of an abuse of power to remove the President from office? I don`t know. I need to think about that a lot more. I haven`t made up my mind. I`ve got to be able to look at myself in the mirror and I`ve got to be able to look at my kids and my friends and family and know that what I did was right."

So he`s being thoughtful about it. But you know what, and maybe I made a mistake, Jennifer a moment ago, when I said why is this the hill they want to die on. Clearly, many of these Republican Senators and other members of the House of Representatives don`t think they`re dying on any hill.

RUBIN: Right. They think this is the only way they survive. They are afraid, on one hand, from a primary challenge, if they break with the President. Even if they don`t have a primary challenge they`re afraid that the Republicans won`t turn out and they`ll be beaten in the general election.

And the thing of it is, is that these people do not have, I guess, the imagination or perhaps the ambition to do something else in life. For them being in the United States Senate apparently is anything and everything they`ve always wanted. So they will do anything to keep these seats. You think these people will want to--

MILLER: It`s not that kind of a job Jennifer.

RUBIN: Right.

MILLER: It`s not that kind of a job. Well, I don`t get that, particular given the House.

RUBIN: Exactly.

MILLER: You are a backbencher in the House. You`re in the minority.

RUBIN: Exactly.

MILLER: Why not - I mean, mean why not be the person that you know maybe has a historic separation from this President? You know, I think that there is a huge opportunity for somebody.

VELSHI: OK. Let`s--

MILLER: Its mystery. Let`s go down that road for a second. I think I`ve got a chance to just ask you this question, Jennifer. What does it look like? What if you are that group of people? We`ve got a couple of them running for President. Two of the three people running against Donald Trump have never really found much need to separate from them. Bill Weld is sort of a bit of a stand out on that front.

But what does it look like? Do you build another Republican Party? Do you call it something else? Do you peel off or do you just hope that enough of the remnants of the Republican Party survive so that conservatives in this country can have a political home after Donald Trump.

RUBIN: Well, I actually hope none of this party survives. I hope all of them lose badly. I think if you have a devastation, if you have a complete wipe out, there is a hope that the Tim Millers of the world will take control.

We`ll have a party or at least a shell of a party to operate and they can bring in new blood, new people who have not gone along with this absolute farce and try to create something that looks like a responsible center right party.

We need two parties in this country. But right now we only have a one that`s functional and perhaps a little too self-destructive. And the other is completely amoral and anti-American. So it`s not a good position for a democracy like ours to be in.

VELSHI: Jennifer Rubin and Tim Miller thanks for joining me tonight. I appreciate it. Coming up the White House has slammed the forthcoming anonymous book dealing detailing Trump administration chaos, because the purported senior Trump official who wrote it, has chosen to remain anonymous.

But next week several senior officials will be describing chaos inside the administration live on television in the impeachment hearings. That`s next.


VELSHI: A midnight self-massacre, that`s what could have happened if senior Trump administration officials went along with their plan to resign as a group last year to sound a public alarm about President Trump`s conduct. That`s according to the new book "A Warning".

Excerpts of the book are already out ahead of its November 19th release. As you saw on Rachel`s show last night. Written by the author of last year`s anonymous New York Times op ed piece. The writer described only as a senior official in the Trump administration, claims that the plan never came to fruition for fear of destabilizing the government.

Now according to excerpts reviewed by "The Washington Post," the book also describes senior officials reaction to the President`s tweets. "It`s like showing up at the nursing home at daybreak to find your elderly uncle running pants less across the courtyard and cursing loudly about the cafeteria food as worried attendants tried to catch him.

You`re stunned, amused and embarrassed all at the same time, only your uncle probably wouldn`t do it every single day. His words aren`t broadcast to the public and he doesn`t have to lead the U.S. government once he puts his pants on."

"The Post" reports, the book describing the President railing against federal judges, ruling against his policies like the 2017 travel ban. He asked White House lawyers "Can we just get rid of the judges? Let`s get rid of the expletive judges. There shouldn`t be any at all, really."

This is just the beginning. There will surely be more excerpts, reviews, leaks of the book in the run up to its release and that will all be playing out in the background as the public hearings in the impeachment investigation of President Trump begin next week.

The under oath depositions are already providing their own window into the chaos of the Trump administration as experienced by senior officials. Acting Ukraine Ambassador Bill Taylor will be the first witness in the public impeachment hearing on Wednesday.

Here`s one thing Ambassador Taylor mentioned when asked about the difficulty in scheduling a meeting with President Trump about military aid to Ukraine. He said I think this was also about the time of the Greenland question, about purchasing Greenland, which took up a lot of energy at the National Security Council.

Chairman Adam Schiff replied, "OK, that`s disturbing for a whole different reason." We`ll talk about all that and how Donald Trump is reportedly reacting in the White House next with Gabe Sherman and Neera Tanden.


VELSHI: The White House has its response to the anonymous book "A Warning". Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham said "The coward who wrote this book didn`t put their name on it, because it is nothing but lies. Real authors reach out to their subjects to get things fact checked. But this person is in hiding, making that very basic part of being a real writer impossible. Reporters who choose to write about this farce should have the journalistic integrity to cover the book as what it is, a work of fiction."

That may well work, by the way, with the anonymous author. But the American people are going to be hearing some unflattering anecdotes of what`s been going on behind the scenes of the Trump administration in the impeachment hearings starting next week from people under oath whose names you will know, whose careers you will understand and it`s not from anonymous sources.

The senior career officials who have given depositions, and who in some cases will testify in public, are putting their names and faces to their accounts like this one from Dr. Fiona Hill describing a rogue effort to get a White House meeting for the President of Ukraine in exchange for opening a political investigation. The so-called drug deal that John Bolton said he wanted no part of.

Dr. Hill told the House Intelligence Committee she was concerned not just about the content, but also the location of this July meeting between Gordon Sondland and Ukrainians right by the White House Situation Room. Hill said, it`s completely inappropriate to have the Ambassador to the EU, Gordon Sondland take the Ukrainians down to the Ward Room, which is near the Situation Room, to have a huddle on the next steps about getting a meeting with the President of the United States.

I don`t even know whether the Ukrainians had left their cell phones in boxes at this particular point. You can be sure that they`re being targeted by the Russians. Joining me now Gabe Sherman Vanity Fair Special Correspondent and an MSNBC Contributor, and back with us is Neera Tanden who has spent a good deal of time inside the White House.

Neera you`ve had some access to some of the people who have read this book, Phil Rucker from "The Washington Post" has read it and spoken about it. The New York Times Book Review is written about it. Is there anything described in this book so far that resembles anything that you experienced in the White House.

NEERA TANDEN, PRESIDENT AND CEO, CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS: Zero. When I worked in the White House we had good controls over security. People understood that the - that we basically had foreign governments that were trying to get information from us.

And actually there was a process. There was always a process there ran everything. We didn`t have - I mean I was privileged to serve for President - with President Obama and President Clinton, neither one of them tweeted out attacks on political opponents or just attacked them through the press or did any one of these things.

I mean what`s amazing about this book, and obviously we all have to read it in detail, is that just from the excerpts it doesn`t seem unimaginable, because it is exactly what we`ve seen day to day.

VELSHI: This is an interesting point.

TANDEN: --real time events. We see a President out of control all the time. So it`s not surprising that he`s out of control behind the scenes. It`s just remarkably unassuring that he is equally out of control behind the cameras as well.

VELSHI: Gabe let me read to you from the New York Times Book Review. "Anonymous has seen disturbing things. Anonymous has heard disturbing things. You the reader will already recognize most of what Anonymous has seen and heard as revealed in this book if you`ve been paying attention to the news.

Did you know that the President isn`t much of a reader? That he`s inordinately fond of autocrats? That he stumbles slurs, gets confused, is easily irritated and has trouble synthesizing information." Those who have read the book already say it`s a lot of anecdotes. It sort of reinforces what people know. What do you make of it?

GABRIEL SHERMAN, VANITY FAIR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. I mean I think that`s the problem that we`re seeing with the rollout of this book is that fundamentally it`s not advancing and filling in more detailed picture we know of this President.

I mean, me as a reporter have covered both his campaign and the White House. I hear these anecdotes every day from people who work inside the White House, that are reported in New York Times and The Washington Post and elsewhere.

So the problem is this book doesn`t actually advance the ball and people are waiting for that, especially on top of the fact that the author is anonymous. I mean usually journalists extend confidentiality to sources when the only reason they can get that information to the public is protecting their identity.

And now this author has done that and he says he doesn`t want to make this story about himself. But then you`ve got to deliver the goods. And unfortunately this - and I say this as someone who wants to know the full inner workings of this White House. I wish that there was more so far, I mean perhaps the book itself will have more.But what we what we have read does not fill in that picture.

VELSHI: Advantageous Neera or disadvantageous to the author and the publisher. There is this side track that will be going on next week and will be the main track really. It`ll be the impeachment hearings in which there will be people who were in the White House who will describe things perhaps not as juicy a fashion as Anonymous does in the warning, but in a in a way that reinforces exactly that message that the book contains that people like Gabe and others have been reporting on for the last three years.

TANDEN: Absolutely. I do you think that is a part of this book which is that we will - I`m sure this is inadvertent, but the timing is such that we will see in real time public servants essentially - people - career diplomats, career public servants who actually in real - in their experience we`re trying to fight against the President`s instincts just as anonymous described. So we`ll be real confirmation for the buck in the public at the time.

VELSHI: But interesting, Gabe, that Stephanie Grisham at the White House pushes back on this, because the ideas - the person`s anonymously must be gutless and cowardly and so hence you mustn`t believe it, when in fact we`ve got a whole bunch of people who are coming out there showing their faces and testifying.

SHERMAN: Yes. I mean my reporting today is that the President has been very unhappy with his communications and the fact that he feels the White House is not doing enough to defend him. And Stephanie Grisham, from what my reporting has indicated, basically takes dictation from Trump. These statements are things that he has dictated to her.

VELSHI: Well, they sound very Trumpian.

SHERMAN: Very Trumpian. And so he is launching a full scale assault on this book. Clearly this is just another front in the multi front war against this White House. But I think as you teed up at the top of this segment. We`re going to see all of these people under oath, on the record, talking about what happened that is more powerful than an anonymous book.

VELSHI: Gabe good to see you. Neera Tanden, thank you for sticking around. Thanks both for your time tonight. Tonight`s last word concludes now. "The 11th hour with Brian Williams" begins.