IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Amb. Yovanovitch to testify tomorrow. TRANSCRIPT: 11/14/19, The Last Word w/ Lawrence O'Donnell.

Guests: David Cicilline, Neera Tanden, Denny Heck, Larry Pfeiffer, RichardBlumenthal, Neera Tanden, Joyce Vance

JOY REID, MSNBC HOST:  Good evening, Rachel.

So, I can tell you that as of tomorrow, you can officially class me as a shut-in.  I will not leave my home.  No one is to call me.  Do not text me.  I will not answer. 

I am so ready for this.  I`m so fascinated by it.  I don`t know if you`ve responded to it the same way.  I cannot stop watching it.

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST:  I have to tell you I`m already nervous now about how fast I need to sleep so I can be awake and done all my business like have breakfast and have a shower and have a shower and walk the dog and do all the things I need to do so that I`m seated and paying attention by 9:00 because 9:00 a.m. is not my key time of day. 

REID:  I`m with you.

MADDOW:  We stressed about it.

REID:  It`s hard because I have insomnia, really bad insomnia. 

MADDOW:  I know you do.

REID:  So I`ve been trying to trick myself to fall asleep at 11:00, so I can be up at 8:00.  So, I`m like trying tricks, I`ve got like the calm app going because I`m like -- my poor husband, I`m like I`ve got to be asleep.  I need to sleep in like 10 minutes.  I`ve got to get up at 8:00. 

You know, it`s really bad.  At least with me, it`s really not been easy this week. 


MADDOW:  Also I love how you and I have the same approach to sleeping.  Like must sleep now, focus, sleep past.

REID:  Turn on Matthew McConaughey app where he reads me a story now.  Like it`s really bad.

MADDOW:  Yes, and then you scream at it and it`s weird, it doesn`t relax you but you just sleep.  I know.  We`re terrible people.  But at least you and I are in the same boat.  Thank you, my friend.

REID:  There are at least two of us.  There are two of us.  So, I don`t feel alone.

MADDOW:  I think there`s more.  You and I will both be awake all night and sleep on Saturday.  Fair? 

REID:  There you go.  Sounds good.

MADDOW:  Fair, thanks, my friend.  All right.

REID:  All right, have a good night.  Bye.

All right, coming up ahead as Rachel -- as we just discussed as Turkey`s brutal president, Tayyip Erdogan, was welcomed to the White House, the Trump Organization refused to answer questions from senators about Donald Trump`s business interests in Turkey.  And I`ll talk with one of those senators about Trump`s possible conflicts of interests. 

And leaked e-mails from senior White House official Stephen Miller show that, surprise, Trump`s point man on rejecting and detaining non-European immigrants, promoted white nationalism. 

All that is coming up.

But first tonight, debunking the latest Republican talking point on impeachment.  New damning information is coming out all the time about the Trump-Ukraine scandal at the center the impeachment investigation.  Republicans have field tested a dozen different arguments in an attempt to defend the president at all costs.  But each one has been flimsier or weirder than the last. 

And their latest attempt to defend is no exception.  During the first public impeachment hearing featuring Ambassador Bill Taylor and Assistant Deputy Secretary George Kent, Republicans complained that neither of the officials were first-hand witness to the events under scrutiny. 


REP. DEVIN NUNES (R-CA):  Officials alarmed at the president`s actions was typically based on secondhand, third-hand and even fourth-hand rumors and innuendo. 

REP. JIM JORDAN (R-OH):  We`ve got six people having four conversations in one sentence and you just told me this is where you got your clear understanding. 

REP. MIKE TURNER (R-OH):  We`re not in court, gentlemen.  And if we were, the Sixth Amendment would apply and so would rules on hearsay and opinion, and most of your two testimonies would not be admissible whatsoever. 


REID:  Well, here`s the thing, Republicans are only telling half of the story.  First-hand witness, the people who have met Trump or worked directly with him aren`t being allowed to testify.  The White House is stopping them from doing so. 

Former federal prosecutor and MSNBC legal analyst Glenn Kirschner argues every single time a Republican complains of hearsay, secondhand information being introduced at the impeachment hearings, that statement should be viewed as powerful proof Trump is obstructing the hearing by prohibiting the witnesses with first-hand info from testifying. 

There are certainly witnesses who have more firsthand knowledge than Taylor and Kent, but many of the witnesses the Democrats want to call such as acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney and Acting Office of Budget and Management Director Russell Vought, and former National Security Advisor John Bolton have refused to come on White House orders or are being blocked outright from testifying by the Trump administration. 

Now, in particular interest, John Bolton`s lawyer says his client has personal knowledge of relevant meetings and conversations that have not yet been discussed in testimonies thus far, all of which are being held up by the White House. 

Here`s House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. 


REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA):  We are not here to be manipulated by the obstruction of justice of the administration.  On the one hand, they say that it is secondhand, or the other hand, they obstruct all of the people who they would consider to have first-hand knowledge from testifying. 


REID:  At least one Republican member of Congress believes officials like Mulvaney should testify.  Republican Congressman Francis Rooney of Florida who has not yet ruled out supporting impeachment told CNN he thinks Mulvaney should appear before the impeachment committee saying, quote, I think everyone should come to testify. 

And breaking tonight, one critical official is expected to defy the White House and testify in the impeachment investigation.  "The Washington Post" is reporting that Mark Sandy, a long time career employee at the White House Office of Management and Budget, is expected to break ranks and testify Saturday in the House Democrats impeachment inquiry, potentially filling in important details on the hold up of military aid to Ukraine.  Sandy would be the first OMB employee to testify in the inquiry.

Mark Sandy could provide insight into the process by which almost $400 million in military and security aid to Ukraine was held up over the summer.  "The Post" reports that Mark Sandy was among the career staffers who raised questions about the hold up on the aid.  And Speaker Pelosi kicked her rhetoric up a notch today using the word "bribery" to describe Trump`s actions towards Ukraine, going further than she ever has before. 


PELOSI:  The devastating testimony corroborated evidence of bribery uncovered in the inquiry and that the president abused power and violated his oath by threatening to withhold military aid in a White House meeting in exchange for an investigation into his political rival.  The bribe is to grant or withhold military assistance in return for a public statement of a fake investigation into the elections.  That`s bribery. 


REID:  That`s bribery. 

Pelosi`s remarks come just days after House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff told NPR that Trump`s potentially impeachable offenses include bribery.  And notably, the U.S. Constitution explicitly names two impeachable offenses, treason and bribery.  And as "The New York Times" writes, Pelosi`s use of the word bribery is significant because it`s suggested that Democrats are increasingly working to put a name to the president`s alleged wrongdoing and moving toward a more specific set of charges that could be codified in articles of impeachment in the coming weeks. 

Leading off our discussion tonight, Democratic Congressman David Cicilline of Rhode Island.  He`s a member of the House Judiciary Committee and House Foreign Affairs Committee. 

Joyce Vance, former U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Alabama.  And she`s an MSNBC legal analyst. 

And Neera Tanden, former senior advisor to President Obama and Hillary Clinton.  And she`s president and CEO of the Center for American Progress.

Thank you all for being here.

And, Congressman, I want to go to you on this first.  The White House`s argument or the Republicans` argument on their behalf has been that all of the witnesses who have come forward thus far are secondhand -- they hold secondhand information.  They didn`t talk to Donald Trump directly.  They didn`t participate in the events or testify about it directly.  And yet they`re holding up all the direct participants and not letting them testify. 

Does it surprise you that the response of the House committee has not been to simply subpoena and order the direct participants to testify, or do you think it`s smarter to say they`re their not testifying just becomes another article of impeachment? 

REP. DAVID CICILLINE (D-RI):  Well, first off, they`re wrong about the absence of direct evidence.  We have, of course, the president`s own admission of wrongdoing.  We have the telephone transcript in the president`s own words.  We have the whistle-blower report that details the elaborate scheme.  All of that has been corroborated by witnesses. 

We`re going to hear additional witnesses who have direct knowledge of conversations.  Lieutenant Colonel Vindman who listened in on the call, a number of people who wrote text messages and e-mails.  So, there`s overwhelming evidence, that factually uncontroverted.  And I think we`re making the right decision. 

Look, we`ve asked witnesses to appear, we`ve subpoenaed witnesses.  But we`re not going to be dragged into a protracted period of litigation so the president can drag this out. 

We`ve put the witnesses on notice.  If you fail to appear because the president has told you not to appear as you`re required to, or produce documents, we`re going to consider that evidence as obstruction of Congress and use that was an adverse inference and that was a separate article of impeachment against President Nixon.  We`re not going to simply allow the administration to obstruct this process and benefit by engaging us in protracted litigation that could take months and months. 

We`ve put them on notice.  If they have something exculpatory to the president, we ought to let them come forward.  I think we can draw an adverse inference by his direction to them not to appear. 

REID:  Yes, it`s certainly incriminating if he won`t allow the people, if the people closest to him in this whole situation had information exculpatory, you think he`d be rushing them to Congress to give that information.  But instead he`s withholding it. 

Neal Katyal in "The New York Times" wrote about this obstruction in the way that they behaved toward this inquiry.  While the Ukraine allegations rightly captured the attention of Congress and much of the public, Mr. Trump`s effort to hinder the investigation of him is at least as great a threat to the rule of law.  It strikes at the heart of American democracy and is itself the essence of an impeachable offense. 

What we have here is sort of the Andrew Johnson case for impeaching, meaning that Congress appropriated money and Trump is not giving it to you unless you do me a favor, and you`ve got the Nixon case for impeachment which is obstructing the investigation itself.  So, it feels like there`s so much already on the table. 

In you`re mind as somebody who`s on judiciary, do you think the Congress will be in very short order ready to go ahead and write articles? 

CICILLINE:  Well, I think there`s no question, and I`ve had the opportunity to sit through the depositions as a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee.  I think the American people will see over the next several days and next several weeks overwhelming evidence of the president`s wrongdoing, that he abused the power of his office, that he undermined our national security.  He undermined the integrity of our elections by withholding military aid in a White House meeting until he got Ukrainians to gin up a phony investigation against his chief political rival. 

This is damning and shocking conduct on the part of the president.  Obviously, we`ve approved proceedings that will give the president a chance to come forward and present evidence and cross-examine witnesses and try to explain this.  But I think there`s overwhelming evidence of wrongdoing, certainly sufficient for us to move forward before the Judiciary Committee and consider articles of impeachment. 

And I expect that will happen -- that we`ll have the responsibility to consider that in short order and the president will have an opportunity to respond to it.  And then, if we do file articles of impeachment, the House will have the opportunity to take them up.

But the evidence is overwhelming.  The facts are uncontested and we`ve heard a number of different defenses from Republicans, but none of them have challenged the actual facts that have been alleged. 

REID:  Right.

And, Joyce Vance, I think what a lot of people don`t understand, if you get a jury summons, you have to show up.  If you get ordered by court, you have to do it.  How can it be permissible for these witnesses to say I`m simply not showing up?  I think a lot of people are confused how they can get away with it and not wind up in jail. 

JOYCE VANCE, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST:  So, I think the short answer is it`s not permissible.  And if we had a criminal justice system that was functioning the way that it should be and does under other administrations, there would be accountability.  But unfortunately, for Congress, it doesn`t have the ability or at least it doesn`t have an easy path forward to directly enforce its subpoenas.  Its real enforcement mechanism is to ask the U.S. attorney in the District of Columbia to enforce the subpoena on its behalf, and, of course, given this administration and this attorney general, that`s not an easy path forward. 

So I think Congress has taken a really smart approach here which is that they`re calling the witnesses and they`ve put the witnesses on notice that their failure to appear whether it`s pursuant to a subpoena or lawful request for someone in government to show up for what`s essentially an oversight hearing, that those failures are active obstruction that can ultimately be charged by Congress against this president in articles of impeachment.  That`s where the accountability comes in.  It`s slow, it`s frustrating but we`re moving in the right direction now. 

REID:  And, you Know, Neera, you know, Donald Trump today, of course, is attacking Taylor and George Kent.  And you laugh but if that is what people fear, those who are not cooperating, if that`s the worse you`re going to get, Donald Trump is going to tweet nasty things at you, it does confuse me why people are so afraid to follow the law. 

NEERA TANDEN, CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS PRESIDENT & CEO:  I think we`re actually seeing more and more of career officials speaking out.  So I think the fact we now have a career official in the OMB, the Office of Management and Budget offices are within the executive complex, so it`s much closer to the White House.  The fact we have a career official who`s planning to testify and defy the White House I think is an important facts. 

And that career official is going to give us lots of information and will tie this much more closely.  Remember Mick Mulvaney was the former director of the OMB. 

REID:  Right.

TANDEN:  He is the chief of staff.  It`s very likely he communicated directly to Russell Vought and to possibly career OMB officials like Mark Sandy. 

I think we`re seeing many more people coming out.  It`s interesting that we have two other career officials who are in the embassy of Ukraine who are now speaking out about overhearing this conversation between Gordon Sondland. 

And I think the really most important part that we see is that, House Democrats are very smartly, in my view, making the case about the crime here.  There`s absolutely an abuse of power.  But the abuse of power has a definition.

REID:  Yes.

TANDEN:  And it is bribery.  And I think most importantly for the American people, they saw a clear case yesterday, the evidence being laid out.  And now, they`re understanding what it is, a crime. 

REID:  Yes.

TANDEN:  And if this crime is not impeachable and punishable, nothing really is.  As you said, it`s laid out in the Constitution. 

So I think this is a very important step that the speaker has taken by defining it.  And I think what will be really important is tomorrow, you`re going to see some of the victims of this crime, an ambassador who was smeared in order to move her out because she was trying to do the right thing for the country.  She was victimized for being a patriot. 

REID:  Yes, and I think now it is very specific, Congressman, do you have a sense just being on Judiciary of what the timeline looks like for how long you think this process is going to go? 

CICILLINE:  I think we should expect a couple of weeks, maybe another week at least of hearings before the Intelligence Committee.  I think the intelligence committee shortly after that will conclude its work, hopefully prepare a final report and a referral to the Judiciary Committee, which the resolution we passed authorizes. 

I think there are a number of other committees who have been engaged in oversight who will similarly make a referral for any appropriate consideration by judiciary.  And then my hope is shortly after that, the Judiciary Committee will meet and consider whether or not articles of impeachment ought to be prepared and filed with the full house. 

REID: And very quickly before I let you, Congressman Peter Welch, your fellow congressman, has said that based on what he`s heard right now, he`d be comfortable voting articles of impeachment against Donald Trump based on what he`s heard so far.  Do you agree? 

CICILLINE:  Well, I think, as I`ve said, I think there`s prima facie evidence of a crime and of serious wrongdoing.  I think we owe it to the president during the Judiciary hearings to give him an opportunity to present evidence, to have his lawyers cross-examine, see if he can explain what seems very obviously serious misconduct. 

So I think we ought to go through that process.  But this is very serious, and I think the Judiciary Committee will have ample information to move forward if the committee members consider it appropriate. 

REID:  All right.  Congressman David Cicilline, thank you very much.  Joyce Vance and Neera Tanden, thank you all very much as well. 

And coming up next, tomorrow is expected to be a blockbuster day in the House Intelligence Committee.  Former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch who was recalled from her position after a Rudy Giuliani-led smear campaign against her will testify publicly. 

But behind closed doors tomorrow, investigators will be getting details from the staffer who overheard Donald Trump talking to his E.U. Ambassador Gordon Sondland about investigations the day after Trump`s call with the Ukrainian president.  That`s next. 


REID:  Tomorrow is the next big day of witness testimony for the impeachment inquiry.  At 9:00 a.m., Marie Yovanovitch will testify publicly about the smear campaign orchestrated by Rudy Giuliani to toss her out of her job as the ambassador to Ukraine.  And another witness will appear behind closed doors to reveal what he knows about a previously unknown cellphone call that E.U. Ambassador Gordon Sondland made from a restaurant in Kiev to Donald Trump the day after the president`s infamous phone call with Ukraine`s president. 


AMBASSADOR WILLIAM TAYLOR, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO UKRAINE:  A member of my staff could hear President Trump on the phone asking Ambassador Sondland about the investigations.  Ambassador Sondland told President Trump the Ukrainians were ready to move forward. 


REID:  That staffer is David Holmes, an official at the U.S. embassy in Ukraine whose testimony tomorrow could further point the finger directly at Trump in the harebrained plot to extort Ukraine into investigating the Bidens to help Trump in 2020 and boosting a conspiracy theory to clear Russia of meddling in the 2016 election. 

And today, the "Associated Press" and "The Washington Post" report a second official was sitting at the table and overheard Sondland and Trump discussing the need for Ukraine to pursue those investigations, each citing a single anonymous source. 

NBC News has confirmed that the official was accompanying Sondland during his visit but has not confirmed whether she overheard the call. 

And joining us now is Democratic Congressman Danny Heck from Washington.  He`s a member of the House Intelligence Committee who will be attending the Yovanovitch hearing and the Holmes deposition tomorrow. 

And Larry Pfeiffer, former director of the White House Situation Room where he managed President Obama`s phone calls with other heads of state.  He`s the former chief of staff to the director of the CIA. 

Gentlemen, thank you both for being here.

Congressman, I want to start with you first.  I want to play you a little bit of yourself questioning Mr. Kent about Ambassador Yovanovitch during the hearing this week.  Take a listen. 


REP. DENNY HECK (D-WA):  Is it not true that rather than fighting corruption in general in Ukraine that what President Trump actually did was unceremoniously recall and remove Ambassador Yovanovitch from her post in Ukraine? 

GEORGE KENT, DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF STATE:  Much of what we`ve been discussing today which involved an irregular channel was a request that went against U.S. policy that would have undermined the rule of law and our long-standing policy goals in Ukraine as in other countries in the post- Soviet Space. 

HECK:  Those policies which were indeed championed by Ambassador Yovanovitch. 


REID:  So what we have here is an ambassador trying to do her job being ousted, at one point being even told by Ambassador Sondland that she ought to tweet praise of Donald Trump to save her job rather than doing the job he was there to do.  What are you expecting Ms. Yovanovitch to add to the fact that we already know? 

HECK:  Well, what America is going to see tomorrow is the best of the best.  America`s finest that has ably saved our country for 33 years in increasing responsibility.  She is the cream of the crop when it comes to Foreign Service diplomats. 

And actually what Ambassador Sondland said to her I think is way, way less offensive than what President Trump said about her, that she was a bad woman and then ominously threatening she`s going to go through some things. 

REID:  Yes, let me read a bit of that.  This is the fact Ms. Yovanovitch saying she felt threatened what he said about her in a July 25th call.  Trump said the former ambassador for the United States, the woman was bad news and the people she was dealing with in the Ukraine were bad news, so I just want to let you know that, and she said what was the reaction and she said I was shocked, I was very surprised Trump would speak about me or any ambassador in that way to a foreign counterpart. 

And Trump says, well, she`s going to go through some things.  The question is what did you think about that, and she said she was very concerned and felt threatened. 

So -- 

HECK:  She felt threatened because she was threatened, Joy. 

REID:  Yes.

HECK:  That`s thinly veiled.  We all understand what that meant, and it`s consistent and completely in character with the other kinds of things he said throughout the time he was candidate and served as president. 

REID:  Let me bring you in there, Larry Pfeiffer, because, you know, this has been called dumb Watergate.  You know, it`s been called sort of Donald Trump behaving sort of almost in a mafioso way, but not like the smartest mafioso way.

The idea that he would be on the phone, on a cellphone talking with his ambassador about the very thing he`s going to be impeach said for, how unusual -- this is almost a rhetorical question -- would it be for the president of the United States to pick up a common cellphone and get on -- to speak by cellphone with his ambassador about foreign policy issues? 

LARRY PFEIFFER, FORMER DIRECTOR, WHITE HOUSE SITUATION ROOM:  Very unusual, Joy.  Normally -- number one, normally an ambassador doesn`t talk to the president of the United States on any kind of telephone call on a routine basis.  Number two, you have this being done over a non-secured device that could be readily intercepted by a number of foreign governments, but in this case, particularly Russia given how wired the country of Ukraine is by Russian intelligence. 

REID:  Now, you did write in -- you said to "The Washington Post" -- you quoted by saying the security ramifications are insane.  Using an open cellphone to communicate with the president of the United States in a country you can almost take it to bank that the Russians were listening in on the call.

Would you presume that the Russians have a recording of the call, a transcript of the call?  Basically information they now hold over the head of the president of the United States? 

PFEIFFER:  That`s absolutely a clear possibility.  And I`d be almost embarrassed for them if they weren`t targeting Ambassador Sondland, the people at the embassy either through electronic means, through some kind of sensitive means or just having people walking around in the restaurant or sitting near them in the restaurant to listen and overhear the conversations. 

REID:  The kind of lack of understanding of sort of basic security protocol by the president and by the people that he had around him is surprising. 

Will this wind up, do you think, becoming a part of sort of the hearing?  I mean, do you think it`s a possibility that this -- a recording of the call could come out? 

HECK:  I don`t know if a recording will come out, but I`m fairly confident, as Larry suggests, that there were people listening in.  I think that`s probably a given, given the location in a public place where they were. 

I`m not sure, however, that a recording by the Russians would be something they would hold over his head, when you stop to think about they were doing was their bidding. 

REID:  Right.

HECK:  When he was trying to withhold security assistance to the Ukrainians, it was to the benefit of the Russians. 

So I`m not sure they would blackmail him with doing their job. 

REID:  What do you make of that?  Because it does feel like as Speaker Pelosi said, everything does seem to come back to Russia for him and doing things that benefit them. 

What do you make of that as a member of Congress, as an American? 

HECK:  All roads lead to Russia so it seems.  Well, we don`t know.  And I can`t help but feel that if more of the documents that we had subpoenaed had been presented to us or if for example his tax returns had been revealed, we might have more information what it is -- what is his obsession with Vladimir Putin and assisting it Russians despite their maligned intent and their aggression in eastern Ukraine? 

REID:  Yes, it is a puzzle.  Congressman Denny Heck, Larry Pfeiffer, thank you both.  We really appreciate joining us tonight.

And coming up, why the Trump administration is trying to avoid questions from the Senate about the president`s conflict of interest in Turkey.  That`s next. 


REID: We all know by now how fond Donald Trump is of dictators and strong men from Vladimir Putin to Kim Jong-un to brutal Saudi prince Mohammad bin Salman, but for most Americans, the idea that an American President would host in our White House a man who executed the killing of American allies and rang up at the Russian cash register for arms to conduct more military adventures would have been unthinkable.

Well, with Donald Trump, that`s exactly what happened. Donald Trump invited Turkish President Erdogan to the White House despite Turkey`s recent military incursion into Northern Syria, its attack on America`s allies, the Kurds, and Turkey`s purchase of a missile defense system from Russia. Trump welcomed Erdogan as his `very good friend` and stood there with nothing to say, as the Turkish autocrat characterized our Kurdish allies as terrorists.

But, of course, why wouldn`t he? Trump`s embrace of Erdogan is just another example of him putting his own financial interests ahead of the interests of the United States. Here is how then candidate Donald Trump said that he would approach Turkey if elected president during an interview in 2015.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I have a little conflict of interest because I have a major, major building in Istanbul, and it`s a tremendously successful job. It`s called Trump Towers, two towers instead of one; not the usual one, it`s two.


  REID: That conflict of interest has not gone away now the Trump is President. According to NBC News, Trump`s former national security advisor John Bolton indicated in a private speech that he was concerned by the President`s unwillingness to impose sanctions on Turkey. Bolton said, "He believes there is a personal or business relationship dictating Trump`s position on Turkey because none of his advisors are aligned with him on the issue."

And as President Erdogan visited the White House, the Trump Organization refused to provide answers to questions from Senators about the President`s business interests in Turkey. And joining us now is Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal from Connecticut and he`s one of the Senators who requested information from the Trump Organization on the President`s business dealings in Turkey. He`s also a member of the Judiciary Committee. And Senator, thank you so much for being here.

I want to get right to the questions that you want answered regarding Donald Trump. Is it as sort of straightforward as whether or not Trump`s policies toward Turkey are dictated by the fact that Turkey has his businesses in their purview?

SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL (D-CT): The fundamental point here is in fact whether Donald Trump has been so influenced and in fact corrupted by his personal financial dealings that he is putting his personal interests ahead of the Nation`s interests. And our questions are pretty straightforward; how much is he making from this deal with the two Trump Towers and what kind of leverage does the Turkish government have over that deal if Erdogan sought to end it as he threatened to do in fact just a few years ago?

And finally, what kind of dealings or conversations have there been between the Trump Organization and Turkish officials regarding U.S.-Turkish relations? These kinds of questions demand disclosure, so people know in fact whether he is putting his own interests ahead of our national interest. And this situation is only one of a fair number of payments and benefits that he`s receiving from foreign governments in violation of the Constitution`s monuments clause, which is the principal anti-corruption provision of the Constitution, and that is the reason that 200 of us, members of Congress, have sued the President.

I`ve helped to lead it; it`s called Blumenthal versus Trump, and it will be argued in fact on December 9 in the Court of Appeals.

REID: And we know the New York Times wrote a piece about the sort of trio of sons-in-law creating a back-channel between Trump and Erdogan that include Jared Kushner, the son-in-law of Turkey`s finance minister, and the son-in-law of a Turkish tycoon with ties to Trump Organization. It`s a little bit of that piece behind President Trump`s accommodating attitude toward Turkey is this unusual back-channel and the ties between those three men show how informal and often unseen connections between the two presidents have helped shaped American policy in a volatile part of the world.

Do you think it would be important for Congress to hear from Jared Kushner just what businesses are taking place behind the scenes out of American eyesight between himself potentially and these other sons-in-law?

BLUMENTHAL: Jared Kushner has relevant evidence and information, so do Eric and Donald Trump, Jr. and other members of the Trump Organization, who are in fact working still for the President in his private capacity because he continues to own the Trump Organization. Remember how absolutely extraordinary this situation is; past presidents have divested their similar private interests. They sold them and they bought bonds which raised no conflicts of interest, and Donald Trump is the extraordinary exception to that rule and his conflict of interest is more than a little one, as he put it very boastfully.

REID: And we know that Donald Trump denied the President of Ukraine, which is our ally, some - a country that we have long been in support of in their attempts to free themselves from Russia, he denied that president a White House meeting. He gave one to President Erdogan despite the brutality that Turkey has inflicted on the Kurds who are our allies. What did you make of that, sir, for him to invite Erdogan to the White House?

BLUMENTHAL: The invitation to Erdogan, the avoidance of any sanctions for Erdogan buying Russian missiles, the green light to Erdogan to invade Northern Syria and slaughter our allies, the Kurds, as you mentioned earlier, all of these actions in effect raised the specter of a payoff to Erdogan. But, it`s part of a pattern and that`s why - the dealings with the Ukrainian president are part of that pattern as well.

Bribery is certainly a very plausible and powerful charge supported by very convincing evidence in the case of the Ukraine and all around the world, Donald Trump is profiting from the presidency by putting his personal financial interests potentially at the priority compared to the Nation`s.

REID: The Trump Administration has claimed that they were attempting to fight corruption in Ukraine. Do you believe that Donald Trump and his administration are corrupt, or that he himself is corrupt?

BLUMENTHAL: This administration is the most corrupt in my lifetime, maybe the most corrupt in American history and certainly in recent history, and all of the evidence that has been disclosed by the Mueller Report, by the very powerful evidence of the President abusing his office, betraying his trust, committing bribery in the Ukrainian president`s dealings, in effect demanding that the Ukrainian president do his bidding, and using his power and the presidency to his personal benefit, I think are part of that corrupt pattern.

And unfortunately, the more we know, the more we see it and the more powerfully is the case for the removal of this President.

REID: Senator Richard Blumenthal, thank you so much for joining us tonight, really appreciate you. Thank you.

BLUMENTHAL: Thank you.

REID: Thank you. Coming up, newly revealed emails from White House Stephen Miller, one of the architects of Trump`s kids in cages policy, show him promoting White nationalism; the details next.


REID: There has been a lot of news about the impeachment inquiry into Donald Trump over the last 48 hours, which is why you may have missed a completely different scandal brewing in the Trump White House. Earlier this week, the Southern Poverty Law Center released a trove of over 900 emails from White House advisor Stephen Miller to the right-wing news outlet Breitbart.

The emails were sent between 2015 and 2016 before Miller entered the White House, but overlapping with the period when he worked for the Trump presidential campaign. They show that Miller, who was one of Trump`s top advisors on immigration policy, frequently shared links from white nationalist websites and encouraged a reporter at home of the alt-right website Breitbart to source stories to those sites.

Among the websites linked to by Miller was VDare, a site named after Virginia Dare, the first white child reported to have been seen - to have been born on American soil in the 1600s. The White House responded to questions about the emails by claiming that it was anti-Semitic to raise the issue of a top senior advisor sharing articles from white supremacist websites because Stephen Miller is Jewish.

At least seven Democratic members of Congress have called on Miller to resign over the emails, including Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who said Stephen Miller has been `exposed as a bonafide white nationalist.` When we come back, I`ll talk with Maria Teresa Kumar and Neera Tanden about what Miller`s continued presence in the White House means and about how Democrats respond to stories like this amid the current impeachment investigations.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Statute of Liberty says, "Give me your tired, your poor, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free. It doesn`t say anything about speaking English or being able to be a computer programmer.

STEPHEN MILLER, WHITE HOUSE SENIOR ADVISOR: The Statue of Liberty is a symbol of Liberty enlightening the world; it is a symbol of American Liberty lighting the world. The poem that you`re referring to was added later, is not actually part of the original Statue of Liberty-


REID: That was White House senior advisor Stephen Miller in his first appearance before the White House press corps. New emails show Miller regularly emailed a reporter at the right-wing news site Breitbart with links to articles from white supremacist website. Joining us now is Maria Teresa Kumar, President and CEO of Voto Latino and an MSNBC contributor, and Neera Tanden is also back with us.

And I`ll start with you, Maria Teresa; this is part of the story, apparently according to - in August of this year actually, this is earlier, a Justice Department newsletter that`s distributed to federal immigration judges and other employees contained a blog post of this week from an extremist group that included anti-Semitic references, a national union for the judges said the newsletter summarized and linked to a post from VDare, which is a website that regularly publishes white nationalists.

We now are finding out that Stephen Miller was sending VDare articles and articles from other white nationalist haunts to this Breitbart editor and suggesting that she source articles from them. This is not surprising I think to most people who`ve paid attention to Stephen Miller, but what do you make of it?

MARIA TERESA KUMAR, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: The challenge with having Stephen Miller and the ear of the President in the White House in the highest capacities to dictate not only his hate to translate into policy and that`s basically what he`s been doing. When you find out the AP broke yesterday that 69,000 migrant children have been held in detention for-profit industry camps under his direction; that`s what it`s - that`s the consequence.

REID: Yes.

KUMAR: And we have to have a come-to-Jesus moment when people say sometimes words that`s all it means, words have consequences. When under this administration, we have had and we have the receipts that demonstrate that the reason they wanted to add the citizenship question was to gerrymander white Republican districts that were non-Hispanic, it speaks volumes.

His words have consequences because they translate literally into policies that harm a majority of Americans. And what I mean by that is, oftentimes, we have these conversations about, well, these are minorities. Well, minorities represent 40% of the people of who we are. It is 135 million Americans and they are disproportionately impacting everyday - people`s everyday lives where people are feeling less safe, and unless we address and make sure that somehow he has - he`s held accountable for the policies that he`s dictating that are making Americans less safe, all of a sudden people are going to feel like they`re absolved (ph).

REID: Yes, I mean the thing is is that the history so far, Neera, has been that Steve Bannon who said he was making Breitbart the home of the alt- right - alt-right is a term invented by white nationalist Richard Spencer, that simply means white nationalism.


REID: But, if you were to - if you dare to say, wait a minute, why is Steve Bannon just sort of an ordinary figure in the Trump Administration, you were looked at as if you were insane. He`s just a figure; he`s a senior advisor to the President; how dare you sort of besmirch - he said that that`s what Breitbart was going to be. So, it`s not surprising that an ally of his also made Breitbart the home of the alt-right by suggesting that they read white nationalist material.

TANDEN: Right, I mean alt-right is whitewashing white nationalism; that is what it is.

REID: Yes.

TANDEN: And what I think is - I hope people don`t go to these websites but just to report on what they talk about, they talk about white genocide, they talk about cleansing people of color from this country. These are not just disagreements we have; these are policies that promote America as only a place for white people.

And as Maria Teresa said, this administration has policies that talk about immigration which is really essentially about immigration for white people. But, I would like to know that it is something that we should just not feel as normal--

REID: Right.

TANDEN: --to have a white nationalist or a person espousing white nationalist views in the corners of the White House, the Domestic Policy Council, the normal policy structures of the White House. This is not normal.

I`ve worked in a White House before; I`ve worked in two different White Houses. These views have been abhorrent and I should say, they`ve been abhorrent in Republican and Democratic White Houses, and they should not be accepted by any American.

REID: And so, you`ve now had five members of Congress who`ve called on Stephen Miller to resign or be dismissed from his job; Judy Chu, Joaquin Castro, Karen Bass, Pramila Jayapal, Mark Pocan have all signed on to that letter.

Bannon was never dismissed for it. Donald Trump relies on Stephen Miller to help him make policy, particularly toward immigrants. He worked for Jeff Sessions who has praised the 1920s era immigration laws that would have excluded all three of us, the ones on this table, from coming into this country.

KUMAR: Right.

REID: It doesn`t appear that the White House is going to have any high morality on this. Is there a way for him to be removed?

KUMAR: I think what Donald Trump doesn`t like is for someone to get more credit for the work that is getting done at the White House. And what Steve Bannon was able to do was get on the front page of Time Magazine and that riled up the President`s feathers like there`s no end.

What`s interesting is that there have been these concerted efforts to profile Steve Miller and he will bring in someone else. So at the time in June, when people were trying to say, look, disclose who Steve Miller was, all of a sudden Lou Dobbs was actually in the ear of the President.

REID: Yes.

KUMAR: That`s not the case. It`s still Steve Miller.

REID: Yes.

KUMAR: So the more we could actually cover Steve Miller and undress him and actually expose him to the American public--

REID: Yes.

KUMAR: And say, look, he is the one that actually is the puppeteer.

REID: Yes.

KUMAR: That`s when we actually have an opportunity.

REID: Yes.


REID: That`s interesting. Maria Teresa Kumar and Neera Tanden, thank you both for joining us tonight, really appreciate it. Coming up, breaking news, federal investigation of Rudy Giuliani is wider than previously known; that`s next.


REID: There is new reporting tonight about the federal investigation into Donald Trump`s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, who`s at the heart of the impeachment inquiry. Three U.S. officials tell Bloomberg that Giuliani is under investigation for possible campaign finance violations and failure to register as a foreign agent.

Giuliani could also face bribery charges. The U.S. Attorney`s Office for the Southern District of New York began scrutinizing Giuliani as prosecutors investigated two of his associates, known in shorthand as Lev and Igor, both of whom have been charged. Joyce Vance is back with us.

So, Joyce, okay, so Rudolph Giuliani was asked by the Guardian about his potential legal jeopardy and the response to a question about whether he was nervous that Donald Trump might throw him under a bus, Giuliani said, "I`m not, but I do have very, very good insurance. So if he does, all my hospital bills will be paid." Presumably means health insurance, but could he also have the insurance that he`s in the middle of the impeachment inquiry and any crime Donald Trump committed, could Giuliani simply give up Donald Trump to save himself? Wouldn`t that be what he would naturally want to do?

JOYCE VANCE, FORMER UNITED STATES ATTORNEY: You know, Joy, his lawyer was very quick to step in on that call and to caution the reporter that Giuliani was just joking, but this really does come off as more of an implied threat than an actual joke. Maybe he didn`t mean it that way but certainly, as you point out, Giuliani has to be one of the biggest threats to this President.

As long as the President keeps Giuliani close, he`s safe. But if Giuliani for whatever reason feels threatened, decides to cooperate with investigators and tell them about his conversations with the President, their goals in Ukraine, he could be the ultimate and direct evidence. We started this hour by saying that Congressmen on the Republican side of the House were complaining about the lack of direct testimony that Democrats were bringing--

REID: Right, yes.

VANCE: Giuliani would be the ultimate direct witness.

REID: He certainly would. Joyce Vance, thank you for joining us tonight and that is tonight`s Last Word. I`m Joy Reid. The 11th Hour with Brian Williams starts now.