RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: How was your day? It`s going to do it for us tonight. We will see you again on Monday when I`m sure I`ll be just as overwhelmed. But now it`s time for the "Last Word" with Lawrence O`Donnell. Good evening, Lawrence.
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Rachel. And don`t worry about Monday. Roger Stone cannot be found guilty again. And did you ever imagine that on the day Roger Stone`s verdict would come in and it would come in guilty on all counts. That it would be in my hour, anyway, literally the last story I`m going to be able to get to?
MADDOW: Exactly. You have to like squeeze it in among everything else that not only happened over the course of today but that`s been happening over the course of tonight. I mean, it`s Friday night. We`re used to it being busy but this is crazy.
O`DONNELL: Yes. And we have a two way tie, at least a two way tie for the most important story of the night. On the day when the president tweeted his way into his own impeachment hearing with a tweet that some are saying might be criminal and might be worthy of its own article of impeachment.
We have Harvard law professor Lawrence Tribe here to talk about that one. We also have Congressman Eric Swalwell racing towards us because we just got word that that deposition, that closed door deposition of David Holmes just ended. Ended like a minute, one minute ago.
O`DONNELL: And congressman Swalwell has been in it all the way. And that of course has just taken over the number one position of the way we will begin tonight with these new details about this phone call, cellphone call from a restaurant in Ukraine overheard by David Holmes and who knows who else.
MADDOW: Yes. And, I mean, I`m very excited to hear what Congressman Swalwell is able to tell you about the deposition. Having access to the opening statement from that witness, I mean, that witness is able to give us jaw dropping detail about that call which, again, puts the president right personally at the center of this scandal.
But in addition to that, the witness is giving us corroborating information and testimony about other elements of this scandal in terms of what he was able to see from the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine, of course a key position.
And he was there after Marie Yovanovitch had left. A lot of the Republican criticism today was, hey, you weren`t there when the worst of all of these things happened. Well, Holmes today, coming forward. He was there for all of it. And so it`s further corroboration and it`s a new important witness who we didn`t even know the name of until yesterday.
O`DONNELL: And I have to say, when the news of this call emerged, and it first emerged in Ambassador Taylor`s testimony when he made reference to it. No name, just a staff member -- well, now we know who that is -- overheard this phone call.
Before we even get to the content of it, I was just so stunned at the imagery of Gordon Sondland sitting there in a restaurant in Kiev calling the president of the United States on a cellphone. The unsecure nature of that call is just so wild.
And we`ve since had John Brennen on and others on saying yes, of course, the Russians were listening to that call. Of course the Ukrainians were able to listen to that call. Of course that call in that atmosphere was picked up and probably recorded by other intelligence services.
MADDOW: And at that time in July, right, the fact that the U.S. was putting this kind of pressure on Ukraine, putting aid at risk and other things, was not public knowledge at all, right. That hadn`t been publicly reported. It wasn`t being publicly discussed at all.
We`ve had all of this expert testimony over the past couple of weeks about how it`s so important to Ukraine`s national security and their ability to negotiate with Russia with whom they`re in a war with that people not know that any of that aid was at risk. That people not know there was any rift at all between them and us, their most important ally.
And there`s the whole world listening in on that phone call knowing that President Trump is calling his guy in Ukraine being like, oh yes, Ukraine you just talked to the president, am I getting my investigations? Am I getting my investigations?
I mean, to the extent that he was broadcasting that by having it on an unsecured cellphone line that means that the whole world, including Russia, knew exactly what kind of pressure, improper pressure Trump was putting on that country and that alliance, which means that phone call alone hurt Ukraine in their war against Russia.
And these guys obviously don`t care about that. But America will have to pay for that in terms of our reputation and our credibility as an ally for the long as the rest of us live.
O`DONNELL: And this is one of those weeks, nights when I just can`t get the chant of the Trump presidential campaign out of my head. This idea that the former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton should be locked up, lock her up because of questionable security practices involving her e-mail communication, which turned out to not end up being certainly a legal problem at all.
But an entire presidential campaign based on how dare you not use the absolute, most secure, high level forms of secure communication when we know that Jared Kushner, Ivanka Trump and many others in the Trump administration have been using private e-mail.
When we know they`ve been doing exactly what they were accusing Hillary Clinton of doing but much, much worse. And the Gordon Sondland phone call is as bad as that gets.
MADDOW: Yes, a sensitive national security matter that matters most of us all to the country where the call was being placed and the country most likely to be listening in on that unsecured call.
The president personally on that call, not only talking about a crime that he`s committing, but also endangering the national security of that ally, all at once. But, you know, there`s Roger Stone with his lock her up t- shirt that will be the totem for today`s news forever.
O`DONNELL: Okay, here`s what we know we don`t have on Monday. We know we don`t have a jury verdict coming in on Monday. We know we don`t have a public hearing. But President Trump will be allowed to tweet on Monday. Who knows? Who knows what happens Monday.
MADDOW: I`m compartmentalizing and refusing to think about that. Thank you Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: Okay. Thank you very much Rachel. See you Monday. Well, the breaking news of the night is that closed door deposition of David Holmes that started this afternoon, just ended about six hours after it started, going late into the night tonight.
One of the members of Congress who was in that deposition will join us as soon as he can get to us. David Holmes` opening statement has been obtained by NBC News and it has rocked Washington as much as any of the testimony already made public. And it will have a profound effect on next week`s hearings in the impeachment inquiry.
One of the striking things revealed in David Holmes` opening statement is that his testimony was actually provoked, very specifically provoked by some of the things that Republicans have been saying in the public hearings this week.
David Holmes had no intention of testifying to the impeachment inquiry until he saw that Republicans kept complaining about what they called hearsay. And David Holmes realized that he had relevant testimony that was not hearsay.
And so he testified this afternoon in a closed door under oath deposition after former Ukraine ambassador Marie Yovanovitch testified in a dramatic public hearing this morning. David Holmes is a member of the senior staff of the American ambassador to Ukraine stationed at the U.S. embassy in Kiev. In a copy of David Holmes` opening statement obtained by NBC News, he explained exactly why he came forward.
"As the current impeachment inquiry has progressed, I have followed press reports and reviewed the statements of Ambassador Taylor and Ambassador Yovanovitch. Based on my experience in Ukraine, my recollection is generally consistent with their testimony and I believe that the relevant facts were therefore being laid out for the American people.
However, in the last week or so I read press reports expressing for the first time that certain senior officials may have been acting without the president`s knowledge in their dealings with Ukraine. At the same time, I also read reports noting the lack of first-hand evidence in the investigation and suggesting that the only evidence being elicited at the hearings was hearsay.
I came to realize I had first-hand knowledge regarding certain events on July 26th that had not otherwise been reported and that those officials were using the levers of our diplomatic power to induce the new Ukrainian president to announce the opening of a particular criminal investigation.
It is at that point that I made the observation to Ambassador Taylor that the incident I had witnessed had acquired greater significance, which is what he reported in his testimony earlier this week."
The evidence that David Holmes presented that is not hearsay is a telephone call made by Donald Trump`s ambassador to the European Union, Gordon Sondland, from a restaurant in Ukraine to the president of the United States.
Sitting at the table with Ambassador Sondland, David Holmes could easily hear what the president was saying on the other end of that call, "While Ambassador Sondland`s phone was not on speakerphone, I could hear the president`s voice through the earpiece of the phone.
The president`s voice was very loud and recognizable and Ambassador Sondland held the phone away from his ear for a period of time presumably because of the loud volume. I heard Ambassador Sondland greet the president and explain that he was calling from Kiev.
I heard President Trump then clarify that Ambassador Sondland was in Ukraine. Ambassador Sondland replied, yes, he was in Ukraine and went onto state that President Zelensky loves your ass. I then heard President Trump ask, so he`s going to do the investigation?
Ambassador Sondland replied that he`s going to do it. Adding that President Zelensky will do anything you ask him to. After the call ended, Ambassador Sondland remarked that the president was in a bad mood as Ambassador Sondland stated was often the case early in the morning.
I then took the opportunity to ask Ambassador Sondland for his candid impression of the president`s views on Ukraine. In particular, I asked Ambassador Sondland if it was true that the president did not give a crap about Ukraine.
Ambassador Sondland agreed that the president did not give a crap about Ukraine. I asked why not, and Ambassador Sondland stated that the president only cares about big stuff.
I noted that there was big stuff going on in Ukraine like a war with Russia. And Ambassador Sondland replied that he meant big stuff that benefits the president, like the Biden investigations that Mr. Giuliani was pushing."
Leading off our discussion tonight is Democratic Congressman Eric Swalwell of California. He`s a member of the House Intelligence Committee and the House Judiciary Committee. He has been in the David Holmes closed door deposition all afternoon and this evening.
And he has just left that deposition to join us. He was also -- took part in Marie Yovanovitch`s public impeachment hearing earlier today. Congressman Swalwell, thank you very much for joining us. And as I understand it, the deposition just wrapped up, has just been completed.
REP. ERIC SWALWELL (D-CA): Good evening, Lawrence. We are done with both Ambassador Yovanovitch`s testimony and the deposition with David Holmes. And of course tomorrow morning, bright and early we have one last witness for the week, an OMB employee.
O`DONNELL: We have read, as you know, his opening statement has become public. It is shocking enough just as an opening statement before you get to any questions. After this opening statement, what was developed in the six hours of testimony that followed it?
SWALWELL: Just what exactly did Mr. Holmes see, what did he hear, and what did he do. You know, it was the reason we called him in today. I will say first and foremost with gratitude to Mr. Holmes because he showed up. He came from Ukraine.
And despite Mick Mulvaney and John Bolton and Secretary Rick Perry refusing to cooperate with our investigation, Mr. Holmes continues this long line of career foreign service officers honoring the duty to cooperate with Congress.
And each time someone has done that just as Mr. Holmes did today, we have learned new information, and we learned new information today.
O`DONNELL: And in terms of the security of that phone call, that cellphone call, did you learn anymore details about exactly what kind of device that was? Was that a personal cellphone making that call all the more risky?
SWALWELL: So, Lawrence, I`m not going to go into his testimony just yet. I`ll let our chairman characterize that. But I will say I think we`re about five exits past operational security concerns as it relates to Donald Trump.
We know that Donald Trump does not really execute or carry out operational security as it relates to his cellphone. There were concerns from other witnesses about Ambassador Sondland and his own operational security.
What we are focused on, though, is whether the president leveraged taxpayer dollars for his personal benefit to have the Ukrainians investigate his opponent.
And as you heard Ambassador Taylor talk about his interaction with David Holmes, I don`t think there`s anyone in the world who has a hard time believing that Donald Trump, the day after he talked to President Zelensky, followed up with Ambassador Sondland to say, hey, are they going to follow through with these investigations?
It`s obsessive behavior by the president because he needed those investigations for his own personal political gain.
O`DONNELL: What can you tell us about David Holmes` credibility in this six hours and the Republicans` approach to David Holmes` credibility?
SWALWELL: Well, Lawrence, I can tell you just like people before him, you know, he has served all over the world. You know, he is a person of integrity. I did not, you know, judge -- I did not judge or see any reason to question you know, his truthfulness.
And again, the fact that he showed up says a lot about who he is compared to so many people who have chosen to defy us. And I don`t expect there to be any issues with his integrity or credibility.
O`DONNELL: The opening statement I think has many things that are striking, but one thing about it is it`s very clear that David Holmes is saying that he didn`t see himself as a witness in these proceedings until he heard Republicans complaining repeatedly about hearsay.
And he realized that what he has to say is not hearsay. He was a witness, physically present, listening to these words exactly as they were spoken. Was there any complaining about hearsay in this deposition today?
SWALWELL: I did not hear them say anything about that, Lawrence. However, the best evidence remains the president`s own words that the president put out. That`s an admission by the president.
The next best evidence we have from people like Ambassador Sondland who told Ambassador Taylor the president was telling him everything is on the line with the Ukrainians. Not just the White House visit but also the security assistance.
And of course as Ambassador Taylor described, you have a new witness in David Holmes who heard the president talking obsessively about the investigations with the Bidens.
And finally, Lawrence, we use hearsay all the time if we aren`t talking about hearsay to find out and take actions. By the way, a terrorist named Osama bin Laden was captured and brought to justice in Abbottabad, Pakistan based on hearsay evidence. So hearsay evidence can be quite effective.
O`DONNELL: And David Holmes was very, in his opening statement, full of praise for Ambassador Yovanovitch. What was your assessment in the end of the effect of the public hearing this morning?
SWALWELL: The American people saw a smart, dedicated, tough anti- corruption ambassador who was removed from her post not because she was not fighting corruption, but because she was fighting corruption and she was a barrier to President Trump wanting to weaponize corruption to his personal benefit.
I also believe, Lawrence, this was bigger than just Ambassador Yovanovitch, and she recognized that, that if the president can do this to her, he can do it to anyone, and that should be of great concern that a president would use his powers to act this way.
As she acknowledged, the president has every right to remove someone from office if it`s for a good reason, not if it`s for a corrupt reason.
O`DONNELL: Without necessarily specific reference to David Holmes` testimony, which I know you can`t reveal any more about, how much more trouble is Gordon Sondland in his testimony next week? He`s already changed his testimony to your committee once for fear of a possible perjury charge of testimony that he had that was in conflict with other under oath witnesses.
Now, he has a major conflict in his testimony with David Holmes. He never said a word about this cellphone call and clearly gave testimony indicating that he had no additional communication with the president that wasn`t included in his testimony.
This is very clearly in the David Holmes testimony, is a very clear contradiction of that. So, where do you see Gordon Sondland`s possible legal jeopardy at this point tonight?
SWALWELL: Gordon Sondland has the opportunity to come forward and do the right thing on Wednesday, Lawrence. I have a different view of Gordon Sondland because as a prosecutor, I presented to juries a lot of witnesses like Gordon Sondland.
People who were not necessarily forthcoming the first time they were asked to recall something that happened, but over time for a variety of reasons, usually because they want to do the right thing, evolve and give the full version of the truth.
And Mr. Sondland, I hope comes forward on Wednesday and gives us that version because this investigation, his obligation to the constitution and our country and the integrity of this process is relying on that.
O`DONNELL: Congressman Eric Swalwell, thank you very much for joining us after this very long day for you --
SWALWELL: My pleasure. Thanks Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: -- the committee`s work. I really appreciate it. Thank you. Appreciate it.
Well, here is Rudy Giuliani`s entry in David Holmes` under oath deposition testimony to the impeachment inquiry today. "At one point during a preliminary meeting of the inauguration delegation, someone wondered aloud about why Mr. Giuliani was so active in the media with respect to Ukraine. My recollection is that Ambassador Sondland stated, "Dammit, Rudy. Every time Rudy gets involved he goes and effs everything up."
Joining our special now, Glenn Kirschner, former federal prosecutor and an MSNBC legal analyst, Mieke Eoyang, a former staff member for the House Intelligence Committee, and Ambassador Wendy Sherman, former Undersecretary of State for political affairs. She is an MSNBC global affairs contributor.
And Ambassador Sherman, I want to get your reaction to this new testimony that we`re learning of tonight from David Holmes. This is a high ranking staff member in the embassy in Ukraine who`s a note taker.
He`s been in countless meetings with the president of Ukraine and the previous president of Ukraine. This is detailed man as it were, and this is his clear and precise account of the Gordon Sondland phone call. Your reaction to that.
WENDY SHERMA, MSNBC GLOBAL AFFAIRS CONTRIBUTOR: Indeed. David Holmes was the political counselor. That means he was in charge of the political section. He was the advisor about the politics of Ukraine. Not our politics, but the politics of Ukraine.
And one thing that your viewers, and I hope all the members of Congress understand, even though he did not take contemporaneous notes, the Foreign Service trains its officers particularly its political counselors to have complete recall of what goes on because they find themselves in many situations where they cannot write a memo, they cannot do contemporaneous notes.
But never in all of my life, except when I served at the State Department over 11 years did I see anything like this where these Foreign Service officers recall it all.
And I think David Holmes is to be really thanked for being a patriot like so many of his other colleagues have over the last few days and come all the way from Kiev to give this testimony, not only about this gob smacking call that happened in the open without any operational security whatsoever as you`ve already pointed out.
But really was sharing all kinds of stuff with staff without regard not only to security, but the fact he wasn`t being loyal to the president of the United States. He was just being his own guy have in his view, a ball rather than realizing that he was playing with the national security of the United States.
O`DONNELL: Mieke Eoyang, if you were still with the intelligence committee you would have been in that closed door deposition today taking notes there as a staff person. I want to get your reaction to what is very clear in David Holmes` opening statement, that the reason he came forward is what he was hearing from Republicans.
He doesn`t say Republicans, but he says all of the complaints that he was reading about hearsay testimony. And he realized that, okay, I have something to say that is not hearsay. I have something to testify about that I was present for that`s very important along with several other elements of his testimony that supports the testimony of other witnesses.
MIEKE EOYANG, FORMER STAFF MEMBER, HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: Yes, it`s really interesting because what we`ve seen throughout these open hearings are the Republicans trying particular defenses of the president of the United States, saying this is hearsay evidence, there`s a due process problem, that perhaps Sondland and Giuliani were freelancing on their own.
The problem that the House Republicans have with every single one of their defenses is they have no idea whether or not those defenses can be contradicted by fact witnesses who heard things first-hand as they saw David Holmes do today in this closed door testimony.
He has basically destroyed a number of lines of argument that the Republicans are going to use to try and defend the president because he was there and the facts just do not support what they were arguing.
O`DONNELL: Glenn Kirschner, I just want to give you kind of a wide open field for the prosecutors` view of David Holmes` testimony. The thing that occurs to me obviously is, wow, this is very sharp contradiction with Gordon Sondland and this seems to put Gordon Sondland in some real trouble, some real pressure for his testimony next week.
GLENN KIRSCHNER, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST: It sure does, Lawrence. And I have two quick observations, one on form and one on substance. When I was reading Mr. Holmes` opening statement, I noticed that he started with these words, "I did not seek this opportunity to testify."
Can I tell you in my 30 years as a prosecutor I had so many witnesses come in and say Mr. Kirschner, I don`t want to testify. And pretty much to a person when they said that, you knew they were about to blow somebody up with some truthful incriminating testimony.
So, I think it actually enhances his credibility that he didn`t seek out this opportunity to testify. Now, on substance you`ve already related some of what -- some of the information provided. But there was one additional line that caught my attention.
When Sondland told Mr. Holmes, you know what, not only is he ready to do the investigation, he will do anything that you, President Trump, ask him to do.
And you know what? I`ll bet that`s true. I`ll bet President Zelensky would do anything President Trump asked of him whether it was righteous or not because President Zelensky was trying to save the lives of his people.
He was trying to protect the sovereignty of his country against unlawful Russian aggression. And so I read this interaction and this conversation overheard between Sondland and Trump as basically arms for political dirt, deal done, bribery complete. That`s what this was.
O`DONNELL: Ambassador Sherman, I want to get your reaction to what is the last line of David Holmes` opening statement that has been obtained by NBC News. The last line is, "Ukrainians and freedom loving people everywhere are watching the example we set of democracy and the rule of law." Your reaction to that, Ambassador Sherman?
SHERMAN: Indeed, he begins that section by saying next week it`ll be six years ago since Ukrainian citizens came into Independence Square to really create the revolution that got Russia out until they took Crimea and now are on the Donbass trying a hot war with Ukraine. So, it`s very present for him that this is not only consequential to Ukraine.
But as he said, as Masha Yovanovitch said today, this is saying to people all over the world if you don`t like our ambassador, if you don`t like what they`re trying to do to bring democracy, to end corruption, to have human freedom and human dignity, all you have to do is call Rudy Giuliani, get a couple of guys like Parnas and Fruman and you can get rid of that ambassador.
It undermines our credibility. It undermines our reliability. And it says really what Russia has been trying to perpetrate all over the world, which is you can count on Russia, you can`t count on the United States because you never know what the guy with the twitter finger is going to do next.
O`DONNELL: Ambassador Wendy Sherman, Mieke Eoyang, Glenn Kirschner, thank you all for your expertise tonight. Really appreciate it.
And when we come back, we have never seen a president live tweet his own impeachment hearing until today. And in the process, the president may have added a new article of impeachment against him. Harvard Law School professor Lawrence Tribe joins us next with his reaction to the tweet that could be a crime.
O`DONNELL: President Trump actually tweeted his way into today`s impeachment inquiry hearing with former ambassador of Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch, and in the process, the President may have created another article of impeachment against the President.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): Ambassador Yovanovitch, as we sit here testifying, the President is attacking you on Twitter and I`d like to give you a chance to respond. I`ll read part of one of his tweets: "Everywhere Marie Yovanovitch went, turned bad. She started off in Somalia; how did that go?" And he goes on to say later on the tweet, "It`s a US President`s absolute right to appoint ambassadors."
MARIE YOVANOVITCH, FORMER UNITED STATES AMBASSADOR TO UKRAINE: Well, first of all, Ambassador Yovanovitch, the Senate has a chance to confirm or deny an ambassador, do they not?
YOVANOVITCH: Yes, advise and consent.
SCHIFF: The President implicitly threatened you in that call record and now the President real-time is attacking you. What effect do you think that has on other witnesses` willingness to come forward and expose wrongdoing?
YOVANOVITCH: Well, it`s very intimidating.
SCHIFF: It`s designed to intimidate, is it not?
YOVANOVITCH: I mean I can`t speak to what the President is trying to do, but I think the effect is to be intimidating.
SCHIFF: Well, I want to let you know ambassador that some of us here take witness intimidation very, very seriously.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Joining us now is Laurence Tribe; he is a Harvard law professor of constitutional law and the co-author of "To End a Presidency: The Power of Impeachment." Professor Tribe, thank you for joining us once again tonight, really appreciate it. Your reaction to what that tweet means legally?
LAURENCE TRIBE, PROFESSOR OF CONSTITUTIONAL LAW, HARVARD LAW SCHOOL: Well, it is witness intimidation, pure and simple. If it were anyone other than the President, this person would be subject to indictment and prosecution and based on the words right out of his Twitter feed, probably conviction under the United States Criminal Code Section 1512(b)(1) and 1512(b)(2). But the more important point is that this President just can`t stand not being at the center of the action, even if it is at his own expense.
Now, in the book that you showed that I wrote about impeachment, one of the predictions I made is that the way a truly guilty president reacts to being in the spotlight of the impeachment process is itself likely to make a huge difference. It`s not just what the president does at the very beginning, but it`s the way he melts down in the process of being impeached that, ultimately, will lead for the first time in American history to a president`s complete downfall. That was a prediction that I think is coming true and I think more in sadness really than in joy we`re witnessing it on live TV.
O`DONNELL: Nancy Pelosi said something today that is similar to that in that it is about the president`s very nature; let`s watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), SPEAKER OF THE UNITED STATES HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES: He made a mistake and he knows her strengths and he was trying to undermine it. The words of the President weigh a ton; they are very significant and he should not frivolously throw out insults, but that`s what he does. I think part of it is his own insecurity as an impostor; I think he knows full well that he`s in that office way over his head. And so, he has to diminish everyone else.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: And she was, of course, talking about the tweet that he sent out attacking the ambassador during her testimony. Might this become an article of impeachment? Justin Amash, who was a former Republican member of the House of Representatives had to switch to become an independent when he turned in favor of impeachment, tweeted today "Expect witness tampering to be an article of impeachment."
TRIBE: Well, it`s certainly impeachable; it`s a high crime and misdemeanor without any doubt. But I think it could easily be folded into the broader article that Chairmanship has already indicated is likely to be recommended to the Judiciary Committee and that is an article focusing on the obstruction and defiance of Congress. Now, as we saw with Masha Jovanovic and Ambassador Taylor and today in the deposition of David Holmes, that defiance of Congress doesn`t always work. But that doesn`t prevent it from being a central article of impeachment and part of that article will surely be witness intimidation of the first order.
I would rather not see an endless series of separate impeachment articles but then, in the end, that`s a judgment call that the Judiciary Committee and the entire Congress, under the guidance ultimately of Speaker Pelosi, are going to have to make.
O`DONNELL: No president under these kinds of investigations has ever made it more difficult for the House of Representatives to narrow down their article of impeachment accusations.
TRIBE: He certainly makes it hard; he makes it hard to go with the mantra that small is beautiful because, in this case, a really proliferating series of articles are possible, including emoluments, obstruction of justice, being an impostor to begin with by asking for Russia`s help to become president and then taking advantage of it, but I think that Nancy Pelosi is right that less is more in this case. We have to focus and narrow down, but ultimately it`s going to be up to Senators to ask, "Can we really go down with this ship? Are we going to stick with this kind of abuse of power, abuse of the Constitution until the very end, or do we have some ultimate degree of self-respect?" I`m beginning to think that self-respect will finally emerge from the Senate chamber, but I`ve been wrong before.
O`DONNELL: But, right more than wrong. Harvard Law Professor Lawrence Tribe, always an honor to have you with us and we really appreciate you joining us tonight. Thank you very much.
TRIBE: Good to be with you.
O`DONNELL: And when we come back, big Republican surprise in today`s impeachment hearing, their big surprise, the one they planned backfired spectacularly and proved that Donald Trump was actually lying about his first phone call with the President of Ukraine.
O`DONNELL: Today, the White House actually admitted that the White House lied about President Trump`s first phone call with the President of Ukraine. The White House released their transcript of that first phone call this morning, so that the top Republican on the Intelligence Committee, Devin Nunes, could read it in his opening remarks at this morning`s hearing with former ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch.
Devin Nunes and the Republicans seemed very proud of Donald Trump for getting through the entire short phone call without saying anything that could be interpreted as criminal or impeachable. In fact, the phone call turned out to be a very simple congratulatory phone call to then president- elect Zelensky for winning his election.
Couldn`t have been simpler; President Trump congratulated him and promised to meet with him. That was about it; it was as legal a phone call as Donald Trump has ever made. Since this was Donald Trump on the phone now, this is the way he expressed his good feelings for Ukraine.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. DEVIN NUNES (R-CA): President Trump says "When I owned Miss Universe, they always had great people. Ukraine always very well represented, was always very well represented. When you`re settled in and ready, I`d like to invite you to the White House. We`ll have a lot of things to talk about but we`re with you all the way."
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: That invitation to the White House was everything that president-elect Zelensky could have hoped for in that phone call. An actual date of the invitation would have been even better, but president-elect Zelensky was still pretty happy.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NUNES: Ukraine President Zelensky says "Thank you for the invitation. We accept the invitation and look forward to the visit. Thank you again; the whole team and I are looking forward to the visit."
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: And that was about it. That same day, April 21, the White House put out their official summary of that phone call and it was filled -- I mean filled with lies. It said President Trump underscored the unwavering support of the United States for Ukraine`s sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders and expressed his commitment to work together with president-elect Zelensky and the Ukrainian people to implement reforms that strengthen democracy, increase prosperity and root out corruption.
Not one word of that is true; not one word. President Trump had more to say about Miss Universe than he did about corruption in Ukraine. And as Gordon Sondland could tell you, Donald Trump didn`t say one word that indicated that he cared at all about Ukraine`s sovereignty and territorial integrity. So, the telephone call transcript that was the Republican`s big surprise at the hearing, at the beginning of the hearing, simply proved what anyone could have guessed which is that Donald Trump cares more about Miss Universe than he does about corruption in Ukraine. And that phone call transcript did nothing to diminish the power of Marie Yovanovitch`s testimony; that`s next.
YOVANOVITCH: Foreign and corrupt interests apparently hijacked our Ukraine policy. I remain disappointed that the department`s leadership and others have declined to acknowledge that the attacks against me and others are dangerously wrong.
O`DONNELL: Jill Wine-Banks is with us; she`s a former assistant Watergate special prosecutor and an MSNBC legal analyst; and investor Wendy Sherman is back with us. Jill Wine-Banks, in the ambassador`s testimony today, she seemed to make it very clear what the outlines of the corrupt policy was -- the corrupted policy and how that policy was, as she just said, hijacked. And I didn`t hear any Republican questioning that in any way shook any of those elements of her testimony.
JILL WINE-BANKS, FORMER ASSISTANT WATERGATE SPECIAL PROSECUTOR AND AN MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST: They landed not one single blow; they did not dare attack her credibility or her patriotism and the facts are totally against them and totally in support of everything she said, everything that Ambassador Taylor said, everything that Secretary Ken said.
It is looking really like a strong case and she did a really amazing job. I think everyone in the country who saw that and anyone who didn`t, must go on YouTube and watch it. She was really a strong and powerful witness for the government, not just for herself, but just about the State Department and all the things that they do for us as Americans. And she made it clear why Ukraine matters to our national security, why if they don`t fight Russia, we may end up having to do it. And I thought it was a really powerful moving presentation.
O`DONNELL: Republicans repeatedly made the obvious Constitutional point that the President does get to appoint ambassadors; they always leave out that it`s subject to the confirmation process in the Senate and also that the foreign policy is the President`s to make. Let`s listen to one member of Congress trying to make this point; that the policy is up to the president; let`s watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. BRAD WENSTRUP (R-OH): I just wanted to make that point that the President has a right to have their own foreign policy and to make their own decisions. And with that, I yield back.
YOVANOVITCH: Yes, if I could just supplement one of my answers--
WENSTRUP: Of course.
YOVANOVITCH: So, I want to thank you for your service as well, but what I`d like to say is while I obviously don`t dispute that the President has the right to withdraw an ambassador at any time for any reason, but what I do wonder is why it was necessary to smear my reputation?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: And Ambassador Sherman, Republicans did not answer that question.
AMBASSADOR WENDY SHERMAN, FORMER UNDERSECRETARY OF STATE FOR POLITICAL AFFAIRS: They did not answer that question and one of the most heartbreaking things today, Lawrence, is that Secretary Pompeo is nowhere in this story, except absent while on duty. He provided no support to Ambassador Yovanovitch; he offered no support to the others who have testified. It`s as if he`s trotting around the world and absent from being really the Secretary of State.
I`ve served four Secretaries of State, they all cared about the people in the building and although they were Democratic Secretaries of State, one of the most popular in history is George Shultz, a Republican, because he cared and put everyone in the building first. He really is a role model for all the Secretaries of State for whom I have served. But, what Secretary Pompeo has in mind here, maybe it`s to run in Kansas, maybe it`s to keep the loyalty of the President, but he should know by now that that loyalty only goes one way and the Foreign Service who really stand up for all of us as Jill just said have learned that Secretary Pompeo does not stand with them.
O`DONNELL: Jill, just a quick word on Adam Schiff`s chairing of the hearing. I noticed it opened with a lot of attempted chaos by the Republicans; that said to me that they were disappointed, the Republicans were disappointed with how well the previous hearings had gone and their strategy today was to disrupt. But, Adam Schiff just gaveled them down repeatedly and quickly and completely held on to control of that hearing.
WINE-BANKS: As much as Ambassador Yovanovitch has been a hero to me and most Americans today, so was Adam Schiff. He was calm, cool, collected; he controlled that entire hearing room. He did not take any guff and nonsense and jokes. This is not a joke; this is a serious hearing. And the Republicans because they don`t have any facts to argue and don`t have any procedures to argue, are just trying to be disruptive in general. And I think they`re starting to look really bad, so Schiff did a great job.
O`DONNELL: Jill Wine-Banks, Wendy Sherman, thank you both for joining us on this important Friday night, really appreciate it.
WINE-BANKS: Thank you.
SHERMAN: Thank you, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: And when we come back, we`ll discuss the guilty verdict in the Roger Stone trial today and how it might affect Gordon Sondland`s under- oath testimony in his public hearing next week.
O`DONNELL: Richard Nixon is finally going to prison on Roger Stone`s back. Roger Stone started his career as a Republican political operative 50 years ago in the era of his idol, the disgraced President Richard Nixon, who was pardoned by President Ford for all of the crimes Nixon committed while President. Roger Stone became Donald Trump`s longest-serving political adviser.
In the final prosecution of the Mueller Investigation, Roger Stone was found guilty today by a Washington DC jury on all seven counts of lying to Congress, tampering with a witness, and obstructing the House of Representatives investigation, into the Russian interference in the 2016 election.
Roger stone is now the sixth associate of President Trump to be convicted of crimes since the President took office. That is the fastest rate of criminal conviction of presidential associates in history. Who`s next? Gordon Sondland has already changed his under-oath testimony once to avoid perjury charges and today`s revelation about the details of his cell phone call from a restaurant in Ukraine to President Trump will require Gordon Sondland to change his testimony once again next week in public.
But, will that be enough for Gordon Sondland to avoid Roger Stone`s fate? Back with us, Glenn Kirschner, who has been at the courthouse every day of the Roger Stone trial and was there today when the verdict came in. Glenn, what does this verdict mean going forward for the investigation and for possible witnesses like Gordon Sondland?
GLENN KIRSCHNER, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR AND MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST: I would say, Lawrence, that Gordon Sondland better sit up and take note of what happened today to Roger Stone on the witness tampering front and, when he raises his right hand and he swears to Congress to tell the truth, he had better not play any games because when you look at what has happened today alone on the witness tampering front, you`ve got President Trump sending out that tweet, the defamatory threatening tweet to Ambassador Yovanovitch, as your previous guest Professor Laurence Tribe said, that sort of fits the bill for witness intimidation.
And then over in federal court today, you have Roger Stone being convicted of witness tampering. You have to start to wonder when applicants for jobs apply to the Trump Administration and they show their resumes, do the folks look at it and say, "Well, you know that all looks good, but how are you at tampering with witnesses?" And that`s a light hearted take on a very serious issue.
I mean when you consider the seven charges that Roger stone was convicted of today, the first six carry a maximum punishment of five years in prison; the 7th, witness tampering carries up to 20 years in prison. I think Gordon Sondland better pay attention to that.
O`DONNELL: Glenn, a word on how close this Roger Stone case got to Donald Trump; one of the things he`s convicted for was lying about a phone call that Roger Stone had with President Trump and it`s one of those phone calls -- a cell phone call during the campaign that`s overheard by someone, in this case Rick Gates.
KIRSCHNER: Yes, how close did it get? It bumped right up against Donald Trump because of that phone call, which showed according to Gates` testimony that President Trump was intimately involved in real time, a courtesy of Roger Stone with the WikiLeaks dump. So, that sure looks more like just passively receiving information, it looks like coordination and it looks a lot like a conspiracy.
O`DONNELL: Glenn Kirchner, thank you for doing double duty this weekend, covering the Roger Stone case for us all and since we`re all distracted with so much else. Really appreciate it, Glenn.