LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Rachel.
I think you should quiz all the candidates about transcript entries in the hearings of the depositions, because -- so here you are, you`re in Atlanta, you`re memorizing everything every Democratic candidate has said about every thing and issue, right, for Wednesday night?
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Uh-huh.
O`DONNELL: And you get hit about -- a little bit -- around 8:00 with 403 pages of deposition transcript. I don`t -- easy week, Rachel, right? Nice easy week.
MADDOW: And the Paul Erickson plea stuff all came in today, and there`s the Roger Stone stuff to digest, and there`s the stuff that came in over the weekend, right? We got the Williams and Morrison stuff over the weekend, plus we got new public witnesses. I mean, it`s just -- this is drink from a fire hose time in American news, and it`s our jobs to do it, and it`s fine.
O`DONNELL: And we have cardiologists on TV wondering why we haven`t seen the president since Saturday afternoon. But this is where we are.
Rachel, go back to your homework, get some rest. We`re going to be watching Wednesday night, and, of course, we`ll be watching you tomorrow night, too.
MADDOW: Thanks, dear.
O`DONNELL: Thank you, Rachel.
I remember it vividly. I`ve never seen anything like this. That`s what David Holmes said under oath on page 54 of his deposition transcript released tonight as the breaking news story of the night. It is about the incident that made David Holmes an important witness in the impeachment investigation of Donald Trump.
David Holmes is an important witness who we did not even know existed at this time last week. The first public reference made to David Holmes was in Wednesday`s hearing when Ambassador William Taylor shocked the hearing room and millions of viewers when he described a phone call from a restaurant in Ukraine to president Trump that David Holmes had overheard.
But Ambassador Taylor did not reveal then David Holmes` name. He simply said it was a member of his staff who overheard the call. Two days after Ambassador Taylor`s testimony, David Holmes was describing that phone call under oath in a closed door deposition on Friday.
And on Friday night, that became our breaking news, because we were able to report David Holmes` version of the phone call from his written opening statement, which NBC News had obtained on Friday.
And now, tonight, we have the full transcript. The now famous phone call was made on a cell phone at a restaurant in Kiev by the Trump ambassador to the European Union, Gordon Sondland, after Ambassador Sondland met with Ukraine`s President Zelensky. Chairman Adam Schiff took David Holmes through that phone call step by step.
The chairman: Now, you said the president`s voice was loud and recognizable, and Ambassador Sondland held the phone away from his head, is that right? Mr. Holmes: Yes, sir. He was sort of waiting for him to come on, and when he came on, he sort of winced and went like that the first couple exchanges. He sort of winced.
The chairman: He moved his way from the phone? Winced and then moved the phone away from his ear, because the volume was loud.
The Chairman: And you heard Ambassador Sondland greet the president and say he was calling from Kyiv, and then you could hear President Trump wanting to clarify the Ambassador Sondland was, in fact, in Ukraine? Mr. Holmes: Yes. Yes. You mean Ukraine? Yes, Ukraine.
The chairman: And then you said President Zelensky on Ambassador Sondland went on to say that President Zelensky loves your ass, meaning that he loves the president? Mr. Holmes: Yes, sir.
Mr. Chairman: And Sondland replied, he`s going to do it? Mr. Holmes: Yes. He said, oh, yes, he`s going to do it. The Chairman: And then he went on to say, President Zelensky will do anything you ask him to? Mr. Holmes: Yes.
The chairman: And those were the words you heard to the best of your recollection? Mr. Holmes: Yes.
The Chairman: And, you know, I think you said you have quite a clear recollection of that. It left an impression on you, did it? Mr. Holmes: This was an extremely distinctive experience in my Foreign Service career. I`ve never seen anything like this, someone calling the president from a mobile phone at a restaurant, and then having a conversation of this level of candor, colorful language. There`s just so much about the call that was so remarkable that I remember it vividly.
David Holmes will be testifying to all of this in a public hearing on Thursday morning, in a weekend which the House Intelligence Committee will hear from nine witnesses and morning and afternoon hearings. Gordon Sondland will testify the day before David Holmes, on Wednesday morning.
Leading off our discussion tonight is Democratic Congressman Denny Heck of Washington. He is a member of Intelligence House Committee. He attended David Holmes` under oath deposition.
Also joining us, Jonathan Alter, columnist for "The Daily Beast" and an MSNBC political analyst covering his third -- covering his second impeachment. He was a younger man for that first one in the 1970s.
JONATHAN ALTER, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: That is correct.
O`DONNELL: And Norm Ornstein, congressional historian and resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute is with us. And Norm has watched all three of these impeachments that we`ve had from Nixon forward.
Congressman Heck, let me ask you about this deposition we`re getting. It was dramatic enough on Friday night when we read the opening statement in which he describes this phone call so clearly. But seeing the testimony that Chairman Schiff took him through and hearing his explanation of why he remembers it so vividly is all the more powerful.
And I couldn`t find in the transcript, and correct me if I`m wrong, I could not find any Republican members in any way shaking David Holmes on anything about that phone call.
REP. DENNY HECK (D-WA): Not for one nanosecond, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: And what do you make of David Holmes` general credibility about the range of his testimony?
HECK: I thought he was an excellent witness. Frankly, his revelation was jaw-dropping, namely that the president said words to the effect: so there is going to be an investigation.
But there were a couple other things there that were pretty stunning, too, as we`ve talked about some, the fact we were having a conversation between Ambassador Sondland and President Trump on a terrace of a restaurant out in the open in Kyiv, Ukraine, with no doubt Russian giants everywhere.
But what I think was -- is offensive as anything was the callous disregard in which Mr. Holmes represented Ambassador Sondland`s characterization of President Trump`s regard for the Ukraine. He said he didn`t give an "expletive deleted" about it, that he cared about the big stuff. And Mr. Holmes said, well, there is big stuff going on in Ukraine, like a war with Russia. And Ambassador Sondland said, no, big stuff like getting his investigations in effect.
He didn`t care, he doesn`t care about Ukraine, a strategic ally, this vulnerable ally that is struggling to get on his feet as a thriving democracy and push back on maligning intent and Russian aggression.
O`DONNELL: Well, it is -- it`s certainly -- it`s a fair impression to have to watch Donald Trump from a distance to just assert that he doesn`t care about Ukraine or he doesn`t care about a whole host of things that we all seem to think he doesn`t care about. It`s something else that I imagine, Congressman, to actually hear from someone who is quoting someone, who was just on the phone with Donald Trump, who is saying, no, he doesn`t give a crap about Ukraine.
HECK: Not his exact words, as you well know, Lawrence. You could have heard a pin drop during the deposition during that passage.
O`DONNELL: I`m going to read that passage now for our audience as it emerges in the actual deposition testimony and the questioning with the chairman. On Friday night, we had a version of this from the opening statement but there`s more here.
The Chairman: Now, what led you to believe that the president didn`t give a crap -- and I`m cleaning that up -- a crap about Ukraine? That`s an interesting way to start a question asking for feedback. Mr. Holmes: Yes, I`m not proud of my language, but the informal tone of the language I had heard him, meaning, Gordon Sondland, using in his call to the president, we were just sort of, you know, two guys over lunch talking about stuff, and it seemed to me that was the kind of language that he used, so I was -- I - - at that point, believed that it had been very difficult for us to get the president interested in what we were trying to do in Ukraine. Those are the words I chose.
Meaning that David Holmes asked Gordon Sondland that question, does he give a crap. The chairman, and Sondland -- the Chairman: And Sondland agreed with you that the president did not give a crap about Ukraine, so his answer was to you, the president doesn`t give a crap about Ukraine. Mr. Holmes: My recollection, he said, nope, not at all, doesn`t give a crap about Ukraine. He said he only cares about big things.
The chairman: Big things or big stuff? Mr. Holmes: Big stuff, big things. Big.
The chairman: And you noted things were going on in Ukraine like in Russia? Mr. Holmes: Yes. The Chairman: And what did Ambassador Sondland say in reply? Mr. Homes, he said, no, big stuff that matters to him, like this Biden investigation that Giuliani is pushing.
The Chairman: So, Ambassador Sondland conveyed that the big stuff the president cared about was stuff that benefited the president, like the investigation into the Bidens? Mr. Holmes: That was my understanding, yes.
Norm Ornstein, that is under oath testimony by someone who was speaking to someone who just hung up the phone from the president of the United States.
NORM ORNSTEIN, CONGRESSIONAL HISTORIAN: Lawrence, with this and some of the other depositions that we`ve heard, there are more smoking guns here than there are at Wayne LaPierre`s shooting range.
You know, if we put this into a larger context, we know that there was a complete orchestrated smear campaign to get Ambassador Yovanovitch out of there because she was fighting corruption in Ukraine. We know that as soon as she left, the so-called three amigos, Sondland, Ambassador Volker and Rick Perry, stepped in to say they were in charge of the policy and that Rudy Giuliani, who had helped the smear campaign, was deeply involved, and we know that there was enormous pressure put on President Zelensky, including two things he wanted, a meeting with the president to reaffirm America`s commitment to Ukraine and the aid package.
And that it was held up and it was held up despite the fact that every agency in the executive branch except for Mick Mulvaney and OMB wanted it released. This is so corrupt and so bad for America`s national interest that it`s just breathtaking.
O`DONNELL: And I want to read one more passage from the testimony, and this is about the security of this phone call which I think, Congressman Heck, I`m sure, had shocked you to know this was an ambassador making a cell phone call from anywhere, but from Ukraine, of all places. Let me just read how the details of that unfolded in the testimony.
The Chairman: Did that cause you any concern about the security of that phone call? Mr. Holmes: It was surprising to me that he -- yes, in my experience generally, phone calls with the president are very sensitive and handled accordingly.
The Chairman: And making a cell phone call from Ukraine? Is there a risk of Russians listening in? Mr. Holmes: I believe at least two of the three, if not all three, of the mobile networks are owned by Russian companies or have significant stakes in those. We generally assume that mobile communications in Ukraine are being monitored. The chairman:
And, in fact, Ambassador Nuland`s communications at one point had been monitored and released for political effect. Mr. Holmes: Yes, sir. The Chairman: So there was not only the concern with the ownership of the telecommunications companies but past practice? Mr. Holmes: Yes, sir.
Congressman Heck, at that point when you were hearing about this ambassador who was just whipping out a cell phone in Ukraine, calling the president -- and there`s two ends of this. The White House lets that phone call go through. What did the Republicans have to say in that room about the security of that phone call?
HECK: OK, Lawrence, we`re not talking specifically about what other Republicans said except for that which you can find in your deposition. But the fact of the matter is they have actually tortured themselves, turned themselves into a pretzel defending the president and trying to explain away in each and every regard what went on here. And it`s no different here, and it`s not going to be any different, I predict, when Mr. Holmes comes before the committee on Thursday.
But at the end of the day, facts matter, and the facts are the facts, and America is going to have an opportunity to hear them firsthand. I want to put this a little bit into context, if I May, Lawrence. We are two hearings out of seven to go.
So for those of you who are Harry Potter fans, we`re only at the end of book 2. We`ve got five books to go and everybody understands there is a lot of plot ahead. There is going to be a lot of revealing of information that bears upon this very important subject for America.
O`DONNELL: Congressman Heck, what can you tell us about what we should expect tomorrow?
HECK: Hmm, well, I think most importantly, America is going to get an opportunity to see a decorated war hero, Colonel Vindman, who, of course, is a colonel -- Lieutenant Colonel in the United States army serving in the National Security Council. He`s the individual who immediately went to the council, the National Security Council`s counsel because he was concerned about both the meetings on July 10th and the phone call on July 25th between President Trump and President Zelensky.
He is, in fact, a decorated soldier. He was awarded the Purple Heart for injuries sustained in the Iraqi war, as I recall, and I think they`re going to see the best -- the best of our country on display.
O`DONNELL: Jonathan Alter, to get to this phone call, I just want to double the line that the president of the United States ran a campaign on the security of communications, of government officials, specifically Hillary Clinton`s, in his view, lack of security and the way she handled her emails. I am one of the people who believed that at least some of the Republicans in the Senate and the House who were concerned about that were genuinely concerned about that. There is no reason to believe that any of them were concerned about that since none of them are now concerned about the security of this phone call.
ALTER: It`s just a hypocrisy fest. Remember, what was "lock her up"? What was she supposed to be locked up for?
O`DONNELL: Security of the communications.
ALTER: The server, right, that it wasn`t secure.
ALTER: That`s why all those folks at the Republican convention said she should go to jail.
O`DONNELL: Lock her up.
ALTER: Now, the level of insecurity in that server pales next to making a phone call that is being listened to by phone companies that are owned by Russians. And on top of that, you know, I think there is some question why this obsession by Trump in, quote, investigations, investigating Biden. Why is he dropping everything else, dropping his golf game to call Sondland in Kyiv?
Think back again to Hillary`s emails. That`s how he got elected. He just said emails, emails, emails. She did something sleazy. And many people were coming back, I can`t vote for her because of emails.
What he wanted to do against Biden was to say, open-ended, Ukrainian investigation of Biden`s corruption and he was going to say that until blue in the face, all the way until the 2020 election. That was his ticket to reelection.
And this is why this was so central to Donald Trump`s efforts, and everything was about smearing Biden. Because once an investigation is opened, it can stay open for at least a year, right? And he could say my opponent is under an ethical cloud. That`s what he wanted to do in this election.
O`DONNELL: Congressman Denny Heck, thank you very much for joining us on this eve of week two of the hearing schedule, very thick hearing schedule you have this week, and the committee really appreciates it.
Jonathan Alter, thank you. Norm Ornstein, thank you for starting us off.
And when we come back, the impeachment news of Donald Trump and his Republican defenders in the House got a little more complicated today, to put it mildly, when Senator Ron Johnson unwittingly revealed that he will not actually be a helpful witness for the defense of Donald J. Trump, even though he was trying to be.
O`DONNELL: Ron Johnson is sort of a Senate version of Gordon Sondland. He is a very rich man who decided to enter politics after becoming rich enough to afford it. Senator Johnson wrote a letter today to the Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee trying to help them defend the president of the United States.
Senator Johnson unwittingly exposes his own complete lack of credibility in his letter with passages like this about a meeting that he had with President Trump that included Gordon Sondland: I am aware that Sondland has testified that President Trump also directed the delegation to work with Rudy Giuliani. I have no recollection of the president saying that during the meeting. It is entirely possible he did, but because I do not work for the president, if made, that comment simply did not register with me.
That letter also contains wild flights of imagination like this: I believe that a significant number of bureaucrats and staff members within it the executive branch have never accepted President Trump as legitimate and resent his unorthodox style and his intrusion onto their turf. They react by leaking to the press and participating in the ongoing effort to sabotage his policies and if possible remove him from office. It is entirely possible that Vindman fits this profile.
Senator Johnson was referring to, of course, Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman who will testify to the impeachment inquiry tomorrow morning at 9:00 a.m.
Joining our discussion now, Evan McMullin, a former CIA operative and former independent presidential candidate. He is the co-founder of Stand Up Republic. And Norm Ornstein is back with us.
Evan McMullin, Ron Johnson just assumes there are a bunch of people inside this government who are trying to sabotage Donald Trump and specifically then, accuses from his imagination, there`s no evidence off of this, that Lieutenant Colonel Vindman is one of them.
EVAN MCMULLIN, FORMER CIA OPERATIVE: Right, well, he starts out by going through a litany of conspiracy theories we`ve all heard before. I mean, it`s everything from Hillary Clinton stuff to Chris Steele`s stuff, to the origins of the FBI investigation into the president, to deep state ideas about an effort to, quote, sabotage the president that began shortly after his election.
There`s a lot of conspiracy theories, and it`s -- I have to say, I mean, even in this day and age, it startles me a bit. It`s still strange to me to hear a senator speak that way in these conspiratorial tones. I mean, you hear it more coming from the House but to hear it from a senator, of course, Ron Johnson has done it in the past, but it`s still reading that whole 11-page letter or how long it was, I think it was startling.
But, look, he goes on -- he says that Vindman, he sort of suggests that Vindman is part of this group of people in the government who won`t accept that the president is president, and that it`s his responsibility to make foreign policy. But then he goes on to say that he acknowledges that everyone, whether in Congress or in the executive branch who worked on Ukraine policy, disagreed with the president`s approach and what he was doing with this military aid. So even he sort of undercut his own argument there as he did in other places. But it`s a wild letter for viewers to read.
O`DONNELL: Yes, and, Norm, the reason he`s writing it, of course, is he had his own meeting with President Zelensky who was there with Senator Chris Murphy, and so, he`s been involved in this, he`s been involved in discussions about Ukraine policy with Sondland and Rick Perry and others, but trying to make sense of that letter, trying to look at it as here`s how it helps Donald Trump, I couldn`t do it, I couldn`t find the passage where you say, this is what helps Donald Trump.
ORNSTEIN: You know, when you watch Ron Johnson and you read the letter and realize that he`s the chairman of the Senate Homeland Committee, you get a little chill that this is what the Senate has come to.
But, of course, this letter which is ten pages of thick, single-spaced verbiage starts with Hillary Clinton and the server, moves to the Strzok- Page and FBI-presumed infamy, and then goes on with a bunch of things that have been basically contradicted by things we saw in David Holmes` deposition and what we`re likely to see tomorrow with Colonel Vindman, and the sliming of these government officials, including the whistleblower, the claims that they`re undermining policy by going outside of official channels, when both Vindman and all the others that we`re talking about were meticulous, including the whistleblower, at following those procedures, that the president can make whatever policy he wants, even if it undermines American national security, I think by the time we get done with his testimony, Ron Johnson is going to say, you know that letter? Never mind.
And, Evan McMullin, the letter comes out on the eve of Colonel Vindman`s testimony, and the passage in there trying to take on Colonel Vindman is nothing but imagination.
MCMULLIN: Right. Well, that`s what -- I mean, you point out, Lawrence, that there is nothing in there that really helps the president. I think Ron Johnson is trying to do one thing first and foremost, and that`s help himself. I mean, it`s incredible he has pretty good recall of all these events in this story, but when it comes to his conversations with the president and Sondland about the quid pro quo issue, all of a sudden he says, I just can`t remember that stuff. It`s very strange.
But I do think there`s one thing in there that Ron Johnson is trying to do to support the president. What he`s trying to do is undermine the legitimacy of two key witnesses. Vindman is one of them, attacking him as sort of a deep state guy, I don`t think he uses that term, but suggesting that he`s refusing to acknowledge the president`s authority to conduct foreign policy, as though that`s all this is.
But the other thing is he, in sort of a weasely way suggests that maybe Sondland was freelancing. He cites a question that he received Ron Johnson from Siobhan Hughes, a reporter that suggested that maybe Sondland was freelancing. And Johnson says that he responded to her saying, well, maybe that was the case. But that suggestion, I think, is telling of what Trump and his allies may try to do to Sondland, blaming it on him and moving as far away as they can.
O`DONNELL: I just want to note for the audience that when I worked in the senate, I`ve been in many meetings with the president, with senators. I`ve heard from senators who had meetings with presidents, more than one president. They remember every word that get said by the president in those kinds of discussions. In fact, the senator that I used to work for, Senator Moynihan, would immediately go back to his typewriter and type a memo of exactly what he said, what the president said.
And so, the idea that when it comes down to it in this letter, that Senator Johnson, in trying to defend President Trump, cannot even remember what president Trump said to him on the crucial points, is very hard to believe, to put it mildly.
Sorry for that little speech, Norm Ornstein. I just need to squeeze that in, as a viewer guidance.
Norm Ornstein, Evan McMullin, thank you both for joining us tonight. I really appreciate it.
MCMULLIN: Thanks, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: And when come back, once again, President Trump begs, and I mean begs, for a big win in a Republican state and once again the Republican campaigned for loses this time in Louisiana. But this time, Donald Trump actually did something after that loss that we`ve never seen him do before.
O`DONNELL: When President Trump was mysteriously rushed to Walter Reed Military Hospital on Saturday afternoon, Louisiana was voting for their next governor. Donald Trump went to Louisiana three times in the last month to campaign for the Republican candidate for Governor, and in his final argument to Louisiana voters, Donald Trump was reduced to begging.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: In Kentucky, we elected everybody. And the headlines the next day, Trump took a loss. I lift him up a lot. So Trump took a loss, so you got to give me a big win, please. OK? OK?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Louisiana did not give him a big win. When the votes were counted on Saturday night, Louisiana voted to reelect their Democratic Governor, John Bel Edwards.
We had no idea Saturday night whether Donald Trump even knew this, whether he knew he suffered another election defeat, another governor`s election in another otherwise Republican state. And we have no idea whether he knew it the next day because Donald Trump has been seen by no one since he was taken to the hospital for a few hours on Saturday.
The White House Press Secretary, who has never held a White House press briefing and has been caught not telling the truth about many things, says the President is just fine. And today, although the President remained invisible, he did make a proof-of-life phone call to Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards and uncharacteristically offered his congratulations to the latest Democrat to run against Trump-ism and win.
Joining our discussion now is Jim Messina, CEO of Messina Group. He was the Deputy Chief of Staff for President Obama from 2009 to 2011 and Campaign Manager for President Obama`s reelection campaign in 2012.
Jim, thank you very much for joining us tonight. Really eager since Saturday night to get your read of what happened in Louisiana for Donald Trump on Saturday.
JIM MESSINA, FORMER WHITE HOUSE DEPUTY CHIEF OF STAFF 2009-2011 & CEO, THE MESSINA GROUP: Well, a couple of really interesting things. First of all, Democratic turnout was through the roof in New Orleans of 29 percent over the primary. And second, in the two Congressional districts that Donald Trump visited, the Democrats actually did better from the primary to the general.
Governor Edwards did better in those two places that Donald Trump visited, meaning a couple things, Lawrence. One, Donald Trump continued to drive Democratic turnout. Two, he probably did help his candidate with her turnout. But the swing voters that are actually deciding these elections are moving away from Donald Trump in record numbers.
I mean, Louisiana is a state that Donald Trump carried by 20 points. Kentucky is a state where Democrats - where President Trump carried by almost 30 points. And yet you`re seeing big Democratic turnout and then swing voters moved to the Democrats in ways that we haven`t seen in a very long time, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: So, Jim, there`s an interesting phenomenon here in what you`re identifying with these Trump visits. And it reminds me of when I was working in the Senate for a northeastern liberal senator, he would say to other Democratic senators in more conservative states, "I`ll come and campaign for you or I`ll stay away, whichever will help you the most." Donald Trump doesn`t seem to understand that it`s possible that staying away could be the best thing he could do for a Republican candidate.
MESSINA: Because, Lawrence, it`s always about Donald Trump, right? This has never been about anyone but him, and he loves his rallies, he loves seeing his people, and he has a great time. But over and over again, he is driving independents and Democrats to the polls to send him a very loud message, and his candidates are getting slaughtered.
You remember in 2008 when the Obama campaign announced we were going to compete in Virginia, and everyone said, you can`t carry Virginia, you`ll never win. We now won it twice. You look at the turnout numbers in Virginia for Republicans, and they are the worst we have seen in a generation.
And then on the other side, Democratic turnout is huge. Young voters, 18 to 29, turnout in Virginia in the most recent election was up 300 percent. And it`s not all because we have amazing Democratic candidates. It is in part because the country wants to get rid of Donald Trump, and they`re sending that message over and over again in local elections across this country.
O`DONNELL: Jim Messina, please stay with us across this commercial break because we`ve just been handed a statement - a new statement from the White House from the President`s doctor. And as a White House veteran, I just want to get your interpretation of what might be going on with the President and the President`s doctor. We`ll be right back.
O`DONNELL: The White House has just released a note from the President`s doctor. And it says - from Dr. Sean Conley, and it says that the President was treated on Saturday for a routine planned interim checkup as part of the regular primary preventive care he receives throughout the year.
He - and after apparently watching CNN Tonight where they had Dr. David Scheiner on, who was Barack Obama`s physician in Chicago before Barack Obama became President, David Scheiner referred to the possibility that the President had a cardiac issue or even a neurological issue. This is a direct response to that.
This letter says - this note says, "The President has not had any chest pain nor was he evaluated or treated for any urgent or acute issues. Specifically, he did not undergo any specialized cardiac or neurologic evaluations."
Jim Messina is back with us. He is a Former Deputy Chief of Staff in the Obama White House.
Jim, you know how presidents deal with doctors and deal with physical exams. How does this all read to you?
MESSINA: Not great, Lawrence. One of the reasons why I love your show is you`re very careful about words. And if you look at the statement, they said, "routine planned visit," and then one sentence later, said, because of scheduling irregularities, we did this; we wanted it all to be off the record. You can`t have both of those things be true.
And if it was a routine planned thing, you`d never do it at Walter Reed. You would have done all that stuff at the White House facilities, which are state-of-the-art and amazing. If it was routine stuff, you never would have taken him out. And if you were going to take him for a routine visit to Walter Reed, you would have announced it, you would have had a bunch of - you would have had a photo op with the troops, you would have done a bunch of things that are regular to do.
The second problem, Lawrence, is this is the problem when you have a White House that lies about everything, as you can`t believe about anything. I mean, as you know, during the campaign, they trotted out his personal doctor to issue a statement, which we later know was written by Trump himself and was completely garbage. And then we had the famous Ronny Jackson press conferencing he was the healthiest President of all time, when clearly that`s true.
So you just have an absolute sense that all of this is lying. And when you trot out a 10 p.m. memo from a doctor, you know that they`re likely worried about something. And the problem is the truth is probably that there is something nefarious going on.
O`DONNELL: And Jim, quickly before you go, this is the additional element of "we have not seen the President." And when this kind of controversy erupts, one of the very first things I would think you would do is say, let`s get the President on camera. Let`s show him - let`s show that he is doing just fine. And that`s something - Donald Trump inviting in the cameras is something they do all the time, but not since he`s gone to the hospital.
MESSINA: Yes, it`s his favorite thing in the world. Him being on TV is what he loves more than breathing. So the easiest thing would be to trot him out at the White House and do a quick photo op. Anything would be easy. And why didn`t they do that?
And when you start having unnamed doctors trying to cover something up, you start to wonder what`s going on in the White House, again.
O`DONNELL: Jim Messina, thank you very much for joining us with your expert opinion on this and other matters. Appreciate it.
And when we come back, Donald Trump could be facing punishment for apparently lying to special prosecutor Robert Mueller. That may become an article of impeachment.
O`DONNELL: The House of Representatives is investigating whether President Trump lied in his sworn written testimony to Robert Mueller`s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. That was revealed today in a Federal Appeals Court hearing.
The House General Counsel argued impeachment investigators need to get access to the Special Counsel`s secret grand jury evidence to determine whether President Trump committed perjury in his written responses to Robert Mueller`s questions.
Evidence revealed last week in the trial of Donald Trump`s longest-serving adviser Roger Stone contradicts the President`s response to Robert Mueller that, quote, "I do not recall discussing WikiLeaks with Stone, nor do I recall being aware of Mr. Stone having discussed WikiLeaks with individuals associated with my campaign."
Rick Gates testified at the Roger Stone hearing - Roger Stone trial that he heard Donald Trump on the phone with Roger Stone discussing WikiLeaks. Before submitting his written testimony, President Trump insisted that he wrote all those answers himself.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: My lawyers are working on that. I`m working on that. I write the answers. My lawyers don`t write answers. I write answers. I was asked a series of questions. I`ve answered them very easily. The questions were very routinely answered by me. By me. OK?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Joining us now, former federal prosecutor and MSNBC Legal Analyst, Glenn Kirschner, who was at the Roger Stone trial last week.
Glenn, what do you make of the President`s conflict with the testimony at the Roger Stone trial?
GLENN KIRSCHNER, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR & MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST: Lawrence, as I watched the testimony unfold in the Stone trial, it became pretty obvious that the President`s answer in his written questions to Bob Mueller, at least with respect to his conversations with Roger Stone, were just flat-out false.
Now, what are the implications of that? Well, we all know that it`s not likely the President could be charged with perjury for, really, a few reasons. One, perjury is difficult to prove in a court of law. Not impossible, but challenging. Two, there is that ill-advised Office of Legal Counsel memo saying you can`t indict a criminal President. And then, three, even if you could overcome both of those hurdles, we`ve got Bill Barr.
And the last thing Bill Barr is going to do is support a criminal charge against anybody if it might work to the detriment of the President. But that kind of lie that has now been exposed through the testimony of Rick Gates who said, under oath, at trial, subject to cross examination, I was there when the President spoke with - or then candidate spoke with Roger Stone. And after the conversation, Donald Trump turned to me and said, hey, good news. More WikiLeaks dumps are coming.
So, for the president to maintain that "I have no recollection of that" is just not credible. What that is now tailor-made for, Lawrence, is to become an article of impeachment, and I suspect, given the evidence that we`ve now learned, Congress will probably roll that into the articles of impeachment.
O`DONNELL: Glenn Kirschner, thank you very much for joining us. Appreciate it.
KIRSCHNER: Thanks, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: And when we come back, the person I have been reading and listening to about impeachment longer than anyone else will get tonight`s LAST WORD.
O`DONNELL: It is now Donald Trump versus the honest people. That`s according to esteemed Washington journalist, Elizabeth Drew. Over the next three days, nine more impeachment witnesses will testify publicly in the impeachment inquiry of Donald Trump. Many of them will be career civil servants who are testifying out of a sense of duty to the Constitution and the rule of law. These are "the honest people Donald Trump cannot fathom."
That is according to Elizabeth Drew who writes in a New York Times op-ed that these career diplomats, quote, "will endure only so much abuse or see only so much scandal around them before rising up in some way. Mr. Trump made a big mistake by demeaning civil servants from the outset and then setting about trying to make them irrelevant."
But Elizabeth Drew also argues that it would be a mistake for Democrats to focus articles of impeachment against Donald Trump narrowly on only his misconduct toward Ukraine, writing, quote, "The great danger is that the legacy of this period will be that Mr. Trump got caught doing one bad thing rather than that he abused power across the board and wantonly violated the Constitution."
I`m pleased to say we are joined now by Elizabeth Drew, a political journalist who covered the impeachments of both Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton. She is the author of "Washington Journal: Reporting Watergate and Richard Nixon`s Downfall."
Liz Drew, it`s just an honor to have you here. I began reading you on impeachment when I was in college on the Nixon impeachment, and here we are again.
To your point about the narrowness of the possible articles of impeachment, we do have this development tonight that we were just discussing that a lawyer in court today representing the House of Representatives said that they are considering a possible article of impeachment involving this possible perjury in the written answer that President Trump gave Robert Mueller about never discussing WikiLeaks with anyone.
And we just had that testimony in the Roger Stone case of, yes, he discussed WikiLeaks with Roger Stone. So that could be an expanded set of impeachment articles, if that`s added.
ELIZABETH DREW, COVERED WATERGATE SCANDAL, POLITICAL JOURNALIST & AUTHOR, WASHINGTON JOURNAL: Well, yes. And so could obstruction of his trying to keep anybody from testifying and blocking documents from being produced. But it`s still all around just the one subject, Lawrence, the one subject of Ukraine.
And there are so many other things that he did. He - abuse of power across the board, wanton neglect of Constitutional duties or restrictions. So it`s still one subject. And the problem is we`re dealing with the day-to-day history - day-to-day events of now and the politics of now. But this is going to be history. This is going to be precedent.
And so what`s going to go down is, he did this one bad thing, and those other things that you suggest are going to be separate articles or not are still only on that one subject. I think it`s too narrow.
O`DONNELL: There`s also this thing that I - that we`ve seen in both of the impeachment votes that we`ve seen. The Nixon votes in the committee, Judiciary Committee, is just as far as he got before he resigned.
And then the Clinton votes in the Senate, for example. And that is that there were some people, some Republicans especially, who voted for some articles of impeachment against Richard Nixon or voted for one, but they didn`t vote for all three. I think there was only one Republican who voted for all three. And with Bill Clinton, there were people who voted in favor of one article and against another article.
And so that`s always left the impression that just strategically you might want to lay out a menu of options so that, for example, a Republican could say, well, I voted against two articles of impeachment against the President, but this one I just couldn`t take.
DREW: That could be - I`m not sure that would work now. We had a different Republican Party, especially during the Nixon period. Do you remember Republican moderates, Lawrence? Or you`re old enough to know about moderate Republicans.
And in that Judiciary Committee, it was a strategy from the outset that it had to be bipartisan or the country would never accept it. That`s a big difference from now. But there are moderate Republicans who were ready to vote independently of the President.
Now, you have such loyalty and such fear of both the President and his tweets and of his base that I`m not sure that people would - that isn`t my reason for wanting it to be - for thinking it should be broader. I think that there`s a sort of dumbing down of the public and thinking, well, this is the only thing they can understand. I don`t think that`s true.
I think that - for example, I wouldn`t do it - I wouldn`t have 10 articles. Maybe three or four. But they could understand the President and his family kind of looting the federal government to their own enrichment, him in particular. That`s easy to understand. And there are lots of examples of it. So I just think it should be - there should be a broader picture of the abuse of power that characterizes this Presidency.
O`DONNELL: Liz, I want to get a final word from you tonight about these people who you wrote about in "The New York Times," these people who Donald Trump thinks of negatively as bureaucrats. Basically - he thinks of them of rising up against him when in fact they`re simply coming forward to testify under oath and tell the truth as they know it.
DREW: Well, they didn`t have to come and testify. That`s really the point. In fact, they were told not to. So they`ve showed a lot of courage. And these are people that the general public has never heard of, never would have heard of.
And Donald Trump can`t begin to fathom these people because, among other things, they don`t care how much money they make. They could go in the private sector and do much better, but they want to serve the government. And that`s (inaudible) probably he can`t understand them.
O`DONNELL: If you`re not reading Elizabeth Drew about impeachment, you`re not understanding it as well as you can. Elizabeth Drew gets tonight`s LAST WORD.
An honor to have you with us tonight, Liz. Thank you very much for joining us.
DREW: Thank you, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: That is tonight`s LAST WORD.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END