Interview with Debbie Dingell (D-MI). TRANSCRIPT: 12/13/19, The Last Word w/ Lawrence O'Donnell.

Guests: Joyce Vance, Clyde Haberman, Dave Levinthal, Debbie Dingell, KarenBass, David Corn, Maria Teresa Kumar, Norman Ornstein

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: By midnight Sunday night, the House Judiciary Committee is expected to release its full report on the impeachment of President Trump.

Now, technically that`s supposed to guide the floor vote that`s going to happen on Wednesday, but we also expect that to be a really substantive report including potentially this might be the place where the House ties the Ukraine scandal to things in the Mueller report and other patterns of the president`s behavior.

Then on Tuesday, the Rules Committee is going to establish the rules for the floor debate on impeachment. That night we also expected to see hundreds of marches and rallies and vigils all across the country in support of impeachment, Tuesday night, impeachment eve.

Because on Wednesday the full House is expected to debate and vote on whether to impeach President Trump, which would make him only the third impeached president in U.S. history.

That`s the plan. But anything could happen. That`s it for us tonight. We will see you again on Monday. Now it`s time for the "Last Word" where Ari is filling in for Lawrence tonight. Good evening, Ari.

ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST:  Good evening, Rachel. I hope you have a great well-earned weekend.

MADDOW:  Thank you very much, my friend. You too.

MELBER:  We`ll be seeing you. Good evening to you. I am Ari Melbe. I am in for Lawrence O`Donnell and I`m joining you on a night that is worth watching the news, a night that completes a day that will forever be if past precedent is any guide, written into the history books.

Rachel was just talking about it. There`s a lot of ways to put it. It would put it like this. Now, Donald Trump is on the verge of being the first elected president ever impeached in his first term.

I want to get into that with a member of Congress shortly. We`re also going to keep an eye on all of the other developments that Rachel mentioned.

Now, also ahead in the broadcast, in our coverage tonight, what is the Trump administration hiding? Well, we have a special guest who`s actually digging into that and forcing results in court. Watchdog groups which have stood (ph) the administration for Ukraine related records and documents.

They are also going to go back to court and it all relates to the Senate impeachment trial. Later, Rudy Giuliani still at it -- Donald Trump and Giuliani in the Ukraine scheme of this impeachment nest. But that`s not stopping them from coordinating on continued efforts to affect the presidential election.

But we begin tonight with House Resolution 755, a measure impeaching Donald Trump for high crimes and misdemeanors. It took less than 10 minutes for the House Judiciary Committee to make history this morning. Unlike the emotion and the chaos that you may have seen in the last two days, this vote to impeach President Trump ended on a quick and formal routine measure.

Republicans offering no`s, Democrats voting aye and they did so without noticeable joy or fanfare. Democratic Congresswoman Jayapal holding up a pocket-sized copy of the constitution while she voted. Here`s some of the historic 10 minutes.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. JERRY NADLER (D-NY):  The question now is on Article I of the resolution, impeaching President Donald J. Trump for abusing his powers. The clerk will call the roll. The clerk will report.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Mr. Chairman there are 23 ayes and 17 no`s.

NADLER:  The article is agreed to. The question now is on Article II of the resolution, impeaching President Donald J. Trump for obstructing Congress. The clerk will call the roll. Is every member of the committee who wishes to vote voted? The clerk will report.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Mr. Chairman, there are 23 ayes and 17 no`s.

NADLER:  The article is agreed to. The resolution is amended as ordered reportedly favorably to the House.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER:  And there you have it. President Trump and the company of only presidents Johnson, Nixon and Bill Clinton. As Judiciary Committee voting to impeach this 45th president on abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

As you heard the chairman say there, the vote 23 to 17 party line. All Republicans voting against, all Democrats voting for. Shortly after the vote, House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler made a brief and pretty much somber statement.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NADLER:  Today is a solemn and sad day. For the third time in a little over a century and a half, the House Judiciary Committee has voted articles of impeachment against the president for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. The House will act expeditiously. Thank you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER:  And they are acting expeditiously. Everyone is expecting another party line vote on the floor of the House of Representatives. That is next week. And then the president will have at least an asterisk on the presidency which says basically this first-term president impeached for abusing his office to pressure a foreign country to try to help him cheat in the election.

That is where we begin, leading off our discussion is Democratic Congresswoman Karen Bass of California, a member of that House Judiciary Committee. Good evening to you.

REP. KAREN BASS (D-CA):  Thank you. Good evening.

MELBER:  We saw a lot and Americans really all over the place were watching what happened in the House Judiciary hearings. The late night, the adjournment, come back. When you take it all together, what do you think people should focus on and understand just happened?

BASS:  Well, I hope that people focus on the gravity of this. I mean, this was just an incredibly important day in our history, but understanding how serious it was that the president abused the power of the office for his own personal gain.

And to make it worse, he did it in order to fix or put a weight on the next election in his favor. And if you go back and look at the history of when the Constitution was being put together, impeachment was inserted in.

This is exactly what the framers were concerned about. They were concerned about foreign intervention especially in an election and a president who would take his authority to beyond -- to an extreme and use it in an abusive manner. And that`s exactly what has happened here and why we had to resort to impeaching him.

MELBER:  What was it like other than what we saw in the room sort of going in and going out with your colleagues given all the rancor with Republicans?

BASS:  Well, I would tell you that there was no joy amongst the Democrats. There was no joy at all. I think all of us feel the weight of history, feel the seriousness of this decisions that we made.

But the other reason why it was so important for us to do this and why it was so urgent is because we also feel as though we`re watching a crime while it`s being committed. And so there was no reason in the world to think that the president was going to stop.

You know that that infamous phone call was literally the day after Mueller testified before the Judiciary Committee where clearly the president felt emboldened that he could take it a step further and interfere in the next election.

And that is just something that is unacceptable. So, if we had done nothing I think it really would have been a tragedy to our democracy and we just could not sit on your hands.

MELBER:  When you look towards the Senate trial assuming that the House does vote on this next week, what are Americans to take from it apart from the predictions or expectations about the ultimate outcome? What is the point, as you say, of catching a crime as you put it in progress? What`s the point of having a public trial and accountability for it?

BASS:  Well, as you know, the impeachment process is two-step process. So what we did was essentially indict the president, and then we hand him over to the Senate for trial. Now, here`s what I`m concerned about. The leader of the Senate has basically said he is in lock step and he is going to coordinate with the defendant.

And so if you can imagine going into a courtroom in a trial and the foreman of the jury says, well, I`m working with the person that`s, you know, being accused of the crime. And so it`s completely inappropriate. McConnell should recuse himself.

But I really think it speaks to the way that Trump`s -- the whole way he has gone about his presidency, he`s kind of infected and contaminated the culture where the Senate president could feel emboldened enough that he could say yes, I`m going to put my foot on the scale.

I mean, boldly said that he is coordinating with the White House. How can a juror coordinate with the defendant? That is corrupt.

MELBER:  You find it -- you think he infects people. Is that why you don`t hang out with him much, congresswoman?

BASS:  I don`t think we have much in common.

MELBER:  Well, as you say, there`s much to keep track of here and it`s certainly true as we`re going to be covering tonight. The Senate appears ready to dispense with traditions that it`s held for a long time, apparently bowing to Trump, at least some Republican senators. We`re going to get into that. Congresswoman Karen Bass, staying up late with us. Thank you so much.

BASS:  Thanks for having me on.

MELBER:  We turn now to David Corn, Washington bureau chief for "Mother Jones" and the author of "Russian Roulette" and Maria Teresa Kumar, president and CEO of Voto Latino, both analysts here. David, what do you think?

DAVID CORN, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, MOTHER JONES:  I think it was a historic day. As you noted, the only president who`s ever been impeached or almost impeached that will go to the House floor in his first term. And I think, you know, a lot of the screaming at least for the moment is over.

I assume there`ll be more when we get to the House floor, but having sat through those hearings for several weeks, having been in the hearing room for many of the days it was very disparaging to see Republicans just come out and flat out deny reality.

You can argue whether this was impeachable, whether it gets to the level of the ultimate political punishment, but they would just come out and say it didn`t happen, there wasn`t a quid pro quo, there was nothing wrong. He didn`t even ask Zelensky to investigate anyone or Biden.

All of those things are untrue. So now this sort of reality or distortion campaign, a disinformation campaign on the part of Republicans at least has a pause and I think the public -- I don`t think there`s going to be a lot of persuasion one way or the other.

But at least can reflect upon the fact that things have gotten to the point where the Democrats felt they had no choice. As you know, House Democratic leaders were not happy to rush into impeachment throughout this year. But they felt they had no choice on the basis of the facts and the evidence that they brought to bear on this.

MELBER:  Maria?

MARIA TERESA KUMAR, PRESIDENT AND CEO, VOTO LATINO:  I think the fact they brought this to bear was because they recognized that if they do not impeach the president, if they do not sound the alarm, our election integrity is still vulnerable to foreign interference.

And what the Democrats are trying to do is make sure that the public recognizes that this is an ongoing criminal investigation, that if the president does not feel that he is going to be repudiated, he will continue welcoming foreign interference.

What I do every day, Ari, is try and get people to register to participate and to vote. And if they feel that their vote is not being recognized and not being respected. That undermines the underpinnings of our democracy of participation.

Their choice to go forward is not small and every single person should be watching what the Republicans decide to do on the Senate side. The Republican`s job, according to the Constitution on the Senate side is to hear a trial, to be impartial and to listen to the facts. That is their job.

The fact that Mitch McConnell right now is saying that he`s going to do a dotted line of whatever the White House says, shame on him because he`s abdicating his duty, he`s abdicating what the voters are expecting of a true public servant to this country.

  MELBER:  Yes. And David, I`m curious as we watched those hearings, you know, Washington is a place where you can`t take a lot at face value. So you had a lot of Republicans in those hearings wanting the country to think that this was some sort of farce that they`re uniformly opposed to because that`s their political incentive.

And yet there may be some who privately resent that the president brought them into this mess and that they have to do this type of defense of the party. There may be some who secretly think maybe it`s good that Donald Trump is getting a hard time of it, although they can`t obviously admit that to their conservative base.

And then there`s the president and his aides themselves, David, who you know very recently were claiming and it would appear to be lying and saying that impeachment would be good. It would be good for them politically, bring it on, that sort of, you know, fake bravado.

And now you have this reporting and is backed up by Donald Trump breaking his own record of most tweets ever in a day as he lashes out angrily. I mean he`s not --

KUMAR:  You can`t make it up.

MELBER:  He`s no longer holding back and pretending he`s not angry. Let me read you from this interesting "Times" account that says, "Donald Trump is nursing this resentment over the red mark about to be tat tattooed in the history books as only the third president in American history to be impeached. No matter what some of his critics say, advisers said he genuinely does not want to be impeached, viewing it as a personal humiliation." You think?

Even in private, the article continues, "he accepts no blame, expresses no regrets, but he rails against the enemies he sees all around him. I don`t know if you finished succession, David, on HBO.

CORN: Yes. Yes.

MELBER:  No spoilers, but there is a scene where you see someone who`s a hardball person hurt by someone else`s hardball and they at least take some pride in the fact that the other person could finally stand up. And you have to wonder if deep down Donald Trump who takes no blame whatsoever is looking at his political opponents and understanding, oh, wow, they`re actually standing up to him and he says he feels humiliated.

CORN:  Listen, we`ve talked about this in the past. Donald Trump is a pathological narcissist. He does care -- in fact, the only thing he probably cares about is how he is seen, that is how he believes he is seen.

So one reason he is in this impeachment imbroglio now is because of the Russia scandal. He tried to get Zelensky not just to look at Biden but to investigate a debunked conspiracy theory that said Russia did not hack the election to help Donald Trump.

And it was Ukraine and it was all craziness. Because he knows his presidency is tainted and it has a partial degree of illegitimacy because of the Russian intervention that he refuses to acknowledge. He can`t even talk about protecting this country from another possible attack in 2020 (INAUDIBLE) anybody else (INAUDIBLE) that issue.

MELBER:  A partial degree of illegitimacy. I`ve never heard you be so restrained, David.

CORN:  It`s a historic day. I`m trying to be somber, but my point is that he does care about these things and this mark is serious. He can trivialize it as petty partisanship, but it is serious and, you know, the historic record -- the current record which will become the historical record is clear for anybody to study for what he did and what the people around him did.

And it`s rather damning already and that`s even before we find out what the SNDY (ph) in New York has on Rudy Giuliani and all those other people who were working on Trump`s behalf.

MELBER:  Yes, Maria, I wonder if you can speak to the way David brings it all together, which is that history now will have an inflection point of oh, what did people do to stand up to X, Y, Z and how did the system work and when and how was this president who did so many things that defied norms and literally has multiple advisers incarcerated right now, some for things they did for him, Michael Cohen, some for things they did for the Ukrainians and Russians while working for him, Paul Manafort, others who lied and may or may not have been for the president, it would seem today of all days as along with the House vote next week, is an inflection point where history will take stock of what exactly happen and who stood up to this president.

KUMAR:  This is a challenge, right. Our last impeachment was a tabloid impeachment. It was President Clinton being impeached for sexual relations with a consenting adult.

This is completely different. This actually has the vulnerability of the republic on its hands. And for Republicans to sit idly by and basically trying to wash their hands as Pontius Pilate pretending that it`s business as usual, that is not the case.

And when we start talking about the real Russian interference to dismantle our democracy, we should all have not only our hair on fire, but also be incredibly saddened.

When Fiona Hill spoke to Congress and she said that she was both angry and sad, I think she was talking about so many Americans right now. There cannot (INAUDIBLE) are staring in disbelief, regardless of party, to see a president and to see like a whole party not standing up for our values.

And it is the Democrats that are doing it despite not wanting to because they know that there`s an election in the horizon. They know that it seems incredibly partisan, but if they don`t do it, then they are not standing up to the rule of law as determined by the Constitution. This is not small.

MELBER:  Not small at all. Maria Teresa Kumar and David Corn, my thanks to both of you. Coming up, we have a deeper dive into what we`ve been discussing. What are the actual standards from Mitch McConnell? Is he breaching his oath of office when he says he`s going to do the defense work of this president?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MELBER:  In the impeachment trial which is expected if the House passes this impeachment of President Trump this next week, the senators serve as jurors. And they take an oath to be impartial. That`s important context for what you`re about to see. Senate Majority Mitch McConnell on Sean Hannity last night.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY):  Everything I do during this, I`m coordinating with White House counsel. There will be no difference between the president`s position and our position as to how to handle this.

There is no chance the president is going to be removed from office. My hope is that there won`t be a single Republican who votes for either of these articles of impeachment.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER:  There you have essentially the jury foreman in this very serious constitutional process announcing he`s going to have the defendant dictate the trial, and thus obviously if you control the rules you may control the verdict.

Norm Ornstein, a long time measured voice in Washington responding thus, "McConnell`s stunning and outrageous admission that he`s in the tank already for Trump on the trial rules is a flat violation of the oath he will take as a juror. If a jury foreman in a murder trial was found to have worked closely with the defense he would be prosecuted."

Strong words. McConnell though, and this is important, knows what he`s doing. In fact, he`s taken this very oath administered by the chief justice on the Senate floor to be impartial before. So he has every reason to know what he`s saying today is public announcement that guts or even violates the oath he is about to take. Here it was in the impeachment trial of Clinton.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WILLIAM REHNQUIST, CHIEF JUSTICE, UNITED STATES SUPREME COURT:  Will all senators now stand and raise your right hand. You will do impartial justice according to the Constitution and laws so help you God.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER:  Joining us now is that historian, Norman Ornstein, a contributor to the Atlantic and a resident scholar at the right leaning American Enterprise Institute, as well as Joyce Vance, former U.S. attorney and an MSNBC legal analyst. Tell me your thinking, Norm.

NORMAN ORNSTEIN, CONGRESSIONAL HISTORIAN:  You know I was gob smacked by this. Not that I expected McConnell was going to follow the facts and where they would lead, which would be to remove Donald Trump from office. This is a partisan process. It`s going to be a partisan process.

But to basically admit before you even start the trial that it`s rigged is just quite astonishing. And in a way it reminds me of Donald Trump in the campaign saying, Russia, if you`re listening get the e-mails followed by just a few weeks ago, China, if you are listening get me dirt on Biden.

It`s -- I`m going to say it right out in the open and what are you going to do about it? And I would add just one thing to this, Ari, which is I`m not sure that every Republican in the Senate is going to rejoice when they see this clip because they`re still going to have to vote on the rules, and they`re going to have to vote if there`s going to be any witnesses.

Whether if the chief justice says for example that the House managers can call in Mick Mulvaney or Rudy Giuliani, they can vote by simple majority to block that, which wouldn`t look too good for them. And you`ve got a half- dozen Republicans in the senate up in 2020 who may not want to be put in that position.

MELBER:  Joyce, I want to play something from Senator Byron Dorgen who was also around during that Clinton impeachment, talking about the different approach that even the Democratic leaders took there. They were in some touch at times obviously with the White House and their party, but they didn`t do what McConnell is doing. They had a different approach. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BYRON DORGAN (D-ND), FORMER UNITED STATES SENATOR:  We developed a template for how to go to this trial and how to conduct the trial, and we had two leaders, Senator Daschle and Senator Lott, respected each other. And they wanted to make sure this was done the right way and done in a way that was bipartisan. And that`s exactly the way it happened. Now, obviously the senate is very different place.

MELBER:  Sure. But just to hit the point, did the then Democratic leader, Senator Daschle, did he say publicly or did he privately intimate to your caucus that he was coordinating everything with the White House?

DORGAN:  No, not at all. I mean, nothing like this.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER:  Joyce? Joyce?

JOYCE VANCE, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY:  I`m sorry.  I couldn`t hear you, Ari. Say again?

MELBER:  I just called on you for your response to the whole issue the we were playing if you could hear it, Senator Dorgan`s response.

VANCE:  Yes. I did and, you know, like Norm, I was gob smacked last night when I first saw this tape. It was very difficult to process that the leader of the Senate went on national television and vowed to violate the oath of office that he was going to take when impeachment proceedings started.

And as I have watched it over and over today I`m even more disbelieving than I was the first time that I saw it. Of course, we know that`s not how the Clinton process worked. It is of course inherently a political process.

But what happened during Clinton was much more in line with our expectations. The problem going into impeachment after having McConnell take this sort of a vow is there`s no way that Trump can truly be exonerated. Even if the Senate votes to acquit him, it`s a rigged jury. It`s not an acquittal.

MELBER:  Yes. It`s such a great point because it is instructive to the fact that all of this, Norm, appears to be a blatant power play. You go on Hannity to assure everyone, don`t worry, there`s not even a pretense or a head fake at this being a real process.

Now, again, whether every Republican senator or other senators goes along is a different question, but this is the tone McConnell is setting. And I just want to read because it does matter particularly not only does it matter under the law, but people who say they are originalists or conservative about the text or they care about their duties under the Constitution.

I want to read this oath for Senate trials which says, "I solemnly swear or affirm in all things appertaining to the trial in this impeachment now pending I will do impartial justice according to the Constitution and laws, so help me God."

Norm, do you see it as important for people to actually dig into this point which is about process separate from what you think Trump did and really raise the fact that you have a senator -- one senator, maybe more appearing to be planning to stand up and swear to something they don`t believe?

ORNSTEIN:  And not just any senator, Ari. He`s the majority leader of the Senate. And when you go on Hannity`s show which is critical place for the followers of Donald Trump and in effect say I`m rigging this process and I`m going to try and make sure that every other Republican goes along, it`s putting pressure on them as well.

You know, how this plays out is going to be a curious thing, but, boy, if I were the Democrats in the Senate I would be raising holy hell every minute about this. As Joyce said, the Clinton impeachment was inherently political, but the members tried to follow the facts, they had votes and in some cases disagreed on what witnesses to call, but they set a fair process in place.

And we had Republicans who decided after hearing the facts that it didn`t rise to the level of impeachment, and Democrats who decided that it did. We`re not going to see any of that at this point, and it`s just further poisoning of a process and one that Mitch McConnell has basically blown up over the last decade or more in the Senate. There isn`t a norm remaining in the body that he hasn`t taken on.

MELBER:  Well, and you got to wonder where`s Chuck Schumer on all this. I mean, Mitch McConnell`s out doing his T.V. laps and making himself clear. Speaker Pelosi obviously got her caucus together in a process. Does Chuck Schumer get out front? Does he lead on this? Does he take on this person? And, you know, it`s not a hard argument to make.

You say would Mitch McConnell want to be judged this way by a judge, you know, if it was rigged? Would anyone trust a process like this? And if the answer`s no, then obviously they`re falling down. Norm Ornstein, thank you very much. Joyce, I`m going to come back to you. I have one other story to get to with you so hang tight.

Rudy Giuliani back at the White House today, meeting with Donald Trump as the impeachment march moved forward and promising even more on Ukraine.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): This is not just about prior conduct. It`s not just about although it would be more than enough, the President inviting Russia to interfere, then trying to coax Ukraine to interfere.

It is about what is going on today as the President and his allies continue to try to invite foreign interference in our election. It never stopped. It never will stop unless we put an end to it. And so this is a continuing risk to our democracy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: And you can apply that standard right now. What was Donald Trump doing today? Well, the answer is, meeting with his lawyer slash Ukrainian fixer who is brazenly continuing to seek this investigation or dirt on Trump`s opponents which is of course, what got Donald Trump so close to impeachment in the first place.

This morning Giuliani meeting with the President at the White House while the House Judiciary Committee approved those two articles of impeachment. Giuliani also fresh off a trip back to Ukraine where he pushed debunked conspiracy theories.

The Wall Street Journal reported when Giuliani returned to New York last Saturday the President called him as his plane was still taxiing down the runway, and Giuliani - according to Giuliani and then the question was, what did you get, Mr. Trump asked, "more than you can imagine," Mr. Giuliani replied.

The same day President Trump spoke highly about Giuliani`s efforts in Ukraine.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REPORTER: Did Rudy Giuliani tell you he was going to be in Europe this week?

DONALD J. TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, I just know he came back from someplace that he`s going to make a report, I think to the Attorney General and the Congress. He says he has a lot of good information. I have not spoken to him about that information.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: And despite being on a federal investigation of whether he failed to register as a foreign agent among other enquiries, the Journal also reports, Giuliani`s expanded his search for information about Burisma beyond Ukraine to Latvia, where the gas company had bank accounts and Cyprus, where it`s formally registered.

We turn now to someone who`s covered Rudy Giuliani closely. Clyde Haberman, long-time columnist for The New York Times. He`s got a new piece out in BuzzFeed, `Ask any New Yorker: Rudy Giuliani was always this Bad.`

Clarity an important thing in headlines. Also back with us for a federal prosecutor Joyce Vance. Before I get to New York history, I go right to you Joyce on the legality. Obviously Mr. Giuliani is unbowed by this investigation as he continues.

Do you see legal problems here?

JOYCE VANCE, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY: Yes, you know this is incredible for so many reasons. Giuliani is not a federal employee. He doesn`t operate under any of the federal ethics laws. He`s just off freelancing for the President in a foreign country, doing work that we would normally expect maybe the Justice Department to be doing or some other legitimate government agency.

So that I think is problematic. The source of Giuliani`s payment always has remained a mystery. We know from a New York Times story today, that the government didn`t disclose any sort of free legal work and yet he`s not paying Giuliani. So the question is who is.

We know that he was working with Lev Parnas who received at least $1 million payment from Russian sources so there`s a lot of murkiness there. The real question though Ari is would this Justice Department hold Giuliani accountable for wrongdoing if in fact that evidence came to light in course of their investigation.

MELBER: Yes and that is a big question. I turn now here in New York to Clyde. Nice to see you this evening.

CLYDE HABERMAN, FORMER COLUMNIST, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Nice to be here.

MELBER: I, as I watched Giuliani go back to Ukraine in Kiev, I`m reminded of another New York poet, the late great, Notorious B. I. G. You remember him?

HABERMAN: Yes. I do.

MELBER: Who said going, going back, back to Kiev, Kiev in this instance. I want to read from your article which looks at Giuliani as a New York figure. You say this is how he`s always been. The reality as clear-eyed New Yorkers can tell you. This is the same tower of truculence Giuliani has always been, a kiss-up, kick-down kind of guy fittingly described by Jimmy Breslin as "a small man in search of a balcony."

HABERMAN: Yes, well, that`s basically it. Nothing is really changed. You know, he enjoyed a good period right after the 9/11/2001 terror attack but insurance, his MO has always been to throw dirt on opponents, to cast them as morally deficient somehow if not outright corrupt and evil.

And can I say, this business where he`s saying to the President you know, we`re finding more than you can imagine, it`s very, very Trumpy and you may remember that when Trump was going after Obama and this nonsense about a Obama not having been born in the United States, he supposedly had investigators out all over the world to find Obama`s true origins and he said, you know they`re - they can`t believe what they`re finding.

A classic Trump line, can`t believe what they`re finding. Nobody sensibly believes that they found anything even if these investigations existed and so now suddenly we`re hearing almost exact same language, more than you can imagine. I don`t believe it.

And as far as you know the history, there`s some terrible things that he did to people. In that article, I recall one in particular. There was a fellow named Patrick Dorismond who was coming out of the bar in Midtown Manhattan and a team of New York City undercover cops looking to make arrests approached him and asked him if he knew where they could buy - they could buy marijuana.

I guess Dorismond may have been a bit of a hot-head. He took offense. One thing led to another, there was a scuffle, the next you know the cop had a gun out, which is undercover cops and Dorismond was lying dead on the pavement. What Rudy Giuliani did almost immediately with his then Police Commission, I would say for, ethnically - ethically suspect if not technically illegal was that Dorismond did have a juvenile delinquency record.

They open up this juvie record to show that he was not in Giuliani`s word an altar boy when in fact Dorismond had been an altar boy. In fact even attended the same Catholic school that Giuliani was in - done.

But this is the modus operandi of this guy for his entire career. It`s - it`s be smirch where you have to and just let the dirt fall where it may.

MELBER: And you think briefly that he and Trump, in your view are kindred spirit in that ugliness?

HABERMAN: Absolutely. I mean it`s - it`s - it`s always combative, it is always the world - the world`s against us, it`s taking credit for things that you never did. Again, in that article, in 1994, his first year in office, he gave a speech in Washington in which he claimed credit for having rid the city of graffiti scarred subway cars.

The last graffiti scarred cubs subway car was taken out of service nearly five full years before he even became Mayor and this goes on--

MELBER: Right, you`re talking about the combination of being fact-free, having a mean streak, abusing power and you combine that all together, working for Donald Trump and you say, it`s a dangerous brew.

Whether or not it`s going to be held accountable in the very office used to run is one of the big questions hanging over not over New York these days as you know but probably the nation. Clyde Haberman, a long time New York Times legend, nice to have here in our studio.

HABERMAN: Nice to be here. Thank you.

MELBER: Appreciate it. My thanks to Joyce Vance as well in the segment. We`re going to fit in a break but when we come back articles of impeachment drafted passed by the committee but the investigation of the President`s actions and its administration including these Ukraine issues is actually ongoing.

We have news tonight on how new evidence is just hit into the Judiciary Committee record. We`ll explain.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MELBER: Today, the Judiciary Committee formally recommended impeaching Donald Trump for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress but the investigation into the freezing of that military aid to Ukraine continues in the investigating committees as well as in and this is interesting, in the courts.

Tonight we have an update on some evidence entered into the record, last night.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The center for public integrity student federal court for documents related to the Ukraine scandal and this is what they`ve got. They won in court but what they got were heavily redacted documents. Why?

Because the President doesn`t want these documents to see the light of day. I ask for unanimous consent Chairman to enter these documents into the record.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Without objection.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: And now we`re joined by Dave Levinthal, the editor-at-large for the Center for Public Integrity which did sue the administration as mentioned. What did you get? What more do you need?

DAVE LEVINTHAL, EDITOR-AT-LARGE, THE CENTER FOR PUBLIC INTEGRITY: We didn`t get much in the sense that as you saw right there, from the clip that the documents that we did get about 146 pages worth of them were heavily redacted and many of the conversations that were happening between members of the department of defense and the White House`s office of management and budget conversations that could have been that tantamount of some very interesting stuff directly related to the Ukraine situation.

We just don`t have access to. We went back to court today, filed a motion to effectively tell the judge, hey look, we got to keep working on this and come Tuesday, we`re going to have another bite at the apple.

MELBER: Are the Democrats also using their congressional subpoenas to try to get the same stuff?

LEVINTHAL: Yes indeed. In fact, I had these documents been released without the redactions, we may have had more information than even congressional investigators have had and this really speaks to--

MELBER: And then - Yes, let me get your one other point here because folks may have heard, the White House finally put out an alternative explanation to why the money was frozen and said it wasn`t to get the Bidens. It was for legitimate foreign policy, yada yada.

It would seem that if these redactions were removed, the underlying material, if it`s valid could show whether that`s an after the fact sort of lie or whether if it were true, there was contemporaneously letters like this that supported it from the time. I mean is that part of your argument?

LEVINTHAL: Well, Donald Trump earlier this year Ari said that he is the most transparent President in the history of the United States. It seems like this would be an opportune time for him if in fact that is the case and that is true for him to compel his own administration to release this information that we`re trying to great deal of light and provide a great deal of transparency into an issue that`s at the heart of the impeachment inquiry.

And the ultimate impeachment that`s going to likely happen next week of the President. He hasn`t done that at this point and we`re going to continue to fight in court in order for the public to have the right to know what this information in fact entails.

MELBER: Dave Levinthal, thank you so much for joining. Six months ago before Donald Trump even call the President of Ukraine to ask for a favor, a member of Congress from a swing state said on the Last Word, a fight had broken out at a bagel shop over the very issue of impeaching Trump over the Mueller report.

Well, lots changed in six months. What about in Michigan, instead of Washington? I`m going to ask that lawmaker coming up. But I want to show you something else very important around here especially to Lawrence O`Donnell.

Take a look at Lawrence with a quick holiday reminder.

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Thanks Ari. With just eleven days of Christmas shopping left, we want to remind you about Kids in Need of Desks, the partnership that I created with UNICEF and MSNBC to deliver desks to schools in Malawi where the kids have never seen desks.

You can go to lastworddesks.msnbc.com and give a desk in name of anyone on your holiday gift list and UNICEF will send that person, a notification of the gift that you have given in their name.

You can choose to contribute any amount toward the purchase of the desk or to a scholarship fund for girls to attend high school in Malawi where public high school is not free. No contribution is too small. Thank you for your kindness.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MELBER: Members of Congress including those representing Trump districts will spend this weekend deciding whether they vote to impeach the President, formally. Already, several frontline freshman Democrats have announced, they are backing impeachment.

Now in June, this was months before the Ukraine scheme broke open to the public, right here in the Last Word we spoke with Michigan Congresswoman Debbie Dingell about these divided politics of impeachment, including how people felt about consequences for the Mueller probe and then she told us a story about what happened in her bagel shop.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. DEBBIE DINGELL (D-MI): I went to a bagel place with a group of men that I`ve had breakfast with for 20 years. By the time I left the bagel restaurant today, the entire bagel place had somehow become involved and either side of where they stood on people.

I had got yelled at by somebody. Other people came and defended me. Someone screamed at me about we need to impeach, somebody else started screaming and I thought what are we coming to. When you can`t go to get your bagel and not have people actually yelling at each other inside a bagel place. That`s how divided this country is.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER: I mean if you like bagels, it`s an especially disturbing story, isn`t it? Well, why are we showing you this tonight? A very good reason. When we come back Congresswoman Dingle is here and we`re going to check back in on the mood in the bagel shop.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MELBER: On Tuesday, the House will vote on the rules of debate ahead of this vote to impeach Donald Trump that could come as early as Wednesday. Where will Donald Trump be? He will be back in Michigan holding a rally that`s a state he won in 2016 by 3 percent that had previously been blue by point 0. 3 percent, I mean.

According to latest Michigan poll which was conducted last month at the height of the impeachment testimony, 55 percent of registered voters there were disapproving of the job Donald Trump was doing.

As promised we now turn back to Congresswoman Debbie Dingell, Democrat from Michigan, senior Democratic Whip and someone who knows a good bagel when she sees one. How you doing?

DINGELL: I`m doing OK. How are you doing?

MELBER: I`m all right. We showed you talking to us here on the Last Word about the impeachment fight that broke out in a bagel shop. Give us an update on that. What`s going on in Michigan? How the entire perhaps sad state of having to impeach the President, some of your colleagues have put it is how it`s playing out?

DINGELL: So this is a group of men that I had practiced with as often as I can for 20 years and a couple of more similar incidences to the ones that I described to you that June. I haven`t been able to go in because it was getting so contentious and people were screaming at each other so loudly.

And I miss them but they don`t agree with me on impeachment and you know, I live in a district, Michigan`s divided, anything could happen here in the state in next November.

The one observation I`ll make is that nobody`s afraid to tell you what they think but even today in Target, I had at least 20 people come up to me this morning to give me their opinion. Some were violently against, some were saying get rid of them and a lot of people just thanked me for my service and expressed a concern about what was happening to our country.

MELBER: First of all, not an endorsement but love Target.

DINGELL: Me too.

MELBER: Because I find they have reasonable prices, scented candles, the decor, you know, there`s a lot, you end up getting more than you thought you`re going to get when you go in there.

DINGELL: Yes, you do.

MELBER: But that`s neither here nor there is it?

DINGELL: No.

MELBER: The people coming up to you, did you find anyone who seems to have changed - genuinely changed their mind. We were preparing for the segment and looking back at your evolution and you didn`t start out demanding impeachment no matter what.

You didn`t demand in the middle of Mueller probe. In September though, you said look, the country is divided but we cannot be divided anymore on the rule of law and as elected official your oath on national security and the constitution you cite, you say given "the recent revelations you now support an impeachment inquiry."

It seems that you did something that is so rare that you said was maybe happening less - less often these days which is you didn`t oppose Donald Trump to the degree that you would just do anything to get rid of him but then you responded to new facts specifically on Ukraine.

DINGELL: So I would say that I`ve seen some people expressed concern about national security but I am concerned about - I`m more concerned now today than I was even about the division, six months ago. I still haven`t - this weekend I`m going to sit down, read the Intelligence Committee report again, read what`s come out of Judiciary and I have not told people what I`m going to do though I am deeply disturbed by what I have seen at watching the hearings and reading the report.

So you can probably guess where I`m going to go because nobody is above the rule of law and I do believe that Russia is trying to divide us. I wish more of us were talking about how people are trying to pit us against each other and how successful they are being.

And it`s not just our country. Intelligence agencies and other democracies are reporting however Russia is trying to destabilize democracies around the world and we`re just playing into those camps. So in some ways, I can`t wait for this to be over.

MELBER: Right and--

DINGELL: And we`ve got to come together and both of us, Republicans who are feeling they don`t want to touch this, Democrats, we got to find a way to come together and work on the issue like prescription drug prices.

MELBER: We`ve got - we`ve got just 30 seconds. That`s the last thing I want to ask you about jobs in Michigan and the trade deal, your view on where all that`s headed.

DINGELL: Well, I think people are waiting to see the written which I actually understand is come out. UAW is not is happy the progress is been made. I think it`s even contributing to the continued division, what`s better, what are we compromised on?

For me, I guess the last thing I`ll say tonight is compromised isn`t a dirty word if we`re making progress. I think we got to work together to remember we`re Americans as we go into 2020 and Americans first not party members.

MELBER: Very interesting and goes the point that you and others have argued about whether this Congress under Speaker Pelosi`s leadership can hold the President accountable and also do deals, it`s a big issue I know in Michigan and in a lot of parts of the country.

So we`ll be watching as you say what the deal is and how you all vote. Congresswoman DINGELL, always good to have you. Thanks for joining us this Friday night.

DINGELL: Thank you.

MELBER: Appreciate it. There is a lot happening and I want to let everyone know we`re going to have a new Impeachment Special this Sunday night. I`m anchoring at 9 P. M. Eastern on MSNBC so I hope you mark your calendars.

There`s a lot going on but by Sunday night, we`re going to have a lot to show you. Also you can always catch me Ari, weeknights, 6 P.M. Eastern on The Beat. This week I have Maya Wiley, Thomas Friedman and a very special interview with the legendary musician Yaseen Bay.

That`s later this week if you keep your eye on The Beat. Thanks as always for watching the Last Word. Lawrence will be back and don`t go anywhere because The Eleventh Hour with Brian Williams starts now.

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