LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Rachel.
And tonight, Isabel Bueso is going to join us. You`re going to want to want to see this at the end of this hour. You`ll be home in time to see this, because thanks to your reporting and reporting of others that she has been granted officially from the Trump administration the right to remain in this country for her life-saving medical treatment. So, the good news is how we`re going to end the hour tonight.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Excellent. I am very much looking forward to that. I`m so glad you`re doing it.
O`DONNELL: And, Rachel, you`re talking about the polls, the Fox poll about impeachment, couple numbers fascinating. Obviously, the 15 percent in favor of impeachment and removal of the president in the Fox poll.
And then there`s the 54 percent who were in favor of just impeachment and not removal. What`s so interesting about that is those people recognizing there is a difference, that these are two different decision levels with different thresholds of proof.
MADDOW: Uh-huh, and, in fact, in American history, there has never ever been a president who was impeached in the House and removed by the Senate. It has never happened.
And so, to know that -- people are talking about this will be a failed impeachment effort if the Senate acquits, the only thing we`ve ever had in American history is the House impeaching a president. A Senate has never removed. That people being able to make that distinction, I think the public is much more capable of divining these differences than most politicians treat them.
O`DONNELL: And the other fascinating number was that 60 percent, 60 percent who believe that it`s inappropriate to ask foreign countries for help against your political rivals. And only 24 percent think it`s appropriate. So, can the impeachment trial move that 60 percent from inappropriate to something stronger than inappropriate?
MADDOW: Yes, and the way that it gets fleshed out in the House, I had Eric Swalwell talking about the length of that debate and how long they`re going to go until they get the floor vote down. The question of how substantive that`s going to be and how compelling as a public matter, I mean, that`s potentially going to be important in terms of the way the public views this process.
If the Senate doesn`t pick up what they`re going to do, they`re part of trial part of this until January, well, that`s a ways off and things happen fast. I feel like this is a live, still-evolving issue.
O`DONNELL: By the way, Rachel, my favorite thing you just told me about, my schedule tomorrow at the end of your program, 11:00 a.m., that was my favorite that I heard you say. Rules Committee, at 11:00 a.m., finally a civilized hour.
MADDOW: I can also tape it for you if you need to go later.
O`DONNELL: Thank you, Rachel.
MADDOW: Thanks, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: Well, history has been marching steadily toward impeachment for the last 90 days, and this week it is sprinting toward impeachment with a vote tomorrow in the Rules Committee and a vote on the House floor on impeaching the president of the United States. Along this road to impeachment, we have seen many things that we`ve never seen before, including the Attorney General William Barr publicly contradicting his inspector general`s investigation of the origins of what became the Mueller investigation.
The inspector general found there was no political prejudice in the launch of that investigation, and the one person who has held the job of FBI director and the job of CIA director and who calls himself a friend of William Barr`s is now very disappointed in what he has heard from William Barr, and he has said so publicly.
Ninety-five-year-old former FBI and former CIA Director William Webster is speaking up in defense of the FBI as the president continues to attack the FBI and as the attorney general continues to publicly undermine the work of the FBI and the Justice Department prosecutors.
For analyses of all of that, as well as an evaluation of the evidence in the impeachment case against Donald Trump, we`ll be joined tonight for the first time by former federal prosecutor Andrew Weissmann, who was one of the top prosecutors hired by Robert Mueller to conduct the Mueller investigation and contribute to the Mueller report.
We are saving our good news of the night for the end of the hour as I just told Rachel when Isabel Bueso will join us to share her joy in not being deported by Donald Trump, to share her job in able allowed to stay in this country where she can continue to receive life-saving treatment and where she can continue to participate in medical studies that are saving the lives of other people with her rare disease.
Isabel Bueso got the Christmas present she`s been hoping for, the legal right to remain in the United States. You`ll be hearing from her at the end of this hour.
We are now in the sprint phase of impeachment history, just 48 hours away from President Donald Trump becoming the third president in history to be impeached. Getting to that historic vote by the House of Representatives on Wednesday is a two-step process that begins tomorrow in the House Rules Committee. Everything that goes to the House floor in the House of Representatives for a vote passes through the House Rules Committee on its way to the House floor. Each bill going to the House Floor gets its own set of rules. The Rules Committee attaches a set of rules to everything that goes to the House floor for a vote.
That set of rules establishes how long the debate will be, for one thing, one of amendments, if any, will be allowed and will be order. The Rules Committee is controlled by the Democratic majority in the House of Representatives. And so, the rules for Wednesday`s debate on two articles of impeachment will be whatever rules Committee Chairman Jim McGovern in consultation with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi decides what those rules will be.
Republicans will probably make some noise tomorrow in the Rules Committee, but the rules for the impeachment articles will pass the committee and the articles of impeachment will go to the floor of the House. Accompanying the articles of impeachment now in the House of Representatives is a 658- page report on the evidence in the impeachment inquiry written by the staff of the House Judiciary Committee and submitted by Chairman Jerrold Nadler.
The Judiciary Committee report says President Trump has realized the Framers` worst nightmare. He has abused his power in soliciting and pressuring a vulnerable foreign nation to corrupt the next United States presidential election by sabotaging a political opponent and endorsing a debunked conspiracy theory promoted by our adversary, Russia. President Trump has done all of this for his own personal gain rather than for any legitimate reason and has compromised our national security and democratic system in the process.
The report says that the president`s abuse of power is impeachable and is the kind of abuse of power the Founders anticipated in writing the presidential impeachment clause in the Constitution.
The report says: To the founding generation, abuse of power was a specific, well-defined offense. It occurs when a president exercises the powers of his office to obtain an emperor personal benefit while injuring and ignoring the national interest. The evidence shows that President Trump leveraged his office to solicit and pressure Ukraine for a personal favor.
This unquestionably constitutes an impeachable offense. This unquestionably constitutes an impeachable offense. To the founders, this kind of corruption was especially pernicious and plainly merited impeachment.
The report says that President Trump`s blocking of the duly authorized congressional subpoenas in the impeachment inquiry, quote, was categorical, indiscriminate and without precedent in American history. The report says the Judiciary Committee believe the Congress cannot wait for the next election to allow voters to render a verdict on the president`s misconduct.
The report makes the case for taking action now this way: President Trump has fallen into a pattern of behavior. This is not the first time he has solicited foreign interference in an election, been exposed, and attempted to obstruct the resulting investigation. He will almost certainly continue on this course.
Indeed, in the same week that the committee considered these articles of impeachment, the president`s private attorney was back in Ukraine to promote the same sham investigations into the president`s political rivals, and upon returning to the United States, rapidly made his way to the White House. We cannot rely on the next election as a remedy for presidential misconduct when the president is seeking to threaten the very integrity of that election. We must act immediately.
We must act immediately. And so, the Rules Committee will act tomorrow and the full house will act the next day. With the impeachment of President Trump clearly on its way to the United States Senate for trial, the Senate`s Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer proposed a set of rules for that trial, and those rules are modeled on the last impeachment in the Senate in 1999 when the trial of President Bill Clinton lasted five weeks.
Assuming President Trump is impeached this week, Senator Schumer proposes that after the Christmas break, the United States Senate begin the impeachment trial of Donald Trump in the Senate on January 7th. Senator Schumer is asking Mitch McConnell to agree that the Senate should hear testimony from four witnesses, former national security adviser John Bolton, chief -- White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, senior adviser to Mick Mulvaney, Robert Blair, and Michael Duffey, associate editor in the Office of Management and Budget.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY): To conduct a trial without relevant witnesses who haven`t been heard from, to just rehash the evidence presented in the House just doesn`t make any sense. If Leader McConnell doesn`t hold a full and fair trial, the American people will rightly ask, what are you, Leader McConnell, and what does President Trump hiding?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: This afternoon, Mitch McConnell responded, telling reporters, quote, we`ll be getting together and we`ll have more to say tomorrow. The only two Democrats who voted in October against authorizing the House impeachment inquiry announced that they will vote against impeachment, as expected. One of those, Congressman Jeff Van Drew of New Jersey, actually spent the weekend speaking to Republicans about switching parties.
That provoked members of his staff to cosign a letter of resignation, saying, quote: Sadly, Congressman Van Drew`s decision to join the ranks of the Republican Party led by Donald Trump doesn`t align with the values we brought to this job. When we joined his office as such, we can no longer in good conscience serve in the congressman`s employ.
The letter is cosigned by the newly unemployed but still principled Javier Gamboa, Edward Kaczmarksi, Justin O`Leary, Mackenzie Lucas, and Caroline Wood.
Several freshmen Democratic members in the House who won their seats last year in previously Republican districts have announced their support for impeachment.
Here`s freshman Democratic Congresswoman Elissa Slotkin making her dramatic announcement at a town hall in her congressional district in Michigan today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. ELISSA SLOTKIN (D-MI): So I will be voting "yes" on obstruction of Congress.
Now, obviously I know and I can hear that this is a very controversial decision, and I knew that. All I can ask from the people who are listening is that while we may not agree, I hope you believe me when I tell you that I made this decision out of principle and out of a duty to protect and defend the Constitution.
I feel that in my bones, and I will stick to that regardless of what it does to me politically because this is bigger than politics.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Leading off our discussion tonight, we`re lucky to have Democratic Congressman Hakeem Jeffries of New York. He is the chairman of the House Democratic Caucus and he`s member of the Judiciary Committee in the House.
Also with us, Andrew Weissmann, former FBI general counsel and former federal prosecutor. He`s now an MSNBC legal analyst.
And, Congressman Jeffries, let me begin with you.
And the five people I want to begin with are the five names of those staffers, those Democratic staffers who resigned in protest, in protest of President Trump`s policies, in protest of President Trump`s misconduct which has led to this impeachment, when their member started talking to the Republicans about switching parties. And what we see there is the principled resignation.
The reason I wanted to put their names on the screen is the principle resignation is the thing we have not seen in the Trump administration these three years, no matter how many lines Donald Trump has crossed.
REP. HAKEEM JEFFRIES (D-NY): Yes, that`s been very unfortunate what we`ve seen is that my Republican colleagues continue to put party over principle, corruption in this case over the Constitution, and demagoguery over democracy. That`s been quite unfortunate.
These five individuals have demonstrated principled public service. These are obviously individuals who agreed to staff Jeff Van Drew, who was elected as part of a historic midterm election with Democrats ascending into the majority, committed to fighting for the people torque on things like health care costs, infrastructure, increasing pay for everyday Americans dealing with gun violence and serve as a check and balance on an out-of-control administration.
Their principal has obviously decided in this case, referring to their former boss, to go in a different direction and & they made a selfless decision at a very difficult moment for our country and our democracy.
O`DONNELL: Congressman, another tough decision we`re seeing made are these freshmen Democrats who took Republican districts, who were stepping forward, telling their former Republican districts that they are voting to impeach the president. I know you`ve been very concerned over this last year, actually, including the last 90 days about how difficult this process has been for them.
What is your reaction to what you`re seeing in their decisions?
JEFFRIES: Look, the class of 2018 is an extraordinary group of Americans who stepped forward at a very vulnerable time for our democracy and decided that they were going to run for office having already done so much for the country and the national security space as veterans, as doctors, as nurses, as educators, have come to Congress to do the right thing on behalf of the people they were elected to represent.
This is a very difficult decision for any member. Impeachment is a very serious, solemn, and sober moment. But when you layer on top of that, these are members from tough districts with constituents who have sharp opinions that differ on how to most appropriately hold this president accountable, yet they`ve decided to elevate their oath of office, elevate their constitutional responsibility, be guided by their conscience, unlike many of my colleagues other side of the aisle and certainly unlike the president.
O`DONNELL: Andrew Weissmann, given the two responsibilities, the one responsibility the House has, the other the Senate has. Is it a reasonable proposition for a member of the house to say I haven`t decided on this evidence in a final judgment way, but I want to send it to the United States Senate for trial, I believe there`s enough evidence to send this to trial in the Senate?
ANDREW WEISSMAN, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST: So, that is responsible. The analogy would be taking a federal prosecutor and submitting something to a grand jury. The grand jury just decides whether there`s probable cause for a charge. You don`t have to have the grand jury find there`s proof beyond a reasonable doubt. That`s for the trial jury.
So you could imagine somebody in the House saying that. But in reality, what happens for a federal prosecutor is you would not ask a grand jury to vote an indictment unless you thought you could win because you wouldn`t want to put somebody through that. But that is a slightly different context. There you`re talking about someone`s life and liberty. You could leave it to the Senate to make a determination about what they thought about the quantum proof and whether it was appropriate to go forward.
O`DONNELL: Because there is no judicial review of the Senate`s finding in this, the question of standard of proof is in effect up to each individual senator to say here`s the standard I`m using. Some might use proof beyond a reasonable doubt, some might use more likely than not. They can pick what it is. What do you think they should use as their standard of proof?
WEISSMANN: So I agree that there`s not a lot of law in this. This is new territory. I think it`s got to be something fairly close to beyond a reasonable doubt, even though you`re not sending someone to jail like a criminal case. Here we`re not talking about Trump. We`re talking about just the president in terms of what system do we want.
I think even though there are other ramifications for the president, it does take the choice that Americans have voted for and said this is no longer going to be the case. We`re going to counter-manage what you voted for. So, that should be a very high level of proof. Whether it`s beyond the reasonable doubt or something to close to that, I don`t know the answer to that. But it should be something significantly high that this is not done cavalierly.
O`DONNELL: High so that you can explain it to voters, in fact. That`s the other standard?
WEISSMANN: Absolutely. The other is, you know, it`s not required as in a criminal case you would have to have a unanimous verdict. And here you don`t. It`s still high, but it`s not unanimous.
So that actually is in favor of a high threshold in terms of proof because you don`t have to convince all of the senators as you would if it was actually going to a jury.
O`DONNELL: Congressman Jeffries, this time Wednesday night, will the president of the United States be impeached?
JEFFRIES: It`s my expectation that there will be a majority of the House of Representatives that does conclude that the president should be impeached. The evidence is overwhelming. It`s uncontroverted that Donald Trump used a foreign government to target a citizen solely for political and personal gain at the same time withheld $390 million in military aid from a very vulnerable Ukraine without justification, and as part of that scheme, effectively solicited foreign interference in the 2020 election.
That strikes at the heart of the concern the founding fathers had, A, abuse of power, B, betrayal of the Constitution for personnel gain, and C, corrupting our free and fair elections.
The president`s misbehavior implicated the trifecta of tenures the framers of the Constitution had, and for that reason I shall he should be impeached and he will be impeached as of Wednesday.
O`DONNELL: Congressman Hakeem Jeffries, Andrew Weissmann, thank you both for starting us off tonight. Really appreciate it.
JEFFRIES: Thank you, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: And, looking back, the only person that`s been both the director of the FBI and the director of the CIA is now speaking out about Donald Trump and Attorney General William Barr, who he still calls a friend. That`s next.
O`DONNELL: The FBI and the CIA are, quote, under assault from too many people whose job it should be to protect them. Those are the words from the only person in history who has served as both the director of the FBI and the director of the CIA.
William Webster was a federal judge when President Jim Carter appointed him FBI director in 1978. He served in that role until President Ronald Reagan chose him in 1987 as the CIA director, a position that he continued to hold under President George H.W. Bush. William Webster now chairs the Homeland Security Advisory Council.
In a new opinion piece in "The New York Times", 95-year-old William Webster writes, I know firsthand the professionalism of the men and women of the FBI, the aspersions cast upon them by the president and my longtime friend, Attorney General William P. Barr, are troubling in the extreme, calling FBI professionals scum as the president did is a slur against people who risk their lives to keep us safe.
Mr. Barr`s charges of bias within the FBI made without providing any evidence and in direct dispute of the findings of the nonpartisan inspector general, risk inflicting enduring damage on this critically important institution.
This afternoon, Andrea Mitchell asked William Webster why he decided to speak out.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAM WEBSTER, FORMER DIRECTOR OF FBI AND CIA: It`s not something I want to do, but something I feel compelled to do because American people are asking now what`s happening to our government, what`s happening to the people that we trusted and need to trust, why is all this stuff going on?
And I tried to raise that question because it does affect the ability of organizations like the FBI that we love and cherish, and the CIA that`s done so much together, intelligence for us, it affects their ability to do their job and their willingness to do their job, and it shouldn`t be. It`s not American. It`s not our way of life. And it`s not the rule of law.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: You can watch more of Andrea`s interview with William Webster tomorrow at 12:00 noon on "ANDREA MITCHELL REPORTS" right here on MSNBC.
Joining our discussion now, former FBI assistant director for counterintelligence, Frank Figliuzzi. He`s an MSNBC national security analyst.
And Andrew Weissmann is back with us. He`s the former FBI general counsel, and a former federal prosecutor. He`s an MSNBC legal analyst.
Frank, your reaction to William Webster finally speaking out on this.
FRANK FIGLIUZZI, MSNBC NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Lawrence, when somebody like William Webster speaks, which he doesn`t do often anymore, America needs to listen. When someone like William Webster says this isn`t American, this isn`t the rule of law, we need to listen.
And I think if you read his op-ed in "The New York Times," you`ll see his reference to what`s coming down the road, where this could be headed.
So I want people to understand, this isn`t about a thin-skinned group of FBI folks who can`t take criticism. FBI agents bashed and beaten and shot at. They can take the criticism. What I think pops out at me out of the editorial is Webster saying this isn`t so much about where we are right now about where this is headed.
He talks about losing the independence and neutrality of an FBI. That`s a dangerous place to be when we see a president thinking about removing the current FBI director. We have an attorney general criticizing an I.G. report saying the FBI is spying on a campaign. You know where that`s going based on hints and clues we`re getting? That`s going to a political person running the FBI and a political person in the attorney general telling the FBI what to do or not to do.
That`s what I think Mr. Webster is really concerned about.
O`DONNELL: And, Andrew Weissmann, in the Mueller investigation, you in that team lived through what William Webster is arguing against here, this kind of attack on FBI agents, attack on federal prosecutors. One of the things that struck me about the impeachment hearings is the one thing Donald Trump could not do, which he did with your team almost every day, he could not threaten to fire Eric Swalwell. He couldn`t threaten to fire Adam Schiff as he was doing throughout the Mueller investigation.
What is the effect of that -- of that kind of attack from the president of the United States on federal investigators?
WEISSMANN: Well, I think you`re seeing it because you see the corrosive power that he has because you can see just what`s happened with the change of White House counsel going from McGahn to Cipollone and seeing the letter that Cipollone signed is really not what you expect from the White House counsel. You might expect that from his personal counsel. And then you`ve seen the change from Attorney General Sessions to Attorney General Barr.
And, you know, former Director Webster I thought was really poignant in attacking not just what the president`s doing, but also what the attorney general is doing. To follow up with what Frank is talking about, the danger here is if you don`t have an independent Department of Justice and independent FBI, that means it is subject to the political process.
Do we really want to live in a society where we are now a banana republic? Look, everything we have fought to have Ukraine not be is what we will become because it means the president or the attorney general can just go after political opponents. And that really is the end of the rule of law. That`s what I think he was talking about.
O`DONNELL: And, Frank, Director Webster fit -- actually managed to squeeze in a reference to Rudy Giuliani here, who`s not a government official but I think correctly sees him as part of the Trump/Barr operation, this critical front that he needs to stand up against.
FIGLIUZZI: Well, he speaks to Rudy because he knows Rudy. That`s kind of also the special nature of this op-ed is he`s talking about William Barr because he knows William Barr. He`s talking about Rudy Giuliani because she knows.
And what does he say about Rudy? He`s disappointed. He`s disappointed in a man who`s become something that we can`t figure out anymore and has bought into all of this nonsense that could lead to deep trouble for the rule of law. I`m glad that William Webster spoke out and I hope Americans listen, and I hope the right Americans listen who are on the fence wondering whether there`s damage being done that we need to stop in progress.
O`DONNELL: And William Barr also found fault - I`m mean, sorry William Webster found fault with Attorney General Barr`s criticism of the Inspector General`s report. He says that the Attorney General criticized Inspector General`s report, and the claim that the FBI investigation was based on a completely bogus narrative.
Those were William Barr`s words. He then goes on to list the findings of the Mueller investigation. And Andrew Weissmann, that is just something that I don`t think anyone could have anticipated that there would be an Attorney General publicly arguing against the findings of an Inspector General`s report and doing so with no evidence whatsoever.
ANDREW WEISSMANN, DEPARTMENT OF FORMER CHIEF OF THE FRAUD SECTION: Well, see the other thing that`s just remarkable is if you look at the time period that is covered by the Inspector General`s report, there are things that happened during the Obama Administration and there are things that happened during the Trump Administration.
You have the Attorney General, the current Attorney General saying, you know, I don`t think they followed the Attorney General guidelines. Those are his guidelines. I don`t see him changing them. So for him to pretend this is something that just happened under somebody else`s watch, that`s not true also talking about the Carter Page, FISA. That happened not just under the Obama Administration not also happened under Trump Administration. So he`s really not taking responsibility.
O`DONNELL: We`ll have to leave it there. Andrew Weissmann, Frank Figliuzzi, thank you both very much for joining us tonight. I really appreciate it.
When we come back, Donald Trump doesn`t want anyone to find out what he says to Vladimir Putin, but a Trump-appointed federal judge has sided with litigants who are fighting to get the records, the translator`s notes of those conversations the head of that organization leading that legal fight will join us.
And with just one week of Christmas shopping left, we want to remind you about kids in need of desks. You can go to lastworddesks.msnbc.com and give desk to schools in Malawi in the name of anyone on your holiday gift list and UNICEF will send that person a notification of the gift you have given in their name.
And you can choose to contribute any amount for the purchase of the desk or to a scholarship fund for girls to attend high school in Malawi where at high school is not free. No contribution is too small. And as always, we thank you for your kindness.
O`DONNELL: Note to Brett Kavanaugh for future reference. A Trump-appointed judge ruled against Donald Trump in a hugely important case last week that is about nothing less than about what Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin talk about when Donald Trump thinks no one else is listening.
After his first meeting with Vladimir Putin in July of 2017, Donald Trump seized the notes of his interpreter. Those notes were the only written record of the meeting other than of course the Russian written record of the meeting which Vladimir Putin has. And the problem for President Trump is his translator`s notes don`t belong to him and they don`t belong to the translator.
They belong to you, which is to say they belong to the American government under the Federal Records Act which requires the translator`s notes to be kept in the custody of the State Department. Our next guest filed a lawsuit against Secretary of State Mike Pompeo who is supposed to be one of the legal custodians of those notes. That lawsuit seeks to produce those notes.
A federal judge in Washington, D.C., Trevor McFadden, who was appointed by Donald Trump, ruled against Donald Trump and Mike Pompeo who attempted to have that lawsuit dismissed. Judge McFadden ruled that they can proceed with the lawsuit and have the case go to trial. He actually gave Mike Pompeo a January 10th date to file a written response to the lawsuit.
Meanwhile, Russian state media cannot resist depicting what it considers Russia`s power over Donald Trump. Russian TV aired a segment entitled "Puppet Master and Agent: How to understand Lavrov`s meeting with Trump." that`s actually what they called their segment. That was after Donald Trump met with Sergey Lavrov in the Oval Office last week and Russian media is now rerunning video of Fox News segments showing sympathy for Russia in its war with Ukraine.
After this break we`ll consider what Donald Trump might have been worried about when he seized his translator`s notes after his conversation with Vladimir Putin.
O`DONNELL: Donald Trump reportedly seized his translator`s notes after his first conversation with Vladimir Putin. But of course Russia has notes of that conversation and all of Donald Trump`s conversations with Vladimir Putin. And last week Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov publicly humiliated Donald Trump and the Trump Administration by offering to make those notes public and claiming that the Trump Administration is refusing to agree to allow Russia to make public the notes of the conversations between Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SERGEY LAVROA, RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTER: We suggested to our colleagues that in order to dispel all suspicions that are baseless, let us publish this closed channel correspondence starting from October 2016 till November 2017 so it would all become very clear to many people. However, regrettably, this administration refuses to do so.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Joining our discussion now is Austin Evers he is the Executive Director of the Organization of American Oversight. He previously served as Senior Counsel in the State Department for Oversight and Transparency Matters. Austin, it`s your lawsuit that is chasing the translator`s notes of the Putin/Trump conversations, but there`s Lavrov basically offering you the Russian notes of the conversations. But the Trump Administration is not agreeing to that.
AUSTIN EVERS, AMERICAN OVERSIGHT EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR: No. It`s absurd and it`s actually rather striking that maybe that`s a good deal for the American public that we should rely on probable Russian propaganda to find out what our President said to Vladimir Putin.
The bottom line is when the President snatched those notes from his translator he not only violated all sorts of norms for how Presidents should act? He also violated the law. So our lawsuit with our colleagues a group called Democracy Forward tries to get those notes back in the custody of the State Department. So hopefully they can be ultimately produced to the public and we can check what the President`s saying?
O`DONNELL: Do you have any indication that the notes, the Trump translated version of the notes still exist?
EVERS: We just don`t know. There`s been a lot of rumor and speculation in the media, which is actually what, triggered our lawsuit, realizing that the President had snatched those notes? The bottom line that we`re looking for is some answers on what happened to them? Were they destroyed? Are they something the State Department could recover, if so, the law requires them to do that?
The deadline that the State Department has in January will require them to give some of those details to us and to the public so we can take the next steps and forcing some transparency. I`ll point something else out. Donald Trump thought the Ukraine call was perfect and he published it and now he`s getting impeached for it.
What has to be in those notes that caused him to snatch them from the translator immediately? And now two years later we still don`t know what he said.
O`DONNELL: That`s such a good point. He had the presence of mind based on something that was said in that conversation that no one should ever know what was in that conversation? You compare that to the Ukraine conversation where he also knew people were listening, and he still went ahead and said these things that are now impeachable.
EVERS: It really, really draws a lot of attention to it. We need to know what he said. Nancy Pelosi is right. This always keeps coming back to Russia and Vladimir Putin. There`s been too much secrecy around it. And so groups like American Oversight, Democracy Forward, and I hope Congress will keep their eye on this because even after we sprint through this impeachment process, there`s a tidal wave of accountability behind this President and we just need to keep fighting to suppose it.
O`DONNELL: Austin Evers, thank you very much for joining us tonight.
EVERS: Thank you.
O`DONNELL: When we come back, Isabel Bueso will be our last guest of this hour. She was issued a death sentence by Donald Trump when Donald Trump ordered her deportation, sent her a deportation notice. She`s in this country getting life-saving medical treatment. Isabel Bueso will join us in tonight`s LAST WORD.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ISABEL BUESO, RECIPIENT OF MEDICAL DEFERRED ACTION: I`m asking Congress and Administration to come together and right the wrong of this change in policy. This is not a partisan issue. That is humanitarian issue and our life depends on it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: That was Isabel Bueso testifying for her life in the House of Representatives after the Trump Administration threatened to deport her by revoking her legal right to remain in the United States for life-saving medical treatment and issuing her a deportation order.
Isabel was one of many people in this country for life-saving treatment who received letters from the Trump Administration ordering their deportation. When "The Boston Globe" and "The New York Times," and Rachel Maddow started reporting on this story, the Trump Administration was forced under public pressure to eventually stop threatening Isabel Bueso and others with deportation.
But no one knew what would happen next? As Isabel`s doctor Paul Harmatz told us on this program, deporting Isabel would be a death sentence because she could not receive medical treatment she needed outside of the United States. Four months after Isabel Bueso received an Official Deportation Notice from the Trump Administration she has finally received a Christmas present she`s been waiting for.
In a letter dated December 6th, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services wrote to Isabel, "This is to advise you effective August 14th, 2019 you have been granted deferred action for period of two years, the action will expire on August 13th, 2021." After this break, Isabel Bueso will join us to share what this happy news means for her? That`s next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BUESO: I still feel that there are so many questions that has not been answered. I feel like I`m still in the limbo with not really clear direction of where this is going. It`s been - I`m really overwhelmed. I don`t feel 100 percent safe that, you know, I`m stable, but I hope that soon we can get a solution.
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O`DONNELL: That was Isabel Bueso with Rachel in September after the Trump Administration said they would not enforce the deportation order they sent to Isabel but they also would not clarify her legal status in this country to receive life-saving medical treatment.
But last week, Isabel Bueso finally got that in writing from the Trump Administration and she`s now legally allowed to remain in this country for medical treatment for two more years. And I`m very happy to say that joining us now is Isabel Bueso. Isabel thank you very much for joining us tonight I`m glad you`re still here. I`m glad you`re still in this country.
And that you have this good news the letter that I have here saying that you now have legal deferred action status for another two years. This will be bringing you up to August 13th, 2021. What was it like to finally get that letter saying you are here? You`re safe, for two years?
BUESO: Well, hi, Lawrence very nice to meet you, and thank you for having me. As you mentioned, I finally received a letter that I`ve been waiting for so long, for months, and I`m just really happy and I feel really relieved and I`m really happy, there is different emotions going on through my head this past few weeks, but I`m really, really happy.
O`DONNELL: And it was a very difficult road to get here. You had to testify to Congress. You met both Democrats and Republicans when you testified to Congress about your situation. How important do you think it was that you were able to tell this story directly to Congress in a hearing?
BUESO: Well, I feel like, you know, going back a little bit, I mean, this was unexpected for me to go through. I never imagined, you know, go and testify, you know, share my story, but I knew that I had to use my voice, you know, and say, you know, the problem and, you know, share my story because I knew that what was happening in a moment was just really unfair and scary and overwhelm.
So, so, and I feel like it helped, you know, it helped because I`m sure there are other families going through the same situation with fear and overwhelm and I`m really happy I was able to use my voice and share my story and testify. And, you know, just say, you know, the situation, you know, but I`m really happy with the good news and hopefully other families can get some answer really soon.
O`DONNELL: And in your letter, it also says that you are eligible to apply for another extension for two years as this one is moving toward the end of its term. Is this the kind of letter that you used to get routinely?
BUESO: Yes. Yes. Every two years, we got that same letter that we were good for two years and then after those two years then you have to apply again. It has been the routine.
O`DONNELL: And so does it feel like this has now been restored to the way it was? Do you feel confident that in two years from now, in 2021, that you`ll be able to routinely get this extended?
BUESO: I thought about, like, what`s going to happen in two years, but, you know, I feel like sharing my story, you know, in D.C. in September, saying the situation about the status, medical deferred action. My hope is in two years hopefully they`re going to come up with a better solution.
I really do hope that I don`t have to go through this again because this - it was really stressful and overwhelm for me and my family and I`m sure for other families, so I`m hoping and praying that things will get better.
O`DONNELL: Well, Isabel, I want to thank you also on behalf of all of the families of - and the patients, the other patients out there, who have MPS VI, this rare disease, that you`ve participated in the research with Dr. Harmatz that has helped those other patients. That was a very important part of your story that you haven`t just been here being helped by the special medical treatment you`re able to get only here, but you have helped other patients by being part of the studies and the advances for this disease that has been so difficult for people to deal with, and I just wanted to thank you on their behalf for what you`ve done.
BUESO: Yes. Yes. I`m really happy, you know, to help, you know, the MPS Community and participate in more clinical trials so they can do more research and everything. And Dr. Harmatz and I`m really blessed and grateful that whatever thing I do to help them in the clinical trials, so I`m really, really blessed.
Thank you so much for having me and to share this story along with Rachel, I really truly appreciate it, and this is like the best Christmas present for me and happy holidays.
O`DONNELL: Thank you, Isabel. Really appreciate it. The heroic Isabel Bueso gets tonight`s LAST WORD. "THE 11TH HOUR" with Brian Williams starts now.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END