ALI VELSHI, MSNBC HOST: This special report happens here on this network Monday at 9 p.m. with Rachel Maddow. That joins it -- that does it for us tonight.
Now, it`s time for "Last Word." Ayman Mohyeldin is in again for Lawrence tonight. Ayman?
AYMAN MOHYELDIN, MSNBC HOST: I like that. Again, Ali, it`s the last show for you as well -
VELSHI: That`s right.
MOHYELDIN: -- so go and get some rest. Enjoy your weekend my friend.
VELSHI: Thanks, man.
MOHYELDIN: You certainly earned it. Hello, everyone. I`m Ayman Mohyeldin in for Lawrence O`Donnell.
Donald Trump is still rage tweeting about impeachment. And today, he was again spreading conspiracy theories about Ukraine. And he still does not seem to understand the impeachment process.
We`re going to try to clear it up for him. Hopefully, he is watching in just a moment. Impeachment was the dramatic conclusion to what has been a year of showdowns between Nancy Pelosi and Donald Trump.
But as the year comes to a close, Democrats who doubted Pelosi in the beginning of the year and even doubted whether or not she was the right choice to lead the House are now singing her praises. We`re going to look at how she trumped Trump coming up.
And at the end of the hour, a psychiatrist warns impeachment is making Donald Trump worse, but says delaying sending the articles of impeachment is an important step. We`re going to talk about that with a long time Trump observer in tonight`s "Last Word".
But we want to begin this hour with the one thing that is dominating Donald Trump`s mind other than impeachment. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, now with the uncertainty of his senate impeachment trial looming over his holiday vacation, Donald Trump has spent every day of the last seven days blasting Democrats and impeachment in dozens of angry and misleading tweets.
This morning for example, Speaker Pelosi reminded Americans that, quote, "The facts are clear and every witness told the same story, despite the President`s attempts to cover it up. President Trump abused his power for his own personal gain."
Trump escalated his attacks at Speaker Pelosi and her decision to hold the articles of impeachment until Majority Leader Mitch McConnell commits to holding a fair senate trial. Now, falsely claiming that she presided over a, quote, "unfair trial in the House and that there`s no factual basis for the articles of impeachment."
Now, let`s be clear, none of what the president is tweeting is true. The president also used Twitter to further push the theory that democrats colluded with Ukraine to take him down. Trump has repeatedly pushed the idea that Ukraine interfered in the 2016 election, which "The Washington Post" reported. Trump said he believed because "Putin told me." The president was asked about that earlier this week. Watch what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Sir, what did President Putin say to you that convinced you that the Ukraine interfered in the 2016 election?
PRES. DONALD TRUMP: What did he say to me?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
PRES. DONALD TRUMP: About what?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What did President Putin say to you about --
PRES. DONALD TRUMP: You`re putting words in somebody`s mouth. Who are you referring to? Me? I never said anything about it. I never said a thing about it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MOHYELDIN: Now, with the Senate trial looming, the president`s desire to keep Senate Republicans in lockstep with him in an op-ed (ph) for "The Daily Beast", Margaret Carlson argues that the crack in Trump`s impeachment wall is Mitch McConnell`s fault.
In fact, she writes, quote, "Murkowski wouldn`t have gone so far as to be `disturbed` had McConnell not committed one of the few mistakes of his political life in no longer simply doing everything Trump tells him to do, but doing it the way Trump tells him to if only McConnell hadn`t blurted out his plans."
"He could have done everything he said he would with impunity" had he not come out and done so public. "Now, with Murkowski questioning McConnell, throwing his lot in with Trump, he`s lost the first post-impeachment round to Nancy Pelosi."
And now, two Republican groups critical of Trump are putting new pressure on other vulnerable Republicans including Senator Susan Collins of Maine to support impeachment. Republicans for the rule of law began airing this ad on "Fox News" in Maine urging voters to call Senator Collins and demand a fair trial with witnesses.
And the Lincoln project, a group that opposes Trump`s re-election, is calling on senators to, quote, put country over partisanship and vote to remove Trump from office.
The group`s co-founder told "The Portland Press Herald", quote, "We will be watching very closely what Senator Collins and everyone else does. Where she falls on impeachment will have a significant influence on. I don`t want to say target because I don`t like that word, but it will have an influence on whether she is on the list of Republican senators whose seats we are looking at."
Senator Collins responded by saying this, "I take seriously the oath I will swear to render `impartial justice` in the impeachment trial. Threats from both the left and right will have zero influence on my decisions."
Leading off our decision tonight is Hayes Brown, senior world news reporter and editor at "BuzzFeed". He is also the host of the "Impeachment Today" podcast; David Corn, Washington bureau chief for "Mother Jones" and an MSNBC political analyst. He is the coauthor of "Russian Roulette", and Glenn Kirschner, former federal prosecutor and an MSNBC legal analyst.
Glenn, let me begin with you -- kick things off with trying to evaluate if you can the president`s state of mind with the way he has been tweeting, the way he has been lashing out, the way that he has been going after Nancy Pelosi, his lack of understanding of how the impeachment process works, even fielding that question there from the reporter about Vladimir Putin denying something he clearly said. What do you make of his state of mind right now?
GLENN KIRSCHNER, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST: You know, anger is kind of President Trump`s thing. I mean, I don`t think we`ve ever seen him pensive or contemplative or thoughtful or shy. But it seems like this is really weighing on his psyche.
It does seem like Nancy Pelosi is playing him at this point. It seems like he`s desperate not just to win an acquittal but for people to announce that he`s innocent and he`s exonerated.
But, you know, I was reminded of when I was trying cases. The more accomplished defense attorneys would often make an argument that kind of resonates with what we`re experiencing now.
They would say in their closing argument, ladies and gentlemen, the verdict form will only have two lines, guilty and not guilty. I wish it had a third line. I wish that third line was innocent, exonerated. But because my client is innocent, they often weren`t, but that kind of drives home the point that even if the senate acquits him, that is far from announcing he`s innocent, far from announcing an exoneration.
And my greatest fear is if they vote not to convict him. If they vote to acquit him, they`re voting in favor of future foreign interference in our election. They`re voting in favor of the president attaching personal conditions on congressionally appropriated funds for his own political advantage. And they`re basically voting the death of oversight. Because it looks like if they buy into how the president has stonewalled --
KIRSCHNER: -- then there is no more congressional oversight authority of the executive branch.
MOHYELDIN: David, let`s talk a bit about the politics of this impeachment saga. On the surface, on one hand, it appears that we are in a bit of stalemate waiting to see what happens between Mitch McConnell and Charles Schumer and a whole hosts of other things.
But on the other hand, we`re seeing some movement with some of the comments that have been coming out from Republican senators, some of the ads that have been -- that have been aired so far targeting some of them. And I want to play you this sound bite from Senator Blumenthal earlier in the evening here on MSNBC. Watch what he had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL (D-CT): I think that Mitch McConnell eventually will be forced by these cracks in his implacable wall as reflected in Lisa Murkowski`s comments and by other colleagues who are saying it privately. The question is will they say it publicly? Will they act on it?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MOHYELDIN: Now, according to Sen. Blumenthal, there are about 5 to 10 Republicans who have severe misgivings about the way Mitch McConnell has handled this so far and where he has positioned himself in this process. Let me get your take on where you see the, you know, the situation as it stands right now. Where are we in the process?
DAVID CORN, MOTHER JONES WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF: Well, I think part of those misgivings are because McConnell went out there and he said out loud what you`re not supposed to say out loud. They were rigging the trial. We are the -- we`re supposed to hold the trial and be jurors. But we`re going to be working lockstep with Donald Trump`s defense.
I think that makes it look bad. So, even those senators who wanted to vote to have a minimal trial, a quick trial with no witnesses and get this over and done with now look like they`re doing it because they`re in Trump`s pocket, which is indeed the case.
So, I don`t think -- you know, some of them just don`t like the fact this was said out loud. You know, the others who believe perhaps, possibly, that it`s their constitutional responsibility to have a full and fair trial, I`m not -- I mean, I`m waiting to see, you know, who -- anyone make a forceful case.
Murkowski said she was disturbed by Mitch McConnell getting in bed with Donald Trump now and his legal team, his defense team. No one else has really said a peep.
And we keep waiting, you know, collectively for Mitt Romney and Susan Collins and others out there who keep telling us that they`re troubled, they`re concerned. You know, they worry, they worry, they worry that they`re going to actually take a strong stand. And it will be a hard stand for Republican to take. And that has not yet come.
I mean, it`s like Christmas is over, you know. We still have some shopping days left until the end of the year. But we`re still waiting for anyone to take a really firm and hard stand in terms of having a fulsome trial. And until we see those people speaking out loud publicly about that, I mean, I would not bet on any single one of them to come rushing to the defense of the constitution.
MOHYELDIN: I wonder if any of that, David, would be buoyed by the fact that the approval rating or I should say the number of people who approved the senate removing President Trump has shot up over the last week case (ph). It`s now 51 percent approve, 42 percent disapprove. This is in a poll by the "Politico Morning Consult" between December 19th and December 20th. So, pretty significant that it has shot up so quickly. What do you attribute that to?
HAYES BROWN, BUZZFEED SENIOR WORLD NEWS REPORTER AND EDITOR: I attribute that to the fact we`re finally past the stage where -- oh, the president might be impeached. The president could be impeached. The president has been impeached. So that, I think, has started to change the way people are thinking about this.
It`s gone from being sort of an abstract thing where people have heard about Ukraine. They`ve heard that something bad happened. There was a call transcript that they`re supposed to read but most people haven`t.
But now, articles have been debated. They`ve been passed. And so, we`re moving from where we`re just making predictions and guesses, something that where this has actually happened. So, once we figure out what the trial will actually look like, I think that`s going to be a determining factor.
Now, we look at the polls. And we try and glean something from them. But it`s been really hard to try to match up what the polls say with what politicians in D.C. have been doing.
Because if you try to make a comparison -- say Nixon for example and Clinton, the poll numbers for Nixon were in terms of impeachment and removal, they were lower -- there was a lower approval rating for that when Nixon resigned than Trump has right now.
In the Clinton years, we hear people talk about -- oh, there`s going to be blowback against impeachment. During the Clinton years that happened because the president was historically popular. He was at 60 odd percent approval rating.
When you look at the president that`s not the case. I mean, you see some independents starting to wonder if the whole process was even worth it. But you don`t see Republicans in the House or Senate really sort of following that right now.
So, I think once we come back into session, we look at the numbers, then we look at what Mitch McConnell and Chuck Schumer can get to in terms of agreement if anything, because if not, that`s when it becomes the job of senators like Romney and Murkowski, et cetera, because once we get to a senate trial, it`s a vote on everything.
MOHYELDIN: Glenn, let me ask you about this possible agreement between Chuck Schumer and Mitch McConnell, obviously, witnesses at the center of documents, facts, all of that. If you were involved in this case, would you want to see Rudy Giuliani among those witnesses? Because I think that from the names that have been floated around, the four names that the Democrats want to go after, Rudy Giuliani is not on that list.
KIRSCHNER: So, as a prosecutor, we have a hard and fast rule. We are only allowed to call to the witness stand and sponsor the testimony of somebody we believe to be telling the truth. So, I think your question answers itself, Ayman.
Would I put Rudy Giuliani on the stand? Not in a million years unless I had him locked in the grand jury testimony because then he can lie, he can spin, he can deflect. But I could use that grand jury transcript to both impeach him, ironically it`s called impeachment when you use a prior sworn statement against a witness to prove he`s lying. And I could actually use that grand jury transcript to prove the truth of the matter in the grand jury.
So, I think he is the last witness I would want to call. But I sure would like the Mulvaneys and the Boltons for the drug deal. My first question would be -- John Bolton, whatever you saw was so obviously illegal. You called it a drug deal. That has one connotation. What did you see? Those are the kind of witnesses that I would want to present.
MOHYELDIN: David, again, picking up on that thread a little bit about the topic of witnesses, is there a risk by Democrats pushing aggressively to get certain witnesses that they may have to then deal with somebody like a Joe Biden who said today that he is not going to respect the subpoena, not come to testify, but then also contribute to the larger problem that we have of people ignoring congressional subpoenas.
CORN: Yes. I think Joe Biden`s statement was ill advised. Because now, Republicans can hide behind it perhaps and say, Joe Biden`s not showing up, why should anybody else?
Now of course, the answer is because Joe Biden is not part of this case because that`s just more, you know, disinformation from the Trump administration.
But I mean, Hayes is right when he says that once we get to the trial, no matter what happens and things can change during the trial and it`s majority vote. So, Republicans can try to subpoena Biden, Hunter Biden and, you know, these corrupt Ukrainian officials who claim there was wrongdoing on the part of the Bidens even though there`s no foundation for that.
And just by being denied their witnesses can trump that up. Mitch McConnell has no interest in this being a reasonable trial that aims at the facts of the Trump, you know, quid pro quo, whatever you want to call it, abuse of office. His interest is making this either go away quickly or being somewhat of a circus or being discredited.
MOHYELDIN: He certainly doesn`t even want to exonerate -- he certainly doesn`t even want the president exonerated because as Glenn was saying, if you have an opportunity to bring witnesses who can say this man is innocent, and they were part of his inner circle, bring them to the stand, have him exonerate the guy. But that`s not what Mitch McConnell wants done.
BROWN: No. You see, no desire for any exculpatory witnesses at all, which is absolutely wild on one hand, makes total sense on the other because if you actually allow for the ability to call witnesses in this trial, then like I said, majority rules.
So, you won`t get the Hunter Bidens. You might have to have, you know, John Bolton testify. Or he says no, no thank you. So, you either force Chief Justice John Roberts to rule on it, which would get him in possible political trouble or you help make the case that Democrats are laying out of obstruction of congress.
If he -- if you cannot even subpoena someone to appear at the trial portion, what you`ve been saying is the exact time for the president to, you know, defend himself to prove that he`s absolutely innocent and he just doesn`t show up. How do you then vote not guilty on obstruction of congress?
That`s the box that Mitch McConnell finds himself in at this point. And I`m not sure how or if he`s going to break out except by maybe working out some sort of deal with Chuck Schumer in the next couple of days.
MOHYELDIN: Yes. I was going to say when you said --
CORN: I think you got to remember, Mitch McConnell doesn`t need logic on his side. He doesn`t need a consistent position. It can change from day to day to day the way that Donald Trump`s position on many things change from day to day. It will be completely situational. Whatever Mitch McConnell at that moment thinks works to the political benefit mainly of Senate Republicans and then as well as to Donald Trump.
MOHYELDIN: Yes. We said at the top of the show that Nancy Pelosi has Trump trumped. I think some can make the argument which is also a trump Mitch McConnell for the time being.
Hayes Brown, David Corn, Glenn Kirschner, thank you very much for starting things off for us tonight.
And coming up, "The New York Times" has a stunning new report on investigation into Navy SEAL Chief Eddie Gallagher who spent part of this week thanking Donald Trump for pardoning him.
MOHYELDIN: The guy is freaking evil. That is how one Navy SEAL described his platoon chief, Eddie Gallagher, during the investigation into whether Gallagher had committed war crimes in Iraq.
It is part of a stunning "New York Times" report which includes material never shown publicly before such as recorded interviews with members of the SEAL team who accused Gallagher. And it comes just days after Eddie Gallagher himself was with Donald Trump and a friend or I guess his wife, I believe, at the Florida resort.
"The Times" describes the recording as, quote, "the first opportunity outside the courtroom to hear directly from the men of Alpha platoon, SEAL Team 7, whose blistering testimony about their platoon chief was dismissed by President Trump when he upended the military code of justice to protect Chief Gallagher from the punishment."
Now, Gallagher was accused of stabbing to death a teenage ISIS fighter who had been wounded by an air strike and had been detained by the U.S. military in Mosul in 2017.
A military court acquitted Gallagher in July of first degree murder and attempted murder. He was convicted of one relatively minor charge of posing for photos with the dead body of the teenage ISIS fighter.
The Navy demoted Gallagher following the conviction. But last month, Donald Trump cleared him of all punishment, restoring his rank, which then allowed him to retire with full honors and led the former secretary of the navy, Richard Spencer to resign.
Here`s part of the new video recordings obtained by "The New York Times" for its "Hulu" show, "The Weekly."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Eddie just came over the radio and specifically said, don`t touch him. I got him.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No way he touched him. He`s all mine.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He wasn`t fairly (INAUDIBLE).
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He didn`t look like he`s doing very well.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How close do you think you are when you saw Gallagher stab him?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Me, (Bobby), Gallagher.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MOHYELDIN: "NBC News" has not spoken to any of the SEALS that were shown in the videos or quoted in "The New York Times" story. But "The New York Times" says that it has reached out to all of them and they declined to comment.
Eddie Gallagher claims that the charges against him were made by SEALS who wanted to force him out. In a statement to "The Times", Gallagher said, quote, "My first reaction to seeing the videos was surprise and disgust that they would make up blatant lies about me, but I quickly realized that they were scared that the truth would come out of how cowardly they acted on deployment."
"I felt sorry for them that they thought it necessary to smear my name, but they never realized what the consequences of their lies would be. As upset as I was, the videos also gave me confidence because I knew that their lies would never hold up under real questioning and the jury would see through it. Their lies and N.C.I.S.`s refusal to ask hard questions or corroborate their stories strengthened my resolve to go to trial and clear my name."
Joining us now, Congressman John Garamendi, Democrat from California. He is the Chairman of the Armed Services Subcommittee on Readiness, which oversees all military personnel issues. Also with us, U.S. retired colonel of the U.S. Army, Colonel Jack Jacobs. He`s a medal of honor recipient and an "NBC News" military analyst.
Congressman, let me first get your take on the big picture how this situation has played out now with these new revelations of what we`re hearing for the first time directly from some of the members that were part of that SEAL team and just how, you know, how despicable they thought Eddie Gallagher`s behavior was when he was on active duty there.
REP. JOHN GARAMENDI (D-CA): Well, this entire incident is extremely harmful. Keep in mind, we have 1.4 million American men and women serving somewhere around the world, many of them far from the homes, away from their families, here during the holidays and we`re spending all of our time talking about a very, very serious incident that took place some four years -- three years ago.
It`s tragic what`s happened here. And it beseeches harms the integrity of the SEAL teams without doubt, the back and forth of president`s involvement and now apparently what apparently Mr. Gallagher or Chief Gallagher is going to campaign for the president, just raises a whole series of very bad issues.
It`s terribly unfortunate. I`m thinking about those men and women that are out there serving with dignity, doing the very best they can to obey the code -- the justice codes and they`re carrying on protecting this nation.
MOHYELDIN: Colonel Jacobs, what do you make of the president`s involvement in this and the kind of lasting impact it has had on our armed forces?
COL. JACK JACOBS, UNITED STATES ARMY RETIRED COLONEL: Well, as you can argue and probably persuasively that the decision to pardon Gallagher in the first place was a political act mostly to appeal to the president`s supporters.
But because there was so much opprobrium both inside and outside the military after that I thought that the president probably decided to double down, which is why he honored Gallagher down in Florida and just to vindicate his decision to pardon Gallagher in the first place, Ayman.
MOHYELDIN: Yes. Let me play you that sound bite that you referenced there. This is President Trump speaking at a rally in Sunrise, Florida in November 26th. Watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PRES. DONALD TRUMP: Just this week, I stuck up for three great warriors against the deep state. People can sit there in air-conditioned offices and complain. But you know what? Doesn`t matter to me whatsoever. They`re out on that field and they`re doing a job for us like nobody else anywhere in the world can do.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MOHYELDIN: Congressman, you heard there Colonel Jack Jacobs say that part of this is political. Do you believe the president has politicized a big part of our military? I mean, you speak to military officials probably all the time when you`re dealing with personnel, and I don`t want you to divulge any of those conversations. But what is the sense you`re getting about that issue?
REP. GARAMENDI: Well, certainly, the president has politicized the military. Just take a look at the enormous number of disruptions, firings, people moving, Mattis and others resigning. So, yes, it`s clearly politicized.
In this particular instance, the Gallagher case, I think will have very serious repercussions beyond the United States military. It`s going to have a major role in the way in which American military personnel are viewed in the Middle East where this incident took place.
And now, the controversy, the statements that are being made or have been made by these other SEAL team members, you just know that is going to be blasted all over the Middle East media, ISIS and others who will use it. And that`s going to be a very unfortunate and quite probably a very dangerous situation into the future. But, yes, the president has clearly politicized this particular issue along with many, many others before.
MOHYELDIN: Let me put up on the screen for you guys to see a poll that was conducted by the "Military Times". It says that half of active duty service members are unhappy with President Trump. This was conducted among 1,630 members of the active duty force from October 23 to December 2nd.
And the question is how favorable or unfavorable is your view of the president? You see there, 45 percent very unfavorably, 4.8 percent unfavorably. So, that`s almost about half saying.
Colonel Jacobs, when you look at a -- when you look at a poll like that and, you know, if you`re currently a serving member or senior officer or in your case someone no longer in the force, how concerned would you be that the commander in chief does not have the favorability of the rank and file soldier?
COL. JACOBS: Well, it`s very concerning because if you take a look in history it`s unusual for people who are already serving to have a political view to express in the first place. So, it`s very polarizing and very difficult and makes it extremely difficult for commanders to get the support of their people in the field.
I do know after talking to quite a few people who are still serving that commanders have had to -- after this Gallagher decision, the pardon, to reinforce concepts such as the law of land warfare to make sure that people in uniform understand their obligations under the uniform code of military justice to recognize that when they`re in combat their job is to kill or capture the enemy.
But once the enemy comes under their control, they have an obligation to treat that person humanely especially in view of the fact that somebody who`s captured is of intelligence value. It`s -- the president`s view of this is very much different, markedly different than those views of people who are in uniform, Ayman.
MOHYELDIN: Congressman, final word to you as well about that "Military Times" poll when you have half of the active force having a very unfavorable or unfavorable opinion of the commander in chief.
REP. GARAMENDI: Well, I think the incidences that have occurred, Mattis, Spencer, and most recently the Syria -- the pull out of our troops and the abandonment of the Syrian Kurds that fought ISIS battles for us, all of those things are very, very detrimental and the military feels that.
Just yesterday, it was reported that one of our major outposts outside of a bill has been taken over by the Russians. Now, that`s got to really, really hurt the men and women that secured that position, that fought for that position, that risked their lives to hold it and then to have the president simply pull them out and then the Russians replace them. It hurts. And that`s probably one of the reasons you`re seeing those poll numbers where they are.
MOHYELDIN: But at least the president is tweeting against the Russians not to attack the innocent civilians in Idlib.
REP. GARAMENDI: Yes, well, yes. Tweet`s going to be helpful.
MOHYELDIN: Congressman John Garamendi, Colonel Jack Jacobs, thank you both very much for joining us tonight.
And coming up, it was a year that started with this and ended with this. And the ongoing showdown between the President and the Speaker is only escalating. What will the House do next with the articles of impeachment against Donald Trump? That is next.
MOHYELDIN: President Donald Trump finally met his match this year in Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Pelosi was unafraid to stand up to the President in a number of public high-stakes showdowns. Trump has tried in vain to coin a nickname for Nancy Pelosi after one defeat after another in 2019. Remember this, 2019 started with Pelosi getting the Speaker`s gavel in the middle of a Trump-initiated government shutdown.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): This senseless shutdown is inflicting great pain on every part of our country.
Let`s pay the employees. Maybe he thinks it`s OK not to pay people who do work. I don`t, and my caucus doesn`t either.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MOHYELDIN: Now, there were questions at the start of the year as to whether or not Pelosi would be able to fend off a challenge to her leadership from inside the Democratic Party. Some in Pelosi`s own party openly questioned whether the former Speaker was the right person to lead the new Democratic House in the era of Trump.
Freshman Congressman Dean Phillips of Minnesota recently told "The New York Times," quote, "I was one of them; I thought it was time for new leadership. And I`ve got to tell you, thank goodness. Thank goodness that we have Nancy Pelosi speaking for the House of Representatives because I do not think there is a better, more qualified, more principled person for these circumstances."
These circumstances include an impeachment inquiry and a vote to approve two articles of impeachment against President Trump. And now Pelosi is holding those articles until at least after the winter recess and denying Trump of a quick and complete exoneration in a Senate trial led by Mitch McConnell.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PELOSI: We have legislation approved by the Rules Committee that will enable us to decide how we will send over the articles of impeachment. We cannot name managers until we see what the process is on the Senate side. So far, we haven`t seen anything that looks fair to us. So hopefully it will be fair.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MOHYELDIN: Now, when we come back, we`re going to take a look at Nancy Pelosi`s impeachment strategy and how she stood up to the President this year. Our panel joins us next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PELOSI: Our founders, when they wrote the Constitution, they suspected that there could be a rogue President. I don`t think they suspected that we could have a rogue President and a rogue leader in the Senate at the same time.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MOHYELDIN: All right. Welcome back, everyone. Joining us now is Jess Morales Rocketto, the Political Director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance and an immigration rights advocate; David Jolly, a former Republican Congressman from Florida and an MSNBC Political Analyst; and here on set, Hayes Brown is back with us again.
Let me begin with you if I can, Jess, for a moment. What is it about Nancy Pelosi that has made her just politically smarter than everyone in the way she has outmaneuvered them over the course of the year, in particular, President Trump and now Mitch McConnell?
JESS MORALES ROCKETTO, POLITICAL DIRECTOR, NATIONAL DOMESTIC WORKERS ALLIANCE & CHAIR, FAMILIES BELONG TOGETHER: I think people really underestimate Speaker Pelosi. She plans out her battle plans like a General. And I think we`re seeing that play out. People have underestimated her this entire year, but frankly, her most iconic moments have been when she goes up against Trump. When did she break the Internet, when did she become a meme? It`s when she (inaudible) Donald Trump. And he`s a loser pretty much every time.
MOHYELDIN: So, to that point, David, let me play you this sound bite. This is from November 15th talking on CBS, Nancy Pelosi referring to the President as an impostor.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PELOSI: He should not frivolously throw out insults. But that`s what he does. I think part of it is his own insecurity as an impostor. I think he knows full well that he`s in that office way over his head.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MOHYELDIN: It`s incredible that, you know, soft-spoken, yet very pointed, and she kind of goes toe-to-toe with the President.
DAVID JOLLY, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: And accurate in her diagnosis, Ayman. And somebody who probably more than anybody else in the country right now has the ability to rattle Donald Trump, to put him on his heels, not only because she controls the levers of the power of the Congress but also seemingly on a personal level.
When the President had such a reaction to Nancy Pelosi suggesting that she prays for him, that somehow that personal gesture from the Speaker really rattled the President. And what has been remarkable is that this has not been an easy road for Nancy Pelosi.
She has had to withstand criticism from within her own party for not being aggressive enough, coming off the heels of the Cohen confession and SDNY where Trump was named as a criminal co-conspirator, the Mueller report where she really didn`t want to respond to allegations of obstruction of justice. And she famously said over the summer, look, Donald Trump will impeach himself. And then we got to Ukraine, and she moved very swiftly and satisfied all the competing factions within her party. A remarkable leadership year for Nancy Pelosi.
MOHYELDIN: Yes. And we kind of outlined, Hayes, how it`d kind of evolved from the beginning. As we said, some Democrats were very critical of her. Even somebody like a Tim Ryan challenged her leadership position.
And as David was saying, in the beginning, she pushed back against impeachment while some of the more left wing or progressive aspects, including Rashida Tlaib and others, wanted impeachment, she pushed back against that, and in the end of the year, she was proven right.
HAYES BROWN, SENIOR WORLD NEWS REPORTER AND EDITOR, BUZZFEED: Right. I think that what a lot of her members, especially those in the left, wanted was sort of broader condemnation of Trump on a personal level and on a policy level in a way that Pelosi didn`t quite agree with.
She didn`t think the politics were there to say that, oh, he is racist, therefore he must be impeached. She didn`t think that that could be followed along with. She didn`t think Mueller report could be followed along with after the whole tangles of the Russia case. She didn`t think that the obstruction-of-justice charge would be easy to prove coming off the Mueller report. But here, she saw something where she could jump onboard.
And she knew when several moderate Democrats, freshmen, signed on to a "Washington Post" op-ed saying, no, we need an impeachment inquiry that this was the moment to strike. Because Pelosi, unlike Trump - Trump views power just as a hammer whereas Pelosi can use both the hammer and a scalpel. She knows how to beat her caucus into submission, while also very narrowly and very delicately poking at things and slicing away at support for positions that go against her.
MOHYELDIN: Yes. I`m just thinking off the top of my head at least three or four iconic images of her this year, perhaps most notably during that impeachment at the end of the session when she kind of gestures to her caucus not to clap.
Jess, let me ask you this, though. Does she run the risk? She does control the pacing of this impeachment process insofar as that she decides when to hand over or transmit those documents to the Senate to kick things off officially. Does she run the risk of overplaying her hand and holding onto them too long?
ROCKETTO: People have really questioned her timely kind of throughout this process. She didn`t get to impeachments fast enough. The vote was too vast. Now, she`s holding on to things too long. So, honestly, I think so far she`s done a really good job at making sure that this is an issue that is being handled as fairly as possible. No one could ever accuse her of rushing to impeachment.
And so - I`m inclined to trust her through this - you know, this fair trial, making sure that the Senate actually calls witnesses, which is what the American people deserve. I`m ready to follow Nancy Pelosi`s lead. So far, she`s come out on top.
MOHYELDIN: David, to that same point, though, although she has opposed the President on so many issues and certainly she is going up against him on impeachment, she`s still getting things done by passing various legislation that the President wanted, like the USMCA renegotiation and others.
JOLLY: Yes. But in this era of new media, you`d never know it. They reached agreement on USMCA and they all seemed to blame each other for its passage rather than celebrate the moment coming together. And look, House Democrats would make the case that they`ve sent hundreds or thousands of bills over to the Senate that have died in McConnell`s graveyard, as he famously suggested. That honestly was true when Republicans controlled both chambers as well. The Senate doesn`t act as fast as the House.
Ayman, elections are about contrasts. And what the House Democrats under Nancy Pelosi`s leadership has done is created a contrast for 2020. They are a party looking to protect health care, get gun violence off the streets, to reunite families of immigrants who come here perhaps without documentation, to be the party of Dreamers, and it will stand in contrast to an agenda that Donald Trump saw rejected in the mid-terms.
And that`s probably the greatest affirmation of Nancy Pelosi and the Democratic caucus right now is the sweeping mid-term affirmation of her leadership over that of Donald Trump and the Republicans.
MOHYELDIN: Trying to do something that may be a little bit difficult, Hayes, but looking into 2020, Nancy Pelosi transmits those articles of impeachment over to the Senate, that is now out of her hands. What does she turn her sights onto next?
BROWN: That`s a great question, because like we`ve been saying, the Senate isn`t really moving to act very quickly on any of these issues that Democrats are taking up. They could be working to pass, I don`t know, a new tax legislation. They could be working to pass any number of things. But unless you`re getting the President or Mitch McConnell onboard, it`s going to be passed and die.
So I think that after articles of impeachment go through, after this trial, I think that we`re in a real like wandering stage for D.C., as we`re in this no-man`s-land between the President has either been removed and we have a President Pence or he`s been acquitted and we have a newly emboldened Trump ahead of the election. Everyone will be waiting basically to see which way the election goes and what the President does at this time. I don`t know what Pelosi will do. I`m sure Pelosi does at this point though that I`m going to be very fascinated to find out.
MOHYELDIN: Yes. Jess and David, I`m going to pose the same question to you. Jess, you`re up first. Where do you think Nancy Pelosi turns her sights to next?
ROCKETTO: I think that she`s been really clear about immigration. I wouldn`t be surprised if DREAM comes up again. I also think that she`s made very clear that voting rights is kind of the number one priority. I think they`re going to do whatever they can ahead of the elections to make sure that they`re trying to do anything in the House.
But what we`re seeing from Pelosi is she is really putting out a set of bills that are very clear Democratic agenda ahead of the elections that I think voters will be looking for.
MOHYELDIN: Yes. Very important, the voter registration.
David, final question to you as well. Where do you think she will be turning her attentions to in 2020?
JOLLY: Health care. It`ll be health care, immigration, taxes and education. But this impeachment issue is going to go on a bit longer because the two inflection points that she will need before she can hand over the impeachment articles are either a retraction from Mitch McConnell about his impartiality when he said he will not be impartial, or two, she could hold them into the spring until the court finally disposes of the President`s challenge on executive immunity that he won`t let anybody testify.
She could make the case, look, we`re not going to transmit these until the issue of Mulvaney and others testify and is settled by the courts, and we know that they will have the opportunity in the Senate to testify to the senators.
MOHYELDIN: Yes. I think a lot of people would agree that she is certainly holding all the cards in Washington D.C. right now.
Jess Morales Rocketto, David Jolly, Hayes Brown, thank you all very much for joining us this evening.
MOHYELDIN: And coming up, how a psychiatrist views Donald Trump`s reaction to being impeached.
MOHYELDIN: Donald Trump is the third President in U.S. history to be impeached, but he is the only one to be impeached after having hundreds of psychiatrists sign an urgent letter to the House Judiciary Committee to take into consideration Donald Trump`s mental health. That letter will be resubmitted to Congress before the Senate trial.
However, this is not unprecedented for Donald Trump, who in the first year of his Presidency was the subject of a book written by dozens of psychiatrists and mental health professionals called "The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump."
Now, the editor of that book is Dr. Bandy Lee, a forensic psychiatrist at the Yale School of Medicine, who also spearheaded the letter to Congress.
In a new post impeachment article, Dr. Lee writes this. "With the impeachment hearings, the President`s behavior has grown even more erratic with frantic tweeting, rallies that are increasingly disconnected from reality, and a very disturbing letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. The House Speaker has done well to call out an invalid Senate trial and to delay it until it is fair. Now, in psychological terms, it is a technique called limit-setting. When there are no other means of logistically limiting harmful actions, statements and deeds need to call out inappropriate behavior in ways that are commensurate with overall facts."
When we come back, we`ll be joined by long-time Trump observer, David Cay Johnston.
MOHYELDIN: Donald Trump has spent his time since being impeached tweeting about being impeached, like this one on Christmas night. "Why should crazy Nancy Pelosi, just because she has a slight majority in the House, be allowed to impeach the President of the United States?"
Joining us now is Pulitzer Prize winning investigative journalist and Editor and Co-Founder of DCReport.org, David Cay Johnston. It was the site from that post that we just read, that had it earlier today.
David, I know you are not a psychiatrist, but as a long-time observer of President Trump and his mental state, what is your sense of how upset Trump is?
DAVID CAY JOHNSTON, PULITZER PRIZE WINNING INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALIST & DCREPORT.ORG EDITOR AND CO-FOUNDER: Oh, Donald is very, very upset. He is quite scared about what`s happening to him. And he`s not in control because, remember, this is someone who never had a board of directors.
And the mental health professionals who wrote this book two years ago quite precisely and accurately predicted his behavior, and they`ve now shifted a lot of their concern to public mental health, to warning people about how a lot of people are buying into Donald Trump`s delusions.
And that`s a real problem for the rest of the society, but it`s one of the things Donald keeps stoking because it helps him maintain some semblance of that he`s in unlimited - position of unlimited power, which he`s not.
MOHYELDIN: There is an interesting trajectory of how the tweets have gone from negative to worse over the course of the past couple of years. I believe we have a full screen of the "USA TODAY" analysis of more than 8,200 of President Trump`s tweets. And it essentially shows that he goes - from 2017, 14.9 percent of the words Trump used in his tweets were negative. That number in December of 2019 has skyrocketed up to 16 percent. The good words have certainly gone down as well from 24 percent to 19 percent.
What do you think his Twitter feed reveals about this man?
JOHNSTON: Well, it`s showing that overtime, because Donald does not have the skills for the job, he`s in way, way over his head, that he is becoming more and more desperate. And he is aware that the criticism of him has been growing, that there`s been things he`s done that have come under reasonable attack. He doesn`t know what to do about them.
Remember, this is a man so delusional he claims to be the world`s greatest expert on 22 different subjects, and yet every time he talks about them, he reveals that he doesn`t know more about them than your average high school graduate who just got his diploma last summer.
MOHYELDIN: Yes, he keeps saying he knows more about windmills and knows more about technology than anybody else. What do you think 2020 is going to have in store for this President, both as he goes back on the campaign trail, he goes back into his cocoon of being in those rallies and just goes off the rails?
JOHNSTON: Well, you`re going to see him become more and more lashing out at people, discrediting people, because after all, Donald is the only smart person in the world; the rest of us, unless we agree with him, are all idiots.
I will be very surprised if he agrees to debate; and if the Democrats should nominate a woman, very, very surprised if he does that; and would expect the Democrats, in that case, to mount an argument of "what`s the matter, Donald, you`re afraid of a girl?" something like that.
MOHYELDIN: All right. David Cay Johnston, thank you very much for joining us tonight. I would appreciate your insights.
That`s tonight`s "Last Word." I`m Ayman Mohyeldin. "The 11th Hour" starts right now.