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How to beat Trump TRANSCRIPT: 1/20/20, The Last Word w/ Lawrence O'Donnell

Guests: Norm Ornstein, Richard Blumenthal, David Frum, Jon Favreau

  LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST:  Good evening, Rachel.

You said the coverage would be over the course of the day. Apparently, over the course of the day and the night -- 


O`DONNELL:  -- according to Mitch McConnell`s rules that he put out tonight that he`s hoping the Senate adopts, which it probably will. 12-hour sessions are envisioned by Mitch McConnell per day from say 1:00 p.m. to 1:00 a.m.

I think -- I don`t know, Rachel. I`ve been thinking about it and I have a couple of hours to think about it. I think strategically what he`s going for he`s trying to shutdown "THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW" this week.


O`DONNELL:  He thinks that`s the only way -- the only way he can get America to think his way.

MADDOW:  Listen, if "THE RACHEL MADDOW" show needs to scoot into the wee hours, it shall do so.

I will say, like, thinking about this prospect, not this exact prospect of A.M. hours for impeachment, but thinking about like the president`s impeachment trial arriving while you and I are hosting prime time TV shows while our jobs are to explain things, I always imagined if something like this happened in my professional life, I`d be like in better shape. I would have been in training. I`d be building up my stamina for months.

But I`m just like I`m the same old slob I ever was. How are we going to do this?

O`DONNELL:  Yes, but this is the way impeachments work because it is a kind -- it`s a national crisis that`s been building for months and months and months. And so, the news system is already kind of exhausted by the time you get to the impeachment trial.

MADDOW:  Yes, I wish I wanted a preseason -- 


O`DONNELL:  But there is -- there is a journalist to it.


O`DONNELL:  Don`t worry, you`re going to get -- you`re going to get your impeachment trial adrenaline tomorrow right on time. Don`t worry.

MADDOW:  All right. I feel like I`ve been living on adrenaline for three years, but, yes, I can do it a little longer.

O`DONNELL:  A little more. Thank you, Rachel.

MADDOW:  Thanks, Lawrence.

Well, we are already drowning in scholarly interpretations by law professors and historians of the key phrase in the impeachment clause, high crimes and misdemeanors. You`re going to spend all day now reading those articles or you could spend a couple of weeks reading those articles because they will keep coming throughout the impeachment trial. Or here`s an easier option, you can listen to just one sentence from a world class scholar who decoded those words 21 years ago during the impeachment trial of President Clinton.

That scholar was also a juror in the Clinton impeachment trial, and he delivered his one-sentence interpretation of high crimes and misdemeanors to me in private and I will now share that wisdom with you later in this hour on the eve of history.

And on this eve of history, Mitch McConnell has apparently decided that it is finally time for infrastructure week. Mitch McConnell is now rushing to build a 21st century railroad, a very high-speed rail for speeding the Trump impeachment trial through the United States Senate.

Mitch McConnell issued rules for the Senate impeachment trial that could have the whole thing wrapped up very quickly. The McConnell rules are already guaranteed to pass with at least 51 votes after the Democrats Senate Leader Chuck Schumer read the McConnell rules he called them, quote, nothing short of a national disgrace.

Mitch McConnell had been promising to follow the rules used in the Clinton impeachment trial, but he has changed those rules significantly. Mitch McConnell cut the number of days that each side would have to present their case. The only thing that could delay McConnell`s high-speed railroading of the case would be witnesses.


SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY):  Tomorrow, before the resolution is adopted, we will be able to introduce amendments, and we will introduce a whole series of amendments for witnesses, for documents and other ways to straighten out what McConnell has done and make it a real trial with evidence, witnesses and in ways that the American people can hear it.


O`DONNELL:  Yes, they always have a Senate podium ready at Penn Station now that Chuck Schumer is the Senate majority leader -- Senate minority leader.

Republican Senator Mitt Romney issued a statement saying, quote, the allegations outlined in the articles of impeachment passed by the House are extremely serious. Did the president abuse his office for personal political gain and did he obstruct Congress investigation by blocking subpoenas? The Senate should have opportunity to decide on witnesses following the opening arguments. If attempts are made to vote on witnesses prior to opening arguments, I would oppose those efforts.

Senator Romney has made it clear that he will vote for calling John Bolton as a witness and possibly other witnesses, but it is now very clear that Senator Romney will not support Chuck Schumer`s attempts to do that at the beginning of the trial tomorrow. The House managers and the president`s impeachment defense lawyers have been submitting dueling briefs to the Senate over the weekend.

Today, the House managers filed their response to the president`s defense brief which offered a two pronged defense -- the president defense lawyers did. Their first defense is the president, quote, did nothing wrong. And the president`s lawyers` second defense is, even if every word of the charges against the president is true, that still doesn`t rise to the level of an impeachable offense that requires the president to be found guilty in the Senate trial and removed from office.

In the House managers response brief today, they said President Trump maintains that the Senate cannot remove him even if the House proves every claim in the articles of impeachment. That is a chilling assertion. It is also dead wrong. The Framers deliberately drafted a Constitution that allows the Senate to remove presidents who like President Trump abuse their power to cheat in elections, betray our national security and ignore checks and balances. That President Trump believes otherwise and insists he is free to engage in such conduct again only highlights the continuing threat he poses to the nation if allowed to remain in office.

Only if the Senate sees and hears all relevant evidence, only if it insists upon the whole truth can it render impartial justice.

Leading off our discussion tonight are Paul Butler, former federal prosecutor. He`s a law professor at Georgetown University, and an MSNBC contributor. Glenn Kirschner is with us, he`s a former federal prosecutor and an MSNBC legal analyst. And Norm Ornstein, a congressional scholar and a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute is with us on this historic night.

Paul, let me start with you on this question of the time. Mitch McConnell is saying you get two 12-hour sessions. Each side gets two 12-hour sessions or 24 hours that you can use 24 hours straight if you feel like it, 12 hours one day, 12 hours another day but a maximum of two days. So the natural division of that would be 12 and 12.

What`s your reaction to that?

PAUL BUTLER, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR:  So it`s about jurors, four jurors, the four Republicans who have the power to determine whether this is going to be a sham trial or whether this will be a trial with actual witnesses or evidence. Think of people like Senator Alexander, Senator Collins and Murkowski and Romney.

So, how long will it take to convince them that there should be witnesses? How long will it take them to understand they must subpoena John Bolton so they can find out why he called out the president`s dealings in Ukraine a drug deal, why he called Giuliani a hand grenade.

The concern with the 12 hours was it isn`t so much that it`s not enough time, is that it pushes it out of prime time, it pushes some of the most important testimony out of the public view. And that may cause people like Senator Collins to cave, to give in to her caucus. We saw she wasn`t very strong when it came to the Kavanaugh hearings.

So if within that time they can build momentum, again, to pressure senators who are standing on the fence to call witnesses, then it would be enough time.

O`DONNELL:  Glenn, let`s assume these rules are going to pass now strategically as a House manager you`re presenting this case. You got two days. You got 24 hours.

What do you do? Do you use all of those hours? Do you -- do you think about your audience and say how much of this am I going to put them through? They`re smart people.

How much does Mitt Romney really need? Does he need six hours from me to explain this? Do you divide it up six hours this day, eight hours the next? What do you do with these hours?

GLENN KIRSCHNER, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR:  So politicians generally like to talk, so I suspect they will fill all 12 hours each day. And I think if they do that, they run the risk of losing their audience and they run the risk of diminishing the impact of any particular point they may make.

I would try a case for two weeks. I would still try to keep my closing argument to about 90 minutes -- 


KIRSCHNER:  -- because after that, my jurors` eyes are glazing over. In long RICO trials, I did a six-month trial. I stilled tried to keep my arguments to about 3 or 4 hours because beyond that, it becomes a lot of white noise. So --

O`DONNELL:  What is the longest final argument you ever gave in a trial?

KIRSCHNER:  It was about a four-hour argument after a 6-month trial.

O`DONNELL:  Right.

KIRSCHNER:  So, these -- these senators, I mean, if they`re really intending to fill 12 hours a day with a whole bunch of speechifying, I mean, if we don`t have witnesses I agree with Paul. If we don`t have witnesses and we don`t have documents and we don`t have evidence, it`s not a trial. It`s just politicians talking, and that will do a disservice to the American people.

And you know what? Nothing will get resolved to anybody`s satisfaction.

O`DONNELL:  Norm, the Clinton lawyers were given more days and more hour, and they didn`t use all the time, which was a very wise choice in the Senate.

NORM ORNSTEIN, CONGRESSIONAL HISTORIAN:  You know, there`s a core here of what Trump did and what the allegations are. And if I were Adam Schiff and the other managers in the House and there`s seven of them, I would really lay it out in the first two hours. 1:00 when people are really going to be listening, and then I`d repeat it again in prime time. And I would put my strongest people forward in that maybe 5-hour break.

And remember, we`re not just talking 1:00 in the afternoon to 1:00 in the morning. There`s going to be breaks in between. So if they`re using all 12 hours, they`ll be going until 3:00 in the morning. If you want to use it, put forward your weakest people after 10:00 or 11:00 at night, after 11:00 because 10:00 is really prime time. And you don`t have to use all that time.

Now, what I would also use during this time is I would want to make the case -- and, you know, Paul mentioned four Republican senators. I`d say you`ve got a group of around eight or nine. And it includes not just Lamar Alexander who`s retiring although his initial comments are not ones that would leave one hopeful. But it`s all the ones up in 2020 who have to satisfy two constituencies: those suburban voters who are not real comfortable with what Trump did and that ardent base.

And you want to make the case to them that if they go with that ardent base they are violating a whole set of basic moral grounds and principles that are going to cost them when it comes to those elections. I`d want to put them on the hot seat as much as possible.

O`DONNELL:  Paul, the other -- another rule in the McConnell rules is any witness who is going to be called has to do a deposition first in private, and then after the deposition is complete, we will look at that deposition and then decide -- although that deposition anyway will be used as senators will make their decision on how to vote to accept that witness.

BUTLER:  You know, when we look at the witnesses who are in play, people like Mulvaney, people like Bolton, a deposition is only going to support their case that they must come before the Senate and tell the truth as they know it.

So I don`t think that there`s a special concern about depositions. Lawyers like to know what the testimony will be before the jury hears it. So that`s not the most important concern. With regard to the Clinton impeachment trial, there wasn`t a dispute about the facts in that case. Remember Bill Clinton said, yes, I committed perjury, I lied, but my lie under oath was about an extramarital affair. That doesn`t rise to the level of impeachment.

This president, on the other hand, does not have the character or the ethics to admit he did anything wrong. So part of the defense is this was a perfect call, I would do it again. And again, one of the problems with that defense, though, is that means that the facts are in dispute. Again, there must be witnesses.

O`DONNELL:  And, Glenn, quickly there`s a breaking new report from "The Washington Post" tonight saying that Republicans working in the White House and the Senate on the question of John Bolton`s testimony are saying that if John Bolton -- if the Senate does vote to do a deposition with John Bolton, they want to make the entire deposition classified. They want to -- they want to still try to find a way to then completely suppress the Bolton testimony.

KIRSCHNER:  You know, and what`s really interesting is there`s been a lot of talk about executive privilege. But notice, Trump has never once invoked executive privilege. You know why that is? Because if he does, there may be litigation on whether executive privilege applies when you`re committing crimes. It doesn`t.

That`s why his thing has been stonewall, stonewall, stonewall. Order all administrations officials not to appear and that is what gave us the second article for impeachment of obstructing Congress, which regardless of what Alan Dershowitz may say is a crime. In fact, look at count one in the Roger Stone indictment. It was what, 18 USC 1505, obstructing Congress for failing or refusing to give over documents, information about his contacts about WikiLeaks.

That is exactly what Donald Trump is doing and it`s a crime.


O`DONNELL:  We`ve got a break in here. Norm will be back.

Paul Butler and Glenn Kirschner, thank you for joining us. Norm Ornstein, thanks for starting us off.

And when we come back, Senator Richard Blumenthal will join us. He challenged the president`s lawyer Alan Dershowitz today, Dershowitz`s interpretation of the Constitution. He did that challenge on Twitter.

Senator Blumenthal will get a chance to do that same thing in the Senate chamber during the impeachment trial. Senator Blumenthal joins us next.



SCHUMER:  We Democrats aim to get the truth. And make no mistake about it, we will force votes on witnesses and documents. And it will be up to four Republicans to side with the Constitution, to side with our democracy, to side with rule of law and not side in blind obeisance to President Trump and his desire to suppress the truth because, in my judgment, he probably thinks he`s guilty.


O`DONNELL:  Donald Trump`s lawyers will be doing everything they can to convince those four Republican senators to block witnesses in the impeachment trial. That is the most important purpose of Alan Dershowitz`s appearance as a defense lawyer for President Trump, blocking witnesses.

Alan Dershowitz will be arguing that the articles of impeachment do not actually describe high crimes and misdemeanors and therefore, there is no basis for the Senate to convict the president. That also means there is no reason to call witnesses in a Senate trial if the charges do not amount to impeachable offenses as Dershowitz continues to insist.

That provoked Senator Richard Blumenthal to tweet this: Except that`s not what the Constitution says, Professor Dershowitz. Corrupt abuse of power for personal benefit -- what the evidence shows here is an impeachable offense.

And joining us now is Senator Richard Blumenthal, Democrat from Connecticut. He`s a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee and Armed Services Committee and he will be a juror and is already a sworn juror in the impeachment trial of Donald Trump.

Senator, thank you very much for joining us on the eve of history.

SEN. RICHARD BLUMETHAL (D-CT):  Thank you, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL:  Your job now as a juror in this trial.

I want to get your reaction to Senator McConnell`s rules that he released today that it looks like he has the votes for tomorrow.

BLUMENTHAL:  These rules are quite simply a shameful continuation of the cover-up that began with Donald Trump blocking all of the documents, every single, one sought or seeking by the House and all the key witnesses that they want to testify in the House. And Senator McConnell is taking his cues as he promised from the White House. He wants to block the existing record of evidence from the House and new witnesses and documents who have first- hand direct evidence of what the president saw and heard.

And as you have discussed so well on the show already he wants to squeeze this evidence into the early morning hours. And keep in mind that the chief justice presides over the Supreme Court until 1:00 or 2:00 in the afternoon. So there`s no way the Senate trial can begin in the early afternoon and it`s going to go in those early hours if they use all the time.

So, he essentially trying to straitjacket and really squeeze and cram the presentation by the House. He has to race against the clock. Time and truth are not on his side. Every day produces more evidence, and that`s why they need to have and permit us to have the witnesses and documents that are needed for a full, fair proceeding.

O`DONNELL:  One of the points you just made which I haven`t talked about yet is that one of the things in the McConnell rules is the Senate will not just automatically accept the record of the House impeachment investigation and everything it collected. In order to get that record formally adopted into the Senate trial, you`re going to have to have a vote for it, which means you`re going to have to ask for it, Democrats are going to have ask for that vote, and you`re going have to get some Republican senators to vote for that.

It`s kind of technical because all the material will be there on their senator`s desks but not to have it automatically included on the record is a procedurally shocking thing to see in the Senate. I want to get to this story coming out of the "The Washington Post" tonight saying that Republicans are trying to strategize a way for John Bolton to basically testify and not testify at the same time. That if he is called to a deposition, if you succeed in a vote in the Senate to get him called to a deposition, that they will somehow make that deposition completely classified.

BLUMENTHAL:  And the effort is going to be to conceal and hide. One has to ask if it was a perfect conversation on July 25th and the president was totally innocent in asking for that favor from President Zelensky of Ukraine. Why are they trying to in effect conceal so much?

And the effort to classify the Bolton deposition would be the height of arrogance and hypocrisy. But it would continue this effort to in effect conceal the truth from the American people.

O`DONNELL:  Here`s my first suggested question on the Bolton deposition. Have you told this entire story to your publisher in New York, which his answer is going to be yes if he`s under oath. How do you then classify a story he`s already put in writing to his book publisher in New York about what happened to Donald Trump in Ukraine?

BLUMENTHAL:  There`s no way that it can or should be classified. Presumably he has done -- vetting is required to publish anything by someone who has worked in the government if there are potentially classified material. But you have just highlighted a really important point, which is he will be paid a ton of money --

O`DONNELL:  Two million reportedly so far. Yes.

BLUMENTHAL:  And yet he`s been unwilling to come forward voluntarily without a subpoena.

And again, the point here is the American people really deserve the truth. This set of rules is a national disgrace as Senator Schumer said, but it`s also a historic disgrace because no other -- literally no other impeachment proceeding has gone without witness. And no other impeachment proceeding has there been such stonewalling and blocking.

Clinton had a full record that went to the House. Here, as you pointed, they`re trying to prevent it from going into the record without a vote. And the Bolton testimony would have to be preceded by depositions which would take time and, of course, senator McConnell will say, you know, we`ve spent enough time, let`s move on.

O`DONNELL:  Senator Blumenthal, thank you very much for joining us tonight. You have a big and long day in front of you tomorrow. Thank you for joining us.

BLUMENTHAL:  Thank you.

O`DONNELL:  And when we come back, what constitutes high crimes and misdemeanors? What does that mean? Those are magic words everyone was trying to figure out. I got a one sentence explanation for it 21 years ago that you`re going to want to hear next.


O`DONNELL:  Twenty-one years ago as the Clinton impeachment trial approached, I was no longer working in the Senate but I still frequently stopped by to visit my former boss, Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan. He was a world class scholar, a former Harvard professor, he was absolutely sure he was going to find the Holy Grail in his month of impeachment research before the Senate trial. The Holy Grail was, of course, the meaning of the words high crimes and misdemeanors.

After his month of studies, Senator Moynihan presented the results of his research to me and a one-sentence interpretation of the phrase, high crimes and misdemeanors. Senator Moynihan said it means whatever we say it means. And then after dramatic pause, he added the proof when he said, because there is no judicial review.

Senator Moynihan`s eyes danced with a scholar`s joy in finding the answer and his voice sunk, with in a lawyer`s disappointment in the vagueness of that answer.

Almost every phrase in the Constitution is subject to review by the Supreme Court as to its meaning, but the language of the impeachment clause is not subject to review by the Supreme Court. If a president is convicted by a two thirds vote in the Senate, the convicted president cannot appeal the case to the Supreme Court. There is no appeal process for impeachment convictions, no judicial review.

The Senate is the Supreme Court of impeachments. So, the meaning of the word of high crimes and misdemeanors is entirely up to the Senate, meaning each individual Senator.

There was no real fact defense of Bill Clinton, when he was on trial in the Senate for perjury, as we mentioned earlier in this hour. Bill Clinton did indeed commit perjury. He publicly confessed to committing perjury. That was enough for 45 Senators to vote to remove him from office. But 55 Senators believed that this particular perjury was not about something serious enough to fit their definition of high crimes and misdemeanors.

And they were all correct, because the Constitution deliberately leaves it completely up to Senators to decide how they personally interpret the phrase high crimes and misdemeanors, because the verdict of a Senate impeachment trial cannot be appealed.

The reality is a President can be impeached for anything or not impeached for anything. That is the reality.

Why didn`t the founders give the Senate more specific guidance on this important issue? Because they didn`t think the Senate would need that guidance. Remember, the founder`s notion of who Senators would be. They would all be white. They would all be wise. They would all be educated.

They`d all be aristocratic, and they would all be men. Men who would never have to lower themselves to publicly campaigning for office, because their names would never even appear on a ballot. The founders did not allow voters to vote for United States Senators. Senators were appointed by state legislatures. The founders did everything they could think of to isolate Senators from politics.

Six-year terms, no campaigning for office. But the founders, the founders would not recognize today`s United States Senate and they would not respect how today`s Senators won their seats in the United States Senate. And the founders definitely would never entrust today`s Senators with defining what is impeachable and what is not.

Up next, why Mitch McConnell`s attempt to railroad the Senate impeachment trial is the founder`s worst nightmare for the Senate. And the big question, how many Republican Senators will prove worthy of the responsibility the founders gave them to be impartial jurors of high crimes and misdemeanors in the impeachment trial of Donald John Trump.



SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY): A trial where there is no evidence, no existing record and no new evidence, no witnesses, no documents. That isn`t a trial at all. It`s a cover up. And the American people will see it for exactly what it is. Furthermore, Senator McConnell`s resolution states that key facts be delivered in the wee hours of the night. Simply because he doesn`t want the American people to hear them.


O`DONNELL: Joining our discussion now, David Frum is a senior editor for The Atlantic and a former speechwriter for George W. Bush. Also, back with us Norm Ornstein. And I just want to stipulate at the beginning. I`m just stunned that you can - a Senator from New York can now give press conferences outside of Penn Station. There`s no heckling, there`s this like sounds like the quietest street in the state of New York.

I worked for a Senator from New York. We wouldn`t have dared to try that. I guess is the seriousness of the moment. David Frum, we are faced with the question of how many Republicans will actually fulfill the role that the founders hoped they would in this situation.

Norm is guessing or estimating I should say from his professional experience that in the previous segment, it could be as many as nine Republicans who favor witnesses.

DAVID FRUM, SENIOR EDITOR, THE ATLANTIC: As I listen to the TV commentary tonight, I hear a lot of frustration. I hear some people who`ve been sounding a little disheartened and I think what I want to say to people like that and building on what Norm said is, first everyone knew we were coming to this moment that this was - that Mitch McConnell was going to try to do a stitch up. When the decision was made to proceed with impeachment, it was made knowing these odds.

But second what I would say to people especially watching, people engaged in politics and watching the show. This is a very dynamic situation, very unpredictable. And the very fact that Mitch McConnell is doing this so blatantly is also a sign of vulnerability. If I were Mitch McConnell doing his plays, I would want to make it seem fair, but actually be unfair.

But what he`s done, he`s not only making it unfair, he`s making it visibly unfair. And that may mobilize people. If you have a three or three area code, if you have a 207-area code, if you have a 515-area code, you will have a lot of power in your hands over the next 48 hours, use it.

O`DONNELL: I`m guessing that`s Kentucky.

FRUM: That`s Maine.


FRUM: Colorado and Iowa. Donald Trump although--

O`DONNELL: You have these area codes in your head. OK. I`ve got to do my homework. OK.

FRUM: Donald Trump is what nine points underwater in Iowa. So, although it has a Trump Senator and Joni Ernst, she faces a tough year this year.

O`DONNELL: Norm, we have something tonight that I don`t think anyone thought we`re going to have a month ago and that is here is Mitch McConnell bringing out rules that say you`re guaranteed, you`re guaranteed a vote on witnesses in the Senate impeachment trial. We didn`t have that a month ago. That was part of what Nancy Pelosi has earned in this pressure campaign.

NORM ORNSTEIN, CONTRIBUTING EDITOR, THE ATLANTIC: And I give Pelosi a great deal of credit for what she`s done. Now, when I say nine, those are targets. Most of those targets are going to be missed. But what we have is a couple of Senators who are not up this next time. And that includes Mitt Romney and Lisa Murkowski. We have Lamar Alexander who`s retiring. We have the three that David was referring to, Cory Gardner and Susan Collins and Joni Ernst.

You could add Thom Tillis, you could add Martha McSally. You could add David Perdue. All people who are in states with significant numbers of suburban voters who are not going to be happy if they deny witnesses. Now, I wouldn`t predict that any of them would vote to convict Donald Trump. But I think the pressure to do witnesses for people who know that their lives are on the line is tough now.

Now, on the other side of that is Martha McSally who by calling a very good professional reporter, a liberal hack and then raising money off it has made it clear that she`s all in with the Trump cult. And we`ll see soon whether others are going to follow with that and decide that they`re better off sticking with that core who will be with Trump, no matter what and who will be against them if they take even the slightest step to suggest there should be unfair trial.

FRUM: I think the calculus for Senator is not as public spirited as you suggested it should be in the previous segment. The ones who are confident, they will survive as David Perdue may be confident, will vote for Trump. And the ones who know their dead ducks will also vote for Trump, because they`ll be thinking about their post Senatorial career.

O`DONNELL: Their lobbying career.

FRUM: Their lobbying career. It`s the ones who have hope, those are the ones and that`s why Corey Gardner and Susan Collins are such important persons. And Joni Ernst too, because she knows she has a tough race, but she imagine she could win. And if her interest begins to diverge from those of the President that may alter things. But it`s a dynamic situation, public pressure will matter a lot and also, I think people need to be realistic of what the goal here is.

The Senate isn`t going to remove Donald Trump. That was never going to happen. You`re playing for time. You`re playing to push the final resolution past the State of the Union, because what no one wants to see is the President taking a victory lap and what everyone will be fascinated to see is the speech of world historical insanity he will deliver if he`s still under impeachment at the time of the State of the Union.

ORNSTEIN: Which is why of course McConnell wants to try and get this over with before that. Remember, Clinton did give his State of the Union during the impeachment process and so, it`ll be very interesting to see if he can get all these other people to go along. And remember, there may be more evidence emerging too. We`ve already seen a lot of it since the House delayed moving these articles over.

O`DONNELL: Norm Ornstein and David Frum, thank you both for joining us tonight. And when we come back, we`re exactly one year away from the next Inauguration Day in 2021. Jon Favreau has been out there talking to the voters who are going to decide this thing. That`s coming up.


O`DONNELL: The New York Times made history today by being just like the rest of us and not being able to make up its mind. The Times endorsed two candidates for President in the Democratic presidential primary, Senator Amy Klobuchar and Senator Elizabeth Warren and explaining why they chose to endorse two candidates. The Times said, there will be those dissatisfied that this page is not throwing its weight behind a single candidate, favoring centrists or progressives.

But it`s a fight, the party itself has been itching to have since Mrs. Clinton`s defeat in 2016 and one that should be played out in the public arena and in the privacy of the voting booth. That`s the very purpose of primaries to test market strategies and ideas that can galvanize and inspire the country.

Ms. Klobuchar and Ms. Warren right now are the Democrats best equipped to lead that debate, may the best woman win.

Today, eight of the Democratic candidates marched arm-in-arm through Columbia, South Carolina to honor the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on this holiday that commemorates Dr. King. That demonstration of arm-in- arm unity underlines a point made in the New York Times endorsement editorial.

The Times says, when we spent significant time with the leading candidates, the similarity of their platforms on fundamental issues became striking. Our next guest, Jon Favreau was the chief speechwriter for Senator Barack Obama and then President Barack Obama, which means Jon Favreau has had a hand or more in some of the best speeches in presidential history.

But speaking to American voters by the tens of millions through presidential speeches is a very different thing than speaking to them one- on-one. That is what Jon Favreau is doing now in focus groups around the country for his podcast, the wilderness on crooked media, in which he`s learning more about voters now than he ever has before. Here`s a sample of what voters in suburban Philadelphia told Jon Favreau.




FAVREAU: You`re embarrassed.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I`m embarrassed in front of the world, because of our politics. And I will say this as lot of people don`t agree with Trump, and I`m not a Trump-er. We`re losing our integrity. You know we can`t solidify somehow.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I`m embarrassed in that for I guess for how the leadership is conducting themselves because for so long, we teach children or youth or even growing up, oh, you behave this way, you do this, you go to work and it`s just like a formula to how you`re supposed to behave. So to see the President having like, Twitter wars or to be bullying on social media, when he doesn`t agree how he attacks people, how he makes people feel, just I don`t think that`s right and I`m embarrassed for that you know, as a people that it has come to that.


O`DONNELL: Joining us now is Jon Favreau. Jon, what`s it like to be out there one-on-one with voters?

FAVREAU: It was a lot of fun actually. You know, I mean we spent so much time, all of us, on Twitter, watching cable television and we sort of have this conversation. It`s very insular. And when you go out there and you actually talk to people who don`t pay attention to the news maybe as closely as we all do, you realize that a lot of the stuff we talk about just doesn`t really break through.

O`DONNELL: Let`s listen. I want to listen to what - this is my favorite kind of voter. Most interesting person in America, someone who voted for Barack Obama in 2012 and Donald Trump in 2016. You don`t get more interesting than that. This is a voter in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Let`s listen to this.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: With Trump, I`m honest. I voted for Trump too, because of some stuff that he said I agreed on and it turned out to be all lies. And while he`s focusing more on this money situation about building the wall for New Mexico that he`s taking the money from somewhere. And like I have like 30 some years before retirement. But where is it, what`s going to happen then like, do I have to work until I`m like 90 years old?


O`DONNELL: Jon, what are you learning from those Obama voters who voted for Trump?

FAVREAU: Yes, so I asked them why they voted for Obama and Trump, and they all said, I voted for Obama, because he was change. One guy actually said Obama wasn`t another old white guy, which is why I voted for him. And then they said and then we voted for Trump because he was change.

And then most of these people also voted Democrat in 2018. And so, they said they voted for Tony Evers, the current governor of Wisconsin, because he was a change from Scott Walker. And their problem is no matter how many times they vote for change, they don`t seem to see that change in their own lives, their health care costs are still too high.

There is gun violence in their schools. They`re worried about education and so they continue to vote for change because no politician actually improves their lives tangibly, at least not that they can remember or talk about.

O`DONNELL: OK. So, the voters that you`ve been talking to are for the most part are voters that the Democratic candidate, the Democratic nominee is going to want to get because they`re gettable.

FAVREAU: Absolutely.

O`DONNELL: They voted for Democrats before and they voted for Republicans, so now we`re going to listen to someone who voted for Mitt Romney in 2012, voted against Barack Obama in effect and then voted for Hillary Clinton. This is a voter in Phoenix, Arizona.


FAVREAU: Do you think that the government should guarantee health care for every American?


FAVREAU: Who else thinks that?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I agree. But I just I think there needs to be a public option.

FAVREAU: Who likes Medicare for All better and who likes the public option better.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I like the public option better.

FAVREAU: Public option.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don`t know, I feel like either would be better. We have I think I don`t know maybe you need the public option first and then eventually move to Medicare for All type thing.


O`DONNELL: Jon, so much for the radical Democratic ideas about health care. Here you`ve got some people who have voted for Republicans in the past and they`re wide open to what the Democratic candidates are saying about health care.

FAVREAU: Yes, I mean look, you can take away two different things from that conversation and one is that maybe some of these voters who voted for Democrats in recent elections aren`t quite ready for Medicare for All.

But what I took away is there`s 10 people who voted for Mitt Romney in 2012, who were all for the public option. Every single one of them. So, I think that`s a credit to a lot of the activists and progressive activists who have pushed the debate forward on Medicare for All that now we`re in a place where the moderate position is the public option which would still cover so many more people.

O`DONNELL: What does it tell you strategically for the Democratic candidates?

FAVREAU: I mean for the Democratic candidate it`s interesting , because you can sort of see where both sides of the Democratic Party are coming from in the primary because almost everyone I talked to really had this strong desire to upend the political system in Washington, right. They think that, they don`t trust the media. They don`t trust politics. They think everything`s too corrupt and so they really want a big change in Washington.

At the same time, when I ask them who their dream candidate would be. They talk about someone who can unify the country who can heal our divisions who can bring people together. And so you can sort of see where both sides of the Democratic primary are coming from and why the candidates are talking both about changing Washington in a fundamental way, but also sort of healing the divisions in our country, because the same kind of voters want both those things.

O`DONNELL: Jon, we`re going to squeeze in a break. When we come back, I want to ask you about how these people you`ve been talking to fit into the impeachment polls that we`ve been looking at. We`ll be right back with Jon Favreau.


O`DONNELL: We`re just two weeks away from the first voting in the Iowa caucuses and polls indicate that any one of the top four candidates can win the Iowa caucuses. In 2008, Jon Favreau`s candidate Barack Obama won the Iowa caucuses and the rest is history and now Jon Favreau is talking to voters who voted for Barack Obama, but then didn`t vote or voted for a third-party candidate in 2016, when Donald Trump was running.


FAVREAU: How many people, show of hands are planning on voting in 2020? Everyone is voting. All right. How many people are definitely not voting for Trump? So, no one`s definitely. OK. Who is definitely voting for the Democratic nominee? One, two, three, three people, OK.


FAVREAU: So, this is fascinating.


O`DONNELL: And we`re back with Jon Favreau. It sure is fascinating Jon, because if that holds up across the country in those swing states then Donald Trump loses because that vote is the vote by which he won, the people who voted for Barack Obama and then either did not vote or voted third party last time.

FAVREAU: Yes, I mean we definitely need a lot of those people that I talked to, those kinds of voters, people who sat out in 2016 or voted third party to vote for the Democrat this time. And I think the key is for the Democratic candidates is you have to - the biggest challenge is not just Donald Trump. It is the cynicism and distrust that these voters feel towards all of our political institutions including the media, including both parties.

O`DONNELL: And so, if the New York Times could not make up its mind about who to choose in the Democratic primaries, these voters seem to have at least as much struggle as the New York Times does.

FAVREAU: Yes. No, I mean they had heard of Joe Biden. They`ve heard of Bernie Sanders a couple had heard of Elizabeth Warren. But that`s about it. That`s all they had heard about from the Democratic candidate. So, I think the candidates have - I mean look, these candidates have to reach these voters where they are. And because these voters aren`t paying as close attention to media and to the news as much as everyone else and a lot of the more committed activists that means the Democrats need to show up where they live.

They need to organize on the ground, and they have to break through this cynicism and that`s going to require more than a critique of Donald Trump, more than a critique of Republican policies and probably even more than a vision of progressive government. It`s going to require persuading people that they can actually deliver on that vision that we can have a government that functions, that we can have an ethical honest government that staffed with public servants who believe in the law, that we`re not - Democratic candidates not going to pay attention to the silly squabbles on Twitter.

They`re going to pay attention to the big fights that actually matter to most people and that they`re going to represent everyone no matter who you are, where you come from, what you look like, and you who voted for. Because our party is a party that actually believes in Democracy.

O`DONNELL: How do the voters you`ve been talking to in these groups feel about impeachment?

FAVREAU: They don`t know much about it. They know it`s going on. But when I talk to them, it was during sort of the House hearings and all they could say was we heard the people were testifying for a really long time and that Trump probably did something bad in Ukraine. That`s like the most that I`ve got from people.

O`DONNELL: And just to underline the point for you was to talk to the voters who don`t pay intense attention to what`s going on, because they`re the late deciders in elections and they`re the ones who in the end usually tip it one way or the other. So, that`s why we were targeting them in your groups, right?

FAVREAU: Yes, that`s right because -- and -- they all said that they`re going to vote in 2020. So these aren`t people who said that they`re going to stay home. So they`re going to vote one way or the other, but the question is when do they actually tune in? And in the primary, it`s not until the end and in the general election it`s not until the last month, last couple weeks.

O`DONNELL: Jon Favreau gets tonight`s LAST WORD. Thanks for joining us, Jon. Really appreciate it.

FAVREAU: Thanks for having me, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: "THE 11TH HOUR" -- thank you -- "THE 11TH HOUR" with Brian Williams starts now.