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tv   The Last Word With Lawrence O Donnell  MSNBC  October 3, 2019 7:00pm-8:00pm PDT

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it's time for "the last word with lawrence o'donnell." hi are, i never get to say good evening. >> you've come to me ten seconds early. >> see, she's never early. >> no, the tradition with rachel is she knows i'm not ready, she gives me usually about 40 seconds to get ready. >> i could sing, i could do something. >> so nicole, i spent the day in washington where needless to say heads are spinning on the developments of the day. and the feeling here is that impeachment is inevitable. and if something can become more inevitable, it's donald trump, who finds out how to make it more inevitable every day. >> the city does feel different. and he does appear, at least today, to be making their jobs a little easier. >> yeah. he's doing their work for them. thank you, nicole. >> have a good show. another day, another smoking gun. today we actually got two more smoking guns if you're counting.
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depends on how you're counting. in the impeachment investigation of president trump. three, actually. maybe it's three. you'll decide at the end of this hour. and we are going to have to spread out these three smoking guns throughout the hour. we have to find room in this hour also to discuss a new whistle-blower emerging at the irs who may be reporting something about the president's tax returns. and at the end of the hour we'll take a look at how vice president mike pence's week is going as he is now sinking deeper and deeper into the mud of the impeachment investigation of his boss. we begin tonight with the president's solicitation of re-election campaign help from ukraine. the smoking guns are really piling up in this case. we already have a smoking gun in the president's phone call to the president of ukraine, the rough transcript of that, in which the president solicited ukraine's help in his re-election campaign by asking ukraine to investigate joe
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biden. once again today, again, the president publicly solicited help from ukraine by publicly asking ukraine to investigate joe biden. so that's a second smoking gun on the ukraine case. but each time the president solicits ukraine for help in his re-election come pain, he is actually committing a new crime. it's like robbing the same bank again. it's a stupid thing to do. but most criminals are pretty stupid. that's why they're criminals. today the president delivered a new smoking gun himself when yelling to reporters with a helicopter waiting in the background, the president once again asked ukraine to help in his re-election campaign and for good measure he threw in china too and asked china to help in his re-election campaign by investigating joe biden. the president seems to think that if he is announcing something in public, then it cannot be a crime. cannot be an impeachable offense. it's like a bank robber thinking if he yells over the sound of
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his getaway helicopter while he is robbing the bank, then it's legal. the president obviously watched this program and others last night where we emphasized that he had absolutely no answer, no defense, when he was asked yesterday by white house reporter jeff mason what he wanted the president of ukraine to do on that now-famous phone call. donald trump got completely flustered in the face of that question yesterday, and he no doubt got enraged watching our coverage of his desperately clumsy inability to answer that question, ending with him absurdly asking the reporter, are you talking to me? so donald trump apparently decided overnight to show us just how strong his answer to that question could be. and in the process he managed to commit a few more crimes. here is donald trump today in the face of that question deciding to confidently confess
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to a crime. >> mr. president, what exactly did you hope zelensky would do about the bidens after your phone call? >> well, i would think that if they were honest about it, they'd start a major investigation into the bidens. >> that was criminal enough. that was impeachable enough. he wasn't finished. he really wanted to show us just how hard he worked on that answer overnight. so he kept going. and he said this. >> by the way, likewise, china should start an investigation into the bidens. because what happened to china is just about as bad as what happened with ukraine. >> the president went on to lie incessantly about joe biden. we will not give him the pleasure of spreading those lies here. and we have so many developments on the ukraine case today that we won't even get to that new trump smoking gun about china
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until later in the hour. while the president was committing crimes and impeachable offenses on live tv, kurt volcker was big over nine hours of under oath testimony to three house committees working on the impeachment of the president. it was a deposition behind closed doors, but some elements of kurt volcker's testimony have found their way into "the new york times" tonight. kurt volcker resigned last week as the state department's special envoy to ukraine. it's not at all clear why this state department needed an envoy to ukraine when we already had an ambassador to ukraine. but it seems one of kurt volcker's missions was to translate trump to the new ukrainian president. that means kurt volcker was in frequent contact with bill taylor, who became in effect the acting ambassador in ukraine after donald trump removed an ambassador who rudy giuliani did not find to be cooperative enough in his ukraine schemes that were designed to force ukraine to help the trump campaign by investigating joe biden. "the new york times" reports
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this smoking gun in kurt volcker's under oath testimony today. he disclosed a set of texts in september in which bill taylor, the top american diplomat in ukraine, alluded to mr. trump's decision earlier in the summer to freeze a military aid package to the country. he told mr. sondland and mr. volcker, i think it's crazy to withhold security assistance for help with a political campaign. that is a very smoky gun, in writing. a member of the trump administration's diplomatic corps, the highest-ranking diplomat in ukraine puts the trump crime in writing in a text. i think it's crazy to withhold security assistance for help with a political campaign. it's all there, everything you need is right there in that text. secretary of state mike pompeo is block iing sundland, the oth person on that text, from
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testifying to the house. sundland is united states ambassador to the european union. now we know why mike pompeo is blocking his testimony. sundland is in possession of at least one text in which america's top diplomat in ukraine says, i think it's crazy to withhold security assistance for help with a political campaign. it's all right there in that text. withhold security assistance for help with a political campaign. mike pompeo didn't want you to know that those words were ever written by one of the ambassadors in ukraine. how many more smoking guns are there in the state department text messages, in their email records and documents that mike pompeo is now refusing to hand over to the house of representativetives? "the new york times" is reporting tonight kurt volcker and gordon sundland cowrote a statement for the president of ukraine to make about investigating joe biden. the "times" reports the
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statement would have committed ukraine to investigating the energy company burisma which would have called for the ukrainian government to look into what mr. trump and miss allies believe was interference by ukranians in the 2016 election in the united states to benefit hillary clinton. the president of ukraine never delivered that statement that was written for him by the trump administration. leading off our discussion tonight, evelyn fargas, she served on the professional staff of the senate armed services committee, is now an msnbc national security analyst. joining us, john hofland, msnbc news, cohost and executive producer of showtime's "the circus." evelyn, start with you and where we are on this ukraine case. you know some of the players in this case. you know kurt volcker.
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what do you make of his testimony today? and what more do you think we're going to be learning bill? >> right, so as you say, i know ambassador ivanovic, who also testified -- >> the one removed by donald trump from her position. >> i know her, i know her deputy, also being held back by pompeo. i know kurt volcker. i know from a source close to the investigation a bit of what happened today, a bit of the context, i guess. again, this is secondhand. at least. but essentially it seems that what volcker was trying to do, and i've known him a long time so i'm giving him a lot of benefit of the doubt, was to try to maneuver the situation so that he can get president trump to meet with president zelensky, the new ukrainian president. he thought that giuliani was feeding a bunch of garbage that he had heard from some ukrainians, one ukranian in particular, to president trump, and he needed to just get the truth from zelensky.
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the problem that is kurt volcker is the envoy, the president's envoy. the president should be listening to kurt volcker, who's a long-time -- never mind he was appointed by trump, he's a long-time foreign service officer for many years before he got out and started to work for the mccain institute. so president trump should have been listening to him, but he was listening to rudy giuliani. so kurt's trying to maneuver it so that he can inoculate trump and maybe convince giuliani somewhere along the way that there's no problem with ukraine under this new president, and maybe steer him away from the investigation. now i can't speak to what kurt knew, what these guys knew. clearly the new acting ambassador, bill taylor, relatively new, we'll see how long he lasts, i know him as well. he was also pointing out to them what they were doing, and they shouldn't be doing it. the document that "the new york times" has is a draft and apparently both kurt and the ukrainian go-between, the same guy that giuliani met with -- >> the statement they wanted the president of ukraine to make? >> exactly. >> they have a draft of that.
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>> they agreed to drop it because the ukrainians got nervous, they didn't want to mention biden, i don't know if they wanted to mention burisma, the oil company, and they decided let's drop this. kurt didn't get what he wanted because he wanted a separate meeting with president trump and president zelensky, not on the sidelines of the u.n. meeting, because it would have been a bigger deal to have it at the white house. >> john hyland. by the way, this is an available reading of the evidence. when you look at all this evidence, you can look at volcker, for example, and say, this is either a guy who, as the text says, is part of this scheme to withhold aid for a political campaign favor. you could see him as part of that. or you could see him as someone who is struggling under the burden of that desire created by rudy giuliani and donald trump. and he's trying to get to the right place. he's trying to get ukraine to
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the right place. and he's saying, look, just say this. let's trump hear you say this then everything will be okay. >> i don't want to express lack of interest in that topic. i don't know kurt volcker and there's psychoanalysis involved in that. i want to step back to the beginning of what you were saying. what's happened today, which is the president of the united states went out and has already confessed to this crime, then doubled and tripled down on the crime. to your point, he does seem to think -- he understands, i think, now, that there are no facts in contention here. given that it has been explained to him, since there are no facts in dispute, you can argue process, right? you can say, democrats are in league with the whistle-blowers, shifty, you can say all that stuff. on the facts, the only way out to say, yes, i did this thing, because it's clear i did, and it's okay. and to make the point that it's okay is the best way to do that is do it again, do it as publicly as possible, in the most flaming, gratuitous way
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that you can. watching this happen today, eight arrived in washington from the west coast, making "the circus" this week. came here looking for a republican, any republican, any republican who would come on camera to talk to me about what's going on. maybe the worst day in the history of my life trying to book a republican in washington to talk about donald trump. because there's no one who wants to get within a mile of a camera on this day. even donald trump's most stalwart defenders are like, no, thank you. that's how bad what happened this morning for trump is in the way the politics are shifting. >> thank you for refocusing on the smoking guns. when you have smoking guns, why talk about anything else? >> they're sitting there on the table smoking, i have a hard time ignoring them. >> evelyn, so i think what we're seeing in the president's behavior today is one of the failures of the mueller report,
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and i want to make a distinction here between the mueller investigation, which was comprehensive and professional and discovered all sorts of things we needed to know, then the delivery of the mueller report, because it's in the mueller report where they have the passage about the president saying, russia, if you're listening. and the mueller report basically lets him off the hook in that scene at the end of those paragraphs. and donald trump, he didn't read it, of course. but he was briefed on it. he said, hey, you got away with the russia, are you listening, the mueller report thing, they were afraid to touch you on that. as soon as he learned that, i think that's what gave him his inspiration for going out there today and doing it again. because what the mueller report said was there was something in that public moment of russia, are you listening, that indicated that donald trump didn't really know what he was doing. in other words, there was something that smells like innocence in donald trump's mind
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in that passage of the mueller report. >> yeah, i think you're right, lawrence. i think he thinks he can get away with somehow being innocent or crazy. i mean, i don't know what his defense will be ultimately. and unfortunately a lot of his defenders, they don't understand the law. so i was on a radio show, somebody asked me, what's wrong with asking this question? if your uncle frank -- if president trump was saying, did uncle frank did something bad in ukraine? maybe that would be okay. it would be weird because the fbi should be looking into what a u.s. citizen is doing in ukraine. but the fact that he asked about his opponent in the upcoming election is illegal. and i think a lot of americans just don't understand that. >> and john, one of the things, one of the defenses that we've heard about trump from republicans over the years, oh, that's just donald being donald, trump being trump. they're not even throwing that defense out there right now but that's clearly was trump was going for today with the helicopter behind him yelling these crimes into the microphone
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was, i want them to do the that's just trump being trump thing. >> i think it's clear that there are multiple layers of potential cover-up involved in this ukraine scandal, right? but in trump's mind, i think he's he he'sahistorical. he knows a couple of things about watergate. he knows, follow america. also, the worst crime is not the crime itself, it's the cover-up. if you believe that's one of the shibbolets from that experience, you kind of making the claim, it can't be a cover-up if i'm standing in front of you saying it. somehow confessing to it in that overt way, in trump's mind he's dispelling any sense he's covering something up, he has nothing to be ashamed of, saying it over and over again. there are cover-ups but i think there's something in trump's mind, you're right, there's no question that he is the person who when someone gets away with
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a crime -- two kinds of people, one who gets away with a crime, wow, i barely got away with that i'll never do that again. there but for the grace of god go i. and the other person goes, i can do that again. again, again, again. trump is in the latter category. >> one of those is a professional category. when you're a criminal by profession, when you get away with something, that's a lesson about how to do it next time. >> it's like jumping out of a perfectly good plane, if you do it a couple of times, you're not afraid anymore. >> what more should we expect from basically the state department sources that the house is trying to hear from? pompeo's blocking them so far. the only reason we heard from volcker is he resigned from the state department last week. >> right, exactly. i think we'll either get more whistle-blowers, more pressure on pompeo -- this position can't hold, it's untenable. i understand there are ig investigation ongoing. one in d.o.d. that's been very quiet. i don't know how it was started.
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i'm hearing also from other agencies. all kinds of disgruntled words. they said, evelyn, we see documents that aren't accurate all the time. like records of meetings. so it's really disturbing. but this judge last night, amy berman jackson, who said, hold all the documents. i think we're going to see a lot more coming out in the form of paper. >> john, this is a white house that has fought every form of legal process, every subpoena. they're going to continue to do that, aren't they? >> they are. >> state department's going to continue. why -- i mean, evelyn, i understand this point about pompeo's going to feel the pressure. really? i mean, that's what at least half-decent people used to feel in those jobs. i haven't noticed a trump person -- wilbur ross doesn't feel the pressure about the scandals in his department. >> i don't think they feel pressure. i think what ultimately -- what i think people who believe this impeachment inquiry -- the impeachment inquiry and the formal declaration, why that was important, was that it would expedite some of these court
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processes that have taken a long time to resolve the question of subpoenas before judges, where in the context of a formal impeachment inquiry, those things can be fast tracked. nixon and the 14 days or whatever it took to get the court ruling on the smoking gun tape, right? i think the only pressure they will feel is not a pressure, not more pressure, political pressure, but if there is a genuine expediting of legal processes that bring that kind of pressure to bear that could change their calculus. >> which brings up the contempt of congress thing. that's what i meant by eventually you'll see that pressure. >> evelyn, john, thank you both for starting us off. when we come back, john just told us that he couldn't get any republicans to go on camera today. well, there were some cameras in washington today trying to get republicans on camera, we'll show you what they got. as a struggling actor,
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now you can take control of your home wifi and get a notification the instant someone new joins your network... only with xfinity xfi. download the xfi app today. no one blows the whistle on donald trump quite like donald trump. >> and by the way, likewise, china should start an investigation into the bidens, because what happened to china is just about as bad as what happened with ukraine. >> donald trump's task force about colluding with foreign governments for his presidential campaign has gone from i didn't do it to i would do it again to okay everybody watch me do it. after committing that crime on live tv today, donald trump told
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reporters that he had not previously asked president xi to investigate his political rival, but cnn is reporting tonight that donald trump raised the subjects of joe biden and elizabeth warren during a phone call with the chinese president on june 18th. and donald trump said in that phone call promised that he would stay quiet on hong kong protests for freedom while trade talks continued with china. according to cnn, the record of that call was also placed in that highly secure server where the transcript of his call with the ukrainian president still sits. joyce, i want to go straight to you for a legal opinion on what donald trump did today and what he said. >> well, donald trump built a very compelling criminal case against himself today confessing
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on national television to committing campaign finance crimes. you make this point and it's important to remember, congress doesn't need an actual violation of federal law or of criminal law. what they're looking for is a high crime and misdemeanor. i think it's just sort of the ultimate nuance from this president who can't seem to do anything to save himself that he would actually commit crimes in public and appear to be proud of it. >> and now it's china. >> it's china. and i do think of the two things that happened today, learning that he told xi that he would keep quiet about hong kong during the trade talks is actually more freshly damning than what he said on the white house lawn. this is open corruption of the presidency of the united states. on the one hand, we have someone who is so focussed on himself and his own interests that he
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solicits assistance on his campaign rivals. but in the case of hong kong, he's essentially selling off the commitment to freedom by the united states in order to get something through this trade deal process. there is no particular indication that the trade deal that he gets is going to be anything that changes the lives of americans in a substantial way, but the very idea that he is so focussed on his own personal accomplishments that he would sell out the moral commitments of the united states in such a straight forward way is kind of stunning. >> it's such an important point that john just made. and the other thing i think we know about donald trump is he absolutely does not care about the freedom of people in hong kong. and so his -- the idea that his would be the voice standing up for them is hard to imagine even if he wasn't trying to get some
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kind of trade deal with china, but that makes him the very first president in history who would side with china against protesters like this. >> well, this president is no friend to anyone's civil rights whether it's domestic or foreign. and to join's point and your point, this makes it all the more critical that the american public, the congressional investigators have access to full transcripts from these calls. we need to know what our president has been saying. that conduct needs to be assessed. and it's so suspicious that these memos of conversation would be filed rather than as they would routinely and normally be filed for the president's classification system that they have been put on the code word server which is an entirely different sort of process. it's more like hiding the transcripts than it looks like filing them. and it's something that we need
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to have brought to the forefront. those transcripts will be the best evidence of these conversations. >> lawrence, you talked before the break about republicans not willing to talk. i experienced some of that today. i had a text exchange with one congressman. he said can you talk a minute. talked to another one who said i kind of wish he hadn't said what he said, poor choice of words, but it's not a crime, which is the distinction that joyce referred to a moment ago. not necessary for impeachment, but that's the line they're staying on the other side of. i think it will be harder for republican politicians to defend the sacrifice of the interest of people in hong kong. that broke late in the day. i bet some republicans feel obliged. >> let's take a quick look. a lot of members are not in washington right now. reporters didn't really catch up, but voters did.
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let's listen to how that went. >> whistleblower should be protected, please let folks out there know. >> our president shouldn't be threatening them and should not be encouraging other countries to investigate his political rivals. >> i would say to that, corruption no matter where it is should be ferreted out. i don't care where it is. i don't care who it is, when it is, corruption is corruption and it should be combatted. we're going to move on to another question. what i would say is we can't determine that yet. >> so if you want to get a question in, you will have to get out of washington to find them. thank you both for joining us tonight. when we come back, the other whistleblower, the new one. tonight we have new details about a whistleblower complaint filed by a career irs official
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about possible interference with the standard audit that is always done on the tax returns of the president and the vice president. that's next. resident and the v president. that's next. with my hepatitis c, i felt i couldn't be at my best for my family. in only 8 weeks with mavyret, i was cured and left those doubts behind. i faced reminders of my hep c every day. but in only 8 weeks with mavyret, i was cured. even hanging with friends i worried about my hep c. but in only 8 weeks with mavyret, i was cured. mavyret is the only 8-week cure for all common types of hep c. before starting mavyret your doctor will test if you've had hepatitis b which may flare up and cause serious liver problems during and after treatment. tell your doctor if you've had hepatitis b, a liver or kidney transplant, other liver problems, hiv-1, or other medical conditions,
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washington post is reporting new details tonight about another whistleblower complaint inside the trump administration. an internal revenue service official has filed a whistleblower complaint reporting that he was told by at least one treasury department political appointee who attempted to improperly interfere with the annual audit
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of the president or vice president's tax returns according to multiple people familiar with the document. officials dismissed the whistleblower's complaint as flimsy because it is based on conversations with other officials but congressional democrats were alarmed by the complaint now circulating on capitol hill and flagged it to a federal judge. they are also discussing whether to make it public. the existence of this whistleblower complaint was first disclosed in august in august who wrote that the complaint reveals potential inappropriate efforts to influence the mandatory audit program. democrats are demanding president trump's tax returns be released in accordance with a law that gives access to any tax returns. after this break, we'll be joined by john halman once again and the former director of the u.s. office of government
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ethics. walter schaub used to be the conscience of the federal government. he resigned from that job when he realized it was going to be impossible to carry out the duties with the trump administration making a mockery of the ethics rules in government. that's next. ethics rules in government. that's next. saturdays happen. pain happens. aleve it. aleve is proven better on pain than tylenol. when pain happens, aleve it. all day strong.
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are being audited. every president since richard nixon has made everyone of their tax returns fully public while those tax returns were automatically being audited by the irs. joining us now is the former director of the u.s. office of government ethics. he resigned in protest of the trump administration's failure in the category of ethics. i want to get your reaction to the reporting tonight on the whistleblower now within the irs. we seem to be learning more about it. we are maybe weeks away from seeing exactly what that is. it sounds like someone at treasury reaching in in some way interfering with what has become the automatic tax audit of both the president and vice president's returns. >> that's right. the allegation, we don't know the specifics of, but the
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understanding is that somebody may have reached out and tried to influence it. i think what's really important to understand is that treasury department officials don't communicate with irs officials about specific reports. so that's extraordinary. but the existence of this complaint itself, even if the investigation ultimately clears whoever allegedly did this shows why congress needs access to these tax returns of the president. of course, we're only in this position because the president didn't release his tax returns. >> yes and it turns out i think a lot of us thought that it was just a law. it was law, that we had written a law that says president and vice president's tax returns are automatically audited. we didn't. it is just a custom and it was a custom that no president prior to now dared to tamper with. >> many of the best things in our government that is just a norm. >> what we have found in the course of the trump
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administration is that many norms have helped. some of them have not. what we found is that the president of the united states is willing to trample over them at any given point. i'm a little confused by this story. what do you think is actually going on in this story? as i read it now three or four times and i can't get what is being alleged other than there is a whistleblower which is interesting as a dynamic, the notion that the whistleblowers are coming forth in washington is an interesting thing. what is being alleged as the wrong doing here? >> we don't actually know. the law strictly protects access to tax returns and imposes severe penalty. that will make it a little harder for congress to be able to release this one than they did the ukraine whistleblower's complaint. but they are apparently researching that and analyzing whether they can do it. so the only thing we do know is that the complaint involves a potential effort by some political appointee at the
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treasury department level with regard to the tax return of either the president or the vice president that was being reviewed by irs officials. that may pan out to involve no misconduct or it may involve very serious misconduct, because if the allegation is true, that's really an extraordinary thing because again they don't communicate about individual complaints. and the department level officials have no role in the irs review of the president's report. >> because this is an arena that no one has tampered with since nixon, it could be a trump appointee calling up the irs saying the audit you do with the president's returns, don't do it. i'm not sure that legally there would be anything wrong with that, because there is no law that says they must do the audit. >> i think that gets to the point of there are some areas that we will learn is that there are some areas where we should
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codify some and it just been norms and standard practices because we thought no president would be shameless as to ignore them. we have to create either an enormous political cost or a legal prohibition. there are circumstances which there is no political price to pay. we need these laws to become statutory. >> i'm sure your head is filled with things that some of which are statatory but don't have penalties that force enforcement like kellyanne conway constantly violating the law by basically campaigning. turns out the penalty is administered by your boss which means there is no penalty. maybe we need a codified penalty for that. >> we will need a lot stronger laws that come with some teeth. i think one of the most important things is we really need stronger whistleblower protections, because you can't have an inspector general
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program, you can't have an ethics program be truly effective if whistleblowers are afraid to come forward with wrong doing. >> thank you both very much for joining me tonight. really appreciate that. when we come back, we have breaking news about the 9 1/2 hour deposition that took place tonight, the chairman of the committees involved have released a statement and information about that deposition. and information about that deposition. performance comes in lots of flavors. there's the amped-up, over-tuned, feeding-frenzy-of sheet-metal-kind. and then there's performance that just leaves you feeling better as a result. that's the kind lincoln's about. ♪ pain happens. saturdays happen. aleve it. aleve is proven better on pain than tylenol.
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this hour from the committees that are doing the impeachment investigation who conducted the 9 1/2 hour deposition today with former state department envoy kurt volker. the committee chairman released a statement saying today's hearing and the documents obtained and the text messages have been very revealing. they say these reflect serious concerns raised by a state department official about the detrimental effects of with holding critical military assistance and the importance of setting up a meeting without further delay. we quoted you one of the texts that had already leaked earlier in this hour. that was from bill taylor. that was bill taylor saying on a text i think it's crazy to with hold security assistance for help with a political campaign. this document released tonight
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by the chairs of the mitties now provides the full context and the full exchange on the text, also has a text from bill taylor to others involved in the discussions about ukraine. are we now saying that security assistance and white house meeting are conditioned on investigation? that was a text to gordon whose response was call me. that is a recurring response from gordon we have seen in these texts that whenever bill taylor goes into the essence of what the trump administration is up to linking aid to a criminal investigation of joe biden, gordon always wants to take that off of written record and move it on to a verbal phone call. we are joined now by phone by congressman eric swaulwell who was in some of that or most of that or all of that deposition
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today who knew about the information and was unable to comment on it in his previous comments until released. what else can you tell us about this information that's now being released? >> good evening. i was present for the whole interview with the ambassador. first he kwaub rated entirely what the whistleblower complaint stated, that there was a shake down, a shadow shake down going on by rudy giuliani. it looks like ordered by president trump. as the whistleblower said, he was told that there was an effort to have the ukrainians quote/unquote play ball. here's what the ukrainians understood as soon as president zelensky was sworn into office that there were two asks from the white house. if he wanted a meeting with president trump he had to investigate the 2016 election and exonerate russia and two
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investigate the bidens. that ask was made throughout the process of him being president up until the phone call and beyond. we have evidence of state department officials particularly bill taylor expressing concern concern even he came on board to be the second in command in ukraine of the role that rudolph giuliani was playing. and just a couple of weeks ago mr. taylor said he thought it was crazy that security assistance would be tied to the president's political campaign. >> this report tonight that kurt volker cowrote a statement that they hoped the president of ukraine would give, and he cowrote that with gordon sondland. was that part of his testimony today? >> i'm going to leave to it the text messages that were released, but you do see in those text messages that there was a concerted effort. it looks like it was being led by the president, carried out by rudy giuliani to make sure the
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ukrainians were expressing to president trump that they would indeed investigate the 2016 election, as well as this upcoming 2020 election as it related to a potential 2020 appointee. so, again, that corroborates what the whistle-blower says that also really i would say corroborates the president's intent on that phone call. and it gives us new witnesses to interview as we go forward. >> on this text from bill taylor to gordon sondland where he says are we now saying that security assistance and white house meeting, that means a white house meeting for president of ukraine. are we now saying that security assistance and white house meeting are conditioned on investigati investigations? gordon sondland, his sunday is just "call me." do we know what happened when bill taylor called him? do we know what was said then? >> no, we don't. that's why we have a new
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witness, a potential witness in mr. taylor. but, again, when so much of this is taking place on whatsapp, that's the form they're talking and then it's moved off of that, again, you can conclude i believe that it's become that ambassador sondland does not want to discuss what the president's true intentions are. and you do see that, as you pointed out, a number of times. mr. taylor consistently, from the time he is placed in charge or is the second in command and then there is no ambassador, and he is essentially the de facto ambassador, he has concerns about rudy giuliani's role. and then you see ambassador volker who i would describe as a serious ambassador who is running a parallel diplomacy effort as rudy giuliani is truly the one who has the president's intentions. ambassador volker, i believe was carrying out the intentions of the united states to deliver
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security assistance to ukraine while rudy giuliani was carrying out the ambitions and desires of president trump, which was to benefit himself in an upcoming election. >> did kurt volker tell you today under oath why he resigned from the state department last week? >> you know, he did, and i don't want to go into that. the transcript is going to be released soon, but we believe the text messages really do speak for themselves. and, you know, it is clear that a shadow shakedown was being run by rudy giuliani to benefit his client, not the office of the president, but donald trump, an individual who had a vested political interest in a 2020 outcome where he was leveraging u.s. tax dollars to his benefit. >> congressman eric swalwell, thank you very much for joining us. >> thank you. >> my pleasure. and john holliman is back with us and norm ornstein, a
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congressional historian, resident scholar at the american enterprise institute, and this table is stacked with text messages that you have all been studying as quickly as you can while the congressman has been talking. david, go ahead. >> i don't know if the seriousness of the conversation you just hadid justice to these texts. this is like a high school musical about evil wrongdoers. i'm looking at july 25th of 2019. kurt volker, good lunch, thanks. he will investigate, quote, get to the bottom of what happened in 2016, we will nail down date for visit to washington. good luck. see you tomorrow. so the visit to the white house, it's in a text message is predicated on getting to the bottom of trump's crazy fantasies. >> so there is china in july in a text message. they're texting about china investigating the bidens in july. >> they're texting about getting the ukrainians to endorse this
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insane theory that trump has that seth rich is the person who actually hacked -- >> i'm sorry, was that referring to president z.? oh, z. as in zelensky. >> not xi. >> and you go through them again and again. as i say, we're talking to greatly and congressman swalwell does such a good job, was talking to seriously and such respect for the institutions, and you read this and it is a high school musical. >> norm, this is one of the challenges when we're covering the gang that couldn't shoot straight. but when they're trying to destroy the world. one they're basically shooting against the freedom protesters in hong kong, when they're shooting against ukraine trying to maintain its independence from russia in effect. that's what this crazy gang that isn't shooting straight is firing bullets around. so keeping a straight face when we start reading their stuff isn't that easy. >> i threw up a little in my mouth as i read some of this
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stuff. i will tell you, lawrence, i've been here for 50 years. >> you don't look it. >> well, i came a very young age. i have never seen a level and depth of corruption, trait trous depth that we have here and complicity all across the board. what i find striking about some of these texts is bill taylor trying to do the right thing. >> yes. >> and gordon sondland any time something comes up that sounds a little fishy says let's stop texting, call me. what does that mean? that means i'm not going to put on a text that's going to be released somewhere. >> it's kind of late. please delete this evil confession. >> but the lying here, but the idea that donald trump cares about corruption. >> right. >> when he cuddles up to ss sis so mbs, and this is the place he cares corruption?
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please. >> what's your favorite? >> it's not one particular thing, but i'll say i'm really struck by the use of exclamation points throughout. there is kind of a high schoolish quality. to david's point. you see it particularly in the way volker communicates with giuliani. volker was giuliani was on my side, trying to help me out here. and there is a lot of hi, mr. mayor, exclamation point. you can sense that he is kind of treating giuliani like he understands that he's a crazy person and that he has to be handled with kid gloves, but he is trying to be solicitous towards him, but also kind the way a 15-year-old is solicitous with someone who they recognize as a hot potato. >> but this makes so clear why mike pompeo is blocking the testimony of everyone else they want to hear from. >> and lloied about his own bei on the phone call too. >> yes there may be 25 people in washington who cared about ukraine before all this.
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but those 25 really cared about it and saw ukraine's transition to greater success as the crucial work on the european continent for the democratization and liberalization in their time. and the idea that these 25 people and kurt volker is one of them who care so much about this project, 50 million people. in the month of september, when the arms were delayed, 50 ukrainian soldiers killed or wounded. this is not abstract. these are lives that are being sacrificed by president trump's campaign. and these people have to deal with, like you say, the likes of rudy giuliani. >> and zelensky is so wounded by this that now he is being pushed to capitulate in the invasion of crimea and legitimize it. and we shouldn't forget mike pence in all of this before we end. gregor er greg sargent has a timeline there when it was being shouted from the rooftops by giuliani and we all this other stuff going on is ludicrous. >> surely as we get more and
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more of this from inside the state department, mike pence's name is going to be in some of these things at some point. >> yes. it's clear pence is being dragged deeper and deeper into this, both by the fax, that he is clearly more involved and implicated than he would like to be or than anybody would like him to be, except for one person, donald trump, who part of the reason pence is going to end up deeper and deeper is trump wants pence deeper and deeper because if it gets to a senate trial, what trump wants to say to senate republicans, hey, get rid of me, this guy just as dirty as i am. >> one of two people referring to who has always professed concern about ukraine is lindsey graham. and we now know he didn't mean a word of it. and as far as we can tell, he has never meant a word of anything he said before donald trump became president. >> i believe if john mccain were alive today that he would be shattered at the duplicity and complicity and traitorous behavior by lindsey graham.
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it's shocking. >> we're going have to leave it there. john heilemann, norm ornstein, david frum, thank you for your speed reading of the text messages. appreciate it. that is tonight's "the last word." "the 11th hour with brian williams" starts now. tonight our lead story is the president's own words, what he said out loud with all of us seasoning that seemed to violate his oath of office, and seemed to some democrats at least to be enough for an article of impeachment right then and there. what started as a story about what the president told ukraine about having the bidens investigated has exploded out from there. tonight, new breaking stories about the actions of our diplomats overseas, the actions of rudy giuliani overseas, the firing of our ambassador to ukraine, and there is a new whistle-blower, this time inside the irs, aka the keepers of the president's taxes. all of it as "the 11th hour" gets under way on a thursday