tv The Last Word With Lawrence O Donnell MSNBC October 3, 2019 10:00pm-11:00pm PDT
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. 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. he does appear at least today to be making their jobs a little easier. >> she's doing their work for them. >> have a good show. >> thank you. well, another day, another smoking gun. today we actually got two more smoking guns if you're counting. depends on how you're counting in the impeachment investigation of president trump. three actually, maybe it's three. you will 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 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 that 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 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 campaign, 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 yelling while 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 that far question deciding to confidently confess to a crime. >> well, i would think that if they were honest about it, they'd start a major
investigation into the bidens. >> now that was criminal enough. that was impeachable enough. but he wasn't finished. the he really wanted to show us just how hard he worked on that answer overnight. so, he kept going, and he said this. >> 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. >> the president went on to lie 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 trump new smoking gun about china until later in the hour. while the president was committing crimes and impeachable offenses on live tv, kurt volker was giving 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 volker's testimony have found their way into the "new york times" tonight. kurt volker 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 volker's missions was to translate trump to the new ukrainian president. that means volker was in frequent contact with bill taylor who became, in effect, the acting ambassador in ukraine after donald trump removed the ambassador who rudy giuliani did not find to be cooperative enough to help the trump campaign by investigating joe biden. the "new york times" reports this smoking gun, he disclosed a set of texts in september in which bill taylor, the top american diplomat and 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. volker i think it's crazy to withhold security assistance for help with a political campaign. that is a very smokey gun in writing. a member of the trump administration's diplomatic core, 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 blocking sondland who is the other person from testifying under oath to the house. he is the united states ambassador to the european union. now we know why mike pompeo is blocking his testimony. gordon sondland is in position of at least one text in which a
top diplomat says i think it's crazy to withhold security assistance for help with a political campaign. that's why i'm repeating it, 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 representatives. the "new york times" is reporting tonight that kurt volker and gordon sondland co-wrote a statement for the president of ukraine to make about investigating joe biden. "the times" reports the statement would have committed ukraine to investigating the energy company burisma, which had employed hunter biden. it would've called for the ukrainian government to look into what mr. trump and his
allies believe was interference by ukrainians 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. and leading off our discussion tonight are evelyn. she is a former department of secretary defense in the obama administration. she served in the service armed services committee. and co-host and executive producer of show times "the circus." evelyn, i want to start with you and where we are on this ukraine case. some of the players in this case. you know kurt volker. what do you make of his testimony today, and what more do you think we are going to be learning about it? >> right. so as you say, lawrence, i know
ambassadori ambassadorave onovich. >> and i know kurt volker. and i happen to know from a source close to the investigation a bit of what happened today and a bit of the context i fess. this is second hand, at least. but essentially it seems that what volker was trying to do. and i've known him for a long time. so i am giving him a lot of the 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 and one ukrainian in particular to president trump and that he just needed to get the truth from zelensky. the problem here is that kurt volker is the envoy, the president's envoy. the president should be listening to kurt volker who is a long-time never mind that he was appointed by trump. he's also 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've 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 is 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. he was also pointing out to them what they were doing and that they shouldn't be doing. apparently both kurt and the ukrainian go-between, the same guy that giuliani -- >> which is the statement they wanted the president of ukraine to make. >> exactly. they agreed to drop it because the ukrainians got nervous, they didn't want to mention biden. i don't even know if they wanted to mention burisma, the oil company. and ultimately both kurt and the ukrainian decided let's drop this. kurt didn't get what he wanted
though either because he wanted a separate meeting with president trump and president zelensky not on the sidelines of the u.n. meeting because it would've been a bigger deal to have it at the white house. >> john heilemann. [ laughter ] by the way, this is an available reading of the evidence. when you look at all this evidence, you can look at volker 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 can see him as part of that. or you can see him as someone who is struggling under the burden of that desire created by rudy giuliani and donald trump. he's trying to get to the right place. and he's trying to get ukraine to the right place. and he's saying, look, just say this. let trump hear you say this. then everything will be okay. >> i don't want to express any lack of interest in that topic. because, but i don't know kurt volker, and there's a lot of psycho analysis that's involved in that. i just 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 but then kind of doubled and tripled down on the crime. to your point, lawrence, he understands now i think that there are no facts and contention here. given that it's now been explained to him since there aro facts in dispute, you can argue process. you can say democrats are in league with the whistle-blower. somehow shichiff is shifty. the only way out for him now is to basically say, yes, i did this thing because it's clear i did. it's okay. and to make the point that it's okay is the best way to make that is just do it again and do it as publicly as possible in the most flaming gratuitous way as you can. and watching this happen today i will say i arrived in washington from having been on the west coast for "making the circus" to
talk to me about what's going on is maybe the worst kay in the history of my life trying to book a republican in washington to talk about donald trump. because there is no one who wants to get within a mile of a camera on this day. that's how bad this day was for donald trump that even his most stalwart defenders are like i don't even want to get near the camera. in terms of just the way the politics are shaping up. >> thank you for refocusing us on the smoking guns. because when you have smoking guns why talk about anything else. >> i have a hard time reporting them. >> so, evelyn, i think what we're seeing in the president's behavior today is one of the failures of the mueller report. 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. and 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 in that passage of the mueller report. >> yeah. i think you're right, lawrence. i think that he thinks that he can somehow get away with being innocent or crazy. i don't know what his defense will be ultimately. and unfortunately a lot of his defenders, they don't understand
the law. i was on a radio show and i had somebody ask me but what's wrong with asking this. and i answered to the guy, i said, listen, if president trump was calling and say did uncle frank do something bad in ukraine? maybe it would be, it would be weird because the fbi should actually 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. i think a lot of americans just don't understand that. >> and, john, one of the defenses that we've heard about trump from republicans over the years is, oh, that's just donald being donald, that's just trump being trump. they're not even throwing that defense out there right now. but that's clearly what trump was going for as he was yelling these crimes into the microphone was i want them to do the that's just trump being trump thing. >> and i think it's clear that there are multiple layers of potential cover-up that are involved in this ukraine scandal. but in trump's mind, i think he's a historical, he doesn't
know very much. he knows a couple things about watergate. he knows follow the money. he's lived in america enough to pick that up. and also the crime, the worst crime is not the crime itself but the cover-up. he knows that. so if you believe that that's one of the kind of shibolet and from that experience, you kind of are making the claim that it can't be a cover-up if i'm standing up here in front of you saying that. and that by somehow confessing to it in that overt way, i think he thinks that he's dispelling himself. obviously, again there are cover-ups that are involved here that relate to the super secret server and all the classification issues. but i do think there is something in trump's mind that you are right. there's no question that, like, he is the person who when someone just gets away with a crime, there are two kinds of people in the world. the one who gets away with the crime who goes, boy, i just barely got away with that. i'm not going to come close to that again.
and the other person who goes i can do that again and again and again. and trump is in the latter category. >> the difference is one is a professional criminal. when you get away with something, that's a lesson about how to do it next time. >> jumping out of a perfectly good plane if you do it a couple 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 block them. the only reason we heard from volker is that he resigned from the state department last week. >> i think it'll either get more whistle-blowers. i think there will be more pressure on pompeo. this position can't hold. it's just untenable. i understand there are i.g. investigations ongoing. there is one in d.o.d. that's been very quiet. i don't know how it was started. i am 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
burman jackson said hold all the documents. i think we are 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 are going to continue to do that, aren't they? >> they are. >> and state department's going to continue. 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 people in those jobs. i haven't noticed a trump person. wilbur ross doesn't feel the pressure about the scandals in his department. >> i think ult el what people -- ultimately people in the impeachment inquiry and the formal declaration of that was it would expedite some of these court processes that have taken a long time to resolve the question of subpoenas before judges, where in the context of a formal impeachment inquiry that those things can be fasttracked. and so you look back to nixon and the 14 days or whatever it took the court ruling on the
smoking gun tape. political pressure, but if there is a genuine expediting of legal processes, that could change their kak laos to some extent. >> evelyn farkas, john heilemann, thank you both very much for starting us off tonight. john heilemann 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. gt saturdays happen.
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comcast business. beyond fast. 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 in china is just about as bad as what happened with ukraine. >> donald trump's defense 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 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. joining us now is john harwood, the editor-at-large for cnbc and joyce vance. and, joyce, i want to go straight to you for a legal opinion on what donald trump did today and he said. >> well, donald trump built a very compelling criminal case against himself today. excuse me, confessing on national television to committing campaign finance crimes. but, lawrence, 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 are looking for is a high crime and misdemeanor. i think it's just sort of the ultimately 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. >> john, 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 focused on himself and his own interests that he solicits assistance on his campaign rivals. the 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's 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 focused on his own personal accomplishments that he would sell out the moral commitments of the united states in such a straightforward way is kind of stunning. >> it's such an important point that john just made, joyce. and the other thing i think that we know about donald trump is that he absolutely does not care about the freedom of people in hong kong. and so 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 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 john's point and your point, this makes it all the more critical that the american public that congressional investigators have full access to these transcripts, we need to know what our president has been saying that conduct needs to be enforced. and 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 this code word server, which is an entirely different sort of process. it looks more like hiding these transcripts than it looks like filing them. and it's something that we really need to have brought to the forefront. those transcripts will be the best evidence of these conversations. >> and, lawrence, you talked before the break about republicans and john heilemann talked about republicans not willing to talk. i experienced some of that
today. i had a text exchange with one congress whan who said can you talk for a minute. he goesds me for the rest of the day. talked to another one who said i kind of wished he hadn't said he said, poor choice of words which is the distinction that joyce referred to a moment ago. not necessary for impeachment, but that's the line they are staying on the other side of. but i think it's going to be harder for republican politicians to defend the sacrifice of the interest of people, protesters in hong kong. that broke late in the day. i will bet some republicans feel obliged to talk about that. >> let's take a quick look. a lot of these members are not in washington right now. senator joni enst in iowa. let's listen to how that went. >> whistle-blowers should be protected, please. let folks out there know. >> and our president shouldn't be threatening them and he also shouldn't be encouraging other
countries to investigate his political rivals. >> i would say to that corruption no matter where it is should be faireted out. i don't care who it is, when it is, corruption is corruption, and it should be combatted. >> but it's okay for our president to extort other countries? >> okay. we are going to move on to another question. but what i would say is we can't defrm that yet. >> so, john, if you want to get a question in, you're going to have to get out of washington to find them. when we come back, the other whistle-blower. the new one. tonight we have new details about a whistle-blower complaint filed by a career irs official 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. ident. that's next. as a struggling actor,
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"washington post" is reporting new details tonight about another whistle-blower complaint inside the trump administration. an internal revenue official has filed a whistle-blower complaint reporting that he was told at least by at least one treasury department political appointee who attempted to improperly interfere with the annual audit of the president or vice president's tax returns. according to multiple people familiar with the document. trump administration officials dismissed the whistle-blower's complaint as flimsy because it is based on conversations with other government officials. but congressional democrats are
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 whistle-blower complaint was first disclosed in august in court filings by the house ways and means chairman richard neal who wrote that the complaint reveals, quote, 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 the house ways and means committee chairman access to any tax returns. after this break we will be joined by john heilemann once again and walter shob who is the former director of the u.s. office of government ethics. in other words, walter used to be the conscience of the federal government. walter shob resigned from that job when he realized it was going to be impossible to carry out those duties with the trump administration making a mockery
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automatically being audited by the irs. joining us now is walter shaub. he 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. and john heilemann is back with us. and, walter, i want to get your reaction to this reporting tonight on the whistle-blower now within the irs. and we seem to be learning more about it. we are maybe week as way from seeing exactly what that is, but it sounds like a political appointee reaching in and some way interfering with what has disr -- the understanding is somebody may have reached out to try to influence it. 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 investigation ultimately clears whoever allegedly did this shows why congress needs access to these tax returns of the president. and of course we're only in this position because the president didn't release his tax returns. >> yes. and, john, it turns out i think a lot of us thought that it was just a law, that we had written a law that says that 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. >> like many of the things in our government it was just a norm. what we have found i think in the course of the trump administration is that many of the norms have held, but 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 am a little confused by this story. walter, i ask you what do you think's actually going on in
this story because i have read it three or four times and i still can't quite get what is being alleged. there is a whistle-blower which is interesting in and of itself. the notion that the whistle-blowers are coming forth in washington is kind of an interesting thing. but what is actually being alleged as having been the wrongdoing here? >> so we don't actually know. the law strictly protects access to tax returns and imposes severe penalties. so that's going to make it a little harder for congress to be able to release this one than they did the ukraine whistle-blower's complaint. but they're 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 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 aellegation is true, that is really an extraordinary thing because they don't communicate about individual complaints and the department level officials have no role in the irs review of the president's report. >> yeah. but because this is an arena that no one has tampered with since nixon, it could actually be a trump appointee in treasury simply calling up the irs and saying that audit that you automatically do? don't do it. and i'm not sure that legally there would be anything wrong with that because there is no law that says that they must do the audit. >> and i think, again, to the point of -- there are some areas that we're going to learn in the course of these four years with trump is that there are some areas where we should codify that have just been norms and standard practices in the past because we thought no president would be so shameless as to ignore them. but we have to create either an enormous political cost for
violating them or a prohibition. and we need these laws. we need some of these things to actually become statutory. >> we don't have the time for this tonight, walter, but i'm sure your head is just filled with things, some of which are statutory but they don't have penalties enforcement like kellyanne conway constantly violating the law by basically campaigning. turns out the penalty for that is administered for your boss, so maybe we need a codified penalty for that. >> we are going to need a lot stronger laws that actually come with some teeth. i think one of the most important things the past couple weeks has taught us is we really need stronger whistle-blower protections because you can't have an inspector general program, you can't have an ethics program be truly e theive if whistle-blowers are afraid to come forward with wrongdoing. >> thank you both very much for joining me tonight. when we come back, we have break
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it's been reported that there's a cyberattack on business every 39 seconds. ouch. i don't even want to think about it. comcast business has a solution. we go beyond fast with a cloud-based security system that automatically updates, so you always have the latest protection. phishing. malware. risky sites. it can help block all of that. get fast internet and add comcast business securityedge for just $29.95 a month. it's one less thing for us to worry about. comcast business. beyond fast. we have break news at 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 have
released a joint statement saying that today's hearing and the documents obtained in the hearing, especially the text messages obtained in the hearing, have been very revealing. they say these text messages reflect serious concerns raised by a state department official about the detrimental effects of withholding critical military assistance from ukraine and the importance of setting up a meeting between donald trump and the ukrainian president without further delay. we quoted you one of those texts that had already leaked earlier in this hour. that was from bill taylor. that was bill taylor taying in a text i think it's crazy to withhold security assistance for help with a political campaign. this document released tonight by the chairs of the committees now provides the full context and the full exchange on that 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 sondland whose respondent was call me. that was a recurring response from gordon sondland. 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 sondland always wants to take that off of a written record and move it onto a verbal phone call. we are joined now by phone by congressman eric swalwell who was in some of that or most of that or even all of that deposition today who knew about this information, has been unable to comment on it in his previous comments until it's been released by the committee chairs. congressman swalwell, what else can you tell us about this information that's now being released?
>> good evening, lawrence. i was present for the whole interview with the ambassador. and first he corroborated entirely what the whistle-blower complaint stated, that there was a shakedown, a shadow shakedown going on by rudy giuliani. it looks like ordered by president trump and the whistle-blower said he said there was an effort to have the ukrainians,,quote/unquote, play ball. so here's what the ukrainians understood as soon as president zelensky was sworn into office that there were two asks from the white house and that if he wanted a meeting with president trump, he had to, one, investigate the 2016 election and essentially exonerate russia, and, two, investigate the bidens. and that ask was made throughout the process of him being president up until that phone call and even beyond. we have evidence of state department officials, particularly bill taylor expressing concern even before
he came on board to be the second in command in ukraine of the role that rudy giuliani was playing. and just a couple weeks ago mr. taylor said he thought it was crazy that security assistance would be >> 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? >> well, i'm going to leave it to 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 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 investigations? gordon sondland, his response is just call me. 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 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 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 heilemann is back with us and joining us at the table, david frum, senior editor for the atlantic and senior speech writer for george bush. and also norm ornstein, a congressional historian, resident scholar at the american enterprise institute, and david frum. 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 had did justice to
the rich comedy of these text messages. this is like a high school musical about evil wrongdoers. i'm looking at one here of july 25th of 2019. kurt volker, good lunch, thanks. heard from white house. 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 insane theory that trump has that seth rich is the person who actually hacked -- >> i'm sorry, was that referring to president z.? or president -- >> 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 stuff. i will tell you, lawrence, i've been here for 50 years. >> you don't look it. >> i know. well, i came at a very young age. i have never seen a level and depth of corruption, traitorous behavior that we have here, and
the complicity that we have 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. now, 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 sisi, to mbs and saudi arabia, to every vicious, corrupt dictator in the world, and this is the place where he cares abo s abo corruption? 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.
giuliani has been studying these things. 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 lied about his own being on the phone call too. >> yes. there may be 25 people in washington who cared about ukraine before all this. 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. greg sargent has a timeline there, the idea that pence didn't know any of this that was going on when it was being shouted from the rooftops by giuliani and we had all this other stuff going on is ludicrous to me. >> surely as we get more and 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 facts, 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 mike 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 is 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. 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. they'll have more text messages.
tonight our lead story is the president's own words, what he said out loud with all of us listening 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 night. well, good evening once again from our nbc news headquarters here in new york. and as we bring day 987 of this trump administration to a close,