tv The Last Word With Lawrence O Donnell MSNBC October 25, 2019 10:00pm-11:00pm PDT
powered by our gig-speed network. because beyond technology... there is human ingenuity. every day, comcast business is helping businesses go beyond the expected. to do the traordinary. take your business beyond. >> where does the time go. have an excellent weekend. it's time for "the last word." i'm katy tur in for lawrence o'donnell. the butt dial heard around the world. we have details about rudy giuliani's accidental calls to an nbc reporter including his attacks on the bidens and his apparent need for a lot of cash. a former "apprentice" contestant who accused donald trump of sexual assault in 2007 presented evidence to back up
her claims. what's next in the ongoing court case? but first we begin with an exclusive report from nbc news about some of the 65 hours of closed-door testimony given to the house impeachment committees by trump administration officials. nbc news reports at least three current and former u.s. officials have all made the same startling admission, a coveted white house visit for the new ukrainian leader had been explicitly conditioned on his agreeing to investigations that could have helped president trump's re-election. and when gordon sondland was asked point-blank under oath whether that constituted a quid pro quo, he did not dispute it, people with knowledge of his testimony said. nbc news reports that, thanks to testimony like this and thanks to public comments from trump, his aides, and his allies, quote, a portrait is emerging of a quid pro quo that evolved over time when the president progressively upping the ante when his demands were not met.
this development comes on the heels of a double victory in court for house democrats. the chief judge for the d.c. district court ruled that the justice department must hand over grand jury evidence from special counsel robert mueller's investigation to the house judiciary committee by october 30th. politico calls the decision a, quote, groundbreaking victory for democrats in their effort to investigate whether president donald trump should be impeached for obstructing the long-running russia probe. grand jury information is typically kept a secret, but the judge said in her opinion the disclosures are in, quote, the public's interest in a diligent and thorough investigation into and in a final determination about potentially impeachable conduct by the president described in the mueller report. the need for the material to be kept secret is minimal, and thus easily outweighed by the compelling need for the material.
that's one of the victories from this court ruling. the second, judge hal dismissed claims from the white house and congressional republicans that the impeachment inquiry is illegitimate because it has not been authorized in a formal house vote. the judge wrote even in cases of presidential impeachment, a house resolution has never, in fact, been required to begin an impeachment inquiry. republicans had claimed that the house judiciary committee cannot begin impeachment proceedings without a formal vote of the house and that even if it could, speaker nancy pelosi is not empowered to simply grant that authority to the judiciary committee. but judge howell rejected those arguments saying these are at worst red herrings and at best incorrect. leading off our discussion tonight are natasha bertrand, lisa graves, former staff member of the senate judiciary committee, and former deputy assistant attorney general under
president clinton, and evan mcmullin, former cia operative and independent presidential candidate. he is the cofounder of stand up republican. lisa, this is a ruling that is not going to be, i guess, taken well by house republicans in the white house. they wanted to say over and over again that this impeachment inquiry was illegal, it was unconstitutional because they never held a vote. >> those arguments are simply misplaced and judge howell, the chief judge in the district of columbia, was very clear in her analysis showing why that argument is deeply flawed. she also talked at length about how this is fully consistent with centuries of legal precedent of judicial decisions in terms of access to material like this as well as a long-standing interpretation of the constitution and the power of congress to conduct these investigations without having any of the procedural hurdles
that the house has attempted to assert, including statements by the founding fathers, by the framers about the power to investigate these issues. >> natasha, "washington post" reports trump and advisers are starting to get worried about the impeachment inquiry. they write after weeks of dismissing the impeachment inquiry as a hollow partisan attack, president trump and his closest advisers now recognize the snowballing probe causes a serious threat to the president and they have little power to block it, according to multiple aides and advisers. walk us through what you have learned so far about the impeachment inquiry and why it's going to give the president and his advisers, why it is giving them such pause. >> yeah, if you speak to republicans on the hill, they would say it's about time the white house started getting serious with this impeachment inquiry. just the cascade of administration officials we've seen going to the hill and defying explicit administration orders not to testify is reason
enough for the white house to be very concerned by the precedent that sets. you have career diplomats at the state department who in direct defiance of what state has told them to do, which is not testify, have been testifying for hours on capitol hill, sometimes for as many as 12 hours at a time about all things they saw going on with regard to the ukraine matter and, of course, potential abuse of power by the president. now you have tim morrison, who, of course, is on the national security council, who has said he will testify if he is subpoenaed. he is a very, very important figure in this because he has the position, of course, that fiona hill had. he has responsibility for the europe portfolio, ukraine, and russia. he was in a position during all of this craziness with regard to trump's, you know, pressure on the ukrainian president to get him to launch investigations into the bidens and ukrainian interference in the election in 2016. he had a window into that, a direct window into that and he
was interacting directly with the officials who were involved in this. so he is defying the white house orders not to testify, and you have other white house officials, former and current considering doing the same. i think republicans now would say, look, the white house really has to start getting serious about this. >> with these officials acting in defiance and the continuing release of revelations that are damaging to the president and his no quid pro quo defense, not only that, but the grand jury materials that will now be released to democrats are going to have the wealth of what robert mueller was able to dig up. do you see a point, i guess, where republican support starts to crack in a serious way, more so than mitt romney saying he's concerned? >> well, i think you look at the senate and the house differently, of course, because of the political dynamics that are just different for a six-year term senators and two-year term representatives.
as far as representatives are concerned, look. i'm hopeful there will be a handful of representatives, maybe a dozen optimistically republicans who ultimately in the house vote for impeachment. but i think one thing to understand here, we've all been asking the question for years, when are republicans going to decide that president trump is no longer worth supporting? you know, i don't think that's the right question anymore. i think really the way we need to see this is that these members, especially of the house, it's not like most of them actually love the president. and it's not like they're actually trying to protect the president. it's more they're trying to protect themselves. they understand that their power, that their seats, that their survival in primary contests in their districts in years ahead, not only in 2020 but beyond that, they understand their prospects which are probably overly optimistic for this cycle, winning back the
house, all have everything to do with whether the president implodes, whether his presidency implodes, or whether he somehow survives this politically. i'm not even talking about conviction and removal in the senate. it's about them protecting their own power. for that reason the president's going to be able to continue to do a lot of terrible things as long as he can keep his base with him. he'll keep most of them, i'm sad to say, in line too. >> i guess that's the better question. at one point to republican voters, not even republican voters, trump voters start to say, you know what, i'm tired of this. is there a point where they would change their mind? i'm curious about something we learned from diplomat bill taylor. i'm curious about what we might learn more about it. he talks about, lisa, being on a conference call, a video conference call while still in ukraine. there's somebody from omb in the
room, they're off camera and they say we were told not to release the funds. the president told the chief of staff who told omb. that seems to be a pretty direct link to the president of the united states. >> that certainly does seem like a very direct link, and it also is a sign of video evidence as well as potential audio evidence. we know there was an attempt by this white house to move material into more secretive files to prevent it from being disclosed. it's different from the nixon missing time on the tapes. here you have video and potentially audio as well as documentary notes of conversations with the president that really should be made available to congress in its investigation. >> natalie, john bolton testifying potentially, his lawyers are in contact with the house committees. what do you think, natasha, not natalie. it's 10:00 on a friday and i have a sick baby at home, so you're going to have to forgive me.
>> no explanation needed. >> what do you think of john bolton potentially testifying in front of house committees? and what could that do to the president's defenses. >> yeah, it's a huge escalation if it does happen because, of course, john bolton did not leave on the best terms, and he has not been shy about speaking out against the president and his policies in recent months since he was kind of unceremoniously fired or resigned. i guess it depends on who you ask. there's a new wrinkle in this just being reported as of a few minutes ago by "the new york times," which is bolton eats deputy filed a lawsuit trying to compel a court to tell him who he has to listen to, the white house or congress. does he have to listen to congress when they subpoena him for testimony or does he have to listen to the white house when they tell him he can't testify? the decision that the court hands down obviously will have wide-ranging implications for the other officials the white house tells not to testify and
the congress wants to hear from in the impeachment inquiry. charles cupperman, the deputy who filed this lawsuit, he could really be setting a precedent here that the democrats might not be happy with in the end. >> how does rudy giuliani factor into this, lisa? will you expect to see house democrats demand to hear from rudy giuliani? i know he's trying to defy his subpoena. is his voice necessary to this investigation? >> i think it is, in part, because of the role he's been playing roving around the world advancing these threats on behalf of the president and coordinating with the attorney general that appears. and so you have a situation which it's not just the campaign or the president's personal lawyer in giuliani, but also
attorney general barr and pompeo as well who have been put in service of this agenda. so i think there are a number of officials in the government as well as people that trump has assigned as his agents to pursue this quid pro quo who need to appear before congress. they fail to do so at their peril. >> will the mueller decision, the grand jury decision, hold up on appeal? >> i think it will. judge howell is a careful judge. it's a well-reasoned opinion. it cites ample precedent. it's very solidly grounded. we'll see if these trump judges actually follow the law or whether they're going to try to tilt the courts in his favor. but on the merits that decision should be upheld and upheld all the way up. >> i know we're digging back when it comes to the mueller investigation and we've moved on to an entirely different controversy, but digging back and thinking about what we were waiting to learn in the mueller investigation, what will you be looking out for in particular, evan, on what we might see in those grand jury documents? >> well, you know, as far as the mueller investigation is concerned, what i still really am waiting to see, which will not necessarily come out in
these grand jury additional pieces of information, are the c.i. elements of the investigation. i believe there was still a lot left out of the that report, including a lot about michael cohen and his travels and contacts and there are other pieces of the investigation that for some reason were not in the final report. so i don't know if through this additional now exposure of that investigation in congress if they'll dig up more information on the c.i. side of things. certainly obstruction will a part of it now that that information is -- what comes from the grand jury is more directly related to that. but the important thing, i think, here is that, you know, the mueller investigation and the russia issue set the stage for what we are now very much focused on, which is the ukraine scandal. i don't think we would be as concerned as a country about the ukraine scandal, to be honest, if we hadn't gone through the russia scandal first. but because we have the russia
scandal and then the ukraine pattern in the president's abuse of power in his attacks with foreign powers against our democracy. and so i think what's interesting about this is that, yes, congress is focused on the ukraine scandal now, but now we're going to circle back and now the russia scandal is going to become, i think, part of this impeachment inquiry. again, obviously it will be, but i think it's going to be become more part of the american sort of consideration the people's consideration of whether the president should be impeached again. it's just interesting how the russia scandal set the stage for the ukraine scandal, and now the ukraine scandal is in a way bringing the russia scandal back into consideration, back into the situation. >> i remember two years of the russia investigation and the big overarching theme was don't ask a foreign government to interfere, to meddle, to attack
our elections. the very next day donald trump has a phone call with president zelensky of ukraine after the investigation is over, after robert mueller testifies, the very next day he calls president zelensky of ukraine and says, do me a favor, though, investigate the dnc server and joe biden. natasha bertrand, lisa graves, evan mcmullin, thank you guys very much. rudy giuliani is not the most discreet person but butt dialing an investigative reporter twice in the last month while your supposed client is the subject of an impeachment investigation in a scheme in which you play a central role? it's pretty shocking. what giuliani said while a reporter was listening is also shocking. stay with us. that's next. ah! come on! let's hide in the attic. no. in the basement. why can't we just get in the running car?
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all working with a new generation of technologies powered by our gig-speed network. because beyond technology... there is human ingenuity. every day, comcast business is helping businesses go beyond the expected. to do the extraordinary. take your business beyond. this is just one of those headlines you don't get to read often. rudy giuliani butt dials nbc reporter heard discussing need for cash and trashing bidens. nbc news investigative reporter rich shapiro goes ton to describe two voice mails from rudy giuliani recorded when giuliani accidentally butt dialed him. one voicemail from late september, giuliani is heard attacking the bidens before apparently turning to donald trump's call with the ukrainian president. in another roughly two weeks later he can be heard discussing overseas business dealings and his need for cash.
>> you know, charles would have a hard time with a fraud case because he didn't do any due diligence. tomorrow i got to get you to get on bahrain. is robert around? >> rob? he's in turkey. >> problem is we need some money. we need a few hundred thousand. >> is voice mails join new scrutiny at a time he's under federal criminal investigation and accused of running a shadow foreign policy in ukraine to dig up dirt on trump's political rival. giuliani is now reportedly on the hunt for a defense attorney as federal prosecutors issue multiple subpoenas in the case against giuliani's indicted associates. politico reports that the criminal division of attorney general barr's justice department is bringing more resources to the sdny's investigation into giuliani indicating that the probe into the president's personal attorney is both broader and
moving at a faster pace than previously understood. joining us now is frank figliuzzi, former fbi assistant director for counterintelligence and msnbc national security analyst, and danny cevallos. a criminal defense attorney and msnbc analyst. i want to get into this. it is interesting that they're sending more resources for this. but just first, rudy giuliani and the call, what stood out to you? >> first, many people would say rudy's been talking out of that part of his anatomy for a while, but the first thing that struck me was the national security implications for the president's attorney and a global emissary not understanding phone security. how many people right hand the world and in what countries have received unsolicited voice mails from the president's attorney? what country leader or country general counsel or administrator has received such things? there's been consistent reporting on rudy's third
divorce, a very acrimonious divorce proceeding where his wife is claiming in court filings that his pro bono work for the president is part of a scheme to allow him to claim he's broke and can't afford alimony. yet on this recording we hear him say the problem is, we need more money, or we need some money. is it possible he's got some legal issue with regard to hiding his income because of a divorce proceeding? >> that's interesting. there has been a question of whether rudy giuliani is really working for free for the president or if somebody else is paying him. this call talked about money. i'm not sure it revealed much more than him talking about money and saying we need money. there was another one where he talks about joe biden and why giuliani believes he's being targeted. let's play that sound bite. >> i expected it would happen. the minute you touch on one of the protected people, they go crazy.
they come after you. it's very powerful. >> the most powerful weapon, yeah? >> there's plenty more to come now. >> they don't want to investigate because he's protected. so we got to force them to do it. and the ukraine, they're investigating it and blocked it twice. so what the president was. [ inaudible ] you can't, you can't keep doing this. you have to investigate this. and they say it will affect the 2020 election. >> they say it will affect the 2020 election. we got to get them to investigate it. what do you think, danny? >> it almost sounds like he's justifying all of his arguments over the past few weeks to himself. like he's looking in the mirror and saying this is why we did this, right? sounds to me as if he's saying, i don't think this is a stretch, that the protected people were the bidens and all we were doing was asking them to investigate people who were being protected improperly and we were looking into corruption anyway.
just sounds like a lot of self-justification. what stands out to me is really building on what frank said, if he's doing this accidentally to reporters, who else is he doing this to, and to what degree could he possibly be acting as an attorney in one sense, as a diplomat in his own mind in another sense or as a private business person? if there's an added element of whether his income, he's supposed to be receiving or not receiving it, what does it mean when he says we need this money? there's so many x factors in here, but that last clip really tended to show me that there's a lot of justification going on, that maybe he doesn't even believe himself. >> i want to know, do you think sdny investigators are going to want that phone call, those two phone calls? >> i do because it could be viewed as a statement against self-interest. it could be viewed as a kind of admission that i knew this would affect the 2020 election and we're asking for it anyway. >> what about william barr getting the doj to investigate itself? >> oh, my.
so it's very disturbing. at best it reflects the fact that they believe they're finding something criminal. but i have to tell you, katy, when you tell cia officers and analysts that they're facing criminal exposure because of the work they did in furtherance of the national security, guess what happens. they get lawyers and refuse to cooperate. so we're about to face a spectacle. they're going to say, look at these people. they've lawyered up. is this a deliberate strategy to make that happen. >> forgive me more asking frank one more question. why do you think the doj would send sdny more money? >> on the rudy giuliani investigation? it's getting complicated to the point where people are thinking they're going to claim executive privilege by extension. we heard rudy's associates throw around the idea that they were by proxy -- >> like the michael cohen case? >> exactly a tainting, a filter
team that's going to have to figure out whether anyone can claim privilege here. >> i don't see the word around here? >> i understand. >> frank figliuzzi, thank you very much. danny cevallos. lindsey graham announced this afternoon he has 50 senate republicans co-sponsoring his resolution disapproving of the house impeachment investigation. of course there are 53 republicans in the senate. that's next. i bet you lunch you can't make it in there. i'm thinkin' sushi. alexa, ask buick to start my suv. you can do that? you can do that? you can do that? yeah, with a buick. what? at the heart of every buick suv... is you. or current eligible non-gm owners get 14 to 20 percent below msrp on most of these buick models.
maintain enough support for vice president mike pence to break a tie. today republicans appear to be right on that line when it comes to defending the president. yesterday senator lindsey graham introduced a nonbinding resolution that attacks the house impeachment inquiry on process grounds. the resolution was reportedly intended to placate the white house, which reportedly graham -- it may had the opposite effect. republican senators mitt romney, lisa murkowski, and susan collins have all declined to sign onto the measure at this time. turnover past 24 hours graham has only been able to muster enough republican support to pass it with the thinnest possible majority.
joining us now the former florida republican congressman and current msnbc political analyst, david jolly. evan mcmullin is back with us as well. david, you're new, so i'll start with you. rudy giuliani, this was meant to be a cover blanket, a warm, soothing blanket for the president. don't worry about the republicans in the senate. >> sure. >> he had to water it down, it took him a while, and he's got three holdouts. what does that say to you about donald trump's firewall? >> first of all, it's a humiliating moment for lindsey graham and all republican senators that are going along with this, that they would feel pressed to give the president a warm blanket he needs. it's also against precedent. the house and the senate don't opine on the work of the other and lindsey graham knows that. lindsey graham would be the first one to be offended. i think it gives some people cover to say yes, we can criticize the process, but then they ultimately may vote "yes." i think there's about six senators right now that are in play should the house send over a clean article of abuse of power not tied to quid pro quo, simply tied to asking that biden be investigated.
>> senator portman one of them? >> he's not. the one i'm watching is mitt romney, of course, richard burr, the intelligence chairman out of north carolina, lamar alexander, retiring out of tennessee, ben sass, lisa murkowski in alaska. they're going to have to vote on a clean article. what the republicans are doing right now is they're trying to muddy the waters and attack the process so they give cover and permission to republican senators to say it's not working. >> yeah. >> the fatal flaw in that, though, is american voters are smart enough to see silliness when they see it. republicans should be arguing that the president's conduct is impeachable. that's an honest question for most americans. some people already decided. but a lot of people would be
having that debate at their kitchen table. the president did wrong, should he be impeached,? that's a firmer footing for republicans to be on. >> evan, you are a native of utah. mike lee is of utah. do you think he's somebody that could be on the fence? >> well, his statements so far haven't been encouraging on this, but that doesn't mean he can't change. i think he should be on the list. i mean, i've got my own list of senators which largely overlaps with david's list. i would also, though, add senator mcsally in arizona and also senator gardener in colorado. both of them are facing very, very steep uphill battles in their re-election bids this cycle. and i think it's so difficult that it's maybe unlikely that they'll be re-elected at this point as i see things now. and so i think those two will have to make a decision about what they want their legacy to be like. they're probably going to had it been what they think the republican party is going to be like in a post-trump environment, post-trump presidency. but i think they should be added to the list too. i'm not loving what i'm seeing
from senator lee so far, but i do think he should be on the list. he does talk quite a bit about the importance of the constitution. i hope he understands the threat that the president poses. he's been at times understanding of that in the last several years, but not entirely consistent, so we'll see. >> i remember mike lee after the "access hollywood" tape dropped. he was appalled by it and he said he could never support the president and he's done a 180 since then and has been pretty supportive of the president. my question is, i just wonder if there is anything that would make republicans stop supporting him because of the way his support is so hardened among his particular set of voters. but, again, senators are not beholden to congressional districts. they're not gerrymandered up. they have a whole state to convince. does that mean there's more leeway there. >> there should be.
politicians either act on conviction or on enlightened self-interest. the enlightened self-interest of mike lee's been acting upon is the fact that gop plays well right now. if he were to act on conviction, mike lee of all senators would acknowledge what the president did abused the office of the presidency, the power of the presidency, and isworthy of impeachment. to evan's point on mcsally and susan collins in there, they have a choice whether to follow public opinion or follow the money. they all need -- they each need money from the national republican senatorial committee for their re-election. they need mitch mcconnell's blessing to turn ton money for those three states for their re-elections. i'm pessimistic about their encourage and conviction. i think they'll follow the country. >> david jolly, congratulations on the baby. evan mcmullin, good to see you as well. coming up, all the president's legal woes as the impeachment investigation heats up. donald trump's been ordered to be deposed in an unrelated civil lawsuit in the next six weeks. that could be interesting. stay with us.
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against donald trump. here is how she describes the sexual assault that occurred in a hotel room in 2007. >> i stood up and he came to me and starting kissing me open-mouthed. he put me in an embrace and i tried to push him away. i pushed his chest, put space between us. and i said come on, man, get real. he repeated my words back to me. get real. as he began thrusting his genitals. >> zervos is suing donald trump for defamation after the president called her a liar. president trump's lawyers spent months trying to block her suit, arguing that the president is immune from civil suits in state courts. but yesterday the judge in this case ordered that president trump must provide the court with four potential dates for his deposition, although his legal team is expected to appeal. when we come back, eric gardener
and danny cevallos will tell us the latest developments in the summer zervos case, including the possible scope of the deposition. and the documents that appear to corroborate her case. that's next. what do you see? we see patterns. relationships. when you use location technology, you can see where things happen, before they happen. with esri location technology, you can see what others can't. ♪ brown-bagging it. so why you paying so much for wireless?
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new documents help support zervos' sexual assault allegations. joining us now is eric gardener, senior editor for the hollywood reporter. danny cevallos is also back with us. danny, these court documents were filed yesterday and they are about conversations she had documents. they were filed yesterday and they're about conversations she had with her family. there are emails including one to rona graff, who's the president's -- or one of his press secretaries before he became president of the united states. what does that need to say in order to help zervos win this case? >> i've ready the exhibits. i've looked at them, and there are a couple emails and excerpts from donald trump's personal calendar. what she's trying to do is match up her allegations and show that, hey, these documents, president trump's calendar, matches up. he was exactly where we say he was exactly at the time we say he was there. now, their complaint against
trump is that he has these documents, and they just marked them confidential, and they are saying that they can't reveal those publicly as a result, that by unilaterally saying, hey, these are confidential documents, the plaintiff is saying, not so fast. it's the court that decides what is confidential and what is not. you don't get to, on your own, just stamp everything "confidential" and it never gets to see the light of day. that's not how this works. >> eric, she's suing for defamation. she doesn't like the president called her a liar because she says this happened. if she wins in court, what does she want to happen next? >> well, i think she wants to make a point that she's telling the truth. remember, this is a defamation suit. she doesn't have to prove that the sexual assault occurred. she just has to prove that donald trump was untruthful. and in here donald trump said she never interacted with him at the hotel. donald trump doesn't try to portray this as a consensual affair. he says, nope, we didn't meet in
the hotel. where, here she comes along, and she has proof that he was at this particular spot back in 2007. not only that, but she can also show that she complained about it, you know, going as far back as 2011, you know, seeking out a lawyer. this was well before the "access hollywood" stuff. so, you know, donald trump in the next few weeks, he's going to be in deposition being asked about his statements, being asked whether he sticks to the story that he never met her in the hotel. >> what about all the other women he's called liars for coming out and saying he did something inappropriate to them? >> oh, yeah, absolutely that's going to come up in court. i think that's probably the biggest aspect of legal jeopardy for donald trump right now. you know, the stormy daniels stuff has faded into the background, but as far as i know, the new york southern district is still pursuing a criminal investigation into the trump organization and payments.
so as this investigation plays out, donald trump is, for the first time in his presidency, going to be talking under oath about what happened in the stormy daniels affair and all these other affairs because, you know, summer zervos' attorneys are going to want to get him on the record about his affairs and his accuracy and his honesty and try to push him on all those subjects. >> and as danny sa volunteer los pointed out during the break, any discovery of the president will have any implications for any other case that may be out there. we have breaking news from "the new york times" on the impeachment inquiry into president trump. the "times" reports, quote, a key witness in the impeachment investigation filed a lawsuit friday asking a federal judge to rule on whether he can testify, a move that raises new doubts about whether president trump's closest aides, like the former national security adviser john bolton, will be able to cooperate with the inquiry.
the key witness according to the "times" is charles kupperman, who served as donald trump's deputy national security adviser. house democrats had subpoenaed charles kupperman to testify before the impeachment committees on monday. but in an effort to stop kupperman from doing so, the white house said on friday that the president had invoked constitutional immunity, leaving kupperman uncertain about what to do. quote, plaintiff obviously cannot satisfy the competing demands of both the legislative and executive branches, and he is aware of no controlling judicial authority definitely establishing which branch's command should prevail, the suit said. joining us now by phone is the reporter who broke that story, michael schmidt, washington correspondent for "the new york times." michael, explain exactly what this is. >> well, this is a late-friday filing. it's a lawsuit that chuck cooper, the lawyer for kupperman and the lawyer for john bolton
has filed in federal court. and it's significant because democrats have really wanted to hear from kupperman and bolton. kupperman was the acting national security adviser at the time that trump released the aid to the ukraines in september. and obvious john bolton was the national security adviser during much of the summer when these discussions were going on. but here is the lawyer, cooper, going into federal court and saying, hey, the white house has told us that we cannot talk to the hill. the hill has subpoenaed us, and federal judge, you need to figure out whether we can testify. and that's why this lawsuit was filed, and it's interesting because democrats had really been counting on this testimony. and now it will be heading into the courts. lots of speculation in the past few days about what bolton may say. and certainly kupperman, being
as close as he was to bolton, will be a significant witness as well. >> what exactly is constitutional immunity? >> well, it was described to me as essentially executive privilege on steroids, sort of the executive branch, the president, through the white house counsel, invoking his most significant powers to try and stop someone from testifying to congress. the president did this with his -- to stop him from testifying after the mueller report was released, and the president using it here. the president cannot use it with cabinet members, but he can use it with his closest aides and his national security adviser -- certainly the national security adviser being one of them. >> is this intended to potentially stop bolton from testifying beyond stopping kupperman from testifying?
>> i have no evidence to believe this suit was filed as any part of trying to stop this. i think this was a situation where a witness and a lawyer were presented with the white house saying no, the hill saying give us your testimony, and them saying, i will go to federal court and ask a judge to make that decision. >> democrats are portraying this as a legal theory as extreme and an act of obstruction by the trump white house, you say. how quickly do you think this is going to get ruled on? >> i'm not sure. when things are before an impeachment proceeding, they would tend to get more urgency within the courts. but at the same time, this could be something that would play out over a long period of time. ultimately, look, kupperman was supposed to go in next week. that will not happen anymore because of this. and the democrats had certainly had some momentum over the past few weeks really building against the president with sort
of daily interviews of witnesses coming in and leaks about their testimony from kupperman, someone who is close to the president, they will not have that now. >> what does this mean for other witnesses that are a part of the administration? are they going to use this as a reason not to come forward? will it scare them off? >> well, i mean, look, the only thing i can say is that this has -- you have to look at this and what it means for bolton. bolton is represented by the same lawyer, this lawyer chuck cooper, who has gone to court and who has done this. and the white house would likely invoke the same privileges against bolton to try and stop him from testifying. and bolton in many ways is seen as a key witness here because he is someone who a longstanding republicans. he's someone that republicans and conservatives have seen on fox news for many years. he's certainly someone that is different than the longtime career diplomats who have
testified in recent days and been attacked by the white house. >> michael schmidt, thank you very much for coming on and giving us your great reporting. we appreciate it. in baltimore today, two presidents and political powerhouses came out to honor congressman elijah cummings. his life and his fight. >> there's nothing weak about kindness and compassion. there's nothing -- there's nothing weak about being honorable. you're not a sucker to have integrity and to treat others with respect. >> and here's more of president obama's eulogy for the honorable elijah cummings. >> as president, i knew i could always count on elijah being honorable and doing the right thing. and people have talked about his voice. there is something about his voice. it just made you feel better.
you know, there's some people, they have that deep baritone, a prophetic voice. and when it was good times and we achieved victories together, that voice and that laugh was a gift. but you needed it more during the tough times when the path ahead looked crooked, when obstacles abounded. when i entertained doubts or i saw those who were in the fight start to waver, that's when elijah's voice mattered most. >> joining us now is congressman lacy clay from missouri. thank you very much for being here. i had a couple longer interactions with elijah
cummings on oversight. i did a documentary about the american swamp and the separation of powers and what was happening with donald trump and his conflicts of interest. and jacob soboroff and i had a chance to sit down with him twice, and he got extremely emotional. and he talked about his time being short and his desire to make a difference while he could. he talked about the separation of powers and the need for congressional oversight, especially right now. what was it like to work with him in these final months? >> well, let me first say today was a fitting, moving tribute to someone who was the chairman of our committee, who i got to know over the 18 years, and he embodied the decency of our humanity. he was compassionate, and he was respectful to others.
and he also -- the fact you can disagree with someone without being disagreeable, and you can be respectful of your adversary, and you can also have that debate and then also be friends with somebody who has an opposing view. so he was somebody that i truly respected, i learned from. we got to know each other over the years through phone calls, through hanging out in the members gymnasium and just about every vote series that we took on that floor, we took time just to catch up with each other, to talk about our families, to talk about our common experiences, to talk about our parents. and he embodied the decency of
who we should all aspire to be. >> there was that memorable moment in one of the committee hearings where congressman mark meadows was accused of racism and cummings spoke very vocally against that and said they had been friends and he defended mark meadows. so when you say he could be friends with people he disagreed with, there was one very good example of that. tell me, how heavy was the job of chairman for him, chairman of the oversight committee in these times? he was signing subpoenas on his deathbed. >> yeah. well, and he put everything that he had into that position of being the chair of the oversight committee. and you could tell it was a true labor of love for him. he understood the law. he shared his knowledge with us,
the other committee members, and the constitution meant something to him. and he felt like no one was above the law. and that's why when you are the chair of the oversight committee and you get a letter from the chairperson, that's usually not a good day for you. >> what will the committee be doing to honor his legacy? >> we will continue in the tradition of elijah cummings, of pursuing the facts and follow them where they lead us. and usually it leads you to the truth. and just like this impeachment inquiry, we will, along with the foreign affairs committee and the house intelligence committee, we will be gathering the facts. and then once we compile that information, we will turn it
over to the house judiciary committee for them to make a decision about articles of impeachment and to determine if this president and this administration have followed the letter -- the law or if they have broken the law. and so we will continue in the tradition of elijah cummings. >> congressman clay, thank you very much for joining us tonight. >> thank you so much. >> and that is tonight's last wo word. "the 11th hour" with brian williams starts right now. tonight a federal judge has handed the democrats a significant victory coming at the end of an eventful week. what appears to be a steady march toward articles of impeachment. the president responds to criticism that his team may not be up to the challenge by saying there's no team. it's just him. an accidental phone call from rudy's phone to a reporter that left a message no one was