tv The Last Word With Lawrence O Donnell MSNBC October 29, 2019 7:00pm-8:00pm PDT
that's going to do it for us tonight. i will warn you that this week, like i said it's only tuesday and the fact we've had big breaking news stories from "the new york times" about the impeachment inquiry in the middle of our night, both monday and tuesday night, and we've got a double deposition tomorrow and then there will be more thereafter, just this is one of those weeks. i'm just giving it to you the way i see it. this is one of those weeks to pace yourself. we'll see you again tomorrow night. and now time for the "last word" with lawrence o'donnell. >> and congressman swalwell was on this program last night. and i asked him when the colonel testifies given he's the first witness who listened in on the phone call, will you be questioning him about the
ellipses that appear -- will you be questioning him about the accuracy of the transcript? turns out, yes, they question him about the accuracy of the transcript and here we are tonight. >> yeah, the fact that he said he made some suggestions in terms of improving that transcript and some of them were taken and some of them were not, is at least according to this "the new york times" reporting today about his testimony, that is just -- >> ned price is going to join us in a minute, and it's the value of adding staff here. he has restudied the transcript of the phone call tonight, the white house transcript as we all have. and he's found something in it that indicates real corroboration for what the colonel testified to today. thank you, rachel. well, tomorrow the house rules committee will vote on a resolution establishing the rules for public hearings in the impeachment investigation of donald trump, and they are rules like we have never seen before because these rules anticipate obstructionist tactics by the president and by the president's lawyers. and these rules provide very
specific, very immediate penalties that the president's lawyers will suffer right there on the spot, in the hearing room if they try to obstruct the impeachment investigation. we'll take a close look at those new rules at the end of this hour. and we now know that the transcript is not accurate. the transcript that the white house released about the president's phone call with the president of ukraine is not accurate. army lieutenant colonel alexander vindman told the impeachment investigating committees today according to a report in "the new york times" tonight that the white house transcript of a july call between president trump and ukraine's president omitted crucial words and phrases and that his attempts to restore them failed. according to three people familiar with the testimony. colonel vindman testified that one of the ellipses in the rough transcript of the phone call that eliminated yet another reference to joe biden in that
phone call. that ellip saeses was not a paus some have suggested, including some on this program have suggested that indicated a pause in the investigation. colonel vindman is saying, no, that ellipses covered up yet another reference to joe biden that donald trump actually did deliver in that phone call. the transcript released by the white house shows the president saying to the president of ukraine, the other thing, there's a lot of talk about biden's son, that biden stopped the prosecution and a lot of people want to find out about that. so whatever you can do with the attorney general would be great. biden went around bragging that he stopped the prosecution, so if you you can look into it -- and there's the ellipses right there, dot, dot, dot. it sounds horrible to me. today colonel vindman in the longest testimony yet delivered to the investigating committees, 10 1/2 hours, told the committees that that ellipses
covers the space where donald trump said there are tapes of joe biden. "the new york times" reporting tonight suggests that the president might have been referring to videotape of joe biden in 2018 in a panel discussion at the counsel on foreign relations. describing how the obama administration dealt with ukraine and attempted to get ukraine to strengthen its investigation and prosecution of corruption. leading off our discussion tonight is democratic congressman shawn patrick maloney of new york, a member of the house intelligence committee and he attended colonel vindman's deposition today. and also ned price, from the national security counsel in the obama administration. an msnbc contributor. and edward mcmullen is with us, he served as a senior advisor to the house foreign affairs committee and as chief policy director for the house republican conference. he's the co-founder of standup
republican. congressman maloney, let me start with you. "the new york times" reporting tonight that turns out the white house transcript of the president's phone call is not accurate. is there anything more you can add to that for us? >> well, you put me in a tough spot. i can't reveal the specifics of the testimony today. it's obviously been a concern of many of us that i worked in the white house, i was the white house staff secretary, i spent three years in the west wing. i've seen a lot of these memos. the naifrp of that product, how it's developed, it's not a transcript, it's not an electronic recording, obviously. and so there was always going to be some question about the preciseness of that, but i think i wouldn't lose the forest in the trees if i can make the larger point. which is that the president's conduct is made clear by the call memorandum and it is devastating. and that conduct has been
further corroborated and confessed to by the white house chief of staff. and all the evidence that has come out in the public domain that further corroborated the whistle-blower complaint. in other words, there is already significant, undisputed evidence of what the president did, and it's very damning. >> the paragraph about joe biden in that transcript as you say contains all the evidence you are looking for as an investigator. and so it's fascinating to see that line dropped out of it because as crucial as it is it's yet another reference to joe biden. it doesn't seem to add or subtract from the general content of that paragraph. >> again, i'm not going to comment on what was discussed in testimony. in terms of "the new york times" report, if accurately obviously it layers a bit what's already in the rest of the call memorandum. in other words, the conduct is the conduct. it has been admitted to, it has
been corroborated. i think there's really no serious person who can dispute what occurred on that call, and the real important question is what was intended by what the president was saying, that has also come into focus. and it's very damaging to the president. but, look, we want to most accurate record and that's why we're calling a witness like colonel vindman a decorated army colonel, served his country heroically in iraq, earned a purple heart and this was the first witness who was on the call. and who by the way is a legacy ukrainian and russian speaker. it took great courage for him to come forward and testify, and we are grateful in his service for doing so. >> how do you characterize colonel vindman's credibility, his consistency as a witness and his recall ability? >> well, this is clearly someone who has spent his entire professional life serving our country. you see him sitting there in an
army colonel uniform, and you know that those badges have been earned in combat serving his country. this is not someone who plays politics, this is not someone who pulls his punches. this is professional army officer, and he's describing exactly what he saw. and so i think his credibility is sky high. and i think that we are blessed to have men like colonel vindman come in and give the evidence that they know of, that they have truthfully under great risk, by the way, to his own professional standing and to do it because he thinks it's part of his service to his country. it's another extension of a lifetime of service. and so the guy's got great credibility with me. >> president trump attacked the colonel on twitter today. we'll get to that later this hour. did any republicans in that room attack colonel vindman today? >> what i can tell you without getting into the specifics is that it's clear that the
republicans cannot engage on the substance, so what they're left with are silly process arguments which are now being mooted and also character assassination on a very good chairman adam schiff but also around the edges with allies at nox news on these witnesses. so you're going to have to ask my conservative colleagues why they would try to undermine someone who earned a purpt heart in iraq, who served in the united states army and has nothing but a distinguished record in his path when he comes in, swears an oath and talks about his first-hand knowledge of what happened in a white house call. someone who speaks the native language of the ukrainian president. i mean, this is great witness with important testimony. good luck undermining this guy. >> ned price, we've all gone back to that rough transcript released by the white house of the president's phone call with the president of ukraine looking at the ellipses and wondering
what might have been left out in the other two on the transcript. but you've also restudied since this reporting has come out tonight about the inaccuracies in that transcript. what are you finding when you study it? >> i would totally agree with congressman maloney we can't lose sight of the forest for the trees. the forest being president trump's national security. i would zoom in on the trees for just a moment here because i think it does underline not the crime but the cover up. and i say that because there's an especially pertinent fact we learned tonight from this "the new york times" story taken from this story. and that's as you and rachel were discussing some of the colonel's edits to the transcript if you want to be technical, the memorandum of conversation, were incorporated. but some were not. and so that fact puts a very unflattering spotlight on the edits that were not. and according to tonight's "the new york times" story there were two specific edits. one was a reference, an
invocation to burisma, the ukrainian energy company by president zelensky of ukraine and the second was the reference you mentioned to recordings of joe biden. first the edits to me, the reference of burisma could be completely innocuous. of course the white house observers tend to be those who don't have in-depth knowledge of ukraine. and that is why we have people like colonel vindman. and the second edit and reference to joe biden seems to me much more nefarious. that doesn't seem to be the sort of content that could just be left out of the reconstructed transcript. and i think that brings me to something that has always torn at me about this transcript that was released by the white house. and that's this strange notation that you see on the transcript. it says on the upper right-hand corner, package number short. and what should be there is a number. the fact that there is not a
number there suggests this was never finalized. this document was never finalized in the system. and ultimately what that means, at least what my hunch is that this cover-up started before colonel vindman report, or whether the cover-up just started so quickly that the transcript was put on ice and it wasn't in touch from there. >> edward mcmullen, your reaction of what "the new york times" is reporting about the transcript not being accurate, what we've heard from congressman maloney that within that hearing room today republicans didn't have anything of substantive and they were challenging the colonel. >> i'd like to say that i agree with the comments of congressman maloney and also of ned. i think it's interesting to zoom out a little bit here and keep in mind the defense that the president and vice president
pence and their allies have offered for the past few weeks, which is they're just interested in fighting corruption in ukraine and wherever it exists, they just want to fight corruption. what they want to do is take the focus away from their interests in vice president joe biden as much as possible. and you sort of see that playing out with the way they handled this rough transcript as well, where what's left out and ned makes a very good point, some edits from vindman weren't left out and some were. so why were the ones that were left out, why were they left out? one idea i would mention on the burisma point andologist the reference to joe biden is that think about if those references are there, if the number of times that the president is mentioning joe biden or burisma or other proper nouns associated with the bidens, if the higher that number is the more focused
you can see that president trump had on those issues, that it wasn't just a general interest in corruption, that this really is about joe biden, and you can also imagine if you're president zelensky, the number of times president trump is mentioning biden, biden, biden or burisma or other things or the amount of times there are these direct references to the bidens has an effect of putting more pressure on president zelensky, which is also other argument that trump and his allies have made, that there was no pressure. but these edits i think are important for showing there was focus of course on biden but also that zelensky probably did feel pressure and we know from other reporting he in fact did. >> and congressman maloney, we know from the colonel's opening statement that he repeatedly went to the counsel of the national security counsel to complain, to share his concerns, his worries about what he was
hearing both from the president's phone call, things he heard in conversation with ambassador sondland. was that part of the testimony that he was constantly trying to bring this to the attention of others? was that clear in his testimony? >> again, can't talk about the testimony, but i will take note that there was a statement released before the testimony started. so i don't feel similarly encumbered about what he released or what was released as a public statement. what is clear to me, lawrence, let me put it this way, is that this is a person with a strong moral compass. this is person who believes there's right and there's wrong. and he saw something he thought he was wrong, and he felt he had a duty as an army officer to report it. and he was going to do that by the book. and that is what he continued to do today. to respond to a subpoena, you know, in a lawful manner and to
come up here and to give truthful testimony. so i think you've got a guy who's very much trying to do the right thing, who's done it his whole life. this is guy who served us in iraq and paid a terrible price it. he'sen immigrant by the way and a great american success story, and he's been serving his country honorably and he's seeking to continue to do so. and thank god for a man like colonel vindman because without them i don't know where we'd be right now. >> ned price, what happens to telling colonel vindman when he goes back for work in the trump white house tomorrow? >> what's so remarkable is the fact he was appearing before congress today pursuant to a subpoena because the white house has made quite clear it does not want its officials nor other executive branch officials complying with a lawful -- with a lawful subpoena issued by a coequal branch of government. and that in itself is pretty startling, the fact that in some ways colonel vindman had to buck
his superiors in order to appear today. certainly this is white house that is known for its vinddicativeness. this is white house known even on its best days to stab its colleagues and those around them in the back. so certainly i don't expect it will be an especially welcoming environment for colonel vindman, unfortunately. but it's not like it was all that unwelcoming for him before today. there was a really remarkable aside in his prepaired statement where colonel vindman noted in his year plus on the nsc staff he's never once communicated or met with president trump. and this is our point person for ukraine. and that is really jarring and disturbing because we know that instead of meeting with experts, people like colonel vindman president trump has been seeking out rudy giuliani and another individual whose sole
qualification is that he gave a million dollars to president trump's inaugural committee. so this is not a government and a white house specifically that relies on expertise. and i fear that after today this is white house that will rely even less on colonel vindman's expertise. and that's to the detriment of our national security. >> what is he allowed to do when he's checking the transcript of the testimony? is he allowed to look at an answer where he says i don't recall or something and actually change the answer, say i have a better recollection now? >> he sure as hell better check that transcript, let me just say that. and i think the answer to your question is that if he's smart he and his counsel will maybe seek to come back and answer some additional questions in light of -- in light of what i
think are the problems with his testimony. so without getting into the specifics, i can tell you this delitant turned diplomat doesn't have half the credibility to me someone in that position ought to have, and it pales in comparison to witnesses like you von v yovanovitch or taylor and now vindman. i think ambassador taylor should think long and hard about he's said and what he can say and should say. >> one who has been there for ambassador sondland's testimony said on this program last week he believed he was in danger of perjury charges on the basis of ambassador bill taylor's testimony. >> look, i don't want to gloss what i just told you. i think ambassador sondland ought to read his transcript carefully and he ought to see whether his recollection or his ability to answer in more
complete ways has been enhanced, let me put it that way. i think ambassador sondland is at the heart of this thing, and he owes us truthful testimony, all of it. and that is in his own best interest. >> congressman sean patrick maloney, ned price, i want to thank you all very much for starting us off tonight. and when we come back lieutenant colonel alexander vindman testified for 10 1/2 hours today and reporters in that report reportedly spent most of that time trying to find out the identity of the whistle-blower. that's next. out the identity of the whistle-blower that's next. was managing my moderate to severe ulcerative colitis. but i realized something was missing... me. the thought of my symptoms returning was keeping me from being there for the people and things i love most. so, i talked to my doctor and learned humira can help get, and keep, uc under control when other medications haven't worked well enough. and it helps people achieve control that lasts so you could experience few or no symptoms. humira can lower your ability to fight infections,
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in his opening statement today lieutenant colonel alexander vindman said i want the committees to know i am not the whistle-blower who brought this issue to the committees' attention. i do not know who the whistle-blower is, and i would not feel comfortable to speculate as to the identity of the whistle-blower. and according to some reports that is all republicans wanted to talk about with lieutenant colonel vindman today. they repeatedly questioned him about the whistle-blower and tried to get him to give them a name, even though he said under oath that he does not know who the whistle-blower is. in his opening statement here's chairman adam schiff's reaction. >> the president would love to punish the whistle-blower. the president's comments and actions have jeopardized the
whistle-blower's safety. the president's allies would like nothing better to help the president out, this whistle-blower. our committee will not be a part of that. we will not stand for that. >> joining our discussion now, someone else who was in the room today, congressman david cicilliny, a democrat from rhode island. he serves on the house judiciary committee. what can you tell us about the republican attempts to get a name for the whistle-blower today? >> well, lawrence, first of all the whistle-blower statute of course protects the identity of whistle blowers. this is essential so that people can feel comfortable coming forward to report misconduct or corruption. so it's required by statute the identity of the whistle-blower remain confidential. the efforts to unmask the whistle-blower or disgraceful but it's part of the pattern to distract from the underlying
substance of the evidence, that is president attempting to interfere in a presidential election, holding out military assistance as leverage to try to get him to gin up a false investigation against one of his political opponents. and, you know, the president admitted that on camera. he released a telephone transcript, a report of that that confirms it. and there's of course the whistle-blower report that details the scheme in its entirety. but we have suksquently heard from a number of witnesses now who have corroborated the essential parts of this scheme. so the whistle-blower's identity is really irrelevant. the president's admitted it. the transcript of the phone call corroborates it, and we've heard of a number of witnesses filling in the pieces. this is an effort to distract. betraying his oath of office, of
betraying the national security interests of the united states and undermining the rule of law, and instead they're talking about these process arguments just because they're desperate not to focus on the facts because they have no argument. it's so shocking. >> what can you tell us about the process argument that erupted in the deposition today, congressman swalwell apparently in a clash with republican mark meadows that apparently forced chairman schiff to adjust the way the proceeding was going on. >> all i can tell you is i can't discuss the questions that were asked or the answers that were provided by the witness, but there has been a pattern of disruption by the republicans throughout the proceedings. first they claimed they weren't allowed to participate, but of course they had exactly the same amount of time as the democrats. there are three committees of jurisdiction. they're welcome to come. most of them don't even come to the proceedings. and then they did that sort
of -- they marched in and violated the rules and brought some electronic equipment in and ordered pizza. there have been a number of actics where they've tried to disrupt our efforts to collect evidence and hear from witnesses under oath and that continued again today. >> i notice in the resolution that you're going to vote on, it rules committee going to vote on tomorrow, the full house is going to vote on thursday, that outlines the rules for public hearings in the impeachment investigation and intelligence committee. and later when the judiciary committee gets to the actual articles of impeachment consideration, there's a new set of rules there. and those rules seem to be designed to deal with republican obstructionism. >> yes. so the resolution we will take up really sets up a set of rules that will follow in the next phase of the impeachment inquiry. that is the public hearing process. so it sets out a set of procedures in the intelligence committee as well as judiciary committee to allow for prolonged
questioning by counsel. on the judiciary committee it will allow the president to have counsel present to do some questioning as well. so it really sets forth the procedure for the next phase of the impeachment inquiry, which will be a public process where the american people will hear from witnesses we have heard from and really begin to understand the full gravity of the president's misconduct and this elaborate scheme both inside the white house and outside the white house to pressure a foreign leader to interfere in an american presidential election, to help president trump in his re-election, really shocking behavior by the president. >> the judiciary committee rules that i read tonight are unlike any i've seen before for the previous impeachment investigations because the rules seem to anticipate obstructionism and bad behavior on the part of the president's lawyers in that room and on the part of republicans. and when you look at the past
resolutions they anticipated actual bipartisan cooperation in these hearings. >> you know, lawrence, unfortunately we have seen complete obstruction by the president throughout this process. for many months he was successful on ordering people not to appear, not to produce documents. that has begun to change. thankfully, we've had some great patriots that have come forward and complied with subpoenas issued by congress and shared very important testimony to the committees. but we expect the president is going to engage in the behavior he has and will continue to impede in the progress of our hearings. so we're trying to anticipate that and put rules in place that will allow evidence to be considered, witnesses to testify and not expecting the president is going to change his behavior or his lawyer is going to be any different. so we setout rules that we think will make it eifficient and transparent and allow the american people to hear the evidence.
when we come back, there's a new report today saying that republicans are very worried about what their calling a possible total wipeout next year in 2020 in the election. wipeout in the house, wipeout in the senate, losing the senate. and of course losing the white house. and donald trump today decides to attack lieutenant colonel alexander vindman on twitter, decorated combat veteran is the new trump enemy. how's that going to work for the re-election of republicans? that's next. re-election of republicans that's next. ♪ where others see chaos, we see patterns. ♪ connections.
of course donald trump attacked lieutenant colonel alexander vindman this morning just as he was beginning his testimony to the house impeachment investigation. donald trump launched the attack against the decorated combat veteran who works in the trump white house on the national security counsel the same way donald trump launches most of his attacks on twitter. donald trump tweeted supposedly to the corrupt media today's never-trumper witness, was he on the same call i was, can't be possible. please ask him to read the transcript of the call which colonel vindman did read the transcript of the call. and he testified today under oath that the transcript is wrong, the transcript is inaccurate. colonel vindman testified that more of donald trump's incriminating language about joe biden was eliminated from that
transcript. and donald trump's attack on colonel vindman and the completely predictable fox news attacks on colonel vindman, even some republicans after that had to step forward and say enough, stop attacking the colonel. many republicans in the house and senate know how damaging donald trump is not just to republican hopes of holding onto the white house but to any hopes the republicans have in the house and senate elections. axios is reporting tonight that a growing number of republicans have privately warning of increasing fears of a total wipeout in 2020, house, senate and white house. the republican senate majority once considered relatively safe suddenly looks in serious jeopardy. democrats are raising more money and polling better than republican incumbents in battleground after battleground. president trump trails every major democratic candidate nationally and in swing states and his favor ratings remain
well under 50%. republican strategist and campaign strategists said it will depend even more than usual on the presidential race as the defense of donald trump becomes more hopeless, more desperate and more ugly for republicans. what does that mean for donald trump's impeachment trial in the united states senate? could there be a majority vote in the united states senate to remove donald trump from office? that's next. remove donald trump from office? that's next. little things can be a big deal. that's why there's otezla. otezla is not an injection or a cream. it's a pill that treats differently. for psoriasis, 75% clearer skin is achievable, with reduced redness, thickness, and scaliness of plaques. for psoriatic arthritis, otezla is proven to reduce joint swelling, tenderness, and pain. and the otezla prescribing information has no requirement
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testified. i think that we need to show that we are better than that as a nation. their patriotism, their love of country, we're talking about decorated veterans who have served this nation, put their lives on the line. and it is shameful to question their patriotism, their love of this nation, and we should not be involved in that process. >> joining our discussion now jennifer ruben, and edward mcmullen is back with us. and jennifer, of course congresswoman cheney did not have the courage to mention donald trump's personal attack on colonel vindman. >> no, she didn't. and where were the people when donald trump was attacking the fbi, attacking robert mueller. donald trump has done this all along. it's just because the optics got to be so horrendous they felt they had to step forward. but this is why they're in a heap of trouble. it used to be republicans way back when were the party of
national security, were the party that appreciated law enforcement and now they're throwing rocks at these patriots. and i don't know how this is going to go over well with middle america. >> edward mcmullen, you know many of these republicans well, house republicans. have we found the line most of them will not cross, an attack on colonel vindman? >> you know, lawrence, i'm not sure there is a line. so i'm not going to say this is it. i'll tell you when you see liz cheney come out like that, she leaves messaging for house republicans and i can tell you from experience when someone in that position comes out to sort of correct something that some republican member or some republican advocate or media person has said, it's because they're worried about how it's going to play with constituents, whatever that was said. and i think what we're seeing
here, i would love to say that congresswoman cheney, and actually might give her a little bit of credit on this, and just as importantly the millions of americans who have served like he has, maybe there's some respect there. but actually what the predominant concern there is they understand that attacking a combat veteran is not going to go over well politically for all of them in districts they're going to be competing for, even to hold their minority number now yet alone gain a majority which seems an impossibility at this point right now. they're worried about how this attack, these attacks on honorable veterans, they're worried about that effect across america. but i do not think that's going to stop the president's allies in the house and others from
attacking honorable public servants even those who have served in uniform. >> jennifer, one thing worth entering into the historic record here, they are all lying, every single one of them. none of those republicans actually respects donald trump as a human being, none of them actually think he's capable of executing the duties of president. they're all lying about that for their own protection with the trump base and all relying on any critical judgment they offer against witness of donald trump. all of whom all of these republicans know are more respectable and honest and capable people than donald trump. >> well, there's probably a few of them so dim they actually believe donald trump. but you're right, a vast majority of them are doing this out of a deep sense of cynicism and fear. we were just saying, lawrence, they're now going down with the ship. the house, the senate, the white house. rather than attack patriots
maybe what they should do is disentangle themselves from a very unpopular president who has been caught confessing to impeachable acts. this is how illogical they are behaving because they are so afraid of, i don't know, a mean tweet or perhaps a primary challenge that they have adopted a strategy that is entirely counter productive for them and is probably making things a lot worse. >> and quickly before we go to break here, in the senate trial if there's a majority vote to remove donald trump from office, it only takes a few republicans to switchover to get to majority vote, that would be a devastating judgment about donald trump entered into the record. if they can get mitt romney and two, three other republicans that would be quite a significant historical statement against donald trump. >> it certainly would be, lawrence. i think it would be a majority to convict in the senate. as you point out, it's not
enough for removal. it will wound him politically. i think that will do damage to him in competitive districts and other republicans in states, but i think we need to be sober about what comes next. and let me tell you what i think come next is the president emerges from this process saying i'm politically wounded but i've survived the impeachment and senate conviction trial or senate trial and haven't been convicted. and now all i have to worry about is the voters, the american people voting me out of office. and guess what? i know how to deal with that. and i and my foreign backers will simply escalate our attacks on american democracy because they'll have even greater incentive to do so than they did in 2016. that's where i am we're headed. but, yes, it would be good and it's probably likely there will be a majority voting in favor of conviction in the senate though it'll fall short of removal and actual conviction.
>> thank you both for joining our discussion. really appreciate that. and when we come back house democrats released the text of the resolution they'll be voting on thursday. they provide new rules about how the impeachment inquiry will be conducted especially in the judiciary committee. and those new rules give the chairman real power over republican obstructionism. that's next. r over republican obstructionism. that's next. eating right? on it! staying active? on it. audrey thinks she's doing all she can to manage her type 2 diabetes and heart disease but is her treatment doing enough to lower her heart risk? [sfx: crash of football players colliding off-camera.] maybe not. jardiance is the number 1 prescribed pill in its class. jardiance can reduce the risk of cardiovascular death for adults who also have known heart disease. that means jardiance can help save your life from a heart attack or stroke. plus, jardiance lowers a1c and it could help you lose some weight. jardiance can cause serious side effects including dehydration, genital yeast or urinary tract infections,
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became the first lawyer in history to defend a president in an impeachment investigation on television. >> the main issue that has to do with watergate and in substance it seems clear to me and there's no argument the president would do anything about it in advance. >> james st. clair lost that argument when the president was forced to turn over tapes his boston law firm with the admiration of the entire legal community nationwide. he continued wisdom distinguished career as a trial attorney and lecturer at harvard law school. he was defending a guilty client, but he did it with respect for the seriousness of the impeachment process, respect for the rules, and respect for the court decisions. that forced his client to release the damning evidence against himself that ended the
knocks presidency. rudy giuliani is no james st. claire. donald trump's lawyers are the worst lawyers who have ever defended a president of the united states. their legal arguments are cartoons of legal arguments. nothing embarrasses them. when their arguments getting crushed, they just make more frivolous arguments. the resolution the house of representatives will pass this week outlining the impeachment investigation procedures in the various committees will give donald trump's lawyers special rights in the judiciary committee hearings, including the right to cross examine witnesses, but those rules also give chairman of the judiciary committee unique power, power that was never thought necessary in an impeachment proceeding before this one. if the trump lawyers bring their obstructionist game into the judiciary committee hearings, they willpy pay a price, immediately, right there in the
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the committee shall report to the house of representatives such resolutions, articles of impeachment, or other recommendations as it deems proper. that sentence appears in the 1974 house resolution authorizing the house judiciary committee to conduct an impeachment investigation into richard nixon. that same sentence appears virtually word for word 24 years later in the 1998 house ruks authorizing the impeachment investigation of president bill clinton. and that sentence appears word for word in the in the house resolution on impeachment that will be brought to the house floor for a vote on thursday. the house judiciary committee will adopt new rules to comply with that resolution that grant the president and the president's lawyers special rights during the judiciary
committee hearings on impeachment, including the right to object to questions asked of any witness, and the right to question any witness. but the final provision in the new rules of the house judiciary committee for impeachment hearings says that if the president blocks witnesses from testifying and refuses to produce documents, quote, the chair shall have the discretion to impose appropriate remedies, including by denying specific requests by the president or his counsel under these procedures to call or question witnesses. joining us now is giuliani epstein, former chief counsel for it house judiciary committee who was there during the clinton hearings. ej, they didn't need rules like this for james st. claire. they didn't need rules like this for president clinton's lawyers because they presumed reasonable
behavior in these hearings. but that's not the case with rudy giuliani and the trump lawyers. >> no, it's not. and i think this vul very clear. the president will be given every right to intervene, but he won't be given that right if he decides that he will deny the committee and by extension, the public itself, a legitimate information. there's some other things they've done in these rules, i think, that are interesting. one is the committees that are being excluded from this process. they include the oversight committee and the foreign affairs committee. they're not part of this at all. and guess what, there are a couple members of the oversight committee who are among the republican flame throwers, jim jordan and mark meadows are kept out of the process this way. lee zeldin of the foreign affairs committee, another flame thrower is kept out of the process this way.
it's another way in which they're trying to keep this from becoming a circus. lastly, it really appears that they've learned from the mueller hearing and that the five-minute rule everybody asks a question for five minutes and you move on, really doesn't give you great hearing. so in the intelligence committee, and, by the way, adam schiff is the king of the hill in this process the way this rule is written because all of the hearings go through him. in intelligence committee there will be a "block of 90 minutes each and they can delegate that to a committee staff member. so you can have a consistent line of inquiry and not have it all caught up the way it has -- was so often in the mueller era. >> we're going to be seeing more of barry burke, the counsel who asked questions of that committee before because this rule allows the committee counsel to be asking the
questions for 45 minutes at a time. but i want to get your reaction to what control you think this rule gives chairman nadler in the house judiciary committee. >> well, lots of control. but you expect that on the committee chair. in 1998, we gave the -- the republicans gave the white house exactly the procedural guarantees that the democrats are now giving to the trump white house. it's almost word for word in terms of procedural guarantees. and after those were voted on, they were voted on by voice vote in the committee. here you actually have a house rule in place, which is much stronger than you had in 1998. after those rules were put in place, tom moonmy and myself had to meet with the white house counsel to discuss is it implementation of those rules. while there was intense disagreement during the 1998 impeachment, during the meeting when we had to negotiate how the rules would be carried through,
there was complete cooperation by the white house. the clinton white house cooperated every step along the way, even though there was intense disagreement on the overall impeachment, and that's totally contrary today. republicans have painted themselves in a corner by relying on the process argument that nancy pelosi has now taken away from them. >> julian epstein, thank you for joining us. e.j. dionne, thank you for joining us. that is tonight's last word. "the 11th hour with brian williams" starts now. an active duty u.s. army officer in dress uniform zprag the decorations he earned overseas and in 20 years of service to our country. showing up to tell congress what he saw, what he heard the president say in that now-critical phone call to the president of ukraine. even before he can appear, he's the victim of a smear campaign on the right, questioning his loyalty, even as a purple heart recipient. it was too much even for some republicans to bear today, and they said