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tv   The Last Word With Lawrence O Donnell  MSNBC  November 8, 2019 10:00pm-11:00pm PST

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this is mayor elect hawkins with two of the newly elected members. these elections this week brought big change to little plymouth, north carolina. these elections this week brought big change to virginia where democrats flipped the whole state legislator and to kentucky where democrats flipped a governor seat. and we look to off-year elections for signs of what might happen in the really big votes next year, for the house, for the senate, for the white house. those also loom with an impeachment inquiry currently working its way through congress. and these election results next week you don't want to oversell them. but they may call the question a little bit what republicans are them. but they may call the question a little bit what republicans are going to do in the house and especially the senate. because deciding how much you're willing to stand by the president while he's going to be impeached is honestly going to be a decision of both conscience and of political calculation for republicans. did the election results we saw this week change the calculation at all for republicans?
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do they change their mental math at all when they think about it, thinking about how this next year is going to go and their own seats being at risk? open hearings in the impeachment inquiry start wednesday morning. that does it for us tonight. we will see you again monday. now it's time for the "last word" with ali velshi in for lawrence tonight. it is a very busy night of news to get to. ahead in this hour, all of the legal problems swirling around trump world today. steve bannon under oath at the roger stone trial. we'll talk to someone who heard how bannon tied the campaign to wikileaks. and trump defender jim jordan is facing new accusations of doing nothing to stop sexual abuse when he worked in ohio university. this as republicans move to put him on the house intelligence committee so he can be part of the televised impeachment hearings. and at the end of the show, the mood inside the white house now that the first excerpts of the new anonymous book are out.
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but we begin with the newly released transcripts from two more key witnesses in the impeachment inquiry, ended an explosive week of damning revelations for president trump. they detail the blatant and explicit push by the trump administration to pressure ukraine to investigate the president's political rivals in exchange for military aid and a coveted white house meeting. and for the first time white house officials testified the quid pro quo was orchestrated by acting white house chief of staff mick mulvaney. this, as another potential witness, former national security adviser john bolton signals he knows key new details that house investigators do not. lieutenant colonel alexander vindman, the top ukraine expert on the national security council, was listening in on the july 25th phone call when he heard what he called obvious demands by president trump for ukraine's president to investigate the bidens and the 2016 election.
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he was asked, quote, were there any -- was there any doubt in your mind as to what the president, our president, was asking for as a deliverable? vindman answered, there was no doubt. lieutenant colonel vindman was also present when ambassador gordon sondland told ukrainian officials that a face-to-face meeting with president trump was dependent on ukraine making a public announcement of these investigations. he described the quid pro quo, quote, it was explicit. there was no ambiguity. the hold on ukraine's military aid came directly from the president's chief of staff, according to vindman's testimony. quote, sondland had a conversation with mr. mulvaney, and this is what was required in order to get a meeting. in order to get the white house meeting, they had to deliver an investigation, end quote. fiona hill, who served under john bolton also pointed to
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mulvaney as coordinating the extortion plot. testifying, quote, ambassador sondland in front of the ukrainians as i came in was talking about how he had an agreement with chief of staff mulvaney for a meeting with ukrainians if they were going to go forward with investigations. these shed light on the comments mulvaney made last month. >> did he also mention to me in the past the corruption related to the dnc server? absolutely, no question about that. but that's it. that's why we held up the money. >> to be clear, what you just described was a quid pro quo. >> we do that all the time with foreign policy. get over it. there's going to be political influence in foreign policy. >> we do that all the time in foreign policy. get over it. not surprisingly mulvaney refused to comply with the subpoena to testify in the house impeachment committee hearings today before the hearings go public next week. fiona hill also testified that bolton objected to what he
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called the, quote, drug deal that mulvaney and sondland were cooking up. quote, bolton believed they were making an improper arrangement predicating the meeting in the white house on the ukrainians agreeing to restart investigations that had been dropped. hill testified that bolton repeatedly told his staff that no one -- no one should be meeting with rudy giuliani, the president's lawyer. after marie yovanovitch was ousted. a direct result of the campaign that giuliani set in motion, according to hill. bolton directly said, rudy giuliani is a hand grenade that will blow everybody up. as house republicans prepare for their list of witnesses for the trump impeachment inquiry, trump's allies are employing a new tactic. the republicans are reportedly sowing doubts whether sondland,
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giuliani, and mulvaney were actually representing the president or freelancing to pursue their own agendas. the gop is effectively offering up the three to be fall guys. that might explain why donald trump tried to distance himself today from his multimillion dollar donor turned ambassador. >> gordon sondland said at the beginning of september he presumed there was a quid pro quo. then there was a telephone call to you on september 9th. had he ever talked to you prior to that telephone call? >> let me just tell you i hardly know the gentleman, but this is the man who said there was no quid pro quo. and he still says that. >> i hardly knew the gentleman. that's a far cry from his tweet just last month calling sondland, quote, a really good man and great american. but i hardly knew the gentleman. gordon sondland revised his testimony this week. admitting he told officials a white house meeting was conditioned on meeting these
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requiremen requirements. still unclear whether john bolton will testify. but in a letter to the house general council today bolton's lawyers said that john bolton, quote, was personally involved in many of the events, meetings and conversations about which you already have received testimony as well as many relevant meetings and conversations that have not yet been discussed in the testimonies thus far. leading off our discussion tonight is freshman democratic congresswoman from california, a member of the oversight committee and attended both fiona hill and lieutenant colonel vindman's positions. and an msnbc contributor. and neera tanden, a former senior advisor to president obama and hillary clinton. president and ceo of the center for american progress. welcome to all three of you. thank you for being here. congressman, i want to ask you because you had a chance to listen in to some of this testimony. there's a lot of similarity. if you're not familiar with these names, there will be a
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sameness to the testimony because they're testifying or they have given in their depositions details that largely support each other with one exception, and that was gordon sondland who gave a deposition, gave statements and then he went back and fixed them to be more in line with the testimony of others. >> that's absolutely correct. every single one of these witnesses has come through, provided consistent stories that line up exactly with what the whistle-blower report said with the exception of ambassador sondland. ambassador sondland had an acute case of selective amnesia when he testified. and many would probably suggest it was borderline perjury at times. and obviously him coming back and supplementing his testimony was to basically try and fill in holes after he saw how others testified. >> and fiona hill has subsequently said even after his repaired testimony he's still not fully telling the truth.
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she said, i had a blow up with sondland when he told me he was in charge of ukraine because initially i said to him, you're not. and i said, who said you're in charge of ukraine, gordon? and he said, the president, well, that shut me up because you can't really argue with that. gordon sondland is the american ambassador to the european union. a lot of people might really want ukraine to be in the european union, but it's not. and we had an ambassador there. and then we had -- so gordon sondland really didn't have business leading the ukraine policy in the white house. >> that's correct. and we have to keep in mind every one of these witnesses the exception of ambassador sondland are people who have dedicated their life serving presidents both republican and democrat through multiple administrations. they take very copious notes of every single meeting and phone call. on the other hand, ambassador
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sondland is a political appointee of trump's who got the job basically for giving a million dollars to his inauguration. so unfortunately we've got almost the keystone cops with him and giuliani and secretary perry and others trying to run this back channel of communication. >> natasha, you're a national security expert, and there is a massive national security component to this. so while there are some people who will be frustrated, horrified, disgusted with what it is alleged that president trump has done because he may have done something for personal political gain, the more important part of the testimony from vindman and fiona hill was the risk at which the united states in holding back this $391 million was putting ukraine at in the midst of a remarkably important confrontation that ukraine is having with russia. >> absolutely, ali. and one of the most striking things i think going back to the deposition released yesterday as
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top state department official george kent was when he said that the ukraine aid that the u.s. gives to ukraine in order to fend off russian aggression is actually more in the national security interest of the united states than it even is in the national interest of ukraine. and he said i can't get into that in an open setting, i can only get into the details of that in a classified setting. but he emphasized this point, that this was not just the president trying to get personal political favors. it's not just about that but also about the president toying with u.s. national security. i think once you start to think about it in those terms, in terms of fending off russian aggression, of the kind that we weren't really helping with before russia invaded eastern ukraine in 2014 and annexed crimea and look what happened. then you start to get a fuller picture of the real risk the president put the united states at here just to get dirt on his political rivals. >> the issue is as this becomes public and as we're seeing these
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transcripts of the depositions, there are many americans possibly even conservative americans to whom that may be the bigger problem. the national security risk that we put our allies in as well as the national security risk to america. this is not charitable food donations to ukraine because of a famine. this is actually in the national interest of the united states that this policy was approved by congress and that funding was approved by congress. a guy like mick mulvaney back in his days as a member of congress would have had a massive problem with that. >> yeah, this is -- what i would say is that this is that ambassador taylor also in his opening letter really makes clear how much the ukrainians relied on -- he testifies vividly of going to the front lines and seeing soldiers fighting. and his concern is that soldiers would die without the aid or
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more people would die without the aid. so i think that is an issue of national security for the ukrainians, but obviously as natasha points out, it's also a national security issue for us. i think the issue with the public testimony is we will see a series of public servants really spell out, not really just the quid pro quo, but really what a quid pro quo is which is the president of the united states and his extortion tactics, and the idea that republicans are putting up a notion that mick mulvaney, the president's chief of staff came up with this on his own when he again let's just remind everyone have the transcript or memo released by the white house saying that it's in the president's own words, you know, i have have a favor here, though. it's the president's own words that connect him back. and it's not going to be possible, i think, for americans to see mick mulvaney, the president's chief of staff, as a lone wolf on this issue.
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>> congressman, this is fascinating line that "the washington post" repeating the reporting that this is a part of the gop strategy that neera was just talking about, painting one or two or three of sondland, mulvaney, and giuliani as the real masterminds behind this and may have been executing it and delivering the messages. it becomes hard to understand maybe with the exception of giuliani who seemed to be running a side hustle in ukraine why they would hold back the aid for their personal gain because it's not obvious what the personal gain would be. >> we saw this before with michael cohen. the president turned on michael cohen. michael cohen even admonished everyone in the hearing in front of my committee on oversight that, beware, trump will turn on you, too. so i fully expect president
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trump to start distancing himself from giuliani and the rest of them and arguably throwing them under the bus. >> congress, good to see you. the others, please stay with us. coming up, roger stone is on trial for lying and obstructing the investigation into russia's attack into our elections. and there's a big headline tonight from today's star witness, steve bannon. according to "the washington post" bannon's testimony was, quote, the first time anyone affiliated with the trump campaign acknowledged in court that they had actively sought material from wikileaks. we're going to talk to a reporter who was at the courthouse today. that's next. i am the twisting thundercloud.
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wikileaks, i love wikileaks. this wikileaks stuff is unbelievable. it tells you the inner heart. you got to read it. it's been amazing what's coming out on wikileaks. >> then-candidate donald trump loved that wikileaks as he called it released e-mails stolen by hackers that were damaging to hillary clinton. steve bannon was working for him as his campaign chief executive, and roger stone was trump's informal adviser. today steve bannon testified under oath that donald trump's 2016 campaign considered trump's longtime confidant roger stone as the, quote, access point, end
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quote, to wikileaks. bannon delivered that explosive testimony in the ongoing trial of roger stone on charges that stone lied to congress while it was investigating russia's attack on our election. bannon told the jury, quote, the campaign had no official access to wikileaks or to julian assange. but roger would be considered if we needed an access point because he had implied or told me he had a relationship with wikileaks and julian assange. it was something i think he would frequently mention or talk about. that goes to one of the most crucial unanswered questions about then candidate donald trump. did he rely on roger stone, his longest serving advisor, to get dirt on hillary clinton? joining us now, mother jones reporter dan freedman who was inside the courthouse today and back with us natasha bertram. a quote from your own reporting here, you wrote an article in
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which you say trump's campaign apparently thought it was colluding with wikileaks. steve bannon says trump team saw roger stone as access point to assange. the trump campaign apparently thought it was colluding with wikileaks. in bannon's cross-examination today stone's defense attorney asked him, you and the trump campaign didn't view stone as the access point to wikileaks? and bannon says, i think we did, yes. that's remarkable. >> yeah, that's pretty striking. and, you know, bannon didn't only say that the trump campaign was receiving what it thought was inside information on wikileaks from roger stone. he also suggested that they believed that stone was sort of orchestrating the release of the stolen democratic e-mails. bannon said that when wikileaks released the e-mails from the clinton campaign chairman john
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podesta on october 7th, 2016, he said he heard that stone had been involved in making that happen. and then bannon's assistant on the same day sent stone an email that said well done, just two words. so they kind of thought that stone was actually helping them actively, which was quite striking. >> what's the implication of that? what's the implication of them thinking they were working through stone with wikileaks and ostensibly with the russians who had done the hacking that wikileaks -- the information that wikileaks had? what's the implication of that on those who believe that there was some kind of coordination between the trump campaign and the russians or the trump campaign and julian assange? >> well, the implication i think would be that they tried to cheat, right? one of the biggest questions after the "access hollywood" tape dropped, about 20 minutes later wikileaks started
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releasing the emails from john podesta's inbox and the biggest question has always been, did someone coordinate that? did someone on the campaign or close to the campaign coordinate that with wikileaks? and i think it was touched upon a bit that bannon did testify to the fact they believed roger stone had this power and access. and he also said that he really felt like that the moment when they needed wikileaks the most and when they felt like they needed more e-mails to come out that were damaging to the democrats and to hillary clinton, they felt like they could rely on stone as that access point. so i think that obviously raises a whole bunch of questions whether they were waiting for a pivotal moment in the campaign when trump was literally at his lowest point. republicans and allies abandoning him left and right after the "access hollywood" tape came out, when they actually went to stone and said, hey, please help us out and do this because the timing of that release after the "access hollywood" tape was extremely to
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put it gently, coincidental. >> was there anything in that trial we're establishing whether someone coordinated that. observers of this concurrently while it was happening or in hindsight can conclude it was either coincidental or lucky or organized. and yet people who know stone say the guy is a big talker. he wanted everyone to think he was tied in with assange and wikileaks, but the evidence isn't clear he was. >> they have not presented evidence they definitely coordinated release of the emails, but there's a lot of what i would say is circumstantial evidence that he was involved both on the wikileaks and at least through jerome corsi the right wing conspiracy theorist and on the trump campaign end, he talked directly to then-candidate trump on june 14th, 2016. that's the day the dnc announced
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they'd been hacked by the russians, stone talked to trump that day. and then on july 31st stone also talked to trump. and just an hour later stone directed corsi to go to london and see what he could find out from assange about the e-mails. so that's a pretty strong circumstantial suggestion that the president was perhaps putting stone up to this effort to find out what wikileaks -- what kind of emails wikileaks had and when they were going to release him. >> natasha, i don't know if you had a chance to review what bannon was doing inside the court and outside. in both cases he was going out of his way to indicate he was not participating in this proceeding willingly. he would not have shown up or spoken to a grand jury without a subpoena. he seemed to be sending some sort of message he doesn't want to be here, he wouldn't be doing this willingly? >> yeah, and that has to do with the people he's trying to appeal to now. he's still trying to be on the administration's good side. it's belied by the fact he
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cooperated willingly with mueller's investigation and cooperated in voluntary interviews with prosecutors before this trial even began. so i think there's a lot of evidence here that, you know, steve bannon is putting on a show about not wanting to be throwing roger stone under the bus here, and he's being forced essentially to testify in this trial. but the facts don't support that. and one other thing that you know obviously wasn't mentioned today during the hearing was the email released in a court case last week as part of the case against the justice department, releasing materials from the mueller investigation -- an email in which steve bannon wrote to jared kushner and said we need to make sure that it's not perceived that we have been getting help from russia and wikileaks. and in that sense we need to kind of distance ourselves from, you know, the fired campaign chairman paul manafort, who at that time was still advising the trump campaign well into november, 2016. clearly there was an awareness on steve bannon's part at least
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the perception that the russians who had hacked the dnc, had hacked john podesta's e-mail inbox, and the campaign was now benefitting from those releases. it seems like steve bannon was very much aware of that perception. >> natasha, thank you, dan freedman as well. coming up, ohio congressman jim jordan has a key role in the impeachment hearings starting next week, but it comes as jordan continues to be ensnared in a sex abuse scandal at ohio state university. a second person has now said in a court filing he told jordan directly about sexual misconduct by a wrestling team doctor when jordan was working as an assistant coach. that's next. low sugar. tastes great! high protein. low sugar. so good! high protein. low sugar. mmmm, birthday cake! pure protein. the best combination for every fitness routine.
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it is official. house republican leader kevin mccarthy announced ohio congressman jim jordan has been appointed to the house intelligence committee which mccarthy characterized as the impeachment committee. jordan has already been able to participate in the closed-door depositions because he's the ranking member of the oversight committee and he's a member of the judiciary committee. and it's been clear from the transcripts that he's playing a lead role in the republican side of this investigation. but congressman jordan is in the news for another reason today. here is the "cleveland plain dealer" headline. u.s. representative jim jordan was told about sexual misconduct by ex-ohio state doctor richard strauss, a former referee claims. here's nbc's jeff bennett with the story. >> reporter: republican congressman jim jordan tonight facing a new accusation that he
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ignored warnings about an ohio state university doctor accused of sexually abusing nearly 200 men over two decades. in a lawsuit filed thursday a college wrestling referee named as john doe 42 says in the mid-'90s he told jordan, then ohio state's assistant wrestling coach that the team's physician richard strauss performed a sex act in front of him in the shower. the referee says the team's then head coach shrugged it off saying yeah, that's strauss. >> everybody talked about strauss. >> reporter: a former ohio state wrestler also says he complained directly to jim jordan after he said strauss once tried to pull his pants down. >> i had told him, hey, this is not right. >> reporter: not part of the latest lawsuit, he says jordan failed to address it. jordan has previously denied having any knowledge of the abuse, saying the allegations he was told about are politically motivated. his office did not respond to our request for comment. the lawsuit comes as house
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republican leaders today named jordan to the house intelligence committee. giving jordan, known as president trump's most aggressive defender, a more prominent role in the committee's public impeachment hearings. tonight osu called strauss' actions reprehensible. adding it has implemented multiple safeguards since that time. strauss died by suicide in 2005. his horrifying legacy raising new questions about what should have been done to stop him. jeff bennett, nbc news, the capitol. and coming, up tim alberta, the reporter, writes today in politico, quote, there's a sizable number of republican senators and representatives who believe trump's removal from office is not an altogether radical idea. that's next.
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hurry in before these three are gone again. outback steakhouse. republicans are scrambling to prepare their defense of president trump with televised impeachment hearings less than a week away. but ever since house speaker nancy pelosi announced the formal impeachment inquiry, republicans republicans have spent the past month figuring out how to defend the allegations. in a new piece from politico magazine titled who will betray trump tim alberta examines trump's obsession with possible defectors and whether any of them would actually turn against
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their own party and president on impeachment vote. writing, venting privately about the president has become a hallowed pastime in republican controlled washington, a sort of ritualistic release for those lawmakers tasked with routinely defending the indefensible. but it's also evidence that barring a plain admission of guilt by the president himself, think jack nicholson in "a few good men," the republican party will not be forsaking trump. joining us now, jennifer rubin and tim miller. jennifer, look, you are an optimistic former republican who believes that they will do this. earlier today i spoke to former governor bill weld who's running against donald trump in the primaries. he's written a letter to senators to say the party will be destroyed and your careers will ultimately be destroyed.
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and the republican hold on the senate will disappear if you don't do the right thing. do you agree with all of those views? >> well, i agree with bill weld. i share i think the pessimism of tim alberta that republicans are going to do the right thing. i had a conversation this week with former defense secretary bill cohen. and he says, listen, these people are intimidated by trump. they're fearful of trump and to some extent they're complicit. they like some of the things he's doing. and they don't have the moral backbone to stand up to him. they will risk, i think, looking ridiculous. they will risk their seats, and i think you'll maybe have a handful of people who will do the right thing. i think mitt romney will come around, perhaps susan collins. perhaps a handful of others. but it was interesting, the piece said, barring an admission of guilt, trump has admitted
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guilt. trump keeps admitting guilt, and they still don't change. so i think it's unfortunately unlikely these people will rise to the occasion which is why it's important for the american people to vote them out next november. >> talk to me who we're talking about, because these are senators across the nation. you worked for jeb bush, a man who was a principled republican, not a guy who was ideologically inflexible but held to his conservative roots while at the same time managing to have discussions with and enact legislation with people across party lines. why are these united states senators so different? some of them are served in state houses. some of them have had occasion to have debates with people who don't share their views. why is this the hill they want to die on? >> ali, i wish i had the answer to that. i've experienced disappointment after disappointment with a lot of folks i used to admire who are in the senate and house in my party.
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and i just want to give a warning to your viewers that the alberta article just drove me into a blind rage when i was reading it on the way over here. there are a handful of folks either retiring or who have maintained their integrity. myth mitt romney, adam kinsinger. there's a congressman from florida named francis rooney, he's the ambassador to the vatican. so he's familiar with how diplomacies work, right? he's been a loyal ally of trump, too loyal for my taste. all the way up until this ukraine incident. and basically what he said, he came out and said, look, the facts do not look good. and a lot of his colleagues agree with him privately and still have targeted him and still have pressured him into retirement out of a loyalty to the president.
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these people have decided they're going to lay their bet on short-term political gain because that's what their voters want them to do. none of them have the courage or integrity or willingness to step out against the president and take their chance with the voters next year, and i agree with jennifer, i'll outflank her on pessimism. i don't really see that changing no matter what the circumstances are. >> i'm going to read from tim's article what representative francis rooney of florida said. he says the question is, is that enough of an abuse of power to remove the president from office? i don't know. i need to think about that a lot more. i haven't made up my mind. i've got to be able to look at myself in the mirror and got to be able to look at my kids and my friends and family and know that what i did was right. so he's being thoughtful about it. but maybe i made a mistake, jennifer, a moment ago because i said why is this the hill they want to die on? clearly many of these republican
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senators and in the house of representatives don't think they're dying on any hill. >> right, they think this the only way they survive. they're afraid on one hand from a primary challenge if they break with the president or even if they don't have a primary challenge, they're afraid the republicans won't turn out and they'll be beaten in a general election. and these people do not have, i guess, the imagination or perhaps the ambition to do something else in life. for them being in the united states senate apparently is anything and everything they've always wanted. so they will do anything to keep these seats. you think these people -- >> it's not that great of a job. it's not that great of a job. i don't get that. particularly being in the house. you're a back bencher in the house. you're in the minority. >> exactly. >> why not be the person that, you know, maybe has a historic separation from this president? i think there's a huge opportunity for somebody. it's a mystery. >> let's go down that road for a second. i think i've got a chance to just ask you this question, jennifer. what does that look like? what if you are that group of
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people? we've got a couple of them running for president. two of the three people running against donald trump have never really found much need to separate from them. bill weld is sort of a standout on that front. what does it look like? do you build another republican party? do you call it something else? do you peel off or just hope enough of the remnants of the republican party survives so that conservatives in this country can have a political home after donald trump? >> well, actually i hope none of this party survives. i hope all of them lose badly. i think if you have a devastation, if you have a complete wipeout, there's a hope that the tim millers of the world will take control. they'll have a party or at least a shell of a party to operate, and they can bring in new blood, new people who have not gone along with this absolute farce and try to create something that looks like a responsible senate right party. we need two parties in this country, but right now we only have one that's functional and perhaps a little too
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self-destructive, and the other is completely amoral and anti-american. so it's not a good position for a democracy like ours to be in. >> jennifer and tim, thanks for joining me tonight. coming up, the white house has slammed the forthcoming anonymous book detailing the trump chaos because the purported trump official who wrote it has chosen to remain anonymous. but next week several officials will be describing chaos inside the administration live on television in the impeachment hearings. that's next.
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a midnight self-massacre. that's what could have happened if senior trump administration officials went along with their plan to resign as a group last year to sound a public alarm about president trump's conduct. that's according to the new book "a warning." excerpts of the book are already out ahead of its november 19th release as you saw on rachel's show last night. written by the author of last year's anonymous op-ed "new york times" piece, the writer claims that the plan never came to fruition for fear of destabilizing the government. now, according to excerpts reviewed by "the washington post" the book also describes senior officials 'reaction to the president's tweets. quote, it's like showing up at the nursing home at daybreak to find your elderly uncle running pantless across the courtyard and cursing loudly about the
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cafeteria food as worried attendants try to catch him. you're stunned, amused and embarrassed, only your uncle probably wouldn't do it every single day. his words aren't broadcast to the public, and he doesn't have to lead the u.s. government once he puts his pants on. the "post" describes the president railing against federal judges ruling against his policies like the 2017 travel ban. he asked white house lawyers, quote, can we just get rid of the judges? let's get rid of the expletive judges. there shouldn't be any at all, really. this is just the beginning. there will be more excerpts, and that will all be playing out in the background as the public hearings in the impeachment investigation of president trump begin next week. the under oath depositions are already providing their own
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window into the chaos of the trump administration as experienced by senior officials. acting ukraine ambassador bill taylor will be the first witness in the public impeachment hearing on wednesday. here's one thing ambassador taylor mentioned when asked about the difficulty in scheduling a meeting with president trump about military aid to ukraine. he said, i think this was also about the time of the greenland question, about purchasing greenland, which took up a lot of energy at the national security council. chairman adam schiff replied, okay, that's disturbing for a whole different reason. we'll talk about all that and how donald trump is reportedly reacting in the white house next with gabe sherman and neera tanden. performance comes in lots of flavors. there's the amped-up, over-tuned, feeding-frenzy-of sheet-metal-kind. and then there's performance that just leaves you feeling better as a result.
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quit smoking slow turkey. talk to your doctor about chantix. the white house has its response to the anonymous book "a warning." press secretary stephanie grisha nsaid, quote, the coward who wrote this book didn't put their name on it because it is nothing but lies. real authors reach out to their subject to get fact checked but this person is in hiding, making that very real part of being a writer impossible. reporters who choose to write about this farce should have the journalistic integrity to cover this book as what it is, a work of fiction, end quote. that may well work with the anonymous author, but americans will be hearing what's going on behind the scenes in the trump administration at the impeachment hearings next week. from people under oath, whose
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names you will know, whose careers you will understand. and it's not from anonymous sources. the senior career officials who in some cases will testify in public are putting their names and faces to their accounts like this one from dr. fiona hill, describing a rogue effort to get a white house meeting for the president of ukraine in exchange for opening a political investigation, the so-called "drug deal" that john bolton said he wanted no part of. dr. hill told the house intelligence committee she was concerned not just about the content but the location of this july meeting between gordon sondland and ukrainians, right by the white house situation room. hill said, it's completely inappropriate to have, you know, the ambassador to the eu, gordon sondland, take the ukrainians down to the ward room, which is near the situation room, to have a huddle on the next steps on getting a meeting with the president of the united states. i don't even know whether the ukrainians had left their cell phones in boxes at this
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particular point. you can be sure they're being targeted by the russians. joining me now, vanity fair's gabe sherman, and neera tanden, who has spent a good deal of time in the white house. neera, "the new york times book review" has written about it. has anything in this book described anything you experienced in the white house? >> zero. when i worked in the white house, we had good controls, security. people understood that we basically had foreign governments that were trying to get information from us. and actually there was a process. there was always a process around everything. we didn't have -- i mean, i was privileged to serve with president obama and president clinton, and, you know, neither one of them tweeted out attacks on political opponents or just
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attacked them through the press or did any one of these. what's amazing about this book, and obviously we all have to read it in detail, is that just from the excerpts, it doesn't seem unimaginable because it is exactly what we've seen day to day, confirmed by realtime events. we see a president out of control all the time. so it's not surprising that he's out of control behind the scenes. it's just remarkably unassuring that he is equally out of control behind the cameras as well. >> let me read from "the new york times book review." anonymous has seen and heard disturbing things. you, the reader, will already recognize most of what anonymous has seen and heard if you've been paying attention to the news. did you know the president isn't much of a reader, that he's inordinately fond of autocrats, stumbles, slurs, is easily
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irritated, and has trouble synthesizing information? those who have read the book say it's a lot of anecdotes, it sort of reinforces what people know. what do you make of it? >> yeah, i think that's the problem with the rollout of this book. fundamentally it's not advancing and filling in more detailed a picture than what we know of this president. me, as a reporter who covered both his campaign and the white house, i hear these anecdotes every day from people who work inside the white house. they're reported in "the new york times," "the washington post," and elsewhere. this book doesn't actually advance the ball. and people are waiting that. especially the fact that the author is anonymous, usually journalists extend confidentiality to sources when the only way they can get that information to the public is by protecting their identity. now the author has done that and says he doesn't want to make the story about himself. but you have to deliver the goods. and unfortunately, i say this as someone who wants to know the full inner workings of the white
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house. what we've read does not fill in that picture. >> neera, disadvantageous or advantageous to the author, this is this sidetrack that will be going on next week, the main track, really. the impeachment hearings, there will be people who were in the white house and who will describe things perhaps not in as juicy a way but which confirms what people like gabe have been reporting on for the last three years. >> absolutely. i do think what is part of this book is that we will -- i'm sure this is inadvertent, but we will see in real time public servants, essentially, career diplomats, career public servants who actually in their experience were trying to fight against the president's instincts. just as anonymous describes.
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it will be real confirmation for the book at the time. >> stephanie grisham says the person is anonymous, they must be gutless and cowardly, hence you must not believe it. but meanwhile there are people coming out and testifying. >> my reporting is that the president has been unhappy with his communications and the fact that he feels the white house isn't doing enough to defend him. stephanie grisham, from what my reporting has indicated, basically takes dictation from trump. these statements are things that he is dictating. that he is dictating to her. >> they sound very trumpian. >> very trumpian. he is launching a full-scale assault on this book, you know, clearly this is just another front in the multi-front war against this white house. but i think as you teed up at the top of the segment, we're going to see all of these people under oath on the record talking about what happened. that is more powerful than an anonymous book. >> gabe, good to see you. neera


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