tv The Last Word With Lawrence O Donnell MSNBC December 17, 2019 10:00pm-11:00pm PST
business beyond. get your rest, tomorrow house is expected to voted on articles of impeachment against donald trump. the house rules committee has decided there will be six hours of debate before the vote. we don't know exactly what that will look like or if it will change. but our coverage will start 9:00 a.m. eastern time.
now it's time for "the last word" with lawrence o'donnell. >> there's going to be an additional hour of debate at the beginning of the debate about the rules. house will then vote on the articles. we know the numbers. we know what we'll be saying or reporting on tomorrow night at this hour. but there's something about knowing how it's going to turn out that feels like it's possibly diminishing the enormity of this. there's this what's going to happen sense isn't really present. and that, i think, in today 's news is part of what feeds, i think, many people's sense of how big this news is. this is gigantic, even though we know what's going to happen. >> for the third time in u.s. history year going to impeach a president. once in the 1800s, once in the 1900s and now for the first time in the 2000s.
i think impeachment is both rare enough and i think alive enough wire that anything can happen at any point. i mean i know they've agreed on the six hours of debate but none of the last hearings on impeachment have gone any way we expected them to either in terms of a time or 10er. so tomorrow, to me, feels very much like a black box. i know democrats think they have the votes to impeachment. but besides that, i don't have an expectation. >> drew, reported on the nixon impeachment process, and she reminds us recently that there was much celebration at the end of the nixon process, that system worked. the system worked. she has a different impression on what we're learning this time around with the tools of impeachment. thanks, rachel. well t is impeachment eve
and nancy pelosi has the votes. today more newly elelcted membes of the house have come out in favor of impeaching the republican president of the united states. one of those freshman congressman who recently announced his vote will join us tonight. and at the owned of the hour, we'll be joined by a democrat who has announce her candidacy, challenging jeff van drew of new jersey who was a democrat last week but has been having discussions about switching to the republican party now that he has announced he will vote against impeachment of the president tomorrow. and senator chris murphy will join us tonight. he travelled to ukraine as a member of the senate foreign relations committee with senator ron johnson who president trump quotes in a very strange letter to nancy pelosi. a letter donald trump says he wrote for history. there are demonstrations all over the country in support of
the impeachment of president trump. an organizer of the demonstrations will join us later in this hour. the house rules committee spent the day debating the articles of impeachment. it was the kind of house committee hearing we have not seen in what feels like very long time. there was no yelling. there were no attacks on members of the committee by other members of the committee in the opposite party. and that is thanks entirely to the good old-fashioned, fully respectful, working relationship of chairman jim mcgovern of mlszmous and the ranking republican momeber, tom cole of oklahoma. sometimes old-fashioned is good and today it was very good to see tom cole leading the republican side of the committee with flawless politeness and civili civility bhiel completely disagreeing with the sdms.
they gave a master class in what respectful disagreement should look like in congress. tonight the rules committee in a party line vote sent the articles of impeachment to the floor for a vote on the full house. in a letter house speaker nancy pelosi wrote when the house convenes to take the impeachment vote tomorrow, i urge you to look on the floor. and to proceed in a manner worthy of our oelgt of office to support and defend the constitution of the united states . during this prayerful moment we must honor our oath to support and defend the constitution. from all enemies foreign and domestic. the white house released a letter to nancy pelosi tonight that is signed by the president and some of the sentences in the letter indicates that they might
actually read as if the president had a hand in writing some oaf those sentences. for example you are defending americans of faith by continually saying i pray for the president when you know this statement is not true, unless it is meant in a negative sense. it is a terrible thing you are doing but you will have to live with it, not i, exclamation point. and then you view democracy as your enemy, exclamation point. that may have been written by the president. it ends saying he's writing the letter for history. even donald trump realizes his tweet collection will be overwhelming. so he wants his six-page letter to stand out so historians will use it. i write this letter to you for the purpose of history and to
put my thoughts on a permanent and indelible record. 100 years from now when people look back, i want them to understand and learn from it so it will never happen to another president again. for the purpose of history. there is another line in the letter that is pure donald trump. but donald trump doesn't realize that line will destroy the entire letter for historians. on page five of the letter donald trump writes more due process was afforded to those accused in the salem witch trials. now you can say that to trump voters but you cannot say that to historians. the trump letter is for future historians who will know that the salem witch trials, which delivered capital punishment to 20 women and men for being
witched witches allowed them to testify about what they learned in the their dreams. it was acceptable to sigh you dreamed bridged was a witch. so his letter will be used by them as yet another piece of damming evidence about the mental state of the president of the united states. the night before he was impeached by the houses of representatives. the united states senate now knows that they will begin next year with the impeachment trial of the president of the united states. today mitch mcconnell responded the senate democratic leader, chuck schumer's request yesterday to allow witnesses to testify at the senate trial, including former national security advisor, john bolton and mick mull von a. he sited the clinton impeachment precedent in which some witnesses were kuled in the impeachment trial. sen # he said the basic
framework served the senate and the nation well. but then senate mcconnell reminded the senate there was no agreement on taking any witness testimony until the senate trial was already underway. >> and president clinton's trial, we handled procedural issues in two, two separate senate resolutions that passed at different times. the first resolution passed namessly before the trial. it sketched out basic things like scheduling, opening arguments, and the timing of a motion to dismiss. other more detailed questions about the middle and the end of the trial, including whether any witnesses would be called were reserved for a second resolution that was passed in the middle of the trial itself.
>> rudy giuliani seems to be trying to become a witness in the senate impeachment trial. he's delivered a stunning set of admissions, first telling kwaelt the "new yorker" quote i believe i needed ambassador yovanovitch out of the way. she was going to make the investigations difficult for everybody. giuliani provides details of what trump knew about the ambassador's removal. giuliani said on monday he provided president trump with detailed information on how the united states ambassador to ukraine was impeding investigations that could benefit mr. trump, setting in motion the ambassador's recomfrom her post. in an interview the president's personal lawyer explained how he passed along several times accounts of how yovanovitch-frustrated efforts
that could be politically helpful to mr. trump, including investigations on joseph r. biden jr. and if that wasn't damming enough, rudy giuliani went on fox news last night and said this. >> i didn't need her out of the way. i forced her out because she's corrupt. there's no question that she was acting corruptly in that position and-to be removed. >> there is no question that rudy giuliani is lying about that from start to finish. he has absolutely no negative evidence about ambassador yovanovitch at all. leading off our discussion tonight is chris murphy of connecticut. senator murphy, i want to begin with president trump's letter tonight in which he quotes ron johnson, whom you accompanied to ukraine. i want to read you that part of the trump letter.
senator ron johnson on wisconsin who met privately with president zelensky has said at no time was there any mention of zelensky or a ukrainian that they were feeling pressure to do anything in return for the military aid. that is the entire of senator johnson's entry in the trump letter. what's your reaction? >> what president trump neglekts to mention in that letter is in that very meeting he sites between myself, senator johnson and president zelensky, at the owned of the meeting i stipulated a series of facts for president zelensky. i told him he was being pressured by the trump administration to investigate the bidens and that it was my opinion it would not be good for ukraine if they were to get dragged into american politics. president zelensky conceded the point i made and simply respauchbtded he-no intention to get involved in american
politics. he knew that would be for a u.s.-ukraine relationship. and i sent that version to the impeachment committee. so it's not true that zelensky did not raise any issues regarding the pressure campaign. i counselled him to not listen on the treaties and he did not respond to me that rudy giuliani was not indeed pressuring him. we know for certain that giuliani and others were engaged in coordinated attack to get zelensky tool coordinate with the white house in exchange for tax-payer funded aid. >> you feel that president zelensky is in no position to say or complain to either one of you about what might be happening with the trump administration. so you put it out there. you say this is what i think i know about this.
and in efelfect you're offering him an opportunity to say oh, no, senator, nothing like that's hoopening. don't worry about that at all. no one has said anything to me about doing any investigations at all. that's not what you heard from president zelensky. >> and i had a conversation the night before with ambassador taylor and he confirmed that in fact the work he was doing to undermine the embassy was in fact very troubling and very vexing for the ukrainians. and of course i was representing what giuliani publicly admitted to. he'd been in the press throughout the spring, representing he was putting the pressure on the zelensky government. and the only thing zelensky cared about in the meeting was getting the aid turned on. we described the beginning in which there were no diplomatic formalities.
zelensky immediately went to the question of how to get the aid turned back on. because he knew soldiers were dying on the front with russia. so he was go to do whatever was necessary to get the aid. in his lack of contest to the set of facts that i laid out for him to me was plain efrsds that in fact what we all knew was true, he was getting an enormous amount of pressure. >> first of all the one about not being impartial, where he specifically used the word impartial publicly talking to reporters and said i'm not going to be impartial. the words of the juror's oelgt all senators will take. the last line uses the word "impartial." and says i will do impartial justice according to the rules.
there will come a day he will be raising his hand on television taking an oelgt, presumably saying i will do impartial justice. how can that be? >> it is not a criminal trial. it is different. and we all have opinions going into the trial about whether or not conduct of the president is impeachable and -- or grounds for removal. and so i, quite candidly have been fairly open about my belief that the president's conduct likely rises to the level of impeachability. i remain open to hearing from the president. exculpatory evidence that could change my mind. i have not heard the president provide any evidence to the kuhntrary. but i am going to sit as a juror in this process open to that information from the president. it's in fact why i want witnesses because if in fact the
president didn't do what the house claims he did, then people like mick mulvaney and john bolton would likely testify to that fact. we all have opinions and it's okay to express those opinions. but to be imparlgsz means to be open to the set of believes. and i'm certainly open to hear from the president. i think it's unlikely he'll be able to present evidence to change my mind. >> at this point mcconnell and sh schumer are not that far apart. he says he wants to use the clinton impeachment model. they testified in depositions and that was made available to senators. mcconnell says i think the clinton model was a great model. houvrg the way that worked was
we started the trial and only then the senators made a decision about hearing from witnesses. that doesn't sound like they're too far aparted on this as of tonight. >> it doesn't. except for the fact that mitch mcconnell is different from republican senators. unfortunately, i have watched senator mcconnell oevrl and over again do what is right, simply for his party. he does not want witnesses at this trial because he knows they will provide further evidence of the president's misdeeds, corruption and will make it harder for his members to support the president in the end. so i don't see any reason we shouldn't press for a trial. i can almost guarantee you that mitch mcconnell is going to push for a vote as quickly as
pausesable to get his members off the hook for having to hear anything that could make this case even stronger against the president. >> senator chris murphy, future impeachment juror, thank you so much for joining us tonight. and when we come back, we'll be joined by freshman democrat who defeated a five-term republican congressman in 2018. he announced this weekend how he's going to vote on the articles of impeachment. e articles of impeachment. ♪
house rules committee vote said on a party line vote, 9-4 to send the articles of impeachment to the house floor tomorrow, allowing a total of seven hours of debate and specifying no amendments can be offered. freshman democratic members who won their seats continue to announce their support for the articals of impeachment. here's one of those freshman house members at a town hall on saturday in new jersey telling his constituents how he will be voting. >> based on the evidence that i have seen in the depositions, in the hearings, in the documents that i've seen, i believe that on the two counts of impeachment before us, that the vote should be yes and i will be voting yes.
[ applause ] >> joining our discussion now on the eve of that historic vote. he's a member of the house foreign affairs committee. we herds some boos, some disagreement, but, obviously, majority support in that group. more than majority support in that group. did you get a chance to talk to any of the people after that town hall who disagreed with your decision? >> well, i spoke to them during the town hall. but i deliberately called on people who i saw being were
sitting down at that point because i wanted to make sure they had a chance to be heard. i've held about 32 of these town halls since i was elected last year. large ones like this, about 400 people there, smaller ones. and there's one thing that virtually everybody i represent agrees on, and that is that this decision on this issue has to be made based on what's right and wrong, not based on politics. and i think, you know, the only political point i would make based on all the interactions back home is if i didn't vote my conscience, i wouldn't deserve to be reelected. >> kevin mccarthy tweeted, for the democrats and this is you, for the democrats in districts that voted to send president trump to the white house f you street impeach tomorrow, you will be defying the voted of your own constituents.
i want to read a reply to that tweet from "politico" reporter who's been covering the washington for a long time and was around for the clinton impeachment. he wrote back to congressman mccarthy saying in 1998 there were 91 house republicans in districts that voted for clinton in 1996. almost all of them voted to, and he uses mccarthy's words, defy the votes of their constituents by impeaching bill clinton. over the next two ecollections, just seven of those 91 clinton district republicans were defeated. and it seems there is some mythology around impeachment politics and the notion that the republicans were damaged by the clinton impeachment. but in fact they held on to their houses majority very easily. >> and that's interesting but
also irrelevant to me. and to most of my colleagues. i think this is something president just can't understand. that there are all of these members of the house, including some who came from districts that he won, who are make asing decision based on what's wright # right and wrong. the six-page screen of nancy pelosi, engs# expresses his bewilderment. he doesn't know with us. >> speaker pelosi has more than enough votes now, especially the freshman democrats have more than put this over the top. how much pressure, how much working the vote has been happening among democrats on the impeachment articles? >> virtually none i have seen.
this is a choice each of vus come to individually. i've held 32 town halls. we've been talking to each other. maybe been leading by example. those of us out first. but i detected no pressure whatsoever from speaker pelosi or anyone in the leadership. they're being guided by their conscience and i think that's the source of our strength going into this. >> when you say guided by their conscience, a lot of people think everything is party pressure on both sides. but i think, having worked in the senate myself, there are moments when i know and i don't know we could convince civilians of this, but there are moments where the vote really is just left to the member and the member's conscience. >> that is true here and these people are saying on the one hand, you're going take this vote and lose.
on the other hand it's just your party telling you to do it. which is ridiculous. the party would not be telling us to do it if they thought we would lose. this is obviously not politics. this is the most sober moment we could possibly face as momebers of congress and none of us chose to be hooer. i'm going to go home this weekend and next year and we're going to keep talking boupt this and greer teeing talk about all the legislation we have passed for the benefit of folks in my district. this week we're passing the u.s. slaex # -- u.s./mexico trade agreement. we passed the budget to fund the government. we passed the defense bill last year. all of the things the republicans and mcconnell said we couldn't do while we were impeaching the president, we are
doing and i just don't think trump knows how to handle that fact. what's his argument now? >> congressman tom malinowski, thank you for joining us on the eve of the historic vote. and people are across the country in support of the impeachment of donald trump. ezruof indeable -- thousands of women with metastatic breast cancer, which is breast cancer that has spread to other parts of the body, are living in the moment and taking ibrance. ibrance with an aromatase inhibitor is for postmenopausal women or for men with hr+/her2- metastatic breast cancer, as the first hormonal based therapy. ibrance plus letrozole significantly delayed disease progression versus letrozole,
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country have come aught to show their support for the impeachment of donald trump. thousands of people rallied for impeachment in times square. and there were big crowds gathered in philadelphia. and also crowds gathering in seattle tonight. and people came out to support impeachment in maine in the snow, putting pressure on maine's republican senator, susan collins. people rallied to support impeachment in kansas and they cameu out in louisiana. and here they are supporting impeachment in north dakota where the temperature is all but 14 degrees. and we are joined now by phone, by ezra, the co executive director of "thindevisible." you told us last night that you-organizations rallying all
oevrl the country. we don't have cameras everywhere. what are some of the other places? >> it's incredible. there is a literal snow storm across the united states and at the exact same time there is a storm energy in literally every single state in the nation from alaska to florida to texas to maine. there are a dozen events spread throughout arizona. and this is in tucson, flag staff and cotton wood, this is in cresticate, arizona where barry goldwater launched his 1964 presidential campaign. a dozen across maine, a thousand in louisville, kentucky. the group leader from the group there said hey, that's amateurs. what we're seeing is yes, this is blue states, city centers and it's much bigger than that.
this is in urban areas and rural areas. this is all over the country as people showing up in numbers we have not seen for a while, saying that they want to see their representatives hold thissed a minstration accountable. >> really appreciate it. >> this movement is made up of people who raised their hand. go to indevisible.org and join us. and when we come back elizabeth drew will join us. she wrote extensively about the processes against president nixon and clinton. after the nixon impeachment, washington was triumphant the system works. triumphant the system works priority. i would declare a state of emergency on day one. congress has never passed an important climate bill, ever. this is a problem which continues to get worse.
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against starting the impeachment inquiry. now there are reports of efforts to convince him to switch that republican party after announced he will vote against the impeachment of donald trump. later in the hour we will meet a democrat now challenging van drew for that house seat in next year's election. but first with christmas just a week away, we want to remind you of the k.i.n.d. fund, kids in need of desks created with unicef to provides desks for schools in africa and scholarships to attend high school in malawi where the graduation is half the graduation rate for boys. this is a 17-year-old student who was sent home from high school because her parents could not afford tuition. sh isi shira is able to go back to school because of the k.i.n.d. fund.
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a largely partisan outcome in the senate. i'm not impartial about this at all. >> a political journalist and aulgter. she covered the impeachment trial of president bill clinton and 96. and also joining us is the professor at morgan state university and an msnbc political analyst. after the nixon investigation and impeachment process that did not go to a trial, washington was jubilant that the system worked. you wrote recently that the lesson this time around is something very different. >> lawrence, we may be seeing the slow, agonizing death of impeachment as an effective instrument for checking the president between elections. we are in the atmosphere that the founders feared and couldn't
quite envision. they were very against factions or parties and kept warning against having those. well, we have them fairly well now. and if you have strong partisanship and you have a president who is determined to do everything to block impeachment from working, it doesn't work. it's barely hanging in now. we have a very narrow set of articles of impeachment. they don't really disclose or dispose of the way the president has governed during this period. and i really fear that it may be -- we may have found that impeachment doesn't work anymore. >> in the clinton impeachment trial of the senate, republican leader, senate democratic leader got together, easily agreed on rules for the trial. they added to the rules midstream in the trial.
and now you see mitch mcconnell, chuck schumer in a public stand off at this pointed. frrgs maybe they'll agree on something but we don't know. the big issue is witnesses. we have a "washington post" poll saying 71% say that trump should allow his aids to testify in an impeachment trial. if it was a political process, it would respond to 71% of the public, wouldn't it? >> well, yes, but if we-a senate reflective of the public will, they would also pass gun control and imgragmigration reform. this impeachment process is ind indicative of the fundamental failures of our modern country. we have an electoral college system which allows us to have senators with great power above and beyond the number of people
they represent and they can have loyalty to a president that refuses them to take responsibility for holding him accountable. what we're going to see now is there will be a senate trial and the president will probably not be removed from office and we'll probably be stuck with the fact that we have a country with a certain number of centers that represent basically two burrows in new york. it's not just going to be trump, but any other president or any other leaders down the road that can't be held accountible for a system that no longer represents a majority well. >> you wrote recently had you fr fragile the impeachment process is. turns out it always has been. i remember senators being surprised to discover how little guidance the constitution left them. and senators, as we all know, are creatures hoping for guidance and precedent to tell
them what to do next. we've dis covered, especially this time around, there's a fragile set of what yugsed to be gentlemanly understandings that have evaporated. frfrs yes, butted th they worked . and i don't mean the vagueness of what constitutes an impeachable ofenfense or lack o guidance except it's supposed to begin in the house for impeachment or indictment, senate for conviction or being thrown out of office. what's fragile about it is it really hangs on the parties being able to work together to some degree. that's what happened in 1974. you-at least seven republicans on the democratic control house judiciary committee who voted for some of the articles of impeachment. and that's why that impeachment largely didn't happen.
because he got out of there before those could happen. but the outcome was largely accepted because it came from the center of the country and-a large degree of bipartisanship. we can't do that anymore. politics would have to change in a way i don't see them changing anytime soon in order for impeachment to work. as an instrument, as a control, or check on the president between elections. >> jason, fox pole showing 54% supporting impeachment. there's more support in the voting population than there is the way congress is represented. >> and that's part of the real issue here that you're not going to have a congress representing what the people want. this is it the thing they want to think about strategically.
we can't just hold presidents accountable at the ballot braux when that president has made it clear he will cheat at the ballot box. what we have is a situation where democrat need to put pressure on red states. >> protes # dpaegs thank you for joining us on this important night. and when we come back bridget harrison has just decided to run against her new jersey congressman because he announced he will vote against the impeachment of president trump. bridget harrison joins us next. bridget harrison joins us next v, so the whole world looks different. the unbeatable strength of advil. what pain?
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that's the power of edge-to-edge intelligence. democratic congressman van drew of new jersey has anounlnod he will voted against the impeachment of president trump. republican leader told him that president trump wants him to become a republican. republican efforts have continued with "politico" reporting behind the scenes, chris christie spoke to him about switching parties. kelly ann conway who hailed from that district also sought a meeting with the congressman on an unrelated issue, which van drew's aids suspected was a pretense for her to lobby him to switch parties. van drew and trump exchanged several phone calls in the past couple of weeks brokered, in
part, by mccarthy. they argued mcdrew would be better off in the gop. he refused to confirm he will switch parties but told this to nbc news. >> how about your constituents? do you feel it's fair to switch parties? >> my constituency, the majority are republicans but the biggest majority are people who vote for people because of their individuality and because of how hard they work and that's what i've always done. so i have an election coming up and if they disagree with what i've done, they will vote me out and that's something i would accept. that's their right. >> joining us now, a new democratic candidate running for the van drew seat. professor of law at mont claire state university. was it this announcement he is voting against the artcomicles t
have provoked your candidacy. >> his vote against the impeachment procedure. but he just said the lion share of his constituents are republicans. that's false. the lion's share are independent voters or unaffiliated voters. and they want a fair process. they wanted information so they could make an informed decision in the 2020 campaign. and congressman drew said you don't deserve that information. i'm going to stick my finger in the wind and see how it's blowing and basisically further my own political career than look out for the constituents. >> if he runs as a republican, there's already three republicans running for that seat against what they thought was a democratic incumbent. if he holds on and run as a he.
so he's in a race. >> he's having a tough week. and the republicans, you know, the top of the storae talking about the national political influences, particularly president trump and chris christie. they're essentially trying to bully jeff van drew out of the republican party and kick out all the loyal republicans trying to run for the seat. bootsz on the ground a lute of those local republicans don't want him. >> once you get past the impeachment argument, what other issues will you be running on? >> there are significant differences. he has never supported common senses gun control proposals and he's been on the wrong side of history on lgbtq rights. he in fact sponsored, in the new jersey state senate, legislation that would have changed our law to make parental notification
the law in new jersey. >> if you could talk to your congressman about this impeachment vote tomorrow, what would you tell him? >> i would tell him to listen on the evidence. he was a person out on fox news proclaiming that this was like a third-world democracy before all the testimony-been heard. thoolgts that's a purses within a political motive. not someone taking his responsibility to the constitution and our country seriously. and then to change parties, i mean he's a traitor, not just to our nation but a traitor to his party. >> how would you say members of the house should aproech this vote tomorrow when they're in districts like the van drew district? >> in my view this is a decision that is not about an individual's political career.
this is about the future of democracy. i teach political science. in fajt i wrote the book "american democracy now." he doesn't understand the fundamental you saw protest out there, that they want impeachment. but more importantly, they want to know what their president did and whether he abused power. and i think that they need to approach this in a very serious and somber way, reflecting the historic moment that it is. but i think that right now we have the evidence to support impeachment. >> brigid harrison, candidate for congress in the second congressional district in new jersey. thank you very much for joining us. >> my pleasure. >> i really appreciate it. that is tonight's last word. "the 11th hour" with new jersey's own brian williams starts now. zbloop tonight, the eve of the impeachment vote in the house as tempers flared again tonight in the run-up to the inevitable.