tv The Impeachment Trial of Donald Trump MSNBC January 25, 2020 10:00pm-11:00pm PST
what was most striking to me about the president's presentation today is they don't contest the basic architecture of the scheme. they do not contest that the president solicited a foreign nation to interfere in our election, to help him cheat. i think they acknowledge by not even contesting this that the facts are overwhelming. the president invited ukraine to get involved in our election to help him cheat against joe biden. >> good evening and welcome back to a special p.m. edition of a.m. joy. after getting a glimpse into donald trump's legal defense in the senate impeachment trial -- and i do mean a glimpse because their case was super short, just two hours versus three days of
opening statements by the democrats -- congressman adam schiff quickly punctured trump's legal team's attempts to shield him from any wrongdoing. in the brief opening statements this morning trump's lawyers barely contested the facts. they did this weird thing where they argued both that the witnesses democrats called in the house hearings never talked directly to the president and arguing that the senate should not call those witnesses now. the trump team's arguments such as they were boil down to three things. thing one, trump didn't do it. there was no quid pro quo on that famous phone call because ukraine didn't even know that its military aid was being withheld until it had already been released. >> the bottom line is it is not possible for the brief security assistance review to have been used as leverage when president zelensky and other top ukrainian officials did not know about it. that's what you need to know. >> okay. it's kind of the you can't convict me of embezzlement because i paid the money back after you caught me defense.
number two, defense number two was the mistaken interpretation defense. president trump can't be guilty because he really just cared about corruption and, you know, democrats, the whistle-blower, and others just assumed that his motives were bad because they have something against him, and they don't like him. >> this case is really not about presidential wrongdoing. this entire impeachment process is about the house managers' insistence that they are able to read everybody's thoughts. they can read everybody's intention even when the principal speakers, the witnesses themselves, insist that those interpretations are wrong. >> it's the you're so mean defense. and defense number three, trump could not have obstructed congress because actually it was the house who did the whole impeachment thing wrong. so technically trump never really had to comply with those nasty subpoenas. >> let me turn to the specific issue of the invalidity of the
subpoenas because they weren't supported by a vote of the house authorizing manager schiff's committees to exercise the power of impeachment to issue compulsory process. >> trump's defense team said that today's brief arguments were just a preview of their case for trump. but they're going to have to do a much better job of responding to the compelling case laid out by the house managers led by congressman adam schiff. >> you can't trust this president to do what's right for this country. you can trust he will do what's right for donald trump. he'll do it now. he's done it before. he'll do it for the next several months. he'll do it in the election if he's allowed to. this is why if you find him guilty, you must find that he should be removed. >> joining me now is steve cortes, a surrogate for donald
trump and a senior adviser for america first action fund. steve, long time no speak. thank you for being here. how do you argue against that? i mean donald trump has, you know, i think "washington post" has been cataloging the lies he has told over time. and what adam schiff was arguing is you can't trust him, and you can't trust him with the election that's coming up because he's already said he wants foreign help. how do you argue against that? >> well, what adam schiff is really saying isn't so much that we can't trust trump. he's saying we can't trust the american people to make what he believes is the right decision come november, and that's not my interpretation. he told us that. he said, we cannot leave it up to the ballot box. i was frankly amazed that he was that the transparent about their motives, that he revealed and admitted to the american people and to the senate that that's really what this whole inquest is about. >> let me stop you right there because the question of whether or not you could leave it to an election presumes there would be a free and fair election. but if you have an election in
which foreign governments are going to intervene and the guy who's up for re-election is saying, yes, please intervene, help me get re-elected, you really actually can't just say we'll trust it to the election because the guy running the country is trying to rig it. is that not a legitimate fear that democrats and anyone who cares about free elections should have? >> it's -- here's, joy, why it's not a legitimate fear. it's because both principals on the phone call, president trump and president zelensky, both of them tell us there was no pressure, that there was no quid pro quo. both the supposed extorter and the supposed victim say there was no pressure. the only way for to you decide there was is to have to make yourself into a mind reader, to read both of their minds. in addition, this is crucial. if the president was somehow trying to extort them, and i don't believe he was. but if he was, it's an impossibility to bribe someone who doesn't know they're being bribed or to extort someone who doesn't know they're being
extorted. we know the ukrainians tell us on the record they were totally unaware of even a brief hold-back on the military aid, which did fully enter their country as the law prescribed. >> did you listen to the house hearings? >> yes. >> okay. then you heard multiple witnesses take the oath and testify that, in fact, ukraine did become aware that the aid was being held. that's number one. and as far as the president of ukraine, does it even seem logical to you at all that a foreign leader who was utterly dependent on the united states for aid in a war with russia is going to come out and say, oh, yeah, the sitting president of the united states, who still has power over the aid that's coming to me, yeah, yeah, he tried to extort me. in what universe would he ever admit that? it would humiliate him, and it would make his relationship with trump even worse. why would he come out and just say trump did it? >> i am not prepared to question the veracity of president zelensky. >> hold on a second. you listened to the hearings in the house, right? because multiple witnesses --
one more. >> okay. >> multiple witnesses came out and said that -- and they were dealing with ukraine. these are our staff, our diplomatic staff were saying, no, they were aware that the aid was being held. so they were aware of it. just because the president didn't literally say it on the call for which we got a partial transcript, that does not mean he did not know. >> the ukrainians counter that. >> no, they don't. >> yes, they do. the ukrainians say they were not aware. >> the diplomatic -- but you heard -- are you saying that our diplomatic staff are liars? >> no. this is an important distinct. what i'm saying about our diplomatic staff if you listen closely to their testimony, particularly for example ambassador sondland. he said it was my presumption. it was all about supposition. >> what about ambassador taylor, who was directly involved and said the -- wait a second. what about ambassador taylor? it was not his presumption. >> which statement? >> sorry? >> which statement from ambassador taylor? >> his testimony that the
ukraine was aware. i'm not going to go back into that because we had multiple people testify who were part of our diplomatic staff that the ukrainians were aware. i want to go through a couple of things before i bring in the rest of our panel. let me show you what donald trump tweeted this morning. this is somebody who occupies the exact same office as abraham lincoln, ronald reagan. here he is this morning. our case against lyin', cheatin' adam "shifty" schiff, cryin' chuck schumer, nervous nancy pelosi, blah, blah, blah, blah is that the proper comportment of a president in your view? >> it was quite a nickname morning for the president, wasn't it? no, look, this is the thing about president trump. we needed a fighter -- >> answer that question i asked you. is that the comportment that one -- >> yes. >> that's the comportment you think is appropriate for a president. >> it's exactly the president we need right now. >> interest. >> it's exactly the president we need right now. why? because the permanent political class in washington, d.c. has existed for decades as an almost parallel government
unaccountable to the people, the very people by the way who pay the consequences of their miserable policies, paid the consequences in both blood and treasure. this president was elected to smash that crony system, and you cannot do that with kid gloves, and you cannot do it with nice talk and social niceties and think tanks. and this president is a brawler. he was as a candidate. he is as president. and he was elected because of his pugnacity and because of his authenticity. because of that, yes, that kind of language which we're not used to out of the oval office, is exactly what this country -- >> i see. i guess smashing the system means giving billionaires giant tax cuts that we in the middle class pay for, but that's fine. >> hold on. >> giving billionaires tax cuts is what he did. >> actually, no, not at all? >> he didn't give them tax cuts? >> everybody got tax cuts but here's the great news. >> no, no. who benefited from that trillion dollar tax cut? >> joy, for the first time -- everyone.
but who benefited the most? >> that's factually inaccurate. i'm going to have my producers get me the chart. we're not going to have a debate about something that is easy to look up. we're going to have my producers look up who got the tax cuts. let's move on. >> joy, did you have me on to have a discussion or -- if you want to talk, i can sit here and listen like the audience. >> what i said is i don't want to debate you about something we can look up. i'm going to get the data, and then we'll come back to it once i have it. here is adam schiff. you talked about the comportment of the president, which you said is good. here is adam schiff talking about a comment reportedly made by someone in the president's team. here it is. >> cbs news reported last night that a trump confidant said that gop senators were warned, vote against your president, vote against the president, and your
head will be on a pike. i hope it's not true. i hope it's not true. but i was struck by the irony of the idea when we're talking about a president who would make himself a monarch, that whoever that was would use the terminology of a penalty that was imposed by a monarch, a head on a pike. >> is that a -- do you think that's appropriate, steve? >> no, it's not appropriate for adam schiff to lie because -- >> no, i mean for what was reportedly said. >> we know that because senators who are not particularly friendly to the president, like senator collins, for example, they were aghast he would say that because they say they were never threatened by the white house. moreover, this idea that the president -- that republicans in the senate, for example, that there's some fealty to the president, look, as an advocate of the president, i wish that were the case. it is not. if it were, if it were, for example, we would have the entire border wall built on the southern border of this country because the republicans controlled both houses of congress. but guess what?
the president cannot dictate. he is not a monarch, not even close, even when it comes to republicans on the hill, and he could not dictate his terms to them. so, again, i wish that we lived in a world where republicans on the hill would do whatever this president says. >> oh. >> but the facts tell us the opposite. that is not the reality. >> just to be clear for the audience, to make sure we're being accurate here, it was not said that this was said to the senators. so they wouldn't know. this was said by a staffer, but not broadcast to the senators. so they may not have heard it directly from this person. so let's just be clear. >> but the idea that the white house would be threatening republican senators is ridiculous. >> but you agree if they didn't hear it directly, they can't refute it. it wasn't said to them. >> the idea that they would be insulting and threatening
republican senators at the very time that they need their votes makes no sense to me. and moreover, what makes no sense to me again is that this idea that he has complete discipline over republicans on the hill. the facts simply belie that. >> let's bring in a few more people. we want to have some other republicans besides steve on. rick wilson, who is author of "running against the devil." msnbc political contributor and former republican congressman david jolly. and tom nichols, opinion columnist at "usa today." thank you for being here. an all-republican panel. i want to go to david first because what steve has said is we do not live in a world where republicans can be dictated to by this president, that they are not in fact dictated to by him. you were a member of congress. you were a republican member of congress, or a republican at the time. does that ring true to you, that they're not being dictated to by donald trump? >> no. we've seen it for the past three years. case in point would be thom tillis saying he wasn't going to approve the reprogramming of the wall, and donald trump saying,
well, then i'm going to go to north carolina and beat you in a smash mouth way. so he had to change his position. and, look, you could give credit to the president for his electoral success in that. but we know that the president has not said, vote your conscience, republican senators. he has said, do what you need to do to acquit me. that's my expectation. but in doing that, joy -- and this is very -- this is a serious debate we're having, and jay and i are going to disagree just as you disagreed with him. what we have seen in trump's defense team's arguments throughout the day has been arguments replete with logical fallacies. it does not matter if zelensky knew that the aid was being withheld. what matters is the corrupt intent of the president of the united states in withholding the aid and asking zelensky to investigate one american family, one american family, and that being the bidens. if it also -- no, the facts support that, and the president's statements support that. >> there is no evidence of his intent. >> hold on, steve. one at a time. >> there absolutely is, steve. steve, the summary released, the president said investigate the bidens.
he named one family. when he was asked on the white house lawn, why did you do that, he said it was about corruption. the problem is his administration had already certified that ukraine's anti-corruption requirements had already been met. so we know the president violated the impoundment control act of 1974. the other logical fallacy you engaged in is saying this is up to the voters in 2020. if every president's wrongdoing was up to the voters in 2020, there would not have been an impeachment clause written into the constitution. that suggests that there is no power of impeachment if only the voters can make the decision. you are making statements that are correct, but they are logical fallacies in trying to absolve the president's corrupt wrongdoing in office, which i believe is impeachable and the house democrats got it right. >> steve, your turn. >> i would say you would be right if a crime were committed. impeachment, in other words, is for high crimes and misdemeanors. if they had charged him with bribery -- >> you know a crime is not required. >> no, i don't know that. >> that is why the president does not have a constitutional
lawyer making his defense. he has a criminal defense lawyer making his defense. >> if they had charged him with bribery, i think it would be of course a farce to charge him with that, but they would at least have legal grounds. >> hold on one second, steve. let's go through quickly. i want to go step by step because people are speaking over each other. you're saying that you have to have a crime -- you have to have a crime in order to impeach, right? >> that is correct. i agree -- >> that is not true. >> i agree with alan dershowitz. >> which one? from 20 years ago or today? >> you can't say it's true or not true. that's just -- >> no, no, no. what crime was andrew johnson impeached for? >> i can't go back to andrew johnson. i can tell you about bill clinton. >> you can google it. what crime was he impeached for? >> bill clinton? >> andrew johnson, sir. >> i don't believe clinton should be impeached but he did commit a crime of perjury.
>> andrew johnson was impeached for not following a law. he was impeached for defying congress. that's why he was impeached. >> probably a good reason why he was acquitted, joy, right? >> no. all impeachments have a trial, and one can be charged with bank robbery and be acquitted. that's not why he was acquitted. it came down to a vote. it's a partisan vote. i want to make it clear that alan dershowitz himself has made it very clear, at least in the past, that you don't need a crime. it's high crimes and misdemeanors. it doesn't require a crime. i want to get rick wilson in as well because the idea that donald trump may be sending signals somehow, that republicans had better stay online, i think to the sort of average person watching republicans over the last three years, they get this sense that they really -- i don't know if it's fear of him. i don't know what it is. they will not defy him. back in the days when you were doing the work of sort of, you know, helping with the communication from republicans to other republicans, what would that look like, and do you
believe that that kind of a message was sent? >> look, donald trump -- these guys live in absolute abject terror of donald trump. they don't want a primary. they don't want trump to tweet about them. they don't want trump's crazy people to come out of the wood work when he says congressman so and so doesn't support me enough. and they don't want their lives to turn into a burning trumpian hell. now, steve's idea that these people all just leap up every morning and don their sacred robes and bow to the great orange god is completely absurd. none of these people down there -- about a third of them are like the opportunists who want to play the game and get their legislative goals. about a third of them are the true cult believers. and the rest of them are absolutely terrified of donald trump every day. they loathe him and yet they are trapped in this world with him. they can't move. they can't budge. they are so locked down by their fear of trump's rage, of trump's uncontrolled temper. you know, he said earlier in the thing he was describing trump as a brawler and pugnacious. no.
he is an extortionist. he is a bully. he is a president who happens to be in the oval office right now, but he's the first thug. this is not a guy who inspires love and inspiration. he inspires terror. and that's working for them right now. that works for this white house, and the reason -- >> i'd encourage you to go to a trump rally because you'd feel nothing by patriotism. [ overlapping voices ] >> donald trump inspires terror in the minds of -- >> steve, hold on. one at a time. >> donald trump inspires terror in them because he tweets about them. he threatens them with primaries. he has altered the structure of the republican party and removed all the incentives that were ideological or political and they are now based on fear of retention of their offices. >> you just compared the deplorables to nazis. >> steve, steve, steve. >> you just compared them to nazis. >> okay.
stop. everybody, stop. stop, stop, stop. everybody stop. steve, you've been on tv before. you've been on this show. you've been on cnn. you understand the principle of tv that if both of you are talking at the same time, no one can hear either of you. allow rick to finish his thought and i'm going to give you time. you understand how this works. i know you've had a microphone and been on tv before. >> why am i only be admonished and not rick? >> because you're talking while he's talking. let him finish and then i'll come back to you. go on, rick. finish. >> again, donald trump does not inspire fear for no reason. he does it deliberately. it is a deliberate strategy. it is used frequently by authoritarian leaders in this world. the members of the senate and the members of the house know the fundamental rule. don't be the first guy to stop clapping when saddam is speaking. don't be the first guy to put your head up, or it's going to get cut off, and that has happened to an awful lot of republicans. you know, we lost 42 republican
seats in 2018, and a lot of those people were the ones who dared to say something about trump and then got slammed from the right by trump's people and lost their seats. that is a -- he is a guy who governs entirely by fear in the minds of those people in the house and the senate. >> now you can respond, steve. >> okay. so rick continues with these insanely insulting terms. by the way, i will tell you this. i wear your scorn as a badge of honor. i really do. this kind of condescension from unlikable elites is one of the reasons we won in 2016 and a reason we're going to win again. but for you to compare hundreds of thousands of americans who have been to these wonderful trump rallies, for you to compare them to nazis, for you to call us crazies, the last time i was on tv with you, you called trump voters toothless rubes. for you to use these terms of derision, it only reinforces the need unfortunately in this country, the need we have of the
electoral revolt movement. yes needed somebody to lead that movement who is a fighter. he at times can be offensive, but he has also produced results for this country like we have ever seen before in only three short years, particularly for the people who needed it most, working class people, minorities, people with less education, and all the while kept america out of disastrous foreign intervention. that is the america first agenda. >> let me just say before i move on -- and i'm sorry. i need to get all of our guests in. but, steve, i asked you what you thought of donald trump using childish nicknames against members of congress, including the speaker of the house, and you said that was perfectly fine comportment. so i'm sorry if people are giggling a little bit when you turn around and say to a member of your party that he is being derisive in names that he's calling other people. so what you're saying is that when the president of the united states in a tweet, which is essentially an official pronouncement from the president of the united states, uses goofy nicknames for people, that's
fine. but if rick wilson uses nicknames or says things about trump voters, then he's wrong. that's a bit of hypocritical. >> there's an important distinction here. >> only the president can do it. >> no, i'll tell you why it's not hypocritical. notice i didn't criticize anybody saying nasty things about trump. why? he's the president of the united states. i think he thrives off it. it's very different for people in the game, who are in the arena, who should be heavyweights, for them to trade punches. it's a whole different thing for rick wilson and a lot of condescending smug elites to punch down at american citizens. >> trump should set the exactly. he should be bet. let me get tom nichols in. back to the subject of this, which was impeachment. one of the issues that's come up is lev parnas. i want to play first donald trump saying that he does not
know lev parnas. this is january 16th. here's donald trump about lev parnas, and he does not know him. take a listen. >> mr. president, what is your response to lev parnas, who says that your efforts in ukraine were all about 2020? you just wanted joe biden out. what's your response? >> well, i don't know him. i don't know parnas other than i guess i had pictures taken, which i do with thousands of people, including people today that i didn't meet. but just met him. i don't know him at all. don't know what he's about. don't know where he comes from. know nothing about him. >> all right. that's donald trump saying he does not know lev parnas. here's lev parnas saying he does know donald trump and he's spoken with him about the former ambassador marie yovanovitch, the former ambassador to ukraine. >> the basis of your belief that the president had tried to remove ambassador yovanovitch multiple times and it for some reason didn't work is because you talked to the president about that? >> about firing her, i spoke to the president once about that or twice. once or twice.
once directly at our dinner when he fired her actually at the dinner, which was the most surprising thing ever. >> tell me more. >> basically at that dinner, we had a conversation. there was like six of us there. it was an intimate dinner. >> here's the tiebreaker. here's lev parnas with somebody who believed to be donald trump talking about firing the ambassador. take a listen. >> the biggest problem there i think where we need to start is we've got to get rid of the ambassador. she's still left over from the clinton administration. >> the ambassador where? ukraine? >> yeah. she's basically walking around telling everybody, wait. he's going to get impeached. just wait. >> what's her name? >> i don't remember. >> so one of the things now that we have a secretary of state that's been sworn in -- >> get rid of her. get her out tomorrow. i don't care. get her out tomorrow. take her out, okay? >> excellent? . >> do it.
>> that is called corroboration. what are the chances that corroboration would prompt four republican senators to say, you know what? let's at least call the witnesses related to marie yovanovitch being fired. let's at least call some witnesses. >> well, let me make two points. one is about the tone of this conversation because steve's argument is when the president insults other people in the arena, that's fine. i'd like to remind everybody that david and rick and i and millions of other people are never trumpers to whom the president has referred as human scum. that's not the speaker of the house. that's not his opponents in politics. that is millions of people, including a lot of people who have spoken out in public who are never trumpers. the president has called us human scum. if you think that's appropriate talk for the president of the united states to use about his fellow citizens, i can't help you there. as for parnas, that whole conversation reminds me of my friend windsor mann's comment that when the president said he
knows everything about something, he knows nothing. but when he says he knows nothing, he knows everything. of course he knows parnas. of course the facts of the case that the democrats laid out are exactly as they happened. and whether that's going to move four republicans, you can only hope so. but as rick pointed out, they live in fear. it's really strange because some of these are people like mitt romney and susan collins and others that have been there a long time, had a long career in politics. they don't need to be afraid of a bully like donald trump. you would think after all of this that they would want to at least hear witnesses, and i think one thing that may move them toward this is this is never going to end. if they vote now to say they don't want to hear anything more, it's not going to stop more things from coming out, and they're going to look like chumps when more of these horrible details come out. so i think just as a form of
self-protection, it would be in the interest of republicans in the senate to vote to hear witnesses and to subpoena documents. but in the age of trump, republicans' self-destructive behavior is nothing new and it's something that may well go on. so all bets are off. >> steve, should there be witnesses in this trial? >> you know, i hope so, and i'm not speaking on behalf of the president or america first. my personal hope, though, is there are because i don't just want acquittal. i want full exoneration. and i think for that, witnesses would be appropriate, and because of that also, lev parnas -- it's interesting you're bringing him up. i want lev parnas to be a witness because he couldn't even handle softball questioning from anderson cooper on cnn. imagine what he will do under real cross-examination. this is a slimy indicted dishonest character and if the democrats think that he's one of their ace cards that they're going to play, i invite them to bring him in. >> you know what he's honest about? the fact he talked to donald trump. it's on tape. he has receipts.
hold on a second. who was telling the truth? donald trump or lev parnas? donald trump said he didn't even know him. lev parnas proved he knows him. who's telling the truth? >> as you know, joy, the president talks to thousands of people. it doesn't mean he knows them. >> on the phone? >> that doesn't mean he knows them? >> on the phone? talks about firing the ambassador. >> i'd like to have lev parnas on the stand. >> we all would. >> the president's denial that he doesn't know lev parnas, it's absolutely risible. he had dinner with the guy in a private room at a trump hotel. he was rudy giuliani hench person in ukraine. he was reporting up the chain to a variety of people regarding this. this is a guy who is deeply involved in this. you know what? like a lot of mob things, you roll up the street level guys to get to the capos. you roll up the capos to get to the don. in this case, parnas is producing an awful lot of evidence that is not going to go
into a black hole in the southern district and disappear, and he has shown so far -- you know, here's the thing. when you're rolling up organized crime and you're rolling up organizations full of scumbags, you're dealing with a bunch of scumbags. so what if lev parnas is a scumbag? his information so far has proven to be correct. he did in fact -- >> that's not entirely true. >> it has proven to be true. >> we know he lied. we know he lied about devin nunes being in vienna. that's one verifiable lie at least. >> wait a second. hold on a second. >> -- emails with rudy giuliani. >> he has receipts. devin nunes -- devin nunes claimed that he had nothing to do with involving himself in the whole affair of trying to dig up dirt on biden. and then we found out his staffer was chatting with this same guy lev parnas. hold on. david jolly -- listen, all i know is what actually happened. let me get david in. david, you've been in congress. do you think just from knowing
some of these characters, will four of them say that they want to hear from lev parnas, john bolton, mike pompeo, the relevant people? can you foresee four of them saying -- >> nah. >> i think today mitt romney said he would be open to it. can you think of four that could? >> i doubt it. i think the moment of truth has passed and if they do it, it's simply for their own political protection going into november. they'll still vote to acquit. the bottom line in this conversation and all the national conversations we've been having for three years is this. we have a lying and corrupt president. we know that from facts, from data, who is celebrated by the republican party of today and protected by republicans on capitol hill. what he has broken, steve, is not the establishment. it's not the smugness. he's broken the nation. that's why we have conversations like this today. he has broken the nation, and any justification and protection of this corrupt president -- >> steve, let him finish. >> steve, you're making an argument rooted in politics, not in truth, and you know that. that is the heartbreak as the nation looks at republican senators today. they are making political
arguments. they are making political arguments, not truthful arguments. you might reap -- you might reap riches, but if you sell your soul in the process, steve, that is exactly what republicans have done to elevate and celebrate this man, who is knowingly corrupt. that's your choice. i've made a different choice. i think so has rick and so has tom. >> i want to very quickly ask steve a question, and then i want to let tom finish because we're out of time. do you believe that foreign countries should be prevented from meddling in our election? >> yes, of course. >> do you trust donald trump to stop foreign countries from meddling in our election? >> yes. >> based on what? what has he ever done to stop -- >> i'll tell you one of the reasons i believe it is because of the mueller report. all of us had to listen -- >> the mueller report said they happily accepted the help. did you read the mueller report? >> every word. >> it said in part one that he happily accepted the help. that's what it said. i'm not going to argue with you about it.
tom -- >> the mueller report said no american at all cooperated with the russians. >> -- but that he happily accepted the help. that's what the director of the cia said. >> no one on team trump, no one -- >> they happily accepted the help. that's what the mueller report said. let me let tom finish out. tom, could you foresee this trial ending with even four republican senators voting to have witnesses? >> i doubt it. you know, the tragedy is -- and i think david jolly summed it up beautifully. in a better time, in a better place with better politics, the president saying "i don't know this guy" and then a tape surfacing of 80 minutes of him at dinner yukking it up and saying he's going to take out a career ambassador because she's in the way of his corrupt plans to try to interfere with an election by smearing one of his opponents would have been the end of an administration. it tells you something about how corrupt and denatured and corroded we have become as a
people, how much we have lost our way spiritually and morally that this happens, and the president's enablers shrug it off and say, hey, we didn't elect him to be patriotic and defend the country, to stand for the ideals of the constitution. we put him in office to piss off people we don't like. and that's the real tragedy here. >> to restore the constitution. >> thank you all for being here. i want to thank the panel. before i go, and we are out of time, to answer earlier the point that steve made, i always just want to go by facts. i don't want to just argue with him about something we don't know for sure. i'm going to quote forbes, not a liberal magazine, but forbes. it says this about the trump tax cuts. for the first time in american history thanks to these tax cuts, the 400 wealthiest people in the country paid a lower tax rate than any other group. that was the result of the tax cuts. that is not me. that is forbes.
steve cortes, rick wilson, david jolly, tom nichols, thank you all very much for this spirited conversation. really appreciate you guys. after the break, as the senate debates whether to remove donald trump from office, his secretary of state attacks a reporter for doing her job. stay with us. ♪ yeah. only pay for what you need with liberty mutual. only pay for what you need with liberty mutual. con liberty mutual solo pagas lo que necesitas. only pay for what you need... only pay for what you need. ♪ liberty. liberty. liberty. liberty. ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪
[sneezing] ♪ you don't want to cancel your plans. [sneezing] cancel your cold. the 1-pill power of advil multi-symptom cold & flu knocks out your worst symptoms. cancel your cold, not your plans. advil multi-symptom cold & flu. do you owe ambassador marie yovanovitch an apology? >> you know, i agreed to come on your show today to talk about iran. that's what i intend to do. i'll say only this. i have defended every state department official. we've built a great team. the team that works here is doing amazing work around the world. >> respectfully, where have you
defended marie yovanovitch? >> i've defended every single person on this team. i've done what's right for every certainly person on this team. >> can you point to remarks where you defended marie yovanovitch? >> i've said all i'm going to say today. thank you. >> in an interview with npr's mary louise kelly, secretary of state mike pompeo offered the quintessential non-answer we've come to expect from everyone inside the trump administration. but it's what happened after the interview that's most alarming. here is how kelly described it. >> i was taken to the secretary's private living room where he was waiting and where he shouted at me for about the same amount of time the interview itself had lasted. he was not happy to have been questioned about ukraine. he asked if i could find ukraine on a map. i said yes. he called out for his aides to bring him a map of the world with no writing, no countries marked. >> huh. >> i pointed to ukraine. he put the map away. >> okay. in a statement released by the state department, pompeo accused kelly, get this, of lying to him, decried the media as unhinged and claimed that kelly, a quite good reporter who happens to have a masters degree in european studies from cambridge university, confused
ukraine with bangladesh, which is more than 3,500 miles away. okay. are we supposed to actually believe that? joining me now, paul butler, professor of law at georgetown. jill wine-banks. msnbc contributor and former assistant watergate special counsel. and benjamin wittes. msnbc legal analyst and senior fellow at the brookings institution which i've just renamed. ben, i'm going to go to your first because you're at the disadvantage of not being with us at the table. very quickly "the atlantic" wrote a piece. this is what was written. -- first it asks us to believe that kelly, a veteran foreign
correspondence knows less geography than an high school social studies student. by implying this lay rather than stating it, pompeo sounds like the coward that would whine he had been wrong to shirk responsibilities for his unforced errors. i go to you on this because you've actually corresponded with this man and kind of have seen the way he is. there was a letter that he sent to you on cia letterhead to ben wittes, and it enjoined that you should have been better than that for something he didn't like that you said. it said, i hope you will try the fudge recipe that i also included. it's my mother's recipe. what do you make of this whole thing? >> well, look, it was the most surprising response i have ever received to a freedom of information act request. it was a request that i sent to the cia, and i got back a personal letter from the director telling me i should have been better than to submit it and very -- i mean it was a
very angry, prickly tone. then at the end it suggested that i try his grandmother's fudge recipe. and so, you know, i do think that he is a very prickly guy, and he clearly has an anger issue that you saw displayed in this interaction with mary louise kelly. you've seen it before. i mean, you see it in his interactions with congress. you see it in his interactions with a kansas reporter in his hometown who had the temerity to ask him tough questions. he's a very prickly person, and he does not like to be challenged. and he doesn't seem to have a lot of discipline in how he responds to it. i thought the bangladesh aspect of his attack on mary louise kelly was all jokes aside genuinely shocking because, you know, first of all i don't believe it's true that she failed to identify ukraine on a map. if one of them is misrepresenting the encounter, she says she correctly
identified ukraine, and i have every reason to think she's telling the truth. and so the inclusion of a lie about her that he's not even prepared to state, he merely sort of insinuates it by saying bangladesh is not ukraine, and i think that's -- you know, if you assume that he's not truthfully suggesting that she did not identify ukraine properly on a map, that's a very ugly smear to do on the secretary of state's letterhead. >> yeah. >> to imply that falsely if
that's really what he did is a very, very unusual and nasty misuse of government power to smear a reporter. >> i mean it was unusual. now we're in the trump era. before i move off of this, i just want to play to just build up on your point, this was an interview mike pompeo had with a quite good reporter in nashville. this was in october. she asked him some stuff questions and here is his response. >> welcome to nashville. >> i'm mike. very nice to see you. >> i'm nancy. this is your seat here. >> hello, sir. i'm mike. very nice to see you. >> one of your most trusted senior advisers resigned. he's adding his voice to a number of career diplomats who
have expressed frustration over what they see as your failure to stand up for government servants like ambassador yovanovitch who have been caught up in the ukraine controversy. did you do enough to defend the ambassador privately and publicly against the smear campaign that was being waged against her, and will you speak to that now? >> ma'am, you have some of your facts wrong, so you should be careful about things you assert as facts before you state them. >> did you support ambassador -- the ambassador being recalled months before her tenure was up? >> i've supported every mission that the state department's been engaged in and will continue to do that. again, you've got your facts wrong. it sounds like you're working at least in part for the democratic national committee when you phrase a predicate of a question in that way. >> no. she works for wsmw. she's a reporter. do you think -- and i'm going to then bring the panel in. mike pompeo is very much involved in the scandal for which donald trump was impeached. if you were to make a must-have witness list, i assume he would be on it if democrats are going to ask for those. >> look, there are concentric
circles leading outward of how important different people's testimony is. you know, if you were the house managers and you thought you were going to be able to present the entire case, there's just no doubt that mike pompeo would be one of the people you would want to hear from. i do think it's particularly interesting, and your playing that clip reminded me the reporter was from tennessee, not kansas as i said. >> okay. >> but, you know, i do think the fact that what he was so prickly in that encounter about was precisely the same issue that he was prickly about with mary louise kelly, which is to say his role in defending marie yovanovitch and the state department career officials who have been slimed and smeared in this does suggest that there's -- there are questions he really doesn't want to be asked about that. you know, you would hope to go back to your last panel, you would hope that there were four republicans who would see that
and recognize it for what it is. >> yeah. let me bring the rest of my panel in here. i'll start with you, jill, because the point is that democrats want witnesses, and they don't know what kind of a witness they would be. i would presume pompeo will be a hostile witness. we don't know that john bolton wouldn't be a hostile witness. it's not -- there's no guarantee, and you're a former prosecutor as well, that they would get what they want, but they're still willing to take the chance. what does it say to you that donald trump -- these are his people. he hired all these people, but that he is not prepared to take that chance? >> i think what it says is that the democrats want to get to the truth, and they're willing to take the chances on someone turning into a corey lewandowski, and we don't know, you're right, what bolton will say either substantively or how he will say it. he still wants a future in the republican party. >> that's right. >> so it's a risk, but they're willing to do it.
but it's a calculated risk because if he had something that didn't hurt the president, he would have been allowed to testify. >> yeah. >> so i think they're guessing, as is -- you know, there's a statement that judges make in jury trials. if they didn't produce someone they could have, you can assume that it was something that would have hurt their case. >> yeah. >> i think that's true, and i want to say two more things about the pompeo thing. one is when you read the transcript of that dialogue, it's not as horrible as hearing his voice say it. it really proves how a live witness is different than reading a transcript. >> absolutely. >> and the other thing is first of all, she has a degree in european history, so identifying ukraine shouldn't be a surprise. it's a big thing right next to russia. >> it's a giant country. >> right next to russia. and it's been in the news a lot. >> yes. >> so i think that's -- and india is such a uniquely shaped thing, and bangladesh is adjacent to india so that picking bangladesh, a little teeny country, and ukraine is
pretty big -- a little teeny country by india which is shaped maybe like south america, but it's not anything like europe. >> it's distinctive. >> so you wouldn't mistake them. that makes me think he is lying. >> yeah, absolutely. it's incredible that he would make something -- but if in fact -- let's be hopeful and say they get witnesses. >> yes. >> how would you then deal with a mike pompeo as a witness because he knows what happened. he was very much involved in it. a lot of this happened within the state department and with state department employees. it did not defend marie yovanovitch. >> you treat him as a hostile witness. you ask him leading questions and you play him the video of his hardworking career foreign service officers telling the truth. gordon sondland said everybody knew. ambassador yovanovitch said there was no reason for them to fire me. one of her areas of expertise is public corruption. one of the things she does is goes to places like ukraine and
sells principles of good government. so there was no concern that trump had about corruption. he was only concerned about his political future trying to win the election by getting ukraine to help him out. and regarding what pompeo said, again, is it any surprise given the erosion of norms? we have a president who's the bully in chief. he doesn't respect the constitution or the congress. that's why he's being impeached. and he doesn't respect the press. so this is a man who talks about human scum, calling his fellow republicans who don't agree with him there. >> and to do the watergate parallel to this, a lot of people, you know, steve cortez who was kind enough to come on from one of the president's super packs and to defend him called lev parnas a liar.
now lev parnas was certainly not lying about knowing trump because he's got audiotape evidence of being on the phone with him. not just anyone can get on the phone with the president of the united states. he obviously had receipts, but he is also about in a sense that thug life. how do you deal with the credibility -- how did one in the nixon trial deal with the credibility of people who had lied and also were on their way to being prosecuted because they committed crimes, too in. >> documents and corroboration, and that's one i would add about how you would deal with pompeo is there's so many documents the state department is withholding that have been specifically requested. if you had them he couldn't lie as easily because you'd have the proof that rebuts it. and the same in water dpat you had john dean saying one thing, halderman the chief of staff who testified -- let me point out the chiefs of staffs have
testified cases like this and by the way went to jail because he committed perjury in that testimony, which is probably why all these people don't want to testify because they'd have to lie and they could go to jail for perjury. but everyone believed halderman not john dean until we got the tapes. and the tapes proved that every single thing that john dean said happened exactly the way he said it. we also had calendars that supported when he said he had a meeting, he actually had a meeting. lev parnas can show i had meetings, he can show the letters he has on his phone from giuliani. there's plenty of corroboration even though he is indicted and he may be guilty, but he is not lying about this because he has corroboration. >> and ben, let me bring you back in here because one of the issues trump supporters -- steve cortez did appear on our air, claimed ukraine didn't know. if i embezzled money from a
company, the fact they didn't know i took it and then i put it back after they finally figured out i did it, i'd still be charged with embezzlement i presume. you also have been following this case minute by minute. isn't it true that state department officials who testify today the house said they did know, they did find out the aid was being held up and they were alarmed by that? >> yes, there was testimony to that effect from a number of people, and there was also internal correspondence as i recall that in which people were advising one another that there was -- that the ukrainians had become aware of it. now, whether that was at the level of zelensky, you know, that i think is not wholly clear
in the record. that said, look there was a point after which they knew, and, you know, when that politico story came out, when "the washington post" ran an editorial about it, they were absolutely aware of what was going on, and the aid was not unfrozen until some time after that, and, you know, the other -- and that happened as a result of it coming out that congress was investigating this. and so, you know, i think the question of whether zelensky knew in the context of the specific july 25th conversation is only -- only a sort of icing on the cake kind of question. the larger question, did the ukrainians know that things were being held up pending their willingness to announce this
investigation or this set of investigations, of course they did. and, you know, ambassador taylor's testimony makes that abundantly cheer. they were talking to the ukrainians about how to manage this situation. >> exactly. if there's not witnesses this isn't a trial, right? >> it's a sham. it's rigged by mcconnell with one outcome to get his dude, donald trump re-elected. >> that is so ilodgely inconsistent to say i have doubts about the evidence so i'm going to vote to acquit, but i know there's more evidence but i'm not going to see it. and something to add to what ben said is that the republicans said today use your common sense. well, your common sense is the most important thing to ukraine is getting this aid, and they didn't get it so they knew there was something wrong.
>> put country over party that's all we need, four republicans. >> i'm sharing something fun today with jill wine-banks. we always ask what your pin is. >> it's happy lunar new year today and it was a gift from a man who took an interest in accessories for the first time in his life. >> because of you. and i can say what my jills pin is because i've got this pin that says joy and from jill. thank you very much. see, i've got my pin, too. next time we'll you in studio with us. thank you for joining us for more "am joy" 10:00 a.m. eastern. everyone, have a wonderful night. m. eastern. everyone, have a wonderful night. the hitch? like you, your cells get hungry. feed them... with centrum® micronutrients. restoring your awesome... daily. feed your cells with centrum® micronutrients today. feed your cells with as parents of six, this network is
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i'm craig melvin. >> and i'm natalie morales. >> and this is dateline. >> her name is pepper. >> i lived a secret life. >> she was kidnapped at age 4. >> we got in the car, and we never went back. >> she spent decades trying to find her way home again, and she finally made it. or so she thought. >> i said, i think i'm rhonda christie, or do you know rhonda patricia christie. and then there was a long pause. >> pepper's story had many ups and downs. >> when i looked at the e-mail, i just couldn't even believe it.