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tv   All In With Chris Hayes  MSNBC  September 25, 2019 12:00am-1:00am PDT

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tonight >> the president must be held accountable. no one is above the law. >> the speaker of the house makes it official. >> i'm announcing the house of representatives moving forward with an official impeachment inquiry. >> democrats open a formal impeachment inquiry into president trump. >> i just heard that she'd like to impeach. >> tonight, what happened today. >> the time to begin impeachment proceedings against this president has come. >> what happens now? >> this is full-blown impeachment inquiry. >> and what happens next? >> he's got to go. >> when "all in" starts right now. good evening from new york. i'm chris hayes. things are moving very, very quickly. here's what has happened just since we were on the air last
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night. just a few hours ago speaker of the house nancy pelosi announced a formal impeachment inquiry into president donald trump saying his action in regard to ukraine marked a, quote, breach of his constitutional responsibilities. >> this week the president has admitted to asking the president of ukraine to take actions which would benefit him politically. the action of the -- the actions of the trump presidency revealed dishonorable fact of the president's betrayal of his oath of office, betrayal of our national security and betrayal of the integrity of our elections. therefore today i'm announcing the house of representatives moving forward with an official impeachment inquiry. >> this is a huge escalation from a speaker that has been very, very, very reluctant to formally dive into impeachment. she has in some ways had very little choice as more than 40 and maybe more congressional democrats have come out in support of impeachment
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proceedings just since yesterday morning. and that includes abigail spanberger and absolute front line members who flipped republican districts that trump won, some of the most vulnerable democrats, the ones that pelosi was worried about protecting in an impeachment inquiry. meanwhile the big issue that pelosi alluded to is that the trump administration in coordination with the department of justice and attorney general william barr have been blocking a whistle-blower from going to congress as is legally required. today house intelligence committee chair adam schiff shared the huge news that he and his staff has been in contact with the whistle-blower's council and the whistle-blower would like to speak directly to their committee as soon as this week. remember this whistle-blower complaint is what started this entire thing. "the new york times" reports the complaint, and this is important, involved multiple actions that it's about the sum total of trump's behavior, not just a phone call. also yahoo news reporting the
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republican controlled senate intelligence committee is launching its own crucially bipartisan inquiry requesting an interview with the whistle-blower as well. quote, no later than friday, september 27th, as in this friday. and then in an unexpected development and sort of a head scratching one we're still trying to parse, senate majority leader mitch mcconnell, a man who's backed president trump at nearly every turn, allowed the republican-controlled senate to unanimously pass a resolution calling on the trump administration to release the whistle-blower complaint to congress. while the resolution is not binding the fact mcconnell actually allowed it to pass raises all sorts of questions about his continued willingness to go to the mat for trump or what his strategy is here. it's probably in light of all of this, all these developments. the president decided to try to make an omelet out of some broken eggs. he announced today he would be releasing the transcript of that very controversial july phone
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call with the ukrainian president hoping he could point to a transcript where there's no explicit open quid pro quo. we'll give you the money if you investigate biden. of course, the thing is we all already know the context of the phone call because trump is the one that told us. a number of things to note about the transcript. first, it's important we see the transcript but not the whole story by any means. at this point we also don't know if we can trust any documents produced by the white house, frankly. i mean, it's terrible to say that but true. you've got to keep in mind this is white house who used the levers of the power of the executive to lien on the national weather service in birmingham to retroactively lie about where a hurricane was going -- a map in front of us as if we wouldn't notice. that was this month. i don't know if the transcript is going to be sharpied up by the president if it's released to the public. so tonight and this is literally just in the past hour as we try
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to keep track of everything, we learned a bunch of new things. so here are the new developments. one, politico is reporting the white house is preparing to release the actual whistle-blower complaint to congress by the end of the week. two, "the new york times" is now reporting the white house is trying to work out a deal that would let this person who filed the complaint against the president speak to congress. that's a lot to process. but what's clear is we're in a different world than we were at this time yesterday. we have witnessed over just 24 hours a clear pivot in american history. this is happening. here with me now the member of congress who revealed the whistle-blower complaint earlier this month. chairs one of the committees that will be key congressman adam schiff, chair of the house intelligence committee. let me start with the most recent news reporting that suggests that the white house is going to lift its block of this whistle-blower and actually
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allow the complainant itself and perhaps the whistle-blower to talk to your committee in congress. is that true? >> well, we don't know yet. the this is what they're saying publicly. we don't know also whether there are going to be limitations that the white house attempts to place on this whistle-blower. we want to make sure that we get the full complaint, that we get the inspector general's report and that whistle-blower is allowed to share with congress anything that whistle-blower believes is evidence of misconduct or malfeasance within the contours of the statute. so i take nothing for granted with this crowd in the white house. the mere fact that the white house which may be the subject of the complaint, we don't know yet, has a role in deciding at all whether and how this whistle-blower could come forward is in itself disturbing. >> it's your position that the white house should have nothing to do with this and that william barr and the department of justice and we know the white house counsel as it's being reported are all active in this. that in and of itself to your mind is inappropriate and possibly not lawful. >> absolutely. and the statute provides that
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once the director gets the complaint they have seven days to turn it over to congress but it shall be provided to congress. that didn't happen. indeed, we did want find out about that because the director of national intelligence told us, hey, i'm not following the law for whatever reason. we only found out about it because the inspector general came to us and said the director's not following the law here. so that needs to be provided. there's no clause that allows the white house to weigh in, there's no provision that allows the director to go and seek a legal opinion from lawyers that are representing the president to withhold a complaint that may involve the president. so there's so much wrong with how this has been handled. but we're determined we're going to get this. we're going to have the opportunity to hear from the whistle-blower. we're going to make sure that whistle-blower is protected. and i wanted to say what's at stake here if indeed this complaint does involve the president's interactions with ukraine. it's important people understand the history here which is we persuaded ukraine to give up its nuclear weapons and said we will
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assure your territorial integrity if you do. well, they did give up those weapons that they inherited from the soviets, but the soviets, the russians would later invade their country and on a bipartisan basis congress approved military support to help ukraine defend itself against russia, and guess what? the president held that up just days before he would lean on the president of ukraine to assist his political campaign by manufacturing dirt on his opponent. it's hard to describe a worse abuse of office, a worse violation of his oath of office than those facts whether they're in the complaint or there's more in the complaint and what the president has already admitted is a flagrant abuse of his oath of office. >> you said it's bad enough trump sought help from a foreign power in the last election, and worst still he obstructed the investigation into misconduct.
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now he's admitted to using his office to coerce another country. now i fully support the impeachment inquiry. is it these set of facts that tipped you over to setting impeachment? >> it is. and chris, i've been reluctant to go down this path. it's an extraordinary remedy and one that the founders i think intended as a last resort since we have periodic elections. but the fact we'd have a president by his own admission and after having sought foreign help in the last election now using the power of his office to once again try and get foreign help by getting ukraine to manufacture dirt on his opponent, i think that compels us to travel down the road towards impeachment. so i fully support the speaker's decision. >> i want to ask a follow-up about what that process looks like in just one moment. i want to circle back to the whistle-blower at issue here. it is my understanding and you said this publicly that you're in contact with the whistle-blower's attorney. how confident are you that you'll be able to speak to the
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whistle-blower and hear that complaint in the next few days? >> well, you know, it's hard to say. i think that the hearing with the director is having the effect that i had hoped that it would, and that is forcing the administration's hand. i told the director that i'm going to call on him not in closed session but to all the american people to explain why he's the first director to with hold a complaint in violation of the statute. i don't think that's something the director wants to have to do and so i imagine he is pressuring the administration to give him the authority to release this complaint. but the long and short of it is we're going to insist that the whistle-blower be protected and and have the full substance to discuss their complaint and we see the complete and unadulterated complaint. we have all too much experience, chris, of the administration through their willing participants like bill barr misrepresenting official documents. the white house shouldn't even have this complaint. the president says everybody has
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seen it. that in itself is a huge problem, but we're not going to rely on the administration or its minions leading the justice department to tell us about anything that's in it. >> were you at all surprised by the president moving towards releasing the full transcript? do you trust the white house enough to take that transcript and believe that that is an actual representation of what transpired? >> well, you know, sadly, i think it's the case as you described that we cannot trust the administration with respect to anything that it produces. and so there are a couple of issues here. there's the issue of whether whatever transcript they provide is the only transcript of this conversation or whether there are other readouts of that conversation and whether they cherry picked and picked the best readout of that conversation, but there are also issues about whether this is just one piece, for example, of what the whistle-blower may be complaining of. after all, this isn't the president's only interaction with ukraine. >> right. >> his interactions are also
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going through rudy giuliani's personal lawyer, and if the president is urging ukraine to meet with giuliani, to give into giuliani's demands, then he's essentially speaking through rudy giuliani. so there's a lot more at stake here than simply what will be reflected in the transcript. >> as to the process that is laid out, there's some debate today or reporting back and forth about what the process forward would be, some reporting indicated there are discussions of a select committee. i guess would be the closest historical precedent would be the watergate committee. that's not what's happening. the chairs traditionally judicial and oversight, yours and others are going to pursue the inquiries under the rubric of a formal impeachment inquiry. what does that mean, what does that look like and what is the timeline? >> i think what this means under the most urgent of allegations that is that the president was essentially trying to coerce a foreign leader to help his presidential campaign and
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withholding military support at the same time, that the intelligence committee will continue leading that investigation of those -- of that constellation of issues. if that results in sufficient evidence that we think an article of impeachment should be brought, that that would be presented to the judiciary committee for them to vote on an article of impeachment and similarly if other committees reached that point with what they're investigating, oversight and the work they're doing on the emoluments clause, the judiciary committee and the work its doing on obstruction of justice, that ultimately we'll be recommending to our leadership and discussing with our caucus whether that means we need to bring up articles and what they would look like. but we haven't gotten into i think the specifics of that because, frankly, that's putting the cart before the horse. right now we need to make sure that we get the facts and in particular we get the facts about the president's egregious
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conduct vis-a-vis ukraine. >> what do you -- how do you understand the white house's actions in the last 24 hours in which it seems to be denial then a kind of almost open admission to some of the main contours of the substance of what's been reported about this to some capitulation. i mean, the transcript, maybe making the whistle-blower available. there are lots of people sort of looking at this or looking at mitch mcconnell refusing to object to a unanimous concept and saying is this for real or is there some strategy being played out here that i'm missing? >> well, chris, i think it's a couple of things. first, i think the administration realizes this is going to come out. >> right. >> ultimately the public is going to know about the president's misconduct, and they want to try to get ahead of it. and they also want to try to shape it in the same way bill barr misled the country about what was involved. so you can already see the president trying to suggest to the country that, hey, if i didn't specifically ask for quid pro quo, then there's no problem here.
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you don't need an explicit quid pro quo. you don't need an implicit quid pro quo. ukraine understands how it is entirely dependent on the united states, how it's entirely dependent on the good will of the president of the united states for military support, for financial support, for support among the international community. and when the president of the united states tells that country this is what i want you to do for me, much like when james comey said when the president said i'd like to see you make this flynn matter go away. that country understands not as a request but as in this will be done or there are repercussion. he doesn't have to make it explicit. it's enough he withheld this military support even as he's browbeating this president and his personal lawyer is browbeating ukraine for helping their political campaign. part of it, too, chris, is this is the pattern we see over and over.
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you ask for documents you should get, they refuse. you subpoena, you get something. you talk about bringing kempt contempt, you get a little more. now i think the big club has been brought out -- >> interesting. >> and i think it's forcing them to agree to provide the transcript and that whistle-blower is the club for impeachment. i think but for that being brought out the white house would not be relinquishing that information. >> all of that very illuminating and very interesting to hear directly from you chair schiff on this evening. thank you so much for making time tonight. >> thank you. >> here with me now the vice chair of the house oversight committee democratic congresswoman katie hill of california. she came out in favor of impeachment proceedings earlier today. congresswoman, take me through what changed for you to tip you from reticent, skeptical, hesitant, to supporting an impeachment inquiry. >> hi, chris, thanks so much. listen, this is tipping point for us. we know for a fact as the president admitted and his
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personal lawyer admitted, that they were attempting to coerce or asking for assistance from a foreign government to interfere in our elections, to help dig up dirt or to manufacture dirt on a political opponent, and it's that simple. that is undermining the very integrity of our elections, of our democracy and of our national security. so at that point you're left with nothing else except to bring out, as my colleague, mr. chairman said previously, the big guns with impeachment as a possibility. and it looks like it's, you know, actually forcing them to act in some ways and hopefully that pans out to getting the information we need to make a final determination. >> are you confident -- you come from a district that had been represented by republicans for a very long period of time. it's considered a swing district. it'll be heavily contested almost certainly in 2020. are you confident that you can stand behind and explain this support for an impeachment inquiry to the voters back in your district? >> well, listen, my district is
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full of veterans, it's full of service members. it's a very defense heavy district, and i come from generations of service members in the military. and my brother right now is in the navy. to go back to my district and say, listen, i did not want to do this, i in no way came to congress with a desire to impeach the president, i came because i wanted to work on lowering the cost of prescription drugs, making housing and health care more affordable, and on the issues that are really important to the people in my community, but at a certain point it becomes clear that those things that my family and so many others in our district and in our communities have fought for, have risked their lives in support of, is at threat at its very core. and when a person at its highest level of office is willing to throw away exactly what they've been fighting for his own political purposes, then we have to step up and we've got to do more. and this is a very reluctant thing i'm doing, and we to have take it with as much gravity and seriousness as we possibly can because of the very integrity of
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our democratic institutions that we're moving forward with this. >> how much conversation has there been between you and other freshmen members, particularly those freshmen members in say those 40 seats that are considered the most front line districts? are you talking to each other about this, checking in with each other? arguing about this amongst yourselves? >> yes, we talk to each other this and even over the course of the last several months it's been a topic of conversation. i think this administration and the information that's come forth over the last several months since we've been here has pushed each of us further and further towards that question of at what point do we need to push this towards a full on impeachment proceeding and i think this was finally the tipping point for so many of us. that's why you saw all these different statements that were coming out today because we -- you know, you can no longer take it when so much is in jeopardy. but, yes, it's -- we know it's risky, right? we know that ultimately we're
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doing what we have to do to uphold the oath that we took when we got sworn in january 3rd, but we also know it is coming potentially with the risk of losing our seats, but we know it's the right thing to do and hopefully we'll be able to communicate that back to people at home that this doesn't come lightly, this is something we have to believe in and do it whether it's the easy thing or not. >> all right, congresswoman katey hill in california, thank you very much. >> thank you. >> here with me now to talk about what he's hearing on capitol hill, covers the congress for "the washington post." a very, very diligent and well-sourced reporter about the doings amongst the house democratic caucus. what was going on behind the scenes today in that caucus? >> well, thanks, chris, for having me. there were just a ton of conversations, a lot of speculation. just members not knowing what direction this was going to go. what was nancy pelosi going to say? was she going to launch an inquiry? was she just going to say she personally supported impeachment? was she going to setup a special
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committee to handle this? was this basically going to continue on the course it had? there's a lot of things happening behind the scenes in terms of people in the house trying to shape what this ultimately would become, and that was playing out not only today, yesterday and over the weekend. >> so what is your understanding of what the kind of buy in from the caucus is and their understanding of what the meaning of today is? >> well, the buy-in is certainly greater now than it was a week ago. there has been a very discernible shift in sentiment. that said it's not unanimous. not every democrat right now is ready to take a vote to impeach the president. i spoke to several, you know, quote, unquote, front liners, these members from the more disputed districts who are facing tough re-elections next year. some of them came out and said these allegations regarding ukraine and the president were just the final straw, but
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there's others who say, listen, maybe we need to get the facts first before we start using the "i" word. they are not being very vocal right now because they can feel in the caucus that the sentiment, the center of gravity shifting and they know that they're becoming a dwindling group, but they're still out there and at some point this becomes a numbers game. you need 218 votes to impeach the president. their voices are going to matter as this process plays out and their voices are going to become more important. but right now they're weighing they're laying low. >> final question for you. i don't think it's necessarily the correct interpretation but i want to lay out for you and get your response which is this is essentially nancy pelosi, it's a kind of speech act, and now we are formally engaging in impeachment inquiry but nothing substantively has changed, the chairs are looking into this and the numbers are sort of ticking around and maybe she sort of
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regains control of this and can slow it down if that's what she wants to do. what do you think about that theory? >> that's absolutely right. the impeachment of richard nixon and bill clinton, they both started with votes of the house to launch an impeachment investigation, and they ended with articles of impeachment being filed by the judiciary committee. we're not having that house vote. this hasn't been ratified by the house. currently the house is in litigation trying to get documents from the special counsel's office, grand jury testimony, and, you know, there's a real question of whether just saying that you're in an impeachment inquiry by the speaker of the house is enough or do you actually need to take a vote -- >> right. >> -- do you actually need to put this on paper? that's going to be litigated and play out in the courts over the next several weeks if not months. and that's an important question they really don't have a good answer to right now. >> thank you very much. we saw the proverbial dam breaking in the house, that torrent want of about 40 members coming forth and now we're seeing very clear calls in the
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senate. one democratic senator chris murphy of connecticut put out a statement today arguing for the house to begin impeachment proceedings against the president. quote, to use america's global credibility as a casino token to be cashed in for personal or political gain is an intolerable abuse of power and totally anathema to the rule of law. now senator murphy sits on the senate foreign relations committee, and more than that, he has been one of the most active members in the entire u.s. senate on u.s./ukrainian relations. he's travelled there multiple times and in fact was just there a few weeks ago where he met with the new incoming ukrainian president, volodymyr zelenskiy. what did you hear, what was your takeaway? >> well, i started to get visits to my office and calls in the spring right after president zelenskiy had been sworn in
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after a resounding election victory with concerns that rudy giuliani had begun to pressure zelenskiy and his team to launch these investigations into vice president biden. and zelenskiy, who has never held elective office before, is a political novice, didn't really understand whether these were official requests from the u.s. government or whether they were requests he should ignore. and so part of the reason why i eventually made the reason to go and see for myself was because i thought it was important for somebody from the united states congress to raise with him the concern about the damage that could be done to the u.s. and ukrainian relationship if he ceded to the political requests. when i raised this concern with him this was now three weeks ago, he was very ready for my question and he assured me at the time he had no interest in interfering in the u.s. election in 2020. that was at a time we did not know the president had raised these issues with him directly,
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so i left confident that, you know, perhaps this matter was behind us. we had to figure out why giuliani was still at it. now we know that he in fact was hearing directly from the president. >> now, there's a parallel story that happens here, which is the mystery of the stalled aid. and one of the things that's come out i think in the reporting over the last few weeks and in some ways hiding in plain sight is this wasn't a secret on capitol hill. the president blocking this aid was becoming a bigger and bigger deal to you and your colleagues. >> well, and it happened outside of the normal channels. from everything we've heard, this was a decision made very personally by the president, that he had strong feelings about the need to withhold this aid from ukraine, it surprised republicans and democrats when it came out, so it was inexplicable. and, you know, adam schiff made the right point which whether or not you can uncover direct evidence of a quid pro
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quo, it doesn't really matter. the very fact these two things are happening at the same time sent a clear message to the ukrainian government that they wanted to get right with the president, they had a surprise withdrawal of aid and a standing request from the president that they were not acceding to. it would just be common sense for the ukrainians to come to the conclusion that if they did what the president was asking with respect to getting involved in the 2020 election, then maybe that aid would be unlocked. >> what changed -- what about this set of facts at least as the president has largely kind of stipulated to in his own weird adeled and roundabout way, what about them makes you feel impeachment, the very high constitutional bar of this brick glass provision of this is warranted? >> i had not recommended impeachment as you know up until
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now in part because a lot of my constituents thought if we were really relitigating the past maybe the 2020 election was the right place to make those decisions. now we're talk about a president who is actively trying to potentially steal the upcoming election. and that if he were to continue to believe he had impunity for using his office as a means to try to interfere and impact and manipulate the 2020 election, then there's no end to the ways in which he would try to aggressively manipulate others to get involved in this upcoming election. so to me because we are now trying to protect an upcoming election it was really important for us to draw a line in the sand to tell him if you're thinking of doing this through other means we're watching and we're willing to take action. >> so you see this as some kind of deterrent, some restraint on the president's behavior? >> yes, i think this is prophylactic in some ways. whether or not you're ultimately going to get 67 votes in the
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senate the president is now on notice if you're going to try to use the awesome pow at your disposal either through your domestic powers or through foreign policy to try to -- to try to manipulate others to interfere in the 2020 election, there's going to be consequences for that. and i think he was just getting to the point where he felt there was no check on him and this at least provides that notice of a real check. >> one of the sort of most surprising moments today was that unanimous concept resolution, nonbinding that happened in the senate today. you were tweeting about it and mitch mcconnell could have objected because it was a unanimous consent and by definition one senator could object to it, and he didn't. it was nonbinding and recommended that the whistle-blower complaint be furnished to the senate. >> many of them were steadfastedly defending the decision to not pressure the president to bring forward the
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whistle-blower complaint, so privately a lot of senate republicans who are close allies of the president were telling me they thought it was justified to keep the whistle-blower complaint out the hands of congress. so it was interesting to me there was a pivot at some point today. i mean, there was a decision by leadership to endorse the whistle-blower complaint coming before congress and that clearly was not because there was a unanimity amongst senate republicans in making that recommendation. it may simply because they didn't want to make senators who are up for re-election in 2020 answer for their caucus' participation in a cover-up. maybe because it's they know what's in that whistle-blower complaint and they did want want to be seen as trying to keep it from congress. clearly there was a change in strategy at some point today by senate republicans. >> all right. senator chris murphy, thank you so much for being here. the trump whistle-blower speaking to congress, i want to talk to the former general counsel of the dni about what that means next. i get it all the time.
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as we continue to follow today's breaking news house speaker nancy pelosi announcing a formal impeachment inquiry into the president there remains a ton of questions about the full scope of what was in that whistle-blower complaint that initially started all of this off. today there's word the house intel chairman schiff is working with the whistle-blower's attorney to possibly get his testimony and the white house might release it. joining me now to talk about former general counsel to the national intelligence of the
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obama administration, robert lit. mr. lit, what is your read as someone who had this job as general counsel for dni of what the law requires here? >> well, i've written a couple of pieces on the law fair block about this, and i'd have to respectfully disagree with congressman schiff who spoke earlier. i think it's entirely appropriate for the director of national intelligence to get legal advice as to whether or not he's obligated to furnish this complaint to congress, and if he doesn't think it meets the very technical definition in the statute of a complaint that has to be turned over. that's different than saying can it be turned over, can the whistle-blower testify before congress, and i think it's very encouraging that the whistle-blower seems willing to testify and at least according to reports this evening the white house seems willing to let him testify. >> why do you think that those developments have happened? obviously the white house took relatively extraordinary means it seems from the reporting we have to keep this out of congress.
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that has now appeared to change. what do you understand as someone who had this job before, like, what are the dynamics around something like this like? >> well, i would suspect the director of national intelligence and his office was leaning pretty heavily on the white house to allow this to go forward. the director of national intelligence has a very close and cooperative relationship with the intelligence committee and tends to lean forward towards disclosing things to them, and i think admiral mcguire probably felt pretty caught in the middle here and didn't want to be caught in the middle. at the same time who knows, maybe the white house concluded this september as damaging as they thought it was going to be or maybe they recognized the political pressure is so great they have to concede on it. >> in your time working as a general counsel at dni, did you ever have stuff like this? how common or rare is a complaint of this nature? >> well, typically those
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wouldn't have come to my attention as general counsel. there were a number of them every year that would come up, some of them were found to be meritorus, some of them were not, but they were always transmitted to congress. >> so what you're saying is the normal procedure is it doesn't go to the counsel of dni? >> that's right. ordinarily it would just be sent up. i'm entirely speculating here but when this hit mcguire's desk it looked at it and said this is an allegation against the prez. the first time the president hears about it isn't when there's a press conference by some members of congress, and that got the ball rolling from the department of justice. >> the i.g. who will be meeting with the senate intel committee tomorrow along with the acting dni that will be testifying, my. >>ing is, again -- reputation is quite good, that he's seen as a sort of fair arbiter, is that your sense?
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>> i don't know him personally but everything i've heard about him is that he's a straight shooter. >> what do you think happens next? i mean, i guess the question is how does congress and the i.g. at the dni and everyone attempt to secure whistle-blower protections as this goes forward and there will obviously be a tremendous amount of pressure and attention paid to it. >> well, there are two separate things and i want to focus first of all on what you said about securing whistle-blower protections. because i think that's a very important part of this that people haven't paid enough attention to. there's a statute that provides some protection for whistle-blowers in the intelligence community. and it's extremely important people feel they can blow the whistle without retaliation. other people are saying that the whistle-blower is not patriotic. i think that republicans and democrats in congress both need to speak very firmly and clearly
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that this whistle-blower so long as he or she continues to go through channels and bring the information to the attention of the intelligence community -- committees that this whistle-blower must be protected from any form of retaliation. >> is that plausible? i mean, it just -- i guess i sort of feel like, you know, it's we're watching a champagne bottle being shaken and shaken and at a certain point the court pops a off and we all find out who this person is. >> well, i'm sure we're going to find out who the person is at some point, but that's different than saying the person is going to be subject to retaliation. >> right, right. that's a great -- >> and if this person gets retaliated against, it's simply going to encourage future whistle-blowers to break the law, to leak things, and that will be to the detriment of the presidency and the intelligence community. >> really, really interesting
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point. robert, thank you very much for all of that. >> thanks for having me. >> coming up, president trump is set to meet with the ukrainian president tomorrow. so just who is volodymyr zelenskiy? that story after this. er this.
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as if the current political situation could not get any crazier tomorrow amidst all of this donald trump is scheduled to meet with none other an the newly elected 41-year-old president of ukraine at the united nations. he's the man donald trump sought to pressure for his own political gain which resulted today in the announcement of the official impeachment inquiry. just take a second to appreciate how insane this guy's life is, zelenskiy, i mean. he became widely known in 2006 when he won the ukrainian version of "dancing with the stars." later starred in a television version of servant of the people where he played a teacher whose ranting goes viral propelling him to ukrainian presidency and next thing you know he's elected to be the actual president of
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ukraine despite zero political experience. and now he's about to meet with a president who basely appears tried to extort him into opening a closed investigation into the president's political rival. so what the heck does he do and how does this all look from the ukrainian perspective? he just yesterday met with the new ukrainian president. also with me, carol leonnig, national reporter at "the washington post" and msnbc contributor. she's one of reporters who broke the story that trump order a hold on military aid days before calling zelenskiy which has since been confirmed by nbc news. you just met zelenskiy. how is this to the extent you can divine or know is how is this resonating in the circle around this new president who already has a very, very full plate? >> the president exudes a lot of confidence, he can read a room. he can command people, and that's why he's really hoping to
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be in a room with donald trump. we think if donald trump and president zelenskiy who, again, you've mentioned that he was very quickly into politics. as of six months ago when i was there for the first round of ukrainian elections, nobody in the province had seen any electi electioneering going on. again, when he gets in a room whether it's the ukrainian president he commands and we hope that fact -- get him in a room with president trump. >> to what end? to tell him to not, you know, twist his arm to open up an investigation into the former vice president's son? >> well, that's not -- i don't see donald trump going through old newspapers and actually end up saying maybe i should deal with biden and stuff. i think the real thing is what's going to happen when another person gives him a different perspective. i think president zelenskiy, again -- >> i see. >> is a person who can project a different kind of perspective.
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maybe influence president trump to come visit ukraine. which he's been promising for a while because barack obama never did it. so come over to ukraine and figure this out. somebody needs to come over there and actually understand why it's important to fund the $140 million, that's the important part. >> carol, you've done a lot of reporting on this. one thing that i think is interesting here is the role that giuliani has played and/or the state department in all of this. there's a little question in my mind and i wonder you can clarify what you know about the role the state department has been. because giuliani basically says, oh, i went over there because the state department called me and wanted to. there's something really strange about the official challenge of the u.s. foreign relations setting up a meeting with the president's personal attorney. >> i think the time line is really interesting. everyone is really focused on the president's call with zelenskiy and on july 25th when he admitted today he asked him multiple times to open this investigation to get to the bottom of corruption in their country and to look at biden's son.
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that call is followed by a meeting that the president has or the conversation he has with state department, his ambassador then meets with zelenskiy and talks with him the next day, ambassador to ukraine. and then the ambassador to ukraine from the united states helps arrange a meeting for giuliani to go meet with a zelenskiy aide in madrid, spain. where giuliani has told us he was pressing and saying, look, you know, you really need to investigate this stuff. it's important to the united states. how odd, though, for the president's perm attorney to be conducting this kind of diplomacy that is half diplomacy and half, you know, what can you do for us about dirt on biden. >> yeah, that is a very strange arrangement. i want to read -- so i've been talking to friends of mine who read russian, and some of whom who follow the press in ukraine, and i don't read ukrainian or russian.
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but the daily beast reported ukraine is likely to re-open the probe of hunter biden's firm? >> there were two weird stories. one of them by anna in the daily beast. one quoted a member of the parliament who has no problem at all said we'd be glad -- not just speculative but put me in charge of it. then another follow-up with another member of the government, not really in the inner circle at all. so sometimes those headlines from the daily beast are just a little bit, you know, causing a little -- >> but you don't think there's been an official decision by zelenskiy of doing this. >> i don't think anybody wants to do this. you know what i mean, if his whole thing is i'm a reformer and i'm -- i ran against corruption, like being strong armed by an american president into doing this like your first few weeks in office seems like a tough thing.
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>> well, you know, ukraine can sit back -- ukraine's agriculture has been going through the roof since the chinese tariffs went on the american wheat. so ukraine is benefitting in some way from that. but i want to point out also there's no current ambassador from ukraine to the united states, and there's no ambassador from the united states to ukraine. there's just a temporary charge there for a former ambassador. >> carol, do you think that this stops now? that's my big question, right? these two countries have bilateral relationships but giuliani seems completely unperturbed. seems like he's just going to keep going at it. >> it's really interesting, and chris, you know, you asked do you think this ends here. i don't think so. i think we're going to only going to learn more and more every day and including tomorrow. i mean, the president said this afternoon from new york that he's declassifying the call that he made on july 25th because he said it was a perfect call, it was a totally appropriate call, and he wants everyone to see that it was.
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but i think more information that we're going to piece together we have to find out what happened before and after. you say -- you asked the question, what else is going to happen? i mean, one of the things that's most interesting to me and worrisome from the perspective of this narrate that the white house had that everything was fine is zelenskiy himself told a u.s. lawmaker in september that he was concerned that the aid being withheld was the consequence of him not opening an investigation. >> right. >> what else do you need if the person who is the president of ukraine fears that -- >> right. >> this is a quid pro quo. >> all right. thank you both for being with me. coming up, what exactly nancy pelosi's announcement today means in the push for impeachment. h for impeachment.
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the actions of the trump presidency revealed dishonorable fact of the president's betrayal of his oath of office, betrayal of our national security, and betrayal of the integrity of our
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elections. therefore, today i am announcing the house of representatives is moving forward with an official impeachment inquiry. >> house speaker nancy pelosi announced this afternoon the start of a formal impeachment process. while there's been some speculation today the speaker would announce a special select committee, ultimately that's not what she decided to do. instead, this formal inquiry will be run by the six committee chairs already investigating trump now under the rubric of an official impeachment inquiry and they will then refer their findings over to the house judiciary committee for possible articles of impeachment. that said, there are a lot of questions about what that looks like and how that works. i'm joined by brian boitler with a new piece up titled "the lessons of trump's impeachment and the end of trump's impunity. and maya wiley. a professor at the new school and an msnbc legal analyst. >> brian, let me start with you because you have been writing about this and banging this drum for a while quite vociferously
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that impeachment was important. politically, substantively and almost from a game theory perspective it's the only thing the president would understand was some sort of official sanction. do you think that was accomplished today? what's your read on how important today was? >> i think it was very important. i mean, i think that you can just look at the first 9 1/2 months of the democratic majority where every time they tried to look into any of the president trump's corruptions or any of the accusations that he committed crimes, they were stonewalled. he sued to try to block subpoenas. they really got nowhere in 9 1/2 months. within four hours, they prevailed on him to release this transcript of this phone call, to make arrangements for this whistle-blower to testify to the intelligence community -- or to the intelligence committees and to release his complaint to congress. that's more than they have gotten all year. so the proof is kind of in the pudding. >> it's a great point. in some ways it's to the point
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of where people are like, wait, i don't understand, what's happening, what's the catch? just in the last few minutes, the white house is preparing to turn over the whistle-blower complaint by this thursday, tells nbc news the complaint will undergo a classification review and be provided to congress by thursday. again, they can try to manipulate things but this is much faster than anything they have responded to so far. >> well, and with the senate resolution that said yeah, yeah, yeah, you should do it, you know that didn't happen without a call going to the white house beforehand saying you really have to do this, so the fact that republicans -- >> so you think that was mcconnell laying on the white house, that you can't stonewall this. >> you can't stonewall this and the reason you can't is that you have a trump-appointed inspector general, not a democratic-appointed -- >> right. >> a trump appointee who said credible, urgent. >> right. >> and the combination of those two words in conjunction with a president who said yes, i did have that call and i did in fact
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ask him to investigate. >> yeah, we talked about the bidens and also you don't want to send money to these people if they're -- >> and by the way, i did it the day after robert mueller's testimony. >> right. >> oh, and, by the way, rudy giuliani, as we know in press accounts, constantly trying to get this jump started. so he had no -- there was no question that the only strategy here was to be as transparent as was expedient. >> there is new reporting tonight from "the washington post" about rudy giuliani's free lance or not freelance foreign policy with ukraine. the big question to me, brian, now are sort of what's the content of the whistle-blower complaint and the whistle-blower's testimony and if congress can get it and then how quickly this moves, because i can imagine two worlds. i can imagine a world of sort of the momentum keeps going and there is widespread consensus among democrats that this itself, this one violation is a high crime and misdemeanor and is impeachable and then i can see a much longer process that
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perhaps stalls out. what do you think? >> well, so i think that in the nature of the process that pelosi green-lighted, they sort of have trump beset on all sides. right now what's capturing the public's imagination is this whistle-blower complaint. that means that adam schiff's committee is going to be the focus of a lot of attention. but meanwhile, the other committees that have their own resources and their own lawyers and their own staffs are going to be, you know, ramping up their own processes. and if at some point some of those lines of inquiry stall out, that doesn't mean that the whole thing falls apart. >> right. >> i think that, you know, you get a sense as you keep moving whether really the only thing that's going to carry water is the house or really move any senators is the one -- the one thing we have going on on the ukraine, then that's what will get reported to the judiciary and then over to the senate. but they don't seem to be closing the door at all -- >> no.
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>> and, you know, by just doing this, by stepping forward and saying we are doing an impeachment inquiry and it's real this time, everyone is paying attention now. so what used to be until recently was very hard to get the public to focus on trump's enriching himself with the office and his obstruction of justice as outlined in the mueller report and so on is just going to be easier to get people to pay attention to. so those threads might come alive again. >> do you agree with that? >> i do agree with that. i think the other important piece here is the suggestion that now that the democrats have said, now that nancy pelosi has come forward and said we are doing this, what she's saying is i have the votes for articles of impeachment, which means particularly on an issue like this one, like the whistle-blower, there is already a lot of evidence. >> right. >> it's pretty straightforward. once it's confirmed, they don't have to go through court anymore. >> what you said just now i think is really important and one of the main takeaways of the day. which is that pelosi's saying that thing -- she didn't take a
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vote but her saying it is that i can get the votes if i need it. say it unless she can, and all the players in this understand that which is why today was so significant. thank you both for joining us. that is "all in" this evening. breaking tonight, the house speaker wields the power of impeachment after months of keeping her caucus at bay. plus, the white house backs down and will let congress hear out the intel community's whistleblower complaint and see the transcript and how the shifting explanations could come back to haunt him and make him the third president in u.s. history to be impeached. good evening once again from our nbc news headquarters here in new york. i'm steve kornacki in for brian williams.


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