tv The 11th Hour With Brian Williams MSNBC September 25, 2019 11:00pm-12:00am PDT
when you see the senate voting 100 to nothing to release this report and have the whistleblower complaint come forward, and you start to see republicans express unease about the allegations here, i think you're going to have more bipartisan concern about that is tonight's last word. "the 11th hour" with brian williams starts now. breaking tonight, we are just ten hours ahead of testimony from the acting director of national intelligence. lawmakers tonight who have now read the whistle-blower complaint describe it as really troubling and deeply disturbing. and then there is the memo detailing a call between two
leaders who came face to face today, and this evening donald trump dangled the prospect of releasing more high-level conversations, revelations that could rock the white house. plus democrats navigate the perilous politics of impeachment. we have got the latest blockbuster reporting on all of it as "the 11th hour" gets under way on a wednesday night. good evening once again from our nbc news headquarters here in new york. i'm steve kornacki in for brian williams. day 979 of the trump administration, the eve of congressional testimony from the acting director of national intelligence and the inspector general, and we have brand-new revelations about the whistle-blower whose explosive complaint touched off the impeachment inquiry now under way. the "new york times" reports new details about the intel officer who raised concerns about trump's phone call with the president of ukraine. "the times" reports the conversation, quote, raised
alarms not only about what the two men said in a phone call but also about how the white house handled records of the conversation, according to two people briefed on the complaint. the whistle-blower identified multiple white house officials as witnesses to potential presidential misconduct who could corroborate the complaint, the people said, adding that the inspector general for the intelligence community interviewed witnesses. atkinson also found reason to believe the whistle-blower may not support the re-election of mr. trump and made clear the complainant was not in a position to directly listen to the call or see the memo that reconstructed it before it was made public. today the white house released its notes from that call between trump and the ukrainian president zelensky. that was made on july 25th, exactly two months ago. the document, which is not a verbatim transcript but is based off of notes and recollections of a conversation, the document confirms reports that trump asked for an investigation of
joe biden and his son. trump in the conversation reminds zelensky, quote, we do a lot for you ukraine. we spend a lot of effort and a lot of time. the united states has been very, very good to ukraine. the response from zelensky, we are ready to continue to cooperate for the next steps. specifically we are almost ready to buy more javelins, that means anti-tank missiles, from the united states for defense purposes. trump continues, i would like you to do us a favor, though. i would like you to find out what happens with this whole situation with ukraine. they say crowdstrike. i guess you have one of your wealthy people, the server, they say ukraine has it. he then mentions william barr. i would like to have the attorney general call you or your people, and i would like you to get to the bottom of it. president trump then brings up rudy giuliani, his personal attorney. quote, mr. giuliani is a highly respected man. i will ask him to call you along with the attorney general. rudy very much knows what's happening. if you could speak to him, that would be great.
there is a lot of talk about biden's son, that biden stopped the prosecution and a lot of people want to find out about that. so whatever you can do with the attorney general would be great. note that there is no evidence that either vice president biden or his son, hunter, were guilty of any wrongdoing in ukraine. we also learned tonight that the july call was not the first time the two men had spoken. "the new york times" also reports this, quote, when ukraine elected its new leader on april 21st, mr. trump seized on the moment as an opportunity to press his case. within hours of mr. zelensky's victory, mr. trump placed a congratulatory call as he was en route from his mar-a-lago resort in florida to washington. he urged mr. zelensky to coordinate with mr. giuliani and to pursue investigations of corruption according to people familiar with the call, the details of which have not previously been reported. late today, trump spoke out about the impeachment investigation, his phone call in july, and efforts to make the
whistle-blower's complaint public. >> i've spoken with leader kevin mccarthy and the republicans, many of them, and we were going to do this anyway. but i've informed them, all of the house members, that i fully support transparency on the so-called whistle-blower information. the witch hunt continues. but they're getting hit hard on this witch hunt because when they look at the information, it's a joke. impeachment for that? i think you should ask for the first conversation. it was beautiful. it was just a perfect conversation. but i think you should do that. i think you should do, and i think you should ask for v.p. pence's conversation. if you take a look at that call, it was perfect. i didn't do it. there was no quid pro quo. democrats say, listen, we can't beat him at the election, so let's impeach him.
>> the complaint is now in the hands of congress. this afternoon, members of the house and senate intelligence committees were able to view the document containing the allegations against trump. >> i found the allegations deeply disturbing. i also found them very credible. i can understand why the inspector general found them credible. i think it a travesty that this complaint was withheld as long as it was because it was an urgent matter. it is an urgent matter. >> democrats ought not to be using the word "impeach" before they had the whistle-blower complaint or read any of the transcript. republicans ought not to be rushing to circle the wagons and say there's no "there" there when there's obviously lots that's very troubling there. >> tonight, 220 members of the house -- that is a majority -- support some type of action regarding impeachment. last night at this time, that number was 188.
on monday, it was 147. as we mentioned at the top of the show, acting director of national intelligence joseph maguire will appear before congress tomorrow. he will testify at an opening hearing on the whistle-blower complaint at 9:00 a.m. that will be before the house intelligence committee. then at 2:00 p.m., he and the inspector general, michael atkinson, will go before the senate intel committee in a closed session. here to get us started on a wednesday night, philip rucker, pulitzer prize-winning white house bureau chief for "the washington post." katie benner. white house correspondent michael crowley. much to get to here. philip rucker, let me start with you. we just got into there the numbers at how dramatically the situation on capitol hill has changed just this week in terms of an outright majority now saying they want some type of impeachment action. you have been tracking closely how this is being received inside the white house. i'm curious about the conversations you're having there with folks around the
president. is there a sense on their part that impeachment is now something that's inevitable? >> well, steve, it's increasing looking inevitable, and that seems to be changing by the hour here in washington. the public comments out of the white house are that this could play to the president's political advantage. but when you talk to the president's advisers, current and former, in a more private conversation, they're much more candid and reveal that there is some concern here. there's anxiety here. there's a feeling that president trump for months has been preparing for impeachment. he's almost in some ways been goading nancy pelosi to take this step. but now that she has taken this step, this is a very uncomfortable and troubling reality for the president, and it's something he's going to have to be dealing with in the months ahead. and you talk to people in the white house, and there's a fear that this is not a team ready for an impeachment showdown. they are understaffed. they have been habitually undisciplined from the very beginning of this presidency, and now they're in a phase that
really could bring peril to the president. >> katie, the name of the attorney general, william barr, came up during this conversation. the president saying to zelensky that he was going to have will yaum barr call him, get in touch with him. talk about what it was the president seems to have wanted barr to be doing here and what the justice department is saying tonight about that. >> sure. it seems that the president -- he says that he wants the attorney general, william barr, to investigate several things relating to ukraine, including whether or not ukraine had anything to do with the 2016 election, and he is also very interested in having the ukrainian government look into allegations that have not ever been proven about hunter biden, joe biden's son. now, the justice department has been very adamant that bill barr has never spoken to the president about this, that he's never spoken to rudy giuliani about this matter, that he has not been in touch with the ukrainian government with any sort of request to investigate any of the president's political
enemies. the problem, though, is that it's clear from what we've received from the white house that president trump does not make a distinction between the attorney general, bill barr, and what his duties are to the country and how he feels about bill barr, which is that bill barr is his ally, and bill barr is another one of his political fixers. this is going to increase scrutiny on the justice department fairly or no. people are going to say, now, bill barr, you need to prove to us that you are not the man that president trump has portrayed you to be in this conversation with the ukrainian president. >> michael crowley, we just heard from philip rucker how all of this is affecting the mood inside the white house. there's also the question of the president himself. you were at that press conference. we played a clip of it. in your report, watching the president today, you said you saw his mood go from feisty to self-pitying to deflated. >> yeah, that's right. you know, there were moments this week at the united nations where the president was remarkably low energy as he would say, particularly his grand address to all the foreign
leaders yesterday morning where he seemed sort of half awake and incredibly bored. i think it was a sign he was probably very distracted. definitely we saw some real anger today. he lashed out at the press. he lashed out at one reporter individually who asked him a question he didn't like, you know, trying to insult him, a very good reporter. and then a theme that i saw throughout the day, including at the press conference, was this self-pity repeatedly throughout the day. he's saying, you're not writing any stories about all the hard work i'm doing. look at all of the meetings i'm having. he came out of this press conference and i think it was 28 forum leaders he had met with. you're not writing about any of that. you're the fake news. he even referred to the fact that he had been getting up really early, working all day and staying up late working for the country and he's not getting any credit for it. this is a standard thing that presidents do when they're getting bad press. but from this president actually i don't -- i don't remember seeing a lot of self-pity.
usually he's angry and lashing out and this is sort of a rare case where i feel he was feeling a little sorry for himself. he's back in new york city, his hometown, strutting on the stage of the united nations and had a very terrible week here and is clearly upset about it. >> philip, it raises some questions of how off guard potentially he was caught by this week's developments. at this press conference today, nancy pelosi's name came up. the president took some shots at nancy pelosi, who is advocating the impeachment inquiry. but in the past, he has suggested he saw pelosi as somebody who was holding back the tide in the house against impeachment. was he genuinely surprised when she came out for that inquiry yesterday? >> steve, i think the president and his team were surprised by how quickly this has all developed. it's only been about a week since the ukraine conversation hit the headlines in the press, first in the post and then a number of outlets as well. this has built very quickly for
scandals in the trump era, and that has caught him off guard clearly. he did not anticipate he'd be spending the week at the united nations dealing with the specter of impeachment. but it's also going to be moving quickly from here because an important development today on capitol hill was speaker pelosi and her democratic lieutenants decided they thought the details from the call that were released in that rough partial transcript this morning were so incriminating and so damning about the president that they aim to narrow the focus of their impeachment proceeding around this issue of ukraine, that that's enough to get the president, enough to impeach him, and that they're going to speed up the time line. >> this morning all the talk obviously was about that reconstructed conversation. now, tonight the talk is increasingly about the members of congress who have seen this whistle-blower's complaint. one of them, jackie speier from california, democrat from california, was on this network a few hours ago. let's just listen to how she characterized what she saw.
>> i can describe that complaint as nothing short of explosive. it is so much more than the summary of the telephone call that has been presented by the white house as evidence, and i'm not even in a position to say that that was at all involved in the complaint until it is actually declassified. but i can tell you that i was stunned. >> katie, not surprisingly that kind of description, i think, would make anybody want to see what is in this report. what are the prospects of the public getting to look at what representative speier saw tonight? >> absolutely. this is going to be a huge showdown between the executive branch and congress. congress is going to fight tooth and nail to make sure the american people can see this whistle-blower report. one of the things we need to understand from the report is this goes beyond, again, what representative speier said about
this just being a transcript of a phone call. the whistle-blower not only makes allegations there could be a campaign finance allegation, that the president could be getting something of value that will help him in his campaign. you know, there's also indication -- we don't know any of the specifics -- but indication that people who are listening to the call knew that something had perhaps gone off the rails and wasn't right because of the way they handled the call after the fact and the distribution of it. something was different about it that led this whistle-blower to say, we should probably see what's going on. and then, you know, of course finally there's going to be this grilling tomorrow of the acting head of dni, and that is going to be -- there's going to be tremendous amounts of pressure on him to reveal more details publicly about what the whistle-blower was concerned about. >> michael, the other prospect that's raised here, some of the reporting about this whistle-blower's complaint suggests that there are witnesses, others who might be interviewed, might have been interviewed already by the inspector general. also just looking at what this
has set off, the possibility that somebody else in another context might file a whistle-blower complaint. is that something that's on the white house's mind right now, the possibility that we will hear from more folks like this soon? >> yeah. where does this go next? who's talking? who else might be talking? it does set a kind of example that you can file a complaint like this, and people are going to pay attention. and, you know, you have a lot of people who have recently left the administration. i mean the national security adviser was forced out recently, and some of his aides, you know, is there any chance that tare ta they're talking? they're going to know a lot about this. i don't know anything about this specifically but john bolton and donald trump had a bad ending, a bad breakup. they're not on good terms. i would be nervous about that. there are a lot of ways this could go. i think the white house right now probably doesn't really know what they're dealing with, which has got to be a scary feeling of vertigo for them. >> michael crowley, fill up rucker, katie benner, thank you all for joining us. still ahead this hour, the
questions congress should be asking the acting dni tomorrow morning. we are going to get a viewer's guide from a former counter-intel chief. and later, this isn't only a debate on high crimes and misdemeanors. it is also about politics and what this could mean for the 2020 election. "the 11th hour," we are just getting started on a wednesday night. juul record.
e-cigarettes. the fda said juul ignored the law with misleading health claims. now juul is pushing prop c, to overturn san francisco's e-cigarette protections. say no to juul, no to big tobacco, no to prop c. the president pointed out today that the july call with the ukrainian president was their second phone conversation. as we reported earlier, the "new york times" is out with new details about the first time the two leaders spoke. that was back on april 21st. quote, four days after this first call, mr. trump said on sean hannity's fox news program that he would imagine that attorney general william barr would like to review information about ukraine's actions in the 2016 election. here is part of that april 25th conversation on fox.
>> i just spoke to the new president a little while ago, two days ago, and congratulated him on an incredible race, incredible run, a big surprise victory. >> mr. president, ukraine is offering this evidence to the united states. would you like the united states -- all this talk about collusion. they're saying they colluded on behalf of hillary clinton's campaign in 2016. does america need to see that information, especially in light of all the attacks against you on collusion? >> well, i think we do. and frankly we have a great new attorney general who has done an unbelievable job in a very short period of time, and he's very smart, and he's very tough. and i would certainly defer to him. but i would imagine he'd want to see this. >> with me for more, frank figliuzzi, former fbi assistant director for counterintelligence, and sam stein, politics editor for "the daily beast."
what we just played was from back in april, and you hear the president invoking the name of the attorney general, william barr. then as this reconstructed conversation came out this morning, you saw the name of the william barr being mentioned in there repeatedly as well. what do you make of the role that barr has assumed in all of this? >> well, first it's a huge gap in our knowledge. we need to know exactly and hear precisely from the attorney general himself what, if any, instructions, guidance, requests, solicitations came from the white house to him to open a case on biden or to pressure ukraine to start looking at biden. we need to understand that because that would be outside the realm of the attorney general's responsibilities. we pay the attorney general's salary. we pay that salary so that he can represent us and fight for justice, not that he can represent the personal interests and re-election campaign of the president and fight for him. so we need to hear from him.
likely he will need to be testifying as a witness in any impeachment proceedings, and i strongly believe at this point that he needs to recuse himself from any decision related to the dni whistle-blower case. it may be too late. we've heard that doj initially told the acting dni, you don't need to send this complaint to congress. if the a.g. weighed in on that, that's a big mistake. >> sam, in addition to the request here for the investigation into the bidens from the president, there's also this reference to 2016, to his suspicions, i should say, about ukraine there. talk a little bit about how central ukraine has become to the president's thinking, and there's reporting out there that suggests rudy giuliani has a lot to do with this. >> right. there's a couple things going on here. one is there's a suspicion inside the white house that officials in ukraine were involved in an effort to
essentially smear paul manafort during the 2016 election and that itself helped put trump in this world of trouble that ultimately resulted in the special counsel probe. and so inside trump world this is, you know, treated as gospel essentially. and more or less they want to find out what happened there, and they want to do it as an effort to essentially prove that this entire episode, that the special counsel probe was, in fact, a witch hunt. so it's made the entire operation paranoid. they're obsessed by it. but it's also fed a bunch of conservative journalism as well. a name that continuously pops up here in our reporting is john solomon, a very well known conservative, investigative reporter who has written recently for the hill. so that's one thing that's going on here. the second thing is -- and this is what we were trying to figure out today because it was mentioned in this document that was released, this memorandum -- is whether or not donald trump feels that the missing 30,000 or so emails on hillary clinton's
server are somehow in ukraine, whether he can actually obtain them by going to officials in ukraine and asking for them help in getting them. and i'm not totally sure if he has a proper understanding of what's happening here, if he actually thinks they are literally there, but this seems to be animating his conversations with the ukrainian president as well. >> frank, we mentions the director of national intelligence, joe maguire, will be testifying in front of congress tomorrow. what questions do you think are most important for him to be asked? >> well, the questions write themselves. so, first, why did you choose to not comply with the clear mandate that you turn over this urgent and credible whistle-blower complaint to congress? number two, who did you consult about that? name names at the department of justice that you consulted with when they initially told you you didn't have to turn it over. do you have any evidence that the attorney general weighed in on this? who at the white house spoke
with you, if mien? do have any evidence president trump was briefed or weighed in on this decision? moving forward, what level of investigative effort did you take to look into this through the inspector general? did you have discussions with the inspector general in and then i want to know even more. are you aware of any further intelligence information that tends to corroborate this allegation? what else is out there throughout the intelligence community? did you do a thorough enough job to truly investigate this allegation? >> sam, just a question about this reconstructed conversation transcript that came out today. it sounds like it certainly seems it's intensified calls from democrats to move towards impeachment. there are some republicans who are sticking by the president on this, saying there's nothing to this. there are plenty you are hearing from who are expressing some measure of concern over this. when you look at that reaction, it does raise the question why the white house did this. was this an instance of their
hand being forced by these sudden calls for impeachment? >> well, our white house team -- the first was a fairly logical calculation and maybe even a strategically wise one that eventually this was going to come out, that there was essentially no way to hold it back. you could have dragged it on, but, you know, that would have put a cloud of suspicion over the administration too. so get it out, rip the band-aid off, and move on. but there were also people inside the president's team who felt like it wasn't that bad, that what they saw there did not contain an explicit quid pro quo, that press reports had said eight instances of president trump pressuring the ukrainian president on biden and there were not eight, and that people would move on from this because they would determine it was the
equivalent of a nothing burger. in the conservative media echo chamber, there's this line that there's nothing "there" there. but no one outside of that seems to regard it as anything short of a complete bombshell. if they thought that this wasn't going to hurt the president, it seems
pretty clear as of now that this was a grievous miscalculation. >> thanks to both of you. >> sure, steve. coming up, how tomorrow's testimony could be a game-changer on capitol hill. two reporters covering congress read the tea leaves for us when "the 11th hour" continues. "the 11th hour" continues.
we have some breaking news just coming in. representative chris stewart, he is a republican from utah, he is a member of the house intelligence committee. he has just revealed on twitter that the whistle-blower's complaint that some members of congress have been reviewing throughout the day today, that it has now been declassified, he says. he adds in his tweet, i encourage you all to read it. it has not yet been made available to the general public, but obviously its declassification is a major step in that direction. again, that news coming in from a member of the house intelligence committee, chris stewart, republican from utah. with us tonight, andrew desiderio, congressional reporter for politico, and jackie al mainny, political reporter for "the washington post" and author of the paper's morning newsletter, power up. thanks to both of you for being with us. andrew, let me start with you. this news we are just getting
about the whistle-blower's report, we have been hearing members of congress today say some very suggestive things about its content. it now would seem to be a matter of time before all of us get to see it, is that correct? >> that's right. there's no timetable yet for the release of this document or these documents, rather. it's probably a very long whistle-blower complaint based on what i heard from lawmakers today. but the declassification process has essentially been completed. that's what congressman stewart was announcing. something important to remember here was that lawmakers on the intelligence committee only got to view the contents of the complaint today. they did not get to view the full inspector general's report, which they expect to be delivered to capitol hill sometime tomorrow or on friday. that report will show corroborating documents, interviews with other people who might have knowledge of the allegations that the whistle-blower has leveled against either the president or other individuals in the white house. so that is going to be another really important piece of information for lawmakers to view here in the coming days.
>> jackie, i'm wondering what you are hearing about the potential impact of this whistle-blower's complaint. you have some republicans even -- i saw ben sasse from nebraska. i think we put his quote up earlier. not saying "nothing to see here." >> yeah. well, i think it's pretty notable that since post-4:00 p.m. today when the whistle-blower's complaint was finally made available to members of congress, that there hasn't been a republican who has come out with as forceful of a defense as we've seen of president trump earlier in the day. but i think this just increases the amount of pressure that the acting director of the dni, joseph maguire, is going to be under tomorrow when he has to publicly testify in front of the house intelligence committee behind closed doors and in front of closed doors. he's in a pretty precarious situation. as my colleagues reported today, he threatened to resign if he was not able to be forthcoming with the information that he is aware of with regards to the
whistle-blower's complaint. he's already come under scrutiny and severe criticism for the way he's handled the complaint up until now, and i think tomorrow is going to be a real test with the intelligence community watching to see how he handles it and whether or not he's truthful with the way that he, you know, i think calls out the white house for some of the falsehoods that they've been putting forth, you know. as andrew knows as well, you know, the white house pushed out all of their talking points today to house democrats who then quickly leaked it to reporters. so we know exactly what the white house is saying about this episode and the president's conversation with the ukrainian president, and it's not based in reality. and so, you know, i think it will be up to maguire to call out what he is telling lawmakers behind closed doors in these scifs about the reality of the whistle-blower's complaint and what the narrative that the white house is trying to push forward themselves. >> we should note too, joseph
maguire, the dni did deny threatening to resign. "the wall street journal" is reporting in terms of joseph maguire's background, quote, maguire was viewed as a steady hand by democrats and republicans alike when he was named by mr. trump. the political winds in washington and the glare of congressional hearings are a long way from mr. maguire's roots, which lie in the secretive work of special operations units that conduct dangerous missions to battle terrorists and retrieve hostages. he spent 36 years as a navy s.e.a.l. andrew, jackie was getting into this, but in terms of the very peculiar situation that maguire finds himself in here, you've got this whistle-blower's complaint. it reached the inspector general. it said this needs to go to congress. then you had maguire saying no. what can you expect from him tomorrow? >> i think the question that
democrats in part want to see answered is the extent to which he was in communication with the justice department ahead of the potential release of this whistle-blower complaint to congress, which is required by law. the questions could be anything from, you know, did the justice department reach out to you first? did you seek guidance from the justice department? of course the law states that the dni should act independently from the justice department when it comes to these matters. that will be a top question for democrats to ask and to try to get answers on. if they don't get answers from the acting dni tomorrow, we reported yesterday that a couple of democrats on the intelligence committee, which by the way is a much smaller committee compared to other panels on capitol hill -- a bunch of democrats really do want to see chairman schiff get more aggressive and more aggressively confront these witnesses at these hearings, which as we've seen in the past, for example, last week with corey lewandowski, where they're just not answering questions and they're relying on these executive privilege claims from the white house. so a lot of democrats are going
to want to see a more aggressive confrontation in that respect. i asked chairman schiff about this last night, and he wouldn't commit to any punitive measures ahead of time. but this is just a reflection of sort of the seismic shift we have seen over the last few days among the house democratic caucus. they've really unified behind this ukraine scandal in terms of their outrage. we saw the number, of course, of lawmakers supporting an impeachment inquiry jump to i believe it's around 219 right now, which is a majority of the house. you only need 218 votes to impeach a president on the floor. so it really is reaching a really serious situation here, and speaker pelosi obviously jump started that with her pronouncement yesterday. >> we mentioned a minute ago that chris stewart, a member of the intelligence committee, the house intelligence committee, said that the whistle-blower's complaint had been declassified. nbc news has now confirmed that. nbc news has confirmed the whistle-blower's complaint has been declassified. also with minimal redactions.
that's what nbc news is now reporting and that it is expected to be made available to the public tomorrow morning. so that's the latest we know about that. jackie, the name corey lewandowski just came up there as andrew was discussing this testimony tomorrow. obviously corey lewandowski extremely combative, uncooperative with that committee when he recently appeared. but, again, the background of maguire suggests this might be a different -- he might handle this differently tomorrow. >> that's exactly right. i spent the day reaching out to maguire's former peers and co-workers and friends, and they said to anticipate the exact opposite of what we saw last week with corey lewandowski's hearing, which was really directed to the audience of one, to pleasing the president and getting that endorsement for his senate run as we saw lewandowsky tweet out actually a link to a potential website teasing his run. maguire is the antithesis of that. he's a political, you know,
career intelligence official, served in the navy for 26 years, and, you know, as his friends say, they don't expect him to be auditioning for the president despite his acting director title, and expect him to be straightforward and apolitical with the facts despite the criticism he has received for the way these handled this whistle-blower's complaint. as one source who formerly worked with maguire said to me, at this point, you know, the way that the whistle-blower's complaint came to light, the way it 123surfaced is actually the e show and at the end of the day, this is really about the president, impeachment, and the constitution. but, again, the intelligence community will be watching maguire closely and the way he handles and defends the intelligence community as the president has increasingly politicized this situation. >> all right. jacqueline al mainny, andrew desiderio, thank you both for being with us. coming up, the case democrats are building against
well, a growing number of democrats are publicly supporting the impeachment inquiry, most republicans are standing by the president. their tweets of support didn't go unnoticed by trump, who was quick to share their messages this morning. but as "the washington post's" aaron blake notes of the whistle-blower complaint, quote, senator mitt romney says it's troubling in the extreme. senator pat toomey says it's inappropriate. senator ben sasse, who has now reviewed the complaint, says it's, quote, really troubling. getting tougher for gop to argue there is no "there" there. joining us now, tim o'brien and eugene robinson. eugene, yes, the conventional wisdom all along has been if the democrats were ever to get the votes to impeach trump in the
house, surely it would just result in an acquittal in the senate on a party line vote. there's not going to be any kind of republican exodus from the trump camp. some of those comments tonight, especially i know sasse, who reviewed the whistle-blower's complaint and who recently received trump's endorsement for his re-election campaign, seemed to have been cultivating trump in recent months, certainly raising some eyebrows in terms of unusual things to hear republicans saying about the president. >> those are unusual words from republicans. i don't know why they should be. i don't know how anybody could look at what we saw this morning, that memo, partial transcript, whatever you call it, and not say it's inappropriate or troubling. those are very mild words, yet they are practical little bombshells coming from these republican senators because generally speaking, there has been total lockstep support of
president trump from republicans in the senate and republicans in the house. it does get your attention even to hear people like romney and sasse, who kind of would be the usual suspects, but even to hear them say a discouraging word about the president is quite something. >> there's this new tonight as well from "the new yorker." susan glasser in "the new yorker," she believe impeachment now close to inevitable. she writes, the most interesting moments in washington are when the conventional wisdom is shifting or when an old certainty has been shredded and nothing has emerged to replace it. as of monday morning, the political world was pretty sure that donald trump wa not be peopled by the democratic house of representatives and that he would enter the 2020 campaign and race to win re-election before the economy betrayed him with a recession that forecasters increasingly see as inevitable. instead over a remarkable day and a half, a new reality emerged. donald trump appears to have got
himself impeached. trump now seems all but certain to face an impeachment investigation but an actual impeachment vote in the house. whenever it happens and whatever the specifics of the indictment turn out to be, the impeachment vote will have been triggered by a new scandal very much of his own making. that last part there, very much of his own making, this ultimately does lead to an impeachment vote. you have 2 1/2 years of this president with the shadow of russia, of mueller, of that probe over his head, and it appeared that when that report was issued and mueller testified, that it was not going to result in sufficient momentum for impeachment. >> right. >> then he picks up the phone and makes this call. >> the very next day. i mean i think the timing of this is extraordinary. he essentially got a get out of jail free card, a lot of obstacles have been knocked down. the mueller testimony clearly seemed like the end of a moment. and the very next day, he not only sets the problems in motion
again, he sets the very same problems in motion again. the investigation was spurred by an inquiry into whether trump and his team had colluded with russians to tip the 2016 election. the next day he solicits a favor from the head of the foreign government in the ukraine to help trump overcome a political opponent in the 2020 election. this isn't new behavior for trump. he did this throughout his business career. he has never learned from his mistakes, and he's been insulated often from the consequences of his own mistakes first by wealth, then by celebrity, and now by the powers of the presidency. and it's given him, in addition to his own -- i think his own psychology, he feels infallible. he doesn't really regret any mistakes, and he plows ahead. he's also wildly ill-informed, and all of these thing coales d coalesced, i think, into a perfect storm around this call. and like yosemite sam, he's now
president trump has appeared fixated on joe biden but senator elizabeth warren is now threatening biden's front-runner status in the democratic presidential race. a new national poll from quinnipiac now puts warren ahead about 27% to biden's 25%. there's also state polls that show biden trailing, notably in california. warren is ahead there now in a new poll with 29%. that's an 11-point jump for her since june. tim o'brien and eugene robinson are still with us. gene, we have california. we have the national poll. also recent polls have warren in first in iowa and new hampshire. >> mm-hmm. >> do we have a new front-runner? >> i wouldn't say yet we have a
new front-runner. let's wait for a few more polls. let wait until we get some averages that show her as a front-runner. but it looks now more like a two-person race than it looked before, and clearly warren has been on the way up. however, there's now a new factor. as of this week, we now know that this campaign is going to take place amid an impeachment inquiry and perhaps actual impeachment and a central theme of this inquiry and this impeachment will be the president's attempt to get dirt on joe biden. what's going to be the political impact of that? will that potentially help biden? i don't see it hurting him among democrats, and maybe it won't have an impact on the dynamics of the race. but i kind of think maybe it might. >> it's interesting too. we're talking, tim, about the possibility that elizabeth warren could be at least equaling biden as a
co-front-runner right now for lack of a better term right there. but the entire conversation tonight before this about this phone call was rooted in part at least in the president's belief that joe biden was his biggest threat. >> well, and i think, you know, every time you saw joe biden, he saw that sort of blue wall of the upper midwest that was to him beating hillary clinton. and i think he felt very vulnerable in states like michigan and wisconsin to biden. and i think they've identified him very early on as the person that was the greatest threat to them. i think in the end, donald trump is the greatest threat to himself. but what they've discovered now is that elizabeth warren did her homework. she comes to the campaign with a lot of energy, a sense of purpose that i think biden has been lacking for quite a while. biden's message essentially has been i can beat trump. voters appear to be making a different calculation. i think trump is now going to have to come out with a new battle line in all of this. i don't think they know yet how to take on elizabeth warren. i think they had an idea, you know, sleepy joe. he's a holdover, et cetera, et
cetera. the best he's been able to do so far with elizabeth warren is to slur her as pocahontas, and i don't think that's going to get him any traction with voters. >> gene, just very quickly, biden has been running on this idea of electability. the concerns you here from some democrats are is elizabeth warren electable because her politics are a bit to the left than joe biden's. is that calculation changing it all as warren's numbers move up among democrats? >> yes. as her numbers move up, she seems to look more electable. it's kind of a self-fulfilling prophecy, i think. if she wins a couple more primaries, she'll look more electable to some people than perhaps she did before. but does the impeachment dynamic sort of confirm biden's aura of electability because, she's, he's the one trump is most afraid of, so maybe he's the one we ought to go with. so i think, you know, those forces are going to be sort of at odds with one another.
but you got to give warren credit for just sort of plugging ahead and steadily moving up. you give her credit for that. >> of course if this impeachment push by democrats does intensify, there's the prospect here of impeachment, and that drama taking some attention away from the presidential race potentially for the next few months. that's another variable here too potentially. eugene robinson, tim o'brienen, thank you for joining us. coming up, a big day coming up on capitol hill. more on what to know tomorrow. that's next. t.
these folks, they don't have time to go to the post office they have businesses to grow customers to care for lives to get home to they use stamps.com print discounted postage for any letter any package any time right from your computer all the amazing services of the post office only cheaper get our special tv offer a 4-week trial plus postage and a digital scale go to stamps.com/tv and never go to the post office again!
the last thing before we go tonight, a quick programming note. tomorrow morning at 9:00 a.m. eastern, join nicolle wallace as he testifies before the house intelligence committee at 9 a.m. tomorrow morning. that's our broadcast tonight. thank you for being with us and good night from nbc news headquarters in new york. tonight on "all in." >> like any mafia boss, the president didn't need to say that's a nice country you have, it'd be a shame if something happened to it. >> it's even worse than you thought. >> what those notes reflect is a classic mafia-like shakedown of a foreign leader. >> the damning evidence against president trump as he shook down the new ukrainian president for dirt on a political opponent. >> impeachment for that. >> tonight the latest on the