tv The 11th Hour With Brian Williams MSNBC September 26, 2019 1:00am-2:00am PDT
there's a new episode with andrew marantz. you can listen wherever you get your podcast. that is "all in" this evening. "the 11th hour" with brian williams starts right now. we are just ten hours from testimony with congress. those who have read the whistleblower report call is deeply troubling and disturbing. then there is the memo of two leaders who came face to face today, and this evening donald trump talked about releasing more revelations that could rock the white house. plus, democrats rock the perilous prospects of impeachment. we have the latest blockbuster reporting of all of it as "the 11th hour" gets underway 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 whistleblower whose explosive complaint touched off the impeachment inquiry now underway. 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 report. the whistle-blower identified multiple people as witnesses who could corroborate the complaint, the people said. adding that the inspector general for the intelligence community, michael atkinson, interviewed witnesses.
atkinson also found reason to believe that the whistle-blower may not support the reelection of mr. trump and made clear that 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 ukranian president zelensky. that was made on july 25, exactly two months ago. the document, which is not a verbatim transcript, but is based on 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 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 said, i would like a favor, though. i would like you to tell us what happened in ukraine. they say crowd strike. i guess you have one of your wealthy people, crowd server. they say ukraine has it. he then mentioned 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. 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 washington. he urged him to cooperate with mr. giuliani and referred to corruption, the details of which have not 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, and i think you should ask for vp pence's conversation. take a look at that call, it was perfect. i didn't do it. there was no quid pro quo. democrats say, we can't beat him at the election, so let's impeach him. >> the complaint is now in the hands of congress this afternoon at about the same time trump was speaking 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 circling the wagons when there is obviously a lot that is troubling there. >> 220 members in the house. that is a majority that support some sort of action regarding impeachment. last night at this time, that number was 188. on monday it was 147. joseph mcguire will appear in congress tomorrow. he will testify in an open hearing on the whistle-blower report. that's at 9:00 a.m. then at 2:00 p.m., he and inspector general michael atkinson will go with the senate intel committee in a closed session. here to get started on a wednesday night, philip rucker,
white house bureau chief for the "washington post," from the "new york times" katie benner, and michael crowley who attended the press conference today. much to get here. thank you all for being with us. philip rucker, let me start with you. we just got into the numbers and how dramatically the situation on capitol hill have changed just this week in terms of an outright majority now saying they want some type of impeachment action. you're tracking this inside the white house. i'm curious about the conversations you're having there with folks around the president, and is there a sense on their part that impeachment is now something that is inevitable? >> it's increasingly looking inevitable, and the comments around the white house is this could play to the president's political advantage, but when you talk in a more private conversation, they're much more candid and reveal there is some concern here, there is anxiety
here, there is 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. 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 is 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. >> katy, let's take a look at this memo that's sort of a reconstructed conversation between presidents trump and zelensky and some of the questions it raises in particular, and we mentioned this in the intro there, the name of the attorney general william barr came up during this conversation, the president saying to zelensky that he was going to have william 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's also very interested in having the ukranian 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's not been in touch with the ukranian government with any sort of request to investigate 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 that bill barr is yet 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 ukranian president. >> michael crowley, we just heard from philip rucker how all of this is affecting the mood inside the white house. there is also the question of the president himself. you were at that press conference. we played a clip of it. i want to read this. i want to make sure i get the words right, but in your report watching the president today, you said you saw his mood go from feisty to self-pitying to deflated. >> that's right. there were moments this week where the president was low energy, 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 that 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 and 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 the hard work i'm doing, look at all the meetings i'm having. he came out of the press conference ticked off. i think it was 28 foreign leaders he met with, and he said, but you're not writing about any of that. you're the fake news, you're ignoring it. he even at one point referred to the fact that he had gotten up really early, worked all day and stayed up late working for the country and he's not getting any credit for it. this is a standard thing all presidents do when they're getting bad press. they say, i'm really working hard for the american people. bill clinton stuck to that line during the monica lewinsky scandal. but at this stage i'm not seeing a lot of self-pity. this is a rare case where i'm feeling like he was feeling a little sorry for himself. this is a big week. he's back in new york city. he was going to be strutting on the stage with the united nations and just really had a
terrible, terrible week here and is clearly upset about it. >> philip, it raises some interesting questions, too, when it comes to the president about how off guard potentially he was caught with this week's developments. i say that because at this press conference nancy pelosi's name came up. the president took some shots against nancy pelosi who is advocating the impeachment inquiry. in the past he saw pelosi as somebody who was holding back the tide of impeachment. was he genuinely surprised when she came out with the inquiry yesterday? >> i think the president and his team are surprised how quickly this has developed. it's only been about a week since the ukraine conversation hit the headlines in the press first in "the post" and a number of other outlets as well, and this has built very quickly for scandals in the trump era, and that has caught him off guard clearly. he did not think he would 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 on capitol hill was that 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 timeline. >> right, so this morning all that talk was about the reconstructed conversation. 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 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 our reporting that we know is this goes beyond 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 violation, that the president could be getting something of value that would help him in his campaign. there is 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 is 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 complaints suggest 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 in another context might file a whistle-blower complaint. is that a possibility, that we will hear from more folks like this soon? >> yeah, where does this go next? who is talking? who else might be talking?
it does set a point that you can file a complaint like this and people are going to pay attention, and 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. is there any chance they're talking? they're going to know a lot about this. and john bolton -- i don't know 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, some of the people around bolton. there are a lot of ways this could go. so i think the white house right now probably doesn't really know what they're dealing with, which has to be a scary feeling of vertigo for them. >> michael crowley, philip rucker, katie benner, thank you for joining us, appreciate that. still ahead this hour, the questions congress should be asking the acting dni tomorrow morning. we're going to get a viewer's guide from a former counter intel chief. and later, this is not only a debate about high crimes and misdemeanors, it's also about politics and what this could mean for the 2020 election. this is "the 11th hour." we're just getting started on a
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the president pointed out today that the july call with the ukranian 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 victory.
>> mr. president, the ukraine is offering to the united states. they said 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 would want to see this. >> with me for more, frank fagluizi and stein from "the daily beast." frank, let me start with you. you hear the president invoking the name of the attorney general, william barr, and this reconstructed conversation came out this morning. you saw the name of william barr being mentioned in there repeatedly as well.
what do you make of the role barr has assumed in all of this? >> 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 attorney general's duties. we pay him to represent us, not so 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 testify 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 requests here for the investigation into the bidens, there is reference to 2016 and his suspicions about ukraine there. talk a little bit about how central ukraine has become to the president's thinking, and there is reporting out there that suggests rudy giuliani has a lot to do with this. >> right. there is a couple things going on here. one is there is a suspicion inside the white house that officials in ukraine were involved in an effort to essentially smear paul manafort in the 2016 election, and in itself put trump in a world of trouble which led to the mueller probe. inside trump world this is treated as gospel essentially.
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. 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 keeps popping up here is john solomon, a very well known conservative, an investigative reporter. and today it was mentioned in this document that was released, this memorandum, is whether or not donald trump feels that the missing 30,000 emails on hillary clinton's server are somehow in ukraine, whether he can somehow obtain them by going to officials in ukraine and asking them for their help in getting them. i'm not totally sure he has the proper understanding of what's happening here, if he actually thinks they are there, but this
has limited the conversations with the ukranian president as well. >> we mentioned joseph mcguire will be testifying in front of congress tomorrow. what questions do you think are most important to be asked? >> the questions write themselves. first, why did you choose to not comply with a 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 anyone? do you have any evidence that president trump himself was briefed and/or weighed in on this decision? and then 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? 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 that are sticking by the president on this saying there is nothing to this. there are plenty, though, you're hearing from that are expressing some measure of concern over this. when you look at that reaction, it does raise the question of why the white house did this. was this an instance of their hand being forced by these sudden calls for impeachment? >> our white house team has gotten two distinct reads on this. the first is -- and this came yesterday -- was a fairly logical calculation and maybe even a strategically wise one that eventually this was going to come out.
there was essentially no way to hold it back. you could have dragged it on, but that would have put a cloud of suspicion over the administration, too. get it out, rip the band-aid off and move on. 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 a explicit quid pro quo, that press reports had said eight instances of the president trump pressuring the ukraine president on biden. in fact, there were not eight. and that people would basically move on from this because they would determine it was the equivalent of a political nothing burger. and that is proving to be a sort of ridiculous calculation. yes, in the conservative media echo chamber, there is this line
that there is nothing there there, but no one outside of that seems to regard it as anything short of a complete bombshell. if they thought 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. two reporters covering congress read the tea leaves for us when "the 11th hour" continues.
a member of the house committee. he has said, the whistle-blower complaint has been declassified. 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. that news coming in from a member of the house intelligence committee, chris stewart, republican from utah. with us tonight, andrew desiderio of politico, and jackie alemany, journalist and reporter. thank you both for being with us. andrew, let me start with you. these news we've been getting about the whistleblower report. members of congress say some very suggestive things about its content. it would seem to be a matter of time before all of us get to see it. is that correct? >> that's right, there is no timetable for
the release of
this document or documents, rather, it's probably a very long whistleblower 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 review the contents of the complaint today, they did not get to review 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 whistleblower 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 whistleblower's complaint. you have some republicans, i saw ben sasse from nebraska. we put his quote up earlier, not
saying nothing to see here. >> i think it's pretty notable that 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 force fortunately of a defense we've seen of president trump earlier in the day. i think this just increases the amount of pressure that the acting dni joseph mcguire will 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 whistleblower's complaints. you know, he's already come under scrutiny and severe criticism for the way he's handled the complaint until now, and i think tomorrow will 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. as andrew knows as well, 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 ukranian president. and it's not based in reality. so, you know, i think it will be up to mcguire to call out what he is telling lawmakers behind closed doors in these skiffs about the reality of the whistleblower's complaint and the narrative that the white house is trying to push forward themselves. >> we should note, too, that joseph mcguire, the dni did deny threatening to resign today. reports are certainly out there. this is a name that is new to a lot of people in the last few days. the director of national intelligence, new to the job as well. in terms of joseph mcguire's background, quote, he was viewed
as a steady hand by democrats and republicans alike when he was named by mr. trump. the political wins in washington and the glare of congressional here's are a long way from mr. mcguire's roots which lie in the secretive work to battle terrorists and retrieve hostages. he spent 36 years as a navy s.e.a.l. eventually commanding the naval warfare command. in terms of the very peculiar situation mcguire finds himself in here, you've got the whistleblower's complaint, it reached the inspector general, it said this needs to go to congress. then you had mcguire saying, no. what can you expect from him tomorrow? >> i think the question that democrats in particular 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, as you know, 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've reported yesterday that a couple 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 confront these witnesses on these hearings, which we've seen in the past, for instance, last week with corwin lewandowski where they were not answering questions and they're relying on these privileged claims from the white house. so the democrats want to see more 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 a seismic shift we have seen in the last few days over the house democratic caucus.
they have 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 house intelligence committee, said 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. that's the latest we know about that.
jackie, the name corey lewandowski came up there as andrew was describing this testimony. corwin lewandowski extremely combative, uncooperative with that committee when he recently appeared. the background of mcguire suggests he might handle this differently tomorrow. >> that's exactly right. i spent the day reaching out to mcguire's former coworkers, peers and friends and they said to expect the opposite from corey lewandowski's hearing who was just trying to please the president. mcguire is the antithesis of that. he is a 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 he's handled this whistle-blower's complaint. as one source who formerly worked with mcguire said to me, at this point the way the whistle-blower's complaint came to light, the way it surfaced is actually the side show, and at the end of the day, this really is about the president, impeachment and the constitution. but again, the intelligence community will be watching mcguire closely and to the way he handles and defends the intelligence community as the president has increasingly politicized the situation. >> jacqueline alemany and andrew desiderio, thank you for being with us. and "the 11th hour" back after this. is skincare from around the world better than olay? to find out, olay faced the world. we tested our vitamin b3 formula and beat japan's top moisturizers.
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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" 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. there is no "there" there. tim o'brien of "bloomberg news" and eugene robinson of the "washington post." eugene, 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 is not going to be any kind of republican exodus from the trump camp. some of those comments tonight, and i note sasse who reviewed
the whistle-blower complaint, and who recently received trump's endorsement for his reelection campaign, certainly raised some eyebrows with what republicans have said about the president. >> those are unusual words from republicans. i don't know why they should be. what we saw this morning, the partial transcript, whatever you call it and not say it's inappropriate or troubling. those are very mild words. yet they are practically little bombshells coming from these republican senators, because generally speaking, there has been total lock step support for president trump from the republican senate and republicans in the house. so it does get your attention even to hear people like romney and sasse who are kind of -- would be the usual suspects.
but even to hear them say a discouraging word about the president is something. >> there is this as well. susan glasser in "the new yorker," she writes, the most interesting moments in washington is when the conventional wisdom is shifting and not everyone knows it yet, or when old certainty is being shredded and nothing has emerged to replace it. monday morning the political world was pretty sure donald trump would not be impeached by the house of representatives and he would enter the 2020 race and win re-election for what forecasters see as inevitable. instead, over a remarkable day and a half, a new reality emerged. donald trump appears to have gotten himself impeached. trump now seems all but certain to face not only an impeachment investigation but an actual impeachment vote in the house. whatever it turns out to be, the impeachment will turn into a new scandal very much of his own
making. that last part there, very much of his own making, tim o'brien, this ultimately does lead to an impeachment vote. you had two and a half 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. then he picks up the phone and makes this call. >> the very next day. 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 the moment. then the very next day, he not only sets the problems in motion again, he sets the very same problems in motion again. robert mueller at the core of that investigation, it was spurred by an inquiry into whether or not trump and his
team had colluded with russians to tip the 2016 election. the next day he solicits a favor from a head of a 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, now by the powers of the presidency. it's given him, in addition to 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 things coalesce into a perfect storm around this call, and now like yosemite sam, he's now reaping the consequences of that. there is major movement in the presidential race. you may have missed it with all the news yesterday. we'll tell you about it after this. this
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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. national poll from quinnipiac now puts warren ahead with 27% to biden's 25. there is also state polls that show biden trailing notably in california as the most delegates of any state. 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, the national poll. also recent polls have warren first in iowa and new hampshire. >> yeah. >> 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's 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. 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. 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. 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 was key to him beating hillary clinton and i think he felt very vulnerable in states like michigan and wisconsin to biden. 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 themselves, but what they've discovered now is, you know, 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 a long while. biden's message is i can be beating trump. trump has 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, 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. i don't think that will get him any traction with voters. >> gene, biden has been running on electability.
the concerns you hear are is elizabeth warren electable. her politics are more to the left. is that electability calculation changing at all as her numbers move up? >> yes, candidate's numbers move up. she seems to look more electable. it's kind of a self-fulfilling prophecy, i think. if she wins a couple of 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, gee, he's the one trump is most afraid of. 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've 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 does intensify, there's the prospect of
mcguire as he testifies in front of the house intelligence committee at 9 a.m. that is our broadcast. good night from nbc news headquarters in new york. after initially withholding a whistleblower complaint about president trump, nbc news has learned the white house could release the complaint this morning. >> president trump argues that the phone call he had with the ukrainian president was nothing and that he didn't pressure him to investigate joe biden. >> meanwhile biden is weighing in calling the allegations against trump an impeachable offense. good morning, everybody, this thursday, september 26th, i'm yasmin vossoughian alongside ayman mohyeldin. >> a busy day to say the lst