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tv   MSNBC Special  MSNBC  November 10, 2019 6:00pm-7:00pm PST

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watching tonight. we are back with you next week from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. eastern. up next, "impeachment: white house in crisis." ari takes a look at what's next for president trump. for now, good night from new york. good evening. i'm ari. welcome back to "impeachment: white house in crisis." tonight we have new reporting on how this week's public hearings could impact the impeachment process with key aids reversing their testimony to confirm the ukraine bribery plot. we will kick things off with a special panel. we have the democrat's point person on impeachment. how adam schiff has led the last impeachment trial in the u.s. senate. did you know that? plus, we will be joined by one of the nation's top experts on the constitution. but first right now going public in donald trump's impeachment. >> we will begin our open
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hearings in the impeachment inquiry. >> this is abuse of power and it is also illegal. >> they are corrupt. >> we will continue to release the transcripts in an orderly way. >> i'm not going to read these transcripts. the whole process is a joke. >> they're twisting themselves, contradictory pretzels. defend this president. >> they will say trump suffered the greatest defeat in the history of the world. >> those hearings will be an opportunity for the american people to learn first-hand about the president's misconduct. there is no doubt this week's public hearings will mark a dramatic new pivot point in this impeachment process. for the first time the american people will hear for themselves from the people who worked for donald trump describing donald trump's attempted bribely plot. diplomats testifying wednesday.
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>> those open hearings will be an opportunity for the american people to evaluate the witnesses for themselves, but also to learn first-hand about the facts of the president's misconduct. >> what you are about to see with your own eyes could be the most significant public investigative hearings since watergate. >> good morning. at this hour a select committee of the united states senate is about to begin public hearings on something called watergate. there goes the gavel, and the watergate hearings are underway. >> there goes the gavel. those hearings changed everything. the watergate committee hearings were widely watched, widely debated, widely discussed, and they lasted 51 days, leading, of course, to some of the most famous quotes in political and really american history. >> how did the president know
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and when did he know it? >> are you aware of the installation of any listening devices in the oval office of the president? >> i was aware of listening devices, yes, sir. >> i began by telling the president that there was a cancer growing on the presidency and if the cancer was not removed the president himself would be killed by it. >> the presidency was killed by it, ultimately. 250 hours of those proceedings were broadcast live to america. 75% of the public told gallup they watched some of the hearings. damning testimony played out day after the day. the evidence in those hearings turned the tide of public opinion across the political spectrum. president nixon's approval rating plummeted as his
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employees revealed a conspiracy at the heart of the nixon presidency. i want to bring in an all star panel. a senior editor at slate who has american about the supreme court and hosts their podcast. an nyu professor and a best-selling author and journalist, ceo of the podcast company. great to have all of you here. it's fun to take a moment and really dig in to this beyond each incremental advancement in this story. as you look at both the parallels in history and what's coming in this next week, what stands out to you? >> i think the two things that are different from watergate that are worth watching are, one, that statistic you just said, 75% of people told gallup they watched. we are not going to have 71% of america watching anything because we have such an atomized, fragmented media world. i think this will be a lot of americans just watching benghazi
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or whatever the -- whether it's witch hunt. >> or people have more options to look at recipes on facebook. this is a world where the politics followed what was available in media and it was just a couple channels. >> that and i think republicans came in line. that over the course of the watergate hearing, you saw republicans taking it very seriously, and we have not had a lot of evidence of republicans willing to say, i'm going to take this seriously. quite the opposite. we have lindsey graham saying, la, la, la, i'm not going to listen. >> i'm going to push back a little bit. i think there are lots of different platforms people can look at now for their news. but everyone will be talking about this to some degree. so even to that extent, it will be over saturated. people will have no choice but to take part. maybe that's what democrats are counting on, that it will become
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apparent to the public and will become apparent to the gop, that they will not be able to stay with this precedent that something will break and many republicans will have to put country over party and break ranks. >> you know, the bad news, ari, is that nobody is looking at the evidence. i mean, in the watergate days, and that is our template for all of us, i think there were democrats who were genuinely reluctant to impeach the president and the republicans who were genuinely open to the possibly that he committed impeachable offenses. in those hearings there was a live evaluation of evidence by at least some members of the committee. i don't think we're going to see that this time. i think minds are made up. what are they reading? republicans are reading the polls. that doesn't mean that it's absolutely impossible, pardon me, that any of them will turn against the president or vote against the president. but they will do it on the basis of polls, not on the basis of evidence. >> right. and that's the interplay that always exists in a democracy but
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is more pronounced in an environment where people's views are either very bubbled and hard wired, inclined to see things a certain way unless there is overwhelming evidence. however, to the extent you want to look at this as similar to a criminal trial, that there is a high -- the constitution says this is not a trial, per se, but there is a high burden of proof as in a trial because you are removing potentially the sitting president. then you need a lot of proof. that may be a good thing. here we have the person donald trump put in charge. this is the person in the room. this is not the resistance. it is not a critic and it is not the media. he says his clear understanding was security assistance money wouldn't come until ukraine pursued the political investigation. if chairman asked, if you don't do this, they're not going to get that is your understanding. his answer was yes, sir.
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that is this for that. >> i think republicans don't even know how they're defending the president. there is a basic question: are they trying to argue that he did not solicit foreign interference in an american election? or are they trying to say, he did that, but it's okay that he did that? that's one of the things that presidents are allowed to do. >> right. did he demand a prescribribe to himself. that's abusing the office for the bribe, that's getting the investigation. and did that happen. or did it happen and you're going to say yes, but we don't want to remove him. >> so are they going to argue the facts or argue the law. but, in fact, they're arguing neither. i mean, i think both would be essentially per pos trous on their face. call it whatever you want. he was demanding interference in our election in exchange for aid which had been appropriated
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for -- to help ukraine defend itself against russia. >> so let's take that to dahlia. how important is it beyond the particulars that the case against the president involved protecting democracy itself? because to your point, there were people in the country who feel that whatever happened with russia, bob mueller did an exhaustive investigation and he didn't charge anyone for election conspiracy. there are people who feel that the russia stuff was ultimately overplayed at a criminal level when bob mueller didn't find a russia-u.s. criminal conspiracy. and now they're hearing, no, he's doing it with ukraine. you could forgive people for being skeptical. and yet the truth is it appears the president is trying to subvert democracy. if that's not impeachable, what is? >> that's why i think nancy pelosi when she reluctantly came to the conclusion she was going to have to announce an inquiry, she was careful to center this
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on constitutional norms and values. i think what she wanted to say is we're not going to turn this into no collusion. you covered this as well as anybody. >> i remember it a little bit. i was here. i was around. >> but no collusion was the way you took what you just described in the mueller report and it turned it into a thing that was not a legal word and that trump said over and over again and then the attorney general knowing it was not a legal conclusion announced, right? that's what no quid pro quo. >> i want to be clear as you build on this point, both things can be true. in other words, there may be things people strongly object to, people did commit crimes, the mueller probe was on the level. and it can also be true that in fairness, and i have reported this as you say, many times, in one on the trump campaign was ever charged for russian conspiracy in fairness. >> in fairness. it's ironic that's the thing we're looking at again. the day after the mueller probe concludes, donald trump picks up the phone, right, and does the
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day after mueller testifies. so this is the same pattern. it's the pattern of, are you going to use the levers of power for your own personal gain. it is not a different story. i think when we get really bogged down, we're going to talk about what a quid pro quo is under criminal law. no. don't get bogged down again on the legal nomenclature into an impeachable inquiry. this is about impeachable offenses, not criminal law. >> i think that's right. there is this whole discussion going on about how the president needs to be able to confront witnesses because the sixth amendment does demand it. this is not a criminal trial. this is impeachment. it happens under the constitution and the constitution doesn't prescribe rules or norms for it. all of this gets worked out by the senate. so it is not the same as a criminal trial and we're not seeking to prove beyond a
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reasonable doubt an actual criminal act. it is sort of broader. high crimes misdemeanors is the abuse of office. >> rand paul has been very fair. he was holding the same positions about obama. >> always. rand paul who wants us to confront and reveal the whistleblower who has always been so emphatic about the need to protect whistleblowers, so he's having a little crisis. >> his positions are known as what a known as a due process hot mess. >> it's a technical legal term, but, yes, that's what the scholars are calling it. but you need to come back, it's going to be really important when people watch on their television, see these career professionals. these are foreign service professionals who have given their professional lives in service to this country saying, i saw things that were so unorthodox that it gave me pause. bill taylor says he almost didn't accept the posting in ukraine because he thought the way the foreign policy was being
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run was so unorthodox and such a mess. he didn't want to participate. then he's saying what i saw just looked to me like the highest levels of corruption, at worst complete incompetency. >> the key witnesses in watergate by definition because they're giving first-hand accounts, what are called fact witnesses, they had to be there. most of them are there because donald trump and his aids picked them, which makes them really devastating in that way. then you turn to all the people in the senate who would be the role of jurors, but many are running for president. mitch mcconnell eluding to that in his mcconnellish way. take a look. >> so the question is how long does the senate want to take? how long do presidential candidates want to be here on the floor of the senate instead of in iowa and new hampshire. >> what do you hear there. >> that is a vailed thing about, oh, you guys want to be off campaigning. we will keep you tied down in the senate. they might want to call that
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bluff. i mean, every day that the senate trial is going on is a bad day for donald trump. i think the interest of the republicans is in getting it over as quickly as possible. and actually i think the interest of the democrats is stretching it out. there may be individual candidates who on any given day that will hate having to be in washington and would rather be in iowa. but overall in terms of any day you are running that headline, impeachment today and impeachment, it is bad news for the president. that's a thing that hasn't changed from watergate. >> right. really appreciate you kicking off our special here. interesting stuff. we have a lot more ahead. we'll examine adam schiff's unique role as both investigator and prosecutor. did you know that he actually prosecuted the last impeachment case in the u.s. senate? senator on that tonight. plus, morphed into a threat to his entire presidency. and how the defiance of the impeachment probe could actually
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lead to the case against trump. constitutional scholar will be here to explain all of that ahead on "impeachment: white house in crisis." peachment: whie house in crisis. take a moment to say thank you to our military service members at home and abroad for all their hard work and sacrifice. we all sleep easier knowing you're out there keeping us safe. and on a personal note... sfx: jet engines ... i just needed to get that off my chest. thank you. geico: proudly supporting the military for over 75 years.
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welcome back to our msnbc special on impeachment now being the public phase for the first time which means public hearings and if the house impeaches a public trial of president trump. now, when the president is on trial, the senate handles this. that means the case against him is not made by a special counsel. ken star did testify against bill clinton. but the case is not made by other prosecutors of the attorney general. they are obviously still the president's employees. the case is made by members of the house, who go over to the senate to lead the impeachment charge, meaning, if the house impeaches, you will see even
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more of adam schiff, the intelligence committee chair, who has swiftly become one of the famous people in washington and also a major target of trump's allies. >> adam schiff is not a prosecutor. >> chairman schiff running this one-sided soviet style scam. >> i'm sorry. adam schiff is not an independent counsel. >> schiff emphasizes the ukraine scandal has required congress to do the work of an independent counsel that a normally independent prosecutor at the justice department would do. >> it has forced the congress to do the initial investigative work that normally a special counsel would do. >> in the clinton and nixon cases congress did rely on these special counsels to get the basic facts. providing the investigation and watergate road map. ken star giving congress 18 boxes of evidence famously unloaded for the congress
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against bill clinton and a 450 page report with 11 possible grounds for impeachment. most recently was bob mueller emphasizing that while he couldn't indict trump, he would pass his report to this very same congress. and that brings us to the big difference here. there was a russia special counsel. there is not one for ukraine. and bill barr rushed to say he wasn't investigating this, which may have backfired by pushing congress to act even more swiftly because there is no probe to wait on. adam schiff is not waiting. he's doing the investigative work, grabbing the documents, text message, the e-mails, interviewing the witnesses behind chosed doors so they can't conspire and also he's moving into the more traditional congress here that we have been discussing tonight, the public hearings that at least on their best day are supposed to enlighten america and provide
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accountability. that is a lot more one committee chair to handle. this is what i want to get into with you right now. it is pretty interesting. mr. schiff has a lot more experience with this first role than most members of congress having worked in the hard charging legal post as a federal prosecutor before. six years in california handling all kinds of cases including some that are newly relevant like government misconduct and national security. then a younger skiff convicting a former fbi agent for abusing his power, giving information to the soviet union. impeachments are different than a traditional prosecutorial case. in fact, the senate only had nine impeachment trials for any officials in the last century, which makes it especially striking that he has ties to two of them. he won his seat by ousting a republican at bill clinton's
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trial. the district shifted against republicans as impeachment haunted the race. as luck would have it, congressman schiff soon became the first manager since that case. he marched over to the senate to make the impeachment case against a sitting judge. >> this morning a special senate committee opened its first impeachment trial since the 1999 case against former president bill clinton. this time it's the trial of u.s. district judge thomas jr., the new orleans judge is facing four charges including payoff kick-backs and lies under oath. >> kick backs of a government official. it is all in the ballpark of bribery, which of course is an impeachment offense. as a floor manager or something like a prosecutor, schiff stressed how rare and how serious an impeachment is. >> the house recognizes what an extraordinary proceeding this is and how seldom an impeachment is
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undertaken. the judge has committed a serious violation of the public trust that in the phraseology of governor morris, one of the framers, that the judge as so misdemeaned himself that it required his removal from the bench. >> that's the core question of most impeachments. in contrast, schiff has actually presented this entire case in the u.s. senate, spending days as the floor manager in that case i'm telling you about from outlining evidence to questioning witnesses in the unique circumstances, though, where courtroom skills aren't really deployed in court but are in the u.s. senate. for that impeachment, the senators fill the role of both jurors and judge and the senators who presided over this judicial impeachment trial is my next guest who can speak to the rare precedented history and to mr. shafchiff's abilities in th
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crucial role. >> i think we have conducted a proceeding that will stand the test of time, and i think everyone on the committee should be proud for the commitment they made to this process. i think it is an important one for our no, ma'democracy. >> thanks for doing this. >> no problem. >> what jumps out to you? >> well, you know, it was -- i have to admit, as i look back on my time in the senate, it is a special cap chhapter because i even joijed in something few senators were in. so i was honored to be part of it. it was done on a very bipartisan appears. unfortunately it appears with what we're dealing with these days is not so bipartisan, but i think justice previled and the judge was removed. it was great to be able to rule
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on hearsay objections. >> you say justice prevailed. that means in this instance skiff won, which goes to the able case he put forward as well as the evidence. let's take a look at how he argued before you. >> none of this he denies. not the lunches, not the parties, not the favors, not the cash, not the false statements. the issue in this case is largely there, he doesn't believe any of this conduct is wrong. he doesn't believe any of it is unethical or immoral. >> what did you learn about congressman schiff's ability to step into that role of a house impeachment manager, an essential prosecutor? >> well, you know, i spent a lot of time in a courtroom with juries. not shuffling paper. i did dozens and dozens and dozens of criminal trials, many of them by myself. that was back in the days where you didn't have a second chair in criminal trials in the late
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'70s and '80s as an assistant da in kansas city. i was immediately struck that he knew his way around the courtroom. he knew how to marshall his arguments and stay on point . he knew when to let something that was objectionable go and not slow down the process and irritate everyone. >> that really goes more to style. there is all the rules of evidence. there will be rules that are agreed if and when there is a senate trial here. you are also speaking to his judgment, his temperament. >> exactly. when you try a case, what you are doing is you are making sure the facts speak. and if you are the prosecutor, you want to get out of the facts way. you don't want to interfere with the facts. he did a good job of letting the facts speak. that's why i believe if he is the manager in the trial, i don't know yet who the manager would be if the house does impeach and it comes to the senate for a trial, but if he is
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the manager, i'm confident that he will not let that team get off into extraneous details or try to argue about something that's not part of the most fact pattern that establishes the abuse of power of the president. >> did this trial, because it did touch on alleged abuses of power, did it also say anything about how you defend effectively against those? >> well, it was interesting. you know, they really -- the defense team tried to basically say this really isn't this big a deal. and i will tell you as a humorous note i will never forget oren hatch was my co-counsel, he was my k co-chairman. after the opening statement was over, he leaned over to me and said, this will be interesting. i don't think i've ever heard lap dance in a senate hearing room before. there was allegations involving inproprieties of money exchanging hands and
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entertainment changing hands. >> things he got to. >> correct. that lawyers were paying for things, meals, gratuities, lap dances for his son and maybe even for him. i don't remember. i just remember that lap dances were part of the evidence. you know, so the evidence. and there were other things that could have gotten into. but they really kept it marshalled on the facts they could prove. and i think the defense team just tried to say this is a good man. it's not that bad. you're making a mountain out of a mole hill and the senate obviously eventually voted. i think the vote was something like 92-2 or something to remove him from office. it was a pretty convincing case. >> it's so fascinating getting this right from you given your unique experience. i would say senator or juror, which in our system sometimes is the most important role you can play. >> absolutely. >> thank you so much. >> you bet. thank you. >> how donald trump's defiance
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of counsel could backfire on him. lawrence tribe joins us coming up on our msnbc special, "impeachment: white house in crisis". isis". 448,134 to be exact. they answered 410 questions in 8 categories about vehicle quality. and when they were done, chevy earned more j.d. power quality awards across cars, trucks and suvs than any other brand over the last four years. so on behalf of chevrolet, i want to say "thank you, real people." you're welcome. we're gonna need a bigger room. are all non-gmo, sundown vitamins made with naturally sourced colors and flavors and are gluten & dairy free. they're all clean all the time. even if sometimes we're not. sundown vitamins. all clean. all the time.
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one of the turning points in watergate was richard nixon's attempt to deny the requests for evidence by impeachment investigators and his ultimate failure at the supreme court. president trump is also trying to deny lawful requests for information and lawful subpoenas for his staff to testify. potential court clashes like what nixon saw. >> four witnesses failed to show up for depositions at the direction of the white house. >> all of them have been subpoenaed. >> most of the witnesses scheduled to testify the rest of this week are not expected to appear. >> we all remember those moments. we have asked viewers for
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questions about impeachment. here is one that's come up a lot. aren't there consequences for people denying these subpoenas? >> well, let me get into it. there are two simple answers. first congress can play hardball. it can send the sergeant in arms to arrest people who don't showment back in the day this used to really happen. in 1927 the sergeant in arms arrested the brother of the attorney general. congress has not deployed this tactic in over 100 years. the other is how we see these play out. congress asks the other branch of government, the courts, to enforce subpoenas. they argue congress shouldn't be able to enforce its subpoenas at all in court. that led to a judge recently asking doj lawyers basically incredulously are you actually arguing the house can never go to court? doj replying, correct. the constitution does not allow this. now, that is a far more extreme claim than other presidents. bill clinton did agree congress
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could enforce its subpoenas, but he argued that private litigants shouldn't be able to sue the president for matters that occurred before he even came into office, and he lost that narrower claim in the paula jones civil suit. nixon also agreed on cooperating with some investigations. he, too, made a narrower claim that his only presidential conversations should be secret under executive privilege. again, narrow we aer in its presidential view. and that nixon view it was famously rejected by the supreme court unanimously. >> president nixon has not yet responded to the sledge hammer decision of the supreme court today, which ruled that he must immediately turnover tapes of 64 presidential conversations. the court rejected 8-0 mr. nixon's claim of absolute privilege on those tapes. >> that was the turning point. nixon was out of the white house 16 days later. his privilege claim was also weaker because he was facing a
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criminal probe a special prosecutor, not the congress. the supreme court could come down differently for demands from the congress. we don't have much of a guide here because a case pitting executive privilege against congress's demands for investigation has never reached the supreme court, an astonishing legal fact. now, that's partly on purpose. the courts try to avoid resolving political battles between the other branches of government whenever they can. and also the other cases that have come close to impeachment, as we have been reporting tonight, typically did involve prosecutor and not just a house committee battling the president. unlike nixon, president trump has faltered, though, already in his stone walling strategy. that's before anything gets to the supreme court. his own hand picked aids testifying against him, despite trump's demands that everyone simply deny these congressional requests. and as we look towards next week, a lot of talk on whether
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john bolton will also end up testifying. all of that is one reason why chairman schiff says they have the key evidence. the courts won't be drawn into a court battle that lasts years. >> we are not willing to allow the white house to engage us in this game, so we press forward. >> is that the right legal strategy? if the white house is hiding really crucial evidence could congress get a faster ruling from the courts? could any of this be considered as an article of obstruction and impeachment itself against president trump? let's get into it. one of the world's leading experts on the constitution, lawrence tribe, who wrote a book on impeachment will tackle those questions and more coming up next. i am the twisting thundercloud.
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"to end a presidency, the power of impeachment." good evening and thanks for being on this essential, sir. >> thank you for inviting me, ari. >> i have some questions for you. but beginning big picture, having read your book on impeachment, it talks very carefully about what an extreme and rare remedy this is, how it should not be entered into lightly and it should not be conflated with any negativity or even revuls at the president, his person or policies. before i get into the details i mentioned earlier, what do you want people to know about this process as it plays out? >> well, i think people should understand that congress proceeded with great caution. nancy pelosi did not authorize an impeachment inquiry until it became very clear that the president was using the power of his office for personal purposes
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and political purposes. he was taking hundreds of millions of dollars voted by congress and withholding them from the ukraine in an act of sheer extortion and soliciting what amounted to a bribe because he wanted ukraine's help, help against joe biden for 2020 and help in clearing him of colluding with russia in 2016. people, i think, should understand that when those things happen the purposes of the impeachment power as defined originally by people like hamilton and madison kick in in a big way because we have a president who is abusing the power of his office, committing bribery, which is one of the explicit impeachable offenses and essentially betrying his oath in the country. one of the ways he's doing that is by essentially saying nobody
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can control me. nobody can investigate me, not the manhattan da, not the courts, not the special prosecutor or special counsel. and now not even congress. now, nixon, it's important to know, was told by the supreme court as you say, ari and unanimously that he had to turn over the tapes. but there were other subpoenas that he had his administration deny and papers that he didn't turn over. and that became article three of the articles of impeachment. the judiciary committee didn't want to have more court battles. it had enough. that's, i think, what adam schiff is recognizing now. he's got enough. the congress now knows that the president has committed impeachable offenses and adam schiff, a very brilliant former student of mine, clearly has decided not to play rope-a-dope and let the courts drag matters
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out. >> you mentioned the past precedent. it's very important as we come into this. andrew johnson did face articles on denying congress, much of that fight was about what they viewed as him flauting his tenure of his office. nixon denying congressional subpoenas. in the clinton case, lying to congress was both put forward by the house judiciary committee but ultimately not what won the day in the house floor vote. >> right. >> you were saying that you think the facts here do support and there should be an article of impeachment for this type of obstruction? >> i think that's right because no prior president, not nixon, not clinton, not andrew johnson, no prior president has ever essentially said that the other branch of government, the one that's put in place to check the president has no authority over me. it's called the impeachment lynching, a phony proceeding.
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he's basically said nobody can investigate him. that, it seems to me, when it's manifested not just in words but in orders to his subordinates, some of whom as patriots have denied the president, that amounts to laying down the gauntlet and saying, essentially, i am king. nobody can control me. i am above the law and if acting in that way does not constitute a reason for removing a president, then nothing does. >> wow. >> and saying we can just wait until the next election when what the president is doing is manipulating the next election is an impossible position. if we want to preserve our democracy, we must remove this president. >> yeah. that seems to be the key line that's come up and that has started to get a little more widespread understanding. my final question to you is about what we were discussing in the previous segment. is there any reason for congress
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to take anything else in your view to court, even if it doesn't require any outcome in time for the house floor impeachment vote? are there good reasons to do that or at this point as you said just move forward? >> i think at this point moving forward with impeachment is the priority. there are other things that are ancillary that don't have to delay impeachment like the ways and means committee effort to get his tax returns. that should remain in court. but the impeachment process should go ahead with all deliberate speed without waiting for any further judicial rulings about anybody. >> professor lawrence tribe, so great to have some time with you on our special. thank you, sir. >> thank you, ari. coming up, how trump's convicted campaign chairman fall manafort was pushing the same conspiracy theory back in 2016. we have a lot more on that and a special guest when we come back. r insurance so you only pay for what you need. that's a lot of words.
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the impeachable offense at the center of trump's impeachment is bribery. what was the bribe about? trump demanding ukraine bribe him by helping his re-election campaign, and if he was willing to take such a big risk, he could have made this demand to other people or other countries. so why ukraine? that is a question that often gets buried by all the breaking news every night, the witnesses, even the drama. but consider donald trump is closer to impeachment than he's ever been because of a discredited conspiracy theory that led trump and some of his loyalists to become obsessed with ukraine. now we have this newly released evidence from the mueller probe itself showing paul manafort was pushing the ukraine conspiracy theory during the campaign, and it goes like this. one claimed russia was not hacking the dnc, false. two, the hack was likely carried
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out by the ukrainians. that's what manafort was saying, according to testimony from long-time deputy and friend in fbi interviews. eventually donald trump latching on to the same idea, even though his own senior staff told him it was not true. >> now what the president is referring to is a debunked conspiracy theory that some who ukraine, not russia, hacked the democratic emails in 2016 and ukraine might have the dnc server or hillary's emails. the details are both convoluted and false. during your time in the white house you explained that to the president, right? >> i did. it's not only a conspiracy theory, it is completely debunked. >> debunked conspiracy theory. that's trump's guy. even though this push got trump into the impeachment mess, some of his advisers are still pushing it. giuliani meeting with a former ukrainian diplomat who says the same stuff. ukrainians conspired with the
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dnc. do trump and his loyalists really believe this? or do they think it's "believable," meaning if they get enough smoke going, then win re-election, partly with this help, without ever proving there's a fire in the answer doesn't resolve the legal and impeachment questions here. demanding is a bribe, whether you're confused about the facts or not. but the answer could inform departs of this whole impeachment probe. and it is becoming a larger part of the story for for all of this, buzzfeed journalist anthony cormier, who's been reporting on these documents. buzzfeed suing the justice department to get them, a judge just ordered them to start the releases here this fall. how are you doing? >> good, how are you? >> good. you didn't know what you were going to get, you just demanded it. >> that's our job. we like foia. >> freedom of information act. what does this tell you about the roots of the discredited belief about ukraine? >> it's fascinating, it brings
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you into the genesis of this weird conspiracy. it suggests that it was promoted by paul manafort, his campaign chairman. one of paul manafort's long-time associates, constantin kilimnik, who the fbi believed has ties to russian intelligence services are it seems this conspiracy was cooked up in the summer of 2016, right as the campaign is heating up, as the first documents begin to come out. you see manafort, kilimnik, and general mike flynn, begin to tell the president, we don't believe this is russia, we believe this is probably ukraine. >> do they care if it's true? >> hard to tell. our documents are reporting doesn't bear that out at the moment. it does seem they are acting in bad faith. there is quite a lot of evidence, at least some of -- like michael flynn, the intelligence services of the united states believe this is a russian hack. it's clear to us that he is attempting to shape that narrative to fit something that the trump campaign can use. >> why would it help them that much during 2016?
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if it's one country versus another? >> i think that the entire narrative was, russia is helping trump, they wanted to move away from that, they wanted to be a different country, a different set of actors. >> take a listen to adam schiff on how this fits in. >> the president enlisted the whole departments of government in the illicit aim of trying to get ukraine to dig up dirt on a political opponent, as well as further conspiracy theory about the 2016 election that he believed would be beneficial to his re-election campaign. >> this is the wild part where it becomes about programming. one of the things we've just learned from the more detailed house testimony is the exact way they wanted to roll this out. not in 2016, when you've traced the origins, but in the bribery plot. they wanted the ukrainian president to do a television interview that would be seen in the united states, announcing this foreign investigation.
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everyone who watches tv knows rarely do you see foreign heads of state announcing domestic prosecutions as a u.s. news event. but this goes to how important it was as programming, whether you want to call that propaganda, reality show programming, or the heart of the bribery plot, it was programming that trump wanted. >> they're looking to shape an actor, this is their modus operandi, they have to stick to this notion, it wasn't russia, it was ukraine. >> you said bad faith. a lot of people get in the habit of saying, is it true or not true, and why would you take a risk for something not true? that's a framework that doesn't really apply to how donald trump thinks. it's better if you never find the missing emails, it's better if the criminal probe is never resolved, it's better if, as he was winning more delegates because of rules that favored him, you say it's rigged because then you have this cart that the
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dog never catches. >> that's the roger stone influence. i can't say the word on tv, but there is a rat element to this, that you want to make everyone so confused that we don't actually know what to believe, then again, he gets to shape the narrative to fit his whim. he is in control of this throughout. >> right. and that, as you put it, that puts people in the position of trying to make the bidens prove a negative about a foreign smoking conspiracy that can never, for some people, be fully resolved. i think that is why it matters so much to the re-election, when you consider that what did trump learn from 2016 in a narrow race he was supposed to lose in the constant drumbeat of emails and comey and other things at a minimum didn't hurt him, it may have helped him win. >> that's the stew he cooks. this is the way the conspiracy land lives. it's what the breathes, its lifeblood. >> you said stew, you said something close to a rat, we're
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close to ratatouille here. anthony, thank you so much. we'll be coming back to you as you continue to get more secret documents from the mueller probe. thanks to your work. i want to thank everyone for watching our msnbc special tonight. i'll see you weeknights on "the beat" 6:00 p.m. eastern. have a great evening. welcome, michelle obama. >> michelle obama has returned to the spotlight. >> when she lifts her voice, people listen. >> from her humble roots in chicago. >> michelle is south side to the core. >> a girl from the south side can become first lady, all things are possible. >> her journey to the white house embodied the american dream. >> if you can dream with me then you know there is no other choice other than barack obama. >> there was no going back. a new day had dawned. >> she was like no other first lady.

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