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tv   The Last Word With Lawrence O Donnell  MSNBC  September 21, 2019 7:00pm-8:00pm PDT

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partly to blame for the 3 billion birds that have disappeared because of the scale of this problem, three billion birds went poof, and not election poof, but actual poof. researchers say stopping the apocalyptic decline would take a huge amount of effort. so yeah, there's a new thing to worry about. this is for the birds. that does it for us tonight. see you here tomorrow at 10:00 a.m. for "a.m. joy." now it's time for "the last word" with lawrence o'donnell. 15 seconds over. >> it's much sooner than i'm used to. joy, thank you very much. get some rest. 12 hours from now we'll see you. >> ha ha, rest. i'll watch your show. >> see you on msnbc. >> thank you. >> thank you, joy. with each passing hour today we learned more about the conversation that president trump is now calling a beautiful conversation. it might also have been a criminal conversation according to some democrats. many of whom are now saying it might have been an impeachable conversation. it is the conversation president
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trump had with ukrainian president and it is the subject of a suppressed whistleblower report, suppressed by president trump's acting director of national intelligence. we'll be devoting much of the hour of the breaking news of the latest trump crisis. joined once again by a reporter of "the washington post" who has been doing extraordinary work, repeatedly breaking news on this story this week. and we'll be joined by former undersecretary of state wendy sherman who will share her unique diplomatic and political perspective on all of this. and we'll discuss the sound of silence from republicans who once claimed to be concerned with intelligence issues. at the end of the hour, we will talk about this historic day around the world, a global strike on climate change. estimates of 4 million people participating worldwide, making it possibly the largest
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environmental protest day in the world history. we will show you what 16-year-old greta thunberg, global leader of this movement had to say at the strike here in new york city today. and we are lucky to be joined tonight by one of the founders of the movement here in the united states. she was also instrumental in making these events occur today. she spoke today at the event in new york. she is one of the prime movers behind forcing the green new deal onto the democratic agenda in congress. we begin tonight with a washington that is reeling once again from new accusations about president trump that have inspired renewed calls for impeachment among democrats and democratic presidential campaigns. the breaking news was first delivered by "the wall street journal" today this way. president trump in a july phone
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call repeatedly pressured the president of ukraine to investigate joe biden's son, according to people familiar with the matter, urging the president about eight times to work with rudy giuliani on a probe that could hamper mr. trump's potential 2020 opponent. president trump's phone call with the president occurred two weeks before the whistle blower complaint from someone in the intelligence community, a complaint that the acting director of national intelligence joseph maguire hasn't passed along to congress as the law requires. the "washington post" reports president trump's interaction with the ukrainian president troubled the member of the intelligence community who filed the whistle blower report. in an interview with "the wall street journal," rudy giuliani said that he did meet with top ukrainian officials about the prospect of an investigation in june and in august. the journal reports, he said he met with an official from the ukrainian prosecutor general's office in june in paris and met
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with andriy yermak in madrid in august. mr. giuliani said in an interview this month that he assured him the ukrainian government would get to the bottom of the biden matter. he said his meeting was set up by the state department and said he briefed the department on their conversation. later "washington post," which confirmed part of the "the wall street journal" reporting adds this. the call is part of a broader set of facts included in the whistle blower complaint that is at the center of a showdown between the executive branch and congress. and "the new york times" reports mr. trump's desire for a ukrainian investigation of mr. biden is part of the secret whistleblower complaint that is said to be about mr. trump and at least in part about his dealings with ukraine according to two people familiar with the matter. one unnamed source told "the wall street journal" that the president did not mention
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foreign aid to ukraine on the phone call with president zelenskiy. "the washington post" has new details tonight about the trump white house's role in preventing the acting director of national from following the law that requires him to deliver the whistleblower complaint to the house and senate intelligence committees. "the washington post" reports white house counsel pollone has been engaged in the matter since shortly after whistle blower action surfaced, officials said, helping identity legal obstacles to the sharing of the information that could be politically damaging to trump. his involvement reveals a more direct white house role in the dispute than has previously been reported. president zelenskiy is one of the people president trump is scheduled to meet next week at the u.n. general assembly in new york. tonight house intelligence committee chairman adam schiff issued a statement on twitter saying any pressure by trump to
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pressure a foreign government to dig up dirt on his political opponent while holding up vital military aid to that country is both corrupt and a grave threat to american interests. no explicit quid pro quo is necessary to betray your country. this morning while speaking to reporters, president trump said, quote, it's ridiculous, it's a partisan whistleblower. how did he know? nbc's kristen welker, asked the president, do you know the identity, to which the president said, i don't know the identity of the whistleblower, i just hear it's a partisan person. and then the president described his now-controversial phone call with president zelensky there way. >> i can say it was a totally appropriate conversation. it was actually a beautiful conversation. >> leading off our discussion
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tonight is a reporter with the "washington post" and jeremy bash, former chief of staff at the cia and defense department. and ned price, former cia analyst and former senior director and spokesperson for the national security council in the obama administration. national security contributors. ellen, i want to go to the reporting of the white house involvement in the acting director of national intelligence refusal to follow the law as we know it. do we know what, how it came to the white house attention that a whistleblower report existed? >> we don't know for sure who brought it to the white house attention but presumably the director of national intention or his general counsel, who might have brought it to the white house. >> and they also consulted with,
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well, let me ask you if we have a sequence here, the justice department was also consulted at some point. >> that's right. >> do we know which, where it began? was the first consultation with the justice department then, might the justice department have included the white house, or do we have any understanding of that sequence? >> no, we don't know for sure whether it was the doj or the white house that was consulted first but what we do know is chairman adam schiff, the chairman of the house intelligence committee, has said that the -- behind this refusal to hand over the whistleblower complaint to congress is a higher authority. it was a higher authority holding the dni, joseph maguire, back from transmitting that complaint to congress. who else is higher up than joseph maguire but the president, he's really the only person higher than dni in the chain of command.
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so that's sort of a hint that it's possibly the white house that was calling the shots here. >> ellen, i want to go to one point in the reporting we've been watching this week. some reports indicate that there was a promise, the word promise being used in some reports in some news organizations that in the phone call the president of the united states made some kind of promise. that word does not consistently appear in all of the reporting. does that mean there's some inconsistency or something about the sourcing of that word process that is an issue? >> journalism is the first rough draft of history. each day we have a new rough draft. so our reporting evolves. what we were able to -- what we reported today was according to one source the subject of military aid to ukraine did not arise on the phone call. we have other sources, two other
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sources in particular, who did tell us that according to the whistleblower complaint, there was an allegation that trump made some quid pro quo offer with zelenskiy, perhaps at some other point. but we do believe according to our sources that there was a form of a promise or a quid pro quo form of military aid in exchange for the ukrainians opening -- reopening this probe of hunter biden. >> jeremy, i just want to note and i just want to open the field to you on this subject because it is so vast and there is so many things to comment on and your expertise is so vast, i don't want to narrow folks you. but it is possible that a quid pro quo could involve something other than the military aid to ukraine. that is one thing that is on the table between the two countries, but there could be other things that could be promised that we don't know about.
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>> that's a very important point, lawrence, because, of course, when the head of ukraine calls the president of the united states, it's not just to catch up like old friends. there's actually an agenda. and the agenda is what support will the united states provide to ukraine, a smallish and vulnerable country, given its proximity and given its current tensions with the russian federation. so the entire agenda is not just military assistance to the tune of a quarter of a billion. it's also training that the united states conducts in western ukraine, it's also other military equipment. it's also imf loans, it's also whether or not states will participate in the processes about the crimea. if the president of the united states is saying we are holding this over your head like a sort of damocles unless you give me information on my opponent, in effect, the whole conversation is a quid pro quo. it's implied. >> ned, i just want to pull back
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one step here. let's assume no promise, no quid pro quo, just the president of the united states saying to the president of a foreign country i need to you investigate someone who is running for president of the united states. what does that mean? >> lawrence, let's suspend disbelief for just a mohammomen conjure a country in this world that doesn't need something from the united states of america. and you have to suspend disbelief, because every country needs something from the united states of america. but let's just play devil's advocate here. it would still be a massive betrayal of the president's oath of office if he was in a conversation with a foreign counterpart to ask that counterpart not only eight times but to ask him once to dig up
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dirt, to create dirt i think in this case where none really exists, for the purposes of his electrical prospects in 2020. what president trump would be doing in that case would be opening the door to continued foreign interference in our elections. but to jeremy's point, every country needs something from the united states and especially the ukraine. when that call took place on july 25th of this year, ukraine wanted three things specifically from us. they needed that $250 million in aid that had been suspended, under review, the week before, for months, they had been seeking an oval office meeting between the ukrainian president who was elected in april, months before july, and who had yet to get it, even though president trump's top advisers were advocating for an oval office meeting. president trump for some reason pushed back on that and third they needed a show of solidarity. the ukrainians need us more than most countries need us, because
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they are vulnerable. their territorial sovereignty has been violated for years now by the russians. they need this show of alliance. they need this show of united force. so there isn't a country that doesn't need something for us, and ukraine needs more than most country does from us. >> i want to read a quote from a former senior administration official in "washington post," and whenever i see former senior administration official these days i think john bolton, but the truth of it is, john bolton just represents a pyramid of people, who fit the description of former senior administration people. but this is a particularly negative quote. it's the kind of smackback at the president that you could expect at some point from john bolton, if he did witness this and if it was true. a former senior administration official who repeatedly discussed the issue with trump said that the president thought what we were doing in ukraine was pointless and just aggravating the russians. the president's position basically is we should recognize
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the fact that the russians should be our friends and who cares about the ukrainians said the official who spoke on the condition of anom ty to describe private conversations. >> and multiple am times a day, ellen, there are stunning statements like that are that are coming out in your reporting and "the new york times" reporting and other reporting, it seems like there is an eagerness, among sources to get this story out. >> well, i don't know that i would say there's an eagerness among sources to get the story out, but we are finding people who are trying to help us understand and put in context the things we are learning and care enough about the issue to try to help people understand the stakes, what's at stake here. >> jeremy, knowing the institutions involved as you do, and the range of people still working inside the intelligence community who could help reporters like ellen and others,
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what do you think is going on inside the intelligence community as they watch this story? what are they hoping for? >> actually, i think they're hoping for the rule of law to be followed. they're hoping for the whistleblower process to be maintained, its integrity main tained. they're not looking to talk to "the washington post" with respect to ellen. or come on television. they're pretty much nose down collecting and analyzing information for the national security. they're not partisan people. they're not out to to get anyone, political party or president. but they are really resolute in their integrity and honor. if they see something that is clear wrongdoing in our government, an abuse of power and authority, you know they're going to speak out against it and they better be protected and not retaliated against. that's what the law requires. >> ned price, you've been brilliant in your coverage on this program since this story
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began. i'm just wondering as we come to an end of what is week one of it because there will be more, do you have a feeling for where we will be next week in this story? >> lawrence, what i can't help but consider as i think about what we've learned vis-à-vis the conversations with the ukrainian president is what the inspector general reportedly told the committee on intelligence on wednesday of this week. seems like an eternity ago, but he told congress then that there were multiple acts involved. this was a pattern, multiple acts at the heart of this whistleblower complaint. now, you could -- one interpretation of that could be president trump asked president zelenskiy eight times in a single phone conversation to cooperate with rudy giuliani, giuliani then went to madrid just a few days later and that's a pattern of behavior. but i can't escape the idea that this may be the tip of the iceberg, that it may involve
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other foreign leaders and other acts on behalf of president trump, whether it's to his ukrainian counterpart or even to other foreign leaders that they do the sort of business that our intelligence community is there to protect. and that is to ensure our elections free from foreign interference, to ensure the sanctity of your democratic processes. that i think this episode suggests that president trump is so desperately trying to subv t subvert. >> ellen, before you go, i want to check something with you that i know the audience is wondering about. i have read the law on this program repeatedly, including the law that allows for the whistleblower to go directly to the house and senate intelligence committees. yet at the same time people are saying the whistleblower could be in trouble or in jeopardy if the whistleblower tried to do that. my understanding of it is based on on that part of the law that says if the whistleblower is going directly to the committees, the
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whistleblower can only do that at the direction of the director. the director has to allow the whistleblower to go directly to the committees. if the director doesn't allow it, then the whistleblower with would be in violation of the law. is that your understanding of it? >> lawrence, my understanding is that the whistleblower can go to the committee only after and if and after the inspector general -- or if the inspector general has not found his or her complaint to be credible. in that case, my understanding is in that case alone the whistleblower can seek guidance from the director of national intelligence to go to the committee. if the whistleblower does not seek that guidance or if the whistleblower goes to the hill
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where the inspector general has actually found the complaint to be credible, then the whistleblower risks not having the protections afforded him in the law against a reprisal such as losing their job or getting fired. >> yeah, there's some trip wires here in the law between the whistleblower and getting to the committees. i think we're all going to be studying that over the weekend and next week. ellen nakashima, jeremy bash, ned price, thank you very much for starting us off. really appreciate that. we have much more still ahead on this breaking news story that continues to develop. we have one house member who is not a democrat and was recently a republican who says this whistleblower complaint is very, very important. but from the rest of the republicans in congress, you get the sound of cowardice in politics, which is the sound of silence. later, one republican who's not silent is rudy giuliani, who is constantly making statements now to news organizations,
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including "the washington post," "new york times," and others. some of those statements are startlingly incriminating of what rudy giuliani is admitting that he did. i can't believe it. that sophie opened up a wormhole through time? (speaking japanese) where am i? (woman speaking french) are you crazy/nuts? cyclist: pip! pip! (woman speaking french) i'm here, look at me. it's completely your fault. (man speaking french) ok? it's me. it's my fault? no, i can't believe how easy it was to save hundreds of dollars on my car insurance with geico. (pterodactyl screech) believe it. geico could save you 15% or more on car insurance.
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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. hey. you must be steven's phone. now you can know who's on your network and control who shouldn't be, only with xfinity xfi. simple. easy. awesome. now, independent congressman justin amash was a republican 78 days ago. today he tweeted, congress must
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have access to the whistleblower complaint allegedly involving ukraine. reports suggest the president abused his position by engaging in conduct that violates the public trust. let's hear from the whistleblower so we can clear the president or hold him accountable. that is the closest we have to a republican calling for accountability today about the allegations that the president of the united states pressured the government of ukraine to dig up dirt on his political opponent, joe biden and his family. over the last 24 hours, some allies of the president have been appearing on fox to defend the president. but no congressional republican has managed to come up with even a word of criticism of the president's alleged actions. a word of discomfort about it that has led trump's conservative critics outside the administration to start asking some very sharp questions. we will get some of those now. we are joined now by bill
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kristol, the director of defending democracy together, editor at large of the bullwark and founder of republicans for the rule of law, and also with us is evan mcmullin, former independent presidential candidate. he's the cofounder of stand up republic. bill, i know you tweeted today this would be a very good day to hear from publicly from some of the former trump administration officials who would be in a position to either enlighten us about this. or show us how we should be thinking about it in some ways. >> dan coats was the director of national intelligence, i think he did a pretty good job by most accounts trying to keep trump in check and trying to prevent this thing. i think he quit shortly after this phone conversation apparently happened. he doesn't have to reveal private conversations with the president. he shouldn't reveal classified information.
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as you say, though, he could help us thinking about this and explain what is the problem here. he can explain how unbelievable it is for me that a president of the united states talking to the president of another country in effect who asks for help in damaging a political opponent and in effect suggests that aid won't be forthcoming unless the help is given. in other words the national interest is working to the president's political interest. that's the key thing. all the details of the ic, the ig of the intelligence community and who knew what, when, where is interesting. but at the end of the day it's like focusing on how exactly did the watergate burglar discover that the burglars were there. the important thing is what the president said and did. and it's worse in a way that than a straightforward criminal send me $10 million to my bank account and i will release the aid to you. that's just graft in a sense, this is really making our national foreign policy contingent on a foreign government interfering in our
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election, doing a favor for this president against his possible political opponent. it is really unbelievable. congress has to get to the bottom of it, but republicans have either been silent or some of them amazingly rushing to defend the president. >> yeah. evan, much has been said today about the possibility of the president of the united states demanding, asking a foreign government to do him a political favor. it's being referred to as a political favor in trying to help out throw dirt on the biden family and therefore hurt joe biden who he expects he'll be running against. but there's something important in donald trump's re-election campaign. it's not just political, it's personal. his lawyers are saying he cannot be charged with a crime as long as he's president of the united states. and so this is a re-election campaign to, among other things, avoid criminal charges that
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could happen the afternoon after the next inauguration if it's an inauguration of someone not named trump. >> that's right. lawrence, i think this is something i got used to overseas where you have a dictator come to power and commit a bunch of crimes in the process or commit them while in power. then as a result of that, become vulnerable to political or legal consequences should they ever lose power. and so it becomes all the more important that they hold on to power and they're willing to take even bigger risks or make even more egregious or illegal or unethical or just downright evil moves in order to stay in power because, for them, their freedom, their lives in some cases depend on it. of course here in the united states, the president's life isn't at risk as it might be in a third-world country.
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we still have a legal system that generally works. and because of that, he has concerns, i'm sure, about that very issue. and so he's going to fight harder and harder and harder, and he's going to be willing to break all kinds of laws and ethical norms in order to stay in power. especially now, lawrence, i have to say i think it's just clear to me that the president is now emboldened after 2016 where he received foreign help where he encouraged that publicly to happen. after the mueller investigation which was turned over, the results, to the american people and to congress. he's not really being held accountable yet, at least by congress. that doesn't seem in the near term likely. and i think he looks at that situation and says congress isn't going to hold me accountable, so my real concern here is simply being re-elected
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by hook or crook. so he's going to be willing to do almost anything, including using the powers of his office of the american presidency to not only welcome foreign assistance but to compel it, to coerce it. that's what we're seeing with ukraine. we're going to see more of that, but it's all the more reason efforts in congress need to be stepped up. and we need to hear, of course, from republicans who are just incredibly absent and cowardly in this moment. we can talk about the politics of that, but we need to hear from them. if they're worried about their constituents not understanding or supporting them, well, guess what, that's what leadership is, and there needs to be more of that from them if they start talking about why this is important, why it's a true threat to the republic, then they can bring their constituents along. it may cost them their jobs, some of them, but damn it, it's worth it and they need to take that action. >> he actually said, the president, a few weeks before the phone call in question that
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he would do the kind of thing that people are now supporting that he did do. george stephanopoulos asked him if he would accept interference in our elections, help from a foreign country: he said, it's not interference, they have information. i think i'd take it. those are the words of the president. bill kristol, evan mcmullin, thank you so much for joining us tonight. really appreciate it. thank you. >> thank you. when we come back, rudy giuliani has been saying some very strange things, including that his meetings with ukrainian officials were set up by the trump state department even though he had no government function. he also says he was meeting with those officials strictly as the president's personal lawyer for the president's personal benefit, not the benefit of the country. there's rudy giuliani at the state dinner tonight at the white house. former undersecretary of state wendy sherman will join us in a moment with what rudy giuliani has been up to. ♪ l emu & do♪ now for their service to the community, we present limu emu & doug
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according to "the washington post" reporting tonight, rudy giuliani said he was operating in his personal capacity as trump's lawyer, although he said the state department helped put him in touch with yermak who is an aide to president zelenskiy. "the wall street journal" reports giuliani said his meetings with mr. yermak was set up by the state department, and said he briefed the department on their conversation later. the state department had no immediate comment. that raises the question what did secretary of state know about rudy giuliani's ukrainian negotiations and when did he know it.
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joining us is ambassador wendy sherman, former undersecretary of state during the obama administration. also an msnbc global affairs contributor. ambassador sherman, what should the secretary of state have known and done about what rudy giuliani was up to? >> if rudy giuliani was going to ukraine and meeting in other countries with aides to the head of ukraine, the state department -- as the president's political lawyer, the state department really should have had nothing to do with it. to put senior foreign service officers, to put ambassadors, to put working people, civil servants in the cross hairs of a political controversy is completely inappropriate. what we're seeing here is giuliani acting as the president's setup guy. his interview last night on a another network was really to get the story out there that
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this was all about going after investigating joe biden, when, in fact, glenn kessler of "the washington post" has long said that the facts do not support that there's any wrongdoing here whatsoever, been cleared by the ukrainians regarding vice president biden's son. there's no there there. and yet to keep trump's group supporting him and trying to ensure his re-election in part so he can ensure that he will not be indicted, he will not be taken to court, rudy giuliani -- it's almost like a mob family, lawrence, where you've got the guy who goes in and says now you really don't want the godfather, the big guns to come in here. you want to make sure you do the right thing here. so there doesn't have to be even an explicit comment. it can be understood as your
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earlier guest said, there may never has been an explicit quid pro quo here, but it's all understood. we know how to have such conversations, but they don't belong in the purview of the state department and giuliani is really along with the president debasing themselves when it comes to protecting our national security. >> does rudy giuliani have criminal liability here in what he has just outlined for reporters already that he's dealing with ukraine on behalf of donald trump on a personal basis, trying to get ukraine to basically cause problems for joe biden's family? >> i'm not a lawyer, so i don't know whether there's criminal liability here, but it's certainly inappropriate, and it is certainly not anything when i was in the state department i
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would have allowed anyone to be involved with. it is completely inappropriate. what we should be focused on here is that we protect whistleblowers because they're a critical part of our system of checks and balances, that we protect our national security, and this appears to be an abuse of power by the president of the united states, by an attorney general who believes in the expansion of presidential powers, by a former mayor who was once thought of as america's mayor who is now just i guess having a ball doing very screwy kinds of things on behalf of the president. and we have a president who serves his own personal interests every day and not the interests of our country. we're at a really tough place. lawrence, when i was discussing this with my husband this evening, he said to me something that was very true. the president expects that we will all be exhausted by all of this and we will turn away. but for the sake of our democracy, i say we cannot turn away.
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we have to stay with this story. it's really about the survival of our national security and the survival of the values of our country and our constitution. >> ambassador sherman, will you stay with us? i want to stay with that when we come back after our break. we'll be right back. we'll be right back. (vo) evn your fy is different. that's why verizon lets everyone mix and match different unlimited plans. so you only pay for what you need. switch now to verizon. new plans start at just $35. that's our lowest price for unlimited, ever. the network more people rely on gives you more. the way you triumph over adversity. and live your lives. that's why we redesigned humira. we wanted to make the experience better for you.
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♪ ♪ the volvo xc90. our most awarded luxury suv. ♪ ♪ we're back with former undersecretary of state, wendy sherman. i want to read you some of nancy pelosi's statement today. she issued a statement saying
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that we will continue to follow the facts, explore every possible option, ensure the american people will get the truth. and she said we must be sure that the president and his administration are conducting our national security and foreign policy in the best interest of the american people, not the president's personal interest. and when you see those words today, they seem to have been written for another era, the trump era, the idea of the trump presidency serving anything other than the president's personal interest seems like just a kind of accidental by-product of what the presidency can feel to some people. i'm rae wondering when i look at the statute, the whistleblower statute, looks like one of those things written by honorable members of congress who presumed that everyone dealing with that statute or living under that statute would
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also be behaving in an honorable way. if we were trying to write that statute for a criminal administration or one that will violate laws willfully, you would have to write a very different statute. it seems like everything that surrounds this issue, it turns out to be weaker than we thought it was because the trump approach to this has no concern whatsoever, no concern at all for how the manipulation of these processes looks publicly. >> indeed. the president has no respect for the institutions of our government. he works every day in so many ways to undermine those institutions, everything from making sure everybody is an acting this or acting that, so there isn't sufficient oversight from the congress so he keeps them all on their toes having to please the king in many ways. to the use of the military of
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his -- one of his resorts in europe because the military is not a fool. they know they want to stay in good stead with the president. there is no explicit statement by the president that the military has to go use turnbull. there's no explicit statement about how the president is going to govern. although he does say he likes actings because he keeps them off balance, he gets to died. -- to decide. so everything he does, starting with undermining the intelligence committees and the intelligence institutions of saying, in fact, russia, not some 400-pound guy, not some other country, but russia was behind the interference of the election in 2016 that wanted to help donald trump at every level in every way. he has said i don't care. i'm going to take care of myself. he's very good at branding, very good at marketing, getting his
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rally crowds to agree with him in their own sense of being left out and left behind, that he is for them and and the real danger here is when people feel uncertainty, they go for leaders who tell them i will take care of everything, i will be your king, i will take care of you, and that's exactly why the united states of america was founded, not to have a king. >> ambassador wendy sherman, thank you very much for joining us on another important news night. we really appreciate it. >> thank you. when we come back, these are the astonishing photos today of an estimated 4 million people, video and photo imagery across the globe. millions of people turning out for the global climate strike. we will show you more, including what happened here in new york, next. -their béarnaise sauce here is the best in town. [ soft piano music playing ] mm, uh, what do you do for fun?
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today millions of people took to the streets in over 150 countries around the world to protest the climate change situation and what might be the largest environmental protest in history in the global climate strike as it was called today. students and adults walked out of their classrooms and offices and jobs to demand their leaders do more to fight climate change now. in new york city hundreds of thousands protested the trump administration's inaction on climate change.
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16-year-old swedish climate activist greta thunberg who led the troes in new york city is scheduled to address the united nations on monday. here is some of what she had to say today in new york. >> we will not just stand aside and watch. we are united behind the science, and we will do everything in our power to stop this crisis from getting worse. we are doing this to wake the leaders up. we are doing this to get them to act. we demand a safe future. is that really too much to ask? >> what an extraordinary speaker she is. varshini prakash is the cofounder of the youth-led environmental activist group called sunrise movement who helped organize protests around the country for the global climate strike. she will join us after just one
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here is more today from the extraordinary 16-year-old greta thunberg. >> this is an emergency. our house is on fire. why should we study for a future that is being taken away from us? [ cheers ] that is being stolen for profit? [ cheers ] and some people say we should study to become climate scientists or politicians so that we can, in the future,
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solve the climate crisis. but by then, it will be too late. we need to do this now. [ cheers ] >> joining me is varshini prakash, the cofounder and executive director of the sunrise movement, a group of young environmental activists that joined congresswoman alexandria ocasio-cortez to launch the green new deal earlier this year. what was it like out there today? >> it was undescribable. there were just throngs of people. i was in a crowd of 100,000 to 250,000 people of predominantly children, high schoolers, 20-somethings. it was both exhilarating and heartbreaking to think that all these children are asking for is a shot at a livable future. >> in the imagery i saw, greta is sort of the median age. there are so many elementary
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school kids, ten years younger than her, so many older college kids. it was just an extraordinary group of people to see. >> that's absolutely right. and i think the reason why we are seeing this outpouring of support not just in new york but from minimum to mumbai and berlin and south bend, indiana because young people are fed up with the political establishment that appears to be asleep at the wheel when the planet is on fire. we are fed up with seeing politicians pad their pockets with big oil dollars when our futures feel like they're on the line. >> it feels like the keyword in this is global. we've known this forever now. environmental issues like climate, the temperature of the earth knows no boundary. so, the activism within one country is not enough. this was clear today. >> that's right. and that's why we have got to continue to keep the pressure up. so, there's already another
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climate strike on the calendar. it will be in november. so, for those who weren't able to join today, i fully recommend you join us then. we have to continue mounting the external social pressure. but on top of that, we have to be electoralizing this, we need to be getting hundreds of thousands of young people in november registered to vote ahead of the 2020 elections. we need to be ensuring that come 2020, politicians win or lose based on their position on this issue. >> was today what you expected? was it bigger than what you expected? >> it was much, much more than i expected. i was blown away. there were multiple moments when you just see fifth and sixth graders walking around asking for politicians to save our futures, and it really makes you take a moment and think about the world that we are creating for the generations that come after us. >> varshini prakash, thank you for joining us. >> thank you for having me. >> i'm glad you were out there today. that is tonight's last word.
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"the 11th hour with brian williams" starts now. tonight the stark question, did the president use the powers of his office to pressure a foreign government to help himself and hurt his opponent? the whistleblower story is potentially that explosive with a report claiming the president pushed ukraine eight times in one conversation. and about donald trump's interest in joe biden's son. we'll talk to the only reporter that has interviewed him about his foreign business deals. plus as the trump's were hosting a state dinner, across the river at the pentagon came the announcement that the u.s. troops are headed to the gulf to keep the saudis safe as the 11th hour gets under way this friday night. at the end of another week, good evening once again from our nbc news headquarters here in new york, day 974 of the trump administration. for guests and tonight's state dinner for the australian prime