tv All In With Chris Hayes MSNBC November 5, 2019 12:00am-1:00am PST
water, and you can have it now. a couple of notes here. the president is convinced that forest floors need cleaning and are especially dirty in california. elsewhere there, he appears to be referencing an effort by farmers to route river water into irrigation, but no one quite knows for sure. yesterday he went on to compare the governor of california to a child. another way of calling it just a sunday in our presidency, part of what we've become used to in 2019. that is for us our monday night broadcast as we tonight on "all in" -- >> why not release the transcripts? >> release the darn transcripts. >> we want to know what's going on. >> here come the transcripts. >> yeah, they're going to release the real transcripts. >> the first impeachment inquiry
transcripts have been released. >> mr. president, was marie yovanovitch the target of a smear campaign by your allies? >> tonight what we learned from marie yovanovitch about igor and live and rudy and hadn'tity? as the white house blocks more key witnesses. >> we have seen a series of shifting, ever-changing rationales for this campaign of obstruction. plus the mutating republican logic defending the president. >> if there was a quid pro quo, it certainly wasn't a very effective one. >> and making sense of new battleground polling that shows 2020 could look a lot like 2016. >> you're reading the wrong polls. >> when "all in" starts right now. >> let me just tell you, i have the real polls. >> good evening from new york, i'm chris hayes. we are starting to see the actual testimony from the depositions in the impeachment inquiry so far, the transcripts, and they are as damning as expected for the president and his allies. republicans whined for weeks and
weeks about the fact depositions were being held behind closed doors despite many of the fact many of them were actually attending those same hearings. the president tried to get out ahead of the release for the word-for-word transcripts saying they would be faked and republicans should release their own, indicating that he was clearly not happy with what was about to come out. well, today we got the first two transcripts from former top state department official michael mckinley and former u.s. ambassador to ukraine marie yovanovitch. we already know a lot about what mckinley testified about, including that he resigned his post because of the failure to the state department to offer support to foreign service employees caught up in the impeachment inquiry. mckinley, who was senior advisor to secretary of state mike pompeo, also testified, again, under oath in this deposition, that he told pompeo about his concerns multiple times before he resigned, which makes what pompeo said last month so much more interesting. listen to the way that pompeo
gives himself absolutely no wiggle room on this question. >> mike mckinley served me well for a year and a half. i chose him. i had people tell me he was a great foreign service officer. in fact, he served america wonderfully for 37 years. he in fact had the office that was just behind mine, it had a door that he could walk in any time and say whatever he wanted. you know, from the time that ambassador yovanovitch departed ukraine until the time that he came to tell me that he was departing, i never heard him say a single thing about his concerns with respect to the decision that was made. >> so you were never asked -- >> not once. not once, george, did ambassador mckinley say something to me during that entire time period. >> that's interesting. so maybe he said it outside that time period or maybe mckinley is lying or maybe pompeo is lying. the story, though, that is told in these depositions is of someone who was in the way of the corrupt quid pro quo abuse of office. the president and rudy giuliani were running to try and squeeze ukraine to manufacture dirt on the president's political rival.
particularly that of the ousted ambassador yovanovitch to ukraine whose career was a casualty of that scheme. she testified that she learned from ukrainian officials that rudy giuliani planned to target her. yovanovitch was asked what she thought president trump meant when he said on the phone call with the ukrainian president that she was, quote, going to go through some things. yovanovitch said i didn't know what it meant. i was very concerned. i still am. she testified that a concerned senior ukrainian official told me, quote, i really needed to watch my back. the former ambassador told congress the same ukrainian officials warned her about, quote, two individuals from florida, mr. parnas and mr. fruman working with rudy giuliani and they were interested in a different ambassador at the post because i guess they wanted to have business dealings in ukraine or additional business dealings. i didn't understand that because nobody at the embassy had ever met these two individuals.
now, the president gets to appoint ambassadors and he gets to recall them, but in the case of ambassador yovanovitch, let's remember, her position and removal are also at the center of a criminal case that's currently being brought by the u.s. attorney in the southern district of new york against two men who are associates of the president's personal lawyer, rudy giuliani, who reportedly paid giuliani half a million dollars, who hung out at yankee games among other places with rudy and got prime seats at a 2018 trump rally and represented themselves to congress in an official letter as members of the president's legal team. and lets remember part of the charges against these two men is that they were giving donations to a member of congress as part of this sprawling effort to get rid of ambassador yovanovitch so that they could corruptly install friendly associates to promote their business interests in ukraine. yovanovitch was standing in the way of making ukraine more corrupt on behalf of president trump and rudy giuliani. and i should tell you we just learned tonight that one of these guys, lev parnas, seems to be ready to cooperate with
congressional impeachment investigators. righters reports parnas is prepared to comply with requests and his lawyer has confirmed that to nbc news. joining me now for more on what we learned today, zoe tillman of buzzfeed news and natasha bertrand. natasha, let me start with you on the parnas news. his old lawyer had been the president's old lawyer, john dowd, who had written a letter like he's part of the team and he's not going to show up and do anything. he's now dumped john dowd and now he's going to cooperate. is that what's happening? >> yeah, chris. i mean it certainly seems like parnas is angry. he's angry that the president has said he doesn't know who he is. he feels like the president has completely mischaracterized their relationship. you have to be inclined to believe parnas a bit because there are so many photos of them together over the last two or so years, at political events, at galas, at fund-raisers. parnas and fruman were everywhere and surrounded the
president at many pivotal moments. so they have opened the door to cooperation with the congressional committees. that doesn't necessarily mean of course that it's going to happen because a lot of the documents that the congressional committees want are in the hands of the fbi, which of course raided parnas and fruman's belongings as part of their indictment. it also remains to be seen whether or not his lawyer is even going to let him testify because he's in the middle of a criminal probe. but this does indicate at least a shift for now in how he perceives the president. trump really hasn't learned this lesson, that, you know, when these people are under scrutiny and he continues to criticize them, his former allies, and says i don't know them, they usually have receipts. >> zoie, what did we learn today in the yovanovitch testimony, in terms of the nexus between this sort of strange plot that was hatched by parnas and fruman for a variety of reasons, perhaps
personal business reasons as well as ingratiating themselves to the president, and the president and rudy giuliani's attempt to squeeze the ukrainian government for dirt on their political rival? >> what we saw was perspective from yet another witness in the impeachment inquiry sort of explaining how they learned that there was this other channel between the white house and ukraine that was unofficial, not sanctioned, and involved a cohort of nongovernment officials, in this case rudy giuliani, lev parnas and igor fruman who for months had been traveling around, trying to set up connections in ukraine in an effort to dig up dirt on joe biden, trying to discredit the mueller investigation, but all while making entrees into very official circles in ukraine to the dismay of the career civil servants, you know, whose job it was to establish those formal channels between the administration and these foreign
government entities. what we heard, what we saw in the transcript was the former ambassador, marie yovanovitch, saying, you know, learning about this back channel and being perplexed and concern by it but not really seeing a way out and being told that if she wanted to keep her job, she needed to ingratiate herself with the president and not make waves about this. >> yeah. at one point she testified she was told to tweet support for the president. i mean, what's fascinating here, natasha, you have these comparative means of conducting yourself. marie yovanovitch, the lifelong foreign service officer who's there and who's trying to steer american policy and then the parnas, fruman and giulianis of the world who are wheeling and dealing and taking meetings and doing god knows what at god knows whose behest and those are who the president is listening to and has the entire american state behind him. >> exactly, chris. marie yovanovitch testified that this wasn't something that the state department could just
ignore. they felt really hamstrung by the fact that this dual foreign policy track was taking place and at one point she said the ukrainians didn't know who to talk to. they didn't know whether we represented u.s. policy, whether they should be listening to giuliani and parnas and fruman. and the rug really felt like it was being pulled out from beneath us. we have to remember this is a very sensitive moment, it has been a very sensitive moment in ukraine for last five years since the russians invaded eastern ukraine. at this moment they are trying to negotiate peace in the east with the russian-backed separatists. so for the aid to be withheld at this sensitive time was extremely troubling to the ukrainians. on top of that, they didn't even know who the interlocutors were they were supposed to be communicating with. fast forward to yovanovitch being removed, someone they really trusted. now they have no choice really but to try to negotiate with the president in the best way that they can, which is zelensky, you saw in that phone call kind of saying to the president, yes,
we'll investigate. yes, we'll do what you want essentially to try to appease him. because, again, ukraine faces an existential threat to its east. they are trying to navigate that right now the best way they can. >> we're also getting a lot more backstory on the origins of this i think deranged and insane conspiracy theory, zoe, about ukraine involvement in the 20 2016 election. that it was an op they conspired to blame russia for. it doesn't actually make sense when you sort of square it up, but this article in "the new york times" that manafort was actually spread that in 2016 and it's been germinating and sold to the president time and time again, what do we know about that? >> so over the weekend buzzfeed and cnn received a new cache of documents from the justice department. it was hundreds of pages of records of notes that were taken during the mueller investigation. and in one set of notes from rick gates, who had been the deputy campaign manager, he had
been paul manafort's right-hand man, rick gates told investigators that basically as soon as news broke in 2016 that the dnc had been hacked, that wikileaks had these messages and were going to release them, paul manafort was immediately saying it wasn't russia, it was ukraine. michael flynn, who was at the time a senior advisor to the campaign, later became trump's short-lived first national security advisor also was immediately saying adamantly it wasn't russia, it wasn't russia, look at ukraine. so we had at the time three years ago two senior officials in the trump campaign trying to direct the narrative away from russia towards ukraine. it raises all sorts of questions of who they were talking to. >> yes. >> whose ear they had. it's a theory that's persisted not withstanding the findings of the u.s. intelligence committee that it was russia that orchestrated the hack of the dnc
that was responsible for coordinating with wikileaks. but this is a narrative that's persisted. it's persisted in far right corners of the internet and it's persisted with the president. we heard him or we saw a record of him saying to the ukrainian president in july that he wanted him to look into this ukraine issue and look into the server and still pushing this narrative. >> yes. it is a kremlin-friendly line of disinformation that has ascended to the highest commanding heights of american power and is a formal ask by the president to another nation. zoe tillman and natasha bertrand, thank you both. >> thank you. >> thank
you. joining us now, one of the members of congress investigating the abuse of power, ted lieu, he's a part of the house judiciary and house foreign affairs committee part of the committees undertaking the impeachment inquiry. congressman, let me start with the no-shows from that white house. four official, i believe, did not appear today citing, i think, executive privilege. the white house not wanting them to appear.
what's your reaction to that? >> thank you, chris, for your question. the american people should be asking what is the white house trying to hide? if they really thought that this was a perfect phone call, as donald trump alleges, then they would be happy to have the white house officials come and explain about that phone call, explain what the message was with regard to ukraine. instead, they're obstructing witnesses, they're telling them not to come and it's very unfortunate we're not going hear their stories today. >> what do you make about the revelations in marie yovanovitch's testimony that at one point the secretary of state says that
he will call sean hannity to try to find out what the deal is with this whisper campaign of slander that is being directed at her to get her removed? >> all of these witness depositions being released, they're going to show one central narrative, which is that donald trump was using the levers of governmental power to benefit himself personally and politically instead of benefitting the u.s. national security.
in addition, he was trying to run this shadow foreign policy using people like rudy giuliani and people outside the government to try to pressure ukraine to launch these bogus investigations. one of those folks that got caught up may have been sean hannity. it is quite disturbing that his name would even be involved in any of this. >> well, what do you make of mike pompeo and how he comes across in the testimony that was released today by his closest deputy who resigned essentially in protest of pompeo's inability to protect folks at the state department and yovanovitch's testimony? >> i believe secretary pompeo is going to go down in history as one of the worst secretaries of state ever. he is not backing and sticking up for his career foreign service officers. he has completely taken the administration's line of obstruction. he has in fact tried to cover up what donald trump has done by preventing his officials from coming to congress. thank goodness many of them are ignoring him, coming to congress and telling their stories.
>> do you think that the republicans, your colleagues who have been sitting in these depositions, are going to change their tune now that the deposition transcripts are being released? >> absolutely, they have changed their defenses multiple times. first they started with hearsay. then they started with a process attack. then they started blaming adam schiff. then they said all this stuff is behind closed doors. now that witness deposition testimonies are coming out, they're shifting again i think to now really saying the quid pro quo is okay and with that they're going to lose their last shreds of integrity. >> the president has targeted some of the folks who have testified, including lieutenant colonel vindman. he has called for unmasking the name or revealing the identity of the whistle-blower, which is protected by the law. how much do you take this seriously and how much do you think it's actually sort of a concrete threat to these proceedings? >> so we know that the whistle-blower's identity is no longer relevant because everything he said has now been
corroborated by other witnesses. and the white house has released the call transcript, the summarized version of it. we don't need to have the whistle-blower tell us what was on that phone call because the american people already know. in addition, president trump's attacks on colonel vindman are very unfortunate. lieutenant colonel vindman served in iraq. he shed his blood, got a purple heart. he told his story to congress and he should not be attacked. >> congressman ted lieu, thank you very much. >> thank you, chris. republicans realize they are out of runway on the new quid pro quo argument. their new strategy in two minutes. strategy in two minutes.
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that they had to give up the ghost on the no quid pro quo argument because the facts so clearly show a quid pro quo. "the washington post" reporting that senator john kennedy of louisiana, himself a quite practiced trial lawyer, told his colleagues that there may have been a quid pro quo but the government often attaches conditions to foreign aid. kennedy saying it all turns on intent, motive. did the president have a culpable state of mind? based on the evidence that i've seen the president does not have a culpable state of mind. ted cruz said a quid pro quo is not illegal unless there's quote, corrupt intent. now, there is, i could note, plenty of evidence of corrupt intent on the part of the president. that said, republican senators would clearly like to find an argument that they can at the very least make with a straight face in front of cameras to defend the president. the president, however, is not going to make that easy on them. this weekend he tweeted false stories are being reported that a few republican senators are saying that president trump may have done a quid pro quo, but it doesn't matter, there is nothing wrong with that. it is not an impeachable event. perhaps so, but read the transcript, there is no quid pro quo. the president does not care
about making arguments with a straight face. it's his political superpower and he's going to make the republican caucus do what he does, just throw out a bunch of nonsensical arguments all in tandem. for more with how republicans with the impeachment inquiries as they enter the public phase, i'm joined by norm ornstein, and former rnc chairman michael steele who is an msnbc analyst. michael, let me start with you. i do think we've arrived where just the facts show there was a quid pro quo. there was an attempt at extortion. and that even folks that want to defend the president are going to have to concede that factual basis. do you agree? >> oh, absolutely. they have already begun to do that by saying, yeah, well, there was a quid pro quo but it didn't amount to anything. we do this all the time, it's the normal course of governmental business. all of that very well may be true, except to the extent that it is done to benefit the president personally. >> right, yes. >> and politically.
that's the catch. >> well, and i think the corrupt intent thing is interesting because i think that actually -- here's what i -- here's how i see what they're doing right now, norm. the president tonight is at a rally. and there's a bunch of people in t-shirts, wearing t-shirts that say "read the transcript." which i agree with them, everyone should read the transcript because it shows the president corruptly using his office toco everyone's erce an nation into digging up dirt. if he tells people to read the transcript, it's like the russia, if you're listening moment. if he does it in public and essentially just owns the crime, that that somehow retroactively washes it of its corrupt intent. what do you think? >> absolutely. we're seeing all kinds of ploys here used by the president and others being picked up by the republicans in congress. a part of it is the tried and true chico marx defense, who are you going to believe, me or your own eyes when you look at the
transcript. part of it is, well, even if it happened, it happens all the time and if it happened, it's not impeachable regardless. and what we're seeing, of course, with not just republicans in congress, but outside lackeys and acolytes like bill ben it is saying quid pro quos happen all the time and what's wrong with those? what we know is whether there was intent or not, there was a woman in texas who voted, not knowing she couldn't vote, who was sentenced to many years in prison because she violated the law, whether she knew it or not. the idea that attempted murder, attempted rape, attempted robbery are okay if nothing happens or because you didn't really know that it was illegal is almost laughable, but that's what they have been reduced to because the evidence is so powerful. >> that point, i've seen this trotted out as well, michael, the attempted notion. "the wall street journal" has sort of tried this.
rush limbaugh has tried this. this is tom cole, republican of oklahoma, saying the same thing. take a listen. >> i look at it this way. the aid is there. and the investigations didn't happen. so if there was a quid pro quo, it certainly wasn't a very effective one. >> i mean, i have to note that the watergate wiretaps that the plumbers broke in to fix didn't ending up getting fixed because they got nabbed. so no crime. >> right. the aid is there now so clearly there was nothing illegal or impeachable done. yes, when did the aid get there? i mean the aid was not there at the time it was supposed to have been released and there was a reason for that. what was the reason? well, the president had a conversation with president zelensky in which he said i have a favor, though. i'll give you what you want but i have a favor, though. come on. this is not rocket science. this is not complicated. what you're seeing is the shucking and jiving by republicans to give this president as much runway, as
much quarter as they can but the space is getting smaller and smaller in which they can do that because the facts and the testimony and the evidence is incontrovertible at this point. >> i agree with that. and i think that ultimately there's two end points to this, norm. one is what the president and others will try to do which is just essentially create an alternate reality in which the facts are not the facts, the transcript says something different than it does. the president on friday tweeted about 300,000 jobs created when the number was 150. he doesn't care. he'll make it up. the other intellectually honest place to go, i don't care, the president can do whatever he wants. honestly, that's the intellectually honest argument to make and i think we'll get there with some house republicans, norm. >> i think there's no doubt about that. i'm still -- i'm stunned in many ways, chris. tom cole has been a very good, smart member of congress. i was around at the watergate time and i knew people like caldwell butler and others.
when they saw facts, even though it was a party and a president they felt loyal to, they went with their moral standards. and that almost none of these republicans who might have been in that category a long time ago will take that perspective. instead, may fall back on simply he's the president, he's dear leader, he can do whatever he wants. it's a sad reflection of a party becoming more like a cult. >> the final thing here, the polling which i think is fascinating, michael. there's two things happening in the polling. and i think one sort of good for democrats, one good for trump. one is -- the polls -- the question should the president be impeached are trending towards approval/disapproval. most believe that he should be investigated. removed? perhaps. but the 42%, 43% opposing, that's the trump base that approves of him. if that number starts to crack, i don't think there's a
political signal being sent to republicans other than cory gardners that have to worry. what do you think? >> well, i think on its face, chris, that's correct. from what i understand from some of the internal polling that's being done right now that there is a softening of some of those numbers. there has been a lessening in one number that i heard was an 18-point drop for the president from something in the high 90s to the high 70s. so there is -- there is this kind of softening as this narrative unfolds, which is why it's so important for democrats not to do the partisan thing here, but to stick with the strictly political. and that's what the impeachment process is. that's not said as a pejorative. this is an inherently political process, we know that. >> yep. >> but the way you handle it, if you take it into the partisan space, that's when you start to lose the american people. if they stay correct on that, they should make the case fairly quickly.
>> it's interesting you make that point because one thing i think is very interesting in the strategy so far is these witnesses like vindman and yovanovitch, nonpartisan figures, taylor, they are not partisan warriors. they are sort of the ultimate in nonpartisan. we'll see how that plays out in the public phase. norm, michael, thank you gentlemen both. coming up, senator jeff merkley on the president leaving the door open to a government shutdown over impeachment and the administration's obstruction of congress. the senator joins me, next. my parents never taught me anything about managing money.
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than 250 pieces of legislation. some of those are the small stuff they do but it also includes big substantive issues. legislation to protect dreamers, election security, a prescription drug pricing plan, the first climate bill, multiple pieces of gun safety legislation, and none of that, not one piece of legislation has even gotten an airing in the senate where majority leader mitch mcconnell, the self-described grim reaper, has essentially shut the entire body down. which means it is just a very weird and frustrating time to be an american senator, frankly of either party. joining me now is one of those people who has that weird job, senator jeff merkley. temperature democrat from oregon. >> i am one of those very frustrated senators. >> it's funny. i've had a bunch of conversations with members of the u.s. senate and they all say the same thing, that it's hard for them to communicate to folks just how abnormal the last year has been under mcconnell's reign. why? >> not very long ago if you were a member of the senate you could force a debate on any topic. you could force a debate on how
to control the price of drugs or how to take on gun safety or how to prevent moscow from getting involved in our 2020 elections. but now what mitch mcconnell has done is taken the privilege of the majority leader and completely shut down the ability of members to raise topics for debate and a vote. which means folks back home don't see any accountability for us because they can't judge where we stand because we haven't taken votes on these issues. >> you're just not voting anything that's not confirmations of judicial nominees. >> it is essentially that and executive nominees and now appropriation bills are now starting -- >> it's clear mcconnell wants to fund the government, he wants to keep the government open and he wants to confirm judges. there's nothing else. even something like prescription drug pricing, chuck grassley tweeted how he and ron wyden had a bipartisan bill on drug pricing.
there's a bill in the house. presumably you could work something out on that in the senate, right? >> even the president said he wanted to have a reference pricing bill and it would probably be great election politics to do it but he's not one to take on the drug manufacturers who are very powerful special interests and mitch mcconnell is not willing to take them on. >> so it just dies. this is the one thing that i think mcconnell has passion about is those judicial nominees. i want to play you some sound tonight. he was at a rally in kentucky where there's a gubernatorial election tomorrow. the president is there. this is what mcconnell had to say about judges. take a listen. >> matt bevin is making kentucky great again thanks to your help tonight. and working together we're changing the federal courts forever. nobody's done more to change the court system in the history of our country than donald trump. and, mr. president, we're going to keep on doing it. my motto is leave no vacancy behind. >> they have changed the rules in terms of how these nominees
happen. there used to be this system called the blue slip process which sort of granted to home state senators a kind of veto of district court nominees. that's gone now. it existed under obama and democratic rule. mcconnell has gotten rid of it. what are the implications? >> it's being left in place on district but not circuit judges. >> i'm sorry. yes. right. >> what they did is changed the number of hours of deliberation from 30 hours to 2 hours so they can just put through so many judges so quickly, taking away any ability to create real opposition. so mcconnell is looking at the fact that between his partnership with trump, they have put through about 100 district judges. and a quarter of the active appeal judges, which have far more decision-making ability than the supreme court, because the supreme court takes just a limited number of cases. so they are reshaping the judiciary and they're doing it for the powerful. the whole federal society approach is let's supersize the first amendment so the powerful
can spend hundreds of millions of dollars and take control of the government by and for the privileged and powerful. this is the exact evisceration of the we the people vision of our constitution. that's what mitch mcconnell is doing. that's what trump is doing. it's not for ordinary americans, it's for the rich and powerful. we have to stop them and that's with the elections next year. >> there's also the idea of -- you talked about the appropriations legislation. the one thing that i think mcconnell wants to do, i don't think mcconnell wants a shutdown. do you agree with that? >> i agree with that. >> he didn't want the first one. he talked about the no wisdom and no learning in the second kick of the donkey and then he got kicked. this is the president leaving open the possibility of a shutdown over impeachment. take a listen to what he had to say. >> can you commit to no government shutdown? i mean, people that are -- >> it depends on what the negotiation. i wouldn't commit to anything. it depends on what the negotiation is. >> can you imagine a situation in which the president shut down the government with the demand that the impeachment inquiry stop?
>> well, i don't see him connecting it directly. but in terms of a distraction for the american people, change the news stories to what is not happening. you can't get into your national parks, et cetera, et cetera, all the things that happen when we shut down the government. the american people hate the government being shut down, however. >> yes. >> so i'm not sure that this is a smart political move. >> it's swallowing the grenade to keep it from going off. >> that's a vivid way to put it. >> yeah. the last time that his approval ratings really tanked was during the shutdown. they do seem intent on finding some ways to try to gum up the works on impeachment. it's coming to your house of congress almost certainly. what do you think about the reporting on your senate colleagues that we were just talking about, trying to come up with an argument they can use to defend the president? >> well, they are really searching for a way to give a consistent message, and they're all over the map right now. some are saying let's just echo what the president says. there was no quid pro quo. others are saying, well, there wasn't effectively a quid pro
quo because it was never completed. eventually ukraine got the aid without producing the goods on the bidens. others are saying, you know what, there was a quo but it was a meritorious quo, simply the president pursuing corruption. so the list goes on and on. and at the heart of it is a sense that they are basically losing their integrity on this issue. they're not putting country before party. they're strategizing together over a political message that will let the president off the hook rather than thinking about what is the real evidence, what does it imply about a president soliciting interference in the 2020 election, let alone the four cases of obstruction of justice that were in the mueller report and hugely documented. and that is a problem. one of my colleagues said you've got to think about this, this is a republican colleague. you've got to think about this as if the president was in the opposite party. how would you act? that's integrity.
and so i think there may be a small group of republicans who are thinking i want to act with integrity. but the pressure is so high because my political base is hearing from fox news, they're hearing -- >> my favorite thing about that, the very same senators who are doing that will then go on twitter to blast an nba player who won't speak out against china. it's like look in the mirror. senator jeff merkley, it's great to have you here in the studio. thanks a lot. >> thank you. key polling in battleground states that has echos of the 2016 election. what democrats plan to do about it ahead. $9.95 at my age?
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we've got some great news about our next live tour date. which is november 12th in chicago. we've added extra tickets. i'll be talking about ibram kendi author of most recently, "how to be an anti-racist." and nicole hannah-jones who is the mastermind that conceived the topic of slavery in the u.s. we'll be talking about race, slavery and anti-racism in the trump era. it's going to be a great event. tickets to that event sold out extremely quickly but the extra standing room only tickets mean you can still join us. you can get those by going to msnbc.com/withpodtour. we look forward to seeing you in chicago. as for all you new yorkers who have been asking me and want in on the with pod tour, we can tell you tonight you should circle sunday, december 8th, on your calendars. our big announcement of the guests and info on ticket sales is coming the next few days. it is a very good one, so stay tuned.
it is election day tomorrow, one of the most fascinating races is the gubernatorial race in mississippi. there a popular democrat state attorney general, jim hood, is running against republican lieutenant governor tate reeves. the polling has them essentially neck and neck. >> but here's the problem, neck and neck isn't good enough in
the state of mississippi. even if hood were to eke out a narrow victory in deep red mississippi, which in these polarized times itself would be amazing, he probably will not be governor. in fact, the estimates are that the republican lieutenant governor, the republican candidate, could lose by up to nine points in the popular vote and still be named the next governor. how you ask is that possible? well, it turns out the state constitution of mississippi has its own version of something like the electoral college. in order to be elected governor, a candidate has to win an outright majority in the statewide vote but also carry the most votes in a majority of mississippi's 122 house districts. so let's just say your support is concentrated in heavily black districts in the very segregated environments in mississippi. it's going to be real hard to carry a majority of the house districts. if a candidate doesn't win both the majority of the popular vote and a majority of those districts, well, then the mississippi house of representatives which is overwhelmingly republican and massively gerrymandered gets to pick the governor.
so why on earth would the framers of the mississippi constitution have done this? luckily they were extremely explicit about their intentions at the time. in 1889, senator james george was predicting that african-americans would soon outnumber white voters in the state 2 to 1 so he called for a new, quote, constitution that would ensure home government under the control of the white people of the state. one of the framers of that new constitution was a man named james k. vardaman who would go on to be a u.s. senator and governor of mississippi. there is no use to equivocate or lie about the matter. mississippi's constitutional convention of 1890 was held for no other purpose than to eliminate the "n" word from politics. in other words, after white supremacists in the south used violence and terrorism to beat back universal male suffrage for everyone black and white during reconstruction, they then
put into place explicitly white supremacist anti-majority governing structures to preserve white control of the state at all costs. that included poll taxes and literary tests which have since been struck down. despite the fact that the gubernatorial voting system is pretty clearly unconstitutional, it has not been struck down. it is still the law 129 years later. now, it turns out there's another place where one person, one vote doesn't apply in u.s. elections and winning a majority of the vote if too heavily concentrated in certain areas doesn't mean you win the election and there are some new and sobering battleground state polling in the u.s. presidential election and we're going to discuss that right after this.
the national polling for the president continues to be bad. right now, his approval rating is about 41% nationally with 55% disapproval and if this were any other president or any other time or the electoral college did not exist, you would think he is clearly not favored for re-election despite the advantages of incumbency which are considerable.
but, of course, as we were reminded in 2016 the electoral college does exist. and the spatial distribution of votes in a diversifying america make it possible to eke out an electoral college victory while losing the popular vote substantially as trump did by more than 2.8 million votes. in that vein "the new york times" working with sienna college has a big new poll of six key battleground states. michigan, pennsylvania, wisconsin, florida, arizona, north carolina, which finds basically a razor-thin race within the margin of error. among registered voters, trump trails joe biden by an average of two points. tied with bernie sanders and leads elizabeth warren by two points. the same structures that got trump elected in 2016 are still very much present. what's that mean for democratic strategy? to help answer that question i'm joined by democratic pollster, as well as jelani cobb, a professor at the columbia university school of journalism. let me start with you. i should note on things like some of these poll numbers from "the new york times," a bit of
an outlier if you compare, say, what they found for michigan compared to emerson, it's a huge, huge spread. emerson has joe biden winning michigan by 12 points. but the overall picture they basically paint is there are a ton of white non-college voters in this country. half the voters in these battleground states and basically still with the president. it's similar margins in 2016. how does that story sound to you as a pollster, yourself? >> it sounds absolutely terrifying. and i think that one of the things that's really, really important to democrats right now is who can beat donald trump. 49% of voters think that that is their number-one criteria. right now, joe biden is the strongest with those voters. he is showing real strength in these polls with blue collar voters and with men and with older voters. all of which we can't lose by too much. >> i should note that, like, the margins here, it is the case that biden --
>> right. >> -- does best and then sanders then and warren, the margins are all within the margin of error. it's hard to get too obsessively granular. one of the cases they make in the kind of article is they sort of imply if not state outright not elizabeth warren is paying a little bit of a gender tax. >> sure. >> among certain voters. >> sure. i mean, it's right there. but i also think what's instructive about that is this. with hillary clinton, it's beyond question that she faced the headwind of sexism. and, you know, we saw evidence of this in lots of different places. lots of different times. but at the same time, it was hard to disaggregate that from the baggage of the clintons. from the clinton era, she had a very long political history. there were people who had hated her from the arkansas days for whatever grievances they had. >> and there'd been 20 years of essentially right-wing -- >> that's right. >> -- coverage of her, produced a whole -- >> it was policy. there was conspiratorial,
sexism, this ugly melange of all of it. when you pull that apart and you have a candidate who does not have that track record, does not have the baggage of the clintons and the clinton administration like elizabeth warren, you then start saying, okay, this is where we see the thread. this is actually the through line we can see the way that gender and sexism in this country still affect politics. >> you know, celinda, one of the things that there's a lot of consternation about in democratic center-left circles and the sort of debates after 2016 is the sort of obsession with white non-college voters. i get that. it's also the case i think people sometimes don't quite recognize how many there are and how much they're spread around the country. right? so every state has white non-college voters. not every state is particularly diverse. if you're trying to build a national party, particularly in battleground states, that said, i do think this data is interesting, that the margins among those voters, those voters we talked a lot about and have
been much studied and reported about, they don't change a ton between these three candidates, biden, sanders, and warren. the changes are much for with other voters. i wonder what you think of that. >> i think that there are a couple of things. first of all, even a couple points can make the difference. >> right. >> that's what this margin -- it's going to be a very close race. those couple of points are very, very important. you also see joe biden as the candidate with the most diverse coalition. and the most support, for example, among african-american voters doing very well leading with latino voters. but i think that jelani made a very, very important point and that it is that it is very difficult to elect a woman as executive. the barbara lee family foundation documented this over two decades as we've looked at women governors, women mayors. we are just barely breaking through. it's nothing like the kind of victories we've seen in state legislative offices and in congressional offices. >> that's a really important point that the data suggests
that that sort of headwind of sexism is much stronger against women running for executive positions than it is in sort of -- >> and the congress of obama, remember when obama got elected in 2008, we saw very little in terms of african-americans in the senate. >> yeah. >> african-americans in governorships. he leapfrogged that entire thing. >> that's true. >> we're seeing the opposite. and one thing i do want to add to this, though, this is a snapshot, sure, but there are two huge contingencies. the house just voted to start having these public hearings. nobody knows -- >> that's true. >> -- where the impeachment information is going to go. the other which i think really makes it a real caveat on putting too much faith in anything that we know is, like, what direction is the economy going to go in in the next six months? >> to me, i think that's in some ways the most important thing here. we have seen it trending in the wrong direction over the last quarter or so. if that continues, think that changes these numbers. celinda lake, jelani cobb, thank you for being with.
>> we thank you so much. >> that's "all in" for this evening. "the 11th hour" with brian williams starts right now. tonight the impeachment investigation intensifies. one of those two indicted giuliani associates may be ready to cooperate. and the democrats just released transcripts of their tell a remarkable story of the ambassador to ukraine, realizing rudy was conducting foreign policy, realizing she was being drummed out with no support from her boss, feeling threatened on the job and amazed to hear the president talking about her with a foreign leader on the phone. also tonight, the increasing evidence that the ukraine corruption conspiracy theory dates back to paul manafort, who is now in prison. and a big loss for trump today as an important federal court weighs in on his taxes, and tonight the experts weigh in on where they think this is headed as "the 11th hour" gets under way on a monday night.