tv Weekends With Alex Witt MSNBC November 16, 2019 9:00am-11:00am PST
that is our show for today. "a.m. joy" will be back tomorrow at 10:00 a.m. eastern. up next, alex witt has the latest. alex, hello! >> hello, my friend. i was so glad that you were playing denny heck there and his sentiments. i've got him on the show at noon tomorrow, and i listened. i was really spellbound by his emotion, his evocative nature with that, and he was 100,000% spot on with that. it was really good. >> he was so passionate. >> uh huh. >> absolutely. and the thing is, you cannot not have incredible respect for ambassador yovanovitch. >> absolutely. >> she was so gutsy and smart, and i think for him to give her that praise i thought was so, so appropriate. >> right there, as usual, thinking alike, my friend. >> always. >> hey, don't go anywhere because i have about a million questions for you in about three
minutes. >> okay. >> meantime, good day to all of you from msnbc world headquarters in new york. high noon in the east, 9:00 a.m. out west. welcome, everyone, to "weekends with alex witt." closed-door testimony now under way. how a senior white house budget official could hold an important piece of the impeachment puzzle. also, the first direct account of an overheard phone call where the president allegedly asks about ukraine investigations. forget about everything else, why this could be the real bombshell moment. the testimony you might have missed. the biggest takeaways from the first public hearings. plus -- >> the point of order is will the chairman continue to prohibit witnesses from answering republican questions as you've done in closed hearings and as you did -- >> gentlewoman will suspend. >> -- this week when you interrupted our questions. >> not a proper point of order. jeanetgentle woman will suspend >> what was that about? a member of congress explains. but top of the hour, breaking news as right now, a rare saturday closed-door deposition is under way on capitol hill as the impeachment
inquiry to president trump reaches day 54. mark sandy, a longtime career employee at the white house office of management and budget breaking ranks to become the first omb official to testify in the investigation. now, his deposition taking place as we speak, and it could fill in important details on the holdup of military aid to ukraine. we've got live team coverage in washington, d.c., as this all unfolds. nbc's garrett haake is on capitol hill. nbc's kelly o'donnell is at the white house. with a welcome to you both. first, let's go to you, garrett. is there any word on the deposition yet? and if not, what are the expectations from mark sandy? >> reporter: well, sandy just got under way about 10:00 this morning. he's expected to go late into the afternoon. we have not heard a word out of him. and in fact, we were told by his attorney that he did not prepare an opening statement. so, it may be a little while before we get into the meat of what sandy is able to tell investigators, but we know why they want him here. you know, it's washington scandal 101 to try to follow the money. and sandy is the first witness
who could potentially let democrats do that. he is a top official at the office of management and budget. it would be across his desk that the paperwork would have to move to get that military aid to ukraine or to hold it up, and he represents the first person from that office who has agreed to come testify. he's here pursuant to a subpoena. several other officials from omb have refused to come and talk. so, he's an important missing piece for democrats as they've tried to circle this entire impeachment inquiry. he, you know, could help them close the loop on one piece of this that they have not yet been able to obtain. >> okay. so, we have that. and once again, i just want to clarify, garrett, that he's the one who says green light, let's put this money through, but he would also be the person through whom a stop light would be issued, right? >> reporter: that's our understanding here, absolutely. you know, congress appropriated this money. it was set to go. it's really the action of stopping it that becomes news worthy here. we know from other depositions that there were discussions at different levels of the
government, was it even legal to stop the spending of this money once it had been sort of moved along in the process. sandy can tell these lawmakers much more about what happened behind the scenes in the real machinery of government to make this happen. >> all right. clearly important testimony going on behind those closed doors, garrett. thank you for that. let's go to kelly at the white house, as kelly, we are getting some word of the president's most ardent supporters in the house, their defense. is it changing at all? >> reporter: so far, the republicans are keying on to a couple of basic principles where they say the facts haven't changed. and you'll hear that from congressman jim jordan of ohio, who was added to the intelligence committee in order to bring his voice to these public hearings. and so, that's important for the president. and also, we're hearing from the president himself, who is tweeting today, as he does so regularly. the president's here at the white house, has not gone golfing on a nice saturday, although it's cold here in d.c., and otherwise has no public events, where he has been
critical of the impeachment inquiry. in part, he has misspelled the name of the chairman of the house intelligence committee, adam schiff. instead of two fs at the end of his name, two ts. i won't say that out loud. you can determine whether that was an intentional misspelling to undercut and sort of make fun of the chairman or if that was, you know, kind of bumpy thumbs when the president is tweeting. both can be true where he's concerned. so, the president has been talking about the other attempts to go after, investigate, and so forth, his administration, including the mueller investigation, have not produced the effect that perhaps democrats had wanted. here is how republicans on the hill are talking about the defense so far, and it really is focused on the timeline and what is evident or not evident based on how you review the evidence. here's jim jordan explaining
that earlier today. >> i think, frankly, things are going well for the president. you know, they've had three hearings, three witnesses with no firsthand knowledge. i say this all the time, but you know, that's the thing about facts, they don't change. we have the call transcript. we have the two individuals on the call, president trump, president zelensky, who said there was no linkage, no pressure, no pushing whatsoever, no linkage between any security assistance dollars and an investigation. we have the fact that the ukrainians didn't even know that the aid was held at the time of the call. and most importantly, of course, we have the fact that they didn't do anything to get the aid released. >> reporter: that is the bottom line, that the aid eventually flowed and that no investigation into the bidens was done by ukraine. and so, republicans have keyed on that as being important and have focused most directly on the president's words and his conduct that have been revealed through the call memos of the two phone calls involved. now, of course, what democrats
are finding is there is a lot more story to tell, and that's how they're using some of these other witnesses, expanding the timeline, taking it back a few months before the now-famous call to give a sense of what the replaced ukrainian ambassador, marie yovanovitch, was experiencing, what she has described as a smear campaign. today hearing from mark sandy, who may be able to tell us more about the timeline of how the aid was held up and then ultimately released, what did he know about that? and then the ear witness who testified late yesterday, actually hearing, he says, the president's voice coming through a phone call with eu ambassador gordon sondland, who was directly involved in these negotiations. so, democrats are saying there's a lot more evidence to look at. republicans are taking a narrower focus and saying that is good for the president. all of this, however, is something the president has said repeatedly, he doesn't like the word impeachment, calls it a dirty word, and has said this week that it's hard on his family as well. >> yeah. >> alex? >> can i go back to the tweet
that the president put out there relative to adam schiff? just, you'll remember this, kelly, he did misspell in the exact same way the congressman's last name once before, and i remember laughing out loud to congressman schiff's response to the president, which was, "wow, that's a good one, mr. president." it is what it is. just saying, a little humor back and forth. >> reporter: it could be corrected if he so chose. >> bingo. there you go. thank you, kelly. gabby orr is white house reporter at politico and joy reid, host of msnbc's "a.m. joy," who stuck around as i begged her to do. >> of course. >> thank you, ladies. how do you assess the words of the president as articulated by jim jordan there? >> it's interesting. it's clear that they can't defend donald trump on the substance, and so, they did theatrics during the debate. but what i've also heard from republican sources is that that was not good enough for the president, that donald trump actually wants to be defended on the substance. and jim jordan is nothing, if not obedient. and so, you know, what i think jordan et al. are trying to do
is to shift from, they want to do the process arguments because that just is disruptive and can sort of try to bring the hearing to a halt, but they're trying to find a way to defend on the substance. and so, what they're saying is, okay, if donald trump plotted to do this, it didn't get done, and therefore, there's nothing wrong with it. and even if he's on a phone call saying he wants dirt on the bidens, there's nothing wrong with it because he didn't get dirt on the bidens. well, try to tell somebody accused of bank robbery that if they fail to get into the vault but still broke into the bank, they're not going to be indicted for attempting to rob the bank or that attempted murder is not a crime, or you know. the fact that you couldn't pull it off or that you couldn't induce the government of ukraine to do the deed, that doesn't make him innocent of the deed. >> right. >> the problem that republicans have is that donald trump -- we now have an ear witness, i think it was rightly called, that heard him say he wanted the dirt on biden. it's a big problem for him. >> yeah. what about mark sandy, joy?
give me a sense of the significance of this testimony in terms of what democrats want to hear from him. >> well, i think it's important, because if you'll recall, donald trump's current chief of staff, mick mulvaney, was the director of omb. that's what he was before he, you know, let that go in order to just be chief of staff -- >> i think he still oversees that job, too, right? he's still overseeing it, right. >> exactly. and sandy's sort of acting in lieu of him because he's also chief of staff. so, you have mick mulvaney giving the order, we're not giving this aid over -- remember, it wasn't theirs to hold back. this was aid that congress had already appropriated for ukraine. they had approved ukraine even on the corruption issues in may of this year and said they're clean on that, give them the money. and so, then you have the order going from the real omb director, which is the chief of staff mulvaney, going to mr. sandy and it's sandy who executes the order. so, he is a direct witness to what happen because he's the one who had to make it happen. the problem that the trump
defense is going to have here is that it wasn't discretionary money. it was the money that had been appropriated, so they're defying a congressional order, essentially. congress said give them the money. so that's a problem they're not dweg to be able to wriggle out of, and he provides direct evidence of that. >> okay. a couple questions for you now, gabby. first of all, who's most at risk of being implicated in mark sandy's testimony? >> that's a good question. i think mick mulvaney is one of the characters that we haven't heard much about lately, in both closed-door testimony and in public testimony as well, and mark sandy is, of course, extremely close to mick mulvaney, having that position at omb. mick mulvaney was involved in the decision-making in terms of halting this aid to ukraine. and while mark sandy wasn't necessarily involved in what went into deciding to withhold that aid, he was involved in the mechanics of actually halting it. and so, i do think that he can speak directly to the key players in that decision and what their motivation was, and certainly, mick mulvaney is
somebody who we're all keeping a close eye on as we follow this investigation. >> and gabby, what is the white house stance on all of this? because i cannot imagine that they wanted him to appear today, right? >> well, they don't want anybody inside the administration to testify because the white house counsel's office, as you recall, put out a lengthy letter last month, essentially saying that this entire impeachment inquiry is a sham, is a charade, that it shouldn't be taken seriously, it's illegitimate, so no official should legitimize it by appearing before the house intelligence committee. so, the fact that mark sandy will be appearing behind closed doors is significant. the fact that mick mulvaney was even considering it by joining that lawsuit that he has since withdrawn from, but you know, exploring the possibility of sitting before the house intelligence committee also upset the president, according to white house officials who have relayed that to me. >> yeah, well, we'll make the point that mark sandy was issued
a subpoena to appear, so there is that to discuss. >> of course. >> more, of course, here. i want to get to the other major headline, ladies. this is today in the impeachment inquiry. new details from yesterday's closed-door testimony by david holmes. he's the embassy staffer in ukraine who says that he overheard the president's phone call of ambassador gordon sondland. according to his opening statement obtained by nbc news, holmes said, "i then heard president trump ask, "so he's going to do the investigation?" ambassador sondland relied that he's going to do it, adding that president zelensky will do anything you ask him to." here's representative swalwell describing the impact of holmes' testimony. >> in that statement that was released, there is a lot to be concerned about, particularly that more witnesses describe the president's obsession with investigating his political opponents. so now we're going to evaluate whether that warrants bringing him in, in a public hearing. >> republican house intel money jim jordan also responding to the testimony today, appearing to brush it all off.
>> you've got some guy overheard a phone call. i'm sure he's going to be in a witness next week. we'll have him in an open hearing and we will get a chance to question him there. >> gabby, to you first here. do you think that line of defense stays fresh for republicans, or does it have not that much time left in terms of shelf life, expiring when gordon sondland testifies this week? >> yeah, it's something that's worked for them so far. if you talk to republicans on the hill and officials within the trump campaign, they feel like that messaging, that most of the people who have appeared publicly so far have been second or thirdhand sources. they feel like that's resonating with voters. but of course, david holmes is somebody who could make that defense a lot more difficult. he was there. he was present. he overheard this phone call. he can speak directly to what the president said in a way that makes that entire defense very difficult for republicans moving forward. and so, i do think that this could be one of the most potentially detrimental testimonies that we'll hear
publicly, if he does appear before the house intelligence committee in public and not behind closed doors. >> yeah, so joy, here's what jeremy bash -- of course, one of our msnbc national security analysts and former chief of staff at the cia and the department of defense -- here's what he told me earlier today on the significance of holmes' testimony. take a listen. >> the president's defenders have repeatedly said that this is all hearsay, this is all secondhand information, that none of the witnesses have actually heard the president's own voice say that he was demanding an investigation of joe biden. now along comes this career foreign service officer, a professional, david holmes, and he says, no, i did hear the president's own voice. >> so, gabby touched on this, but how much do you think it changes the dynamic of the impeachment inquiry overall? >> i think -- >> well, look, it's -- >> i'm sorry, this is to joy. >> sorry. >> well, i think it's a huge problem for the president, because you know, alex, what this does is it puts the deed in the mouth of the president of
the united states. that's important, because this is now not someone interpreting what donald trump wanted done. this is someone hearing donald trump say in his own voice what he wanted done, investigations of his political rival. and here's the other important thing -- and i'm sitting here looking at the testimony, too, as we all have been since we got it at nbc news. it's what's not in here that's also a problem for donald trump, because what he did not say on that overheard phone call is that i want ukraine to stop corruption, to limit corruption, to deal with corruption. that has been part of the trump team's defense, that all he really cared about was beating that corruption in ukraine. well, that's not what he said. what he said was when am i going to get the investigations? and you now have holmes overhearing that that's all he cared about, that he didn't care at all about ukraine. that he didn't care at all about corruption. he only cared about getting those investigations into that conspiracy theory that clears russia and into the bidens.
that's important because it's as if nixon was caught doing the watergate break-in! it puts it in his own voice and it demolishing donald trump's defense. >> so, sondland either comes forward this week and confirms that which the others have said or risks potential perjury, if he decides not to. >> yes. >> joy, if you put all this together, does it have a smoking gun element to it? >> it absolutely does, because the problem is, is that sondland, as you just rightly said, alex, risks perjury if he then denies it. you now have at least one witness. nbc news has not corroborated if there's a second person, but there are stories swirling around that there might be more than one person that heard it. they said that they did the discussion in a restaurant! anybody sitting near them having a bagel could have heard them. so, the problem is that they weren't careful and that donald trump was so adamant that he just kept asking for the investigations. and if you have an ear witness that heard it, sondland is going to have a really hard time wriggling out of what we've had, very trusted, very credible witnesses say that he said and
that he heard donald trump say back to him. >> yep. i've got congressman gerry connolly coming up. i'm going to ask him all about this, about this rumor that there may be a second person forthcoming who overheard things as well. so it's not hearsay any longer. meantime, gabby and joy, ladies, thank you very much. always great to talk to you. >> thank you. at times it got ugly, the bickering between republicans and democrats. why did the hearing suddenly devolve into a rollicking, raucous, gavel-backing affair? and prince andrew's first interview since being linked to jeffrey epstein. hear what he says to the controversy. y epstein. hear what he says to the controversy. make nature's bounty hair skin and nails step one. it's the number one brand uniquely formulated for silky hair, glowing skin and healthy nails. nature's bounty, because you're better off healthy. itso chantix can help you quit slow turkey. along with support, chantix is proven to help you quit. with chantix you can keep smoking at first
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another day of breaking developments on capitol hill. a closed-door deposition under way right now with mark sandy, first office of management and budget official to testify in defiance of the white house. we are monitoring that. we are going to bring you any news as we get it. meantime, we bring in congressman gerry connolly, democrat from virginia, member of the oversight and foreign affairs committees. welcome, congressman. always good to see you, sir. >> great to be with you, alex. >> thank you, sir. i know you were not at today's deposition of mark sandy, again, that senior official at the white house office of management and budget. but what are the expectations? what would you want to hear from him specifically? >> obviously, he can inform the committee of inquiry about the details of the decision, who made it, and why, to suspend
military aid to ukraine. and there was an earlier suspension, remember, on the javelin missiles, separate from the full package that had been approved by four levels, intelligence, defense, state department, but was held up by omb, and nobody knew why. and the javelin missiles were important, and there were reports that mulvaney held it up because he was worried about the russian reaction to the provision of javelin missiles, which are a very effective antitank weapons that are very important to ukraine's defense. so, we'd want to know about both of those things. and i think he can, sandy can shed a lot of light on them. >> it's so interesting. it's as if the united states is talking out of both sides of its mouth there. >> yeah. >> providing the weaponry, and yet, very concerned that this might offend russia, by your account there. let me ask you about the room yesterday in which you were when david holmes testified in that closed session.
the "washington post" is calling his testimony a friday night surprise. can you give us a sense of the reaction in the room to what all holmes had to say? >> well, i think the description that's been made public of the phone conversation in the restaurant was very gripping, very compelling. and you know, ambassador sondland made the phone call in a public place, in a restaurant in kiev, ukraine. the president's voice was quite recognizable but was so loud that ambassador sondland had to take the phone and move it away from his ear because it was almost deafening. the problem from ambassador sondland was that by doing that, others could hear the conversation and could distinctly hear the president. and as you indicated earlier and joy indicated, in that
conversation, there's no evidence of president trump having any interest whatsoever in ending corruption or abating corruption in ukraine. he, in fact, wanted to foster corruption by making sure that the investigations were being pursued and pursued aggressively by the new president of ukraine and that sondland was pressing their case. >> do you think sondland -- do you expect him to testify in corroboration, if you will, with that testimony when he speaks on wednesday? >> well, i think ambassador sondland has a problem. he's already amended his earlier testimony before the committee of inquiry in closed deposition, because subsequent witnesses, you know, frankly, contradicted parts of his testimony. in this case, it would be very difficult for ambassador sondland to deny what happened in a public place that was, you know, witnessed. and so, he's going to have some explaining to do, no question about it. >> are you chasing down a second
witness to that conversation? >> you know, i do not have firsthand knowledge of that. i have read the reports that there is at least one other person who also heard that conversation. that wouldn't surprise me, given what mr. holmes described in the restaurant. >> mm-hmm, that it was that loud. >> that it was out loud. >> what about yovanovitch's testimony? what did you think about the hearings overall, her testimony? what stood out for you? >> first of all, what stood out to me about her -- this is a patriot. this is someone who has sacrificed a great deal for her country. this is a consummate professional. and she was the subject of a deliberate campaign of smear and slander to take her out. and why? because she was pursuing an agenda, an anticorruption agenda in ukraine that was unpopular with the then government and
unpopular with giuliani's contact in the ukrainian government. and furthermore, i think the three amigos and president trump understood that yovanovitch would never cooperate with this shadow parallel effort at trying to get ukraine's cooperation to get dirt on a prospective political opponent. >> i want to take a look at a few of the exchanges between the chairman and gop representatives in the hearing. take a listen. >> the beginning of the story is an effort to get you out of the way, because they felt you were an impediment to these political investigations the president so desperately wanted, and you were viewed as an obstacle that had to go, not just by giuliani, but by the president of the united states. and if people had any doubt about it, they should -- >> will the chairman continue to prohibit witnesses from answering republican questions as you've done in closed hearings and as you did -- >> gentlewoman will suspend. >> -- when you interrupted our questions -- >> that is not a proper point of
order. gentleman is not recognized. >> chairman, there are four transcripts that have not been released. >> gentleman is not recognized -- >> i want you to release the four transcripts of depositions -- >> gentleman is not recognized. >> that's my point of order. >> gentleman will suspend. >> schiff appears to be playing really by the book here. assess his fairness in handling the hearings so far. >> my experience of adam schiff chairing both closed depositions and now the public hearings we've had is that he is a professional chairman who is keeping order. he is allowing fairness and balance. the republicans have equal time to question witnesses in depositions. i think it's important to note that it's not adam schiff who's behaved in an untoward manner in the course of this set of proceedings, it's the republicans.
it's one thing to question procedure. it's another to deliberately try to disrupt. they resorted to a physical assault on the room of depositions, which happens to be a scif, a special, compartmentalized intelligence, that is highly secure, into which one must never bring your electronics, because they can compromise the facility itself. and that facility is used by congress for receiving intelligence and secure information. so, that was really a low point. but think about what that represented. they had to resort to a physical assault to try to prevent these proceedings from going forward. that's their defense. >> yeah, i think what you've said, the point that he's trying to keep order in a place where things could very quickly develop into a raucous side show. anyway, i think you said that very well. gerry connolly, always good to see you, sir. thank you so much. >> thank you, alex. my pleasure. prince andrew answers
questions about his links to jeffrey epstein for the first time in a tv interview. his own words, next. and former star nfl quarterback colin kaepernick has a chance to get back into the game, but is today's tryout really giving him a fair shot? really giving him a fair shot? as a struggling actor, i need all the breaks that i can get. at liberty butchemel... cut. liberty mu... line? cut. liberty mutual customizes your car insurance so you only pay for what you need. cut. liberty m... am i allowed to riff? what if i come out of the water?
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and now to breaking news from paris. protesters there are marking the first anniversary of the antigovernment yellow vest movement. small fires, shattered glass littering a small section of the french capital. unrest erupted last year originally over high fuel costs and cost of living but spiraled into a movement on economic reforms. demonstrators plan to be back out on the streets tomorrow. prince andrew is speaking out about his relationship with sex trafficker jeffrey epstein. the prince has remained silent about the friendship until now, pushing back in a lengthy interview with the bbc. morgan chev ski is covering this. what all is the prince saying? >> reporter: quite a lot, alex. it's important to point out the anticipation behind the interview, right inside buckingham palace, had been building for some time. one of the reasons is because the prince had only been communicating via carefully worded statements, which is why today for the first time, a lot
of the public took notice when the prince finally spoke out in his own words. >> i have no recollection of ever meeting this lady. none whatsoever. >> reporter: this morning, the duke of york firing back, facing tough questions over his ties to disgraced financier jeffrey epstein. this video capturing what appears to be andrew saying good-bye to a young woman at the door of epstein's new york mansion. sometime after epstein was designated a sex offender. >> the fact that once he had been convicted -- >> you stayed with him? >> i stayed with him. and that's the bit that, as it were, i kick myself for on a daily basis, because it was not something that was becoming of a member of the royal family, and we try and uphold the highest standards and practices. simple as that. >> reporter: back in august, he said, "at no stage during the limited time that i spent with
him did i see, witness, or suspect any behavior of the sort that subsequently led to his arrest and conviction." the duke of york also denied he was hooked up with virginia roberts, pictured here at just 17. in an exclusive interview, roberts described the encounter with the prince after a night out at a london club. >> i hop in the car with gelin and jeffrey, and gelin said, "he's coming back to the house and i want you to do for him what you do for epstein." i couldn't believe it. >> prince andrew, of course, denies that this ever happened. >> he denies that it ever happened, and he's going to keep denying that it ever happened, but he knows the truth and i know the truth. >> you don't remember meeting her? >> no. >> reporter: so, you heard the prince there denying he had ever met that woman. and despite those claims, royal
commentators are already saying that by doing this very interview, the prince is only opening himself up to more scrutiny, to not only himself but also the entire royal family. in the meantime, the estate of jeffrey epstein has announced that they are looking to create a fund that would benefit those victims that, if in fact signed off by a judge, could give monetary damages to the victims in these cases. alex? >> okay. morgan chesky in london. thank you for that. back stateside in just about two hours, former san francisco 49ers qb colin kaepernick will take part in a private workout organized by the nfl just outside of atlanta. some people have shown up outside of that facility to send him a message. blayne alexander is live from flowery branch, georgia, once again. give me a sense with a welcome to you what the feeling is out there today. >> reporter: well, alex, you know, what's really interesting about this is that we're expecting this to be completely closed, completely private, closed to the press. but what we've been seeing over the past couple hours is a
stream of people coming out here behind me because they simply want to send a message to colin kaepernick. in fact, the number of people has been growing over the past two hours or so. i talked with one guy who says he drove from two hours away. he's wearing kaepernick's number 7 jersey and has a sign that simply says "i'm with kaep." but on the other side, kaepernick is called unpatriotic and one man says he wants him out of his town. so, alex, it's clear that even some three years after he played his last game in the nfl, there's still a lot of passion on both sides. take a look. >> i'm not here to disparage anybody or any organization or anything like that. i'm simply here to lift up the flag of the united states. >> i just want to let him see a face that there's at least a couple people in this world that stands behind him and supports him in rooting him on. his message has not been lost. >> reporter: so, certainly a lot
of people coming out here with messages. what is really important about this, alex, is the substance of today. remember, this is very unprecedented for the nfl to organize a private workout, invite all 32 teams in the league, bring colin kaepernick out here and just organize this entire thing. again, it's going to be completely private. we do understand, however, that 25 teams are going to have some sort of representation here today, be it scouts or people who are just here to watch and essentially see what he has on the field. and for the other teams that are not going to be here, the nfl has made it clear that they're going to send the video out to all of those teams for review, alex. >> extraordinary day in so many ways. thank you, blayne alexander. next, calls for white house adviser stephen miller to resign for pushing a white nationalist agenda. why is the president keeping him? i'm going to ask omarosa that question next. m? i'm going to ask omarosa that question next. lack of impulse , is about to become your problem. ahh no, come on. i saw you eating poop earlier.
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twelving this hour, several democratic lawmakers are calling on white house senior adviser stephen miller to design, in response to newly uncovered emails which show he pushed the website breitbart to cover white nationalist content between 2015 and 2016. in emails linked to hatewatch, a branch of the southern poverty law center, a report showed more than 80% of the 900 emails obtained related to race or immigration. hatewatch characterized miller as being obsessed with white genocide.
he now plays a direct role in forming the immigration policy. the white house has denounced that report. but joining me now, someone who worked with miller in the white house, omarosa manigault newman, former senior adviser to president trump and the best-selling author of "unhinged: an insider's account of the trump white house." welcome back to the broadcast. nice to talk with you, omarosa. >> hey, alex. >> what is your reaction to this report and these emails? is there anything here that surprises you? >> you know, in any other administration, alex, this would be shocking. it would be a headline in every newspaper across the country, but not in the trump administration, not where donald trump brought in steve bannon to help shape and mold his immigration policy. revolution miller is a white supremacist and racist and has advanced these notions is not shocking because this is an extension of who donald trump is. >> do you think stephen miller should resign as a result of this?
>> we absolutely know that he should resign, but will he? absolutely not. stephen miller is the chief architect of donald trump's most dark and divisive immigration policies, and he's carrying out the wishes and whims of donald trump. he is living his dream. this is his dream since he was in the office of jeff sessions. and so, i don't believe that he will resign, nor will donald trump have the courage or the decency to ask him to resign. >> but you know, omarosa, there's an article in "the daily beast" which suggests exactly what you're saying, but also that there are white house insiders who are saying the guy should go, but it is the president who has his back. >> well, remember when everyone was crying foul when steve bannon was in the white house, and everyone was saying he has to go, he has to go. the only reason that steve bannon was pushed out was because of what happened in charlottesville. so, only short of something like that happening would donald trump even consider getting rid of his right-hand man.
steve miller. >> all right, let's go to the impeachment inquiry now and talk about that, with the president tweeting out attacks against former ukraine ambassador marie yovanovitch while she was testifying -- >> wow. >> -- in that public hearing. yeah, that was a big wow by a lot of people's estimations. democrats were accusing the president of witness intimidation. let's listen to the president's response to that. >> i have the right to speak. ivan freedom of speech, just as other people do. but they've taken away the republicans' rights. >> do you believe your tweets and your words db. >> yes, go ahead. >> sir, do you believe -- >> quiet, quiet, quiet. >> sir, do you believe your tweets and words can be intimida intimidating? >> i don't think so at all. >> i don't know, that quiet, quiet, quiet is a little intimidating. but look, you just heard what the president thinks. how do you view this, omarosa? do you think it was witness intimidation? >> there is no question that this is witness intimidation, and it's par for the course for donald trump. it also shows that he has a very special disdain for women in
powerful positions. i thought it was very, very telling when the ambassador said, yes, this is very, very intimidating, and you could see that she was shook by the fact that the most powerful man on the face of the earth was tweeting while she was trying to tell her truth. it also served the purpose to try to silence anyone else who would have the courage to come forward and tell their side of the story. so donald trump knew exactly what he was doing, he knew it was wrong, and he did it anyway because he believes that there are no consequences for his bad behavior. >> so, it is the second impeachment which you've had a tangential relationship to, as deputy assistant director of deputy personnel in the clinton white house during the impeachment. i'm curious to ask you, do you think this investigation into this president will result in, "a," an impeachment by the house, or "b," removal by the senate? >> you know, first and foremost, what donald trump did was, in fact, wrong. bribery is wrong. it is outlined in the constitution as very, very
clear. and so, yes, donald trump should be impeached and will be impeached in the house. now, it gets a little tricky in the senate. i think that as more people come forward, as we saw today with people revealing that they heard firsthand that donald trump was the mastermind behind this scheme -- as people come forward, i believe that the senate will have to reckon with what's right for this country and not just for their political agenda. so, i think it's a long stretch that -- a long-shot that he would, in fact, be removed in the senate. but senators will have to come to terms with their decision once that trial starts. in the senate. and you're right, this is the second time i've lived through it. i think about the staffers who are in the white house and what it was like as a junior staffer when i was in clinton white house, going to work every single day knowing that this could, in fact, be the end of the president's reign and needs to be the end of donald trump's reign. so i actually think about the staffers that i served with in the white house and what it must be like for them to go in every single day and try to carry out the work of the american people.
>> yeah. i do want to get you to weigh in on the book "a warning" by anonymous. as you know, it's set to hit the book shelves on tuesday. you were here on my show back when the anonymous "the new york times" op ed was published over a year ago and i want to take a listen to something you told me. >> we had a little hashtag, #tfa, which you know, now that i think about, i'm a little embarrassed to tell you how often when i went through my text change from the white house, i saw #tfa, 25th amendment. whenever he did something insane and crazy and unhinged, when he would flip positions from one hour to the next, we'd just #tfa and we'd keep moving. >> so, according to the "washington post," omarosa, this new book claims that senior officials believe that vice president mike pence would have supported use of the 25th amendment, you know, #tfa. >> yes. >> the vice president certainly denied all these claims that were made in the book, but do you think this all connects to
what you'd told us last year about the hashtag? yeah. and you know, nikki haley, in fact, talks about being recruited by kelly and tillerson to, in fact, try to start the movement for tfa. we were all living in this nightmare. every time donald trump did something that we thought was dangerous, that would actually impact the american people in a negative way, we had to find a way to kind of cope. and like i said, we'd just hashtag it and keep going. but now we see that the levels of this idea of removing him because he could not carry out the duties that he was called to do was much more extensive. i'm curious to see how this person who calls them self a senior official will actually be able to effectively tell the story because there's been so many books written at this point and so many anecdotes about president trump's bizarre behavior. i'd like to see how it impacts people's opinions of donald trump. >> well, we've got a lot of things to thank you for on your
recipe for appearing, but let's thank you for being the best-selling author at this point. thank you, omarosa. >> thank you, alex. a smoking gun. how testimony from a staffer who heard the president's phone call firsthand is poking holes in the republicans' main defense. ue ps, every day can begin with flakes. it's a reminder of your struggles with psoriasis. but what if your psoriasis symptoms didn't follow you around? that's why there's ilumya. with just 2 doses, a majority of people were clear or almost clear. and over time, even more people were clear or almost clear. all with dosing 4 times a year... after 2 initial doses. plus, ilumya was shown to have similar risks of infections compared to placebo. don't use if you are allergic to ilumya or any of its ingredients. before starting treatment, your doctor should check for tuberculosis and infections. after checking there is no need for routine lab monitoring unless your doctor advises it. ilumya may increase your risk of infections and lower your ability to fight them.
tell your doctor if you have an infection or have symptoms, or if you plan to or have recently received a vaccine. this could be your chance to leave your psoriasis symptoms behind. ask your doctor for ilumya today, for a clearer tomorrow. i think ambassador sondland has a problem. he's already amended his earlier testimony before the committee of inquiry in closed deposition, because subsequent witnesses, you know, frankly, contradicted parts of his testimony. in this case, it would be very difficult for ambassador sondland to deny what happened in a public place that was, you know, witnessed. and so, he's going to have some explaining to do. >> house oversight committee member gerry connolly just a few minutes ago on new revelations in yesterday's closed-door testimony by david holmes, who described that phone call he overheard between the president and eu ambassador gordon sondland. joining me, danielle moody
mills, co-host of the democracyish podcast, bill press, host of the bill press pod and republican strategist rick tyler and msnbc analyst. rick, where are you, jerusalem? is that where you are? >> i'm in jerusalem today, yes, ma'am. >> okay. long distance. may have a little bit of a delay. thank you. >> i'm coming to you from the future. it's all right. >> all right. danielle, question to you first here. how big a game-changer is this for democrats? >> i mean, i think that it's a huge game changer. look, all of the pushback that the republicans have been saying is that we don't have any firsthand information. everything that democrats have put up has been hearsay. and the reason why it has been secondhand information is because the white house and this president has decided to block everyone who was on that call from being able to testify. so, this, having heard this -- having heard donald trump's own words say, you know, are things all set, will zelensky, you know, play ball, i think that this matters. >> weigh the gravity, rick, for me, of these revelations for both sondland and the president.
>> well, look, i think it makes the republicans look most foolish, as we just heard, because since the campaign, president trump says things, he goes out and says things, and then they turn out not to be true and they have all these surrogates going out and defe defending him and the argument keeps changing. now, no one is denying the president clearly wanted an investigation of the bidens. what is less clear, but what i think common sense or wisdom will dictate, is that they wanted it in exchange for a meeting and aid that we normally would provide to the ukrainians. the real problem, though, is for our allies, it sends a horrible signal that we are not a dependable ally, and for our enemies, it's worse. it basically gives them the recipe of how to manipulate donald trump. if donald trump is willing to play ball for his political purposes and he's willing to
compromise u.s. national security if he'll get it. >> so, david holmes' private testimony, bill, that followed the open hearing with marie yovanovitch, of course, former ambassador to the ukraine. what stood out to you from her testimony? >> i think there are two things that have stood out from both days, alex. one is how simple this is. this isn't complicated like the mueller investigation. rick tyler, our good friend, said it best a couple weeks ago on this show when we were together -- aid for dirt. simple as that. as simple and as terrible as that. number two, how donald trump is at the very core of this, and that came out in ambassador yovanovitch's testimony through the tweet that donald trump made at that time, has come out from david holmes last night about this phone call from donald trump himself. it will come out today with mark sandy talking about how omb was given the orders through mick mulvaney from donald trump not to release the money. and then we learned this morning that donald trump himself had a
meeting with rudy giuliani and those two henchmen, fruman and parents, on hein ka at the white house and told them their mission was to go get ukraine to investigate the bidens. i think that is really damning all the way across, and more and more stuff comes out every day. >> you know, it makes me think when you say it's simple -- did you guys hear the daily podcast on a wednesday with a third grader who had this thing all outlined? and i was like, okay, the kid's 8. >> it's not that hard. >> aid for dirt. >> house intel committee chair adam schiff, of course, slamming the president for his tweets attacking marie yovanovitch, calling it witness intimidation. he did so in real-time. and then talking about how seriously they take obstruction of inquiry. is this kind of talk, is it an implicit threat of an obstruction impeachment article? is that becoming somewhat toothless now, given how much evidence democrats seem to already have available? >> no, i don't think that it's toothless at all. i think that that real-time
intimidation was mind-boggling. you know, and his attorney, even ken starr said, wow, that was not a good look. fox news came out and said, this was a bad idea on behalf of the president. the idea here is that the president cannot stand powerful, smart women. they are the most intimidating group to him. and he cannot help himself but to say something that is nasty and derogatory because he is that fragile and that weak. we know that the walls are closing in on donald trump when he starts to talk about how this is really hurting his family. he never mentions his family, ever. so, the idea that now all of a sudden we should feel so bad for them. i'm like, really? but here's the thing, is that marie yovanovitch, she was a beautiful, beautiful witness this past week. the fact that she walked out to applause just goes to show you just how well she played this week. >> yeah. okay. real quick, rick, any word from republicans on the hearing and yovanovitch's testimony that you're hearing about?
>> you know, i keep hearing, unfortunately, sadly, i keep hearing, you know, excuses in defense. and i keep saying, this just doesn't take a lot of common sense. the whole idea of giving foreign policy portfolio to rudy giuliani and the two clowns over those of the professionals is just striking. and you know, our ukrainian professional has a reputation around the world. everybody sees this. >> yeah. well, and her testimony was remarkable backing that up as well. rick tyler, bill press, danielle moodie mills, thank you! >> thanks, alex. testifying on capitol hill, a key white house insider. up next, why his testimony may be so crucial to investigators about that military aid for ukraine. estigators about that military aid for ukraine. great riches will find you when liberty mutual customizes your car insurance, so you only pay for what you need. wow. thanks, zoltar. how can i ever repay you?
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good day, everyone, from msnbc world headquarters here in new york. welcome to "weekends with alex witt." we'll bring you a live look at the capitol where a rare, saturday closed-door deposition is under way right now. office of budget and management official mark sandy breaking ranks to testify against investigators, all part of the impeachment inquiry into president trump, which has now reached day 54, and the 24 hours leading up to right now have been filled with rapid and critical dwemtevelopments. here's a snapshot of the latest. >> president trump is clearly rattled by both the credible and compelling testimony in today's
impeachment hearing and the critical conviction of longtime associate roger stone, who was found guilty on all seven counts today of lying to congress and witness tampering in the mueller investigation. >> and we have breaking news tonight from the embassy staffer in ukraine who overheard the president's phone call with ambassador gordon sondland, and that's david holmes, who testified behind closed doors late today. >> that closed-door deposition of david holmes that started this afternoon just ended about six hours after it started, going late into the night tonight. david holmes' opening statement has been obtained by nbc news, and it has rocked washington. >> just what exactly did mr. holmes see, what did he hear, and what did he do? you know, that was the reason we called him in today. >> the president's defenders have repeatedly said that this is all hearsay, that none of the witnesses have actually heard the president's own voice. now along comes this career foreign service officer, a professional, david holmes, and he says, no, i did hear the
president's own voice. >> breaking news here, capitol hill moments ago. that's mark sandy, he works at office of management and budget at the white house, making his way to a secure facility within the capitol for his testimony he's going to deliver to lawmakers behind closed doors today. >> let's go now to the very latest developments of the day with our team of reporters and analysts, and we'll start with nbc's garrett haake who's at the capitol. garrett, a couple questions about not only today's deposition and what we can expect, but i want to look back to yesterday, because you have some new reporting about those that were in attendance, staffers in attendance at that ukrainian cafe. how many were there in addition to holmes who testified yesterday behind closed doors? >> reporter: alex, according to holmes' prepared opening statement, it was a table of four sitting in an outdoor restaurant in kyiv after gordon sondland had met with ukraine's president, who then sat around and listened in on this phone call that sondland had with president trump. so we knew about holmes already. he was the first witness who had spoken to ambassador taylor about this. he was deposed last night.
but at least two other staffers were along for this lunch and were able to listen in on this phone call. now, there's no word yet on if those additional staffers will be called to testify to back up the story that holmes told investigators, but it's a pretty safe bet, given how thorough these committees have tried to be, calling in everyone who they think knows everything, that if indeed the details of the conversation he overheard are as damning as they were -- and remember, holmes told investigators that he heard sondland tell the president that, yes, the president of ukraine had agreed to do basically whatever he wanted in terms of investigations and reported back using an expletive that the president just really didn't give a you know what about ukraine at all, he was mostly focused on the investigation into the bidens -- those are explosive allegations. so yes, you would think that the other two people who sat at that table at an outdoor restaurant in a former soviet republic while somebody was talking on the phone with the president, will surely be called. >> okay. we will wait to see what happens on that front. what are we expecting from mark
sandy today sglirks getting a little bit of deal now out of the room in terms of sandy's deposition. i'm told that so far -- and remember, he started around 10:00 this morning -- this has been a fairly technical discussion about how this money, which is approved by congress, is actually moved through the federal bureaucracy and gets where it's supposed to go, or in this case, how it didn't. you know, you'd think that when congress votes to approve, in this case, $400 million, that somebody just writes a check. well, it's a little bit more complicated than that, and sandy is a career expert in the budget office and can explain to these lawmakers exactly how that money is supposed to move or what happens when it's not. some who heard it was held up questioned whether it was legal to have money that was set aside by congress for this purpose not be doled out. sandy can speak in detail to that and help inform their conversation with the rest of the witnesses going forward. >> all right, garrett. let us know about when you specifically hear something from that closed-door testimony under
way right now. we are also getting reaction from the president's defenders. let's go to mike viqueira at the white house with that. what's the latest, mike? >> reporter: alex, i think we can break down the republican defense of the president into a couple of different baskets. one is the process argument, that this has been unfair. we've heard that all along when they were in those secret meetings down in the basement, at least those closed meetings. and even after they emerged and seemingly gave the republicans what they wanted in terms of public hearings, they still are talking about the process and their inability to question the witnesses and raise some of the points that they want to raise and bring some of the witnesses that they want to raise. that's the first thing. the second thing is, they point out, hey, look, the military aid ended up going through and there was never an announcement by president zelensky that president trump supposedly wanted for that investigation into briz urisma, into hunter b and into joe biden, so there was no crime, you can't be talking about bribery. and the president is taking another tack this morning,
talking about something different, how great the economy is. he's not known for subtlety in his tweets, so he got right to it this morning, saying dow hits 28,000, first time ever, highest ever, gee, pelosi and schiff -- even though he didn't spell it that way -- have a good idea. let's impeach the president. if something like that happened, it will be the biggest depression and not recession. so again, the president hitting that hard, painting a gloom-and-doom picture if congress impeaches him. meanwhile, another staunch defender, he's become familiar to americans since last wednesday when the public hearings started -- the jacketless one, jim jordan from ohio had this to say about what's going on. >> i think, frankly, things are going well for the president. they've had three hearings, three witnesses with no firsthand knowledge. i say this all the time, but that's the thing about facts, they don't change. we have the call transcript. we have the two individuals on the call, president trump,
president zelensky, who said there was no linkage, no pressure, no pushing whatsoever, no linkage between any type of security assistance dollars and an investigation. we have the fact that the ukrainians didn't even know that the aid was held at the time of the call. and most importantly, of course, we have the fact that they didn't do anything to get the aid released. >> reporter: so, there is it is, another aspect of the republican defense, the hearsay argument, even though david holmes, that official that testified yesterday, that foreign service official, would seem to flatly contradict and rebut the hearsay argument. alex? >> i've just got to say that i laugh there at the president's tweet not because of the president's humor but the rather elementary, if not less than that nature of it. anyway, thank you very much. appreciate it, mike viqueira. the other big headline this hour, new details from the closed-door testimony of david home ames, who says he overheard the president on a phone call asking the u.s. ambassador to the eu, gordon sondland, about ukraine investigations. according to his opening statement obtained by nbc news, holmes said, "i then heard president trump ask, so he's
going to do the investigation? ambassador sondland replied that he's going to do it, adding that president zelensky will do, quote, anything you ask him to. lawmakers on both sides of the aisle now weighing in on the impact of this testimony, what it may have on the impeachment inquiry going forward. >> in the statement that was released, there is a lot to be concerned about, particularly that more witnesses describe the president's obsession with investigating his political opponents. so now we're going to evaluate whether that warrants bringing him in, in a public hearing. >> you have some guy who overheard a phone call. i'm sure he'll be a witness next week, we'll have him in an open hearing and get the chance to question him there. >> that testimony from david holmes could now be a central focus during next week's public hearings, following what could be pivotal testimony from gordon sondland, who will likely be questioned on it. peter baker is chief white house correspondent with "the new york times" and msnbc political analyst, sarah farris from politico and natasha bertrand, national security correspondent at politico and an msnbc
contributor. let's start right now with mark sandy's closed-door testimony under way right now, natasha. what kind of information would sandy be able to provide that other witnesses could not? >> yeah, so, this is really a blind spot for democrats that they've been wanting to get to the bottom of, which is, how is the directive to withhold the military aid to ukraine delivered to omb officials? how involved, for example, was acting chief of staff mick mulvaney, who is the former head of omb? and what justification were they given for this hold on military aid? one of the biggest things, obviously, that the democrats want to find out over the course of this impeachment inquiry is a direct link between the president's desire to get ukraine to investigate the bidens in 2016 interference and the hold on military aid, which, of course, ukraine finds very important to fending off russia, with whom it's in a war with right now in the eastern part of ukraine. so, that's really been kind of
an ongoing mystery for democrats. they want to know exactly how this hold on aid came about, mick mulvaney's role, and of course, they want that smoking gun of the president having direct involvement in ordering this hold on aid. >> so, the white house, peter, did not want mark sandy there today. of course, he's not the first official to defy their request, but is there any unique concern about him testifying, given his position in omb and his boss? >> yeah, it is interesting. he is, as you point out, there are three other budget officials, including acting director of the omb, who refused to come talk to congress. this is the one guy who has defied the wishes of the president, defied the wishes of the white house, to come down and give the testimony that the subpoena has ordered him to give. so, they're obviously going to be concerned about anybody who's independent enough basically to go against the white house wishes. it's also interesting that his is the signature on the piece of paper that, in fact, suspended the aid, and it was signed on july 25th. that's the exact same day, of course, that president trump talked with president zelensky
of ukraine and asked him to do us a favor. at the same time that president zelensky was mentioning his need for more aid. now, we know that the order for the suspension of aid actually came at least a week earlier, july 18th. it was mentioned at a conference of officials. but the fact that his signature's on the document on the same day as the call, of course, will no doubt raise questions. and it may just be that, you know, they're going to ask him, you know, other people have said that they didn't get an explanation for why this money was suspended, if he's able to shed any light on what was said as an explanation, that would be, of course, new information for the congress. but even if nothing else, he simply -- you know, he dots the is, crosses the ts, and brings together the whole story and fills in that space that they need to fill in. >> i'm curious, peter, natasha mentioned mick mulvaney. and mick mulvaney acting chief of staff, but he came as director -- he came to that position as being the director of the omb and still oversees it. is there a direct line, then, between mark sandy to mick
mulvaney? >> yeah, in fact, i mean, mick mulvaney technically is still the director of the office of management and budget. so in fact, mark sandy, in theory, works for him. he would work for him even as white house chief of staff, but there's a more direct connection, as you point out. and mick mulvaney is at the center of this. as natasha said, we really would like to understand his role in this better. he's the one who conveyed the order from the president to suspend the aid. he's the one who came out and told us in a briefing room news conference that, in fact, the aid suspension was tied directly to whether or not ukraine investigated this conspiracy theory about 2016, then later tried to take it back. he's still defying a subpoena from the house. he went to court trying to get out of testifying and then had to back off. but so far, he's not giving his testimony in the house, is sort of looking for other ways of getting at that information. >> what are you hearing, sarah, in terms of the expectations, what democrats want to hear from him? >> what they're looking for from mark sandy is, as natasha said, this blind spot, that this is really the only part of this
months-long saga between president trump and the ukrainian president that they don't have completely figured out. democrats feel that they have so many links, they have direct evidence, they have all of these documents that prove that the president was looking for these investigations, that he was looking to hold up this aid. what they don't have is how and when the aid was held up. and i think democrats are looking for this testimony to help scramble a republican defense of trump. the republicans have been saying that the president was not directly involved in this decision. they've been trying to say he was more hands off. but if they can get the link between what the office of management and budget was doing and the president himself or his inner circle, this could be a really, really key moment. and republicans, we've already seen them really struggle to put forward a defense, a substantive defense. they've been focused much more on process. so, if mark sandy can, indeed, deliver the testimony that democrats want, especially if he is willing to go in open session, it's just going to be
so much harder for the republicans to try to push back against that. >> well, add to that david holmes' testimony, and it was a pretty dramatic turn of events this week with his testimony yesterday. how might his account of the conversation between gordon sondland and the president change the dynamic of the impeachment probe? do you see a smoking gun element to it? >> yeah, so, the argument that republicans have been making that all of the witnesses so far have been hearsay witnesses, that they never heard anything that the president said firsthand, in the first instance never really seems sustainable, because next week we're going to hear from a whole host of white house officials and diplomats who had direct contact with the president within this context of the ukraine scandal. so for example, gordon sondland, fiona hill, former nsc official tim morrison, all of these people who were directly involved in speaking to the president and his aides about ukraine policy. but this, obviously, adds a new layer, because david holmes actually heard the president
speaking on the phone with gordon sondland, saying that he wanted these investigations to be delivered. that, obviously, is going to be bolstered, if the democrats can get these other people that were at the table, two other officials, embassy officials, who were at the table listening to this call, to come in and testify. but just the fact that you have -- let's put aside for a second also the massive security breach that this was for gordon sondland to just be talking on a cell phone to the president of the united states in a kiev cafe. that is going to add, obviously, a significant, new layer to the democrats' case here. >> yeah, yeah. sondland testifies wednesday, if he indeed shows up. but i'm curious, peter, as you take a listen to democratic congressman gerry connolly and what he told me last hour, let's talk afterwards about why sondland may be in a bit of a pinch here. >> well, i think ambassador sondland has a problem. he's already amended his earlier testimony before the committee of inquiry in closed deposition
because subsequent witnesses, you know, frankly, contradicted parts of his testimony. in this case, it would be very difficult for ambassador sondland to deny what happened in a public place that was, you know, witnessed. and so, he's going to have some explaining to do. >> and i'm sure, peter, you heard garrett haake reporting that nbc news is reporting that there was a table of four. one of them was gordon sondland. one of them was david holmes. and there were two other staffers there. so, what does this mean for this testimony and this particular story line? >> yeah, i think gordon sondland received a pretty stark warning yesterday, and that happened actually just a few hundred yards from the capitol in a courthouse just across the street, in effect, where roger stone was convicted on seven counts of lying and obstructing the very same house intelligence committee that now gordon sondland will be testifying to next week. the consequences of not telling the full truth, the consequences of being caught out in an inaccuracy or in fact, deception, are steep and they
are real. and i think anybody who is testifying in these days to come got a real reminder of that on friday, because in fact, roger stone now faces potentially decades in prison under these seven counts, and that could happen to anybody who's caught out. so, gordon sondland's got a chance on wednesday to affix his testimony, to amend his testimony, to bring it up to speed and reconcile it with those of other witnesses and try to get himself out of trouble. and if he doesn't, then there's a real consequence to be paid. >> sarah, do you think sondland's testimony will be a smoking gun, or at least have that element to it? >> well, what's notable about sondland coming in -- and he's one of the only political appointees that we will hear from. and democrats are hoping that they can bring him in and someone who was once extremely loyal to the president -- he was, of course, a large donor to the campaign. but when he released his revised testimony last week, there was speculation that perhaps he is questioning his loyalty to the president. perhaps he is willing to go beyond what the president has
said. that's going to be really crucial if they are able to get him to change his mind publicly, if they're able to get him to say that he made a mistake, that he, you know, now he's saying he remembers this new conversation he hadn't remembered before. but democrats are really hoping that this could be the moment where he abandons the president. i mean, if he is able to do that in a hearing room, you know, back to back -- there's diplomats on either side of that, on tuesday and on thursday -- i mean, this could just be a really, really powerful moment, and it could have the moment that the public actually tunes in, because right now democrats are a little worried that they're not quite breaking through, that people see two weeks of testimony and they might not be tuning in for every one of these key moments. >> i don't know. i think it's a buckle-up situation this coming week. anyway, peter and sarah and natasha, thank you guys all so much. appreciate it. so, the lengths that house republicans are going to defend the president. what are democrats doing to counter act the gop attacks? that's next. ter act the gop att? that's next. it's tough to quit smoking cold turkey.
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breaking news this hour, with a live look at capitol hill, where a rare saturday closed-door deposition is under way right now. office of management and budget mark sandy is testifying for lawmakers as part of the impeachment into the president, the first omb official to break ranks and testify for investigators in the inquiry. joining me now, pennsylvania representative madeleine dean, democratic member of the judiciary and financial services committee.
welcome back, ma'am, to the broadcast. >> thank you. >> i'm curious what your colleagues are looking for in this closed-door testimony under way right now from mark sandy. what are the blanks do you think he can help fill in about the trump/ukraine situation? >> well, i would assume it has to do with the withholding of aid. you know that it was, we believe mick mulvaney who was part of the blocking of the aid. he comes from the office of management and budget. and so, i have not heard the line of questions, nor any of the testimony. it is a closed-door deposition, but i believe that mr. sandy will be able to perhaps fill in the blanks on who ordered the withholding of aid and how that was done. >> mm-hmm. as we look at yesterday's closed-door testimony from the embassy staffer david holmes, who overheard the president's phone call with ambassador gordon sondland. and according to his opening statement obtained by nbc news, holmes said, "i then heard president trump ask, so he's going to do the investigation? ambassador sondland replied that he's going to do it, adding that
president zelensky will do anything that you ask him to do." how damaging overall was holmes' testimony? and we keep asking this question, but does it have the potential, at least, to be a smoking gun coming from a firsthand source? >> well, as you know, one of the feckless arguments that the minority party, the republicans, have put forward is there is no firsthand witness of this. well, now we have that. and of course, it was ambassador taylor who on wednesday revealed the story of the staffer, mr. holmes. it is extraordinarily damning evidence that is piling up that indicates, that points directly to the president, that the president wanted, demanded the extortion of investigations over his political opponent for his own personal political gain fro democracy under constant occupation by russia, our foe. what the president has done by the record of the call and then
all of this mounting, damning evidence from career diplomats, is he put himself above the law, he put himself above our national security and above global security, because of course, by weakening ukraine, you are strengthening russia, and that puts the world at risk. that puts europe at risk. >> the republicans, as you know, have pretty much stuck to the narrative that the witnesses this week are giving information that's just hearsay. let's take a listen to some republican lawmakers during wednesday's hearing. here's that. >> officials alarm at the president's actions was typically based on secondhand, thirdhand, and even fourthhand rumors and innuendo. >> we've got six people having four conversations in one sentence, and you just told me this is where you got your clear understanding. >> well, we're not in a court, gentlemen. and if we were, the sixth amendment would apply, and so would rules on hearsay and opinion. and most of your two testimonies would not be admissible whatsoever. >> however, we're talking about david holmes' testimony.
that is not hearsay. it is first person. does that wipe out that defense, not to mention that there may be two others that investigators are going to go after who were sitting at that table as well, according to nbc news reporting? >> it certainly wipes out that defense, but we didn't even need mr. holmes. the other thing that i think this reveals is that the republicans have nothing to offer to exculpate this president. the president has no evidence to put forward to say no, this never happened, i never demanded investigations, i never withheld the money, i never wanted to get dirt on joe biden. his own record of the call shows that. it reveals the extraordinary weakness of the hand of the republicans. remember, this is about upholding the rule of law, upholding the constitution. and so, you saw part of the cross examination of ambassador taylor by the attorney for the republican party. and when he was digging into the
fact that he said there's a really irregular back-channel diplomacy going on here led by giuliani, he tried to -- the counsel went with not that it was irregular, he said, well, it wasn't outlandish, was it? trying to put a far-out modifier on it. that is a desperate set of questions and a desperate, feckless cross examination of these incredibly credible witnesses like mr. taylor, mr. kent, and ambassador yovanovitch. >> yep, indeed. and it is extraordinary what david holmes said in his opening testimony again, which nbc news is poring over with all of the details. i want to ask you about your position on the judiciary committee, which would be responsible for drawing up articles of impeachment. how does that process work? >> well, you did see that we passed resolution, house resolution 660, laying out process. so, what i fully expect is what's laid out in there. the intelligence committee will complete its work. it will draft and transmit a report of that work, giving us the evidence that they have
found. they transmit it to judiciary. it is our job to put that evidence up with the law in terms of determining what, if any, articles of impeachment to draft. the other committees of oversight had the exact same opportunity to report to us anything that they believe we should know as we deliberate and draft proposed articles of impeachment. so, i have to tell you, i couldn't be prouder of adam schiff and every member of that committee. you know that they are in hearing testimony today. when we were back in district doing work for our communities, they stayed back and have been tirelessly hearing extraordinary, mounting, damning testimony against the president who is in violation of his oath of office. >> pennsylvania democratic representative madeleine dean. always good to see you. thank you so much for joining me. >> thank you, alex. a warning for democrats. president obama's words of caution for the 2020 progressives and why he says the large field of candidates might be a good thing. rge field of ca be a good thing.
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>> we have the call transcript. we have the two individuals on the call, president trump, president zelensky, who said there was no linkage, no pressure, no pushing whatsoever, no linkage between any type of security assistance dollars and an investigation. we have the fact that the ukrainians didn't even know that the aid was held at the time of the call. and most importantly, of course, we have the fact that they didn't do anything to get the aid released. >> joining me now, political columnist amy holmes, former speechwriter for bill frist and michelle bernard, president and ceo of the bernard center for women, politics, and public policy. ladies, welcome to you both. amy, you first here. haven't democrats dismantled all of those defenses that congressman jordan listed? >> well, i wouldn't agree with that, since in point of fact, ukraine did not engage in an investigation of former vice president joe biden or his son hunter biden and the military aid was released, which is sort of the crux of the accusations against president trump at the moment. and we saw that coming out in the hearings this week.
i think the bottom line here is that democrats have overreached when it comes to the impeachment process, which you know, presumably, they hope would lead to the removal of president trump from office. had they instead gone down the censure path, i think, alex, they would have gotten a lot of republican buy-in, actually, and this wouldn't be such a partisan process. >> i'm curious, michelle, what do you think it says that republicans are still, after all of the testimony we've heard so far, they're still trying to prop up the fact that aid was released as that being the most important fact in their favor? >> yeah, i think it's a red herring, and quite frankly, it looks pretty ridiculous and asinine, quite frankly, i think, regardless of which side of the aisle someone might find them self politically speaking. i think the testimony we have seen this week has been very, very damning, and it looks like many members of the republican party are pulling at straws trying to find anything that they can hold onto to defend the president. marie yovanovitch's testimony
yesterday was really absolutely ama amazing, and then coming on the heels of the two other gentlemen that testified earlier this week, you've got to kind of scratch your head and say to yourself, exactly what is it that republicans are trying to cover up on behalf of the president and where do they go from here? >> yeah, bill taylor, george kent. your point is well taken. there is also significant, new testimony, amy, from yesterday's closed-door deposition with the u.s. embassy official, david holmes, who overheard a phone call by the president -- >> no relation, by the way. >> good point. there you go. anyway, but he heard that phone call between the president and eu ambassador, gordon sondland. do you think his firsthand -- not hearsay knowledge of this phone call and description of it, might that turn out to be a smoking gun for democrats? >> well, i don't know if it's going to be the smoking gun that they're hoping for in terms of having president trump removed from office. let's remember, that's what the impeachment process is supposed to be about. it's not just supposed to be a partisan going after a political
opponent. it goes to the united states senate. do i think that we might hear u.s. senators, republican senators lean on this as a way to sort of spank president trump for what they might consider to be inappropriate behavior when it comes to ukraine? yes. do i think it will lead to president trump being removed from office? no. >> what about the democrats and republicans, michelle, who are clashing during yesterday's open hearing with the former ukraine ambassador, marie yovanovitch? in fact, let's watch one of those moments. here it is. >> yield to you, ms. stefanik. >> thank you, mr. nunes. ambassador yovanovitch -- >> gentlewoman will suspend -- >> thank you for being here today. what is the interruption for this time? it is our time. >> the gentlewoman will suspend. you're not recognized. mr. nunes, you are not counsel -- >> i just recognized. >> under the house resolution 660, you're not allowed to yield time except back to the chairman -- >> he yielded time to a member of congress. >> no, that's not accurate. >> that is accurate. >> what's going on here? did republicans go into the
hearing, are they trying to obfuscate? are they trying to create moments like this? and if so, what's the goal. >> talk about must-see tv, alex. i absolutely was riveted yesterday, better than any television program we ever saw donald trump in prior to him joining, becoming a member of the white house club of presidents. it looked like a lot of gam gamesshgame gamesmanship. as you know, stefanik is the only woman on the house intel committee. i kind of was offended by it, because it looked like attempts by the republican party to pit two women against each other. let's have a, quote/unquote, cat fight on national television yesterday. i thought the way adam schiff handled it was absolutely brilliant. the republicans went in knowing the rules. now, when the republicans are in charge, they want to follow the rules. when they're not in charge, they don't want to follow the rules. that's what happened yesterday. it was political theater. it was for viewers who were watching another network.
it was for the president, political theater for the president so that they could go in feeling that they were giving the appearance to the president that they are doing everything that they could to defend him, but they knew the rules going in. nunes did not have the ability to yield his team to stefanik, and it was pretty pitiful theater, if i say so myself. >> before i let you ladies go, i do want to go into what the president, as in president obama, said in remarks last night at a democratic donor event, in which he warned 2020 candidates against going too far left. and he also said, "i don't think we should be diluted into thinking that the resistance to certain approaches to things is simply because voters haven't heard a bold enough proposal, and if they hear something as bold as possible, then immediately that's going to activate them." amy, first, how do you interpret that? >> i take that as a direct shot at elizabeth warren and that she has moved too far left to the party.
we've heard grummling from democrats in different reports, including from wall street, which she's been campaigning against. lloyd blanken fine just came out against her, and he's usually a very big democratic supporter. i think president obama is giving democrats some very good, excuse me, very good political advice, and he is, after all, a two-time, twice-elected president of the united states. i think that i would take it. >> yeah. what do you think, michelle, real quick, if you can wrap that up? >> you know, i agree with amy wholeheartedly, that obama won twice. he's pulling the party back centrally. i don't take it as a direct hit against elizabeth warren, but i do think that president obama understands that the country is more and more independent, more and more people self-identify as independen independents. they are tired at times of both political parties. and he's saying, rein it in, because we are a nation that is more in the central than we are far left or far right. >> all right. michelle bernard, amy holmes, thank you, ladies, for the conversation. >> thank you. >> thank you. the story behind the story of what happened in ukraine.
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new revelations in the impeachment drama. david holmes, a career foreign service officer, telling investigators friday he overheard a cell phone call between the president and eu ambassador gordon sondland in which the president asked sondland if ukraine would investigate the bidens. joining me now, craig unger, author of "house of trump, house the putin: the untold story of
donald trump and the russian mafia," and larry pfiefer, former cia chief of staff during the george w. bush administration and former senior director of the white house situation room under president obama. gentlemen, with a welcome to you both. so, about that phone call, sondland in a kiev restaurant talking to the president of the united states, larry. i know you're quoted in the "washington post" as saying the security ramifications are insane, using an open cell phone to communicate with the president of the united states. explain why it's insane. >> well, you're sitting in an open restaurant -- we've now learned, actually out on the terrace of an open restaurant, surrounded by individuals, none of whom you can be certain aren't on the russian payroll, aren't russian agents. there's the potential for electronic targeting of these individuals. and i guarantee you, you know, ambassador sondland and members of the u.s. delegation to kiev are all targets of the russian intelligence service, so there's
targeting that could be done locally, then there's the signals intelligence architecture of the soviet union -- i'm sorry, of russia, that would also be listening in on these calls. absolutely wired. >> presidents are supposed to use secure phone lines all the time, right? >> they should, if they're conducting the government's business. you know, obviously, the president can have his own phone maybe for a select group of local close friends that he wants to talk about sports with, but if he's going to be conducting the business of the united states, it's in his best interests, it's in the best interests of a.mbassador sondlad and in the best interests of our delegations to the embassy to do that. take that five minutes to go to the embassy and go into a secure room and make the call. >> yeah. so, craig, these concerns here, how might russia or any other bad actor, in fact, use information gathered on a call like this to try to hurt the united states? >> right, well, just imagine if david holmes hadn't heard about this, hadn't overheard the
conversation. in that case, russia would have the information and we wouldn't. and it seems that the president was really in the process of committing what may well have been an impeachable act. so, we see -- i mean, they could hold that against him. that's kompromat of sorts. and this also seems to be standard operating procedure for this administration. when you look at the way sondland behaved, he's putting it on speakerphone so that everyone can hear, as if he's boasting, look, i'm in touch with the president, i am speaking to the president of the united states, and you're not. and all the more serious, professional ambassadors like taylor and yovanovitch are not part of that. they've been cast aside. >> yeah. i just want to be clear, i don't think it was on speakerphone, but i think this president was speaking so loudly that sondland had pulled phone away from him, which may get the sense of a speakerphone. but i want to ask craig, with yovanovitch and her testimony, saying that russia stood to be the biggest beneficiary of the
trump administration's dealings in ukraine. how so? >> well, absolutely. putin wants to restore the russian empire the way it was during the soviet union. the most important single part of that is ukraine. there was no -- the soviet union was not an empire until ukraine was part of it. and when ukraine left, it ceased to become an empire. so, after the end of the cold war, one by one, a lot of the european states fled from the embrace of russia and joined nato. now nato is in disrepair completely, and that's been putin's top priority, and donald trump is helping him do that. >> last question to you, larry. what do you think vladimir putin is taking from the utter silence of mike pompeo, of all of his foreign diplomats? he's not weighing in at all on this. >> well, the fact that pompeo is
not out defending the men and women of the state department just eats away at their credibility anywhere they're serving around the globe. that then erodes america's ability to push forward our agenda, and that only feeds into vladimir putin's agenda. and i would offer that this isn't just pompeo who's at fault, but it's the leadership across the board in our national security establishment. it's our military leadership, our defense department leadership, our intelligence leadership. they should be making public statements in support of the men and women who are out there on the front lines doing america's job. >> larry pfeiffer and craig unger, gentlemen, thank you so much. >> thank you. worse than watergate? why some democrats say that evidence against the current president is, indeed, stronger. t esprident is, indeed, stronger woman 1 oc: this is my body of proof. man 1 vo: proof of less joint pain and clearer skin. man 2 vo: proof that i can fight psoriatic arthritis...
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done on the record -- amplts cover-up, makes what nixon did look almost small. >> speaker pelosi this week comparing this impeachment inquiry to the nixon investigation. joining me former watergate special prosecutor and voting to impeach the president, as in president nixon and author of "impeaching trump." welcome to you both. what do you make of the comparisons to nixon? >> well, i think they're both so terrible. both presidents so terrible. i don't know that -- >> terrible of one or the other. >> i don't know it really makes sense. one of the things we didn't know about nixon during watergate hearings in our impeachment effort was that nixon stymied the paris peace talks as a result of that thousands of americans died as well as untold numbers of vietnamese. if we add that into mix, that gets to be a pretty big
horrible. so i think both of them, though basically are seeing that their power as president can be used for whatever personal gain they need to use it for. watergate and the cover-up was about winning the 1972 presidential re-election at any cost. what we're seeing now i call it ukrainegate is president trump trying to win his 2020 re-election at any cost, but that's where the constitution steps in and the rule of law. the president can't use his powers to try to bully a foreign country or do anything else to affect, to interfere with the actual conduct of an election in the united states. >> so let's play some of nixon's recordings. take a listen to this. >> the investigation, we're confident that -- you can see fbi is not under control of
exactly under control, and they have their investigation is now leading into productive areas. the way you handle this now is for us to have walters call and just say, stay the hell out of this. we just deal with this -- have it go further. >> watching your face, i feel like i've heard this all before. >> certainly have. >> somebody who prosecuted watergate how do you compare evidence against trump top what you had in watergate? >> that last tape you played was the smoking gun that basically turned republicans against nixon and led to his resignation some five or six days after that tape came out. that was the one he's basically directing haldeman, his chief aide, to call the cia to get the cia to get the fbi to lay off their investigation fror nationl
security reasons. that was pretty much the end of the game for nixon. now, here, i mean, we've got a little bit of a cliffhanger. we start off with a tape, a smoking gun with donald trump trying to get the ukrainian government to investigate the bidens kind of dangling out there the notion about the monies that are there. does it very obliquely. as you get closer and closer you heard the holmes testimony came out yesterday, testimony coming out from the omb, lieutenant colonel vindman who will testify next week. we're finding we're getting more and more testimony that is basically boxing the republicans into a corner without any real defense. >> building a narrative, if you will. elizabeth, relative to david holmes' testimony, might that be a smoking gun, something that nick is referring to as well?
the fact he said i heard president trump speaking so loudly had he had to pull it way from his ear allowing everyone to hear what the president was saying? >> first, we didn't need the smoking gun tape to have 30% of republicans supporting us. the smoking meant all the republicans supported us. so we had a separaty strong case before that. it partly depends on what the president said, but we have so much information that the president himself has orchestrated this whole thing just the way nixon orchestrated the cover-up, as nick pointed out. it was nixon who gave the order to shut down the fbi investigation and based on false information. we see trump obsessed in the same way with the investigations. he's not letting somebody else handle this. he's controlling the whole
thing, and the investigation is showing it. >> can i get a yes or no if vindman confirms that phone call over for president trump in this regard? >> not a yes. yes from my standpoint for sure but certainly ought to be. if i were on that committee i'd be looking at gordon sondland's cell phone right now looking at what conversation he had with donald trump trying to determine what was said in those calls. if mr. sondland doesn't come forward and fess up what to actually happened he's going the way of roger stone. >> nick ackerman, elizabeth holtzman, thank you so much. closed-door testimony under way at the top of the hour how a senior white house official could hold and important piece of the impeachment puzzle. moments ago adam schiff delivered a key line. kendis has that, next. >> there is nothing more dangerous than an unethical president who believes that he is above the law. above the lad
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okay. i'm late. the wrap of this show. pretty good lately. you have to admit it, kendis gibson. a lot to get to. >> you have. a busy saturday ahead. alex, maunk. i'm kendis gibson right here at msnbc world headquarters in new york. following a lot of major developments right now on several fronts. on capitol hill another rare saturday session. house lawmakers back behind closed doors