tv The 11th Hour With Brian Williams MSNBC December 4, 2019 8:00pm-9:00pm PST
>> that is tonight's "last word." "the 11th hour" with brian williams starts now. tonight, why it is that rudy giuliani thought this would be a good time to travel to eastern europe to interview ukrainians at the very moment his one-time wingman named lev is under the intense heat of a federal investigation for what he did involving ukrainians. plus another long day's journey into night. a marathon session as the impeachment hearings enter a new phase. while today may have started off as a law school seminar it escalated quickly and got personal. plus a hot mike moment turns into an incident as some of our allies get caught making fun of our president, who after dust-ups with the leaders of canada and france makes an abrupt exit from london to fly home. all of it as "the 11th hour" gets under way on a wednesday night.
well, good evening once again from our nbc news headquarters here in new york. day 1,049 of the trump administration. and the "new york times" broke the story today with the heat on rudy giuliani. in the midst of the ukrainian investigation rudy has decided there's no better time for a trip to eastern europe interviewing people about ukraine. more specifically working on a new project to discredit the democrats' case against the president. according to the "times," giuliani was in budapest tuesday meeting with an ousted ukrainian prosecutor trying to dig up dirt on the president's political rivals. the "times" reports giuliani then "traveled to kyiv on wednesday seeking to meet with other former ukrainian prosecutors whose claims have been embraced by republicans. former prosecutors who faced allegations of corruption all played some role in promoting claims about former vice president biden, a former united states ambassador to ukraine, and ukrainians who disseminated damaging information about mr. trump's campaign chairman paul
manafort in 2016. those claims have been at the base of the campaign to push ukraine into opening inquiries that would benefit trump heading into 2020. the "times" and nbc news report rudy giuliani is using this trip to help produce a pro-trump, anti-impeachment documentary for the conservative cable outlet oann, one america news network. meanwhile, the associated press is reporting federal prosecutors investigating rudy and his two indicted associates, we know them as lev and igor, have interviewed the head of ukraine's state-owned gas company as part of that inquiry. this all comes a day after the house intel report revealed multiple calls in april and august between giuliani and somebody at the office of management and budget which we now know was involved in the freeze on nearly $400 million in u.s. military assistance for ukraine that was approved by
congress. today trump dismissed his lawyers' phone calls. >> mr. president, can you tell us why your personal attorney rudy giuliani would need to talk to the budget office? >> i really don't know. sounds like you'd have to ask him. sounds like something that's not so complicated. but you'd have to ask him. no big deal. >> somebody said he made a phone call in to the white house. what difference does that make? i don't know. is that supposed to be a big deal? i don't think so. >> for the record, nbc news is reporting that an omb official says no one can identify anybody who spoke with giuliani during the months identified with the call logs. on capitol hill this was day one for phase two. the house judiciary committee's public impeachment hearings. four constitutional scholars weighed in on trump's conduct during a session that stretched past the eight-hour mark and began with this from the committee chairman. >> no other president has vowed to, quote, fight all of the
subpoenas, unquote, as president trump promised. in the 1974 impeachment proceedings president nixon produced dozens of recordings. in 1998 president clinton physically gave his blood. president trump by contrast has refused to produce a single document and directed every witness not to testify. >> republicans focused on the three experts called by the democrats and implied they were not fully qualified to testify. >> what is really interesting today and for the next few weeks is america will see why most people don't go to law school. no offense to our professors. for the opinions that we already know, out of the classrooms that maybe you're getting ready for finals in, to discuss things that you probably haven't even had a chance -- unless you're really good on tv or watching the hearings for the last couple of weeks, you couldn't have possibly actually digested the adam schiff report from yesterday or the republican response in any real way.
now, we can be theoretical all we want, but the american people is really going to look at this and say, huh? >> after that it was time for the witnesses to respond. >> mr. collins, i would like to say to you, sir, that i read transcripts of every one of the witnesses who appeared in the live hearing because i would not speak about these things without reviewing the facts. what has happened in the case today is something that i do not think we have ever seen before. a president who has doubled down on violating his oath to faithically execute the laws and to protect and defend the constitution. >> president trump has committed impeachable high crimes and misdemeanors by corruptly abusing the office of the presidency. the memorandum and other testimony relating to the july 25th, 2019 phone call between the two presidents, president trump and president zelensky, more than sufficiently indicates that president trump abused his office.
>> after reviewing the evidence that's been made public, i cannot help but conclude that this president has attacked each of the constitution's safeguards against establishing a monarchy in this country. >> if what we're talking about is not impeachable, then nothing is krim peachable. >> the sole republican called witness was not so much a defender of the president as he was an advocate against this proceeding. >> i'm not a supporter of president trump. i voted against him. i'm concerned about lowering impeachment standards to fit a paucity of evidence and an abundance of anger. it's not wrong because president trump is right. his call was anything but perfect. it's not wrong because the house has no legitimate reason to investigate the ukrainian controversy. it's not wrong because we're in an election year. there is no good time for an impeachment. no. it's wrong because this is not how you impeach an american
president. >> as that hearing was getting under way, the republicans in the senate met with the white house legal team, as one does, to discuss the trump defense. and house democratic caucus gathered to block out their next moves in their process. trump is now back at the white house after attending the two-day accelerated nato summit in the uk. earlier today he took time during his meetings to lash out at the democrats. >> it's a disgrace. you have a loser like -- a stone cold loser, adam schiff. these people, you almost question whether or not they love our country. and that's a very, very serious thing. do they in fact love our country. >> meanwhile, the "washington post" is reporting that john durham, the prosecutor who was hand-selected by trump's own attorney general to investigate the russia inquiry, has told the department of justice inspector general he has no evidence to support that theory that the
russia case was concocted by the home team, u.s. intelligence. today trump offered this praise for durham despite having never met him. >> i don't know mr. durham. i've never spoken to him. but he's one of the most respected law enforcement or u.s. attorneys anywhere in the country. he's a tough guy. he's had an incredible track record. he's actually sort of non-partisan i guess from what i hear. >> here for our lead-off discussion on a wednesday night, mieke eoyang, attorney and former staffer for both the house intel and armed services committees. jeremy bash, former chief of staff at cia and the pentagon and notably former chief counsel to house intel. and anita kumar, white house correspondent and associate editor over at politico. good evening and welcome to you all. mieke, counselor, is this a good time for rudy giuliani to travel to eastern europe? >> i don't think there's any good time for rudy giuliani to travel to eastern europe. but what's very clear about this is the brazenness of giuliani
and trump in their pursuit of dirt on the bidens. we are in the middle of an impeachment inquiry. it's entered phase 2. the president knows the republicans are unlikely to remove him. so his personal attorney is now doubling down on the kind of activity that got him into this trouble in the first place and meeting with these exact same corrupt prosecutors who are pushing a narrative that we know now started with russian intelligence services to try and discredit his most feared political rival. >> jeremy bash, there is a store from political comedy lore that when richard nixon tried to say chutzpah once it came out as shutspa. having said that, is rudy giuliani redefining chutzpah in our very eyes? >> absolutely. in an opening cartoon in alan dershowitz's book chutzpah which is how you pronounce it is a cartoonist saying i'd like to buy this book chutzpah and i'd like you to pay for it, to the
cashier. he's engaging in the in interference as we speak which is fundamentally an argument for impeachment for the democrats because their argument is it's not just just to punish past behavior, it's actually to prevent an abuse of power today and to prevent trump and his allies from trying to rig the 2020 election. if that weren't the issue we could potentially wait for the election. but because they're trying to interfere in the election we have to act now. >> afleeta kumar, when news breaks on capitol hill over at the white house that rudy is on another ukraine-related trip, do republicans raise a ruckus at all or one you could hear? >> i didn't hear anything. you heard sort of official washington kind of saying what? he's there right now? but from trump people, trump world, you heard a lot of people say, well, this is exactly what president trump does, right? this is a page out of his playbook. he gets criticized for things and then just turns around and does them anyway. i'm reminded, it's a completely different issue but i'm reminded
he was told that he was under investigation on, you know, using his properties. was he unfairly profiting from the presidency in his businesses? and then he says he's going to hold the g7 at one of his properties. so it's exactly the same way that rudy giuliani is just going about the business that he's under investigation for. just sort of a different attitude. and someone said to me it's just a new york attitude, it's the way they are, and it's something the president likes in him. that's why they get along. they're very similar in that way. >> mieke eoyang, 20 minutes ago the president started tweeting. we'll put it on the screen as i read
it to you. "when i said in my phone call to the president of ukraine, i would like you to do us a favor, though, because our country has been through a lot and ukraine knows a lot about it, with the word us i'm referring to the united states, our country. i then went on to say i would like to have the attorney general of the united states call you or your people. this based on what i have seen is their big point, and it is no
point at all except for a big win for
me. the democrats should apologize to the american people." does that make legal sense, mieke? >> no, it doesn't make legal sense. when he says "i'd like you to do us a favor," what he's asking for is clearly in his personal political benefit. and in fact when the ukrainians said hey, will the attorney general make a formal request to us through the appropriate law enforcement channels, the attorney general declined to do so. so we know this isn't actually about a legal proceeding and punishment of wrongdoing. we know this because they were only interested in the appearance of an investigation. they didn't care about an actual investigation. we know this because rudy giuliani is making a documentary, not taking depositions. none of this is about real legal action. this is all about showmanship and political theater. >> jeremy bash, take a second and tell us where you are on the understandable temptation of mission creep. the temptation that democrats
must have on the precipice of this to reach back into the satchel of the mueller report and say look at all this stuff we found, nobody voted it, it never came to the fore. this is at least one if not two more articles of impeachment. >> i oppose that, brian. i don't think this should be a kitchen sink impeachment. although i think you could justify one. i think for the purposes of this inquiry it should be constrained to the ukraine issue. it should be the president's conduct in the run-up to the july 25th phone call, the phone call itself, and the activities in the weeks that ensued until he got caught. because therein he asked and solicited and demanded a foreign country to interfere in the 2020 election and he conditioned military aid and the white house visit on those actions. and those actions in and of themselves are more than sufficient to justify the impeachment inquiry and probably the conclusion that it is a high
crime and misdemeanor. >> and mieke, because this intersects politics with law, the expression from politics is if you're explaining you're losing. it would require them to go back and explain, to coin a term, the origins of their case on obstruction of justice, for example. >> yeah. look, i think there are many people who do think that in the mueller case there was obstruction. but what we have here in this case in ukraine is a very clear case of obstruction that is actually even worse because it is preventing the house from conducting oversight of the president into the specifics that are happening here. so when people like professor turley and the president's allies argue, look, we can't go forward on this because the firsthand witnesses haven't come forward, they neglect to mention that the president has barred those firsthand witnesses from coming forward and has denied 71 document requests that the house investigators have asked for. i mean, this is also the definition of chutzpah. that they would say we're holding it back and now you can't get us on the things that we're withholding. >> superb pronunciation.
>> well done. >> thank you. >> fantastic. hey, anita, we just flashed the front page of tomorrow morning's wshtd wsht "washington post," "as scholars opine trump primes for tv trial." that reminds me of something i wanted to raise with you. are the republicans overlooking from now until the end of the year the house phase and pushing all their time, attention, and resources onto what the president keeps saying is his chance for a fair trial with witnesses, oh, by the way, it's going to happen in the well of the u.s. senate? >> right. when we saw the white house this week or today not participating in the house judiciary committee, we will see by friday if they'll participate in the upcoming ones. but from everything i'm hearing the house is just sort of looking past this. there were eight hours today but they feel like the end result is it's exactly the same. it's probably going to be a
partisan vote. probably entirely partisan. maybe a couple people in either party might switch. but pretty much it didn't change anything from their point of view. they know where this is going to end up. they're going to move on to this trial. that is why the house is full speed ahead on the trial. they think it's going to be much friendlier. obviously in the republican-led is that the, senate majority leader mitch mcconnell has kind of said that. so they're already looking on to how they're going to do that trial. what is that going tone tail, who are they going to bring, in how is that going to work? they've just sort of moved on on to that next phase. >> and you know what that means. mishegas. to our starting three for tonight. to mieke eoyang, to jeremy bash, to anita kumar, it's been a long day, we covered a lot of ground, and our thanks for showing up. coming up for us, the unlikely stars of today's hearings. four constitutional lawyers talking about their life's work as television cameras looked on. we'll go over all of it with a former u.s. attorney.
and later, while a prominent republican was on tv at the hearing, he was in the news back in his home state for something else entirely. all of it as "the 11th hour" is just getting started on this busy wednesday night. cologuard: colon cancer screening for people 50 and older at average risk. i've heard a lot of excuses
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the first impeachment hearings in a generation are now under way. the story changes hourly. >> another important day in this fast-paced impeachment inquiry. >> it's "the 11th hour." i spent all of thanksgiving vacation sitting there reading these transcripts. i didn't -- you know, i ate like a turkey that came to us in the mail that was already cooked. because i was spending my time doing this. >> stanford university law professor pamela karlan also spoke about the high stakes surrounding this impeachment
inquiry. >> because this is an abuse that cuts to the heart of democracy, you need to ask yourselves if you don't impeach a president who has done what this president has done, or at least you don't investigate and then impeach if you conclude that the house select committee on intelligence findings are correct, then what you're saying is it's fine to go ahead and do this again. >> meanwhile, the president weighed in on today's impeachment hearing. as we said, he said he had no representation there. but chairman nadler seemed ready for that comment and pointed out there's a reason no representatives from the white house were in attendance. >> they get three constitutional lawyers and we get one. what's that all about? we had no representation. we couldn't call witnesses. we couldn't do anything. it is the most unfair thing that anybody's ever seen. they would have done much better
if they gave us equal representation. >> i note that this is the moment in which the white house would have had an opportunity to question the witnesses but they declined our invitation. >> back with us tonight, barbara mcquade, veteran federal prosecutor, former u.s. attorney for the eastern district of michigan. and barb, in your view did the white house make a mistake or was this just not their dance, was this a good one to sit out? >> well, i think president trump has made it clear that one of his strategies is to play the victim here, to continue to complain about due process. and i think if he shows up and has representation at these hearings he loses that strategic advantage, that talking point of talking about how the process is unfair and illegitimate. if he sits it out he can continue to maintain that complaint. and i think he will continue to do so. >> barb, a lot of talk about the founders today. must have triggered law school thoughts for you. >> it did. and i know representative
collins said he thought that today demonstrated why not a lot of people go to law school. i thought to the contrary it was a wonderful day for law professors and law school. law professors are doing very important work to make sure that our country continues to value the rule of law. so i enjoyed hearing about those things. and i thought it was an opportunity for some of our leading legal scholars to shine. >> but at the same time viewers today saw three law professors on one side of the ideological coin and another one no less educated, no less experienced, who had been called by the other party. what did you make of that dynamic? and of course the partisan differences were accentuated by members in each party going to the people they invited. >> sure. i think the members of congress were trying to use the witnesses as an opportunity to agree with their view of things. but i thought there were a few things that came out of this
that were very important. all four of the witnesses, regardless of party affiliation, agreed that using military aid as a quid pro quo is an impeachable offense. even the witness called by the republicans thought it was perhaps an impeachable offense. his complaint about the situation is that he doesn't believe that there is yet sufficient evidence to prove that. now, the others disagree with that, and i think ultimately that'll be up to the house when it votes on impeachment and the senate if and when it gets to the point of a trial. but it is clear that this is an impeachable offense and i think all four witnesses agree to that. >> and barbara, i have to ask you about the timeline. this is of the democrats' choosing. they're not trying to make any other calendar deadline. do you feel it is too compressed, too compact if, as they say, their goal is a vote on articles by the end of this calendar year? >> that was one of the arguments that was made by the professor turley, called by the
republicans, that it's all moving too fast and there needs to be time for saturation of the narrative in the public consciousness or otherwise the public gets left behind. but i thought chairman nadler actually made a very good point in his opening remarks about why urgency was important here. if we have a president who is inviting foreign interference into our elections, then we need to act immediately. if there was a knife-wielding murderer out at large, we wouldn't say we need more time to carefully collect the evidence. we'd stop him in his tracks because he's harming -- risking harm to the public every day he's out there. and the same is true with regard to president trump. as long as he's continuing to solicit foreign influence into our elections he cannot be checked with an election alone. he needs to be checked by the constitutional process of impeachment. >> again, barbara mcquade after a long day of watching all this, thanks for showing up and explaining it to us. and sorry about the ohio state game. >> thanks, brian. you've had a long day as well.
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i called him out on the fact that he's not paying 2%, and i guess he's not very happy about it. >> for donald trump it had to be a bit like hearing that the cool kids got together and talked about you after school. that's because a video surfaced overnight our time showing some big name nato leaders. in other words, our closest allies. and they appeared to be mocking donald trump. let's establish here that it's never good to have our president laughed at. the incident appears to have prompted trump to abruptly leave the nato summit early. he canceled a previously scheduled news conference for 10:30 eastern time this morning. we have two returning veterans here to talk about it tonight. eugene robinson, pulitzer prize-winning columnist for the
"washington post," and mike murphy, republican strategist, co-director of the center for the political future at the university of southern california and co-host of the podcast "hacks on tap," said affectionately with david axelrod. eugene, yesterday he had already picked something of a fight with macron of france. today this happened. where do you rank this trip on overseas trips by this president thus far? >> not his favorite. he keeps trying to regain the magic. remember that first trip to saudi arabia where he touched the magical orb? >> the glowing orb. who could forget the dance of the swords? >> he's been trying to recapture that magic ever since and it just didn't happen at this nato summit where as you said the cool kids did apparently all gather around and talk about him and laugh at him. in his absence.
you know, how many times did president trump when he was campaigning say oh, we're being laughed at under previous presidents, they're laughing at you will, and he has this thing about being laughed at and it happened. he obviously was not happy with it. he's not happy with impeachment going on back home. not a happy guy right now. >> and mike, this is where it connects it your world. the biden campaign as the president was back tonight put out a campaign video. we're going to play a clip of it. we'll talk about it on the other side. >> world leaders caught on camera laughing about president trump. >> several world leaders mocking president trump. >> they're laughing at him. >> my administration has accomplished more than almost any administration in the history of our country. [ laughter ] >> didn't expect that reaction, but that's okay. >> mike, we've got to point out, it's unusual for the biden
campaign. what do you make of it? >> well, i think it's pretty good. you know, the biden campaign has not been fast on their feet following the news cycle, pivoting, pressing their advantage. and i thought they ran a great tactical play here. though i have to say within a democratic primary where the electorate all don't like trump. i agree with what you said. we americans don't like to see our president laughed at. but the problem is this president does show up to these summits wearing clown shoes. so within kind of the foreign policy elites of the democratic party biden hit a home run and he was able to show his stature in serious foreign policy versus the president. but my caveat would be in trump world, among trump supporters, trump's a grievance candidate, a grievance personality, and if he shows up and starts yelling at some french president and can't get along with foreigners that doesn't cost him anything with his voters. they even cheer it on. which is tragic because we're supposed to lead the free world.
nato's vital. but the politics of trump world, i don't think this hurts him. >> yeah, very aware of that. they see an early departure from the nato summit as a victory for their guy and their country. hey, gene, john bolton said the following on twitter. i wanted to read it to you. "nato is the most important and most successful alliance in human history. unity against aggression is the best way to ensure international peace and security." beyond sounding almost quaint, do you think mr. bolton is going to be tempted to step forward and share similar thoughts like that perhaps after swearing himself in? >> well, yeah, come on in and take a seat already. we now get these sort of occasional tweets and we get hints from his lawyer that he has quite a story to tell about his time in the trump administration. so come in. we're all ears. we'd love to hear it. and i know a couple of committees on capitol hill that would actually clear their
calendars to listen to what you have to say, john bolton. so if you're watching this broadcast, please, there's a guy named jerry nadler whose number i can give you. >> hey, mike, i've got one for you from a lapsed republican we know around here. steve schmidt wrote tonight, "when the hour comes, as it does for us all, who would have ever imagined that rudy giuliani's leadership after 9/11 wouldn't be the opening paragraph of his o'habitually? instead it will be his starring role as the kooky ringmaster of trump's corruption circus." mike, he raises a good point. >> yeah. rudy is going to be on the cover of "fall from grace" magazine because he went from a legitimate high point to a political hack career that a couple of queens aldermen would be offended. he's run the whole spectrum here. and it's kind of a tragedy. but again, at the top is trump,
who makes the worst personnel decisions possible in the corner and rudy's one of them. and i think rudy will pay a price. but that was rudy's choice. >> now, come to mention, it i think it's time for the january issue of "fall from grace" to arrive at newsstands now. both of our guests thankfully have agreed to stay with us over a break. when we come back, waiting to see what happens to the republican who went up against trump today. pureblican who wentt trump today. at fidelity, online u.s. stocks and etfs are commission-free.
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i can go head to head with donald trump on the economy, and expose him fo what he is: a fraud and a failure. by the way, just for the information, mr. chairman, this is the coldest hearing room in the world. and also for those of you who are worried about i'm uncomfortable, upset, i'm happy but this chair is terrible. i mean, it is amazing. but mr. turley, go ahead. >> that's about how things went today. republican congressman doug collins of georgia has been one of trump's staunchest impeachment defenders. and he may have had the highest
word count in today's hearing soup to nuts. so it's no surprise that he was the favorite among trump's allies to fill georgia senator johnny isakson's seat when the senator steps down at the end of the year. warrant warrant reports, "trump has privately told georgia governor brian kemp that he favors collins for the seat. but kemp had other plans, instead apoijting businesswoman and long-time gop donor kelly loeffler. as politico put it today, the new georgia senator is about to step into a gop firestorm. back for the double jeopardy round, eugene robinson and mike murphy. mike, what is the back story here? i have to say guys like hannity have been lobbying for collins, talking to the president right through the television camera on fox news to name collins. he did not. what's the back story? what do we need to know? >> well, i'm buying popcorn for this one because it's really good. so you've got brian kemp, the
new governor, who was elected as kind of a trumpian knuckle dragger but once he's in office he's proving to be a pretty astute politician. georgia's changing in the demographics. it's becoming a little bit more reachable for the democrats. kemp had a tight race. so he's picked kelly loeffler from metro atlanta who looks like what the future of the republican party ought to be if it wants to win. but trump has made it clear he prefers doug collins, who's basically our shag carpet. he represents north georgia, not where a lot of voters are, the carpet belt up there by dalton on the tennessee line. so now kemp has done what very few republicans have, which is told the president, hey, i run georgia, take a hike. and of course for the president he's going to be on the mccrohn list. both on the primary in november along with a democrat. it's an open primary situation. and then a runoff after the election with kelly loeffler and congressman doug collins should he run as the trump proxy.
kemp has a dp grip on that primary too. it will be an epic fight and, again, rare to see a trumpian governor like kemp who's been an ally take on the president and frankly tell him hell, no. >> and eugene rorks it's not like kemp is taking a flyer on a liberal. this is a anti-choice, pro gun rights young woman who plans to spend, what, $20 million to defend her new senate seat and may be doing in the reverse psychology way mitch mcconnell a favor. >> well, yeah. she swears too that she is a supporter of president trump and there will be no problem on that score. but i think mike is right. i think this is absolutely a reflection of the fact that this ain't your father's or your grandfather's georgia. it's a very different place now. you know, arguably the most popular politician there these
days is stacey abrams. who's nothing like doug collins. this is actually a bold act of defiance by a republican office holder anywhere in this country toward president trump. and one wonders if it is a sort of little dose of reality that penetrating the sort of trumpian mystique that the country is different out there and it's not all about trump. >> and mike murphy, let me ask you about an enigma. a guy who likes to turn up the mayberry meter when he can, likes to be seen as a country lawyer. problem is we know he was educated at oxford and not the one in mississippi. and that is senator john, no relation, kennedy of louisiana, who is straight up appropriating not just russian talking points but putin talking points.
what's going on here? >> well, i on hax on tap with axelrod i accused him of stealing kenny delmar's old act which is an arcane showbiz reference but here was the original foghorn leghorn character. used to be a democrat, by the way. used to be a liberal democrat. and now he's whatever he is. and i think it's just plain base republican politics and entering the apparently big contest in the republican party in parts of the senate to suck up to the president. it's intellectually incredibly dishonest. he's what lenin used to call, at least in this debate, a useful idiot. and i think it's shameful. >> gentlemen, on that note, mike, you brought a lot of good material tonight. you had eugene and i rolling in the aisles. to mike murphy, to gene robinson, two friends of ours, thank you both for coming on after another long day. coming up for us, the co-author of the book mitch mcconnell says
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impeachments have to be based on proof, not presumptions. that's the problem when you move toward impeachment on this abbreviated schedule that has not been explained to me. why you want to set the record for the fastest impeachment. fast is not good for impeachment. narrow fast impeachments have failed. >> peter baker of the "new york times," who co-wrote a book on impeachment with our next guest, pointed out today the following. "turley keeps saying this would be a record fast impeachment, but it really depends on how you count it. in the clinton case the house voted to impeach him 72 days after it authorized an inquiry. it has now been 71 days since
pelosi opened the inquiry into trump." joining us,000, pulitzer prize winner and presidential historian and author jon meacham who happens to be one of the co-authors of "impeachment: an american history." along with one of his many, many other titles. john, i hold the book in my hand. reminded how small the book is and how it must have been at least an hour of your time. what do you hope, having heard that mitch mcconnell is reading this book, beyond hoping he's reading your portion of the book what do you hope he's reading and absorbing as one of the lessons here? >> i hope senator mcconnell, who i appreciate he's reading it and mentioned it, i hope that he's taking away the lesson that i would hope the rest of the senate and the rest of the country would too, which is that george mason was right. george mason of virginia, dunston hall up in fairfax. and he said when they were debating impeachment, he said, "shall any man be above
justice?" it was quoted today in the hearing. and mason's answer to that, his own rhetorical question, was "much less the man who has the capacity to commit the most extensive injustice. that man cannot be above justice." it's a look at the pitfalls and the perils of impeachment. no impeachment, actually, has ever worked if you think of it in the sense of working as removing a president through the exact apparatus that was developed, in philadelphia. nixon was frightened off in many ways. but that's really not the test it seems to me. i think a lot of what we heard today was this question about if we agree on the facts, and i think we're in a better place today, than at least i thought we would be two, three, terms o are arguing everything they possibly can, but they aren't
arguing about the fact of the call and that sort of thing. so there is more of a commonly accepted set of facts here. what they want to do about it is radically different. but what they want to do about it is their constitutional duty, and james madison and the same debates in philadelphia talked about the president as the truly national officer, the one who would rise above sectional jealousies. and if that is what we want the president to be, if we want a truly national officer who will represent all the people and not simply the people who sent him there and who may have helped him get, there then we need to follow through with this constitutional process. >> john, did our founders have a good day? were they -- soup to nuts, were they represented well in the public sphere today? i did think so. i thought it was an intelligent and learned conversation. i look the cooked turkey, loved
the anachronistic about what would they say if they were here, which we're not allowed to do, but we all like to play that game and think about it. you know, history in many ways is a conversation with the past informed by the present about what we should do in the future. that's not all it is, but that is one function, one part of the utility of history is to mine it for lessons and history's not a gps system. you can't type in exactly what you want and it tells you exactly where to go. but it is a diagnostic guide. there are certain symptoms that recur, treatments, operations that prove efficacious. it's no mistake i think that in the 18th century, so much of the language about politics was in the vernacular of health.
we talked about the body politic. we talked about corruption. corruption then didn't mean graft, it meant disease so that a violation of the public trust was so important that it was as if you were afflicted with something. and i think that that significance, the gravity which which the founders for all their faults took their task, i think that was appropriately represented today. >> john, the 30 seconds we have left, how will we know if they're on the right timeline or if the house democrats are rushing this? >> you know, peter baker, your don't cross him on any detail about bill clinton. just don't do it. even president clinton should probably call him and check things at this point. you know, moving quickly in this climate i can see the argument that perhaps in the abstract you wouldn't want to rush something, but i was compelled by the
argument that this is to some extent a prophylactic process there is an election coming up. the president has shown a capacity to want to undermine the integrity of that elect and that's a real consideration. >> this is a source material. it's great that two friends of this broadcast are among the four authors who contributed to this book, jon meacham one of them. thank you so much for joining us tonight. and coming up for us, an attempt to answer ma what many people see as one of the enduring mysteries of the trump era. i'm your curious cat,
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last thing before we go tonight is a question that has been raised on this boroughs befo before, and the question is what happened to lindsey graham. and here is what happened when howard stern posed that question to hillary clinton on the howard stern show this morning. >> lindsey was good company. he was funny. he was self-deprecating. he also believed in climate change back in those days. >> really? >> yes. >> has he sold his soul to the devil? >> i don't know the answer to that. i think that's a fair question, however. and what i don't understand is how he went from being the friend and the real confidante of the maverick, john mccain, who i didn't agree with
politically, but i found him to be a man of integrity, and now, you know, i don't know what's happened to lindsey graham. i'll be honest with you. i haven't talked to him in a long time. he wrote -- you know how "time" magazine has the top 100 people and all that. one year, back a couple of years ago when i was in it, he wrote the tribute to me. >> my god. >> and now it's like -- he had a brain snatch, you know. >> for good measure, she then talked what it was like attending donald trump's inaugural address. >> bill and i are sitting with george and laura bush, and then he started on that speech which was so bizarre, and that's when i got really worried. that carnage in the street and the dark dystopian vision, i was sitting there like wow, couldn't believe it. and george w. bush says to me, "well that was some weird --"
>> i thought we were going to bleep that. thank you for being here with us. good night from our nbc news headquarters here in new york. 45 years ago in february of 1974, the impeachment investigators in the house of representatives who were looking at the watergate scandal and president richard nixon, they produced this report. the constitutional grounds for presidential impeachment. it's really good, actually. it really holds up after 45 years. it's very readable. it's about 60 pages long, and it does exactly what's promised in its title. it's a fairly straightforward thing and runs through what the constitution tells about impeachment and also what the previous experience is that we've had in this country with impeachment. up until that time. again, this was february of 1974