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tv   The Rachel Maddow Show  MSNBC  December 7, 2019 6:00pm-7:00pm PST

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friday. also, this sunday we're doing a live podcast at the town hall new york city, i cannot wait to talk to two incredible writers, tony kushner, jeremy harris. come join us, that is all in for this evening. the rachel maddow show starts right now. good evening. >> spectacular, that interview with katie hill was amazing. >> thank you very much. >> incredible. thanks and i'm sorry you're working this weekend, but i also sort of want to go. >> it's going to be fun. thanks to you at home for joining us this hour. happy to have you here this friday night, the white house and president trump's republican supporters in congress first said that the impeachment proceedings against president trump were unfair because there had been no floor vote in the house authorizing the impeachment inquiry. that was their first objection. this isn't a real impeachment. it's unfair. there has been no floor vote. then, uh-oh, the house held a floor vote authorizing the impeachment inquiry, and that
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took care of that objection. so then they needed a new one. then they said the impeachment inquiry against president trump was actually unfair because the hearings to collect evidence in the inquiry were conducted behind closed doors. that was it. that was the next objection. there are no public hearings. they stormed the closed door hearing room to make this point, but then after expressing that as their big concern in terms of the fairness of the hearings, then, uh-oh, again, the house decided that, well, they would hold public hearings. they would hold lots and lots of public hearings, hours and hours of them, almost too many hours for any one person to watch without getting a cramp. that meant it was time for a new objection. what the white house and the president's republican supporters in congress came one next was the objection that the president and his legal team had not been invited to participate in the impeachment proceedings. so no floor vote?
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then there's a floor vote. no public hearings, then there's public hearings. this is not fair, this isn't a real impeachment. the president has not been invited to participate. and then naturally the president was invited to participate. well, today the trump white house responded to that invitation to participate in the impeachment hearings, and they said actually they have no intention of participating in the proceedings. at least that's what we think this letter means. i wanted to put the letter up there full screen just because i wanted to -- i wanted you to know why i was distracted. the signature on this letter is so enormous and weird. it's a little bit hard to focus on anything else in terms of the content of this letter, but basically what we believe is that this is a letter from the white house counsel saying no we're not going to participate in your little charade. we still consider it unfair. what that means is for a third straight time, the objections by
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the white house and the president's republican supporters that this is all so unfair, i mean, those objections one by one have been overtaken by events, right? if you had taken them at any -- taken them at their word, at any point over this impeachment saga so far, you might have thought their objection to the impeachment was that there hadn't been a floor vote or it was behind closed doors or the president hadn't been invited, but when all of those things they were complaining about got corrected, right, when all of those things in real terms came around to what they said they wanted, the white house and the republicans in congress still objected. they still said this is all so unfair, we'll have nothing to do with it. because of that, i mean, someday someone will teach a first year law school class about how to identify bad faith in negotiations by running through exactly what the republican objections have been on process grounds to how these impeachment proceedings have gone forward. but now having been through all
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of that, no floor vote, the closed door proceedings, the president hasn't been invited -- after going through all of that, they now have unveiled a new objection as to why president trump cannot actually be subject to this impeachment proceeding. a new noble stand they are taking for fairness and the american way, they have rolled it out with our friends at the fox news channel. >> the whole thing is a joke. it is frankly very, very close to what clarence thomas once described as a modern day lynch mob. the democrats have no interest in the facts, and really on the eve of christmas, it is really sad to see the dishonesty and the partisanship that the house democrats are displaying. >> on the eve of christmas? it is christmastime you guys, which is no time for an impeachment. i mean, any other time of the year this might be okay, but
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not -- what is it? it's 19 days before christmas. this is the new objection, if there's one rule that all americans should be able to agree on or republicans at least have the decency to adhere to it's the rule that you don't pursue impeachment proceedings against an american president in the holiday season, not while the yule log burns in the hearth. not while the sleigh bells ring, not while people are, you know, decorating their christmas trees. it's just against the rules. >> on the contrast could not have been more striking tonight. at the very moment the republicans were releasing their four articles of impeachment, the president and first lady were lighting the national christmas tree, festive, seemingly unconcerned. >> in 1998 house republicans released the four articles of impeachment they had been working on against president clinton, they released those four articles of impeachment literally while president clinton was in the act of lighting the national christmas
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tree. those impeachment proceedings against president clinton were set in motion, of course, but the crusading republican speaker of the house newt gingrich who now is back here to let us know that republicans at least have some sense of decency. they have some sense of the rules around what makes for a fair impeachment process and what doesn't, and frankly, christmastime is part of what you have to consider. >> and really, on the eve of christmas, it is really sad to see the dishonesty and the partisanship that the house democrats are displaying. >> when the republicans in 1998 released the draft articles of impeachment against president clinton while he was lighting the national christmas tree, it was four articles of impeachment that they released. when it came time to vote on those four articles of impeachment against president clinton, two of them were voted down, two of them failed, but two of them went ahead on very close votes. there was an article on perjury where the vote was 228 to 206.
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there was also an article on obstruction that passed. that one was 221 to 212 so two of the four passed. and under the newt gingrich you can't impeach a president at christmastime rule, just proclaimed on the fox news channel this week, you should know that when it came time for the house to actually cast their votes on those impeachment articles, when it came time not just to introduce the articles but for the house to vote on them, those votes took place on december 19th, christmas week. i mean, they could have waited until after the christmas holiday, but why, why, why, why would you do that. they apparently really wanted to do it right before christmas so much so that the house actually was called in on a saturday to take those votes. it was strange enough timing that the nbc news archive footage of the network coverage of that historic impeachment vote against president clinton is actually filed under golf because it starts with an nbc anchor named hannah storm having
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to break in suddenly to the network's coverage of a saturday afternoon golf match in order to announce that president clinton was buildi was being impeached on the 19th of december. >> quite an athlete. >> hello, everyone, hannah storm in new york. we will be returning to our coverage of the lexus challenge after a report from nbc news. an historic day for our country, and for the latest on the impeachment of president clinton, we go to tom brokaw. tom. >> thank you very much, hannah, the president has been impeached on two articles in the house of representatives. >> that was december 19th, the saturday before christmas, 1998. it is timing that the republican party now apparently believes was just unconscionable. it's at least now not fair to pursue these impeachment proceedings against this president given the holiday spirit, never mind what we did before, and never mind all the other objections from them on supposed fairness grounds, that
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have all been addressed now. all the things they complained about, they've all been changed, but they nevertheless continue to object. the main event now, the focus of what's about to happen in this presidency, the big deal at the heart of all of this is, of course, the factual and the evidentiary record that has been turned up in terms of president trump's behavior. i mean, the side show frankly is the series of supposedly earnest objections to the process of this impeachment that keep getting thrown up by the white house and by the president's defenders, and then those objections keep getting rendered moot and rendered ridiculous one after the other and so i would caution my friends in the media and those of us who are responsible for sort of tracking this on behalf of the media in this country, that it's not necessarily worth continuing to follow each bad faith objection after all the previous bad faith objections have been shown to be in bad faith, right? i mean, to a certain extent, after somebody says this is
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something they really care about, it's then revealed as something they can't possibly care about, you should be cautious the next time they try to sell you that same soft soap. i mean, you can't pretend it's not happening. you can't pretend that's not the way the republicans are treating this. that the record that the trump white house and congressional republicans will have recorded about them in the history books. the members of congress who will ultimately write the articles of impeachment against president trump, a process that has just gotten underway, they have to decide how much they're going to consider the sort of bad faith objection environment in which they're operating and in which those articles will be received by the republican party and the white house, particularly if the people who are going to be pursuing the actual writing of these articles and the structure of the impeachment proceeding against the president are still hoping and expecting that votes on the articles against president trump might in the end be even slightly bipartisan. it turns out in terms of the
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time line, there is no month of christmas exclusion rule. nbc news has just report that had lawmakers this year have been advised by house leadership that they should be available to be in washington as late as the 21st and 22nd of december this month. in the letter that was sent to the judiciary committee today by the white house counsel, that one with the gigantic signature with mr. cipollone the one he put on there with like a paint roller, we think what that letter means is that unlike president nixon and unlike president clinton, president trump is apparently not going to send defense counsel to represent him and make arguments on his behalf and do things like cross examine witnesses at the impeachment hearings. both president nixon and president clinton did that. we don't think that president trump is going to do that. now, i say we don't think that's what they're going to do because
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just text yuually the letter to from white house counsel pat cipollone doesn't make anything all that clear one way or the other. i have seen my share of lawyer letters in my day, and as lawyer letters go, this is kind of a weird one. i mean, here's how it starts, dear chairman nadler. as you know, your impeachment inquiry is completely baseless. that's the first line of the letter. house democrats have wasted enough of america's time with this charade. you should end this inquiry now and not waste even more time with additional hearings. and that's not what lawyer letters typically look like, let alone lawyer letters from the white house, but i guess we interpret that to mean that the p president won't be sending any defense counsel to the hearings? maybe? this is another sort of hallmark of this time. this is another one of those letters from mr. cipollone the white house counsel that is coming in for some withering criticism from the rest of the lawyers in the world, an
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esteemed conservative lawyer named george conway iii who is married to white house senior adviser kellyanne conway saying this online, quote, it is an utter embarrassment that any member of the bar, let alone the white house counsel would write, sign or send this letter, but that's kind of what the white house counsel's office is like now. the chairman of the judiciary committee responded, in any case, as if that letter from the white house was an indication that president trump isn't going to mount a defense in the impeachment, that he's not going to send even legal counsel to defend him in impeachment proceedings. chairman nadler responded with this tonight to the white house. quote, we gave president trump a fair opportunity to question witnesses and present his own to address the overwhelming evidence before us. after listening to him complain about the impeachment process, we had hoped that he might accept our invitation. if the president has no good response to the allegations, then he would not want to appear before the committee.
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having declined this opportunity, he cannot claim that the process is unfair. the president's failure will not prevent us from carrying out our solemn constitutional duty. so they're going ahead, with or without the president or any lawyers that might represent the president in these proceedings, sounds like it will probably be without. they're just going to move forward. but even as the judiciary committee moves ahead, remember that one of the interesting things about the way the process is being conducted this time is that the intelligence committee which conducted the investigation into what the president did, the main part of that investigation, that committee said even though they have prepared their own report on impeachment and handed it over to the judiciary committee and said, you should get started on this effectively, they themselves have admitted that their own investigation isn't over. they still expect to receive more evidence. tonight there's some really interesting movement on that, too. i'm not sure this has received a lot of attention tonight, but i find this absolutely fascinating. when the impeachment report was
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released by the intelligence committee earlier this week, all 300 pages of it. section 1 was titled the president's misconduct. section 2 was titled the president's obstruction of the impeachment inquiry. the whole thing is about the president's behavior. the day the report came out, you might remember us running down how the sort of sub headings of the report, they alone give you a really concise tidy kind of dramatic 78-word plot rundown of what the president's going to be impeached for. the president's request for a political favor, the president removed anticorruption champion ambassador marie yovanovitch. the president's hand picked agents began the scheme. the president froze vital military assistance. the president conditioned a white house meeting on investigations. the president pressed president zelensky to do a political favor. the president's represents ratcheted up pressure on the ukrainian president, the
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president's security assistance hold became public. the president's scheme unraveled. the president's chief of staff confirmed aid was conditioned on investigations. right? that's the children's book version of what president trump did and what he's being impeached for. this is the sub headings of the report. it's a very simple but dramatic plot. you see there, you see the theme there, right? just looking at it as like a visual object, you see the theme in that tiny plot summary. the same two words start every single one of those sub headings, right? it's all stuff done by the president or directed by the president. section i of the report is about the president, section ii of the report is about the president. all the sub headings are about the president. there's a laser focus of the president specifically, the president's behavior, the president directing the scheme, the president perceiving benefit in this scheme: and because of that there's one specific part
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of the impeachment report that stands out from all the rest of it that i've been thinking about all week suns the report came out, trying to figure out how important this is going to be in the end and how important this is going to be for what comes next, and it's a sentence that doesn't start with the behavior of the president. it's from page 9 of the report right up front at the beginning. quote, our investigation determined that this telephone call between president trump and the leader of ukraine was neither the start nor the end of president trump's efforts to bend u.s. foreign policy for his personal gain. rather, it was a dramatic crescendo within a month's long campaign driven by are president trump in which senior u.s. officials including the vice president, the secretary of state, the chief of staff, the secretary of energy and others were either knowledgeable of or active participants in an effort to extract from a foreign nation the personal political benefits sought by the president.
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the impeachment report is really all about president trump specifically. it really all redowns to him. but the investigators do go out of their way to say yeah, he was running this operation, but this little benaton rainbow squad of senior government officials with either knowledgeable of or active participants in this scheme. the white house chief of staff, mick mulvaney, the secretary of state mike pompeo, the secretary of energy who just suddenly quit his job when his name emerged in this scandal, rick perry, and the vice president mike pence. impeachment investigators going out of their way to say they either knew about it or were part and parcel of this scheme. now tonight here's something, you might remember that there was just one person from vice president mike pence's office who testified in the impeachment hearings so far. her name was jennifer williams. she's a career foreign service
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person. she was an adviser to the vice president specifically on russia and europe, and at the start of her public testimony, you might remember there was a little low key drama with her lawyer, watch. >> ms. williams, i want to ask you about a phone call between vice president pence and president zelensky of ukraine on september 18th. were you on that call? >> i was. >> and did you take notes of the call? >> yes, sir. >> is there something about that call that you think may be relevant to our investigation? >> mr. chairman, as we previously discussed with the committee, the office of the vice president has taken the position that the -- >> could you -- could you move the microphone a little closer to you? >> as we've previously discussed with majority and minority staff of the committee, the office of the vice president has taken the position that the september 18 call is classified. >> jennifer williams on camera there as her lawyer sort of
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talking into the microphone, they went back and forth for this -- on this issue for a little while, eventually what they arrived at as an agreement basically in that public hearing was that jennifer williams wouldn't answer questions about that call in the public hearing because vice president pence had decide that had call was classified, but she did agree on advice of her counsel that she would give a written statement, a classified written statement to the committee about that call. house intelligence committee can handle classified information, right? that's sort of what the intelligence committee is there for. the agreement with williams was that in this public hearing that's classified. i can't talk about it, but i'm happy to answer written questions about it in writing in a classified annex to my testimony. i will submit that. so we saw that little agreement unfold during her testimony. jennifer williams has apparently since submitted that written submission, that classified submission about that part of her testimony, and apparently it's very interesting.
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the only reason i haven't seen it, the only reason i say that is because the intelligence committee has tonight sent a letter asking sort of advising vice president mike pence that he needs to declassify this matter so the public can see what she just testified to in that written submission. oh really? check this out. in this letter sent to vice president pence tonight, the intelligence committee chairman adam schiff says this, quote, in accordance with relevant regulations and procedures for handling classified information, jennifer williams, your special adviser for europe and russia provided a classified supplemental submission to the committee on november 26th. in an unclassified cover letter to that submission, her counsel explained that, quote, in preparation for the november 19th hearing at which she testified in public, ms. williams reviewed certain materials that caused her to recall additional information about the september 18th call between vice president pence and the leader of ukraine, information that she wished to disclose to the committee for
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the sake of completeness. the letter said quote, pursuant to the house of representatives impeachment inquiry i write now to request that the office of vice president declassify any classified material contained in that supplemental written submission. the committee believes that the information in ms. williams supplemental sub mix mission is relevant to the impeachment inquiry and should not be classified. the committee reminds you that executive order 13526 states that in no case shall information be classified continue to be maintained as classified or fail to be declassified for the purpose of concealing any violations of law or preventing embarrassment of any person or entity. the office of the vice president's decision to classify certain portions of the september 18th call including the additional information that jennifer williams remembered after her deposition and indicated she wished to convey to the committee as part of the impeachment inquiry, that cannot be justified on national security or any other legitimate grounds we can discern.
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so no response yet from vice president mike pence's office to that, at least that we know of, but i mean, vice president pence and his role in this scheme for which president trump is now being impeached, it remains one of the still dangling threads here. he apparently is the one who went in person to europe to go meet with zelensky after the trump/zelensky phone call to reiterate to zelensky that he wasn't getting his military aid. he was briefed, according to his own advisers, on the call that happened between president trump and president zelensky in which trump made clear that zelensky wasn't going to get his military aid unless zelensky coughed up investigations of joe biden and his son and other types of politically motivated investigations that president trump thought would help him get reelected. vice president pence has said that he'd be perfectly happy having his records of all his interactions with ukraine released to the public. here's a test of that, because his adviser testified in writing
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on a matter that he says is classified. it was about his communications with ukraine. she says i remembered something that i need to provide to the committee about this, provided it to them in writing because of that classification designation from his office. the committee says they've now reviewed that. they want it declassified. there's no reason on national security grounds to classify it. it should be declassified because it is relevant to impeachment and the committee still investigating the impeachment scandal in this letter is warning vice president pence explicitly tonight, by the way, remember, you can't declare something to be classified just to keep it from being exposed as a crime or exposed as something that really embarrasses you. embarrassment and criminal behavior are not good excuses for classification. that's just tonight. so, you know, tick tock. the next impeachment hearing is monday morning 9:00 a.m., even though it is vaguely the christmas season, still happening despite that.
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ahhhh! -ahhhh! elliott? elliott. you came back! is it fair to say that all three causes for impeachment explicitly contemplated by the founders -- abuse of power, betrayal of our national security and corruption of our elections -- are present in this president's conduct? yes or no, professor feldman? >> yes. >> and professor garhardt. >> yes.
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>> you all agree. and are any of you aware of any other president who has essentially triggered all three concerns that animated the founders? >> no. >> no. >> no as well. >> three constitutional law professor under questioning by congressman jamie raskin who was a high fa lieu tenant constitutional law professor before being elected to congress, all agreeing that nope, they have never seen anything like this before. i need to tell you here just in the last couple of minutes since we have been on the air is a letter that we have just gotten ahold of. it is a letter from the intelligence committee and the oversight and foreign affairs committees which are the three committees that conducted the impeachment investigation. it's a letter to the judiciary committee chairman jerry nadler. dear chairman nadler, pursuit to section 2, pra r 6, enclosed is the intelligence committee trump-ukraine impeachment
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inquiry report, together with its appendices. additionally as authorized by section 3 of house resolution 660, we are today transmitting to the judiciary committee additional records and other materials relating to the impeachment inquiry. these records and materials are being transmitted by the committees on flash drives containing materials and records already released publicly. other records cited in the report and certain sensitive materials. thank you for your prompt attention to this matter, signed the three chairs, again, of the intelligence oversight and foreign affairs committee. this is the official transmittal of the impeachment report, which we got a public version of earlier this week, all 300 pages of it. it is being officially conveyed to the judiciary committee tonight, but apparently it's not just the report alone. what are those certain sensitive materials? joining us now is congressman jamie raskins. thank you so much for making time tonight. i really appreciate you being here. >> rachel, it's good to be with
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you. >> i have to ask just because this letter has just crossed my desk, tonight the impeachment investigation report prepared by the intelligence committee has been conveyed to your committee along with other materials, other record -- materials and records already released publicly, other records cited in the report and certain sensitive materials, which is a vague and very alluring description to a person in the news business. can you tell us anything more about what exactly your committee has just received? >> no, i haven't seen any of it, but the whole committee and the committee staff will be working through the weekend, and i'm sure that digesting these materials will be part of our work product this weekend. >> in terms of the way that your work process is going forward, speaker pelosi made this formal public statement that she's directing committee chairs to draw up articles of impeachment against donald trump. what can you tell us about the
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process? how much of this burden is going to be borne by your committee, by the judiciary committee, what's the status inside your committee in terms of how you're going to handle the writing of those articles? how are you going to approach this? >> well, the judiciary committee is going to be the writer and the preparer of the articles of impeachment. it's taken a lot of advice and information from these other committees that have been involved, foreign affairs, oversight, and of course intelligence which took the lead in the fact investigation of the ukraine episode, but you know, we have to look both at the specific events that took place that are detailed in the excellent report prepared by the intelligence committee as well as the general patterns of misconduct that are suggested by it, and our academic witnesses, the law professors who appeared on wednesday all emphasized that obstruction of justice has been
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an integral part of the modern presidential impeachments, both the nixon and the clinton cases because people who commit misconduct and demonstrate consciousness of their guilt do everything they can to cover up, and that cover-up becomes an integral part of the offense itself. and we have clearly seen that in the -- the trump case because the cover-up continues to this very day when, you know, presidethe president continues to blockade witnesses, withhold evidence and do everything he can to interfere with the progress of the impeachment investigation. >> we know that there's going to be a hearing on monday morning bright and early 9:00 eastern time. within we understand that the judiciary committee is going to take testimony from among other people the staff counsel to the intelligence committee, dan goldman, we believe, who was such an integral part of the questioning of witnesses and seems to have been an integral part of putting together this report. one of the things that i'm sort of trying to keep my head straight about is the fact that
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the investigation is ongoing. we just tonight saw a very provocative inquiry directed to the vice president's office, for example, about a matter that the intelligence committee would like declassified so that it can be factored into their findings of fact here. how much additional factual information do you expect that the committees will be extracting and going through in public, that we the public will be able to see as you guys move towards trying to put pen to paper and come up with the articles as they will be voted on? >> all rig >> well, both chairman nadler of judiciary have declared the quantum of evidence that's already on the public record overwhelming, and it is not just overwhelming, but it's uncontradicted. there's basically no rival factual hypothesis out there. basically what you've got from president trump is the claim that his conduct was perfect and the phone call was perfect, and
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everything he did was perfect. they have no other explanation or no other theory of what happened. so that doesn't mean we're not interested in collecting more evidence that would corroborate or contradict any of the evidence that we have, so we're going to continue to receive whatever else is out there, and the problem dealing with donald trump, it's not like bill clinton who did one thing, and that really was a closed finite episode, and you could kind of blow the whistle and then investigate it. with donald trump, this is a moving target. he's a one-man crime wave, and it doesn't end, and he's kpleently defiant and unrepenitent, so unrepe unrepentent. rudy giuliani is galavanting around europe today continuing to -- the discredited 2016 conspiracy theory which is that
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it was ukraine not russia which engaged in the systematic and sweeping campaign to undermine our election, so is he acting as an agent of the president right now or not? who knows, but in any event, their attempt to cover up continues on a daily basis. >> congressman jamie raskin, democrat of maryland, member of the judiciary committee and oversight. thank you so much for taking the time. i know you're going to have not just a busy weekend but a busy few weeks ahead of us. we've got much more ahead this friday night, stay with us. tendercrisp technology, you can cook foods that are crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside. the ninja foodi pressure cooker, the pressure cooker that crisps.
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1776 our country was founded, 1777 just a few months after the declaration of independence a group of sailors and marines on a ship fighting in the war for independence,
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they had a problem with their commanding officer. they served on the u.s.s. warren under the command of this guy,essick hopkins. apparently he was not awesome. he was so bad the men serving under him sent a petition to the continental congress laying out their grievances with their commanding officer, and is hard to read 18th century sailor penmanship, but in their petition they said this guy had done everything from swearing to torturing people. the sailors serving under his command wrote to the continental congress to say that essick hopkins was unfit to lead them, and they wanted him removed. this was a huge risk for them because their commander was not just any old guy. he was kind of the guy. he was the first commander in chief of the continental navy. nevertheless, there was an investigation into his behavior. the continental congress did vote to remove hopkins from his command. hopkins then retaliated, filed a
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retaliatory lawsuit that put two of the men who had raised the alarm about him in jail, and the continental congress realized the pickle they were in here: and they decided they would essentially come to the rescue of those men who were jailed after raising the alarm. they authorized payment for the sailors legal defense. they helped provide the evidence the sailors needed to get acquitted and get out of jail. in so doing, the continental congress put together what is now believed to be the first whistle-blower protection legislation. in july of 1778, it read in part, quote, it is the duty of all persons in the service of the united states as well as all other the inhabitants thereof to giver the earliest information to congress or other proper authority of any misconduct, frauds or misdemeanors committed by any officers or persons in the service of these states which may come to their knowledge. the concept of protecting whistle-blowers who are alerting the proper authorities about misconduct by those who hold a
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position of honor in the united states, that concept is almost -- almost exactly as old as america. and now 241 years into it, it's getting a little bumpy. more on that next. stay with us. on that next. stay with us i'm a verizon engineer, and i'm part of the team building the most powerful 5g experience for america. it's 5g ultra wideband-- --for massive capacity-- --and ultra-fast speeds. almost 2 gigs here in minneapolis. that's 25 times faster than today's network in new york city. so people from midtown manhattan-- --to downtown denver-- --can experience what our 5g can deliver. (woman) and if verizon 5g can deliver performance like this in these places... it's pretty crazy. ...just imagine what it can do for you. ♪
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this summer in august the head of the ways and means committee in the house, richie neal unleashed a sort of confetti cannon of legal filings in his push of trying to get to see president trump's tax returns. under federal law if you're the chairman of the ways and kmemea committee you're entitled to see anyone's tax returns. in that mountain of paper in this fight over whether richie neal is allowed to see president trump's tax returns as it says under law he can, there was one exhibit filed, exhibit qq that has turned into an enduring source of news and mystery. that exhibit qq says this,
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quote, on july 29th, 2019, the committee, the ways and means committee, received an unsolicited -- unsolicited is underlined, unsolicited communication from a federal employee setting forth cecredib allegations of evidence of possible misconduct, potential inappropriate efforts to influence the mandatory audit program of a president's income tax returns. chairman neal said this new information from the whistle-blower that came forward to his committee raised, quote, serious and urgent concerns. this is not about the whistle-blower with the whole ukraine thing that led to the president being impeached. this is a different whistle-blower, a whole different concept, a whole different story, and in plain english what the chairman of the ways and means committee is saying here is that a whistle-blower came forward to the committee without the committee asking for it. it was unsolicited. the whistle-blower came forward from insides government with evidence of possible misconduct related to president trump's tax returns being audited by the
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irs. potential misconduct around that. oh really? according to "the washington post" the whistle-blower's key allegation was that, quote, at least one treasury department political appointee attempted to improperly interfere with the audit of the president's or vice president's tax returns. the ways and means committee confirmed to us that their staff has interviewed the whistle-blower. last month we learned that staff from the senate finance committee interviewed the whistle-blower, too, so this whistle-blower complaint is sort of bopping along along these two separate parallel tracks with the finance committee in the senate and with the ways and means committee in the house. but we just got a super troubling follow-up from cnn as we had been trying to follow the story wondering when we're all going to learn what this is and what's going to become of this whistle-blower's claims, cnn reported that after the whistle-blower spoke with staff from the finance committee in the senate, the whistle-blower is now, quote, declining to voluntarily appear for a transcribed interview with the
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senate finance committee. why is that? the whistle-blower made this decision, quote, after an official informed the whistle-blower that it could be considered a violation of law, a violation of the irs code, to provide the committee with any information related to an individual taxpayer. somebody told the whistle-blower, hey, you know, what you're planning on telling the committee is something about one taxpayer's tax return, that's illegal. you could go to jail. somebody may have advised the whistle-blower of that, but that's not exactly true. it's not supposed to be true. there are special protections for whistle-blowers under the irs code. whistle-blowers are allowed to come forward to the committees and give information to these committees under the cloak of whistle-blower protections. now, i mean, one remedy here would be to have the head of the finance committee in the senate, republican senator chuck grassley issue a subpoena rather than just telling the whistle-blower it's a voluntary interview or nothing, don't hold your breath on that one, but what about chairman richie neal of the house ways and means
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committee. he has also seen the whistle-blower complaint. we know that because he notified the court about it. chuck grassley might choose to sit on this whistle-blower complaint because maybe he doesn't want to know, but chair han neil could issue a subpoena as well to get that testimony. we reached out to the house ways and means committee for comment as to whether or not they're considering this. we haven't heard anything back, but i do have questions, including questions about whether or not this whistle-blower just like the other one, might be getting intimidated or being threatened here for doing what he or she is actually legally protected to do. i know just the person to ask about that. hold that thought. homeowners arrive, we'll inform them that liberty mutual customizes home insurance, so they'll only pay for what they need. your turn to keep watch, limu. wake me up if you see anything. [ snoring ] [ loud squawking and siren blaring ] only pay for what you need. ♪ liberty. liberty. liberty. liberty. ♪
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there's this whistleblower apparently who alleges there's been some sort of interference by a political appointee in the audit of president trump or vice president pence's tax returns. i thought whistleblowers were supposed to be able to safely give things to congress. >> there's a statute that covers the handling and disclosure of tax return information.
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prosecutors use the order for subparagraph i of this statute. there's another provision within that same statute that talks about whistleblowers. that's part f and it says that whistleblowers may go before congress and may disclose taxpayer information if they're talking about misconduct, mal administration or taxpayer abuse. and so as long as they're talking about those things, they are supposed to have protection and be able to share that information with congress. >> if some u.s. government official or congressional official has advised the whistle-blower falsely and told this person that they're going to go to jail if they testify about those things, despite that clause in the code, isn't that itself a significant problem in terms of the way this is being handled? >> yes. if there's some basis for it we're not aware of it, perhaps it's sound advice. but if inside it's an effort to intimidate or prevent that person from sharing information that could be politically damaging to the administration, that would be obstruction of
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congress, and that's a crime. >> what about the prospect of a subpoena? the reporting we had a few days ago is that the whistle-blower has decided not to do a voluntary interview with the senate finance committee because of this basic implicit threat to do so might be a crime. if the whistle-blower was subpoenaed other from that committee or richard neal of the ways and means committee in the house, would that make a difference in terms of the whistle-blower threat or in terms of the protections? >> i think it would give some comfort to the whistle-blower that he has some legal basis, he's being compelled to testify. but it still creates the tension if there's some legal prohibition from sharing this information because it doesn't fit with that definition what a whistle-blower may bring forward, what i would advise him to do if i were his lawyer to go to court and it's a face-off. on the one hand you're not supposed to disclose this information and on the other you have a subpoena from congress
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and i would turn it over to a judge and just a friendly ruling to sort of bless it. >> in terms of the decisions that are being made by the chairman here, richy neal, congressman neal from the ways and means committee is obviously involved in his own court fight to try to get access from the president's tax returns. and that's caught up in the courts. is there any reason given that ongoing proceeding that he might not want subpoena the whistle-blower because that might interfere in his legal prospects there? >> i don't know. they've had an opportunity to talk to the whistle-blower informally. what they wanted to do was just get a transcript, a sworn statement from the whistleblower. maybe there is something about what they know. so far that litigation seems to be going well. they had a hearing in november where there was a motion to dismiss by the irs and the judge expressed skepticism, so perhaps it appears to the ways and means committee things are going on track and they don't want to do anything to disrupt it at this point, but i'd love to hear what
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the whistle-blower has to say. there's an audit process of the president's tax returns. and if there's an allegation someone is improperly interfering in that process it sure adds to the mystery what it is president trump is so keen to hide in his tax returns. >> exactly. barbara mcquade, great to have you here tonight. more news ahead. stay with us. good morning, blair. [ chuckles ] whoo. i'm gonna grow big and strong. yes, you are. i'm gonna get this place all clean. i'll give you a hand. and i'm gonna put lisa on crutches! wait, what? said she's gonna need crutches. she fell pretty hard. you might want to clean that up, girl. excuse us. when owning a small business gets real, progressive helps protect what you built with customizable coverage. -and i'm gonna -- -eh, eh, eh. -donny, no. -oh.
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i want you to have a good weekend, but i want you to know your going have to be up early on monday. 9:00 a.m. monday the senate judiciary committee holds its next impeachment hearing. half an hour later there's emoluments arguments. and also expecting them to drop their sentencing memo due in the case against rick gates who was the deputy campaign chairman for trump. they're going to recommend how much prison time he ought to get. also the inspector general of the justice department should release its review of the decision to open up the russia investigation in 2016. that's all happening on monday
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plus a bunch of other stuff. tomorrow is going to be a day off. sunday is going to be a day off. hopefully monday is going to be nuts. see you then. that does it for us tonight. we'll see you again on monday. but it'll be crazy. it's now time for "last word." ali velshi is in for lawrence. >> your viewers do not have to get up in the morning to do this because anything good that happens on monday you will tell them about at 9:00 p.m. >> but it's live events. the impeachment hearing is live obviously on television at 9:00. that 9:30 emoluments hearing is one of those rare federal court hearings we're going to have audio of. so you're going to have watch in stereo. so it's going to be a crazy day. ahead tonight, what does the white house want after weeks of protest that the administration couldn't participate in the impeachment proceedings, the white house's top lawyer has just rejected an offer to