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tv   The Last Word With Lawrence O Donnell  MSNBC  January 8, 2020 10:00pm-11:00pm PST

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thank you for being with us. thank you for being with us. time for "the last word" with lawrence o'donnell. >> good evening, rachel. we have the person who i've been hoping to speak to about this situation with iran since these hostilities broke out, former secretary of state john kerry is going to join us. >> excellent. >> no one knows more about how we got to here since he finished negotiating that iran deal which president trump decided he was going to rip up. >> excellent. get to it, my friend. >> thank you, rachel. >> thanks, lawrence. we've had exactly one secretary of state who began his public life as a war protester. after serving in combat in vietnam, john kerry tried to stop the war in vietnam.
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he asked the question that haunted a nation. >> we are asking americans to think about that because how do you ask a man to be the last man to die in vietnam? how do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake? >> john kerry saved more american lives by joining the peace movement that forced an end to the war in vietnam. he served 28 years in the united states senate before president barack obama appointed him secretary of state. in that job, kerry took on one of the most difficult tasks, negotiating an agreement with iran that prevented iran from developing nuclear weapons. it is one of the most important accomplishments of any secretary of state in the nuclear age. today donald trump publicly all but begged iran to negotiate a new nuclear agreement after donald trump ripped up the agreement john kerry negotiated at the direction of president obama. since this latest round of
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hostilities broke out with iran, there is no one i've been wanting to talk with more than the secretary of state who negotiated that nuclear deal with iran. and so we're lucky to have john kerry as our first guest tonight. and later in this hour we will get to the impeachment trial of donald trump as the senate seems increasingly ready to begin that trial. although nancy pelosi is still holding on to the articles of impeachment. we'll hear from neal katyal whose "new york times" op-ed piece is entitled, "why is mitch mcconnell so afraid of john bolton?" joy reid will join our impeachment discussion later in the hour. more than 12 hours after tweeting all is well last night, the president of the united states finally addressed the nation and said this before even saying good morning. >> as long as i'm president of the united states, iran will never be allowed to have a nuclear weapon. good morning.
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>> the president seemed to be, first, reaching for credit for something that every president before him has accomplished, keeping nuclear weapons out of the hands of the iranian government. no president did more to prevent iran from obtaining nuclear weapons than president barack obama, who reached an agreement with iran joined by the united kingdom, germany, france, russia, and china in which iran agreed not to pursue the development of nuclear weapons. the structure of that deal remains in place with those other countries, even though the united states has withdrawn from it. and today president trump said we all must work together to try to make that same deal again. >> the time has come for the united kingdom, germany, france, russia, and china to recognize this reality. they must now break away from the remnants of the iran deal or
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jcpoa, and we must all work together toward making a deal with iran that makes the world a safer and more peaceful place. >> that is exactly what the iran deal did, made the world a safer and more peaceful place. that is why the world's leading nuclear powers all supported the deal. president trump's almost ten-minute speech was written for him and he read it word for word from teleprompters. there were no trump improvisations, half sentences crashing into other half sentences that didn't add up to a real sentence. every sentence was clear, but not every sentence was true. and there were passages of the speech that donald trump has already made clear do not actually reflect his real thinking about iran, like when he said iran can be a great country.
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>> we must also make a deal that allows iran to thrive and prosper and take advantage of its enormous untapped potential. iran can be a great country. >> the president closed his speech by directly addressing the people and leaders of iran. he did not repeat his threat to target cultural sites and civilians for military attack. instead he said something that not one person in iran could possibly believe. >> finally, to the people and leaders of iran, we want you to have a future and a great future, one that you deserve, one with prosperity at home and harmony with the nations of the world. the united states is ready to embrace peace with all who seek it.
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>> joining us, john kerry, former secretary of state. i want to go to the last line from the president. i want to begin there. he said that last line, he said the united states is ready to embrace peace with all who seek it, and he was speaking directly to iran then. isn't that what iran was seeking in their negotiations with you when they eventually signed a deal saying they would not develop nuclear weapons? >> well, lawrence, first of all, the president's opening comment in his speech was about as fatuous and unnecessary a comment as any that i've ever heard a president make because the policy of every president previously, including president obama, was to make certain iran could not have a nuclear weapon, and, in fact, president obama succeeded in preventing iran from having any capacity to build a nuclear weapon without
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our knowing it. the iran nuclear agreement is simply the most exhaustive, verifiable, and transparent nuclear agreement on the face of the planet, which provided us lifetime access to challenge any building we thought iran might be messing around in and inspect it if we thought it was necessary. and we had the absolute ability with france, germany, britain on our side, to be able to have a vote that was unimpeachable by china, by russia, or anybody else to prevent us from doing so. so what the president has done, lawrence, is create this crisis. there were no missiles coming at our facilities before he pulled out of this agreement. there were no ships being detained in the gulf. there was no protester at the gates of the baghdad embassy. there were no ships being taken hostage.
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we were welcomed in iraq. we were fighting isis jointly. we had a foothold in other countries in the region, where now people are voting to say we have to go home. we're now -- we're at risk. our diplomats in that region are at greater risk, and any american citizen i would proffer is at risk. there is no way at all that the world is safer, that the united states is safer, that the region is safer with the steps this president has taken to create a crisis that didn't have to happen. there are countless ways he could have gone to the british, the french, the germans, the chinese, the russians, all of whom stayed in this agreement after he pulled out because they understood the strength of it. but on the contrary, there was no way he could have not gone to them and said you have to join
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me now in working on the agreement to deal with yemen and the missile crisis, to deal with their support of hezbollah, to deal with their interference in iraq, to deal with their threats to israel. all of that was on the table when we handed over the keys to the president. but the president is so fixated on undoing anything barack obama did, that he was willing to run the risk of outright war in the effort to fulfill his fantasy about this region and about his presidency. it's the most dangerous thing i've seen since the war i fought in, which was lied about and presented such a crisis to our nation, and i think americans need to stop and consider the recklessness and impulsiveness of the decision that he made. >> i want to take a look at another thing the president said about the iran nuclear deal. he said hostilities increased after the iran nuclear deal.
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and he didn't stop there. let's listen to this. >> iran's hostility substantially increased after the foolish iran nuclear deal was signed in 2013. and they were given $150 billion not to mention $1.8 billion in cash. >> your reaction to that, secretary kerry? >> it is an outright lie, an outright lie by the president of the united states that they were given $150 billion. they were not. and the money that they did receive was their money because they sued the united states of america and won in court and were being paid interest. so american citizens were paying interest every single day that was accruing. more and more billions of dollars that were going to go to iran. we cut that short. we negotiated a deal that greatly reduced the amount of
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money they were, in fact, supposed to receive under court order, and they would have received it eventually. and we transferred that to them, most of which they owed to other countries and other people in a massive debt that iran had accrued. so the fact is that he has lied about that. and also the budget of the irgc was well taken care of by iranians, by the regime, which we didn't like. nobody likes what they've been doing in the region. and even during our negotiations on this agreement, we raised sanctions against iran, sanctions on human rights, sanctions for its support of hezbollah, sanctions for its behavior in its missile program. we raised the sanctions and we constantly said to people, the first challenge is take the nuclear weapon off the table. and then you have an ability to be able to negotiate with iran on all of the other issues that
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concern all of us, that no one who still ever turned a blind eye to iran's behavior in the region, that there's a better way to go at it. and the best way to go at it is with the ability to have france, germany, britain, china, russia, all on our side holding iran accountable for that behavior and using the united nations national security council to be able to hold them accountable. now this president has isolated the united states of america. the president has gotten iraq parliament to vote that we have to leave iraq. the door is open for people to question our capacity in the region. the united states has been weakened by the steps this president has taken in a sort of shotgun, impulsive, reckless way, without a process, involving state department, military, all the people who are
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part of a very significant process of evaluating these kinds of decisions. moreover, the president stood beside putin in helsinki and threw the entire intelligence community of our nation under the bus and chose to believe putin over our own intelligence community. so there are people reeling all over the world wondering about the steadiness and capacity of the president of the united states and this administration. and we are not safer because this president has been willing to personally invoke his anti-obamaism to such a degree that he's run the risk of war. that response by iran could have been significantly different. and it is not right for the president of the united states to put the united states in a position where we are dependent on a regime that we don't like to somehow behave in a way that saves this president from himself. >> secretary kerry, knowing the iranian military and the iranian
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regime as you do, what is your interpretation of the nature of their response and the fact that were no american casualties or casualties involved. do you think the response from iran was carefully measuring and that was actually their intent? >> well, i can't define what the intent was or what choice they made or whether it was debated or how it was debated. i do know this. in their attack against aramco in saudi arabia, i think they fired about 20 missiles. and it's my that understanding 17 of the 20 missiles landed within one meter of their bull's-eye. so make your own judgment about iran's capacity. my judgment is that, in fact, this -- you know, is a process that is unfolding in the most dangerous way for our country and for the region.
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the fact is that we would be better off to have had the agreement in place which actually restrained their ability to be able to get a nuclear weapon without our knowing it. i'm not vouching for iran. i can't and never have in any of the testimony when we passed this, we never said iran will never do this. what we said is, we've put in place a verification mechanism by which we have television cameras. we've destroyed certain facilities. they agreed to destroy certain facilities. we're in those facilities every day inspecting. we know what they're doing. if they jot up their enrichment, we will know it. if they begin to change their production, we will know it. every military option available to us today will be available in 5 years, in 10 years, in 15 years. we would have that. but what we've lost is the support of the other people who
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were involved in negotiating this agreement and signing this agreement and backing this agreement and wanting it to work. and very important to this, general soleimani opposed this agreement. he did not want the ayatollah to negotiate this agreement. the entire regc constantly made life miserable for president rouhani and for foreign minister zarif. they were constantly under pressure about what they could and couldn't do in order to live up to what we demanded to do. in order to have an agreement that was airtight to know what they're doing. so some people have complained that in 15 years, if they live by the agreement, they would have a right to increase some enrichment, yeah, they would. there are 14 countries in the world that actually have lived by the nonproliferation treaty, and they do have increased enrichment. but the point is, because of the presence of the international atomic energy agency, our
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presence, because of sealed radio transmitters that are on the centrifuges, because of our television cameras in their facilities, because of our cradle-to-grave tracking of every ounce of uranium that they produce, we would know what they are doing. and we had the right to challenge them. so president trump has taken a situation where the world got a nuclear weapon off the table and where we actually had the verification capacity to make sure it stayed off the table or else. that was there. and we had the support of the world in doing that. now president trump has taken steps to get out of the agreement, to have america invited out of iraq, to have our embassies being attacked, to open up the prospect of the nuclear deal totally being shredded ultimately. and i think what he's also guaranteed is -- i will be amazed if this iranian regime will negotiate with donald
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trump. they found out he's not trustworthy. they've seen his lies, as we have seen his lies, and that is not the basis on which to invite people to a table. nor is it possible to squeeze and force them to that table. if we've learned anything in our negotiation with iran, they pride themselves in a more than 5,000-year history as a nation-state, as a culture, as a presence. and i think this president just doesn't stop to understand those kinds of things, let alone an awful lot of other things that are important to the presidency of the united states. >> was president obama presented the option of killing general soleimani? >> it was always an option. it's been an option through several administrations. but people made a judgment that the cost of doing so was not going to change the dynamic sufficiently that it was worth
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that cost, because of the simple reason that we've already seen. within 24 hours, a new general is appointed. and i assure you the new general is as committed to the track that general soleimani was on, as he was. and so has the threat been taken away? no. has the threat perhaps even been increased? very possibly. and our intelligence community is obviously going to monitor that very, very closely. and we have a president that actually believes what the intelligence community tells him. >> secretary kerry, it seems for the speech the president read today in his teleprompter, that speech agrees with the obama/kerry approach because the president said he wanted to ask nato to become more involved and specified all the countries that were involved in the iran nuclear agreement saying they all have to get together. that is the kerry/obama approach
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that was advocated by that speech today. but what i want to ask you about as a final point here is, what does this confrontation, what does this situation where the president of the united states is in a confrontation with iraq and simultaneously a confrontation with iran, the iraqi parliament saying we don't want you here anymore because of the way you're confronting iran on our territory. what is vladimir putin and russia's reaction to this dynamic tonight? >> well, russia has to be delighted by the way in which the united states has been confounded in the region. that is clearly part of the loss here of what president trump has brought about in his extraordinary attitude towards president putin and russia itself, as we've seen evidenced on so many occasions. russia is thrilled by this. they are visible shaking hands and hugging assad.
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russia is in the region. you know, i think that the president's speech today obviously contemplates something different in terms of the actual outcome of a new negotiation, even though he talks about it in the context he did. but the fact remains, the nuclear weapon that he now says they will never get, they were never going to get because it was already off the table. and what was awaiting this president and others was the negotiation on the follow-on agreement to make peace in yemen, to bring to a halt iran's involvement. i agree with the saudis that iran has no business bringing rockets there that threaten saudi arabia. we didn't want that any more than they want it today. but how do you get to that? you have to have a negotiation. what the president did by just
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unilaterally pulling out of the agreement and simultaneously declaring effective economic war against iran was to say to them, you can't negotiate with me because i'm going to get what i want. and the result of that, they have hardened down iran. the irgc never wanted iran's nuclear ambitions curbed. the irgc constantly has been the really aggressive arm of the iranian regime. and if you have a chance of moving in a different direction and creating a longer-term stability in the region which is so critical to everybody, it can only come through negotiation. to date there has been little indication that this administration has really been serious about that negotiation. >> former secretary of state john kerry, i cannot thank you enough for joining us tonight. mr. secretary, your insight on
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this has been invaluable. the country needed to hear from you about this and i appreciate you joining us. >> glad to be with you. thanks, lawrence. when we come back, the current secretary of state's briefing to the united states senate today could not have been worse. one senator said it was absolutely insane, and that senator is a republican. dub it. liberty mutual customizes your car insurance so you only pay for what you need. only pay for what you need. ♪ liberty. liberty. liberty. liberty. ♪
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absolutely insane. that's not the kind of review you hear very often about secret senate briefings by the cia director, the defense secretary, and the secretary of state. but that's how one senator described what he heard from the trump team today when they came to explain why the president killed iran's top general. and the senator who said that is a republican. >> the briefing, which i would add was probably the worst briefing i've seen at least on a military issue in the nine years i've served in the united states senate. they had to leave after 75 minutes. while they're in the process of telling us that we need to be good little boys and girls and run along and not debate this in public. i find that absolutely insane. >> senator mike lee said he went into the briefing undecided about how to vote on a war powers resolution that democratic senator tim kaine
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has introduced that would prevent military action against iran. but the briefing helped mike lee make up his mind. >> i can say that after that briefing, that briefing is what changed my mind. that briefing is what brought me on board together with the amendments senator kaine has agreed to make. i'm going to support it. >> rand paul also announced that he would support the democrats' war powers resolution restricting military action against iran. that provoked senator lindsey graham to say that he liked what he heard in the briefing and he does not like what he's hearing from mike lee and rand paul. >> i think they're overreacting, quite frankly. go debate all you want to. i'm going to debate you. trust me, i'm going to let people know that at this moment in time, to play this game with the war powers act, which is
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unconstitutional, whether you mean to or not, you're empowering the enemy. >> empowering the enemy. that was the last thing that lindsey graham said about mike lee and rand paul. here's rand paul's reaction to lindsey graham accusing him of empowering the enemy. >> he insults the constitution, our founding fathers, and what we do stand for in this republic by making light of it and accusing people of lacking patriotism. i think that's a low, gutter type of response. >> joining our discussion, joy reid, msnbc national correspondent and the host of "a.m. joy," she's the author of "the man who sold america." and ned price is with us, former senior director and spokesperson for the national security council in the obama administration, an msnbc national security contributor. joy, it got hot with that republican reaction. i can't remember seeing a senator walking out saying that one made up my mind. i'm voting against my party.
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>> first of all, before i answer, i have to congratulate you on that interview with former secretary of state kerry. >> i just listened. >> it was a great interview and i'll be stealing huge chunks of it for my show. >> he did say a lot of important things. we should be repurposing that video. >> absolutely. as far as lindsey graham, i want to introduce him to the tea party. i don't know if he remembers 2010, but people like mike lee, people like rand paul, people in the house, justin amash, ran for office saying they were constitutional conservatives first, republicans second. they in the beginning became a huge amount of trouble for the regular order warmongering republicans like lindsey graham and the other pretending to be tea party but sick fantasies like marco rubio, the party men, they made a lot of problems for john boehner in the house. they are difficult to control when they're on an issue they care about. they were fine to take the knee
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because donald trump is a republican. tax cuts, all that stuff is fine. but war is one of those issues that they actually have opinions on. so good luck trying to make them be good boys. they're not going to be. >> and ned price, what we were hearing -- by the way, all of our information about what happened is coming from these republican senators. democratic senators were reluctant to make any reference to what happened there. they did say they aren't satisfied with what they were hearing. but the picture you were getting, especially from mike lee is, mike pompeo comes in there and the defense secretary and cia director comes in and says, don't dare debate this. do not debate this. you will be empowering the enemy if you debate this. lindsey graham was just echoing them. >> lawrence, we've seen something incredibly disquieting. this administration has been more than happy to spike the football to thump their chests in the wake of general soleimani's killing, even going
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so far as to send fundraising emails based on the operation to president trump's political base. but at the same time they haven't been willing to explain the basis for the operation, its predication, or their strategy going forward to the american people. they actually went to an extraordinary length the other day. they submitted, as required by law, a war powers notification consistent with the 1973 law to congress but did so in a completely classified form. i had never previously heard of a war powers notification being classified in full, but i think the answer is starting to come into focus. and the answer may well be that this administration doesn't have answers. they don't have answers as to the basis for the strike or at least they don't have good answers. they don't have answers for their strategy going forward. you know, i was listening to some of the reactions from these senators, and we actually have heard something somewhat similar to this in the past. and you won't be surprised to hear it came from a trump administration press briefing. just late last year when the trump administration was trying to convince the senate not to
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limit its involvement in the war in yemen, they sent secretary pompeo and others up to the hill, and the response out of that briefing was not quite as abysmal but nearly what we heard today. seems they would be better suited, better placed if they just kept their mouths shut. but, of course, they can't help themselves. >> let's listen to what senator tim kaine said about the briefing. >> it is a far cry from meeting a standard of imminent threat. they had to leave pretty quickly. so about ten of the attending senators, 10 to 15 got to ask questions and many others did not get to ask questions. but at least based on the presentation that was made, it does not meet what i consider to be an imminent threat. >> joy, no one has come out saying, yes, they established the imminent threat that made it absolutely necessary to kill the general. >> right.
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andrea mitchell said this is the worst national security team she's seen in a presidential administration. it would be more honest if they said, let's be honest, donald trump every day wakes up, thinks about every single moment of barack obama's presidency, people cheering outside the white house when he got bin laden, when our military got osama bin laden, people loving him throughout europe, him getting a nobel peace prize, he looks at those moments and says how can i get one of those for me? if the black guy had one, i have to have one that's better. he tore up the iran agreement because obama's name was on it. for no good reason. we found ourselves in a spot. iran started to act out because they had been pushed out by the united states. when donald trump was watching tv, he saw images that reminded him of benghazi and he got mad. that would have been more honest. the law says the president just can't decide to kill a member of
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a foreign government because he's mad or because there's something on tv that bothers him. but that's who we have for president. he doesn't have anyone around him at this point that has the experience, the know-how, the intel, the ability to do anything to explain it or to make it legal. so what they have to do is come up with excuses. sure, lindsey graham, whose prime directive is to be donald trump's best friend, sure, he can explain it because it's good enough for him if he has no explanation. not good enough for congress. donald trump has a problem. >> we have to take a break here. ned price, thank you very much for joining us. joy reid will stay with us. when we come back, speaker pelosi is still not ready to send over the articles of impeachment to the senate. neal katyal has written a new op-ed piece about the senate impeachment trial of the president. neal katyal will join us. i'm your mother in law.
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at least one republican senator is publicly in favor of hearing from witnesses at the senate impeachment trial of donald trump.
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>> the clinton impeachment process allowed for witnesses to be determined after the opening arguments. i'm comfortable with that process. at this stage i'd like to hear from john bolton and other witnesses with direct information. but that process will accommodate that. >> mitch mcconnell says he has 51 votes to begin the senate trial using the same rules that were used to begin the bill clinton senate trial. that means mitch mcconnell has the votes to start the trial without agreeing to any witnesses ahead of time. senator chuck schumer has vowed to repeatedly force votes on calling witnesses. neal katyal's new op-ed piece co-authored with george conway, the husband of kellyanne conway, is entitled, "why is mitch mcconnell so afraid of john bolton?" neal katyal will join us next to answer that question and more about the upcoming senate impeachment trial of the president of the united states. these days, we're all stressed.
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i am totally blind. and non-24 can throw my days and nights out of sync, keeping me from the things i love to do. talk to your doctor, and call 844-214-2424. here's kasie hunt asking senator mitt romney yesterday about witnesses in the senate impeachment trial. >> do you think it's realistic that four republican senators would vote to call john bolton? >> i can't predict what other
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senators will do. i know i will want to hear from witnesses, unless there's some surprise along the way, we learn something that clarifies it and doesn't require witnesses. but certainly i would like to see a process that allows us to call for witnesses. joining your impeachment discussion now is neal katyal, former acting u.s. solicitor general an and msnbc legal contributor. he's the author of "impeach: the case against donald trump." he co-authored the piece "why is mitch mcconnell so afraid of john bolton?" so, i have question for you. why is mitch mcconnell so afraid of john bolton? >> well, lawrence, we're just 48 hours after this bombshell that john bolton said he is willing to testify. and already mitch mcconnell has put the squelch on it, which is quite remarkable and it says a lot about where the republican senators are. you played a clip from rand paul
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saying how are people insulting the founders and insulting the constitution when it comes to war powers? i think the same question can be asked here. mcconnell is trying to proceed without even a guarantee that any witness, even john bolton, will be called to testify. and i can't think of something more kind of antithetical to the founders' idea. after all, the constitution requires them to try an impeachment case. i've never heard of a trial without witnesses. i don't know what's next for mcconnell. is he going to be like a supreme court confirmation hearing, shouldn't have a nominee or something like that? i don't know. i mean, we're getting to the point of the absurd. i'm glad to see mitt romney say there should be witnesses but it is a really striking thing. to get to your question why, i think there's only one reason. i mean, we know that john bolton from his deputy, dr. fiona hill, said this was a drug deal and was incredibly opposed to it. we know john bolton gave speech a couple months ago, a private
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speech in which he said president trump put his personal interests over those of the american people when it came to foreign policy. this is trump's guy. this is trump's national security adviser saying that. so why are they afraid of him? because he's got some bad stuff on the president and they're trying to hide the truth. they know the president's guilty. >> chuck schumer guarantees us there will be multiple votes in the trial on the question of witnesses. mitt romney has made it very clear he will vote for john bolton as a witness, and he used the word witnesses, plural. there are others that he is willing to vote for. we're not sure exactly which ones, but definitely bolton. so on bolton you need a few more republicans to get to 51 to have john bolton as a witness. >> yeah. and i suspect they're going to get that with bolton and with many other witnesses, including pompeo, and indeed perhaps even the president himself, president
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trump, who after all is the central figure in this. you know, look, this is a senate controlled by republicans. i can't think of any reason why the president should be afraid to testify in a senate that his own party controls, except one, which is he knows he's guilty. you know, it is a pretty remarkable thing to start this trial without the guarantee of witnesses. senator mcconnell has said that's what happened in clinton. there's a big difference in clinton. clinton didn't try to gag all those witnesses in the house. here, president trump did that. no president has ever done that in our history. has said every witness and every document has to be gagged and can't appear in the house. so it's a little rich to say now, oh, well, bolton didn't testify in the house, so therefore he can't testify in the senate. the reason he didn't testify in the house is because the president blocked him. these kinds of inane shell games are being played by the president, by senator mcconnell.
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and i think the american people just have to ask one simple question, why? why would they go through all this effort to try to hide the truth from the american people? and i think the question answers itself. >> always clarifying listening to neal katyal. thank you so much for joining us tonight. really appreciate it. >> thank you. when we come back, joy reid and jonathan alter will join us to consider pelosi's strategy of continuing to hold the articles of impeachment. we'll show you what the speaker said about that today as she was hustling through the corridors there right in that video. whoa, this is awful, try it. oh no, that looks gross what is that? you gotta try it, it's terrible. i don't wanna tray it if it's terrible. it's like mango chutney and burnt hair. no thank you, i have a very sensitive palate. just try it! hey guys, i think we should hurry up. if you taste something bad, you want someone else to try it. it's what you do. i can't get it out of my mouth! if you want to save fifteen percent or more on car insurance, you switch to geico. it's what you do. dog, dog, dog.
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click, call or visit a store today. here's what house speaker nancy pelosi had to say tonight about sending articles of impeachment to the senate. >> when we saw what the arena is, that we would be sending them in, we haven't seen that.
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so i don't know how many more times i have to say that, but when we see the arena in which this will happen, we will then be prepared to send them. >> and back with us, joy reid, msnbc national correspondent and host of "a.m. joy." he's author of the book "the man who sold america," which i loved reading. and jonathan alter, the author of many books i have loved reading. >> thanks, lawrence. >> can someone explain what nancy pelosi is doing with the articles of impeachment. we now have eight democratic senators saying we would like to see them, you can send them over now. >> she doesn't have to listen to them. she's the speaker of the house. so the arena -- she used that word the arena a couple times, not just theodore roosevelt is the man in the arena. she needs to know whether this will be a real trial or a fake trial. one or the other, a trial
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without witnesses is not a trial, full stop. it's a fake proceeding. and a coverup, as chuck schumer said. even if you look at some of the practical things she has to do like decide who the house managers will be, the prosecutors in this case, if it's just opening and closing statements, she wants orators. if it's witnesses, she wants litigators. people good at questioning witnesses. those are two sometimes different kinds of people. maybe adam schiff is both, but she needs to think about what her strategy is, and also this strategy is working for her. it's very possible that this will get delayed all the way until february 4th when the state of the union takes place. what i think democrats are hoping is that donald trump is not allowed to get up there and say in front of the house of representatives and the whole country, i've been vindicated, it was a witch hunt.
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if the trial isn't resolved, he's under a cloud like bill clinton, that's not good for him politically. >> joy, this timing issue, i think, is probably the most important of all, about how does this interact with the state of the union and all that. but i think we now see how this is going to go because mitch mcconnell is not going to agree or negotiate with nancy pelosi, not negotiate with schumer. he's got the votes. he has mitt romney's vote to proceed under the bill clinton rules. and mitt romney has said the bill clinton rules include the option to call for witnesses during the trial, and mitt romney is going to vote for witnesses. he's going to vote specifically for john bolton and possibly more witnesses and who knows how many other republicans are going to vote for witnesses. >> but that's the question. who knows how many will vote for witnesses? i think jonathan is exactly
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right. it is in the speaker's benefit to wait to see where cory gardner is going to go, martha mcsally, the vulnerable senators up for re-election need to make decisions because you're not going to get re-elected in colorado rubber stamping a fake trial. the other thing, a card that speaker pelosi could play is to say, okay, we're going to go ahead and do what your counsel said for us to do. we're going to reopen hearings and we're going to call john bolton. john bolton has said he wants to testify. there's no difference testifying to the house than to the senate. come testify here if you're just going to stipulate to what the house found. so what mcconnell -- he thinks he's quite wise but he's really quite foolish because speaker pelosi holds all the cards. if they want to reopen hearings on donald trump and call those same witnesses and say stipulate to that. >> so nancy pelosi needs reporters in maine to be asking senator susan collins, are you for witnesses? and she needs time for that ripen. >> not just for witnesses, are you for a real trial or fake trial? if you're not for witnesses, you're basically saying, senator, this is the way sam donaldson used to ask the
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question. you're saying, senator, that you're not for a real trial? i think a lot of reporters ask the questions in kind of a passive way. this is one where they can frame it very squarely for these republicans. one other thing that's not getting enough attention that walter dellinger said on this network tonight, not four votes, three votes for witnesses. because if there's a tie, a 50/50 tie, it's not the vice president who breaks the tie. it's chief justice roberts. >> no, that's not going to happen. the chief justice would never cast a deciding vote in this situation and isn't authorized. >> so he would do what? >> it's a 50/50 tie. >> so what happens then? >> you don't get your witnesses. but he would never -- he's a rehnquist clerk. rehnquist didn't even rule himself. whenever a question came up during the conflict impeachment trial, he handed it to the senate for a vote. there's no provision for the chief justice to be casting the
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deciding vote. >> they have romney and murkowski. >> bill kristol, who used to have his finger on the pulse of republicans in washington, i mean, he really did. now he's a little on the outs with them, but he believes you're going to get 12 republicans to vote for bolton to testify. >> i think that's possible because, again, if you're cory gardner, martha mcsally, the appointed senator usually loses when it comes to the real election. she's not in a great place. these guys need to vote for a real trial. being a rubber stamp for trump works for lindsey graham possibly. didn't work for her. doesn't work for the ones who are vulnerable. >> they don't get a primary challenge just because they vote for witnesses. it's hard to imagine a conservative saying i'm running against this incumbent in this primary because he or she voted for witnesses. >> it may bring up a vote for four witnesses and it might be that a senator decides i'm only going to vote for one. but if that one is bolton, that might be enough.
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>> remember, jonathan turley said to do it. sorry. >> it's brian's turn to work. joy reid and jonathan alter, thank you. joy reid sort of gets the last word. "the 11th hour with brian williams" starts now. tonight, even republicans are slamming what they heard today from trump's military team, back filling the reasoning behind why the u.s. chose to kill a bad guy out of the blue a decision by trump that will have ramifications for years. suddenly congress has a problem with him reining in his war powers. the american people president appears a to step back from the edge. we know that because he suddenly is talking up nato. speaking of the impeachment of this president, it's still pelosi versus mcconnell on what happens next. but now some big names are piping up about getting on with it. all of it as we get on when "the 11th hour" on a wednesday night.