Skip to main content

tv   Weekends With Alex Witt  MSNBC  October 5, 2019 9:00am-11:00am PDT

9:00 am
to the wait did frowe just win-ners. prouders everyone uses their phone differently. that's why xfinity mobile let's you design your own data. now you can share it between lines. mix with unlimited, and switch it up at anytime so you only pay for what you need. it's a different kind of wireless network designed to save you money. save up to $400 a year on your wireless bill. plus get $250 back when you buy an eligible phone. call, click, or visit a store today.
9:01 am
that is our show for today. "a.m. joy" will be back tomorrow at 10:00 a.m. eastern. up next, alex witt with the latest. alex! >> okay, glamourama. i'm literally looking at you, like come on! on a saturday morning. look at that. you look great. >> thank you. thank you so much. >> all right, my friend, it was a great show. >> bye. >> good day to all of you from msnbc world headquarters in new york. it is noon in the east, 9:00 a.m. out west. welcome to "weekends with alex witt." twitter tirade, the president pulling out profanity as he goes after the one gop senator who most forcefully criticized him. also, could there be another one? a new report about a possible second whistle-blower. taking a look at the president's circle, who is most vulnerable in this impeachment investigation? >> when the world doesn't focus on the things that are right, the things that matter, the things that impact real people's lives, and instead, you get caught up in some silly gotcha game? >> plus, how the president uses conspiracy theories as a weapon and whether we're seeing it
9:02 am
backfire with ukraine. but we begin this hour with the president just a short time ago attacking utah republican senator mitt romney, one of the most vocal gop voices against him. romney slammed trump on friday, saying his appeal for interference from ukraine and china to investigate joe biden was brazen and unprecedented, wrong and appalling, and politically motivated. the president reduced to insulting, saying romney is pompous, bad for republicans, and that he never knew how to win. the day's other big development, "the new york times" reporting a second whistle-blower from inside the intelligence committee may step forward with a separate complaint. the "times" reports this official has more direct information about the president using the power of his office to pressure ukraine to investigate biden. and in that effort to seek foreign interference, some of the president's closest men are implicated, one of them secretary of state mike pompeo. he admitted this week he was on the controversial july phone call between the president and his ukrainian counterpart.
9:03 am
secretary pompeo spoke about it after failing to meet a house subpoena. >> state department was very focused, at the direction of the president. we were very focused on creating a space that we could ultimately deliver a good relationship with this new government. that was my guidance all along. it is not only appropriate, but it is our duty to investigate, if we think there was interference in the election of 2016. >> this week, a string of explosive reports, testimonies, and documents all coming to light. on the left of your screen there, all of the evidence collected so far. move to the right, the evidence house democrats have requested, which includes subpoenaing the white house, requesting documents from the vice president, and this week, testimonies from crucial players, including one of the diplomats whose explosive text messages have been called yet another smoking gun. amid all of this, the president himself has already admitted to asking ukraine to investigate the besideens.
9:04 am
>> if we feel there is corruption, we have a right to go to a foreign country. president zelensky, if it were me, i would recommend that they start an investigation into the bidens. if they were honest about it, they'd start a major investigation into the bidens. likewise, china should start an investigation into the bidens. we had a great conversation, with largely the fact that we don't want our people, like vice president biden and his son, creating to the corruption already in the ukraine. >> meanwhile, joe biden is hitting back. keep in mind, there is no evidence of wrongdoing either by the former vice president or his son, hunter. >> all this talk of the president about corruption comes from the most corrupt president we've had in modern history. he's the definition of corruption. he's indicted himself by his own statements. this is not about me.
9:05 am
it's not about my son. there's not a shred of evidence there's been anything done that was wrong. this guy, like all bullies, is a coward! he does not want to run against me. >> nbc white house correspondent kelly o'donnell is joining us now. kelly, with a good day to you, my friend, tell us what the president is saying about mitt romney. >> reporter: well, this is a relationship, alex, that we know has been fraught over the years. there were times when they tried to be on the same page, trump and romney, times when they battled it out. and again, we've got another instance where after mitt romney, who i've talked to him a lot about this, wants to be careful and cautious about when he challenges the president, and he has done so on these issues and has been one of the most forceful senate republicans. well, that, of course, prompts a response from the president, who called him out and did that on twitter today while he was traveling from the white house to his golf club in suburban virginia. and so, the president using,
9:06 am
again, like a soft curse word here, referring to mitt romney, who is the senator from utah and a former nominee of his party to be president, and then attacking romney again about his own inability to win when he was up against president obama in 2012. so, this is the kind of thing we've expected from the president, and it's kind of a sign of what other republicans might face, if and when they challenge the president on these issues. there is a closer relationship in terms of going back and forth between trump and romney over the years about this issue. you remember as the candidate time frame of 2016, romney really called out party and said donald trump was not the right person, and he did it in very glaring terms, then kind of backed off of that and said, well, okay, he's won the presidency, i'll work with him where i can. and there have been times when romney has praised the president on certain specific decisions. but on this, there's another falling out, and the president
9:07 am
is using twitter to certainly hammer at romney as well. alex? >> okay. kelly o., thank you so much, from the white house. we will see you again. let's go now, everyone, to 2020 and some new reaction from the public to the ukraine controversy amid -- as well as, rather, the impeachment inquiry. joining me from north charleston, south carolina, is nbc's mr. shaquille brewster. shaq, good day to you. what are folks on the ground saying about this ukraine controversy as it shakes up the white house? >> reporter: yeah, we've been talking to voters here at the blue gem in charleston, south carolina, all day, and about a lot of issues, but we also brought up the issue of impeachment. and this is a celebratory event. there's food, music, and voters came out here to speak or to hear from the seven presidential candidates who will be speaking today. the first candidate to speak was actually montana governor steve bullock, who was one of the last democratic candidates to come on board in supporting the impeachment inquiry, explaining that it was that whistle-blower complaint that really pushed him over the edge. and that's something that i'm
9:08 am
hearing from voters as well. these are democrats here in south carolina, and they're saying that they see this whistle-blower complaint in that transcript as a smoking gun, essentially. listen to what one voter had to say to me just a couple minutes ago. >> i think anybody who is doing something that is possibly illegal or corrupt, especially when they hold the highest office in the nation, they need to be held accountable for that. they need to be investigated. i don't have a lot of confidence that it's actually going to happen. >> reporter: do you think that this is something that could end up helping trump in the future? that's a fear that i hear from other democrats. >> i do fear that, because it looks like his numbers have kind of jumped up. he's been able to get millions of dollars in donations to his campaign. i am floored by that. >> reporter: and actually, here in this area, congressman joe cunningham, who represents this area, is one of the now eight
9:09 am
democrats holding out their support, house democrats, holding their support for that impeachment inquiry. we had some reporters go to his district and talk to those voters there, and they understand the caution that he has in taking this, in supporting that, because he is in a red state, south carolina. it is a big, important state in the democratic primary. but when you talk about the congressional district, it's an area that he is going to have to fight hard for re-election, so they understand the caution that he's taking in bringing that support and coming out in favor of impeachment. >> yeah. hey, shaq, let me ask you quickly about the sanders campaign. can you give us an update on what's happening there, when we might be able to see bernie sanders back on the trail again? >> reporter: yeah, that's right. we saw him leave the hospital yesterday. his campaign is now saying he will head home from vegas to vermont, to burlington, vermont, today at some point. he will then rest. he'll be off the campaign trail. his events still have been suspended. he will be off the campaign trail for several days to allow him time to rest. i'll tell you that his campaign, despite the senator being off the trail, his campaign is
9:10 am
really trying to have a public face that they're out there and they're mobilizing. nina turner, a top surrogate for senator sanders, someone who oftentimes introduces him at big rallies -- right now she's speaking at this event, talking to these south carolina voters. he has surrogates in new hampshire and iowa as well. then you have the $1.3 million ad buy. those ads will start to air on tuesday. then campaign aides are still celebrating the fact that they had the highest fund-raising total for quarter three. so, the campaign's still operating. that's what they're showing, despite senator sanders taking some time to rest after that heart attack. >> yeah, absolutely. $1.3 million ad buy, that's a drop in the bucket for the sapders campaign at this point. shaq, from south carolina, thank you. we'll see you again. joining me now as previously mentioned, presidential candidate and montana governor steve bullock. were your ears burning, sir? shaq was mentioning what you had said as you were at that event there, and he said that you were pushed -- you had said that you were pushed over the edge with
9:11 am
this whistle-blower complaint. is that true? put that into context for our viewers. >> yeah, alex. like, before the last couple of weeks, i did not want to make the next 14 months about donald trump and impeachment, but when a president literally uses -- we vest the president as our mouthpiece, our nation's mou mouthpiece for other heads of states, for foreign relations. this is nothing congress can check. and when the president uses it for his personal and political gain, that inquiry has to go forward. this is bigger than the 2020 election. this is about the norms of representative democracy and the separation much powers that we expect. >> all right. let's get to you and the potential of election as well, because you're with montana, a very red state. don't have to tell you that. you know the president won montana by more than 20% there in 2016. do you have a sense of what your constituents think about this whole process and how it squares with what you think about it?
9:12 am
>> and i think we've got a little bit of wind, but impeachment, what voters are thinking about that? was that the question? >> exactly, yeah. >> yeah, and i think that this is one where, you know, we have to make sure -- and that's why i think that the house needs to act so judiciously and quickly, because you've got to recognize that there's about 30% of this country that no matter what, will think that this is just a setup against donald trump. and the biggest issue, i think, facing us as a nation going forward is the divides within our own selves. so, from my perspective, this is one, we have to act quickly, we have to act judiciously, we have to lay all the facts out, not grandstand, because it's got to be bigger than the politics. certainly, i think folks, some folks are still questioning all of this. as we lay it all out, though, we have to figure out a way to bridge those divides on the back end to make sure that this country can still function as a democracy. >> mm-hmm. i'm not sure you were able to
9:13 am
hear it, given the wind and the like. but at the top of the program, we played some of joe biden pushing back against president trump and his ukraine attacks. do you think joe biden has been strong enough with his responses? >> well, i think we all need to push back against these ukraine attacks, because any time that a president is going to start basically using his pulpit to try to interfere with the next election, every one of us have to say, this is not the norms that we expect of our president, but more than just the norms, it's a violation of the oath of office. so, i think vice president biden should push back, but all of us need to. >> yeah. so, do you think he's pushed back hard enough? >> well, i think, look, this is still sort of -- it's all kind of on a daily basis when you think just yesterday he was now inviting china's interfeerns, it's a daily base along the way,
9:14 am
but we need to stand up, say this isn't the behavior we expect from a president, but also not make it all about the president. you have folks here in south carolina who the economy's not working for them, washington, d.c.'s not working for them. they want to believe that they can have a leader that's actually going to fight for their basic american dream interests. so, i think we have to be able to do both. >> let's get to your campaign. right now, latest polls have you hovering around the 1% mark or so, and we don't expect you to make that october debate stage as a result of it. give me your assessment of how your campaign moves forward most effectively. what's your plan? >> yeah, and alex, it's the only one that won in a trump state, knowing we have to win back places that we lost. as the only governor left in this field, knowing that we actually have to be able to bridge divides and get stuff done. as someone that's been able to move policy forward and is off the coast, i think that when it comes to actually beating donald trump, we need to get somebody that's been able to win in some of those areas.
9:15 am
so, from my perspective, down in south carolina, as i talk to voters, all my trips to iowa, you know, we're still about four months away from voters expressing any preference. and typically, it takes quite a while before people engage along the way. i think i have what can not only beat donald trump but bridge some of the divides to make sure the government can work for working people again. >> all right. montana governor steve bullock, in it to win it, clearly. thank you for the chat, i appreciate it. and thank you for enduring the wind there in south carolina. appreciate that, too. >> thanks for having me on today, alex. >> okay. a gop senator with a shocking revelation that pierces the president's no quid pro quo defense. we have reaction to that, ahead. the conspiracy theory president. how his belief in debunked stories could end his time in the white house. we're going to walk you through some of the crazier ones. f the s (gasp) (singsong) budget meeting! sweet. if you compare last quarter to this quarter... various: mmm. it's no wonder everything seems a little better with the creamy taste of philly, made with fresh milk and real cream.
9:16 am
with the creamy taste of philly, the doctor's office might mejust for a shot.o but why go back there when you can stay home with neulasta® onpro? strong chemo can put you at risk of serious infection. in a key study neulasta® reduced the risk of infection from 17% to 1% a 94% decrease. neulasta® onpro is designed to deliver neulasta® the day after chemo and is used by most patients today. neulasta® is for certain cancer patients receiving strong chemotherapy. do not take neulasta® if you're allergic to it or neupogen (filgrastim). an incomplete dose could increase infection risk. ruptured spleen, sometimes fatal as well as serious lung problems allergic reactions, kidney injuries and capillary leak syndrome have occurred. report abdominal or shoulder tip pain, trouble breathing or
9:17 am
allergic reactions to your doctor right away. in patients with sickle cell disorders, serious, sometimes fatal crises can occur. the most common side effect is bone and muscle ache. if you'd rather be home ask your doctor about neulasta® onpro. pay no more than $5 per dose with copay card. (engines rev) the only thing better than horsepower... more horsepower. (engines rev) if we were for everyone, we'd be for no one. with dodge power dollars, more power means more cash allowance. purchase now and get $10 per horsepower. that's $7,970 on the srt challenger hellcat redeye. aaddiction. how juuline hooked kids and ignited an public health crisis." other news outlets report- juul took $12.8 billion from big tobacco. markets e-cigarettes with kid friendly flavors and uses
9:18 am
nicotine to addict them. 5 million kids use e-cigarettes. juul is "following big tobacco's playbook." and now, juul is pushing prop c to overturn e-cigarette protections. vote no on juul. no on big tobacco. no on prop c.
9:19 am
new today, secretary of state mike pompeo defending the administration's dealings with ukraine. speaking to reporters after meeting with greek officials, pompeo insisted the u.s. wanted to investigate possible interference from ukraine in the 2016 election. >> governments have an obligation, indeed, a duty, to ensure that elections happen with integrity, without interference from any government. and if we need another government's assistance, it's very reasonable to ask that government to say, do you have any help that you can provide so we can protect the american people so that they can vote in free and fair elections without interference from any other
9:20 am
country. >> joining me now, pamela levy with mother jones and abigail treacy from "vanitypompeo's statement there, not at all addressing trump's stated desire to specifically investigate the besideens, making it instead about investigating possible election interference by ukraine? does this answer pass the smell test? >> not really. you know, first of all, as you said, you know, the biden piece of this is huge because that's the piece where this is directly about winning the next election, right? so, he's standing there talking about wanting to make sure you prevent foreign interference in election and he's talking about a call in which the president solicited help from a foreign government for interference in the next election. at the same time, you know, we had an investigation. it was the mueller investigation into foreign interference in 2016, and what you're seeing right now is the trump administration in the president,
9:21 am
in rudy giuliani, in pompeo, in attorney general barr, all rallying around this, essentially conspiracy theory, that it wasn't russia that interfered, that it was somehow the democrats in cahoots with ukraine that did this. and so, you're seeing this administration mobilizing around something that is honestly conservative make-belief. >> is this what they're going to mobilize around, though, abigail? the message from the white house going forward is going to be, it's our duty to investigate corruption? is that the line we're going to hear? >> yeah, i think you've seen them try to deploy that line a lot over the last couple days. it really seems as if they are trying to shift the narrative or shape the narrative so it looks a lot better for them. but really at the end of the day, president trump asked the president of ukraine to investigate his political rival, joe biden. and as pema said, what they're talking about in terms of ukraine and sort of the involvement in the election is, you know, a thoroughly debunked conspiracy theory that they are kind of rallying around. but really, that is going to be the talking point. they're going to try to say, you
9:22 am
know, this is about corruption, this isn't about the bidens, this is about, you know, cracking down on corruption and sort of being a leader in that space. but you know, i think a lot of it has kind of fallen flat over the last couple days. >> well, in fact, this week, the president made the argument that his desire to get foreign governments openly, like ukraine and china, to have these investigations into the biden family, that it's all about corruption concerns, that it's not about politics. but then listen to what he said in this exchange with cnbc reporter eamon javers. here it is. >> have you had foreign leaders for any corruption investigation that don't involve your political opponents? are there other cases where you asked about corruption -- >> we would have to look, but i'll tell you, what i asked for, and what i will always ask for is anything having to do with corruption. >> mm-hmm. he did not, pema, really have an answer there. what does that tell us, that nothing came to mind that was not somehow politically related? >> yeah, i think that you're actually really smart, alex, to
9:23 am
hone in on this question of, you know, are they actually going after corruption, as they say, or are they going after their political opponents? and i think, certainly, that quote right there, that interview is pretty telling. one thing that i found interesting is, you know, on some level here, god bless rudy giuliani for just going out to the press and saying what's really going on. he has this amazing quote in "the new york times" a few days ago where there's this whole piece of this, is that rudy and other state department officials, really, were working with ukraine to get the ukrainian president to make a statement that he would investigate corruption. and rudy giuliani told "the new york times" he was going to make a statement about going after corruption. we all knew that meant investigating the things that we want them to investigate, but he was just going to say they're going to go after corruption. and so, they've really spelled it out there. they're using corruption as sort of this code word for the things
9:24 am
about investigating their political opponents and rewriting the story of what happened in 2016. and it's incredibly blatant. and you know, so -- and this is what happens in a lot of regimes, you know, people who are experts on authoritarians and oligarchs point this out, that there's sort of this history around the world of people saying, i'm going after corruption and, really, they're going after their opponents and they're consolidating power. so, it's really a dangerous tool to be able to say you're going after corruption, and it's really important that we look at what they're actually saying and recognizing that that's a code word. >> yeah. and again, abigail, focus on this as well, because it was a great question that eamon asked of the president. what are your thoughts on that response? what does that indicate to you? >> it indicates to me that he didn't really have an answer because this is about his political opponents and investigating his political rivals. and i think, again, you know, kind of circling back, as mentioned earlier, you know, when we were talking about this statement that, you know, state department officials were pushing for the president of ukraine to make publicly, you
9:25 am
know, there was a point where they also pushed for greater specifics that were specifically linked to the bidens and hunter biden's work in ukraine. so i do think, you know, when we're looking at this, it really isn't about corruption and there have been so many signs of that, whether it's rudy giuliani and the statements he's made or the fact that the president didn't have an answer to that, again, very good question. >> mm-hmm. okay. pema, abigail, ladies, thank you so much. always good to see you both. meantime, reading between the lines. what the lipses in the transcript tell us about which pages could be missing and what it means for the case against the president. and what it means for the case against the president.
9:26 am
9:27 am
9:28 am
9:29 am
new questions now arising over the rough transcript of president trump's ukraine call as he firmly defends its accuracy. >> i thought that i would finish off the first term without the threat of people making false claims, but this one turned out to be incredible, all because they didn't know that i had a transcript done by very, very talented people, word for word, comma for comma, done by people that do it for a living. we had an exact transcript. >> but according to the "washington post," current and former u.s. officials have pointed out several odd markings in that document.
9:30 am
that would include the use of ellipses, which traditionally have not appeared in sum rapes of presidential calls with former heeders. joining me is a former senior director of the white house situation room during the obama administration. larry, big welcome to you. so, according to "the post," two of the cases, when ellipses were used, accompanied trump's reference to crowd strike. there was a third one in the section where trump was talking about biden. put all this together in terms of what you make of this, what kinds of things could be missing from this transcript. >> so, alex, i hate to, you know, splash cold water on the thought, but my best guess is these ellipses are just referencing a trailing off of the voice or perhaps a long pause. the individuals who do these transcripts in the situation
9:31 am
room, they literally do a word-for-word transcription. now, if the voice trails off, they'll normally put a notation indicating inaudible words or words garbled. and i'm of the mind, i think what may have happened is when this raw transcript was then given to a staffer from the national security council, that in an effort to make the language more elegant, which is not something unusual for them to do, that they may have replaced those we ellipses. >> okay. now i want you to listen to what senator angus king had to say about the transcript this week. here he is. >> all right. >> i had two staff members at my office the other day read it aloud. and we timed it. it took 10 minutes and 40 seconds. the phone call was 30 minutes. >> wow, that's interesting. >> now we don't know what's missing. it may be that there was a translator involved, and that made it go much longer. but the president of ukraine speaks english. if there was no translator, that raises a question of what's in
9:32 am
the other 20 minutes of that discussion. >> so, do you want to amend a little bit? and i know -- we're not asking you to throw cold water on something that doesn't deserve to have cold water thrown on it, but is there validity to this argument? i mean, the fact that this could account -- these ellipses or the space of time could account for almost 20 minutes of that call. i mean, how does even a presidential call with a translator work? and doesn't angus king have a point when he says that the leader of ukraine speaks english? >> well, the leader of ukraine does speak english, but if you, number one, if you watched him on television with the president the other day, it isn't the strongest english language. and my experience with phone calls with foreign leaders is, even when they are good english speakers, they'll often have translators involved because they want to be able to understand every single word the president is telling them and vice versa -- >> so wait a minute, larry, so, that would work. so, literally, there would be natural pauses there. the president speaks in english,
9:33 am
then there's going to be a pause because you're going to have a translator speaking in ukrainian or a dialect particular to them, whatever that's going to be. then the president of ukraine would respond in that language and then it's translated? i mean, if that's the way it goes, there's a lot of time there. is that what you read? >> that is exactly how it goes. both heads of state will have their own translators. >> okay. let's get to the whistle-blower, who we know is a cia employee who worked in the white house. based on your background, how would a cia employee detailed to the white house be involved with presidential calls to foreign leaders, and then with whom might they be in contact with on some sort of a daily basis that could be that person's sources? >> to answer the first conversation, it's always possible that a cia person detailed to directorate staff could be the individual in that staff responsible for staffing that call, preparing talking points, preparing the president ahead of time, and then listening to the call while it's going on. in this instance, it could,
9:34 am
however, be a case where this whistle-blower interacted with the people who did that on a routine basis. there is an interagency process that works issues at that level, and i read the complaint as somebody representing the views of people in that interagency process, the people that were shaping ukrainian policy for our leaders. >> hmm, okay. larry, current and former officials tell the "washington post" trump's calls with foreign leaders have long worried aides, long before his interaction with ukraine. a former white house official who spoke with the paper on the condition of anonymity said there was a constant undercurrent in the trump administration of senior staff who were genuinely horrified by the things they saw that were happening on these calls, phone calls that were embarrassing, huge mistakes he made, months and months of work that were upended by one impulsive tweet. larry, what do you make of that? give us the sense of the type of work here that is being upended did due to this president's,
9:35 am
shall we call it unorthodox dealings? >> one of the great tools of american foreign policy, american national security, is the presidential phone call. you're using the president of the united states and his precious time to set good relations with a foreign leader that others can then take advantage, of our diplomats, our military leaders, our intelligence community. you are using the president to cajole this foreign leader into a position that might take the gun outs of the works in his government in response to the policy. or you may be using a president to admonish a leader about a broken promise. so, the fact that this president does these phone calls apparently so poorly that, to point where we're hiding the transcripts away, is a shame. it appears to be just another thing that is being ruined by this president. >> but larry, you say it's a shame. is it potentially dangerous? >> oh, absolutely.
9:36 am
a slip-up by the president, a change in direction by the president on a phone call can undo months and months of diplomatic work towards a u.s. policy goal. >> larry pfiefer, good to talk with you. i'll look forward to speaking with you again. thank you so much. >> thank you, alex. now to what might have been a shock to some late yesterday, a republican ally of the president shutting down to some degree his no quid pro quo on the ukraine story. republican senator ron johnson claims in a new interview, a u.s. diplomat told him the military aid was linked to the president's request for ukraine to investigate the bidens. that diplomat, u.s. ambassador to the eu, gordon somblin, who donated $1 million to the president's inaugural committee. nelson cunningham is a former federal prosecutor and a clinton white house lawyer who is voluntarily advising the biden campaign. welcome back. we saw you last weekend. here we go again, nelson. based on your diplomatic experience, why would sondeland be involved in these communications? ukraine isn't even part of the
9:37 am
eu. >> ukraine is not part of the eu. just today i happened to be speaking with gordon sondelin's predecessor who served for several years in brussels as our ambassador to the european union. he said he never visited ukraine. he thought about visiting it because there are some issues, but he said you know, it just didn't seem worth his time or the cost to the government to have him go to ukraine. it's quite sundelind would have focused so much on a country that's not even part of the european union. >> so, why is he doing it? >> well, he's been quoted as saying, quote, the president asked him to get involved. he traveled there with rick per perry, he traveled there with kurt volker who was the special envoy for ukraine. he was there, in fact, the day after the july 25th phone call that we've been talking about, and in an interview said that he spoke to donald trump minutes
9:38 am
before trump had that phone call with zlaensky. so, he's been a critical part of the president's strategy towards ukraine, which has involved pressuring ukraine to play ball on the corruption allegations. >> look, there's some text messages we could go through here. and let's take a look at them. there were three of them given to committees by former u.s. special envoy to ukraine, kurt volker, who you just mentioned. september 1st, ambassador bill taylor's asked whether security assistance is conditioned on investigations. ambassador sondland says "call me." eight days later, taylor says he thinks it's crazy to withhold security assistance for help with a political campaign. sondland responds "the president has been crystal clear, no quid pro quos of any kind." what's your take on this? >> well, sondland actually followed up on that text message, saying, let's take this offline. >> mm-hmm, mm-hmm. >> let's not continue this on
9:39 am
text. so, it's been separately reported that rudy giuliani insisted on editing the text of the communique that we wanted ukraine to issue, specifically mentioning the bidens in that communique. whatever sondland may have said in his text messages -- and he was obviously very careful about what he put in writing and he preferred to do things on telephone, orally. but it's quite clear that he was part of a concerted pressure campaign on the ukrainians and viewed it as central to his job. >> all right, nelson cunningham, thank you so much. i know we'll see you again. many thanks. >> thank you. offensive or defensive? president trump's boldly answering questions about investigating the bidens, but will all his talking help or hurt his defense? that's next. p or hurt his defense that's next.
9:40 am
with tough food, your dentures may slip and fall. fixodent ultra-max hold gives you the strongest hold ever to lock your dentures. so now you can eat tough food without worry. fixodent and forget it.
9:41 am
9:42 am
9:43 am
president trump says he's confident the very unified senate republicans will protect him from conviction if the house decides to impeach, this within hours of two gop senators publicly breaking ranks with the president. utah senator mitt romney and nebraska senator ben sasse. both criticizing president trump's recent comments, publicly calling on china to now investigate the bidens. joining me now to discuss this, bill press, host of "the bill press pod," rick tyler, republican strategist, victoria defrancesca soto, president of the university of texas and both msnbc analyst. bill, the president essentially
9:44 am
admitted to the crimes that he's under investigation for in plain sight, and yet, he says republicans in the senate will stay with him. are you as confident? >> no. by the way, i think that we see now why it's kind of important to have a press secretary in the white house. it's kind of important to have a coms director, not for the president to be the only one who talks, because i think we see that every day that donald trump is talking, every day rudy giuliani is talking, it's worse -- >> but bill, he's had press secretaries and coms directors before, so you know -- >> i should say, to use them for what they're there for, and not to silence them, because every day he talks, alex, it makes it worse and it makes it harder for republicans to defend him. and i think we're down to one question -- we know what happened. there's no doubt. from multiple sources, we know the president asked the president of ukraine to dig up dirt on his political opponent. now he's asked china to help as well. the only question is, and these republicans have to weigh, is that an impeachable offense?
9:45 am
and i believe, if you believe in the decency of elections and the integrity of elections and the constitution, republicans eventually are going to have to say, yes, that as an impeachable offense. >> you know, victoria, the president certainly doubling down on defense, repeating the same false talking points about joe biden. this strategy did work around developing a narrative relative to the mueller investigation. do you think it can work this time, too? >> i can. and you know what strategy i'm seeing here, alex -- i was thinking back to the "access hollywood" tapes and the way the then canned trump definitely changed the narrative, changed the focus, and he actually turned the story, especially for his base, on the clintons, on actually bill clinton was at fault here and that hillary clinton was protecting him. i see a very close parallel toward hunter biden and joe biden, where this is about corruption, and he's turning the folks who are actually kind of the victims in this story into the protagonists, into the villains in the story. so, this is something we saw with the mueller report, back in
9:46 am
the campaign with the "hollywood access" tape, that trump is very, very good at the marketing strategy of flipping the narrati narrative. >> yeah, the pivot with a capital "t." as a matter of fact, all caps. rick, an nbc article out this week talks about how the people in the administration are handling impeachment. and in this article, it says white house officials are scrambling to come up with a political strategy that allows for a president who could at any moment undermine or overrule that plan without warning. i mean, what kind of strategy is that, rick? >> well, that's not a strategy. i mean, that's just -- look, that has gone on forever and ever. but look, what's important to remember is what doesn't matter. what doesn't matter is whether the whistle-blower is a sinner or saint because we now have firsthand accounts of what happened. what doesn't matter is what biden did. it doesn't matter. what matters is, this is arms for dirt. remember that, arms for dirt. that's all it is. it was just repeated over and over and over again. the president -- it's what the president did. he went out and he extorted an
9:47 am
ally, the president of an ally country to get dirt on a political opponent, period, the end of story. it's not about digging up corruption. it's not about that. and so, whether -- it doesn't matter whether the president cooperates. it doesn't matter if pompeo cooperates or withholds witnesses. there is enough evidence to impeach the president on what happened and what he did. stay focused on the story. this is arms for dirt. >> hmm. arms for dirt, bill? should that be the rallying cry for democrats? should that be the thing that they say over and over and over again until it seeps into the public? >> i think that's a pretty good one. thank you, rick, for that. >> the republican strategist, we might add here. >> exactly. >> i'd say conservative strategist. >> that would be true. >> i've also heard the phrase being used as benedict donald. >> i like that. >> i think rick and i are making the same point. the only question is, we know what the president did. it's very -- you notice, he
9:48 am
doesn't try to defend it. no republican tries to defend this. victoria points out, instead, they're using all these counterstrategies and conspiracies. not going to work, i think, this time because the american people can understand, when the president himself admits what he did, that's the focus and that's an impeachable offense. >> victoria, the president tweeted not too long ago -- he was firing back at mitt romney -- is that a message for, in addition to romney, other republican senators here, too? >> it's a message to other republican senators and democrats who are in red or swing districts here, because really, it comes down to the electorate and the electoral connection. i wish that i could say that this is going to be about the decency of humanity and folks are going to vote their conscience, but i've become lieutenant s a little bit cynical over the years. >> oh, no. >> i do. and i think it's about the base and how -- >> we all have. >> i'm sorry here. but i think with mitt romney, he is the exception. i think he's one of the exceptions. ben sasse is on the fence. but other folks, think about
9:49 am
doug jones, think about joe manchin. i don't necessarily know if they're going to vote their conscience or with the democratic party, so it's about the electoral connection. >> alex, i think this is a moment of truth for the republican party. do they put party above anything, even above the integrity of our elections and the constitution? that's the question. >> i hope. >> i'm going to let that be the last word. and rick really had the money phrase there, arms for dirt. there you go, rick. that's all touched say. all right, guys. thank you so much. up next, the president's love of conspiracy theories and how they fuel his furor and could end his presidency. s furo could end his presidcyen hmm. exactly. liberty mutual customizes your car insurance, so you only pay for what you need. nice. but, uh... what's up with your... partner? not again. limu that's your reflection. only pay for what you need. ♪ liberty, liberty, liberty, liberty ♪
9:50 am
9:51 am
9:52 am
9:53 am
sleep this amazing? that's a zzzquil pure zzzs sleep. our liquid has a unique botanical blend, while an optimal melatonin level means no next-day grogginess. zzzquil pure zzzs. naturally superior sleep. developing this hour, president trump seizing on a conspiracy theory in which the dnc framed russia for election interference. now it is at the very center of this impeachment inquiry, but it is just one of many conspiracies the president himself has fueled, from suggesting president obama was not born in america to calling climate change a chinese hoax. it is a rather exhaustive list, if you want to go through it there. joining me for a closer look, michael isikoff, chief correspondent with yahoo news and host of the skulduggery and
9:54 am
conspiracy land podcast. great to see you. let's get to this article in "the atlantic" in which peter biner says if donald trump and his supporters weren't so fond of conspiracy theories, the ukraine scandal would never have unfolded as it did. do you agree with that? >> yeah, probably. look, you go back to the transcripts of the phone call, and it starts with this word salad from the president, after he says i want you to do me a favor, though, about crowd strike, the ukrainian -- the dnc server somehow being in ukraine, which was absolutely a new wrinkle to conspiracy -- the president's bizarre conspiracy theories. in fact, those of us who followed this closely had never even heard that one before. but look, the purpose -- the whole purpose there was to try
9:55 am
to somehow establish that the russians didn't hack the dnc and provide the emails to wikileaks. it all goes back to those events in 2016, something that has now been affirmed by the u.s. intelligence community, affirmed by u.s. law enforcement, affirmed by the robert mueller investigation, but the president has been unable to accept it. you mentioned the conspiracy land podcast in the introduction that i did over the summer. that was about the seth rich case. seth rich was the dnc staffer who was killed in a botched robbery in washington in july of 2016. but what was the whole conspiracy theory about? how did it get traction? it was trying to prove that he was murdered by a hit squad related to the clintons, something that was first floated by russian intelligence. and then julian assange in
9:56 am
august of 2016 suggests that, somehow, seth rich was the source for the dnc emails that were provided to wikileaks. what was the reason for this? to try to debunk the idea, to discredit the idea that it was the russians. it's the same -- it's a version of the same conspiracy theory that the president is spouting in that phone call to zelensky. >> that was a pretty horrible chapter there. but i'm curious, is it unprecedented, michael, that are a conspiracy theory to be at the very epicenter of american politics and/or diplomacy? >> you know, look, we've had lots of conspiracy theories over the years. but never being pushed by the president of the united states. i mean -- >> and others in his orbit. >> and his entire administration, yes. >> heads of administration, you
9:57 am
know. i mean, it's remarkable! >> look, i mean, rudy giuliani was pushing this on these, you know, hapless diplomats dealing with ukraine policy for the sole purpose of, you know, getting dirt against the president's rival, joe biden, but also to, you know, once again, somehow debunk the idea that the russians perpetrated the election interference that we know they did in 2016. so you know, the consistency in the propagation of these conspiracy theories is really remarkable, because it all comes down to the president's, you know, resentment over the investigations into russia. he's just been unable to accept from the get-go that the russians did what they did in order to help get him elected. >> okay. michael isikoff.
9:58 am
we'll talk with you again and i'll look forward to it. thank you so much. i like the beard, by the way. looks good. >> thanks. up next, president trump using profanity to describe a fellow republican. who and why, next. plus, two 2020 contenders. we'll ask them whether joe biden is fighting back hard enough against president trump. is fighting back hard enghou against president trump. ♪
9:59 am
10:00 am
10:01 am
hey. hey. you must be steven's phone. now you can take control of your home wifi and get a notification the instant someone new joins your network... only with xfinity xfi. download the xfi app today. morning tweetstorm. what made mitt romney the president's latest target on twitter? game plan. a senate democrat explains his
10:02 am
party's strategy if impeachment makes it to the senate. telling tweet. a message from a 2020 contender that is resonating far and wide. plus, another whistle-blower? what we know about the other person who may be willing to talk, as a man who was once in that spot explains how it changed his life. good day, everyone, from msnbc world headquarters in new york. welcome to "weekends with alex witt." we begin with this day 12. yes, we are counting, of the impeachment inquiry. and what could be a big turning point and a significant piece of evidence. "the new york times" reports a second whistle-blower from inside the intelligence community may step forward with a separate complaint. the "times" reports this official has more direct information about the president using the power of his office to pressure ukraine to investigate biden. this caps off a week of great consequence with a whirlwind of evidence, testimonies, rhetoric highlighted best by the president's midweek meltdown. >> it was perfect, a perfect conversation. i heard rick scott today say,
10:03 am
that was a perfect conversation. it was perfect! shifty schifft, who should resign. we don't call him shifty schifft for nothing. he's a shifty, dishonest guy. he's a low-life. there's an expression, he couldn't carry his blank strap. a mote. not a word i used, they used it. a mote. this is a hoax, the greatest hoax. this is a whole hoax. it's corrupt and it's fake. now look at nancy pelosi. she hands out subpoenas like they're cookies. you want a subpoena? here you go, take them, like they're cookies. answer the question, though -- >> the with was he what do you want president zelensky to do about vice president biden and his son, hunter? >> are you talking to me? did you hear me? did you hear me? ask him a question. >> i will. but my -- >> i've given you a long answer. ask this gentleman a question. don't be rude. it's a whole hoax, and you know who's playing into the hoax? people like you and the fake news media. you should be ashamed of yourselves. okay, i think i've answered most
10:04 am
of your questions. >> yeah, not really. we're going to answer the questions with our team of reporters in washington as well as overseas. i will also speak with colorado senator and 2020 presidential contender michael bennet. but with a welcome to you all, first let's go to nbc's hans nichols. so, hans, you've got the president really slamming republican senator mitt romney today after this midweek meltdown of sorts that we witnessed there. is this just a conversation of that? >> reporter: potentially. we know the president and mitt romney have a long history. we know mitt romney has held his fire at times, not wanting to make the contrast with president trump the defining characteristic of his career in the senate, but it also potentially could be a way for president donald trump to warn other senators, to let other senators who haven't spoken out against him to say this is what awaits you, my twitter wrath, my twitter tirades. let's quickly look at the tweet from the president where he says "mitt romney never knew how to win. he's a pompous," i'm not going to say the word "who's been fighting me from the beginning,
10:05 am
except for when he begged for my endorsement for his senate run, i gave it to him. and when he begged me to be secretary of state, i didn't give it to him. he is so bad for rs." later he said he choked. that's something the president has said about a lot of his former opponents. when you look at the white house's strategy at this moment, it is basically for trump to be trump. there's talk about having some sort of strategy, but the day-to-day tactics on this are really the president going out and giving his version of events, talking directly to reporters, directly can as he will say through his twitter feed, to the american public. i think one thing you need to look at is whether or not republicans out there in the states where there are some republican senators, whether or not they continue to support the president, because you heard the president yesterday hint that he thought democrats would impeach him if they had the votes, but he's counting on his support in the republican-controlled senate so he didn't removed from office. alex? >> hans nichols, thank you for that. let's bring in political reporter with nbc, josh
10:06 am
lederman. josh, the text message issue, that between diplomats, what did you find the most critical here? take us through all that. >> yeah, we're learning a lot more about what was happening behind the scenes from these text messages which were given over by ambassador kurt volker, who until he abruptly resigned had been the u.s. special envoy for peace negotiations. he gave those text messages to congress. congress has now released them. and one of the things that we're finding from these messages is that this effort to get the ukrainians to investigate the president's political rivals was not just limited to rudy giuliani. this was not the president's personal lawyer freelancing by himself. senior u.s. diplomats were also involved in pushing that forward. and they went as far as to actually draft specific language, a verbatim statement that they wanted to try to get the ukrainian president to announce publicly at a news conference, to announce that they would investigate this. and they're actually explicitly linking in these text messages
10:07 am
whether the ukrainians would agree to do this investigation, to whether president zelensky of ukraine would get to have a big washington white house visit. i want to show you one of the text messages that's between ambassador volker and a guy named andrew yermak, who is a top aide to the ukrainian president. he says in this text message, "once we have a date, we will calling for a press briefing, announcing upcoming visit and outlining vision for reboot of the u.s./ukraine relationship, including, among other things, burisma and election meddling in investigations." and kurt volker, the u.s. envoy replies, "sounds great." so, it is bursma referenced there, the ukrainian gas company that hunter biden, the vice president's son, joined the board of and that president trump has seized on to try to make unbased allegations of corruption involving the vice president and his family. one other thing that we're finding from these text messages is the fact that at least one senior diplomat in realtime was pushing back. so, when the trump, president trump in all of these conversations on the lawn of the
10:08 am
white house says there's nothing to see here and there was really no concerns, everything was a perfect phone call, we know at least one diplomat really thought that was not the case. this is a guy named bill taylor. he was the top u.s. diplomat in ukraine, and he in a text message to another u.s. diplomat, ambassador to the eu, gordon sondland, was saying, as i said on the phone, i think it's crazy to withhold security assistance for help with a presidential campaign. and ambassador sondland, who's a presidential appointee, says "bill, i believe you're incorrect about president trump's intentions. the president has been crystal clear, no quid pro quos of any kind". but then he says "i suggest we stop the back and forth by text." so indications that they didn't want to put too much in writing. >> josh, that means these can be very problematic for the president or no? can he get out from this? >> well, i think the fact that you have a career diplomat pushing back in realtime,
10:09 am
saying, this is crazy for us to do this, speaks to the fact that, despite what the president says about all of this being perfect and totally kosher, top diplomats thought that wasn't the case, and that's something that house lawmakers are going to seize on as they push forward with the impeachment proceedings. >> josh lederman in d.c. thank you for that. also developing this hour, the senate is watching very closely as the house delves deeper into an impeachment inquiry into the president. senate democrats holding a conference call earlier this week to start preparing for a possible impeachment trial. and joining me now, colorado senator michael bennet, a member of the intelligence committee, also a 2020 presidential candidate, as we all know. senator bennet, welcome to you, sir. i'd like to ask you right away what you can tell us from that call, what the strategy is, if impeachment reaches the senate? >> thanks, alex. the strategy is not to front-run the house of representatives. they have a process they need to go through. i was really young when
10:10 am
watergate happened, but i remember it well, and i remember it was a dark period in american history, not just because of what nixon had done, but we were in the middle of the vietnam war as well, and the watergate proceedings actually had the effect, i think, of elevating our democracy, of restoring our democracy, of reminding us what this country is really all about. and i think we have an opportunity now to do the fact-finding, to see where that tottenham hotspur us, and to reach a conclusion based on those facts and to do it in a way that actually restores faith in our process from the american people. we desperately need that. i mean, we have a president who ran for office saying i alone can fix it. that's exactly, and now he's broken it, and that's exactly the opposite of what we need. so, i view this as an opportunity for not just the members of congress, but the american people to stand up for the rule of law and the separation of powers. >> senator, you are on the senate intel committee.
10:11 am
i'm curious what you have heard that you find most disturbing? >> well, i can't talk about what's actually come into the committee, but the whole thing is disturbing. i mean, the public reports, the stuff that's come out of the president's mouth himself is disturbing. i mean, the idea that he would ask ukraine to intervene in our elections, then the next day to ask china to do it. and i know he thinks he's laundering his statements by doing them in public on the driveway of the white house. i think what's happening is the opposite is true. his intention is very clear, just as it was very clear when he was a candidate for office saying to the russians, you ought to interfere in the 2016 election. and guess what, they did. so, this is not a joking matter. and the intelligence committee is going to take it seriously. i can tell you that they are taking it seriously in a bipartisan way at the outset of these proceedings, to see where the facts lead us. >> senator, the president is
10:12 am
feeling pretty confident that the senate would exonerate him. let's take a listen to what he said. >> the way they're doing it, they've taken away our rights. so, if they proceed -- and you know, they'll just get their people -- they're all in line, because even though many of them don't want to vote, they have no choice. they have to follow their leadership. and then we'll get it to the senate, and we're going to win. the republicans have been very unified. this is the greatest witch hunt in the history of our country. >> senator bennet, do you have a pulse on how your republican colleagues in the senate or approaching any kind of possible trial here, or is trump right, or is there an increasing chance a number of them would vote to impeach him? what's your read? >> time will tell, you know. these guys have rubber stamped one thing after another. the most recent of which was the emergency funding for the wall. but i think this is too serious for that. i mean, i think the other stuff's been too serious for that, too, but this is too
10:13 am
serious for that. and i'm not surprised that they're not yet, you know, coming out with a conclusion. they also want to see what happens in the house of representatives, but i think the president, obviously, wants them to rubber stamp this again. he's trying to put pressure on them in republican states by speaking to his base through fox news. and at some point, we've got to stand up to fox news. and at some point, we've got to stand up to what his base is saying and stand up for the constitution. and there's not another reason to be in the senate other than that, really, at the end of the day. so, as i said at the beginning, i think this really is a moment when we can restore our democracy, re-establish what it's all about. and in the end, you know, through an election, probably, make sure that donald trump is a one-term president. so, that's what we really have to keep our eye on. >> i'm curious, because i'm going to assume that there is a collegial sentiment that you share with your fellow senator
10:14 am
from colorado, who is a republican, that being cory gardner. you guys are from that great, beautiful state. how could you not love colorado and everything that you do for your citizens there? but i'm curious about him. he's up for re-election in 2020. have you spoken with him at all about this impeachment inquiry? i mean, how much is politics playing into all this? >> i actually have not had a chance to talk to senator gardner about his position, but i hope he would weigh the facts. that's what we need to do. and you know, donald trump expects the republicans in the senate to walk right over the cliff with him, and so far, that's what people have -- that's what people have done. but there's going to come a point where they're not going to do it anymore. and i don't want to prejudge the facts here. i think we need to see what is developed during the impeachment inquiry, and obviously, what we're going to develop during the proceedings in the intelligence committee, but we've got to fight back for the democracy.
10:15 am
>> president trump has repeatedly attacked joe biden on ukraine. i mean, it's been relentless, really. has biden responded forcefully enough, in your mind? >> oh, i think all of us need to respond forcefully to this. we all need to respond forcefully to this. and i'm sure joe biden will as well. >> give me a sense in terms of the race there, everything, whether it's talk about impeachment, your candidacy for 2020, and what you're sensing there from south carolina where you are. what's the sense of support that you are getting, sir, on both fronts, your candidacy and impeachment? >> i couldn't really hear the question, alex, but if it's what is south carolina thinking about -- i took q&a during my portion of this morning's presentation because i thought the last thing people needed was another 20-minute speech. and not surprisingly, the questions were about what are you going to do about income
10:16 am
inequality in this country? what are you going to do about health care in this country? what are you going to do about education? so, we're going to have to walk and chew gum at the same time here. we've got constitutional responsibilities, and we've also got a responsibility to have a coherent agenda that will unite the democratic party and also win back some of the 9 million voters who voted twice for barack obama and once for donald trump, and that's what i'm proposing in this election. i think that's how we win the presidency, that's how we win back the senate, that's how we send mitch mcconnell packing. and by the way, we can't start that soon enough. you can't say one thing in the primary and hope that by the general, somehow, you're going to be able to fix it. we've got to run on an agenda that's going to be broadly supported by the american people. and every time i'm in south carolina, iowa, new hampshire, that's what i'm hearing people say. >> yep. i know it's been hard to hear. there's been a lot of wind there in south carolina, but is there one issue that jumps out at you, senator, that you think, this is top of mind for our citizens?
10:17 am
>> there's a lot of wind and the marching band over there, too. >> that will do it. >> yeah, i mean, i think the number one issue is economic inequality, the fact that for 40 years, you know, 90% of the american people haven't seen a pay raise and that only the very top have benefited from periods of economic growth. i'd say that, universal health care, and climate change are the three things that i hear about over and over again on the trail. >> all right. colorado senator michael bennet. >> all right, alex. >> also 2020 presidential candidate. thank you so much. good to see you. >> thanks for saying nice things. good to see you. bye. mike pompeo's alternate explanation this morning for the president's phone call to ukraine and why he says the conversation was completely appropriate. on was completely appropriate.
10:18 am
10:19 am
10:20 am
10:21 am
now to a horrifying episode in new york city. police here say that a man with a metal pipe went on a rampage overnight, killing four homeless men and leaving a fifth in critical condition. investigators say those victims were attacked while they were sleeping in chinatown. a 24-year-old suspect is in custody but has not been charged. police say that he is also homeless. terrible news there. also new today, secretary mike pompeo in europe. he is pushing back on the idea that it may have been inappropriate for the president to ask foreign leaders for campaign-related investigations.
10:22 am
and a prosecutor in ukraine says he is now reviewing cases related to the owner of a gas company that once hired joe biden's son, hunter biden. nbc's claudio labongea's in rome, matt bradley's in kiev. they're both following the overseas developments for us. with a welcome to you both, first to claudio in rome, where pompeo began his trip four days ago. it seems like the secretary of state is finally ready to talk about ukraine. what are you hearing? >> reporter: that's right, alex. well, what a difference a day makes, doesn't it? yesterday, while the secretary of state was in montenegro, he just refused to answer any questions related to the inquiry. well, today, he couldn't stop talking about it. and what he did, well, he did not mince his words. now let's listen to what he said. >> i think there's clearly politics involved in this. this administration was incredibly focused on making sure that we worked with ukraine in a way that was appropriate. and it is not only appropriate,
10:23 am
but it is our duty to investigate. if we think there was interference in the election of 2016, i think everyone recognizes that governments have an obligation, indeed, a duty to ensure that elections happen with integrity, without interference from any government, whether that's the ukrainian government or any other. >> reporter: well, alex, that was not the only reference he makes to the impeachment inquiry. later in the day, still in offense, while he said that the inquarry is a gotcha game. he called it silly because he said it diversity attention on the issues that people really relate to, which are, of course, those things that he talked about while he was on the trip, on the tour across europe, like the strategic partnerships with the countries he visited, like italy, the republic of north macedonia, montenegro, and greece. alex? >> all right. the pompeo perspective there from you, claudio lavanga. thank you for that. now to the latest from the prosecutors in ukraine, because
10:24 am
they are now reviewing the cases related to hunter biden's former employer. matt bradley is joining us from kiev. matt, i guess the question has to be asked, is this a win for the president against joe biden and his son or his son, hunter biden? >> reporter: yeah, alex, i mean, you could be forgiven for being confused about this. ukrainians are confused. ukrainian lawyers don't really know what this means. one member, a former member of the prosecutor's office who i just spoke with said that the word has being used to describe this review, auditing, doesn't really exist in the ukrainian legal lexicon. so, it's deliberately vague, but this ambiguity still has landed with a lot of people welcoming it here in ukraine among the political class. they all say that this is a good thing, mostly for two reasons. the first being that it allows this country to get ahead of a growing political scandal that really threatens to swallow it up. because remember, alex, this is a country that's very vulnerable, and it's always
10:25 am
relied on the largess of its patrons, whether the u.s. recently, russia, and before that, the soviet union. and the second reason is that this country has long suffered from corruption. it's one of the biggest problems here. this should be a rich country. it has many natural resources and it's in a very strategic location. so, even though from american perspective, this looks as though president zelensky of ukraine and the prosecutor's office are actually capitulating to donald trump's demands and what may be the subject of this impeachment inquiry, for ukrainians, it looks like the first step in a long reckoning with their history of corruption and finally coming to grips with the past two prosecutors who had a notorious reputation here in the ukraine. and it's important to note that this burisma holdings case is one of many who will be quote/unquote audited here. and it's not even totally clear if the focus will be focused on the time that hunter biden was actually sitting on the board of
10:26 am
burisma holdings. so if president trump and his allies think this is a good thing, it's not entirely clear that it is. alex? >> great reporting there. thank you for all that perspective. you set me up perfectly for the conversation i'm going to have now. abby livingston is washington bureau chief at "the texas tribune" and katie bowe williams, correspondent at defense one. good afternoon to you both. what is the latest on the reporting and everything that matt bradley just suggested? he put this all in perspective. give me your thoughts on all that matt reported. >> well, so, i think one of the things that the trump administration is really hoping for right now is that there will be some kind of action in ukraine to investigate burisma, because it will offer credibility to their narrative that the real corruption here, the real problem here is with the bidens, is with biden's son, hunter. >> but one thing, matt just said it's not entirely clear that this is even going to be looked at with burisma while hunter
10:27 am
biden served on the board. >> that's been one of the persistent questions about the allegations that the trump administration and rudy giuliani in particular have made against hunter biden is it's not entirely clear that the timeline even matches up, the timeline of when hunter biden was actually on the board of burisma, when the biden -- or when the obama administration and vice president biden were urging this prosecutor to either ramp up their investigations of corruption or step aside. it's not -- i think that's going to be one of the big questions that we're going to hopefully see answered here is what period are we even talking about? what did this timeline even look like? >> so, how, abby, does all this translate domestically? >> i mean, this is amazing. this is setting off an international incident that this query that started with a conspiracy. but if you go back -- a conspiracy theory. but if you come back to washington and look at this, i think the central tension in the
10:28 am
democratic world is that the thing you hear publicly and privately is this needs to be fast and it needs to be focused. but what is happening is, every time they uncover a rock, whether it's a new whistle-blower or texts being released, source documents, rough transcripts, the issue just explodes and more people come into it, more senior officials in the u.s. government, and i think the question is do democrats begin to explore these cabinet officials and investigate them or do they continue on this fast and focused in order to prevent this from spilling over into the presidential campaign? >> hmm, interesting. we have secretary of state mike pompeo, who as you may have heard this morning defended the administration's dealings with ukraine, saying that the u.s. wanted to investigate possible interference from ukraine in the 2016 election. listen to this. >> governments have an obligation, indeed, a duty to ensure that elections happen with integrity, without interference from any government. and if we need another government's assistance, it's very reasonable to ask that government to say, do you have any help that you can provide so
10:29 am
we can protect the american people so that they can vote in free and fair elections without interference from any other country? >> so, abby, is it clear? we've got transcripts of the call. we have the texts that have been released between diplomats this week, starting with kurt volker. is it clear that the concern was election interference? >> i mean, this is -- we've had the mueller report. we've had a two-year investigation. i haven't seen any credible reporting that this was a conspiracy with the democrats and ukraine to influence this election. and so, i think that what is happening here is we hear this very aspirational language about free and fair elections, but the evidence that is coming out is countering that. and i just wonder every time an intelligence official or a state department official who hears something like that, if that makes them want to speak out even more. >> talk about speaking out even more, katie, i'm curious what you thought of secretary pompeo's admission that he was indeed on that phone call with
10:30 am
ukraine. i mean, is it common practice to have the secretary of state on these calls with foreign leaders? and if so, is there any reservation about the way he's handled this controversy, and why not just say it up front? >> well, i mean, it's not necessarily unusual that the secretary of state, as america's top diplomat, would have been participating in a high-level diplomatic phone call with the president. it is -- i think what you're now seeing is that pompeo in particular, but also the state department writ large, is going to become the central focus of this inquiry on the hill, not only pompeo himself, what did he know, when did he know it, and again, why did he not sort of own up to being on the call immediately, but also this sort of broader network of u.s. diplomats who were actively working to negotiate some sort of agreement with ukraine to begin investigations, it appears, in direct exchange for satisfying the president that they were going to look into his chief 2020 political rival. and there seems like there was a
10:31 am
lot of disagreement within the state department and amongst senior officials about exactly what they were asking the ukrainians to do, what that meant, what the terms from the united states' side were. i mean, that's one of the things that we've seen some out of these text messages in the last week. so, i would expect democrats on the hill are really going to try to zero in on how do we draw kind of a timeline and an organizational map here of who was pushing for what and what the motivations were. >> abby livingston and katie bo williams. thank you so much. >> thank you. it is a tweet from presidential candidate tim ryan that is simply put and it speaks volumes and i will ask him about that next. volumes and i wi allsk him about that next.
10:32 am
10:33 am
10:34 am
with tough food, your dentures may slip and fall. fixodent ultra-max hold gives you the strongest hold ever to lock your dentures. so now you can eat tough food without worry. fixodent and forget it.
10:35 am
moments ago, former vice president joe biden tweeting -- president trump is quote the definition of corruption. but a democrat who has supported kamala harris for president is raising concerns about whether biden is capable of responding to the president's false attacks. listen to congresswoman frederica wilson and then to what biden said yesterday about the president. >> i don't know if joe biden has the stamina, the strength, to take on president trump. he's beating up on this man, and
10:36 am
there's only so much you can take. and so, i worry about him. >> this is not about me. it's not about my son. there's not a shred of evidence there's anything done that's been wrong. this guy, like all bullies, is a coward! he does not want to run against me. >> joining me now, presidential candidate and congressman from ohio, tim ryan. welcome back to the broadcast. good to see you. what do you think about congresswoman wilson there, doubting biden's stamina and strength? do you agree? i mean, what's your assessment on how biden has responded to the president and all these unsubstantiated attacks? >> well, you know, i think the people have to decide this, alex. i mean, it's not a dodge. it's like my opinion is irrelevant in a lot of ways. the people have to evaluate all of us running and they've got to figure out who they think is best to take him on. and over the course of the next few months, through, especially through this impeachment and through all of this nonsense that we're going through now, they're going to evaluate how we're all handling this.
10:37 am
and i'm just trying to say, look, we've got to beat donald trump in wisconsin, michigan, ohio, and pennsylvania. i've lived in ohio my entire life, represented blue-collar america, represented general motors plants that have closed down, steel industries that have lost. the best person to take on donald trump is the person who can call him out for lying to his constituents, and that's me. and so, i'm going to make that argument. and you know, we're going to have a campaign, and that's just how this is going to unfold. >> look, i respect the way you answered that, but here's a place where your opinion does matter, and that is relative to the impeachment inquiry. i know you've supported it. on thursday, the president called on china to interfere with the election. the election in which you are running. let's take a listen to this. >> china should start an investigation into the bidens, because what happened to china is just about as bad as what happened with ukraine. >> so, the president says that was not about politics, but you write on twitter, "just because
10:38 am
you do crimes in public doesn't mean they stop being crimes." is there a sense that the president might be immunizing americans to the severity of these actions because he is putting it all out there? i mean, is that transparency? >> what he's trying to do -- and this is where the president is smart -- he's trying to kind of socialize this behavior as being okay and get people warmed up, and he's going to keep saying it, and he's going to keep saying it and keep saying it, so that it seems like, well, he's being honest, he's being transparent. but the reality of it is the president has a lot of power. we saw what he was doing with the ukraine withholding defense support for the ukraine against russia, stuff that has been passed by the congress and is very important for our national security. the president has that power. so, when the president also has a lot of power with china, with relationships and all kinds of
10:39 am
other things that we're doing with them, and so, when he says, you should do this, and behind the scenes, the state department and rudy giuliani or other people are saying, if you don't, you know, we're not going to help you with this, you are using your position, sacred power that has been given to you by the american people, on behalf of your own political gain or your own financial gain, which he's also doing. >> yeah. >> and so, he's trying to socialize that as normal behavior. it's not. it's treasonous. i mean, this guy's a gangster. there's no other way to say it. >> i want to talk about your candidacy. at this point, you are polling under 2%. you're not going to be on the october debate stage. you have said that you are in this to the end. define the end. are you talking you want to stay in this thing all the way until the democratic national convention? are you talking about iowa, new hampshire, early in february, then you reassess? i mean, where are you on all this?
10:40 am
>> yeah. i think the early states. you know, what's happened with the dnc rules, alex, with you know, 135,000 low-dollar donations and all of this, to try to thin the field out -- which i understand -- i don't think it was necessarily intentional. but they're trying to thin the field out, and it's broken up the natural rhythm of a campaign. and bill clinton when he ran in 1992 got in in october, and it's just october. so think about that. the winner who went on to be president just got in, like now. and so, we shouldn't be limiting the field just yet. i think i've got a hell of a case to make. i've been in congress 17 years. i've been on the defense committee, you know? we've done a lot to rejuvenate the city of youngstown and akron with economic development, new ideas, and i've got really interesting reform proposals around trauma-informed care, social and emotional learning in the schools. i talk about regenerative agriculture. i talk about healing veterans with yoga and medication, and you know, building electric
10:41 am
vehicles. how do we get prepared for the new economy? and i think that message is resonating. i mean, we're getting huge endorsements in new hampshire, huge endorsements in south carolina, especially in the african-american community, pulling support from joe biden. so, why would i get out now? every election i've ever won, i won at the end. that's when you win elections. who's got the momentum at the end. and so, you know, if people want to help out and think this is a strategy where we can beat donald trump in ohio, western p.a., michigan, and wisconsin, i believe i am the absolute best person to do that. go to keep me in this race, because the person who wins is the one who wins on election day, not the one who is determined by the dnc or anybody else in the middle of the summer before the election. >> yeah. well, i'm sure you're looking for ohio state to beat michigan state today, i would guess, given what you're wearing here on the air. >> how can you tell? how can you tell? >> it's kind of obvious. all right, good to esee you, tim ryan.
10:42 am
appreciate it. the president's near constant calls to investigate joe biden, the effect it's having on the 2020 race. 's having on the 2020 race. after my dvt blood clot, i wondered. could another come around the corner. or could it play out differently? i wanted to help protect myself. my doctor recommended eliquis. eliquis is proven to treat and help prevent another dvt or pe blood clot. almost 98% of patients on eliquis didn't experience another. and eliquis has significantly less major bleeding than the standard treatment. eliquis is fda-approved and has both. don't stop eliquis unless your doctor tells you to. eliquis can cause serious and in rare cases fatal bleeding. don't take eliquis if you have an artificial heart valve or abnormal bleeding. if you had a spinal injection while on eliquis call your doctor right away if you have tingling numbness or muscle weakness. while taking eliquis, you may bruise more easily. and it may take longer than usual for bleeding to stop. seek immediate medical care for sudden signs of bleeding like unusual bruising. eliquis may increase your bleeding risk if you take certain medicines. tell your doctor about all planed medical or dental procedures.
10:43 am
what's around the corner could be your moment. ask your doctor about eliquis.
10:44 am
10:45 am
how was your role as vice president in charge of policy in ukraine and your son's job in ukraine, how is that not a conflict of interest? >> it's not a conflict of interest. there's been no indication of any conflict of interest. from ukraine or anywhere else. >> but even the appearance -- >> i'm not going to respond to
10:46 am
that. >> joe biden there on the campaign trail in l.a. last night. let's go to my panel. amy holmes, former speech writer for bill frist, peter emerson, democratic strategist, and danielle moody mills, co-host of the podcast "democracy-ish." welcome to all three of you. danielle, the mere fact that biden has to respond to questions about something that has already been investigated, already been debunked, isn't that a problem for him? >> it is a problem for him, and he shouldn't have to continue to respond to these inquiries by reporters, because frankly, it's already been null and void. and when they do this, when they continue to ask these questions, they are letting trump win, because instead of us talking about the fact that we know that this president is absolutely corrupt and is criminal and is standing on, you know, standing out in front of the white house just asking foreign entities to, you know, to investigate biden, like, that's a problem. and we should be talking about that and not talking about joe biden and his son. that's not where the conversation should be at all. >> but peter, it does beg
10:47 am
responses. so, how does biden respond and win at the very same time on this issue? >> to start doing what he's doing, use a few words, coward, unhinged. the first rule of successful advertising in marketing is frequency and consistency. trump learned that decades ago. you watch him repeat, repeat, repeat. biden needs to focus in, as danielle said, forget answering the question about his son or ukraine. simply call trump unhinged, a coward, unpatriotic, a russian stooge. putin's don might be a good one. >> okay. amy might disagree, because the president, amy, says that he's concerned about corruption, that he's not motivated by politics in this. but this is the only person he's talking about. >> right. i mean, i don't think that that passes the smell test. of course, he's also concerned about politics, but the question is, are we also concerned about corruption? but i just want to point out, everybody, that it was on this show two weeks ago with you and, alex, with you and peter, that i
10:48 am
predicted that the biggest winner out of this ukraine debacle would be elizabeth warren. and we're already seeing polling results that, you know, bear that out, that she's inching ahead. she's ahead in iowa and a new monmouth poll shows her ahead in new hampshire. so, whether or not democrats like it, joe biden is being affected by this story. and it's not necessarily about quid pro quo when he was vice president and his son was taking money from being on the board of foreign companies, then you have the china case. it has to do with cronyism. and if you want to, you know, boil it down to a one-word phrase, joe biden has a lot to answer when it comes to that. he's also already been caught not necessarily telling the truth about what he discussed with hunter biden. he said he never discussed hunter biden's business with him. hunter biden told the "new yorker" indeed he had. >> do you agree with the fact that elizabeth warren is the beneficiary, as predicted by our colleague, amy, danielle? >> yeah, i do. i think that elizabeth warren is. but elizabeth warren has been
10:49 am
consistent. and we have to understand that. she has been consistent. she is the only candidate that has been on a steady rise since she announced her presidential run. and she has plans for everything and she is doing the work. so, yes, she is going to see a bump right now because, frankly, joe biden, you know, doesn't necessarily have the energy, the stamina that she has at this very moment, and people are questioning that. but she offers a lot. and i think that right now she just needs to stay consistent and continue to do what she's doing. >> okay. well, i've got to wrap right now, but hey, props to you, amy. good job! we'll see if two weeks from now what you've been saying is correct. peter, danielle, thank you so much. you'll hear from a gulf war whistle-blower who says when he came forward, he knew his life would never be the same. theam s your car insurance, so you only pay for what you need. i wish i could shake your hand. granted. only pay for what you need. ♪ liberty. liberty. liberty. liberty. ♪
10:50 am
the more horsepower. horsepower... (engines rev) with dodge power dollars buy any challenger, charger, or durango and get ten bucks cash allowance for every one horsepower.
10:51 am
10:52 am
10:53 am
enterprise car sales and you'll take any trade-in?rom that's right! great! here you go... well, it does need to be a vehicle. but - i need this out of my house. (vo) with fair, transparent value for every trade-in... enterprise makes it easy. new reporting today from the "new york times." second official willing to file a complaint about the president seeking foreign help about a political opponent. my next guest knows what it is to be a whistleblower. patrick, you were a whistleblower during the gulf war. tell us quickly about what you did. >> long story short, alex, my
10:54 am
wife and i were basically a team and figured out that american veterans had likely been exposed to at least low levels of chemical agents during and probably after the war with some of the demolitions that took place. the official line, of course, was nothing happened and so we spent the better part of the year trying to get the cia to go the other way on that. we were forced to go public. what i think gratifies me about what i've seen in the last two weeks, this time, people are taking this particular whistleblower much more seriously and if somebody else now is beginning to feel that courage is contagious and thinking about coming forward to help back up or verify the account of the first whistleblower, that would be a welcome development. >> what kind of challenges do whistleblowers face, like the ones you did? >> if you're an intelligence community whistleblower, ultimately, the law is against you. the intelligence community whistleblower protection act of 1998 is for the most part, a toothless act. it doesn't provide meaningful protections. anybody working at the central
10:55 am
intelligence agency is known as accepted service, which means that the normal system protection process just doesn't apply to you. that's why maintaining the confidentiality of this whistleblower and any others who might come forward is extremely important, given this president's obviously very vengeful nature. >> what advice to you give to the second whistleblower that's potentially coming forward? >> easy, lawyer up. make sure you get good counsel. my recommendations, contact either the government accountability project, the folks that expose facts or the project pogo on government oversight. reach out to one of those organizations, that's a start. >> what about president trump wanting the whistleblower's name in public and saying we've got to find out this guy, saying i don't care, what do you make of that? >> he doesn't care. this is a president who doesn't believe there should be restraints on him, his associates, his cabinet secretaries, et cetera.
10:56 am
so it doesn't surprise me at all. there's definitely a nixonian quality. he was savvy until the end though. the difference here, he tweets out insanity and only helps democrats at the end of the day. >> patrick, i appreciate your insights. thank you very much. >> thank you. decoding the ukraine text messages. main takeaways coming up at the top of the hour. main takeaways coming up at the top of the hr.ou what you're doing? [sighs defeatedly] (grover) do not worry, sir. i also fix cars! (burke) seen it. covered it. at farmers insurance, we know a thing or two because we've seen a thing or two. ♪ we are farmers. ♪ bum-pa-dum, bum-bum-bum-bum
10:57 am
10:58 am
10:59 am
11:00 am
i'm on time. i'm on time. gibson, your turn. >> broken clock is correct twice a day. >> just do your show. >> have a great saturday, alex. i'm in new york city. we keep an eye on fast-mooiving developments in washington, dc. a storm of tweets and lashing out at critics including the republican senator you see there on the right, mitt romney. the evidence is stacking up. a flurry of developments in the last 24 hours including news that the cia's top lawyer, the top lawyer of the cia made a criminal referral to the justice department after she saw the whistleblower's complaint.