tv Weekends With Alex Witt MSNBC October 12, 2019 9:00am-11:00am PDT
that could allow hackers devices into your home.ys and like all doors, they're safer when locked. that's why you need xfinity xfi. with the xfi gateway, devices connected to your homes wifi are protected. which helps keep people outside from accessing your passwords, credit cards and cameras. and people inside from accidentally visiting sites that aren't secure. and if someone trys we'll let you know. xfi advanced security. if it's connected, it's protected. call, click, or visit a store today. well, that is our show for today, and i'm going to throw it right over to allen wit with breaking news. >> we have a lot to share, but for all of you, we have breaking news out of pelham, new hampshire. there is a large police presence at the new england pentecostal church there. we're keeping a close eye on
what's going on. koujter terrorism is on this. authorities have responded to a shooting incident. as soon as get more information, we will bring that to you. for now, a very good day to all of you from msnbc world headquarters in new york. i'm alex witt. thank you for joining me. high noon in the east, 9:00 a.m. in the west. welcome to "weekends with alex witt." another wild 24 hours of impeachment developments, including gripping testimony at a critical hearing. a leading democrat talks about how much closer congress is to the truth. >> they're pursuing an illegal, invalid, and unconstitutional bull [ bleep ] impeachment. >> yep, ugly language. the president resorts to coarse language again at his latest rally. so, what's this a sign of? after midnight, how one call from the trump administration tried to stop a key impeachment witness and why that call failed, for now. disappearing act. some of the president's closest
aides stopped talking as the impeachment inquiry unfolds, but why? new details this hour on this day 19 of the impeachment inquiry into the president and democrats are moving at quite a rapid pace. lawmakers now looking ahead to a very busy week of depositions and deadlines, all part of the party's new offensive. even more explosive testimony's expected this week as trump's former top aide on russia and europe, that being fiona hill, and u.s. ambassador to the eu, gordon sondland, are set for hearings. democratic lawmakers this morning giving new reaction as this investigation unfolds. >> we had testimony from a very credible witness for eight hours. so i'm looking forward to looking at all of the details of that testimony, seeing how it's connected to the full picture, which, obviously, with the arrests this week -- i mean, he had a bad week, not just with the arrests, he had a terrible week in the courts as well. >> that's right. >> so, we'll see as we go back on tuesday, i think that we're going to step this up. >> we have an issue that u notes
the caucus, that unites the american people, and that points out some of the illegal behavior of this president that will result in his impeachment, that we need to focus on that. >> meanwhile, politico now reporting that trump advisers have been privately trying to get the president to sideline his personal attorney, rudy giuliani, this according to three people familiar with that conversation. the latest development comes as "the new york times" reports rudy giuliani's under federal investigation to determine whether he violated lobbying laws. giuliani tells nbc that he's unaware of any probe. two of giuliani's clients this week were arrested and charged with conspiring to violate campaign finance laws. meanwhile, as the democrats are ratcheting up the inquiry, the white house tries to find its footing on the issue. so we're going right to the white house right now. nbc's hans nichols is there for us. so, this administration, hans, is it fashioning some sort of a defense? >> reporter: well, yes and no. i mean, it's clearly driven by the president. we saw this week that they
finally put out a letter from the white house council's office that questioned the entire legitimacy of the impeachment inquery. what you see from the president, him sort of test run ideas and test run rhetoric, and then you hear him in the rallies say it more explicitly. at the end of the day, they're getting to the point of questioning the patriotism of their impeachment accusers. well, i thought we were going to have some sound there from the president of the united states, but we had a frozen rudy giuliani, which is, indeed, rare, because we know he likes to talk. but alex, i'm glad we had giuliani up there, because when you look at what the president said about giuliani on the south lawn yesterday before departing, he almost suggested that he wasn't actually his partner and his attorney anymore. i believe we have that sound for you now from the president. so let's have a listen and play it in its full glory.
>> i used to think she loved the country. she hates the country. because she wouldn't be doing this to the country if she didn't. she hates the country. >> reporter: so, that's the kind of a sense of the rhetoric we're hearing from the president, especially when he's in front of a fired-up and friendly crowd. now, i do want to show you what the president tweeted about rudy giuliani earlier. now, he did hint yesterday, as i was saying, that he didn't know if he was still his attorney or he said, look, he was my attorney and he has been -- i talked to him
just yesterday. here's what he's saying about this "the new york times" report. so now they're after the legendary crime buster and the greatest mayor in the history of nyc, rudy giuliani. he may seem a little rough around the edges sometimes, but he is also a great guy and a wonderful lawyer. such a one-sided witch hunt going on in the usa. deep state. shameful. so, that appears to be an endorsement of his attorney after appearing to walk away from him just a little bit today. so, the president is out at his golf club. he speaks later tonight in front
of another friendly crowd, so we may get more rhetorical flourishes from the president. >> fact is, those two certainly go way back, and we're told the president really likes his combative style. reflects both of them. all right, hans. thank you so much from the white house for that. joining me now, california representative ted lieu, democratic member of the foreign affairs and judiciary committees and a frequent guest on the show. welcome to you, sir. let's get into what speaker pelosi did yesterday, which you know, holding that house democratic caucus call. what can you tell us about that in regards to impeachment and where things stand? >> thank you, alex, for that question. i'm not going to talk about internal caucus deliberations. however, what i will say is that our focus is going to remain on the ukraine scandal, and that's because no one is above the law. and in this case, it's very clear that donald trump put himself above the law by running this shadow foreign policy where he was leveraging the halting of military aid to ukraine as well as a meeting with the ukrainian president, both things that
ukrainian leader really wanted, in order to get ukraine to target an american citizen for political purposes. that is wrong. that's a betrayal of our values and abuse of power. >> okay. what about this coming week? let's look ahead to that because i know your committee's expecting testimony from former nsa official fiona hill and also ambassador to the eu, gordon sondland. so, what do you want to find out from these two? >> so, we want to know how extensive was this pressure campaign on ukraine. we know it was more than a one-off conversation between the president and the ukrainian leader. we know it was the use of diplomats, the use of trump's private attorneys to do this multiprong pressure campaign on ukraine to get them to interfere in our elections. i also note that it is quite striking that former ambassador yovanovitch came in, that ambassador sondland has agreed to come in and that fiona hill is coming in, even though they
have been directed by the white house not to come in. i think they should share their story with the american people and we need to hear it. >> how much longer do you expect the official inquoory to continue? how close are we to a potential vote for articles of impeachment? >> if we're going to proceed with impeachment, i believe it has to be done before the end of the year. speaker pelosi and her caucus will make a decision before the end of the year. what i do want to say is there's already enough evidence that's come out. we've got the call record from the white house showing that right after the ukrainian leader talks about military aid, donald trump immediately asks him for a favor, though. and one of those favors was to target trump's political opponent. we've got text messages. we have testimony from these ambassadors. so, there's already enough information out there to draft articles of impeachment. >> but are there areas that you still need to fill in the blanks? >> we would love to fill in additional blanks, but there is already enough to draft at least one article of impeachment on
the ukraine scandal. there's already enough to draft one article of impeachment of obstruction of justice on the american people. we will continue investigating, but we're not going to basically keep on investigating forever. >> and just to confirm, you only need one article of impeachment to go down that road, correct? >> that is correct. >> let's talk about what was going down yesterday with the former ambassador to ukraine, marie yovanovitch, who gave more than what, nine hours! lots of testimony there. let's listen to what republican congressman lee zeldin had to say about it. here's that. >> you should know every single word that we just heard, but instead, you heard none of it, the american public heard none of it, because chairman schiff instead chooses to put his own spin to it. and that's outrageous! and the american public are fed up with what they are watching. >> i'm curious your reaction to that argument, because notably, he is not talking about substance there. he's talking about the process. >> what's amazing to me is that
republicans keep talking about process, and really makes some really stupid arguments. the courts have referred to congress as acting like a grand jury when we're in an impeachment. and grand jury proceedings, they're not open proceedings. the public doesn't get to see it. essentially, what we're trying to do is build a case for an indictment. the open proceedings happen at the senate trial. so, right now, not only should we not have open proceedings, because we don't want witnesses to know what other witnesses have said, but it's not really the function of how you do these investigations. but despite that, we give republicans every opportunity to cross examine. they are in these exact depositions and they get to have their hour and the democrats have our hour and then we flip back and forth. so i don't really know what zeldin is talking about. >> what about yovanovitch's testimony yesterday? did you learn anything new? >> what we did learn, again, is that you had this shadow foreign policy happen where you had an
ambassador serve under six american presidents do an outstanding job, have her boss tell her she did nothing wrong, and then rudy giuliani shows up with his associates and they're able to get donald trump and the state department to remove her because, apparently, she wasn't going along with their plan to try to get ukraine to do all sorts of things that benefit trump personally and not the american people. >> the president has spent the past couple of nights really slamming democrats. it was happening during a pair of campaign rallies. and i'd like to take a listen to a little bit of the flavor, the tenor from one of those events. here it is. >> the do-nothing democrat extremists have gone so far left that they believe it should not be a crime to cross our border illegally, and it should be a crime to have a totally appropriate, casual, beautiful, accurate phone call with a foreign leader. i don't think so. >> care to weigh in on the president's performance over the
last couple of nights? >> yeah, right. the president continues to make things up. in terms of his allegation about democrats doing nothing, exact opposite is true. we've passed legislation to reduce the price of generic drugs. we have passed legislation for universal background checks on guns. we have passed legislation on the violence against women's act reauthorization. all of that is bipartisan. we've got dozens and dozens of bills sitting before the u.s. senate. mitch mcconnell has not taken that up, so it's really a republican senate problem. >> all right, congressman ted lieu, my hometown congressman, i might add. nice to see you again. thank you so much. >> thank you, alex. >> joining me, natasha bertrand, national correspondent for politico and msnbc contributor, also john harwood, cnbc's editor at large. both frequent guests here. let's get into it with you, natasha. headline you heard from representative lieu? did you hear something there? >> yeah. i think that his comments about what marie yovanovitch, the former ambassador to ukraine,
said, it's pretty striking. it's in line with what's been reported so far. but i think the big headline to come out in the last day or so is the fact that rudy giuliani, who tried to get yovanovitch ousted, is now potentially under investigation by the justice department for violating foreign agent registration act and violating foreign lobbying laws. i imagine that mashi yovanovitch told congress the efforts that were taken to remove her and the efforts that were taken to smear her before she was ultimately recalled earlier than she was supposed to be. but the news that rudy giuliani was potentially cooperating with a foreign official, this prosecutor, in order to get a u.s. ambassador removed is so -- it just so black and white and so straightforward that it just seems very obvious that rudy giuliani has made himself a huge target here by contacting government officials, including the state department, contacting media outlets, including john
soloman at "the hill" to discuss and basically spread dirt about this ambassador in direct violation of what the justice department says you have to do when you're dealing with these foreign contacts. >> how about you, john? did you pick up anything from congressman lieu? >> well, i noted his assertion, again, of the timeline for articles of impeachment in the house. he was making the case that they believe it needs to be done this year. >> right. >> if the house is going to do it, to get it before the 2020 campaign and then put it in the lap of the united states senate. i think that is, in fact, what is likely to happen, and i think, as he said, democrats believe they know enough right now to put an article of impeachment on the floor and to pass it. they're not going to do it right now, but they're going to do it within a number of weeks. i think then we're going to find out whether republicans in the face of polls we've seen, showing some erosion in the president's base -- are they going to stand up and affirm the president and his conduct, things that natasha was just
talking about, or are they going to break with him? and that's the drama that awaits us. >> okay. guys, thank you for wrapping up that conversation with representative lieu. we're going to take a commercial break and talk more on the other things on the other side of this break, impeachment and the like. but meantime, secretary of state mike pompeo refusing to answer a question about rudy giuliani. is he among those congress will be looking at as the impeachment inquiry expands? you're going to hear what pompeo said next. going to hear what po said next. i can't believe it. what? that our new house is haunted by casper the friendly ghost? hey jill! hey kurt! movies? i'll get snacks! no, i can't believe how easy it was to save hundreds of dollars on our car insurance with geico. i got snacks! ohhh, i got popcorn, i got caramel corn, i got kettle corn. am i chewing too loud? believe it! geico could save you fifteen percent or more on car insurance.
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is rudy giuliani still your personal attorney? >> well, i don't know. i haven't spoken to rudy. i spoke to him yesterday briefly. he's a very good attorney and he has been my attorney, yeah, sure. >> that was an interesting response to the president, who was appearing to distance himself from his own attorney at the white house. but shortly after that comment, giuliani told the "washington post" he is, in fact, still representing the president. natasha and john are back, as promised. so, john, you first here. what's your read on the president's reaction to giuliani and that question there? even though today he's coming out in his defense. >> well, we know one thing about donald trump, his chief loyalty is to himself. and in any situation, if he finds someone who all of a sudden either has become hostile to him or gotten in trouble, he
will distance himself from that person. somebody who he embraced as his close friend one day is a moron, an idiot, and incompetent the next day. rex tillerson, secretary of state, now he's dumb as a rock. that's all about donald trump. it's not about the people he's talking about. in the case of rudy giuliani, rudy giuliani had two associates arrested as they were attempting to leave the country with one-way tickets. now we learn, as natasha mentioned in our last block, that rudy giuliani is himself under criminal investigation. that's not good to have your personal lawyer under criminal investigation. ergo, the president is going to distance himself, even if he is now on twitter defending him a bit. >> yeah. your colleagues, natasha, at politico are reporting that the president's allies have been privately imploring trump to sideline giuliani, even before the arrest of his two associates. is there any indication that trump will heed these calls?
>> yeah, we've actually been wondering in the office all week how long it would take for the president to distance himself, because not only is he making trump look even worse as part of this whole impeachment inquiry, but he's also lost the confidence of all of trump's republican allies, main republican allies, and those are the people, obviously, who are also in the president's ear. so, we were really confident that this was going to happen, and it does seem like, as john said, because trump is so concerned with how he is perceived and his reputation and things like that, it seems like he will ultimately want to distance himself from any wrongdoing by giuliani, because it could also implicate the president himself, obviously. i mean, there are serious questions about the extent to which the president participated in this plot to oust the ambassador to ukraine, which we now know is under investigation as part of a serious foreign lobbying violation. so, giuliani's efforts here and his being on tv constantly, discussing all of this, his saying that he represents trump,
even though we're not really clear, you know, in what legal capacity he actually does represent the president, that creates serious exposure for the president and his republican allies are right, i think, to advise him to stay away. >> and drilling down even further, we have my colleague, andrea mitchell, reporting that secretary of state mike pompeo, he is doing everything he can to avoid even discussing rudy giuliani. he was asked about giuliani by our affiliate yesterday. listen to this. >> in mid-february, you were in warsaw, and so was rudy giuliani. during your time there, did you meet with giuliani? >> you know, i don't talk about who i meet with. i went to warsaw for a particular purpose -- >> so you're not going to say whether you met with him? >> when i was in warsaw, i had a singular focus. my focus was singularly on the work that we have done. >> it sounds like you're not going to say. >> when i was in warsaw, we were working diligently to accomplish the mission. >> text messages show that
diplomats under your authority told the ukrainians that a good relationship with president trump was only possible if they investigated his political opponent and theories about what happened in 2016. were you aware that this was happening? >> you know, again, you've got your facts wrong. sounds like you're working at least in part for the democratic national committee when you phrase a predicate of a question in that way. it's unfortunate. >> that was so interesting to listen to and to watch. i'm curious what you make of that exchange, john. mike pompeo's head never moved. he barely moved at all. he was so frozen answering those questions. >> first of all, the reporter did a terrific job in pressing. >> yep. >> mike pompeo. second of all, the arguments that the administration has, across a range of officials, are just very weak right now. so, those were factual questions that she posed to him. he would not answer the direct question about giuliani, so it appeared that he was dodging that question. and then the question about what
the text messages revealed was entirely accurate, and his answer is, you sound like you're working for the dnc. that was his response to judy wood rough on pbs the other day when she asked him a difficult question. at this point, if mike pompeo said two plus two is five and you say, no, two plus two is four, he would say, sounds like you're working for the dnc. that's what happens when you're behind the eight ball when the sort of bottom is falling out on a series of actions that you can't defend and honest people ask you about them. >> how did pompeo get himself into this situation, natasha? why are more questions being raised surrounding his activities with giuliani? >> yeah, it's a great question. he got himself immeshed in this because he was, of course, the one that received this packet that rudy giuliani had created about mashi yovanovitch, the ukrainian ambassador, about joe biden and about his activities in ukraine, and passed them on, i guess, to the inspector
general, or passed them on to the fbi for further investigation. he was directly involved in what giuliani has said was really an effort to quote/unquote expose this dirt on president trump's rivals. and then, of course, apart from that, he also had diplomats working directly under him, including kurt volker, gordon sondland and others, who were trying to essentially export the ukrainians and try to leverage a white house summit and the aid, ultimately, we learned, in order to get more information on the with bidens and their potential involvement in ukraine. so, the state department's role in this and how much pompeo knew is directly related to this story and that's why pompeo froze up when it was suggested he had been meeting with giuliani as early as february. >> and also why rudy giuliani waves his phone around on television and says, yeah, i've got all these text messages from the state department. that's mike pompeo's state department, directing me to do this. and so, the two of those guys -- >> so, he does that in a
defensive tactic, right? juul j giuliani's doing that defensively, like hey, these are my orders? >> yes. and what happens is rudy giuliani is concerned about rudy giuliani and trying to stay out of trouble. mike pompeo is an extremely ambitious politician who is looking for his political future. and those two are going to be at odds with one another when they have to figure out, well who really did this? was it rudy? was it pompeo? was it both of them? that's going to be fascinating to see what mike pompeo says to rudy giuliani in that circumstance. >> i love never being at odds with either of you, job and natasha. putting two and two together. how the charges against these two men could affect the president. two men could feafct the president.
sounding presidential? well, someone get a bar of soap. the president is using foul language more often, swearing at his political opposition, and here he is at a rally last night. >> and they say, thank you very much. i want your money. yeah, give me that $250,000 you work your [ bleep ] off for. they're pursuing an illegal,
invalid, and unconstitutional bull [ bleep ] impeachment. >> it's just so charming. let's go to nbc's ali vittalie, who will certainly update the discourse for us, in new orleans. why isn't the president holding rallies there in louisiana? >> reporter: yeah, alex. i'm going to keep this a little cleaner than the president was keeping it last night in lake charles. >> please. >> reporter: basically, we usually say if it's tuesday, people are usually voting somewhere, but here in louisiana, if it's saturday, they're voting. because they've got races statewide and that's why the president was here last night, trying to make a last-minute push to ask voters to vote for a republican. and the reason i say it that way is because here in louisiana, the way they're doing it in the governor's race, for example, is it's called a jungle primary, so you've got the current democratic governor on the ballot, john bel edwards, along with two republicans who trump was sharing the stage with last night. and i know these often break down along party lines, but as
we went into jefferson parish, where john bel edwards won in 2015, a place where trump also won in 2016, i found that it was pretty surprising that they were not necessarily voting based on partisanship but based on the person. listen to this one woman we spoke to who likes trump but is a little confuse bed what she's going to do when she gets into the ballot box today. it sounds like you're struggling. you want to vote for a republican, but you just don't know that you have someone that you want to vote for there. >> that's it. you know, that's exactly it. >> reporter: but do you not want to vote for a democrat? >> not necessarily. i'm probably going to go into the ballot box and vote for the democrat. >> reporter: and so, alex, the way this works is basically, if edwards hits 50% when all the votes are counted today, that's it, he wins re-election. if not -- and this is what republicans are hoping -- that they can force this to a runoff a month from now in november where it's going to be democrat versus republican. and there's one other thing i would note, alex. when i was talking with robin, that voter we just heard from, she brought up to me that she'll
probably vote for trump again in 2020 but said something to the effect that she wants him to quit talking and just start running the business of the country. and i feel that's something i've been hearing for the past few months on the campaign trail. first it was months saying they wish he would stop tweeting, but as we see him on the road more, be it for these special races or even in the midterms, people were just saying they wish that he would turn back to the business of the country, because voters that like him still, want to vote for him again, they like what he's doing, not necessarily the way he's talking about it and saying it. >> maybe they also want him to clean up the potty mouth stuff. honestly. ali vitali from new orleans, thank you so much. gordon sondland is set to appear before house committees on thursday, just days after an attempt by the trump administration to block his testimony. joining me now to take a closer look at all of it, michael isikoff, chief investigative correspondent with yahoo news and host of "the skulduggery and conspiracy land podcast." michael, welcome back.
good to see you this weekend again. >> great to be with you. >> look, you report that the state department called sondland's attorney at 12:30 in the morning last tuesday, telling sondland, don't show up. and that was just hours before his scheduled deposition. so, the timing of this, what does that suggest, if anything, to you, the fact that this call's made in the middle of the night? >> well, it just sort of underscores how chaotic it is within the white house bunker in dealing with impeachment. they could have given those instructions to sondland at any point over the last week. it had been known that he was scheduled to testify. the fact that they scramble and at 10:30 a.m. place this phone call to his lawyer shows just how seat of the pants the whole white house operation is. >> in your article, you also say, democrats consider sondland's testimony concerning documents crucial to their probe, but according to axios, a source familiar with the
rescheduling says republicans close to trump encouraged the president to let the ambassador testify, adding that trump's allies believe sondland's testimony will be helpful to their side. so, both sides think the testimony's going to help their case. which do you think is correct. >> well, actually, his lawyer has said that he expects ambassador sondland to be largely helpful to the president. if you remember that text exchange that was made public last week, ambassador taylor, the charge d'affaires in kiev, says it's crazy the idea that we would hold up military assistance for this request for assistance to investigate the president's political rival, and then there is that four-hour gap -- >> right. >> 4 1/2-hour gap, sondland doesn't reply and then comes back and says, no, you are not -- you're incorrect, the president's made crystal clear there is no quid pro quo.
now, there's a lot of reasons to be suspicious, how this happened. sondland's a political appointee. taylor is a career civil servant. we do know, it's been reported that sondland consulted directly with the president. this was at a time they already knew, the white house knew about the whistle-blower complaint, knew about the potential troubles they were in over the content of that phone call and a lot of reasons to suspect that what sondland was doing was trying to clean up the mess on the president's behalf. but that said -- >> so, michael -- >> -- his testimony is going to be his testimony, and if he sticks with what he said in that text, it is going to be helpful to the president. >> so, just to reiterate, bill taylor texts sondland, sondland takes 4 1/2 hours to respond, during which time he contacts president trump and gets the phrase to state there was no quid pro quo? >> correct. you've got that right.
and like i said, a lot of reasons to be suspicious about that. a lot of reasons to want to see what other text messages, whatsapp messages that sondland might have been sending to the president or others at the white house that led up to that final text message he sends. but the words, as suspicious as they sound, are on balance helpful to the president. >> okay. let's get to those two foreign-born nationals with the ties to rudy giuliani. they were arrested. they were trying to leave the u.s. on a one-way ticket. the men are facing criminal campaign finance charges tied to an alleged effort to influence u.s. politics with illegal campaign contributions. how do these guys, michael, fit in with trump's push for president zelensky to investigate the bidens? >> well, they were a key part of it. these two guys indicted were rudy giuliani's clients. they were helping him develop
these contact in ukraine with officials and other prosecutors giving him the ammunition to feed to the president and to feed to journalists like john solomon on the hill and to build the case that there was something impopper about what the ukrainians were up to during the 2016 election and also that there might be more to the biden story. >> so, let's also look at their presence, may, i think it was, 2018? both of these guys dined at the white house. they met with donald trump jr. later in that month, but the president says he doesn't know them. take a listen. >> you're in pictures with him. >> it's possible i have a picture with him because i have a picture with everybody. >> have you talked with them? >> i don't know if there's anybody i don't have pictures with. i don't know them. i don't know about them. i don't know what they do. but i don't know. maybe they were clients of rudy.
you'd have to ask rudy. i just don't know. >> okay, so, they had dinner at the white house. that same month, they meet with donald junior. do you buy that the president doesn't know who these people are? >> the president has a long tradition of giving that answer whenever he's confronted with questions about people who can be embarrassing to him. he did it with felix seder. he's done it with many other people over the years. when confronted about his associations that are raised questions, his first default is i barely know the guy. i wouldn't know him if he walked in the room. look, the really intriguing question to me when you look at the totally of this is rudy giuliani's flying all over the world. he's flying to madrid, to paris. he's conducting this worldwide investigation on behalf of the president. who's paying for all that?
to what extent were these clients, whose interests may have overlapped with the president in this instance, but clearly had their own agenda, to what extent were they footing the bill for rudy to be doing this work for the president? and i think there could be some foreign illegal issues there. >> okay. that's definitely something folks will be looking into as well, i'm sure, michael isikoff. thank you, as always, for the conversation. >> thank you. still ahead, the reported fears of white house aides. why you don't see them defending their boss. also, breaking news. fast-moving fires in southern california drive thousands from their homes. the race to contain those wind-fueled fires, next. to con wind-fueled fires, next. these days, we're all stressed. (honk!) i hear you sister. that's why i'm partnering with cigna to remind you to go in for your annual check-up, and be open with your doctor about anything you feel - physically and emotionally. but now cigna has a plan that can help everyone see stress differently. just find a period of time to unwind. a location to de-stress. an activity to enjoy. or the name of someone to talk to. to create a plan that works for you, visit cigna.com/mystressplan.
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couple of breaking news stories to share with you. first up this hour, a state of emergency in southern california as another wildfire tears through the state. southern part of the state there. tens of thousands of people have evacuated. dozens of homes destroyed. about 1,000 firefighters are working to contain that blaze, but the saddleridge fire is only 13% contained at this point. one death reported. one firefighter injury as well. all being blamed on that fire. let's get to nbc's sam brock in north ridge, california, for us, covering this growing fire. sam, we spoke earlier today. what's latest since we spoke five or six hours ago? >> reporter: alex, good afternoon. i know you mentioned you're from southern california. just to give you a snapshot of the conditions in the state, the office of the governor just tweeted out that the cal fire, which is the state's
firefighting agency, has dealt with and put out 300 wildfires -- 300 fires, i should say, 39 wildfires just in the last 24 hours. >> what? >> reporter: obviously, the saddle ridge fire far from put out. i know, that is hard information to digest there. they are at this point, you said 13% contained. that's been upped slightly to 19%, according to cal fire, although lafd, the los angeles fire department, has confirmed that yet. that doesn't sound like a huge number, 13% to 19%. part of the reason why is the fact that they were dealing with overnight terrain last night. so while they're walking around, some of the camp crews with their shovels and scooping away vegetation, the visibility isn't great, so we would expect the numbers to continue to rise on the containment lines as the days go on. let's talk about more damage and then more updates. first damage. this house is 1 of 31 in the fire zone here in porter ranch.
people living here said they had minutes between when they saw the flames coming down the canyon -- and you can see how charred it is in the background -- until they left their house. checked their in-house cameras when they were on the road and saw their patio here was totally engaged with flames. it is, as you can see, burned. there is furniture that's laying, strewn all over the place. flames shot up from where we are standing right now and onto the roof. this is very likely 1 of the 13 homes that we're told that is completely lost 1r00% damage. some are between 10% and 50% damage, but two dozen in total. that's the lay of the land. in fermz terms of what they are to get people back in their homes, repopulate, i am told about 10 or 15 minutes ago from the fire department that they have started the process of writing the repopulation message. the question becomes, when are they going to send it out and
tell tens of thousands of people, maybe as many as 100,000 people, when they can get back into their homes? and just as an indication of how many people are waiting, there were lines all over the parking lot last night to get a police escort for just five minutes to get in and see their homes. so, we're waiting to find out when those folks will actually be able to get back into their homes today, if they can. and of course, keeping an eye on all the numbers. >> great reporting, sam, though heartbreaking it is to hear it. thanks, sam brock. breaking from new orleans, part of a hotel under construction suddenly collapses. one person is dead, three others are missing. 18 others rushed to hospitals. that collapse happened a short time ago at a hard rock hotel that was planning to open next year. rescue crews are on the scene searching for the missing. we'll keep you posted throughout the day. meantime, it's a vanishing act at the white house. what it means in the fight against impeachment, next. plus, the question nbc's von hilliard put to the vice president that may raise more suspicions about what pence knows about the dealings with ukraine. t pence knows about the dealings with ukraine. ♪ work so hard ♪ give it everything you got ♪ strength of a lioness
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between. the "associated press" out with a new article titled "white house aides try disappearing act amid impeachment talk." and it goes on to say, "many aides to the president have grown reluctant to speak out on trump's behalf for fear the president will then contradict them." join me, policy strategist elena beverly, who worked for the obama administration, msnbc contributor victoria defrancesco soto, professor of the university of texas' lbj school of public affairs, and republican strategist rick tyler and msnbc political analyst. welcome all. good to see you, as usual. >> good morning, alex. >> rick, what do you think it says that the president's usually defenders are laying very low right now? >> well, it says a couple things. one, i don't think the president actually talks to his communications staff, so they really don't know what they would do. and all of these -- i know some of these people, and they have been trained in the conventional sense. you take the facts as you know them and you try to present them in the best way to tell a story. unfortunately for them, the facts are not on their side and the president's liable to change the facts at any moment, so they
end up getting humiliated. but the overarching problem right now is they may be in legal jeopardy if they actually go out and defend the president. >> huh, okay. elaine, i want to tap into your experience having worked in the obama white house. how unusual is this disappearing act, to use the "ap's" term, during a very critical time? >> that's right. you know, trump's chief of staff, mick mulvaney, is doing what the kids today would call ghosting. he is nowhere to be found. and this is part of a pattern that all of the senior administration staff have exhibited in that they tend to be out of town or nowhere to be found, keeping their heads down at times of political turmoil. and trump has never been more vulnerable than right now, so it is, i think, very illuminating that they are nowhere to be found, in part because, as rick said, they can be contradicted, most likely by tweet, or they could be in certain instances be
called a very fine person, which means they'll be fired the next day, or on the third account that they, you know, for self-preservation, they don't want to hold hands and jump off the high crimes and misdemeanors cliff. >> mm. so, victoria, we have more and more people being linked to the president, actually, who are linked to the president, they're becoming entangled in this ukraine saga. that includes two associates of rudy giuliani. they were indicted thursday. you have "the new york times" now reporting that giuliani's under investigation for his ukraine work. his lawyer and juligiuliani him say they're unaware of any investigation into his activities, but how dangerous could all of this be for the president? >> it is dangerous, but at the same time, president trump is a fighter. and in some instances, this is where he's at his best is where he can punch back. so, ironically, he has been raising a lot of money off of impeachment. we've seen a spike in facebook ads, for example, in terms of trying to round up support for the president in the last two
weeks when the ukraine whistle-blower story just launched, but at the same time, he's defending himself through these ads and he's asking for money, so he's taking this crisis and making it an opportunity. and at the same time, while this morning and yesterday we saw him not necessarily distancing himself from giuliani, he allowed a bit of a pivot by saying he was my lawyer in the past. so, while for any other president or any other political or elected, this would be very troubling that someone so close to him is in this hot water. for trump, i think he is spinning it to his advantage, especially with his base and his messaging. >> hmm. so, rick, there's a new article out with politico this morning, and it's titled "trump advisers want giuliani dumped." but is president trump's fate tied to giuliani's at this point? what's riskier, keeping him on board or is it cutting him loose? >> i mean, if trump is true to form, he'll dump giuliani. and you saw that the other day. i mean, he did send out a
positive tweet after that. but look, giuliani is so mired in this whole, this whole call, this arms for dirt call with president zelensky of ukraine. it was not an incidental call. it was set up. and it was vetted to make sure that zelensky would play ball. giuliani was the point of contact. and now you have two people from ukraine who have contacts with ukraine who are putting money illegally into american elections now indicted under federal investigation. now you have rudy giuliani who also may be under federal investigation, and then trump calls that the deep state, which is ironic, because last time i checked, the a.g. barr was head of the justice department, which is now investigating -- has now indicted two of giuliani's clients and may be investigating giuliani himself, so the deep state is getting rather shallow. >> yeah. i want to take a look at another character in this ukraine controversy, and that being the
vice president. nbc's von hilliard repeatedly pressed pence on whether he knew about a link between the interest in investigating the bidens and then that aid being held up for ukraine. here's part of that exchange. >> i never discussed the issue of the bidens with president zelensky -- >> but with the administration. were you ever aware within the administration? >> what i can tell you is that all of our discussions internally, between the president and our team and our contacts and my office with ukraine were entirely focused on the broader issues of the lack of european support -- >> but you were aware of the interest in the bidens being investigated and that being tied to aid to ukraine being held up? >> that's your question. >> actually, he was asking that of the vice president. but elena, what do you make of pence not even answering the question? >> everyone's trying to get off of the "titanic." that's what i make of this. if he answers the question and
says that he knows and is aware of all of the details that were in that conversation between trump and the president of the ukraine, then he becomes a conspirator in this larger enterprise. so, i think vice president pence is trying to save himself, and that's not unusual given the dominos thatters seeing and the evidence that is mounting up against donald trump. i will say this. while the senior administrative staff are not defending him, while even vice president pence seems to be disavowing his role and work with donald trump, there is a robust campaign mechanism that is out right now that is trying to spin this and spin impeachment as being a coup and payback for payback for the 2016 elections. so, trump is not out there on his own. he has a huge campaign mechanism that is trying to spin messaging to make sure that the american people continue to be
gaslighting by him. >> well, as victoria was saying, maybe it is when he's at his best, he's able to punch really hard with this kind of strategy. we'll see if it works. i'm up against the top of the hour, so i've got to wrap. >> thanks, alex. the president coming to his own defense in the face of impeachment. his former campaign adviser's here to weigh in on his old boss' strategy and whether it will work out for him. boss' strategy a wndhether it will work out for him. at... sn. for your worst sore throat pain try vicks vapocool drops. it's not candy, it's powerful relief. ahhhhhh! vaporize sore throat pain with vicks vapocool drops.
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 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. top of the hour, everyone, and we begin with breaking news we've been following from new orleans. part of a hotel under construction suddenly collapses. you're looking at some new video at the collapse at a hard rock cafe. it was planning to open next year, the hotel, we should say. one person is dead. three others are missing. we've got 18 who have been
rushed to area hospitals. rescue crews are search o the scene searching for the missing. we will bring you a report from the scene in minutes. meantime, welcome, everyone. i'm alex witt here at msnbc world headquarters in new york. it is day 19 into the impeachment inquiry into the president. the house is looking into depositions and deadlines after a wild 24 hours of rapid developments. here's how it unfolded right here on msnbc. >> the building is unstable -- >> right now a key player in the inquiry, former u.s. ambassador to ukraine, marie yovanovitch, is testifying behind closed doors on capitol hill as we speak. >> that diplomat, marie yovanovitch, who the trump administration sought to block from appearing today, claiming in her opening statement that
her removal was corrupt. >> i just sat through eight hours that went like a new york second. it was that amazing, that powerful, that impactful, and just feel very fortunate to have been there. >> yet again, we have breaking news tonight. yet again, it pertains to the president's lawyer and all-around sidekick, rudy giuliani. tonight "the new york times" is reporting rudy is under investigation by federal prosecutors in the southern district of new york. in effect, the justice department manhattan office where he himself once served as u.s. attorney. the feds are, quote, investigating whether president trump's personal lawyer rudolph giuliani broke lobbying laws in his dealings in ukraine. >> breaking news. yet another trump administration staff shake-up. the president announcing on twitter that acting homeland security secretary kevin mcaleenan has resigned. >> pelosi also admonished the president for being a potty mouth. hours later in louisiana, he lashed out at democrats. >> they know they can't win on
election day, so they're pursuing an illegal, invalid, and unconstitutional bull [ bleep ] impeachment. >> trump's going into the profanities hurts him in a large way because that offends a lot of people. that didn't seem to offend too many people in minneapolis. it was shocking to see those people listen to that and applaud. >> a pretty wild 24 hours yet again, as you saw there. we have a team of reporters and analysts to go over today's top stories for you. and we begin with nbc's kelly o'donnell at the white house for us. kelly, with a good day to you, you have the president out defending his attorney, rudy giuliani, but notably, it was a day after appearing to distance himself from him. so, what is he saying? >> reporter: well, that is what makes this curious, because when asked about some of the allegations involving giuliani's work with those two men who have now been indicted, the president did appear to be distancing himself, saying these are rudy giuliani clients, he doesn't know anything about trk and
saying, when asked if giuliani was still his attorney, he said, he has been my attorney. i spoke to him the other day. that was far less than a, of course he's still my attorney, which you might have expected. so, it is notable then today that the client is defending counsel, while the president is using his twitter feed today to clean up the impression he left when speaking to report were errs in person, using twitter to bolster giuliani, in part saying "so now they are after the legendary crime-buster and greatest mayor in the history of new york city." of course, those are parts of the rudy giuliani resumé, where he was perhaps at his highest in public opinion as a u.s. attorney and mayor of new york. "he may seem a little rough out of the edges," that from the president describing his lawyer, "but he is also a great guy and wonderful attorney." you get the rest. so, here is the president talking about his lawyer in a way to try to rehabilitate his public image at a time when giuliani is under intense new scrutiny.
and there is, of course, the question was giuliani under this scrutiny at the direction of the president? that's all to be sorted out, but clearly, the president has acknowledged that he wanted giuliani's efforts on behalf of the campaign of 2020, and to some degree, on a look back at 2016, to try to resolve some of the questions that fall into the conspiracy realm of the president's interests on what happened in ukraine, if anything, that the president might use politically. alex? >> all right, kelly o. getting us started off there at the white house. thank you for that. let's bring in msnbc national political reporter josh lederman on the new developments in this impeachment inquiry. josh, first question is, "the new york times," which is now or thing that giuliani, who by the way, told nbc that he's unaware of any probe, as you know -- "the new york times" says he's under federal investigation to determine whether he violated lobbying laws. do we know if he is being looked at in respect to criminal conduct? i mean, could we see now a
second attorney for trump get indicted following michael cohen? >> so, the law in question here, alex, the foreign agents registration act, is something that came into real focus amid the mueller inquiry and violations of that by paul manafort and others. it certainly, if you violate it, it is a criminal violation, punishable by up to five years in prison or $10,000. the law says that anyone who is trying to influence either the u.s. media or the u.s. government on behalf of a foreign politician or foreign government, they've got to register with the justice department as a lobbyist. and if they don't, which rudy giuliani has not, then they could be found in violation of this. now, nbc news has not yet confirmed that giuliani is under criminal investigation for this, but certainly, given the fact that we know that the justice department has really stepped up enforcement of the lobbying law in the wake of the mueller probe and paul manafort, it certainly is something that prosecutors may very well be looking into. >> okay, so that's giuliani, but how about the president?
how damning could this be for him? >> well, if giuliani does, you know, get charged with this or an investigation under way, you know, it's certainly the latest person that's close to the president working with him who would be found to have been violating the law, a long and growing list that we saw from the mueller probe. and the fact that giuliani would have been trying to influence the u.s. government, which we know he was providing information about his unfounded allegations of corruption, about the bidens to the u.s. government through the state department, mike pompeo and others, certainly yet more evidence that those around the president that he's brought into his orbit were doing things that were not totally in line with the law. >> you know, josh, i'd love you to elaborate a bit on your latest article, which describes how the next deposition, that from the president's former top russia adviser, fiona hill, has, quote, stoked fear among people close to the president. josh, given her key role overseeing policy, how explosive
could this get? i mean, what kind of information are we expecting to hear from her? >> it could be explosive. fiona hill was the top russia and europe official at the white house for almost the entirety of the trump administration so far. so, she had a front row seat to the president's interactions with president putin and with the ukrainians and others, and a source familiar with her testimony early next week on capitol hill tells nbc news that fiona hill plans to tell lawmakers that rudy giuliani and president trump's ambassador to the eu, gordon sondland, circumvented the normal processes at the white house. herself, former national security adviser john bolton, to basically run their own shadow policy on ukraine. that's something that if it comes from a member of the administration, somebody who was in close quarters with the president until recently, could be pretty damning for the president when that testimony comes to light on capitol hill. >> okay, josh lederman, thank you for that. now katie bo williams, correspondent for defense one and josh gerstein, senior
affairs writer for politico, welcome you guys to the conversation. josh, looking at all that's unfolded this week, you had stated that the most significant impeachment development was trump's decision to have u.s. troops stand aside as turkey invades syria. why is that? >> well, i was trying to be a little contrarian there, alex. i mean, obviously, the presidentpresident o president's attorney's two associates being subject to surprise arrest at dulles in washington is a president big development, but the syria saga is a pretty serious development because it tends to shake people who are stalwart defenders of the president. i look at senator lindsey graham, who in the eyes of many people has been a surprisingly loyal defender of the president, given how hostile he was to the president back during the 2016 campaign. to then have the president turn around, sort of turn tail on the kurds, make this decision about syria that hangs longtime u.s. allies there out to dry, and also offends so many of the
president's closest ideological allies and personal allies, it's really a bizarre development, and i think that it has to be the kind of thing that shakes the confidence of some of the president's defenders and makes them wonder, do i really want to go in a fox hole with this guy on the impeachment debate? >> yeah. so, katie, listening to the description there of lindsey graham and how he may be feeling, you've got some republicans who were quick to criticize the president's pullout decision. they were citing national security concerns. and yet, the party has been essentially mum on his dealings with ukraine. so, how do you explain that? are there any national security concerns for the latter? >> i mean, the national security concerns with the ukraine saga i think that you hear sort of privately from republicans is this concern that the president is essentially trying to trade -- is potentially trying to trade favors with a foreign government that would give them some kind of leverage over him.
but it's a different situation, i think, than what we're seeing unfold in syria with the kurds, where not only is there a great concern that the united states military is going to have a very hard time in the future convincing partner allies to convincing militias like the syrian democratic forces to partner with the united states in future counter-isis missions, but there's also a real sense of, i think, sadness and betrayal within the u.s. military itself. it's been a real, i'd say kick in the gut, i think, to a lot of folks in the pentagon and the state department that have worked on the syria issue, have in some cases worked elbow to elbow with the kurds fighting isis in syria, and the morale, i think, issue, is really a significant one. i've asked numerous pentagon and state department sources over the past week, can you justify
this decision for me in such a way? can you make a case to me that this was not abandoning the kurds, that this was not essentially screwing the kurds, and none of them were able to make that case to me, despite the fact that you've now seen the secretary of defense and the chairman of joint chiefs of staff get up and say unequivocally, we are not abandoning the kurds. >> yeah. it is quite extraordinary, to say the least. so, josh, you've got colleagues there at politico reporting that the president's allies have been privately imploring trump to sideline giuliani. that was even before the arrest of the associates. do you think the president will keep him as his attorney for long? i know you can't get inside trump's head, but that said, are there signs that indicate the direction? >> i think that he'll probably keep him on board nominally, but we'll hear less and less from giuliani. i mean, one thing is if giuliani himself is under criminal investigation, almost any competent attorney advising him would say that he needs to stop talking, that you almost never
assist yourself when you're the focus of an investigation by talking publicly. and it becomes a lot harder if you're talking to reporters all the time when congress, for example, wants to question you or investigators want to question you to say, oh, now i'm going to take the fifth amendment or something. so, i think what they're trying to do is find sort of a soft landing for giuliani so that he can sort of save face and maybe recede into the woodwork a little bit. they don't want to have their president cut him off completely because that leads to the sense that, oh, you know, maybe giuliani's going to turn on the president and give up some sort of information that could be really damaging to him. so, i think they'd just like to turn this down to simmer, if the white house can figure out a way to do that. >> do you, katie, see risks to keeping giuliani as his attorney for trump? >> i mean, i think as -- you know, the concern for letting him go is going to be not just, as josh says, the concern that he might turn on trump, but also, you know, this is not a white house that likes to admit any wrongdoing. you know, the trump tactic is
just keep punching back, never say you're wrong, never apologize. letting go of giuliani could sort of give the impression that, well, actually, you know, what trump did in the phone call with the president of ukraine and related to obviously the security assistance there was actually wrong. and so far, the president has really continued to stick to this line of, you know, it was a perfect phone call, everything was completely appropriate. does letting go of giuliani undercut that argument? >> katie bo williams, josh gerstein, thank you for that part of the consideration. let's move to our diplomacy experts, p.j. crowley, former secretary of state under hillary clinton and michael mcfall, and national affairs analyst and contributor. welcome, gentlemen. ambassador, you first here. i'm thinking you might personally know many of these senior diplomats getting called to testify. i'm curious what you might be hearing in those circles. >> yes, i know them all, except for ambassador sondland.
i've known many of them for decades. ambassador yovanovitch i've known for a long time. fiona hill has been a colleague of mine going back to the early '90s. ambassador taylor, i know them all, and i agree with the analysis earlier. first of all, before we jump to the future, i do think that the statement that ambassador yovanovitch made yesterday -- we don't know what she testified in the eight or nine hours that she was there -- but it was extraordinary. i urge all your viewers to read it. and i think what you see there is a real patriot, somebody dedicated to the united states of america, who took an oath to this country and not to any individuals, and underscoring how dangerous it is to privatize diplomacy, as we saw with mr. giuliani, you know, and these deputies, two now who have been arrested who have been mucking around in ukraine. and second, with respect to fiona hill, again, somebody i've known for a long time. remember, she was in charge not just of russia, but all of
europe, including ukraine during her time at the white house. she knows a lot. and if she wants to talk about it, i think it will be very damaging to the president. >> hmm. so, p.j., here is how mike pompeo responded to questions about rudy giuliani. this is from nbc's national affiliate. take a look and a listen. >> reporter: in mid-february, you were in warsaw, and so was rudy giuliani. during your time there, did you meet with giuliani? >> you know, i don't talk about who i meet with. i went to warsaw for a particular purpose. >> so you're not going to say if you met with him? have when i was in warsaw, i had a singular focus. it was singularly on the work we have done. >> it sounds like you're not going to say. >> when i was in warsaw, we were working diligently to accomplish the mission. >> i asked you to listen and to watch, because it was very interesting to watch. he was so stone-faced on that. what do you think he accomplishes, p.j., by not
answering this question? because he's already admitted to listening in on the trump/zelensky phone call. so, what do you think proves more troublesome? >> well, i'm not presuming that both secretary pompeo and rudy giuliani being in warsaw comes under the ukraine umbrella. giuliani's had a long history regarding the iran issue. the purpose of the press secretaries meeting there was to promote their maximum pressure campaign against iran. i don't think that campaign is going to work, you know, but i can presume that -- i don't presume that he's hiding something about ukraine. i thought in one of the other interviews he did in tennessee yesterday, you know, where he gave kind of a see no evil, hear no evil response to the presidential phone call with the president of ukraine, you know, that certainly contrasts with both marie yovanovitch's testimony yesterday where she said, you know, clearly, this is only going to benefit corrupt elements in ukraine and russia.
and also, bill taylor's comments that we've seen on the text that was released days ago, where he said it's absolutely crazy for us to suspend military aid to ukraine in pigation. so you know, i think the secretary has jumped into the pool with the president, and i think, you know, many of the colleagues that mike and i served with at the state department, you know, will begin to now question whether pompeo's really trying to pursue the national interests or he's just interested in protecting the president. >> so, ambassador, zelensky said again on thursday, then the president tweeted about it, that there was no bribe in their phone call. why is he reiterating this? what's at stake for zelensky? or as p.j. was just saying, is it about the military aid? >> well, he used a very strong word like bribe because there wasn't a bribe. there was a quid pro quo. there was pressure. and remember, president zelensky depends entirely on the united states of america to continue to deter russia.
he can't afford to alienate president trump or anybody else. and i think that's very important for americans to understand how difficult a position he is. but the facts here are just crystal clear. i want to keep people focused on the transcripts, partial or not, and on the text. it's all right there. there was a quid pro quo. you find dirt on the bidens, and you help me uncover what, you know, what the ukrainians might have done to interfere in 2016 -- allegedly -- and i, in turn, will give you military assistance and an oval office visit. it's just clear as day. >> i've got to say, rick tyler coined a great phrase on my show last weekend -- arms for dirt. and he repeated it a few times, as did everybody else on that panel, and it sort of very sunktly put that together. peter, another question to you. the president believes he's got autonomy over foreign policy. his surrogates are insisting he
did nothing wrong, so what is the big picture that should concern americans from a state department perspective? >> i think a concern, you know, you put the president's conduct regarding foreign policy in this greater question about his ability to continue to serve as president of the united states effectively. you know, certainly, go back to last december when president erdogan was talking to president trump, and he said, hey, syria, it's all yours! and while we might dismiss some of these wild comments that the president makes, you know, world leaders listen intently to what he says. and so, here we are months later, where the president erdogan calls up trump and said, hey, i'm going in to syria, and the president's response is, well, i'm going to step aside and you can do what you're going to do. you know, again, pompeo yesterday in tennessee said, hey, this is all part of a grand plan to right-size the posture of america in the middle east. i think most serious people
believe that at a minimum what we've done here is put the kurds out on a peninsula by themselves, and we've called into question america's reliability as an ally around the world. >> yeah. all right, great reporting and discussions from our analysts. i thank josh lederman, katie bo williams, josh gerstein as well as p.j. crowley. thank you for joining us. constitutional crisis. is america in one right now? and how would anyone know if it was? what are the signs? we've got the details next. at are the signs we've got the details next veryt♪ ♪ strength of a lioness ♪ tough as a knot ♪ rocking the stage ♪ and we never gonna stop ♪ all strength, no sweat. ♪ just in case you forgot ♪ all strength. ♪ no sweat secret. all strength. no sweat. the o...is 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.
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back to breaking news out of new orleans. a partial hotel collapse has already killed one person. we have three others missing. reporter travers mackel from wdsu tv, reported just minutes ago from the scene. take a listen. >> reporter: you can really see the damage. we're on the sixth floor of the condos at 1201 canal and you can see the building. this is the hard rock hotel construction site, and you can really see how much it collapsed right here, from the top floors all the way down to about the sixth floor. you can see it looked like -- it looks like it completely fell. at least a wing of the construction site. and you can see all of that concrete that's just piled up on top of what would be the parking garage, i take it, probably the first five floors. so, you can see all of these concrete slabs right there just sitting on what i guess is the base of the building, probably from the sixth floor up. we haven't seen anything from this angle yet because we haven't been able to get up this
high, but this is a first look at this right now. and you can just see why it's so unsecure, because some of these concrete pilings that you're looking at could easily slide off of the building right there and easily slide onto rampart street. this is probably why this is going to be such a construction hazard for so long and why you can expect roadways to be closed for so long. if we pan the camera a little bit left, you can see, this is that yellow crane that the governor and chief mcconnell were talking about that's unsecure. you can really see it leaning right here compared to the other one. it is unsecure, they tell us. basically, it's our understanding, what's holding it up is the pile of rubble underneath it. so, it's a gigantic crane that if it fell, it looks like -- and i'm not an engineer, but it looks like it would hit the sangor theater. it's that big. and if you look at the back side of the building over here, you can see these slabs of concrete right here. the governor said we have debris falling onto the street, and you can understand why when you see it from this vantage point. you can just see piles of
concrete. that's not secure. so, if you get bad weather, or if it just starts to slip and slide, you could have major debris falling on to rampart. and this is why they say it's such a security hazard here because of what you're looking at here. like i said, we're on the sixth floor of 1201 canal, which is directly across the street. and you can just see the damage. eyewitnesses here at this building told us they heard a loud crash come down, and they didn't know what it was, but when they came outside, this is what they saw. so, one last look right here before we go. you can see all of the damage right here at the hotel building right across the street or on the hotel building right across the street. that's the hard rock hotel. so, as we continue to take a live look at this, we're six stories up. unfortunately, the bad news came in about 40 minutes ago. one person killed, three people still unaccounted for. 18 people transported to the hospital. so, a lot of contractors and subcontractors. >> i'll tell you, that was reporter travers mackel reporting just a short time ago
from new orleans on that partial hotel collapse. we're going to keep you posted on the latest developments throughout this day. let's go back to the latest on the impeachment inquiry and white house counsel's new efforts to stonewall congress, raising concerns of a constitutional crisis in a "new york times" op ed. one harvard law professor says "we no longer have just a crisis of the presidency, we also have a breakdown in the fundamental structure of government under the constitution." joining me now, richard pildis, a professor of constitutional law at nyu school of law. welcome to you, as we say hello to you, sam nunberg. we'll speak with you after richard. so we'll go to another part of the studio for this. richard, do you agree with that statement? are we experiencing a constitutional crisis? >> here's what i'd say -- we have a constitutional confrontation of the highest magnitude between the u.s. house and the president with the white house taking an extraordinarily extreme position about the scope of its powers, but i would not call that a constitutional crisis yet, because we have a
well-established mechanism for resolving these kinds of conflicts, which is the federal courts and the rule of law. and ultimately, the courts are going to decide which subpoenas by congress are valid, which witnesses have to testify, which documents have to be produced. and as long as the white house complies with the orders of the courts, as president nixon did during watergate, then i would not call that a constitutional crisis. if the white house refuses to comply with the order of courts, then at that point, the rule of law is threatened. we do have a constitutional crisis if we get to that point, but we are not at that point yet. this is going to get resolved in the courts. and as long as the white house complies with court orders, that is the mechanism for resolving these conflicts, even at this high level of confrontation. >> as long as the white house complies, but the white house counsel has written a letter to the house saying the president's not going to be cooperating with the impeachment inquiry because
congress, quote, violates fundamental fairness and constitutionally mandated due process. based on that merit, that statement there, does that position have any constitutional standing? >> well, i think the white house could debate specific issues about evidence and the like, but the broad position taken in that letter, in my view, is legally unsupportable. it's really a position that congress has no right to engage in an impeachment inquiry at all here, and that's not for the white house to judge. that's for the house to judge in the first instance. but again, the courts are going to test the positions that the white house counsel has taken. and once the courts at a high level resolve these issues, the white house has to comply or the rule of law is truly threatened in the united states. >> and isn't it the constitution, richard, that says that the prospect of impeachment comes from within congress? it is congress' duty to pursue that. it is not something the executive branch deals with?
>> well, the supreme court has also addressed the impeachment power under the constitution, and the court has said congress has the sole power, as the text says in the constitution, to try impeachments and to engage in impeachment investigation in the house. and the house and the senate have the power to set their rules and their procedures. now, there are things they should do to ensure a fair process, to be sure, but there is no constitutional rules about exactly what process is to be used, and the courts have said we stay out of resolving how congress organizes itself in the context of the impeachment process and a potential trial. >> okay, but you mentioned the supreme court. do you think this does find its way potentially to the desk of the supreme court? and if so, how do you see it playing out? >> well, it certainly is going to go to the courts of appeals at a minimum after the trial courts. whether the supreme court decides to actually get involved or just uphold what the courts of appeals do, we will end up seeing. and you can't answer in the
abstract how is the supreme court going to resolve these issues. it's going to depend on issue by issue by issue. but the court will certainly be drawn into this, whether they just leave the lower court decisions intact or decide they have to actually hear things on the merits, we have to see how that plays out. >> okay. as this develops, richard, i'll look forward to having you back on the broadcast. richard, thank you. well, president trump defending himself during his rallies this week as public opinion on impeachment continues shifting against him. >> so, they're pursuing the insane impeachment, which -- my phone call as an example, with the president of ukraine, was perfect. everybody that looked at it. and the only reason i released it was that the democrats put out a phony narrative. and what do they want to do? let's impeach our president, right? i don't think so. >> a new fox news poll now shows more than half of american voters want the president impeached and removed from office.
joining me now, former trump campaign adviser sam nunberg. sam, with a welcome to you, what do you make of these numbers? and this is from fox-friendly, trump-friendly poll numbers. what do you make of them? >> first of all, it's a bipartisan polling firm they use. and when you look deeper into the numbers, they weren't good for the president. you certainly had an uptick of independents wanting the president removed from office -- impeached and removed, probably around 15% prior to other polling. but you had around 11% of republicans. and normally, i would say to myself, well, it's probably all women. it wasn't. it was around 10% men and 17% of women polled that were self-described republicans. deeper into the poll, though, what was distressing for me was they asked the question, do you think the president is -- essentially, they phrased it, do you think the president is out for himself, to serve himself, or to serve the country? and he lost that by a discrepancy of 51-42. consistently in the fox news polls, what we've seen is donald
trump against a generic democrat nationally is losing, 40%-50%, so you could say it's similar there. but i will tell you, one important point as we talk about as we are going to head into an impeachment and get into a senate trial, is the president's most important number, alex, from my point of view, is his approval rating in kentucky. he's around 25% to 30% more popular than mitch mcconnell, who is up for re-election. i worked for the president, then mr. trump, in 2014 when mcconnell was up for re-election then. it was very contentious. he had visited mr. trump's office then multiple times. mr. trump gave him a lot of money. he asked for our support on social media, and it is no surprise that the president as you head into a very important governor's race in kentucky, is heading there next week along with vice president pence. and really, that's the number to watch because mcconnell controls the pursestrings and can tell people like cory gardner, susan collins, no, no, you're voting with us on this.
>> interesting. look, you've seen crisis moments before with this president. you've known him as a private citizen and through as well, and candidate, of course. on a scale of one to ten, with ten being the worst kind of a meltdown, where do you think he is right now? >> where do i think he is, him personally? >> where do you think he is? exactly. >> well, for what he has to do, for what he has to do -- and i'm going to get attacked for my response to you -- i think he's doing well. why? because he's controlling republican support, and he is getting an uptick in donations -- >> you're not going to get attacked for that, by the way. a lot of people have said this president is punching back hard and he does that very well. >> but he needs to keep the republican party in line. besides mitt romney, i don't see anybody else that's going to vote for indictment in the senate. and it seems to me that you're also going to see him increasingly doing these rallies. but -- >> but hang on -- >> but, right? but -- and here's the but -- >> yeah. >> is he doing better with independents, that 20% we talked about on the fox news poll?
i don't think so. >> but look, you mentioned the rallies. you see him. you see his fury. you see his foul language. what does that indicate to you, again on that scale? i want a number from you on where you think he stands, like, how he's feeling about this on a scale of one to ten. i mean, aren't you seeing an uptick of aggression, anxiety, and frustration? >> what i've heard -- yeah, what i've heard from friends of mine on the hill -- i won't say if they're in the white house or not or if they're in the senate -- was he was extremely frustrated when republicans opposed him on his bone-headed move to remove support and defense for our friends, the kurds. i know that the evangelical community is going to talk to him, too. he shouldn't be in the business -- especially when he depends on evangelical support -- to allow a minority christian group get swallowed up by an islamic dictator in turkey. he doesn't like to be criticized there. am i surprised about the cursing? no. i'm just glad that he hasn't done in the rose garden. if you're telling me how angry and upset he is from one to ten,
i'd say a 15. if you're telling me how is he handling this from one to ten, ten being the best-case scenario, i'd say a 6 1/2 to 7, which could only be expected, but rudy giuliani's going to be a problem for him. >> hmm. i would love to ask you about that. why do you think rudy giuliani's going to be a problem for him? and how do you think he's going to react with him? >> well, he's going -- well, first of all, rudy was very, very smart when he went to work for the president, because he's working for free. so, the president will not fire him. the president fired john dowd, who he's paying a lot of money to. the president right now has rudy giuliani and jay sec la, jay is probably working pro bono as well.-case scenario is that rudy can say i was doing what i was doing with ukraine, on behalf of the president. now, he has to say that, because for rudy's own legal exposure, it can't be a fara violation. but with that said, you're going
to see people that are not trump loyalists in the white house, are going to continue to testify, people that are part of -- career people in the state department and the nsc. so, i think that's the issue. and the issue isn't whether or not rudy is -- he's not going to be fired. the president likes him a lot-keep him. he's very loyal, but whether the president -- >> likes his style, he's combati combative. >> whether the president will put him on mute is really the issue. >> but does rudy stay on mute? that's rhetorical. who knows the answer to that one. did you see that opinion piece in the "washington post" by nancy gibb, where she makes a suggestion and lays out a pretty good case for the president really not wanting to be president anymore? his behavior and how things have gone for him. look at the headline. it's clear, trump doesn't want to be president anymore. do you think there's any either truth to that or evidence to support that? >> no. i think that the president is
someone who wants to make sure that he is re-elected for his own legacy. i also think that he is probably the only person within his circle of advisers that doesn't -- that still thinks there's a possibility he won't be impeached out of the house because he doesn't want to go down in the history books as being impeached -- >> do you think he's going to be impeached? >> yeah. i think that the house of representatives are going to pass articles of impeachment. they could handle it better than they are now, as your previous guests forget to mention, there have been process that have not been passed that they did during the nixon impeachment and they did during the clinton impeachment, where they haven't actually had a house floor vote. and i think that that's where pelosi is trying to protect those 31 democrats that are holding in trump districts. >> okay. sam nunberg, always good talking with you, my friend. >> thank you. >> thank you much. chaos at the syrian border where turkey's military forces are pummeling kurdish territory. up next, how u.s. troops narrowly escaped getting caught in that cross fire and why they are not out of danger yet. t cro are not out of danger yet. horsepower... ...is more horsepower. (engines rev)
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>> turkey pounding kurdish territory near the syrian border. nbc's richard engel was in one kurdish town when it came under attack. >> reporter: here at the front lines, it is mostly deserted. the kurds are trying to stay off these exposed roads. behind you, behind you, behind you. multiple artillery rounds from the direction of turkey exploded
a few hundred yards behind us. we left and saw this car was hit, killing a man inside. >> last night, a group of u.s. soldiers came under artillery fire near cobain, forced to leave the area after that attack. and new video of u.s. troops in syria shows this convoy heading right towards the iraq border. we go live now to erbil, the capital of kurdistan. bill neely is there, nbc's chief global correspondent, on a dark and windy night. bill, you've got u.s. troops that are not actively involved in this conflict, but that does not appear that they are out of danger. >> reporter: no, alex, you're absolutely right. and yes, you do join us in the middle of a storm, but the real storm is on the battlefield. and as you say, u.s. troops are not out of it, and it brought a warning today from the u.s. defense secretary, mark esper, to turkey to de-escalate this invasion before, as he put it, the situation becomes irreparable. now, it's not clear who exactly
fired towards those u.s. troops, alex. a lot of the troops on the ground are actually syrian rebels under turkish demand, but the turks have most of the artillery, and that it does look like it was an artillery or a mortar strike. so, yes, president trump withdrew special forces from the actual borderline, but there are still u.s. troops in that area, and of course, about 1,000 u.s. troops in syria overall. meanwhile, today, more fierce fighting on day four. it's now street to street. in one town, the death toll clearly rising, although the figures are contested. the turkish defense ministry said they have killed more than 400 kurdish fighters. the kurdish red crescent saying at least 60 civilians have been counted as dead, and the turks are pushing on, in spite of an international backlash. the u.s. warning that its relations with turkey are in
grave danger. germany has stopped arms sales to turkey. the arab league has condemned it for its invasion of arab lands, but turkey pushes on. president erdogan defiant, saying, we will not listen to what anybody says and we will not give way to threats. but alex, those threats are increasing. treasury secretary steve mnuchin saying that we can shut down turkey's economy if we want to, but turkey still defiant, alex. >> yeah. the president backing that up by saying sanctions would be pretty horrific for them if he decides to go that route. bill neely, thank you so much there from erbil. appreciate it. boiling point. president trump using his -- rather upping his use of profanity on the campaign trail and his attacks against democrats. so, is he getting desperate? ♪ (dramatic orchestra) performance comes in lots of flavors. there's the amped-up, over-tuned,
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you'll be more ready to kiss cigarettes goodbye. when you try to quit smoking, with or without chantix, you may have nicotine withdrawal symptoms. stop chantix and get help right away if you have changes in behavior or thinking, aggression, hostility, depressed mood, suicidal thoughts or actions, seizures, new or worse heart or blood vessel problems, sleepwalking, or life-threatening allergic and skin reactions. decrease alcohol use. use caution driving or operating machinery. tell your doctor if you've had mental health problems. the most common side effect is nausea. talk to your doctor about chantix. now to a striking shift from president trump under growing pressure from the impeachment probe the president using profane language to lash out not just in private or on twitter now at official campaign rallies. that dark turn on full display in louisiana last night. bring in peter eberson worked in three democratic administrations apartment co-host of the dock
kras-ish podcast and amy holmes speechwriter for bill frist. welcome all three of you. peter what does this escalation in the president's foul language rhetoric say about his mentality? it's not just the expletives. it's also anger we see which appears to be on full display reaching a bullying point now. >> i learned years ago that anger, mine included is created by fear. trump is profoundly afraid as he's always been of public humiliation, public embarrassment, public failure. trump is terrified now, and terrified trump is not only doing stupid things he's becoming increasingly dangerous. not just to this country but as we see the kurds, our allies. >> danielle, your take op this shift? is it at all strategic? a sign of desperation or to peter's point fear or something else? >> i think the president is mentally unfit.
right? we've known that for quite some time and i am always surprised by the fact democrats don't guy after challenging his mental fitness. the president has shown overish the past three years he does nots have the temperament or the personality to lead. right now this shift to profanity he is unleashing, yeah, he may get a little cheers from the sycophants at his rallies but it's turning off majority of americans especially white women what he needs to get re-elected again. it shows a level of his unhinged behavior ratcheting up. >> danielle brings up a good point. how are the president's supporters seeing this shift? will some take issue with this kind of language? i have to think it doesn't go over well with you? >> as a former speechwriter, i can't say i would be putting this -- >> can i ask something? i was watching the president. it appeared to me he was reading off a teleprompter.
>> he was. then in one of his rallies championly went off prompter and he said, you know, don't you love it when i go off-script? isn't it great? >> was this bad language, do you really think somebody would write a speech or that he would insert that bad word there? >> no. i don't think it would be put in the prepared remarks, but give me a break. clutch the pearls, hide the children. breaking news. donald trump is, you know, he lacks restraint and decorum. listen in 2016 voters knew they were not voting for a sunday school teacher. trash talk is part of trump's stock and trade, it's part of the show and his audience loves it. it works them up. not just little cheers, huge cheers. in the hierarchy of profanity the word he used is low on the list and doesn't compare to the f bombs beto o'rourke has launched. donald trump would get in a lot
more trouble if using that other word. >> one of the president's attacks against democrats this week. this question goes to you peter. take a close watch here. >> the do-nothing democratic extremists have gone so far left that they believe it should not be a crime to cross our border illegally and it should be a crime to have a totally appropriate casual, beautiful, accurate phone call with a foreign leader. democrats are on a crusade to destroy our democracy. that's what's happening. >> to combat these kinds of attacks. i don't know if you heard the question. asked if democrats are doing enough to combat all these kind of attacks from the president? >> it's very challenging, because not only does donald trump have the traditional bully pulpit he literally has the entire social media world he's blanketed and the republican party has done an extraordinary
job. democrats i think are failing in some ways to respond more aggressively with more frequency and consistency, which could make the difference between success and failure. >> what about joe biden, danielle? calling for the president's impeachment this week for the first time. what do you make of his efforts to counterpunch and reclaim the narrative? >> i don't think joe biden is doing a good job to counterpunch, to be honest. calling for impeachment seens self-serving. donald trump was impeachable months when he and his son were at the center of a scandal. it's not a profile in courage from joe biden to come out now and call for impeachment but i think first of all we really need to be having a conversation consistently about this president's mental health. it is not just about decorum or just about slinging a few bad words. it is about the fact that he has his finger on a number of buttons, and he's pushing us further and further into war,
and it's all crumbling down around him and i'm worried about how far we will go before we start to really ask hard questions about his fitness. >> yeah. all right. unfortunately pushing top of the hour and get on time to kendis coming up next. appreciate all that. see you soon. the very latest on the deadly partial hotel collapse in new orleans. the search for survivors in that rubble. dramatic pictures there. that's coming your way, next. a california phones offers free specialized phones... like cordless phones,
the hour which means i'm out of time. i'm alex witt. see you tomorrow. 7:00 a.m. eastern, early day but up next kendis gibson is taking things away. often run to you. >> if it's a saturday it is a busy one. hi, everyone. i'll kendis gibson on what is a whirlwind weekend of news. a bombshell report says rudy giuliani is under federal investigation. another trump administration cabinet member steps down and a win in the democrat subpoena battle for president trump's tax returns. plus, breaking in new orleans right now. a hotel under construction collapses. tourists among those running for safety. at least one person it dead. now the search is on for the missing. and history in the deep south. montgomery, alabama, once a home to the confederacy electing its first black mayor p aisle ask personally about the significance of this moment. as mentioned, a lot to get to