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tv   The Last Word With Lawrence O Donnell  MSNBC  October 12, 2019 7:00pm-8:00pm PDT

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didn't i tell you the news would keep breaking this weekend. we just got a new report from "the new york times." we looked at in it one way, this is our fourth report, i think, that the president's attorney, giuliani jue is under some kind of criminal investigation for his work in ukraine. cnn was first to report that. abc and bloomberg had similar reports. all of those have tied reported investigation into giuliani to the arrest and indictments yesterday of these two people he's been working on. been working with. they were arresting on campaign finance related charges. the "times" adds a new wrinkle. the headline is giuliani is said to be under investigation for ukraine work. then the description is specific. prosecutors are investigating whether the president's lawyer broke laws meant to prevent covert foreign influence on the government.
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that would imply that rudolph giuliani is under investigation. not necessarily or in addition to campaign finance related charges but also for lobbying laws and potentially foreign agent laws when it comes to this work he's been doing in ukraine. the news is still pouring in this late on a friday night. i'm telling you this weekend will be like the last couple weekends. no rest for the wicked. that does it tonight. see you again soon. now it's time for "the last word." ari melber is in tonight. >> one question before you go. also, loverly to see you in my home town of seattle. i hope serve treating you great. you look at this. one line that jumps out. mr. giuliani finds himself under scrutiny from the same u.s. attorney's office he led in the 1980s where he rose to prominence as a tough on crime prosecutor. as you point out, it appears there is more than one statute that he's up against. given that great knowledge, is that something he probably completely disregarded? or hurts him because he ought to
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know better? >> well, i think people who have followed rudolph giuliani's career have seen it as sort of bifurcate or trifurcated thing. you could sort of define him one way and see his actions, if he didn't agree with them. or at least they're rationally connected. then he became a political figure and now he's a new thing. there doesn't seem to be. of a connection between his behavior now and his life starting as a prosecutor. i don't know. this is a very dramatic turn in his biography. it almost seems like the obvious next step in this impeachment inquiry. the guys he was working with have been arrested now on conspiracy charges. and if he has been admitting publicly that he's been doing work in ukraine, he's walked and talked himself into this. it will be remarkable to see the form u.s. attorney get indicted. it does feel like that's where
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we're going. >> it's extraordinary. you mentioned michael schmidt breaking his story. i'm lucky to have our guests coming up in this hour. i know you've had a very long and busy weekend. everyone should check out the book and have a great time in seattle. >> thanks a lot. i appreciate it. >> have a great weekend. it is friday night. there's this breaking news out of the white house which is topping what has been a busy day of surprises in the impeachment inquiry. what we'll report on with this "new york times" story crossing the wire here late friday night. we have all of that. this whole day really began the with a live drama of whether the former ambassador to ukraine would testify before these house committees today. marie yovanovitch did show up flanked by her attorney and we'll review what she said including why the trump administration tried and failed to silence her. this week also ended today late this afternoon on fox news the
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surprise announcement from shepard smith that after 23 days years today, he has been asked to leave. it comes after a public feud with tucker carlson and with donald trump attacking the same network over some of their coverage. then trump was shouting out certain anchors by name. not snith, since the whole thing broke. gabe sherman, a deeply sourced journalist looking at fox news is here with his reporting on that including the questions about the timing the attorney general barr meeting the head of the entire fox new parent on wednesday. so we have a lot to get to. when we talk about big stories this week. we begin with this story. another diplomat breaking their silence. the ambassador in the growing ukraine scandal detailing today an unflinching indictment of president trump and a
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devastating important trail of what she describe as donald trump's very provable diplomatic and national security failings. this being detailed from someone inside the administration. first has not knowledge of marie yovanovitch is the former ambassador to ukraine and we saw her there today walking in to give a deposition in what turned out to be a very detailed over nine-hour session. a deposition the trump administration tried and failed to block. simply put, this is how denny described what he heard from her right after walking out of that deposition today. >> i just sat through eight hours that went like a new york second. it was that amazing. that powerful. that impactful. and just so very fortunate to have been there. >> fortunate to bear witness to that. we don't have all eight hours but we have her opening statement which said she was incredulous the u.s. government, with clearly questionable motives. that's a reference to the man as
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of ten minutes ago is under investigation by the new york feds. rudolph giuliani and his allies trying to make money profiting off u.s. foreign policy. back to the ambassador. she says in this written statement, individuals named as contacts of rudolph giuliani may have well believed their personal financial ambitions were stymied by our anti-ukraine policy. she said she was forced to leave kiev on the very next plane. when she got the orders. she said she had done nothing wrong but the president had simply lost confidence in her. he added that there had been a concerted campaign against me and the department had been under pressure from the president to remove me since the summer of 2018. yovanovitch was name checked by the president in the phone call with the president of ukraine, the heart of the impeachment matter.
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the president said then that it was quote, bad news and the people she was dealing with in ukraine were also bad news. i wanted to let you know that. think about this very simply. trump was expressing that view in what he thought in that moment was a private, secret call that would remain secret. like most of those high level foreign calls. he couldn't have known that it would soon leak or that it would tip off the impeachment probe to a new height, or that she would know what he said and strike back today, speaking to this congress and these investigators, considering the impeachment of donald trump. that is what that. she said, quote, our efforts were intended and evidently succeeded in thwarting corrupt interests in ukraine who fought back by selling baseless conspiracy theories to anyone who would listen. sadly, someone was listening and our nation is the worse off for that. i'm going to pause to tell you. when public servants speak like that in a public forum, they are
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taking a risk. they're writing off their most reason boss and recommendation and everything else from the trump administration. but like other whistleblowers and other officials, there is clearly something to tell us tonight. late this afternoon, we also learned that miss yovanovitch had to be scene thattaed to even get that stark assessment out to the public. she's balancing between the orders she got from the government and another part of the government. the house chair is here said the state department at the direction of the trump white house direct her not to appear and thus they issued a subpoena to compel her testimony this morning. next week these committees have a string of high profile officials scheduled to give depositions. that includes the trump russia adviser. fiona hill. she said she plans to tell congress giuliani and the u.s. ambassador sonland plan to pursue a shadow policy on ukraine.
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a familiar source tells nbc. finally, mr. sondland, the one who spoke to trump after being told by a diplomat that the whole plot was, quote, crazy, and that withholding security assistance from ukraine to go after the bidens was crazy. he also plans to testify next week in defiance of the official trump effort to silence him. that's a lot coming down the pike. and there's more. intelligence committee chair adam schiff writing colleagues tonight. i'll put it up on the screen so you can see the news. he said he will be expecting to announce new testimony from the relevant witnesses in the coming days and prepared to come that he testimony through dual authorized subpoenas as appropriate. >> i want to express my appreciation for not just what a great champion she was of the rule of law in ukraine. but also, the respect she has for the rule of law here at home.
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and her willingness when served with compulsory process to follow law and testify. and i think she is a courageous example for others and i think all the members were extraordinarily impressed with her testimony today. >> let's get right to it on a breaking news friday night, former u.s. ambassador michael mcfaul has known her for 30 years. evelyn who is deputy assistant secretary of defense. both national security analysts for us. and also joining us, a former senior director at the national security council. also the executive director of the institute for constitutional advocacy and protection. ambassador mcfaul, what does it mean to hear so starkly from this former ambassador today? what does it mean to have her point her finger in a measured
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way, but nonetheless, point her finger at giuliani and the associates when we were learning that he is also under criminal scrutiny? >> first, i want to underscore. we said earlier. we've only seen her prepared testimony. we have not heard the nine hours of what she revealed today in that setting. but the prepared text. i just urge all of your viewers to go read it. it is profound. it is shocking. she is saying very bluntly that i was trying to do my job as a u.s. official. i took an oath of office to the united states of america. and other private people and mr. giuliani first and foremost were trying to interfere into the diplomatic work that she was trying to do. it's just very clear. very blunt. very diplomatic. i was really shocked. >> i've found it not so shocking
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because of the phone conversation. there were a lot of whisperers about the fact that ambassador yovanovitch was pushed out because she was standing up against corruption in ukraine. what we didn't know, is this other back story of the fact that there were these rogue americans trying to influence ukrainian policy and working behind her back. or in front of her. but not paying any head to her she's a courageous person. a straight arrow. i worked with her in the administration and afterwards when i was a think tanker and
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consultant travel tooling ukrain when she was ambassador. she's a straight arrow. she's very well respected. the good thing about her is because she's so senior she really has the strengths of the whole foreign service behind her. that bureaucracy has a strong union in terms of how they handle personnel issues. so i think that helps in contrast to for example andrew mccabe and the department of justice where he turned out to have lost when he came forward and tried to confront his organization. >> i want to play what we're hearing from the president who isn't known to have the deepest grasp of every official but has certainly drilled down on ukrain as a matter of interest and was criticizing this very person. take a look. >> why did you recall the ambassador to ukraine? >> i heard very bad things about her and i dont know if it i recalled or somebody recalled her but i heard very bad things about her for a long period of time. not good.
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>> again we know now from the transcript that he was relaying things and from the whistleblower that he was relaying basically gossip he heard from giuliani. and i think the other thing she makes clear from her testimony if you read it is you have to understand what's happening in ukraine. there are all kinds of factions and i know mike mcfaul knows this very well. there are all kinds of factions inside ukraine. they were using giuliani as much as he was trying to use them. understood who the good guys were and bad guys were and the people throwing dirt on joe biden were not good guys. >> what president trump calls bad things most of us would regard as good things. that's what our former ambassador was doing there as her testimony today, at least the part we've been able to read, makes clear. she was trying to do what any u.s. ambassador should do which is push a can country away from corruption. while he's claimed it was his efforts to redact corruption, it was his lawyer rudy giuliani,
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injecting corruption into the system. >> do you see this as donald trump's impeachment stonewall strategy losing out we're talking about those who might want to speak and at times disagree the device or request tonight but they honored it. there's something different happening when we see failings of officials to speak out. >> before the people they were preventing from going to testify in the mueller investigation instance were don mcgahn a guy who really didn't want to come forward and be a whistleblower and didn't want to testify. so he chose to pretend this white house ban was something real and legal and he hasn't come forward, right? and some of the other folks they said they were going to subpoena and they agreed to pretend that the white house could block them. and what the ambassador did
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today was to prove that's all a bunch of hot air. if you want to testify, even if you're still working for the u.s. government, you can. >> when you take this together, the way that actual ukrain issue is shifting, at a certain point if we simplify it. there's a lot of names and details to it. is this a scandal that started out looking like international watergate but now has elements of iran contra? >> those are hard dots for me to connect. i do think it is really important to keep it simple here. >> let me follow up and let you go. the dots being the biden stuff is abusive power for election year. but if there's a broader national security intrigue, it might be both worse and would involve a lot of other people being pressed to do things not
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part national security process and gets complex when they say the buddies wanted something else ukrain didn't want. maybe they just agree. there's a lot of money that splashes around international foreign policy. unpack for us where these lines are. >> so i think at the base giuliani was trying to help one of his clients, the president of the united states, dig up dirt on an electoral opponent and he brought in a couple of other guys who were arrested. the quid pro quo was other financial interests that they had. so you had this mixing of both the electoral private interests of the president and possibly, i want to say, we need to know the facts. possibly the private economic interests of those guys and not in the interests of american people.
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i want to thank each of you. because of the breaking news, we're going to keep going right now. no breaks. we have the "new york times" with a late friday night story. quote, federal prosecutors are investigating whether trump's personal lawyer broke lobbying laws in his dealings with ukrain. that's according to two people familiar with the inquiry. "new york times" says investigators are investigating efforts for the ambassador who we've been discussing. as i was discussing with rachel moments ago we're joined by the "new york times" reporter who broke the story of michael schmidt, washington correspondent. thanks for jumping on the line. what it did you find? >> well, basically the same office that giuliani led and helped make him tries prominence in the '80s is looking at his conduct in connection with
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ukraine. whether he was properly lobbying and had properly registered to do that. and what was behind his efforts to oust the united states ambassador in kiev? was it simply because he was trying to bring out corruption? or was he doing that on behalf of ukraine that wanted her out? what was behind it? >> and the quotes you have from mr. giuliani, these are new responses to your reporting. is that correct? >> correct. >> let me read this for the it viewers and get your analysis. you have this real blockbuster story that rudy giuliani is under investigation by the office he used to run. you reach giuliani and he tells you, you can try on contort it into anything if they have any objectivity or fairness, would be difficult to say i was doing it it on they're behalf when i was doing it for the president of the united states.
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tell us what that means and what kind of defense that is. >> i'm not sure what it means. i think what he's trying to say is he was acting on the president's behalf to try and get information that would help clear the president's name. remember giuliani heads down this ukraine rabbit hole in an effort to clear trump's name. he thinks it has been sullied by the mueller report, by the investigations of michael cohen and this is the only way that he could sort of help trump coming into 2020. is to go to ukraine to find things that would help him and he thought perhaps this ambassador was something that was standing in the way of rooting out that corruption and it ties back in, obviously to the call the president had with ukrainian president in july where he's asking for those type of investigations. giuliani was frustrated with the ambassador was stopping or not doing enough.
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>> you have covered a lot of sensitive criminal congressional investigations in the trump era, which some would note is a target rich environment. i'm interested on what you do know what kind of case this looks like to you. does this look like a complex multi-year case or something where the new york feds have just arrested giuliani's associates and they might move swiftly one way or the other? >> i think what's going on is giuliani has been open about it. he goes on television and talks about it. talks to newspapers about it, tries to put different documents out about it. and if you talk to experts they have looked at this and said this doesn't make sense. the fact that he put all this out there, my guess, has made it easier for investigators as they
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try to understand what he has done. he's been an open book on this and he believes he's done nothing wrong and believes this is the best way to try and help trump coming into 2020. >> if what you're reporting suggests that mr. giuliani's public and incriminating statements and on television have hurt him, then i guess this is a classic situation of like president, like client. two individuals who have certainly drawn attention with public admissions. i know it's a busy night for your busy friday. thank you for jumping on the line, sir. appreciate the reporting. we're going to keep going with context. jonathan alter right here with us. jennifer reuben, opinion writer at "washington post." also a msnbc contributor. we're digging deeper into the story with the "times." which was different than last
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time we had you on but it's that kind of friday night. your reaction to the story? >> it is the ultimate fall from grace. the guy who is it the tough on law prosecutor and tough on criminals sort of mayor is now himself being investigated by the southern district. the irony, if you will, cannot be lost. it is also the case that giuliani is now caught in this web of schemes he has sort of created and both gotten involved in. on one hand he is trying to find evidence for this crack pot theory that trump was really done in by the ukrainians. it was they who was investigating and looking to make trouble in 2016, not the russians, for which there's no support whatsoever. and whatever he thinks is out there about hunter biden. again nothing out there. he also seems to be playing the game going the other direction with these two associates
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arrested. part of what they're being accused of is that they are funneling money back to an american politician. a congressman of texas. somehow on the rebound they're going to get rid of this ambassador. so this is getting to be an extremely complex web but doesn't really make sense to say trump was directing him in all of his dealings. trump only had one part -- one interest in one part of that. precedent is any indication, it's not clear that will hold. the defense requires the president still staying on board with it and there hasn't been that dual loyalty. which will he continue to be a advocate for the president. and the president saying today he's not sure if it rudy is his
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lawyer. i'll note the new schmidt story has jue asserting he is still his lawyer. i did speak earlier this week to someone undoubtedly the president's lawyer. that's jay sekulow. we went back and forth as these interviews do and the time he gave the most ground was around anything giuliani was up to, which was interesting and might be even more interesting tonight. take a look. >> it was out of my jurisdiction. >> when did you learn rudy giuliani was asking foreign governments to investigate joe biden? >> i learned i guess when you did because that was not in my jurisdiction. >> i'm asking when you knew. you don't know when i learned it. >> i didn't know anything until it got public. >> when it spilled into the public reporting? >> yeah. >> jennifer and jonathan? >> these people are rotten in
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answering questions they don't want to answer. you need get rid of the pauses and the blinking eye lashes. i think what they are doing is the proverbial throwing rudy under the bus. pompeo has an interest in separating himself from rudy, the president has an interest for separating himself. sekulow has a motive from separating himself from rudy. bill barr does and if it's all of those people saying i don't know what he was doing out there, then the primary defense which he's throwing out and i'm doing this all for the president seems to go away. and this sounds like he's being kicked to the curb. >> well, rudy is thrown under the bus by donald trump? stop the presses. this is what we expected from donald trump for a long time. i think what's changed is the involvement is jeffrey berman.
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this is a name a lot of people don't know. he is the u.s. attorney for the southern district of new york. hers are the one who had these two side kicks arrested and launched an investigation of rudy giuliani. he was not stopped from doing that by his boss bill barr, which suggests he recognizes he has jeopardy too. if he were to intervene, he would have a problem. so berman now has free reign. what that means is we now have a parallel investigation. for the impeachment investigation. this whole matter is now the subject of a criminal investigation. >> translation, you underscore an important point. a lot of times people define this by is there a special counsel or not? a special counsel has the same powers as a u.s. attorney. you're saying mr. berman is here so in some ways you're saying this is as intense or more so than mueller. >> it is very similar to mueller
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except that he has a permanent staff of crack investigators. this is the most prestigious u.s. attorney's office in the country. and it was icing on the cake for democrats who had a good day because there were a lot of court decisions harmful for president trump. >> we haven't had a break in the hour since i got a toss from rachel. i have to fit one in. i want to thank you both for the expertise. after this quick break there is a new member of the president's cabinet out tonight. and we'll have more on this breaking giuliani story. more when we come back. re when k if these industrial plants had technology that captured carbon like trees we could help lower emissions. carbon capture is important technology - and experts agree. that's why we're working on ways to improve it. so plants...
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more breaking news tonight. president trump announcing on twitter that acting homeland security secretary has resigned. he took over after kristen nielsen was forced out in april. on monday he walked off stage during a speech on immigration after protesters had drowned him out with chants of quote
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immigrants are under attack. last week he also told the "washington post" his concerns for what he called the tone and message for public immigration policy widely seen as an indictment of how the president does those things. given things a breaking story, i'm joined by phone by national security and justicer correspondent for nbc news. thanks for hopping on the line. >> thanks for having me. what a night, ari. >> what happened here? >> so we understand that mccal exenan resigned. he was not forced out. it was widely known the acting head of u.s. citizenship is thought to be auditioning for this job as dhs secretary. he's much more vocal, much more in line with the president and steven miller's thinking.
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does not hold back on brash ideas about immigration. he's been in dhs for a long time and served during the obama administration. he's more of an operational man than a policy/politics man. ken cuccinelli is the antithesis of all of that. so for a long time i think he saw cuccinelli as someone who wanted his job. the name is footed as an immigration czar before he got this current job. and so mcaleenan has been eyeing the exit. they said maybe he could spend more time with his family. he told chuck todd he would look forward to going back to his role at customs and boarder protection. >> let's take a look at that. we're going to play him talking to chuck todd. my home, my agency, my dream job but i'm honored to serve in this
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role as a tremendous capability at dhs and when asked if it he would go permanent, he didn't sound enthused. i guess that goes to the larger point for viewers who might keep track of every name what does it say about policy in the united states right now on the president's state of priority of immigration that the acting secretary never became permanent is out and there will be another acting secretary. is this any way to run the government? >> it says a lot about how extreme president wants his immigration policy to be. it's not that he said no to much. he offered a memo that allowed for the separation of children at the border. the policy of the summer of 2018. mcaleenan oversaw some of the harshest asylum policies to date where they're told they have to claim asylum in a country like el salvador before the united states where they're forced back
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across into mexico to wait for court dates in the u.s. it's not that he was someone softer on immigration and is resigning because of that. it seems he really got upset with the messaging and now that he sees that the numbers are going down, this seems liking a safe time to exit. the question is, where does cuccinelli take this next? it could be more extreme than we've already seen. >> you say extreme and for those keeping track, ken cuccinelli was considered too extreme and too right wing for the republican senate to confirm him which is why he's been moved to an unconfirmed post. we have so much breaking news. so we're going to fit in one more break and we have gabe sherman about shepard smith leaving fox news. we're going to show you the proof it was a surprise. stay with us. stay with us doug, doug!
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welcome back on this breaking news. you were just mentioning something that jumps out to you about the acting secretary leaving by tweet. go ahead. >> first of all, the president is abusing his powers by having all these acting secretaries. the constitution says they only serve with the advice and
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consent of the senate. if he puts ken cuccinelli in now, he's already been turned down for confirmation. he knows the senate isn't approving it. this is unconstitutional. this could end up being since there is a pattern, part of the abuse of power articles of impeachment. but there's another huge development in immigration. the president was trying to take money from the pentagon and use it on an emergency basis to build his wall. he got slapped down by the court, said he cannot do that. what dictators do in banana republics is they declare an emergency. the courts have now pushed back. this is a very, very good day all around for the republic. it's like jimmy breslin who i co-directed a film about recently. he wrote a book called "how the good guys finally won." today we're getting an indication the good guys are going to win eventually. we just got to hang in. >> jennifer, i wonder what you think about all of this that while sometimes trump's news distracts from other trump news
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and it all gets convoluted. here rudy giuliani's problems have otherwise obviously crowded out what jonathan just outlined, which is for one thing court standing up to the wall money grab. >> i think the walls are closing in wherever you look, pardon the reference to walls. not only that decision but the so-called public charge decision saying that they were going to try to make essentially green cards condition on people's ability never to have taken any bribes whatsoever. that also got slapped down. i think what you're seeing on the personnel front anybody with an ounce of credibility, is being forced out or leaving in droves. and what you have is the hackery that is now taken hold whether it's in state, nsa, whether it's
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homeland security and the people who are left are people who really have no loyalty, no expertise other than the ability to suck up to trump. what that means is those people who are professionals who may have gone along with it will be free agents to talk publicly about what they know and that's bad news for trump. >> that's striking. one of the questions is, what happens if you run a government like this? how long can you pressure and bully and retaliate against people? a lot of these people are speaking back in what ambassador mcfaul said earlier was the most patriotic of ways. >> trump calls them the deep state. that might become a positive word. they're patriots and every time one does it encourages the next one to do it. bravery breeds more bravery.
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so you're seeing a situation. i don't think he's going to be able to plug holes in the ship of state. he's going down one way or another. because every day brings another revelation, another person testifying against him. >> thank you so much. really fascinating on this big night. coming up, the surprise announcement on fox news. you're going to see with it your own eyes. coming up, shep smith's 23-year career ended abruptly today here later with what's going on behind the scenes. your car insurance,omizes so you only pay for what you need. nice. but, uh... what's up with your... partner? not again. limu that's your reflection. only pay for what you need. ♪ liberty, liberty, liberty, liberty ♪ hi. maria ramirez! mom! maria!
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sometimes the news that breaks on air is actually about the news. today the top anchor at fox news made a surprising announcement. he's leaving after 23 years. >> this is my last newscast here. we've written a first draft of history and endeavor to deliver it to you speaking truth to power without fear or favor in context and with perspective. i am eternally grateful for the opportunity. even in our currently polarized nation it's my hope that the facts will win the day, that truth will always matter, that journalism and journalists will thrive. >> that surprise left some news
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anchors stunned including neil cavuto who took the hand off from smith and sat in stunned silence for several seconds adding he didn't know what to say. and roberts said this was like getting hit by a subway train. smith often stood out for his fact checking of donald trump. >> it's absolutely crazy. he keeps repeating ridiculous throw-away lines that are not true at all and sort of avoiding this issue of russia as if we're some kind of fools for asking the question. we begin reporting today about president trump's latest xenophobic interruption. he decries fake news that isn't and disseminates fake news that is. china paying tariffs, the wall is going up, russia probe is a witch hunt, noise from wind mills causes cancer. it's endless. and now the sharpy map that hurricanes in alabama. the president and his allies have been suggesting that the whistleblower or their sources got something wrong. he did what he's accused of doing, this time on live
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television. >> trump hasn't liked that and he brushed it away and made an inaccurate attack on smith's ratings which we're not going to repeat. shepard smith is not the only one on the attack. his own colleagues like tucker carlson attacked him on air. the two were feuding. and that was the last straw, according to the "washington post." this report says smith had grown uncomfortable with the tone of the network combined with public insults. the rift inside fox news is about something larger than media. this overlaps conservatism right now. consider the 20% jump in support for impeachment among republicans. a growing volume in the criticism of trump on some national security issues at the very time he faces this existential threat to his presidency. he says impeachment is a different animal.
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he says, this massive thing happened and no one knows how to cover it. trump has pushed back fiercely, a strategy that may use a simple premise, to hold the republican senate, you don't just persuade republican senators. you try to hold on to their constituents, aka, fox's audience. trump's not the only one reaching out either. "new york times" reporting that william barr just met privately with fox corporation murdock at his home in new york just two days ago. what do these moves mean? is fox doubling down on the trump base? is there more to the story? well, that journalist i mentioned joins us after the break to discuss what it all means for fox news and donald trump. saturdays happen.
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recently i asked the company to allow me to leave fox news after requesting that i stay, they obliged. under our agreement, i won't be reporting elsewhere, at least in the near future, but i will be able to see more of geo and lucia and our friends and family. and we'll see what comes along. this is my last newscast here. thank you for watching today and over the decades as i travel to many of your communities and anchored this program, studio b, and fox report plus endless marathon hours of breaking news. it's been an honor and my pleasure. >> fox news anchor shepard smith with his surprise announcement today he is leaving fox news amidst growing tensions over
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how to cover donald trump's impeachment. he was a rare piece of internal dissent for a channel that's been criticized. as the musician put it in a song about fox news, quote, when does the ignorance stop? watch what your watching, fox news feeding us toxins, start thinking outside the box. joining us now the gabe sherman, the leading journalist on so many pieces of intrigue inside fox news jumping on via skype on a friday night. thank you, sir. >> thanks for having me. >> you look at this surprise announcement. what does it mean in the larger tensions within fox, with shep's on air feud with tucker carlson, and the direction of the channel at such a critical time for donald trump's presidency. >> as you can see, i'm in my sweater. i was traveling for the long
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weekend but my phone started blowing up from sources. what i've heard from multiple people inside the network, that was a decision that was in motion several weeks ago. shepard smith had grown increasingly uncomfortable with the blanket pro-trump tenor of the network. the tucker carlson feud of course being the final straw, and he hired a high-profile attorney to negotiate an exit out of his contract. and fox news management decided rather than doing a messy public fight, to let him out of the deal. so, this is clearly a very vivid example of the civil war that has been taking place inside fox news about how they cover trump. the mueller report was one thing, but as i reported in "vanity fair," impeachment is the existential threat. >> and they're covering it different ways. you say it was weeks in the works. it was very clear even to close
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insiders. take a look at this brief clip in the hand off. news viewers know how the hand offs work. here was neil cavuto at the end of the announcement. >> i'm a little stunned and heart broken. i don't know what to say. >> gabe. >> yeah. that is a genuine one of these live tv moments. neil like shepard was at fox since the beginning. clearly he was blind sided byship. he commands a lot of loyalty inside the network. this was something that was handled at the top levels. shep kept his cards close. no one inside the network that i spoke to knew that this was coming. so, when he announced it on air, it was actually a piece of news that is he himself was breaking. so, it was capital j journalism out the door.
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>> and finally you mentioned impeachment. we see the rising support, at least for an impeachment probe, among some republicans. how is this different for fox and does donald trump rejoice with shep out? >> well, you know, as i've reported, fox news is really the firewall. so, if fox news' coverage changes, which we don't see signs that it is. shep's departure clearly is a victory for donald trump. but the degree to which other journalists at fox actually cover what is happening with the ukraine scandal, you know, that will erode donald trump's base. donald trump cannot afford to lose fox news. as you mentioned at the top of the segment, he can maybe lose senators but the key constituency he has to hold is the fox news audience. that's why we saw him jump on this news and celebrate. >> that's why it's such a media story at least in donald trump's television presidency it is the ultimate constituency story. gabe, you're one of several
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intrepid journalists who's jumped in on a friday night for us. good luck and good reporting this weekend. i want to tell you one other thing. a programming note for this weekend, i am hosting a special this sunday night at 9:00 p.m. eastern on trump and ukraine, the impeachment crisis. we have a deep look at where the impeachment probe is headed. i'll be joined by special guests including a federal appeals judge and the u.s. senator who cast a vote on impeachment. we're going to go big and deep. i hope you'll join us 9:00 p.m. eastern on sunday night. and right after, richard engel on assignment, trump and ukraine fact and fiction which looks to be relevant with everything happening in rudy giuliani this weekend. that is tonight's last word. thank you for watching. "the 11th hour with brian williams" is up next. tonight the feds are turning up the heat on rudy giuliani. his two close associates share a mug shot having been arrested just before skipping the country.
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and now the president gets a little vague as to whether rudy is still his attorney. while a high ranking state department official alleges that profit-seeking from the president's friends drove american foreign policy making in the state department. the democrats now plan to, quote, continue and accelerate promising more testimony is coming. we'll also take a good long look at what promises to be another important week ahead. plus another trump cabinet official is out just tonight just like that as the 11th hour gets under way on a friday even

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