tv Deadline White House MSNBC October 22, 2019 1:00pm-2:00pm PDT
>> mikechael denzel smith, than for joining us. thank you for watching. "deadli "deadline: white house" with nicolle wallace begins now. hi, everyone. it's 4:00 in new york and it's one of those days. donald trump's impeachment may have been turbocharged today by the testimony of career diplomat bill taylor. who nbc news is reporting draws a direct line to president trump demanding an investigation in exchange for military aid for ukraine. "washington post" goes so far as to say that taylor said he was told the release of ukraine aid was contingent on public declarations from ukraine, that it would investigate the bidens and the 2016 election. that contradicts president trump's denial that he used the money as leverage for political gain. congresswoman debbie wasserman-schultz telling the "post," "it was just the most damning testimony i've heard."
politico adding color from inside the room during taylor's deposition with this, "william taylor prompted sighs and gasps when he read a lengthy 15-page opening statement" two of the sources said. another person in the room said taylor's statement described how pervasive the efforts were among trump's allies to convince ukrainian officials to launch an investigation targeting former v.p. joe biden and another probe centered on a debunk experience theory. a source witnessing taylor's experiences deal with the trump administration's ukraine policy tells nbc news today, "everybody in ukraine knew it was a quid pro quo. everybody." there's no question trump was holding the money and the white house meeting. and before taylor even stepped foot on capitol hill for today's deposition, his outrage was revealed through documents turned over to congressional investigators by other witnesses
including this now-infamous text exchange with trump appointee gordon sondland. the current ambassador to the eu. taylor writes to him, "are we now saying that security assistance and white house meeting are conditioned on investigations?" sondland replied, "call me." and later taylor lays out his concerns explicitly in another text. "as i said on the phone, i think it's crazy to withhold security assistance for help with the political campaign." taylor's testimony today also prompting many democrats to call for sondland to return to capitol hill. he testified thursday and largely corroborated the testimony by others that rudy giuliani had hijacked foreign policy in ukraine. bill taylor's favorite reporters and friends. on capitol hill, msnbc's garrett haake. former acting solicitor general, neal katyal. ashley parker. frank figliuzzi, former fbi
assistant director of counterintelligence. tim o'brien, executive ed titorf "bloomberg opinion." the "washington post" just got the first copy of that opening statement. i'm going to start with you, ashley parker. bill taylor seems to have delivered a real hammer to any denial, and i'm not sure how many details there are left on the field that there wasn't a quid pro quo. >> yeah, what you see in his 15-page opening statement, and we don't even know what he said yet in response to questions, he just lays it out very clearly. he said it became clear to him that there were two different channels of diplomacy, the normal and official one, and then this sort of shadowy inappropriate one led by rudy giuliani and more importantly, he says that it was also clear that the president was holding up two things, first of all, the aid, nearly $400 million in aid that ukraine desperately needed and a white house meeting between the ukrainian president
and president trump, specifically in exchange for investigations into joe biden's son and the energy company he sat on and also into the 2016 u.s. elections, the sort of conspiracy theory that so far there's no evidence of that it was ukraine that somehow meddled in our elections, not russia, and that the dnc server is there and the president very clearly wanted this, insisted on this, before he would give ukraine any of the aid or assistance or meeting that that country wanted. >> garrett haake, there has been a steady parade of witnesses in the impeachment investigation. not a single one of them has offered up a fact pattern that strays an iota from the whistle-blower complaint. not a single one of them corroborates the random musings that seem to come out in bursts from the president. we've even got the president's chief of staff now confessing to
the quid pro quo. but this testimony so specific and so damning, i just want to read some of this from ambassador bill taylor who testified today that ambassador sondland told his counterpart, mr. yurmak, that the security assistance money would not come until president zelensky committed to pursue the barisma investigation, that, of course, the company on which hunter biden served on on its board. so, bill taylor certainly believed that military aid was tied to delivering and committing to delivering dirt on the bidens. >> reporter: taylor says in the opening statement, the "washington post" obtained i'm re-upping my subscription as soon as i'm done here. >> i got two, i'm getting another one. >> reporter: taylor, we knew this going in, taylor is an old-school russia hawk. he was appointed by george w. bush. he describes in his statement as someone who really believes in ukraine as a central
battleground, if you will, between the west and russia. and he sees it as so vitally important, and he describes himself in that statement as embarrassed when he knows that security assistance for ukraine is being held up. he's starting to discover why that is the case. and he knows that the ukrainians don't yet know yet until it comes out publicly much later on. he describes himself as just embarrassed by this whole thing and he is so fascinating, in far becau part because of that background, in part because as one democratic lawmaker who's been in the room all day told me, he's the first witness who was there from beginning to end and who -- and we are learning once again the importance of this -- took meticulous contemporaneous notes of everything along the way. this is someone who apparently has done this his whole career. took notes about meetings. took notes about phone calls and came prepared to testify today with this incredibly complete timeline from the moment he was approached about the job returning to ukraine to replace
marie yovanovitch right up until essentially today showing up to testify. he has the goods on this, and as you said, nothing in this contradicts the central themes of this. the central elements of the impeachment inquiry. it is all laid out there in black and white, and what i've noticed also, and i'll just put a button on this, is that republicans by in large have stopped trying to make the counterargument here on the merits. all i hear from republican lawmakers are concerns about process. the idea that they say this inquiry is unfair. that adam schiff is running it like we're in communist china. they hammer adam schiff in the process. even when there were talking points comie ining out about so the witnesses, the republic b cans in the house are not bothering to use them. that tells you a lot about what's being done in those rooms down in the basement in the capitol. >> we're going to talk to someone in just a minute who was in one of those rooms. neal, i take from bill taylor's testimony today a real republicans, if you're listening moment.
here's what he testified to today. this is bill taylor. "i have dedicated my life to serving u.s. interests at home and abroad in both military and civilian roles. my background and experience are nonpartisan and i've been honored to serve under every administration, republican and democratic, since 1985. for 50 years i served the country starting as a cadet at west point then as an infantry officer for six years including with the 101st airborne division in vietnam, then at the department of energy, then as a member of a senate staff, then at nato, then with the state department here and abroad in afghanistan, iraq, jerusalem, and ukraine." so, republicans today -- >> yeah -- >> neal, have to decide if that man is lying when he says that aid, military aid, for ukraine, was tied to investigation into the bidens. >> exactly, nicolle. so i think we've heard from other folks in the past, prominent republicans, you know, warning alarms.
what makes this different is two things. number one, i read that testimony, the 15-page statement, it is incredibly detail detailed and intricate. number two, he has specific access, he talks about a conversation which i just put up on my twitter, a conversation that he had with ambassador sondland in which sondland tells him directly, president trump wants the aid conditioned from ukraine on investigating the bidens. and that's in what he said today. so, you know, you can discount all sorts of other things that people say for all sorts of political reasons, he's got access to what actually happened and he has detailed nhis is going to prove to be a very, very devastating day for president trump. >> frank figliuzzi, we spent 23 months trying to deduce what sort of evidence robert mueller had tieing donald trump to the russian conspiracy to impact the 2016 election. it would seem the effort to get ukraine to impact the 2020 election, the evidence is now spilling out in a very, very
public setting. >> nicolle, we've known for a long time that the greatest enemies of this president are the truth, the details, and the facts, and today, we've got plenty of truth, details, and facts, and for those people who might try to say that ambassador taylor's part of some deep state, you don't need to just read his bio, you need to understand that witness after witness are actually people who comprised the state. they are the deep state. they are the state. they're the embodiment of the values and principles of our government. and, in fact, the president was trying to create the deep state. one of the things that jumps out at me is the public nature of what the president was demanding. meaning, what we're seeing in the testimony is that the ukrainians had to come out publicly and say we're going to investigate burisma, we're investigating the bidens. if you're really about
anti-corruption, if that's what you're about, the president doesn't need that public declaration. he needs ukraine to quietly go about their business getting rid of corruption. he was clearly looking for a public bashing of the bidens. >> and just to put a button on that, frank, what taylor testified to was that sondland said president trump wanted president zelensky, quote, in a public box by making a public statement about ordering such investigations. don't take my word for it, though. let's
bring in democratic congressman andy levin who earlier in the day described today's testimony as, quote, very troubling and said this has been his most disturbing day in congress so far. take us through what was so disturbing to you that you heard today. >> hey, nicolle. well, i just want to emphasize how my patriotism sort of swells up when i meet one after another of these career foreign servants who don't -- it's so obvious,
they don't care about democrats, they don't care about republicans, they are out there around the globe defending the national security of the united states, and to have the president, himself, say that he is going to put the muscle on a foreign leader to help him in his domestic political, you know, problems, and then to have his acting chief of staff admit it before he walked it back on national tv, what so was disturbing today
is just the weight of evidence is so overwhelming that it's -- it's a sad day for any patriot to have a president doing this. and anybody who cares about the national security of our country, and you know, nicolle, let me say, i represent warren, michigan, i represent sterling heights, michigan. we have a lot of ukrainian-americans in my district who are patriotic americans who love our country and love their homeland.
and so the security of ukraine, the budding democracy in ukraine, is a really important issue to me, and to see a president just put our vital interests like that at risk for his own political ends is something that we just can't stand for as americans. >> congressman, is it as clear as what we've described that ambassador bill taylor believes that military aid for american ally, ukraine, who is, as you just described, our buffer, our democratic ally there, in russia's neighborhood, that he testified today that military aid for that country was tied to a public commitment to investigate burisma? >> you know, i apologize, nicolle, i heard just now while i was listening that you all evidently have this testimony. i apologize. i'm not going to talk about what he said at all. i really respect this process. what i can tell you is that
the -- it's -- the case is overwhelming and it really ratifies the process we're going through. very soberly having witness after witness come in and build the fact case about what actually transpired and as other people have said, there were, you know, a tremendous number of well-documented facts that came out and so it's just troubling the way this case is building, and what i'd say to the american people is that if they want a picture of it, here's the picture. you've got a very crowded room of democrats and republicans sitting around a table, both sides having all the time they need to ask whatever questions they want. and having a witness who's devoted his life to service of our country in vietnam, in the state department, in so many
countries, and we've had a series of these witnesses and we need to have more come to fill out this picture. the most important thick for us to do is to get all the facts on the table. no person is above the law including donald trump. and we need to establish all the facts to decide with how best to proceed to hold him accountable and that's what's happening. and the reason that it was so troubling to me is just how overwhelming this case is that's being built up brick by brick. >> congressman, my last question is about what you just referenced. this case being built brick by brick. it would appear that the public is traveling brick by brick with you, with public support for the impeachment and removal of donald trump representing a majority of americans. is there any single witness who was offered a single example of the fact pattern not being what we understand it to be and without disclosing what you
heard today, we know from sources familiar with fiona hill's testimony, we know from sources familiar with kurt volk volker's testimony, emails that were re leased after that, that every single witness has offered a brick, to use your word, in the simple story you describe that donald trump conditioned military aid and a white house meeting on the ukrainians committing to delivering dirt on the bidens. >> you know, nicolle, i don't -- i don't really think where public opinion is or following polls is the way to look at t s this. i feel like i took an oath. i mean, i took an oath to uphold the constitution of the united states, and whatever the president says, the emoluments clause is in three parts of the constitution. the constitution is a real document that we have to uphold, and it doesn't allow a president to abuse power. it doesn't allow a president to
go ahead and put national security at risk for his own political ends and so forth. and so what we're trying to do is just learn as we go. have people who really have firsthand knowledge of what happened come in and tell us about it. and one thing i can commit to you is that in the end, all of these -- all of this will become public. that's what -- you know, as appropriate, but we're going to do this in a way that protects the national security of the united states and we're not going to put it at risk by having some dog and pony show. this is serious business. and we're trying to do it as best we can. >> congressman levin, thank you for spending. >> thanks, nicolle. >> for spending time with us and talking to us. >> thanks. good luck. >> thank you. i want to read you more of what we're getting from ambassador bill taylor's testimony. from his statement, he said this. "i and others sat in
astonishment. the ukrainians were fighting the russians and counted on the assurance of u.s. support. in an instant, i realized that one of the key pillars of our support for ukraine was threatened." i mean, so much of donald trump's presidency is what i would call stupid human tricks. he says inane things. >> yeah. >> people have to run around capitol hill to see if republicans still support the inane things and they try to get in elevators. this is life and death. >> as it is in northern syria where trump just -- >> exactly. >> -- willy-nilly abandoned an ally, the kurds. i think the other thing that comes out of this event is, you know, we've come -- we've gotten used to people around donald trump acquiescing or losing their dignity or integrity to further his aims. i think one of the great lessons of bill taylor is there are civil servants in our government who care about doing the right thing even if it means the end of their career. >> yeah. >> on the other ends of the communication with bill taylor is gordon sondland. gordon sondland is a hotel operator who buys his way into
an ambassadorship and has none of the experience or information that bill taylor has to bring to bear on this situation. and he's giving bill taylor marching orders and he's saying things, you know, in this testimony, things like, you should tell zelensky that donald trump would be very pleased if he said i will leave no stone unturned to investigate your political enemies. and it's clear to taylor he said specifically that an investigation was part of the quid pro quo. that they wanted to, quote/unquote, get to the bottom of things. >> yeah. >> taylor stood tall on this. sondland's interest in all of this had nothing to do with better ukraine policy. >> right. >> or supporting an ally in eastern europe. it was about furthering his own narrow professional goals. >> and a source close to fiona hill's testimony told me that sondland's goal in life is to be a secretary of state candidate in the second -- >> or secretary of commerce. >> so, all right. i found this testimony, neal
katyal, that you said you tweeted. here it is. "ambassador sondland" who tim o'brien is talking about, "said he talked to mr. zelensky and mr. yermack, although this is not a quid pro quo, if mr. zelensky did not clear things up in public, we'd be at a stalemate." adds "i understand a stalemate means they would not receive much needed military assistan assistance." that conversation took place on december 8th a day before the text from sondland. he also testified today that trump wanted zelensky in a public box by making a public statement about ordering these investigations. neal? >> and ambassador taylor today tied exactly all of that to donald trump directly. >> right. >> that's what i think makes this so powerful, nicolle, so i think there's two different issues for the impeachment. one is did he go and -- did trump go and solicit foreign interferen interference? that, itself, is an impeachable
offense. it's kind of the quintessential one. and the second one is, was there bribery, was there quid pro quo? and the case on the first has always been pretty much open and shut because it is revealed directly in the white house transcript or faux transcript that they released back a few weeks ago. but now we're seeing this quid pro quo argument developing its own momentum. you had mulvaney last week, the president's acting chief of staff, basically confess to it then try and walk it back in ways that nobody could particularly understand. and now you have today direct evidence of this attempted quid pro quo. just saying, oh, it's not a quid pro quo is kind of like a drug dealer saying, oh, i'm not talking about cocaine, i'm talking about coca cola. we know what that really is. >> ashley parker, what sort of reaction is there from the white house that every single witness seems to be testifying to the attachment,connection, even ron johnson, the president's ally, republican senator, has --
has publicly uttered that there was -- that the administration, the white house, donald trump, had tied military aid to ukraine to a commitment to these politically damaging investigations that donald trump wanted into the bidens and into the 2016 election. >> well, you sort of see it from the president and the top on down shifting response which was first a perfect call, a totally appropriate call, no quid pro quo, to his acting chief of staff the other day, and, again, he did try to walk it back but saying, of course, there's a quid pro quo and you should get over it, there's always politics in foreign policy, which is not actually the case, it should be noted, at least not that sort of politics in foreign policy. so you're seeing that white house shift, but in the people surrounding the president, do donors, lawmakers on capitol hill, republicans who are repeatedly asked to answer for this and to comment on it and especially republican senators
in vulnerable states up for re-election, there's a real sense of frustration that the more information that comes out, the less defensible it is and that the white house is disorganized, is unprepared, that there are circumstances of chaos that, first of all, led to this that still exist that make the president and his team not particularly well equipped to handle the rigors of impeachment. the "washington post" reported, for instance, steve bannon starting an impeachment war-room podcast. that's a perfectly nice gesture for steve bannon to do but when that's kind one of the best outside offerings, it's a real red flag that there's trouble. >> i want to ask you, garrett, i don't mean to put you on the spot here, but i heard from a former national security official that there are real questions about whether eu ambassador gordon sondland may have perjured himself in his testimony last week when you consider that we only hear about what witnesses have testified to
after they made a public appearance, but there were hundreds of documents requested and that the committees are looking at sort of it's a known unknown. the emails, the texts and documents that they're sitting on that corroborate different witnesses' testimony. you hearing any interest in having sondland back? >> reporter: absolu've heard fr democrats who say sondland m cen up some of his testimony. remember, he told the panel here originally that he had turned over a lot of his text messages and things like that to the state department on the hopes that state would then turn it over as part of the inquiry. that has not happened yet. who knows if there's anything exonerating or could possibly be beneficial for sondland's side of the story in those text messages, documents, whatever else he might have turned over. yes, as matter of fact, that has been one of the few things that we've heard fairly consistently from democrats coming out of this -- these locked up meeting rooms downstairs that, yeah, gordon sondland may be making a return appearance. >> i want to give you the last
word, neal katyal. where are we today? >> well, i think we're in the middle of the investigation and i think there's still other stuff and i think the reason why there's other stuff is this. the evidence so far is really overwhelming against trump, but what i think the investigation wants to do now is complete the record and get a full portrait of everything, and it turns out that lying in a group is really hard to do. it's one thing if you just commit a crime yourself, you're the only person, but all these other people have pieces of information and so when ambassador sondland comes last week and maybe paints an incomplete picture and ambassador taylor's testimony today will reveal that. and so then he's got to come back. and that's going to happen for the next, i think, a couple weeks while all that takes place and then i suspect that we'll be moving toward consideration in the house of representatives for an impeachment vote and right now, i think the evidence is really pretty overwhelmingly against the president. his story keeps shifting and, you know, the current story is
not working out too well. >> i have to just underscore, lying in a group is hard. just ask george papadopoulos, mike flynn, and paul manafort. garrett haake on capitol hill, neal katyal, thank you, both. when we come back, a new warning from anonymous. the administration insider behind the now-famous resistance op-ped is back and ready to tell all in a new book. we can only imagine how this news is going to go over with an already cranky president. also, donald trump today compared his impeachment in congress to a lynching drawing condemnation from across the political divide at a time when public support for his impeachment and removal from office is at an all-time high in two brand-new polls. also ahead, donald trump hands vladimir putin another win in turkey. while blockbuster new reporting reveals donald trump to be the puppet after all. we'll bring you those stories next. i'm still going for my best... even though i live with a higher risk of stroke due to afib not caused by a heart valve problem.
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on the same day as career diplomats at the state department continue to risk their decades-long careers to speak truth to power and testify about what actually happened in ukraine before congress, the "washington post" was the first to report this afternoon that the unnamed senior trump administration official behind that anonymous op-ped in "the new york times" last year is now apparently writing a tell-all due out next month. amazon is already taking preorders and it will be called a warning. it will apparently expand on the original op-ped. and before you ask, now the author isn't giving up his or her identity in the new book, a literary agent says the writer is not getting an advanced payment and will donate a
substantial portion of the profits. joining our conversation, politics editor for "the root," jason johnson. at the table, elise jordan, a former aid in the george w. bush white house and state departm t department. jason johnson, to you first. is it ethical, though? let me just ask anyone who worked in the government, to take any money for a book deal where you profit off your experience either anonymously or in your name? i don't think so. >> no, especially when your name is anonymous. i would think there would be all sorts of potential lawsuits here that make this problematic, and you can't go back -- i mean, talk about not being able to see your accuser. so i have a lot of ethical problems with this, but beyond that, nicolle, i'm so tired of these pierre delecto republicans, come forward and say i want to bravely declare what's going on, hiding behind a burner twitter account or anonymous name. if this is really a problem, morally offensive to you, if it's so dangerous to the future of our democracy, then come forward and say something. it is infinitely more powerful if there's a face to these accusations than hiding behind a book deal that you're eventually going to give the money to some
charity. >> you know, elise, i remember when this op-ped came out, it was stunning and it was breathtaking and it was at a point when i believe "the new york times" had reported about former deputy attorney general rod rosenstein offering to wear a wire, whipping votes for the 25th amendment. it was a different moment. we now have a whistle-blower that donald trump threatens to out and destroy. we have people who are taking truly brave stabs, potentially career ending. we've seen the purging of the highest levels of the fbi and the justice department in donald trump's war on law enforcement, and to me, it just feels like too little/too late to do a book deal. >> well, i'm baffled as to why the author of the anonymous op-ped thinks that staying your position, because according to the reporting, the anonymous author is still in government which i really don't see how you would still qualify for a high-level security clearance that a national security official in such a position would ostensibly need to carry out their duties. but that aside, a year has
passed, if it's as dire as outlined in that op-ped, then why weren't you doing what the whistle-blower did and went through the proper channels and has brought this discussion to the forefront, the forefront of the american national political debate? >> ashley parker, this is your paper's reporting. are we missing something? >> well, i think there's two points. one is there's a very fair point that you have this writer doing this under the cover of anonymity when just look at the split screen we've seen for these past two weeks, all of these career diplomats and civil servants going up and they're testifying behind closed doors but they're doing so under their own names. >> right. >> they're sounding the alarms and has a lot more power coming from people that way. >> frank figliuzzi, if you could jump in on just the credibility of an anonymous book writer versus someone who's go alarmed that he goes through the whistle-blower protection process and seeks the official legal protections.
>> yeah, look, there's a stark contrast here between anonymous and the brave men and women who are coming forward, they're risking their careers, their families, their income, and they're testifying and doing the right thing on the hill. the whistle-blower going through absolute hell, i'm sure, having to come forward and discreetly say this is who i am, please protect me. but now we have anonymous. i've never been a big fan, nicolle, of anonymous complainants and reporting. >> right. >> there are times for it. there are sensitive places and scenarios where it fits. but i don't like this and i don't know where this is going to go. >> all right. tim, you have a dissenting position? not a lot of love here for anonymous. >> i think if anonymous was awe thent authentically concerned, in the white house, close to the white house during the mueller investigation when there was overt obstruction of justice and i think collusion with russia. and anonymous wrote an op-ped
and candidate do anything eldid. that stands in stark contrast to the whistle-blower who in the moment saw it was wrong and came out. i love jason's formulation of pierre delecto republicans. i'll take a bill taylor republican any day of the week over a pierre delecto republican. >> jason, go ahead and explain who a pierre delecto republican is in case anybody else missed mitt romney's big reveal. >> we all discovered yesterday that mitt romney had a secret burner account on twitter he used to follow jimmy fallon and television people but also to apparently criticize the president of the united states. and, again, mitt romney who has lost a lot of credibility in my eyes as someone who screams and yells from the rafters in vague ways about all the terrible things that donald trump has done, now that he's actually in the senate is quiet as a church mouse. it's incredibly disa pointing and sets a pattern for people complaining in history. i have this terrible feeling, nicolle, in 25 years hopefully when we survived all this all these people will be claiming heroic acts they committed behind closed doors.
that's not saving kids at the border or protecting allies overseas and protecting police officers in this country and people who are suffering from gun violence and all the other things this administration is sitting by and let happen. these people want to be called heroes because they said something privately behind closed doors or on a twitter account like mitt romney. it's ridiculous. >> you know, "the onion's" calling and want their headlines back. it's hard to cover some of these stories, elise. >> yeah. from, you know, the burner twitter account to -- >> right. >> -- the serious stakes of what is being discussed on the hill and the testimony that ambassador taylor had today -- >> yeah. >> and lives being lost. >> lives being lost. >> kurds. right. >> if you read this 15-page opening statement, that's what ambassador taylor is advocating for. his strong belief that ukraine needs defensive weapons after having been on the front lines where, and witnessing what the ukrainian troops have been through. trying to -- >> well, i think you look -- we
try to hit pause on this show and talk about how far from normal we are. the difference is white houses have really different views about how to protect the lives of america's allies. how to protect american national security. but it never debated if it was worth doing that. i guess the searing tragedy -- >> that's right. >> -- of the trump white house is donald trump doesn't think it's worth saving america's allies and if he wasn't so stupid to realize that the kurds in syria die so we don't have to, it's actually twquite trumpian. >> he doesn't care. it's even a level deeper. he is completely indifferent to the suffering of others. >> so let me tell you this, anonymous, you want to come tear off your mask, come sit at the table. we're not going to talk about you until then. after the break, donald trump is making someone great again. it just isn't clear that it's us, or america's allies. putin today doing another victory dance with turkey's leader while new reporting reveals that putin and his fellow autocrats poisoned trump's mind about america's relationship with ukraine. we'll bring you both those stunning stories next. ext. uh oh! what?
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stunning new reporting reveals yet another bombshell out of the impeachment inquiry. first reported by the "washington post" last night that in the ukraine scandal's infancy, among those whispering in donald trump's ear as he concocted a pressure campaign against ukraine was a pair of autocrats, none other than russian president vladimir putin and the putin-aligned hard-right prime minister of hungary who trump met with at the white house ten days before trump had a key meeting on -- on the issue. ashley parker, this is your paper's reporting. take us through what -- who is sort of a new character in all this. the prime minister of hungary. viktor orbin, his alliance with vladimir putin and how i believe it's your paper or "the new york times" that has reported one of the things the ambassadors encountered was that donald trump's mind has been poisoned
on the question of ukraine. it looks like there were a pair of autocrats tagteaming him and doing some of the poisoning. take us through what amounted to a big scoop last night. >> that's exactly right. as speaker pelosi said to the president in that very controversialmeeting, with you, all roads lead to putin, in this case, they lead to putin and the prime minister of hungary. what we found was that it wasn't either putin or orbin told the president that there's this conspiracy theory is true, that ukraine meddled in the 2016 presidential elections or urged him to have ukraine investigate biden, a 2020 political rival, but what they did do in a meeting in one case, in phone conversations in the other, is they basically, i believe described it they soured the president on ukraine. you have this new president zelensky come in, he campaigned on being a reformer, on taking control of corruption in his country and by all accounts, that's what he wanted to do.
that's when american officials go over and they meet with him, they come back heartened and tell president trump we think this guy is sincere, we think he's earnest in his intentions and we really think you should work with him. of course, we know president trump doesn't want to do that because he wants u.s. assistance tied to certain things. but the reason in part is because these two autocrats got in the president's ear and said, i just don't know about zelensky, i don't think he's really good guy. i don't think he's that serious about corruption. they kind of hardened the president's natural instinct to be skeptical of ukraine, and, again, we know this president, he likes strongmen leaders for whatever reason so he's much more likely, frankly, to value the opinion of an autocrat rather than more traditional democratic ally, and so by the time he's really making decisions about ukraine and zelensky, he feels very strongly that he's kind of soured on the country and he's not that eager to work with them. >> frank figliuzzi, just do some
profiling for me. how is it donald trump is always so easily soured against the democracy and in favor of the putin ally or the putin measure? whether it's our conduct vis-a-vis erdogan's request in northern syria, whether it's standing in tell sihelsinki, ta putin's word for it over the u.s. intelligence community. where is the u.s. intelligence community on all this? how did the president's own national security team not manage to lay their bodies down between donald trump and propaganda from two known autocr autocrats, putin and orbin? >> well, that's -- we could spend a whole hour on this topic but so the mist riff of what's going on, with the history is between putin and trump, of course, remains a mystery. but the psychological study of why our president seems to solely identify with autocrats and dictators, whether it's north korea's kim, whether it's putin, whether it's now orban in
hungary, why he wants to be like them is a fascinating psychological study. but here's what, where it impacts all of us as americans. when you have a president who's so easily influenced and manipulated, that's bad enough. when he's being manipulated and influenced by people like this, people who end up being counter to everything america stands for, then it undermines our national security. essentially, our president is no longer a leader when he only wants to hear things he agrees with. he then is manipulated by people who are clever enough to figure out exactly the narrative to feed him. he agrees with it. he smiles. he likes it and they end up controlling him. that's not a leader anymore. that's a follower. >> and, jason, i remember that moment on the debate stage, it was, you know, i've already invoked "the onion" so we'll have to go with "snl." i'm not a puppet, you're a puppet. he's a puppet. she's a puppet. i'm a puppet. there's only one puppet in this
story. let me read you this headline from "the new york times." "putin and erdogan announce plan for northeast syria bolstering russian influence. the negotiations ended with a victory for mr. putin. russian and turkish troops will take joint control over a vast swath of formerly kurdish-held territory in southern syria in a move that cements the rapid russian influence in syria at the expense of its u.s. and kurdish former allies. >> nicolle, the key thing, goes with what frank mentioned and what we've seen all along, whether it's domestic policy on simple things like guns, the environment, wall, immigration, all the way to international policy, donald trump is the most influenced by the last person he talked to. he can't be trusted. that's the issue. so whether or not putin got to him, orban got to him, erdogan got to him, whoever gets in his ear last seems to be the opinion he goes forward with. makes it difficult for troops on the ground, national security agencies to know what to do because you can't trust this guy. here's the other dangerous thing with this report, these two souring him on ukraine.
we also have to remember plenty of times this president has attempted to have conversations with foreign leaders without translators present. without having notes present. so who knows what other issues he could be speaking on or working on behalf of foreign agen agencies against american interests because we don't even know what they were talking about. >> you know, tim, i take jason's point, it's the last person he talked to, but the last person he talked to was never anyone urging him to put his finger on the scale for democracy or an ally. >> well, i think that that's -- we have to answer why that is. i think when -- frank is right to point out he's being manipulated. jason's right to point out he listens to the last person in his ear. why are those particular individuals the last people in his ear? >> every time. >> money. >> right. >> it's money. russia moved into crimea and economic sanctions were placed on russia because of that. they launched a military invasion of ukraine. putin wanted the sanctions lifted. what did trump want in return? he was negotiating a real estate
deal at the same time in moscow. trump wanted money. erdogan wants to be able to walk willy-nilly into northern syria and isolate and wipe out the kurds. what does trump want in return? well, he already has a building in istanbul with his name on it. >> two i think, right? >> yeah. more money. so i think in all of this, the reason that trump is putting himself in these situations where he's getting manipulated is there's something on the other end for him and it's a big sack with a dollar sign on it. >> right. >> real quick, last word. >> and i would point out when he is doing those deals, there's always an enabler around ready to make his sick twisted, corrupt vision a reality and in the testimony today from ambassador taylor, sure looks like one of those people was ambassador sondland. >> right. >> all right. ashley parker, we had a teleprompter malfunction, so thank you for taking us through that stunning reporting last night. stopped everything to read it. after the break, a shocking comment from the president that at least one top democrat is calling a transparent attempt at distraction.
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constitutional process is far beneath the office of the president of the united states. >> when the going gets tough, you can almost count down the amount of time it took donald trump to turn to race baiting. perhaps the clearest sign yet that impeachment and the swell of support is bugging him, donald trump tweeted that his impeachment amounted to a lynching. we just showed you house majority whip calling him out for it. our friend, michael steel, former head of the rnc out with a graphic reminder of the real horror of lynching. he tweeted this. quote, this is a lynching. trump, this is not happening to you and it's pathetic that you
act like you are such a victim. it did happen to 147 people. a lynching in every sense, you should know better. jason and frank are back at the table. jason, i'll start with you. >> i'm not surprised. this is what the president does. i think in the grander scheme of things i'm old enough to remember when we had a supreme court justice who referred to him being asked questions, clarence thomas as the high tech lynching of an uppity black man. it is always fascinating to me that republican parties who are responsible for massive domestic terrorism purely for the fact that we were trying to vote are always the first people to invoke that imagery. i want to add somebody to the list of people who should be ashamed of themselves. jim scott said maybe not lynching, but it's a death row. no. this has nothing to do with death. the only people dying are kids on the border and kurds because
of the president. this president is being held accountable. and using the red herring of racial animus in order to activate his side, it's disgusting and typical. we're not going to fall for it in the media or american citizens this time. >> do you think it's a mistake to cover it at all? >> i don't think it's a mistake to cover it at all but i think it has to be covered in the context of what we did today. i think the president distracted us from talking about william taylor. we can identify what he's attempting to do and counter it. >> and know that if you disagree, next time you better give it to me. we've come to expect this of donald trump. i was actually galled to see lindsey graham co-sign this thing. >> lindsey graham should be ashamed to have failed to call
the president out over something that is just completely reprehensible. i don't know how lindsey graham manages to look his african-american constituents in the eye the next time he's down in south carolina. he probably just doesn't care. the way that he responded, it shows that he really didn't think that it was that big of a deal when i hate to say if you are not cognizant of that history. >> you have talked about the danger of donald trump's rhetoric to real danger in this country. >> my first assignment in the fbi was to the state of georgia. i have worked clan rallies, cross burnings and violent beatings of blacks by corrupt police officers. i find myself at times trying to explain the president's behavior by either saying it's ignorance. this is a deliberate strategy. he knows what a lynching is. he has chosen to do this. he has chosen to press the race
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i could have talked to these friends for another hour, but we're out of time. most of all to you for watching. that does it for our hour. mtp daily with chuck todd starts now. p daily with chuck todd sts now. ♪ welcome to tuesday. it's meet the press daily. i'm chuck todd here in los angeles. we are tracking breaking news on two big fronts right now. vladimir putin and turkey's president are now carving up northern syria amid the u.s.'s retreat. the two leaders met today as the u.s. negotiated cease fire expired. they are plotting