Rudy Giuliani's own words tell the tale of the Ukraine scandal

Former New York City Mayor Rudolf Giuliani appears before Republican U.S. p
Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani appears before Republican U.S. presidential nominee Donald Trump at a campaign rally in Cincinnati, Ohio on Oct. 13, 2016. Copyright Mike Segar Reuters file
Copyright Mike Segar Reuters file
By Chuck Todd and Mark Murray and Carrie Dann with NBC News Politics
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First Read is your briefing from "Meet the Press" and the NBC Political Unit on the day's most important political stories and why they matter.


WASHINGTON — If you wanted to tell the Ukraine story — and why President Trump is about to be impeached by the U.S. House of Representatives over it — you could simply use the words from Trump's personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani.

"We're not meddling in an election, we're meddling in an investigation, which we have a right to do," Giuliani said in an interview with the New York Times, under the May 9 headline: "Rudy Giuliani Plans Ukraine Trip to Push for Inquiries That Could Help Trump."

"There's nothing illegal about it," Giuliani said in that same interview. "Somebody could say it's improper. And this isn't foreign policy — I'm asking them to do an investigation that they're doing already and that other people are telling them to stop. And I'm going to give them reasons why they shouldn't stop it because that information will be very, very helpful to my client, and may turn out to be helpful to my government."

"New Pres of Ukraine still silent on investigation of Ukrainian interference in 2016 election and alleged Biden bribery of Pres Poroshenko. Time for leadership and investigate both if you want to purge how Ukraine was abused by Hillary and Obama people," Giuliani tweeted in June.

"I believed that I needed [U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie] Yovanovitch out of the way," he said. "She was going to make the investigations difficult for everybody," Giuliani told the New Yorker in a piece that was published yesterday.

"Yovanovitch needed to be removed for many reasons most critical she was denying visas to Ukrainians who wanted to come to US and explain Dem corruption in Ukraine. She was OBSTRUCTING JUSTICE and that's not the only thing she was doing. She at minimum enabled Ukrainian collusion," he tweeted this morning.

Giuliani saying he wanted Ukraine to investigate the Bidens? Check.

Giuliani saying he wanted Ukraine to investigate the country's role in 2016? Check.

Giuliani putting pressure on Ukraine's president? Check.

Giuliani wanting the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine "out of the way" to pursue the investigations? Check.

And Giuliani saying it was all about helping Trump? Check again.

It's all there.

Our question: Are we really going to have an entire impeachment vote and trial without hearing Giuliani testify under oath?

Data Download: The number of the day is … 71 percent

71 percent.

That's the share of all Americans who say that President Trump SHOULD allow his top aides to testify in a Senate impeachment trial, according to a new Washington Post/ABC News poll. That includes 64 percent of Republicans and nearly eight-in-10 Democrats.

The same poll found that 49 percent of Americans say Trump should be impeached and removed from office, while 46 percent say he should not be — essentially unchanged from October.

Moderate House Dems are (mostly) all-in on impeachment

For all of the attention that Rep. Jeff Van Drew's, D-N.J., likely defection to the GOP has received, there's another big story — how most of the moderate House Dems who won election last year are supporting impeachment.

"Another yes on impeachment—> Rep. Anthony Brindisi will vote to impeach President Trump," NBC's Alex Moe tweets.


But back to Van Drew: It says A LOT about the polarization in our country that the two of the members who have broken with their party - Van Drew and former Republican Justin Amash - had to leave their party.

Impeachment inquiry update

At 11:00 am ET, the House Rules Committee meets to mark up the impeachment resolution to establish the rules governing the upcoming floor debate, per NBC's Geoff Bennett.

The debate and vote over the articles impeachment takes place tomorrow.

Tweet of the day

2020 Vision: Look at all of the new TV ads

New TV ads in the Democratic presidential contest are … everywhere.

Pete Buttigieg's new TV ad focuses on his strategy on taking on President Trump, NBC's Priscilla Thompson reports.


Amy Klobuchar has a new ad emphasizing her Midwest roots, per NBC's Maura Barrett and Ben Pu.

And Joe Biden has a new cable TV ad looking at the stakes in the 2020 election, according to NBC's Marianna Sotomayor: "If Donald Trump is reelected, he will forever and fundamentally alter the character of this nation."

On the campaign trail today

Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar participate in a DNC fundraiser in Los Angeles… Buttigieg also raises money in L.A…. Tom Steyer conducts a virtual presidential town hall… Cory Booker is in Washington State… And Deval Patrick hits Las Vegas.

Dispatches from NBC's campaign embeds

As Thursday's Democratic debate inches closer, Elizabeth Warren commented in Iowa on the winnowing of the Democratic field and the lack of diverse candidates that will be seen on the stage while campaigning in Iowa. "I raised this, actually, with the DNC and sent a letter to the DNC," Warren said, per NBC's Deepa Shivaram. "I think that part of our strength as Democrats is that we are building a coalition in which a lot of different voices, a lot of different points of view are represented, and I'm sorry to see that the field has narrowed and that we are not going to hear, for example, from Sen. Booker, who is still in the race. We are not going to hear from Secretary [Julian] Castro." However, Shivaram adds, Warren did not commit to saying she will bring that message to the debate stage — instead saying this message is part of what she talks about every day."

Joe Biden last night attended a fundraiser in New York City, where the former vice president candidly discussed if President Trump was a narcissist and on senators who may acquit President Trump in an impeachment trial. NBC's Marianna Sotomayor flags from the pool report: "Biden said even if Trump is acquitted, 'The American people, including the senators who are going to vote to acquit him know, no one wants their kid to grow up like him,' Biden said. He continued, 'No psychiatrist or anyone in the association can talk about the fact that this president has a serious problem… Narcissism is a mental deficiency. And it means you cannot tolerate any criticism at all… Now, whether he's a narcissist or not, some people think he's a narcissist.'"


Talking policy with Benjy

Republican Sen. Mitt Romney and Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet unveiled a proposal over the weekend that would provide families with at least $1,500 in refundable tax credits for every child under 7 and pay for it by raising taxes on large inheritances.

It sounds wonky, but the plan is a bombshell in policy circles, where Republicans are increasingly debating what the party's platform should look like after Trump. Republicans, led by senators like Marco Rubio and Josh Hawley (as well as commentators like Tucker Carlson), have made the case that the GOP has focused too much on tax breaks for big business instead of the working class. The policy case: Republicans should be the party of everyday families struggling with rising costs. The political case: These voters are critical to the Trump base and were largely left out of the 2017 tax bill.

But many conservatives see refundable tax credits, which give qualifying taxpayers a negative tax bill, as a kind of welfare.And raising taxes on wealthy investors and their heirs, as Romney's plan would do by ending stepped-up basis on multi-million dollar inheritances, is even more taboo.

"A lot has changed over the last three years," Samuel Hammond, who has advocated for similar family tax credits at the center-right Niskanen Center, told NBC News. "Potentially there's a generational shift taking place."

The Lid: Same old song and dance

Don't miss the pod from yesterday, when we looked at how and why impeachment polling is staying so static.


ICYMI: News clips you shouldn't miss

Who's really tapping in to "dark money"?

A new conservative super PAC called the Lincoln Project is set to take aim at Trump.

Rudy Giuliani is providing more details of what Trump knew when about Marie Yovanovitch's removal.

Carly Fiorina says Trump should be impeached, but she also says she's not ruling out voting for him in 2020.

Check out a cool new interactive that shows all of our NBC/WSJ poll data on presidential approval ratings.


Trump Agenda: Gates gets sentenced

Former Trump official Rick Gates is set to be sentenced today.

Congress has approved funding for research on gun violence for the first time in over 20 years.

The president is praising Jeff Van Drew's expected party switch.

Congress has unveiled a spending bill that notably avoids a fight over the border wall.

2020: To participate or not to participate? That's the question

Will Trump actually participate in the 2020 debates, or not?


Bernie Sanders is taking on deficit hawks and military spending in a new Washington Post op-ed.

A new ad from Amy Klobuchar emphasizes her Midwestern roots.

And Pete Buttigieg's latest ad tries to turn the conversation away from Trump.

POLITICO takes a deep dive into how the 2020 primary is forcing the Democratic Party to confront race.

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