Trump admits discussing Biden. TRANSCRIPT: 9/23/19, Hardball w/ Chris Matthews.

Chris Murphy, Raja Krishnamoorthi, Neera Tanden, Ryan Williams



ANNIE LENNOX, SINGER AND SONGWRITER:  Another master in a completely

different way.


MELBER:  Herbie Hancock.


LENNOX:  He`s like Honey.  I mean, I adore her being this genius.




MELBER:  Like Honey.  You can check out the entire interview,  That`s  We hope you`ll take a



“HARDBALL” is up next.


CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST:  Time for a decision.  Let`s play HARDBALL.


Good evening.  I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.


The American people have a decision to make, is it right or wrong for a

president who took an oath to uphold the Constitution to trade the favor of

his office to a foreign government to get dirt on a political rival,

because we have such a case now before us.


Donald Trump has admitted this weekend to having offered the president of

Ukraine his goodwill and that of his office for negative information on

former Vice President Joe Biden.  And right now, the former Governor of

Illinois sits in a federal penitentiary, seven years into a 14-year

sentence for basically the same behavior, and his case, for trying to trade

his power to fill Barack Obama`s Senate seat for personal gain.


How is this different from a transaction between a president using military

aid with the visit to the White House thrown in to get negative material on

a partisan opponent?


It follows multiple reports that revealed that in a phone call on July 25th

of this year, President Trump repeatedly pressured the president of Ukraine

to investigate Biden and his family.  In fact, Trump urged Ukrainian

President Zelensky to open a probe about eight times, according to The Wall

Street Journal.


And their conversation, which was brought to light by a whistleblower`s

complaint reveals how this president used the power and prestige of his

office for something he wanted personally.


And this stunning news comes after the president spent three years denying

that he colluded with a another foreign power, Russia, to get dirt on

Hillary Clinton.




DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT:  There has been no collusion between the

Trump campaign and Russians or Trump and Russians, no collusion.


There is no collusion between me and my campaign and the Russians.


There is no collusion between certainly myself and my campaign.


There was no collusion with the campaign.


Here`s the bottom line, there was no collusion.


No collusion, no nothing.


No collusion.


No collusion.


No collusion.


There was no collusion.  There was no nothing.




MATTHEWS:  But when it comes to Ukrainian dirt on Joe Biden, he`s now

admitted to doing just that.  Trump yesterday confirmed the reports that he

discussed going after Joe Biden on that phone call.




TRUMP:  The conversation I had was largely congratulatory, was largely

corruption, all of the corruption taking place, was largely the fact that

we don`t want our people like Vice President Biden and his son creating the

corruption already in the Ukraine.




MATTHEWS:  Well. as The Wall Street Journal Editorial points out, Mr.

Zelensky, that`s the president of

Ukraine, surely understood the potential risk of not complying with Mr.

Trump`s request even if Mr. Trump wasn`t explicit.


Meanwhile, as he met today with world leaders, President Trump continued to

deflect questions about Ukraine while attacking Joe Biden with

unsubstantiated claims of corruption.




TRUMP:  Everybody knows it.  It`s just a Democrat witch hunt, here we go

again.  They failed with Russia, they failed with recession, they failed

with everything, and now they`re bringing this up.  The one who`s got the

problem is Biden.


REPORTER:  On the aid question, the aid from a moment ago, did you tell the

Ukrainian leader that they would have the aid only if they investigated Joe

Biden and his family?


TRUMP:  No, I didn`t.  No, I didn`t.  No, I didn`t do it.  But Joe Biden

said it about his son.  Joe Biden was very dishonest, what he did.




TRUMP:  Joe Biden is the one that did a very, very bad thing.  If a

Republican ever said what Joe Biden said, they would be getting the

electric chair right now.




MATTHEWS:  I`m joined by Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut, a member of

the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.  Senator, once again, you see Trump

in action making these Benghazi comments, this email stuff with no claim of

actual information, no claim of actual guilt on the other side, just

throwing crap out there.


But let`s talk about the president, what he did admit.  He admitted talking

to a leader of a foreign country, trying to get dirt from him on a

political opponent, using his goodwill, generally speaking, it doesn`t have

to apply, it seems to me, to whether it`s the foreign aid that he`s holding

up, freezing at that time, $250 million in foreign military aid or a visit

to the White House.  It`s the goodwill of an American president for sale,

your thoughts, to get dirt, Senator Murphy.


SEN. CHRIS MURPHY (D-CT):  Think of it this way, Chris.  If the Mueller

report had included evidence of a phone call between Donald Trump and

Vladimir Putin, in which Donald Trump asked Vladimir Putin eight different

times for his help in the 2016 election, that would have been the smoking

gun.  I don`t think Donald Trump would be in office today.  And I don`t

know that it matters that that call happened with Ukraine instead of with



And as you mentioned, the quid pro quo really doesn`t matter here. 

Obviously, that would elevate people`s concern, but there is an implicit

threat in every single conversation an American president has with another

world leader asking them to do something, especially with a country like

Ukraine that is so dependent on U.S. support.


So even if he didn`t say explicitly, if you don`t investigate the Biden`s

on this B.S. charges I`m making, you`re not going to get the aid, of

course, Zelensky would consider that if he didn`t accede to the president`s

direct personal request to him, that there would be consequences.  And I

think as far as we know, Zelensky did not instigate an investigation of the

Bidens.  And guess what happened, the aid got cut off.


MATTHEWS:  You know, I grew up in a time where we looked out for countries

that were vulnerable to Russia, the ones that lived on its borders, and we

were the good guys, whether it was Hungary or Poland or wherever, Ukraine,

we were the ones that helped those captive nations become free.


And here he is, the president of the United States – just your thoughts on

the history here.  Here`s the president of the United States saying, okay,

we know you`re vulnerable to the Russians, they have taken part of your

country already effectively.  Do you want our help or don`t you?  If you

want our help, give me the dirt on Biden.


MURPHY:  No.  Listen, this was part of the reason that I went to Ukraine

three weeks ago.  I had heard that Zelensky was beside himself about the

cutoff of aid but also very confused about whether these overtures involved

in the 2020 election were official requests from the U.S. government.  This

is a moment where you need to support Ukrainian sovereignty and their



And the kind of corruption that we`re trying to root out all over the world

is exactly what Trump is displaying right now.  The idea that the president

would use the power of his office to try to bully people in to digging up

dirt on his political opponents is exactly the kind of corruption that the

State Department of the United States tries to stop and counter all over

the world.  The example that we are setting is going to handicap our

efforts at anti-corruption in every corner of the globe if we don`t hold

the president accountable.


MATTHEWS:  Well, Senator, today, the president suggested blocking military

aid to Ukraine would be appropriate.  In fact, Trump linked the aid package

to Ukraine`s handling of corruption.  Here we go.




TRUMP:  Let me just tell you, what Biden did was wrong.


REPORTER:  What did you tell the Ukrainian president about Joe Biden and

his son during your phone call?


TRUMP:  Well, you`re going to see, because what we are doing is we want

honesty.  And if we deal with a country, we want honesty.


We`re supporting a country.  We want to make sure that country is honest. 

It`s very important to talk about corruption.  If you don`t talk about

corruption, why would you give money to a country that you think is





MATTHEWS:  What do you make of that, Senator?  Because what he`s doing

there is tying together the idea that going after Biden is part of his job,

going after Biden is part of his job to remove corruption.


MURPHY:  Right.  Well, he`s making up the allegations against the vice

president.  And I think that`s really important to understand.  This

prosecutor that Biden and the entire world community, the IMF, the G7, all

of our European partners were asking to be let go.  This prosecutor was

corrupt to the bone.  And by the way, this prosecutor was not undertaking

an investigation or a prosecution of the company that Hunter Biden was

associated with.  And so there was no investigation to shut down or to



Yesterday, Mike Pompeo went on T.V. and accused Joe Biden of election

interference, which is a brand new preposterous charge, I guess, alleging

that Biden somehow interfered in the American election in 2016.  It just

shows that they are literally making it up as they go along.


And let`s see the transcript of the phone call.  Maybe the president of the

United States lays out 10 or 20 different corruption investigations that he

thinks the Ukrainians should be prosecuting and Biden is on that list.  I

doubt that`s the substance of that call.  I bet the only single

investigation that the president raises in that call is the one against his

likely 2020 presidential opponent.


MATTHEWS:  Well, according to The Wall Street Journal, Senator, when asked

if the whistleblower`s complaint should be turned over to Congress, as law

requires, Republican Senator John Cornyn of Texas today said, is it a

whistleblower or a leaker? I don`t know which.  What do you think?


I`ve watched the first branch of our government under Article 1, your

branch, the United States Congress, you have had rights under statute to

get things like Trump`s tax returns delivered over to the Ways and Means,

and Senate Finance Committees, and now you`ve got a statute that says they

have to turn over the whistleblowers complaint.  What`s going to happen?


MURPHY:  Well, the house is going to have to bring this to court.  I mean,

Senator Cornyn`s comments suggests a circling of the wagons that`s

happening amongst Republicans.  That`s completely predictable.  I mean, how

does Senator Cornyn know the substance of this complaint?  He can`t because

it hasn`t been delivered to Congress, unless he has been read in on the

classified nature of it in a way that the rest of us haven`t.  So I would

advise the House to go to court immediately, compel compliance with a

statute which is 100 percent clear, get it before all of us and that will

help us decide about how to proceed.


MATTHEWS:  Is this impeachable on its merits, Senator, going to a foreign

government and trading your goodwill as president of the United States,

your office, basically, so you can get dirt on an opponent to use it

against him in the next election?


MURPHY:  So I have not recommended the house so far that they proceed with

impeachment.  I`m going to give it some hard thought in the coming days. 

But I do have trouble understanding how we would allow for there to be no

accountability.  I think if the president gets away with this using the

awesome power of his office to try to destroy his political opponents,

trading away the credibility of the United States globally, I don`t know

that we rescue our democracy from that transgression.  I think there likely

has to be accountability and I`m going to think hard about the question of

impeachment in the coming days.


MATTHEWS:  Well, let me put it simply to you, not whether it`s good

politics for Pelosi to move impeachment in the House, not whether you want

to have to face the request in the Senate, which I`m sure you could, on its

merits, is doing what Trump just admitted to doing over the weekend a high



MURPHY:  Well, certainly if the president of the United States is using the

executive branch inappropriately in order to try to destroy his political

opponents, that certainly would rank among the category of offenses that

could be impeachable.  I am trying to get more information about this other

than the president`s bumbling statements in order to make that



But if the president is using the power of his office to try to trade away

American national security to benefit himself personally, there likely has

to be some consequence for that.


MATTHEWS:  Thank you, Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut.


Well, the president insisted his request for political dirt from a foreign

power was entirely appropriate.  In fact, he repeatedly said this weekend

that his conversation with Ukrainian president was, here`s his word,

classic Trump, perfect.




TRUMP:  We had a very great conversation, very straight, very honest



Now, I will say this, I said absolutely nothing wrong.  It was perfect.


My conversation with the president, the new president of Ukraine was



The conversation, by the way, was absolutely perfect.


That call was a great call.  It was a perfect call, a perfect call.


It was a perfect conversation.


But just so you understand, the conversation I had with the president of

Ukraine was absolutely perfect.


But the conversation I had with the president of Ukraine was absolutely a

ten.  It was perfect.




MATTHEWS:  I`m joined by Cynthia Alksne, former federal prosecutor, and Ned

Price, former Senior Director of the National Security Council.


I guess it`s hard for me to wonder about the hesitance here, because I`m

not a member of the Senate or Congress, I do think for the last three years

we have all watched them investigate this presidency with one question in

mind, did he collude with a foreign power to get dirt on Hillary Clinton. 

They wanted an answer, because the answer was definitive.  It would be a

verdict against him.  It would be impeachable and impeachment.  And now,

when they get it handed to him, handed, the admission, the confession of

the president, did just that in their face, we`re getting nothing but

hesitance here.


CYNTHIA ALKSNE, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST:  Because that`s not the question they

looked at.  They looked at the question how does it affect me and my

ability to get re-elected.  They aren`t really looking at whether or not

it`s impeachable.  It`s clearly impeachable.  It`s a felony.  It`s –


MATTHEWS:  High crime.


ALKSNE:  It`s a high crime, absolutely.  It`s cut, it`s dry, it`s simple,

it doesn`t take 17 hours to figure this thing out.  The president has

essentially admitted it.


But the problem is that he`s so emboldened because they can`t do anything. 

They can`t get his taxes where there`s a clear statute.  They can`t get a

witness to even be respectful without holding him in contempt.  They can`t

get witnesses to show up when they`re subpoenaed.  And it just makes him

think I can do anything, and apparently he can because they can`t ever move

the ball.


MATTHEWS:  This calculation, I said when i was working on the show today, I

said there`s two different questions, we`ve got to separate the dam too. 

Is it the Democrat`s interest to impeach, separate question, politically? 

They have made their own partisan – and it is a partisan calculation. 

Other question, for the American people, is this their idea of the American

presidency?  Is this what they hold to be acceptable behavior or

unacceptable behavior?


NED PRICE, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:  So I`m no expert in public polling or

data of that sort.  But I think the American people want a president who

works for them, not a president who works for him.  And I think this is

what we have seen with the president over and over again.  First, it was

his financial interests and shepherding the vice president to his Irish

resort, hosting world leaders at Mar-a-Lago, turning the dining room into a

very unsecure White House situation room.


And now, we`re seeing a very different side of it where the president is

absolutely subverting our foreign policy and national securities in many

ways and actually using it for him, putting our national interests below

his personal political interests.


MATTHEWS:  Will it stop?


PRICE:  Why would it?  He has not been held to account yet.


MATTHEWS:  Somebody pointed this out to me a couple of hours ago this

afternoon.  The day they was on the phone with President Zelensky of

Ukraine making this offer, hey, you want my goodwill, buddy, come across

with dirt some on my opponent, is the day after Mueller testified.


ALKSNE:  Right, exactly.


MATTHEWS:  The minute he knew he was clear, the Mueller testimony was not

powerful enough, it wasn`t clear enough or strong, he said, okay, I got

away with that one.  I got away with Russia and I`m doing Ukraine now.


ALKSNE:  He already had made that calculation because he`d already sent

Giuliani in May and June and August to meet with these people.  He already

knew they were feckless by then.  We all knew they were feckless by then.


MATTHEWS:  What does feckless mean?


ALKSNE:  Feckless means incapable of getting anything done to the point of

embarrassment.  That`s what it means to me.


MATTHEWS:  When I`m watching – you`re in national security.  I`m glad

we`re talking about the real stuff here and not the process, because all on

air for three years is process.  Guys like Schiff is probably a brilliant

guy about process and law.  And Jerry Nadler, the head of the House

Judiciary Committee, they all know the law, but they do not understand to

focus every day on the substance.  What are we talking about here?  A

president of the United States who gets up in the morning and says, you

know how I can use the office today, it`s a lot Blagojevich, how can I use

this power?  Blagojevich was saying he`s in prison for 14 years for this,

how can I sell Barack Obama`s Senate seat, and Trump says how can I use the

presidency to get some of this dirt I want?


PRICE:  Look, I think Adam Schiff has driven this train in 100 miles an

hour in the same direction since we found out about this.  It was only just

a little over a week ago that this mysterious statement went up from Adam

Schiff`s office saying the executive branch is withholding a whistleblower

complaint that has been deemed urgent and credible.  Less than a week later

or just over a week later, we know a tremendous amount of content.


The other piece of, I think, we have to remember in all this is the thing

that gnaws at me, is that the inspector general of the intelligence

community testified behind closed doors last week, reportedly, at least,

that this involved multiple acts, that Ukraine called, the July 25th phone

call may be just the tip of the iceberg.  We don`t know.  I think we`re

going to hear more from the DNI this week.  The president is going to meet

with his Ukrainian counterpart on Wednesday.  That will be an interesting

meeting to watch.


MATTHEWS:  As long as one-fifth of the American people are willing to push

for impeachment, Pelosi ain`t going to do it.  We`re going to give you the

phone number for Congress at the end of the show.  It`s time for the voice

of the people.


ALKSNE:  Yes.  And I`m not sure it`s fair to put Schiff and Nadler in the

same group.  I think Schiff can and will be more effective or maybe I`m

just –


MATTHEWS:  I`m waiting (ph).


ALKSNE:  But he`s capable.  He`s got this big meeting –


MATTHEWS:  We`ll know Thursday.


ALKSNE:  This week, the Congress is going to decide if they`re an equal

branch of government or not.


MATTHEWS:  If they found out they`re going to get this complaint or not and

they have to get a right to the complaint under statutes that they passed

in Congress, signed by the president that they have to give this

information, the whistleblower came up with the president`s phone call.  If

they don`t get it, Congress is irrelevant.


Thank you, Cynthia Alksne.  Thank you, Ned Price.


Coming up, the Republican fog machine for Hillary was Benghazi, Benghazi,

Benghazi, and the emails, the emails, the emails, and now, it`s Biden and

it`s Ukraine.





about Joe Biden?   Do you know what I told my colleague?  They`re going to

cover this up.  Too bad Biden is involved in this.  I got a nice straight

case of Ukrainian collusion.




MATTHEWS:  It doesn`t matter that the allegations are untrue or not even

spelled out by this crowd.  They keep hammering away at it without actually

saying what`s wrong.  What did Biden do wrong, please tell us?


Plus, Elizabeth Warren surges ahead in Iowa.  She`s ahead of Biden now. 

The Democrats know that whoever wins the caucuses out there almost always

gets the nomination.  So what can Biden, Bernie and the others do to stop

her?  Look, she`s going fast.


We`ve got much more coming to get to tonight.  Stick with us.






MARIA BARTIROMO, FOX NEWS:  Did the president threaten to cut off aid… 




BARTIROMO:  … to the Ukraine?


GIULIANI:  No.  No.  That was a false story. 


BARTIROMO:  One hundred percent? 


GIULIANI:  Well, I can`t tell you if it`s 100 percent. 




BARTIROMO:  But we know that…






MATTHEWS:  I can`t tell you, Rudy`s – a moment of honesty from Rudy



Welcome back to HARDBALL.


This weekend, President Trump`s personal – there he was – Rudy Giuliani

continued to defend – sort of – the president`s dealings with Ukraine.


Giuliani also continued to alleged misdeeds committed by former Vice

President Joe Biden. 




GIULIANI:  Joe Biden knew that they were zeroing in on Hunter.


And he went over there and he got him fired. 


Do you know, when I found out about Joe Biden, do know what I told my

colleague?  They are going to cover this up. 


Too bad Biden is involved in this.  I got a nice straight case of Ukrainian



JOHN ROBERTS, FOX NEWS:  You`re straying into areas of opinion, as opposed

to fact.


GIULIANI:  No, I`m not.  I`m straying into what is wrong with us today.




MATTHEWS:  But the facts are not in Giuliani`s corner. 


As “The Washington Post” reports: “No evidence has surfaced that Biden

acted inappropriately, and Trump`s allies did not provide such evidence.”


Giuliani wasn`t alone this weekend in pushing the president`s talking





MIKE POMPEO, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE:  If there was election interference

that took place by the vice president, I think the American people deserve

to know. 


SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC):  I`m hoping the Department of Justice will look

at the Biden-Ukraine connection like we looked at the Trump-Russia





MATTHEWS:  Well, “The Washington Post” notes again there is no evidence

that Biden played any role in election interference efforts by foreign

governments in 2016. 


Meanwhile, on CNN, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin attempted to criticize

Hunter Biden`s business with Ukraine, while avoiding questions over how

that differs from the business dealings of President Trump`s children. 




STEVEN MNUCHIN, U.S. TREASURY SECRETARY:  What I do find is inappropriate

is the fact that Vice President Biden at the time`s son did very

significant business dealings in Ukraine. 


JAKE TAPPER, CNN:  So it is OK for Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump Jr. to

do business all over the world, it`s OK for Ivanka Trump to have copyrights

approved all over the world while President Trump is president, but while

Vice President Joe Biden was vice president, his son shouldn`t have been

able to do business dealings? 


MNUCHIN:  Again, I don`t – I don`t really want to go into more of these







MATTHEWS:  He – when it comes to using talking points, that man is an

amateur.  He may know how to make money, but he doesn`t know anything about



I`m joined by Charlie Sykes, editor in chief of The Bulwark, and Eugene

Robinson, who you just saw enjoying this absurdity.


Gene, didn`t he expect that that would be the counterpoint?




No, apparently not, no, apparently.  Mnuchin is not good at this.  So he`s

not good at the talking points game.


MATTHEWS:  That`s the last time he`s going to take talking points and use



ROBINSON:  Exactly. 


But it`s ridiculous.  Let`s just establish the baseline.  This whole thing

they`re trying to cook up is a lie.  There was no investigation of Hunter

Biden under way when the prosecutor was fired. 


The prosecutor was corrupt, tied to the old pro-Russian government.  The G7

and the E.U. and everybody wanted this guy gone.  He was a corrupt remnant

of the old regime, and everybody wanted him out.  And Biden managed to

dislodge him.  That`s what happened. 


MATTHEWS:  Charlie, help me with this, because this is new to me.  I think

it`s new to me. 


There`s certain words you can say right of center all the way through Trump

land, and they just do – it`s a question that answers itself. 




MATTHEWS:  So you just say, as if like presto or bingo – at a bingo party,

you just yell out, Benghazi.  And you go, oh, yes, that`s right. 


What are they saying that`s right to?  Or they just say e-mails.  Oh, I

love that one.  And that`s it.  The question is the answer.  We hate her. 

We hate Hillary.  It`s like a buzzword. 


SYKES:  Yes. 


MATTHEWS:  Just say, do you like Hillary?  Do you hate Hillary?  Yes, we

will say the Benghazi.  We will say – with this guy – with Biden, it`s

going to be Ukraine. 


They`re going to say it.  You know that Trump`s teaching to the choir now

the words to speak.


But don`t any Republicans – doesn`t a single Republican say, what are you

getting at?  What are you talking about, Mr. President?  What is this? 

Don`t they ever ask the question, what?


Your thoughts.


SYKES:  I think your phrase about the fog machine was right on target here. 


But, actually, we are kind of in a new phase.  And we saw this over the

weekend.  We spent the last couple of years talking about Republican

complicity or Republican silence.  What you saw there was all in on the

Trump conspiracy theories in this – this – it`s sort of like Hitchcock`s

“Gaslight” meets Orwell, these fabricated stories that they are putting



And, again, this is part of the – this is the now – by now familiar

playbook that we have seen, flipping the script, projecting whatever you –

wrongdoing you are doing on to the other guy. 


And I think this is going to be a stress test.  It`s going to be a stress

test for the media in how they cover this, whether they`re going to be

sucked into this, this narrative.  It`s going to be a stress test,

obviously, for the rule of law, and for what – how Congress deals with all

of this, because, I mean, think about what Republicans are doing right now. 


They have spent the last three years saying, absolutely not, there`s no

collusion.  How dare you suggest that the president engaged in any

collusion with Russia?


And this week, they`re in, well of course he colluded with a foreign power. 

That`s his job.  He is supposed to collude.  There`s nothing wrong with

collusion.  And


so it`s a – it`s a remarkable moment in our political history. 


MATTHEWS:  By the way, Rudy Giuliani said over the weekend he`s been

working toward this moment for months.  This is what he wants, this

conversation.  Let`s figure that one out. 


Republicans have also been relatively silent on the implications of Trump

discussing Biden with the Ukrainian president. 




SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY):  It is regrettable that House Intelligence

Committee Chairman Schiff and Senator Schumer have chosen to politicize the



SEN. PAT TOOMEY (R-PA):  I don`t know the context.  I don`t know what was



REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA):  This is not something I`d ever see the

president doing.  And I would, instead of jump to conclusions, actually get

the facts first. 




MATTHEWS:  I love that Pat Toomey from Pennsylvania:  I`m just asleep here. 

I don`t know.  Don`t know nothing, the Sergeant Schultz answer.  I don`t

know nothing. 




MATTHEWS:  Anyway, the president – actually, here`s what – I call him the

president by mistake, because sometimes he acts like one, Mitt Romney.  


He tweeted this weekend: “If the president asked or pressured Ukraine`s

president to investigate his political rival, it would be troubling in the

extreme.”  That`s Mitt Romney. 


He was pressed on that comment by NBC late today. 




SEN. MITT ROMNEY (R-UT):  The allegations that were made in the – in the

press are quite serious.  And the question now is, what exactly did happen? 


QUESTION:  Do you need the transcript?  Because the president has already

admitted that he did have this conversation with Ukrainians` leader and

that he did talk about the Bidens, and that he did, in effect, ask this

foreign power to investigate one of his political opponents. 


ROMNEY:  He said he spoke, mentioned President – excuse me – Vice

President Biden`s name, but did not ask for an investigation. 


He did not say that.  He may have, by the way.  I just don`t know whether

that was in fact said by the president or not. 




MATTHEWS:  Well, let me go back to this. 


What do you think, Charlie they`re up to with Bide?  I mean, Giuliani has

been so – he calls Vice President Biden`s son a drug addict.  The line is

being thrown out.  The stuff, what used to consider dirtball in politics,

just – this is the weekend to dump it. 


Are they trying to get Biden to react?  Is that what they`re up to, to get

it – to ignite him? 


SYKES:  Well, I think that what they`re trying to do is to smear him and to

derail him.


And what`s extraordinary about this is, the president of the United States

and his allies are fabricating many of the allegations.  As Eugene

mentioned, a lot of this has no basis in fact whatsoever. 


And I think part of this is the brazenness of the president, knowing that

he can do this, knowing he has Cabinet members, including, by the way, the

secretary of state of the United States, who is going to go out and

fabricate some of these allegations…





SYKES:  … knowing that Republicans will either be silent or go along with

it, and knowing that he has a friendly news media that will be an echo

chamber for all of this. 


And so, yes, I think he thinks that Joe Biden poses the greatest threat to

his reelection.  This is a way of doing to him what he did to Hillary

Clinton, toxifying him.  And if he derails his campaign, great.


If Biden goes on and gets the nomination, you will be hearing about this

throughout 2020. 


MATTHEWS:  Gene, I also think it`s probably a road map to whoever the

Democratic nominee is. 




MATTHEWS:  He`s just got a report – “Wall Street Journal”/NBC poll that 70

percent of the American people don`t like this guy, don`t think he`s worthy

to be president. 


ROBINSON:  Exactly. 


MATTHEWS:  Personally, he`s got to destroy – turn his opponent into a



ROBINSON:  Well, exactly.


His negatives are so high, that he`s got to raise the negatives of whoever

he runs against.  And that`s what he`s going to try to do. 


He was fortunate in running against Hillary Clinton, who had high negatives

to begin with.  It`s the only way he got elected president.




ROBINSON:  And nobody in the field now is anywhere near that in terms of

unlikableness, or high negatives, as Hillary Clinton was. 


So it`s just – we`re going to see more and more of it.  As Charlie said,

this is the playbook. 


I would point out one thing.  When we say, let`s get the transcript, no,

let`s not just get the transcript.  They need to get the entire whistle-

blower complaint. 




ROBINSON:  Because…


MATTHEWS:  The law requires they turn it over.


ROBINSON:  Well, the law requires they turn it over. 


SYKES:  Yes. 


ROBINSON:  And, apparently, the complaint, it has been reported, involves

more than one incident. 


So it`s not just – just this one transcript of this one phone call.  There

are other things involved in this report, apparently. 


MATTHEWS:  Well done.  Thank you, Gene Robinson, so much. 


Thank you, Charlie Sykes.


Up next:  Does this latest scandal change the impeachment equation for



I talked about the politics.  The partisan Democrats, what are they going

to think about this?  Do they have enough fire?  Can they create enough

fire from this fact of what Trump`s really admitted now to move forward? 


You`re watching HARDBALL. 




MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL. 


President Trump`s brazen solicitation of dirt on a political adversary, Joe

Biden, under the guise of conducting foreign policy, has reignited the

debate over impeachment within the House Democratic Caucus. 


Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi sent a letter to her Democratic Caucus

members explaining that she expects the acting director of national

intelligence to hand over that whistle-blower`s complaint and make it

available to the House and Senate Intelligence Committees. 


She ended the letter with a vague new threat: “If the administration

persists in blocking this whistle-blower from disclosing to Congress a

serious possible breach of constitutional duties by the president, they

will be entering a grave new chapter of lawlessness, which will take us

into a whole new stage of investigation.”


And there`s breaking news just tonight from “The Washington Post.”


House Democratic leaders have called a caucus meeting tomorrow afternoon to

discuss questions of impeachment. 


For more, I`m joined by Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi, Democrat from

Illinois and a member of both the Oversight and Intelligence committees. 


Congressman, this meeting tomorrow afternoon called by Pelosi, what do you

make of it?  Is this going to be a decision-making meeting or a meeting to

calm you People down? 


REP. RAJA KRISHNAMOORTHI (D-IL):  I think it`s probably going to be a

meeting where people can express their views and have a chance to kind of

weigh in on what`s happening this week. 


I just want to point to you the seriousness of what`s about to happen this

Thursday.  It`s a follow-on to hearing, a closed-door hearing that we had

last week, probably the most sobering intelligence hearing I have been to.


We had a witness from central casting who basically came in and gave very

careful, considered and consistent testimony, basically saying to us, do

something about this complaint.  And he happened to be appointed by the

Trump administration. 


So that`s why I think people are so concerned right now. 


MATTHEWS:  Well, that`s the inspector general.  But what about the head of

the DNI? 




MATTHEWS:  Is he going – the director of national intelligence, you`re

going to have him in on Thursday, Mr. Maguire.




MATTHEWS:  If he stiffs you guys, if he strong-arms – straight-arms you

and say, you`re not going to get the complaint, even though the law

requires you get it, what then?


KRISHNAMOORTHI:  Well, he backs us into a corner.


The Trump administration backs us into a corner, where we have to basically

look at other tools.  As Chairman Schiff said, essentially, at that point,

we have a couple different options.  I think going down the impeachment

road might be one of them. 


I think – right now, I think a lot of my colleagues – by the way, during

that hearing last week, Republicans were unusually engaged on this

particular issue, in part because this guy, the inspector general, has no

reason to lie. 


In fact, telling the truth probably might cost him his career. 


MATTHEWS:  Well, I think we know already the heart of the conversation. 

The president was seeking dirt against a political opponent and using the

goodwill of the American presidency to get it. 


Let me – you – ask you that central question now, Congressman.  Would it

be a high crime for a president to do such a thing? 


KRISHNAMOORTHI:  Yes, I think – the Mueller investigation was about

whether the Trump campaign conspired with the Russians to interfere in our



Here, if the reporting is accurate, then Trump is inviting and asking

another power to interfere in our democracy and conspiring with them in the



This is, in my opinion, even worse than what was thought to potentially

have happened in 2016. 


MATTHEWS:  Tell me why you think this is what it is, a high crime.


Describe the transaction that we – we understand the president have been

engaged in with the – with the Ukrainian president, Zelensky.


What was the transaction, as you understood it? 


KRISHNAMOORTHI:  Well, we know, at a minimum, that he talked about –

according to the reporting, if it`s accurate, that he talked about

investigating Vice President Biden.


The other fact which is also in the mix, which we`re not sure about, was

whether there was a quid pro quo.  Namely, we will give you aid, which you

were already obligated to receive, in return for conducting this inquiry in



So that even makes the situation worse.  And so that`s why we have to get

that complaint.  We have to get the transcript of the calls as well. 


MATTHEWS:  Where`s Pelosi on this? 


Because you have about 130-35 members of the House Democrats, of the

caucus, who are for beginning a formal impeachment process.




MATTHEWS: You`ve got about a hundred who aren`t on board for doing it.  How

many will it take to get Pelosi to move and say, yes, we`re going to go

ahead with a formal resolution of impeachment to begin the procedures?


KRISHNAMOORTHI:  I don`t know.  You`d have to ask her.  But what I do know

is that right now we have a majority of the caucus, including myself who

would urge the impeachment process to begin, but that`s not a majority of

the House.




KRISHNAMOORTHI:  And you do need a majority of the House to proceed.  So I

think that might be weighing on any calculations here as well. 


MATTHEWS:  OK.  Let`s see how that moves by Thursday, if you get stiff

armed again, I don`t know what you can do. 


Anyway, thank you, Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi.


KRISHNAMOORTHI:  Thank you.  Thank you, Chris.


MATTHEWS:  Thank you so much from Illinois. 




MATTHEWS:  Up next, all eyes are on Iowa now.  A new poll has Elizabeth

Warren, the senator from Massachusetts in the lead now.  It happened over

the weekend. 


“Des Moines Register” poll, first time she`s ahead of Biden, way ahead of

schedule.  Is she the new front runner?  Of course.  The question is, will

she be the frontrunner come February 3rd when they vote in Iowa. 


You`re watching HARDBALL.




MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.


The Democratic presidential candidates now begin a four-month race to win

the first presidential test in Iowa.  Seventeen of the candidates were in

Iowa this weekend for the annual steak fry, as a new poll showed a

significant shake up among the race`s top tier.  With Senator Elizabeth

Warren overtaking former Vice President Joe Biden for the first time. 

She`s in first place. 


The “Des Moines Register”/CNN poll of likely caucusgoers shows Warren

leading at 22 points, 22 percent, a seven-point increase since June.  Biden

follows closely behind at 20 percent, down three points since June. 


Senator Bernie Sanders not doing so well, he`s in third place at 11

percent, down 5 points since June.  Mayor Pete Buttigieg, and Kamala Harris

rounding out the top five. 


I`m watching Pete Buttigieg, by the way.  I think he`s the sleeper. 


Since 1976, each Democrat who has won the Iowa caucuses has gone on to win

the Democratic nomination with only two exceptions, Dick Gephardt of

neighboring Missouri, won in 1988, Iowa native Tom Harkin, who won in the

`90.  All the rest won.  Won in Iowa, won the whole thing.


But the new poll also indicates that the race for Iowa is far from over,

and that`s coming up next, it`s very volatile, as I said, watch Buttigieg. 


You`re watching HARDBALL.




MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.


Senator Elizabeth Warren is surging in Iowa right now, narrowly overtaking

former Vice President Joe Biden in the latest “Des Moines Register” poll

out this weekend.  In Michigan on Sunday, Senator Warren was asked about

her new presumptive front runner status. 




REPORTER:  The new polls out in Iowa today show you surging, are you a

candidate to beat in Iowa?  Are you candidate to beat Biden there? 



We are still months away from the Iowa caucuses, and the first primary





MATTHEWS:  I`m still waiting to meet my first politician who doesn`t hire a

pollster.  Anyway, in fact, with more than 130 days to go until the Iowa

caucuses, “The Register” poll out there show that among those with the

first choice candidate, more than 2/3 of likely caucusgoers say they could

be persuaded to support another candidate.  So, they`re loosey-goosy out

there in the caucusgoers. 


For more, I`m joined by Neera Tanden, CEO of the Center for American

Progress, and Ryan Williams, Republican strategist. 


One thing I have noticed over the last week, and I think – it`s not that

she`s going to get bashed like Biden may get bashed by this president, but

she`s going to be under scrutiny.  Front runners get a lot of scrutiny. 




MATTHEWS:  She`s going to have to answer the George Stephanopoulos

question, the question I raised, what`s this all going to cost?


Right now, you – everybody who look at their paychecks now, you can see

you pay a certain Medicare tax.  It`s basically $1.45 for every $100.  It`s

1-1/2 points.


If you`re going to have Medicare-for-All, then obviously, it`s going to

have to go up, she won`t answer the question.  She`s going to have to

answer that question.  How much your Medicare tax going up if you get



TANDEN:  I think that – you sat with Pete Buttigieg over the weekend, he`s

already asking that question.  He`s pushed that question out.  A lot of

other candidates have asked that question. 


I think in the next debate, she will have to have an answer to that

question.  I do think she`s –


MATTHEWS:  A numerical answer. 


TANDEN:  I mean, a yes-or-no answer to the question. 


MATTHEWS:  OK, yes or no.


TANDEN:  She has to answer it in some form or fashion.  She`s been saying

that costs overall will be better.  But I think she has to just answer the

question in fact. 


But I do think – look, she`s running a great campaign.  She has great

crowds.  I do think – I have been in primary campaigns that were ahead in

September that weren`t ahead at this point.  You do – there`s a lot of

people who were actually still deciding. 


MATTHEWS:  Neera asked an interesting point, and that is she`s raised a

name Pete Buttigieg.  I`m waiting maybe because I love politics, just the

contest of it and the surprise of it.  I don`t like everything written down

ahead of time.  Buttigieg may appeal to those people that literally like to

spend a lot of time with candidates.  They`re very thoughtful in Iowa. 

They`re a little bit to the left, a little more populist than the rest of

the country. 


But I – my God, if that guy goes in there and gives those paragraph by

paragraph answers to every question as if he had the question two weeks

ago, I think he`s rising up – he`s already starting to rise out there. 


RYAN WILLIAMS, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST:  He could be the sleeper if Warren

and Biden and Sanders blow each other up in the debates heading into the





WILLIAMS:  He shoots the middle because people like him in the Democratic

Party.  He`s not – he`s not in the top three at this point, but he`s right

there in the kind of the back of the pack amongst the serious candidates. 


MATTHEWS:  All right.


WILLIAMS:  And there`s a long way to go.  If Warren is having a moment,

she`s definitely the front-runner at this point. 


MATTHEWS:  A bit too early. 


WILLIAMS:  It`s a little early.  If this was November or December, I think

she would feel better about it, but she does have a good organization in

place to capture the voters that are coming –




MATTHEWS:  OK, is Bernie done?


TANDEN:  It`s always good to be ahead. 


MATTHEWS:  Is Bernie done?  I want to have fun here.  Is Bernie done? 




MATTHEWS:  I thought Bernie – people love him and you`ve got to give him

his authenticity.  It is – this guy has been selling this point of view,

Democratic socialism for most of his adult life.  But I didn`t think he was

in control of the last debate.  I thought he looked like Christopher Lloyd

in “Back to the Future,” he was all over the place. 


TANDEN:  I think – 


MATTHEWS:  He didn`t look like a president. 


TANDEN:  I think a really important difference between Warren`s numbers in

the “Des Moines Register” poll and Sanders is that Warren is playing both

Clinton voters and from Sanders voters. 


MATTHEWS:  What are Clinton voters? 


TANDEN:  People who voted in 2016 for Hillary. 




TANDEN:  Both – Warren is getting basically equally from both sides.




TANDEN:  Sanders hasn`t pulled any Clinton voters to his side.  I think he

doesn`t so far have a campaign to expand, but maybe he will.  I mean, he`s

a stern campaigner.  I do not want to take that away from him.


MATTHEWS:  What do you think of David Brooks` comment this week?  I`m not

usually a big – he`s more conservative than me. 


But Brooks said the point that he said Senator Warren is very self-aware. 

She knows how she comes across.  She knows what just to correct, which is

very smart in a politician.  You can see, well, that`s a least I got to fix



Bernie`s not self-aware.  He`s just Bernie.


What do you think of that?


WILLIAMS:  I think that`s right.


Look, she`s trying to play up her Midwest background, senator from Harvard.




WILLIAMS:  You know – 


MATTHEWS:  Oklahoma.


WILLIAMS:  Yes, Massachusetts.  I think that`s right.


Bernie Sanders is Bernie Sanders.  He`s a disheveled guy that says what

he`s going to say and that`s what he`s on issue – 




TANDEN:  I mean, that`s what – that`s what his campaign sells.  And he

says, you know, the same thing no matter what. 


WILLIAMS:  Not message testing or anything.


TANDEN:  Like for his supporters, a boon for him.  A big question for him

has always been, can he expand beyond his base? 


MATTHEWS:  Yes, disheveled was never a calculation, he just is.  I think

everyone would say, that`s authentic. 


Anyway, “Politico” is reporting that the Trump campaign is pessimistic

about Michigan now because they just won it by 10,000.  Of course, they`re

going to be pessimist.  After a midterm election that decimated the ranks

of Michigan Republicans, Trump`s campaign is looking to other battle

grounds he lost last time like Minnesota and New Hampshire. 


Look, I think that`s nonsense.  He`s going to lose Michigan and that`s the

question to worry about.  Let me go right now. 


TANDEN:  This I think is a function of his entire presidency.  He spent no

time in the last three years trying to reach out to any voters that aren`t

his base.  That just puts you in a precarious position – 




TANDEN:  – in any state in which you barely won.  And, of course, the

Democrats did very well in all the House races in Michigan and in the

governor`s race, who – a woman who – Gretchen Whitmer won comfortably. 


MATTHEWS:  Scott Perry, Pennsylvania, I`ll look at the numbers –


WILLIAMS:  He doesn`t need Michigan. 




MATTHEWS:  I went to the numbers.


Anyway, thank you so much, Neera Tanden.  I don`t know why they write that

in Politico”.  I thought it was ridiculous.  He`s looking to New Hampshire

to make up for – give me a break.  You`ve got to win the country. 


Thank you, Neera Tanden.  You`re great.  Thank you, Ryan Williams, thank



Coming up – I know, because I got analysis from you, I love it. 


TANDEN:  Thank you.


MATTHEWS:  And you too.  Thank you.


I want – ahead, the president colluded with foreign leader to get dirt on

an opponent, what do we make of that and what can we do about it?  That`s

the big question.  What can we do about a president openly admitting, OK,

I`m going after dirt on Biden, from other president?


That`s next. 




MATTHEWS:  I want to place this question before you.  You.  Should this man

be serving as your president? 


You`ve been following this story of Donald Trump for months and for all

these months since it came out that he`d accepted help from a foreign

government to get elected.  And now, we all see, clearly, he`s doing it

again.  He admits talking with the president of Ukraine to get dirt on Joe



The difference is, this time, we don`t have to connect the dots.  We don`t

have to piece together a meeting at Trump Tower built on the promise of

dirt on Hillary Clinton, a meeting in June of 2016 involving his son and a

messenger from Moscow.  We don`t have to link father to son, messenger to

Putin.  No. 


Here we have the president of the United States admitting that he told the

president of Ukraine he wanted dirt.  He offered up over the weekend what

it took Democrats three years to muster, a presidential confession that he

traded his office for personal political gain.  As I said at the beginning

of the show, much the same as Rod Blagojevich tried selling his power to

fill Barack Obama`s Senate seat to feather his political nest. 


Corruption takes many forms, but usually it comes down to this one – a

politician using the power given to him by office to get something for

himself.  If you see it this way, the switchboard for your member of

Congress in Washington is 202-225-3121, 202-225-3121, and ask for his or

her office.  If they won`t vote, you can. 


And that`s HARDBALL for now.  Thanks for being with us.


“ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES” starts right now. 








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