GOP Lawmakers invited to WH today. TRANSCRIPT: 9/25/19, Hardball w/ Chris Matthews.

Guests:
Joel Brenner, Michael Schmidt, Barbara McQuade, Eric Swalwell, Jan Schakowsky, Richard Ben-Veniste, Donna Edwards
Transcript:

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST:  I made him an offer he couldn`t refuse.  Let`s

play HARDBALL.

 

Good evening.  I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.

 

I would like you to do us a favor though.  Well, those were President

Trump`s words to Ukrainian President Zelensky this summer, as Zelensky

sought vital military arms from the United States.  That`s what came from

the White House notes at that July conversation released just today, which

paints a damning picture of the conversation now at the center of an

official impeachment inquiry.

 

Not only does the memo confirm reports that Trump asked for an

investigation of Joe Biden, it suggested the president of the United States

conditioned defense of a U.S. ally on delivering the dirt on Biden.  Was it

true or false?

 

Trump emphasizes multiple times to Ukrainian President Zelensky that,

quote, the United States has been very, very good to Ukraine, and that

prompted Zelensky to bring up what he needs to defend his country from

Russian aggression, continued U.S. military assistance.

 

Thank you for your great support in the area of defense, he said.  We are

almost ready to buy more Javelins from the United States for defense

purposes.  Well, Javelins are those shoulder-mounted anti-tank missiles. 

There they are.  There`re different versions of them, there`s one you put

it on your shoulder, that U.S. has been deploying to Ukraine for their

self-defense.

 

In responding to Zelensky`s plea for missiles, Trump immediately made some

requests of his own.  He says, I would like you to do us a favor though. 

Trump then brings up the Mueller probe and its origins, asking Zelensky to

get to the bottom of it.  Zelensky then tells Trump that his assistant has

already spoken to Rudy Giuliani.

 

Trump goes onto make another request, saying, the other thing, there`s a

lot of talk about Biden`s son, that Biden stopped the prosecution.  So if

you can look into it, it sounds horrible to me.

 

Well, President Zelensky assures Trump that his next prosecutor general

will look into this situation.  Only after receiving that assurance does

Trump then offer Zelensky a personal meeting at the White House.

 

Throughout the telephone call, Trump repeatedly urged Zelensky to speak to

Rudy Giuliani, who was known to be pushing Ukraine to investigate Biden.

 

The release of this memo came the same day that Trump met with President

Zelensky today at the U.N.  Zelensky was careful not to offend the

president today.  He`s relying on him for national defense.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

REPORTER:  Have you felt any pressure from President Trump to investigate

Joe Biden and Hunter Biden?

 

VOLODYMYR ZELENSKY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT:  I think you read everything, so I

think you read text.  I`m sorry, but I don`t want to be involved to

democratic open elections – elections of USA.  No, you heard we had I

think good phone call.  It was normal.  We spoke about many things.  And so

I think and you read it that nobody pushed me.  Yes.

 

DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT:  In other words, no pressure.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

MATTHEWS:  Well, Zelensky underscored Ukraine`s independence and said his

prosecutor is free to decide whatever to investigate for himself.

 

All of this emerged from that urgent whistleblower`s complaint, which after

being suppressed for weeks, was delivered to Congress late today.

 

I`m joined by Democratic Congressman Eric Swalwell, a member of the House

Intelligence Committee, who just viewed that complaint.  Congressman, thank

you.

 

Can you tell us at least in qualitative terms how much more is there in

this compliant, this formal complaint to the I.G. that we saw in the memo

today of the conversation between the president and the president of

Ukraine?

 

REP. ERIC SWALWELL (D-CA):  Chris, I can tell you what`s described in the

complaint is deeply disturbing.  The acting Director of National

Intelligence prohibits me from even connecting it to the president`s call

with Ukraine.

 

But I`ll just say this.  The whistleblower, thank God this person came

forward, lays out witnesses that we need to follow up with, documents that

we need to get and also describes a number of individuals around this

disturbing conduct who never came forward.  That`s what`s really concerning

to me.

 

I just also want to speak briefly to what you described as the president`s

call to Ukraine.  Not only does he ask the Ukrainian president to

investigate a political opponent, that`s seeking a favor and you`re going

to owe that person something, in that transcript, he also is essentially

doing Russia`s bidding and seeking to exonerate Russia for the work that

they did in the election by seeing if someone else was involved with this

server that he asked them to follow up on.  So that in itself is betrayal

to our country.

 

MATTHEWS:  What do you make of this?  Many people believe that for a

president of the United States to condition military support in the form

here of Javelin missiles to fight Russian tanks, the condition that

delivery of those weapons, defensive weapons on whether a president of that

allied country gives him dirt on a political opponent, is itself a high

crime?  Where are you on that?

 

SWALWELL:  Yes, it is, and it`s corrupt.  It`s the way that third world

leaders conduct themselves, not the president of the United States.  And,

again, the president has made the standard quid pro quo, just the fact that

he asks shows that he would have to owe the Ukrainian president something,

putting foreign government`s priorities above America`s.

 

But, again, if you step back here, Chris, the Ukrainian`s aren`t stupid. 

They know that militarily, economically and just through credibility, they

need the United States.  And if aid is being held back and the president of

the United States is asking you to do something, they`re going to do it.

 

MATTHEWS:  Trump is our Commander-in-Chief.  He`s our head of State, he`s

head of government in many ways in a country that has power divided among

branches of government.  He is, in many ways, the symbol of our country,

the one that the American people have to look up to for their defense.  Has

he betrayed that role in using his control over armed supplies to an allied

country that`s vulnerable to Russia?  Has he betrayed that responsibility

certainly to the American people by serving his partisan interest?

 

SWALWELL:  President Trump has betrayed America`s moral leadership in the

world.  He`s pushed us away from traditional democracies who care about

human rights and has drawn us closer to people like Vladimir Putin, Kim

Jong-un, Edorgan of Turkey, Dutrterte of the Philippines.  And, boy, Chris,

if this is the way he talked to the president of Ukraine right after he`s

elected president, imagine what the transcripts read like when he talks to

Putin.

 

MATTHEWS:  Well, let`s talk about this.  He likes to say, in his talking

points and distribute it to all the Republican, basically robo thinkers and

talkers, they put the word out today, it`s not quid pro quo.  I would

suggest it might not be the very phrase, quid pro quo.  It sounded to me

like extortion.  If you want these weapons to defend yourself against

Russian tanks, you better play ball with me and give me some dirt.  You

give me that, I`ll give you your White House meeting, I`ll give you your

anti-tank missiles.  That sounds more like I made an offer they couldn`t

refuse, much more than extortion than – it wasn`t a deal.  It was a

threat.

 

SWALWELL:  It was a mob shakedown.

 

MATTHEWS:  Right.  What more do you need?  The thing I`m concerned about,

and some people get mad when I raise this, it seems like we`ve got so many

lawyers in the House of Representatives now, so many process people.  You

guys are always ready to serve a subpoena or have another contempt citation

or talking about inherent content and all this crap poll, and all you do is

look this thing in the eye and see it.

 

Is this impeachable or not and have a vote within the next few weeks and

move on because it`s not going to look anymore clear in two or three weeks? 

What more do you as a congressman, a member of the Intelligence Committee

and a member of the Judiciary to know?  What more do you want to know to

decide this case yourself?

 

SWALWELL:  Keep it simple.  As a former prosecutor, nothing is more

powerful as evidence than a defendant`s own admission of guilt, and we have

that in the notes that were released today.

 

MATTHEWS:  Great leadership there.  Thank you so much, Eric Swalwell,

California U.S. Congressman.

 

Hours after the release of the White House memo on President Trump`s call

with the Ukrainian president, Speaker Pelosi reaffirmed her belief that

President Trump`s behavior undermines the rule of law here.  For his part,

President Trump dismissed Pelosi and her role as speaker of the House.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA):  Today`s release of the notes of the call by the

White House confirms this behavior which undermines the integrity of our

election, the dignity of any presidency and our national security.

 

REPORTER:  Did you ask House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to find a way out of

impeachment yesterday?

 

TRUMP:  Not at all.  No.  Look, she`s lost her way.  She`s been taken over

by the radical left.  And she may be radical left herself and she really

has lost her way.

 

Nancy Pelosi, as far as I`m concerned, unfortunately, she`s no longer

speaker of the House.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

MATTHEWS:  I`m joined right now by Democratic Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky

of Illinois, who was the Chief Deputy Whip of the Democratic Caucus,

Richard Ben-Veniste is former Watergate Counsel and partner at Mayer Brown.

 

Congresswoman, thank.  I was just thinking about your long shore (ph) of

people along this Chicago waterfront and all those people that lived

through, and some of them weren`t old enough to remember World War II,

unfortunately, and think about all of the Cold War, how we defended those

captive countries along the border of Russia, the Soviet Union, how we were

looking out for them.  And here we have a case where one desperate country,

Ukraine, all they wanted were Javelin missile, the kind you put on your

shoulder to shoot at Russian tanks that take your country apart.

 

And he says, yes, but, first, let`s talk about what I want.  I want some

dirt on my opponent.  Give me that and then we`ll talk business. 

Extraordinary icon (ph).  Your thoughts.

 

REP. JAN SCHAKOWSKY (D-IL):  It`s so obvious.  And I think what`s different

about this is that any person, you don`t have to be a lawyer, can see what

this president has done, that he has compromised the integrity of our

Constitution, that he has used his power for his own personal political

gain.  I`m really kind of surprised that they released this at all.

 

But the one quote that I think that is also really important that you

didn`t say, the president, after saying, oh, we have done so much for

Ukraine, also said, and I wouldn`t say it`s reciprocated.  I mean, he was

saying, we want some reciprocation, and then he outlines it.  We want the

dirt on my political opponent.

 

And one other thing, he said, Rudy Giuliani, you should talk to him.  But

he also said that I want you to talk to the attorney general of the United

States of America.  So he was using every implement of government to also

reinforce this political goal of his to get dirt on Joe Biden.

 

MATTHEWS:  Well, Ukrainian President Zelensky, to make your point,

Congresswoman, seemed almost desperate to secure additional U.S. military

support during today`s photo-op.  Let`s watch him again.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

TRUMP:  If you remember, you lost Crimea during a different administration,

not during the Trump administration.

 

ZELENKSY:  Yes.  So you have chance to help us.

 

TRUMP:  That`s right, I do.

 

ZELENSKY:  I`m sorry, but we don`t need help.  We need support, real

support.  And we thank everybody, thank all of the European countries who

helped us.  But we also want to have more.

 

TRUMP:  I gave you anti-tank busters that, frankly, President Obama was

sending you pillows.  I really hope that you and President Putin get

together and can solve your problem.  That would be a tremendous

achievement.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

MATTHEWS:  Richard Ben-Veniste, this president goes down on this and

there`s certainly a good case he should be impeached for this, it`s because

of the absurd obsession with Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.  In the

midst of any conversation, it pops out of him like Tourette`s.  He can`t

get the names, Obama, gave you pillows.  I`m giving you missiles, I`m

giving you Javelin missiles and this stuff happened under somebody else,

and we`ve got to get Hillary`s server, somebody – it`s like one of these

National Enquirer things, the servers in Ukraine?  Keep going.  What is –

 

RICHARD BEN-VENISTE, FORMER WATERGATE COUNSEL:  That CrowdStrike was

mentioned, the company that was used to determine that the Russians were

behind the hacking.  This is really extraordinary, Chris.  And I have to

say that we have seen the evolution by President Trump going from Russia,

if you hear me, to Ukraine, listen up.

 

MATTHEWS:  In the midst of this, Congresswoman, he says – it`s so pathetic

and so condescending.  Here`s a country that`s vulnerable to the Russians. 

They`ve grabbed part of their country, Crimea, that they basically

inhabited.  But another part in the east, he says, why don`t you settle

your problem?  It`s like telling Finland to settle their problem with

Russia.  Little countries don`t solve their problems with big countries on

their borders.  They give into them.  I mean, what is he talking about?  It

was condescending, I thought, in addition to all this other impeachable

stuff.

 

SCHAKOWSKY:  It`s totally impeachable.  And I think the American people

have to understand how this misuse of his power is so blatant.  They`ve cut

$200 million away from a benefit to Ukraine just a week before this

conversation.  So I`m sure that the president of Ukraine understood that

this was a shakedown.  It was a shakedown.

 

MATTHEWS:  Wow.  The fear that Trump would abuse his power with Ukraine was

apparent to those around the president even before the phone call with the

president of Ukraine.

 

According to The Washington Post, this is the big stuff, several officials

describe tense meetings on Ukraine among national security officials at the

White House leading up to the president`s phone call.  Sessions that led

some participants to fear that Trump and those close to him appear prepared

to use U.S. leverage with the new leader of Ukraine for Trump`s political

gain.

 

And some senior officials worked behind the scenes to hold off a Trump

meeting or even a phone call with Ukrainian President Zelensky out of

concern that Trump would use the conversation to press Kiev, that`s the

capital over there, for damaging information on Joe Biden and his son.

 

It`s unbelievable.

 

BEN-VENISTE:  Well, it sounds like, Chris, from what Congressman Swalwell

said that this whistleblower complaint is going to provide a roadmap for

Congress to question other individuals who will have knowledge of the

requests that were made that setup the Zelensky call.  Clearly, he knew

what the president was going to say in the call because he`d had contact

from Giuliani and others.

 

And the mention of Attorney General Barr is extraordinary because it`s

Attorney General Barr who presumably ruled that the whistleblower complaint

did not make out a case.  Now, isn`t this a conflict of interest?

 

MATTHEWS:  Congresswoman, I have one concern, and it grows in my head. 

I`ll go to bed tonight worrying about it.  This will all get diffused into

a lot of committee jurisdictions.  There are six committees looking at

this.  A lot of members of Congress have their own particular focuses so

far, where they want to put their point.

 

Can the speaker and you and the ones who really aligned with her, can you

keep the focus on Ukraine, keep it a simple up or down vote on whether this

is an impeachable act, a high crime or not, and have a vote in a real

reasonable time, like a month from now, weeks in rather than months?  I`m

afraid this is going to get diffused.  I`m afraid they`ll never even get to

a vote.  That is my fear.  Because of the crazy incoherent way this has

been handled by the committee.

 

So just so many different voice, five-minute rule, you know how it works,

Congresswoman.  It`s very hard to keep a focus.  Can you (INAUDIBLE) can do

that?

 

SCHAKOWSKY:  So I think this is going to move swiftly.  Tomorrow, we`re

going to see an open hearing at the House Intelligence Committee.  We`re

going to learn from the whistleblower.  We`re going to talk to the DNI, the

Director of National Intelligence.  And I think this is going to build on

itself, and I think we will be able to move swiftly.

 

And as I said, I think the thing that`s different right now is that this is

so clear.  The American people are not going to be confused by this story. 

And we`re all going to be questioning whether this president is capable of

handling the intelligence in this country, dealing with foreign powers, if

he is capable of being president of the United States.

 

MATTHEWS:  Well said.  Thank you so much, U.S. Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky

of Illinois and Richard Ben-Veniste, a veteran of similar affairs.

 

Coming up, just a short time ago, the U.S. Congress received that explosive

whistleblower complaint itself.  What can we expect tomorrow when the

acting Director of National Intelligence, Joseph Maguire, testifies

publicly, as the Congresswoman just said?

 

And the man at the center of this Ukraine scandal is, no surprise, Rudy

Giuliani, here it is.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

RUDY GIULIANI, PRESIDENT TRUMP`S ATTORNEY:  Laura, I`m a pretty good

lawyer, just a country lawyer, but it`s all here, right here, the first

call from the State Department.

 

By the way, do you have any idea that the State Department –

 

CHRISTOPHER HAHN, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR:  So then you know the –

 

GIULIANI:  Shut up, moron.  Shut up.  You don`t know what you`re talking

about.

 

LAURA INGRAHAM, FOX NEWS HOST:  Chris, Chris –

 

GIULIANI:  You don`t know what you`re talking about, idiot.

 

HAHN:  I do.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

MATTHEWS:  Well, that`s (INAUDIBLE), isn`t it?

 

And tomorrow night, Senator and presidential candidate Kamala Harris is

going at it, joining us live.  She`s a member of the Senate Intelligence

Committee, one of the two committees interviewing the Director of National

Intelligence and the inspector general for security matters tomorrow.

 

Much more to get to in a day of fast-moving developments.  Stick with us.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL. 

 

Today, we learned that the White House notes of that July 25 phone call

between the president and the president of Ukraine that Trump conditioned -

- that`s where he conditioned whether U.S. military support was going to

get there if they gave us dirt on the president`s political rival Joe

Biden. 

 

Just hours after the White House release, some lawmakers have gotten a look

at the original whistle-blower complaint. 

 

At his news conference at the United Nations today, President Trump said he

supported the release of that complaint. 

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  But I have spoken with

Leader Kevin McCarthy and the Republicans, many of them.  And we were going

to do this anyway, but I have informed them, all of the House members, that

I fully support transparency on the so-called whistle-blower information.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

MATTHEWS:  For more, I`m joined by Michael Schmidt, Washington

correspondent for “The New York Times.”

 

Michael, what`s the state of play here tonight, Wednesday night?  The

president put on a good line today.  He sounded like he was confident that

he`s won this round.  And yet all the evidence points to what look like a -

- an extortion racket, the president of the United States saying, if you

went the weapons you need to defend your country, give me dirt. 

 

It`s all in the notes from that conversation. 

 

MICHAEL SCHMIDT, “THE NEW YORK TIMES”:  Well, the president thought that

the Democrats had been overplaying their hand, and that if the transcript

came out, that it would help him and it would show that this was not that

bad. 

 

I`m not sure that it has had that impact.  I think what you see in the

document is sort of a melding together of some of the worst allegations

made against the president in the Mueller report.  It`s talking to a

foreign country related to an election, and it`s also trying to use an

investigation of a rival to undermine them, and him using the power of his

presidency to do that. 

 

So, in this instance, he has melded together those two things into this

problem that sits in front of him. 

 

And what`s different about this problem than the other ones that we have

seen is that it`s sort of a single thing that he has to contend with.

 

Over the past three years, what it`s been is a lot of different things,

collusion, obstruction, different things about his business.  In this

instance, it`s sort of one thing, with a transcript with his own words. 

 

We are inside the room with him behind closed doors, seeing what he is

saying to a foreign leader and how he`s using his power. 

 

MATTHEWS:  That`s the way I read it, where it says in this – these notes

from the conversation put out by the National Security Council, “We`re

almost” – this is the president of Ukraine – sort of desperate: “We`re

almost ready to buy more Javelins” – these are the weapons used to fight

tanks with – “from the United States for defense purposes.”

 

The next thing the president says after hearing that plea for these anti-

tank weapons, he goes – here`s Trump: “I would like to do – I`d like you

to do us a favor, though.”

 

“I`d like you to do us a favor, though.”  How is that not the quid pro quo? 

The very moment the guy asks for what he needs to protect his country, the

president comes back with, yes, but I want you to do something for us,

though. 

 

SCHMIDT:  Yes. 

 

MATTHEWS:  That is a trading situation. 

 

I don`t know why Trump – except Trump also thought that Rod Blagojevich,

the guy who is in jail for 14 years for that kind of a trade, when he`s

trading Barack Obama`s Senate seat for his personal political gain, he

thought that was OK. 

 

Is it possible, in your reporting, that the president of the United States,

the one we have now, doesn`t know what awful is? 

 

SCHMIDT:  I`m not sure. 

 

But in terms of a quid pro quo, when those type of things happen, I don`t

think people sit down and say, hey, here`s the quid, here`s the pro and

here`s the quo.

 

MATTHEWS:  It looked like it there.

 

SCHMIDT:  I think what you have in this instance – well, in this instance,

it certainly comes up earlier in the conversation. 

 

It looks like the president is trying to build leverage in that, sort of

showing, this is what we have done for you.  We have been very good to you

with this aid. 

 

MATTHEWS:  Sure.

 

SCHMIDT:  You know, the Europeans aren`t nearly as good as us. 

 

And then, after building that leverage, as if he`s building an argument, he

then goes in and he asks for the favor.  It`s actually – it`s asking this

country to do these investigations that would help him. 

 

MATTHEWS:  Thank you so much, one of the great reporters of our time,

Michael Schmidt.  Thank you of “The New York Times.” 

 

I want to bring a Joel Brenner, who is a former inspector general of the

National Security Agency and the former head of U.S. counterintelligence in

the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. 

 

I can`t think of a better guest.

 

Tell me about, well, sort of the context of this. 

 

When someone goes to the inspector general for national intelligence and

says to him, there`s something that I have overheard or discovered that is

very urgent to me and concerning, I`m worried about it, I`m bringing up a

complaint about it, what`s that all about?  Well, how important is that? 

 

JOEL BRENNER, FORMER NATIONAL SECURITY AGENCY INSPECTOR GENERAL:  Well,

that – it very important, because the reason these rules were created was

to give people who had something to complain about a way of elevating that

concern without leaking it. 

 

It was a way of sort of allowing somebody who saw something that was –

that was or that was thought to be really out of bounds, would elevate that

and tell the Oversight committees on the Hill about it, without having –

in a secure way, without leaking the information. 

 

So what we`re having now, what the administration was doing was really to

make leaking more likely.  Now, the more we learn today about the – and as

your – I think your viewers now know, the – that was stopped by the

intervention of the Justice Department…

 

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

 

BRENNER:  … which said they didn`t think the statute applied, which the

inspector general, Mr. Atkinson, thought it did apply. 

 

MATTHEWS:  Right.

 

BRENNER:  But the more we learn, the more it appears that the acting

director, Mr. Maguire, who we will hear from tomorrow, was playing a tough

and honorable inside game. 

 

“The Post” reports this afternoon he threatened to resign if he wasn`t

allowed to go to the Hill.  He`s denied that, which – so one doesn`t quite

know what to say about a resignation.  But he must have been playing a

tough inside game, because the White House has moved backwards on this. 

They have allowed him to go to the Hill. 

 

MATTHEWS:  OK. 

 

Let`s talk the perspective of the man or woman – we don`t know who – who

issued this whistle-blower complaint.  What`s the risk factor in that, in a

person who has got a career in the government to do that kind of thing? 

 

BRENNER:  Well, the point of the statute is to make that risk – to

eliminate that risk. 

 

And we looked – when I was an inspector general at NSA, if one saw a

retaliation against someone who had complained, we would come down like a

ton of bricks on that person.  You had to protect the person who was a

whistle-blower, who was a complainer, because, after all, all complainers

are not right about what they`re saying. 

 

And it`s the I.G.`s job to evaluate those things.  So we had a – we got a

really good mechanism to take care of this.  And the I.G. community does a

good job of protecting people who are complaining about things like that. 

 

MATTHEWS:  Let`s talk about the I.G., the job that the person has, Atkinson

in this case, who has to decide whether he`s going to follow the law or

not.

 

The law says, if it`s an urgent matter, it reaches a certain threshold of

national concern, that he has to carry that forward to the Congress, he has

to present the Congress the complaint.

 

BRENNER:  That`s…

 

MATTHEWS:  What would stop him…

 

BRENNER:  That`s right. 

 

MATTHEWS:  … an I.G. from doing that?

 

BRENNER:  Well…

 

MATTHEWS:  Why wouldn`t an I.G. deliver what he`s told to deliver to

Congress?  Because that`s what happened here with that Atkinson.

 

BRENNER:  Because the statute says he doesn`t go directly to Congress.  He

has to give it to his director or, in this case, his acting director. 

 

Now the I.G. and the acting director, although the I.G. is a watchdog, he`s

an executive branch official, like it or not.  He`s not a free agent.  He

works in the executive branch.

 

And the Office of Legal Counsel and Justice, Chris, is the last word as far

as the executive branch is concerned about what the law is.  And they said,

no, the law doesn`t apply here. 

 

Now, I didn`t agree with that, but that puts the – both the I.G. and the

acting director between a rock and a hard place.  They cannot insert their

own judgment in the place of OLC`s.

 

MATTHEWS:  OK. 

 

(CROSSTALK)

 

MATTHEWS:  How about some political analysis here?

 

We have an attorney general who`s being used by this president to do his

dirty work collecting dirt over in Ukraine.  We know that on the record

now, because it`s in the telephone notes of the president with the

president of Ukraine.  We know that.  That`s how this attorney general`s

being used, as a Roy Cohn, basically. 

 

And we also know he sided with the president in terms of the way he

presented the Mueller report, before, during and after, everything. 

Everything was basically juiced for the president`s purposes by this

attorney general. 

 

Now you cite the attorney general as the one who decides whether to deliver

the whistle-caller`s information to the Congress or not, as if it`s an

institution that`s immune to politics. 

 

This Department of Justice is totally politicized.  How can they render a

judgment? 

 

BRENNER:  Department of Justice – Department of Justice, under our

Constitution, Chris, is a political – is part of the political branches of

government.

 

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

 

BRENNER:  The A.G., like it or not, is a political appointee. 

 

That`s why, Chris, this is fundamentally not going to be solved by lawyers. 

 

MATTHEWS:  Thank you. 

 

BRENNER:  This is a political conflict between the two political branches

of government.  And it`s got to have a political solution, which is either

an election or an impeachment. 

 

Those are the tools.

 

MATTHEWS:  Mr. Brenner, you have said what I have been thinking not so

articulately now for months.  Lawyers are not going to solve this.  It may

not be about the letter of the law. 

 

It`s like pornography.  You know it when you see it.  And this president

has been committing a high crime. 

 

(CROSSTALK)

 

MATTHEWS:  Anyway, thank you, Joel Brenner.  I did like the way you said

that. 

 

We`re out of time.  Thank you. 

 

Up next…

 

(CROSSTALK)

 

MATTHEWS:  I`m sorry.  Make your thought.  I`m sorry, sir.  Go ahead.

 

BRENNER:  Well, I wanted to tell people who were focused on this quid pro

quo business, about which people are spinning whichever way they want to,

to focus instead on the sequence of events. 

 

MATTHEWS:  That`s what I think too.  Right. 

 

BRENNER:  That cannot be spun.  That can`t be spun. 

 

MATTHEWS:  The president froze the money.  He froze the money.  He froze

the arms.  Then he met with the guy on the phone and said, you still want

those arms?  OK, give me some dirt. 

 

BRENNER:  Yes. 

 

MATTHEWS:  Thank you, Joel Brenner, for slicing it. 

 

BRENNER:  And then…

 

MATTHEWS:  Well, we got to go.  I`m sorry.  I`m sorry, sir.  We will have

to have you back. 

 

Up next:  What exactly is Rudy Giuliani`s role in the U.S. government? 

Rudy Giuliani, he is not elected.  He`s not appointed to any real official

post. 

 

So, why is he talking to foreign governments, like Ukraine, on the

government`s behalf, or is he just the Roy Cohn of the moment?

 

You`re watching HARDBALL.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, FOX NEWS CHANNEL)

 

RUDY GIULIANI, ATTORNEY FOR PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP:  You know who I did it

at the request of?  The State Department. 

 

I never talked to a Ukrainian official until the State Department called me

and asked me to do it.  And then I reported every conversation back to

them. 

 

And, Laura, I`m a pretty good lawyer, just a country lawyer, but it`s all

here, right here. 

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.

 

That was President Trump`s personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, last night

defending his interactions with Ukraine.  Giuliani`s efforts to dig up dirt

on the Bidens is a central focus now of President Trump`s July phone call

with the Ukrainian president himself. 

 

And one key quote from the White House notes President Trump told the

Ukrainian leader: “I will ask him to call you, along with the attorney

general.  Rudy very much knows what`s happening.  And he`s a very capable

guy.  If you could speak with him, that would be great” – close quote.

 

Well, “The Washington Post” reports on Giuliani`s months-long shadow effort

to pressure Ukraine that – quote – “involved the abrupt removal of the

U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, the circumvention of senior officials on the

National Security Council, and the suspension of hundreds of millions of

dollars of aid administered by the Defense and State departments.”

 

And one official told “The Washington Post”: “Rudy, he did all of this. 

This S-show that we`re in, it`s him injecting himself into the process.”

 

For more, I`m joined by Barbara McQuade, former U.S. attorney.

 

Barbara, thank you so much. 

 

Here`s the – that great line in all the old crime shows was, did you

notice anything different that night?  Anything special happen that night?

 

Because that always – anything changing in the norm tells you something

special to that night happened and probably has something to do with the

crime that`s being investigated. 

 

Those officials in the State Department, those officials on the National

Security Council for months noticed something weird was happening in our

relationship with Ukraine.  It had nothing to do with geopolitical defense

against the Russians. 

 

It had to do with getting dirt, getting dirt on Hillary, getting dirt

especially on Joe Biden, who, at that time, in the early parts of the

summer, really looked like a threat, more than he does today, in fact, to

this president.  That`s what this is about. 

 

What do you make of the fact that Rudy Giuliani is showing up in all these

quarters as the president`s guy? 

 

BARBARA MCQUADE, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY:  I think it`s a tell. 

 

I think it suggests that President Trump himself knew that this was shady

and not to be done through official channels.  He didn`t send a government

official.  He didn`t send somebody who works for the White House. 

 

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

 

MCQUADE:  He didn`t send anybody in the State Department.  He sent his

personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani.

 

This is – in public corruption cases, you refer to someone like that as

the bag man, somebody who goes and does the dirty work, has the

negotiations, talks about the deal offline. 

 

If Giuliani was talking with the State Department about this mission, I

want to know who – what`s the name of the person you were talking to at

the State Department?  Let`s put that person before Congress and talk about

what the scope of this assignment was, because it sounds highly unusual. 

 

MATTHEWS:  It`s interesting to make the case you just made, that how he`s

being set up as almost a cutout, if you will, someone separate that can –

will keep the word to himself what he`s been told to do.

 

Rudy is probably very loyal to Trump these days.  So, therefore, he will do

terrible requests of the Ukrainian government.  I want this.  I want that,

keep pushing, pushing, pushing. 

 

The way that the president set that up in his conversation with President

Zelensky was to say, this guy was mayor of New York.  This guy is very

impressive.  This is a great lawyer. 

 

He was, in other words, investing him with this incredible authority to do

all kinds of even dirty work.  I know what is going on here.  I know you

do, too.  He`s telling him, deal with this guy.  He`s going to be a little

rough, but he`s my guy. 

 

MCQUADE:  Yes.

 

And that is frequently the way it happens in cases of public corruption,

that you have some sort of intermediary who actually has the tough

negotiations.  And that is a shield for the higher-level person.  They can

say, I didn`t know what was going on.  They can speak in code, because they

have someone else who is conducting the negotiations at a lower level. 

 

It`s a way to distance yourself from the dirty work that`s being done. 

 

(CROSSTALK)

 

MATTHEWS:  You`re so great, Barbara, but one last thought. 

 

What the hell is the name William Barr doing in Kiev?  Why do they even

know about this guy?  What is this?  The president is also going to say,

you`re going to hear from another guy.  You are going to hear from Bill

Barr, my stooge at the Justice Department.  Here he comes. 

 

MCQUADE:  Yes, I don`t know. 

 

And Barr himself, of course, has denied that he had any communications with

Ukraine.  But I think it demonstrates why William Barr should be recused

from any decision about whether to disclose the whistle-blower`s complaint

to Congress.  The Office of Legal Counsel issued an opinion saying it need

not be disclosed. 

 

There is a conflict of interests there for William Barr, who has an

incentive to keep his name out of it and besmirching his name.  And so the

fact that he was involved in that decision strikes me as a conflict of

interests. 

 

MATTHEWS:  Thank you so much, Barbara McQuade.  Great insight into the law

and its surroundings. 

 

Up next:  The White House hands out talking points on Ukraine.  And

Republican congresspeople waste no time toeing the line, reading their

lines. 

 

Wait until see these clips we have got.  It`s mind-boggling how these

people told – say what they`re told to say. 

 

You`re watching HARDBALL. 

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.

 

NBC News reports that earlier today, Republican lawmakers were invited to

the White House to coordinate their messaging ahead of the release of the

memo on Trump`s phone call with the Ukrainian president.  Isn`t that sweet? 

 

Well, the White House also sent out talking points to Congress, which

Republican Congress people echoed throughout the day. 

 

The memo titled “What You Need to Know” states that there was no quid pro

quo for anything else – or anything else inappropriate about the

conversation. 

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

REP. MATT GAETZ (R-FL):  There`s no quid pro quo. 

 

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC):  From a quid pro quo aspect of the phone call,

there`s nothing there. 

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

MATTHEWS:  It continues, the president wanted allegations of corruption

potentially involving an American official to be investigated. 

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

GRAHAM:  I think it`s very appropriate for the president of the United

States suggests that you`ve got a corruption problem. 

 

GAETZ:  You have President Zelensky and President Trump both complimenting

one another for trying to root out corruption. 

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

MATTHEWS:  The memo calls the whistleblower`s account a second-hand

account. 

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

REP. STEVE SCALISE (R-LA):  If you`re going to base it on a press report

from a secondhand person that thinks they heard something, and that`s the

most you`ve got –

 

REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA):  Based upon a whistleblower that wasn`t even

listening to a conversation. 

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

MATTHEWS:  And accused Democrats of endangering our national security. 

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

REP. LIZ CHENEY (R-WY):  We`re now in a situation where not only have they

hurt national security, but they`re fundamentally abdicating their

constitutional responsibility. 

 

MCCARTHY:  It was a dark day for national security.  But you are willing to

jeopardize the national security of our country today and in the future

because of your own political bias. 

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

MATTHEWS:  It`s like a Woody Allen movie.  The keyword here is national

security. 

 

Anyway, the president retweeted statements that reflected those talking

points throughout the day.  However, in contrast to the public confidence

many Republicans displayed towards defending the president, their public

confidence, it`s a very different story in private.  And that reporting is

coming up next. 

 

Republicans in the backrooms are not happy with this president and his

dealings with Ukraine. 

 

You`re watching HARDBALL.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.

 

Well, “The Washington Post`s” Robert Costa is reporting tonight that

several Senate Republicans were privately stunned Wednesday and questioned

the White House`s judgment after it released a rough transcript of

President Trump`s call with that Ukrainian president. 

 

An anonymous Republican told “The Washington Post” that the transcript`s

release was a huge mistake that the GOP now has to confront and defend –

while the party argues at the same time that House Democrats are

overreaching with their impeachment inquiry.  They`re not overreaching

today, got it. 

 

Anyway, two Senate Republicans openly called the memo troubling. 

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

SEN. MITT ROMNEY (R-UT):  I did read the transcript.  It remains troubling

in the extreme.  It`s deeply troubling.  At this stage, the process is to

continue gathering information, but clearly, what we`ve seen from the

transcript itself is deeply troubling. 

 

SEN. BEN SASSE (R-NE):  Democrats ought not to be using the word “impeach”

before they had the whistleblower complaint or read any of the transcript. 

Republicans ought not to be rushing to circle the wagons and say there`s no

“there” there when there`s obviously lots that`s very troubling there.  The

administration ought not be attacking a whistleblower as some talking

points suggest they plan to do. 

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

MATTHEWS:  I`m joined right now former Democratic Congresswoman Donna

Edwards of Maryland, of course, who`s a contributing columnist out of “The

Washington Post”, and Michael Beschloss, NBC News presidential historian. 

 

Donna, thank you for joining us. 

 

It seems to me that the Republicans, unless you`re a Mormon – I`m sorry –

unless you`re a Romney from Utah, it`s scary.  Why do the Republicans so

scary to talk about this president when he`s been caught in the act of

dealing foreign policy, foreign military aid for dirt on a partisan

opponent? 

 

FORMER REP. DONNA EDWARDS (D-MD):  Because they don`t think the president

has been caught for real yet, because they can`t see that in their home

districts and their states where among Republicans, the president still

enjoys tremendous success.  But, you know, you can see some of the cracks,

you know, coming alive. 

 

MATTHEWS:  Is there anything inside those MAGA hats? 

 

EDWARDS:  You know, that`s a question for them.  I`m not really good on red

hats.

 

But I do think that Republicans are going to – some of them are going to

try to walk a very fine line until they really know where this president is

going, and I think Democrats are on the right path to try to get to the

truth.  But they`ve got to be very careful in how they do it. 

 

MATTHEWS:  The Republican Party at its best has been a party of fiscal

responsibility, forget that one after this tax cut.  The party of

individual self-identity that you are not a part of an identity group,

you`re not part of a society even, as a statute would say, there`s no such

thing as society.  They`re just individuals.  Where`s the individualism in

the Republican Party today?

 

MICHAEL BESCHLOSS, NBC NEWS PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN:  It`s changed a lot. 

But, Chris, you know, historically even impeachment processes that ended up

with impeachment like Richard Nixon`s, you remember how long –

 

MATTHEWS:  Well, they ended up with a House call for impeachment, a House

Judiciary Committee vote. 

 

BESCHLOSS:  Yes, it did, but it took – 

 

MATTHEWS:  And he walked.

 

BESCHLOSS:  It took a long time for Republicans to come out against Nixon

beginning with Edward Brooke and going on with Jim Buckley.  That was like

four or five months after the Saturday Night Massacre. 

 

And the other thing is if you go back to the Constitution, the framers

historically when they wrote about impeachment and when they came up with

this sanction, they did so not knowing there are political parties in this

country. 

 

MATTHEWS:  Supposed in 1940, I get to you in this a minute, because you

know all this stuff.  In 1940, Winston Churchill basically the last stop on

the Nazi claim to Europe, the only guy fighting.  He calls up Roosevelt,

the best friend he thought he could have, and he said, I really need some

destroyers, maybe 50 of your old ones might do, and Roosevelt said, I have

a favor I want from you, though, I want you to get some dirt on my opponent

in the next election, Wendell Willkie.

 

EDWARDS:  Wow.

 

MATTHEWS:  How far we have fallen?  Because that`s unimaginable. 

 

EDWARDS:  That`s right.  But here`s where the president got it wrong.  He

believed in the White House, that releasing this summary, not really

transcript but summary was going to somehow exonerate him.  I actually

think it dug him further –

 

MATTHEWS:  Why do you think he thought that because it`s there, these two

lines, we need these missiles to fight the tanks with, and he said, yes,

but I need some dirt on my opponents? 

 

EDWARDS:  But he`s transactional and he didn`t say specifically in exchange

for those missiles, this is what I want –

 

MATTHEWS:  No, but he said, you want to survive as a country, you better

give me some dirt. 

 

EDWARDS:  I agree, but in the president`s mind he`s so transactional he

didn`t make that transaction, so he didn`t believe it was the kind of thing

to come back to haunt him. 

 

MATTHEWS:  Well, he also thinks Blagojevich of Illinois is clean. 

Blagojevich did nothing wrong.  He was just trying to trade Barack Obama`s

Senate seat for some personal political stuff.  He didn`t think there was

anything wrong with that. 

 

BESCHLOSS:  Might also felt he would get some points for transparency. 

 

MATTHEWS:  In 1999, then Congressman Lindsey Graham said impeachment was

about restoring honor and integrity to the office.  Here he goes.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

THEN-REP. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC):  Impeachment is not about punishment. 

Impeachment is about cleansing the office.  Impeachment is about restoring

honor and integrity to the office. 

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

MATTHEWS:  Well, Lindsey Graham`s definition of impeachment seems to have

changed in the last 20 years.  Here he is last night. 

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

GRAHAM:  The only reason they`re trying to impeach the president is because

they don`t believe they can beat him at the ballot box. 

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

MATTHEWS:  And here`s how he responded today when asked why his situation

is different from when Bill Clinton was impeached. 

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

GRAHAM:  If you think the president has sold the office, do something about

it.  If you think this is an impeachable offense, vote.  Go on the record. 

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

MATTHEWS:  I`m with him.  Let`s have a vote this fall.

 

Go ahead, Michael? 

 

BESCHLOSS:  Well, and the other thing, you know, is that when these

processes begin, they go in ways that you can`t predict.  You know, this is

the very beginning.  We cannot predict how this is going to –

 

MATTHEWS:  Well, I`ll predict if it takes as long as you`re suggesting,

it`s not going to work out. 

 

BESCHLOSS:  Maybe not.  And Republicans in `98 thought this was something

that was going to help. 

 

MATTHEWS:  I looked at the O.J. trial.  I covered it the whole year.  I

don`t think we got more clarity as it went in.  It got more diffused, more

issues raised, actual guilt was never really gotten to.

 

Anyway, thank you, Donna Edwards.  Thank you, Michael Beschloss. 

 

HARDBALL back in a moment. 

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

MATTHEWS:  Bill Clinton won the presidency on a sharply focused highly

disciplined campaign theme.  It`s the economy, stupid. 

 

Well, right now is a vital moment in American history.  The Democrats in

the House of Representatives have to seize that moment and not let it get

away, away to other topics, other areas of complaint, other misdeeds by

this president.  The moment is the realization by the American people now

that their president, their commander-in-chief tried conditioning military

aid to an allied nation on its president delivering dirt on a Trump

political opponent. 

 

Speaker Pelosi gets it.  She told Democrats they need to strike while the

iron is hot.  So, this is the threshold, the all important challenge to

move now, to act, to bring an article of impeachment to the floor and get

it voted on. 

 

This is the reality.  They need to hold the moment and make this happen, to

get the House to vote on impeachment, while minds and hearts are focused on

what Trump has done, how he has so seriously abused his power. 

 

The information is here.  The members of Congress are here.  The speaker is

now here to lead.  All that`s needed now is for it to happen. 

 

So, don`t let this historic abuse of presidential power get driven away in

a fog of subpoenas, document demands, deadlines and eroding headlines. 

 

That`s HARDBALL for now.  Thanks for being with us. 

 

“ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES” starts right now. 

 

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY

BE UPDATED.

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