Whistleblower alleges WH tried to cover it up. TRANSCRIPT: 9/26/19, Hardball w/ Chris Matthews.
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: Whistling impeachment. Let`s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews on Capitol Hill, where the case for
impeachment escalated today as the whistleblower`s report landed like a
bombshell. The complaint released today portrays a White House that
recognized the president`s wrongdoing and covered it up. It centers on
Trump`s attempt to extort a U.S. ally for dirt on Joe Biden, a shakedown
delivered in his July phone conversation with Ukrainian President Zelensky.
White House notes of that call showed that when Zelensky asked for a
shipment of anti-tank missiles, Trump countered with these words, I would
like you to do us a favor though.
And now with the release of the whistleblower`s own complaint, we`re
learning of the danger the president`s own conversation posed.
In speaking to White House officials, the whistleblower says they were
deeply disturbed by what had transpired on that phone call. They told me
there was already a discussion going on with White House lawyers about how
to treat the call because of the likelihood they had witnessed the
president abusing his office for personal gain. That`s the White House
And then the whistleblower learned that senior White House officials had
intervened to lock down all records of the phone call, especially the
official word for word transcript they hid.
The complaint says that the officials were directed by White House lawyers
to remove the electronic transcript from the computer system, which was
then loaded into a separate electronic system that is otherwise used to
store and handle classified information.
So the people around the president knew his conduct in that phone call was
wrong and used national security protocols to hide it. The complaint
reveals additional potential evidence of the president`s efforts to
leverage through Ukraine.
Two months before Trump`s July conversation with President Zelensky,
officials told the whistleblower it was made clear to them that the
president did not want to meet Mr. Zelensky until he saw how Zelensky chose
to act in office.
Additionally, the whistleblower says that U.S. officials told me that the
Ukrainian leadership was led to believe that a meeting or a phone call
between the president and President Zelensky would depend on whether, catch
this, Zelensky showed willingness to play ball with Trump. Play ball with
Across town at the White House, NBC reports there`s rising anxiety, unease
and concern that the whistleblower`s allegation could seriously wound this
I`m joined right now by U.S. Senator and Presidential Candidate Kamala
Harris of California. He is a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee
today, questioned the Director of National Intelligence, Joseph Maguire,
and the Intelligence Community Inspector General, Michael Atkinson.
So, Senator, we know about the quid pro quo, we know about the president
saying, if you want your Javelin missile, the anti-tank missiles, if you
want them to keep the Russians from invading your country more, help me
with this stuff I need to get on Biden. And now today, we find out that
basically the term was if you don`t play ball, you can`t even get on the
phone with our president.
SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D-CA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I mean, listen, Chris,
here`s how I feel about it. Donald Trump, even when he was running for
office, told us who he is. He told us, if I shoot somebody on Fifth
Avenue, I will get away with it. He`s a lawless president. He literally
is. He believes obviously that he is above the law, that he`s beyond
reproach, that he can do anything and get away with anything. And this is
yet another and serious examples about this fact.
And it`s outrageous. It is outrageous that on top of everything else, on
top of everything that Bob Mueller told us in that investigation, that he
is on the phone with yet again a foreign government attempting to influence
the election for the president of the United States, and in that process,
not understanding that the job of Commander-in-Chief of the United States
of America should be to defend and protect us against all enemies foreign
and domestic. But this president, Donald Trump, does not understand his
job. And, frankly, this is why, for so many reasons, that the process of
impeachment should begin.
MATTHEWS: Is this guy running a criminal enterprise in the White House?
Is this a racket? Is this a RICO violation?
HARRIS: It`s certainly a racket. And we`ll see in terms how the evidence
But it certainly reeks of corruption. It reeks of self-service. It reeks
of a president who is not truthful. He is lawless, and he is running an
administration that reeks of corruption. Yes.
MATTHEWS: The reason I bring that up is because what I know – you`re the
prosecutor, you know all the stuff, all the dirty stuff that goes on in
business. Here is – I hear about the rackets where in the old days of the
`30s, the mob controlled ice, so you couldn`t run a saloon without the ice.
So they owned – they could extort any money. And then I heard about the
construction industry. They just controlled cement. If you want cement,
you`ve got to talk to them. It`s like Trump says, you want military aid,
you`ve got to talk to me.
HARRIS: Yes, he says, you`ve got to go through me as opposed to
understanding that this is about the integrity of the president of the
United States and us as a people. But it`s all about self-service, because
– here is the other thing that you have to understand. The guy is scared
because he knows that he is going to be defeated in this election. He is
And so his natural behavior that is about lawlessness, it has now blossomed
into having a conversation with a foreign head of state in front of many
people who have taken an oath to defend the Constitution of the United
States, where he is bartering U.S. aid to support a democracy over what he
wants in terms of an investigation into one of his political rivals.
He`s no better than any other dictator when it comes to using the resources
of the people and in the name of the people for self-aggrandizement and for
benefit, for personal benefit.
MATTHEWS: What did you make of the report in the whistleblower`s complaint
that not only did he conduct this extortionist move against the head of
Ukraine but that his people around Trump, but they did was they took the
verbatim word for word transcript and buried it somewhere in some sort of
catacomb used for very sensitive top secret information.
HARRIS: Yes, and that`s called a cover-up. And you are right, my career
as a prosecutor in a court, I would be arguing that this is evidence of
consciousness of guilt. This is evidence of knowing that what happened in
that phone call was wrong, it violates ethical rules, it violates the law,
it violates the position of trust that the president should hold in the
name of the people of the United States.
And I`ll tell you, Chris, having been in my career as a prosecutor and an
attorney general, I ran the second largest Department of Justice in the
United States, second only to the United States Department of Justice.
This is completely, by every act that this president has done including
this one, an attack not only on our democracy but our system of justice.
MATTHEWS: What did you think of Joseph Maguire, the acting Director of
National Intelligence today? He made all – I watched the early
performance, which was on T.V. this morning, public testimony. He kept
saying, I went to the White House to get the approval of whether to release
it or not. It seemed to be he was in a position of asking the people being
complained about, the president and his people, whether it was okay to put
it out or not. What did you make of the whole –
HARRIS: Well, I can`t talk about what we did. It was in a classified
setting. But you know enough to know that there was clearly an attempt to
cover up. And, eventually, the American people now know and the
investigation needs to continue.
MATTHEWS: Well, he continues here with his cover-up. Earlier today,
President Trump told staff from the United States Mission to the United
Nations career foreign service employees, career people, that the
whistleblower was, quote, almost a spy. And that the person revealed the
president`s behavior to the whistleblower was treasonous. He then made a
startling reference to punishing the individual.
The L.A. Times was provided with a recording of the video. Here is part of
what the president said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT: They`re almost a spy. I want to who`s the
person who gave the whistleblower – the person who gave the whistleblower
the information because that`s close to a spy. You know what we used to do
in the old days, when we were smart, right, with spies and treason? We
used to handle it a little bit differently than we do now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: He`s talking about the chair. He`s talking about the
Rosenbergs. That`s what he seems to be talking about.
HARRIS: He sounds like a criminal, Chris. He sounds like a criminal. Who
snitched? Who gave up the goods? Let`s find out who gave up the goods on
us and make sure there`s a consequence and it`s serious and let that be a
lesson to everybody else.
And it sounds like it`s straight out of some bad drama, but the fact is
this is the president of the United States. And the concern that I have is
that we have created a system for whistleblowers to come forward because we
want people to be transparent about the abuses in our government.
And we`ve created laws that say we will protect them, and it should be the
president of the United States above all who says that we welcome and we`ll
always protect people who are fighting for the integrity of our democracy.
MATTHEWS: Well, the complaint the whistleblower highlights that during his
or her call with the – the president`s call with the Ukrainian president,
Trump implicated his own attorney general in the scandal, Bill Barr. That
fact is also borne out in the White House`s account of the conversation,
which shows that Trump repeatedly urged the Ukrainian president to speak to
William Barr about the investigations he was pushing, that Trump was
And while Barr is denying any involvement, it was Barr`s Justice Department
that advised the Director of National Intelligence not to pass along the
complaint to Congress. So he was covering up.
And now, we`re also learning that the Justice Department decided not to
investigate the concerns raised by the whistleblower`s complaint, saying
there was not sufficient cause to even launch an investigation.
It seems to me the president has replaced the normal government with two or
three people, Giuliani and Bill Barr who is sort of playing as Roy Cohn,
not operating as the head of the department but as his personal lawyer.
HARRIS: We saw that when Attorney General Barr delayed in sharing the
Mueller report, mischaracterized it, let that mischaracterization stand
before actually sharing it with the American people. And let`s talk about
so the Attorney General of the United States who seems to think that he is
the president`s personal lawyer instead of the people`s lawyer, but on top
of that, let`s also talk about Rudy Giuliani.
MATTHEWS: Yes. Well, he`s got two wartime consiglieres here looking out
HARRIS: Yes. But you know what needs to happen? So I`m actually calling
on the I.G. and the State Department to actually investigate and figure out
who in the State Department was in cahoots or was facilitating Giuliani`s
interactions with Ukrainian officials, who was giving him, if they gave
him, any kind of intelligence, and who facilitated Rudy Giuliani, the
personal lawyer of the president, to conduct himself as though he is an
emissary for the United States.
And the other thing, Chris, the New York Bar Association needs to
investigate Giuliani and probably disbar him.
MATTHEWS: Let me ask you about your vote because the way you talk, and a
lot of people talk, the high crime is in front of us right now. We see it.
It was an extortionist effort to try to get a foreign government to get
dirt on an opponent.
HARRIS: He self-admitted it.
MATTHEWS: He did.
MATTHEWS: Well, is it done? Should they just go to a vote in the House in
the next couple of weeks and get this done with?
HARRIS: No. There should be a process by which the investigation is
conducted and the facts are presented, and then let there be a finding.
Let the process take – this is what we do. We believe in our democracies.
MATTHEWS: Weeks or months?
HARRIS: Well, I think that – listen, I would like that it would be weeks.
It has to be quickly.
MATTHEWS: I think that`s what the speaker wants. Thank you so much.
HARRIS: Yes, you`re welcome.
MATTHEWS: We`ll keep covering your presidential campaign. Good luck in
HARRIS: Thank you. I`m moving to Iowa.
MATTHEWS: You`re raising the stakes in Iowa. Thank you very much,
By the way, Director Joseph Maguire`s dramatic public testimony for the
House Intelligence Committee, here`s a bit of it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOSEPH MAGUIRE, ACTING DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE: I believe the
whistleblower is operating in good faith.
I think the whistleblower did the right thing. I think he followed the law
every step of the way.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: That`s something the president, Donald Trump, does not want to
hear but he just heard it.
I`m going to talk to two congress people who questioned Maguire today on
the significance of what was revealed by the whistleblower.
Plus, where does this go next and how long will it take for the House to
vote on an article of impeachment? I certainly hope they vote before
We`ve got much more to get to tonight, as you can see, live from the
Capitol. Stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): And the facts are these, that the president of
the United States, in his actions in a telephone call with a head of state,
betrayed his oath of office, our national security and the integrity of our
This is a cover-up. This is a cover-up.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Welcome back. It is a cover-up, according to the testimony
today from a whistleblower, they did really make an attempt to cover up
that conversation between the president of the United States and the
president of Ukraine. In fact, they send it off in some sort of catacomb,
somewhere where we`ll never see it again.
Anyway, the American people received a detailed accounting of a lens that
President Trump and members of his administration went to cover up his
efforts to extort a foreign government to get dirt on his political
The accounting, which was provided by a whistleblower in the Intelligence
Community was corroborated by the inspector general and found to be
credible and raised urgent concern, he said. And President Trump denying,
of course, he spent the past week to trying to dirty up the whistleblower.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: It`s a partisan whistleblower. They shouldn`t even have
information. It`s just another political hack job. I just hear it`s a
partisan person, meaning it comes out from another party.
They say it was a very partisan person, the whistleblower.
The so-called whistleblower information.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: In his testimony to the House Intelligence Committee, the acting
Director of National Intelligence, Joseph Maguire, defended the
whistleblower against those claims.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAGUIRE: I want to stress that I believe that the whistleblower and the
inspector general have acted in good faith throughout. I have every reason
to believe that they have done everything by the book and followed the law.
The decision and the recommendation by the inspector general, that, in
fact, the allegation was credible.
I think the whistleblower did the right thing.
REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): You don`t have any reason to accuse them of
disloyalty to our country or suggest they`re beholden to some other
MAGUIRE: Sir, absolutely not.
REP. JACKIE SPEIER (D-CA): Do you believe that the whistleblower was
spying on one of our intelligence agencies or spying on the president?
MAGUIRE: As I said several times so far this morning, I believe that the
whistleblower complied with the law and did everything that they thought,
he or she thought was responsible under the Intelligence Community
Whistleblower Protection Act.
I would say that the whistleblower`s complaint is in alignment with what
was released yesterday by the president.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Joining me right now are two Democratic members of the House
Intelligence Committee who took part in that hearing today, U.S.
Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney of New York State and Congressman Eric
Swalwell of California.
Let me go to Mr. Maloney on this one. Do you think that there`s any
question about the integrity of the whistleblower at this point?
REP. SEAN PATRICK MALONEY (D-NY): No, I don`t see any reason to question
that. In fact, the complaint is very thorough, it`s incredible well
written and documented. It matches very well, by the way, with the memo of
the call. I think we have every reason to believe that it`s largely
accurate, but we should check it out. We should run down those leads and
MATTHEWS: If it`s knocked down – if it`s knocked out down, is this a high
crime, the president of the United States extorting dirt on his political
opponents by holding up U.S. military aid to an ally?
MALONEY: Yes, it sure as hell is.
MATTHEWS: Thank you. Your thoughts, is it a high crime?
REP. ERIC SWALWELL (D-CA): Yes. What it is is it`s a presidential
extortion and ongoing cover-up. This is a past cover-up. The cover-up is
ongoing right now.
MATTHEWS: How come the president didn`t know or didn`t care?
This is the day after he got past Mueller`s testimony. And it wasn`t
dramatic testimony. It wasn`t what a lot of people wanted it to be.
Did he think, oh, now that I got rid of that, now I`m done with that, I can
now go out and extort – another – go have money – get dirt from another
country, because I didn`t get caught getting it from Russia?
REP. SEAN PATRICK MALONEY (D-NY): Well, it`s an incredible baton toss,
I mean, it`s a handoff to interference in the next election.
MALONEY: And, this time, he`s soliciting it and willing to smear a
political opponent using military aid…
MATTHEWS: Knowing he`s being taped.
MATTHEWS: Knowing he`s got people in his own government listening to what
And he seems to have been the only one that didn`t know or care that he was
breaking the law and creating a high crime.
SWALWELL: A leopard doesn`t change its spots. It`s a pattern of
corruption. He didn`t learn his lesson from 2016.
But what the American people should be offended by is that he is using
their taxpayer money, our taxpayer money, to benefit himself in an
election. That`s what this is about. That`s what extortion is. It`s a –
no one would get away with this at their job, if you tried to use your
employer`s money to benefit yourself.
He`s trying to use our money to benefit himself to leverage it against
MATTHEWS: It looks like a racket. It looks like the guy – the mobster
that controls the cement industry, says, you want to put that building up,
you got to talk to me.
MATTHEWS: You got to give me what I want.
It seems like a racket.
MALONEY: Look what he said about the whistle-blower today.
The director of national intelligence bent over backwards to say, this
person did it right. He`s following the rules, by the book.
The president said, he`s a spy. The president said, we used to deal with
guys like that.
That sounds a lot like a mob boss. And it`s outrageous.
MATTHEWS: He`s going to rub them out.
MALONEY: Look, I don`t know what that – I don`t know what that language
is intended to do, except chill others from coming forward, because we
know, from the complaint, that there`s a dozen White House officials who
are deeply disturbed by this and a bunch of other folks in the agencies.
We want to hear from them. We want to feel – we want them to feel they
can come forward with the truth.
MATTHEWS: Nancy Pelosi, the speaker, has held up – she`s been a resistor
to impeachment, to the process for months.
And then, along the way, she said something I thought was brilliant. She
said, he`s going to impeach himself.
SWALWELL: Self-impeachment is what she said.
MATTHEWS: Yes, he`s going to go do it. He`s going to go do it in broad
daylight, and then we will have him.
SWALWELL: He copped to the crime.
He said in 2016 he could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue. We`re going to
find out if that`s true, and that he could get away with it, as Americans.
I mean, he actually has threatened the execution of anyone that would give
information to the whistle-blower.
And we`re going to find out, is that who we are as Americans, that we would
let this man in our great country get away with this?
MATTHEWS: And he`s openly caught on tape. Well, we have – we have the
summary of the verbatim. We may get the full verbatim, word-by-word
account, because they`re hiding that from us right now.
But there he is saying to the guy, yes, you want your Javelin missiles to
fight Russian tanks. OK. I got something I want from you, though.
MALONEY: Well, I`m glad you brought that up, because, remember, during the
Russia investigation, the big question was, was he doing the Kremlin`s
bidding? Was he undermining our national security?
Well, here, what he`s doing is absolutely assisting Vladimir Putin`s plan
to dominate Ukraine.
MALONEY: And, remember, in the complaint, there`s some new information.
He says, oh, I think the – I think the president of Ukraine is going to
strike a deal with Vladimir Putin.
MATTHEWS: What does that mean?
MALONEY: Where the hell does that come from? Exactly.
MATTHEWS: How does a mouse strike a deal with an elephant? I mean,
they`re right on the border of one of the most militarized countries in the
world, and they`re half-invaded. They have lost Crimea. They have lost
Eastern – Eastern Ukraine is already invaded by the Russians.
MATTHEWS: And Trump says, you got to make a deal with this guy.
MALONEY: This is 10 percent of their military budget.
They have troops in their country. The wolf is at the door. And the fact
is, is that that undermines the whole transatlantic alliance. It
undermines the security of Europe.
MATTHEWS: I know.
SWALWELL: And one other point.
He`s not just trying to investigate his political opponent by leveraging
our tax dollars. He`s also trying to exonerate Russia.
SWALWELL: He`s asking them to look into evidence that would exonerate
Russia`s role in the last election.
MATTHEWS: Well, you said the spots don`t change.
At the House hearing today, Congressman Maloney, you pressed acting
Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire to explain why he would
share the complaint, which involves the president and attorney general,
with the White House and the Department of Justice, run by the president`s
Here goes. Let`s watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MALONEY: Did you think it was prudent to give a veto power over whether
the Congress saw this serious allegation of wrongdoing to the two people
implicated by it?
JOSEPH MAGUIRE, ACTING DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE: I have to work
with the situation as it is, Congressman Maloney.
Only the White House can determine or waive executive privilege. There is
no one else to go to.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Doesn`t sound too good, the way you questioned him.
MALONEY: Oh, my goodness.
I mean, this is the man in charge of the henhouse, and he goes to two foxes
to ask them who should come in. I mean, the fact is, is that the idea that
you go to the two people implicated and say, should I give it to Congress,
when you think about how you just lost perspective on the forest for the
trees with that kind of decision.
MALONEY: He should have threatened to quit, or he should have resigned.
SWALWELL: Imagine calling a tip line, and the person receiving the tip
says, I`m going to go ahead and ask the person that you`re reporting about
what I should do with this.
That`s what happened.
MATTHEWS: It sounds like the mob.
Thank you, U.S. Congressmen Sean Patrick Maloney and Eric Swalwell.
Up next: Rudy Giuliani says he`s the hero of this whole piece, hero.
More on Giuliani`s outrageous claim next on HARDBALL.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
Today`s release of the whistle-blower complaint shows the lengths President
Trump was willing to go to the strong-arm a foreign government to help him
And while the whistle-blower focused on the July 25 phone call, new
reporting indicates it was not the first time President Trump tried to push
his dirt-digger, Rudy Giuliani, on to the Ukrainian president.
“The New York Times” reports that, just hours after President Zelensky`s
victory, on April 21, President Trump placed a congratulatory call to him
and – quote – “urged Mr. Zelensky to cooperate” – actually, “coordinate
with Mr. Giuliani and to pursue investigations of corruption, according to
people familiar with the call.”
They were going after Joe Biden back then.
For more, I`m joined by Maya Wiley, an MSNBC legal analyst, and David Frum,
of course, senior editor at “The Atlantic.”
Thank you both.
And I just think the thing that grabs me here – and I`ll use a Godfather”
term here – the use of a wartime consigliere, the former mayor of New
York, Rudy Giuliani, who had a great reputation until now.
Here he is as the president`s sort of henchman…
MAYA WILEY, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST: Absolutely.
MATTHEWS: … saying, you give this guy the dirt on Biden, who I think I`m
going to have to run against. This is two, three months ago. Or else I`m
screwing you guys.
Don`t more anti-tank guns. No more missiles. Let the Russians just ride
their tanks across your country, because you won`t have any defensive
weapons, because you didn`t give me my dirt. That is the fact of that
WILEY: That is essentially the way any prosecutor would read that
And I think the fact that Rudy Giuliani started the process in April –
remember, Chris, what April was. We had the summary from William Barr,
really spinning the Robert Mueller probe report.
WILEY: And then, in April, it`s becoming public.
We have the president then asking Rudy Giuliani to get engaged, their
intermediaries, and start setting up his meetings. And so the July 25 call
was not the beginning of it. It was because Donald Trump himself, as we
know, personally got engaged in whether or not military support, not in the
defensive sense, was actually going to be delivered to Ukraine.
MATTHEWS: And backing that up, Maya and David, was the whistle-blower`s
statement that the deal was that they wouldn`t even get a phone call from
the president until they kicked – they said they`re going to play ball on
getting dirt on Trump`s enemies.
DAVID FRUM, FORMER SPEECHWRITER FOR FORMER PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH:
Congress did not vote that aid to Ukraine, hundreds of millions of dollars,
Congress voted that aid because it believed that self-defense by Ukraine
was important to the national security of the United States. So, this is
an important legal story, and legal expertise is important, but it`s first
and foremost a national security story.
If it was important that Ukraine defend itself, if Americans are willing to
spend money to do that, then when Donald Trump said it`s second to my
reelection, he was saying the national defense of the country is second to
And he made that clear to the Ukrainians by saying, the guy handling it for
me, the person, my – my surrogate is going to be Rudy Giuliani, not the
Look at this. Rudy Giuliani, in fact, is mentioned 31 times in the
whistle-blower complaint. It goes into detail about his, Giuliani`s,
efforts to dig up political dirt in Ukraine.
In an interview with NBC News, Giuliani blasted the whistle-blower, of
course, saying the complaint is nothing more than hearsay. However, the
summary of Trump`s July 25 phone call with the Ukrainian president released
by the White House backs up many of the claims in the whistle-blower`s
Giuliani also spoke to “The Atlantic.” The reporter says he was almost
shouting when he said – quote – “It is impossible that the whistle-blower
is a hero and I`m not. And I will be the hero. These morons, when this is
over, I will be the hero.”
There`s Baghdad Bob right there.
MATTHEWS: What do you make of this, Giuliani claiming he`s the hero of the
FRUM: You know, if you have to tell people you`re the hero, you`re not –
you`re not the hero.
FRUM: I mean, it`s an unfortunate – it`s an unfortunate thing.
But this point about this hearsay, the reason we don`t accept hearsay is
because hearsay is often unreliable. When the hearsay is corroborated,
when it`s proven true…
MATTHEWS: By more than a half-a-dozen officials.
But you say, well, it turns out, yes, it would be bad if inaccurate. It`s
true. So it`s hearsay, but it`s true.
WILEY: And there are actually plenty of exceptions to hearsay at the same
time, because the issue is about its probity, how valuable it is.
And, remember, in this case, one of the reasons I think we hear Giuliani
saying, wait, wait, I`m a hero, is he actually has some potential legal
liability here that he should be very concerned about, because he is a
There is no Office of Legal Counsel memorandum protecting him from
indictment for campaign finance violations. So I think it`s not unusual
that he would start to be saying, wait, I`m the good guy.
But also remember his interview with Laura Ingraham, where he says – when
she says, why you? Why would the State Department send you to Ukraine?
And he says, I`m Donald Trump`s defense attorney, doubling down on the fact
that he is there because he is trying to support and help this president,
not as president, as the man.
MATTHEWS: This is a corrupt act, because it`s using public office, his
authority over releasing U.S. military aid to an allied country in trouble
with the Russians, who is defending itself basically to its existential
existence right now, and he is saying, yes, I`ll give it to you if you give
me my dirt.
FRUM: Yes, there are hundreds…
MATTHEWS: The dirt is of no value to the American people. The dirt is
only of value to this president.
FRUM: Hundreds of Ukrainians have died. Tens of thousands are refugees.
It – this is not a – just a crisis. This is a big shooting war on the
European continent, with real people losing their lives.
MATTHEWS: Explain the Javelin missile, why it`s important.
FRUM: Because the Ukrainians have been outgunned, outmanned, out-
They`re fighting – they`re fighting an enemy with a cohesive system.
Their system is not cohesive. There are important internal divisions. So
any equalization of the technology at least gives them a chance.
MATTHEWS: And it fights tanks. It fights tanks.
FRUM: And it fights tanks, which…
MATTHEWS: That`s pretty – that`s – we`re used to that growing up in the
`50s and `60s, Russian tanks coming into your country, whether it`s Hungary
or whatever, whether it`s – whether it`s Czechoslovakia.
We`re used to tanks coming in. And we usually root for the people –
people blowing up the tanks.
WILEY: There is another aspect to this of national security that`s
embedded in that call summary that we`re learning more about, which is this
notion that, why does he want these servers that are supposed to be in
Well, it`s a conspiracy theory that has, yes…
MATTHEWS: How would a server – Hillary`s server show up in…
WILEY: It – the conspiracy theory is about the DNC`s not being hacked.
WILEY: That was, if you remember, the beginning. But that is a – it`s
Russia supporting that.
MATTHEWS: I once saw a “National Enquirer” front cover that said – that
showed a picture of Jack Kennedy behind a curtain, like 50 years after he
was dead, “Kennedy Alive in Poland.”
MATTHEWS: That`s about as heavy as I give a response to that kind of crazy
Thank you, Maya Wiley. Thank you, David Frum.
Up next: With the majority of House members now on board with an
impeachment proceeding – it`s up to about 218 now – in fact, I think it`s
more now – how quickly will things move?
Will Democrats strike while the iron is hot? That`s what Pelosi wants to
see – wants it done, strike while the iron is hot. Don`t push this off to
50,000 more hearings.
You`re watching HARDBALL.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): The inquiry and the consensus in our caucus is
that our focus now is on this allegation now. We`re seeing the evidence of
This is the focus of the moment, because this is the charge. All of the
other work that relates to abuse of power, ignoring subpoenas of
government, of Congress, abuse, contempt of Congress by him, those things
will be considered later. But, right now, we`re in the investigate – the
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
That was House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, of course, earlier today confirming
that the focus of the impeachment inquiry, the proceeding under way right
now into President Trump, will be the allegations laid out in the whistle-
blower complaint regarding Ukraine.
A majority of the House, by the way, now, 223 Democrats – 2-2-3 Democrats
– and one independent, have now expressed support for some kind of
It doesn`t necessarily mean they would vote up or down – or up, rather, to
impeach the president yet, but I think they`re heading there.
Speaker Pelosi said she doesn`t have a deadline to complete the impeachment
inquiry, or to move forward with articles of impeachment. The house has
just 29 days, however, still in session this year between now and when it
adjourns December 12th.
I`m joined now by Democratic Congresswoman Maxine Waters of California, of
course. She`s so well-known, chairman of the House Financial Services
Madam Chairman, you`re one of six chairs now.
REP. MAXINE WATERS (D-CA): Yes. Yes.
MATTHEWS: I guess the question, can the Congress meet the goal of striking
while the iron is hot, while the country is focused on this betrayal of the
country with the Ukrainians and the deal for dirt.
WATERS: Absolutely. I am so pleased Leader Pelosi has taken charge and
she`s formalized the impeachment inquiry, and we`re going to move as
quickly as we possibly can and I`m extremely optimistic we can get it done.
MATTHEWS: Do you believe in focusing on the Ukraine, the complaint – the
whistle-blower`s complaint, the evidence we now have he was trying to deal
out foreign military aid in exchange for political dirt?
WATERS: Well, I think that has to be an important part of what we do, and
whether that is all that we do or is that the focus with other things, it
remains to be seen. We have to discuss that. The six committee chairs
will be getting together with the speaker, and we`ll decide what the
impeachment resolution should include, it will be then forwarded to the
MATTHEWS: How do you think – tell me what you have in your mind now of
how – you have six chairs, you`re one of them –
MATTHEWS: – all been working on stuff the president`s done wrong –
MATTHEWS: – probably unethical and worse –
MATTHEWS: – impeachable.
MATTHEWS: How do you condense that to perhaps one or two articles that
would go to the Judiciary? Would you guys, together, you chairs put that
together before you go to the Judiciary or would the Judiciary Committee
decide what would be the articles –
WATERS: Now, the idea is that we will get together, we will put on the
table everything that we know, everything that we`re doing that we think
would be good and important and substantive for an impeachment resolution,
and we`ll come to some consensus, some conclusion about it, and then it`ll
be forwarded to the Judiciary Committee.
MATTHEWS: It takes – you know, I did work up here for a while to know how
the game is played.
MATTHEWS: I mean a game with high personal stakes with the country.
MATTHEWS: But it comes to numbers.
MATTHEWS: Can you get 218, a majority, 218 votes out of the House?
WATERS: Oh, absolutely we`re there.
WATERS: Oh, absolutely.
MATTHEWS: For an article of impeachment?
MATTHEWS: Well, you`re getting into my questions here. So, I don`t know
where to go now.
Let`s talk about this, what do you make the fact that the White House
people, all around the National Security Council, went to such an effort to
hide the president`s phone call that they took the word by word account of
it electronically and buried it in some top secret system where nobody can
get to it?
WATERS: Well, you know, we`re dealing with a bunch of crooks in the White
House. We have the president who`s dishonest, who has lied, who has done
all kinds of things we never expected of anybody who would serve in that
high office. So I`m not shocked or surprised by anything they would do.
We have an administration that is undermining our democracy, that has
aligned itself with Putin and the oligarchs and the Kremlin, who have had
secret meetings, who will not condemn Putin despite the fact –
MATTHEWS: What`s he got – what`s – I`m sorry.
WATERS: Yes, what`s he got on him – I know what you were getting ready to
MATTHEWS: I always think of something really dirty. This guy seems to
dance through – he jumps through the hoops whenever the guy has got
WATERS: Knowing that he undermined our election system, knowing that has
been absolutely identified as work that was done by Russia or by
intelligence community, and he still will not condemn him, will not – but
more than that, this would be going toward doing the same kinds of things
in the 2020 election that was done in the last presidential election. He
was on – on the road to talking about how do we undermine the elections
again to ensure he gets elected.
MATTHEWS: Every time I see those two guys together the president and Putin
MATTHEWS: – Putin has got this weird smirk like he owns him. It`s awful.
Anyway, thank you.
WATERS: Well, he knows something.
MATTHEWS: You`re the best. Thank you, Congresswoman. Great to have you
WATERS: Thank you so very much. Thank you. All right.
MATTHEWS: Up next, are we past the point of hoping congressional
Republicans will put loyalty to country ahead of loyalty to Donald Trump?
Can they stick with this president in the face of such a blatant abuse of
power? What do you think?
Back in a moment.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. MIKE TURNER (R-OH): I`ve read the complaint and I`ve read the
transcript of the conversation with the president and the president of
Ukraine. Concerning that conversation, I want to say to the president,
this is not OK. That conversation is not OK, and I think it`s
disappointing to the American public when they read the transcript.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
That was Republican Congressman Mike Turner of Ohio with a somewhat mild
condemnation of President Trump`s conversation with the president of
Ukraine. His critical comment made him a notable exception, however, from
his Republican colleagues on the Intel Committee at today`s hearing with
the acting director of national intelligence.
Immediately after the release, by the way, of that explosive whistle-blower
complaint, President Trump tweeted in all caps, of course, the Democrats
are trying to destroy the Republican Party and all that it stands for,
stick together, play their game and fight hard, Republicans. Our country
is at stake!
Well, the president later deleted that tweet, but there was some tiny
cracks, however, emerging in the president`s GOP firewall. Another Intel
Committee, Republican, retiring Texas Congressman Will Hurd, tweeted:
There`s a lot in the whistle-blower complaint that`s concerning. We need
to fully investigate all the allegations addressed in the letter, and the
first step is to talk to the whistle-blower.
Yesterday, two Republican Senators, Utah`s Mitt Romney, and Nebraska`s Ben
Sasse, openly called the complaint by the whistle-blower troubling.
I`m joined right now by Michael Steele, former RNC chair, and Robert Costa,
national political reporter for “The Washington Post.” Now, we always
learn from myth and sloganeering that Democrats fall in love –
MICHAEL STEELE, FORMER RNC CHAIRMAN: Yes.
MATTHEWS: – and Republicans fall in line.
MATTHEWS: But why do they stay in line?
STEELE: Because we`re very good at the line.
MATTHEWS: What is it about the phalanx? Why do you guys circle the wagon
STEELE: Until you can show that there has been a detrimental breach in
that line, meaning there`s evidence, information, behavior, something that
will cause a crack, they`re going to hold it.
MATTHEWS: Wait a minute, we have that. We have the president of the
United States –
STEELE: Well, Chris, we don`t have that yet. You have two documents that
have been put out, and I think to Congressman Hurd`s point –
MATTHEWS: One by the White House.
STEELE: – I think that line should have been broken a long time ago. So,
MATTHEWS: The White House document out showing the president of the United
States responded to a call –
MATTHEWS: – for defensive weapons, anti-tanks missiles, with gimme dirt.
STEELE: Chris, you want – I`m trying to give you an explanation why the
line holds and what you – what we have so far and I think Congressman Hurd
is right, they want to talk to the whistleblower. Because the whistle-
blower is technically or – in reality the individual that could cause that
break. The Senate – .
MATTHEWS: The whistle-blower simply told us about a conversation –
STEELE: I`m saying that individual is in front of those members, Chris –
MATTHEWS: We got the copy of the conversations, but we got the information
from the White House.
STEELE: – when that individual is in front of those members, that`s the
moment of the crack. The Senate conversation has been muted today. They
came out. They weren`t coming out in the same form as a Devin Nunes.
MATTHEWS: Just a thought there.
STEELE: Just a thought.
MATTHEWS: You get up in the morning and your wife says it`s snowing
outside, you go outside and it`s snowing, it doesn`t matter what she said,
it`s snowing. We now know what was in that conversation because we`ve got
the transcript from the White House.
STEELE: Chris, you got – you got – you got part of a transcript from the
White House. That was not a reflection of 30 minutes of conversation.
MATTHEWS: OK, Robert, you see the problem. Ha!
ROBERT COSTA, THE WASHINGTON POST: I was outside the House chamber
tonight. I was talking to some of these top allies for President Trump,
loyal soldiers like Mark Meadows in North Carolina –
MATTHEWS: (INAUDIBLE) this?
COSTA: They`re fully in line with President Trump.
STEELE: Thank you.
COSTA: They say he has the political capital. They also say the Democrats
are overstepping their bounds, and so that`s the argument they`re making.
MATTHEWS: OK. Well, House Kevin McCarthy, a smart guy, continued to fall
in line behind President Trump tonight, when asked about impeachment.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): What in this case rises to impeachment? This
is a president of the United States that had a conversation with a leader
in another country. And when you read the transcript, tell me one thing in
there that`s impeachable.
But tell me this, the speaker of the House moved for impeachment against
the rules without having the full body vote for it without one bit of
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: You know, I guess I`m having a problem here communing with you,
Michael. Maybe you`re a straight reporter, with you. To me, it jumps out
at me, high crime when I see a president who has unique authority and power
over U.S. foreign military aid, which we use to help our allies so that
we`re safe ourselves. We know why we give military aid, to help ourselves.
We fight a country that`s on the front line against the Russians and we say
they`re invading your country, grabbed a big part of it already, we`re
going to help you stop those tanks from taking the rest of your country.
And our president says, I`ve got a favor I want from you, though, help me
get some dirt on my opponents. That`s what he said. That was the
condition of getting the support.
MATTHEWS: How`s that not impeachable?
STEELE: I think it is.
MATTHEWS: OK, thank you.
STEELE: But I`m not disagreeing – you asked me a specific question about
why the members in that building behaved the way they behave, and I`m
telling you as Robert reinforced in his conversation, that`s they`re
thinking. They`ve got – they`ve got – until you can show something –
COSTA: This isn`t 1973, 1974, there`s a conservative media complex in
Republican Party that goes beyond just Mitt Romney, the senator from Utah,
Ben Sasse on Capitol Hill, there`s a whole group on the outside that`s
coming to the barricades for this president, and that`s what the
Republicans on Capitol Hill are looking at.
STEELE: There`s no Larry Hogan Sr. in that building right now going to say
to the president of the United States, sir –
COSTA: If they think it`s so bad, where`s the challenger behind Bill Weld
MATTHEWS: Let me ask you, does this – does this come down to the question
the fight`s more important than the facts?
MATTHEWS: Because a very serious question that they`re so angry, so
resentful of the Democratic liberal establishment in this country that they
see has been running this country for years, they so resent it, they`re
willing to back Trump, right or wrong?
STEELE: I think you just nailed it. That is the raison d`etre, whatever
MATTHEWS: Yes, raison d`etre.
STEELE: Yes, that`s the French – that French phrase, yes, that`s that
moment right there for them. That`s what this fight is about.
The partisanship has eclipsed the politics. The partisanship defines
everything, and right now, this is a fight to create the phalanx around the
president, do or die.
COSTA: There`s a lot of quiet. When I was roaming around the Senate
today, a lot of senators when I wept up to them with the notebook and
recorder they said, no thanks, haven`t read the full complaint, haven`t
read the letter.
STEELE: Right, right.
MATTHEWS: Toomey said that on Sunday. He was Sergeant Schultz. I know
COSTA: If you`re in a swing state, if you`re up in 2020, Senator Collins,
Senator from Maine, she told me, I don`t want to comment because I could be
a juror in the trial in the Senate. So they`re all coming up with remarks
that take them away from having to get in the fight.
MATTHEWS: By the way, jumping ahead, do you think the Senate would like to
skip the vote? If the House votes to impeach, say, by Thanksgiving –
COSTA: Constitutionally, don`t they have to have a trial?
MATTHEWS: I`m not sure they – there`s been talk to skip it.
STEELE: No, constitutionally, they have to a have to trial.
MATTHEWS: They`re going to have to vote? They don`t want to vote or do
they want to vote?
COSTA: They don`t want to vote especially if you`re up for re-election in
MATTHEWS: Right now, your reporting was in the Senate today, my – I`m
hearing from people that they do think they have to do in weeks. They
can`t put it off for months.
STEELE: I agree. I`ve heard that, too. And I think a lot of folks –
because this has been so narrowly focused by the two documents released so
far and the evidence is there, this moment clarifies for a lot of
Democrats, some of the Republicans, I mean, as has been reported, I think,
Robert, you may be able to comment on this that, you know, privately folks
are saying if you could do a blind vote in the Senate where you did want
have to put your name –
MATTHEWS: If you had vote, if we`re going to have a vote to impeach in the
House, this building, we`re in this part of the world, is it more likely
it`s going to happen in 2019, 2020 or never?
STEELE: I think it has to happen now, `19.
MATTHEWS: OK, thank you.
COSTA: Sooner than later if Speaker Pelosi gets that narrow impeachment.
STEELE: That`s right.
MATTHEWS: I think an article on this one on Ukraine makes the most sense
and they`ll have it in a couple of weeks.
Thank you so much Michael Steele and Robert Costa.
HARDBALL back in a moment.
MATTHEWS: Stay with MSNBC throughout the night and in the days ahead for
the latest developments on the Trump Ukraine scandal and the likelihood of
And that`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us.
“ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES” starts right now.
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protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced,
distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the
prior written permission of ASC Services II Media, LLC. You may not alter
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