Trump goes ballistic on Whistleblower. TRANSCRIPT: 10/2/19, Hardball w/ Chris Matthews.

Guests:
Joyce Vance, Elissa Slotkin, Kamala Harris
Transcript:

Thanks as always for watching The Beat with Ari Melber.  HARDBALL is up

next.

 

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST:  Trump knows he`s in trouble.  Let`s play

HARDBALL.

 

Good evening.  I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.

 

We`re witnessing a presidential meltdown.  Trump seems to be deeply

agitated now by the impeachment investigation.  He`s calling his critics

traitors and calling the investigation itself a coup.  And today, in

tweets, and before the cameras, Trump spun himself into a frenzy.  The

president was asked to acknowledge what the evidence in the impeachment

inquiry shows already that this president used the power of its office to

push a foreign leader for dirt on a political opponent.  But pressed

several times, Trump refused to answer.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

REPORTER:  Mr. President, can you just make clear right here what do you or

what did you want President Zelensky to do with regard to Joe and Hunter

Biden?

 

DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT:  Well, I was having a problem with the two

things.  Number one, Ukraine is, before him, for tremendous corruption,

tremendous, more than just about any country in the world.  In fact, they

are rated one of the most corrupt countries in the world.  And I don`t like

giving money to a country that`s that corrupt.

 

REPORTER:  What did you want about Biden?  What did you want to look into

on Biden?

 

TRUMP:  Look, Biden and his son are stone-cold crooked.

 

REPORTER:  The question is what did you want President Zelensky to do about

Vice President Biden and his son, Hunter?

 

TRUMP:  Are you talking to me?

 

REPORTER:  It`s just a follow-up of what I just asked you, sir.

 

TRUMP:  Listen.  Are you ready?  We have the president of Finland.  Ask him

a question.

 

REPORTER:  I just wanted you to have a chance to answer the question that I

asked you.

 

TRUMP:  I`ve answered everything.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

MATTHEWS:  That`s from Taxi Driver.  Are you talking to me?  That`s Robert

De Niro`s line.

 

Anyway, Trump`s rage over impeachment says he knows he`s in trouble.  He`s

accusing the Congress of overthrowing the government, saying last night,

what is taking place is not an impeachment, it`s a coup.  And he said today

that Democrats are wasting everyone`s time and energy on B.S.  I think he

used the word, in fact.  He also threatened a civil war if he`s impeached

and called the whistleblower`s complaint treasonous and many others as

well.

 

REPORTER:  Mr. President, I`d like to ask you about your use of the word

treason.  You`ve used it repeatedly in the last few days.  Do you consider

anyone who opposes you treasonous?

 

TRUMP:  No, I consider when they lie, when they stand before our great

body, in our great chamber and they make up a story that`s fiction, like

Schiff did.

 

Believe it or not, I watch my words very carefully.  There are those that

think I`m a very stable genius.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

MATTHEWS:  Very stable genius, obviously.  Well, now, The Washington Post

is reporting the Trump-Ukraine scandal has ensnared Vice President Mike

Pence.  At the same time, Trump was seeking dirt on Joe Biden, President

Trump repeatedly involved Vice President Pence in efforts to exert pressure

on the leader of Ukraine.

 

I`m joined now by Democratic Senator Chris Coons of Delaware, a member of

the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.  Thank you, sir, for joining us, as

always.

 

This is not fun.  It`s serious.  But the vice president now, according to

reporting as of tonight, seems to be engaged in the same thing Trump was

engaged in which is basically shaking down a foreign leader to get dirt on

a political candidate, the candidate you`re supporting, Joe Biden. 

Shouldn`t he be the subject of an impeachment inquiry as well at this

point?

 

SEN. CHRIS COONS (D-DE):  Look, Chris, I think it`s important that we focus

on the facts here.  The facts are that –

 

MATTHEWS:  I`m talking the facts.

 

COONS:  I`m sorry?

 

MATTHEWS:  I`m talking the facts.  The facts now point that he and not

showing up for the inauguration, for his conversation with President

Zelensky.  He was working the same vein of opportunity that the president

himself was working, to leverage the need of that country for foreign

military assistance, particularly weapons to use against tanks to get dirt

on the candidate you support.

 

COONS:  That`s right, Chris.  As you well know, Ukraine has been under

withering assault over the last five years from Russian-supported

separatists.  And the newly elected president, President Zelensky of

Ukraine, was desperate to get this additional military assistance.

 

And what we just heard this afternoon, just learned this afternoon in a

Washington Post article was that Vice President Pence may have been much

more actively engaged in a series of actions designed to send a message as

President Trump conveyed in the call with the new president, Zelensky, that

we now all have a summary of, he asked them to do a favor, to dig up some

dirt on his leading political opponent.

 

And he then used the vice president later to deliver a message by directing

him not to attend the inauguration of a justifiably nervous President

Zelensky and to convey to him that the aid was not going to be released,

was not going to be forthcoming until they did something more.

 

I frankly think if I were working for or advising Vice President Pence, I`d

tell him to be concerned because it seems that President Trump has engaged

him quite centrally in this series of facts, these actions that are really

shocking.

 

I think this is happening, Chris, frankly, because President Trump views

Joe Biden as his strongest rival for re-election.  He thinks Joe Biden has

the best chance of beating him and that`s why he`s making these smears

against Joe and Hunter Biden.  And I`ll remind you in the 2016 election,

President Trump attacked virtually all of his Republican primary opponents

in some cases, even famously, just making things up, such as when he

accused Senator Ted Cruz`s father of being involved somehow in the

assassination of JFK.

 

This isn`t about who Donald Trump is.  We know who he is.  This is about

what he`s done as our president.

 

MATTHEWS:  I think this raises above even presidential politics right now,

Senator, because look what happened with the Russian media response when

Pence called off his attendance at that inauguration over there.  They

jumped with glee at this because it made the point that our administration

led by Donald Trump and supported by the vice president are supporting

Putin in his war basely on endangered Ukraine.  This is serious

geopolitical stuff here.

 

Does it bother you just as an American we have a foreign policy and a

national security driven by cheap, cheap oppo-negative politics?

 

COONS:  Yes.  Obviously, Chris, the situation with regards to Ukraine

generate, brought bipartisan concern.  Several months ago when members of

the Foreign Relations Committee and Appropriations Committee learned that

this vitally needed assistance to Ukraine was being held up for

undetermined reasons, there were a number of senators who pressed the

administration for answers, for insight.

 

And one of the striking things is that Senator Durbin of Illinois offered

an amendment to the appropriations markup on September 12th that would put

– essentially would set aside some of the Department of Defense funding if

this money to Ukraine wasn`t released.

 

The money to Ukraine was only released the night before that vote.  And

during that markup, a number of senators, Republicans and Democrats, said

that supporting Ukraine in the face of Russian aggression is an important

national security goal, it enjoys wide bipartisan support, and there was a

lot of expressions of concern by Republicans and Democrats at that early

September markup about why the president was holding up this aid.

 

We`ve seen President Trump give two, I think, conflicting suggestions.  He

was doing it because he wanted the Europeans to contribute more when, in

fact, the Europeans have contributed far more than we have to Ukraine`s

stabilization or rebuilding, or he doesn`t like giving money to countries

that are corrupt.  There are many other countries around the world that

face corruption challenges.  I`m not aware of that having been a concern of

the Trump administration in the face of critically needed aid either.

 

So I frankly think that Speaker Pelosi today did a great job of laying out

a measured fact and law-based approach to this vital investigation and I`m

hopeful that it will move forward swiftly and with cooperation from the

administration.

 

MATTHEWS:  Thank you so much, Senator Chris Coons from Delaware.

 

I want to, by the way, bring in right now Peter Baker, New York Times Chief

White House Correspondent and co-author of Impeachment, an American

History, and, of course, Mary McCord, Professor of Georgetown Law and

former acting Assistant Attorney General for National Security.

 

You know what I`m pressed with is the national security piece of this.  I

think that`s what will drive this, if anything will, to impeachment and

possible removal from office.  The idea that the United States` foreign

policy support for a country, which is clearly endangered, and we`ve spent

ever since World War II looking around, looking out for those little

countries on the border of Russia from being absorbed by them.  And then we

see this country being absorbed slowly again today more than aggressive

(ph), and we`re trying to be the good guys, and now we have a president

who`s not interested in that priority at all of being the good guy.

 

MARY MCCORD, FMR. ACTING ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL FOR NATIONAL SECURITY: 

The message it sends, of course, is that, you know, the support of this

government is for sale and it`s for sale by doing the political bidding of

the president, not for any of the reasons that Congress or others may want

to be involved in those countries, especially to push back on Russian

aggression.

 

And the message that sends, of course, to the rest of the world, the

diminution of our leadership in the world is significant.  And now that we

see the secretary of state drawn into it, potentially Vice President Pence

drawn into it, whether it`s wittingly or unwittingly in some ways, it

doesn`t matter in terms of what this does to this country`s national

security.

 

MATTHEWS:  Peter, in the reporting, which I rely on from The Times, and The

Journal, and The Post, the way I get the fix on this in the past is

different than I have it now.  My first sense was Trump was this sort of

odd ball political figure and anomaly who came into the U.S. government

surrounded by people that weren`t one of his.

 

And now I see a cabal.  I see him, and now, Pence, maybe by force, being

drawn into this, like in a mob or a gang.  And I see Pompeo and I see Barr,

all of them together now of like mind.  They seem to have to have the same

sort of – they share in the same faction of thought, of ideology that they

can get away with breaking all the rules, that there`s some sort of supreme

purpose they have that surrounds Trump.

 

What do you make of the fact that you`ve got Barr part of this mow, Pompeo

part of this, and now, for whatever hook or crook reason, the V.P. tonight?

 

PETER BAKER, CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, THE NEW YORK TIMES:  This

president came in with the least experience, which is to say, none in

government or military than any president before, right?  No president

before this one had come into office in a single day in government or

military office.

 

And so he surrounded himself with people who actually he thought would be

the grownups in the room.  We thought they were going to be the H.R.

McMasters, Rex Tillersons and Jeff Sessions, people who had been in office

for a while.  And they did, in fact, resist some of his desires.  They

said, no, sir, that`s not something that you can do.  They`re gone.  Most

of those are gone.

 

MATTHEWS:  So what`s Pompeo doing on the phone?  The president of the

United States, the secretary of state, both on the same phone call, one guy

listening in to go after the new government of Ukraine, what`s this focus

about?  Is this prior to the United States to get dirt on Biden?  Is that

the priority of our government?

 

BAKER:  Clearly, it`s a priority of the president to get cooperation on

these investigations that he`s interested in, the 2016 investigation,

pressuring the prime minister of Australia.  There was a report today that

he also asked Boris Johnson of the U.K. to cooperate on this investigation

to determine whether the Mueller probe was legitimate or not.  He has

fixated on proving that the Mueller probe was, in fact, a hoax, as he likes

to say, and he`s fixated on Joe Biden, absolutely, and he`s looking for

information.

 

Now, if there was actual allegation to be pursued, you would think they

would be pursued by law enforcement officers, not by the president of the

United States, who has an obvious political interest in it.  That`s what

draws questions.

 

MATTHEWS:  Well, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo confessed today that he

listened in on Trump`s July phone call with Ukrainian President Zelensky. 

Here he goes.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

MIKE POMPEO, SECRETARY OF STATE:  As for was I on the phone call?  I was on

the phone call.  The phone call was in the context of, now, I guess I`ve

been the secretary of state for coming on a year-and-a-half.  I know

precisely what the American policy is with respect to Ukraine.  It`s been

remarkably consistent, and we will continue to try to drive those set of

outcomes.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

MATTHEWS:  I like to way he tucked that fact in that he was on the line.

 

Anyway, The Washington Post reports that it is very unusual for a secretary

of state to listen in on calls with leaders from a country as small as

Ukraine.  That`s according to former NSC staffers who say Pompeo`s presence

on this call suggests the subject or the purpose of the call had high

importance to the president, and thus to him.  Mary, they`re together in

this.

 

MCCORD:  Well, I mean, you know, I can`t speculate about that.  I know

there are times certainly probably with foreign leaders of countries more

significant than Ukraine that it`s probably not unheard of for the

secretary of state to be on the phone.

 

But I think what we see here happening is we have so many of President

Trump`s political appointees, his cabinet level appointees that seem, as

you said earlier, to basically have swarmed around and now being a part of

this pressure to investigate and not just to investigate generic corruption

but to investigate corruption involving supposedly candidate Biden`s son

and, of course, the beginnings of the 2016 Russia investigation, all things

that would be very helpful.

 

MATTHEWS:  Last point for both of you, and that is that there seems to be a

change in the president in the last 24 hours, the president, good reporting

in yesterday, saying that the president wasn`t aware of the urgency of this

situation.  For example, he put out a summary of his conversation with

Zelensky.  That`s an odd thing for him to do.  He seemed to be playing on

defense, I can handle this, I can handle this.

 

Today, he wouldn`t be repeat the admission that he made in putting out that

summary.  What`s going on?

 

BAKER:  No, I think you`re right.  He`s becoming increasingly concerned

about what`s happening here.  He`s watching the impeachment rolling forward

at a break-neck speed.  I think he had thought that he was past the danger

point when the Mueller report came out, and he Testified and didn`t look

like the House Democrats were going to really do anything.  Now, he`s

recognizing the danger.

 

You see the agitation that we saw today, right?  He was about as riled up

as, I think, we`ve seen him, and pushing back, fighting hard, using a lot

of these fighting words like treason.  But it`s one-man war room.  There`s

nothing around him right now.  There`s no strategy and a lot of Republicans

are concerned because the only defense is one-man and a Twitter account.

 

MATTHEWS:  Well, we`ll see who eats crow on Thanksgiving this year.

 

Anyway, thank you, Peter Baker of The Times, and thank you, Mary McCord of

Georgetown law.

 

Coming up, the president angry and frightened, he`s lashing out, as I said,

against his perceived enemies who are all around him now, except for those

three or four he`s got, there they are, including Mike Pence.  The

impeachment inquiry has the president at a state of extreme agitation as

the walls seem to be closing on on him and he`s acting that way.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

TRUMP:  These are bad people.  These are dishonest people.  And when the

American people find out what happened, it`s going to be a great day.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

And presidential candidate Kamala Harris joins me next here.  We`ll talk to

her about President Trump, what he should be worried about as the

impeachment inquiry moves forward onto Thanksgiving.

 

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

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.

 

Democrats in Congress are still working on arrangements to hear directly

from the whistleblower whose complaint has triggered this impeachment

inquiry into President Trump.  And there continues to be concern about, of

course, the whistleblower`s safety.

 

Dismissing those concerns, including those some members of his own party,

Trump continued his attacks on that person today.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

REPORTER:  How do you respond to concerns that you are putting the

whistleblower`s life in danger?

 

TRUMP:  Well, the whistleblower is very inaccurate.

 

REPORTER:  Some Republicans have raised concerns –

 

TRUMP:  No Republicans have raised concerns.

 

REPORTER:  – about the whistleblower, that the names – that the identity

of the whistleblower should be protected?

 

TRUMP:  I don`t care.  Look, I think the whistleblower should be protected

if the whistleblower is legitimate.

 

He either got it totally wrong, made it up or the person giving the

information to whistleblower was dishonest, and this country has to find

out who that person was because that person is a spy, in my opinion.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

MATTHEWS:  Trump`s unfounded accusations there came after House

Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff said the president is inciting

violence against the whistleblower.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA):  The president wants to make this all about the

whistleblower and suggest people that come forward with evidence of his

wrongdoing are somehow treasonous and should be treated as traitors and

spies. 

 

This is a blatant effort to intimidate witnesses.  It`s an incitement to

violence. 

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

MATTHEWS:  For more, I`m joined by Democratic presidential candidate

Senator Kamala Harris of California.

 

Senator, what do you make about this, as a prosecutor, a former prosecutor? 

This witness intimidation, scaring witness, it seems almost mob-like,

racketeer-like to say, all right, if you`re going to go up there, you`re

going to turn evidence against us for the state, look out. 

 

SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D-CA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  Well, there`s – I

mean, there`s no question. 

 

I mean, it`s just so obvious, Chris.  It`s really – it`s not actually –

it doesn`t require much creativity to figure out what exactly Donald Trump

is trying to do.  He`s trying to intimidate this witness and others.

 

And it is typical of his behaviors, which is that he is not only a bully,

but he also is, actually, obviously motivated by fear…

 

MATTHEWS:  Yes. 

 

HARRIS:  … which is that – the fear that this whistle-blower is going to

come forward and give credible information, which has already been deemed

on its face to be credible by the I.G., that it`s going to lead to an

inevitable conclusion, which is the impeachment of Donald Trump. 

 

MATTHEWS:  Let me ask you your big thoughts about the range and scope of

what`s going on right now. 

 

I said in the earlier segment I thought Trump was in this on himself, for

himself.  And now I realize he`s got William Barr, the attorney general, in

cahoots with him.  He`s got the secretary of state…

 

HARRIS:  Yes. 

 

MATTHEWS:  … Pompeo, in cahoots with him.  Now he`s got the vice

president dragged into this cabal. 

 

They`re all working together to get dirt on one of the presidential

candidates, Biden.  It seems like it`s all down to the nasty business of

oppo research, all run by the president, with these guys, men, behind him. 

 

They`re not just sycophants, like Lindsey Graham.  They`re in it.  What do

you make of it? 

 

HARRIS:  Yes, I – well, I agree with you. 

 

But I`d make one point of distinction between what you said and what I

think is going on.  It`s not like he made them do anything.  These are

grown men who all have preexisting roles of leadership, and as members of

the United States Congress, as governors, and a former attorney general. 

 

And so they know what they`re getting into when they`re dealing with him

and when they have engaged in the behaviors they have engaged in,

apparently. 

 

They need to come before Congress.  They need to testify, and under oath,

and tell the American people, because they also have violated, apparently,

the oath of office that they have taken. 

 

MATTHEWS:  Yes. 

 

HARRIS:  And so I would be cautious about just putting this on – to just

to suggest that they have been lulled or seduced into something.

 

If any of these individuals, if any of these men want to walk around

wearing the lapel pin that they wear, and have a bunch of staff running

after them, calling them by their title, well, now they need to come before

the United States Congress wearing that title and speak truth about what

they have or have not done, in terms of either violating the oath of office

they have taken or adhering to the promise they made the American people,

which is that they hold these offices in the public trust, that they hold

these offices with loyalty that they should be pledging to the United

States people, the people of our country, not Donald Trump. 

 

MATTHEWS:  You know, if possible, if it comes to a Senate trial – and it

may well by the end of this year.

 

Well, you will be a juror in that trial for removal of the president from

office after he`s impeached, if that develops, as the – as the history of

this year.  You`re going to have a vice president of the United States who

would take the presidency, after having been involved personally in the

cabal that we`re – that we would be impeaching the president for.

 

How does that make sense historically?  If Pence was part of this, how

could he survive as president when Trump goes? 

 

HARRIS:  Yes.  Well, I – you`re raising a very important point, which is

that the vice president has a lot to answer to. 

 

And he also should be brought before the United States Congress to speak

about what exactly what was involvement and what, if any, solicitations

were made by the president to have the vice president engage in unethical

conduct…

 

MATTHEWS:  Also…

 

HARRIS:  … and potentially illegal conduct. 

 

MATTHEWS:  Yes.

 

Also, if Trump is guilty of trading U.S. security and – security

arrangements with a country…

 

HARRIS:  Right.

 

MATTHEWS:  … that`s endangered by the Russians, and maybe he did the same

thing.

 

Let me ask you about – earlier today, House Speaker Pelosi said she thinks

President Trump has been lashing out at the Democrats because of his fear

of impeachment. 

 

Let`s watch her analysis. 

 

HARRIS:  Mm-hmm.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA):  I think the president knows the argument that

can be made against him, and he`s scared. 

 

And so he`s trying to divert attention from that to we`re standing in the

way of legislation. 

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

MATTHEWS:  What do you make of her performance so far, especially in the

last two weeks? 

 

HARRIS:  I think we should all be very thankful that, at this moment in

time, that Nancy Pelosi is the speaker, because she has – and no one can

question this – she has been thought full.  She has been reflective.  She

has been measured every step of the way. 

 

I, like so many other Democrats, have been calling for impeachment for some

time.  Nancy Pelosi has been very measured and very temperate in the way

she has approached this. 

 

And that is – that is the way that she operates.  And I have nothing but

respect for the way she`s been handling this issue. 

 

MATTHEWS:  At the other end of the spectrum, what do you think of the

president`s – report that the president of the United States wants

crocodiles, alligators, snakes, and all sorts of scary animals in the water

to keep people from crossing the Rio Grande? 

 

What do you make of that?  That`s a factual report. 

 

HARRIS:  I – I`m at a loss for words, except to say that this president

has a mentality that really is about beating people down and destroying

them.

 

You`re talking about a moat with alligators and snakes?

 

MATTHEWS:  Yes.  Well…

 

HARRIS:  He`s talking about going back to some medieval tactic, because,

apparently, that – he – his brain has not evolved to understand that

there are modern approaches to dealing with immigration. 

 

And, in particular, what really needs to happen is comprehensive

immigration reform with a pathway towards citizenship. 

 

MATTHEWS:  What do you make of Maya Rudolph`s imitation of you last

Saturday night?  Was that over the top?

 

(LAUGHTER)

 

MATTHEWS:  But you apparently said something positive about it.  I thought

it was a bit over the top.

 

Your thoughts? 

 

There it is.  We`re watching it now.

 

HARRIS:  Oh, I – look, I plan on keeping Maya Rudolph in work for the next

eight years. 

 

(LAUGHTER)

 

MATTHEWS:  Anyway, I think you`re much more restrained than that. 

 

But thank you so much, Senator Kamala Harris of California, for coming. 

 

(LAUGHTER)

 

HARRIS:  Yes. 

 

MATTHEWS:  Thank you. 

 

HARRIS:  Thank you. 

 

MATTHEWS:  Coming up:  U.S. Congressman Adam Schiff says he`s not fooling

around in the impeachment investigation, as Democrats set a deadline for

documents in the face of White House defiance.

 

Of course, I think they want them to defy right now.  Keep being defiant,

and that will be part of the impeachment articles.

 

You`re watching HARDBALL. 

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL. 

 

President Trump`s outburst this morning came just hours after three chairs

of House committees at the heart of the impeachment inquiry, Oversight,

Foreign Affairs and Intelligence, gave the White House an ultimatum:  Turn

over documents related to the Ukraine call by Friday, or a subpoena coming.

 

In a memo, they wrote: “The White House`s flagrant disregard of multiple

voluntary requests for documents, combined with stark and urgent warnings

from the inspector general about the gravity of these allegations, have

left us with no choice but to issue this subpoena.”

 

And one of those chairmen, Adam Schiff of House Intelligence, delivered a

sterner warning. 

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

SCHIFF:  If they are going to prevent witnesses from coming forward to

testify on the allegations in the whistle-blower complaint, that will

create an adverse inference that those allegations are in fact correct. 

 

We`re not fooling around here, though.  We don`t want this to drag on

months and months and months, which appears to be the administration`s

strategy.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

MATTHEWS:  Well, President Trump was asked if he would cooperate if the

committees follow through on that subpoena.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

TRUMP:  Well, I always cooperate.  This is a hoax.  This is a fraudulent

crime on the American people.  But we will work together with shifty Shift

(sic) and Pelosi and all of them. 

 

And we will see what happens, because we did absolutely – I had a great

call with the president of Ukraine.  It was 100 percent.  You have the

transcript. 

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

MATTHEWS:  For more, I`m joined by Democratic Congresswoman Elissa Slotkin

of Michigan.  She`s held positions in the CIA, the National Security

Council, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence itself, and

also the Defense Department.  And Joyce Vance is former U.S. attorney. 

 

Congresswoman, thank you for coming on tonight. 

 

REP. ELISSA SLOTKIN (D-MI):  Sure.

 

MATTHEWS:  Is it better for Trump to just continue his policy of

stonewalling and not letting anybody testify or turn over any documents, so

that, in the end, that just becomes perhaps the second article for

impeachment, just move it ahead before Thanksgiving?  Just let them impeach

themselves? 

 

SLOTKIN:  No.

 

I mean, I think what is the best scenario is that he actually allows this

administration to listen to the Constitution and come and testify in front

of Congress.

 

I don`t think it`s good for anybody to just have the executive branch and

the legislative branch at loggerheads.  I think he should have let the

process play out. 

 

And if indeed this was all a big mistake, then the onus is on the

administration to demonstrate that. 

 

MATTHEWS:  But what about the fact that they have already demonstrated

already, which they know how to slow this game down? 

 

I mean, they have been doing this now for nine, 10 months now.  They know

how to play – they will say, I will gladly give you the documents December

13 or December 26, or we will get going on this on Tuesday – sometime –

some Tuesday in January. 

 

SLOTKIN:  Right. 

 

MATTHEWS:  It`s in their interests to drag this out well past Thanksgiving

and Christmas, isn`t it?  Isn`t the game they`re playing time? 

 

SLOTKIN:  Clearly.  I mean, they`re playing this on these hearings, but

also related to a lot of other committee work that`s going on for nine

months. 

 

I think one of the things that myself and the six other co-authors of our

op-ed a week coming out for an inquiry, we didn`t just talk about the need

for an inquiry.  We talked about the need to be muscular about it, and to

not let the administration drag this out precipitously. 

 

And no one wants to get there, but I do think we have to start thinking

about, what are the consequences of them not showing up by a certain date? 

And I don`t – no one wants this.  But I – we did include in our op-ed the

possibility of holding someone in contempt. 

 

MATTHEWS:  Yes. 

 

SLOTKIN:  I mean, no one in real America gets to just not show up when

they`re subpoenaed. 

 

MATTHEWS:  Well, Congresswoman, you sound like a sound public servant.  I

just wonder about the other side.

 

Joyce, here`s the question.  We have watched this for months.  They laugh. 

They stonewall all request for documents.  They have never come up with the

president`s tax returns.  The statute is clear.  They shall turn it over to

the committees of Ways of Means and Finance in the Senate.  They don`t do

it.

 

All these shalls seem to be nothing to them.  The president is behind every

one of these defiances.  Why continue to go through the paperwork of going

after them, knowing they`re just playing for time? 

 

JOYCE VANCE, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY:  It looks like there`s a new strategy. 

And I think it`s an interesting idea. 

 

As you point out, Chris, the litigation process is still very slow.  We`re

now waiting months down the road to hear about whether the McGahn subpoena

will be enforced. 

 

But Congressman Schiff seems to be beginning a new narrative, where he will

be able to tell a story to the American people about what it means when

he`s stonewalled. 

 

So there are regulations inside of the executive branch that would let the

secretary or a lower-level delegate refuse to permit someone to go and

testify up on the Hill. 

 

And what we see in the subpoenas and the narrative that Schiff is releasing

is that, if they do that, if they continue to foreclose testimony, he will

then make the case to the American people that they`re doing this because

they have something to hide and, even worse than that, that they are

obstructing Congress, so that instead of being an endless loop of delay, it

now becomes, as I think the congresswoman points out, a possible article of

impeachment. 

 

Everyone would like to see the executive branch comply.  The American

people are entitled to the truth.  But there has to be accountability and

consequences.  It looks like Schiff is starting to walk down that path…

 

MATTHEWS:  I agree.

 

VANCE:  … towards finding a way to combat this administration. 

 

MATTHEWS:  So, noncompliance is admission of guilt. 

 

Anyway, the threat of White House subpoenas comes on the same day Secretary

of State Mike Pompeo pushed back against congressional requests to

interview current and former State Department officials regarding Ukraine. 

 

Here he goes. 

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

MIKE POMPEO, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE:  We will, of course, do our

constitutional duty to cooperate with this co-equal branch. 

 

But we are going to do so in a way that is consistent with the fundamental

values of the American system.  And we won`t tolerate folks on Capitol Hill

bullying, intimidating State Department employees.  That`s unacceptable. 

 

And it`s not something that I`m going to permit to happen. 

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

MATTHEWS:  However, during the two-year-long House Select Committee

Investigation into Benghazi, then Congressman Pompeo had no problem with

pressuring Hillary Clinton`s State Department officials and the Obama White

House itself into cooperating. 

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

POMPEO:  Our task is – our task is really straightforward.  It`s to take

the data, collect the data, get the documents, speak to the folks who know

about the events of the run-up to that evening.

 

Our goal is really quite simple.  It`s to get every single fact we can get,

every document, every witness, and to put together the puzzle, the mosaic

for the American people. 

 

My charge is very clear, to get to the bottom of the facts that surrounded

this enormous foreign policy failure.  The president didn`t turn over all

the documents in response to a congressional subpoena.  And that`s just

unacceptable. 

 

I need to make sure that everyone who was involved in this has the

opportunity to speak with us, to share their testimony, their ideas, their

thoughts about what really happened that night. 

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

MATTHEWS:  Well, there`s a picture of FOX and friend.

 

Congresswoman, let me ask you about something I know is important to you,

given your career, your resume, and that`s national security. 

 

I think this isn`t ethics.  I think it`s something about taking foreign

policy, especially military assistance to a country which is beleaguered,

under Soviet – I use the phrase Soviet because it`s the same old behavior. 

It`s the same KGB guy running that country. 

 

The Russians have taken part of Crimea already.  They took Crimea.  They`re

taking part of Eastern – they`re basically occupying Eastern Ukraine. 

They`re moving.  And it`s our tanks – our anti-tank missiles that are used

to stop them.

 

And the Trump people, including the vice president now, holding up that

arms shipment to get the dirt on a political opponent here at home.  What

do you make of that, as a member of Congress? 

 

SLOTKIN:  Well, I do think it`s important that we be really, really careful

about the facts, right? 

 

What we know for sure is that the president, because he acknowledged it and

the president`s lawyer acknowledged it, is that they reached out to the

president of Ukraine, and they asked for dirt on an American, on a

political opponent.  They asked a foreigner for that. 

 

We know that the aid was suspended for a time.  We do not know yet – and

that`s why we`re looking into the facts – exactly why, and we have two

different sides to that story. 

 

So I think it is important that we actually stick to the facts here.  I

know, from my time at the Pentagon, one of the things that I worked on was

getting military aid to Ukraine right after 2014, and then up through 2016.

 

We`re the biggest donor of military supplies to the Ukrainians.  They have

lost 13,000 people in their war.  So it`s a big deal that aid would be

suspended in any way.  And that`s why it`s important to understand exactly

why it happened, because, for me, that`s a second piece of the problem

here. 

 

But the first-order problem is that the president acknowledged that he went

to a foreigner for dirt on an American. 

 

MATTHEWS:  Yes. 

 

Well, he got to me with this line, “I`d like you to do me a favor, though.”

 

Anyway, thank you, U.S. Congresswoman Elissa Slotkin of Michigan and Joyce

Vance, as always.  Thank you, Joyce. 

 

Up next, later:  Our president can`t distinguish between the United States

and himself.  He calls the state himself.  He thinks the Justice Department

and the State Department work for him, and his critics, all of them, any

partisan critic, is a traitor. 

 

You`re watching HARDBALL. 

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.

 

President Trump was elected, of course, promising that only he knew how to

fix things. 

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  Nobody knows the system

better than me, which is why I alone can fix it. 

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

MATTHEWS:  Well, nearly three years into his presidency, the political

novice has bragged about having the power to do whatever he wants. 

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

TRUMP:  I have an Article II where I have the right to do whatever I want

as president, but I don`t even talk about that. 

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

MATTHEWS:  In that capacity, he`s demanded multiple agencies help him.  The

Justice Department is currently conducting a probe to discredit the

findings by U.S. intelligence agencies, 17 of them, that Russia meddled in

the 2016 election to help Trump. 

 

Well, the State Department`s investigating some of its current and former

officials in connection with Hillary Clinton`s e-mails now, right now.  And

Trump has enlisted the secretary of the treasury to obstruct Congress`

inquiry into his tax returns. 

 

One explanation, according to “The Washington Post”, is that President

Trump has grown confident about exercising power, disposing of aids who

acted as guardrails and elevating those who prove their loyalty by

following his orders.  It`s as if President Trump took President Kennedy`s

famous inaugural calls to service and flipped it on its head. 

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

JOHN F. KENNEDY, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT:  So, my fellow Americans, ask not

what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country. 

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

MATTEHWS:  Unlike Jack Kennedy, President Trump seems to be saying with

every act, it`s not what I can do for my country, it`s what my country can

do for me. 

 

Unbounded and emboldened President Trump continues to portray anyone

questioning him as attacking America, and that`s coming up next right after

this break.  You`re watching HARDBALL.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.

 

The president has frequently claimed that an attack on him is an attack on

America. 

 

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

 

TRUMP:  They were going hog-wild to find something about the administration

which obviously wasn`t there.  We had nothing to do with Russia. 

 

This was a coup.  This was an attempted overthrow of the United States

government. 

 

I call the fake news the enemy of the people, and they are.  They are the

enemy of the people. 

 

REPORTER:  Can you explain your decision not to go to Denmark because they

really wouldn`t talk about selling Greenland? 

 

TRUMP:  No, Denmark, I look forward to going but I thought that the prime

minister`s statement – she`s not talking to me, she`s talking to the

United States of America.  You don`t talk to the United States that way, at

least not to me. 

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

MATTHEWS:  Well, those who have deigned to question him should be arrested

for treason he says and for plotting a coup. 

 

As “The Washington Post” writes Trump is invoking the muskets-and-ramparts

idioms of the country`s beginnings. 

 

And today, he was asked about those acquisitions.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

REPORTER:  Do you consider anyone who opposes you treasonous?

 

TRUMP:  No, no, I consider when they lie.  When they stand before our great

body, and our great chamber and make up a story that`s fiction. 

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

MATTHEWS:  For more, I`m joined by Robert Costa, “Washington Post” national

political reporter, and David Corn, “Mother Jones” Washington bureau chief. 

 

Let me go to Bob Costa on this question of Trump`s identification of

himself.  You know, he is the States as I said in French.  He is the United

States government.  What do you make of it? 

 

ROBERT COSTA, WASHINGTON POST NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER:  My colleague

Phil Rucker and I on today`s front page of “The Washington Post” documented

how President Trump has become more comfortable using executive power 2 1/2

years into his presidency.  When you talk to his confidants and associates

they say he`s surrounding himself with people who are supporting his

position, not arguing with him at almost every turn and are using his

cabinet and officials to try to do his bidding at times for political gain. 

 

MATTHEWS:  It does seem, David, that now we`re getting into focus with this

whole thing with Ukraine, with the vice president involved tonight and the

secretary of state and the attorney general.  Everything revolves around

saving this president`s keister. 

 

DAVID CORN, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, MOTHER JONES:  Well, Bob made it

sounds like it`s a power play, and it is.  It`s also a psychological play. 

Donald Trump suffers from some form of pretty extreme narcissism in which

he views the world only in terms of how it affects him. 

 

And so, now, it`s all about saving his presidency, removing the taint of

the Russia investigation, which does I think undermine his legitimacy as

president and that`s all he cares about. 

 

(CROSSTALK)

 

MATTHEWS:  And diminishing Joe Biden as a potential opponent.

 

CORN:  Yes, but I think that was his second – 

 

MATTHEWS:  I know.

 

CORN:  – point.  And when he goes around – when Bill Barr going around

the world sitting in on these meetings, it`s about getting information to

discredit the Russian probe, that`s what`s motivating him now.  And so,

that`s really what`s going on here. 

 

MATTHEWS:  Well, he`s looking back and he`s looking forward.  As we

mentioned earlier, Vice President Mike Pence is being dragged deeper into

the entanglement here.  A week ago when President Trump first publicly

defended himself against the wrongdoing, he alluded to the vice president`s

own interactions with the Ukrainian president.  Let`s take a look at that. 

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

TRUMP:  I think you should ask for VP Pence`s conversation because he had a

couple of conversations also.  I could save you a lot of tile.  They`re all

perfect.  Nothing was mentioned of any import other than congratulations. 

 

But the word is that they`re going to ask for the first phone conversation. 

You can have it any time you need it, and also Mike Pence`s conversations

which were I think one or two of them, they were perfect.  They were all

perfect. 

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

MATTHEWS:  Well, that, Robert, had a hint of Richard Nixon.  Nothing wrong

with what he did, but he was the guy who didn`t go to the inauguration, he

was the guy who talked to President Zelensky about cutting off the aid.  He

certainly dragged him in and I don`t think he wants to be part of this

cabal. 

 

COSTA:  As a reporter, I`ve seen up close how Vice President Pence has been

dragged into this situation.  Four weeks ago in Warsaw, I was in the room

when he met with President Zelensky of Ukraine, not talking about Vice

President Biden, but they did talk about in a broad way corruption. 

 

Vice President Pence`s aides told “The Washington Post” today, he did want

have the intent to try to solicit interference in the 2020 election.  At

the same time, you see Vice President Pence involved in a similar way to

Attorney General Barr and Secretary of State Pompeo.  They`re part of these

conversations about Ukraine at some level. 

 

MATTHEWS:  David, what about the conundrum here?  If this president is

impeached, which I think is pretty likely right now and if he`s removed

from office which there`s less chance of that perhaps, but if he is removed

from office in favor of Mike Pence, Mike Pence is involved in the same

cabal which is using U.S. foreign policies to get dirt on rivals. 

 

This one particular incident in fact involving the president of Ukraine. 

That`s a little odd to inaugurate swearing in a president who did a same

thing as the one we just kicked out.

 

CORN:  And remember, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, what is he fifth in

the line of secession?  I mean, so, the question is, can Donald Trump go

down without taking everyone around him down?  I mean, a sinking – a

sinking –

 

MATTHEWS:  Well, they will go with him.  They`d go with him. 

 

CORN:  A sinking ship creates this gigantic whirl pool and everybody who`s

been his enabler, whether it was Bill Barr and now, Mike Pompeo, or Mike

Pence, they`re all –

 

MATTHEWS:  Do you think the enablers are like-minded?  Are they all like-

minded?  I used to think enablers, but I get the feeling, I think about

Bob`s little reporting, it seems like these people are not in a sidecar but

they`re riding with him.  You know, they`re riding with him in common

thought and purpose. 

 

Pompeo seems to be a Trumpian, so does Barr, seems to be a Trumpian.  The

vice president I thought was keeping his distance, but he`s been pulled in. 

 

Are they like seeking gentlemen or are they just people who are basically

kissing up, this colloquialism, to get what they want to get politically? 

 

COSTA:  Based on my reporting, Chris, they`re not in ideological lock step

with President Trump.  Instead their survival is with an administration

where they feel like they need to work with him on some of his projects

even if they think privately this is not the direction the president should

go in.  They feel like John Kelly, the former chief of staff, Jim Mattis

the former defense secretary struggled and then failed to contain this

president.  So they don`t even have the allusion, their associates tell us,

that they could contain President Trump. 

 

CORN:  But the issue there is, why do they have to contain him?

 

MATTHEWS:  OK.

 

CORN:  They see there`s something wrong with the man.

 

MATTHEWS:  OK, I was only following orders. 

 

Thank you, Robert Costa.  Thank you, David Corn.

 

Up next, Trump confesses his real reason for attacking the press like he

was attacking them today.  But here`s why he did it, and he will tell you

at the moment.

 

You`re watching HARDBALL.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

MATTHEWS:  If you listen to Donald Trump, you`ll find all you need to know

about how he thinks, how this man who sits in the Oval Office actually

operates. 

 

Back when Trump was first elected, CBS` Lesley Stahl recalls the reason he

gave her for his constant attacks on the media.  Quote, he said, you know

why I do it, I do it to discredit you all and demean you all, so that when

you write negative stories about me, no one will believe you. 

 

Do we need to know more get a better explanation of this man`s M.O. and his

motives?  He trashes reporters so that no one will believe what they are

reporting about him.  Trump was doing it again today, hiking up the name-

calling. 

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

TRUMP:  I don`t even use “fake” anymore.  I call the fake news now corrupt

news because fake isn`t tough enough.  And I`m the one who came up with

term, I`m very proud of it, but I think I`m going to switch it largely to

corrupt news because the media in this country, not everybody, we have some

great reporters, some great journalists, but much of it is corrupt. 

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

MATTHEWS:  Corrupt press, could this explain Trump`s contemptuous refusal

to condemn Saudi Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the man behind the killing and

actual butchering of “The Washington Post” columnist Jamal Khashoggi a year

ago today. 

 

And where`s not condemning the man known as MBS, Trump and Secretary of

State Mike Pompeo have led the killer back to global respectability,

sharing the spotlight with him at world gatherings.  Look at them there. 

 

And as we`ve learned, Donald Trump doesn`t honor the accepted rules of

mankind such as you`re not supposed to shoot the messenger.  It`s not the

only rule of basic human behavior he`s refused to uphold. 

 

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

 

“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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