Pres. Trump slams new poll. TRANSCRIPT: 10/10/19, Hardball w/ Chris Matthews.
STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC HOST: Slight risks. Let`s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I`m Steve Kornacki in for Chris Matthews.
Major new developments today. It raised more questions for President
Trump`s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, and that could affect the ongoing
Federal law enforcement officers last night arrested two business
associates of Giuliani`s charging them in a scheme to make illegal
political donations to influence U.S. relations with Ukraine.
Among other things Igor Fruman and Lev Parnas allegedly made illegal
contributions to approach from political action committee and are stand
accused of funneling illegal foreign donations from a Russian national to
other political candidates.
The arrests come as the two Giuliani associates also emerged as potentially
key figures in the Trump-Ukraine scandal. They were reportedly helping
Giuliani pursue allegations against Joe and Hunter Biden on behalf of the
As The Wall Street Journal reports, quote, Fruman and Parnas have
introduced Giuliani to several current and former senior Ukrainian
prosecutors to discuss the Biden case. Their lawyer suggested as much in a
letter to Congress this month saying this, quote, be advised that Mr.
Parnas and Mr. Fruman assisted Mr. Giuliani in connection with his
representation of President Trump.
Additionally, Lev Parnas told BuzzFeed News that he has met, quote, many
times with the president in the last year. Posts on social media appear to
confirm at least one of those interactions back in May as well as an
apparent breakfast meeting with Donald Trump Jr., which took place later
However, President Trump today said he doesn`t know either man.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: What conversations have you had with Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman?
DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT: I don`t know those gentlemen.
REPORTER: You`re in picture with them.
TRUMP: Now it`s possible – I have a picture with them because I have a
picture with everybody here.
I don`t know them. I don`t know about them. I don`t know what they do.
But – I don`t know. Maybe they were clients of Rudy. You`d have to ask
Rudy. I just don`t know.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: The Wall Street Journal reports that according to an eyewitness,
Parnas and Fruman, quote, had lunch with Rudy Giuliani at the Trump Hotel
in Washington yesterday, just hours before their arrests.
They were taken into custody last night at Dulles Airport, where, according
to prosecutors, they had one-way tickets to leave the country. Their
planned departure came just before they were supposed to testify in the
House Impeachment Inquiry in depositions scheduled for today and for
Now, on the day of their arrests, they`ve also been served with a subpoena
for documents in connection with the House impeachment inquiry.
For more, I am joined by Congressman John Garamendi, a Democrat from
California, a member of the House Armed Services Committee, who just
returned from a congressional trip to Ukraine. Mieke Eoyang is Vice
President for National Security Program at Third Way. And Ken Dilanian is
an NBC News Correspondent.
Ken, let me just start with you to get the details clear on this.
Officially, this is a case that prosecutors are bringing on campaign
finance grounds. But all sorts of connections here between these two
individuals and Rudy Giuliani, the president`s personal lawyer, and his
activities in relation to Ukraine, take us through what we know about those
KEN DILANIAN, MNSBC CORRESPONDENT: That`s right, Steve. This can get
pretty complicated pretty quick, but the bottom line here is that Donald
Trump has said what he was doing in Ukraine, what he was sending Rudy
Giuliani to do was about corruption and battling corruption.
Well, these charges suggest that there was corruption at the heart of that
inquiry because these two men were involved with Rudy and introducing him
to Ukrainian politicians and other figures that Rudy was then lobbying to
investigate Joe and Hunter Biden and to pursue other investigations that
Donald Trump wanted in connection with the 2016 election. And at the same
time, by the way, they were pursuing private business deals, and there`s
going to be more questions about that.
But what these charges say is that all the while that this was happening,
they were essentially making straw donations and they were funneling
foreign money illegally into political campaigns. And one of the
contributions is a huge one, $325,000 to a Trump Super PAC.
And that was really part of their scheme because when they were in Ukraine,
they were claiming, sources tell NBC News, that they had political juice
with the Trump administration. And that was how they were trying to get
this natural gas business deal that they were doing, and it was also how
they were getting introductions with senior politicians and bringing Rudy
to the table.
So they were wearing a couple of different hats and it was all a kind of a
murky arrangement. But the bottom line here, I think, today is that the
prosecutors said the investigation is continuing. Steve?
KORNACKI: Congressman, we mentioned in terms of investigation here, these
two individuals were supposed to be deposed as part of the House
impeachment inquiry. What is it potentially still that you and your
colleagues are hoping to learn from them?
REP. JOHN GARAMENDI (D-CA): Well, get down to the details. What were they
there for, who were they working for, were information came from Rudy
Giuliani, and, by the way, what was said at that lunch that would send them
to Dulles airport so quickly to get out of town fast? A lot of those
threads to be followed here, and each one of those threads lead back to
Giuliani and then Giuliani to the president himself.
And so that`s what we need to get at. That`s why the subpoenas have to go
out. That`s why these folks have to appear. That`s why the information
and the emails and all the other data needs to be submitted.
Clearly, this was an allegation of a crime, and I`m sure it`s not the only
KORNACKI: I`m going to ask everybody to standby for just a minute because
I am hearing this and I`m going to tell you about it now.
We have some breaking news that is just coming in. This is being reported
at this moment by The Washington Post. They report this, quote, at least
four national security officials were so alarmed by the Trump
administration`s attempts to pressure Ukraine for political purposes that
they raised concerns with a White House lawyer both before and immediately
after President Trump`s July 25th call with that country`s president,
again, this being reported right now by The Washington Post.
They also report this, quote, the nature and timing of the previously
undisclosed discussions indicate that officials were delivering warnings
through official White House channels earlier than previously understood.
And we have Greg Jaffe who has reported and is joining us on the phone.
I`m sorry, I`m just being told this through my ear and trying to convey it.
Greg, thank you for joining us on short notice. We just read sort of the
headline findings from your story here. But, essentially, you are learning
and you`re telling us more people than we realized raised concerns about
GREG JAFFE, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, THE WASINGTON POST: Yes, that`s
right. Concern has been percolating for a while among some prior to the
call and then immediately after kind of a flare goes up and there`s kind of
significant worry. And some folks go immediately to John Eisenberg, who`s
the National Security Council lawyer to register their concerns about what
had happened on the call and the direction of Ukraine policy.
KORNACKI: And as they registered their concerns, did anything happen then?
JAFFE: You know, it`s not clear. Eisenberg, from one of our sources, gave
the indication he took it seriously and would elevate it. But beyond that,
we don`t know what happened.
KORNACKI: Is it your sense that – because, obviously, the president, and
we know these other transcripts have leaked out in the past, but the
president had calls in the past with foreign leaders that maybe were a
little unorthodox, but is it your sense that this was in terms of just the
alarm bells that were being sort of set off here and registered, that this
was unique in that sense?
JAFFE: Yes, this was different. I think there are calls that are
outrageous, there are calls that are surprising that caused people to lie
(ph). I think what was different here is people heard something that they
felt was potentially illegal.
KORNACKI: Congressman, Garamendi, I know you`re still with us and I hope
you (INAUDIBLE). I`m just curious. This is – we`re all processing this,
I assume you are. But what is your reaction to this news?
GARAMENDI: Well, we know exactly what happened. What happened was a
cover-up. The tapes of the transcripts went into a deep vault. We know
people began to scramble to cover up what is apparently an illegal action
by the president with regard to the campaign financing laws, as well as
perhaps other laws dealing with bribery in a foreign country. And so what
did they do? They did a cover-up.
Now, who did it? That`s why we need subpoenas, that`s why we need the
president to come forth to end his stonewalling, to allow people to do what
they must do, and that is to testify before Congress, get the facts out
there and we`ll see where it goes. We always know, always been said
forever, it`s the cover-up that gets you in trouble. And we know from all
the information that has thus far been forthcoming that there was at least
a cover-up here and quite possibly in other places.
KORNACKI: And, Greg, I just want to make sure – clear on the details
here. The folks who raised concerns, who expressed concerns, who you`re
reporting on, these are people who are on the call, these are people who
heard about the call?
JAFFE: Yes, it was a combination of both people who are on the call or
listening into the call and people who had heard about it within the White
House, so the immediate kind of National Security Council staff.
KORNACKI: And for folks who aren`t familiar how the different sort of
facets of the bureaucracy sort of interact here, the people you`re
describing, would these be national security professionals who are sort of
in place no matter who the president is, no matter which party controls the
White House or are these political appointees you`re talking about here?
JAFFE: It`s actually a mix of both political appointees and career
KORNACKI: It`s both.
And in terms – I say in terms of what they expressed here, did they make
written statements? Are there records that might come out pertaining to
this at all?
JAFFE: Yes, I don`t know. My understanding is that from our reporting is
that they went to the NSC lawyer and did not provide written statements
but, you know, expressed concerns verbally.
Now, as to whether Mr. Eisenberg took notes or typed up a report, that, I
can`t – that, we don`t know.
KORNACKI: Greg Jaffe, thank you for taking a few minutes. I know this is
probably a lot of demand for you right now. But, again, you just reported
this breaking news piece in The Washington Post. Thank you for taking a
few minutes. We appreciate it.
Mieke Eoyang, I want to get you and just your reaction as well.
MIEKE EOYANG, VICE PRESIDENT THE FOR NATIONAL SECURITY PROGRAM, THIRD WAY:
Yes. I think that both of these stories, what they really indicate is that
it`s very clear that the president`s actions are illegal and the White
House has known it for quite some time. You don`t go through the effort to
hide this transcript in a deep dark vault after all these officials
If you don`t think that you`ve done something wrong and what the DOJ
indictments unsealed today show you is that foreign campaign contributions
are a crime. This is far from a perfect call. The president has done
something very seriously wrong here. He can`t say this is nothing and this
is business as usual. The Department of Justice considers this kind of
activity a crime, and they`ve been trying to hide it.
DILANIAN: Steve, if I could just –
KORNACKI: Go ahead, yes.
DILANIAN: The context here and the timeline, so our viewers can understand
where the whistleblower fits into this, as I understand it. So The Post is
reporting that these four officials raised questions some before and then
some after the July 25th Ukraine call. And then at some point later, that
transcript of that call was put into a highly classified system at the
And then a little bit after that, some of these officials who had heard the
call directly went to the whistleblower, who was a CIA officer, and at that
time was back at the CIA, had worked in the White House and knew these
people. And then that whistleblower began gathering these accounts and
went to the CIA lawyers, the CIA General Council, who then called John
Eisenberg, the man that Greg Jaffe mentioned, the top lawyer at the
National Security Council, and said, we have a problem with this call.
People were raising about this call with Ukraine.
Well, Eisenberg, of course, knew exactly which call she was talking about
because he had already had these previous complaints. Then they went and
gathered information. At that point, the CIA General Council made what she
considered a criminal referral to the Justice Department about that call,
and then some time later, the whistleblower complaint came in. That`s the
KORNACKI: That`s great context. Thank you, Ken, for providing that.
One more question to you, Ken, as well. I want to return to the story we
led with there, because one more piece of it is getting a lot of attention.
Obviously, you mentioned all of the connections to Giuliani. Giuliani not
included in this indictment today. Again, it`s a campaign finance
indictment. There`s all sorts of speculation. Do you have any reporting,
do you have any sense if prosecutors are interested in Giuliani at all
DILANIAN: There are reports out there, Steve, that we have not confirmed.
The word we`re getting is, of course, there is scrutiny of Rudy Giuliani as
a part of this inquiry. He had relationships with these people who are now
under indictment. He was working with them closely in some very
controversial matters. So there is scrutiny. There is nothing to suggest
yet that he`s a target of an investigation. He`s not saying very much
But certainly when I talk to my congressional sources, that is where their
attention is focused here, is the question of what was Rudy Giuliani`s role
in the political contributions made by these men, in the business deals
that they were trying to arrange in Ukraine, what did Rudy know, who was
paying for Rudy`s trip to Ukraine? Because, after all, what Rudy was doing
is at the heart of the impeachment inquiry, which is charging that Donald
Trump abused his power to pressure the Ukrainian government. He was doing
that in part through Rudy Giuliani, Steve.
KORNACKI: Okay. Ken Dilanian, Congressman John Garamendi, Mieke Eoyang,
thank you all for being with us. Thank you for rolling with us as well
through that breaking news. I appreciate the time.
And coming up, the White House`s defiant letter to Congress vowing not to
cooperate with the impeachment inquiry, it`s clear he can`t stop
impeachment. So what is he really hoping to accomplish by stonewalling and
could it work?
Plus, 16 prominent conservative lawyers call for a, quote, expeditious
impeachment investigation arguing the established facts show a clear abuse
of office by the president. One of the 16 who signed that document will be
We`ve got much more to get to. Stay with us.
KORNACKI: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
Tonight, President Trump will make his case for re-election at a rally in
Minneapolis. This his first rally since the launch of the impeachment
inquiry that comes even as the White House ramps up its showdown with
Congress over the impeachment probe.
Today, the president responded to a new Fox News poll that showed 51
percent of voters would like to see him impeached and removed from office.
Trump tweeted this, quote, whoever their pollster is, they suck, adding
that Fox News, quote, doesn`t deliver for us anymore.
Tonight`s rally in Minnesota is largely aimed at energizing his political
base, and by extension, Republican Senators who would have to vote in any
Colorado Republican Senator Cory Gardner, who is up for re-election next
year, showed the binds the president has potentially put Republicans in
when he was asked about Trump`s call with Ukraine`s leader. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: Do you believe it`s appropriate for the president of the United
States to ask a foreign leader to investigate a political rival, yes or no?
SEN. CORY GARDNER (R-CO): Well, look, this is what we`re going to get
into. The Senate Intelligence Committee is having an investigation, a
bipartisan investigation. Unfortunately, though, what we`ve seen is a very
political process takeover.
REPORTER: But is it appropriate –
GARDNER: I have answered your question.
REPORTER: No, you didn`t. Is it yes –
REPORTER: Is it yes or no?
GARDNER: Well, here is what we`re seeing the House of Representatives.
You see a very partisan process taking place. Why is it that when you all
do stories or we see reports in the news it`s about four states, Colorado,
Arizona, Maine and North Carolina? It seems to be about politics and
REPORTER: But the question is, is it appropriate for a president to –
GARDNER: Look, I think we are going to have an investigation and it`s a
REPORTER: But, Senator, it`s a yes or no question.
GARDNER: It`s an answer that you get from a very serious investigation.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: For more, I`m joined by Peter Baker, “New York Times” chief
White House correspondent, and Philip Rucker, “Washington Post” White House
Phil – and by the way, that clip there we showed, that went on for some
PHILIP RUCKER, “THE WASHINGTON POST”: Yes.
KORNACKI: Gardner refusing to answer.
The question there was, is it appropriate for the president to be asking a
foreign country to aid in an investigation of his rival? Gardner not the
only Republican who has been unwilling to answer that question.
Explain the complicated or tricky politics that is making Republicans
hesitant to answer that.
Well, Steve, it sounds like a pretty simple question with a yes-or-no
answer, but we have seen over the last couple of weeks that a number of
Republican senators have had really pained experiences trying to come up
with those answers.
There have really actually been only a few, a small handful of Senate
Republicans who have come out and said directly that it`s inappropriate or
improper or wrong for a president to do what President Trump appears to
have done, which is to solicit help from a foreign government to help
damage a domestic political opponent.
And the reason for that is, these Republican senators are so fearful of
getting on the wrong side of President Trump. They know he has a
commanding power with the Republican voting base and they fear primary
Senator Gardner is up for reelection in 2020. If he were to get crosswise
today with President Trump, that could invite a primary challenge from the
right tomorrow. And that could make it very difficult for him to make it
KORNACKI: Peter Baker, I was thinking back. The last impeachment we had
20 years ago with Bill Clinton, back then, Democrats who wanted to stay
loyal to Clinton had this middle ground where they could condemn his
He himself would go out there and acknowledge that he had behaved poorly.
And they could say, OK, he`s admitted that, it`s terrible, he shouldn`t be
impeached over it.
I get the sense from some of these Republican senators they would like to
distance themselves from Trump`s actions with Ukraine, while saying
impeachment is not an appropriate step.
But if the president`s position is, I did nothing wrong, the call was
perfect, I had a duty to do that, to pressure Ukraine like this, it`s
impossible for Republicans to find a similar middle ground.
PETER BAKER, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, “THE NEW YORK TIMES”: Well, I
think that`s right, Steve. You`re exactly right. It`s a very good point.
You wrote the book, of course, about the 1990s and the conflict between
Republicans and Democrats back then. And you`re right. The difference is
that President Clinton did acknowledge wrongdoing. He didn`t acknowledge -
- at least at first, anyway – any legal wrongdoing. He didn`t acknowledge
any impeachable wrongdoing.
But he said, look, I strayed from my wedding vows. I lied to the country.
I lied to my wife. I shouldn`t have done it. I`m sorry.
And that gave the Democrats something to hang onto, to condemn him without
saying it rose to the level of a high crime and misdemeanor.
Here, there is no middle ground. As you rightly point out, the Republicans
are stuck with President Trump`s adamant denial that he did anything wrong
whatsoever. As long as he sticks to that position, they`re going to have
to stick with him, or find themselves on the receiving end of a Trump
Twitter blast and the possible consequences with their own base.
KORNACKI: Well, underscoring the extent to which the president is acting
as his own spokesperson here, making his own arguments against impeachment,
the Associated Press reports this:
“White House officials close to President Trump are pulling off a
disappearing act, remaining largely absent from public view in the middle
of the storm over impeachment. Many of the White House`s most visible
officials have been staying out of public view, letting the president`s
indignant Twitter feed and his frequent commentary drive the public
Phil, is this behind the scenes what it looks like in public, that folks in
the White House, his aides are basically deferring Trump to improvise this
RUCKER: Well, at least publicly, Steve, his aides have been pretty mute.
For the last week or so, they have let President Trump handle his own
There have been a handful of Republican congressmen who`ve rushed to the
president`s defense on television. But you`re not seeing the sort of full-
throated defense that you`re used to seeing at moments of crisis in the
White House. You`re not seeing the press secretary come out on camera to
discuss this – this issue.
And there are a couple of reasons for that. I think, one, Trump wants to
do it himself. He thinks he`s a better communicator than anybody working
for him, and has faith in his own ability to do it. And that`s why he`s
been tangling with reporters almost every day throughout this crisis.
But the other answer is that the White House talking points have proven
over the last few weeks not to hold up. There are new discoveries, new
information, new revelations coming forward every day, and, sometimes,
those are contradicting the talking points.
So you might see a reluctance from White House aides to get too far ahead
of the story and say something that they would later regret.
KORNACKI: And, Peter, along those same lines of the president setting the
tone, he is about to hold this rally out in Minneapolis, his first
political rally, first campaign rally since the launch of the impeachment
Certainly, if the past is prologue here, he`s going to have some pretty
choice words on this subject tonight.
What are you looking for in terms of the president, the tone he will set
tonight, and how his party might respond to it?
BAKER: Well, I think that`s exactly right.
Look, if we assume that the House Democrats have taken the leap that they
have taken and are heading toward an impatient vote, that would probably be
on party lines. And the president would then have to go on trial in some
fashion in the Senate, where it doesn`t look like 20 Republican senators
would break with him, and, therefore, he would remain in office.
The real court then is going to be the voters. It is going to be in
November 2020. That will be the ultimate verdict on whether impeachment
was a legitimate effort or not, and whether the president is fit for office
And so his – he`s got the first tonight of three rallies in the next week,
where he will no doubt make the case that this impeachment is, in his mind,
illegitimate, that it`s just a partisan witch-hunt, to use the phrase he
likes to use, and to keep the Republicans in his corner.
When President Clinton survived impeachment, it was by keeping Democrats in
his corner when it came to the idea of an impeachment or trial. That`s
what President Trump needs to do here as well. But he`s also got something
that President Clinton didn`t have.
He had a – has an election ahead of him. And that`s looming not too far
in the distant future.
KORNACKI: Yes, it was interesting. I think it was Lamar Alexander who
today put out a statement saying, impeachment was a bad idea because the
election is next year.
I`m interested to see if other Republicans pick up on that theme.
Peter Baker, Philip Rucker, thank you both for joining us. Appreciate it.
And up next: the legal case for a quick impeachment investigation.
You`re watching HARDBALL.
KORNACKI: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
More than a dozen prominent conservative lawyers, including George Conway,
the husband of White House counselor Kellyanne Conway, released a joint
letter today calling for an expeditious impeachment of President Trump.
The lawyers, many of whom have worked in previous Republican
administrations, say the evidence already presented makes the – quote –
“undisputed case that Trump violated his oath of office.”
In the letter, they write – quote – “We have not just a political
candidate open to receiving foreign assistance to better his chances at
winning an election, but a current president openly and privately calling
on foreign governments to actively interfere in the most sacred of U.S.
democratic processes, our elections.”
For more, I am joined by one of the lawyers who signed that letter, J.W.
Verret, who`s also a former Trump transition member, and Gregg Nunziata, a
former Republican Senate Judiciary staffer.
Thank you to both of you for joining us today.
J.W., let me start with you.
I – the word expeditious, saying you would like a quick, a speedy
impeachment process, what do you have in mind there? And why is that so
J.W. VERRET, FORMER TRUMP TRANSITION STAFFER: Well, I think if Speaker
Pelosi has decided to focus impeachment solely on the Ukraine issue, we
already have an admission from the defendant.
We have got an open-and-shut case. He admitted he put pressure on the
Ukraine president to open – to provide dirt on his political opponent. He
openly admitted that. That`s also noted in the notes of the conversation
and is consistent with the whistle-blower`s report.
We know that he worked to remove a legitimate ambassador to facilitate that
illegal activity. And we know that he`s been noncompliant with subpoenas.
That`s already three counts in the articles of impeachment.
I`m not sure there`s much left to develop. Of course, we want a thorough
work here. But this is not the trial. This is just the indictment stage
on the House side. And so we hope that the process will be expeditious.
KORNACKI: Let me ask you, too, just given the nature of who is signing
this letter, you and others, backgrounds in conservative side, the
Republican side, the hope here – correct me if I`m wrong, but the hope
here is that you are reaching specifically Republicans in Congress?
VERRET: We hope that they will listen to us. And we hope the American
people will listen.
I have been disappointed with a number of House members who I used to
admire, frankly, although I will draw a sharp contrast with some of your
prior guests, in that I think it`s appropriate for Senate Republicans to
remain silent, because, of course, their role as a juror in the essentially
trial phase of the impeachment is important.
And so I think it`s appropriate for them to either remain silent, certainly
not aggressively defend the president.
But the House members need to get involved here, because I think the
judgment of history has already begun.
KORNACKI: Well, you mentioned George Conway. He`s also part of this
He also spoke out yesterday about White House efforts to block the
impeachment inquiry, specifically that eight-page letter from the White
House that explained why they`re not willing to cooperate.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
GEORGE CONWAY, HUSBAND OF KELLYANNE CONWAY: This was trash. I mean, this
I mean, basically, the thrust of – the trust of it is that there are some
kind of constitutional obligations that the House has failed to meet that
therefore – that therefore render its impeachment inquiry illegitimate and
unconstitutional, which is complete nonsense, because all the Constitution
says is that the House has the sole power over impeachment.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
KORNACKI: Gregg, you tweeted that the White House letter was – quote –
You wrote this: “No member of Congress should accept it, no matter his or
her view on the behavior of Pelosi, Schiff or Trump.”
I think you have said, you don`t consider your position on this anti-Trump;
you consider it pro-separation of powers.
It sounds like you`re trying to make the institutional case here for this
I guess what I`d be curious is, in the age of political polarization that
we live in, where you look at Trump`s standing with Republican voters, and
it seems to guide how Republican politicians approach him, does the
institutional case hold any weight?
GREGG NUNZIATA, FORMER SENATE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE CHIEF NOMINATIONS
COUNSEL: Yes, the way our politics have gone, it`s harder and harder to
make that case.
And we have certainly seen this, not just with this administration. In
past administrations, members of Congress are increasingly inclined to
support the president of their party, even when that president commits
misdoings, even when that president exceeds his constitutional authority.
But we really need a Congress to do more than that. We need a Congress to
stand up for its own power. We need a Congress to think to the future.
I would ask Republicans in Congress to consider the fact that we had a
Democratic president just a few years ago. We will have another Democratic
president in the future. And they are going to want those powers that this
White House letter so casually dismisses and tries to claim an executive
branch veto over the oversight and investigation functions of Congress.
And congressmen needs to think longer and think institutionally. And, yes,
it`s very important that Congress has those powers in order to do its job.
KORNACKI: What is your sense?
You are familiar with how the political process works. What is your sense
of what it would take for Republicans to publicly say what you`re saying?
NUNZIATA: Well, to publicly argue for that for the power of Congress to
have a legitimate proceeding, I don`t know. I`d like to hear more of them
say that. I don`t think there`s a big risk in that.
I think Republicans should feel comfortable saying that they have not heard
the case made for the impeachment, much less removal, of the president yet,
but they are – respect the powers that the Constitution gave Congress, and
that they want to hear the facts, and they want the White House to allow
people to testify and explain what happened around these series of events.
KORNACKI: All right, Gregg Nunziata, J.W. Verret, thank you both for
NUNZIATA: Thank you.
KORNACKI: And up next: President Trump is getting ready for that rally in
Minnesota. It`s a state he says he can flip to his side in 2020.
Well, can he? Can Minnesota go from blue to red? I`m going to head over
to the Big Board and take a look at the numbers.
You`re watching HARDBALL.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: A state that I`m going to
win, Minnesota. You know that one.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
TRUMP: I almost won it last time. We came with – just about a point.
That`s a very – because Minnesota is a very hard one for a Republican to
win. We almost won it. One more night. I wanted to go there one more
time. I said, I`m telling you, we`re going to win in Minnesota.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
He calls it the one that got away in 2016. Donald Trump, you hear him
there talking about Minnesota. Of course, he`s on his way to Minnesota
right now, his first rally since the start of the impeachment probe.
The president says his campaign believes that, if there`s a blue state he
can flip in 2020 and add to his column, it`s Minnesota.
You remember election night 2016 what the map looked like. You remember,
look, Trump flipped Pennsylvania. Hadn`t gone Republican in about 30
years. He flipped – he flipped Michigan. He flipped Wisconsin. He did
not succeed in flipping Minnesota.
But as he mentioned there, this is what it looked like. He came pretty
close. He certainly came closer than a lot of people expected. The margin
was inside of two points. So, certainly, in 2016, Trump came very close to
picking up ten more electoral votes from the state.
And if he were able to flip Minnesota in 2020, that could have a
significant impact on the Electoral College maps. So, let me take you
through. First of all, when Republicans and the Trump campaign look at
Minnesota, why do they think there`s opportunity there?
A, obviously, because it was close in 2016. Remember, Obama won this state
by eight points back in 2012. It closed inside of two with Trump, so it
moved towards Trump between 12 and 16.
The other thing Republicans see, though, is this. This is last year`s
midterm election, the 2018 midterms. You remember, I was standing at this
board election night and it was one district after another going from red
to blue, red to blue, flipping to the Democrats.
Well, guess what? You had something in Minnesota, you barely had anywhere
else on the map in 2018. Two districts, two congressional districts that
went from blue to red. Both of these districts were represented by
Democrats in Congress. Republicans managed to win them.
This is the Iron Range, they call it, sort of southern Minnesota. You`re
talking about districts with a lot of rural, blue collar, working class,
white character to them. So, these are the areas filled with the types of
voters that demographically Trump has done best with. Trump did well in
these places in `16, and that Trump effect was very much in effect in the
2018 midterms. Republicans were getting slaughtered everywhere, not in
these parts of Minnesota.
So, that`s the opportunity that Trump and his campaign seek. The story is
little more complicated than that, though, because look at this, there were
also two districts, you see `em right here, the third and the second, there
were two districts last year, it went from red to blue in Minnesota. These
were Republican districts heading into 2018, and the Democrats managed to
flip both of them.
And you can see here you don`t see the label but you`re talking about
basically getting into the Twin City suburbs here, the Twin City metro
area, Minneapolis, St. Paul. And you`re talking demographically there, the
types of voters that have been going away from Trump`s Republican Party and
towards the Democrats.
So, what Democrats will tell you is, yes, sure, Republicans were able to
make gains in rural parts of Minnesota. But those gains will be more than
offset pie the Trump era Democratic gains in the suburbs, in the metro area
where by the way the population is growing. So, they think there`s also an
advantage there for them.
So, you`ve got the story of two Americas encapsulated there in Minnesota.
By the way, Minnesota has voted for one Republican presidential candidate
since Kennedy in `60. It was Nixon in `72. Otherwise, all Democratic, of
course, in `84, Mondale from Minnesota was the Democratic nominee. Three
thousand-vote margin for them there.
If Mondale hadn`t won Minnesota in `84, Reagan would have gone 50 for 50.
Anyway, a little bit about Minnesota, the president there tonight will be
talking about it in 2020.
Up next, while Republicans seem almost in lock step with the president on
impeachment, Trump is facing a growing chorus of opposition from his own
side on Syria.
You`re watching HARDBALL.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): The president has abandoned the people who
helped us destroy ISIS. Chaos is unfolding. This is worse than what Obama
did. When Obama left Iraq all hell broke loose.
And if you think, Mr. President, ISIS is only a threat to Europe, you
really don`t understand ISIS. ISIS is wanting to come after all of us.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: That was Senator Lindsey Graham slamming President Trump earlier
today in South Carolina. Graham leads a diverse caucus of bipartisan
critics which includes Texas Senator Ted Cruz and Christian televangelist
Republican Congressman John Shimkus of Illinois, he is retiring in 2020, he
told a St. Louis radio station that he can no longer support Trump,
accusing him of stabbing our allies in the back.
Despite these appeals, Trump is standing by his decision.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We have no soldiers in
Syria. We`ve won, we beat ISIS. We beat them badly and decisively. We
have no soldiers.
The last thing I want to do is bring thousands and thousands of soldiers in
and defeat everybody again.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: “The Washington Post” notes that President Trump, quote, is
cleaving his political coalition at the very moment. He`s trying to
fortify his standing to survive the intensifying impeachment.
In an attempt to calm Republican nerves, three Trump advisers tell “The
Post” that Mick Mulvaney, the acting chief of staff, quote, is planning to
help Trump begin a quiet charm offensive with congressional Republicans,
hosting private dinners, meetings and gatherings.
For more, I`m joined by Zerlina Maxwell, senior director of progressive
programming for Sirius XM, and John Podhoretz, editor at “Commentary
John, all of the outrage that`s been expressed the last couple of days by
Republican voices, by voices that are typically out there supporting the
president. Is that going to have any affect on U.S. policy in Syria and
JOHN PODHORETZ, COMMENTARY MAGAZINE EDITOR: I`m going to propose something
here which is that in a weird way this helps Trump with Republican senators
on impeachment. Here`s why. They can say, you know, I`m not with the
president on everything. I`m really upset about this thing in Syria with
the Kurds, I`m an independent thinker. He`s done the wrong thing here, but
I`ll tell you right now, it`s not the right to impeach him on this Ukraine
This gives both –
KORNACKI: This becomes the outlet for expressing –
PODHORETZ: Yes. In other words, they`re given some things. It`s not that
they wanted – this is like thought through. I`m saying, this gives them a
thing to say to prove that they are not simply, you know, slavishly
following him down the road, even though pretty much they will be.
KORNACKI: Well, so, Zerlina, what do you make of that? Because the other
school of thought on it this becomes the breaking point for Republicans
with Trump and it`s the worst time for him to be in this position?
ZERLINA MAXWELL, SIRIUSXM, SENIOR DIRECTOR OF PROGRESSIVE PROGRAMMING:
Well, I`ve been critical with Republicans for not breaking with the
president sooner. There have been plenty of opportunities.
Charlottesville probably was the most obvious one in his tenure.
And I think that it shows that they obviously can criticize the president,
they are capable of criticizing the president, but they still refuse to
answer the simple question about whether it`s appropriate for a foreign
government to interfere in an election, whether or not the president asking
foreign government to do so is appropriate.
They cannot answer that simple question. So while I think it`s perhaps –
yes, they can take one silver lining, piece of silver lining from the fact
they can say, yes, I broke with him on the question of Syria. But I think
that both of these issues deal with Trump betraying the interests of either
our allies and betraying our allies and also the country.
Because interference in our election undermines our democracy and it flies
in the face of every single citizen who is putting their faith into a
system that people have literally died to protect.
KORNACKI: I want to follow up on what you say. It`s the first time I`ve
heard that and it`s an interesting thought. You`re not saying this was a
KORNACKI: This becomes a by-product of –
MAXWELL: I don`t think there is a grand strategy.
PODHORETZ: No, there is no grand strategy, and I believe that everybody
who is expressing outrage about the Syrian decision is on the level and is
doing so out of – out of conviction. I`m saying that there was a bizarre
way in which this helps them deal with the impeachment question, which is -
- sort of goes certainly to Zerlina`s point, which is people say, well,
what on earth can he do that you are not going to apologize for or figure
out some way to evade?
And this gives them something to say, see, I`m not evading this, this is
terrible, this is absolutely terrible – and he has done – you had Lindsey
Graham say this is worse than Obama.
PODHORETZ: When has a Republican said that anything that Trump has done is
worse than Obama? That`s a pretty serious thing for him to have said. But
when he says that and then a week later says, I`m not impeaching him over
Ukraine, he then has this slight plausible –
KORNACKI: It`s interesting. You say this gives them a way to say, hey,
look, I`m not always rubber stamping things he says.
MAXWELL: Yes, but it is a serious thing. We`re talking about civilian
casualties today, John, right? We`re talking about the fact the American
government has made a – or Donald Trump has really made a decision because
even his Defense Department is like what are you doing. So, Donald Trump
has made a decision resulting in the deaths of civilians and that`s what
we`re learning about today, and so, it`s a more serious situation than
simply the question of Ukraine and talking about life and death.
PODHORETZ: Of course. Oh, totally and I think it`s –
MAXWELL: And we don`t know whether or not he`s making this decision
because of his personal financial interests –
MAXWELL: – which has been always the underlying question since the
beginning of this presidency, which is why this is national security crisis
that we are living through –
MAXWELL: – and we still don`t necessarily know how to handle it
appropriately. I`m glad to see Republicans break with him, but I want them
to take this a lot more seriously because Donald Trump has the nuclear
launch codes. And if he is making foreign policy decisions where we`re
questioning whether or not he is doing it in the best interest of his
country versus the best interest of his bank account, that is terrifying
reality to live in.
PODHORETZ: OK. Fair enough, I don`t think we need to go to the nuclear
codes. The only thing I would say –
MAXWELL: No, we do need to do that.
PODHORETZ: I don`t think we do.
MAXWELL: That is the real world we`re living in.
PODHORETZ: The problem is that you – if you go there, you`re taking
MAXWELL: That`s not a fact?
PODHORETZ: Of course he has the nuclear codes. What does that have to do
with the question of whether not he pulled a few –
MAXWELL: It has to do with the fact that whether or not he`s making –
PODHORETZ: – you know, he pulled a few score Americans out of a position
in Syria where it was –
MAXWELL: – human beings.
PODHORETZ: Yes, it was incredibly – right, this was an incredibly low
cost high delivery policy. That is we didn`t have many men there, they`re
there, they`re preventing a civil war between the Kurds and the Turks.
And the Kurds are keeping these ISIS fighters in prison and away from
causing any peril. And in a world in which Trump has no particular –
anyway, a world in which Trump won`t make a big policy shift, this was an
easy goo for that he just pulled away.
KORNACKI: All right. Zerlina Maxwell, John Podhoretz, thank you both for
Up next, the history of Rudy Giuliani. You`re watching HARDBALL.
KORNACKI: Earlier this year, Rudy Giuliani mused about what his final
legacy might be.
I am afraid it will be on my gravestone, he said. Rudy Giuliani, he lied
for Trump. Giuliani said that would be an undeserved epitaph, but he also
said if it is, so what? I don`t care? I`ll be dead. I figure I can
explain it to St. Peter.
What`s interesting is that not that long ago, Giuliani`s legacy secured for
all-time. He was the mayor of New York City when it was attacked, when
this whole country was attacked on September 11, 2001. Anyone my age or
older remembers that terrible day.
There was fear, panic, uncertainty and it was that Rudy Giuliani in those
days and hours after the attacks who was front and center in a moment when
every American was desperate for a leader to show them the way, Rudy
Giuliani was steady, confident and determined to see his city through and
to see all of us through. He became America`s mayor and the acclaim was
universal, from Democrats, from Republicans, from the media, even from the
famously liberal entertainment world.
Everyone was looking to get back to normal after 9/11, but no one quite
knew how. When “Saturday Night Live” returned to the air, it was only with
an on-air blessing from Giuliani himself.
“Time Magazine” named him Person of the Year. His eloquence under fire,
they wrote, has made him a global symbol of healing and defiance. Adding,
Giuliani`s performance ensures he will be remembered as the greatest mayor
in the city`s history.
A poll from NBC News and “Wall Street Journal” asked Americans back then
what they thought about Rudy. Eighty-four percent had a positive view, his
negative score just 2 percent.
Rudy tried a few years later to parlay this into the presidency, but it
didn`t work. Still, his role in those dark days in 2001 seemed sure to
forever define him no matter what.
But now, well, it`s fair to look at the last two years and wonder if he
managed to rewrite his own legacy – personal lawyer to a president whose
actions have been central to an investigation that may lead to a
president`s impeachment. We don`t know yet how the Trump story will end,
where Rudy`s part in it, but Giuliani`s own story is an example of how
dramatically reputations can change.
The day before 9/11, his popularity was fading in New York and he was
headed to political oblivion. Then everything changed. And now, all these
years later, it may be changing again.
That`s HARDBALL for now.
“ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES” starts right now.
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Copyright 2019 ASC Services II Media, LLC. All materials herein are
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
or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the